MJ writes, "I'm part of a group called Gaysi Family. Every couple of months we host an open-mic event called Dirty Talk for the queer community in Mumbai (India). Funds raised from the event is donated to one or the two Queer support group in the city. This year in March we were contacted by BBC team, as they wanted to film one of our events. The clipping would then be featured in one of their queer documentaries hosted by none other than well-known gay celebrity Stephen Fry. "
Mary Robinette Kowal sez, "Many authors struggle to write beyond what they know and write the other. While conventions are tackling this material, there is frequently not enough time to delve into this tricky and nuanced skill. The Writing the Other Workshop and Retreat is designed to have lessons and conversations at a more advanced level. By pairing it with a retreat, we give the participants an opportunity to work on projects in a nurturing environment. This weeklong event gives you one on one time with the instructors David Anthony Durham, K. Tempest Bradford, Mary Robinette Kowal, Nisi Shawl, and Cynthia Ward."
Read the rest
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'Oddly Normal,' by John Schwartz: A family's struggle to help their teen son come to terms with his sexuality
New York Times correspondent John Schwartz shares an excerpt from his book “Oddly Normal: One Family’s Struggle to Help Their Teenage Son Come to Terms with His Sexuality,” which was released in a new paperback edition this week. The book is about his son Joe, who is shown in the snapshot above, outside the NYC LGBT Center.Read the rest
WordPress honours fraudulent copyright complaint from UK "straight rights" group, cooperates in censorship
A British anti-gay group called "Straight Pride UK" sent a press-release to a British blogger, expressing their admiration for Vladimir Putin's anti-gay laws, and the measures taken in African countries to criminalise gay people (Robert Mugabe has threatened to decapitate gay people). Afterwards, they changed their mind about the interview and sent a fraudulent DMCA takedown notice to WordPress.com, the blogger's host. WordPress -- who should have seen that there was no possible copyright violation in the interview -- caved and cooperated in censoring the post.
Read the rest
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National treasure Stephen Fry published an open letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron and the International Olympic Committee asking them to move the 2014 Winter Olympics from Russia in response to Russia's banning and scapegoating of LGBT people. Fry compared a 2014 Russia Games to the 1936 Berlin Games, which legitimized Hitler and greatly aided his cause.
Naturally, the Daily Mail, a newspaper that heavily supported Hitler and Naziism, came out against Fry with a predictable, vicious editorial. The Mail is a savage, terrible, morally bankrupt mouthpiece for a clutch of racists, sexists and greedy aristos who'll say or do anything to sell papers.
Fry has responded with a long piece on the Mail and its hatefulness that is a must-read, especially for people who haven't lived in the UK and understood what a genuinely nasty piece of work the Mail is, and how badly it distorts the public debate in this country.
Read the rest
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Stephen Fry to David Cameron and IOC: a Russian 2014 Olympics would be a repeat of the 1936 Berlin games
Read the rest
Comedian and national treasure Stephen Fry has written an open letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron and the International Olympic Committee calling on them to move the upcoming Winter Olympics from Russia to another country, specifically, any country in which homosexuality is not criminalized and LGBT people are not violently scapegoated as they are in Russia. Vladimir Putin recently rammed through legislation that bans being gay, talking about being gay, or advocating for the rights of LGBT people, and violent gangs routinely and savagely attack LGBT people, with impunity. Vicious practices like "corrective rape" and murder are ignored by the police. Fry compares bringing the Olympics to Russia in 2014 to cowardice that led to the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which legitimized Hitler and the Nazis on the global stage.
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An attendee at the GaymerX convention in San Francisco got Ellen McLain, who voices GLaDOS in the game Portal, to sing a modified version of the games' themesong, "Still Alive," as part of a marriage proposal. If this doesn't melt your heart, you are a murderous AI.
Earlier today, Mark wrote about a boycott of the Ender's Game movie; called for on the basis of Orson Scott Card's public statements opposing gay marriage. Unlike Mark, I really enjoyed Ender's Game and read it several times; later, I read John Kessel's brilliant essay about it and realized some of the ways in which it brilliantly -- and troublingly -- snuck in a message of justifiable pre-emptive violence.
