Girls’: Lesbians in Russia

‘Girls’: Lesbians in Russia (

The photo series ’Girls’ was made in response to the Russian federal law banning ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations’. Since the legislative ban on gay propaganda, the attitude of Russian society has worsened towards lesbians. An assertion that lesbianism is dangerous to children, anti-Russian, and a Western influence is imposed widely. It leads to an increase of violence against lesbians and penalties for ’propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations’. This is the reason why the the identity of the women in the photographs is hidden. Moreover, their identity is protected by literally burning their faces. The burned-out faces both literally and metaphorically reveal the imprints of homophobia in Russia. [Rest.]

Mormon Church Abandons Its Crusade Against Gay Marriage

Don’t get too excited though; it’s less a philosophical shift than it is a strategic move. Apparently it’s been losing followers because its views on same sex marriage. If you ever needed evidence that organised religions are now run as political and economic entities, then here you have it.

Last month, hundreds of boisterous protesters converged in Washington, DC, as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of California’s anti-gay marriage initiative, Proposition 8. Faith-based groups were on prominent display: the Methodists supporting marriage equality, the Westboro Baptists suggesting (per usual) that “God hates fags,” the Catholics both for and against gay marriage, clergy of all stripes. But one group that wasn’t there in any official capacity was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—a.k.a. the Mormons—which perhaps more than any other religious group was responsible for getting Prop. 8 passed in the first place.

In the five years since the LDS church sent busloads of the faithful to California to canvass neighborhoods, and contributed more than $20 million via its members to support the initiative, it has all but dropped the rope in the public policy tug of war over marriage equality. The change stems from an even more remarkable if somewhat invisible transformation happening within the church, prompted by the ugly fight over Prop. 8 and the ensuing backlash from the flock.

Although the LDS’s prophet hasn’t described a holy revelation directing a revision in church doctrine on same-sex marriage or gay rights in general, the church has shown a rare capacity for introspection and humane cultural change unusual for a large conservative religious organization.

“It seems like the [Mormon] hierarchy has pulled the plug and is no longer taking the lead in the fight to stop same-sex marriage,” says Fred Karger, the LGBT activist who first exposed the church’s major role in the passage of Prop. 8. “The Mormon Church has lost so many members and suffered such a black eye because of all its anti-gay activities that they really had no choice. I am hopeful that the Catholic Church cannot be far behind.

[Rest: motherjones]

Women More Affected Than Men by Marriage Inequality

As the nation prepares for next week’s historic Supreme Court hearings on marriage equality, it is important to note that women will be disproportionately affected by whatever decisions get made. That’s because female couples account for roughly two-thirds of existing legal same-sex marriages. This underreported fact is highlighted in an amicus (friend of the court) brief submitted last month by the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF, publisher of Ms.) and the National Organization for Women (NOW) in support of abolishing California’s  marriage ban, Proposition 8.

The brief cites research indicating that in states with some type of formal recognition of same-sex marriage, legally married lesbians outnumber married gay males almost two to one. In California, 65 percent of “legally registered same-sex couples” are female pairs.

Marriage equality is intrinsically bound up with feminist goals (see my earlier pieces, here and here, that make this point). Aside from the statistics on the lesbian marriage majority, consider the  argument made by marriage equality opponents about “responsible procreation“–the absurd idea that allowing lesbians and gay men to marry will increase the number of children born out of wedlock–and the historical power imbalances within marriage that have adversely affected women.

[Read the rest: msmagazine]

“None of these princesses get to marry another girl…

Earlier this month I posted about the project my 11-year-old pupils have asked to do in their PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) lessons. They want to investigate why men and women are different, if indeed they are.

We’ve identified a range of potential causes, and different classes have been investigating the sources they found most interesting. Here are a few of my favourite comments from the class who chose to look at the impact fairy stories might have on young children:

  • “Why is it that the women are just lying around in these stories, and the men galloping around rescuing them?”
  • “They all get married, none of them get a proper job, that’s not very aspirational.”
  • “and none of these princesses get to marry another girl – what’s that about?”

[Read more: thefword]

Two thirds of gay students feel excluded from team sports at university

Rainbow flag (LGBT movement) LGBT (lesbian, ga...

Rainbow flag (LGBT movement) LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Pride flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Homophobia in school can put gay students off sport for life, according to research by the National Union of Students (NUS). By the time they get to college or university 34.6% of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students said they were prepared to take part in team sports while 14.3% said that homophobia had put them off. The culture around sport was blamed by 46.8% as the reason why they avoided sport while 41.9% said they had been put off by a negative experience at school. There were 62.2% of LGBT students who had no problems with being open about their sexual orientation to their team-mates and coaches. Most of the 17.1% who kept quiet said it was simply because it was no one else’s business and irrelevant. The fear that coming out to team-mates might trigger verbal or physical abuse was the reason given by 20.5% of student sports people for keeping quiet.

