No breaking news that Michael Stipe came out a few days ago. REM, and Michael, are one of the greatest, and everybody's celebrating this coming out, and cheering, and everybody's full of superb intentions and against homophobia and all that. And REM's new album, Accelerate, is coming out very soon too. Also Alejandro Amenabar came out shortly before the release of his movie The Sea Inside. Then the press talks about Michael and adds to the album promotion which adds to the coming out etc. We knew you were gay, Michael, and we all know that homophobia is a crime, and we all know that knives cut. It's only we still don't know how to take their edges off, seen?
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Sally Kern (left picture), an Oklahoma State Rep., warned her constituents that gays are taking over and have become more dangerous to the American way of life than terrorists. The lawmaker made the remarks in a speech to a small gathering but did not know they were being recorded.
On Monday, Kern said her comments were edited and taken out of context. Kern said they were directed at wealthy, politically active homosexuals who are contributing money to gay and lesbian candidates for public office in Oklahoma and other states.
“I was talking about an agenda. I was not talking about individuals,” said Kern, the wife of a Baptist minister. “They have the right to choose that lifestyle. They do not have the right to force it down our throat."
I'm not sure that anybody would want to force anything down Sally's throat, apart of her Baptist minister husband (but that would also be against the Biblical mandate of procreation, therefore a sin), but I'm deeply sorry to hear that Mrs. Kern didn't follow up her own advice and try advocating some sort of Gaytanamo, one where homosexuals could be kept for years without any other charge than being presumed enemies to the American Way of Life.
In any case, Sally Kern spoke about a "Gay Agenda" which is not clear to exist, according to Randy Thomas, VP of Exodus International, quoted at Ex-Gay Watch to have said that "I do not believe there is an American-wide gay conspiracy that is played up in by Coral Ridge and some other conservative Christian organizations to generate fear."
In the meantime, while homosexuals are being accused of destroying kids, in the Philippines province of Bulacan, five people were nailed to wooden crosses, including a 15-year-old boy and an 18-year-old girl. This wasn't the result of mob angriness, but a mixture of religious Catholic devotion and tourism attraction, taking place in the archipelago since decades, with the blessings of the Catholic hierarchy of course, who never forbid any of such bloody displays.
It's unclear whether a world where homosexuals be kept inside Gaytanamos and teens nailed to wood crosses would be better than the one we live right now.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Though "Larry Craig" wouldn't define well this Spanish politician and Tax Office clerk. Javier Rodrigo de Santos, formerly vice major in Palma de Mallorca, spent the amount of 50,804 Euro in gay relax services, disguised as "Public Relations Consulting" from the public budget of Palma Townhall. It couldn't be otherwise, the man is known to have refused to celebrate homosexual marriages while in office (objecting to those because of moral issues), though celebrated the Pope's visit to Valencia in 2006 and stands as an ultra Catholic. Ethics and morals, of course. Full information, in Spanish, in El Pais.
Monday, March 10, 2008
As most of you have already read in the news, Spain's election has been won by the Socialists. Headlines such as "Pro-gay Zapatero defeats conservatives" and the like appeared in most gay media. However, the Socialist party is not pro-gay, just pro-equality. My two cents (of Euro).
A really interesting analysis on the SF Gate by C W Nevius, on how homosexual marriage will become accepted as normal. Here's the full text, which I mostly agree with.
When defenders of the "sacred union of marriage" held a news conference last Tuesday after oral arguments on same-sex marriage at the state Supreme Court, they weren't facing a friendly crowd.
A small group of activists tried to drown out the comments with songs, chants and heckling. I'm sure they thought they were carrying the banner of freedom, standing up for principle and advancing the cause.
At the end of the day, when the change comes to allow same-sex marriage - and it's coming, don't kid yourself - it won't be because of protests. It will be because people in this state, and across the country, are talking to gay and lesbian co-workers and neighbors, meeting same-sex couples and their kids at Little League games, and working at companies with domestic-partner health plans.
"It is the normal interaction in everyday life," said City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who is leading San Francisco's legal effort along with attorneys for 23 same-sex couples. "It is the guy at the water cooler at work, seeing them with their kids - that's what drives it home for people."
It is that familiarity driving the change in perception. Polls tell us that those born before 1940 are probably a lost cause. But those in their 40s, for example, have seen a dramatic uptick in support for same-sex marriage. And the real sea change is among the teens and twentysomethings who seem to wonder what the fuss is all about.
When our son told us he was gay, he was in high school (he's a junior in college now). I remember hugging him and saying, "Don't worry. It will be fine." What he didn't hear was my inner voice adding, "I hope."
I worried about him having a miserable time at school, harassed by narrow-minded kids and forced to withdraw into a shell. It wasn't without rough moments, of course, but overall, his problems seemed minor.