I've been concerned and upset about Card's views on homosexuality since his "Hypocrites of Homosexuality" came out in 1990. But I won't be signing onto the boycott call for the Ender's Game movie, for the same reason I didn't sign onto the call for a boycott of the Superman comic Card was tapped to write. A Steven Brust essay changed my thinking on this:
So, then, the question immediately stops being, “is it morally wrong to try to convince DC to blacklist Scott Card.” It becomes, “Is it a good tactic to try to convince DC to blacklist Scott Card.” In the previous discussion, Emma pointed out, quite correctly, that it’s an ineffective way to create change. I agree, but there’s more. Just like in a good work of fiction, what we need to examine are consequences. And the consequences of creating a blacklist are simple: it opens the door for it’s use against us. And, frankly, we’re a lot more vulnerable than they are; they have the entire power of the massive machine of capital and the State; we have only what we can pull in with our voices.
Later, Brust posted an anaecdote where he quoted Oscar Brand: "We on the left do not blacklist."
Update: In the comments, Bill Morgenthien points out that a boycott isn't the same thing, precisely, as a blacklist. That's very true, and it's an important distinction.
Longtime friend and Boing Boing contributor Andrea James has just completed a Kickstartered short film for children from LGBT families. I saw it this week, and was blown away by how funny and sweet it was. I know how hard she’s worked on this; a true labor of love. I hope kids (and grown-ups) far and wide have a chance to experience both the art and the message. For readers in the SF Bay Area, there’s a screening on Sunday June, 2013 in the Frameline LGBT film festival at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre. Andrea writes in to Boing Boing with the backstory.—Xeni JardinRead the rest
In a public statement, Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus Ministries, apologized for his group's practice of offering cruel "gay cure" camps.
I am sorry for the pain and hurt that many of you have experienced. I am sorry some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents.
I am sorry I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite — or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him, I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine.
More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection. I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives.
The letter goes on to reiterate the group's opposition to gay sex, but to hint that they would support marriage equality nevertheless.
“Ex-gay” Christian group to LGBT people: We’re sorry [Katie McDonough/Salon]
Danielle Powell had nearly finished her Bachelor's Degree at Omaha's Grace University when the school administration found out that she was a lesbian. They outed her to her family and fellow students and suspended her (Grace is a religious school, which requires that its students abstain from "sexually immoral behavior, including premarital sex, adultery, and homosexual acts"). During her suspension, they made extensive queries to discover if she was still involved in same-sex relationships, and on discovering that she was, they did.
Powell has attempted to finish her degree at another university, but Grace refuses to provide her transcripts unless she pays back about $6,000 in merit scholarships that she received from the institution. Powell's wife has started a petition to get the university to provide Powell's transcripts and forgive the "debt."
"They were doing a witch hunt," Powell said, "calling around to see if I was in a same-sex relationship."
James told Powell in a letter, a copy of which was provided to HuffPost, that she was being "deceitful" and said it would be "unethical" for the university to readmit her since it "would be impossible for the faculty of Grace University to affirm your Christian character, a requirement for degree conferral."
By October 2012, as Powell was looking into attending another college, she said she was told that Grace would only transfer the credits from her three and a half years if she paid a $6,300 tuition bill from the semester during which she was suspended for being gay. The university denies they have withheld her transcripts, but Powell said she's only been offered a student copy she cannot use to transfer.
Danielle Powell, Grace University Student Kicked Out For Being Lesbian, Must Repay Thousands: [Tyler Kingkade/HuffPo] (via Reddit)
Brendan Keogh checks out the the "secret avant garde of video games."
"Queer people have always been creating culture from the margins," insists Anna Anthropy, game developer and author. "Like, queer people popularized jeans. It was queer soldiers who started wearing jeans outside of the military, and then that became popular. You have to have an outsider perspective to create something that is meaningful, fashionable, intelligent. Then that is gradually adopted by the mainstream."
