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Saturday, March 12, 2011

We Could Be Heroes

Young LGBT people from Southwark (London) celebrate LGBT history month, talking about their heros and role models.

Young people engaged in the film at workshops, via e-mail and online forums. With thanks to Lior, James, Daniel, Matt, Joe, Milo, Robbie, Janis, Dan, Sam, Joe, and Theo.

Funded by Southwark LGBT Network, supported by Southwark Council and Camberwell College of Arts. Produced by Osmo.


Real Time With Bill Maher-Catholics Come Home Commercial (3/11/11)

Real Time With Bill Maher-Catholics Come Home Commercial (3/11/11)


You Should Meet My Son! -- 2011 Trailer

By Tim Plant -

According to Glamour magazine, a man is gay if he doesn't like sports, has a subscription to Men's Fitness, and his shower curtain is covered with pictures of Michelangelo's David. At least that's the magazine quiz that Mae (Joanne McGee) uses to figure out that her attractive, single, 30-year-old son is looking for Mr. – not Ms. – Right.
You Should Meet My Son
You Should Meet My Son
This is just one example of the stereotyping and humor that fills the comedy You Should Meet My Son from first-time feature film director Keith Hartman. The project is rife with clich├ęs, most of which are pretty funny – because they're true.
In order to enjoy Hartman's film, you have to be willing to accept certain premises: that a mother (even a Southern one) doesn't realize that her son's ''roommate'' of five years who joins them at all family gatherings is actually his lover. That the son's stoic silence on the subject of relationships persists through weekly dinner parties featuring different potential female dates. And that this same mother can turn on a dime as soon as she learns of his actual orientation. If you can make it past these plot points, you're headed for a good time.
One of the more unique aspects of Hartman's film, which he also wrote, is that it's a gay film that's not actually about the gay man. Mae and her spinster sister, Rose (Carol Goans), are the central characters, and they dive headfirst into the gay scene to find a suitable husband for Mae's son, Brian (Stewart Carrico). The film's humor is derived from two women being exposed to gay stereotypes of all shapes and sizes. The two glimpse into the great gay way as they discover the Internet for the first time (really?) and websites like Manhunt.
There are a couple moments that make You Should Meet My Son more than just a mindless comedy. Mae goes through the usual litany of self-blame when she realizes that Brian is gay: I took him to the Nutcracker, I let him watch The Wizard of Oz and all those Madonna videos, etc. Again, nothing new, but a funny delivery nonetheless. After the two women visit a conversion center in the hopes of finding Brian a ''cure," they come to a place of acceptance with lightning speed. While their process is understandably expedited for plot purposes, the actual moment between the sisters is genuinely touching. And it helps create a foundation for the farce to follow.
Hartman struggles to sustain the plot throughout the entire film. Just as Mae and Rose's foray into the bar scene starts to wear thin, the story takes a turn for the really bizarre, and Hartman pushes the patience of even the most forgiving audience. In a scene stolen straight from Auntie Mame, the film rides right off the rails into the sunset.
Fortunately, the cast is wonderfully lovable, providing a constant level of accessibility until the end. McGee gives a charming performance as the doting mother. While the character's transformation might leave some room for doubting, McGee sells the woman's love for her son completely. There's real chemistry between her and Goans, and they create a pair of meddling mother hens whom you'd love to have in your life, but maybe not your family.
Carrico actually has a tough role to play. Since Brian is a secondary character in the film, he's supposed to be a babe and a catch, but his actions make him a little unlikable. Carrico relies on good looks and a few soulful moments to redeem the character. It's just enough to warrant a pass.
In addition to Mame's story being a source of inspiration, there are definite tinges of To Wong Foo, Sordid Lives, Big Eden and many other iconic gay films. While not living up to the original material, it does allow Hartman to introduce a varied cast of characters for some background flair, including drag queens, leather boys and a queer-youth support group. The film gets a little preachy at the end, but there's nothing like a naked painting of George W. Bush to break the tension.
Like the perils of dating, not everyone is going to fall in love with You Should Meet My Son, but it certainly won't be the worst night of your life. And you'll still feel good about it in the morning.


Nathan Phelps tells crowd his father believes the things he says

By Casey Nolen -

They call themselves the Westboro Baptist Church and they are comprised of mostly one family, the Phelps, with one message that they try to spread above all others - that God is punishing America for its tolerance of homosexuality. The group regularly protests military funerals holding signs with anti-gay slogans.
So it might seem like an odd fit for the Gay Straight Alliance Club of Clayton High School to extend an invitation to speak, to a member of the Phelps family.
Except that Nate Phelps is himself at odds with his family. He walked away from what he says was his abusive father and his brand of religion at the age of 18.
"I found him on Facebook, you know," says Cooper Minnis the co-president of the Gay Straight Alliance at Clayton High School.
Thanks to Minnis and other students with the GSA, Thursday night Phelps spoke to a nearly standing room only crowd at Clayton High School.
"To try and inject a certain amount of insight, knowledge and tolerance in to our community because that's certainly something we could always use," says Minnis.
Phelps told the crowd his family's protests at funerals and the signs they hold up are not just for show.
"My father definitely believes it. He's believed it for years. This whole ideology has been there from the beginning," says Phelps.
He encouraged the students to exercise a tolerance he says he never learned at home.
"Sometimes I feel like it's not fair. Why should my voice matter more than anyone else's?" wonders Phelps. "I think ultimately it's about how you treat humans in general. And what my family is doing is mistreating humans in general in many ways.
"Any opportunity to beat this drum to be a counter voice to the message they are putting out there right now is important to me," says Phelps.
Phelps did not charge for his appearance at Clayton High School. He says he's happy to speak when he is asked. The students are raising money to cover his travel expense from his home in Canada.

video interview below the fold.

RI Congressman’s editorial supports marriage equality

Rhode Island Congressman Jim Langevin.
Rhode Island Congressman
Jim Langevin.
By Hannah Clay Wareham -

Rhode Island Congressman Jim Langevin (D-Second District) opined in a March 5 Providence Journal editorial that it’s time "to redefine marriage."

Langevin wrote that, while he has historically supported civil unions for same-sex couples, he began to support legal recognition of same-sex marriage after attending the commitment ceremony of a gay employee.

"[T]hree years ago, I attended the commitment ceremony of a longtime staff member and his partner of nine years. Before their friends and family, they professed their love, commitment, and respect for each other," Langevin wrote. "Their sentiments were just as moving, heartfelt, and sincere as any of the vows I had heard at other weddings, yet I realized that their union would not be treated the same under the law. That difference struck me as fundamentally unjust, and I began to challenge the wisdom of creating separate categories of rights for certain groups of citizens. I began to see that civil unions fell short of the equality I believed that same-sex couples deserved."

Langevin ended the editorial calling for support for marriage equality legislation, writing that it is now "time to do the right thing."

Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI) lauded the Congressman’s editorial, and released a statement thanking the politician.

"Today is another clear indication that the marriage equality initiative in Rhode Island continues to build momentum. On behalf of MERI, I want to thank Congressman Langevin for exhibiting the courage and reason to allow his position to evolve on this critically important issue which has adversely affected thousands of Rhode Islanders for far too long," said Martha Holt, MERI board member.

"I have an enormous amount of respect for Congressman Jim Langevin and his thoughtful approach to the subject of marriage equality. He has rightfully framed this discussion as a civil rights matter and appropriately highlighted the discriminatory nature of Rhode Island’s archaic marriage laws. Congressman Langevin understands passage of marriage equality legislation is the only vehicle that will afford equal rights for all Rhode Islanders," said Ken Fish, MERI board member.


