GAY global news

Gay Star News

Written by gaytourism

Gay Star NewsGay Star NewsThis website scores churches based on their LGBTQ inclusivityWATCH: Queer dancers fall in love in beautiful short film ZayaKentucky judge resigns after refusing to hear gay adoption casesSinger-songwriter Teddy Geiger announces transition on InstagramAndy Cohen chimes in on Anderson Cooper-Kathy Griffin feud with shady remarkNavy Day: 17 LGBTI navy men and women you need to sea todayEgypt bill will jail you for gay sex, LGBTI activism, and even waving a rainbow flagDaughter of homophobic executive of Focus of the Family on why she came out as lesbianTop gay sex clinic forced to turn away four out of five people a dayTom Daley earns honorary masters, Dustin responds in best wayWhy you might want to consider storing sperm before gender transitionRita Ora defends Charli XCX duet about lesbian sex – what do you make of the lyrics?Doctors warn men who are performing oral sex on multiple partners run risk of throat cancerHow we updated a 70-year-old brand to make it LGBTI-friendlyTwitter has you covered this Halloween with its ‘couples costume idea’ memeTeenage Kicks – putting the drama into coming outA weekend in Amsterdam unleashed this guy’s kink and fetish-loving alter egoHundreds of students rally to support bullied gay teen at Maine high schoolHey, Hollywood, this queer woman should be the subject of your next biopicWATCH: New Marvel trailer features queer and diverse teen superheroesWATCH: Lady Gaga and Joe Biden team up in new PSA for sexual assault survivorsBisexual tattoo artist creates piece as an homage to murdered trans womenDrinking in the delights of La Spezia, Nice and Barcelona on a cruise with the wine whispererDaily Mail thinks this fish is transgender and readers are hilariously outragedGay man cut holes in condom to deliberately infect lovers, then confesses he’s ‘riddled,’ court hearsThis is the world’s first openly intersex person elected into public officeVogue intersex model Hanne Gaby Odiele: ‘Sex, like gender and orientation, is a spectrum’New Ryan Murphy show features record number of trans actorsWho are the top 100 LGBTI executives in business?Two thirds of people living with HIV too scared to disclose their status to dates, new survey findsDisney Channel tween show to feature network’s first gay storylineIntersex Awareness Day: Commemorating the intersex version of StonewallPoll: What do you think of couple Halloween costumes?WATCH: Amazing Halloween advert explores gender nonconformity in kidsTrans activist tries to take her own life after online trolling and assaultMeet Leon Markcus, the Singapore pop star taking a stand for LGBTI youthWATCH: Pennywise and Babadook announce their engagementMissouri extends protections to LGBTI workers with historic court rulingCheck out Colton Haynes’ latest amazing Halloween costumeWATCH: Ellen shocks inspiring LGBTI activist into tears on her showTrans people challenge myths with hashtag #MythsAboutTrans on TwitterModel teased by sister with adorable photos of his baby nephew in same poseThis bisexual singer lit up her tour with the bi pride colorsWATCH: Sean Hayes and Ellen play hilarious game: ‘You suck, not blow?’WATCH: Baz Lurhman collaborates with Years and Years on lavish H&M promoKathy Griffin shades former friend Anderson Cooper with epic burnBoxer Conor McGregor slammed after calling fellow fighter ‘a f****t’Why do gay men hate Sam Smith?Here are the 7 biggest intersex myths bustedAboriginal elder says ‘yes’ to marriage equality in AustraliaGay man arrested in Indonesia shares his story from jailWoman thrown out of refuge because she showed ‘lesbian tendencies’Goa gears up to host its first pride parade this weekendWisconsin may deny funerals to LGBTI Catholics to avoid ‘public scandal’Gay homecoming king stands up to haters in epic wayWATCH: Three sexy bears live in a rustic cabin together in new honey commercialIllinois judge allegedly offered discounted legal fees in exchange for gay sexMegan Rapinoe calls FIFA ‘old, male and stale’ in new interviewRoy Moore thinks marriage equality ruling is ‘worse’ than pro-slavery rulingChannel 4 show First Dates accused of spreading biphobiaWATCH: Burger King stands up for queer kids and others being bulliedThe Flash star Keiynan Lonsdale reflects on coming outSinful or innocent? The Philippines is your gay paradise!Sam Smith finally talks about boyfriend on Ellen and our hearts are meltingThor: Ragnarok actress confirms character Valkyrie is bisexualI was femme shamed by a ‘masc4masc’ gay guy – and it sucks he’s so insecureWhy aren’t more trans people taking advantage of PrEP?South African internet provider under fire for transphobic adsTrailblazer: Gay travel vlogger Ravi Roth on partying around the world and falling in love in MykonosREVIEW: Grace Jones: Bloodlight and BamiMilo Yiannopoulos marries man, then tells Aussies to vote no to same-sex marriageDiscrimination is bad for kids, not same-sex parents#PostYourYes: Numbers of young people voting falling behind in marriage surveyGet in the mood for Halloween with this man’s sexy pumpkin photoshootLabour MP resigns from equality committee after homophobic commentsUniversity admits response to LGBTI suicide flyer was ‘inadequate’City council member tells gay man he’ll spit on his grave after he dies of AIDSNew York professor under fire after giving students ‘Female or Shemale’ quizWhat is the real story behind today’s tabloid transphobic headlines?‘The hiding, the waiting, the lying  –  it left me praying for an early grave’A lesbian prom musical will arrive on Broadway next yearPanama judge rules against same-sex marriage‘Biggest sex toy heist in history’: $60,000 worth of dildos stolenWATCH: Flash mob for marriage equality in AustraliaGay couples to get free weddings in Sydney if marriage equality becomes lawMeet Bayard Rustin: The hidden gay hero of civil rightsDubai ruler orders British tourist who touched a man’s hip in a bar to be freed from jailLeggings that’ll make your butt – and what’s in-between – look amazingBody of tortured and beheaded trans woman found in PakistanINTERVIEW: Heather Peace on motherhood, traveling with babies and writing new musicCheck out the most colourful photos from Hong Kong’s Pink Dot festivalLGBTIs are taking to Twitter to share their proudest momentsRussian pop singer feared dead in Chechnya’s anti-gay purgeFemale and non-binary animators demand changes to stop workplace sexual harassmentMeet Uruguay’s first trans senatorTanzanian authorities jail 13 activists for ‘promoting homosexuality’WATCH: Courtney Love, Justin Tranter sing Selena Gomez’s Hands To Myself at GLAAD benefitFormer Playboy model Jenna Jameson is not happy about the new trans PlaymateWHO cancels Zimbabwe anti-gay leader’s new role after international outrageLaverne Cox says men who are ashamed of dating trans women are ‘insecure as f*ck’ The LGBTI World, 24-7 Fri, 27 Oct 2017 23:44:41 +0000 en-GB hourly 1×32.jpg 32 32 Fri, 27 Oct 2017 23:44:41 +0000
Finding the right congregation can be hard]]>

Navigating different parts of your life can be difficult. Finding a congregation that suits you is part of this.

Luckily, the new website Church Clarity is here to help LGBTQ religious people do just that.

‘We believe that churches have a responsibility to be clear about their policies on their primary websites,’ the organization states. ‘At the level of the local church, policies are often communicated unclearly, if they are disclosed at all. In many churches, especially evangelical ones, clarity is elusive.’

Founded by Tim Schraeder, the main belief of the group is that ‘ambiguity is harmful and clarity is reasonable’.

Reaching for transparency

The website analyzes various churches’ websites to find out if they clearly indicate LGBTQ policies.

They believe these policies are critical ‘because they directly impact queer people’s ability to participate, or not, in a church’.

Church Clarity offers five main scores: undisclosed, unclear: non-affirming, unclear: affirming, clear: non-affirming, and clear: affirming.

The first, undisclosed, means there are no policies on the church’s website.

The second two scores, unclear, indicate that a church’s policies are difficult to find on their website. Conversely, the clear scores indicate a church whose website makes it easy to find their policies.

For non-affirming churches, they place restrictions on LGBTQ people. For affirming churches, this means LGBTQ individuals can actively participate in every aspect of the church.

There is one final, temporary score: actively discerning. The organization gives this score to churches who are openly contemplating their LGBTQ policies on a deadline.

Furthermore, people can also submit a church to be considered.

Truth will set you free

‘Even when directly asked, many church leaders do not give straightforward answers about the church’s policies towards LGBTQ+ people,’ Church Clarity states.

The organization’s work is admirable. Their Instagram page reveals testimonies from people speaking about the importance of welcoming all congregants.

Church Clarity Post

LGBTQ people also open up about their own experiences.

Church Clarity Post

‘No person should have to wonder the limits of their “welcome.” The vulnerability entailed in investing into a community is difficult enough — LGBTQ+ people should not have to constantly worry about when the other shoe is going to drop.’

]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 22:16:49 +0000
The French film also encourages self-love]]>

Short films offer some of the best diversity and representation of queer people in all media. Just take Zaya, a new story about queer dancers.

