Hardly surprising, truly terrifying.
Report finds genetically modified crops fail to increase yields let alone solve hunger, soil erosion and chemical-use issues
Quebec government will spend $7 million over the next five years on programs aimed at fighting bullying and discrimination against gays and lesbians.
Justice minister Jean-Marc Fournier said money will be shared among agencies working to protect the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals and transgender people. The campaign will focus on demystifying gay people within the heterosexual community and ensuring they are treated fairly at school, work and society at large.
Robert Laramée of Fondation Émergence, hailed the initiative which he said will help non-profit groups work on behalf of LGBT people, young and old, throughout the province. “There is still an enormous amount of work to be done.”
Organizations have until Dec. 1 to apply for funding from the Bureau de lutte contre l’homophobie. For more information, visit the website at justice.gouv.qc.ca/homophobie
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette
Co-Founder, Matthew Shepard FoundationPosted: 10/12/11 08:39 AM ET
October is very hard for me.
It’s not that the early autumn in Wyoming isn’t beautiful. If you haven’t experienced the crisp air as the nights come earlier each day, or the last few cricket chirps of the season that follow the brilliant orange sunsets, you can’t really know the peaceful, quiet contemplation this time of year brings those few of us fortunate to make our homes here.
But it’s those cues, these turns of the calendar pages, that remind me of the tragedy that autumn brought us 13 years ago, and start us reflecting on what our family, and our society, have learned from it.
Thirteen years ago this week his father, brother and I were at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colo., with our firstborn son, Matthew Shepard. He was 21, and dying. Just days before, he had been just like millions of American college students whose names are not known to the world — getting the hang of his new classes, adapting to a new campus, making friends. His father and I thought his biggest challenges were keeping money in his checking account and getting his homework in on time.
But here he was in intensive care, the victim of a terrible, senseless attack at the hands of two other young men who, at some point in their lives, learned it was OK to hate others for being different, to victimize them, to disregard their humanity.
Matt passed away quietly in the early morning hours of Oct. 12, 1998, with his family at his bedside. He died because of violence fueled by anti-gay hatred. For a lot of reasons, some of which we will probably never quite understand, the world had been watching, praying for him, and voicing their outrage.
October cannot go by anymore, and never will again, without us wondering what might have been, for us and for so many other families, if hatred of gay, and lesbian, and bisexual, and transgendered people, and all those whom others simply think might be, had been rooted out long ago.
In the painful months that followed Matt’s death, we came to understand a lot of things we never knew before: about hate crimes, and how shockingly many there were every year; how they are characterized by obvious signs, like excessive violence, and the denial that surrounds them; and how hard they were to prove, and prosecute, and appropriately punish, with sensitivity to the victim’s loved ones and the wider community.
We learned about the LGBT community and its long struggle for acceptance and equality. We learned how easily LGBT people could be fired from their jobs just for being themselves, how they couldn’t serve their country openly, couldn’t marry, couldn’t adopt kids in some states. And most of all, we learned about the fear so many otherwise good people had in their hearts about their gay neighbors, coworkers and family members.
We set about creating a legacy for Matt. He had always been interested in politics, human rights and LGBT equality — he had in fact been at a Coming Out Week meeting at the University of Wyoming on his last night. With the support and sympathy of the thousands who wrote us and the millions who were touched by his death, we decided to try to make a difference in his name.
Thirteen years later, the Matthew Shepard Foundation stands up for the LGBT community and its straight allies, in Matt’s memory. We are a modest organization, but we do our part and persuade others to do theirs, as well. We pushed — for a long, long time — for federal hate crime legislation that includes LGBT people. That finally happened in another chilly October two years ago — one more step forward. We go to schools and companies and community groups to implore everyone there to embrace diversity. We try to give young people hope, despite their parents’ or peers’ rejection of them, that they have a bright future. We keep Matt’s story alive and look to turn bystanders into activists.
It’s been such a long, sometimes tiring journey, but a rewarding one, as well. The coming out stories that young people tell me, slowly, almost imperceptibly, got better. More and more, the story ends not with a young person being turned out of the house, but affirmed, and accepted, lovingly. Every time I speak at a college somewhere in America, I am hoping I will hear another one like that.
Marriage equality is coming slowly, state by state, and military service has finally been opened to all, regardless of sexual orientation. This is progress. But we have a lot of work left to do, in employment discrimination, in family law and, most of all, in people’s individual lives.
