November 30, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls the U.S. to "stand against efforts to marginalize and criminalize and penalize members of the LGBT community worldwide": Whether you love her or hate her (I've always adored her myself), you've got to appreciate Sec. Clinton standing up for us. Now I wonder if "worldwide" includes the U.S.?

WH defies court order -- top openly gay official's dept seeks to bar partner health benefits: From Pam's House Blend:

"This is yet another black eye for this administration that will force them to rationalize this maneuver. Mike Signorile:
If the Obama administration, which now has less than 30 days to respond, tries to fight this, not only will it undoubtedly cause another (and much bigger, in my opinion) firestorm within the LGBT community, but it's not clear that it actually can fight it, let alone win:

[Judge Kozinski's] order last week demanded that the executive branch reverse course, and gave the Administration 30 days to enroll Golinski's wife as her health-insurance beneficiary. He made clear that if it doesn't, he's ready to use the powers of his court to enforce his decree. University of California law professor Rory Little, a former Justice Department prosecutor and chief of appeals, called the order a "bombshell." "This is like exposing the tip of a huge iceberg that nobody knew even existed," he told TIME. "It's a fascinating question: Do the courts even have the power to do this? Where does it leave things procedurally? Where can the Administration appeal? I think there are five or six lawyers in the [Solicitor General's] office scurrying around right now trying to figure out what to do with this."
Again -- the sorry truth is that is the Office of Personnel Management led by John Berry, an openly gay man, is pushing for this. His marching orders are to deny a fellow member of our community -- a federal employee -- rights ordered granted by a federal court. Unbelievable. "

Courage Campaign pulls out of 2010 Prop 8 repeal effort: The move to repeal Prop 8 has been up in the air for quite some time - a 2010 effort vs. 2012. Today the Courage Campaign announced that its review of the political landscape, organizing and funding does not yet support a 2010 initiative.

Identity Crisis: does the Movement require that we check a box?

I recently read an article written by Karla Jay, radical lesbian feminist and current professor of English and Gender Studies at Pace University, in which Jay tackles a subject countless of us have heard bandied about by former and current activists alike: Gen Y apathy.

Jay makes some good points regarding not only the effects of our technologically driven lives on current activist apathy, but also the struggle to empower young leaders to make strides where their predecessors began 40 years ago (to be fair, I think there is a point to be made for the rise of young leaders during last year's presidential elections as well as the work of young leaders in the surging fight for Equality). But, one of the things that stood out to me in Jay's letter was her take on the refusal of some members of the LGBTQ community to identify as LGBTQ. Of the students she has observed, Jay says, "(t)here’s a Stonewall Coalition at the university, but you don’t need that because New York City has so many queer bars and you have the fake I.D. to get in. You’re oh-so-out, though most of you can’t apply the LGBTQ words to yourself in my queer courses." Her take on this movement away from identifying appears to be an accusation of sorts. Slipped within a diatribe on activist apathy, the feeling behind the sentiment is certainly fueled by an amount of distrust of the "label-less."

Jay's reaction to observing a certain reticence among queer students to identify as LGBTQ calls forward an issue that is key to the current Equality movement. Is this movement away from labels destructive to the unity and cohesiveness of the LGBTQ fight for equality? And is accepting a label on your sexuality really necessary for gaining access to your rights?

Murdered LGBTQ activist Harvey Milk epitomized the sentiments of the 1970s LGBTQ equality movement in his speech "That's What America Is!" when he urged LGBTQ Americans to come out to their families, their friends, their neighbors, and their coworkers. His work with other LGBTQ activist leaders under the slogan "Come out, come out, wherever you are!" resulted in the defeat of anti-gay legislation in California and a shifting tide in the fight for LGBTQ equality. Coming out and identifying as LGBTQ was seen as a political tool to win allies and to put a face to the people being affected by anti-LGBTQ sentiments and legislation. They capitalized upon the feminist political thought that "the personal is political" and used it to humanize the LGBTQ community.

For me, I believe that coming out and identifying remains a powerful weapon for LGBTQ equality. It is easy to demonize a faceless enemy that you have been warned against your entire life. It is much harder to hate someone you know, someone you truly love as a person, for being who they are, be it Black, Muslim, gay, or part of a host of other stereotyped and persecuted groups. Coming out is not only beneficial for the LGBTQ persons in question, but it forces the people around them to confront and become aware of their own reactions towards the LGBTQ community, homophobic or otherwise. However, when we don't come out, we allow the people around us to NOT have to confront these issues. We allow them to live in a space wherein they can believe whatever they want about the LGBTQ community without facing any challenge from us, while we avoid being open and secure about our own lives.

How does this tie in, then, to those who are out, but do not identify as LGBTQ? Personally, I can completely understand the desire to not identify or label oneself. Labels carry the burden of carefully cultivated stigma and stereotypes that probably do not apply to the individual, and it is frustrating to know that assumptions are made about you based on what "box" your sexuality most fits into. Not only do labels inherently limit sexual expression and identity, but they can become a means of parceling out our community along faction lines. In a Utopia, no one would need labels, because one's sexuality would not define one's ideals or morals in the eyes of peers. Sexuality would just be, and that would be that.