From director Susanne Serres, this new French short film focuses on two queer women of color who happen to be dancing partners.

When the titular character realizes she loves her partner Nadege, she has to confront her own struggles with coming out and self-acceptance.

The 6-minute film is interspersed with clips of their beautiful contemporary dancing and Zaya’s home life.

Upon understanding her feelings, Zaya decides it’s finally time to come out to her mother.

‘The other day, she confessed that she loves women,’ she tells her mother about Nadege. ‘Does it bother you that I dance with her?’

‘Why would it bother me?’ her mother questions. ‘How does it make you feel, when you dance with her?’

The answer is clear from the evidence of the film and the dancers’ deep connection.

It is remarkable how such a short film can so effectively speak to these universal themes. Serres’ story is definitely worth just a handful of minutes of your day.

Watch the short film Zaya:

[embedded content]

]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 20:56:56 +0000
Judge W. Mitchell Nance’s resignation goes into effect in December]]>

Earlier this year, family judge W. Mitchell Nance of Kentucky gained attention after refusing to hear adoption cases involving LGBTI parents.

On Thursday (26 October), he filed his resignation with the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission. It goes into effect on 16 December.

The decision comes after several groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a complaint with the commission. They argued Nance proved he could not be impartial as a judge when it came to LGBTI people.

In his resignation documents, Nance explains he cannot preside over same-sex adoption cases due to his belief that ‘the divinely created order of nature is that each human being has a male parent and a female parent’.

However, he did rule on other types of cases involving LGBTI plaintiffs and defendants, including domestic violence.

‘I hope this sends a message to judges across the country that if their conscience conflicts with their duty, they must leave the bench,’ said Chris Hartman, director of Kentucky’s Fairness Campaign, in a statement.

The situation is not unlike that of Kim Davis, the county clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses. In 2015, a judge sent Davis to jail after finding her in contempt of court.

]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 20:09:32 +0000
Geiger’s written music for One Direction and Shawn Mendes]]>

Singer-songwriter Teddy Geiger, famous for singles like For You I Will (Confidence), announced they’re transitioning on Instagram.

Some fans started noticing the musician’s different looks lately. One asked Geiger about it, and they responded candidly. Then, Geiger shared a screenshot of the exchange on Instagram.

Teddy Geiger Instagram Post

In their response, Geiger explains:

Okay… because u asked nicely… I am transitioning.

I started talking about with with a couple of my close friends and family about a month ago and it’s given me the courage to start the process. I feel like the next step is to tell all y’all. So here goes. Love it or hate this is who i been for a looooong time. I love u guys. Talk sooooon byeeee.

Earlier this morning, Geiger shared another post.

Teddy Geiger Instagram

The caption for the photo reads: ‘Woke up to so much love. I have the best friends. 💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖💖

Geiger started their career as a teenager, first appearing in VH1’s In Search of the Partridge Family.

Throughout the mid-2000s, Geiger released two albums and furthermore, had a role in The Rocker alongside Emma Stone, Rainn Wilson, and Josh Gad.

Since then, a lot of Geiger’s success has come from songwriting. They’ve worked with both One Direction and Shawn Mendes. Geiger is credited on some of Mendes’ biggest hits, including Stitches, Treat You Better, and There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back.

]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 18:12:48 +0000
Griffin responded, calling him ‘deeply misogynistic’]]>

The Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin feud just got worse, thanks to Cooper’s BFF Andy Cohen chiming in.

Here’s some backstory first.

Everything started with Griffin’s controversial photoshoot, depicting her posing with Donald Trump’s decapitated head. The dominoes then started falling.

First, CNN anchor and Griffin’s New Year’s Eve co-host Cooper responded to the photoshoot, calling it ‘appalling’. Then CNN dropped Griffin from the New Year’s Eve show.

The network tapped the aforementioned Cohen as the new co-host. Through all this, Cooper maintained he still considers Griffin a friend.

Okay, all caught up? Great.

New slew of burns

Earlier this week, Griffin threw a nasty comment Cooper’s way, calling him a ‘spineless heiress‘. The comment was a reference to Cooper’s status as a Vanderbilt. His mother is the designer and socialite Gloria Vanderbilt.

In a new TMZ clip, a reporter asked Cohen about whether or not he ran the NYE gig past Griffin.

In response, Cohen pulled a page out of Mariah Carey’s book, saying: “Who? Who? I don’t know her.”

Of course, he does.

They worked for the same network and Griffin appeared on Cohen’s talk show a handful of times. But it looks like insulting his best friend went too far for Cohen.

Still, Griffin didn’t let the moment pass her by. This morning (27 October), she tweeted about the exchange, calling Cohen ‘deeply misogynistic’. She also claimed he treated her ‘like a dog’ the 10 years he was her boss.

Talk about bad blood…

]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 16:18:49 +0000
Do you sea what we did there?]]>

It’s Navy Day today (27 October) and we want to show our appreciation to the inspiring LGBTI people serving on our seas.

In a time when Donald Trump threatens to introduce a military ban on transgender people, we want to show how beautiful acceptance and diversity can be.

Take a look through our favorite photos of LGBTI navy service members:


Devyn Lopez


Daniel Harrison


Akira Wyatt



Christopher Danny Mayhew


Devyn Lopez


Erica Abercrombie



Sebastian H. Ekstrøm



Joshua Potter


Selene Bravo


Anthony Maldonado


Q K Miroux


Justin Chavez


Frederick Alex Petry


]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 15:58:29 +0000
If passed, it will be the most ‘homophobic law in the world’ ]]>

Egypt is hoping to pass the most ‘homophobic law in the world’.

Police are hunting for LGBTI people and allies following rainbow flags being raised at the Mashrou’ Leila concert in Cairo.

Dozens have been arrested, with more than 20 receiving jail sentences ranging from six months to six years.

The charges of varied, including ‘debauchery’, ‘inciting sexual deviancy’ and ‘joining an outlawed group’.

And while police are attempting to use these vague offences to imprison LGBTI activists, politicians hope to go one step further.

Behind the most ‘homophobic law in the world’

MP Riyad Abdel Sattar has authored a measure that would sentence LGBTI people, and allies, to jail.

‘Any person engaging in homosexuality in a public or private place should be subjected to punitive action that should be no less than one year and not exceeding three years in jail,’ it reads.

‘Individuals that incite same sex relations, either by inciting, facilitating, hosting, or calling for, even if they don’t perform the act itself, will be punished to prison…as well as shutting down the venue.’

Both publicity and advertising for LGBTI parties, bars and clubs will be banned.

‘It is strictly prohibited to carry any symbol or sign of the homosexual community, as well as it’s prohibited to produce, sell, market, or promote such products. Violators will be sentenced to prison for a period no less than one year and no more than three years.’

This means activists, journalists covering gay events, or anyone even carrryng a rainbow flag could be imprisoned.

Fans wave rainbow flags at Mashrou' Leila gig in Cairo.

Fans wave rainbow flags at Mashrou’ Leila gig in Cairo.

Human rights activists call on Egypt to not pass homophobic law

Abdul, a lawyer in Cairo, Egypt, has asked us to not use his last name.

‘If these politicians want to claim we have freedom of speech, freedom of association, or any form of freedom given to a civilized society, then they are liars,’ he told Gay Star News.

‘This is taking Russia’s law on propaganda of gay topics even further. It’s even more draconian. This could be one of the most homophobic laws in the world, if passed.’

Human Rights Campaign’s Global Director Ty Cobb agreed, calling the bill ‘one of the most dangerous anti-LGBTQ proposals we have seen in recent memory.’

A union of Egyption and international organizations have also called on Egyptian media outlets to stop falsely homosexuality a ‘disease’.

Many believe local media is inciting hate speech, and violating human rights.

‘Repression will not turn gay people straight,’ said Human Rights Watch Sarah Leah Whitson. ‘It will only perpetuate fear and abuse.’

]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 15:09:56 +0000
‘It’s embarrassing to call yourself a Christian with the way that so many people are treating others in the name of God’]]>

A daughter of one of the most virulently homophobic voices in the United States has come out as a lesbian.

Amber Cantorna has chosen to come out even though her father helps to lead Focus on the Family – an extremely homophobic faith organization.

It has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight against marriage equality, advocated for dangerous ‘gay cure’ therapy, and fought against same-sex parents having adoption rights.

They are also one of the lead supporters of anti-trans bathroom bills.

And when she came out to friends and family, she was immediately rejected by her family and was excommunicated from her church.

‘My family and I were always close,’ she told Out Front magazine.

‘We did everything together… So this pressure, feeling like I had to filter everything I did and said to ultimately make them comfortable, was exhausting. I got to the point where I felt like, no matter the cost, I had to be authentic with myself.’

She said she was ‘very close’ to committing suicide, and this is part of why she decided to write a memoir.

‘All the devastation I went through, the loss, the grief… A lot of those memories are still tender.’