We all have a role to play. We all have our story to tell. When we all finally stand up and demand equality, the scourge of hatred will wither and disappear. And maybe we can all have our Octobers back to enjoy for what they’re meant to be — a season to see, celebrate, change.
To see a timeline of events, click here.
Frank Kameny (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)
Franklin E. Kameny, one of the nation’s most prominent gay rights leaders, died in his home today apparently from natural causes. He was 86.
The death came less than a month before the planned celebration of the 50th anniversary of Kameny’s founding of the Mattachine Society of Washington, the first gay rights organization in the nation’s capital.
LGBT rights advocates Charles Francis and Bob Witeck, who were longtime friends of Kameny’s and established the project to preserve Kameny’s papers over a 50-year period, said they would be announcing soon plans for a memorial service to honor the gay rights leader’s life.
Timothy Clark, Kameny’s tenant, said he found Kameny unconscious and unresponsive in his bed shortly after 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Clark called 911 police emergency and rescue workers determined that Kameny had passed away earlier, most likely in his sleep. Clark said he had spoken with Kameny shortly before midnight on the previous day and Kameny didn’t seem to be in distress.
Kameny is credited with being one of the leading strategists for the early gay rights movement — beginning nearly a decade before the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York’s Greenwich Village and continuing afterward.
Born and raised in New York City, Kameny served in combat as an Army soldier in World War II in Europe. After the war, Kameny obtained a doctorate degree in astronomy from Harvard University.
He went on to work as an astronomer for the U.S. Army Map Service in the 1950s and was fired after authorities discovered he was gay. He contested the firing and appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, becoming the first known gay person to file a gay-related case before the high court. The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling against Kameny and declined to hear the case, but Kameny’s decision to appeal the case through the court system motivated him to become a lifelong advocate on behalf of LGBT equality.
Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said Kameny “led an extraordinary life marked by heroic activism that set a path for the modern LGBT civil rights movement.”
“From his early days fighting institutionalized discrimination in the federal workforce, Dr. Kameny taught us all that ‘Gay is Good,’” Solmonese said. “As we say goodbye to this trailblazer on National Coming Out Day, we remember the remarkable power we all have to change the world by living our lives like Frank — openly, honestly and authentically.”
Chuck Wolfe, CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, said Kameny’s death marked the “loss of a hero and a founding father of the fight to end discrimination against LGBT people.”
“Dr. Kameny stood up for this community when doing so was considered unthinkable and even shocking, and he continued to do so throughout his life,” Wolfe said. “He spoke with a clear voice and firm conviction about the humanity and dignity of people who were gay, long before it was safe for him to do so. All of us who today endeavor to complete the work he began a half century ago are indebted to Dr. Kameny and his remarkable bravery and commitment.”
Chad Griffin, board president for the American Federation for Equal Rights, the organization behind the federal lawsuit against Proposition 8, said “America has lost a hero” with the passing of Kameny.
“Out and proud, Frank Kameny was fighting for equality long before the rest of us knew we could.” Griffin added. “Because there was one Frank Kameny, trailblazing and honest enough to speak out 50 years ago, there are now millions of Americans, coming out, speaking out and fighting for their basic civil rights. His is a legacy of bravery and tremendous impact and will live on in the hearts and minds of every American who values equality and justice.”
Local activists who knew Kameny said they are deeply saddened over his passing but pleased to have shared time with him at several LGBT events in Washington during the past three weeks.
On Sept. 30, D.C.’s LGBT Community Center honored Kameny along with three other activists with its community service award at a ceremony at the city’s Hotel Sofitel. Kameny delivered what his activist friends called his standard and beloved fiery speech asserting his 50 year struggle to change society to bring about full and unabridged rights for LGBT people. It was to be his last public speaking engagement.
His passing inside his house on Tuesday came several years after the city designated the house as a historic landmark because of the work Kameny and his activist colleagues performed there since the 1960s on behalf of LGBT rights. In 2010 the D.C. City Council voted unanimously to name a two-block section of 17th Street near Dupont Circle as Frank Kameny Way in honor of Kameny lifelong work on behalf of equality for the LGBT community and the community at large.
The Blade will have more information as it becomes known.
Singer, songwriter, actress and LGBT activistPosted: 10/11/11 12:01 AM ET
Twenty to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, yet only 3 to 5 percent of the general population does the same. Shock was the first thing I felt when I heard this statistic, and then sadness that there are so many young people who are either thrown out of their homes or run away out of fear and despair because they are gay or transgender.
But, while the disproportionate numbers are disheartening, what really matters and makes a significant impact are the young people themselves, their struggles and their desire to live a life that they dream about and deserve to live.
