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Posts Tagged ‘lesbian’

Gay marriage backers urge killing NH repeal bill

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Opponents of repealing New Hampshire’s gay marriage law said Monday the issue is one of civil, not religious liberties.

About two-dozen members of Standing Up For New Hampshire Families held a news conference to urge the House to kill a bill that would repeal the same-sex marriage law. The House votes on the bill Wednesday.

State Rep. Mike Ball, a Manchester Republican, said he went to a segregated school in the South and repealing the law would do the same thing in New Hampshire by relegating gay unions to the separate status of civil unions.

“This is a civil liberties issue,” he said.

State Rep. Jennifer Coffey, R-Andover, said the Legislature should not make gay couples into second-class citizens by creating two classes of unions — one for heterosexual couples and one for gay couples.

State Rep. David Bates, the bill’s prime sponsor, proposes repealing gay marriage and replacing it with the civil unions law in place in New Hampshire in 2008 and 2009. Same-sex marriages became legal in the state in 2010.

Marriages in effect before Bates’ proposed law took effect in March 2013 would not be affected, but future gay unions would be civil unions if the bill becomes law. Voters could weigh in through a nonbinding ballot question in November.

Bates did not immediately return a call requesting comment.

Coffey said if Bates’ bill becomes law, the referendum question won’t change the result.

“Your vote is not going to count and the law is still going to be repealed,” Coffey said.

Bates argues lawmakers would have time next year to stop the repeal from taking effect if voters supported gay marriage on the nonbinding ballot question.

Greg Kretschmar, a radio talk show host, said everyone deserves the same opportunity to be happy.

“The people of New Hampshire do not want the government meddling in their private lives,” he said.

The repeal effort is personal to Mary Dumont and her spouse, Emily French-Dumont.

Mary Dumont, a chef at Harvest Restaurant in Cambridge, Mass., said she spent her whole life looking for Emily and a chance to be married with all the legal protections that comes with it.

“I can’t control my personal life. This is who I am,” she said. “When I wake up, I don’t think I’m going to have a ‘gay’ day. I’m a chef.”

The civil unions law previously in effect was considered by gay marriage supporters to be marriage in all but name. Bates’ proposal is intended to return to that law by giving same-sex couples the contractual protections of marriage and requiring them to go through divorce proceedings like heterosexual couples.

Bates said his proposal, a change from an earlier one, will satisfy some critics who said his original proposal failed to ensure the almost 1,900 existing same-sex marriages would not be affected if the law that took effect in 2010 is repealed. The amendment specifically states their marriages will not be affected. Bates said it would replace the current “illegitimate definition” of marriage with one defining it as between one man and one woman.

Democratic Gov. John Lynch has repeatedly said he will veto any attempts by the Republican-controlled Legislature to repeal the law, which he signed in 2009.

Repeal opponents, including some Republican lawmakers, believe the vote to pass the bill in the House will be close. If it passes the House, the Senate then would consider it. Opponents believe if it passes and is vetoed, they have the votes to sustain a veto. It takes a two-thirds vote of those present and voting to override a veto.

Same-sex marriage is legal in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, Washington and the District of Columbia. New Jersey lawmakers recently passed a gay marriage bill, but the governor vetoed it. An override vote could come as late as January 2014.

Since 1998, 31 states have had ballot measures related to same-sex marriage and opponents have prevailed in every state.

Last month, a federal appeals court declared California’s same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional. The ruling could mean the bitterly contested, voter-approved law will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Article source: http://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Gay-marriage-backers-urge-killing-NH-repeal-bill-3418346.php

Gay marriage backers urge killing NH repeal bill – Post

Monday, March 19th, 2012

CONCORD, N.H. (WTW) — Opponents of repealing New Hampshire’s gay marriage law said Monday the issue is one of civil, not religious liberties.

About two-dozen members of Standing Up For New Hampshire Families held a news conference to urge the House to kill a bill that would repeal the same-sex marriage law. The House votes on the bill Wednesday.

State Rep. Mike Ball, a Manchester Republican, said he went to a segregated school in the South and repealing the law would do the same thing in New Hampshire by relegating gay unions to the separate status of civil unions.

“This is a civil liberties issue,” he said.

State Rep. Jennifer Coffey, R-Andover, said the Legislature should not make gay couples into second-class citizens by creating two classes of unions — one for heterosexual couples and one for gay couples.

State Rep. David Bates, the bill’s prime sponsor, proposes repealing gay marriage and replacing it with the civil unions law in place in New Hampshire in 2008 and 2009. Same-sex marriages became legal in the state in 2010.

Marriages in effect before Bates’ proposed law took effect in March 2013 would not be affected, but future gay unions would be civil unions if the bill becomes law. Voters could weigh in through a nonbinding ballot question in November.

Bates did not immediately return a call requesting comment.

Coffey said if Bates’ bill becomes law, the referendum question won’t change the result.

“Your vote is not going to count and the law is still going to be repealed,” Coffey said.

Bates argues lawmakers would have time next year to stop the repeal from taking effect if voters supported gay marriage on the nonbinding ballot question.

Greg Kretschmar, a radio talk show host, said everyone deserves the same opportunity to be happy.

“The people of New Hampshire do not want the government meddling in their private lives,” he said.

The repeal effort is personal to Mary Dumont and her spouse, Emily French-Dumont.

Mary Dumont, a chef at Harvest Restaurant in Cambridge, Mass., said she spent her whole life looking for Emily and a chance to be married with all the legal protections that comes with it.

“I can’t control my personal life. This is who I am,” she said. “When I wake up, I don’t think I’m going to have a ‘gay’ day. I’m a chef.”

The civil unions law previously in effect was considered by gay marriage supporters to be marriage in all but name. Bates’ proposal is intended to return to that law by giving same-sex couples the contractual protections of marriage and requiring them to go through divorce proceedings like heterosexual couples.

Bates said his proposal, a change from an earlier one, will satisfy some critics who said his original proposal failed to ensure the almost 1,900 existing same-sex marriages would not be affected if the law that took effect in 2010 is repealed. The amendment specifically states their marriages will not be affected. Bates said it would replace the current “illegitimate definition” of marriage with one defining it as between one man and one woman.

Democratic Gov. John Lynch has repeatedly said he will veto any attempts by the Republican-controlled Legislature to repeal the law, which he signed in 2009.

Repeal opponents, including some Republican lawmakers, believe the vote to pass the bill in the House will be close. If it passes the House, the Senate then would consider it. Opponents believe if it passes and is vetoed, they have the votes to sustain a veto. It takes a two-thirds vote of those present and voting to override a veto.

Same-sex marriage is legal in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, Washington and the District of Columbia. New Jersey lawmakers recently passed a gay marriage bill, but the governor vetoed it. An override vote could come as late as January 2014.

Since 1998, 31 states have had ballot measures related to same-sex marriage and opponents have prevailed in every state.

Last month, a federal appeals court declared California’s same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional. The ruling could mean the bitterly contested, voter-approved law will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Article source: http://www.postcrescent.com/usatoday/article/38840843

Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation to honor Facebook

Monday, March 19th, 2012
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Article source: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/facebook/gay-lesbian-alliance-against-defamation-to-honor-facebook/10562

Scott Pasfield’s Gay In America: He Asked, They Told

Monday, March 19th, 2012

One night four years ago, I became obsessed by the idea that if I could meet a gay man, couple or family from every state, photograph them and tell their stories, I could make a book that would change hearts and minds.

There is a tendency to unjustly stereotype gay men, to buy into the discounted two-dimensional presentation of gay men in the media. I wanted to meet the real gay men of America: The fathers, brothers, sons and nice guys next door-who just happen to be gay. So, I went looking for “out” America men who are living their lives without second guessing, proud of who they are, happy with where they live and willing to talk about who they are, why and how they came out and how their sexuality does-and does not-define who they are.

I photographed men of every age, religion and race. Young men, seniors, Muslims, Jews, white and black, rich, poor, anonymous and familiar. I met men dealing with the universal issues of growing up, religion, violence, immigration, marriage, parenting, family, love-but as gay men. Varied, valiant and in many cases victorious, these beautiful men are bound together in Gay In America.

I photographed DADT repeal activist Dan Choi for the cover. He is an extraordinary gay soldier who helped right a wrong that was such a source for so much hatred, and in doing so, became a true hero. When I shot him in his uniform on that snow-covered street in Cambridge, I saw a man proud of all he is and all that he has accomplished. Like every other man in the book, he just happens to be gay. Period.

If I had realized growing up that there were so many options–that I didn’t have to be this kind of gay or that kind of gay-had I been able to take comfort in knowing I was not alone in my feelings, it would have made a huge difference in how and when I accepted and learned to love myself.

With the current political and cultural climate in our country being what it is, every one of us needs to do what we can to make life better for our neighbors and, consequently, ourselves. I’ve become an unintentional activist with this project, as have the men in this book. If more people chose to take their love and do something good with it, we’d see real, positive and lasting change. I took my love for people, photography and travel and created a book that I hope will help America better understand what it means to be a gay man in America. I believe it is a book very much of our time and culture.

Today, the result of that epiphany four years ago, GAY IN AMERICA will be published by Welcome Books. Activist and Broadway producer Tom Kirdahy and his husband, the playwright Terrence McNally graciously wrote the brilliant introduction. 50 states. 140 gay men. 54,000 miles later. This is my story and most importantly, their stories. I love them all.

Reprinted with permission from Gay in America. Welcome Books. Copyright © 2011 Scott Pasfield

See below for images and stories from the book:

READ WHOLE POST


“I decided to serve my country by going to college as far away from my Southern Baptist Korean American parents as possible. My mom refused to pay application costs for any college outside of California, so I applied to all the military academies. Knowing I was gay but vowing to keep it a secret when I entered West Point about 3,000 miles away, I suppose you could say I was a bit nervous. But after watching the Steven Spielberg film Saving Private Ryan, I was encouraged by the military ethos of teamwork, sacrifice, and selfless service.

From our first moments at the military academy we took the Cadet Honor Code to heart: “You will not lie or tolerate lying.” At chapel, reciting the Cadet Prayer was just as powerful and uncompromising: “Never be content with the half truth when the whole can be won.”

- Dan, Cambridge, MA

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Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-pasfield/gay-in-america_b_983394.html

Anti-gay pundit speaks with a forked tongue about Tyler Clementi case

Monday, March 19th, 2012

On Sunday during an interview with The Christian Post concerning the Tyler Clementi case, Family Research Council leader Tony Perkins made a comment which should lead many of us gay bloggers to scratch our heads with amazement:

“Some have even laid blame not on the actual bullies but on Christian churches and conservative politicians. It’s wrong to politicize these tragedies. Instead, we should focus on preventing the bullying of young people – for their sexual orientation, appearance, religion, or any other reason.”

Perkins was claiming that the lgbtq community would use the verdict of this case ( Former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi was convicted Friday of anti-gay intimidation for using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate’s love life. The roommate, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, committed suicide after realizing that he had been watched) to supposedly push an alleged “gay agenda” (whatever that is).

But the irony with Perkins’ statement about keeping gay students from being bullied is that FRC has never supported any anti-bullying programs geared to the gay youth

Instead, the organization  nd Perkins have been extremely vocal  and active in opposing anti-bullying programs which would include the lgbtq community.

In August of last year, Perkins made very negative comments about the “It Gets Better” campaign, a campaign in which gay leaders and allies of the lgbtq community created videos telling gay youth to not allow bullies to bring down their self esteem.

In the following letter, Perkins called the campaign “disgusting” and an attempt to “recruit children into the gay lifestyle:”

In June 2011, FRC issued a public prayer to God that efforts by Health and Human Services to combat the bullying of gay youth would fail:

• May God help us to not to “bully” anyone, but to graciously yet urgently speak the truth in love to young people who are hurting themselves with the “LGBT” lifestyle. May believers across America not be “bullied” by our government’s efforts to promote harmful and sinful sexual practices among our youth and instead determine to stand courageously against these misguided efforts which can only lead to God’s judgment!

In general, according to People for the American Way, FRC has been a strong opponent of programs which would prevent the bullying of gay students:

The Family Research Council is a major propagator of the falsehood that bullying prevention initiatives are attempts by gay rights activists to “recruit” students, and lobbies states to pass laws curbing students from joining Gay-Straight Alliance clubs. Peter Sprigg, FRC’s senior fellow of public policy, authored a booklet on how the “pro-homosexual movement” is “indoctrinating impressionable school children” through safe schools initiatives and anti-discrimination rules. He regularly criticizes organizations like the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which helps formulate safe schools programs, for allegedly trying to “promote a homosexual agenda in schools.”

So basically, Perkins’ comments about protecting gay students has less to with actually protecting gay students, and more of a CYA statement (cover your ass) statement in the face of this awful situation.

But words don’t mean anything. If Perkins is truly sincere about protecting gay youth from bullying then he and his organization should stop creating road blocks to this effort.

And we all know that isn’t about to happen.

Article source: http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2012/03/19/anti-gay-pundit-speaks-with-a-forked-tongue-about-tyler-clementi-case/

Alan Cumming Dishes On Gay Rights, GOP Politics And ‘Good Wife’ Role At XL Nightclub Benefit Performance

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Alan Cumming

For Alan Cumming, life has never really been just a cabaret, old chum.

Winning a Tony Award and being nominated for an Emmy would be enough to boost the résumé of any star, but the 47-year-old Cumming — who currently plays Eli Gold on CBS’s “The Good Wife” — has always sought to parlay his showbiz success into humanitarian endeavors, particularly those aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) causes. His March 18 debut at New York’s XL Nightclub was no exception: proceeds from that evening’s performance benefited the International Gay Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).

Though Cumming was in top form throughout the night, belting out stellar renditions of showstoppers from “Mack Mabel” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” alongside a gender-bending take on “Mein Herr” from his signature “Cabaret,” it became clear that politics were never far from the outspoken actor’s mind. Of his recent visit to Kansas City (which he described as “a place where there aren’t going to be any gay marriages for a long time”), Cumming quipped, “To try and make the Missouri part [of the city] seem better, people were saying, ‘At the GOP caucuses last week, that side — Kansas — voted for Santorum, but we voted for Romney.’ Like that was a good thing!” Introducing one number as a song he first performed at the 2008 wedding of two gay friends in California in the weeks before Prop 8, he exclaimed, “If you are a pro-gay Mormon, go to your church and tell them to stop being so sh*tty!” (Cumming himself tied the knot with graphic artist Grant Schaffer at New York’s Soho House in January, five years to the day of their civil partnership in London).

After concluding his show with an encore mashup of Adele’s “Someone Like You,” Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory,” and Katy Perry’s “Firework,” Cumming spoke to HuffPost Gay Voices about his support for IGLHRC, life as a re-newlywed and what lies ahead for his character Eli Gold on “The Good Wife.”

HuffPost Gay Voices: As a public figure and LGBT advocate, you can obviously chose to support any number of organizations. Why did you choose IGLHRC?

Alan Cumming: I think that we’ve got to always stand back from our own struggle and realize, in some parts of this country, how lucky we are. It doesn’t denigrate any of the organizations that are doing work for civil rights here to actually look at the fact that..the governments of certain countries are abusing and killing gay people.

Things are very bad in some parts of America, but we kind of need to have a look at the whole picture. I didn’t know about the organization until they asked me to do this event. I think I’m pretty down with my homo causes, and I felt kind of ashamed of that, so that’s why.

Why did you opt for a musical benefit?

It was nice because this is a new venue, and they really like the fact that the venue is being seen as a place where people do benefits and political things rather than just being purely a party thing. I think gay people should be more holistic in their approach to the world. Fun and good causes can be the same thing.

Congratulations on your wedding. How’s married life been treating you so far?

Still going, so that’s good! We actually got married five years ago, but then on our wedding anniversary in January we had a party and surprised everyone by getting re-married again.

I’ve always been in relationships most of my life. Everyone thinks of me as kind of a party boy, and I suppose I am. But I love the fact that I’m with someone I love, and that relationship is recognized by society as valid and legal, and has all of the benefits and protections that straight people get. It’s a lovely feeling.

In London, when we first got married…in places where you can’t get married, gay people don’t have that really important ritual that straight people have of everyone they know — all your family and friends — coming together to celebrate your love as in a wedding. We don’t have that if we don’t have marriage, and that’s a very important societal ritual.

We’re big fans of your role on “The Good Wife.” What lies ahead for Eli Gold?

Coming up, more sex! More floppy hair. And it looks like a return to the more political sphere rather than working in the office and doing crisis management…more getting back on the campaign trail.

And hopefully more sex! (laughs) I find it’s actually getting hard for me to imagine playing someone who has not had sex for two years. I’m an award-winning actor, but that’s stretching my abilities to imagine what that would be like.

Also on HuffPost:



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Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/18/alan-cumming-xl-nightclub-performance-gay-rights_n_1360097.html?ref=gay-rights

More New York hotels cater to gay travelers

Monday, March 19th, 2012

NEW YORK — On a recent Saturday night at the new XL nightclub on West 42nd Street, revelers danced with abandon on a sunken floor while the DJ Manny Lehman spun a percussive house mix, lights flashed, go-go boys undulated on raised platforms and bartenders busily mixed cocktails. I’m really not the party-all-night type, but I stayed pretty late, given that my bed was a short walk away through a couple of glass doors that lead to a Manhattan hotel lobby.

Welcome to the Out NYC, whose owners have called it both the first gay hotel in New York and a “straight-friendly urban resort.” Located in way west Clinton between 10th and 11th Avenues, the three-story, 70,000-square-foot hotel, the brainchild of Ian Simpson Reisner, a managing partner of Parkview Developers, has 105 rooms. The XL nightclub and bar are just off the lobby; a restaurant and other amenities are in the works.

So my question was: In a place like New York City, what does being a gay hotel mean, exactly?

To answer that, I nosed around a handful of New York hotels that identify themselves as gay or gay friendly and gave myself a bit of a history lesson in the process.

The general litmus test for a gay-friendly place is whether it is TAG-approved, a standard established by an organization called Community Marketing Inc. to identify businesses that have a nondiscrimination policy and offer diversity training for their staff members, for instance. Many hotels in New York are TAG-approved, but a few (some founded, quietly, decades ago) do more than simply assure gay guests and employees of a comfortable environment, and actively cater to gay clientele.

Since the Out is certainly the biggest, blingiest and most brazen of them all, I started there, checking in on March 3, along with my partner, Brett, and a couple of lesbian friends who could help assess whether gay-themed actually meant only gay-male themed.

We showed up separately; the women got a room right away while we had to wait almost an hour. So Out passed our secret lesbian discrimination test but lost points for not having my room ready until almost 5 p.m., despite a 3 p.m. check-in time. (It was opening weekend, so kinks were still being worked out.)

After checking in, we headed up to our room, passing areas still blocked off for construction. It felt a bit like going to a Broadway show during technical rehearsals.

But the unfinished feeling did not extend to the service. Every employee I encountered was friendly.

Our second-floor room was done in black-and-white minimalist chic. White furniture and sheets popped out against dark curtains and a black carpet. There was no closet; the storage space was in the bathroom, where a hanging rod was big enough for only a few shirts.

Pluses included a big flat-screen television mounted on the wall at the foot of the bed, room-darkening shades, a king bed with a perfect mattress and soft, pristine sheets.

Directly outside our door was the “great lawn,” an outdoor expanse covered in AstroTurf with brightly colored beanbag chairs scattered about. Eventually almost all of the rooms will open or look out onto this space or one of the two other courtyards being completed. (One will feature plants and tables; the other will have hot tubs, a reflecting pool, a waterfall, cabanas and areas for sunbathing.)

The proximity of the courtyards — open to all guests — to room windows creates a sort of fishbowl effect in that people can stare in and out pretty easily. This may have some people feeling exposed while, say, sunbathing; others might not want to seem to be voyeurs.

I could hear every conversation as people walked by our door, too, though the courtyard was mostly empty during our stay. I wondered if the front desk would start getting noise complaints when the place is more crowded with late-night revelers. (Our lesbian friends won again on this point; they found earplugs on their pillows upon check-in.)

Also, since these courtyards will provide most of the common space (the lobby’s lounge area is pretty small), bad weather is likely to hinder socializing.

But there’s always XL for that.

The club, run by the promoter John Blair, is a 14,000-square-foot complex comprising one bar facing 42nd Street, the sunken dance floor, two more bars, a VIP seating area and a huge DJ booth.

A cabaret space with tables some nights and a giant dance party others, the club was little more than a month old but was in full swing by midnight on the night I stayed.

Watching the crowd (mixed but mostly male) I was reminded of the hotel’s goal: to provide a place that is not just gay friendly but that is out and proud — or, as Reisner told me on the phone a few days after my stay, “a place that was built from the gay point of view from the ground up.”

As Cristian Bonetto, a travel writer for Lonely Planet, told me in a recent email, some gay travelers seek “an all-out, proactive’green light’ to be themselves,” and the Out surely offers this.

Reisner said he specifically wanted to do something better and more unapologetically gay than the smaller gay inns of yesteryear.

Below are some thoughts on a few of those, and the other places in New York I recently checked out.

The Colonial House Inn, 318 West 22nd Street. www.colonialhouseinn.com

WHAT’S GAY ABOUT IT: A doorbell rang as Tony Breen, the manager, showed me around one afternoon. “We have a group of boot fetishists staying here,” he said. “That’s them.” A trio of middle-aged men, two of them in boots that stopped above their knees, entered. So there’s that, and the clothing-optional rooftop deck, which helped give the inn a palpable gay — yet not seedy — mood while I was there for a brief visit. The 1850 town house was the home of Mel Cheren, who helped start the downtown disco Paradise Garage in 1977 and donated space in his house in 1982 to Gay Men’s Health Crisis, an HIV and AIDS service and advocacy organization that at the time was still fledgling. WHAT YOU WILL FIND INSIDE: Colonial House has 20 rooms and two suites. Ten rooms have private baths and the others share, but the hallway bathrooms I saw on my visit were spotless, so even someone averse to shared bathrooms might be OK here. There is a small breakfast area off the main entrance, where homemade muffins are served daily.

