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150 years of photos of American lesbians


Autostraddle's Riese has collected an astounding gallery of photos of American lesbians, spanning 150 years, from 1850 to 2000.

I really threw myself into Herstory Month, in June, eating every accessible herstory archive on the internet and spending hours in the library, accumulating massive stacks of borrowed books which I stored at the foot of my bed. My girlfriend was not a big fan of the stacks of books at the foot of the bed.

I was looking for words but eventually, also, for pictures. Honestly before tumblr it was difficult to find very much lesbian imagery at all online — it was always the same ten or twelve stock photos — let alone pictures of lesbians taken prior to 2000. I wanted to see an evolution of our community, how we'd grown and changed over the years — and not just in a montage of famous out actresses and models, but pictures of actual people, pictures of women who were active in the community — regular human beings, writers and social activists.

Epic Gallery: 150 Years Of Lesbians And Other Lady-Loving-Ladies (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

(Images: Top, "1880s"; right, "Evelyn “Jackie” Bross (left) and Catherine Barscz (right) at the Racine Avenue Police Station, Chicago, June 5, 1943. They had been arrested for violating the cross-dressing ordinance.")

Homophobic theory of dinosauric extinction


Origin unknown: a brochure attributing the extinction of dinosaurs to their rampant homosexuality. Quite possibly a parody.

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Malaysia offers "spot the gay kid" seminars for teachers and parents

In Malaysia, being gay can get you a caning and 20 years in prison. Now the Malaysian government is holding seminars to help teachers and parents figure out which kids are gay (boys with "tight, light-coloured clothes and large handbags" are under suspicion; girls who "have no affection for men and like to hang out and sleep in the company of women" are also suspect). The seminars are reportedly hugely attended, with 1,500 people turning up to last week's event, which was organized by the Teachers Foundation of Malaysia. The official reasoning for this is that being gay is contagious, so straight kids who are around gay kids might catch it. More a Reuters report:

The latest seminar for the teachers and parents was run by deputy education minister Puad Zarkashi, his office confirmed.

Zarkashi wasn't immediately available for comment but national news agency Bernama quoted him as saying that being able to identify the signs will help contain the spread of the unhealthy lifestyle among the young, especially students.

"Youths are easily influenced by websites and blogs relating to LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] groups," he was quoted as saying.

"This can also spread among their friends. We are worried that this happens during schooling time."

Malaysia holds seminars to help teachers spot 'gay children'

Let's help a new roller derby documentary about lesbian, bisexual, and transgender skaters body slam its goal!

In a related followup to my interview with the filmmakers of the men's roller derby documentary, This Is How I Roll, another derby film is currently trying to raise money for production costs. The Vagine Regime: A Documentary Where Vaginas Collide puts the focus on lesbian, bisexual, and transgender skaters (a subject Kat Vecchio touched on in our interview) and how they've experienced both acceptance and opposition in the very inclusive world of women's roller derby. As of this writing, they are seven days and just under $10,000 away from their $35,000 goal at Kickstarter. They're so close to kicking ass on the big screen -- let's help them out! [Kickstarter]

100 years of gay shame

The highest court in Moscow has upheld a 100 year ban on gay pride parades.

33 Quips for Queers (video)

[Video Link] Joe Sabia, our Boing Boing video on Virgin America collaborator, directed this absolutely fabulous video for Montreal's "Queer of the Year" contest.

Crazy stuff they'll teach in Louisiana's publicly funded charter schools

Louisiana governor (and retired exorcist) Bobby Jindal has signed an aggressive charter school bill that will transfer millions in tax dollars to religious academies run by evolution-denying, homophobic, climate-change-denying Christian extremists. Mother Jones's Deanna Pan went for a dig through these schools' official texts and discovered that Louisiana's publicly funded education system will soon tell some of its luckiest students that the KKK "achieved a certain respectability" by fighting bootleggers; "the majority of slave holders treated their slaves well;" dragons might be real; "dinosaurs and humans were definitely on the earth at the same time," and many other fun facts.