He played high school sports, was active in school events and ran for student body president. During the election, a Neanderthal jock anonymously posted an incredibly offensive and obscene comment on an Internet site. My wife and daughter saw it and so did much of the student body. Here we go, I thought.
But his friends rallied around him. They took on the jock, identified him and told him to offer an apology. When he did, my son's group quickly accepted it and moved on. He won that election.
Frankly, with a few blips, that's how it has gone. Having a gay son has been a lot less of a big deal than I ever dreamed. And among his fellow students and contemporaries, it seems to be a big shrug.
As Herrera says, the youth mind-set represents an undercurrent of change that is sometimes overlooked.
"If you look at the poll numbers in 2000 for Proposition 22 (reaffirming a 1974 law that said marriage was between a man and a woman) the support was 61 percent," he said. "But those numbers have changed dramatically. And when you look at the younger demographic, it is totally different."
A California Field Poll conducted in March found that those born in the 1970s and '80s support same-sex marriage by 51 and 58 percent, respectively.
The change in values seems to leave the same-sex opponents struggling to find a rational objection to the question posed by one of the justices: "What are the adverse consequences that could occur?"
Randy Thompson, president of the California Coalition for Children and Families, could only offer that banning same-sex marriage would "be a role model for the next generation. What dream do you want children to have, to grow up and marry a nice girl?"
Yep, that's the dream. I suppose many never guessed it would be a girl's dream, too.
The news conferences went on too long for both groups. At the end, a gentleman who represented the group Stand With Children stood at the podium, talking away as TV crews packed up their cameras and microphones.
No one was listening. He was talking to himself - with one exception.
One of the gay and lesbian activists stayed and heckled him. As the crowd dispersed, the two bickered back and forth. It's funny, because while they are arguing, real change is taking place all around them.
By Sonia Ounissi
TUNIS, March 7 (Reuters Life!) - Homosexual men living with HIV/AIDS In the Arab world face a twin taboo, but Karim doesn't look like someone burdened by stigma. Smiling and self-assured, the healthy looking Tunisian says his peace of mind comes from accepting what he cannot change, living in the moment and taking care to present a normal face to the world. The 34-year-old draws the menace from his infection by seeing it as his offspring. "Personally, I accept the illness. I consider the virus my little baby. Together, we make up the same person," he said.
Dressed in jeans and a V-neck pullover, Karim sounds matter-of-act about his condition, but acknowledges that it wasn't always so easy. Karim first learned he had HIV when he returned to his native country from France in 2005. He was infected during an eight-year relationship with a French man. "First, I thought I had flu. But my health kept worsening and analysis showed I had AIDS. A person who was so important to me had infected me," he said.
"I WAS FURIOUS"
"At the beginning, I was furious. I hated everything. But afterwards, I thought that it's better to be hopeful than crying." He decided to face up to the illness, sensing that a positive mental attitude would translate into stronger physical health. Also, he is on anti-retroviral medication. "I'm quite good. My health situation is stable. HIV-positives who can't move or even walk are people who refuse the fact that they're infected with HIV. They suffer because they're in very low spirits and not because of the virus." "I have a principle in my life which says we must make the most of life while we still have its advantages. So, I still enjoy my life. I consider AIDS a flu." He lives with his Tunisian boyfriend, who is uninfected. They have protected sex. "I was sincere. I told him the truth and he accepted. His attitude really moved me," said Karim.
"ENJOY THE MOMENT"
Unlike most Tunisians, Karim refuses to draw up plans for his future, even in the short-term, as he doesn't know when AIDS will bring his life to an end. "I can't do long-term projects. I can't even plan for the summer holidays. I think just about what I can do in the next week and enjoy the moment." HIV/AIDS is a common topic of conversation widely discussed in many Western countries. But it is still an invisible disease in north Africa and many other parts of the world. Karim, one of 1,428 Tunisians who live with HIV, has learnt to keep his status a tightly guarded secret in a society where fear, prejudice and ignorance about the disease prevail.
Seventy new cases are declared per year in the North African country, according to official figures.
HIV-positive people who become known as such are shunned by society. "To live in Tunisia, people infected with HIV have to lie and never say they suffer from AIDS," he said. "I told my boss, because he's French. If I told a Tunisian about that he'd have a cardiac arrest", said Karim.
"I hate the Tunisian way of thinking. They present themselves as open-mind people and cultured. But it's just a mask," he said. "In reality, they still think they can be infected via the air."
(Reuters, reporting by Sonia Ounissi, editing by William Maclean and Paul Casciato)
When American and British marines started returning from the war in Afghanistan in early 2002, they brought along with them curious stories about Afghanistan’s peasants who put on make-up and consistently followed them around or even sexually abused them. This was a very shocking experience for the soldiers.
- They were more terrifying than the al-Qaeda. One bloke who had painted toenails was offering to paint ours. They go about hand in hand, mincing around the village – a terrified marine, James Fletcher, told the Scotsman upon returning from Afghanistan.