But is she still a Christian?

‘I’ll always be a person of faith and have a relationship with God,’ she told the Denver Post.

‘But it’s embarrassing to call yourself a Christian with the way that so many people are treating others in the name of God. I still identify as a Christian but very much more on the progressive side.’

Cantorna and wife Clara live in Denver, and is now working as a motivational speaker. She founded Beyond, a nonprofit helping LGBTI people of faith come out.

‘If someone had told me ten years ago that I’d one day be writing a book advocating for LGBTQ people in the church, I would have scoffed and said they were crazy,’ Cantorna writes in her book.

]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 15:05:28 +0000
EXCLUSIVE: Experts warn ‘real threat’ to increase of STIs]]>

Around 1,500 people are trying to get just 300 appointments at the most popular sexual health clinic for gay and bi men in the UK, after other clinics closed.

National Health Service hospitals have blamed government cutbacks for the closures of clinics around London. And experts say there may be further closures already happening across the UK.

Early testing, diagnosis and treatment are essential to stopping the tide of sexual diseases. So the clinic cuts could help HIV and other sex infections to spread.

Many gay and bi men turn to 56 Dean Street Express in London’s Soho for rapid HIV tests and basic sexual health screening.

Its website now states: ‘1,500 patients daily [are] trying to reserve approximately 300 time slots.

‘Our service is currently massively over-subscribed due to the closure of several other clinics in London.’

Dean Street Express

Government cuts to blame

Gay Star News can confirm at least three clinics closed as a direct result of government funding cuts.

These clinics include the Lloyd Clinic in Guy’s Hospital, Vauxhall Riverside Health Centre in Vauxhall and Artesian Health Centre in Bermondsey.

A spokesperson from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust told Gay Star News: ‘The amount of funding provided to councils has been significantly reduced.’

This means the number of centres where it provided sexual health services was slashed from six to three.

A further three clinics have either closed, had their services reduced or relocated. But GSN has not been able to link all of these changes to funding cuts.

There’s a ‘real threat’ of STI increases

Now experts are warning the cuts could lead to sexual infections rising in the UK capital. And gay and bi men are particularly at risk.

For the first time in seven years, the number of people diagnosed with gonorrhea dropped.

But experts warn this could increase again. As people fail to get tested and treated quickly, so are more likely to pass on infections.

Matthew Hodson, executive director of NAM Aidsmap, believes there’s ‘a real threat to the progress we’ve made.’

He told Gay Star News: ‘There’s a really significant drop that will only continue if we support people to be treated.

‘Any gains we have made could easily be lost.’

Ending HIV needs ongoing investment

Kat Smithson, director of policy and campaigns at the National AIDS Trust, warned GSN it could undermine progress on HIV. New infections have started to drop in the capital – thanks to PrEP, regular testing and swift treatment.

Smithson said: ‘We have it in our power to end new HIV infections in the UK.

‘But that needs ongoing investment and testing and treatment are crucial to that. Now is not the time to quit, just as we are getting ahead.’

Tom Hayes calls for people to test for HIV.

HIV advocate Tom Hayes

Ian Howley from Gay Men Fighting AIDS (GMFA) also agreed: ‘The recent closures of sexual health clinics could not come at a worse time.

56 Dean Street are reporting huge numbers of visitors coming to their website looking for appointments.

‘This is unacceptable.

‘When you make getting tested for HIV and STIs harder, this will only impact how we control [it] in the our community,’ he told GSN.

It’s not the only cut-back affecting HIV. The money spent on HIV prevention – including education – has fallen in London by 35% in 2015 to 2017, compared to 2014 to 2015.

Home testing coming

A new home-testing system is due to arrive to relieve some pressure on clinics. Under this, a test kit arrives at your home in a plain envelope. Once you complete the testing process, post it back and receive the results in two weeks.

However, this new system is delayed and won’t be available until early 2018.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: ‘Local authorities are best placed to understand local needs. [They] must ensure the provision of open access sexual health services in their area.

‘Over the current spending period, we are investing more than £16 billion to help them deliver the right services for their communities.

‘Sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, are continuing to fall,’ they said.

Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust, which manages 56 Dean Street Express, declined to comment.

Do you know of any clinics closing/closed across the UK? Contact us on the email address below:

]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 14:49:22 +0000
Watch 23-year-old’s cute cap and gown moment here]]>

Congratulations are in order for Tom Daley – he’s received an honorary masters in sport from The Plymouth Marjon University!

The Olympic diver revealed the news by posting a video of him throwing his cap in the air, along with the caption ‘GRADUATION DAY!’

An honorary degree and masters are given out by universities that have chosen to wave the usual requirements such as exams and dissertations.

Other celebrities to receive honorary doctorates from around the world include J. K. Rowling, Dolly Parton, Oraph Winfrey, Kanye West, Jon Bon Jovi, Orlando Bloom, Alec Baldwin, Dannii Minogue and Kermit the Frog, to name but a few.

It appears his Milk screenwriter husband Dustin Lance Black wasn’t present for today’s occasion. But the Oscar winner was quick to share his pride on social media.

‘Now you’re more educated than me’

The star said on Twitter: ‘Proud of you @TomDaley1994. Now you’re more educated than me.#SmartyPants’, to which Tom replied: ‘I’ll teach you,’ with a side eye emoji.

Tom, 23, won a Bronze medal for his diving in 2012. He has since fronted TV shows such as Splash and Tom Daley Goes Global.

The Plymouth-native married Dustin in a lavish Devonshire ceremony earlier this year.

Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black share pictures of their fairytale wedding

]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 13:18:24 +0000
Transitioning from male to female? Robert McCaffrey and Kimberley Bryon-Dodd look at the benefits of freezing your sperm in case you want to parent a biological child]]>

SPONSORED: If you are planning a gender transition and expect to undergo hormone therapy you will obviously have to ask yourself many tough questions. This is one of the biggest decisions that anyone will ever make.

One question you might ask yourself is whether you might want to have biological children in the future.

Perhaps you already have children and don’t want more, or perhaps children have never been part of your plan. But if that’s not the case – and biological children are an essential part of your future – then it is possible to preserve your fertility before you undergo gender reassignment.

Everyone’s circumstances and outcomes are unique but one way you can be sure you can still biologically conceive after your transition is to preserve your sperm prior to any treatment.

The technique of freezing sperm is well established and was introduced in the 1960s. It is the same method that is used to freeze sperm from donors in sperm banks like the London Sperm Bank.

Samples of sperm are mixed with a freezing medium that contains cryoprotectants and then frozen using liquid nitrogen. The samples are then labeled and stored safely until you wish to use them.

Time limits

Currently the permitted storage period is ten years so you will need to keep that in mind when thinking about when you might like to have children. If you decide to use your sperm in the future to have your own biological children it will be thawed and, depending on your situation, it can then be used for artificial insemination, IVF (in-vitro fertilization) or ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection).

To ensure your stored sperm is at the optimum level for a successful pregnancy, ideally you will begin your storage before undergoing hormone treatment.

If you are transitioning male-to-female and have already begun treatment, The London Women’s Clinic advises halting treatment for 90 days prior to freezing to give normal sperm production time to resume.

At The London Women’s Clinic we have been freezing gametes for the trans community since 1998. We are welcoming to all patients and sensitive to issues around fertility preservation, and will work with you to preserve your options for whatever may come in the future.

To find out more about fertility preservation contact London Women’s Clinic.

]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 13:08:03 +0000
‘Ain’t one sided, I’m open-minded, I’m fifty-fifty, never gonna hide it’ Rita sings]]>

Rita Ora has ‘clarified’ the meaning of Girls, her duet with Charli XCX detailing a girl-on-girl love affair.

In the first verse, Rita sings: ‘I ain’t one sided, I’m open-minded, I’m fifty-fifty and I’m never gonna hide it’

Meanwhile, in the chorus the pair sing: ‘Sometimes I just wanna kiss girls, girls girls, red wine, I just wanna kiss girls.’

‘Having that empowerment of sticking together, etcetera.’

Rita was this week profiled in The Guardian, during which she discussed the lyrics to what could well be Katy Perry’s I Kissed a Girl for 2017.

In the interview, which claims Girls will be released as a single, Rita said the song is about ‘having that empowerment of sticking together, etcetera.’

She furthermore added: ‘The song represents freedom of speech of being able to love whoever you love, no matter what colour, race, sex, size, and being able to celebrate each other as females.’

Elsewhere on the track Charli sings: ‘You know I tamed it, and then I named it. I put the lion in the cage and then I laid with her all night, her all night, yeah, I’m a hunter and she the pray, yeah.’

The pair have previously duetted on the UK top 10 hit Doing It. They performed Girls in May with singer Raye at Radio 1’s Big Weekend.

[embedded content]

‘But is it fulfilling for me?’

Elsewhere in the interview, the star also addresses her work outside of pop music. As an actress Rita has starred in the Fifty Shades of Grey movies. She’s also won endorsement deals for the likes of Adidas.