3. "God used the Trail of Tears to bring many Indians to Christ."—America: Land That I Love, Teacher ed., A Beka Book, 1994...

7. The Great Depression wasn't as bad as the liberals made it sound: "Perhaps the best known work of propaganda to come from the Depression was John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath…Other forms of propaganda included rumors of mortgage foreclosures, mass evictions, and hunger riots and exaggerated statistics representing the number of unemployed and homeless people in America."—United States History: Heritage of Freedom, 2nd ed., A Beka Book, 1996...

10. Mark Twain and Emily Dickinson were a couple of hacks: "[Mark] Twain's outlook was both self-centered and ultimately hopeless…Twain's skepticism was clearly not the honest questioning of a seeker of truth but the deliberate defiance of a confessed rebel."—Elements of Literature for Christian Schools, Bob Jones University, 2001

"Several of [Emily Dickinson's] poems show a presumptuous attitude concerning her eternal destiny and a veiled disrespect for authority in general. Throughout her life she viewed salvation as a gamble, not a certainty. Although she did view the Bible as a source of poetic inspiration, she never accepted it as an inerrant guide to life."—Elements of Literature for Christian Schools, Bob Jones University, 2001...

12. Gay people "have no more claims to special rights than child molesters or rapists."—Teacher's Resource Guide to Current Events for Christian Schools, 1998-1999, Bob Jones University Press, 1998

One text also decries mathematical set theory as ungodly.

14 Wacky "Facts" Kids Will Learn in Louisiana's Voucher Schools

Astronaut Sally Ride's partner won't receive government death benefits. Thanks, homophobes.

Sally Kohn at TIME, writing about the female domestic partner of Sally Ride, physicist and first American woman in space: "Under federal law, Ride’s domestic partner of 27 years will not receive death benefits or Social Security payments. Is that any way to treat a hero?" It's an injustice, but it's not NASA's fault. Nor, of course, is the injustice limited to the case of Sally Ride and the woman who loved her. This is all DOMA. (via Steve Silberman)

Best Marriage Equality ad ever (video)

[Video Link] A PSA by "Why Marriage Matters (Maine)", featuring Harlan Gardner of Machias, ME along with four generations of his family, talking about what marriage means to him and why it matters to the gay and lesbian people in his life.

"It takes a great deal of bravery to be a lesbian. I am so proud of Katie and Alex," Mr. Gardner says. "Marriage is too precious a thing not to share. This isn't about politics. It's about family, and how we as people treat one another."

Man. Don't know about you, but I sure cried.

(via Steve Silberman)

Amid PR crisis, top Chick-fil-A publicist dies

The Midland, GA-based fast food chain Chick-fil-A has been in the middle of a public relations firestorm over homophobic comments by its CEO. Today, the company's chief spokesman Don Perry died unexpectedly. Various news outlets are reporting the cause of death as a heart attack, citing Ross Cathy, owner of the fast food chain and family member of company CEO, Dan Cathy, as a source. The company's CEO has long made his conservative, non-gay-friendly political positions known, but recent remarks against gay marriage sparked widespread protest. The company is now being sued by a former employee (PDF) over allegations of gender discrimination.

Homophobic Chick-Fil-A in a chickeny shitstorm

Homophobic chicken-slingers Chick-Fil-A are reeling in a tempest of bad publicity. First the Jim Henson company yanked its toys from its stores, then the mayor of Boston told it that it should set up business elsewhere, and now a mysterious stranger has begun to astroturf on its behalf on Facebook. Chick-Fil-A says that it has no idea who the person pretending to be a teenage girl who really passionately supports the cause of discrimination against homosexuals is (though I'm sure they appreciate "her" support) -- and for the record, they say that Henson's toys were withdrawn for "safety" reasons.

Sally Ride's sister, on the quiet acknowledgement of her orientation: "I hope it makes it easier for kids growing up gay."

Astronaut, physicist, and American science hero Sally Ride died yesterday of pancreatic cancer, at 61. Dr. Ride was the first American female in space, and left a vast legacy of scientific accomplishments. When her astronaut days ended, she worked to promote space and science literacy to young people around the world through Sally Ride Science.

