More men join the ranks of Former Eagle Scout

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.

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Eagle Scouts stand up to the Boy Scouts of America: *UPDATED*

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.

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Women beat 18-34 men for tech adoption and purchasing power

An interesting piece from The Atlantic's Alex Madrigal points out that the coveted 18-34 male demographic is no longer the most important force in technology consumption and purchasing. He quotes Intel anthropologist and all-round awesomesauce dispenser Genevieve Bell's research, which shows that women lead tech adoption in "internet usage, mobile phone voice usage, mobile phone location-based services, text messaging, Skype, every social networking site aside from LinkedIn, all Internet-enabled devices, e-readers, health-care devices, and GPS. Also, because women still are the primary caretakers of children in many places, guess who controls which gadgets the young male and female members of the family get to purchase or even use?"

Of course, the neglect of women -- and other groups of systematically disenfranchised people, like gblt people and people of color -- is a recurring theme in the history of business. And periodically (generally in the midst of a recession that makes the previously unthinkable into the inevitable), some industry will figure out that there's a group of people whom they've ignored or held in contempt with a lot of money on their hands, and you get a new boom of targeted products, media and advertising. And exploitation, of course. Lots of exploitation.

Terry O'Reilly's "Age of Persuasion" podcast has done some good episodes on these turns in advertising history -- here's one on women, one on people of color, and one on gblt-targeted ads.

How can an industry get its market so wrong?

One huge reason is the relative lack of women at major venture capital firms, startups, electronics makers, and Internet companies. The other huge reason is the historical erasure of women's roles in the history of technology, as Xeni Jardin pointed out in response to a New York Times article that overemphasized the role men have played in the creation of the Internet. When you look around, it *seems* as if technology is by and for dudes, but the reality is much more complicated than that.

But even if you are the biggest sexist in Menlo Park, even if you believe that only men create technology, even if you are real-life Jack Donaghy hell bent on profits alone, you'd still want to change your approach to women as technology consumers. Follow the money and follow the users: you'll find yourself in a female-dominated landscape.

Bell concludes: "So it turns out if you want to find out what the future looks like, you should be asking women. And just before you think that means you should be asking 18-year-old women, it actually turns out the majority of technology users are women in their 40s, 50s and 60s. So if you wanted to know what the future looks like, those turn out to be the heaviest users of the most successful and most popular technologies on the planet as we speak."

Sorry, Young Man, You're Not the Most Important Demographic in Tech (via /.)

Sign a petition for a "guilt-free Eurovision" -- keep the pressure up on Azerbaijan

Robert sez, "Azerbaijan is hosting the final of this Saturday's Eurovision song contest. Amidst the absurdity and kitsch, human rights groups are worried that Azerbaijan's autocratic government will use the occasion to airbrush its appalling treatment of journalists and activists. Index on Censorship is asking Boing Boing readers to make the President of Azerbaijan face the music during #Eurovision, by signing a petition demanding he end the persecution of writers and artists who speak truth to power."

My father was born in a refugee camp in Azerbaijan -- to Russian/Polish/Belarusian parents -- and I've always felt a distant kinship to the place, enough so that I take this sort of thing more personally than I would if it were in another post-Soviet Asian dictatorship. I signed.

The Eurovision Song Contest is a guilty pleasure for millions across Europe. But this year the competition has a dark side – it’s being hosted by Azerbaijan, a country whose people face violence, prison and persecution for exercising their right to free speech. On 18 April, Idrak Abbasov, an investigative reporter who won the Guardian/Index Award, was beaten unconscious by private security guards while the police looked on.

Other journalists have been attacked, abducted and tortured. In November 2011, writer Rafiq Tagi was attacked outside his home and later died. No one has been brought to justice for his murder. In fact, in the last seven years, there have been no arrests or prosecutions related to violence against journalists.

But it’s not just journalists – musicians, gay rights campaigners and political activists are also under attack.