However, it is important to remember that we do not live in a Utopia. I respect anyone's decision to not allow themselves to be labeled. At the same time though, I believe there is room within this to still work to disseminate an understanding of our community to our peers and to forward LGBTQ equality. The practice Karla Jay described, that of participating in LGBTQ social life without having to represent the LGBTQ community within a broader social context IS, I believe, a loss to our community. At the very least, identifying with the LGBTQ community, even if not under one of its specific labels, is important in that, like coming out, it forces those around us to recognize us as part of a disenfranchised and underrepresented community. It makes each and every one of us social activists in our smaller communities by giving us a broader identity with which we can associate. In this way, even those of us who do not consider ourselves activists, become ambassadors for our queer community.

We are living and existing in a time of change, and I for one think that it is more than alright that we be a little confrontational.

Anonymous Posts

Every week, we collect anonymous entries sent in using the link on our sidebar and post them all on Monday. We post anything as long as it doesn't contain personal attacks or hate speech. Feel free to submit your thoughts and questions :)

Hey y'all. No anonymous posts came in this week! That is disheartening and frankly unacceptable, Readers. I expect everyone to step it up in the next week, our last before we break until next semester!

This post, though, was received over the summer when the blog was down:

I was watching the movie He's Just Not That Into You the other day, and there were a couple things that made me think about my love life and the dating scene of the gay (LGBTQ) community. The scene that tripped a sort of domino effect of reflection was one in which two gay men are explaining to a straight man the courting techniques that differ between gay and straight people. They basically demonstrated that gay people need only a glance before "it's over" -- the message is sent and the two people are either in bed, shredding each other to pieces or they've mutually decided against it. While I could understand the attempt at comedy, I couldn't help but feel insulted. Millions of people had seen this movie. Who knows how many of them internalized this lie as truth? The notion that gay people are some other species, with separate dating tactics and forms of communication, is the very one that has kept us from achieving equal rights and equal treatment. The movie was otherwise quite gay friendly, so it just didn't make sense that they should include this demeaning segment at all. If I'm so different from these heterosexual characters, why is it that I related so pathetically to their plight and heartache? Why is it that this woman's desperation to find someone, anyone to love her, struck me as so familiar? Why was this man's temptation so relatable?

Quite frankly, I'm sick and tired of having to explain myself as a human being. My attraction to another person is the same as my straight friends'! My own mother says she "doesn't understand." She has been supportive and accepting, but it saddens me to hear that she needs a breakdown of where my feelings come from and what they mean. "Just think of when you were dating at my age. Got it? Ok, there's your answer." Is the best our society has to offer a separated embrace? An alienated acceptance? What I don't understand is the need to classify us as a separate entity. In the U.S. especially, the tendency for segregation is a recurring one. This dangerous practice of drawing lines between religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations is what creates so much tension. Why can't we all be united under one label of "Americans," for example, each with his/her own idiosyncrasies and strengths? It is possible to retain one's culture and still be part of a different collective body.

November 28, 2009

Lesbian mother wins custody case against 'ex-gay' former partner: From Pam's House Blend:

"A Rutland Family Court judge ordered a first-of-its kind parent custody change Friday in a child-visitation dispute involving a Virginia woman and her former lesbian partner who lives in Fair Haven.

In a 21-page order, Judge William Cohen granted sole custody of 7-year-old Isabella Miller to her nonbiological but court-recognized parent, Janet Jenkins.

Jenkins and her former partner — and Isabella's biological mother — Lisa Miller, who renounced homosexuality after the couple split in 2003, have been in and out of courtrooms in Vermont and Virginia for years arguing over visitation rights.

. . . After finding Miller in contempt of court earlier this year for denying Jenkins access to Isabella, Cohen said he decided the only way to ensure the child equal access to both parents was to switch custody."

Marriage equality - is it time to give up the referenda fight? Willy Hameline examines the effectiveness of fighting for marriage equality at the ballot.

November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey y'all! We're taking a little break for Thanksgiving recess (though Aliza may still post news stories because she is The Best), but we'll see you on Monday!

Enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend!

Stephen Fry Raaaails the Catholic Church: I. Love. This. Man. As a member of the Catholic Church, I completely agree with Mr. Fry. The Church's leaders need to get their heads out of their asses and their hands out of politics.

P.S. The rest of the debate is great if you care to see it. The ending is the real kicker though ;D

Charleston, SC City Council Passes Nondiscrimination Ordinance: The Charleston City Council passed legislation that prohibits discrimination in matters of public accommodations and housing to include protection for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) Charlestonians.

November 24, 2009

Movie Review #2: Get Real

[Ed. Note: Every other Tuesday, Ari will be reviewing gay-themed movies. No, not those kind (ask him in person for those reviews). I swear by his judgment in films, and you should too :) ]

During my coming out process in high school, I was guilty of popping in a movie from time to time in order to watch a film that showed how other gay teenagers worked through their angst, confusion, fear and all of those other crazy feelings that compounded themselves into a single thought. Get Real was definitely one of those films that were able to embody that dramatic confusion in a gay adolescent’s life that helped me understand that I wasn’t alone (I also happen to be a sucker for films that include a high school jock, can you say husband material?).