THE TAKE-AWAY: Colonial House Inn offers an interesting gay history and a mixed clientele. It often fills up, so plan ahead. Rooms are $130 to $385.

GEM HOTEL CHELSEA, 300 West 22nd Street. www.thegemhotel.com

WHAT’S GAY ABOUT IT: Gem markets itself on gay travel websites, but plenty of its guests probably don’t know that. It’s simply a boutique hotel, common in New York. But this particular outpost (there are Gems in Midtown and SoHo also) is in the heart of Chelsea and, despite the constant migration northward of New York’s gay epicenter to Clinton (also known as Hell’s Kitchen), Chelsea ain’t over. From old-school haunts like Rawhide to younger hangouts like Boxers and Gym, there are plenty of gay bars and gay-friendly businesses within walking distance. WHAT YOU WILL FIND INSIDE: All the rooms have one bed, a full or queen, so the place is really designed with the single traveler or couple in mind. Our room was tiny but clean, with a small closet, a soft mattress and a not-too-small bathroom. A flat-screen television was mounted on the wall at the foot of the bed, hanging over the smallest desk I’ve ever seen. There is a rooftop deck and, in the basement, a teeny gym and business center.

THE TAKE-AWAY: An example of the many gay-friendly boutique hotels in Manhattan, the Gem in Chelsea is cute and modern and sits in a prime location, close to many gay hangouts and only a block from the nearest subway, which will quickly transport you to Hell’s Kitchen. Rooms are $149 to $349.

INCENTRA VILLAGE HOUSE, 32 Eighth Avenue. www.incentravillage.com

WHAT’S GAY ABOUT IT: Listed in Lonely Planet as the first gay inn in Manhattan, Incentra was for a long time owned by a gay couple who periodically closed floors for sex parties, said Jeff Pica, the current manager. That was in the 1970s and ’80s, and today the 11-room guesthouse, which comprises two town houses in Greenwich Village, draws a mixed crowd, though it is predominantly a destination for gay men (sans the sex parties).

WHAT YOU WILL FIND INSIDE: Each room has its own design and its own bathroom. I spent a night in “the stable,” a rustic corner room, half subterranean, that was once part of a real stable. Getting in the door was a little cumbersome given the partly underground aspect of it; I had to unlock the door while partway down a tiny staircase. Our room, which faced Eighth Avenue, had charm, though, with simple wooden furniture, a kitchenette and extras like a ceramic rabbit, a basket of dried ferns and a wagon wheel propped up against one wall. What it did not have was much natural light.

THE TAKE-AWAY: Incentra Village House, at West 12th Street, is not a bed-and-breakfast, so the experience can be isolating, especially if you stay in the second town house. At the main house, guests sometimes gather spontaneously around the baby grand piano, Pica said. The overall experience felt like renting a small apartment. Rooms are $169 to $309.

CHELSEA MEWS GUESTHOUSE, 344 West 15th Street. www.chelseamewsguesthouse.com

WHAT’S GAY ABOUT IT: There were no guests present when I dropped by this gay, male-only, clothing-optional guesthouse one day, so one of the owners, Gary Rice, was able to show me all eight rooms, starting with a master suite with a private bathroom and claw-foot tub. The clothing-optional aspect, more common around the pools and hot tubs of gay vacation spots like Key West, Fla., seems odd in an urban town house, but contributes to the somewhat libertine aura here. There are no check-in or checkout times, either, adding to the unrestrained feel of the place.

WHAT YOU WILL FIND INSIDE: The guest rooms and the double living room are decorated in early American style, and the house has the feel of an antiques shop (a cramped one), with paintings and trinkets galore. In one of the common areas, a massage table looks out of place beneath an aged-looking chandelier and alongside a piano. Except for the master suite, guests share hallway bathrooms that looked only decent.

THE TAKE-AWAY: Chelsea Mews is a niche destination — with hosts who like to interact with their guests — that is definitely not for the prudish. But in a city where businesses like the West Side Club — a gay sauna — and the Unicorn (pornographic) video store are a short walk away, a clothing-optional guesthouse may not be so out of place, after all. The prices may be another draw: Rooms are $125 to $200.

Article source: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/travel/2017746033_trgayhotels19.html

Op-ed: Blacks will tip gay marriage amendment

Monday, March 19th, 2012

The marriage amendment, banning same-sex marriage, will be on the ballot for North Carolina voters in the May primary. Some observers believe it will be the test to see whether the Bible is still alive in the Bible Belt.

It’s going to be hard for opponents of the anti-gay-marriage amendment to distance themselves from supporters of same-sex marriage. It will be equally difficult for supporters of the marriage amendment to distance themselves from right-wing conservatives.

Both sides of the political aisle have focused much of their efforts on a group of Democrats who will potentially determine its success or failure: African-Americans. There is a serious attempt by same-sex marriage advocates to win over blacks, who have traditionally been skeptical and whose support is critical to defeating the proposed constitutional amendment.

A few weeks ago, the Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, spoke to a group of about 50 black ministers for about an hour about state politics, at a church in Fayetteville. He had the crowd thoroughly engaged, with a responsive amen corner, hand claps and repeated head nods, until he ended his comments, opening a difficult conversation about homosexuality among a group that has traditionally shied away from talking about it.

The truth of the matter is, it’s a very sensitive subject in the black community. Much of the hesitation has its roots in the churches, whose influence is still strong among many African-Americans.

I have not done a scientific poll, but I am convinced the majority of North Carolina’s black preachers overwhelmingly oppose same-sex marriage. And with the marriage amendment on the table, it’s an issue we cannot avoid. Dr. Barber had some supporters, but it was pretty obvious that resistance to any support for same-sex marriage runs deep in the faith community.

Dr. Barber, like others who oppose the amendment, says it is discriminatory. Many liken same-sex marriage to the civil rights movement. Some blacks resent the comparison. They accuse gays and lesbians of “hijacking” the civil rights movement for their homosexual agenda. There are some important differences.

Race is easily identifiable by one’s physical attributes, and gays were never called three-fifths humans in the Constitution and did not ever need special legislation to gain the right to vote. Admittedly, while many gays were forced to stay in their closets and forced to play straight, at least they had a refuge. Black folks had nowhere to hide.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe everybody is entitled to equal rights, but if we are going to play the who’s-been-oppressed-most game, black folks will win hands down. National NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous says gays were a part of the original civil rights movement. From a historical perspective, he is correct. At least one, Bayard Rustin, was a leading strategist of the civil rights movement and the chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. He was a part of Dr. Martin Luther King’s inner circle. Jealous’ critics say it’s more personal, and he did acknowledge during an opening keynote address at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Conference in January that he stood before them as an individual with a deeply vested interest in the gay movement because his brother is gay. While I cannot speak to his motives, I can agree with his perspective that America ought not to be the place for hate against anybody, including those of a different sexual orientation.

What is the marriage amendment, and what is it all about? Opponents say the law is already on the books and this vote is unnecessary and discriminatory. Advocates for the amendment say the present law is a statute, not a constitutional amendment, and there is a critical difference. They say a statute can be overturned by legislators and activist judges; a constitutional amendment will prevent this from happening.

What has to be particularly frightening to liberals is the growing alliance of black ministers with white right-wing conservatives on this issue. Republican lawmakers continue to line up black support even when they are being demonized by the left on other issues, such as voter IDs, charter schools and deep budget cuts to social programs.

While surveys show that African-Americans are the most liberal group on issues of social justice, they are the most conservative on gay rights. And that’s not good for those opposed to the marriage amendment.

The amendment is tied to same-sex marriage, and this will likely be the tipping point that decides the issue at the polls. Politics is not about permanent friends and permanent enemies, but permanent interests. And this issue is where Republicans and blacks can coexist.

Troy Williams is an independent management consultant. He can be heard on the “Wake Up” radio program on WIDU 1600 AM on Thursdays at 11 a.m. and can be reached at talk2troywilliams@yahoo.com.

Article source: http://fayobserver.com/articles/2012/03/19/1164560

St. Petersburg Russia law questions if gay rights are human rights?

Monday, March 19th, 2012

DALLAS, March 18, 2012 — St. Petersburg, Russia has adopted a new policy designed to protect young people from exposure to propaganda by homosexual rights groups. The policy has created controversy amongst gay rights group.

On March 7, 2012, Gov. Georgy Poltavchenko signed into a law a bill that will fine individuals up to $170 and companies up to $17,000 for violating a ban on “public actions aimed at propagandizing sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, and transgenderism among minors.”  

The St Petersburg law also includes amendments introducing stricter punishments for pedophilia.

Applauding the recent legislation, the Russian Orthodox Church is calling for a similar nationwide ban. Dmitry Pershin, head of the Church’s youth council, says:  “helping to protect children from information manipulation by minorities that promote sodomy.”

Responding to homosexualist activist Nikolay Alexeyev’s intention to organize protest rallies near children’s establishments, Pershin says “the persistence of sexual minorities and their intention to rally near children’s establishments indicate that this regional law is highly needed and should be urgently given federal status.” 

Gay rights groups are unhappy and clamoring for redress against the government in St. Petersburg.  In 2011 the LGBT activist organization All Out was able to pressure financial services website Paypal to shut down anti-LGBT and Christian blogger Julio Severo’s account, suspending access to funds. 

Now the group is crying foul and calling the law a “gag rule” that “muzzles artists, writers, musicians, citizens and visitors,” and they are the, “We Won’t Go There,” threatening to boycott travel to the Russian city.

Oddly enough, another institution has joined them in expressing disapproval: the US State Department. “Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights,” states the official website for the State Department, quoting Secretary Hillary Clinton. 

“We have called on Russian officials to safeguard these freedoms, and to foster an environment which promotes respect for the rights of all citizens. We have also consulted with our EU partners on this issue. They share our concerns and are also engaging Russian officials on this. The United States places great importance on combating discrimination against the LGBT community and all minority groups.” 

Russia did not take kindly to the US government’s interference. “We view with bewilderment the American side’s attempts to interfere, what’s more, publicly, in the lawmaking process,” foreign ministry representative for human rights, Konstantin Dolgov, told the Interfax news agency, adding that there is “absolutely no discrimination by Russian law in the application of civil, political, social, economic and cultural human rights, including on grounds of sexual orientation.” 

Dolgov went on to explain that, “the legislative initiatives of the regional bodies of authority…are intended to protect minors from the respective propaganda …Of course, the decision took into account the traditional cultural and moral values prevalent in Russian society, considerations of the protection of health and public morality, and the inadmissibility of discrimination through the encouragement of the rights and interests of one social group without proper regard for the rights and interests of others.” 

It turns out that Dolgov has been well informed. As shocking as it may seem to Secretary Clinton, Russians, by and large, don’t like public displays of homosexuality and many believe homosexual acts to be immoral and unhealthy. 

A 2010 poll by the independent Levada Center in Moscow found that 74 percent of Russians regard homosexuality as a result of bad moral choices. Is it right for our State Department to pressure the Russian government to go against the will of its people? 

If the Russian government were, in fact, violating human rights, the answer would certainly be yes. However, the bottom line is that while freedom of speech, property rights, the right to a fair trial, freedom from unwarranted violence, freedom from involuntary servitude, etc. are human rights, freedom of sexual expression in public thoroughfares and in the presence of children is not, and categorizing it as such is a trivialization of the real human rights abuses and injustices enacted every day across the globe. 

“Keep the government out of the bedroom!” has become a favorite slogan of pro-choice and gay rights activists, who are irritated by what they see as excessive legislation of sexual activity. The Russian government has obliged and has withdrawn from the afore-mentioned bedroom.

Now, however, these activists are no longer content with confining their controversies to the bedroom, but continue to insist on dragging them out for public display. The issue is that much of what they wish to flaunt is not at all suitable for public display in the first place.

Are gay rights human rights? Only insofar as those rights are the same rights afforded to everyone else. Thus, while the rights of gay people to be given equal protection under law are human rights, their “rights” to put on sexually explicit parades in public places or to indoctrinate children against the wishes of their parents, are not rights at all.

 

A history buff, self-taught artist, and enthusiastic autodidact, Bryana brings her always politically incorrect and usually passionate views about politics and the theory of government to her readers. In addition to writing for the TWTC, she also writes for The College Conservative and maintains the official High Tide Journal at www.thehightide.com. You can also find her on twitter and facebook.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

Article source: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/high-tide-and-turn/2012/mar/18/are-gay-rights-human-rights/

Alternate questions gay-bias conviction

Monday, March 19th, 2012

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – An alternate juror in the trial of a former Rutgers University student convicted in a webcam spying episode that ended in his gay roommate’s suicide said he disagrees with the verdict.

James Downey told the Record of Hackensack on Saturday that he wouldn’t have voted to convict Dharun Ravi on any charges related to allegations that his actions were motivated by anti-gay bias.

Prosecutors said Ravi set up his webcam in his dorm room and watched Tyler Clementi kissing another man on Sept. 19, 2010, then tweeted about it and excitedly tried to catch Clementi in the act again two days later. A half dozen students were believed to have seen the live video of the kissing; no video was taken the second time.

As an alternate, the Woodbridge Township resident heard all the testimony but did not participate in deliberations. The jury, which returned its verdict Friday, was unanimous in finding Ravi guilty of all 15 charges, including invasion of privacy and anti-gay intimidation.

Ravi wasn’t charged with causing or contributing to his roommate’s death. Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge days after his intimate encounter with the other man. The case stirred a national conversation about anti-gay bullying and teen suicide and illustrated the dangers of technology in the hands of people who have grown up with the likes of Twitter and Facebook.

“Whatever (Ravi) did was stupid, but I don’t think he ever had any intention of intimidating (Clementi),” Downey said. “I think that scenario could have happened 100 different ways, whether he had a straight roommate who had a girlfriend over . . . there are 100 scenarios where he could have been goofing around and turning the camera on and it had nothing to do with somebody being gay.”

Downey said he was “kind of up in the air” on the other charges, saying he likely would have voted to convict Ravi on charges of hindering apprehension and tampering with witnesses and evidence.

“The fact that I was picked as an alternate was almost relieving to me, especially considering the verdict they came back with,” he said. “I don’t really want to carry that around as far as the responsibility of sending somebody, especially a young man, to prison.”

Ravi could face five to 10 years in prison on the bias-intimidation charges alone and could be deported to his native India.

Several months ago, Ravi and his lawyers rejected a plea bargain that would have spared him from prison, and prosecutors would have helped him avoid deportation.

Article source: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/nation_world/20120319_Alternate_questions_gay-bias_conviction.html

Gay rights laws slow to change in Michigan

Monday, March 19th, 2012

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“The gay community knows we’re not as far as we should be 40 years later,” said Emily Dievendorf, policy director for Equality Michigan. “But in the current political environment we’re in, not only have we not made progress, we’re just trying to hold the line and not move backwards.”

Holding the line

Dievendorf points to several pieces of legislation and policy changes that have been either introduced or passed in the past several years, starting most notably with a voter-approved state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2004.

That was followed more recently with a state ban on benefits for gay partners of public workers and a pending bill that would prohibit other local governments from passing anti-discrimination ordinances.

Gay rights advocates say one of their top priorities is to change the state’s civil rights act, which currently does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“It’s still legal in Michigan to discriminate against a person because they are gay,” said Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the Michigan ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Legal Project. “You can be fired, denied housing. You are a second-class citizen. Michigan is so far behind I think this is probably one of the worst legislative climates toward LGBT rights.”

Policies behind

Beachler, who was a new member of the East Lansing traffic commission back in 1972, said he didn’t really grasp the significance of what East Lansing had done when it passed its ordinance.

People assume he must have had something to do with it because he’s so active in gay rights today. In reality, he said, he wasn’t even out of the closet yet.

“I knew it was something positive, but it was just too new.” he said. “The subject was in its embryonic state. My frame of mind was just, you know, your life was hidden. You were living in fear and your focus was to stay hidden.”

Which means his feelings today about the gay rights movement is bittersweet. Attitudes have changed, he said. People are more accepting.

But state policy, he said, is not.

“The movement is going in the right direction,” he said. “But we’re far from where we need to be.”

Article source: http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/article/20120319/NEWS01/303190022/0/GW0201/Gay-rights-laws-slow-change-Michigan?odyssey=nav|head

Police investigate Possible Hate Crime Against Hollywood Gay Man

Monday, March 19th, 2012

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (KTLA) — Police are investigating a possible hate crime against a gay man who reported he was attacked early Sunday morning by a group of men in Hollywood.

The man told police he was approached by three men about 1:30 a.m. near the intersection of Cahuenga Boulevard and Yucca Street, the Los Angeles Times reported. One of the alleged assailants asked the man if he was gay and when he answered yes, the three attacked him.

The attackers left when a witness stepped in. That witness took the victim to a nearby hospital in a taxi.

The victim’s medical condition is not known.

A handful of similar attacks broke out in October in West Hollywood, leading some in the community to warn of a spike in attacks on gays. West Hollywood’s mayor downplayed the fears at the time, saying there was no evidence the attacks were related or a signal of a broader surge in violence against gays in the region.

Police said the investigation into the Sunday attack is ongoing.

Article source: http://www.ktla.com/news/landing/ktla-hollywood-gay-hate-crime,0,4108517.story

Two men kiss in anti-gay protest at Santorum rally (video)

Monday, March 19th, 2012

In a speech peppered with rhetoric adored by Christian fundamentalists, Rick Santorum chortled more Obama hate speech. And then two men, in an anti-gay protest, stole the candidate’s platform with a kiss.

Santorum, in Illinois, campaigned with his anti-Obama platform at Christian Liberty Academy this weekend. On Friday evening, Santorum insinuated the president’s ideals were fundamentally different from his own. He suggested the president doubts that the America is special or unique at all.

He then attacked the federal budget and Obama’s refusal to slash federal programs in the name of a budget cuts. Santorum teased Obama about reading a speech that defended social welfare programs. The crowd booed in acquiescence with Santorum’s stances.

When Santorum railed on the academic elite, those who attended the nation’s best higher education institutes, two members of the audience shouted “MIC Check! Mr. Santorum!” Suddenly the audience was in an uproar and cameras panned to the source of commotion finding two men lip locked.

In response to the commotion, the audience chanted “USA! USA!”

Lately, high school and southern collegiate fans have chanted USA at basketball games to taunt Hispanic American players on the court. The USA chant at the Santorum gathering is a bit puzzling as gay marriage and gay rights dominated headlines this week, particularly in light of Dharun Ravi’s 15 guilty verdicts.

Civil rights organizations have documented Santorum’s speeches over the past decade. The New Civil Rights Movement has a page dedicated to Santorum’s “Top Ten Most Offensive Anti-Gay Comments.” Santorum’s anti-gay, anti-gay marriage history can be traced back to 2003. “Ultra-homophobe” is one word of the opposition that describes Santorum. Still other critics say that Santorum built his career on LGBT bashing and discrimination.

Much of Santorum’s Facebook page is littered with opposition remarks.

Santorum quit speaking during the disruption until the three men and one woman left the auditorium.

Once the protesters exited, Santorum continued his speech on the inadequacy of federal programs’ contribution to American well being.

The activists Timothy Tross and Ben Clifford who disrupted Santorum’s speech said they staged their interruption to protest Rick Santorum’s anti-gay baiting.

Perez Hilton reported the two men were part of an organized opposition rally formed by Santorum’s former school, Carmel Catholic. Carmel Catholic Alums Against Santorum organized a protest rally outside of Christian Liberty Academy the night of Santorum’s speech.

While Santorum railed against those who attend elite institutions again on Friday evening, it is worthy to note that he held his rally at a Christian Academy school, typically among the more expensive elementary and secondary schools across the nation. Christian Academies anywhere on the continent are generally regarded as elite institutions.

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Article source: http://www.huliq.com/10178/two-men-kiss-anti-gay-protest-santorum-rally-video

Earl Ofari Hutchinson: Why President Obama Can’t Say ‘I support Gay Marriage’ — Yet

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Barack Obama*President Obama has been called on the carpet yet again by some gay activists for not forcefully and unequivocally saying “I support gay marriage.”

This doesn’t mean simply his backing full equality, civil rights, and civil unions for gays, or support for gays in the military, calls on UN to end discrimination against gays,making supportive speeches to gay rights groups, or strongly opposing the seemingly never ending ballot initiatives and legislative efforts to outlaw gay marriage. He’s done all of that. No, he must say the words “I support gay marriage” to fully satisfy some gay rights activists. The “some” is a crucial qualifier.  Many gay rights activists understand that a GOP White House would be beyond a horror. GOP Presidential contender Mitt Romney would subtly and GOP Presidential contender Rick Santorum would openly back any and every anti-gay rights initiative measure, and piece of legislation any and everywhere in the country. But the president is different. He is clearly a friend of gay rights movement, and an African-American so therefore more, much more, is expected of him.

However, the 2012 election will be, as it was in 2008, a numbers, not a percentage game. This means that Obama must not just get a majority of gay votes which he’s assured of. It means he must stir passion, excitement, and enthusiasm among gay voters as he did in 2008. This translates directly into numbers, and in the key battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida with a large number of gay voters and an even larger number of conservative Christian evangelical voters, any slack off in the number of gay voters that turn out in November would be a hard blow to the president.