Glee Rocks Sex Ed

Full disclosure: We're total Gleeks. We love the show and were so excited for this week's episode, Sexy, where Gwyneth Paltrow returns as a substitute sex ed teacher, Holly Holliday. And we were not disappointed! Glee dove into sex education in a way that only Glee can — poking fun at the school's Celibacy Club and the sex-positive sex ed teacher, while still presenting poignant storylines like Santana's struggles with her insecurities about coming out, all while rocking out to Do You Want To Touch Me (Oh Yeah). (Still can't get that song out of our heads — SO good!). But whether you're a Gleek or not, you can appreciate the episode's bottom-line: teens — straight or LGBT — need good information at home and at school about making safe and healthy decisions about sex and they need caring adults to talk to.Unfortunately, many schools don't really provide teens with either information or the support they need. Take Blaine, a character on the show who goes to a fancy private school; apparently it isn't fancy enough to provide any sex education. Instead, Blaine says he turned to the Internet to find out the basics. Fortunately, there are lots of resources on the Internet for young people looking for information, but they need to know where the reliable sites are. Here are a few worth checking out and passing on to a teenager in your life:,,, and
Most importantly, take the time to talk to the young person in your life about sex. Kurt's father, Burt, took a leap of faith and had the talk with his son. We squirmed watching father and son tackle this awkward conversation in which Burt provides Kurt with resources regarding the mechanics of sex, acknowledging his own shortcomings when it comes to gay sex. Then he artfully delved into the emotional side of sex, making sure that Kurt (and the audience) understands the importance of valuing yourself. With this emphasis, Burt reminded us that the talk is the same, whether your child is gay or straight. It was clear that, to Burt, sex is not just about physical pleasure but about connecting with someone you love. By openly communicating the values he holds around sex, Burt helped shape his son's knowledge in a pivotal way; regardless of any information Kurt received or didn't receive in school, he needed to know that he could count on his dad for support.
But clearly the Internet (or TV) can't fill the shoes of a knowledgeable and compassionate sex ed teacher or parent. Holly Holliday may have been over the top and Kurt's dad may have set the bar high, but they each had a lot to offer. If you're a parent or have a young person in your life, it's incredibly important to know what kind of sex ed your child is getting (or not getting) at school. If you don't know what your kid's school is teaching, start with these 10 questions to ask about sex education at your school. And if you're not satisfied with what you find, contact your local ACLU affiliate.
We all want our teenagers to be safe and make healthy decisions about life. We can't be with them all the time, but we can make sure that they have the information they need to make healthy and smart decisions, including decisions about sex and sexuality. If you're a parent or have a young person in your life and you haven't yet had the talk or want to continue the conversation, Answer and Planned Parenthood have a wealth of resources and information on how to start the conversation.
Or maybe start the conversation by watching the latest Glee episode together!
Learn more about sex education: Subscribe to our newsletter, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.


Triplets with two mothers: glitch in Argentina's gay marriage

By Lisa Maria Hagen -

Buenos Aires - Since last year, Argentina allows homosexual marriage, but problems remain: the children of a lesbian couple may only be officially recognized as the offspring of one of their mothers.
In October 1992 Andrea Majul was teaching a course for aspiring radio presenters in the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, and Silvina Maddaleno was her student. 'Don't get involved with a student!' Andrea told herself.
But she did not follow her own advice, and they became a couple and shared quite a regular love story.
Fifteen years later, their third attempt at artificial insemination worked out. Eight weeks later, Silvina experienced unusual bleeding. The two feared a miscarriage and hurried to hospital. But doctors reassured them: the implantation of the embryos had caused the bleeding. 'You're having triplets! Congratulations!' they were told.
'It was as if we had booked a trip to the Caribbean and landed in the North Pole,' Silvina, 37, recalls with a laugh.
Their friends and relatives rejoiced. The neighbours wondered why two women were living together, and how come one of them had got pregnant. Later, on Mother's Day, Clarin, Argentina's most popular newspaper, published a big story about the family, which explained everything.
'We wanted to show that other models of family are as entitled to exist as the traditional one,' says Andrea, 42. Father, mother, child - this has long been a dated model in Argentina, with all the single parents, patchwork families and families like Andrea's and Silvina's.
In the 27th week of the pregnancy came labour pains. Far too early. At the hospital, a nurse requested the names of the baby's mother and father, the usual facts. 'There is no father, there are two mothers,' Andrea replied.
That could not turn out well, the nurse mumbled. Andrea asked who had raised her. An aunt, the nurse replied.
'And in your case that turned out well, didn't it?' The nurse said nothing else.
Santiago, Abril and Jazmin were born by C-section on August 8, 2007. The three were tiny. For three months, their parents kept watch by the incubators. At the beginning, they could not even touch the babies. But they all made it.
'Since then, we have no time even to breathe,' Andrea says.
There are no fixed roles in this family. Andrea is a better cook, Silvina is better at combing the girls' hair. Both earn a living. It is a model family.
Jazmin dances on the sofa, with her little hands on Andrea's face. 'Mamu, I've got your nose!' she shouts, and she waves her thumb in the air.
Mamu - that is Andrea. Mami is Silvina. Both answer to the more standard mama. But while Andrea is as much a mama for the children as Silvina - she too tells them bedtime stories, cooks their favourite dishes and blows on bruised knees - the state does not recognize her as a mother.
Argentina made major progress in the direction of granting equal rights to same-sex couples in July last year when the country accepted homosexual marriage.
According to the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transexuals (FALGBT), more than 1,300 couples got married in the six months that followed the implementation of the new law. Thirty per cent of them were lesbians, including Andrea and Silvina, who married on October 18, their 18th anniversary.
'It's an indescribable feeling to be finally recognized by the state after so many years and to be granted the same rights as every other couple,' Silvina said.
Legislator Alfredo Olmedo is less enthusiastic about the legalisation of homosexual marriage, particularly regarding the situation of children. 'A couple consists of a mother and a father,' Olmedo says.
There is no child with two mothers or two fathers, he insists. But the law contradicts him.
Nowadays, the non-biological mother is also entitled to raise the child in case of a pregnancy. But since this legislation is not retroactive, Silvina Maddaleno remains a single mother and Andrea Majul is legally no-one to her own children. Should Silvina die, the children will lose not just one mother, but two.
'I would have to adopt my own children,' Andrea says.
There are more than 300 couples in a similar position because of this legal loophole. The organization Lesmadres has recognized this and is working with other institutions to find an administrative solution, which will then have to be approved by the Interior Ministry.
Martin Canevaro, of the organization 100% Diversidad y Derechos (100 per cent Diversity and Rights), assumes that the problem will be solved within a few months. 'For our community, this would be, after the implementation of same-sex marriage, our greatest legal achievement,' he says.