As friends and professional associates knew, and as was quietly noted in the obituary released on her website, Ms. Ride had been in a committed relationship with a woman for some 27 years. She met her partner Tam O'Shaughnessy nearly 50 years ago. Neither her cancer diagnosis nor her orientation were publicly shared, prior to her death.

Sally Ride's sister, Bear Ride, addressed this very personal aspect of Sally's very private life in comments to Buzzfeed today. "We consider Tam a member of the family," she told Chris Geidner.

"The pancreatic cancer community is going to be absolutely thrilled that there's now this advocate that they didn't know about. And, I hope the GLBT community feels the same," Bear, who identifies as gay, told Buzzfeed. "I hope it makes it easier for kids growing up gay that they know that another one of their heroes was like them."

Asked about those who would have opposed legal recognition of her sister's relationship, Bear Ride bluntly replied, "Who cares about them, really? There are those who are stubbornly ignorant, and if they want to continue in that, God bless them, but probably best not to talk to my family."

The rest of the interview is well worth a read. More about Dr. Ride in our post from the day she died.

Sally Ride, first American woman in space, has died

Dr. Sally Ride, an American physicist and former NASA astronaut, has died of pancreatic cancer. She joined NASA in 1978, and in 1983 became the first American woman to travel into space. From a statement on her website:

Sally Ride died peacefully on July 23rd, 2012 after a courageous 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, joy, and love. Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless.

Sally was a physicist, the first American woman to fly in space, a science writer, and the president and CEO of Sally Ride Science. She had the rare ability to understand the essence of things and to inspire those around her to join her pursuits.

Read the rest

Queers through the Years (video)

[Video Link] Joe Sabia directed the 3rd annual Queer of the Year in Montreal. Basically a two week competition in Montreal to promote Montreal as the most tolerant, accepting place on earth. (which it just might be). "Queer of the Year" in Montreal. "Basically a two week competition to promote Montreal as the most tolerant, accepting place on earth," says Joe, "Which it just might be."

Bruce Sterling on Alan Turing, gender, AI, and art criticism

Bruce Sterling gave a speech at the North American Summer School in Logic, Language, and Information (NASSLLI) on the eve of the Alan Turing Centenary, and delivered a provocative, witty and important talk on the Turing Test, gender and machine intelligence, Turing's life and death, and art criticism.

If you study his biography, the emotional vacuum in the guy’s life was quite frightening. His parents are absent on another continent, he’s in boarding schools, in academia, in the intelligence services, in the closet of the mid-20th-century gay life. Although Turing was a bright, physically strong guy capable of tremendous hard work, he never got much credit for his efforts during his lifetime.

How strange was Alan Turing? Was Alan Turing a weird, scary guy? Let’s try a thought experiment, because I’m a science fiction writer and we’re into those counterfactual approaches.

So let’s just suppose that Alan Turing is just the same personally: he’s a mathematician, an early computer scientist, a metaphysician, a war hero — but he’s German. He’s not British. Instead of being the Bletchley Park code breaker, he’s the German code maker. He’s Alan Turingstein, and he realizes the Enigma Machine has a flaw. So, he imagines, designs and builds a digital communication code system for the Nazis. He defeats the British code breakers. In fact, he’s so brilliant that he breaks some of the British codes instead. Therefore, the second World War lasts until the Americans drop their nuclear bomb on Europe.

I think you’ll agree this counter-history is plausible, because so many of Turing’s science problems were German — the famous “ending problem” of computability was German. The Goedel incompleteness theorem was German, or at least Austrian. The world’s first functional Turing-complete computer, the Konrad Zuse Z3, was operational in May 1941 and was supported by the Nazi government.

So then imagine Alan Turingstein, mathematics genius, computer pioneer, and Nazi code expert. After the war, he messes around in the German electronics industry in some inconclusive way, and then he commits suicide in some obscure morals scandal. What would we think of Alan Turingstein today, on his centenary? I doubt we’d be celebrating him, and secretly telling ourselves that we’re just like him.