But President Obama would have to totally reverse his cautious approach to politically loaded issues to say once and for all “I support gay marriage.” It would also be the final test of his fundamental and personal beliefs. He’s made those beliefs clear on several occasions when he flatly said he wouldn’t sign on to same sex marriage because of his “understandings” of what traditional marriage should be. He later softened that to the equally cautious note that he’s “evolving” on the issue.

Obama is no different than many other moderate, tolerant and broad minded African-Americans on diversity issues. But he, like many others, still can draw the line on gay marriage and that’s fueled by deeply ingrained notions of family, church, and community, and the need to defend the terribly frayed and fragmented black family structure. This mix of fear, belief, and traditional family protectionism has long been a staple among many blacks and virtually every time the issue of legalizing gay marriage has been put to the ballot, or initiative, or a legal challenge, or just simply the topic of public debate there has been no shortage of black ministers and public figures willing to rush to the defense of traditional marriage.

At the same time, polls have shown that anti-gay attitudes among blacks have softened at least publicly among many blacks. But the line continues to be just as firmly drawn among many blacks on same sex marriage. The Pew Research Center for the People the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion Public Life in polls in 2009 and 2010 found that blacks opposed same sex marriage by gaping margins over whites or Hispanics. The finding was even more striking in that Pew also found that for the first time in the decade and half that it had been polling Americans on attitudes toward gay rights, and that includes gay marriage, that less than half of Americans opposed same sex marriage.

The Pew poll is in line with other polls that show that the number of Americans that either outright back gay marriage, are or tolerant or indifferent toward it, is inching toward a majority nationally. The number that supports gay marriage has topped a majority in the states that have legalized it. But those states are still in the numbers minority, and the public acceptance of it is hardly evenly widespread. The Deep South, parts of the West, and in the Midwest, gay marriage still stirs anger and loathing among many.  Presidents, like other elected officials, take keen note of the polarizing impact of gay marriage.

President Obama, though, has not taken the final step and said “I support gay marriage” solely because of narrow religious belief, conservative family upbringing, or a racial herd mentality that is unyielding on the traditional defense of family values. However, these are factors that have made for pause and caution by him. Still Obama still has gotten it mostly right on gay rights and given the grim GOP presidential alternative, and the near certainty that he’ll eventually get it right to the total satisfaction of gay activists in full support of gay marriage, to hold his refusal to utter the final words and endorse gay marriage now is worse than dumb and silly, it is politically suicidal.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour heard weekly on the nationally network broadcast Hutchinson Newsmaker Network.

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Article source: http://www.eurweb.com/2012/03/earl-ofari-hutchinson-why-president-obama-cant-say-i-support-gay-marriage-yet/

‘Gay marriage law may affect British royal family’

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

If gay marriage is allowed by law in Britain, the royal family in future may even have a lesbian consort for the queen or a gay male spouse for the king, an MP has warned.

Tory lawmaker Peter Bone said the new legislation would throw the monarchy into crisis, The Sun reported.

Bone demanded an emergency summit of Commonwealth leaders to discuss the planned changes.

“They seem to be rushing this through without thinking of the broader implications,” he said.

Bone has sent a letter to Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone, warning of possible upheaval in the monarchy.

He wanted to know if the government planned to change the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 to allow a same-sex union.

If the law was changed, Bone said it would become impossible for the monarch to continue as supreme governor of the Church of England.

And if a gay monarch conceived a child either by sperm donor or surrogate mother, it would mean the donor would have a right to a peerage and could gain regal rights, he said.

Gay and lesbian campaign group Stonewall has termed his letter “mischievous”.

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Article source: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/235418/gay-marriage-law-may-affect.html

HOMELESS YOUTHS: The next battle for gay equality

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

NEW YORK — Iro Uikka clutches his throat as he describes the violent clash that led to spending his nights sleeping in New York City subway cars.

“When I told my mother I was gay, she grabbed me by the neck and threw me out,” he said. “Then she threw my coat on top of me and shut the door.”

That was five years ago when he was 18, still living at home in Florida.

Uikka is among tens of thousands of homeless youths across America who are LGBT — lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Most are on the streets because they have nowhere else to go — outcasts who leave home after being rejected by family members or flee shelters because residents bully or beat them.

LGBT young people represent a dramatically high proportion of an estimated 600,000 or more homeless youths across the country — between 20 and 40 percent, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. But only some 5 percent of youths identify themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We’ve won battles for gay marriage and gays in the military,” said Carl Siciliano, founder and executive director of the New York-based Ali Forney Center, the nation’s largest organization for LGBT youth. “This is the next frontier, the next battle: helping these youths.”

The White House has taken notice. Members of the Obama administration recently held a national conference on housing and homelessness in America’s LGBT communities in Detroit. They discussed these issues with advocates, community leaders and the public.

Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh, who is openly gay, was one of the participants.

“I take this discussion personally because I know too many people who have been kicked out of their homes because of their orientation,” he told The Associated Press. “To get this kind of attention from the White House is exactly what we need to raise conscientiousness and to help parents find a way to deal with their kids’ orientation.”

Detroit has the only nonprofit agency in the Midwest that focuses on LGBT youths — the Ruth Ellis Center, which co-hosted the conference. But the largely voiceless, powerless youths are fighting to survive from coast to coast.

They live on streets, in subways and train stations, on river piers, in parks and abandoned houses. They’re robbed, raped and assaulted. Some are murdered.

And they’re invisible to most Americans.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual youths are nearly four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, according to the CDC. And one in three is thrown out by their parents, according to data collected from youths across the country by the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University.

Some youths use “survival sex” to land in a warm bed, or they move from home to home of friends and acquaintances.

In the past, Ryan Kennedy resorted to survival sex. He lists his education on Facebook as “Urban Survivalism at University of NYC Streets.” He adopted a rebellious middle name for his page, calling himself “Ryan TransEquality Kennedy.”

“I wouldn’t be alive today if I didn’t get some help,” said Kennedy, a transgender youth whose Connecticut family threw him out at 15. He said he was a girl who felt like a boy. He’s now transitioning to male.

After years living on the streets, Kennedy, now 22, has a bed thanks to The Door, a New York nonprofit that offers shelter, food, counseling and job training programs.

On any given day, there are almost 4,000 homeless youths in New York City, and at least 1,000 are LGBT, according to a 2008 census released by the city council.

Meager government funds and private donations cover almost 350 New York beds for homeless youth. Hundreds more are on waiting lists, providers say.

In recent years, the New York state Legislature has cut funding to support homeless youth programs in general by almost 70 percent.

Somehow, these vulnerable Americans survive, without beds.

Each night, some fill tables at a fast-food shop off Manhattan’s Union Square. One is a lively 19-year-old bisexual man from Virginia.

When he leaves in the late evening, Baresco Escobar goes to the far end of Brooklyn to sleep in an abandoned house with dozens of homeless kids, covering bare floors with blankets and cuddling for warmth.

“Home is where you’re supposed to have stability, unconditional love, support, a foundation,” he said. Instead, back in Virginia, “I was in a place of dysfunction, with expectations that didn’t apply to me — full of judgment, discrimination and hypocrisy.”

Escobar goes to the Ali Forney drop-in center on Manhattan’s West Side, which offers clothing, counseling, workshops in life skills, showers, laundry facilities and HIV testing. A nurse is available for quick checkups, sending clients for follow-ups with doctors.

Escobar does not live in Ali Forney’s emergency housing units, which have a total of only 47 beds in Brooklyn and Queens assigned for a few months at a time. The center also has limited transitional housing where residents get coached on how to prepare for job or school interviews.

The Ali Forney Center opened in 2002. Siciliano named it after a transgender youth who was kicked out of his home at 13. He was found shot to death on a Harlem sidewalk in 1997, at 22. By then, he had become a counselor to his homeless friends.

Siciliano knows of five other LGBT youths who were killed in New York over the years.

Despite the hardships, the city is a magnet for young people who grew up with conservative traditions, whether among immigrants from Caribbean and Asian countries or parts of the United States where residents are less accepting of sexual diversity.

Gizmo Lopez, 19, comes from a staunchly Catholic family with Puerto Rican roots. She now sleeps on the subway.

“I’m bisexual, and my stepfather didn’t approve. He said it’s wrong,” said the teenager, whose mother died two years ago.

Her stepfather moved to Puerto Rico with her two half-brothers, leaving her behind — alone in the family’s apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. One afternoon, when she came home from school, “I found a pink slip on the door.”

She was evicted.

“I took my stuff, cried and left,” she said. “We’re nomads.”

In the Midwest, the only nonprofit agency for LGBT youth is Detroit’s Ruth Ellis Center, which offers meals and other basic services and has 10 beds.

The support saved Demetrius Smith, an 18-year-old who left his great-grandmother’s Michigan farm years ago because “she whipped me, and she beat me with an umbrella because she thought I acted like a girl.”

He bought food and other necessities by working as an escort. That ended last August. An older friend is letting Smith stay with him, and the teenager is finishing high school.

Siciliano believes there’s a new reason for the rising number of LGBT youths seeking shelter. As some states legalize gay marriage and the military welcomes openly gay soldiers, “Many kids think, ‘Oh, I’m ready to come out,’” he said.

As a result, the average age of young people declaring their sexuality — or at least sharing their doubts about it — has dropped dramatically in recent years to as young as the early teens, according to the Family Acceptance Project.

Some families are not ready for them, nor are segments of society, he said. Each rejection turns into a homeless youth looking for a bed. And there aren’t enough.

“These kids are the collateral damage of our cultural wars,” Siciliano said.

Article source: http://thetandd.com/lifestyles/homeless-youths-the-next-battle-for-gay-equality/article_6ebb3834-6fa8-11e1-908d-0019bb2963f4.html

Scott Heggart, Gay Canadian Jock, Documented Coming Out Process In Poignant YouTube Series (VIDEOS)

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Gay Jock Scott Heggart

Coming out can be a difficult process for any teenager. According to Scott Heggart, it’s even harder when you’re an athlete.

The Canadian-born Heggart, now 21 and a first-year communications student at the University of Ottawa, told the Ottawa Citizen he began to understand his sexuality in 7th grade, but feared that he would have to stop playing football, basketball, softball and hockey if he came out. “I’d started to understand who I was, what it meant,” he recalled. “The worst thing, from my teammates’ perspective, was to be gay.”

Though he came out to his supportive family at age 15, Heggart says an even bigger challenge lay ahead: revealing his sexuality to his teammates. So instead, he opted to document his coming out experience anonymously by posting videos on YouTube, one new clip every day for a year from 2008-2009. Said his mother Julie, who was initially concerned by her son’s decision: “It was a place where he could be himself and share his struggles and his conflicts and everything he was going through with this broader community.”

In the video series, Heggart speaks poignantly about the process, and takes on other topics like religion, same-sex marriage, the so-called “ex-gay” movement and other topics. When he finally did come out to teammates and classmates by posting a photo of himself with his new boyfriend, Brock, on Facebook and changing his relationship status, Heggart says he received “respect and support.” He now says the 2011 suicide of Jamie Hubley, a 15-year-old gay Canadian teen, inspired him to go public about his YouTube identity.

The story has also been picked up by Towleroad, the Montreal Gazette, the National Post and other publications.

Check out Heggart’s YouTube page here.

Check out 12 of Heggart’s videos below:

READ WHOLE POST

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Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/18/scott-heggart-gay-canadian-jock-youtube-videos_n_1357292.html

Why President Obama Can’t Say “I support Gay Marriage”–Yet

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Why President Obama Can’t Say “I support Gay Marriage”–Yet

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

President Obama has been called on the carpet yet again by some gay activists for not forcefully and unequivocally saying “I support gay marriage.”  This doesn’t mean simply his backing full equality, civil rights, civil unions, support gays in the military, calls on UN to end discrimination against gays,making supportive speeches to gay rights groups and strongly opposing the seemingly never ending ballot initiatives and legislative efforts to outlaw gay marriage. He’s done all of that. No, he must say the words “I support gay marriage” to fully satisfy some gay rights activists. The “some” is a crucial qualifier.  Many gay rights activists understand that a GOP White House be beyond a horror. They would subtly in the case of GOIP Presidential contender Mitt Romney and openly in the case of GOP Presidential contender Rick Santorum’s back any and every anti-gay rights initiative measure, and piece of legislation any and everywhere in the country. But the president is different. He is clearly a friend of gay rights movement, and an African-American so more, much more, is expected of him.

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But presidential politics and elections is a zero sum game. The 2012 election will be, as it was in 2008, a numbers, not a percentage game. This simply means that he must not just get a majority of gay votes which he’s assured of. It means he must stir passion, excitement, and enthusiasm among gay voters as he did in 2008. This translates directly into numbers, and in the key battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida with a large number of gay voters and an even larger number of conservative Christian evangelical voters, any slack off in the number of gay voters that turn out in November would be a hard blow to the president.

But President Obama would have to totally reverse his cautious approach to politically loaded issues to say once and for all “I support gay marriage.” It would also be the final test of his fundamental and personal beliefs. He’s made those beliefs clear on several occasions when he flatly said he wouldn’t sign on to same sex marriage because of his “understandings” of what traditional marriage should be and then later softened that to the equally cautious note that he’s “evolving” on the issue.  

Obama is no different than many other fiercely liberal, tolerant and broad minded African-Americans on diversity issues. But he, like many others, still can draw the line on gay marriage and that’s fueled by deeply ingrained notions of family, church, and community, and the need to defend the terribly frayed and fragmented black family structure. This mix of fear, belief, and traditional family protectionism has long been a staple among many blacks and virtually every time the issue of legalizing gay marriage has been put to the ballot, or initiative, or a legal challenge, or just simply the topic of public debate there has been no shortage of black ministers and public figures willing to rush to the defense of traditional marriage.

At the same time, polls have shown that anti-gay attitudes among blacks have softened at least publicly among many blacks. But the line continues to be just as firmly drawn among many blacks on same sex marriage. The Pew Research Center for the People the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion Public Life in polls in 2009and 2010found that blacks opposed same sex marriage by gaping margins over whites or Hispanics. The finding was even more striking in that Pew also found that for the first time in the decade and half that it had been polling Americans on attitudes toward gay rights, and that includes gay marriage, that less than half of Americans opposed same sex marriage.

The Pw poll is in line with other polls that show that the number of Americans that if not outright back gay marriage, are either tolerant or indifferent toward it, is inching toward a majority nationally. The number that supports gay marriage has topped a majority in the states that have legalized it. But those states are still in the numbers minority, and the public acceptance of it is hardly evenly widespread. The Deep South, parts of the West, and in the Midwest, gay marriage still stirs anger and loathing.  Presidents, like other elected officials, take keen note of the polarizing impact of gay marriage.

President Obama has not taken the final step and said “I support gay marriage” solely because of narrow religious belief, conservative family upbringing, or a racial herd mentality that is unyielding on the traditional defense of family values. However, these are factors that have made for pause and caution. But Obama still has gotten it mostly right on gay rights and given the grim GOP alternative, and the near certainty that he’ll eventually get it right to the total satisfaction of gay activists on this issue, to hold his refusal to utter the final words and endorse gay marriage now is worse than dumb and silly, it is politically suicidal.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour heard weekly on the nationally network broadcast Hutchinson Newsmaker Network.

Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson

Article source: http://www.examiner.com/political-buzz-in-national/why-president-obama-can-t-say-i-support-gay-marriage-yet

Gay rugby legend Gareth Thomas in the dark over his close pal and business associate fleeing justice

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Gareth Thomas

RUGBY legend Gareth Thomas is expected to be stunned by revelations a friend he started a business with is WANTED over alleged swindles of £1.4million

The former Wales and British Lions captain was last night said to have no idea Sean Smith has jumped bail on the other side of the world.

Thomas, 37, who sensationally came out as gay while still a ­top professional player, helped Smith launch a company last October – unaware of the warrant for his pal’s arrest in South Africa.

Both men posed together for a series of promotional shots for Sean Smith Associates, which offers recruitment ­and consultancy ­services to lawyers.

But the People can exclusively reveal Smith fled justice more than two years ago after persuading ­magistrates in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, to release him on bail because he had HIV and feared dying in prison.

He was helped by a clinical ­psychologist who testified to the court that Smith, 42, was HIV ­positive. It is believed he contracted the virus from an infected needle.

At the time Smith was awaiting trial over 14 charges of fraud and theft totalling £1.4million.

The judge who let him out came to the decision after being told the police had ­confiscated his UK ­citizen’s travel documents.

Collapsed

But once he was free Smith went to the British ­consulate and ­managed to persuade officials to give him a replacement passport.

Before leaving the country he emailed his lawyer in South Africa saying he was going to Australia. Soon afterwards a warrant for his arrest was issued.

A ­prosecution source in Port Elizabeth told The People: “Sean Smith disappeared from our country more than two years ago while he was facing very serious charges.

“We would very much welcome his return.”

Smith eventually moved back to the UK and started a new life in London as an entrepreneur.

With a luxury flat at Canary Wharf he claims he has ­become a ­millionaire by supplying a variety of services to enterprises, mostly legal.

He linked up with Thomas, who was looking for opportunities in business and the media after a15-year playing career with more than a hundred caps and ­including a spell in rugby league.

The star revealed he was gay in 2009 after his marriage to teenage sweetheart Jemma collapsed.

He came third in the last series of Celebrity Big Brother and was an analyst for ITV’s coverage of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Thomas is an Ambassador for Diversity for the 2012 London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).

He quit his post as a director of Sean Smith Associates last month but records show he and Smith ­continue to sit on the board of ­a separate business, Bamrec Ltd, in North London.

Another former Welsh rugby star, Gareth Williams, 32, is also listed as a director of Bamrec.

Among other ventures it is ­setting up rugby academies in Wales.

Smith continues to use Thomas’s name on his web profile.

One entry on the site says: “The Diversity team at Sean Smith Associates is ­headed by Gareth Thomas, LOCOG Ambassador for Diversity.” Smith once said of his pal: “Gareth wants a ­serious ­business ­career. He has ­started off doing the ­photocopying and everything else but he’s the most determined man I’ve ever met.

“I have no doubt he’ll make a ­success of it.”

A source close to the pair said: “News of Sean’s ­past will be a ­massive blow to Gareth.

“They have become really close friends and I don’t believe he had any knowledge of this.

“After everything he has gone through Gareth is building a new chapter in his life, both in business and building up his profile to a wider audience through projects like Celebrity Big Brother. This is the last thing he needs.”

Smith was arrested by South African police in June 2007 after he was said to have carried out a spree of thefts and frauds in Port Elizabeth, 500 miles east of Cape Town.

With a former boyfriend, a fellow Brit called Darren Brunning, he was accused of ­issuing false credit ­statements and guarantees to ­deceive banks into lending him money for four ­properties in some of the city’s ­most exclusive suburbs. In one deal he allegedly deceived Investec Bank to approve three separate loans totalling at least £516,000 to buy a luxury home.

Prosecutors claim he ­produced false ­financial ­statements from two companies in the British Virgin Islands and a guarantee from a bank in Turkey.

In court papers seen by The People, Smith and Brunning are also accused of stealing a £28,000 BMW car and a £75,000 Land Rover after using other fake documents. The pair are even said to have cheated a small catering firm out of £1,450.

The charge claims they ordered food for a party at one of the homes they were ­alleged to have ­fraudulently bought.

Smith was remanded in custody at Port Elizabeth’s St Albans prison by magistrates at the ­commercial crimes court but complained about the ­conditions ­inside the jail.

He was ­granted £1,700 bail in September 2008 after a clinical ­psychologist told the court of his state of mind and confirmed ­that he ­was HIV positive.

Smith spent more than a year on bail but failed to show up at court in October 2009. His lawyer said his client had sent him an email stating he was ­“refuelling in Oz before ­starting a new job in the British Virgin Islands in two weeks”. He has been wanted in South Africa ever since.

Brunning was reported to be in Australia in 2009. Yesterday South Africa’s national police spokesman Captain Dennis Adriao confirmed a warrant was still out for Smith’s arrest.

The People has handed over its dossier on Smith, of Epping, Essex, to Scotland Yard. Britain has an arrangement with South Africa on ­extradition so he could face proceedings.

nick.dorman@people.co.uk

Article source: http://www.people.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/2012/03/18/gay-rugby-legend-gareth-thomas-in-the-dark-over-his-close-pal-and-business-associate-fleeing-justice-102039-23792358/

Mitt Romney Led New York City Search For Runaway Teen Melissa Gay In 1996

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Mitt Romney Melissa Gay

BOSTON — In the summer of 1996, Mitt Romney received a frantic report from one of his fellow executives at Bain Capital.

Robert Gay’s 14-year-old daughter, Melissa, had gone missing after taking a train into New York City, Gay told Romney. Gay said he and his wife, Lynette, had contacted the police and were desperately trying to track down Melissa.

She might have become lost in an underworld rave party scene after attending a party on Randall’s Island on the city’s East River. Rave parties were typically all-night affairs punctuated by the use of the drug Ecstasy, which can induce euphoria or hallucinations. The Gays feared their daughter might be unable to contact home.

Romney stepped in and committed Bain’s resources to help with the search.

“I said let’s close the firm, let’s close the company – we were in Boston – and let’s all of us fly down to New York and try to find her,” Romney recalled recently when ask about the incident at a rally in Ohio this month. “So we closed the business, we went home and packed our things.”

The search ultimately led to a home in New Jersey where Melissa was found safe. Soon she was back with her family.

As Romney, now a Republican presidential candidate, explained it, his decision at Bain was what anyone would have done.

His recounting at the campaign event was one of the few times has spoken publicly about the matter.

But his political campaigns and allies have not hesitated to highlight the story at critical times as he has looked to sell himself to voters as a can-do leader and manager who takes charge in a crisis and gets results.