When US Federal Judge Otis Wright ruled against Prenda Law (a gang that used sloppy accusations of illegal downloads of pornographic movies to extort millions from people who didn't want the embarrassment of being publicly sued), he ordered Prenda's lawyers to give copies of his ruling to judges in all the other places where they were suing their victims. Judge Wright's ruling called Prenda a "fraud" and said its lawyers engaged in "moral turpitude."
One of Prenda's most colorful lawyers is Jacques Nazaire. He's asked a judge in Georgia to ignore the Judge Wright's order, because Judge Wright is a California judge, and California has gay marriage.
It doesn't stop there. It notes that California courts have different immigration rules and (randomly) that NY has different gun rights. Basically, it throws out every hot button issue that stereotypical conservatives might disagree with stereotypical liberals on.
Of course, all of that is meaningless. While it's true that Judge Wright's ruling is in no way a precedential ruling for the Georgia court, it's still a ruling about federal law, not any specific state law. And the ruling itself is about flat out misconduct (including potential racketeering and tax evasion claims) by the plaintiff in this case, because of actions in a nearly identical case. That's not about California having a "mandate" over Georgia. It's about very relevant additional information that the court should know about.
Nazaire then goes on to list out a ridiculous parade of horribles that he claims would happen if the Georgia court "followed the aforesaid California Order" including that law firms wouldn't be able to use boilerplate text any more. This makes absolutely no sense at all. First of all, the inclusion of Judge Wright's order is not about having the Georgia court "follow" the order, but adding additional important information about the parties in this particular case. Separately, the idea that adding a California ruling into the docket suddenly means lawyers wouldn't be able to cut and paste any more... just doesn't make any sense at all.
Todd Bieber made a great short video on his experience as an Eagle Scout and a volunteer with the Scouts who is upset about the decision of the BSA to exclude gay and lesbian people: "I'm a filmmaker and an Eagle Scout. Recently, while serving as merit badge counselor of Cinematography Merit Badge, I invited several gay filmmakers to help teach some Boy Scouts about making movies."
Gay Filmmakers and Boy Scouts (Thanks, Eric!)
Heather Gold's "I Look like An Egg, but I Identify as a Cookie" interactive baking comedy comes to the East Bay (free tix!)
Years and years ago, I saw Heather Gold's innovative, interactive baking comedy "I Look like An Egg, but I Identify As A Cookie" in San Francisco. It was fabulous. Now it's about to have its debut in the East Bay:
While baking chocolate chip cookies with the audience and special guests (Bakesale Betty), Gold combines heterosexuality (DRY), lesbianism (WET), and the Left (MIX). "Cookie" is a story of first kisses, rugby drama, Mrs C's secret honeycake recipe and slow dancing to Air Supply. Gold transforms the coming out story, making mincemeat of the identities that keep us from our whole selves and each other. "Cookie" is a show of sweet and simple truths.
Heather's making two pairs of tickets available, all you need to do is tweet you favorite secret ingredient with #eggcookie and she'll get in touch. Oh, and here's a great post Heather made explaining why she uses CC licenses in her performances.
Comedy troupe loses YouTube account after viral success of "PS Gay Car," can't get anyone at YT to listen to them
Wil Wheaton sez,
On November 17th, 2012, New York-based comedy music group Fortress of Attitude uploaded a music video they created for their song "PS Gay Car" (using the exact words of a mean note they found on their car one day) to YouTube. The pro-gay rights video was immensely popular, garnering coverage from, Huffington Post, Out Magazine, College Humor and Queerty. The video gained 39,800 views in its first month, and then a month later YouTube took down the video, claiming they'd used bots to drive up views.
The story that unfolds is Kafkaesque: Fortress of Attitude hires New Media Rights to help them get their video reinstated, and Google/YouTube's response is to send form letters back that just restate the alleged initial TOU violation. Ultimately, Google/YouTube refuses to consider any evidence or explanation from Fortress of Attitude, and deletes the video permanently.
