'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.

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Manning’s gender hell: Shades of gray in a black-and-white world

We asked writer, film director, Boing Boing contributor, and transgender educator and activist Andrea James what she thought about the media confusion following Private Manning‘s gender transition revelation. Below, Andrea’s thoughts.

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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.

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Stephen Fry explains what a hateful, terrible thing is the Daily Mail

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.

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Stephen Fry to David Cameron and IOC: a Russian 2014 Olympics would be a repeat of the 1936 Berlin games


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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Voice of GLaDOS helps gaymer propose marriage

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.

A Proposal With The Help of GLaDOS’ Voice Actress

Why I'm not boycotting Ender's Game

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.

The making of Family Restaurant, a short film for kids with LGBT parents by Andrea James

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 Jardin

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Christian "gay cure" group apologizes

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]

Petition to "Christian" college that won't provide transcripts to student expelled for being gay


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)

Queer indie games

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."

Porno copyright troll to Georgia judge: "Ignore California judge! They have gay marriage!"

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.

Prenda Lawyer Says Judge Wright's Order Is Inapplicable In Georgia Because California Recognizes Gay Marriage [Mike Masnick/TechDirt]

Gay filmmakers help teach Scouts about making movies

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!)

DC introduces its first openly transgender character

Alysia Yeoh, Batgirl's roommate. [HRC]

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.

I LOOK LIKE AN EGG, BUT I IDENTIFY AS A COOKIE