BB reader Jane Lowers sends along this beautiful BBC Radio documentary about two men in California who have been together for decades, now facing one's terminal pancreatic cancer diagnosis. "I know both of them; Eric was a columnist at a radiology magazine I used to work for," says Jane. "Their house is every inch as insane as described. But the story -- trying to decide how to deal with a diagnosis, how to use the time you have, and how it can affect relationships -- was very well-described, I thought."
Years ago during the reign of Milosevic in Serbia I wrote an essay called "Decent people". It was about that 80 percent of Serbian people, the classic silent majority, who lived in denial of the genocide in Srebrenica, the snipers in Sarajevo, the shelling in Dubrovnik.
These so called decent people who could not grasp cruel political and military reality. Eventually the damage to daily life became impossible; the decent people could not go through with their charade of normality as postmen, engineers and dentists. On October 5th 2000 a million people took to the streets in Belgrade and physically deposed the tyrant.
However, time stopped then in Serbia. An October 6th never dawned for a bewildered Serbia, not even 12 years later, on the anniversary. Milosevic died behind the bars in the Hague, my Yugoslav-era parents are deceased, my postman is on pension but the inhabitants of the Serbian parliament today are the next generation of those decent people. No painful truths were admitted and confronted; there was a rebellion of the decent, but not a thorough change in the society.
Typically, a few days ago the new elected premiere of Serbia forbade the Gay Pride annual parade. He claimed that 80 percent of the Serbian population is against gay manifestations, and warned against the risky and inevitable gay-bashing that would follow in the streets. This new premiere is an old member from the deposed Milosevic' s party. Crushing the aspirations of Serbian gays has become routine, and he has already handled the trouble successfully before.
I recently posted a couple of articles featuring heartfelt letters from people who had earned their Eagle Scout awards as boys, but no longer wanted to be associated with the Boy Scouts of America and its rule banning gay scouts and GBLT troop leaders. Instead, they were choosing to return their awards to the BSA, in hopes that scouting's national organization would recognize that this rule isn't something all scouts want. In fact, many wrote about their frustration with what they see as the BSA failing to live up to the values that scouting teaches.
As of August 4, more than 80 former Eagle Scouts have sent photos of their resignation letters to the Eagle Scouts Returning Our Badges Tumblr blog, where the letters and the protest they represent are being archived.
Reading the comments that have turned up here at BoingBoing, I get the sense that there are many more Eagle Scouts—and active Boy Scout troops—that also disagree with the BSA, but don't want to resign from local connections that don't reflect the national organization's bigotry. In fact, the Northern Star Council, which represents 75,000 scouts in Minnesota and Wisconsin, is openly bucking Boy Scouts of America policy, and has been for years.
The Associated Press ran a piece yesterday looking at this dissent and the effect—or, it seems, lack thereof—it is having on BSA policy.
Deron Smith, the Boy Scouts' national spokesman, said there was no official count at his office of how many medals had been returned. He also noted that about 50,000 of the medals are awarded each year.
Beyond the Eagle Scout protests, the Boy Scouts' reaffirmation of the no-gays policy has drawn condemnation from liberal advocacy groups, newspaper editorialists and others. In Washington state, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, an Eagle Scout, joined his Democratic opponent, Jay Inslee, in suggesting the policy be changed.
But overall there has been little evidence of any new form of outside pressure that might prompt the Scouts to reconsider.
The leadership of the Scouts' most influential religious partners - notably the Mormons, Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists - appears to support the policy. And even liberal politicians seem reluctant to press the issue amid a tense national election campaign.
Earlier this week, I posted a couple batches of letters from grown-up Eagle Scouts who chose to resign their hard-earned, elite awards in protest of the Boy Scouts of America's policy banning gay and atheist scouts and troop leaders.
I'm still getting letters in the mail. These things are coming in faster than I can update the posts. Which is why I'm very glad that several former Eagle Scouts have taken matters into their own hands, starting a Tumblr that can play host to all these letters, and all the ones going forward.