About five years ago, I had an opportunity to do a photo shoot for Interview magazine and wanted to include some young gay and transgender people to help spread a message of diversity and acceptance. So, I went down to the Christopher Street Pier here in New York City, where they tend to hang out. What came next opened my eyes to a problem that for far too long has not received the attention, the money, the resources and the focus that is desperately needed.
I was overwhelmed by the stories these young people were sharing with me about how they came out of the closet and the rejection that quickly followed by their family and friends, how they were forced to leave their homes or fled because they were scared or tired of the abuse and rejection.
As a mother, I could never imagine throwing my kid away for any reason, let alone over something like their sexual orientation or gender identity. It would be like ripping out a piece of my very own soul. For far too long, dogma and fear have torn apart too many families. It is a time when the heart must lead the way when your child shares this personal and life-changing moment with you.
As I was talking with these young people, I was inspired by their determination and strength to survive and do what they can to move forward in life. But they need our help; they need all of us to step up and do what we can. That is why I love this country so much, why I believe it is the greatest country in the world, because when one person falls, when we learn about that person’s struggle, we join together to help them out. It is the American spirit, and it is a spirit we need to tap into to help these young people.
Here in New York City, as is the case in most cities around the country, there are not enough resources to help these young people. On any given night, approximately 3,800 young people are living on the streets of the Big Apple, yet there are not even enough shelters and transitional living beds to house 10 percent of them. Most of those beds are funded by the city and operated by incredible organizations that are stretched to their limit, but they cannot do it alone.
After being inspired by the young people during my visit to the pier five years ago, my manager and I joined with the West End Intergenerational Residence here in New York City to open the True Colors Residence in Harlem. It is the first permanent housing facility in New York state specifically for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth ages 18 to 24. This low-income housing building will provide 30 young people with a permanent roof over their heads and supportive services as they go after the future they have been dreaming about and deserve.
My commitment to doing what I can is just beginning, and I want to encourage you to do what you can today to make a difference. I started the Give a Damn Campaign last year in part to educate straight people about this issue and to help gay and transgender people use the information to spread the message. I encourage you to read up on it today and learn more as a first step.
Then, research the youth shelters, transitional living programs, drop-in centers and youth centers in your community. Contact them and volunteer or make a donation. Ask them what they need. It may be $10, it may be some food and clothing for their youth, you may have a professional skill that you can mentor a youth in — the possibilities are endless. The most important thing is that you step up; when one person, especially a young person, is in need, we all need to do what we can.
If you are a parent and you have a child who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or just questioning, or whom you think might be, the most important thing you can do is let them know that you love them first and foremost. Do not let fear and long-held beliefs interfere with the most important relationship you will have in your life. Lead with your heart and with the love that you have for your child. Just a little bit of acceptance can make a huge difference, and that little bit will grow over time.
Cyndi will release the live concert DVD To Memphis, With Love on Megaforce Records on Oct. 25, 2011. She is currently on tour with Dr. John on the From Memphis to Mardi Gras tour. For more info on the DVD or the tour, including a full list of dates and tickets, visit Lauper’s official website.
By Jesse Bering|Posted Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011, at 6:33 AM ET
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently reiterated his belief that there are no homosexuals in Iran. Are there any societies without gays?
Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images.
At a press event two weeks ago, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to elaborate on his notorious assertion from 2007 that there were no homosexuals in Iran. “My position hasn’t changed,” replied the defiant Ahmadinejad. He then acknowledged to Blitzer, begrudgingly, the tiny sliver of a possibility that there could be such monsters living amongst even the Sharia-centric Iranians. “Perhaps there are those who engage in [homosexual] activities … but these are not known elements within Iranian society. Rest assured, this is one of the ugliest behaviors in our society … but as the government, I cannot go out in the street and ask [my people] about their specific orientation.”
I’d take considerable pleasure in using this column to expound on Ahmadinejad’s intellectual deficiencies. (Let’s be honest, any leader who believes in a supernatural entity that finds gay people icky isn’t exactly the deepest thinker.) Yet this arrogant theocrat unwittingly raises a more interesting issue for us to consider: Does homosexuality exist in every human society?