Sports facilities and teams should be more welcoming to students of all sexualities, the NUS report – Out in Sport – concludes. Some 845 LGBT students were interviewed.

[Read more: guardian]


California Outlaws Therapy To “Cure” Homosexuality In Kids

California is now the first state to outlaw “conversion therapy” — treatments intended to “cure” homosexuality — when practiced on minors. (You can read the bill here). The future of the bill is up in the air, since several right-wing groups are saying they will sue to have the law overturned.

[Read more: amptoons]


The New Gay Marriage Map (US)

, U.S. Congresswoman.

Tammy Baldwin, U.S. Congresswoman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gay rights advocates won five major victories across the United States yesterday. Wisconsin elected America’s first openly gay Senator, Democrat Tammy Baldwin. Maryland voted to affirm a same-sex marriage act the state legislature approved earlier this year. Ballots are still coming in, but Washington is expected to approve a similar measure. In Maine, voters approved gay marriage by popular vote, making it one of the first states to do so. Minnesota also shot down an amendment to ban gay marriage in the state’s constitution, paving the way for passage down the road*.

[More here, including up-to-date map by state: motherjones]

I Was a Secretly Gay Jehovah’s Witness: How I Tried to Pray the Gay Away

The following is an excerpt from  Cowboys, Armageddon, and The Truth: How a Gay Child Was Saved from Religion published by Lethe Press.

I learned what it meant to be a homo from a fellow sixth grader. Michael was the most “grown up” kid I knew. He had blond hair that was so blond it was white and I always wanted to ask why he had white hair but that wouldn’t have been nice, so I never asked. I liked him enough to want to spend private time with him, making him my friend, which wasn’t going to happen. I admired his independence, and his confidence. His mom was a psychologist which I assumed was the obvious reason for his being so grown up. He stole a page out of his father’s Playboy magazine and brought it to school.

He unfolded the centerfold in front of friends, and three boys huddled around the image, totally absorbed by the female nudity. Bobby Prescott giggled uncontrollably. I watched them, starkly aware of the disparity between my boredom and the spell my classmates seemed to be under.

Michael’s older brother showed up at Piru Elementary every now and then. He was in high school, and he thought his own muscles were impressive enough to show off. He pulled up his pant legs, displaying his muscular calves to sixth graders, flexing them into a knot, and I felt an instant attraction.

[Read more: alternet]

Meet Tammy Baldwin, your first-ever openly gay Senator [quote]


It’s incredible being given the opportunity to shatter glass ceilings but the more important focus is making sure we are creating a path many more will follow. I might not have aspired to public office if women and openly gay and lesbian candidates hadn’t run before me and shown me that doing so was possible. I recognized when I became the first woman elected to congress from the state of Wisconsin and first out lesbian elected in the history of U.S. that that’s not enough. We need to have legislative bodies that reflect America. Being a first is an extraordinary privilege, but the battle is won when there are many.

- Tammy Baldwin, December 2011, via feministing.


Nick Griffin’s tweets and the limits of free speech


Regardless of whether people visit this house or not, this controversy will unfold in a particularly frustrating manner. Griffin has already begun to complain that he is a free speech martyr, the victim of hypocrisy, denied free speech yet again.

But that is not what is going on here. The tweets are unacceptable not because he is a misguided racist, but because they directly incite violence and invade privacy. It is entirely consistent to say that these tweets are beyond the pale, while simultaneously defending the right of people to make sick jokes and the celebrate the death of British soldiers.


How My Church Tried to Make Me Hate Gay People

[Trigger warning]

The following post contains frank descriptions of the hate speech against LGBTQ people that my church used to inculcate fear and contempt in its youth. It’s probably not something you want to read if you’re already having a bad day. I have decided to write about homophobia for two reasons: first, to demonstrate the falsity of fundamentalist rhetoric about “hating the sin and loving the sinner,” and, second, to shed light on the tools fundamentalists use to instill fear of LGBTQ people in their children.

In my church, homophobia was a matter of course. We didn’t spend a lot of time hashing out the Scriptural arguments against homosexuality. Occasionally Paul and Leviticus were cited, but more often, sermons would rattle out evidence of modern depravity along these lines: “…and Satan has so perverted this generation that it thinks there’s nothing wrong with divorce, abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and girls throwing their babies in trash cans and doing drugs.” Defiance of gender roles was just one of the most obvious signs of demonic control.

Whether or not my church explicitly intended for me to receive this message, I understood homosexuality as one of an array of perversions. Homosexuality, promiscuity, pedophilia drug addiction, alcoholism, cheating, self-harm, unwed pregnancy and abortion were not treated as separate issues. I was afraid of gay people because I was taught that it was impossible to be gay or lesbian without partaking in all of the above. It was a slippery slope argument of the worst kind. One image that absolutely never came to mind when my church talked about homosexuality was a committed, loving gay or lesbian couple. We were taught that sexuality was like a fire: if it was not contained, it would consume a person, annihilate their love for other people and cause them to abuse each other sexually. In other words, a gay man was a straight man who had failed to keep his carnal desires in check (or a straight man who had fallen prey to a demon).