The film, directed and written by Patrick Wilde, was an official selection at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival and plays off of the high school roles that tend to characterize and divide us while we play that petty game called the “high school experience”. The story revolves around a boyish teenager, Steven Carter (Ben Silverstone), who has known he was gay since he was 11 years old and continues to be harassed by the high school athletes for his more flamboyant attributes. Although Steven is comfortable with his sexuality, he isn’t sure that his parents and peers would be, and so the only person he tells is his best friend Linda (Charlotte Britain). One day after school, Steven has a run in with John Dixon (Brad Gorton) the high school all-star (isn’t it funny how it always works out that way? It’s never the ordinary jock, it’s always THE star athlete) and pursues a sexual tryst that turns into a relationship hidden from the public.

Perhaps not all of us have herded sheep with our unexpected lover on the mountainside a la Brokeback Mountain (not to say that it isn’t a dream of mine), and Get Real understands the realistic and everyday hardships of being a closeted gay teenager in high school, whether that person is in the spotlight or cast aside as a mere outlier. The story, however, allows us to see how those who were once thought of as insignificant can rise above the social sphere to make a difference in the levels of acceptance we hope to gain from our parents, teachers, administration, etc. During a time when people are at the mercy of their parents’ will, it’s interesting to see how teenagers can become the voice of reason to the adults in their lives.

Get Real is a terrific movie that relies on its humor to avoid victimizing the main character for pity, and instead celebrates the courage of one boy and his impact on an entire community. The best character by far is Linda; her quick wit and frumpy demeanor elicits the most hilarity and her role as a fruit fly (synonymous for another commonly used phrase in the gay community) is truly unparalleled by anyone else in gay cinema. This movie should be watched by anyone coping with the coming out process, or just hoping to look back on those perplexing years with a laugh or five. A-

Is the sexualization of women's basketball teams perpetuating the problem of homophobia in women's sports? Sports writer Jadya Evans responds to FSU's women's basketball team's new marketing ploy. Besides the obvious issues (girls can't just play basketball, they have to look pretty doing it too), Jadya asserts that this "feminizing" of women's basketball teams also represents the rampant homophobia in women's sports. By emphasizing gender norms and feminizing women basketball players, the viewer is meant to assume heterosexuality. If you know anything about women's sports and homophobia, you know this is hardly the first time that this has been an issue in the way that women's sports teams are marketed. What's even more frustrating is that these tactics aren't just harmful to the queer women they're trying to mask. They undermine all women, with the assumption that a woman can't just be amazing at what she does best, she must also be the "perfect" woman, glammed up, committed to community service, and blatantly heterosexual (being pregnant once in a while helps too). This isn't to say that any of these things are bad on their own, but when it becomes more important to emphasize these traits over the skill and sportsmanship of the women, especially in media focused on the sport, it's a problem.

November 23, 2009

Openly gay David Huebner is confirmed as US Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa: "Openly gay attorney David Huebner was confirmed by the US Senate last Friday to serve as US Ambassador to New Zealand and Somoa."

Reports of anti-gay or religious-based hate crimes rise in US in 2008; more agencies tracking: Reports of hate crimes against gays and religious groups increased sharply in the U.S. in 2008, according to new FBI data released Monday.

Overall, the number of reported hate crimes increased about 2 percent. These same figures show a nearly 11 percent increase in hate crimes based on sexual orientation, and a nearly 9 percent increase in hate crimes based on religion.

Colbert on William Phillips:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Tip/Wag - U.S. Speedskating Team, NY Lottery & William Phillips
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

Don't Forget to Remember

In agreeing to post my news feed on the Blue Devils United blog, I have to admit I forgot how insanely depressing it can be. From the hideous murders of Jorge Steven López Mercado and Jason Mattison Jr. to the harassment of mayoral candidate Annise Parker, the messages that we have been receiving have been grim. And not only from within our own borders, as the attempt to make homosexuality punishable by death in Uganda reminded us. These attacks upon our community, nationally and globally, while shocking, aren't new. Until there the LGBT community is understood and accepted worldwide, there will always be more to report on, more information to disseminate. It can be overwhelming and frustrating and disheartening.

However, I would like to give a platform, for a moment, to those other messages, the ones of hope and strength that come to us even as we learn of the crimes being committed against our community. A boy refusing to pledge to a flag that does not live up to all it promises. The British Prime Minister speaking out against transphobia. A local vigil. A march. A win. While these messages may seem a pittance in the face of the losses that we have felt, they are the embodiment of the love and fortitude of our community, and of our ever-growing legion of allies. I continue to take heart in the knowledge that progress, although slow, is inevitable, IF we continue to give our hearts and our minds to the struggle for it.

So as we pause and remember all of those lost before true equality could be won around the world, let us not lose faith in the power and potential of our LGBTA community.

And, because I just have to (and because it gives me chills every time), some words that never fail to give me hope:

Anonymous Posts

Every week, we collect anonymous entries sent in using the link on our sidebar and post them all on Monday. We post anything as long as it doesn't contain personal attacks or hate speech. Feel free to submit your thoughts and questions :)

Hello everyone! It's Class ACES Registration time again, I'm looking for a sexuality course that is fun and deals with LGBT issues. I'm thinking of signing up for SXL 135, with Janie Long, called "Clinical Issues in LGBTQ". Has anyone here taken this class? Is it worth taking, or fairly interesting? Is it hard or straightfoward?

Thanks! Looking forward to taking my first gay-themed class, if it's good!
-Undergrad lesbian

Gay marriage in New York! How awesome would this be? Go Gov. Patterson!!!!!

