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Archive for the ‘Gay’ Category

Today we hear another case of random yet targeted violence in the shooting at the Holocaust Museum in D.C. Random, because the perpetrator didn’t know the museum security guard who he killed. But targeted, because the perpetrator, a white supremacist, chose to kill someone at a museum which documents the genocide of millions of Jews during World War II.

And once again I am reminded of the poem “The Hangman” by Maurice Ogden. In the poem the hangman comes to town and at first he hangs a man from outside the town. The town breathes a sigh of relief. But the next day the hangman hangs someone from the town. Then another and another. Sometimes the hangman comes up with justifications like calling one of his victims an infidel. At the end there is no one left to save the narrator of the poem when he too is chosen by the hangman for death.

Should you worry about these crazy right-wing radicals who if not directly responsible for the violence are at least lending moral and financial support to the ones who are. If Operation Rescue were a Muslim charity, their accounts would have been seized a while ago.

Should you worry?

I’m not an abortion provider you might say. I’m not a Jew. I’m not gay. I’m not a black man running for president of the United States. I’m not a Latina woman nominated for the Supreme Court. I don’t need to worry.

Well you should.

Who was killed? A security guard who was just doing his job. Think of Naveed Haq who permanently wounded a 23-year old receptionist at the Jewish Federation in Seattle. Layla Bush was not Jewish. She too just needed a job. John Lotter and Marvin Thomas Nissen, in order to enact revenge on transsexual Brandon Teena, also killed 24-year-old Lisa Lambert and 19-year-old Phillip DeVine. Gay city supervisor Harvey Milk was shot along with mayor George Moscone.

You should care. You should really care.

THE HANGMAN

By Maurice Ogden

Into our town the hangman came,
smelling of gold and blood and flame.
He paced our bricks with a different air,
and built his frame on the courthouse square.

(more…)

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I just found this great spoof on the high fructose corn syrup commericals starring Jackie Beat. The original commercial is first for those of you who haven’t seen it.

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Glad I didn’t program that

As a computer programmer, I occasionally make mistakes that get noticed. Those mistakes are bad as opposed to the ones I figure out before anyone knows about it. I hate to be this guy at Amazon who caused a Twitter fiasco by un-rating all Amazon products that had gay/lesbian themes.

In the comments to my earlier post about the Amazon Gay Glitch, monologuist Mike Daisey (who knows a thing or two about Amazon), comments:

[The following is another block quote from the Stranger penned by Mike Daisey]

After hearing from people on the inside at Amazon, I am convinced it was in fact, a “glitch.”

Well, more like user error—some idiot editing code for one of the many international versions of Amazon mixed up the difference between “adult” and “erotic” and “sexuality”. All the sites are tied together, so editing one affected all for blacklisting, and ta-da, you get this situation.

The CS rep who responded that this was Amazon policy was just confused about what they were talking about, and gave standard boilerplate about porn.

The dumbest part is saying it was a “glitch”. A “glitch”? Just say that it was one of your workers making an editing error. Really dumb PR move, that one.

Let me know if you actually want more details on how it went down, but it’s pretty boring and technical.

I asked Mike for more details, and according to his inside sources, the story is that a programmer at Amazon France was editing the site to filter porn out of some search results, and he “mixed up ‘adult,’ which is the term they use for porn, with stuff like ‘erotic’ and ‘sexuality.’ The system he was working on is universal, so the change he made propagated across Amazon’s sites worldwide.

Amazon’s systems are notoriously idiosyncratic so it’s not hard to imagine a change like this getting into their worldwide system, though it’s certainly interesting that it would be so difficult to correct the problem.

When Mark Probst received his reply from customer service, the rep misunderstood the problem and sent him a boilerplate response on how they deal with “adult” content.

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I’ve never been wowed by an editorial by Roland Smith on CNN, but this one about international adoption has a lot of interesting points. He starts out by asking why are celebrities adopting foreign children instead of choosing from the many American children that need homes. He then goes on to say:

According to various adoption and governmental agencies, more than 500,000 American children are under foster care, and many of them are waiting for adoption. From coast to coast, babies to toddlers to teens are desperately looking for a home where they can be loved, nurtured and provided for.

Now, it would be easy to blast these celebrities by saying it’s the hip thing to walk around with an international child, but truth be told, we’ve got a serious adoption problem in this country.

Single mothers have a difficult time adopting a child, and several I know personally have gone overseas. And let’s not even talk about the red tape and bureaucracy!

American parents are made to jump through enormous hoops, and the process takes years, instead of months. And all too often, single people and married couples simply grow disenchanted with the process.