For anyone with even a modest scientific background, the answer seems obvious —hence the widespread disbelief of Ahmadinejad’s initial claim of a gay-free Iran. Although LGBT Iranians live under constant threat of severe legal and social sanctions, we do know that there is no shortage of them. Still, that doesn’t mean that homosexuality can be found in every other corner in the world. A husband-and-wife team of anthropologists at Washington State University named Barry and Bonnie Hewlett believe that they’ve found a society without gay sex—and that there other societies, too, in which some presumably universal behaviors, such as homosexuality and masturbation, are nonexistent at all levels of analysis.
The Hewletts work amid a group of peaceful net-hunting foragers in central Africa known as the Aka, who live in migratory camps of about 25 to 35 individuals. Other ethnographic details, such as the Aka’s sociopolitical organization (minimal-control chiefdoms) and gender relations (men and women are relatively equal) certainly aren’t irrelevant to their sex lives, but in a report published last year in African Study Monographs, the researchers focused on the Aka’s bedroom behaviors. It was the Aka’s apparent hypersexuality that inspired the Hewletts’ research. “We decided to systematically study sexual behavior,” they explain, “after several campfire discussions with married middle-aged Aka men who mentioned in passing that they had sex three or four times during the night. At first we thought it was just men telling their stories, but we talked to women and they verified the men’s assertions.” That’s right—three or four times per night.
10/ 5/11 10:06 PM ET
CANBERRA, Australia — Two transgender people won an appeal in Australia’s highest court Thursday giving them legal recognition as men despite not having had complete sex change surgeries.
Transgender and intersex organizations praised the High Court’s ruling as a precedent that would spare others from having to undergo medically unnecessary surgery to have their chosen gender recognized.
The court ruled that characteristics that identify a person as male or female are “confined to external physical characteristics that are socially recognizable.” This recognition does not require knowledge of a person’s sexual organs, the court said.
The pair, who have not been named, had their breasts surgically removed and underwent male hormone therapy, but retain some female sex organs.
The Western Australia state Gender Reassignment Board had refused to certify them as male because their sex change surgeries were incomplete.
Aram Hosie, spokesman for the W.A. Gender Project, said transgender people had previously been unable to legally change their gender “without invasive, medically unnecessary surgeries that may be unwanted, impractical or unattainable.”
A Gender Agenda spokesman, Peter Hyndal, said the judgment was in line with South Africa, Britain and some other European countries that have relaxed surgical prerequisites for legally changing gender.
Last month, Australia altered its rules to allow transgender people to change the gender on their passports without sex change surgery.
Comedian, actor and recording artistPosted: 10/3/11 12:03 AM ET
Often people are curious about the fact that I am married to a man but call myself queer. It’s because I have had sex with more than one person, and I had unmarried sex quite a few times, and roughly half the people have been men and the other half have been women, and then there were a few people in between those genders who identified in differing ways, so it’s up to me to define myself, too, and so that would be queer. It’s the most fitting description, short and concise, and really to-the-point. I don’t know why it’s a difficult concept to understand. Most of the people I know have had sex with more than one person, and many have sex outside marriage. I just happen to have had it with people all along the gender scale.
I think what I respond to is androgyny, in all its forms. It’s often not obvious. Someone can look very male but then reveal himself to be a true lady. A woman can appear incredibly feminine yet be super butch inside. We are all creatures of infinite possibility, and sexuality is one aspect where our souls and bodies really collide. It is one of the few instances where we are both spiritual and physical, so lots happens.
Bisexuality, for me, is probably the right term, too; however, because I am also very attracted to transgendered people, that concept is limiting. To say that there are only two sexes is not true for me in my life, as even I feel somewhat transgendered myself, being female-bodied yet having so many male aspects to my personality. I think I would like to call myself bisexual more frequently because there is much invisibility for the “B”s in the LGBT community. Gays and lesbians might assume that we are not homosexual enough, and straight people might assume that we are in porn. These are both true and false for me. I am both too homosexual and not homosexual enough, and I have appeared in porn films but not having any kind of sex. I am considering this as a possibility for later in my career. How fantastic to start making hardcore porn at the age of 80. I am not threatening you, but I just might. You never know.
Sex is very fascinating to me outside purely prurient interest. In general, the more conservative a person seems from the outside, the stranger they are in bed. I may appear wild, as I discuss sex in a frank manner, have much of my body tattooed and make a sexual spectacle of myself with my comedy and politics; however, I am one of the most vanilla, boring, lifeless, selfish and easily tired lovers of all time. Seriously, I put myself to sleep. I am like a human Ambien and should be pursued by insomniacs the world over, as I will induce REM faster than any pill, with my weak grip and loose mouth. But it will be fun, and at least you could consider yourself queer for liking me, too. And get very sleepy.