Raise your voice for free speech in Azerbaijan (Thanks, Robert!)

Alan Turing's obituaries

David Stutz has posted a small collection of obituaries for Alan Turing after he was hounded to suicide as a punishment for being gay. Here's my favorite:

“For those who knew him here [at Sherborne] the memory is of an even-tempered, lovable character with an impish sense of humour and a modesty proof against all achievement. You would not take him for a Wrangler, the youngest Fellow of King’s and the youngest F.R.S. [Fellow of the Royal Society], or as a Marathon runner, or that behind a negligé appearance he was intensely practical. Rather you recollected him as one who buttered his porridge, brewed scientific concoctions in his study, suspended a weighted string from the staircase wall and set it swinging before Chapel to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth by its change of direcction by noon, produced proofs of the postulates of Euclid, or brought bottles of imprisoned flies to study their “decadence” by inbreeding. On holidays in Cornwall or Sark he was a lively companion even to the extent of mixed bathing at midnight. During the war he was engaged in breaking down enemy codes, and had under him a regiment of girls, supervised to his amusement by a dragon of a female. His work was hush-hush, not to be divulged even to his mother. For it he was awarded the O.B.E. He also adopted a young Jewish refugee and saw him through his education. Besides long distance running, his hobbies were gardening and chess; and occasionally realistic water-colour painting.

In all his preoccupation with logic, mathematics, and science he never lost the common touch; in a short life he accomplished much, and to the roll of great names in the history of his particular studies added his own.” — The Sherbornian, Summer Term 1954

obituary quotations

Proposed solution for in-game harassment

Penny Arcade TV's "Harassment" episode looks at the phenomenon of in-game trolling, with its disproportionate emphasis on racism, homophobia and sexism, and suggests a solution: identify players who are muted more often than the norm, and set them to "auto-muted" when they join games, and have guild efficacy decline based on the number of automuted players in them. The idea is to create social pressure that make bullying into something that makes gaming suck for bullies. Cory

GOD HATES CHECKERED WHIPTAIL LIZARDS


Lauren, proprietor of the LAMP zine, got frustrated after arguing with a homophobe on Facebook, so she whipped (!) up a parody of a fundamentalist tract called GOD HATES CHECKERED WHIPTAIL LIZARDS, detailing all the ways in which the parthenogenetic, pseudocoupling titular lizards were a perversion of God's will. Someone phonecammed the tract and posted it to Reddit, and 2.3 million views later, it was Internet history. Lauren was good enough to post a printable PDF on a Tumblr sites for others who'd like to spread the gospel.

GOD HATES CHECKERED WHIPTAIL LIZARDS

Republican in Washington State legislature delivers emotional address in support of gay marriage

Here's Washington State rep Maureen Walsh, a Republican, explaining to her colleagues why her she was breaking with the party line and voting in favor of same-sex marriage. It's an emotional, moving address, and Walsh, together with one of her GOP colleagues, helped carry the motion, paving the way for legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington State.

You know, years ago, my daughter went to, she was in elementary school. Many of you have met my daughter. She’s a fabulous girl. She’s wonderful. My boys are great too, but my daughter is just something special, and she was the light of her father’s eyes. And she went to school and there were some kids that were, a whole group of kids that were picking on another kid. And you know, my daughter stood up for that kid, even though it was not the popular thing to do. She knew it was the right thing to do. And I was never more proud of my kid, knowing that she was speaking against the vocal majority on behalf of the rights of the minority.

And to me, it is incumbent upon us as legislators in this state to do that. That is why we are here, and I shudder to think that if folks who had proceeded us in history did not do that, frankly I’m not sure I would be here as a woman. I’m not sure that others would be here due to their race, or their creed. And to me, that is what’s disconcerting.