Older gays gather, leave stigma at the door

RALEIGH -- It's often not easy being gay and gray.
National and state polling shows that older people continue to hold more negative views about homosexuality than people under 30. That's one reason gay people from the baby boom era and older are often still haunted by memories of times when most were afraid to declare their identities.
The Gay and Gray Initiative of the LGBT Center of Raleigh aims to help this often isolated older generation with a range of issues, including fostering a more active social life. Les Geller, 65, a Raleigh architect who is treasurer of the nonprofit group - the acronym stands for "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered" - says there's demand for help in crisis situations and in finding gathering places that are free of bias.
"They don't have the same family support structure," Geller said of older gays. "In a lot of cases they've been ostracized by their families."
Gay and Gray is kicking off its efforts with a social event Sunday at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel at Southpoint in Durham. There will be music and food, a cash bar, a small cover charge and, organizers hope, a chance for people over 50 to get out of the house and gather socially.
On April 1, Gay and Gray is sponsoring a Galaxy Cinema screening of the film "Gen Silent," a documentary about lesbian and gay older people who fear abuse in long-term care centers, nursing homes and other institutional settings. The film's director, Stu Maddux, is coming from California for a question-and-answer session at the fundraiser.
Lorraine Johnson, 48, a principal of Triangle Financial Advisors, is co-chair of the center. She's worried about the number of gay people in long-term care who, even at the end of their lives, do not tell people they see every day about their sexuality - meaning no pictures or visits from partners and no joining in conversations about children and grandkids.
"You have a whole generation that wouldn't come out when they were independent," Johnson said. "Why would they do it when they are dependent?"
Friends become family
Losing a partner and entering long-term care can be devastating for gay people who have based their social lives on close associations that are not necessarily family-centered.
"In the majority of gay and lesbian relationships, your friends become your family," Geller said.
The LGBT Center has a small office on Cabarrus Street to carry out its mission of strengthening the gay community through social and educational activities, helping build a network of support services, and advocating for the area lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people.
The group has gained support from sponsors as diverse as Duke Medicine and Char-Grill restaurants. Through the office and from callers they hear wrenching reports such as that of a woman whose doctor wouldn't perform a pap smear because she thought she could contract AIDS from her lesbian patient.
"Anyone who thinks homophobia is dead has another think coming," Johnson said.


Genderqueer performer CN Lester

CN Lester (centre) with members of En Travesti Ensemble
By Paris Lees  -

“It didn’t matter what your genitals were, what mattered was: do you have a beautiful voice and do you look fabulous?”
Genderqueer performer CN Lester, who identifies as neither male nor female, talks to Paris Lees about sexual harassment, operatic androgyny and a mutual fear of going blind.

Paris: You set up the classical music ensemble En Travesti in 2008 with Anne Rebecca Laurent – tell me more?
CN: Rebecca and I both specialised in transgender themes in opera for our masters. She’s just this straight woman, but she loves anything in operatic history that’s to do with undermining gender roles so we got together with Phillip who was plays harpsichord. On the baroque opera stage it didn’t matter what your genitals were, what mattered was: do you have a beautiful voice and do you look fabulous in the costume?

I didn’t realise opera was so gender-bendery…

Classic FM gives you all these passive opera heroines who might lie down and die quite gradually, but the baroque opera heroines just don’t do that. They’re sorceresses and fighters and warriors and queens, and it’s kind of amazing – they kick arse. They might have been played by castrati who was dressed up as a woman, or by women who pretended to be men to get the roles…

Have you been picked up on the classical radar?

Early music doesn’t have the same cache as some grand operas, but this year we’re really focusing on widening our fan base and bringing more instruments in. We actually started as just two voices and a harpsichord, and now we’re doing it with 15 and an early music orchestra. I think next year we’ll maybe start thinking about making a record.

You’re performing at the Trans Media Watch MoU Launch at Channel 4 on Monday. Elaborate.
Well I’m really excited, and so is everyone in the company as we all feel very strongly about how trans history has been suppressed. Rebecca and I started our academic careers writing about it and the more the others get to know me the more they see how the day to day discrimination is so affected by media issues – and they’re fucking furious about it. Being able to participate in something which is so groundbreaking – the fact that people will be signing up to this memorandum – I’m just ecstatic. Obviously, things won’t change overnight, but it’s such a huge step forward. We hope to present a more historical perspective, to say that actually trans issues are not recent phenomena: transgenderism is not some affliction of the modern age, but just a basic human trait. People think classical music is really straight-laced and is just for white, straight, cis people but it never has been, it’s always been full of people that society marginalises and pretends don’t exist, but there we are, centre stage, to spread that message.

Does being trans harm your career?
Classical music, now, is very conservative. I can’t get chorus work because I wouldn’t be willing to wear female clothes or be a member of a women’s chorus. It’s difficult. I’ve actually experienced quite a lot of discrimination finding tutors and applying for courses, being held back by people who were so sure their transphobia was acceptable that they were quite open about it to people I knew. They didn’t see that they were in the wrong – they thought I was wrong for daring to apply. So it was very much “We don’t want people like that associated with us” and they were happy to put it down in writing. The person involved was eventually forced to resign.

What role do the media play?
It’s what we consume everyday – we’re bombarded with it. Whether we like the media or not, whether we chose to engage with it or not, other people are engaging and then their behaviour affects our lives. Women are still treated like second class citizens – add transphobia into that mix and it just explodes. The message that people are getting every day is either that trans people don’t exist, or, if they do exist, that they’re pathetic freaks who we shall laugh at. No wonder they don’t see it as a problem if they discriminate against us, I mean, who would care? If we’re not even afforded the basic decency of having people address us with the right pronouns or correct names, why would they have to be polite enough to offer us equal opportunities at work or in education? You know, you can’t even walk down the street without someone having a problem.

What harassment do you face?

I don’t take hormones, so the majority of people perceive me as a woman, but obviously a woman who is transgressing gender norms. So the street harassment I get tends to be sexual aggression from cis [non-trans] guys, like “Hey baby, how about one up the arse?” or “Suck on this darling.” Or trying to grope you in the street. Then it gets mixed in with the transphobia, when they’re not entirely sure if I’m female or male, that adds to that aggression and it just turns into “f**ing freak” or “faggot”. I think one guy even came out with “You f**king pervert.” I thought wow: you have no idea what I do in bed.

How do you deal with it?
You watch where you go. If you see a group of young guys coming you think: “I’m crossing the street and if they start yelling stuff I’m just going to put my fingers in my ears and think about music.” Feeling unsafe on the street is a big deal, but also I had to stop going to gay bars and gay clubs because I was just so sick of being groped by strangers. It was lots of “I can’t tell if you’re a man or a woman” but before you can say it’s none of your business, they’ve decided to grab your crotch to decide for themselves.

Some of the worst transphobia I’ve experienced has been in gay bars…
I don’t want to sound rude or like I have a problem with lesbians – but I’ve had some really terrible experiences in gay bars from strangers deciding that I’m a traitor to lesbians everywhere. It’s like: 1. I’m bisexual and 2. I’m not a woman… so! And strangers just deciding, especially when they’re drunk, that they can just come and commit acts of sexual assault because they don’t even think you get to the right to sit quietly and have a drink with your friends,

All the more galling when we’re the ones seen as perverts…
I know, especially this whole bathroom issue.

Which toilets do you feel safest in?
The disabled one, unisex. It really depends upon the day: if I’m not wearing any eye make up, the guys, if I go Goth, the ladies. If I use a women’s bathroom I get lots of “cha” and angry looks, but then if use the men’s I’m always quite worried that someone will take it a further than just being rude. I tend to do what a lot of trans people do – I try not to drink too much and I try not to use public toilets.

Any problems in shops?
Most places I’ve found to be really quite friendly, but there was one time in Topman where they were just so, so incredibly rude. I got a couple of things to try on and there were two assistant trainees on the door. I find it darkly funny in those situations, where you feel like saying: “Well if you’re counting up what side you’re going to put me on, do you not think I could do the same for you?” Especially when you get these guys who are shorter than you, with great big man breasts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s ironic when they judge you on those stereotypical points. So anyway, they were sort of whispering to each other and one guy said “Oh you can’t use these changing rooms”. I asked what their specific policy for transgender customers was and he just gave me this look like I’d spoken in some bizarre language. They whispered a bit more, then one decided to fetch the manager. The manager also gave me this long considering look, up and down, spoke to the assistants – didn’t speak to me – and I asked again: “Do you have a policy for transgender customers?” He just said, um, um, um… more whispering, and then he said: “Well female customers can’t use this changing room”. I said: “Well I’m not female and would really appreciate you answering me the trans-customers question” and he just gave me this weird look. I didn’t lose my temper, but I did drop the clothes on the ground and said “Look, you’ve lost a customer” – and went off and bought lots of stuff elsewhere.