The Colbert video reminded me of a speech Keith Olbermann made last November, speaking out against Prop 8. This video is incredibly meaningful and is just as relevant today as it was a year ago. Forgetting politics and putting religion in perspective, he stresses the importance of love and happiness and the significance of spreading that love and happiness in a world that is so filled with hate. This is a video that everyone should see: both people in support of the LGBT community and non-supporters alike. It can definitely spark discussions on religion, love, and the symbolic nature of marriage and what it truly stands for. I urge you to take a 7 minute break from whatever you are working on and listen to this speech.


MA GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Charlie Baker Chooses Openly Gay Senator Richard Tisei as Running Mate: "Charlie Baker, a moderate Republican running to become the governor of Massachusetts, has chosen State Sen. Richard Tisei, who is openly gay, as his running mate. Baker issued the following on his Twitter account this morning: 'Want you to be the first to know: I’ve chosen State Senator Richard Tisei as my running mate. Excited about this team.' Tisei is the Senate Minority Leader, and played a key role in the fight to retain marriage equality in Massachusetts."

Tisei publicly discosed to the Boston Globe last week that he is gay: "Tisei was first elected to the House at age 22 and moved to the Senate in 1991. His sexual orientation has been an open secret on Beacon Hill, and he disclosed it publicly yesterday in an interview with the Globe, anticipating the scrutiny that would accompany a statewide candidacy. 'It is not exactly a news flash,' he said . 'I don’t think people really care these days.' "

Love, Survive, Organize: The Bull City Vigil for Jorge and Jason

“When my son told me he was gay, I told him, ‘Now, I love you more.’ I want to tell the world that hatred is not born with human beings, it is a seed that is planted by adults and is fostered creating a climate of intolerance and violence. We must change our ways and understand that anyone …could have been my son. And I want everybody to know that Jorge Steven was a very much loved son.”

- Miriam Mercado

On Sunday night, members of the Durham/Duke community gathered downtown at Durham Central Park to honor the lives and reflect on the deaths of Jorge Steven López Mercado and Jason Mattison Jr. The vigil was just one of over 20 held across the country yesterday.

Jorge was 19 when he was killed November 14 in Puerto Rico for being gay. His body was found on the side of a road "partially burned, decapitated, and dismembered, both arms, both legs, and the torso" (from Pam's House Blend). By all accounts, Jorge was an incredibly loved boy who sought to put his mark on the world of fashion design.

This murder has revealed not only the unfathomably sick nature of an individual, but also a paradigm of ignorance and intolerance among those in positions of power. As a community, we were appalled to read that a police investigator (and bigoted idiot) for the case publicly remarked, "'people who lead this type of lifestyle need to be aware that this will happen." Furthermore, the investigation has shed light on Puerto Rico's lack of legislation in this area: "Never in the history of Puerto Rico has a murder been classified as a hate crime. Even though we have to follow federal mandates and laws, many of the laws in which are passed in the USA such as Obama’s new bill, do not always directly get practiced in Puerto Rico," explained Christopher Pagan, a Puerto Rican who first alerted American media of the story.

15-year-old Jason Mattison Jr. was also murdered this month in his hometown of Baltimore. Jason was found shoved into a closet "raped, gagged with a pillowcase [and] stabbed repeatedly in the head and throat" (from The Baltimore Sun). The boy aspired to be a pediatrician: "There was never a question of whether or not he was going to make it. Some children we have to pray over a lot -- pray for grades that they pass, but we never worried about that with Jason," said Principal Starletta Jackson. The suspect, Dante Parrish, 35, is a family friend who had recently been released from prison after serving 10 out of a 30 year sentence for his involvement in a 1999 killing. The research of a nonprofit legal group The Innocence Project led to the discovery of a technicality with Dante's proceedings that led to an overturning of his conviction (from Pam's House Blend).

The Durham vigil last night featured musical and spoken tributes to those who have been senselessly taken. Personally, this was one of the most powerful and inspiring events I've ever been a part of. While I rode a Kübler-Ross-ean emotional cycle of confusion, anger, and sympathy for two people I had never met, I was consistently able to find solace just in the faces - hell even in the mere presence of the friends and strangers surrounding me. Yes, this is incredibly cheesy and run-of-the-mill of me to say, I understand. But there is something to be said for a selfless gathering of people on a cold, cold, rainy Sunday night in the middle of Durham (read: in the middle of America) in order to express solidarity with each other, and with the community at large. Feeling unqualified as a writer (I'm an engineering student) to effectively convey the emotions and messages from the night, I'm compelled to embrace the cliché here. We've heard some quotes to the point of desensitization, but in this case the overwhelming level of relevance and retroactive empathy trumps, for me, the risk of being tiredly proverbial:
"Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

All pictures from the night are courtesy of our friend Justin Harris. Click on any image to enlarge.

Nationwide Vigils Held for Slain Gay Puerto Rican Teen:

See more video at Towleroad.

Lady Gaga Supporting Her Gays :) (Lady Gaga Wants People to Shout Down Homophobic Rappers):

All Marriage Outlawed in Texas? Attorney Barbara Ann Radnofsky makes the argument that a 2005 Texas constitutional amendment aimed at banning gay marriage actually succeeded in banning all marriage.