‘But is it fulfilling for me?’ the star said. ‘You know how people do jobs? People, everyday people, do jobs from nine to five that I don’t think they wished for when they were kids.

She also added: ‘I love everything I’ve done as a woman and as a businesswoman. But my whole life and passion and fulfilment in my heart has always been about my music.’

]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 11:32:48 +0000
Smoking is also added to the risk ]]>

Doctors are warning men who are performing oral sex on multiple partners run a higher risk of developing throat cancer.

Researchers have found smokers who were giving head to multiple partners are at most risk of cancer triggered by exposure to the human papilloma virus, or HPV.

It was found men who smoke and go down on a lot of guys and girls are at far more risk then women, non-smokers, and those who have less than five oral sex partners.

Around 0.7% of men will develop oropharyngeal cancer in their lifetime.

The virus that causes the cancer is far more common, with eight out of 10 people estimated to be infected with HPV at some point.

According to the New York Post, HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers are on the rise and by 2020 are expected to overtake cervical cancer, which affects nearly 13,000 women a year.

‘It would be useful to be able to identify healthy people who are most at risk of developing oropharyngeal cancer in order to inform potential screening strategies, if effective screening tests could be developed,’ said Amber D’Souza, one of the authors and a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

‘Most people perform oral sex in their lives, and we found that oral infection with cancer-causing HPV was rare among women, regardless of how many oral sex partners they had,’ D’Souza said.

‘Among men who did not smoke, cancer-causing oral HPV was rare among everyone who had less than five oral-sex partners, although the chances of having oral HPV infection did increase with number of oral sexual partners, and with smoking.’

]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 10:17:50 +0000
Holiday company Hoseasons looked again at its values and set out to make its customers and colleagues proud]]>

The day I stood up as an LGBTI ally was a personal and professional high point – and it has made a big difference to our business.

At Hoseasons, we sell holidays which are one of the most emotional purchases people make. So it’s critical they feel welcome and we help them find something perfect.

We’ve been doing that brilliantly for 70 years. But times have changed. And taking the first step on a diversity and inclusion journey has opened up new possibilities for us.

Anthony Reilly

Updating a loved 70-year-old brand

We started this journey in 2014 as a trusted, successful, family-focused business. But our brand was a bit old-fashioned.

We are the best at hot tubs and 70% of our business is lodge holidays. But we weren’t reaching key new markets for that kind of holiday.

So we asked ourselves how we could make all stakeholders – customers, trade, partners and employees – proud of Hoseasons?

We wanted to keep our values, but consider what they meant to us today. And we wanted to reach new and emerging markets and sustain long-term growth.

Our vision was to create ‘a better place to stay’. Holidays that welcome guests regardless of race or sexuality. A brand that celebrates the values we hold as a team. And a way to reach new guests and partners, who share our values.

Changing our image

As a sales and marketing person, I was keen to review all our marketing. We looked at our website, emails, the content we produce and our advertising, including the models we use.

It was all about white heterosexuals with 2.4 children. That didn’t reflect the UK or match our aspirations and values.

We had to be better.

That first year, we reviewed all our photography and models. Our new materials included more groups, more couples and – most importantly – more diversity.

Hoseasons wanted to reflect different kinds of families.

Our new visuals changed the face of Hoseasons and set the tone for everything that followed.

Next we started reaching out to vloggers. We wanted real people to try luxury lodges. And we wanted to open our arms to LGBTI guests.

The result was entertaining content that people could relate to, like this video from Our Swirl Life:

[embedded content]

Creating partnerships

We couldn’t do it all alone. So we started a media partnership with Gay Star News, including adverts, editorial, social, video and competitions.

We’ve created great content together. And we’ve learned more about how to engage LGBTI people. GSN has been flexible, so we can try new ideas as we learn more.

We are now making our site more relevant. So anyone who visits Hoseasons from GSN will be greeted by tailored LGBTI pages with useful content and appropriate images.

We also support Norwich Pride – it feels really right for our team to be part of that special day in our ‘home’ town.

Putting it into our core marketing plan

We want all our customers to see our marketing is diverse – whether they are LGBTI or not.

You’ll see diversity in our magazine ads, our brochures, our email and on our site. If you search for ‘LGBT Hoseasons’ online, you will find meaningful content.

Customers have really embraced our new campaigns. They’ve changed how our brand is perceived. Younger, more progressive audiences now see us as more modern.

Hoseasons leads the UK hot tub holiday market.


Hoseasons has seen record growth. And for the first time in our history, we are taking more couples and groups than families on holiday.

This year we have seen a 22% increase in web traffic from 18 to 34s.

And these new customers are booking. Nearly a quarter of our Autograph Luxury Lodge resorts have seen a sharp increase in the number of LGBTI couples in the last 12 months.

Can I statistically confirm all of this is down to embracing diversity? Not entirely. But I am sure diversity is feeding our long-term growth.

And our strategy is now gaining industry recognition. Hoseasons won the TTG LGBT-friendly Travel Company of the Year award for 2017. That has inspired our whole team to do even more.

Hoseasons colleagues

Our colleagues are excited and driven by what we are doing.

People can be themselves at work and more productive and more engaged.

Diversity has given us a new way to showcase the unique culture we have at Hoseasons. And that helps us recruit talent, particularly millennials, who care about our business values.

Hoseasons has always benefited from high levels of staff retention. Over 25% of our people have been with us for over 10 years. Now our inclusion strategy means people are confident they’ll be supported throughout their Hoseasons career.

We asked our colleagues about the culture in a survey. One replied: ‘It’s properly real – diversity is not forced. The world out there is the world in here.’

Our people are our most important asset. So if they can see that, it’s a huge endorsement.

Female couple relax on a hammock.

Couples are an important growing market for Hoseasons.

Integrating into the business

We’ve taken diversity and inclusion beyond marketing and made it core to our business.

We have an open dialogue with our employees to ensure they take it as seriously as we do.

The teams own this through our D&I council. They provide regular updates to the business on news, activity and events, and they spearhead our attendance at Norwich Pride.

Beyond the business we are very active in the local community, a known area of deprivation.

We speak about diversity at local events and chambers of commerce. And we support young people to gain skills and access work.

Allow yourself to make mistakes

For many marketers, there is a big fear of getting it wrong and getting backlash.

I worried about that, and so did every other ally I have spoken to. You will make mistakes, and so did we. But our audience allowed us to.

Business leaders need to take the pressure off of their marketing functions and allow them to experiment and innovate.

Take your work home

Since taking a stand at work, I have started to share my journey more with my children. It matters to me partly because of the world I want them to grow up in.

I want them to know I will always support them. And I want them to feel encouraged and empowered to be their true selves, knowing I’ll never judge them for doing that.

The journey I am on has made me a better manager and a better person. Diversity and inclusion have opened my eyes to the broader challenges in the UK. I’m more aware of the challenges that women still face in the workplace, the gender pay gap, stigma around mental health, racism and homophobia.

Gay family enjoying a meal on a Hoseasons lodge terrace.

Gay family on a Hoseasons holiday.

Becoming a champion

Business owners shouldn’t just care about diversity and inclusion. They must be active ambassadors of it. They need to champion their personal values, their business’ values and the cultural values of their workplace.

It’s our responsibility as national brand that takes over 1.5million customers on holiday every year to educate our existing customers and influence the next generation.

My dream now is to create a stronger travel industry for all of us. And I hope to share my experiences with other marketing teams to help them join us.

Read more

Prestigious TTG Travel Awards names LGBT-Friendly Travel Company of the Year

Taking the LGBTI market seriously pays off for leading holiday firm Hoseasons

Boating on The Broads: Let your stress float away on Britain’s most relaxing holiday

Anthony Reilly is sales and marketing director of Hoseasons.

]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 10:00:27 +0000
You’ll get the most compliments at the party if you turn up dressed as Aja and Valentina]]>

The biggest stress of the autumnal season is always what you’re going to wear for Halloween.

Thankfully, Twitter has got you covered.

The ‘couples costume idea’ meme is taking over and we love it.

Options vary from The Babadook and his bae Pennywise, to RuPaul drag queens Aja and Valentina who butted heads in the recent series of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Then there are the more simplistic ideas, like Michelle Visage and her cleavage.

With Halloween swiftly approached, take a look at these couple costume ideas and head immediately into town to prepare yourself for the spookiest day of the year.

1  Introducing LGBTI icons, The Babadook and Pennywise

2  What about Michelle Visage and her cleavage?

3  Everyone knows a gay who loves a Starbucks

4  Need we say anything?

5  Demi Lovato and a Grammy… Fingers crossed

6  An iconic return

7  Any occasion to give a shout out to Frank Ocean is a good occasion

8  Talk about a glow up

9  It?

10 Gemma Collins and that hole

11 It’s still too soon

12 There is no better pairing

13  This works for Halloween, right?

14 Are you ready to look perfect, beautiful and like Linda Evangelista?

15 There’s bad waxworks and then there’s bad waxworks

]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 00:00:41 +0000
Australian filmmaker Craig Boreham explains the inspiration for his dramatic coming-out story]]>

Teenage Kicks gives us the story of 17-year-old Miklós Varga – played by Miles Szanto, a compelling performance that has already been recognised by the Iris Prize 2017 for Best Performance in a Male Role.