There were all the justifications, the lies that enabled us to pretend we weren’t just scared:

  1. Gay and lesbian people are sexual predators.
  2. They all have AIDS.
  3. They hate God and want to drag us down to hell.
  4. They have abortions for fun.
  5. They want to spread their “lifestyle.”

[Read more: alternet]


Homophobia is still rife in UK prisons

Despite moves in recent years towards eradicating discrimination against prisoners on the grounds of race or religion, the challenges facing gay men in prison have still not been addressed sufficiently by the prison service.

letter in this month’s edition of Inside Time, the national newspaper for prisoners, highlights their plight. “I am gay and very ‘camp’ and due to my sexual orientation I have received abuse from other inmates,” writes the prisoner. He explains that when the abuse turned to threats of violence he was granted “VP status”, meaning he is now classified as a vulnerable prisoner and located on the vulnerable prisoner unit.

Since becoming a VP he has lost his job in the prison education block, is allowed only one morning session of basic education each day and spends the rest of his time in his cell. “I think the way we are treated compared to ‘normal’ prisoners is completely unfair and unjustified,” he concludes.

[Read more: guardian]

Athy (Ireland) councillor, supporting gay marriage, is called on to resign from school board by Catholic group

Dear Old Ireland.

Athy town councillor Aoife Breslin (pictured) has been called on to resign her position on the board of management of a local school by an Athy resident who represents a right wing Catholic group called Catholics United for the Faith.

Mr Anthony Murphy, who along with this wife Kim, publish The Catholic Voicenewspaper, said Cllr Breslin, who is a member of the Board of Management at Scoil Phadraig Naofa, should “consider her position and conclude that the only honourable thing to do is to step down from her position”.

He claimed her expressed views that gay people should be allowed to marry were “in conflict with the ethos of the school”.


China – Pressure to conform for 17 and 30 million gays “is crippling”

Coming out as gay is tough almost the world over. In China, it can constitute a major tragedy.

When one man in northeast China told his parents he was gay, his father pulled a knife on him, according to Fan Popo, director of “The Chinese Closet: Being Gay in China.” One lesbian committed suicide after her parents locked her in the house, banning her from going outside, Fan told me last week.

These are extreme cases, but the pressure for Chinese homosexuals to conform is crippling. Thirty-five percent of 1,259 gay men surveyed by the sexologist Zhang Beichuan in 2008 said they had contemplated suicide [pdf].

[Read more: actup]

This is how to end gay cures

 An email this morning from

They’re coming to the UK. This Sunday, an extremist religious group is holding workshops for gays and lesbians on how to hate themselves for who they are. These types of “therapy sessions” collect cash for one purpose only: to sell the idea that people who are not straight should stifle it. And it’s not a small fee. These “treatment” sessions can cost up to £525. But we know our plan is working. The French government has launched an investigation into these false treatments. And in Argentina, the scheduled “cure” session was shut down after our campaign made national news. We’re setting off a global domino effect to shut down these sessions and ban “gay cures” for good. Will you call on the British government, and the governments at every tour-stop, to stand against gay “cures”?

These dangerous practices pretend to “cure” people’s sexuality when they actually inflict serious psychological harm. The upcoming session planned for London is part of a global tour of gay “cures” that All Out members have been following around the world. Right now, our record is 2 for 2 and the UK is up next. We have no time to lose – the next session starts on Sunday. Will you add your name now?

Thanks for going All Out.

Andre, Aviya, Guillaume, Hayley, Jasmin, Jeremy, Leandro, Michael, Pablo, Tile and Wesley


Why is Michael Gove so close to Christian extremists from LoveWise?

More evidence (as if we needed it) that this government is vehemently anti-choice.

A government backed Christian charity called Lovewise teaches school children that most rape victims ‘regret abortion’. According to Dina Rickman, the charity also teaches children that abortion causes holes in the womb, depression and infection. LoveWise also describes homosexuality as “damaging to mind, body and spirit” in its code of practice. According to its accounts from 2010 to 2011, it gave 300 presentations and has teams based in Bournemouth, Guildford, Hull, Kendal, Newcastle, Sheffield, South Coast, Suffolk, Sussex and Wimbledon. Details of the presentation were unearthed by Diane Abbott MP and Education for Choice. What’s really worrying is that the charity is backed by the government and part of Michael Gove’s Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) Council.