In this, his second presidential race, Romney’s campaign has been built around the notion that the nation needs a president with deep experience in the private and public sectors. He has highlighted both his work as a businessman and his efforts turning around the financially troubled Salt Lake City Olympics. He has focused less on his four-year term as Massachusetts governor.

The message he is trying to convey is that he is just the type of president needed for a country in economic turmoil.

During the GOP nomination fight in 2008, which Arizona Sen. John McCain won, Romney’s campaign ran a TV ad that featured an interview with Robert Gay, who credited Romney with helping rescue his daughter.

“My 14-year-old daughter had disappeared in New York City for three days. No one could find her. My business partner stepped forward to take charge. He closed the company and brought almost all our employees to New York. He said, `I don’t care how long it takes. We’re going to find her.’” Gay said in the ad.

“He set up a command center and searched through the night. The man who helped save my daughter was Mitt Romney. Mitt’s done a lot of things that people say are nearly impossible. But for me, the most important thing he’s ever done is to help save my daughter.”

Four years later, Romney tops the GOP field in the delegate count so far and is on pace to win the nomination. But he has struggled to convince Republican voters, who seem split over whether to demand ideological purity in their leaders, that he is the right nominee for the times.

Enter a new ad about Melissa’s search. It’s by Restore Our Future, a super political action committee run by former Romney advisers. The commercial features the same interview with Gay.

These days, Robert and Lynette Gay have had little to say about the massive search in the years since they retrieved their daughter.

“That was a long time ago and she’s gotten on with her life,” Lynette Gay told The Associated Press when reached by telephone last week.

When the Gays sought help, those who worked at Bain Capital at the time recall Romney wasting little time shutting down the venture capital firm, gathering up as many volunteers as he could and racing to Manhattan.

“When Mitt heard that, he felt we should do everything we could to help,” said Bob White, a longtime friend and founding partner of Bain Capital who advises the presidential candidate.

Romney set up a command center at the LaGuardia Airport Marriott hotel to help coordinate the search.

“We set up a headquarters. We met with the detectives from the New York City Police Department,” Romney recalled. “We hired a private investigating firm to help guide us through this process.”

The firm also pulled in as many favors as they could from companies they had worked with over the years.

They got printers R. R. Donnelly to produce thousands of fliers with a picture of Melissa and persuaded the pharmacy chain Duane Reade to put the fliers in customers’ bags as they checked them out.

They enlisted volunteers from financial firms such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Price Waterhouse to widen the search.

“We contacted our law firm in New York and said we need some lawyers to go out with us to walk the street and look for her,” Romney said. “Then we contacted our accounting firm. We said we need some accountants to go out and walk the streets with us.”

By day the volunteers scoured the streets, handing out fliers, talking to runaways and trying to track down any leads they could. The longer it took to track down Melissa, the slimmer the chances that she would be found, police told them.

Marc Wolpow, then a managing director at Bain Capital, had grown up in New York and felt comfortable helping coordinate the search through all parts of the city.

“I do recall that Mitt jumped in and lead by example, so that everyone else at Bain Capital was eager to lend a hand,” Wolpow said.

As the search continued, Robert Gay told reporters that Melissa had left her home in Ridgefield, Conn., and headed for New York City without telling her parents.

Gay said her daughter arranged for a young man the couple had never met to pick her up. The two met another person; all three eventually ended up at the rave on Randall’s Island.

After the party, Melissa and the two young men, age 17 and 19, “crashed-out” under the Whitestone Bridge, Gay said

“The two fellows said they last saw her Sunday morning leaving with some other people,” Gay told Newsday at the time. “What I can’t understand is how the two of them could have taken her to the concert and then run off.”

The searches extended deep into the night as the volunteers wandered through the city’s parks and ventured into the Manhattan’s late night club scene.

“So there we were, a bunch of folks in suits walking around in the parks of New York and in the streets and showing pictures, and saying – when we saw teenagers – `Have you seen this girl?’” Romney said.

“After a day or two of that it made the news there are all these guys walking around asking kids if they’d seen a picture of this young lady – guys in suits and briefcases,” he added.

The local media began running stories focused on the image of buttoned-down financial analysts wandering the city’s grittier neighborhoods. It was the break Romney and the rest of the volunteers had been seeking.

After three television stations picked up the story, a call came into a hotline.

According to Romney, the caller asked if there was a reward and then hung up. Police were able to trace the call to a home in Montville, N.J., where they discovered Melissa.

Hours later she was reunited with her parents.

Also on HuffPost:

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Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/17/mitt-romney-melissa-gay_n_1355317.html

Tuesday March Planned After Anti-Gay Crimes

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

A Tuesday march is being planned to support the victims of two
separate, apparent anti-gay hate crimes in Columbia Heights.

A Facebook event page titled “Silent March For Victims of GLBT
Violence” calls for a procession to begin at the Columbia Heights
IHOP restaurant where a gay man was shot in the chest early on
the morning of March 11 after arguing with another man.

According to the Washington Blade, the 31-year-old victim was
sitting at a table in the restaurant with two of his cousins when
they overheard the shooting suspect and two of his companions use
an anti-gay slur. When the victim got up to pay the bill, the
suspect and his two friends blocked his path. In the ensuring
scuffle, a shot was fired, injuring the victim’s liver.

On Monday night, a gay man was severely beaten and robbed after
getting out of a cab on Georgia Avenue.

No arrests have been made in either case.

Ward One Councilmember Jim Graham, whose district includes
Columbia Heights and who is also gay, issued a statement Friday
denouncing the crimes.

“It is now clear that both are hate crimes, in fact, that
targeted gay men,” Graham’s statement read, in part. “Such crimes
clearly will not be tolerated. And we are all agreed on that.”

Mayor Vincent Gray also issued a statement this week denouncing
the crimes: ““These kinds of crimes are particularly insidious,
because they are designed to instill fear in an entire community.
This cannot and will not stand in the District of Columbia, where
all of our residents have the right to walk the streets of our
neighborhoods free of fear, regardless of their identities,
beliefs or characteristics.”

Article source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46775043

Homeless youths: the next battle for gay equality

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

NEW YORK – Iro Uikka clutches his throat as he describes the violent clash that led to spending his nights sleeping in New York City subway cars.

“When I told my mother I was gay, she grabbed me by the neck and threw me out,” he says. “Then she threw my coat on top of me and shut the door.”

That was five years ago when he was 18, still living at home in Florida.

Uikka is among tens of thousands of homeless youths across America who are LGBT – lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Most are on the streets because they have nowhere else to go – outcasts who leave home after being rejected by family members or flee shelters because residents bully or beat them.

LGBT young people represent a dramatically high proportion of

an estimated 600,000 or more homeless youths across the country – between 20 percent and 40 percent, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. But only about 5 percent of youths identify themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We’ve won battles for gay marriage and gays in the military,” says Carl Siciliano, founder and executive director of the New York-based Ali Forney Center, the nation’s largest organization for LGBT youth. “This is the next frontier, the next battle: helping these youths.”

The largely voiceless, powerless youth are fighting to survive from coast to coast.

They live on streets, in subways and train stations, on

river piers, in parks and abandoned houses. They’re robbed, raped and assaulted. Some are murdered.

And they’re invisible to most Americans.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are about four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, according to the CDC. And one in three is thrown out by their parents, according to data collected from youth across the country by the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University.

Some youth use “survival sex” to land in a

warm bed, or they move from home to home of friends and acquaintances.

In the past, Ryan Kennedy resorted to survival sex. He lists his education on Facebook as “Urban Survivalism at University of NYC Streets.” He adopted a rebellious middle name for his page, calling himself “Ryan TransEquality Kennedy.”

“I wouldn’t be alive today if I didn’t get some help,” says Kennedy, a transgender youth whose Connecticut family threw him out at 15. He says he was a girl who felt like a boy. He’s now transitioning to male.

After years living on the streets, Kennedy, now 22, has a bed thanks to The Door, a New York nonprofit that offers shelter, food, counseling and job training programs.

On any given day, there are almost 4,000 homeless

youths in New York City, and at least 1,000 are LGBT, according to a 2008 census released by the City Council.

Meager government funds and private donations cover about 350 New York beds for homeless youth. Hundreds more are on waiting lists, providers say.

In recent years, the New York state Legislature has cut funding to support homeless youth programs in general by about 70 percent.

Somehow, these vulnerable Americans survive, without beds.

Each night, some fill tables at a fast-food shop off Manhattan’s Union Square. One is a lively 19-year-old bisexual man from Virginia.

When he leaves in the late evening, Baresco Escobar goes to the far end of Brooklyn to sleep in an abandoned house with dozens of homeless kids, covering

bare floors with blankets and cuddling for warmth.

“Home is where you’re supposed to have stability, unconditional love, support, a foundation,” he says. Instead, back in Virginia, “I was in a place of dysfunction, with expectations that didn’t apply to me – full of judgment, discrimination and hypocrisy.”

Escobar goes to the Ali Forney drop-in center on Manhattan’s West Side, which offers clothing, counseling, workshops in life skills, showers, laundry facilities and HIV testing. A nurse is available for quick checkups, sending clients for follow-ups with doctors.

Escobar does not live in Ali Forney’s emergency housing units, which have a total of only 47 beds in Brooklyn and Queens assigned for a few months at a time.

The

center also has limited transitional housing where residents get coached on how to prepare for job or school interviews.

The Ali Forney Center opened in 2002. Siciliano named it after a transgender youth who was kicked out of his home at 13. He was found shot to death on a Harlem sidewalk in 1997, at 22. By then, he had become a counselor to his homeless friends.

Siciliano knows of five other LGBT youths who were killed in New York over the years.

Despite the hardships, the city is a magnet for young people who grew up with conservative traditions, whether among immigrants from Caribbean and Asian countries or parts of the United States where residents are less accepting of sexual diversity.

Gizmo Lopez, 19, comes from a staunchly Catholic family with Puerto Rican roots. She now sleeps on the subway.

“I’m bisexual, and my stepfather didn’t approve; he said it’s wrong,” said the teenager, whose mother died two years ago.

Her stepfather moved to Puerto Rico with her two half-brothers, leaving her behind – alone in the family’s apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. One afternoon, when she came home from school, “I found a pink slip on the door.”

She was evicted.

“I took my stuff, cried and left,” she says. “We’re nomads.”

Siciliano believes there’s a new reason for the rising number of LGBT youths seeking shelter. As some states legalize gay marriage and the military welcomes openly gay soldiers, “Many kids think, ‘Oh, I’m ready to come out,’ ” he says.

As a result, the average age of young people declaring their sexuality – or at least sharing their doubts about it – has dropped dramatically in recent years to as young as the early teens, according to the Family Acceptance Project.

Some families are not ready for them, nor are segments of society, he says. Each rejection turns into a homeless youth looking for a bed. And there aren’t enough.

“These kids are the collateral damage of our cultural wars,” Siciliano says.

Article source: http://www.twincities.com/national/ci_20192739/homeless-youths-next-battle-gay-equality

An exploration of the sexual dynamic The short list

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Walking around the galleries of “Hide/Seek” at the Tacoma Art Museum, visitors could see a lot of things: desire, gay identity, startling honesty, secrets.

Jonathan Katz, the show’s original New York-based co-curator, sees a narrative about the relationship between gay and straight society, weaving through history.

“For me, the continuing bifurcation of gay and straight is a bit of an anomaly,” said Katz, who was in Tacoma for the show’s opening and a curator lecture beforehand. “For most of American history, the two were intertwined. Now we’re heading back to that.”

To illustrate his point, Katz moved through the museum’s smaller gallery, where TAM’s curator, Rock Hushka, has hung most of the pre-1950s work.

There’s a good reason for the chronological divide, Katz said: With the end of the 1940s began the harassment of gays in the military, the Lavender Scare where gays were persecuted, and the McCarthy era. Before this, artists were freer to depict homosexuality and explore their own.

“Take George Bellows,” said Katz, pointing to the artist’s 1917 lithograph “The Shower-Bath.”

Amid a crowd of naked, soaping-and-toweling men stands a potential couple: one man the caricature of effeminacy, the other burly and macho but with a suspiciously stiff towel around his waist.

“Bellows was quite heterosexual,” Katz said. “He was maybe the most famous artist of the time. And yet he depicts a homoerotic encounter front and center, not in a privately commissioned painting but in a print that goes on to be one of his most popular on the open market.”

This was possible, Katz said, precisely because of the relationship between gays and straights: Your sexuality was defined by the role you took. So men like the leering, suggestively pointing one in the print were thought of as gay and the active partner was the straight – exactly as Bellows depicts them.

Other works in the small gallery also show a freer society. Katz pointed out John Singer Sargent’s reclining male nude, painted in the tradition of the odalisque (a female figure staged for optimum display).

“He’s completely self-conscious of the gendering of this tradition,” Katz said.

Charles Demuth’s 1918 “Cabaret Interior with Carl Van Vechten” shows the back view of the closeted gay Harlem chronicler watching two sailors close-dancing.

“Demuth puts him as a total queen, playing with his lack of honesty,” Katz said.

With female artists, Katz looks at how they found alternate ways to depict women’s sexuality in order to subvert the usual heterosexual male viewpoint. In this show they include Georgia O’Keeffe, who moved from painting flowers to white bone, still suggestive of the feminine but in “a private code to both bespeak desire and elude a hostile gaze,” Katz said.

In TAM’s bigger gallery, Katz’s narrative moves “into a different universe,” where despite a few brave souls (Burgess ‘Jess’ Collins and Larry Rivers) difference goes underground. Robert Rauschenberg, for many years the lover of Jasper Johns (whose work hangs opposite in the gallery), paints a code into “Octave.”

“I love the way he’s so subtly symbolic,” Katz said. “There are the masculine totems (a tie) and the feminine (an open jeans pocket), which is actually ripped from his own clothes. He paints same-on-same color to indicate homoerotic relationship. And then there’s the ladder above it all, so you can descend into the homosexual meanings.”

Katz moved swiftly around the rest of the gallery, picking out works to dissect as the narrative moved into the more open, protesting atmosphere of the 1980s.

He notes Tee Corrinne’s “Yantra,” a photograph of women making love, replicated to “create an image of female genitalia”; Keith Haring’s demon sperm emerging from an AIDS egg; the gallows humor of HIV-positive artists such as Jerome Caja; and the defiance of Robert Mapplethorpe, presenting himself not as a victim but as a scary reminder of our own death.

Then, Katz said, the break between gay and straight begins to close, just a little, with the final wall of contemporary work.

Catherine Opie, in her four portraits of drag kings with deliberately fake mustaches, offers that “gender isn’t a biological fact but a social performance.” And Cass Bird, whose subject Macaulay is defiantly gender-ambiguous, also is a mainstream photographer for The New York Times Magazine.

“I do think we’re at a moment now when the angry protests of the past few decades are beginning to bear fruit,” Katz said.

Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568 rosemary.ponnekanti@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/arts “Hide/Seek” is a big show. It’s hard to pick out the best of nearly 100 works, but if you’re short on time, here’s a list of what not to miss:

Small Gallery

Thomas Eakins, “Salutat”

George Bellows, “The Shower Bath”

Marsden Hartley, “Painting No. 47, Berlin”

Romaine Brooks, “Self-Portrait”

Berenice Abbott, “Janet Flanner”

Grant Wood, “Arnold Comes of Age”

George Platt Lynes, “Marsden Hartley”

Minor White, “Tom Murphy”

Large Gallery

Andy Warhol, “Camouflage Self-Portrait”

Christopher Makos, “Altered Image: Warhol in Drag”

Deborah Kass, “Altered Image I”

Jasper Johns, “Souvenir,” “Ventriloquist”

Robert Rauschenberg, “Octave”

Nan Goldin, “Roommate with Teacup,” “Misty and Jimmy Paulette in a Taxi”

David Wojnarowicz, “Fire in My Belly,” “Untitled (Face in Dirt)”

Robert Mapplethorpe, “Roy Cohn,” “Self-Portrait”

AA Bronson, “Felix, June 5, 1994”

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.)

Catherine Opie, “Being and Having”

Annie Leibovitz, “Ellen DeGeneres, Kauai, Hawaii”

Glenn Ligon, “Mirror No. 12”

Article source: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/03/18/2071983/an-exploration-of-the-sexual-dynamic.html

Rutgers student lost his dice roll

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Dharun Ravi, a promising college student and computer whiz kid, gambled his future on a Middlesex County jury.

It appears he lost.

The 20-year-old Plainsboro, N.J., resident was convicted of all 15 counts Friday in the Rutgers University webcam spying case, which generated international attention and became a rallying point for gay-rights advocates concerned about the bullying and harassment of gay teens.

Ravi was found guilty of invasion of privacy and bias-intimidation charges for using his laptop webcam to spy on his roommate in an intimate encounter with another man on Sept. 19, 2010. And he was found guilty of trying to do it again on Sept. 21.

The roommate, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, committed suicide Sept. 22 by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

While Clementi’s death was not part of the case against Ravi, “it hung like a long shadow over the courtroom,” according to a gay-rights activist who attended several sessions of the three-week trial in New Brunswick.

Now Ravi, who could have taken a plea deal last year that would have resulted in no jail time, six months’ probation, and 600 hours of community service, faces a possible 10-year prison term for his conviction on four bias-intimidation, or hate-crime, charges.

 

‘You hope …’

He also was convicted of invasion of privacy, attempted invasion of privacy, hindering prosecution, tampering with evidence, and tampering with a witness.

The Indian native, who came to the United States with his parents as a child, could be deported.

“He rolled the dice,” said Annemarie P. McAvoy, an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School.

“It’s an unfortunate reality of the system: You hope your day in court brings you what you perceive as justice, but it doesn’t always happen.”

When Ravi rejected the plea offer in December, his lead attorney, Steven Altman, said he did so for a simple reason: He was innocent. Altman returned to that theme again and again during the trial, insisting that none of Ravi’s actions were intended to humiliate or harass Clementi for his sexual orientation.

McAvoy questioned the bifurcated jury verdict, which indicated that the panel believed Ravi did not intend to harass Clementi, but that the shy violinist – who had recently come out to his family – perceived his roommate’s actions that way.

It was a “murky and confusing” verdict, and one that gives Ravi’s lawyers a legitimate issue to raise on appeal, she said.

 

Sentencing is set for May 21 before Judge Glenn Berman, who presided over the trial.

The case sparked a national conversation about the difficulties faced by gay teenagers. It also raised questions about privacy rights in the cyber age.

“The fundamental question in this trial was whether Dharun Ravi would have similarly invaded the privacy of a roommate having intimate relations with someone of the opposite sex,” said Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, a gay-rights advocacy group. “In our view, the answer is no.”

“The verdict . . . demonstrates that the jurors understood that bias crimes do not require physical weapons like a knife in one’s hands,” added Hayley Gorenberg, deputy legal director for Lambda Legal, which focuses on civil rights issues for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender individuals.

Former federal prosecutor Robert Mintz, now in private practice, said the decision should “serve as a cautionary tale as to the serious consequences of reckless behavior in the age of technology.”

Mintz was one of several legal experts to release prepared statements on the Internet after the verdict.

Others cautioned that the jury’s decision, like the charges themselves, may have been an overraction to the media furor the case generated.

Bill Dobbs, a gay-rights activist and civil libertarian from New York, was critical of gay-rights groups that, he argued, had made more of the case than the evidence warranted.

Dobbs, who has written about the trial in several publications, including an op-ed piece in the New York Times, said he was concerned about a “rush to judgment” fueled, in part, by an “overzealous” prosecution. Authorities, he said, overreacted to gay-rights groups that had made the case a cause based on Clementi’s suicide rather than Ravi’s action.

That suicide, he said, “cast a long shadow . . . over the courtroom.”

The verdict underscores the problems with New Jersey’s bias-intimidation laws, which let the jury find Ravi guilty not because of what he did, but on Clementi’s presumed interpretation of the actions, McAvoy argued.

“The jury appeared to find that Ravi’s intentions were not out of hatred or bias,” McAvoy said. “But the jurors believed Tyler Clementi perceived them as such. . . . It’s an outrageous standard.”

In the four bias-intimidation counts, Ravi was convicted of conduct that caused Clementi to be intimidated and to believe “that he was selected to be the target of the offense because of sexual orientation.”

But under each count, the jury rejected arguments that Ravi set out to invade Clementi’s privacy “with the purpose” of intimidating him. Ravi was found not guilty of that aspect of the charge.

 

A strict standard

There are important constitutional questions, McAvoy said, about a law that allowed a jury to consider an alleged victim’s “perception” of intent. She asked rhetorically how that might apply in a case in which a victim has been diagnosed as paranoid.

“I think it’s . . . an unbelievable standard,” she said.

She and others also pointed to technology issues in the case.

Erroneous police reports, according to trial testimony, initially claimed that Ravi had videotaped and broadcast Clementi in a sex act with a man.

In fact, testimony indicated, no more than six students briefly viewed a live-streamed iChat of Clementi and the man kissing. They looked for “a few seconds,” the students told the jury.

McAvoy and Dobbs argued that Ravi faced criminal charges that never would have been brought had Clementi not taken his own life.

“It’s not a happy ending for anybody,” said William J. Matthews, president of the Rutgers University Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian Transgender Alumni Association.

“If we lived in a better, brighter world, none of this would have happened. . . . I would hesitate to use the word justice here. It was a difficult case.”

 


Contact George Anastasia

at 856-779-3846 or ganastasia@phillynews.com.

Article source: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20120318_Rutgers_student_lost_his_dice_roll.html?viewAll=y

Gay divorce case heading to Maryland’s highest court

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

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ANNAPOLIS — Maryland’s highest court is scheduled to hear a case that could set a statewide precedent for same-sex divorce even before a gay-marriage law takes effect.