November 21, 2009

Draconian Anti-Gay Ugandan Law Protested In NYC, DC : activists denounce proposed measure mandating death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality: The new measure specifically criminalizes same-sex conduct –– ranging from sexual stimulation to “touching another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality” –– with a potential sentence of life imprisonment.

For those found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality” –– defined as sexual conduct by “serial offenders” as well as those who are HIV-positive –– the potential penalty is a death sentence.

In prohibiting the “promotion of homosexuality,” the bill would not only bar political activity on behalf of gay rights, but would also require anyone learning the identity of a sexually active gay person to report that information within 24 hours, or face a stiff fine or jail time.

TX: Houston mayoral candidate Annise Parker targeted by gay-baiting postcard mailing:

"I have nothing but compassion, respect and sensitivity towards those trapped in homosexual behavior. I have family members and friends who have been ensnared in this behavior, and I know something of the incredible pain and sorrow it has brought to them and their families. With God's grace, I carefully balance this love and respect for these individuals with warnings about the promotion and demand for legal and political approval for homosexual behavior that will stifle religious freedom and trap millions of more people in its deadly grip. Therefore, I would ask you to vote against Annise Parker for Mayor."

Read more at Pam's House Blend...

NC: Openly gay State Sen. Julia Boseman will not run for re-election: "State Sen. Julia Boseman (D-New Hanover), the only openly gay or lesbian member of the General Assembly, announced Thursday she will not seek re-election when her term ends in 2010.

In a statement, Boseman cited family responsibilities for her decision to leave the General Assembly, according to Wilmington's WTKR News Channel 3. Boseman's domestic partner is expecting a child in January.

Elected in 2004, Boseman was the first openly gay or lesbian North Carolinian elected to the state legislature. Prior to her service in the Senate, Boseman served on the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners."

SLDN not impressed with responses regarding DADT by Obama nominee Stanley: "SLDN is disappointed Dr. Clifford Stanley punted on several questions regarding "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" this morning. When given the opportunity by Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) to support his commander in chief's position to overturn the ban, Dr. Stanley did not do so. However, as is the case with most nominees, Dr. Stanley did not delve into any of the policy issues in his portfolio. We look forward to Dr. Stanley becoming fully aligned with President Obama on repeal. The President has said the right words but some of his chief lieutenants may not have heard those words. The fact remains that a 2010 repeal has never been more promising."

(click link to see Stanley's responses to questioning)

Another Horrific Murder, Jason Mattison Jr., in Baltimore: The murder of a gay teenager in Baltimore has left a family grieving and a community questioning why he was killed. The suspect is a family friend and ex-con who had served only 10 years of an original 30-year sentence for an earlier crime. Jason Mattison Jr., 15, was found raped, gagged and stabbed to death in a closet at his aunt's house last week. Dante Parrish, 35, has been charged with first-degree murder, The Baltimore Sun reports. Parrish was sentenced to 30 years in connection with a 1999 killing but was released after the nonprofit legal group the Innocence Project "found that Parrish had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder based on a faulty statement of facts read into the court record," according to the Sun. A judge overturned Parrish's conviction.

November 20, 2009

Gender-test runner Semenya to keep gold medal, says South Africa: South African runner Caster Semenya will be allowed to keep the gold medal she won in the women's 800-meters at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin, Germany, in August, the country's sports ministry announced Thursday. In a statement on their official Web site the ministry added that Semenya had been found innocent of any wrongdoing but the widely anticipated results of gender tests conducted would not be made public. "We have agreed with the IAAF that whatever scientific tests were conducted legally within the IAAF regulations will be treated as a confidential matter between patient and doctor," the statement read. "As such there will be no public announcement of what the panel of scientists has found. We urge all South Africans and other people to respect this professional ethical and moral way of doing things."
* * *
Now they decide to keep this confidential? Have they not already ruined her career and life in the public eye?

Oh, him? He's gay.

I am a 21-year-old gay, Catholic, analytical, somewhat musical male. I'm also confused as hell about life right now, but I imagine that will pass someday (maybe not!).

While I'm not a big fan of such attempts to describe people, reductive analysis does tend to reveal certain underlying features (structural details, one might say). Which parts of your you-ness are most important to you?

The unofficial Duke motto is "Work hard, play hard." And it's a fitting one, I think. The fact is, there's simply not enough time in the week to devote yourself to all too many activities. Additionally, there are too many people to know everyone all too well. As a result, this sort of quick reduction is almost a necessary mode of functioning. Who's he? Oh, he's in band. She sings in Chorale. These two write for the Chronicle. She does Vespers. He's in the Pitchforks. (note: these are far from representative :P)

This being the case, it seems that many students fight tooth and nail for even a second identifier. She's in [sorority] and she's premed. Speaking from my perspective, it's definitely a somewhat frightening notion that people will see me as one thing and one thing only.

A lot of people complain about self-segregation at Duke. They're usually talking about racial self-segregation, but it goes way beyond that. People self-segregate by major, religion, sexual orientation, gender, socioeconomic status, social standing, and a whole host of other things. Why is this? I certainly think one reason for it is that we want to spend time with people who understand what it's like to be [adjective]. Simultaneously, I also imagine that if I'm hanging out with people who are also [adjective], I'm going to be seen as more than just that. It's like those little travel games or hidden message things where you put on the red glasses and it lets you see what's under all the red ink--when your primary descriptor is nullified, you're required to look beyond it.