It was very odd going to River Island afterwards because they were such sweethearts. They were like “Do you have everything in your size?” and “Can we ask you to buy more expensive things?” and “Ooh you look fabulous in that – you definitely ought to buy it!”

Did you complain?

I did, and they wrote a long letter of apology saying they are meant to have sensitivity training for all their staff and that obviously the gender that someone presents as is the gender they’re treated as. And that it shouldn’t have happened and that it’s not their position to decide if people are allowed to be one gender or another. They gave me a voucher – it was a genuine apology and a promise to increases sensitivity training in that store so it was a nice answer. But it brings you down when you can’t even do your capitalist duty and do some shopping without someone giving you a hard time for it.

It’s enough to keep you indoors…
Well…. I think we’re so f**king hard on ourselves anyway. I don’t know a single trans person who doesn’t spend every single day sort of going: “Am I OK, am I allowed to go out into the outside world, Oh God, Oh God, it’s all so tragic!” I sometimes even wonder what will happen if I’m in a terrible accident.

I wonder what’d happen if I go blind…
Please tell me that me your biggest concern about going blind is that you wouldn’t be able to check how you looked?

It’s my ONLY concern.
I know, what about my hair? What if I wasn’t dressed properly? I’d have to hire a personal stylist – it’s just so ridiculous.

I worry about war meaning they stopped making hormone tablets…
There’d have to be some stylish, 1940s-style like spy network. It would be amazing, like all these incredible trans women in Yves Saint Laurent trading black market hormones…

Back to the media, 2011. What would you like to see change?
One is just basic respect. There are style guidelines out there by the Gender Trust or Trans Media Watch with easy to follow instructions on how to talk about trans people. So don’t pretend you don’t know better, you know better. You don’t use derogatory language about black people, you don’t use derogatory language about Asian people – or at least you shouldn’t – so don’t use it about trans people. And the second thing is greater exposure, and not some cisgender person going to peer into trans people’s lives. I want more trans people talking for themselves. These are our lives and if you want to know about them, ask us, because we know best.

So how about trans people reading the news?
Perfect! There are all these trans people out there who are amazing journalists and political commentators, or incredible wordsmiths who write opinion pieces and articles. So don’t just have a story where it goes “They’re trans and they came out at this age…” or whatever. We’re not just one dimensional people – we have a lot to say.


Demand that Apple remove "ex-gay" iPhone app

Targeting: CEO, Apple Inc. (Steve Jobs), Apple Media Relations (Trudy Muller), and Apple Media Relations (Simon Pope)
Started by: Truth Wins Out


Exodus International, the notorious "ex-gay" organization, has just released an iPhone app that, according to its website, is "designed to be a useful resource for men, women, parents, students, and ministry leaders." The Exodus website further boasts that its app received a 4+ rating from Apple, meaning that it contains "no objectionable content."
No objectionable content? We beg to differ. Exodus' message is hateful and bigoted. They claim to offer "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ" and use scare tactics, misinformation, stereotypes and distortions of LGBT life to recruit clients. They endorse the use of so-called "reparative therapy" to "change" the sexual orientation of their clients, despite the fact that this form of "therapy" has been rejected by every major professional medical organization including the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Counseling Association. But reparative therapy isn't just bad medicine -- it's also very damaging to the self-esteem and mental health of its victims.
This new iPhone app is the latest move in Exodus' dangerous new strategy of targeting youth. In light of the recent wave of LGBT youth suicides, this tactic is particularly galling as it creates, legitimizes, and fuels the ostracism of LGBT youth by their families. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, LGBT teens who experienced negative feedback from their family were 8 times more likely to have attempted suicide, 6 times as vulnerable to severe depression, and 3 times more likely to use drugs (Caitlin Ryan, San Francisco State University, June 2009).
Apple doesn't allow racist or anti-Semitic apps in its app store, yet it gives the green light to an app targeting vulnerable LGBT youth with the message that their sexual orientation is a "sin that will make your heart sick" and a "counterfeit." This is a double standard that has the potential for devastating consequences.
Apple needs to be told, loud and clear, that this is unacceptable. Stand with Truth Wins Out -- demand that the iTunes store stop supporting homophobia and remove the Exodus app.

Petitions by|Start a Petition »


Boxer Introduces Equal Access to COBRA Act

By Karen Ocamb -

California Sen. Barbara Boxer reintroduced the Equal Access to COBRA Act in the US Senate Thursday. The bill would give  domestic partners of a partner who loses their job the same access to COBRA health coverage as married spouses currently enjoy. The legislation covers companies that already offer health benefits for domestic partners and their children – right now, that’s more than half of Fortune 500 companies.
Boxer said in a statement:
“All of our families deserve equal access to health insurance. This bill would help ensure that domestic partners and their families will be able to keep their health coverage if their partner loses their job.”
Under federal law, employers are required to offer COBRA -continuing health care coverage for up to 36 months – when an employee leaves the company. Same sex couples are not covered, however, even if the company has DP benefits for their employees. Boxer’s bill would apply to domestic partners as they are defined by an employer’s health insurance plan.
Boxer announced her intention to offer the COBRA bill last year at both the Human Rights Campaign dinner, where she was the keynote speaker, and at the Rock for Equality rally to change Social Security laws to cover domestic partners, organized by the LA Gay and Lesbian Center.
Last year, I asked openly gay Rep. Barney Frank about the Boxer COBRA bill and the Social Security bill from Rep. Linda Sanchez. Frank said:
“I was very disappointed that that [COBRA] was left out of the healthcare bill. And that’s part of the problem we have – we have no Republicans on the healthcare bill. We tried to get the tax benefits and we lost because this whole domestic partnership thing is controversial with no Republican votes and the margin was so close. I was very frustrated. I worked very hard to try to get that done. So I am not optimistic about anything in that area.
I think it’s very important. The only chance we have on any domestic partnership thing this year would be the bill I had once introduced – Tammy [Baldwin] picked it up – for federal employee benefits [the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act].  That one has a chance – I don’t think any other domestic partnership has a chance.”


Friday, March 11, 2011

Maryland Same-Sex Marriage Bill Dies With No Final Vote In House

There will be no same-sex marriage law in Maryland this year. After days of dominating the 2011 legislative session, same-sex marriage goes back to committee.


To the ones who walk away from Omelas

--by Robyn

Scarlet Letter

We've been hearing a lot about the marriage equality bill in Maryland (which was today recommitted to committee), but very much less about HB 235, which would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in housing and employment…but not in public accommodations, which has become a bit of a sore point for some (for a little understatement).

It must also be noted that the expression “public accommodation” does not apply exclusively to public bathrooms, showers and changing facilities. Public accommodation also includes schools, libraries, hospitals, restaurants and retail establishments. It is not an exaggeration to characterize lack of protection from discrimination in public accommodation in the same way as one would the idea of segregated lunch counters. Segregated lunch counters in 2011. In Maryland.