The Baltimore Sun reports Maryland’s Court of Appeals will hear the case next month of Jessica Port and Virginia Anne Cowan. The women were married in a California courthouse in 2008 when gay marriage was legal and returned home to Washington.

Two years later, Port filed for divorce in Maryland, where she bought a home. A Prince George’s County judge denied the divorce petition, saying the women’s marriage wasn’t valid.

A few other same-sex divorces have been granted in Maryland. Judges in Baltimore and Prince George’s and Calvert counties have granted divorces.

A ruling by Maryland’s highest court could set a statewide standard.

Article source: http://www.delawareonline.com/viewart/20120317/NEWS02/120317021/Gay-divorce-case-heading-to-Maryland-s-highest-court?odyssey=tab|mostpopular|text|FRONTPAGE

Monroe gay-rights group to discuss same-sex marriage

Sunday, March 18th, 2012


MONROE — The idea came to Holly Teige when she was attending a
summer parade in Carnation last year.The Monroe woman saw a float
made by the small town’s lesbian and gay community group.”If
Carnation had a group, then Monroe should certainly have one,”
Teige, 37, said. Teige, who is a lesbian, decided to create the
Sky Valley Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Alliance
that summer. This way, the gay community could find a place where
they could belong and find a voice.At least that’s how the idea
began.The plan was to start slow, but gay issues became the
center of attention after an anti-gay ad from a church appeared
in the weekly newspaper last October. The ad said that being gay
was a choice and a sin.”It was the catalyst that brought
attention to the gay community,” Teige said.Now the group is
aiming to advocate for same-sex marriage, she said. To do this,
the group is holding a discussion panel at 1 p.m. Saturday at the
Monroe Library, 1070 Village Way. Washington became the seventh
state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage, but an opposition
group is attempting to put the issue on the November
ballot.Saturday’s talk is set to feature Teige and Charlene
Strong, a Washington State Human Rights commissioner and
gay-rights advocate. The panel aims to show people how they can
promote same-sex marriage in the valley, Teige said. “The area is
so much more rural and conservative than downtown Seattle, so
promoting and supporting marriage equality requires a different
approach than in an urban environment,” Teige said. The group has
met twice per month this year but this is the first discussion
panel. It plans to have another one in the future, she said.The
group has 50 members from Everett to Index. The group is not only
filled with people who identify themselves as gay or bisexual.
There are also members who are straight but believe in equality,
she said. These include family members and church leaders.One of
them is Monroe United Methodist Church pastor Mike Smith. He has
been an active advocate for gay rights for a long time,
especially in the last four years when he was at a church in
Everett. When he transferred to Monroe on July 1, he joined
Teige’s group. The alliance group will help give the gay
community the voice they need, he said. He recognizes most of the
opposition comes from conservative Christian churches but there
has been some movement in the main Protestant branches to
recognize the gay community and be more open toward them, he
said.”I think the church’s treatment of gays and lesbians has
been shameful and needs to change,” he said. “I think it’s time
to welcome them.”There aren’t that many groups similar to the
alliance in Snohomish County, said Tom Blossom, president for the
Everett and Snohomish County Parents, Families and Friends of
Lesbians and Gays chapter, a support group for families that
educates, supports and advocates for the gay community. The group
is important for gay people because it provides a supportive
environment, he said.”There are a lot of people who are
homophobic,” he said. “It’s difficult to be around people who
don’t like you because of who you are.”Teige believes thousands
of people in the area are either gay or lesbian, but they are
mostly invisible.”We are like everybody else,” Teige said. “It’s
a good thing that we don’t stand out but we are missing out in
raising awareness.”Also, by creating a local group, people don’t
need to drive to Everett or Seattle to meet other gays or
lesbians.Also, the group is planning different events as a way to
raise awareness and provide information. One of them is the
one-day Sky Valley Pride festival in May at a venue still to be
determined.Teige also hopes to create a float for parades in
Seattle, Monroe and even back to Carnation.”We are going to where
it all started,” she said.Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422;
adominguez@heraldnet.com. If you goThe Sky Valley GLBTQ Alliance
is planning a discussion panel about gay marriage from 1 to 3
p.m. Saturday, at the Monroe Library, 1070 Village Way. The panel
is set to have talks from group founder Holly Teige and
gay-rights advocate Charlene Strong.


Click here to go to HeraldNet.com for more.

Article source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46764013

Gay roomie spying: Indian student convicted

Sunday, March 18th, 2012


 

New Jersey, Mar 17 : An Indo-American student who was charged with webcam spying against his gay roommate who committed suicide in 2010 was convicted by a US court in New Jersey on Friday and he might end up ten years in a prison.

The former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi was convicted on all 15 charges he was slapped with for spying on his gay roommate Tyler Clementi’s intimacy with another man. Clementi subsequently committed suicide.

According to the jury Ravi not only spied on Clementi but also targetted him for being gay. Besides invasion of privacy, the case falls under the definition of hate crimes and anti-gay bias.

He had shown the recording of Clementi and his boyfriend kissing and in bed to several other boys and had tweeted about it.

Ravi would be sentenced on May 21.

Nineteen-year-old Dharun Ravi had been charged with secretly using a webcam to shoot Tyler Clementi kissing another male in his room in Sept 2010.

Clementi came to know about the matter and informed it to the college authorities.

Clementi committed suicide days later, apparently under emotional impact of the incident.

He had jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge on Sept 22, 2010.

Clementi, reports said quoting authorities, was in an intimate embrace with another man at the time the camera was on.

Dharun was charged and convicted for invasion of privacy, hindering prosecution and bias intimidation in the case that ignited a media firestorm and outrage against anti-homosexuals. (IBNS)

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Article source: http://www.newkerala.com/news/2011/worldnews-174189.html

NJ spycam case stirs debate over hate crime laws – Chicago Sun

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

By DAVID CRARY
AP National Writer

March 17, 2012 7:36PM

FILE – In this March 14, 2012 file photo, Dharun Ravi waits for the judge to explain the law to the jury before they begin their deliberations during his trial at the Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick, N.J. Ravi was convicted Friday, March 16, 2012, of anti-gay intimidation for using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate’s love life. The roommate, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, threw himself to his death off a bridge not long after realizing he’d been watched. Although there was a verdict in the case, there is no resolution to a broader question that hovered over it: To what extent are hate crime laws a help or a hindrance in the pursuit of justice? (AP Photo/The Star-Ledger, John O’Boyle, Pool, File)


Article Extras





NEW YORK (AP) — There was a verdict in the wrenching Rutgers webcam spying case, but no resolution to a broader question that hovered over it: To what extent are hate crime laws a help or a hindrance in the pursuit of justice?

The gist of the verdict: Former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi was convicted Friday of anti-gay intimidation for using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate’s love life. The roommate, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, threw himself to his death off a bridge not long after realizing he’d been watched.

While disavowing any sense of celebration, some gay-rights leaders commended the outcome as a vindication of hate crimes legislation.

“We do believe this verdict sends the important message that a ‘kids will be kids’ defense is no excuse to bully another student,” said Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality.

In other quarters, there was dismay at the use of New Jersey’s hate crimes law in the case, and at the verdict that could saddle 20-year-old Ravi with a prison sentence of 10 years or more despite a dearth of evidence that he hated gays.

“It illustrates why hate crime laws are not a good idea,” said James Jacobs, a law professor at New York University. “They were passed to be admired and not to be used.”

A longtime gay rights activist in New York, Bill Dobbs, also was troubled by the case.

“As hate crime prosecutions mount, the problems with these laws are becoming more obvious … how they compromise cherished constitutional principles,” Dobbs said. “Now a person gets tried not just for misdeeds, but for who they are, what they believe, what their character is.”

Hate crime laws have been an American institution for decades, and are on the books in 45 states. Generally, they provide enhanced penalties for crimes committed out of racial, ethnic or religious basis, while the laws in about 30 states, including New Jersey, also cover offenses based on sexual orientation.

In 2009, Congress followed suit, expanding federal hate-crimes legislation to cover crimes motivated by bias against gays, lesbians and transgender people. The bill is known as the Matthew Shepard Act, in honor of the gay college student brutally murdered in Wyoming in 1998.

According to the latest FBI statistics, 1,528 people were targeted by anti-gay hate crimes in 2010 — accounting for almost 19 percent of all reported hate crimes.

Lambda Legal, a national gay-rights legal group, said the Ravi verdict underscored the value of hate crime legislation.

“Hate crime laws are public statements that our government and our society recognize the deep wounds inflicted when violence is motivated by prejudice and hate,” said the group’s deputy legal director, Hayley Gorenberg. “The verdict … demonstrates that the jurors understood that bias crimes do not require physical weapons like a knife in one’s hand.”

Asked about the debate over hate crime laws, Gorenberg stressed the need to consider the plight of victimized gays and lesbians, especially young people.

“If this is the case that propels us to wholesale reconsidering of hate crime laws, we’re missing the boat,” she said. “I’d urge people to rethink a different question — what’s going on in our schools and society such that we have young people experiencing invasions of their privacy, harassment, discrimination and despair, sometimes ending in tragedy.”

Some conservative legal groups campaigned vigorously against the Matthew Shepard Act, dubbing it a “thought crimes” bill that would potentially criminalize anti-gay speech as well as anti-gay violence.

“These laws serve only one purpose — they criminalize thoughts and beliefs that are not considered politically correct,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund.

“There’s a clash and a conflict — I don’t know that it’s here yet, but it’s coming — with freedom of expression and freedom of religion,” Stanley said.

Jacobs, the NYU professor, has depicted hate crime laws as unnecessary and counterproductive, albeit popular among certain politicians.

“It’s one thing to pass them, and everyone is proud to say they’re opposed to hate and bigotry,” he said. “Yet occasionally these laws are used in cases like this (the Ravi trial)… What he did was immature, stupid, wrong, but to make this a poster case for hate crimes shows the weakness, the whole misapplication of the idea.”

For the American Civil Liberties Union, which strives to defend both freedom of expression and gay rights, hate crimes legislation can raise some complicated questions.

Chris Anders, the ALCU’s senior legislative counsel for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, said the organization supports aspects of federal hate crimes policy that allow for federal intervention in cases where state or local officials are deemed to be remiss.

However, he said the ACLU has been concerned about the possibility that hate crimes trials could make use of evidence not directly related to the crime — a defendant’s past comments or reading material, for example.

Anders said the ALCU withdrew its support for the Matthew Shepard Act because it did not include certain language addressing this concern.

“In our view, hate crimes statutes focused on violent acts can be constitutional, whereas those focused on discriminatory speech are not,” Anders said.

He recalled that during debate on the Matthew Shepard Act, many Republicans assailed it and many Democrats lauded it.

“Most of these things are much more nuanced, and it’s hard to get people to focus on that,” Anders said.

———

David Crary can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CraryAP

Article source: http://posttrib.suntimes.com/lifestyles/11369020-423/nj-spycam-case-stirs-debate-over-hate-crime-laws.html

Gay Lyons’ People & Parties: Ling recognizes career’s roots at Women’s Fund lunch

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Journalist Lisa Ling, host of “Our America with Lisa Ling” on the Oprah Winfrey Network, spoke at the first annual luncheon benefiting the Women’s Fund of East Tennessee at Cherokee Country Club. The Women’s Fund provides grants to organizations that improve the lives of low-income women and girls in East Tennessee.

To date more than $1.3 million has been raised in gifts and pledges for the endowment of the Women’s Fund. Its goal is to raise $10 million in ten years.

The Charlie and Moll Anderson Family Foundation and Pilot Flying J were presenting sponsors of the event. Gold sponsors included Ann Bailey, Bobbie Congleton, Clayton Bank and Trust, Clayton Homes, Cornerstone Foundation of Knoxville, Home Federal Bank, Miller 64, Scripps Networks and TIS. Robin Wilhoit of WBIR-TV Channel 10 served as mistress of ceremonies at the event, which was attended by 300 people. The luncheon was chaired by Kay Clayton and Paige Preston assisted by committee members Marty Begalla, Mary Ellen Brewington, Susan Brown, Sara Cantrell, Katharine Pearson Criss, Donna Dempster, Mary Amber Dunn, Dawn Ford, Terry Holley, Meg Lonon, Alice Mercer, JoAnn Parker, Linda Willey, Christine Patterson Winter, Jacqueline Holdbrook, Hanley Roach and Sheena McCall.

Ling, who got her start at Whittle Communications’ Channel One News, headquartered in Knoxville, thanked Chris Whittle and Ed Winter, former Whittle executives, for her career. Winter introduced Ling at the luncheon. Ling charmed the crowd with stories about her career covering women’s issues around the world.

Unique glass birds created by Marble City Glassworks were set in natural floral arrangements by Blooming Earth Flowers on each table. Prior to Ling’s talk, the audience was entertained by The Joyful Noise River Choir of Johnson City, a group of women who started singing at The River, an organization that in partnership with the First Presbyterian Church in Johnson City provides services for women in transition.

Among the guests were Mayor Madeline Rogero, Moll Anderson, Catherine Gilreath, Natalie Haslam, Bobbie Congleton, Ann Bailey, Betsy Bush, Teenie Hayworth, Heidi and Dr. William Kouns, Christine and Ed Winter, Sharon Miller Pryse, Dee Haslam, Lucy Hand, David and Nancy Keith, Cynthia Gibson, Kathleen Finch, Sis Mitchell, Carleton Long, Melinda Meador, Dottie Roddy, Sarah Stowers, Cynthia Moxley, Brenda Wood, Cindi Debusk, Chelly Clayton, Allison Burchett, Polly Tullock, Ron and Debbie Watkins, Dale Keasling, Phyllis Nichols, Pace McCamy, Christi Branscom, Laura Lyons, Martha Buchanan, Madge Cleveland, Katie Kline, Debra Smith, Dale Keasling, Cynthia Burnley of Tri-Cities, Stephen and Nancy Land and Mike McClamroch.

Jack E. Williams/special to the News SentinelNancy and David Keith and daughter Presley; Jennifer Banner, CEO of Schaad Company; Cal MacLean, head of the Clarence Brown Theatre; Liz Stowers, chair of the Board of Advisors for the Clarence Brown Theatre Society; Susan Farris, chair of the Gala; and Bob Lederer, CBTS board member and committee member.

Jack E. Williams/special to the News Sentinel
Nancy and David Keith and daughter Presley; Jennifer Banner, CEO of Schaad Company; Cal MacLean, head of the Clarence Brown Theatre; Liz Stowers, chair of the Board of Advisors for the Clarence Brown Theatre Society; Susan Farris, chair of the Gala; and Bob Lederer, CBTS board member and committee member.


n The University of Tennessee’s Clarence Brown Theatre Society celebrated Hollywood’s Greatest Night with a Gala at the Knoxville Museum of Art. Entertainment by professors and graduate students was interspersed with coverage of the Academy Awards and a live auction, including the Scarlett O’Hara dress from “Moonlight and Magnolias.” The dress, which took more than 100 hours to construct, featured hand-printed fabric and 465 buttonholes. Beneficiary of the evening was the Artist Fund, which brings talented theatre professionals from all over the United States and Europe to work alongside UT theatre students. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Clarence Brown Theatre Advisory Board Artistic Achievement Award to UT alum David Keith. Joining Keith were wife Nancy and daughter Presley. Catering was provided by Northshore Brasserie. Guests were welcomed on the red carpet by Alan Williams of WVLT-TV Channel 8.

Guests included the new UT Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Terry Lee and husband Jack Love; Theatre Department Head and Producing Artistic Director Calvin MacLean and wife Rebecca, Managing Director Tom Cervone and wife Susan Creswell, and President of the Advisory Board Liz Stowers with daughter Rachel. Also walking the red carpet were Barbara Apking, Susan and Kent Farris, Bob Lederer, Brenda and Bob Madigan, Alice and David Torbett, Peggy and Ron Turner, Robin and Joe Ben Turner, Georgiana Vines, Melanie and Tom Wood and Wendy and Dale Wortham. Others included Margie and Bob Parrott, Charlie Brakebill, Jed Diamond, Susan and Gaines Walker, Georgia and Lynn Blake, Townes Osborn and Andrea Cartwright.

Mark and Pat Medley, Rusha and Bert Sams, from left, at Mark Medley's 65th birthday party.

Mark and Pat Medley, Rusha and Bert Sams, from left, at Mark Medley’s 65th birthday party.


n The Peter Kern Library at the Oliver Hotel was the site for a pre-Academy Awards party and celebration of Mark Medley’s 65th birthday. Medley and wife Pat and friends Bert and Rusha Sams took rooms at the Oliver for the evening (with plans to have breakfast across the street at Pete’s Coffee Shop the next morning) and hosted friends from downtown as well as other areas of town. Among those present were Harvey and Karen White, Art and Marsha Mitchell, Alan Carmichael and Cynthia Moxley, Bruce and Monique Anderson, Tom and Danni Varlan, Dick and Maggie Hinton, John Gill and Margie Nichols, Dalton and Carolyn Townsend, John and Ann Nelson and Jim and Chris Nixon.

Claudia and Joe Walsh, Randy and Jenny Boyd and Mark Williams, from left, at the  Mardi Growl Gala to benefit Young-Williams Animal Center.

Photo by Cody Nations

Claudia and Joe Walsh, Randy and Jenny Boyd and Mark Williams, from left, at the Mardi Growl Gala to benefit Young-Williams Animal Center.


n The inaugural Mardi Growl Gala to benefit Young-Williams Animal Center was held in the Square Room in Market Square the night before the popular Mardi Growl parade in downtown Knoxville. The gala featured New Orleans Mardi Gras-inspired hors d’oeuvres and desserts including shrimp po’boys and king cakes, and cocktails. Entertainment included caricature artists and a face painter, dancing and a silent auction. Randy and Jenny Boyd were honored as the King and Queen of the “Krewe of Barkus.”

Among the guests were Mark Williams, Ellen Adcock, Dr. Robert and Nancy DeNovo, Kathi and Maty Dougherty, Craig Griffith, Dr. Nancy and Dr. Ralph Harvey, Laurie and Mal Macnair, Blake Valentine, Jennie and Blake Huettel, Teresa Jennings, Dr. John and Jane New, Carmen Trammel and Tom Swain, Tyler Shoenfelder, Joe and Claudia Walsh, Candy and Jim Wansley, Jim and Deborah York, Debra McElroy, Judith Foltz, Kyndra Brewer, Kathleen and Joe Gibi, Marshall Stair, Anne Passino, Lauren Christ and John and Sarah Hallstrand. Representing Young-Williams Animal Center were Martha Armstrong and Bob Preddy, David Bolton and Don Fiolkoski, Kathy Darnell, Candice Hinkle and Jeff Hinkle, Beth Finamore-Neff, John and Ally Swank, Janet and Richard Tate and Xan Rawls, Jeannine Henney, Melissa Henney and Cyndi McCall.

Article source: http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/mar/17/gay-lyons-people-parties-ling-recognizes-careers/

Ex-Rutgers student faces 10 years or more for anti-gay hate crime

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi could face more than 10 years in prison following his conviction Friday for hate crimes, invasion of privacy, tampering with evidence, and a host of other charges related to his spying on his gay college roommate, Tyler Clementi, whose subsequent suicide sparked a national debate on bullying of gay youth.

Ravi, 20, could also face deportation to his native India when he is sentenced in May.

Ravi sat silently, his face betraying little emotion, as the word “guilty” sounded throughout a New Jersey courtroom. He faced 15 counts in the case, which made national news in September 2010 after Clementi, who was 18, hurled himself from the George Washington Bridge in the New York City area after learning that Ravi had set up a webcam in their dorm room and captured him in an intimate encounter with a date.

As court adjourned, Ravi’s mother cast him a long, lingering look while she filed out of the room with other spectators.

After about 12 hours of deliberations spread over three days, the jury came back with a mixed verdict, and Ravi was acquitted of some counts. But he was convicted of most, including witness tampering, invasion of privacy, tampering of evidence, and hindering apprehension or prosecution. Most damning for the defense, the jury also found that Ravi was motivated by a desire to target Clementi because of his sexual orientation – a hate crime known as bias intimidation that carries at least a 10-year prison term.

That finding meant the jury was not convinced by defense claims that Ravi harbored no ill feelings toward Clementi because of his sexual orientation. Ravi did not testify, but defense witnesses said he never showed anti-gay feelings and only set up the secret webcam so he could keep an eye on his belongings when Clementi was in the dorm room with another man.

But one of those witnesses also testified that he had helped Ravi adjust the webcam to focus on Clementi’s bed – not on the side of the room where Ravi’s valuables were kept.

Clementi learned of the webcam, and that other Rutgers students had seen portions of the video. A few days later he killed himself after updating his Facebook status to read: “Jumping off the gw bridge, sorry.”

Ravi had pleaded innocent to all charges. The defense had argued that his spying on Clementi was a youthful error in judgment, not a mean-spirited attempt to demean his gay roommate.

Ravi never was directly charged in Clementi’s death. But after news of the spying emerged, his actions become symbolic of the struggle that many young gay men and women face as they try to fit in among other students.  It drew the attention of President Obama, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and New Jersey  lawmakers, who drew up anti-bullying legislation as a result of it.

Rutgers University also changed its student housing policies to try to better accommodate gay students after Clementi’s death.

One of the witnesses in the case was a Rutgers student housing aide who testified that Clementi had asked for a new roommate shortly before he killed himself, because he felt uncomfortable with Ravi after learning that Ravi had spied on him.

ALSO:

Rutgers trial: Jurors mull hate-crime charges

Rutgers trial: Prosecutors say defendant is anti-gay

Rutgers trial: Defense attorney insists client does not hate gays

tina.susman@latimes.com

Article source: http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-nn-rutgers-verdict-guilty-hate-20120316,0,1906278.story

Obama opposes N.C. constitutional amendment on gay marriage, civil unions

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – President Barack Obama Friday announced his opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment on North Carolina’s May 8 ballot banning same-sex marriages and civil unions, making a rare foray into a state referendum fight.