- We were pretty shocked. We discovered from the Afghan soldiers we had with us that a lot of men in this country have the same philosophy as ancient Greeks: ‘a woman for babies, a man for pleasure’ – Fletcher continued recounting his experience.
For every Pashtun there is an Ashna
After the fall of the repressive Taliban regime in which homosexuality, sodomy and generally any kind of relations outside of marriage between a man and a woman were punishable by death, Afghans have finally become free to enjoy homosexual relationships that have been an integral part of their culture for several centuries.
In the city of Kandahar, which is considered the gay capital of Southern Asia, there is an ancient custom among the ethnic Pashtun people. An adult man picks a young boy, a teenager, called an “ashna” and gives him money and presents in turn for sexual favours. This Pashtun tradition is even represented in their poetry, in odes written about the beauty of young “ashnas”. This is a tradition that is present in all facets of society, practiced by the rich and poor alike. The parents of young boys who are sex slaves are usually aware of their sons’ relations with their “sugar daddies”. And although their parents keep this a secret from others, they do not contest the custom. Especially if the Pashtun is rich.
You can see some Afghanistan male couples HERE.
Traditional dancing in women’s clothing
Such a form of prostitution has been quite widespread in recent years due to poverty among teenagers and the strict rules that forbid any contact among singles of the opposite sex. American Fox writes that in 1994 two Afghanistan officers got into a fight over a boy they both took a liking to. The government even had to pass a law forbidding Afghan soldiers from living with their “ashnas”. After the Taliban regime, the Afghanistan Supreme Court ruled homosexuality illegal and sodomy punishable by death. But in reality, nobody will lose their life because of homosexual relations. Rather, they will be given long-term prison sentences or just get away with a fine, which is a very lenient punishment in this Islamic country.
The British wrote about gay love in Kabul as far as a century and a half back, which is proof that homosexuality was pretty widespread even back then. Some gay tourist guides claim that there used to be stores in Kandahar which held pets that were considered gay symbols, quails, for example. There are even customs in which, during wedding ceremonies, entertainers dress up in women’s clothing and dance traditional dances. The local population says that birds fly above the city using only one wing. They use other wing to cover their derrieres. Taliban leader Mullah Omar curried favour with Taliban officers by offering them young boys.
Contact with a woman is taboo; contact with a man is not
There are no organised gay associations in Afghanistan, but contrary to many Western countries, men can freely walk the streets holding hands. This was especially shocking for foreign troops who became fascinating for the Afghan men. Armed and ready to engage in conflicts with Al-Qaeda, the only conflicts the foreign troops had were with local men who only wanted to stroke their hair.
- It was hell. Every village we went into we got a group of men wearing make-up coming up, stroking our hair and cheeks and making kissing noises – 20-year-old Corporal Paul Richard uttered.
One can only speculate about the roots of sodomy and homosexuality in Afghanistan because the fact is that a long-standing tradition is always the result of various factors. Some claim that the main reason for this is the ban of any contact between men and women who are not married, while men constantly spend time together.
Most indigent boys do not even know what a woman’s body looks like until they are married. And marriage is a very expensive endeavour in Afghanistan – the dowry usually consists of several average Afghanistan salaries, which only a few can afford.
Taking into consideration the reports of Western marines, much is forbidden in Afghanistan. But it would not be surprising if in a few years’ time Kandahar throws its first gay parade.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
While the Pope himself praised the anti-homosexual policies undertaken in the United States, the Spanish Episcopal Conference elected a new head yesterday. During the last years, the main Catholic hierarchy body in Spain had been headed by bishop Blazquez of Bilbao, who held conciliatory views on most social aspects of life, including dialogue with non ultra-Catholic groups. However, bishops Rouco of Madrid and Cañizares of Toledo, known in the leftist blogosphere as "the Toños" seem to have succeeded in renewing (in this case re-olding) Catholic views in Spain. The most ultraconservative views both bishops represent have been raised up and now Archbishop Antonio Maria Rouco Varela holds the position of President of the Spanish Episcopal Conference. Hopefully, Rouco will be celebrating his designation for a few days so that he won't immediately try to change the sign of the March 9th election in Spain, which he has already tried to influence during a mass demonstration in December 30th, 2007, with the Popular Party, allegedly the second political force in Spain, honeymooning with the Church. As the Financial Times puts it:
Instead of acting as a parliamentary opposition, the PP has tried to impugn constitutionally major initiatives of the Socialists, in an effort to paralyse government. Mariano Rajoy, its lacklustre leader, has failed to emerge from the shadow of José María Aznar, the former prime minister, and has colluded in a hysterical campaign by the Catholic hierarchy that calls into question the legitimacy of the government.
So, as we say around here, "el pescado está vendido". We'll see next monday if homosexuals can keep our rights here in Spain, or we'll have to seek for asylum in a much less Catholic place.