--Trans Griot

Positive Results from Call to End Murders of LGBT People in Honduras


Positive Results from Call to End Murders of LGBT People in Honduras


In an overwhelming show of support, over 1,400 people responded to the Action Alert issued by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and the Honduran organization Red Lesbica Cattrachas on January 10, 2011. The Action Alert, calling for an investigation and response to the more than 31 murders of gay and transgender people that have occurred in Honduras since the coup in June 2009, has, in the two months since its issue, seen positive results. The Action Alert responses, together with advocacy by individuals and organizations in Honduras and other actions by the international community, contributed significantly to prompting responses from Honduran authorities, and from other countries and international institutions – including calls from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for these crimes and to protect LGBT persons from violence and discrimination. Honduras has publicly committed to investigate these murders and to prevent further attacks.
The Honduran Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Ana Pineda, met with members of LGBT organizations on 21 January 2011. The organizations asked the State to investigate the violent deaths of members of the LGBT community and to join the struggle against the homophobia that prevails in Honduras. Prior to this meeting requests from these activists to obtain information on the progress of investigations from the Attorney General Luis Alberto Rubi and Human Rights Special Prosecutor, Sandra Ponce, had gone unanswered.
On February 22, 201, the Minister of Security of Honduras, Oscar Alvarez announced that he would create a special unit to investigate crimes against journalists, LGTB people and other vulnerable groups. Members of the security forces and judicial bodies will meet with the Minister of Justice and Human Rights to discuss the creation of this unit – which will be made up of approximately 150 security officers and be tasked with investigating the deaths of women, journalists, youth, gay groups, lesbians and transvestis, that had previously not been investigated sufficiently.
At the March 2011 session of the UN Human Rights Council, the Council will consider the human rights review of Honduras that was conducted in November 2010 (as part of the regular country reviews by the Council) and will finalize its recommendations. IGLHRC is working to facilitate the participation of Honduran LGBT activists at the Council session to support the recommendations to Honduras that it fulfill its obligations to protect and guarantee the human rights of all people without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.


STEVE HAYES: Tired Old Queen at the Movies


Joan Crawford is once again, a gal with a gun, who's up to her neck in trouble in FLAMINGO ROAD (1949). Under the watchful eye of Mildred Pierce director Michael Curtiz, Crawford has a melodramatic field day as a carnival girl from the wrong side of the tracks in search of respectability at any cost. Along for the ride is former co-star and resident sleaze bag, Zachary Scott and new comer David Brian, both vying for her romantic attention and the menacing and magnificent Sydney Greenstreet, sweating, spitting and sinister as the local sheriff who wants her out of town. With veteran character actresses, Gladys George, Gertrude Michael and Iris Adrian rounding out the cast, FLAMINGO ROAD is a Joan Crawford at her Warner Brothers best.


Gay icon and rugby star Ben Cohen to head new LGBT support foundation

By Steve Brewer -

England rugby union star and gay icon Ben Cohen is planning to head a new foundation that supports gay charities and organisations.
Cohen, who is to leave Sale, announced on his website this week: “This summer I am heading The Ben Cohen Acceptance Tour to the USA.
“We are working with gay/gay-friendly rugby clubs holding events and dinners and spreading a message of acceptance and mutual respect for everyone and also raising money for my soon to be formed foundation, which will be supporting existing charities and organisations working within the LGBT community.” understands that Cohen is preparing to officially announce his plans in the next few days.
The star was told last week that his contract at Sale will not be renewed.
He has said he will retire if he cannot find another Premiership club to join.
In August 2010, Cohen gave his support to Gay Sports Day, an event organised by GMFA, the gay men’s health charity, and the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, and appeared on the cover of Attitude magazine in 2009.


Gay hotel couple from UK say they won’t fight for more compensation

By Jessica Geen -

A gay couple who won £3,600 in compensation after being barred from a hotel say they won’t fight for more money.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission, acting for Steve Preddy and Martyn Hall, “mistakenly” filed an appeal for more damages but withdrew it this morning.
Mr Hall and Mr Preddy successfully sued the Christian owners of the Chymorvah Private Hotel for sexual orientation discrimination after they were denied a double room.
Peter and Hazelmary Bull argued that their beliefs meant they could not allow a male couple to sleep in the same room but a judge said their faith could not overrule equality laws.
The Bristol Evening Post reported today that the gay couple believed the hoteliers had got off too lightly and would be using public money to claim for more damages.
The Christian Institute accused them of being “mean-spirited” and “chasing an elderly Christian couple for yet more money”.
But John Wadham, legal director at the EHRC, said the appeal had been filed accidentally.
He said: “This morning we withdrew our cross appeal in this case. It was filed initially because of an error of judgment on the part of our legal team.
“They submitted the cross appeal in an attempt to clarify the law around how damages are calculated in cases such as this.
“This resulted in it appearing that Steve Preddy and Martyn Hall were seeking to increase the amount of damages they receive because Mr and Mrs Bull’s Christian beliefs had led them to break the law. This was not our intention and it was certainly not the intention of Steve and Martyn.
“I would like to confirm that public money will not be spent funding a claim for increased damages in this case.”
Mr Preddy and Mr Hall commented: “We brought this case to clarify the law, not to make money. We have always believed that the original award was a fair one, and are not seeking any further compensation.”


Elton John backs Sheffield Eagles’ anti-homophobia rugby t-shirts

By Steve Brewer  -

Rugby team Sheffield Eagles are to wear t-shirts to oppose homophobia at a home game on Sunday.
Sports fan Elton John said he was “delighted” at the initiative, while gay sportsmen Gareth Thomas and Steven Davies also gave their support.
The strip, funded by the LGBT History Month and Pride Sports, bears the slogan “Homophobia: Tackle It!”.
The team will wear the strip to play against Widnes Vikings.
John said: “I am delighted to hear about Sheffield Eagles’ initiative.
“I feel that an enormous step forward is being undertaken when Rugby League recognises the diversity of human sexuality. I applaud all those involved in this initiative.”
The Eagles also received support from gay sports stars including Gareth Thomas, John Amaechi and English cricketer Steven Davies, who came out recently.
Davies said: “There may be added pressures in sports as the number of people that have come out is so small so it’s great that Rugby League is taking this step.”
Amaechi, who came out in 2007, said: “I am really proud to see Sheffield Eagles take such a proactive step to break stereotypes and embrace their entire fan base.
“It says something truly positive that it is rugby out of all our top sports and a team based in Sheffield in particular – a city I am proud to say I lived in – that are leading the way.”
In November, the Rugby Football League held a reception in parliament to launch a campaign to welcome gay fans and players.


Standing-room only at RI gay marriage hearing

Anti-gay marriage demonstrators pray and hold signs in the rotunda of the Rhode Island Statehouse in Providence, R.I. Thursday, March 10, 2011 as the  Senate holds hearings on a bill that would legalize gay marriage
Anti-gay marriage demonstrators 
pray and hold signs in the rotunda 
of the Rhode Island Statehouse in
Providence, R.I. Thursday, as the 
Senate holds hearings on a bill 
that would legalize gay marriage.B
By David Klepper -
Tempers flared and voices rose Thursday night as Rhode Island state lawmakers held a hearing on legislation to make the state the sixth to legalize gay marriage.

Chairs in the Senate committee room filled up hours early. Opponents and supporters lined hallways outside with capitol police officers standing by. Opponents of gay marriage standing outside had to be quieted after loudly chanting "one man, one woman."

"Marriage between one man and one woman is more sacred than anything," said Roy Gustafson, a Warwick auto body technician who took time off work to protest the legislation. "We’re being bullied into this by states like Massachusetts. Rhode Island should stand up and say we’re not going to do it."

Same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia.

Rhode Island lawmakers have debated gay marriage for years. Supporters like their chances this year following the election of Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent who supports gay marriage. Former Gov. Donald Carcieri, a Republican, was an opponent.

Patricia Baker told senators she hopes to see gay marriage in Rhode Island before she dies. The 54-year-old corrections officer from Johnston has terminal lung cancer and requires an oxygen tank to breathe.

Baker married her wife, Deborah Tevyaw, in Massachusetts five years ago, but because they’re lesbians, Tevyaw isn’t eligible to receive Baker’s social security benefits. As Baker told her story to lawmakers, Tevyaw wiped away tears.

"I worked all my life for those benefits," Baker said. "We own a house. We pay taxes. But they told me my Social Security benefits would go back into the system when I die. How is she going to keep the house?"

As the hearing went late into the night Thursday, a few exchanges between supporters and opponents got heated.