Mik plans to escape his migrant family and run away with his best friend Dan, however these plans are thrown into turmoil by the accidental death of Mik’s older brother Tomi. It’s a volatile cocktail of guilt, grief, lust, desire, and drama.

[embedded content]

We spoke with filmmaker Craig Boreham for a behind-the-scenes look at the film:

What was your inspiration for this story?

Initially the story came from my experience working with young people. I was working in a youth refuge for homeless LGBTQ kids while I was a student. Not as youth worker, but more like a person in the house who could just help out with day to day household stuff, like making sure they had food and ragging on them about brushing their teeth, that sort of thing.

Most of them had found themselves on the street after coming out to their families, and I was really struck by the common links of their stories, and the guilt and grief about what had happened to them that they had been carrying – often without anyone to talk to about it.

My own experience of coming out hadn’t been so different, and my relationship with my family broke down for a while and I found myself out of home and dossing in squats as well. So it kind of triggered me to start writing this story of a young person carrying a huge secret.

I didn’t want to make a coming-out film because there are a lot of great ones already, but I was more interested in in the Q in LGBTQI – that maybe stands for queer or maybe questioning – but I was drawn to exploring that period of questioning that happens before we find out who we are or how we may identify.

That time in our lives is so dramatic and intense and we’re dealing with really complex emotions, often for the first time, and they can be world-shattering and confusing and the world can seem to turn on its head from day to day. So it’s a rich place to explore as a writer.

What was the production process like?

The writing process was the longest part of making Teenage Kicks. I wrote a first draft of the script quite quickly over a few weeks and it was really kind of a stream of consciousness creative vomit draft, and I left it on the shelf for a bit.

I looked at it again when my producer Annmaree Bell and I were invited to submit a short script idea for a production grant that was happening, and I adapted part of the story into what later became our short film Drowning. When the short did the festival circuit we had a lot of feedback from audiences who responded to the film well, and there was a feeling that there were people out there in the world who wanted to hear the bigger story, so I decided to go back and take a look at it again and revisit the characters the way I’d always imagined them.

I spent a good part of a year rewriting a new draft, and then we went straight into financing which took a good while.

The pre-production period was quite quick once we got rolling, and the shoot itself was over five weeks. We did spend quite a bit of time in post-production – mainly because the film was made on the smell of an oily rag and we were often working out of hours and around other jobs we were all doing to pay the rent, but on the upside it gave us more time to play with ideas and experiment in the edit suite and get the film to a place we were happy with.

Was it difficult to raise the funding required?

It’s tough in Australia to convince investors to take a chance on LGBT content. There’s a lot of fear around it being too niche, and that mainstream audiences won’t engage with it. So we spent a lot of time in limbo with traditional funding bodies being enthusiastic for the script but being cautious and never quite stepping up to green light it.

So eventually we just thought – fuck it, we’ll make it happen ourselves, and we ran a crowd-funding campaign to raise a substantial chunk of the budget, and used that momentum to find a few other investors who got us over the line.

The budget ended up being a lot smaller than we’d initially been aiming at, and it made us come at the project a lot more creatively to be able to pull it off and to make sure that the few resources we did have would end up on to the screen.

What was your casting process like?

Most of the cast were actors I’d worked with before, and I loved all of them and really wanted them from the start.

Miles Szanto had played the lead in the short Drowning, and we always new we wanted him back for the feature film. I hadn’t worked with Daniel Webber at that stage but I had seen him in a couple of short films that were amazing, so he came in to play with the role of Dan and it was clear to me straight off the bat that he completely got it and was going to take it in an interesting direction.

It was incredible really because both the lead boys were in different countries when we were gearing up for the shoot, and they only really came together about a week before we started shooting, and they just clicked and worked off each other beautifully.

A lot of the casting process was really about meeting up with the actors and just talking about the story world and seeing if it connected with them. I remember meeting up with Shari Sebbens – we planned to grab a quick coffee and ended up spending four hours just talking about grief and the loss of loved ones and really diving deep into what that does to you and the people around it.

What were some of the unexpected challenges you encountered making a feature-length film?

The biggest difference in making a short and making a feature is really all about the time it takes to make it, and the resources needed to sustain it. For me, the challenge was about mainly keeping the momentum happening over such a long period of time.

Our other main challenge was scheduling the whole mess to make sure we could get the cast we wanted all in the same place at the same time. It was touch-and-go for a while but we managed to pull it together, but we ended up shooting what is essentially a summer film in the middle of a pretty brutal Sydney winter. Which is tough at the best of times, but when you have a film where the actors are having to be on surfboards in the middle of the ocean or in swimming pools, and a lot of the time they are practically naked, it makes it extra challenging. But they were complete legends about it and got it done, even though I’m sure they wanted to stab me at the time.

What does the film say about the complexities of bromances between young guys?

That they can be really messed up and it happens a lot. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard – both while I was writing the script and now from audience members who have connected with the film – about past intense friendship that had become really blurry and confusing for them when they were figuring themselves out.

It’s such a common story and so many people have that one intense friend from their teenage times, but when that gets layered with a sexual attraction that may be misplaced it can lead to some equally messed up first sexual experiences.

So I was interested in that blurry place and especially the dangerous line that exists between curiosity and fear of exploration, and the tendency of some young men to fall in to a place of aggression or violence when faced with confusing or confronting emotional stuff.

What does the film say about the challenges faced by young gay men as they learn to navigate male friendships and sexual attraction?

I hope the film creates some perspective around that stuff and to acknowledge that it is something that happens. So much of how we navigate the world is informed by our stories and our cinema and TV, and LGBTQ people still don’t see our stories on screen a great deal. It’s getting better and we’re definitely seeing LGBTQ characters and stories more and more.

I love the way the film adds to the conversation of our experiences, and maybe lets people know that what they’re going through is not happening in a vacuum, and maybe it helps to navigate this complicated stuff in our lives – maybe someone in a movie can make some mistakes so we don’t have to.

As well as being a coming-of-age story, grief and the impact of loss plays a big part in this film. What drew you to that theme?

I heard this story from a cop talking about how perpetrators of crime came to terms with their guilt. He said that people who outright committed a violent crime with intent were often able to deal with the guilt of doing it more effectively than someone who’d been indirectly responsible or had accidentally caused something bad to happen. Those people were more likely to become tortured by it and see the world as impossible and arbitrary and not able to be controlled.

That really resonated with me, and so many young LGBTQ young people carry a lot guilt about themselves with them in their younger years. I wanted to bring those ideas together – our lead character Mik carries a terrible secret in that he feels very responsible for the death of his brother and it’s connected to him via his own sexuality. So in a way it gave the story a metaphor for the fear and guilt that young queer people can experience.

What sort of reaction have you had so far to the film?

It’s been wonderful to hear from people who love the film. I get a lot of emails and messages from people all over the world who’ve connected with the story. Younger audiences love that the story dives in to the turbulent stuff they’re going through and doesn’t pull any punches, but I’ve loved also hearing from older people who’ve been taken back to their own teenage years and reconnected with that one intense friendship they had at the time.

What do you hope that people feel when watching Teenage Kicks?

Right now back in Australia there’s a very ugly debate about marriage equality raging, and much of that debate is focussed on young LGBTQ kids – it’s brutal and alienating for a bunch of young people who are already dealing with a lot. So I hope the film helps them to feel a little less isolated, and for everyone else maybe it can give a bit of insight and build some empathy for what’s happening in their lives.

Mostly I hope people connect with the story and the characters and go along for the ride.

Teenage Kicks is distributed by Bounty Films.


To celebrate the release of Teenage Kicks, filmmaker Craig Boreham has made available on YouTube the original short film that was the precursor of Teenage Kicks.

Drowning stars Miles Szanto – who reprised his role in the feature film version, alongside Xavier Samuel, Tess Haubrich, and Bren Foster.

[embedded content]

Read more from Gareth Johnson

]]> Fri, 27 Oct 2017 00:00:38 +0000
Meet one of the contenders for Mr Leather Netherlands 2018]]>

Chris Vincent moved from Copenhagen to Amsterdam, changed careers, and began exploring the leather and fetish scene of his adopted city.

We caught up with Chris as he prepares to take things to the next level – competing in Mr Leather Netherlands 2018:

Why is a guy from Denmark entering Mr Leather Netherlands 2018?

There’s three main reasons – it’s because I want to try to:

  • Bridge the traditional leather scene to a younger, alternative scene, and make fetish in general more accessible and relatable to the next generation.
  • Be the kind of person I never had – an approachable person for anyone to ask all the difficult or curious questions about being gay, fetish, sex, and living with HIV.
  • Use my creativity to draw attention to key issues in the community.

