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. By the end of the day, I'd posted six updates to that story—adding letters from other Eagle Scouts who had joined my husband in resigning from a fraternity they had loved and had worked incredibly hard to join.
The Boy Scouts of America is a private organization. The Supreme Court has said they have the right to discriminate. What these Eagle Scouts are saying is that legal precedent doesn't make the discrimination right. Overwhelmingly, they've said that it makes them sad to see the organization that meant so much to them go against the very values of inclusion that it taught them as children. As Baker wrote, "banning openly gay scouts and leaders is not a neutral position any more than separate-but-equal was a neutral position on race."
Yesterday, I received more letters from other Eagle Scouts who want the Boy Scouts of America to know how disappointed they are, and that they choose to stand with the persecuted rather than with the people doing the persecuting. In this post, you can read inspiring words from 13 Eagle Scouts who asked that I share their letters. In most cases, I've included a photo of the letter, and quoted text for easy reading. 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. Eagle Scout is a big deal. For one thing, it takes a lot of work to get the position. A scout has to earn 21 merit badges and then spearhead a community service project that they organize and manage themselves from start to finish. Add to that the fact that most kids don't stay in scouts through high school anyway, and you end up with the award representing a relatively small and elite group. Since 1911, about 2.1 million men have earned an Eagle Scout award. And it has serious implications once you graduate high school. There are scholarships. Eagle Scouts who enlist in the military after high school can start off with a higher rank than their peers. The adult Eagle Scouts I know have told me that they've gotten interview call-backs or even job opportunities because the award was on their resumes. Basically, it's more than just this medal you pick up at age 17. For many men, it's a lifelong position—and one that demonstrates a commitment to serving others and caring for the community.
So when Eagle Scouts start returning their medals to the Boy Scouts of America, that matters. Especially when these men are making this decision because they think it's the best way to demonstrate the values of being an Eagle Scout.
The Boy Scouts of America bans participation in scouting by openly gay, bisexual, or transgender kids and bans GBLT adults from serving as scout masters. Read the rest
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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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:
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“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.
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. Read the rest
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
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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.
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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.
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)
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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
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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
. Read the rest
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)
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"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)
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"Men of the Stacks" is a beefcake calendar featuring hunky librarians, with proceeds to the It Gets Better project.
(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
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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 Read the rest
Australians now have a third option for the "gender" field on their passports. Transgendered people and people of ambiguous gender are allowed to enter "X" for gender, rather than "F" or "M".
An Australian senator, Louise Pratt - whose partner was born female and is now identified as a man - said the reform was a huge step forward.
New Australian passports allow third gender option Read the rest
"There have been very many cases of people being detained at airports by immigration in foreign countries simply because their passports don't reflect what they look like," she told Australian radio.
"It's very distressing, highly inconvenient and frankly sometimes dangerous."
Dr. Robert G. Heath's 1972 paper Pleasure and brain activity in man: Deep and surface electroencephalograms during orgasm
details an insane experiment in which a suicidal, drug-addicted gay man was wired up with deep-brain stimulators; the good doctor then paid a prostitute to screw said suicidal, drug-addicted gay man. The experiment's purpose? TO CURE TEH GAY!
...the patient was equipped with a three-button self-stimulating transistorized device... The three buttons... were attached to electrodes in the various deep [brain] sites, and the patient was free to stimulate any of these three sites as he chose... He was permitted to wear the device for 3 hours at a time: on one occasion he stimulated his septal region 1,200 times, on another occasion 1,500 times, and on a third occasion 900 times. He protested each time the unit was taken from him, pleading to self-stimulate just a few more times... the patient reported feelings of pleasure, alertness, and warmth (goodwill); he had feelings of sexual arousal and described a compulsion to masturbate...
One aspect of the total treatment program for this patient was to explore the possibility of altering his sexual orientation through electrical stimulation of pleasure sites of the brain. As indicated in the history, his interests, contacts, and fantasies were exclusively homosexual; heterosexual activities were repugnant to him.
A twenty-one-year-old female prostitute agreed, after being told the circumstances, to spend time with the patient in a specially prepared laboratory.
The tasping gay-curing doc founded the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at Tulane University, New Orleans, in 1949 and ran it until 1980. Read the rest