Rep. Frank Ferri, D-Warwick, is openly gay and spoke in favor of the bill. At the end of his remarks he looked at a gay marriage opponent sitting nearby who held a large sign that read "Keep Marriage Holy."

"Why do you care who I love?" Ferri asked the man. "Shame on you. Shame on you that your God is the God that’s right and mine isn’t. Shame on you for thinking you’re more perfect than I am."

The Rhode Island House could vote on its own version of the legislation within a few weeks. House Speaker Gordon Fox, D-Providence, is openly gay and a co-sponsor of the bill. He said the Senate may be the chief obstacle to passing the bill. Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed opposes the bill.

"The Senate is more of a battleground," he said.

Indeed, a few senators at Thursday’s hearing expressed clear opposition.

"We cannot marginalize sin," said Sen. Harold Metts, D-Providence. "That’s the danger ... I don’t hate anyone, but I do believe that marriage is between one man and one woman."

Opponents want lawmakers to put the question to voters. A proposed amendment to the state constitution would define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

"We voted on casinos," said Chris Plante, director of the state chapter of the National Organization for Marriage. "How much more fundamental is marriage?"

The fate of the bill could turn on a provision giving clergy the right to refuse to perform same-sex weddings if they object to gay marriage. Opponents say that doesn’t go far enough, and they worry that churches could be forced to host gay weddings, or that religious colleges would be forced to place gay couples in housing for married students.

Supporters are working on amendments designed to win over undecided lawmakers.

"I think it’s really, really close," said Sen. Rhoda Perry, D-Providence, one of the sponsors of the Senate’s bill. "A lot of people are going to be working hard to change people’s minds."


Massachusetts launches LGBT marriage resource site

By Hannah Clay Wareham -

The Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism (MOTT) has launched a new resource site for LGBT couples planning a wedding in the state.

"Massachusetts still leads the country when it comes to ’firsts’ for the LGBT community," says Betsy Wall, executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism. "The first online resource guide aimed at helping same-sex couples plan for their wedding celebrations is another one of those firsts."

The website ( offers a step-by-step guide to Massachusetts nuptials. From the list of documents necessary to get married to a resource guide of local LGBT-friendly vendors and services, the new guide offers everything tourists -- and residents -- need to tie the knot in the Bay State.

MOTT is also looking for personal stories of LGBT couples who have wed in Massachusetts. Submit your story, and you could be featured on the website! Click here for more information.
Copyright Bay Windows. For more articles from New England's largest GLBT newspaper, visit

Another gay homophobe goes down in flames!

By Thomas Tracy -

Kruger, who voted against the marriage equality bill in 2009,
is one of 8 men arrested in the complex influence-peddling
scheme involving lobbyists & developers over the last 5 years
State Sen. Carl Kruger sold his political clout and government connections for close to $1 million in payoffs to deep-pocketed lobbyists and developers, federal prosecutors charged on Thursday as they unleashed scathing corruption charges not only against the eight-term legislator, but those nearest and dearest to him.
US Attorney Preet Bharara claimed that Kruger was in the pockets of small business lobbyist Richard Lipsky; developer Aaron Malinsky, who is currently building the 65-story City Point development in Downtown; and three healthcare providers looking to buy publically owned hospitals in Brooklyn and Queens — all of whom funneled more than $900,000 to shell companies set up by Michael Turano, Kruger’s “intimate” partner and son of Dorothy Turano, the district manager of Community Board 18, which Kruger once led as chairman.
According to the FBI complaint filed in Manhattan Federal Court, people looking to gain Kruger’s help sent checks to Turano’s Olympian Strategic Development Corporation and Bassett Brokerage, a reference to the Mill Island street where Turano, his mother and brother have a the multi-million dollar waterfront home.
In return, Kruger:
• Greased the wheels so Malinsky could develop the $65-million Canarsie Plaza Shopping Center on city-owned land at the corner of Avenue D and Remsen Avenue. The anchor store, a BJs, opened last fall. Malinsky paid Kruger $472,500 for his efforts, according to court documents.
• Tried to get Forest City Ratner Companies, the lead developer on the soon-to-be-built Four Sparrows Retail Center on the southern tip of Flatbush Avenue, to give a portion of the project to Malinsky so he could build a department store on the city-owned site. Investigators allege Kruger set up a meeting between Malinsky and Ratner, then promoted Malinsky’s plans to put a small-scale clothing store at Four Sparrows during a recent scoping session.
• Rallied against Walmart. Investigators say Lipsky funneled $252,000 from the Food and Commercial Workers Union to Kruger to speak out against Walmart and other big box stores.
Lipsky also asked Kruger to delay the expansion of a bill that included a five-cent deposit on bottled water, alter the Alcoholic Beverage Control law so grocery stores could begin selling wine and force Indian reservations to collect states sales taxes on cigarettes sold there — acts that would have benefitted his clients.
“Over a period of years, Sen. Kruger, who represented himself as a full-time legislator, was working overtime for business interests that bribed him to the tune of $1 million,” said Bharara.
Kruger has not talked to reporters since Wednesday night, when word spread of his impending arrest. When called by this paper for comment, he hung up.
The one time chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee looked despondent and close to tears on Thursday morning as he and Michael Turano surrendered themselves to authorities.
Kruger, Turano, Lipsky, Malinsky, and four others ‚ including Assemblyman William Boyland Jr., who was allegedly paid more than $177,000 to secure millions in state funds for Medisys Health Network, which owns Brookdale Hospital in Canarsie — were all released on their own recognizance, but ordered to hand over their passports.
Kruger’s attorney Benjamin Brafman, who last week boasted that the FBI was no longer investigating the state senator, said Kruger was “saddened” by the charges.
“He’s one of the most dedicated public servants for the last 25 years with an impeccable reputation,” Brafman told reporters. “This is obviously a difficult day for all of us.”
But the hits kept on coming for Kruger: Senate Minority Leader John Sampson (D–Canarsie) announced on Thursday that he removed Kruger from the Senate Finance Committee, where he was considered a ranking member and earned a $20,500 yearly stipend on top of his $79,500 base salary. At the same time political insiders were declaring Kruger’s legislative career dead on arrival.
“I looked at the complaint and there’s some heavy stuff here,” said one local politico, who wished not to be named. “There’s no question that he’s going to lose his Senate seat. The only question is if he’s going to jail.”
But the FBI investigation doesn’t just cast Kruger in a negative light. Michael Turano is also facing more than 20 years in prison and Dorothy Turano, who has not been charged, is implicated in at least one attempt to steer a development project Kruger’s way, so her role as district manager could be in jeopardy.
Federal prosecutors wouldn’t comment if they plan to charge Turano criminally for helping Kruger, but said they were looking into seizing the Bassett Avenue manse, since money from Michael Turano’s dummy companies helped pay the mortgage.
The investigation also revealed a personal relationship between Kruger and Michael Turano — something Kruger kept hidden, but political insiders had been chin-wagging about for years.
The complaint alleges that Kruger “had an intimate relationship with” Turano.
“Kruger acted — and was treated in many ways — like a member of the Turano family and Kruger effectively functioned as a member of their household.”
Dorothy Turano long appeared to be Kruger’s girlfriend, but the complaint alleges that “of all the Turanos, Kruger is closest with Michael Turano.”
Intercepting phone messages, FBI agents learned that “Kruger was in nearly daily contact with Michael Turano” and that the two men spoke to each other “in a manner that revealed that they relied on and supported one another.” The clear suggestion is that Kruger and Michael Turano are romantically involved.
News of Kruger’s arrest — and intimate relationships — sent shockwaves throughout southern Brooklyn.
“I was taken totally by surprise,” said Sol Needle, Community Board 18’s current chairman. “I had no clue that any of this was going on. I’m shocked.”
Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Mill Basin) was also stunned by the news but came to the defense of his fellow legislator.
“Carl Kruger, just like any American, is entitled to a presumption of innocence,” Fidler explained, dispelling rumors that he’s a contender for Kruger’s Senate seat. Other possible replacements whispered on Thursday included Igor Oberman, a Russian-born attorney who ended up abandoning a campaign against Kruger last year, and Democratic District Leader and former Assemblyman Frank Seddio.
Yet Seddio says he isn’t looking to replace Kruger either.
“You stand by your friends,” Seddio said. “If that is something that would hurt me so be it. But Carl Kruger is going to fight this tooth and nail.”