Me being Danish hasn’t really got anything to do with those motivations, but I do hope that I can use this voyage to make fetish and kink more visible for people in Denmark.

Why did you move from Copenhagen to Amsterdam?

It was an accumulation of many things. After visiting Amsterdam for the first time in 2015, I instantly fell in love with the city and its vibe. All of a sudden I had something to compare Copenhagen to, and unfortunately it was painfully clear to me – I wasn’t happy, I felt alone, and I felt that my life and career weren’t really going anywhere.

Also, I was having doubts as to whether my chosen career was really the right path for me. I was single, I was working freelance, and I didn’t really have any plans for the future.

A few months later, I was sitting in a park late night, smoking a joint, and contemplating life. I just thought to myself: ‘Fuck it, I’m moving to Amsterdam.’ Three months later, I did.

Part of your move seems to have been a bit of an identity change – would you describe Vic Valentine as your alter-ego?

Originally, yes. Because of some insecurities, I felt the need to have a separation so it wasn’t too obvious that I was slowly coming out of my shell. But as anyone with an internet connection knows – what goes online, stays online.

I already knew and accepted at an early stage that when it comes to an alter-ego such as mine, it’s not a question of if anyone will ever find out, but when. Today, Vic is more of a formal separation that allows me to have a somewhat different approach in regards to the type of things I share.

What does Vic Valentine get to do, that Chris Vincent can’t?

As Vic, I can be more explicit – as simple as that.

The correlation between Chris and Vic is getting more and more intertwined, which I don’t really mind. I’m not bothered if people know – I just still like to have the option of separating my activities. For instance, I’m in talks with Noel Alejandro about doing a film with him – which would be as Vic.

I think another way of saying it is that I’m exploring art and eroticism – Chris and Vic approach this exploration from opposite sides of explicitness.

When did you first begin to explore your passion for leather, kink, and fetish gear?

About 18 months ago. I remember seeing a product video for a puppy-hood, and was more than intrigued. It created a chain reaction of curiosity that over time opened my eyes to many kinks and fetishes, including bondage, fisting, pup-play, rubber and – of course – leather.

In the early stages of this curiosity I still lived in Copenhagen, and because of it being all new and unknown, I had no idea who to share these thoughts and questions with. I felt alienated. I was afraid of being labeled as weird. In hindsight, those feelings were probably a bit ridiculous and I might have alienated myself more than necessary, but that was my perspective as a newbie.

Since I’ve left Copenhagen, I see more and more activity on the Danish fetish scene, which makes me happy. Visibility is key, especially to newcomers in fetish. I’ve had a steep learning curve here in Amsterdam. I’ve become much more fearless, I have never been this free in my life, and that feels fucking awesome.

What is it about fetish gear and kink that excites you?

Gear makes me feel sexy, powerful, quirky, horny, and silly – independently, or all at the same time. Bottom line is, I have fun with it.

In regards to kink, I can honestly say that it allows me to have mind-blowing sex – who wouldn’t want to have that?

What do the contestants in the Mr Leather Netherlands competition have to do in order to win the crown?

Although a crown would be cool, the winner actually gets a really awesome, heavy, leather sash.

Deciding the winner is a jury, who assess the contestants based on interviews, a performance, and public voting.

You’re working at the Mister B store in Amsterdam – doesn’t that give you a bit of an unfair advantage over the other competitors in this event?

I owe the store a lot in regards to my personal growth, learning a lot about the scene, fetish and kinks in general – literally every day since I started. It’s because of what I’ve learnt at Mister B that I had the courage to apply.

But the other competitors in the event are amazing guys who I respect very much, and they’ve all been established faces in the community long before I showed up with my silly mug. So I actually feel I have to work quite hard to convince people why a fresh little brat from Copenhagen can actually make a difference in the leather scene of Amsterdam.

What next for Chris Vincent? What next for Vic Valentine? Is it the same thing?

I was going to say ‘I wish I knew…’ but, for once, I feel perfectly happy not knowing what’s going to happen.

Follow Chris Vincent on Instagram

Follow Vic Valentine on Twitter

Chris Vincent (a.k.a. Vic Valentine). Photo: Jos Jacob

Read more from Gareth Johnson

]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 23:33:14 +0000
‘We’re not all from one group, but we’re all united’]]>

When 14 year-old Garrett McCann started getting bullied at school for being gay, he told his teachers. They told him to go to the principal, who sent out a letter to parents

Garrett’s classmates, however, wanted to go further.

On Monday (23 October) morning, over 200 students showed up to York High School in Maine at 6:30 am. They carried rainbow flags and posters of support for Garrett’s plight.

Several remained even after school started, vowing to stand up for all LGBTI students.

Garrett noted only five or six students bullied him and the support far outweighed them.

‘I mean I don’t even know some of these people, and here they are,’ he told Bangor Daily News on the day of the rally.

The video shows several of Garrett’s supporters singing Why Can’t We Be Friends.

Taking initiative

According to Garrett’s father, Tim McCann, the bullies made comments about his son on social media and various apps.

‘They called him “f*ggot” and some other crude stuff I am probably embarrassed to even say to you,’ he explained.

It’s inspiring to see students rally against discrimination like this.

Nate Davis, a student at York, said: ‘You see all walks of life from the high school out here right now. You’ve got football players, two of the captains, people from the drama club who never get involved in sports, all sorts of people.

‘When everyone gets together for one problem you can tell that problem is big enough that you need to address it soon. That’s what this is trying to show. We’re not all from one group, but we’re all united.’

York High School principal Karl Francis seems to agree.

Regarding the rally, he commented he’s ‘glad that they’re taking the initiative and action’.

‘I look forward to collaborating with them to build a strong and united school,’ he continued. ‘We clearly hear them.’

]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 22:57:45 +0000
Alla Nazimova created ‘sewing circles’ for lesbians in Classic Hollywood]]>

It’s LGBT History Month in the United States and it’s got me thinking about all the amazing queer figures that have come before. Hollywood loves their biopic movies — they’re usually great Oscar fodder, true stories are appealing, and it’s fun watching celebrities pretend to be historical figures.

There’s no point asking why there aren’t as many biopics of queer figures. We all know the answer and this is not the article to discuss Hollywood’s diversity problems.

This is the article to talk about one historical queer figure and why she should be the next subject of one of the great Hollywood biopics. After all, the times they are — well, hopefully — a-changin’.

We saw Moonlight win Best Picture earlier this year, and The Danish Girl earn multiple Oscar nods. While The Imitation Game perhaps could have explored Alan Turning’s sexuality more, it’s clear directors and writers aren’t completely averse to exploring more interesting stories.

So who’s this figure Hollywood needs to bring to the big screen?

The great Russian actress Alla Nazimova.

A quick snapshot

Alla Nazimova was born Adelaida Yakovlevna Leventon in Crimea in 1879.

She was the youngest of three, born from Jewish parents who divorced when she was 8. From there, she moved from boarding schools to foster homes to the homes of relatives.

As a teen, she joined the Moscow Art Theatre and it was there she used Alla Nazimova as her stage name for the first time.

During the first years of the 20th century, her fame grew across Europe. In 1905, she left for the United States and fame followed her.

She performed on Broadway to great acclaim, often appearing in plays by Ibsen and Chekhov. By 1916, she tried her hand at movies. This worked out less well for her. Though it started out well enough — leading to her producing and writing her own movies — she eventually left the film industry in 1925, returning to Broadway.

There is one thing the Oscars have proven time and time again — Hollywood loves rewarding nothing so much as itself. It’s part of why movies like The Artist, Argo, and La La Land, regardless of being great films or not, are showered with accolades.

(For the record, The Artist is one of my favorite movies, but it’s impossible to deny its indulgence.)

Therefore, the life of Nazimova is already ripe for success.

Alla Nazimova in Camille

Alla Nazimova in Camille

Lesbian parties abound

Nazimova openly pursued relationships with women. Two of her most notable lovers were Jean Acker and Natacha Rambova, the wives of Rudolph Valentino. (Well, historians are still out on the exact nature of Nazimova and Rambova’s relationship.)

She also coined the term ‘sewing circle’. The phrase indicated an underground community of lesbian and bisexual women in Classic Hollywood. Nazimova also frequently held ‘outlandish’ parties at her Sunset Boulevard mansion.

Perhaps one of the most interesting stories from her life, however, was her lavender marriage to British actor Charles Bryant. A lavender marriage is a heterosexual marriage in which one or both of the partners are homosexual or bisexual. The marriage, in essence, was to make them more socially acceptable in Hollywood.

The two co-existed from 1912 to 1925, until Bryant shocked everyone by marrying Marjorie Gilhooley, a woman twenty years his junior.

The realization that Nazimova and Bryant’s marriage was a sham dealt a severe blow to her career.

Just picture this

I even have some names to recommend for this project.