With North Carolina a key battleground state, Obama decided to take the potentially risky step of wading into a divisive social issue.

“While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the president has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples,” said Cameron French, his North Carolina campaign spokesman.

“That’s what the North Carolina ballot initiative would do – it would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples, and that’s why the president does not support it.”

The move has the potential to energize the Democratic base in the Tar Heel State, as well as win plaudits from the gay community nationally, which in the past has complained that the president has not been visible enough on their issues.

“I think it absolutely does make a difference,” said Jeremy Kennedy, campaign manager for Protect All N.C. Families, which opposes the amendment. He said the opposition of Obama, along with that of nearly every major Democratic candidate, and the Libertarian Party, “continues to show the broad-based opposition to the amendment” and “how harmful and poorly worded it is.”

Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue tweeted kudos to the president, writing that “its passage will hurt children and families in North Carolina.”

Gay activist Tom Warshauer, who works for the City of Charlotte, said it was “great news” that Obama had come out against the proposed amendment – even if the president’s view of same-sex marriage is still “evolving.”

“It’ll certainly make people less frustrated” with the president on the issue, Warshauer said, who added that Obama’s decision to speak out against the amendment will also send the right signal to young gays and lesbians who are being bullied.

“We’d rather have people be for full equality,” Warshauer said. “But this amendment is writing discrimination into the Constitution … and is just unnecessarily mean-spirited. And it’s important for young people to hear from the leader of their country that this shouldn’t be happening.”

But others wondered why Obama was involving himself in a local matter.

“I think President Obama has no business inserting himself into the people’s business in North Carolina,” said Tami Fitzgerald, chairwoman of Vote for Marriage North Carolina, which is supporting the amendment. “The people of North Carolina cannot sit by and let marriage as defined as between one man and one woman be destroyed by a handful of political activists or by the president.”

She noted that during the 2008 campaign, in an interview with California Pastor Rick Warren before an audience of evangelicals, Obama had declared “that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”

The Rev. Dwayne Walker, pastor of Little Rock AME Zion Church, a 1,000-member black church in Charlotte, said he and his flock subscribe to their denomination’s teaching that “marriage is between a man and a woman” and that the president’s view isn’t likely to change their minds.

“We have great admiration for the president and stand with him on many things,” said Walker, who was among the speakers at a Democratic National Convention kickoff rally last year. “But we don’t have to agree with him on everything.”

The state Republican Party downplayed Obama’s announcement, noting that he had made similar comments last September in the Washington Blade, a publication with a primarily gay readership.

Article source: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/us_politics/view.bg?articleid=1061118098

Dharun Ravi Trial: NJ Spycam Case Stirs Debate Over Hate Crime Laws

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Dharun Ravi

NEW YORK — There was a verdict in the wrenching Rutgers webcam spying case, but no resolution to a broader question that hovered over it: To what extent are hate crime laws a help or a hindrance in the pursuit of justice?

The gist of the verdict: Former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi was convicted Friday of anti-gay intimidation for using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate’s love life. The roommate, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, threw himself to his death off a bridge not long after realizing he’d been watched.

While disavowing any sense of celebration, some gay-rights leaders commended the outcome as a vindication of hate crimes legislation.

“We do believe this verdict sends the important message that a `kids will be kids’ defense is no excuse to bully another student,” said Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality.

In other quarters, there was dismay at the use of New Jersey’s hate crimes law in the case, and at the verdict that could saddle 20-year-old Ravi with a prison sentence of 10 years or more despite a dearth of evidence that he hated gays.

“It illustrates why hate crime laws are not a good idea,” said James Jacobs, a law professor at New York University. “They were passed to be admired and not to be used.”

A longtime gay rights activist in New York, Bill Dobbs, also was troubled by the case.

“As hate crime prosecutions mount, the problems with these laws are becoming more obvious … how they compromise cherished constitutional principles,” Dobbs said. “Now a person gets tried not just for misdeeds, but for who they are, what they believe, what their character is.”

Hate crime laws have been an American institution for decades, and are on the books in 45 states. Generally, they provide enhanced penalties for crimes committed out of racial, ethnic or religious basis, while the laws in about 30 states, including New Jersey, also cover offenses based on sexual orientation.

In 2009, Congress followed suit, expanding federal hate-crimes legislation to cover crimes motivated by bias against gays, lesbians and transgender people. The bill is known as the Matthew Shepard Act, in honor of the gay college student brutally murdered in Wyoming in 1998.

According to the latest FBI statistics, 1,528 people were targeted by anti-gay hate crimes in 2010 – accounting for almost 19 percent of all reported hate crimes.

Lambda Legal, a national gay-rights legal group, said the Ravi verdict underscored the value of hate crime legislation.

“Hate crime laws are public statements that our government and our society recognize the deep wounds inflicted when violence is motivated by prejudice and hate,” said the group’s deputy legal director, Hayley Gorenberg. “The verdict … demonstrates that the jurors understood that bias crimes do not require physical weapons like a knife in one’s hand.”

Asked about the debate over hate crime laws, Gorenberg stressed the need to consider the plight of victimized gays and lesbians, especially young people.

“If this is the case that propels us to wholesale reconsidering of hate crime laws, we’re missing the boat,” she said. “I’d urge people to rethink a different question – what’s going on in our schools and society such that we have young people experiencing invasions of their privacy, harassment, discrimination and despair, sometimes ending in tragedy.”

Some conservative legal groups campaigned vigorously against the Matthew Shepard Act, dubbing it a “thought crimes” bill that would potentially criminalize anti-gay speech as well as anti-gay violence.

“These laws serve only one purpose – they criminalize thoughts and beliefs that are not considered politically correct,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund.

“There’s a clash and a conflict – I don’t know that it’s here yet, but it’s coming – with freedom of expression and freedom of religion,” Stanley said.

Jacobs, the NYU professor, has depicted hate crime laws as unnecessary and counterproductive, albeit popular among certain politicians.

“It’s one thing to pass them, and everyone is proud to say they’re opposed to hate and bigotry,” he said. “Yet occasionally these laws are used in cases like this (the Ravi trial)… What he did was immature, stupid, wrong, but to make this a poster case for hate crimes shows the weakness, the whole misapplication of the idea.”

For the American Civil Liberties Union, which strives to defend both freedom of expression and gay rights, hate crimes legislation can raise some complicated questions.

Chris Anders, the ALCU’s senior legislative counsel for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, said the organization supports aspects of federal hate crimes policy that allow for federal intervention in cases where state or local officials are deemed to be remiss.

However, he said the ACLU has been concerned about the possibility that hate crimes trials could make use of evidence not directly related to the crime – a defendant’s past comments or reading material, for example.

Anders said the ALCU withdrew its support for the Matthew Shepard Act because it did not include certain language addressing this concern.

“In our view, hate crimes statutes focused on violent acts can be constitutional, whereas those focused on discriminatory speech are not,” Anders said.

He recalled that during debate on the Matthew Shepard Act, many Republicans assailed it and many Democrats lauded it.

“Most of these things are much more nuanced, and it’s hard to get people to focus on that,” Anders said.

___

CASE TIMELINE

PHOTOS:



















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Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/17/dharun-ravi-trial-nj-spycam_n_1355722.html

NJ spycam case stirs debate over hate crime laws

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

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Article source: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=157&sid=19619156&title=nj-spycam-case-stirs-debate-over-hate-crime-laws&s_cid=queue-1

Ben & Jerry’s Pro-Gay Marriage Ice Cream Flavor Leaves Me Cold

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey (Reuters) – A former Rutgers University student who used a computer webcam to spy on a sexual tryst of his roommate, who later committed suicide, was found guilty of hate crimes on Friday in a case that put a national spotlight on gay bullying. Dharun Ravi, 20, faces 10 years in prison on the most …

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/ben-jerrys-pro-gay-marriage-ice-cream-flavor-145500109.html

In 1996, Romney led NYC search for runaway teen

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Click photo to enlarge

BOSTON—In the summer of 1996, Mitt Romney received a frantic report from one of his fellow executives at Bain Capital.

Robert Gay’s 14-year-old daughter, Melissa, had gone missing after taking a train into New York City, Gay told Romney. Gay said he and his wife, Lynette, had contacted the police and were desperately trying to track down Melissa.

She might have become lost in an underworld rave party scene after attending a party on Randall’s Island on the city’s East River. Rave parties were typically all-night affairs punctuated by the use of the drug Ecstasy, which can induce euphoria or hallucinations. The Gays feared their daughter might be unable to contact home.

Romney stepped in and committed Bain’s resources

to help with the search.

“I said let’s close the firm, let’s close the company—we were in Boston—and let’s all of us fly down to New York and try to find her,” Romney recalled recently when ask about the incident at a rally in Ohio this month. “So we closed the business, we went home and packed our things.”

The search ultimately led to a home in New Jersey where Melissa was found safe. Soon she was back with her family.

As Romney, now a Republican presidential candidate, explained it, his decision at Bain was what anyone would have done.

His recounting at the campaign event was one of the few times has spoken publicly about the matter.

But his political campaigns and allies have not hesitated

to highlight the story at critical times as he has looked to sell himself to voters as a can-do leader and manager who takes charge in a crisis and gets results.

In this, his second presidential race, Romney’s campaign has been built around the notion that the nation needs a president with deep experience in the private and public sectors. He has highlighted both his work as a businessman and his efforts turning around the financially troubled Salt Lake City Olympics. He has focused less

on his four-year term as Massachusetts governor.

The message he is trying to convey is that he is just the type of president needed for a country in economic turmoil.

During the GOP nomination fight in 2008, which Arizona Sen. John McCain won, Romney’s campaign ran a TV ad that featured an interview with Robert Gay, who credited Romney with helping rescue his daughter.

“My 14-year-old daughter had disappeared in New York City for three days. No one could find her. My business partner stepped forward to take charge. He closed the company and brought almost all our employees to New York. He said, ‘I don’t care how long it takes. We’re going to find her.’” Gay said in the ad.

“He set up a command center and searched

through the night. The man who helped save my daughter was Mitt Romney. Mitt’s done a lot of things that people say are nearly impossible. But for me, the most important thing he’s ever done is to help save my daughter.”

Four years later, Romney tops the GOP field in the delegate count so far and is on pace to win the nomination. But he has struggled to convince Republican voters, who seem split over whether to demand ideological purity in their leaders, that he is the right nominee for the times.

Enter a new ad about Melissa’s search. It’s by Restore Our Future, a super political action committee run by former Romney advisers. The commercial features the same interview with Gay.

These days, Robert and Lynette Gay have

had little to say about the massive search in the years since they retrieved their daughter.

“That was a long time ago and she’s gotten on with her life,” Lynette Gay told The Associated Press when reached by telephone last week.

When the Gays sought help, those who worked at Bain Capital at the time recall Romney wasting little time shutting down the venture capital firm, gathering up as many volunteers as he could and racing to Manhattan.

“When Mitt heard that, he felt we should do everything we could to help,” said Bob White, a longtime friend and founding partner of Bain Capital who advises the presidential candidate.

Romney set up a command center at the LaGuardia Airport Marriott hotel to help coordinate the

search.

“We set up a headquarters. We met with the detectives from the New York City Police Department,” Romney recalled. “We hired a private investigating firm to help guide us through this process.”

The firm also pulled in as many favors as they could from companies they had worked with over the years.

They got printers R. R. Donnelly to produce thousands of fliers with a picture of Melissa and persuaded the pharmacy chain Duane Reade to put the fliers in customers’ bags as they checked them out.

They enlisted volunteers from financial firms such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Price Waterhouse to widen the search.

“We contacted our law firm in New York and said we need some lawyers to go out with us to walk the street and look for her,” Romney said. “Then we contacted our accounting firm. We said we need some accountants to go out and walk the streets with us.”

By day the volunteers scoured the streets, handing out fliers, talking to runaways and trying to track down any leads they could. The longer it took to track down Melissa, the slimmer the chances that she would be found, police told them.

Marc Wolpow, then a managing director at Bain Capital, had grown up in New York and felt comfortable helping coordinate the search through all parts of the city.

“I do recall that Mitt jumped in and lead by example, so that everyone else at Bain Capital was eager to lend a hand,” Wolpow said.

As the search continued, Robert Gay told reporters that Melissa had left her home in Ridgefield, Conn., and headed for New York City without telling her parents.

Gay said her daughter arranged for a young man the couple had never met to pick her up. The two met another person; all three eventually ended up at the rave on Randall’s Island.

After the party, Melissa and the two young men, age 17 and 19, “crashed-out” under the Whitestone Bridge, Gay said

“The two fellows said they last saw her Sunday morning leaving with some other people,” Gay told Newsday at the time. “What I can’t understand is how the two of them could have taken her to the concert and then run off.”

The searches extended deep into the night as the volunteers wandered through the city’s parks and ventured into the Manhattan’s late night club scene.

“So there we were, a bunch of folks in suits walking around in the parks of New York and in the streets and showing pictures, and saying—when we saw teenagers—’Have you seen this girl?’” Romney said.

“After a day or two of that it made the news there are all these guys walking around asking kids if they’d seen a picture of this young lady—guys in suits and briefcases,” he added.

The local media began running stories focused on the image of buttoned-down financial analysts wandering the city’s grittier neighborhoods. It was the break Romney and the rest of the volunteers had been seeking.

After three television stations picked up the story, a call came into a hotline.

According to Romney, the caller asked if there was a reward and then hung up. Police were able to trace the call to a home in Montville, N.J., where they discovered Melissa.

Hours later she was reunited with her parents.

Article source: http://www.mercurynews.com/presidentelect/ci_20196609/1996-romney-led-nyc-search-runaway-teen

Times catch up a bit for gay TV actor in South Korea

Saturday, March 17th, 2012





SEOUL — Hong Seok-cheon stands beaming before an adoring studio audience. It’s a place he has always felt at home — basking in the celebrity spotlight.

For years, the veteran actor has been an instantly recognizable media personality here, famous as the onetime host of a children’s show that was South Korea’s version of “Sesame Street” and co-star of a popular 1990s sitcom.

But on this Saturday afternoon, the slender 41-year-old with the signature shaved head is playing himself, an out-of-the-closet gay man talking about what it’s like to be a pariah in a conservative society where 77 percent of Koreans in one poll said they believed “homosexuality should be rejected.”

Hong is the featured guest on a cable TV show called the “Star Lecture Series,” making history, he says, as the first gay man to discuss sex and sexual orientation on-air in South Korea.

The room is edgily silent as he paces the stage, microphone in hand, before an under-25 audience, many of whom still live at home with their parents.

“Older Koreans will ask me, ‘If you’re gay, why don’t you dress like a woman?’ And I tell them: ‘Because I’m a man. I just happen to be attracted to other men,’ ” Hong says as viewers snap his picture with their cellphone cameras.

“In South Korea, we’re led to believe that gay sex is dangerous, alien and dirty. For so many years, I’ve been treated as an outcast in my own country. I’m just so happy to be here today, talking openly about who I really am.”

The audience applauds and Hong is near tears, grateful for the acceptance that for years he thought would never come.

When Hong came out as gay in 2000, the reaction was swift and brutal: Within 24 hours, the network summarily fired him from his jobs as a regular guest on several talk shows and slapstick host of the children’s show “Po Po Po.”

No one would take his calls. Hong says he received so many death threats he shut himself up at home and began drinking heavily and contemplating suicide. Previously a nonsmoker, he began going through three packs a day.

“I knew my career was over,” he said. “It was like somebody suddenly dropped a bomb on everything I had worked so hard for. One day it was there, and the next it was gone.”

Looking back, Hong says, he should have seen the reaction coming. South Korea’s conservative combination of Confucianism — which puts a premium on marriage and childbirth — and a strong Protestant ethic makes tolerance for gays and lesbians incredibly rare, he says.

Even today, many older South Koreans refuse to acknowledge that homosexuality exists in the family-friendly nation. But the Internet is slowly changing things. Some young Koreans are cautiously rebelling against their parents’ views.

Quietly, gay bars are appearing. Still, even if rainbow flags have begun to fly here, many participants at gay and lesbian pride rallies wear masks to avoid public identification.

While on the nation’s entertainment blacklist, Hong opened the first of several now-popular restaurants in an attempt to start anew. But people didn’t make it easy. For a while, he said, many came in not to eat, but to shout insults at him.

“They’d walk into my restaurant and see me and loudly announce, ‘I didn’t know this was a gay restaurant,’ ” he said. “Or groups of men would get drunk and start yelling, ‘Homosexual!”

But then, as younger South Koreans slowly began to accept gay culture, opportunities arose. Although no celebrity has yet to follow Hong out of the closet and most other gays and lesbians prefer to remain under the social radar, gay characters are appearing on TV and in film here.

One day, Hong hopes, younger South Koreans, as they become tomorrow’s CEOs, will encourage gay employees in mainstream businesses.

Gay activists here say Hong plays a crucial educational role. “Before he took his big step, many people here didn’t even know what ‘coming out’ meant,” said Lee Jong-geol, general director of Chingusai, a gay men’s rights group.

Hong is mystified by his life’s turnaround.

“I never expected this,” he said before the TV lecture. “At one point, I thought I was going to have to leave the country. Now I’m on TV just being me. I’m nervous. It’s a dream come true.”

After the soul-crushing response to his revelation, Hong acknowledges, he got lucky. In 2003, a young scriptwriter had a vision for taking on South Korea’s abhorrence of homosexuality, introducing a gay sitcom character who faced complex social issues when he came out to family and friends.

What better person than Hong to play the character in that show, “Perfect Love”? After some behind-the-scenes wrangling, the show was approved for broadcast. Hong returned to the set and the show was a hit. Many young viewers liked the complexity of his character. Hong was back.

“That show saved my life,” Hong said. “In Korean culture, there is strong pushback to any new idea, such as an out gay man, but once in a while cooler heads prevail.”

Now he wants to stage a play about two best friends, one straight and one gay, and is planning a new TV show featuring a transgender character. He has also expanded his restaurant empire to five eateries.

He feels more comfortable in his personal life, too. At this point he’s dating, but has already been in several long-term relationships. Hong is also helping his divorced older sister raise her two young children. “They don’t call me ‘Dad,’ ” he said, laughing. “I’m just fine with ‘Uncle.’ “

But Hong’s war for sexual equality is far from over. Last year, a group of South Korean mothers criticized the “glamorized” portrayal of gays in a sitcom called “Life Is Beautiful,” which features a male couple.

Hong responded with his own public letter insisting that the show was realistic. He believes attitudes such as the mothers’ have kept too many people in the closet, leading several gay friends to commit suicide.

At the taping of the recent TV lecture, Hong made fun of narrow thinking. “Homosexuality is not contagious,” he told the young crowd. “If you spend two hours with me here, you’re not going to turn gay.”

But Hong still has one important person to win over: his mother. She recently called to say he was in her prayers. He really could marry a nice Korean girl if he’d only try. Everyone, she said, can change.

In fact, Hong said, one day he would like to walk down the aisle. But he sighed, conceding that gay marriage in South Korea is a distant dream.

“Not in my lifetime,” he said.

Article source: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2017770938_gaykorean18.html

Clementi’s gay partner describes verdict on Ravi as ”just”

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

With Indian-origin student Dharun Ravi convicted in the webcam spying case, the family of his Rutgers roommate Tyler Clementi, who had committed suicide, say the case brought pain to many people and should serve as an example that others should be treated with respect.

Ravi, 20, was found guilty by a jury yesterday on all 15 charges of bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and witness tampering that he faced for spying on Clementi’s sexual encounter with his male partner.

Clementi’s partner identified as MB, who was among the 30 witnesses to testify in the trial, issued a statement calling the verdict “just.” MB said “for him to heal within and be a better person the redemption would have to begin and end within his own mind and heart.

“But we must be mindful that when one person truly hurts another, society must have the right to demand justice for all. And if that means that Ravi should be reminded that his type of conduct must be deterred, then so be it.”

Clementi had committed suicide in September 2010 after he found out that Ravi had seen him kissing another man, known in court records only as MB, and had then texted his other friends to watch the encounter online.

Ravi will be sentenced on May 21 and faces a possible 10 year prison term and subsequent deportation to India. Ravi sat expressionless in a packed
New Jersey courtroom as the jury read out its verdict in the case, which has generated massive interest across the country and was being closely followed by the American media. Ravi’s attorney Steven Altman has said he plans to appeal in the case.

After Ravi’s conviction Joe Clementi, the father of Tyler Clementi, read a statement to reporters in which he thanked the prosecutor’s office for remaining sensitive to the family’s concerns ensured the privacy of his son and his friend MB was protected.

“The trial was painful for us, as it would be for any parent who must sit and listen to people talk about bad and inappropriate things that were done to their child,” Clementi, accompanied by his wife, Jane and son James, said.

“We were here every day because we wanted to be here for our son and because we believe the trial was important because it dealt with important issues for our society and for our young people today.”He said his message to young people in college and high school is that “You’re going to meet a lot of people in your lifetime. Some of these people you may not like. But just because you don’t like them, does not mean you have to work against them. When you see somebody doing something wrong, tell them, “That’s not right. Stop it.”

“You can make the world a better place. The change you want to see in the world begins with you,” he added.

The family set up a foundation in their son’s name and hoped that the attention the case has got will help their efforts to sensitise young people “in the important areas of respect, privacy, responsibility in a digital world.”

MB said the case has caused much hurt to too many innocent people. “Tyler was a good person and seeing his family go through the tortures of the trial was painful,” he said.

He said he had hoped that a trial could have been avoided but it was Ravi’s decision to defend himself in court and now “he will have to live with it.”