Carissa and Josie (I'm From Alamogordo, NM.) - True LGBT Stories

A tearful tale of a mother learning how to be accepting of her daughter being a lesbian, and how it brought them closer in the end. 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!


Gay couples may sue govt. for immigration discrimination

By Liz Goodwin -
Emboldened by the Obama administration's announcement they will no longer defend part of the Defense of Marriage Act in Court, an immigration rights group is trying to put together a case to sue the federal government for preventing married gay people from sponsoring their spouses for citizenship.
Heterosexual Americans can apply for their foreign-born spouses to become citizens, but gay Americans cannot, even in states where gay marriage is legal.
Erwin de Leon, a public policy PhD student originally from the Philippines, told The Lookout that even though he's married to his partner of 13 years, he faces the prospect of having to leave the United States when his student visa runs out. In a bizarre twist, de Leon's mother--who married a male U.S. citizen--is now trying to sponsor her son for a green card, since De Leon's own husband cannot.
"She met my step-dad, fell in love, got married and since he happens to be an American citizen, she got sponsored and in three months got a green card," de Leon said of his mother. "And now she's sponsoring me but it could take about 12 to 15 years for her petition to come through."
"If gay marriage were recognized federally, I'd be a citizen by now."

According to the UCLA's Williams Institute, there are 36,000 binational same-sex couples--where one person is a immigrant and the other a U.S. citizen--in the country.
The group Immigration Equality is now gathering plaintiffs such as de Leon to argue in federal court that the Defense of Marriage Act, which says the federal government only recognizes marriage between men and women, is discriminating against gay immigrants. Immigration Equality Executive Director Rachel Tiven said the plaintiffs will most likely file the case in the Second U.S. Circuit, which covers Vermont and Connecticut, where gay marriage is legal, and New York, where gay marriages performed in other states are recognized.
Tiven said the yet-to-be-chosen plaintiffs will most likely be binational couples who live in the United States, even though her organization also hears frequently from binational couples who are forced to live in other countries after their petitions for legal residency were denied.
In the meantime, the group is asking the Department of Homeland Security to stay deportations in cases where a person was denied residency because the federal government wouldn't recognize his or her same-sex marriage. Once a person is deported from the United States, he or she may not return for 10 years.
Such is the problem facing Edwin Echegoyen and Rodrigo Martinez, another D.C. couple who married last year when gay marriage became legal in the district. Martinez came to the United States from El Salvador on a visitor's visa eight years ago. He was issued an Order of Removal by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers several years ago, but Echegoyen was not allowed to attempt to sponsor Martinez. Martinez turned himself into ICE agents today, and will most likely be held in a detention center and then deported. (Even for straight immigrants who marry U.S. citizens, it can be very difficult to get legal status if they overstayed a visa or are otherwise in the country illegally.)
Martinez's lawyer Lavi Soloway told the Lookout that because the Obama administration finds DOMA unconstitutional, federal officials should not use it as a reason to deport people. "Now all three branches of government are moving in a direction towards the elimination of this law, and it's the only thing that stands between Rodrigo and being able to stay with his husband," he said.
Challenges to DOMA are making their way through the federal court system and may soon be heard by the Supreme Court. Some Democratic politicians have endorsed ending DOMA, though it doesn't seem likely to happen soon. Obama said he thinks civil unions, not marriage, is a more appropriate union for gay couples, though he also said that position is "evolving."
Local news channel 9 News Now has a video report, below, on Echegoyen and Martinez. (Note: the reporter mistakenly says the Obama administration is no longer enforcing DOMA. That's incorrect; the administration is still enforcing the law but no longer defending it in court, instead inviting Congress to take up the defense.)


LGBT Activist Faisal Harahap Murdered in Jakarta

Syakira alias Faisal Harahap
The Menteng Police say that the two shooters who killed a lesbian-gay-bisexual-transsexual (LGBT) activist, Faisal Harahap, rode Honda Kharisma and Yamaha Mio motorcycles during the incident.
The incident took place in Taman Lawang, Menteng, Central Jakarta, and also injured two transsexuals, Agus and Tantan, who were with Faisal at the time.
"One of the shooters went over to the three transsexuals and told them not to mess around," Menteng Police chief Djuwito Purnomo said here on Wednesday.
Djuwito added that the man then shot Agus, wounding the left side of his chest.
"The other two then tried to protect their friend, but they were also shot," Djuwito said.
Faisal suffered severe injury to his left shoulder and died at the scene while Tantan suffered gunshots to his waist and arms, said Djuwito.
"Locals tried to apprehend the shooters, but they managed to get away," Djuwito said.

The shooter responsible for killing a transvestite and wounding two others claimed to be a police officer, says a witness. Jajang, also known as Santi, told the Jakarta Globe he was at Taman Lawang, Central Jakarta, early on Thursday morning when the shooting took place. He said he overheard a telephone conversation between transvestites Tantan and Faisal Harahap, who was asking Tantan to come to his aid because he was being harassed by a man claiming to be a police officer. “Tantan went over to Shakira, asking what was going on, and then I heard three gunshots,” Jajang said. Faisal, also known as Shakira, died from a gunshot to the chest, while Tantan, also known as Astrid, suffered gunshots to the waist and upper left arm. Tantan had already been allowed to leave Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital on Thursday. The third victim, Agus, also known as Venus, was still undergoing surgery to remove a bullet from his chest.

Agus,19, had only recently moved to Jakarta from Bandung. “Agus left Bandung for Jakarta five months ago,,” Agus’s mother Popoy told the Globe. "He came home quite often, but he always said that he like it there." Popoy and her husband, Adis, had just arrived at Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital as Agus was going into surgery.  “Agus was planning to come back to Bandung this weekend for his cousin’s wedding,” she continued.

Meanwhile, Nancy Iskandar, the head of Jakarta’s Transvestite Association, said that it was the first time she knew of a transvestite being shot in the city.  “Usually we have things thrown at us, are hit or shot with rubber bullets, but it is never this bad,” Nancy said. The victims are being represented by Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation, People’s Legal Aid Foundation, transvestites rights group Arus Pelangi, and other transvestite associations . The organizations stated that they would give permission for Faisal’s autopsy on behalf of his family, while efforts to contact them in Medan, North Sumatra, were ongoing. Faisal left his family home in Medan in 1998.


Orgs working for LGBT equality are bouncing back from recession

BOSTON—A report released this month by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), an independent, policy think tank focused on LGBT issues, finds that organizations working for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are showing strong signs of financial health and operating efficiency despite a cumulative 20 percent revenue decline from 2008 to 2009.

Of 553 active, registered nonprofits in the country with an LGBT-focused mission, 42 were invited to participate in the first-of-its-kind study (39 participated). Invitations were sent to organizations based on their size, focus, and “importance to the overall LGBT movement.” Collectively, participants represent 69 percent of the expense budgets of all LGBT advocacy organizations. All of the participating organizations, including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; Human Rights Campaign; and MassEquality, exceeded the efficiency standards of both the American Institute of Philanthropy and the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, with an average of 79 percent of expenses being spent on programs and services; nine percent on management and general expenses, and only 12 percent on fundraising.