I have definitely heard from single women that they are not encouraged to be foster parents. The worry is that they could be (gasp!) gay, and that’s why they are single.

I find this commentary interesting because I hear a lot of people these days talking about the overpopulation of the planet and how it is better to adopt a child than bring a child into an environment already burdened by people. This really is a bourgeois argument. Many people can’t afford adoption. In-vitro fertilization, the most expensive fertility treatment, is still cheaper than adoption. The most affordable way to have a child is the old-fashioned way.

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headline2

It’s pretty obvious that America has some serious problems. None of which have to do with gay marriage or abortion or name your own wedge issue. Alabama, Los Angeles. These daily massacres are starting to become commonplace.

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Via SeattlePI:

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Was Eckern treated unfairly?

Scott Eckern’s dramatic (no pun intended) exit from California Musical Theater for supporting Prop 8 has opened up a lot of heated dialogue about the so-called “hypocrisy” of the gay community who are “intolerant.” My friend R.J. commented on my previous post saying:

I think the donation was very very wrong but frankly it was his choice to make and it would be wrong for him to be pressured out of his job because people disagreed with his political actions. How would we feel If someone who opposed prop 8 had to resign from a conservative-minded company?

I’ll be honest that my initial reaction was to agree wholeheartedly with R.J. The Sacramento Bee has nothing but great testimonials from people who worked with Eckern. But I have to ask, what does that have to do with anything? So he was a great guy. I’ve written before about how my interactions with Mormons over the course of my life has been overwhelmingly positive. But guess what, some of the same-sex couples who got married over the course of the last year were great people too.

Perhaps some of the vocal critics of Eckern never had any interaction with California Musical Theater. Guess what, Scott Eckern never had any personal interaction with the thousands of same-sex couples who got married either. Eckern will find another job. Will the thousands of gay couples be able to get married as quickly? Will their lives and their childrens’ lives be in jeopardy until they do?

There is the prevalent liberal view point that we must be fair and tolerant to other groups just as we seek tolerance from them. I disagree. Tolerating intolerance is a form of intolerance. There has been much written on this topic which I will not link to here because I think it wrongfully scapegoats the Muslim community as the enemy of liberalism. The Mormon’s involvment with Yes on Prop 8 proves that Muslims are not the only intolerant group out there. However, feel free to do a google search and you can find a wide range of essays on the subject.

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The New York Times has an article up that describes some of the fallout from musical theatre producers, writers, composers and actors after the discovery that Eckern donated to Yes on Prop 8.

The sense of disappointment over the vote extended to Broadway. Jeffrey Seller, a producer of the show “Avenue Q,” which is scheduled to be part of the 2008-9 season at the California Musical Theater, said he had been shocked when he heard about Mr. Eckern’s donation.

“That a man who makes his living exclusively through the musical theater could do something so hurtful to the community that forms his livelihood is a punch in the stomach,” Mr. Seller said. “He didn’t just vote for it. One thousand dollars is a lot of money for an artistic director of a nonprofit.”

Marc Shaiman, the Tony Award-winning composer (“Hairspray”), called Mr. Eckern last week and said that he would not let his work be performed in the theater. “I was uncomfortable with money made off my work being used to put discrimination in the Constitution,” Mr. Shaiman said. He added, however, that the entire episode left him “deeply troubled” because of the potential for backlash against gays who protested Mr. Eckern’s donation.

“It will not help our cause because we will be branded exactly as what we were trying to fight,” said Mr. Shaiman, who is gay. “But I do believe there comes a time when you cannot sit back and accept what I think is the most dangerous form of bigotry.”

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When I first heard the story about how the Artistic Director of California Musical Theatre in Sacramento had given $1,000 in support of Yes on Proposition 8, I wondered what is California Musical Theatre. Proposition 8 in California would prevent same-sex marriage at the same time as revoking same-sex marriages already granted. I thought to myself, if California Musical Theatre is the organization that produces Music Circus then it is really a big deal. Well CMT is indeed the organization that produces Music Circus.

Music Circus produces several musicals ever summer in Sacramento. The venue is a circus tent which allows you to see musicals produced in the round — a somewhat uncommon format. I took a tour of Music Circus years ago and learned that because old stand-by Broadway musicals are the norm the shows are created and rehearsed on a much faster schedule than most theatres. Music Circus usually brings in a “star” to play the chum roles and the rest of the cast is comprised of the regular company. I’ve seen a few musicals in the tent and they do a good job. I would like to offer the disclaimer that it has been several years since I’ve lived in Sacramento so I haven’t been there recently.

