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News Briefs

news briefs january 31
Written by Craig Ogan

Netflix and North Carolina chill

A “bathroom” law in North Carolina is the reason Netflix pulled production of a series that was supposed to be filmed in the state. The streaming company ordered 10 episodes of the show, OBX, but hadn’t started shooting. The bill banned transgender people from using the restroom of their choice in government buildings. The law was altered after a national outcry but kept the ban on cities passing “bathroom equality” ordinances. The change was denounced by LGBT organizations at the time as “cynical” and “shameful.” The production company is scouting locations in another paragon of equality, South Carolina, for the show’s location shooting.

Conversion therapy officially banned in NY

The New York State Legislature has prohibited licensed mental health professionals from practicing gay conversion therapy on minors. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would  sign the bill. This makes New York the 15th state in addition to Washington, D.C., in the US to ban the controversial practice.

Lily Tomlin doesn’t regret much of anything

In 1975 Lily Tomlin had the chance to be the first big U.S. star to be publicly identified as a lesbian. She was slated to be on the cover of Time magazine, once a big deal, but didn’t take the step. She wanted the story to be about her “art,” not her sexuality, saying, “It was a hard decision to make, so I fell down on the side of … probably good sense.” She made this comment on the Ellen DeGeneres talk show. DeGeneres became the first major U.S. star to came out as “gay” on her television series, Ellen, and on the cover of Time in 1997.

Smart phones still contain dumb app

So far Google, apparently busy politicizing search results, has not followed Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft in deleting an application telling users they can “recover” from same-sex attractions through prayer. Truth Wins Out, an organization that campaigns against conversion therapy, launched a petition against Google, which has avoided outrage even though it’s been available for three years. TWO said the app “compares homosexuality to an addiction. It casually trashes LGBT people as living ‘destructive lifestyles’.”

One more test in high school?

State lawmakers in South Dakota refused to consider a bill that would require transgender student-athletes to compete in sports based on the sex on their birth certificates or a physical exam by the High School Activities Association.

The SDHSAA already has a policy allowing students to play in sports based on their choice without qualifications. Proponents of the bill said it’s “all about fair competition.” S.D. ACLU and others saw discrimination in the law. SDHSAA wrote, “Where’s the fire?” as there are very few athletes in the state competing in sports not in accordance with the sex on their birth certificate and its standing policy served the public just fine.

No whining about DeWine’s order, so far

New Ohio Republican governor Mike DeWine issued an executive order adding transgender people to the protected classes of a previous non-discrimination policy. Equality Ohio stated, “Ohio is still playing catch-up when it comes to welcoming LGBTQ people — and we are grateful that Gov. DeWine, like Gov. Kasich before him, recognizes the need for these common-sense protections in Ohio.” The state does not have an employment non-discrimination in the private sector. DeWine’s order only applies to state employees.

Maher’s penetrating humor

In his first show of 2019, Bill Maher used a tired trope that suggests gay sex as a reason someone does something stupid. In his monologue he said he believes the current U.S. president is a “Russian agent.” He recounted that the president met the Russian president five times and then leered to the audience, “That’s a lot of times in just a couple of years, always with nobody around. Nobody can know what they’re doing. Forget collusion, I want to know if there’s penetration.”

61-year-old landmark case gave us QSaltLake

How times change. A magazine titled ONE: The Homosexual Magazine, sponsored by gay-advocacy group, The Mattachine Society in 1953, consciously avoided controversial editorial and advertising: no matchmaking ads; no racy photos; no descriptions of physical intimacy —even cuddling. There was an ad for sheer pajamas and a short story that involved some touching, which led the US Postal Service to seize the issue as obscene.

A 1958 U.S. Supreme Court ruling settled the case with a just one sentence decision: “The petition for writ of certiorari is granted and the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is reversed.” In what some call progress, those few sterile words paved the way for physique pictorial magazines in the 1960s and for QSaltLake Magazine to run ads for underwear night at local bars featuring pics of muscle men in jockstraps.

Missouri judge steps backward

A Missouri lesbian couple’s federal lawsuit against a retirement community has been dismissed by a U.S. district judge. They sued because the facility’s management somehow thinks the Bible defines marriage as a “union between a man and a woman.”

The federal judge ruled that the Fair Housing Act does not protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, ignoring the argument by the plaintiffs that the case was discrimination about the sex of one of the partners, not orientation.