He added that even though he had testified in the case, he bore no malice or hatred toward Ravi.

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Article source: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/235109/clementis-gay-partner-describes-verdict.html

Gay rights advocate to run for North Dakota House

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

    FARGO – Joshua Boschee submitted a thin stack of papers Friday at the Cass County Auditor’s Office and in doing so became what might be North Dakota’s first openly gay candidate for a legislative seat.

    Boschee was surrounded by a handful of friends and supporters when he filed papers to run as a Democrat for a House seat in north Fargo’s District 44, now represented by two Republicans.

    “I’ve been encouraged by friends,” Boschee said, explaining his decision to run. “The more I thought about it, the more the time seemed right.”

    Also Friday, a second openly gay Fargo man, Michael Lindemann, said he intends to run for a seat in the North Dakota House.

    Boschee, who once wrote a local newspaper column called The Gay Agenda, said he will be an advocate for gay rights, but for other issues as well, including education.

    Support for education at all levels, K-12 and higher education, is high on Boschee’s priority list. Colleges have been under attack by some legislators, he said. The Head Start program in Fargo, an early education program for low-income children, has a waiting list of about 100, he said.

    As for efforts to legalize gay marriage in North Dakota, Boschee said he supports the petition drive, but sees more urgent rights issues for gays. North Dakota law now allows discrimination in housing and on the job for those who are gay, he said.

    “I don’t know if necessarily right now going to the Legislature or putting it on the ballot is the best way to move forward,” Boschee said of legalizing gay marriage.

    North Dakota voters overwhelmingly supported adopting the ban on gay marriage in 2004, indicating a lot of “public education” remains to be done on the issue, he said.

    “Marriage is somewhat down the road,” Boschee said.

    Boschee, who turns 30 in May, works as assistant director of leadership and organization at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He graduated from North Dakota State University with an undergraduate degree in political science and a master’s degree in education.

    Boschee said he opposes Measure 2, an initiated measure on the June primary ballot that would end the property tax. That would undermine local government, and local officials are best equipped to decide many issues, he said.

    Lindemann, 25, said he will run as a Democrat for a House seat in District 16 in south Fargo. He hasn’t yet filed his candidacy papers, but will do so soon. Both men said they have been endorsed by their Democratic-NPL districts.

    Lindemann, who soon will graduate from NDSU with a nursing degree, said education, health care and flood control top his priorities.

    “I care deeply about higher education,” he said. “I’m running because I care deeply about what’s happening in North Dakota. I’m just running, and I happen to be gay.”

    As far as Boschee and Lindemann know, this is the first election involving openly gay candidates running for a seat in the North Dakota Legislature.

    “If either of us wins, we’ll be the first openly gay member elected to the Legislature,” Lindemann said.


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    Tags:
    north dakota, north dakota legislature, news, legislature, politics

    Article source: http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/354446/

    Gay leaders from Israel snubbed by Seattle’s gay commission

    Saturday, March 17th, 2012

    Bowing to pressure from some gays outraged by Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, the city of Seattle commission that represents gays canceled a Friday reception at City Hall for a visiting delegation of Israeli gay leaders.

    Commission members, some City Council members and local gay-community leaders had been invited.

    The Seattle LGBT Commission had previously agreed to host the meeting, one of several the six-member Israeli delegation had scheduled on the West Coast — with stops in San Francisco and Los Angeles — to exchange ideas on advancing gay rights.

    Only in Washington state, however, did the team encounter pushback from fellow gays.

    At a heated commission meeting Thursday, a small, vocal group spoke out against the Jewish nation, saying Israel is masking what some call its poor treatment of Palestinians by promoting its positive record on gay rights — a phenomenon that has become known as “pinkwashing.”

    To be sure, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is a complicated, decades-long political and religious struggle that can hardly be sorted out during a few hours of a commission meeting.

    Still, members — who represent Seattle’s gay population to city government — bowed to pressure and canceled the session, saying they were not prepared to facilitate an event surrounding “such complex topics.”

    The Israeli delegation had other scheduled stops in Seattle that went uninterrupted, but one in Tacoma was also canceled, and one in Olympia was moved because of opposition.

    “We wanted to talk bout LGBTQ issues,” said Mac McGregor, co-chair of the commission, referring to issues important to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning people. He voted to keep the reception. “We weren’t prepared to handle the Palestinian question.

    “We are not experts, and we don’t pretend to be. None of us want to choose sides.”

    Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw and Jean Godden and City Attorney Pete Holmes arranged a hurried, lunchtime meeting with the delegates and apologized for the snub. The Israeli Jews are part of the Alliance of Israeli LGBT Educational Organizations, a network of groups that support LGBT youth and families.

    Members of the delegation said they were shocked by the cancellation.

    “We expected from the Seattle LGBTQ Commission a strong declaration of its intent to support all LGBTQ activists, regardless of their color, sex or national origin,” the group said in a statement.

    “Sadly, it appears that the commission, representing a minority that continues to face discrimination, also practices that same discrimination.”

    Criticized by professor

    The first sign that the group would encounter trouble in Washington state began with a posting Monday on the Facebook page of Seattle University law professor Dean Spade, in which he called the delegation’s visit “apartheid and occupation” wrapped in the rainbow flag.

    The concept of “pinkwashing” has been advanced among some gay-rights social-justice activists who believe Israel is using its progressive stance on gay rights to cover up a record on the mistreatment of Palestinians.

    Spade, a transgender activist, explained that his feelings toward Israel followed a January visit to the West Bank. And in a letter to commission members, he wrote that they may be unaware that “the event is part of a broad campaign launched in recent years by the state of Israel to respond to worldwide opposition to its outrageous harm and violence to Palestinian people.”

    Spade could not be reached for comment.

    Some pro-Israel gay-rights organizations denounce the concept of pinkwashing. By saying that Israel has a positive record on gay rights does not deny anyone from criticizing its civil-rights record, say officials with the Wider Bridge, a California-based gay Jewish organization that helped to arrange the delegation’s visit.

    “The truth is that Israel is a good place to be LGBT, and it is so because there are countless people within Israel doing amazing, courageous work every day … saving lives, including the lives of young LGBTQ Palestinians who often have nowhere else to turn,” Wider Bridge officials said.

    Lornet Turnbull: 206-464-2420 or lturnbull@seattletimes.com.

    Article source: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2017771557_israeligays17m.html

    Ben & Jerry’s issues pro-gay marriage flavor

    Saturday, March 17th, 2012

    MONTPELIER, Vt. – Ice cream maker Ben Jerry’s is supporting gay marriage in Britain by relabeling an apple pie flavor as Apple-y Ever After.

    The South Burlington-based subsidiary of the global food and cosmetics conglomerate Unilever is issuing the newly labeled ice cream in the United Kingdom, where the government has said it plans to legalize gay marriage and has begun public consultation before introducing legislation.

    When Vermont passed such a law two years ago, the ice cream company celebrated by briefly repackaging its Chubby Hubby flavor Hubby Hubby.

    In Britain, Ben Jerry’s is relabeling its Oh My Apple Pie flavor, which isn’t available in the United States.

    “The point is to raise awareness around same-sex marriage issues,” company spokeswoman Liz Stewart said Friday.

    The change won’t affect ice cream pints sold in stores, but the label at the company’s scoop shops will be changed, Stewart said.

    “We’ve been an activist brand really since our inception in 1978,” she said. “We’ve stuck up for social justice issues in the past, and it’s something we’ll continue to do going forward.”

    She said people at Ben Jerry’s “believe love is love.”

    “Marriage,” she said, “should just be defined by love and commitment.”

    Article source: http://www.azcentral.com/business/consumer/articles/2012/03/16/20120316ben-jerrys-issues-pro-gay-marriage-flavor-ice-cream.html

    Student convicted of anti-gay intimidation

    Saturday, March 17th, 2012

    Published: March 16, 2012 10:00 PM

    By GEOFF MULVIHILL. The Associated Press
     

    NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A former Rutgers University student accused of using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate’s love life was convicted Friday of invasion of privacy and anti-gay intimidation in a case that exploded into the headlines when the victim threw himself to his death off a bridge.

    Dharun Ravi, 20, shook his head slightly after hearing guilty verdicts on all 15 counts against him. He and his lawyers left the courthouse without comment, his father’s arm around his shoulders.

    He could get up to 10 years in prison by some estimates — and could be deported to his native India, even though he has lived legally in the United States since he was a little boy — for an act that cast a spotlight on teen suicide and anti-gay bullying and illustrated the Internet’s potential for tormenting others.

    Prosecutors said Ravi set up a webcam in his dorm room in September 2010 and captured roommate Tyler Clementi kissing another man, then tweeted about it and excitedly tried to catch Clementi in the act again two days later. A half-dozen students were believed to have seen the live video of the kissing.

    Within days, Clementi realized he had been watched and leaped from the George Washington Bridge after posting one last status update on Facebook: “Jumping off the gw bridge, sorry.”

    At a courthouse news conference after the verdict, Clementi’s father, Joe, addressed himself to college students and other young people, saying: “You’re going to meet a lot of people in your life. Some of these people you may not like. Just because you don’t like them doesn’t mean you have to work against them.”

    Rutgers said in a statement: “This sad incident should make us all pause to recognize the importance of civility and mutual respect in the way we live, work and communicate with others.”

    During the trial, Ravi’s lawyer argued that the college freshman was not motivated by any hostility toward gays and that his actions were just those of an immature “kid.” The defense also contended Ravi initially set up the camera because he was afraid Clementi’s older, “sketchy”-looking visitor might steal his belongings.

    The jury found Ravi not guilty on some subparts of some of the charges, but guilty of all 15 counts as a whole.

    The most serious charges — bias intimidation based on sexual orientation, a hate crime — carry up to 10 years behind bars each. But legal experts said the most Ravi would probably get altogether at sentencing May 21 would be 10 years.

    Before the trial, Ravi and his lawyers had rejected a plea bargain that would have spared him from prison. He would have gotten probation and community service and would have been given help in avoiding deportation.

    Ravi was not charged with causing Clementi’s death, and the suicide remained largely in the background at the trial, though some witnesses mentioned it, and the jury was told Clementi had taken his life.

    Prosecutors were not allowed to argue directly that the spying led to his death; defense lawyers were barred from saying there were other reasons he killed himself.

    Each bias intimidation charge included five questions. A finding of guilty on any of them made Ravi guilty of the entire charge. The jury issued a split verdict on those subquestions.

    It found, for example, that Ravi did not try to intimidate Clementi’s romantic partner, identified in court only as M.B., and that Clementi reasonably believed Ravi was trying to intimidate him because of his sexual orientation. It split on questions of whether Ravi knowingly or willfully intimidated Clementi because of his sexuality.

    Article source: http://www.newsday.com/news/nation/student-convicted-of-anti-gay-intimidation-1.3608231

    Canada warns gay travellers of Russian law banning ‘homosexual propaganda’

    Saturday, March 17th, 2012

    OTTAWA – Canada is warning gay and lesbian travellers bound for Russia‘s historic St. Petersburg to be wary after the city enacted a new law banning what it calls homosexual propaganda.

    Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has told the House of Commons he is deeply concerned by the legislation, which he says runs counter to core Canadian values of freedom of speech, human rights and the rule of law.

    The warning comes after the governor of St. Petersburg signed a law that makes it a criminal offence to publicize acts of sodomy, bisexualism or lesbianism.

    The city says the law, which comes into effect Saturday, is designed to protect children.

    But gay rights groups see it as part of a backlash led by some politicians and the Russian Orthodox Church.

    St. Petersburg is the fourth Russian city to be enact such a law.

    Baird said Canada has lodged an official protest, as well as warning travellers.

    “Canada’s ambassador has written to the Russian government to express our deep concern and, yes, we have at his request, put a travel advisory on our website,” Baird said.

    Scenic, historic and cosmopolitan, St. Petersburg is one of Russia’s — if not one of the world’s — top travel destinations.

    Canada’s new travel advisory has been amended to read: “Homosexuality is legal, though some still strongly disapprove of it. Canadians are advised to avoid displaying affection in public, as homosexuals can be targets of violence.”

    The advisory states that the new law prohibits “propagandizing homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality and transsexuality among minors, and prohibiting public actions propagandizing pedophilia.”

    Among other things, the advisory warns travellers against “displays or conspicuous behaviour,” which could lead to arrest or a fine.

    Baird said he will consider amending travel advisories to other destinations to deal with specific threats to gay and lesbian travellers.

    “We’ll certainly look at that,” said Baird. “Obviously one of the core responsibilities I have as Canada’s foreign minister is to promote Canadian values around the world, and I will continue to do this.”

    Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/canada-warns-gay-travellers-russian-law-banning-homosexual-172827233.html

    Obama opposes anti-gay marriage N.C effort

    Friday, March 16th, 2012

    President Obama, under pressure from many in his own party on the issue of same-sex marriage, comes out against an amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions in the crucial swing-state of North Carolina.

    “While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples,” North Carolina campaign spokesman Cameron French said in a statement obtained by the Charlotte Observer.

    “That’s what the North Carolina ballot initiative would do – it would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples – and that’s why the President does not support it,” French said.

    It’s not an inconsistency for the president: the White House has long noted Obama’s opposition to discriminatory measures at the state level, even as he nominally opposes same sex message and continues to insist that his views are “evolving.” And Obama is in favor of civil union — which the amendment would also ban.

    Still — the brewing fight within the party over a pro-same-sex marriage plank in the Democratic convention platform, the increasing number of Democrats (and Republicans) who are now in favor of gay marriage and the perception that Obama is largely ducking the issue means that Obama will continue to face questions about his stance on marriage equality — and jumping into state level fights on the pro-gay marriage side is unlikely to quell questions about when Obama’s ‘evolution’ will be complete.

    Alex Burns has more.

    Article source: http://www.politico.com/politico44/2012/03/obama-opposes-antigay-marriage-nc-effort-117730.html

    To Be a Hotel and Gay in New York

    Friday, March 16th, 2012

    Welcome to the Out NYC, whose owners have called it both the first gay hotel in New York and a “straight-friendly urban resort.” Located in way west Clinton between 10th and 11th Avenues, the three-story, 70,000-square-foot hotel, the brainchild of Ian Simpson Reisner, a managing partner of Parkview Developers, has 105 rooms. The XL nightclub and bar are just off the lobby; a restaurant and other amenities are in the works.

    So my question was: in a place like New York City, what does being a gay hotel mean, exactly?

    To answer that, I nosed around a handful of New York hotels that identify themselves as gay or gay friendly and gave myself a bit of a history lesson in the process.

    The general litmus test for a gay-friendly place is whether it is TAG-approved, a standard established by an organization called Community Marketing Inc. to identify businesses that have a nondiscrimination policy and offer diversity training for their staff members, for instance. Many hotels in New York are TAG-approved, but a few (some founded, quietly, decades ago) do more than simply assure gay guests and employees of a comfortable environment, and actively cater to gay clientele.

    Since the Out is certainly the biggest, blingiest and most brazen of them all, I started there, checking in on March 3, along with my partner, Brett, and a couple of lesbian friends who could help assess whether gay-themed actually meant only gay-male themed.

    We showed up separately; the women got a room right away while we had to wait almost an hour. So Out passed our secret lesbian discrimination test but lost points for not having my room ready until almost 5 p.m., despite a 3 p.m. check-in time. (It was opening weekend, so kinks were still being worked out.)

    After checking in, we headed up to our room, passing areas still blocked off for construction. It felt a bit like going to a Broadway show during technical rehearsals.

    But the unfinished feeling did not extend to the service. Every employee I encountered was friendly. The staff was pretty much universally attractive, too. (The majority of the employees also seemed to be male.)

    Our second-floor room was done in black-and-white minimalist chic. White furniture and sheets popped out against dark curtains and a black carpet. There was no closet; the storage space was in the bathroom, where a hanging rod was big enough for only a few shirts.

    Pluses included a big flat-screen television mounted on the wall at the foot of the bed, room-darkening shades, a king bed with a perfect mattress and soft, pristine sheets.

    Another plus: the whole bathroom. The glass bowl sink, coffee-colored ceramic tiles on the walls and stone-floored open shower stall were sleek and attractive. One shower wall is a mirror, and there’s another huge mirror over the sink and an even bigger one at the head of the bed. It’s tough to hide from reflective surfaces here; learn to love your body.

    Directly outside our door was the “great lawn,” an outdoor expanse covered in AstroTurf with brightly colored beanbag chairs scattered about. Eventually almost all of the rooms will open or look out onto this space or one of the two other courtyards being completed. (One will feature plants and tables; the other will have hot tubs, a reflecting pool, a waterfall, cabanas and areas for sunbathing.)

    The proximity of the courtyards — open to all guests — to room windows creates a sort of fishbowl effect in that people can stare in and out pretty easily. This may have some people feeling exposed while, say, sunbathing; others might not want to seem to be voyeurs.

    I could hear every conversation as people walked by our door, too, though the courtyard was mostly empty during our stay. I wondered if the front desk would start getting noise complaints when the place is more crowded with late-night revelers. (Our lesbian friends won again on this point; they found earplugs on their pillows upon check-in.)

    Also, since these courtyards will provide most of the common space (the lobby’s lounge area is pretty small), bad weather is likely to hinder socializing.

    But there’s always XL for that. The club, run by the promoter John Blair, is a 14,000-square-foot complex comprising one bar facing 42nd Street, the sunken dance floor, two more bars, a V.I.P. seating area and a huge D.J. booth.

    A cabaret space with tables some nights and a giant dance party others, the club was little more than a month old but was in full swing by midnight on the night I stayed.

    Watching the crowd (mixed but mostly male) I was reminded of the hotel’s goal: to provide a place that is not just gay friendly but that is out and proud — or, as Mr. Reisner told me on the phone a few days after my stay, “a place that was built from the gay point of view from the ground up.”

    The Out certainly seems gay in terms of the balance of gay to straight guests (about 80 percent of them are gay, Mr. Reisner said), and based on the scene I saw at the club and the staff of mostly model-pretty men.

    There is also a more-abstract measure. As Cristian Bonetto, a travel writer for Lonely Planet, told me in a recent e-mail, some gay travelers seek “an all-out, proactive ‘green light’ to be themselves,” and the Out surely offers this.

    Mr. Reisner said he specifically wanted to do something better and more unapologetically gay than the smaller gay inns of yesteryear. Below are some thoughts on a few of those, and the other places I recently checked out.

    Article source: http://travel.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/travel/seven-gay-hotels-in-new-york.html?ref=travel

    March planned after anti-gay crime at Columbia Heights IHOP

    Friday, March 16th, 2012

    A shooting that left a gay man critically wounded at a Columbia Heights restaurant last weekend has been classified as a hate crime, but further details about the incident are still under investigation, police spokesman Officer Araz Alali said Friday.

    The shooting occurred at an IHOP restaurant at 14th and Irving streets NW around 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Police said earlier this week that the shooting happened after the victim had argued with another man, who was accompanied by two other men and a woman. A reward of $1,000 has been offered for anyone offering information leading to an arrest, and a description of the suspects is here.

    Police said at a news conference Thursday that there was no connection between the IHOP shooting and the severe beating and robbery of a gay man March 12 at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Irving Street NW. There also was no connection with an assault that knocked a transgender woman unconscious at West Virginia Avenue and Mt. Olivet Street NE one day later. However, both crimes are being also being categorized as crimes against the gay and transgendered community according to The Washington Blade.

    Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), have spoken out publicly about the attacks.

    “This cannot and will not stand in the District of Columbia,” Gray said in a statement released Thursday, “where all of our residents have the right to walk the streets of our neighborhoods free of fear, regardless of their identities, beliefs or characteristics.”

    Graham e-mailed constituents in his ward Friday and called the crimes deplorable.

    “I am prepared to work with all the victims, and other stakeholders, to see that justice is done here,” Graham wrote.

    A march for the victims will be held March 20 at 7 p.m. and will begin at the IHOP, according to a Facebook event page titled “Silent March for Victims of GLBT Violence.”

    Article source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/crime-scene/post/march-planned-after-anti-gay-crime-at-columbia-heights-ihop/2012/03/16/gIQA5RZ4GS_blog.html

    Six Gay Hotels Where the Welcome Mats Have Always Been Out

    Friday, March 16th, 2012

    WHAT’S GAY ABOUT IT There were no guests present when I dropped by this gay, male-only, clothing-optional guesthouse one day, so one of the owners, Gary Rice, was able to show me all eight rooms, starting with a master suite with a private bathroom and claw-foot tub. The clothing-optional aspect, more common around the pools and hot tubs of gay vacation spots like Key West, Fla., seems odd in an urban town house, but contributes to the somewhat libertine aura here. There are no check-in or checkout times, either, adding to the unrestrained feel of the place.

    WHAT YOU WILL FIND INSIDE The guest rooms and the double living room are decorated in early American style, and the house has the feel of an antiques shop (a cramped one), with paintings and trinkets galore. In one of the common areas, a massage table looks out of place beneath an aged-looking chandelier and alongside a piano. Except for the master suite, guests share hallway bathrooms that looked only decent.

    THE TAKEAWAY Chelsea Mews is a niche destination — with hosts who like to interact with their guests — that is definitely not for the prudish. But in a city where businesses like the West Side Club — a gay sauna — and the Unicorn (pornographic) video store are a short walk away, a clothing-optional guesthouse may not be so out of place, after all. The prices may be another draw: rooms are $125 to $200.

