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News Briefs

news briefs february 14-28
Written by Craig Ogan

TERF battle

Two representatives of what’s heretofore been a British phenomenon
— Trans-exclusionary radical feminist — invaded a Washington, D.C., conference and interrupted an HRC official fundraising pitch. The meeting was about the Equality Act bill in the United States Congress to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

A now-removed video of the two-minute demonstration was posted on organizer Posie Parker’s Facebook page showing the person from the HRC unresponsive to taunts like: “Why are you championing the rights of men to access women in women’s prisons? And rape and sexually assault them as recently happened in the United Kingdom?” and “Why don’t you care about lesbian girls at 14 having double mastectomies?”

The group consistently rejects transgender women, calling them “men who call themselves women.”

Hart breaks, again

Comedian and actor Kevin Hart should stop trying. He tweeted encouragement to Jussie Smollett, after the Empire actor was hospitalized after being assaulted at 2 a.m. in Chicago. He said two masked men shouted “racial and homophobic slurs,” punched him in the face, poured an unknown chemical on him, wrapped a rope around his neck, and shouted, “This is MAGA country.”

Hart’s Twitter sympathy, “Stand strong brother,” was attacked by the Twitter woke-mob. They referenced Hart’s revealed comments from 2011 and before, which have been denounced as “homophobic,” as disqualifying him from offering sympathy now. Hart responded to his critics by pointing to himself as “an example” of the type of “change” LGBTQ advocates advocated.

The mouse says yes to Pride month

The Walt Disney Company announced an official theme park Pride event at Disneyland Paris in June. Paris “Magical Pride”  will be the first Disney theme park to officially host a pride event. The Gay Days and other events in previous years in gay Paree and the US have been sponsored by private organizations, not the Walt Disney Company. The mouse invites park attendees to,  “Dress like a dream, feel fabulous — loud, proud and alive with all the colors of the rainbow.”

A gay first couple?

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., seems to have to answer a question in media interviews about whether the US is ready for a “gay first couple”. They are, of course, ignoring President James Buchanan and his live-in Sen. Rufus King, or Aunt Fancy to his friends.

The View‘s Joy Behar and former political type, George Stephanopoulos, on This Week both felt the need to plumb the issue. Buttigieg’s answer, “There’s only one way to find out.” He said he coped with Mike Pence as governor of Indiana and he got re-elected by 80 percent even after he acknowledged being gay. The stupid question, “which of you will be the First Lady?” awaits a Sean Hannity interview.

Butt crack gets Photog banned

Instagram and owner Facebook have ratcheted up their puritanical natures by banning Tom Bianchi from the site for posting a picture from his collection entitled “Fire Island Pines: Polaroids 1975–1983.” Bianchi is an
HIV activist and noted photographer of the male form.

The shot was of a naked man sitting with his back to the camera showing the top of his buttocks. Bianchi is not the first banned for gay pics. Queer Eye guy Antoni Porowski was banned for a pic of him in his underwear. A lesbian couple in bed cuddling their child was also struck from public view. The deletions follow the passage of Federal legislation, Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act and Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA/FOSTA).

Finally, Jake is queer again


Renee Russo and Jake Gyllenhaal

Earning honorary gay man icon status for his portrayal of a gay shepherd in Brokeback Mountain, opposite the late Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal plays a queer art critic in Netflix’s upcoming satirical-thriller, Velvet Buzzsaw.

This is his first straight-washing queer role since 2005. The cast also includes Rene Russo, John Malkovich, Toni Colette, Natalia Dyer, and Zawe Ashton. Netflix uses the word “queer” as Gyllenhaal’s character, Morf Vandewalt, is a conceited and pretentious art critic who begins the film in a relationship with a man but moves to other sexes and back again.

Yes to Japanese marriage equality

Can 60,000 respondents to an internet poll be wrong? Eighty percent of Japanese citizens, from their 10s to 50s, surveyed by advertising agency Dentsu Inc., said yes to marriage equality with 88 percent of all women and 69 percent of all men saying yes. Not surprisingly, 87 percent of 20-somethings were positive, as well as 81.2 percent of 30- to 39-year-olds, and 77 percent of those in their 40s. Big surprise, 72.5 percent of respondents in their 50s were positive.

Also of note was the increase of people identifying as being undefined “sexual minorities,” up 1.3 percentage points from a previous study to 9 percent.

‘Fun Home’ not fun in schools

Parents of a 12th-grade student at a New Jersey high school protested the inclusion of Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel, Fun Home, on the high school English class reading list, so it was removed after 10 years in the library.

The “graphic memoir” about growing up in a funeral home alongside her closeted father, was made into a play and has been performed by Salt Lake Acting Company and the Southern Utah University Theatre Department in Cedar City.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a free-speech group for comics books, says the school didn’t follow the proper protocol for the removal. “The book was removed without a written complaint, committee meetings, or adhering to curriculum guidelines,” the group wrote in a complaint.

New Jersey has an “opt-out policy” for students, apparently needing shielding from a comic book, but the school and parents decided on the removal of the offending volumes altogether. The New Jersey Legislature just passed a law requiring teaching LGBTQ history in high schools, just not through comic books, apparently.

Cory Booker, asking for a friend

Neomi Rao, a second-generation Indian-American White House staffer and nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals, was asked about her views on marriage equality and sodomy by Democratic New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

He referenced her writing about the Lawrence v. Texas ruling, asking whether she thinks the courts should strike down laws that criminalize same-sex relationships. He also wanted to know if she thought gay relationships were immoral and if she ever had a self -proclaimed LGBT staff member.

Her answers: “No, No, and I don’t know.” What else would she say but, “My response is that these personal views are ones that I would put to one side. I would faithfully follow the precedent of the Supreme Court.”

As Utah goes, so goes Arizona?

Utah dropped the “No Homo Promo” regulations on school curriculum and now the new head of public schools in Arizona is wanting to get rid of the state’s ban on saying anything “promoting a homosexual lifestyle, portraying homosexuality as a positive alternative lifestyle,” and “suggesting that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.”

Kathy Hoffman, the new Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, said that schools need to create “an inclusive environment that supports children from all backgrounds,” including those who come from LGBTQ families. Arizona still does not ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and conversion therapy is still legal in the state.

Notes from the 2019 State of the Union

Nancy Pelosi — Photo: Doug Mills for the Congressional Press Pool
  • The president announced an initiative to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. Short on specifics and making no money pledges, insiders say the plan is to focus on at-risk populations in 20 states, an increase in CDC funding, and continue the international prevention and treatment program started in 2006.
  • No talk of the transgender people serving in the armed forces in all the blather about the military. Senators and representatives invited four transgender service members as guests to the speech.
  • No mention of the Equality Act making its way through Congress.
  • The speech gave a “hat tip” to the number of women now in Congress but nothing about the 11 “out” LGBT representatives and senators currently serving. Trump was also silent on the two or three “closeted” senators.
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi used the patented drag performer’s “fuck you clap back” in response to Trump saying, “We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good.”

About the author

Craig Ogan

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