Amma Asante should direct the film for several reasons, the first being we need more female directors. She has experience with female-drive period pieces, including the stunning Belle and last year’s A United Kingdom.

As for who can play Nazimova, Hollywood could go the authentic route and cast a Russian or Eastern European performer like Yulia Snigir or Marina Aleksandrova.

For more recognizable names, Lizzy Caplan and Kristen Stewart would both be great picks.

There you go, Hollywood, you can thank me later.

]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 19:17:29 +0000
… Who find out their parents are supervillains]]>

On 21 November, a brand new Marvel series debuts on Hulu and it’s different like all the rest. It’s not one of Netflix’s gritty takes, nor is it the broadcast adaptations of Agents of SHIELD or the ill-received Inhumans.

And it’s entirely to do with the source material: Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona’s Runaways.

The premise is relatively simple: a group of teenagers discover they have powers and their parents belong to a supervillain organization known as the Pride.

It’s full of fun tropes and also plenty of diversity, which is clear from the new trailer.

There are six main Runaways: Alex Wilder, Nico Minoru, Karolina Dean, Gert Yorkes, Chase Stein, and Molly Hernandez. Oh, and a genetically engineered dinosaur named Old Lace with a telepathic connection to Gert.

Karolina, a teen trapped by her parents’ expectations, finds out she’s an alien over the course of the comic — and comes out.

It’s unclear if the series will follow Karolina’s exact comic plot, including falling for a Skrull named Xavin. However, the trailer does show her rainbow-colored cosmic appearance.

This is definitely going to be a series to keep an eye on.

Watch the Marvel Runaways trailer:

[embedded content]

]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 18:14:51 +0000
It’s on us]]>

Talk about an epic team-up. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Lady Gaga join forces in a new PSA for sexual assault survivors.

In 2014, Biden and former President Barack Obama created the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign. The main purpose of the movement is to end sexual assault on college campuses.

There is also a deeper purpose to fundamentally shift and re-think the way we think and talk about sexual assault.

Now Gaga is joining their forces, speaking up about intervening and encouraging survivors to seek support.

‘Lady Gaga has been the voice for people who have been forgotten, the people that have been abused,’ Biden says, introducing the singer. ‘It happened to her and she’s shown enormous courage. We want to make it real clear: It’s on us, it’s on everyone to intervene, to stop abuse when they see it.’

Gaga, sitting beside Biden, with her hands on his shoulder and arms, chimes in to remind everyone that men are victims too.

She continues: ‘I am a sexual assault survivor. I know the effects, the aftermath, the trauma ― psychological, physical, mental. It can be terrifying waking up every day feeling unsafe in your own body.’

Furthermore, this is hardly the first time Gaga’s used her voice to speak up about sexual assault.

In 2015, she released the song Till It Happens to You for the documentary The Hunting Ground. It won a Satellite Award and also earned an Academy Award nomination.

She also joined several other celebrities last year to express their support for Kesha.

Anyone can take the It’s On Us pledge at the website.

]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 15:33:34 +0000
Cobra Lightning: ‘I will always lend my voice on behalf of this community out into the world’]]>

A bisexual tattoo artist has created a piece dedicated to murdered trans women.

Cobra Lightning works at 9Mag Tattoo in Chicago, Illinois.

The studio is currently the focal point of a VH1 TV series, Black Ink Crew: Chicago.

The show documented the process of the tattoo, which in honor of all trans women who have lost their lives.

Human Rights Campaign reports 23 trans people have been murdered so far in 2017.

Cobra explained in an interview with Advocate, doing the tattoo was ‘more than just shooting a scene.’

The tattoo design is of woman’s face crying tears of blood and is said to represent the lives lost. There is tape over the woman’s mouth, which is to represent the silence around these horrible deaths.

‘It’s time for people to say enough is enough’

She told Advocate: ‘The guy who I gave the tattoo he wanted to convey through art an image of a group of people that are being murdered and the silence.

‘Filming that scene was truly emotional for me. Because I knew how much the LGBTQ community means to both of us.

‘It’s my hope that through that tattoo it shows that there are people out here who will be the voice for so many who feel that they don’t have the voice to speak up for themselves. I will never forget the people who have suffered and continue to suffer in silence.’

The tattoo artist then explained the tattoo was also a dedication to her adoptive brother who ‘took his own life because I don’t think he could go through his transformation in public.’

Cobra has worked in a gay community before and so has experienced first hand ‘the way people try to downgrade the community.’

She explained: ‘It’s time for people to say enough is enough with the discrimination on all levels. That includes our elected officials who are taking away the rights of LGBTQ people.’

Cobra explained when she came out as bisexual ‘it was a process.’

She continued: ‘I will always stand up for what is right and I will be at the forefront for the LGBTQ community. I will always lend my voice on behalf of this community out into the world.’

Watch the clip below.

]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 15:00:32 +0000
Celebrity Cruises offer a unique way for wine lovers to add a new dimension to their travels]]>

I love wine, but know very little about it. I tend to stick to the same small selection of wines that I’m familiar with at my local supermarket. So an opportunity to experience a wine trip with Celebrity Cruises on their Reflection ship seemed like the perfect way to indulge my passion for travel, as well as learn a thing or two about wine.

This was my first cruise experience ever, and I totally loved it! Check out my video report below:

As well as visiting some amazing destinations, and falling in love with the experience of seeing the world from a cruise ship, I also learnt quite a bit about wine.

Our on-board expert was Joe Fattorini – one of the presenters from The Wine Show.

Joe, a self-proclaimed ‘Wine Whisperer’, is a warm, enigmatic man with the most impressive well-spoken accent that you could imagine.

Never short of a fascinating story, he entertained with intimacy and often the odd naughty added detail. He took us on a trip through anecdotes relating to his time studying wine and the general richness of his past. Much akin to the wines sat before us in the beautifully-decorated Cellar Masters Wine Bar on board.

Joe began the tasting by asking me whether I liked coffee and whether I liked Diet Coke. He also asked whether I used a lot of salt on my food growing up – my answers providing him an insight into my palette.

‘You shouldn’t match the wine to the food, but to the palettes of the guests’

Joe advised there were two schools of thought on the matter of wine matching at dinner and he feels that – contrary to popular belief – you shouldn’t match the wine to the food, but to the palettes of the guests who are attending your soiree.

Addison with the Wine Show's Joe Fattorini

Addison with the Wine Show’s Joe Fattorini

We learned that people’s taste palettes can be organized into four categories. This includes the tolerant palette, which accounts for 2,000-3,000 taste buds. These people generally enjoy a harsher or drier wine.

There’s also the hypersensitive palette, accounting for 8,000 taste buds – the owners of hypersensitive palettes prefer sweeter flavors (and often more salt on their food).

I always used to laugh a bit when reading the exuberantly extravagant and downright over-the-top descriptions of wine on the back of a bottle. ‘Hints of’ this and ‘austere, flamboyant taste explosions’ of that. But Joe actually demystified this by informing us that the human taste palette can only really detect about two, sometimes three flavours at a time, meaning that when they list more than this, it’s all fables and fallacy.

We also were taught the method for grading wines – the B.L.I.C. system. Wines are rated out of three for their balance, whether they are fruity or dry; the length of time the taste remains on your palette; the intensity of the flavor; and the complexity, which relates to such things as the quality of grape and oak-based maturity that culminate within the flavor of each delicious drop of wine.

‘A liquid journey through the regions of Oregon and California’

He took us on a liquid journey through the regions of Oregon and California. Joe also made sure we were sampling local wines from France, Italy, and Spain which were among the destinations on our travels. Joe’s knowledge was flawless, with an entertaining style of delivery that defied boredom.

We sampled six gorgeous wines, three of each, from a drier and tangier Chenin Blanc white wine, through to a surprising, luxuriously buttery Chardonnay. There was the oak-barrell-soaked fruity sunshine of an aged Tempranillo red which was my favorite until it was usurped by the exquisite California Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Celebrity Reflection, docked in Villefrance.

The Celebrity Reflection, docked in Villefrance.

Next up, we were taken on a shore excursion to the stunning-beyond-compare, Le chȃteau de Crémat vineyard near Nice. Here we were treated to a tour of the grounds. It’s been in operation since 1902. It utilized an ancient Roman cellar for maturing the exclusive wine in large oak barrels.

The vineyard only produces 40,000 bottles each year. So to be regaled with three incredible wines to taste was a real treat.

We were given a short tour of nearby Nice. We also had a little spare time to explore the market and beach if we wished. Then, a sumptuous lunch at Le Grand Balcon, featuring, rather cleverly, the wines we had been sampling that morning.

We ate our three course meal, sipping on the beautiful wines. Meanwhile, we made friends with the interesting and diverse variety of people enjoying the excursion with us.

‘Champagne in hand, the sun teasing the horizon’

Setting off for Barcelona, where I was set to leave the ship the following morning, I was invited by the Captain to see the ship leave the port from the helipad. Champagne in hand, the sun teasing the horizon, I felt incredibly at peace with the world.