[Read more: liberalconspiracy]

Archbishop ‘links MP’s death to being gay’


Philip Tartaglia, the current Bishop of Paisley who has voiced his opposition to legalise same-sex marriage, appeared to suggest David Cairns’s death was connected to his sexual orientation. While he did not name the former Scotland Office minister, who died last year at the age of 44 from acute pancreatitis, his comments attracted fierce criticism from friends and the former Roman Catholic priest’s partner. They argued it was clear whom he was talking about. Officials later denied the 61 year-old Bishop had intended to “cause offence and he regrets that anyone may have been upset”. The row came on the same day that Pope Benedict XVI appointed the cleric, the Bishop of Paisley since 2005, as Archbishop-elect of Glasgow. Speaking at a religious freedom and equality at a conference at Oxford University earlier this year, Bishop Tartaglia appeared to refer to Mr Cairns in response to a member of the audience who spoke about an American homosexual author, who had committed suicide.

[Read more: telegraph]

The “politics” behind the Boy Scouts of America’s anti-gay ban

They’re either lying about their motivations or completely clueless about human sexuality. There is no association between homosexuality and perpetrating child abuse and, though these people would probably rather gouge their own eyes out than admit it, heterosexuals have sexuality too (so what is this nonsense about “keeping sexuality out of the scouts”?). The clue’s is the name there, you ridiculous fools. Just admit you hate all teh gays and be done with it. We all know it anyway.

(The linked article claims it’s all about the cold hard cash, btw. Yes, that works too.)

Congratulations to the Boy Scouts of America for emphatically reaffirming their policy banning gays earlier this week – despite historical evidence that this strategy for preventing child sexual abuse will earn them the same success rate as Penn State football and the Roman Catholic Church.

This is a point of fact, not mere conjecture. Because the Scouts are already, despite their very best efforts at concealment, on the record as having had similar difficulties as those other allegedly gay-free institutions with sexual abusers among the men it has entrusted with its youth. And for similar reasons. Not because the molesters were “gay” – in fact, LGBT people make up a fraction of child abusers and the sexual preferences of the sick, primarily male adults who molest children skew towards age rather than gender – but because the organization’s leaders refused to discipline the child abusers in its midst or to involve the police, long past the time when they knew of instances of sexual abuse.

In fact, the smoking gun in the most recent of the many cases filed against the Scouts by former members for failing to protect them from predatory leaders was the Scouts’ own “perversion files”. These privately kept documents, over 20,000 pages of them, detail accusations and investigations of sexual abuse and other improprieties by 1,200 Boy Scout leaders across the United States from 1965 to 1985 – as well as what the organization did and did not do to protect their youth once cases of abuse were known to them. The files were never meant to see the light of day, and the Scouts fought hard, and unsuccessfully, to prevent them from being released after the trial, which resulted in an $18.5m punitive judgment against the Boy Scouts of America, the largest finding ever against the Scouts in a sex case jury trial.

[Read more: commentisfree]

Gay men also forced into marriage

The original title (“Why don’t we hear about forced marriages and gay men?”) and the comments on the piece smack of “poor menz” but it’s an important point nonetheless. Gay men are forced into marriage as a way of “addressing” their sexuality.

I recently reviewed a report for HuffPo that shows how London Police Services are underprepared for a rise in serious crime.

I didn’t have time to highlight some stats by the Metropolitan Police that show there were 298 Forced Marriage incidents / crimes reported in 2010 (including 333 actual and prospective victims – i.e. living in fear of forced marriage).

Of those, 35 victims were male, the rest were women (one unknown).

One of the inferences based on interview material, and the MPA’s own assessment, is that many of the men who are involved here are actually gay, and forced into marriage because of this.

The MPA didn’t check sexual orientation (save for one person) as part of the course, so it is hard to evaluate, but there has been some attention given to this type of marriage over the last few years – and it is deeply disturbing.

[Read more: liberalconspiracy]

Christians Fight for Their Children’s God-Given Right to Bully Gay Kids

Despite the fact that there’s scant evidence in the Bible that Jesus was an asshole who commanded his followers to bully gay children to death, a group of American Christian parents seem to think Christ has called upon them to act like jerks. That’s why they’re actively working against the passage of anti-bullying laws at the state level — they believe that by making repeated, ongoing cruelty illegal, lawmakers are interfering with their Jesus loving child’s right to point out that homosexuality is wrong and bad and hellbound.

“Bullying children is wrong and bad” may sound like the most basic tenet of human decency, but if you ask conservative lobbying groups like Concerned Women for America and Focus on the Family, making it a crime to taunt someone until they kill themselves is akin to interfering with religious freedom. According to AlterNet’s Katherine Stewart, conservative groups across the country have opposed various anti-bullying measures because they say outlawing bullying is akin to state endorsement of the homosexual lifestyle. You know, Madonna and glitter and buttsex and all-women’s softball teams all that. The homosexual lifestyle.

[Read more: jezebel]