Every Duke Gay Should Know #2: The Gothic Queers

For this week's post, I decided to post a Chronicle article from 1997. The undergraduate LGBTQA organization at the time was called the Gothic Queers...and they too had a little bridge incident. It is important to know where we have know where we are going!

Gothic Queers charge censorship
By Devin Gordon
October 10, 1997

Blotted out by intermittent scads of white paint, colorful slogans on the East Campus bridge celebrating homosexuality and National Coming Out Week have been systematically removed from the view of passersby during the past two days. An unnamed official at the University's Department of Facilities Management, which ordered the whitewashing, considered the messages offensive. The gay community-outraged and upset-has called it censorship.

"We were all shocked to discover that there's a speech code at Duke," said John Howard, director of the Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Life. "We were appalled to learn that it's administered by Facilities Management." As part of the National Coming Out Week festivities, dozens of members of the University's homosexual community gathered earlier this week to paint the East Campus Bridge pink and decorate it with slogans of queer pride.

But during a scheduled street-cleaning project Wednesday afternoon, a crew of facilities management workers obscured a considerable number of the messages with white paint.

In a statement to The Chronicle Thursday evening on behalf of the senior administration, Executive Vice President Tallman Trask said the whitewashing was performed, in part, to delete offensive words and phrases that had been painted on or near the work by the gay community. Facilities management officials, he explained, ordered the deletions in accordance with its long-standing policy against "vulgar or obscene graffiti... placed on Duke campus."

"Some of these [deletions] were obscene and, consistent with the past policy, should have been painted over by facilities staff," Trask said in the statement. "Most, however, were statements which reflected the world view of gays and lesbians and were consistent with their right to free expression. The removal of these statements was an error in judgment that cannot be condoned. The facilities department has been instructed to be more circumspect in future decisions to paint over language at the underpass."

Sgt. Sara-Jane Raines, the Duke University Police Department's minority liaison, said she investigated a complaint that LGBT Center officials filed about the repainting. Prior to the actions of facilities management, she asserted, the bridge contained little or no anti-gay graffiti and no patently offensive language that would have justified the whitewashing.

November 19, 2009


Come to the BDU Drag Show TONIGHT @ 7PM in the Duke Coffeehouse!!!! We have some amazing queens and kings... so come show your support!!!

[Ed. Note: This is going to be hands down the greatest thing you see all year.]

Viviana Santiago, Part Two

Now that I’ve kept you in suspense for a week about the story of the giant banana, it’s only fair that I finish it. Viviana, a few friends, and I recently went to the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh, NC. It is truly an experience that each Duke student should have...even if getting there via public transportation is a bit tiring.

It was while walking in awe through the fairgrounds, amidst the cotton candy, rides that will kill you, and fried Oreos, that Viviana spotted it…one of those rip-off fair games with larger than life prizes.

Fortunately for her, it was a gigantic fruit that she instantly fell in love with and had to have. After lending her $20 in pursuit of the prize, she finally won it, then almost got into a fight because she hit a girl with it. It was a stuffed disaster waiting to happen. Luckily, we made it out okay, and even the banana was unharmed. Just a day in the life with Vivz.

Interview with Mark Kleinschmidt, openly gay mayor-elect of Chapel Hill, NC

Kentucky Same-Sex Marriage Ban To Be Brought Up for Repeal: Kentucky Equality Federation applauds legislation pre-filed by Representative Mary Lou Marzian (BR 93) to place the issue of same-sex marriage or civil unions back in the hands of Kentucky citizens.

If this passes both the Kentucky House and Senate and voters ratify it, lawmakers would then be able to legislate domestic-partnerships, or civil unions, such as the new domestic partnership law in the state of Washington."

Federal Judge Rules DOMA Violates Due Process in California Benefits Case: A federal judge today ordered compensation for a Los Angeles couple denied spousal benefits by the federal government because they are gay men. U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt deemed the denial of healthcare and other benefits to the spouse of federal public defender Brad Levenson to be a violation of the Constitution's guarantee of due process and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which is prohibited by California state law.

November 18, 2009

Every Gay Should Know #2: Gay Media Pioneers Bert and Ernie

[Ed. Note: Every Tuesday, we highlight an event, figure or tidbit of gay culture. Topics will range from the Stonewall Riots to Bea Arthur. Harvey Milk to the etymology of “fag.” Personally, just about all of these fall under “Everybody Should Know” for us. Bea included. This week's EGSK is late, making me the first person on the staff to not meet a deadline. This is just the sort of thing I want my staff to see me doing.]

Bert and Ernie are one of twelve Muppets that Jim Henson developed for the now 40 year-old television series Sesame Street. Though only briefly appearing in the pilot episode, the duo's segment tested best in focus groups and it became immediately apparent that the show should heavily feature them as stars. Bert and Ernie made their television debut on November 10, 1969.
They've been paving the way for homosexuals ever since.

That Bert and Ernie are in a long-term, committed gay relationship is proven and well known, or as Sesame Street's PR people put it, "Bert and Ernie... do not portray a gay couple, and there are no plans for them to do so in the future." Mere semantics.

Let's discuss the facts. These two "single" men are living together in an apartment on Sesame Street. Bert and Ernie sleep in separate twin beds, but these are located in the SAME ROOM. It is worth noting that not once has either complained about how small their mattresses are. Presumably, this is because the beds are arranged such that they can easily be pushed together to form a queen(s)-sized bed when the cameras stop rolling.