This story of the Artistic Director Scott Eckern is fascinating. A man who is Artistic Director of a popular theatre company that produces musicals, secretly believes that many of his colleagues in the theatre should not be granted the same marital rights that he holds himself. He may come in contact with their families, but that does not sway him. Later there comes a time when his opinions are made known through a search of donors of Yes on Proposition 8, and he is undone. He resigns within days saying:

“I understand that my choice of supporting Proposition 8 has been the cause of many hurt feelings, maybe even betrayal. It was not my intent. I honestly had no idea that this would be the reaction. I chose to act upon my belief that the traditional definition of marriage should be preserved. I support each individual to have rights and access and I understood that in California domestic partnerships come with the same rights that come with marriage. My sister is a lesbian and in a committed domestic partnership relationship. I am loving and supportive of her and her family, and she is loving and supportive of me and my family. I definitely do not support any message or treatment of others that is hateful or instills fear. This is a highly emotional issue and the accusations that have been made against me are simply not true. I have now had many conversations with friends and colleagues,and I am deeply saddened thatmy personal beliefs and convictions have offended others. My choice to support the Proposition was personal, and does not represent the views and opinions of California Musical Theatre or the many people associated with the organization. I was required by law to identify my employer and occupation at the time of my donation.

This man is surely in denial. How can he at once say “I want to support not only my friends and loved ones, but everyone in their efforts to receive equal rights” and at the same time work to deny equal rights to a portion of the population.

In a way, I feel sorry for him. His heart is moving one way and yet his rigid background is pulling him another. I met an African American man once who told me his basketball coach wore a George Wallace button. His coach was a “kind man” yet no amount of input from his player would allow him to change his opinion that George Wallace and consequently segregation was a good thing. How can this be? How could he continue to connect with people of different races and yet believe in segregation. It’s a wonder.

Via Americablog.

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My husband’s sense of humor makes a little more sense to me after reading this. Check out these excerpts from the BBC about the joint meeting yesterday between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

As they were walked towards the lecturn there was a lot of touching, as is common in a new relationship. All evening they were attentive to each other. An arm across a shoulder, a little touch on the arm, a full embrace.

Barack Obama is a natural toucher. An arm around Mahmoud Abbas. An arm around Sarkozy. The arm is outstrectched because he is consensus man who believes that his warmth, his magic can cross any divide. (The only time I have seen him recoil was when he was leaving the Elysee and Sarkozy tried to kiss him goodbye. As Sarkozy stood on his toes Obama turned his head.) But last night touching, embracing was in.

Bill Clinton was neither coy nor coded.

Afterwards came the full embrace, the hug, their arms lingering around each other.

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Mormons surprise me

Here’s an article from the Salt Lake City Tribune about how the LDS is fighting to get gay marriage banned in California.

The LDS Church’s campaign to pass Proposition 8 represents its most vigorous and widespread political involvement since the late 1970s, when it helped defeat the Equal Rights Amendment. It even departs from earlier efforts on behalf of traditional marriage, in which members felt more free to decide their level of involvement.

This time, LDS leaders have tapped every resource, including the church’s built-in phone trees, e-mail lists and members’ willingness to volunteer and donate money. Many California members consider it a directive from God and have pressured others to participate. Some leaders and members see it as a test of faith and loyalty.

Why am I surprised by this? I have had relatively large contact with Mormons both in high school and later when I worked various jobs in California. Honestly the Mormons I met were some of the nicest people I’ve ever come in contact with. In high school they were the smartest kids and usually very popular. On the other hand they weren’t mean like many of the other popular kids.

Call me biased but when I read about fundamentalist Christians in America I get scared. I’ve never felt that way about Mormons. My impression is that they are not trying to take over the country in the same way the Focus on the Family fundies do.

So I admit I am perplexed by this latest effort in California. Why would a marginalized group support the marginalization of another group? It just doesn’t make sense to me and it doesn’t fit in with the kindness that I have witnessed from Mormons over the years. It is sad for me to think about this church in this new way.

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Via Matt Yglesias.

I’m not sure I understand what the purpose of this sign is. Do they think they are going to bring parishioners to the pews with that kind of sign? Most people go to church because they find it uplifting.

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This is absolutely hilarious.

A campaign official for the Virginia Lieutenant Governor cancelled an order for 150 guidebooks to entertainment in Minneapolis-St. Paul after discovering they included a 6-8 page section for gay and lesbian nightclubs.

“Having a section dedicated solely to GLBT will be a BIG problem for many of our folks. We simply can’t hand them out,” wrote the aide, Melissa Busse, in an email to the guidebook publisher, Rake Publishing, obtained by ABC affiliate KSTP.