    Chelsea Pines Inn
    317 West 14th Street
    (888) 546-2700
    chelseapinesinn.com

    WHAT’S GAY ABOUT IT Named for the Pines area on Fire Island, this bed-and-breakfast was opened in 1986 by Sheldon Post and his partner, Jay Lesiger, who still owns the inn today (Mr. Post died in 1988). “Twenty-five years ago, there weren’t a lot of places, even in New York City, for gay people to feel really comfortable staying, and when we opened we were 100 percent gay,” Tom Klebba, the inn’s director of sales and marketing, told me a few days after I spent a night here. Today, the Pines draws a mix of straight and gay travelers.

    WHAT YOU WILL FIND INSIDE Each of the 24 rooms, all with private bathrooms, is dedicated to a different movie star. My partner and I spent a night in the pertly designed Donna Reed room. We slept in a comfortable queen-size bed under a huge framed poster of the actress in a passionate embrace with the actor Cornel Wilde in the 1956 African adventure film “Beyond Mombasa.” Other Donna Reed movie posters decorated the walls. There are no elevators, so to get to some rooms you’ll need to climb stairs, but this might help work off the small feast of coffee, bagels and more that is available every morning in a long, narrow dining area on the first floor.

    THE TAKEAWAY In a prime location equidistant from gay hangouts in Chelsea and the meatpacking district, the Chelsea Pines Inn offers a mood that is gay but not cruisy, with décor that’s playful but not cheesy. Rooms are $179 to $369.

    Colonial House Inn
    318 West 22nd Street
    (212) 243-9669
    colonialhouseinn.com

    WHAT’S GAY ABOUT IT A doorbell rang as Tony Breen, the manager, showed me around one afternoon. “We have a group of boot fetishists staying here,” he said. “That’s them.” A trio of middle-aged men, two of them in boots that stopped above their knees, entered. So there’s that, and the clothing-optional rooftop deck, which helped give the inn a palpable gay — yet not seedy — mood while I was there for a brief visit. The 1850 town house was the home of Mel Cheren, who helped start the downtown disco Paradise Garage in 1977 and donated space in his house in 1982 to Gay Men’s Health Crisis, an H.I.V. and AIDS service and advocacy organization that at the time was still fledgling. Mr. Cheren, who died in 2007, also created a bed-and-breakfast here catering mainly to gay customers, and it remains busy today, with a more diverse — but still more than 50 percent gay — clientele.

    WHAT YOU WILL FIND INSIDE Colonial House has 20 rooms and two suites. Ten rooms have private baths and the others share, but the hallway bathrooms I saw on my visit were spotless, so even someone averse to shared bathrooms might be O.K. here. The suites are pretty awesome; the bottom one has garden access and a hot tub, and both have full kitchens, sleep up to five and have working fireplaces. There is a small breakfast area off the main entrance, where homemade muffins are served daily.

    THE TAKEAWAY Colonial House Inn offers an interesting gay history and a mixed clientele. It often fills up, so plan ahead. Rooms are $130 to $385.

    Gem Hotel Chelsea
    300 West 22nd Street
    (212) 675-1911
    thegemhotel.com

    WHAT’S GAY ABOUT IT Gem markets itself on gay travel Web sites, but plenty of its guests probably don’t know that. It’s simply a boutique hotel, common in New York. But this particular outpost (there are Gems in Midtown and SoHo also) is in the heart of Chelsea and, despite the constant migration northward of New York’s gay epicenter to Clinton (also known as Hell’s Kitchen), Chelsea ain’t over. From old-school haunts like Rawhide to younger hangouts like Boxers and Gym, there are plenty of gay bars and gay-friendly businesses within walking distance. “The gay market is very important to us,” Philip Cham, the general manager, told me when I stopped by a few days after an overnight stay. He said the hotel draws many gay visitors, though the clientele is very much mixed.

    WHAT YOU WILL FIND INSIDE All the rooms have one bed, a full or queen, so the place is really designed with the single traveler or couple in mind. Our room was tiny but clean, with a small closet, a soft mattress and a not-too-small bathroom. A flat-screen television was mounted on the wall at the foot of the bed, hanging over the smallest desk I’ve ever seen. There is a rooftop deck and, in the basement, a teeny gym and business center.

    Article source: http://travel.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/travel/six-gay-hotels-where-the-welcome-mats-have-always-been-out.html

    Gay groups denied permission to march in St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston

    Friday, March 16th, 2012

    Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people will not be marching in the annual South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade on Sunday after two groups received rejection letters from organizers.

    MassEquality, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents, applied to march in the parade organized by the Allied War Veterans Council.

    The veterans group said no, citing the 1995 U.S. Supreme Court case Hurley vs. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Group of Boston, which ruled parade organizers do have a legal right to decide who marches in the parade.

    Join the Impact, another gay, lesbian and transgender group in Boston, was also denied permission to walk in the parade this year. The Irish-American group marched in the parade in 1992 after obtaining a court order, but no gay or lesbian organization has walked since the Supreme Court ruling, according to Kara Suffredini, executive director of MassEquality.

    Suffredini said her organization has bigger concerns than marching in the parade, but added it was “emblematic of more life-altering rejection that LGBT people face in Massachusetts every day.”

    Suffredini said there is nothing the group can do to fight for the ability to march. Changing attitudes is the bigger task, she said. “I think this is the work we do every day of changing hearts and minds,” Suffredini said. “There will be a day when we will be welcomed in this parade.”

    Article source: http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/south_boston/2012/03/gay_groups_denied_permission_t.html

    Uganda gay activists sue US pastor

    Friday, March 16th, 2012

    ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey said on Friday it might set up a border “buffer zone” to protect growing numbers of Syrian refugees fleeing a violent uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. With the bloody revolt entering its second year, government forces battled protesters in at least three suburbs of the capital Damascus, …

    Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/uganda-gay-activists-sue-us-pastor-140101845.html

    Keepers of the Gay Film Legacy

    Friday, March 16th, 2012

    The screening was part of the monthly Queer/Art/Film series started in 2009 by the filmmakers Adam Baran and Ira Sachs, whose “Keep the Lights On,” about a closeted lawyer and his lover, had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Each month Mr. Baran and Mr. Sachs ask a notable figure to pick an inspirational film. “Come Back to the Five and Dime” was chosen by Jack Pierson, part of the Boston School of photographers whose work has been heavily influenced by gay culture.

    On Monday the director Rose Troche (“Go Fish”) will introduce her choice, “Postcards From America” (1984), about the artist David Wojnarowicz. And on Thursday the actor John Cameron Mitchell will host the opening of a Los Angeles outpost of the series at the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater. His selections are Jean Vigo’s “Zero de Conduite,” a 1933 French teenage rebellion film, and the 1973 made-for-TV movie “The Girl Most Likely To…”.

    If the stereotype is true, without gay rescuers the Victorian homes of San Francisco and the belfries of Savannah would be as good as firewood. Likewise gay men and women are also, to borrow a phrase from the author Will Fellows, “keepers of culture” when it comes to films and the filmgoing experience. Through series like Queer/Art/Film as well as several new movies and books, they are serving as cinematic caregivers at a time when young gay audiences and mainstream Hollywood alike don’t seem interested in film’s gay past.

    A flurry of little-known or rarely screened movies in New York this spring suggests that interest is robust among repertory programmers. This month BAMcinématek is spotlighting Terence Davies, whose semiautobiographical “Terence Davies Trilogy” (1983) and “Distant Voices, Still Lives” (1988) resonate with their themes of sexual repression and schoolyard bullying. Though Mr. Davies has a new film, “The Deep Blue Sea,” opening this week, the BAMcinématek series is a chance to experience the work of a living gay director whose early movies, while not totally forgotten, are ripe for rediscovery.

    In May the Museum of Modern Art will hold a monthlong retrospective devoted to the German director Werner Schroeter, whose influences included Jean Genet, Jack Smith and Pier Paolo Pasolini. Among the 25 films to be screened, few of which had theatrical releases in the United States, is “The Rose King“ (1986), a homoerotic tale about a boy, his mother and a young male farm hand. The Filmmakers Cooperative, a distributor of independent and avant-garde films, is raising funds to digitize Jose Rodriguez-Soltero’s rarely shown 1966 film “Lupe,” based on the Mexican-American actress Lupe Velez and starring the drag queen Mario Montez, a Warhol favorite.

    “It’s a cliché, but I think gay people really do have special relationships with movies,” said the filmmaker Jeffrey Schwarz, whose new documentary, “Vito,” about the gay film historian and AIDS activist Vito Russo, played at the New York Film Festival last year and is scheduled to be shown on HBO later this year.

    Mr. Baran said the impetus for his series was to give new life to what mobile technology and the Internet have nearly destroyed: a communal filmgoing experience in which gay people get together to watch classic gay movies on the big screen.

    “You can sit at home and watch a movie and then go online and read film journals or blogs or get onto imdb.com and post what you thought of the movie and have online discussions, and that’s great,” said Mr. Baran, who is the programming coordinator for this year’s Outfest, the Los Angeles gay and lesbian film festival. “What you lack is the chance to talk about what the film meant. This series gives everybody a shared experience.”

    In addition to programming, gay people are sometimes the ones doing the actual archival work. The Legacy Project, a collaboration between Outfest and the UCLA Film Television Archive, is focused on restoring and preserving independent gay films that more mainstream archival organizations (and Hollywood) perceive as having little commercial value.

    “In any community the priority is often what comes tomorrow,” said Shannon Kelley, who is openly gay and the head of public programs for the UCLA archive. “But one of the aspects of a community coming into its maturity is taking care of its history, because no one else is going to do it.”

    Kristin Pepe, the manager of the Legacy Project, said her interest in preservation was sparked during a screening of her organization’s first feature film restoration job: Bill Sherwood’s 1986 film, “Parting Glances,” about a group of young gay men (one of them played by Steve Buscemi) dealing with AIDS.

    “I sat in the room with 600 people watching this story, which unfolded in the ‘80s, when AIDS was a death sentence, with people who had lived through it,” said Ms. Pepe, who identifies herself as a lesbian. “I couldn’t help but feel its impact. I thought, ‘I’d like to focus on these kinds of films.’ “

    The Legacy Project is devoting part of 2012 to films of the New Queer Cinema, a term coined in 1992 by the critic B. Ruby Rich to denote the independent, transgressive-minded gay films emerging then, like Todd Haynes’s “Poison” and Tom Kalin’s “Swoon” Next Sunday the group will present a digitally remastered version of Gregg Araki’s “ Living End” (1992) about two HIV-positive gay men on a violent road trip.

    Gay-specific series are also a throwback to the early, post-Stonewall days of gay liberation when movie stars were objects of worship, and their films could be seen only in theaters. It’s an experience akin to that at Chelsea Classics, a weekly series at the Chelsea Cinema hosted by Steven Polito (drag name: Hedda Lettuce), where the fare is campy and more focused on film divas, like “Female on the Beach” with Joan Crawford or “Airport ’75.” These are the kinds of films Mr. Polito grew up loving and that gay men, he contended, react to most strongly. (On Thursday he’s showing “Eyes of Laura Mars,” from 1978, with Faye Dunaway.)

    “These are tough broads,” Mr. Polito said. “You want to drink with them. You think gay men are going to respond to Julia Roberts?”

    Mr. Polito said that for many young gay men these screenings are their first chances to see Barbara Stanwyck or Bette Davis on the big screen, turning the evening into a gay cultural initiation. “You get these kids coming to the theater to see this stuff, and they develop an appreciation for it,” he said.

    In his book “Celluloid Activist: The Life and Times of Vito Russo” (2011) Michael Schiavi describes raucous screenings at Firehouse Flicks, all-gay viewing parties in New York City started by Mr. Russo in 1970. For Mr. Russo showing dramas like “The Battle of Algiers” and campy horror like “The Blob” was more than just a cinematic endeavor.

    “Vito adored Hollywood,” Mr. Schiavi said. “But he also realized that mainstream movies weren’t representing him and his kind. He realized that the more negative images of gay people on film, the harder it was for them to get rights.”

    In addition to “Celluloid Activist,” several new books are trying to keep gay film history relevant. In November the artist and filmmaker William E. Jones released “Halsted Plays Himself,” a biography of the gay director Fred Halsted, whose pornographic “L.A. Plays Itself” was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in 1974 and eventually made its way into that institution’s permanent collection. This month Arsenal Pulp Press, a small publisher in Vancouver, British Columbia, will release new books about the groundbreaking 1977 documentary “Word Is Out,” a collection of first-person accounts of gay life; “Zero Patience,” John Greyson’s darkly comic AIDS musical from 1993; and Luchino Visconti’s provocative drama “Death in Venice” (1971), based on the Thomas Mann novel. The titles are part of Arsenal’s Queer Film Classic series of monographs.

    Despite the screenings and the books, attracting younger — and straighter — audiences to gay film history remains a challenge. Matthew Hays, who edits the Queer Film Classic series with Thomas Waugh, said that for many of the students in the film classes he teaches at Concordia University in Montreal, “Brokeback Mountain” is an old movie, and ancient history “is Britney Spears’s first album.”

    “The irony is that a lot of gay culture of the past is available on YouTube, but young people don’t tap into it,” Mr. Hays said. “They are steeped in ‘Glee,’ but if you talk to them about ‘Death in Venice,’ and that wasn’t that long ago, they don’t know anything about it.”

    Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/movies/queer-art-film-series-at-ifc-center.html

    The Gay Film That Changed Your Life

    Friday, March 16th, 2012

    Marlon Riggs, front, with Essex Hemphill in the 1989 film Tongues Untied, directed by Mr. Riggs.Courtesy of FramelineMarlon Riggs, front, with Essex Hemphill in the 1989 film “Tongues Untied,” directed by Mr. Riggs.

    With several new books, films and film series, gay people are trying to preserve their film history at a time when young gay audiences and mainstream Hollywood alike don’t seem interested in becoming consumers or conservators of gay cinema, as an article in the Sunday Arts Leisure section documents. To get a sense of which gay films are worth another look, or a first one, ArtsBeat asked several notable figures to talk about the gay film that changed their lives. Their answers, edited and excerpted below, ranged from the traditional (“Boys in the Band”) to the daring (“Querelle”) to the head-scratching (“Bless the Beasts and the Children”). Leave your own answers in the comments section.

    Colman Domingo
    Actor
    His choice: “Paris Is Burning” (1990)

    In 1990 I walked into the Ritz Movie Theater in downtown Philadelphia to see an “art house” film called “Paris Is Burning.” I was a 19-year-old virgin coming into my sexuality and trying to find depictions of black gay life. Where do I fit in? What is AIDS? What is the difference between transsexual and transgender? The depiction of boys who came from inner-city streets like me was so overwhelming. Up until that film, the only knowledge about black gay life was from the anthologies that I read from writers such as Essex Hemphill and Marlon Riggs that I hid inside of text books. This was the most real, if anything was real. It helped me to know that people find their tribe.

    Dale Carpenter
    Constitutional law professor at the University of Minnesota
    “Torch Song Trilogy” (1988)

    It’s almost embarrassing: “Torch Song Trilogy.” It’s a little sappy, isn’t it? I was about 24, in law school, and I was just beginning to realize I might be gay. I watched it almost secretly on my own at the University of Chicago Law School. It hit me very deeply and profoundly. At the time it mattered a great deal to me as someone who was not yet out. It portrayed the possibility of love between two people of the same sex that was positive and affirming, yet realistic about the barriers. It was a hopeful message to me.

    Wayne Koestenbaum
    Author
    “Taxi zum Klo” (1980)

    The gay film that changed my life — an exaggeration to say it changed my life, the film merely turned it in a pink direction — was “Taxi zum Klo.” I couldn’t believe I was seeing raunchy, real, semi-idealizable yet graphically authentic male bodies having sex (or nearly sex) on camera and making explicit the fact that desire was the engine of their daily lives. Desire, for the men in the film (as I recall it — I haven’t seen it in decades), was the prime mover, not a decorative addendum.

    Matthew Breen
    Editor in chief of The Advocate
    “Deathtrap” (1982)

    I saw it in the movie theater with my parents in Salt Lake City. It had Christopher Reeve, Michael Caine and Dyan Cannon. To see Superman kiss another man blew me away.

    John Bartlett
    Fashion designer
    “Querelle” (1982)

    The film, starring the late (and devastatingly handsome) Brad Davis, is still a personal favorite many years later. My designs have always been inspired by rugged masculinity and “Querelle” was the first gay film I had ever seen that presented a homosexual man as a hypermasculine, gay icon. The rich costume and set design, and the talented cast and particularly the incredibly sexy relationship between Querelle and Lieutenant Seblon (Franco Nero) was actually the inspiration for one of my first men’s fashion shows. It still inspires me to this day.

    Isaac Mizrahi
    Fashion designer
    “Maurice” (1987)

    I loved the whole romance of the movie, in the truest sense of the word. It was an unspoken thing bubbling under the surface. It’s how I felt about most men I was in love with. It was under the surface.  I think straight people also love it for that reason.

    Paula Vogel
    Playwright
    “The Hunger” (1983)

    For lesbians of my generation, when we  split up, we never fought over who got the VCR. We fought over who got the copy of “The Hunger.” More than any film of 30 years ago, there was nothing like a movie about vampires to normalize healthy lesbian desire.  But what really moved me was the comment by Susan Sarandon when asked if she minded filming the love scene with Catherine Deneuve: “Have you looked at Catherine Deneuve?!!” Bless you, Susan Sarandon. Amen, Catherine Deneuve.

    Dustin Lance Black
    Screenwriter
    “My Own Private Idaho” (1991)

    I was closeted at the time, and there was River Phoenix. He was my dream guy, and he was coming out on screen in that beautiful campfire scene. That made me feel like I could come out.  He wasn’t a villain. Cut to 15 years and I have “Milk” and the first person I wanted to bring it to was that guy who made that campfire scene (Gus Van Sant). The movie changed my life once because I felt alone, and that was lifesaving. It changed it again because when I went to the director I admired about directing “Milk,” he said yes.

    Richard Socarides
    Lawyer and former White House special assistant for gay rights to President Bill Clinton
    “Gimme Shelter” (1970)

    Most of my focus was on the way Mick Jagger was sexualizing in his gender nonconforming roles. That was a very powerful early motion-picture image for me. It underscored how it was O.K. to be like that. Not that I was just like that, but I wanted to be. It was the year after Stonewall.

    Michael Musto
    Columnist for The Village Voice
    “Boys in the Band” (1970)

    I saw the film years after it came out, during a formative period in my life, and was thrilled by its wit, camaraderie and implicit attack on the closet. The self-loathing nature of several characters has long made the community deeply embarrassed, but it was pretty accurate back then and even now it manages to ring some bells.

    Lea DeLaria
    Actress
    “Go Fish” (1994)

    There had been many a gay movie before  made by gay people about lesbians and the plots were the same: some woman was married to a guy who treated her like a belonging or a cow. It ended up with her leaving this guy for a woman. I felt like for the first time, “Go Fish” really showed how we lived as lesbians.It made me feel like there was hope even for an actor like me. I’m not going to be resigned to playing PE teachers and police lieutenants the rest of my life.

    Andrew Holleran
    Author
    “La Dolce Vita” (1960)

    I don’t know if my first choice can be considered a gay film, but I remember when I was still in grad school in Iowa City going to “La Dolce Vita”  and being so thunderstruck by the last scene, the party in the beach house, where a handsome man takes his shirt off, folds his arms across his chest and Marcello Mastroianni, on his way out, slaps his hand against the shirtless man’s stomach — and the drag queen  says something like, “They say that by 2000 everyone will be homosexual.” But it was that slap, the shirtless man’s stomach, that made me go back to the theater one day with peanut butter sandwiches so I could sit through three showings of that rather long movie!

    Justin Vivian Bond
    Performance artist and singer
    “Tongues Untied” (1989)

    Twenty years later  we have an African-American president in Washington and a national conversation about gay marriage is under way. But even today low-income, deeply religious communities continue to persecute their children for the same “reasons” they did in this amazing revolutionary film.

    John Cameron Mitchell
    Actor and director
    “Bless the Beasts and Children” (1971)

    I miss the ’70s. Kids’ films with tragic endings. “Bless the Beasts and Children” plays like an existential “Bad News Bears.” The plot centers on a boys’ summer camp where the losers decide to run away with a vague plan to save endangered buffalo in a canned hunt. The king of the nerds is feminine yet hunky Cotton (Barry Robins) who makes like Gay Moses when he saves delicate blond shiksa Gerold from bullies who have stripped him and thrown him in a pond. The mean boys part for Cotton as he reaches a hand out to the boy.

    Branded on my 10-year-old brain was Gerold’s heartbreaking expression when he realizes that for the first time there is someone he can trust and, just maybe, love. With the help of tough guy Teft (“Lost in Space’s” Billy Mumy is a hot revelation), the outcasts embark on their ill-fated journey to save the beasts who are, of course, as trapped  as they are. It was sad to hear that Robins succumbed to AIDS in 1986. If we’d met, I would’ve thanked him for helping me out of the pond.

    Cheyenne Jackson
    Actor and singer
    “Beautiful Thing” (1996)

    No question. It came out shortly after I did and resonated with me deeply. That last shot of everyone dancing to Mama Cass’s “Dream a Little Dream” was heartbreakingly perfect.

    Jeff Whitty
    Musical book writer
    “Longtime Companion” (1989)

    I was a 17-year-old closeted kid leaving Coos Bay, Ore., to attend college two hours away. I’d known I was gay for four years and was certain I had HIV though it was medically impossible. My generation faced AIDS as we were becoming sexually aware, and in those pre-Internet days I had no evidence that my life would be anything but friendless and tragic. What most struck me about “Longtime Companion,” even beyond the tragedy at its fore, was the network of friendships and its depiction of a culture I longed for without knowing it. And it opened my eyes to a sadness that continues even now: the loss of so many mentors and friends I would never know.


    Article source: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/16/the-gay-film-that-changed-your-life/?ref=arts