Turing Centenary Speech (New Aesthetic)Turing Centenary Speech (New Aesthetic)

(Image: Tsar Bomba mushroom cloud, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from andyz's photostream)

Q&A with a former member of the Westboro Baptist family

Nate Phelps, the 6th of 13 of Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps's kids, took to Reddit for an Ask Me Anything Q&A. Nate escaped his father's notorious, hateful "church" when he was 18. As you'll see from the interview, the Phelps household was a microcosm of Fred's hateful, loony doctrine -- a place of grotesque violence and lunatic belief.

Thanks! The first three nights after I ran away, I slept in the bathroom of a gas station near the high school I attended (Topeka West). From there, my brother's (Mark) mother-in-law offered me a room at her home. Very little I miss. It was so destructive and took years to undue. I have talked about the sense of security and belonging I can recall feeling from time to time when we were having church services on Sunday evenings. Something about being tucked in that building that's half buried and feeling like we're the only one's that god loves...it's hard to articulate...

My father believes homosexuality is a special sin you can't recover from. He get's this from some obscure passage in Romans. Yes, there is a tremendous amount of selective quoting. But this is lost on them because they never really were taught to examine the Bible and decide for themselves. They were taught to believe what he believes. This leaves them wholly unable to truly debate anyone. They recognize certain sounds and respond to those sounds with the sounds they learned. They don't critically analyze the incoming sounds at all.

One of those sounds they recognize is "why do you preach if you don't think people can be saved" to which they respond with the sound "it's not our job to save, only to preach". It's what I call the divine Nuremberg defense...

I remember one of the Shawnee Mission (I think East) schools doing a killer counter protest. My personal favorite is the Jewish Center down in Texas that raised enough money at one of their protests to buy a new ice making machine for the center. They put a plaque on it that said something like: "The Fred Phelps Memorial 'Hell Froze Over' Ice Machine".

IAmAn Ex-Member of the Westboro Baptist Church (via MeFi)

Turing and pride in Manchester

Here's the Alan Turing statue in Manchester, decorated with pride for the centenary, taken by Josh R with Jonnie B.

Happy birthday Alan Turing (via Nelson)

HOWTO think like Alan Turing

In early celebration of the Turing centenary this week, Ars Technica's Matthew Lasar has a lovely list of seven of Alan Turing's habits of thought, including this one: Be Playful.

There was something about Turing that made his friends and family want to compose rhymes. His proud father openly admitted that he hadn't the vaguest idea what his son's mathematical inquiries were about, but it was all good anyway. "I don't know what the 'ell 'e meant / But that is what 'e said 'e meant," John wrote to Alan, who took delight in reading the couplet to friends.

His fellow students sang songs about him at the dinner table: "The maths brain lies often awake in his bed / Doing logs to ten places and trig in his head."

His gym class colleagues even sang his praises as a linesman: "Turing's fond of the football field / For geometric problems the touch-lines yield."

Turing's favorite physical activity, however, was running, especially the long-distance variety. "He would amaze his colleagues by running to scientific meetings," Hodges writes, "beating the travelers by public transport." He even came close to a shot at the 1948 Olympic Games, a bid cut short by an injury.

The highly productive habits of Alan Turing

(Image: Alan Turing in 1927, Sherborne school archives)

Vint Cerf on Alan Turing's legacy


The BBC is celebrating the Turing centenary with a series of commissioned essays on the importance of Alan Turing and his work, kicking off with today's essay by Vint Cerf, co-creator of the Internet and Google's "Chief internet evangelist." Cerf has been awarded the Turing prize by the ACM.

Turing's legacy continues to evolve, astonish, challenge and excite. His insights and fearless approach to daunting problems set benchmarks for decades to come.

His clarity of thought and creative genius infused those with whom he worked. His conceptual notions, such as the Universal Turing Machine, provided the basis for serious analysis of computability and decidability.

His practical realisations of computing engines, special systems like the bombe and general purpose ones such as Ace, shed bright light on the feasibility of purposeful computing and lit the way towards the computing rich environment we find in the 21st century.