You’ve got to be kidding me right? Like a group of adult Republicans can’t handle possessing a guide book because there are 6-8 pages devoted to the gay and lesbian night life of Minneapolis St. Paul? What are they going to turn gay if they read it? Maybe that’s what happened to Larry Craig. Maybe in fact this would be a great resource to Republicans.

I think this does say a lot about the worldliness of this Melissa Busse. I mean doesn’t she know that nearly every travel guide has a gay and lesbian section?

But it gets funnier when ABC interviews some gay club owners in Minneapolis.

“We’ve had quite a spike, mostly people who are curious come down and they wind up leaving and having a good time,” said Robert Parker, the manager of the Gay 90’s club in downtown Minneapolis which features a popular “drag queen” show.

“Mississippi, Alabama, California, Arizona, I’ve seen people from all over, said Parker.

Hmmm.

Photo via http://www.minneapoliseagle.com.

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Boystown Chicago

At heart I must be a bit of a fag hag, because when I came to Chicago I looked up the nearest gay bar to hang out in. I like the sense of community that you find in gay bars and how usually everyone knows everyone else. It’s definitely a nice atmosphere if you don’t know anyone. So I went to the Second Story Bar right around the corner from my hotel and there I was told about Boystown, the gay district in Chicago.

Boystown has these great spires all along the road. I snagged this photo from http://www.purpleroofs.com. Purple roofs has a lot more photos of Boystown which you should definitely check out here.

On a Sunday night the Sidetrack was absolutely packed. I was told that it was actually not so busy at all compared to usual. They show show tune videos until 9:30 and the whole bar joins in and sings and shouts out lines. During some videos people throw their cocktail napkins in the air. My favorite was Mommie Dearest even though it’s hardly a musical. Then I went across the road to Roscoe’s which was equally packed and again not as busy as usual according to the locals. Thanks to Steven from Nebraska for showing me around. Steven, where ever you are, I just want you to know I had a blast.

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Advocacy groups that fight prostitution in the Twin Cities are gearing up for what they believe will be a surge in activity during the Republican National Convention—even though police say they aren’t expecting it to be a problem.

The Twin Cities will see an influx of 35,000 visitors during the Republican convention from Sep. 1-4.

Vednita Carter, executive director of Breaking Free, a St. Paul organization that helps women escape from prostitution, told the Star Tribune that talk among prostitutes is that there will be a lot of money to be made.

I think the city should be more worried about prostitutes along the lines of Mike Jones coming to town.

Photo via eatenbythemonster’s photostream on flickr.

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What is it about Asian Americans that makes some of them be ashamed of being Asian? I’ve noticed this phenomenon in the past on a NPR cartoon where Adrian Tomine talks about how the character Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles ruined his life. Now I read a very interestingly titled article “Dear Michael Chang. You ruined my tennis career. Thanks for nothing.”

Even if you allow that Chang influenced Chinese-Americans to participate in sports beyond the Academic Decathlon, he still shackled us with another stereotype. Thanks to him, we were all seen as determined counterpunchers, tireless tongue-lolling retrievers who compensated for our lack of physical gifts by outlasting our opponents because we couldn’t outplay them.

Before Chang, we were free to dream about becoming Boris Becker, that Teutonic badass who strutted around the baseline, blasting aces, or Edberg, the square-jawed Swede with a stylish attacking game and a hot blond girlfriend. Now we were stuck with the introverted, 5-foot-9 (on his best day) Chang, a devout Christian with a cream-puff serve who scrapped his way to the French Open title with borderline bush-league tricks (moonballing, crowding the service line on returns, the instantly legendary underhand serve). Worst of all, his dragon-lady mother once stuck her hand down his shorts after a practice to check if they were wet. At the Junior Davis Cup! In front of his friends! After Becker retired, he impregnated a woman in a restaurant’s cleaning closet; when Chang hung up his sticks, he studied theology at Biola University.

I’m not sure I understand the author Huan Hsu’s point. I mean Michael Chang is a Chinese-American and he is a real person subject to all those real person qualities that are appealing to some and unappealing to others. Hsu’s basically saying he wants Michael Chang to be white, you know like Agassi, or Boris Becker, or one of those guys. Why should he be? He was a fabulous tennis player any way you slice it. An athlete. A French Open champion. What I really loved about Michael Chang was how short he was compared to his competitors. He may not have been born with a tennis body, but he sure made good use of what he had.