Even if these two guys are simply straight best friends that just haven't found the perfect woman, why are they spending all of their free time together? Fishing trips and vacations to Egypt? C'mon. Lovers.

Also, why would two heterosexual men choose to live together on Sesame Street of all places? Though we are never told just how to get to Sesame Street, we do know that it is somewhere in New York City. If you're on a non-numbered street in Manhattan and you see an establishment called The Furry Arms (a "hotel"), you're probably in The Village. Spend some time observing the indie guys who walk into the local thrift store Finders Keepers, and you'll see what I mean.

Sesame Street has exactly zero to offer straight men.

Say what they will, but writers haven't exactly kept Bert and Ernie's sketches free from [not-so-] subtleties. Is there no reason why there is an oil portrait of Bert and Ernie in their living room?

...and in their bedroom?

No, seriously, let's talk about this because this is bothering me and I think it's important. These are not photographs, nor are they pencil or chalk. These are PAINTED portraits. Using rates around my home in Patchogue, NY, this would have cost at least $2000 (I'm not even going to go into the fact that they're framed, too). So you mean to tell me that these two completely platonic heterosexual men spent over $2000 to have a portrait painted of them... and then commissioned ANOTHER for $2000 more? Sure. Normal guy stuff.

The rest of the home decor doesn't exactly keep the two puppets closeted, either. So many lamps and armchairs! I'm also sure that most straight men don't even know what valances are let alone would think to feature them on their windows. Two breeder men living together would also not keep the apartment that clean. Let's be honest.

I truly don't know how this is ambiguous for some, especially those in the community. Even if one were to successfully refute all of the things I've mentioned above, the sheer abundance of bananas in Bert and Ernie skits should be enough to realize that they are meant to be gay men:

I propose we celebrate the presence of these openly (as far as those lace curtains and I are concerned) gay characters on our TV screens. Homosexuals were not exactly popular on basic cable at the time, but Bert and Ernie fabulously broke the heteronormative mold. I consider them wholly responsible for the success of Will & Grace and Kurt on Glee. They are the Jackie Robinsons of gays in mainstream media, and it should be recognized that as a result were made to endure the same intolerance and adversity as all other social pioneers. Said Rev. Joseph Chambers in one of his radio shows in 1994:
Bert and Ernie are two grown men sharing a house and a bedroom. They share clothes, eat and cook together and have blatantly effeminate characteristics. In one show Bert teaches Ernie how to sew. In another they tend plants together. If this isn't meant to represent a homosexual union, I can't imagine what it's supposed to represent.
I agree, but contextually he was making his case to have the characters banned. Haha, all kidding aside, if they've pissed off some right-wingers then we should be honoring them gay OR straight. Good for them.

Report: Homosexuality no factor in abusive priests:
A preliminary report commissioned by the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops on the roots of the clergy sex abuse scandal found no evidence that gay priests are more likely than heterosexual clergy to molest children, the lead authors of the study said Tuesday.

The full report by researchers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice won’t be completed until the end of next year. But the authors said that their evidence to date found no data indicating that homosexuality was a predictor of abuse.

Coming Out Story #2

[Ed. Note: Every Wednesday, we collect a coming out story and post it here, anonymously. They can be long or short, devastating or hilarious or boring or somewhere in between. The stories can be gathered in person or digitally - even using our "submit anonymously" link on the sidebar! If you'd like to send one in, email us at If you don't feel like writing, we can meet in person, too, (ignore this PSA) and I'll transcribe your story here. Just let us know.]

Am I a lesbian? Probably. Am I bisexual? Maybe. Queer? Perhaps. I never put an official title on my sexuality and still don’t really. All I know is that I’ve been crazy about members of the so-called fairer sex, ever since I was old enough to go crazy about anyone. But I didn’t really name my feelings.

The first time I ever got my sexuality labeled was in the eighth grade. Her name was Corinne (name changed, of course). I walked her back home after a movie and we sat on her porch and just talked for hours. I don’t even remember the conversation. Staring at her evenly glossed lips, I was floating too high up in the air to really listen to what they were saying. She had the most perfect part right in the middle of her hair and the cleanest fingernails I had ever seen. Once she caught me not paying attention and shook her head and said, “You’re such a homo.” She was just joking, but I never really thought about that word until just right then.

Then I started thinking about it a lot and when I was 17, I finally did something about it: I fell in love with a girl. Indisputable-loco-crazy-maudlin-mushy-I-can’t-breathe-without-you-and-I-write-you-poems-instead-of-doing-homework love. You might know what I mean. Well, if you do, then you know it’s impossible to keep that sort of thing to yourself.

Eventually, I came out to my friends. One by one. Again and again, I expected to face some kind of rejection or have someone change the way they acted around me. No one did. Human beings. They really surprise me on a daily basis.

I’m still not completely out to my family, which is why I’m keeping this anonymous. Sometimes, I feel like I’m living two lives: one with my family and one with everyone else. But let me just say that it was never my purposeful intention to deceive anyone. I just don’t think my parents and grandparents are ready for it yet. I’m not ready for it yet.