Burke Stansbury put the site together. In his own resignation letter, he wrote:
I am not proud to be affiliated with an organization that excludes people based on their sexuality. Many of my closest friends are gay, lesbian, or transgender and it pains me to think that I invested time in an organization that prohibits their membership. It's a shameful, bigoted policy. Plain and simple.
I'll be contacting people who have sent me letters recently about whether it's okay to forward their emails to Burke. And if you'd like your letter to be archived on the Tumblr, there's an easy-to-use submission form right on the site.
Eagle Scouts Returning Our Badges on Tumblr
On Monday, I published a letter from my husband, Christopher Baker, to the Boy Scouts of America. In that letter, Baker returned his hard-earned Eagle Scout award and explained that he no longer wanted to be associated with an organization that discriminated against gay teenagers and GBLT parents.Read the rest
If you aren't familiar with American Boy Scouting's Eagle Scout award, it might be a little hard to explain how important this story really is.Read the rest
Via the New York Times: In Chile, a judge who lost custody of her daughters in 2004 because she is a lesbian will now receive damages, after an Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling. Karen Atala will get $50,000, and $12,000 to reimburse court costs. Not much comfort after being separated from your kids by the state for 6 years, but the ruling sets an important precedent in the region.
Police Constable John George said police boarded the cruise ship and arrested the two men on suspicion of indecent exposure and "buggery," a term equivalent to sodomy on the island. The cruise was organized by Atlantis Events, a Southern California company that specializes in gay travel. President Rich Campbell, who is aboard the cruise, said in a phone interview earlier that he thought the two men would be released. He later said in an email that the company has organized many trips to Dominica and would "happily return."
Cruise ticket buyer, beware. (thanks, Antinous!)
Gentlemen, start your slashfic engines. Yes, the theme of this DIY costume in Boing Boing's ongoing series is— Sexy Wikileaks.
Above, Philip Neustrom and friend Ron Baker last night at DNA Lounge in San Francisco. Philip, at left, is dressed as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Baker, at right, is Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier believed to have leaked secret documents to the whistleblower website (he is currently in military jail, awaiting trial.)
Too soon? Eh, not for me to say. These two figures are nothing if not folk heroes. But don't ask, don't tell indeed. Philip tells Boing Boing,
Some totally unrelated and somewhat-drunkely-typed backstory: When we were getting the Manning outfit supplies from a military surplus store in Berkeley, the guy ringing us up asked, "Hey, what are you dressing up as?"(thanks for the photo, @philipn and thanks for the heads up, @iamsusannah!)
We showed him a picture of Manning and gave a little explanation. He got it immediately and then told us this story, with the preface that we were probably "far too young to get it"--
So a few weeks back, an older woman walks into the store and says something like, "Do you folks have any goggles? My grandson is going to burning man.."
The guy helps her find some goggles, and as he's ringing her up he looks down at her credit card. "Ellsberg..any relation to Daniel Ellsberg?" "Oh..well, he's my husband!"
Not exactly the types I'd expect to be running a military surplus store. Regardless, the guy hooked us up and we got like $150 worth of stuff for $20!
Read the rest
Five-year-old Dyson Kilodavis is a little boy who loves sparkly things: princess gowns, hot pink socks, glittery jewelry. Deal with it.
Richard Metzger over at Dangerous Minds points to a lovely children's book by Dyson's mom, titled My Princess Boy, and shares a surprisingly non-exploitative television interview with the boy's mom, dad, and older brother.
You have to watch the video. Have some kleenex handy. I sure cried. It's right here: My Princess Boy: Meet the most awesome family in America
This child, I think it's clear, is going to be who and what he'll be. But unlike many kids like him, he's not going to grow up thinking there is anything wrong with who he is. This kid is FABULOUS and nothing less! With all of the gay bullying, suicides and the general anti-gay bigotry going on in rightwing circles, Cheryl, Dean and their older song Dkobe, deserve admiration and gratitude from the rest of us, for being such an amazing, wise examples for other people in their situation, with their loving parenting of their "Princess Boy."