In the Atlantic today, Alice Dreger interviews Joe, who is now 17 years old, "to expand on some of the themes explored in the book and answer some questions raised by people who have commented on it."
Joe is a really interesting person, and the interview is terrific. Go have a read.
(Photo: John and Joe, shot by Ethan Hill for the NYT)
The Stonewall Riots kicked off on June 28, 1969, and marked a turning-point in the gay rights movement. Today, they're remembered as a kind of shot heard round the world, but at the time, the coverage was a lot less sympathetic. Here's a mirror of "Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Are Stinging Mad," a story by Jerry Lisker that ran in the New York Daily News on July 6, 1969.
She sat there with her legs crossed, the lashes of her mascara-coated eyes beating like the wings of a hummingbird. She was angry. She was so upset she hadn't bothered to shave. A day old stubble was beginning to push through the pancake makeup. She was a he. A queen of Christopher Street.
Last weekend the queens had turned commandos and stood bra strap to bra strap against an invasion of the helmeted Tactical Patrol Force. The elite police squad had shut down one of their private gay clubs, the Stonewall Inn at 57 Christopher St., in the heart of a three-block homosexual community in Greenwich Village. Queen Power reared its bleached blonde head in revolt. New York City experienced its first homosexual riot. "We may have lost the battle, sweets, but the war is far from over," lisped an unofficial lady-in-waiting from the court of the Queens.
"We've had all we can take from the Gestapo," the spokesman, or spokeswoman, continued. "We're putting our foot down once and for all." The foot wore a spiked heel. According to reports, the Stonewall Inn, a two-story structure with a sand painted brick and opaque glass facade, was a mecca for the homosexual element in the village who wanted nothing but a private little place where they could congregate, drink, dance and do whatever little girls do when they get together.
Here's a video of Samuel Delany reading from his latest, 2012's Through The Valley of the Nest of Spiders, which sounds like an amazing novel:
In 2007, days before his seventeenth birthday, Eric Jeffers’ stepfather brings him to live with his mother, who works as a waitress in the foundering tourist town of Diamond Harbor on the Georgia coast. In the local truck stop restroom, on his first day, Eric meets nineteen-year-old Morgan Haskell, as well as half a dozen other gay men who live and work in the area. The boys become a couple, and for the next twenty years labor as garbage men along the coast, sharing their lives and their lovers, learning to negotiate a committed open relationship. For a decade they manage a rural movie theater that shows pornographic films and encourages gay activity among the audience. Finally, they become handymen for a burgeoning lesbian art colony on nearby Gillead Island, as America moves twenty years, forty years, sixty years into a future fascinating, glorious, and—sometimes—terrifying.
Samuel R. Delany reads from Through The Valley of the Nest of Spiders April 2012 (Thanks, Muels A.!)
United Parcel Service has joined Intel in telling the Boy Scouts of America that it will no longer be eligible for corporate donations unless it ends its anti-gay policies. UPS gives $150,000 a year to the Scouts. Jacques Couret writes more in the Atlanta Business Chronicle:
Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality, began a campaign on Change.org to pressure Boy Scout corporate donors just after Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) halted its support for BSA.
“UPS showed true bravery today in standing with the 80,000 Americans, including thousands of Scouts and Scout leaders, who oppose the Boy Scouts’ hurtful anti-gay policy,” Wahls said in a statement. “That bravery is what Scouting is all about,. Corporate America gets it better than most: policies that discriminate aren’t simply wrong, they’re bad for business and they’re hurting the Scouting community.”
GLAAD said UPS told it that under revised guidelines, organizations that are unable to attest to having a policy or practices that align with The UPS Foundation’s non-discrimination policy will no longer be considered eligible for funding.
Rachel sez, "Instructions on how to replace the red-white-blue ribbon on the eagle award with a rainbow hued ribbon in support of LGBT rights. There is also a surprisingly passionate discussion on both sides of the issue in the comments section."
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.