“This report shows that the national LGBT movement is facing a tough fundraising climate due to the economic downturn,” said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of MAP. “But the groups we analyzed are adapting well by taking steps to respond to the downturn and showing impressive financial and organizational stability as a result.”

“MassEquality is proud to have participated in the MAP study,” said MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini. “Strategic stewardship of our donors’ dollars is a key ingredient for expanding LGBT equality in Massachusetts from cradle to grave.”

The most troublesome finding from the report is that the 39 organizations’ combined 2009 expenses of $165.6 million is equal to just half of the combined annual expenses of the 10 largest organizations working to oppose LGBT equality ($333.1 million). And the report estimates that less than 4 percent of all LGBT adults in the U.S. donated $35 or more to these LGBT organizations.

“There is so much work to do. Rhode Island is close to winning marriage equality and we’re making progress in Massachusetts on the Transgender Equal Rights Bill, but we still need additional resources to monitor the implementation of the state’s new anti-bullying bill,” said Suffredini. “It’s absolutely critical that we keep the support of our existing donors while bringing new ones in to expand what we’re able to accomplish.”

“2010 National LGBT Movement Report: A Financial Overview of Leading Advocacy Organizations in the LGBT Movement” is available online at


As Web Flourishes, Gay Groups Watch Enrollments Dwindle

The lobby of San Francisco’s stylish Parc 55 Hotel was packed with bears. Not beasts from the forest, but large, hirsute gay men in jeans and hoodies. The men gathered for the International Bear Rendezvous last month, lounging on red Barcelona chairs and hugging near the elevators. Over the last 17 years, the event has attracted thousands of grizzly men and their admirers from around the world.
But this year’s festivities marked a bittersweet finale — the bear event is now extinct.
“I’m sad,” said Darwin Bebo, an event organizer for the past nine years, noting a lack of volunteers and a decline in registrations — to 550 this year from nearly 1,000 in 2006. “They’re already talking online, so they don’t need a club.”
Mr. Bebo blamed the Internet. As online social networks have surged in popularity with gay men and lesbians, many social groups have been in decline.
The tug of war between the virtual and physical worlds is happening in every strata of society, but in the gay community the shift has been especially poignant and with significant implications. Social groups helped start the gay civil rights movement, and in recent decades they have raised millions of dollars for causes like same-sex marriage and the battle against H.I.V./AIDS.
This has left some wondering, as social groups wane, who or what will pick up the rainbow flag.
The Men’s Associated Exchange, a club of professional gay men, disbanded in 2009 after 21 years and a membership that had once reached about 1,000. A final statement on the group’s Web site read, “As the Internet grew and provided other avenues for socializing, it was time to give in to the new social networking that had become so popular.”
Last month another social group, the Academy of Friends, scaled back its annual Oscar Night fund-raiser, which had once attracted an upscale crowd of 2,500. This year’s event was moved to a smaller venue with 1,500 attendees.
“It has been very challenging for us,” said Jon Finck, an Academy of Friends board member. In the last 31 years the group has raised more than $8.5 million for H.I.V./AIDS charities, but the downsizing of Oscar Night meant less money for those groups. “It has made those payments not as robust as we would like,” Mr. Finck said.
The recession played a role (tickets for the Oscar event start at $250), but Alan Keith, the group’s chairman, said that in recent years the group has also struggled to attract new participants, especially younger ones: The board of directors has dropped to 19 members from 29, with only 2 under 30 years old.
Mr. Keith said many gay and lesbian groups were currently reassessing, asking, “What are the needs of our community?”
The roots of many gay and lesbian social groups date to when homosexuality was a crime and gatherings were illegal.
“Social groups and networks founded the G.L.B.T. community as early as the 1950s,” said Paul Boneberg, executive director of the GLBT Historical Society. “It represented an ability to find each other.”
“Their newsletters were the first gay publications,” Mr. Boneberg added, citing groups like the Daughters of Bilitis, founded in San Francisco in 1955.
New technologies have usurped that role, sometimes serving remarkably narrow niches. The bear community, for example, has Scruff, an iPhone application that instantly locates others nearby, using GPS. There is also the new Web-based start-up Bearbook, which works like Facebook except that a membership fee allows bears to see each other, uh, bare.
“You see a lot of proving grounds disappear with the advent of the Internet,” said Don Romesburg, assistant professor of women’s and gender studies at Sonoma State University. In addition to social groups, Dr. Romesburg said, gay bars and neighborhoods across the nation have also diminished.
But Dr. Romesburg warned against judging the trend as generational, noting that as a gay man, “people my age — I’m 40 — are opting out of these too.” Additionally, he said, more welcoming attitudes toward gay men and lesbians had reduced the need for cliques.
But struggles involving same-sex marriage, discrimination and AIDS continue. The bears raised more than $600,000 over the years for those causes, and it is unclear what will replace their effort.
Mr. Boneberg said he thought such efforts would continue, just “in a different way.”
“I don’t see the transition as a weakening of the community,” he said.After all, people might be meeting these days in the cloud, but they do eventually come back down to earth.
Scott James is an Emmy-winning television journalist and novelist who lives in San Francisco.


Philadelphia Mayor Nutter stands by deal with Boy Scouts

By Troy Graham -

Philadelphia Mayor Nutter assured gay and lesbian leaders Tuesday of his commitment to fighting discrimination, but said he would not back off an agreement to end a long battle over the Boy Scouts' exclusion of openly gay members.
The city had tried to evict the scouts' Cradle of Liberty Council from its city-owned headquarters, but a federal jury found that doing so would violate the scouts' First Amendment rights.
In a settlement, the city agreed to sell the Logan Square building to the scouts for $500,000, with the scouts forgiving about $960,000 in legal bills.
Gay and lesbian leaders have urged the administration not to sell, and philanthropist Mel Heifetz has offered to buy the building instead.
In Tuesday's meeting, Heifetz upped his bid to $1 million and agreed to cover the scouts' legal costs. "There was no response" to his offer, he said.
"I would turn [the building] over to a nonprofit that doesn't discriminate," Heifetz said.
Nutter said that "at the moment, the property is not for sale."
"If you were selling your house, and you had an agreement with someone, you are not allowed to go and entertain someone else's offer," he said.
The settlement with the scouts requires the approval of City Council, which has not scheduled any hearings on the matter. With the arrival of budget season, Council isn't expected to wade into the matter anytime soon.
Nonetheless, the agreement is being overseen by the federal court, and any delays in implementing it would have to be addressed there.
"The mayor sees this as the quickest way to end the discrimination going on in that building and to sever that relationship," Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald said.
He characterized the talks between administration officials and gay and lesbian leaders Tuesday as a "cordial" exchange of views.
But Nate Walker, with Religious Leaders Against Subsidized Discrimination, said meeting participants were "disappointed" with Nutter's stance.
"What we would like to see is the leader of the city of love to stand on the side of love," he said.


Glee attacked for using Gary Glitter track

By Jessica Geen -

Gay-friendly comedy Glee has been criticised for using a track by convicted paedophile Gary Glitter.
In the episode, actress Gwyneth Paltrow sings a version of Do You Wanna Touch Me? (Oh Yeah) to a group of students during a sex education class.
Glitter co-wrote the 1973 hit and will receive royalties for the use of the song.
Children’s charities reacted angrily to the news. Kidscape said the inclusion of the song was “wholly inappropriate”.
The episode, titled Sexy, will be aired in the US next Tuesday. However, television bosses are considering cutting the scene when the show is screened in the UK, WENN reports.
Glitter, real name Paul Francis Gadd, served 27 months in a Vietman prison for molesting underage girls.