I get it, Hsu doesn’t like the fact that Chang is a Christian. Okay, but Chang is a tennis player so who cares? You don’t hear a lot of African Americans ashamed of Venus and Serena Williams because they’re Jehovah’s Witnesses. You don’t hear Russians bemoaning Davydenko as a stereotype because he could be involved in game fixing? No. It’s just some Asian Americans who seem to have a problem with being Asian. Now you do sometimes hear about some straight-acting gays putting down gay gays. I’m not sure if there is a tennis connection, but I’ll be all over it if there is.

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Or not.

In late June, travel agent Matthew DeGuire got a call from a customer about an ad in London’s subway.

“South Carolina is so gay” read the ad, alongside others touting Las Vegas, New Orleans, Boston and Atlanta as also being “so gay.” The ads were timed with London’s annual gay pride festival.

“He was pleasantly surprised about it,” DeGuire said of his client.

But several state officials, including Gov. Mark Sanford, think the ad went too far. While the state’s tourism agency initially agreed to pay $5,000 for the ad, the governor and other officials are now refusing to pickup that tab, saying taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be used to promote any group with a particular social or political agenda.

I guess that South Carolina isn’t really all that gay after all. Let that be a lesson to gay travelers: skip South Carolina; they suck.

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A friend knowing that I play pub trivia not once but two times a week asked me if I wanted to go to Purr to play trivia. Purr is a very trendy gay/lesbian bar with very good music. For those interested, Purr’s quiz takes place on Sundays at 8:00. There is no charge to play.

Purr is definitely unique among quizzes in Seattle. The four rounds of questions were almost exclusively about things you could in one way or another connect with gay or lesbian pop culture. The first round was Will and Grace, the second Rainbow (subtitled Colors of the Wind), the third Stacked (literature), and the final bonus round had three questions with the themes lesbians, divas, and musicals. The rules are unbelievably complex, but they include wagering points for the bonus round and a distinction between “given” points and “earned” points. A nice added touch is that the quiz master plays music in between the rounds that has a loose connection with the themes. For instance the Will and Grace theme music and Cindy Lauper’s True Colors.

For Colors of the Wind, we had the question: This group had the song “Hammer and Nail” on their album Nomads, Indians and Saints. I was surprised to hear what I thought was the lesbian team (they cheered when someone said the word lesbian so I’m just guessing) ask for a repeat of that question. Surely you should have your card revoked if you’re a lesbian team and you need a repeat on an Indigo Girls question. I’m just saying.

For the final bonus round, my friend and I were 10 points behind the leader – oh did I mention there were only 3 teams? Anyway, for the bonus round the deciding question in the category diva was: which diva is credited for launching the careers of Katey Sagal and Melissa Manchester. As the leading team did not know the answer Bette Midler, my humble team of two ended up winning. The prize: two tickets on the Seattle Pride Cruise next week for the Gay Pride Festival.

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You’re Not a Lesbian!

A Greek court has been asked to draw the line between the natives of the Aegean Sea island of Lesbos and the world’s gay women.

Three islanders from Lesbos – home of the ancient poet Sappho, who praised love between women – have taken a gay rights group to court for using the word lesbian in its name.

One of the plaintiffs said Wednesday that the name of the association, Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece, “insults the identity” of the people of Lesbos, who are also known as Lesbians.

“My sister can’t say she is a Lesbian,” said Dimitris Lambrou. “Our geographical designation has been usurped by certain ladies who have no connection whatsoever with Lesbos,” he said.

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I personally believe in gun control, but let’s be honest should a gun owner be lumped together with a sex offender?

Pasquotank County officials have decided to change this sign in the Public Safety Building, shown here June 27, 2007, following complaints from gun-permit seekers who said it made them feel embarrassed to stand in the same line as sex offenders.

It kind of gives me some ideas for other useful signs.

sign2.jpg

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Earlier I made case against the leniency of vehicular assaults that do not involve alcohol. Here is a tragic case of one that does. As an occasional bicycle commuter, I’m pleased to see this woman got what she deserved.

A judge sentenced a woman to nearly the maximum prison term for negligent homicide after hearing a recorded jail conversation in which she made light of the bicyclist she killed.

She could have gotten as few as four years behind bars, but Superior Court Judge Michael Cruikshank sentenced her Tuesday to 10½ years — one year shy of the maximum.

During the conversation, the man told Arrington that an acquaintance believed she should get a medal and a parade because she had “taken out” a “tree hugger, a bicyclist, a Frenchman and a gay guy all in one shot.”

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I’ve always loved subliminal advertising as well as liminal (you know, it’s what’s above the subliminal.)

Via the Slog

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