Sometimes, I think about all the girls I had a major crush on, but never had the courage to admit to myself. I suppose the hardest person to come out to is yourself. It took love for me to realize a part of myself that had always existed. It took love for me to finally muster the courage to go to the LGBT Center (one of the best decisions of my life). And it’ll take love for me to come out completely to my family. But the best part is that I know it exists. Love.

Lambda Legal brings 'equal (gay) pay for equal work' lawsuit against Arizona: "Under the leadership of Gov. Janet Napolitano, the Arizona state government in 2008 created a health insurance benefit for the domestic partners and children of state employees and retirees. This past September, the Arizona legislature stripped those benefits from state employees with now-Governor Jan Brewer's approval. Oh, but they made sure to retain spousal health benefits for heterosexual employees. Who do you think burdens the state budget more, the legions of heterosexual employees, or the handful of gay ones? Lambda Legal is suing."

Beyoncé and Lady Gaga "Video Phone" Music Video: The fruits of this epic collaboration have been revealed. Now the only question is, what do you think of the results?

November 17, 2009

Florida County Chooses 1st Openly Gay Mayor: FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Broward commissioners on Tuesday chose the county's first openly gay mayor to replace Mayor Stacy Ritter, who is stepping down after a turbulent year at the top. Commissioners made history when they unanimously elected Ken Keechl as the county's new mayor. The selection of a new mayor was part of Broward's annual changing of the guard in county leadership.

Watch: Video

Outgoing Mayor Stacy Ritter delivered the annual State of the County address. She said the county is in good shape despite having to cut 1,300 jobs and $400 million from its budget. Keechl said "budget, budget, budget" will be at the top of his priority list as he takes office. "We've got to continue lowering taxes and streamlining government. That's what it's all about," Keechl said. "We've got a lot of challenges ahead of us. We've done a great job so far, but there's more that needs to be cut." When asked what message his being chosen as an openly gay mayor sends to the public, Keechl said, "I learned yesterday that I'm now the highest ranking openly gay mayor in the country. I didn't even know that. I've been an openly gay man for years, as a lawyer, as a businessman and as a county commissioner. Basically, it just means that I'm no different than anybody else."

Colbert Destroys R.I. Governor For Denying Gay Couples Death Rights:

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Georgia High School Teacher Arrested for Putting 'Hit' on Student After Asking Teen if He Was Gay: Police have arrested Randolph Forde, a teacher at Mundy's Mill High School in Jonesboro, Georgia for allegedly putting a "hit" on a student after an incident in which he asked the student if he was gay.

Observations from the Trenches in Maine: Thoughts on the loss of marriage equality in Maine by "No on 1" campaign manager Jesse Connolly.

Anti-Gay Attacks Planned Against Houston Mayoral Candidate Annise Parker: 'The bottom line is that we didn't pick the battle, she did, when she made her agenda and sexual preference a central part of her campaign,' said Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Area Pastor Council, numbering more than 200 senior pastors in the Greater Houston area. ... Parker, however, has not made these issues a central part of her campaign: "Parker has tread carefully in her candidacy for mayor, stressing frequently that she is running not as a gay candidate but as a qualified city official who's won election six times."

[UPDATE] Arrest Made In Puerto Rico Gay Teen Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado Murder Case: A man was arrested in the early morning hours today in Cayey suspect in the murder of George Steven Lopez Mercado, the 19-year-old was brutally decapitated, dismembered and partially burned in an apparent hate crime for homophobia.

"'The FBI is monitoring this investigation with the Police of Puerto Rico because there are federal statutes under the laws of civil rights violations covered by hate crimes,' Rodriguez said early in reference to the newly adopted Law for Preventing Hate Crimes signed in October that President Barack Obama."

This Is What Happens When You Switch Your Major From Engineering To Linguistics…

I have recently decided to change my major from Biomedical engineering to a double major in Linguistics and Neuroscience. Excited to actually study something that I find enjoyable, I have been spending every minute of my day procrastinating by trying to memorize what Wikipedia has to say about linguistics and neuroscience. Also I have been reading and have finished In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build A Perfect Language by Arika Okrent. An astoundingly interesting book and a must read for anyone with a slight flair for language. My further meanderings into procrastination led me to attend UNC Chapel Hill’s LGBT student group’s meeting last Thursday where the topic was Trans 101 (I have to express my dearest apologies for I have forgotten the presenters surname, first name is Mandy). After which I felt that using gendered pronouns was now akin to hate crimes.

Yet instead of being inspired to fight for and rally for LGBT equality with civil disobedient vigor, I couldn’t help wondering that explicitly asking if one preferred male or female pronouns was a bit long-winded. Then a small voice inside my head uttered "the neuter case!" (which is common in the other Germanic languages). We would simply need to turn back the clock to old English where there was a plethora of pronouns. So just as we might say the gendered 'he' or 'her' we would say neutered 'hit.' We could even introduce different new and artificial pronouns for gender identity and expression; as well as transitions and intersexes and so on. There by mapping the English language to the current need for equality and representation.

Though ultimately this would not bring about equality though language, like Ludwik Łazarz Zamenhof hoped to do with his Esperanto, but it would make the tool that is language more, in a way, ergonomic. Yet such an overhaul is simply a flight of fancy; I do not expect nor actively entertain the idea that grammarians could be the new LGBT activists though I will certainly be a linguist of the movement. So now I leave you dear reader to write your next rally speech in old English.