Had he lived to see 2012, one wonders what his thoughts might be and what new ideas he would challenge us to think about.

As my own journey into computing and networking continues to unfold, I find myself wondering and wishing that Turing were still around to consult.

Alan Turing: why the tech world's hero should be a household name

(Image: Vint Cerf, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from joi's photostream)

Fifth grader barred from giving speech on marriage equality by Queens, NY principal, later reversed by Schools Chancellor

Kameron Slade is a Queens, New York fifth grader who won his class speaking competition planned to participate in the school-wide contest with a speech about same-sex marriage. The principal of PS 195 prohibited him from giving the speech, which generated predictable (and completely justified) kerfuffle. Now Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott has overriden the principal, and young master Slade will give his speech after all.

Some people are for same-gender marriage, while others are against it. Like President Obama, I believe that all people should have the right to marry whoever they want. Marriage is about love, support, and commitment. So who are we to judge? If we judge people like this, this is a form of prejudice. We must learn to accept all differences.[...]

My mom is very open to me about same-gender marriage. However, some adults may feel uncomfortable and think it’s inappropriate to talk about this to children. I think adults must realize that as children get older, they become aware of these mature issues that are going on in the world. If children read or watch the news, they can learn about things like same-gender marriage, so what’s the point in trying to hide it?

In conclusion, I hope that everyone understands how important it is to respect everyone for who they are. Same-gender marriage is becoming more popular. I believe that same-gender marriage should be accepted worldwide and that parents and teachers should start to discuss these issues without shame to their children.

Fifth-Grader Prohibited From Giving Speech Supporting Marriage Equality (via Reddit)

"Ain’t No Homos Gonna Make it to Heaven," sings toddler in church

In a video made viral by our pals at Dangerous Minds, a child sings:

"I know the Bible’s right, somebody’s wrong / I know the Bible’s right, somebody’s wrong / Ain't no homos going to make it to heaven."

Then, a crowd of adults cheers and gives a standing ovation.

You can watch the video at Dangerous Minds.

Christian groups oppose anti-bullying rules, demand right to fear teh gay

Conservative "Christian" groups are voicing opposition to anti-bullying legislation in Illinois because they say that it is part of a "homosexual agenda" and will infringe upon their right to deride gay and trans people. The groups include the Illinois Family Institute and Concerned Christians of America, who say that anti-bullying rules "promote unproven, non-factual beliefs about the nature and morality of homosexuality and 'transgenderism'." The anti-bullying rules do not mention homosexuality or transgenderism. Whatever that is.

When Same-Sex Marriage Was a Christian Rite

Gwinna at anthropologist.livejournal.com writes: "Contrary to myth, Christianity's concept of marriage has not been set in stone since the days of Christ, but has constantly evolved as a concept and ritual. Prof. John Boswell, the late Chairman of Yale University’s history department, discovered that in addition to heterosexual marriage ceremonies in ancient Christian church liturgical documents, there were also ceremonies called the 'Office of Same-Sex Union' (10th and 11th century), and the 'Order for Uniting Two Men' (11th and 12th century)." (via @joshuahol)

Open thread: "Same sex couples should be able to get married"—Barack Obama, May 9, 2012

Photo: At a bar in San Francisco, Horst Linsen of Germany watches TV as President Obama voices support to same-sex marriage. (Reuters)

U.S. President Barack Obama said today he believes same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, taking a stand that is likely to please his political base and upset conservative voters. Your thoughts on the news, and what it means for the presidential election season in America, are welcome in the comments.

Where it is best to be LGBT in the United States (infographic)

The Guardian (UK) has published a nifty information graphic breaking down gay rights in the US, state by state. Issues like marriage, adoption, employment discrimination protection, hate crime laws, and whether schools have regulations to ban harassment based on gender and sexual orientation. Is the rainbow color scheme of this blatantly pro-homosexual infographic a coincidence? I think not. (via @janinegibson)

Widow sues small Texas town that denied her benefits because she is transgender

Nikki Araguz of Wharton, Texas (population 9,000) is suing the town where she and her husband lived: she was denied workers’ compensation benefits because she is transgender. Her husband Thomas Araguz, a volunteer firefighter, was killed while fighting a fire in 2010. A judge voided their marriage and denied death benefits because the state does not recognize same-sex marriages (this isn't one), or recognize trans people as the gender to which they've transitioned. (thanks, Antinous!)