“If Mary was married to a man married to Bev, instead of a woman married to Bev, Friendship Village would not have turned them away,” plead their attorney. The decision did note that it contradicted rulings by other federal courts.

Pence parody

The wife of the current U.S. V.P. is a volunteer art teacher at a private school requiring teachers to contractually eschew personal involvement in or advocacy of marriage equality. Students and their parents have a similar requirement which spells out other prohibited behaviors (sex outside of marriage, mostly).

So, the Trevor Project sent 100 copies of a gay-themed book created as a parody of the VP spouse’s book Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President which details a bunny shadowing the vice president. The parody features a gay rabbit falling in love and following the rabbit for a day as it tries to hop on its intended love.

The V.P. has said it’s “deeply offensive” to object to his wife’s job at a school that bans LGBT faculty, kids, and parents and any discussion of LGBT topics or approval of or participation in sex outside of hetero marriage.

Them crazy Brits

A British porn actor going by the name HungYoungBrit, plead guilty of “outraging public decency” after having a threesome on a London Underground train and posting a video of it on his website. According to police, “It showed full sex, oral sex, and masturbation in the presence of the traveling members of the public.”

Apparently the “traveling members” didn’t sign releases to be present or videoed. The police complaint was made by a self-proclaimed gay man who thought the video production in public was “offensive and morally unacceptable.”

Jazz hands at Super Bowl LIII

Super Bowl LIII will be historic, at least on the “sidelines.” Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies will be the first men to perform with an NFL cheerleading team during a Super Bowl. The LA Rams hired them last year, but they weren’t the first males to be on a spirit squad in the NFL.

The Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts have men who help female cheerleaders with stunts, but Peron and Jinnies are the only men who dance with the women, performing all the same moves. Both men are classically trained dancers and were hits at Venice California Pride, which the Rams sponsored. The men, really, say cheering at the Super Bowl in Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium “feels like a fairy tale.”

#metoo charges, but not Kevin Spacey

Blockbuster director Bryan Singer (X-Men) took another blow in his teenage-male-sex scandal in an Atlantic magazine article detailing additional accusations. More men, now in their 20s and 30s, accused Singer of assaults when the men were in their teens. He began directorial duties on Oscar-nominated Bohemian Rhapsody but was fired when #metoo allegations surfaced.

GLAAD pulled honors for the film. Rami Malek, nominated for best actor portraying Freddie Mercury in the movie says he wasn’t aware of the charges against Singer, in fact, luckily, never even heard the well-publicized rumors, when he agreed to star. Singer is still slated to direct Red Sonja for Millennium Films.

Hey Utah, it could be worse

An Indiana state legislator introduced a bill that failed last year to “freeze” birth certificates and prevent transgender people from amending it. That bill was ignored by the legislature.

This year he introduced a bill to prevent transgender students from competing in athletic events and using bathrooms not consistent with their birth certificate. The student athlete/bathroom bill hasn’t attracted any co-sponsors. So how is that worse than an attorney from Grantsville, Utah sponsoring a freeze bill? The Indiana legislator is not a clown, but did earn a living as an Elvis impersonator.

If he can make it there

South Bend, Indiana and Salt Lake City have a gay or lesbian mayor, and may soon have nothing over New York City. Corey Johnson, speaker of the New York City Council, has announced that he is considering a run for mayor. Johnson would be the city’s first “out” gay mayor. Reputedly gay Ed Koch never announced anything and he died in 2013. As befits NYC, Johnson takes a liberal position on issues and pledges he will only allow campaign contributions up to $250 per person. Current mayor Bill de Blasio can’t run for re-election because of term limits.

Feed me Seymour

A Toronto landscaper, arrested for the first-degree murders of eight Toronto men, has plead guilty to all charges. The perp scattered his victims’ remains in the lawns and planters of his customers. Considered a textbook case — the crimes fit most TV police procedurals: the killings were sexual in nature, involved staging, evidence of confinement, and the killer kept souvenirs of the murders — has generated some controversy.

Gay community activists claim the police didn’t take the killings of seven victims of color seriously, but did thoroughly investigate the eighth victim, who was white. Answering charges of “selective policing and racial bias,” police responded the slow movement was partially due to a lack of information from the gay community. This statement brought counter-charges of “victim blaming.”

About the author

Craig Ogan

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