The Most Powerful Argument For Gay Marriage From A Republican

Little boy talks to Michele Bachmann about his gay mom

Eight-year-old Elijah and his mom attended a Michele Bachmann book signing. As Bachmann greeted the little boy, he told her, "My mommy's gay but she doesn't need fixing." The expression on Ms Bachmann's face at that juncture is the definition of priceless.

Activist Elijah With Michele Bachmann (via Beth Pratt)

Petition to get a pardon for Turing's "gross indecency" conviction

The UK government has officially apologised to computing giant and war hero Alan Turing for forcing him to take hormone injections as "therapy" for being gay (driving him to suicide), but now a petition has been mounted to get an official pardon Turing's 1952 for "gross indecency."

We ask the HM Government to grant a pardon to Alan Turing for the conviction of 'gross indecency'. In 1952, he was convicted of 'gross indecency' with another man and was forced to undergo so-called 'organo-therapy' - chemical castration. Two years later, he killed himself with cyanide, aged just 41. Alan Turing was driven to a terrible despair and early death by the nation he'd done so much to save. This remains a shame on the UK government and UK history. A pardon can go to some way to healing this damage. It may act as an apology to many of the other gay men, not as well known as Alan Turing, who were subjected to these laws.

Grant a pardon to Alan Turing

Honors for Under the Poppy:

Many congratulations to author Kathe Koja on winning the Gaylactic Spectrum award (a prize given to queer-friendly science fiction and fantasy) for her stellar novel Under the Poppy.

Young Iowan gives lawmakers an earful about his two moms and same-sex marriage

Zach Wahls, a sixth-generation Iowan and Eagle Scout, gives incredibly moving, well-spoken testimony to the state legislature on the issue of same-sex marriage, talking about the way that being raised by his two moms made him the impressive fellow he is today, and the material injustice of rules prohibiting same-sex marriage.

Update: Derp, it's a repost. But Zach is such a dude, he deserves a second airing.

Two lesbians raised a baby and this is what it ended up as. (youtube.com)

Bechdel's Fun Home to be a musical

"Fun Home," Alison Bechdel's brilliant graphic novel memoir (review here) is being adapted for musical theater:

“My father and I grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town and he was gay and I was gay and he killed himself and I became a lesbian cartoonist,” Bechdel's character says in Fun Home.

Kron is a founding member of the theater company Five Lesbian Brothers and an Obie Award winning playwright for her autobiographical play 2.5 Minute Ride.

Tony nominated composer Tesori won the 1999 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music in a play with her compositions for Twelfth Night at Lincoln Center and she also picked up the Obie Award for the score for 1997’s off-Broadway show Violet as well as composing 11 new songs for a production of Thouroughly Modern Millie that transferred to Broadway in 2002.

Alison Bechdel's Graphic Novel 'Fun Home' to Become a Stage Musical (via The Mary Sue)

Hunky librarian catalog to benefit It Gets Better Project

"Men of the Stacks" is a beefcake calendar featuring hunky librarians, with proceeds to the It Gets Better project.

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Indiscriminate squid sperm distribution is not "bisexual"

PZ Myers explains why the discovery that the male of a species of squid reproduces by showering other squids with sperm regardless of their sex doesn't make the squid "bisexual." Not that there's anything wrong with that.
This is a beautiful illustration of the flaw in applying human sexual conventions to non-human organisms. researchers studying deep-sea squid found that all of the squid, male and female alike, were speckled with sperm packets — the males just flick these things out at any passing squid, on the chance that it's a female. It's silly to call this bisexuality or same-sex mating, though — it's pretty darned common in invertebrates. Many species of sea urchins, for instance, indulge in synchronized ejaculatory orgies: on one or a few days a year, all of the individuals in a colony simultaneously spew eggs and sperm into the water, to the degree that they can turn the ocean milky white with semen and ova. Do we call that homosexuality? Is it even right to refer to it as an "orgy"? It's just indiscriminate fertilization.
No, no, no — this is not bisexuality or homosexuality