How a culture of fear thrives in attention economies, and what that means for "radical transparency" and the Zuckerberg doctrine

Danah boyd's "The Power of Fear in Networked Publics" is a speech delivered at SXSW and Webstock New Zealand (that's where this video comes from). Danah first defines a culture of fear ("the ways in which fear is employed by marketers, politicians, technology designers [e.g., consider security narratives] and the media to regulate the public"), then shows how "attention economics" can exploit fear to bring in attention ("there is a long history of news media leveraging fear to grab attention") and how this leads fear to dominate many of our debates:

Every day, I wake up to news reports about the plague of cyberbullying. If you didn't know the data, you'd be convinced that cyberbullying is spinning out of control. The funny thing is that we have a lot of data on this topic, data dating back for decades. Bullying is not on the rise and it has not risen dramatically with the onset of the internet. When asked about bullying measures, children and teens continue to report that school is the place where the most serious acts of bullying happen, where bullying happens the most frequently, and where they experience the greatest impact. This is not to say that young people aren't bullied online; they are. But rather, the bulk of the problem actually happens in adult-controlled spaces like schools.... Online, interactions leave traces.... The scale of visibility means that fear is magnified."

And that's where her critique of "radical transparency" starts:

Increasingly, the battles over identity are moving beyond geek culture into political battles. The same technologies that force people into the open are being used to expose people who are engaged in political speech. Consider, for example, how crowdsourcing is being used to identify people in a photograph. It just so happens that these people were engaged in a political protest.

Radical transparency is particularly tricky in light of the attention economy. Not all information is created equal. People are far more likely to pay attention to some kinds of information than others. And, by and large, they're more likely to pay attention to information that causes emotional reactions. Additionally, people are more likely to pay attention to some people. The person with the boring life is going to get far less attention than the person that seems like a trainwreck. Who gets attention – and who suffers the consequences of attention – is not evenly distributed.

And, unfortunately, oppressed and marginalized populations who are already under the microscope tend to suffer far more from the rise of radical transparency than those who already have privilege. The cost of radical transparency for someone who is gay or black or female is different in Western societies than it is for a straight white male. This is undoubtedly a question of privacy, but we should also look at it through the prism of the culture of fear.

The whole paper and the video are both worth your attention. "The Power of Fear in Networked Publics" (via Schneier)

Landmark ruling for LGBT rights in Chile

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.

Don't let Mitt Romney's anti-gay billionaire backer whitewash his intimidation of critics

Billionaire anti-gay campaigner and Mitt Romney campaign co-finance chair Frank VanderSloot is whitewashing his tarnished image with a public relations campaign.

Read the rest

Family Restaurant, film for kids with gay / lesbian parents

Boing Boing pal and periodic guestblogger Andrea James sends word of a cool and worthy project she's doing, and raising funds for via Kickstarter: "Family Restaurant," a film for children whose moms and/or dads are LGBT.

"There are very few family-friendly films where kids with gay or lesbian parents can enjoy a fun story that reflects their own lives," Andrea says, "I think it's going to be pretty cute and a teensy bit controversial. All art is political!"

From Andrea's project description:

"Family Restaurant" celebrates young children with gay or lesbian parents. It shows them a magical world filled with cute characters who reflect their family lives. Set in a family restaurant, it features talking ketchup and mustard bottles among the colorful residents of the diner. It has a mix of puppetry and actors, including a number of real children with gay or lesbian parents.

I serve on the Board of Directors of Outfest, a prominent LGBT film festival. Each year, Outfest has a family day for children to watch movies, but there are very few family-friendly films where these kids can enjoy a fun story that reflects their own lives. It's time to make something specifically for these wonderful children, with a story that's charming enough to appeal to all young people.

Pitch in or learn more here.