(Dangerous Minds, thanks Tara McGinley)
Amazon Link for the book.
The It Gets Better project is a series of video postcards from happy, well-adjusted GBLTG adults to isolated queer teens who think that they're they only "different" people in the world. No matter what your sexuality, these are damned heartwarming -- and "it gets better" is a great message for kids everywhere, queer, straight, or undecided.
Secret Historian: "The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade"
(Warning: this post is for adults, and the video embedded contains sexual content)
I haven't read Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade yet, but it sure sounds amazing—BB mod Antinous just hipped me to it this morning. The new book by Justin Spring new book chronicles the contents of an archive he discovered in San Francisco a few years ago, including a thousand-page diary belonging to Samuel Steward, a man of many identities....
...including several that the subtitle of the book omits: pioneering sex researcher, collector of celebrity conquests, drug addict, masochist, Catholic (briefly), Navy enlistee (even more briefly), conquistador of vast provinces of America's pre-Stonewall homosexual subculture. Most fortuitously, he was apparently a graphomaniac who documented his long, dark, exuberant, sad, dangerous life in journals, an unpublished memoir, reams of letters, poems, erotica, semifictionalized short stories and even a 746-entry card catalog of his sexual history, scrupulously maintained over five decades and in some cases ornamented -- perhaps for future biographers? -- with what Spring decorously calls "DNA-verifiable" evidence of his liaisons.That, from the New York Times review (which ran with a terrific title).
All told, Steward is reported to have had sex with 807 different people, a total of 4,647 times, including Rock Hudson and Rudolph Valentino. Regarding those impressive numbers, Adam at Butt Magazine opines,
However, the true value of his promiscuity lies not in the number of loads blown, but in what those loads can teach us. (...)Video trailer for the book follows (contains sexual content.)
At times he was Samuel Steward, drunken professor, obscure literary figure and pen pal to the stars. He was also an author, first of serious fiction - Angels on the Bough - and later acclaimed memoirs - Dear Sammy: Letters From Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. George Platt Lynes, Alfred Kinsey and Tom of Finland all counted him as a friend. As a tattoo artist he went by Phil Sparrow. He mentored Ed Hardy and inked the Hells Angels. He even engraved 'LUCIFER' on Kenneth Anger's chest. In his dirty work he was the ripped Greek hustler Phil Andros. This particular alter ego dealt in filthy stories, pumping out titles like Shuttlecock and $tud, and attracting the attention of literary heavyweights like Christopher Isherwood.He was all of these things and more. Mr. Steward was also a sex researcher and self-proclaimed whore. Perhaps his most important occupation, however, was that of historian. For in the cache of his remaining belongings exists an individual history unparalleled in its meticulousness.
From some seventy years of personal experience, I can tell you that there's not much "gay" about being homosexual. For the first twenty years of my life, I had to live in the shadows, in a culture that was -- at least outwardly -- totally hostile to any hint of that variation of life-style. At no time did I choose to adopt any protective coloration, though; my cultivation of an abundant beard was not at all a deception, but part of my costume as a conjuror.How To Say It? (via Wil Wheaton)
Gradually, the general attitude that I'd perceived around me began to change, and presently I find that there has emerged a distinctly healthy acceptance of different social styles of living -- except, of course, in cultures that live in constant and abject fear of divine retribution for infractions found in the various Holy Books... In another two decades, I'm confident that young people will find themselves in a vastly improved atmosphere of acceptance.
(Image: RANDI.jpg, Wikimedia Commons)
- Profile of skeptical guru James Randi
- End of skeptic James Randi's million dollar challenge
- TED: James Randi
- James Randi vs James Hyrdick
- James Randi Calls Out Audiophile: I'm Sure the Crickets Will Sound ...
- James Randi puts text of "occult-debunk" encyclopedia online ...
- James Randi's letter from Doug Henning is stolen and ...