My last supper was to be had at Murano, one of the ship’s specialty restaurants. I’m a lover of good food and the venue, the chef, and menu did not disappoint.

Addison on the beach in Nice

Addison on the beach in Nice

For my first course, I had the smoked salmon and peekytoe crab parfait. This was layered with avocado and salmon caviar. It proved to be a rich seafood smash.

‘Lobster, flambeed in cognac right in front of us’

This course was followed by the restaurant’s titular Murano Lobster. It was flambeed in cognac right in front of us at the table. We waited patiently, hunger held at bay for the few minutes it took to cook. But the dish proved utterly worth the wait. Following this course, we enjoyed the cheese board (I believe I described the goats cheese as ‘like tasting clouds’). Plus, a small selection of tiny, delicious desserts.

As you would perhaps anticipate from such a venue, the service was impeccable across the board. Especially from our handsome and friendly dish of a waiter, Milan, serving us. It was also nice that they never once missed a trick when filling our wine up. This made for a delectably tipsy last night (and a not so pleasant next morning).

One thing that cannot be questioned is the incredibly warm, welcoming and helpful service on board the ship. The Celebrity Reflection, the wine tasting and events team, along with the utterly delightful crew are everything you would expect from a luxury liner and yet, so much more.

Addison White travelled on the Reflection cruise courtesy of Celebrity Cruises. Celebrity Cruises welcomes LGBTI travelers aboard all of its ships. As a headline sponsor of Miami Beach Pride and a strong supporter of the LGBTI community around the world, Celebrity Cruises are experts in offering guests outstanding service, impeccable attention to detail, and making all guests feel welcome.

]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 15:00:31 +0000
‘Genders are like the twin towers. There used to be two of them but now it’s a really sensitive subject.’]]>

Daily Mail believes there is such thing as a transgender fish.

David Attenborough narrates the popular nature documentary series, Blue Planet.

Blue Planet II begins airing this weekend (29 October).

The documentary has captured previously unseen footage of the Asian Sheepshead Wrasse changing gender.

The Daily Mail has reported the fish as being ‘transgender’ and say there are other species of ‘transgender fish.’

They say the fish can ‘unexpectedly switch gender.’

Sequential hermaphroditism is the scientific term for what happened.

It refers to when a fish, slug, snail or plant changes sex at some point during its life.

There are a few reasons as to why an animal may change sex.

Reproductive success and continued survival are the main reasons.

It can also happen due to environmental factors or chemical triggers but scientists do not yet fully understand this.

People have had some interesting reactions

Daily Mail causing controversy

The Daily Mail often publishes controversial headlines regarding the LGBTI community.

This summer, the UK’s largest trans children’s charity Mermaids found itself in the firing line following a Daily Mail headline.

Daily Mail wrote in August: ‘How 800 children as young as 10 have been given sex change drugs.’

The headline resulted in Mermaids being targeted with hate comments, and having to block 20 profiles a day.

Daily Mail caused controversy again in October after outing a young gay Conservative.

The article showed pictures of young Conservatives on a night out after the Conservative Party conference.

The unnamed 19-year-old explained: ‘At the moment I’m living in fear, I don’t feel like I can even leave the house because of what people might say.’

]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 14:55:55 +0000
Daryll Rowe also had rough sex to increase the chances of spread]]>

A gay man stands accused of deliberately infecting at least 10 lovers with HIV, by ripping holes in the condom.

A court heard one testimony from a lover who claims Daryll Rowe, 26, a hairdresser from Edinburgh, also sent a message confessing he’s ‘riddled’ with HIV after having rough sex.

The 22-year-old student, who cannot be named, gave a video testimony in court. He said he met Rowe on a dating app in January 2016.

The man told the court: ‘I remember not really enjoying it.

‘There were moments when I was like, I want to get up and go.

‘Afterwards I went to the toilet and the condom was on the sink and I noticed that it… was completely broken. Like the whole top of it was off,’ he testified.

Darryll Rowe

The man approached Rowe to ask about his HIV status.

In response, Rowe eventually allegedly said: ‘Yes, I’m riddled by the way.’

He then blocked the 22-year-old’s mobile number.

The man also testified to receiving anti-viral drugs to prevent contracting HIV, as well as treatment for genital herpes.

Rowe denies infecting five men with the virus and attempting to infect a further five men.

Rough sex to increase chance of infection, court hears

As well as cutting holes in condoms, Rowe also stands accused of deliberately having rough sex with lovers. Rough sex can make tears in the rectum, which increase the chances of passing HIV onto someone else.

In the early stages of the trial, another man said Rowe pressured him into having rough bareback sex.

The alleged victim told the court about a time they had bareback sex outdoors: ‘He was huffing and puffing and saying “you need to do it if we’re going to be together”.’

He added: ‘I felt like we had to do it. So we did.’

Darryll Rowe

The jury was told the unprotected sex was interrupted by a passing cyclist.

After, Rowe was hoping they’d continue, but the alleged victim stopped him.

Rowe also texted one of his alleged victims: ‘Maybe you have the fever cos I came inside you and I have HIV, lol. Whoops!

The court heard Rowe called one of his victims and laughed as he revealed his positive status.

He allegedly said: ‘I ripped the condom. You’re so stupid, you didn’t even know.’

Police claim Daryll Rowe ‘lied’ about being HIV positive

After two people initially came forward, police arrested Rowe. But he denied being HIV positive and claimed someone was framing him.

He skipped bail and this led to a nationwide manhunt.

But during the initial interrogation process, Rowe was asked if he had HIV and he replied: ‘No.’ He then claimed to have been tested six months before the interview and was clear at the time.

Rowe claimed a man named ‘Ian’ sent him ‘mean messages.’

He told police at the time: ‘He sends big long messages and sometimes I just block him.

‘He’s about 30, he’s not young. We first started talking on Tinder.

The men met on Grindr


‘He’s seen me on Grindr. Every time I download it, he messages me,’ Rowe said.

Then in a later interview with the police, Rowe said: ‘If these allegations are being made, this is either a big dramatic lie or what if they are just trying to single me out because gay people can be very horrible?

‘This is one of the reasons why I left Edinburgh because gay people can be very horrible up there,’ he said.

The trial continues.

]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 11:59:55 +0000
Tony Briffa: Growing up, I was castrated and treated ‘like a freak’]]>

Intersex people are very diverse. Like the rest of society, some of us are lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans. But most of us are straight.

Most of us never experienced any gender confusion and are happy in the sex we’re raised. But many intersex people don’t learn they’re intersex until they reach adolescence. Only a small portion of intersex people are born with any obvious genital variations.

In my case I was born with a mostly female body but with internal testes and the typical male chromosome pattern. I was raised as a girl which I was mostly ok with.

Unfortunately, the doctors treating me at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne decided to reinforce the sex I was being raised through any surgical and hormonal means possible. This meant removing my healthy testes – and any chance of being a biological parent – when I was seven.

They also subjected me to many repeated genital examinations treating me like a freak.

This mistreatment had a huge negative impact on me that still impacts me today.

‘I felt like a freak’

Like many other intersex people, these repeated unnecessary examinations (often witnessed by many other doctors and students) made me feel ashamed of my body to the point of feeling like a freak and not worthy of relationships.

I felt very alone in the world.

The doctors controlled every aspect of my life in order to make me as stereotypically female as possible.

Intersex Awareness Day

Intersex Awareness Day

In addition to castration, they started me on female hormones when I was 11.

The commencement of the hormone treatment was calculated so that I would be as tall as my mother; an acceptable height for a woman. They calculated my natural height as an adult would be too tall for a woman, so my body was made to be only 5’2” tall instead of the 5’10” predicted.

Despite feeling so negatively about my body and self-worth, I have managed to have great relationships with wonderful people and a satisfying career.

I was previously in a long-term relationship with an awesome man with whom I fostered and raised several children, and am now married to a woman although my marriage to her is not yet legally recognised in Australia.

Tony Briffa

My career has been varied, exciting and humbling.

I have held positions with the Department of Defence and Australian Federal Police, have worked for an airline, and am now working in a company that does lots of work for airlines across the globe.

Work has resulted in me working in many disadvantaged countries and experiencing a variety of cultures. This has helped form who I am.

‘I am the world’s first openly intersex person elected to public office’

I was elected to the Hobsons Bay City Council in 2008, 2012 and 2016 as a Councillor, elected as Deputy Mayor in 2009 and 2010 and elected as Mayor in 2011.

Being openly intersex as a public official has some challenges but for the most part, the community are very accepting of me. Even if they don’t understand it fully and perhaps wonder whether I am female or male.

In my case, they are right either way.

Being openly intersex also impacts on my career but thankfully all my work colleagues have been very supportive and inclusive.

I am now 47 years old and am in a comfortable place in my life. I have a better appreciation of the way I was born, what was done to me without my consent, and who I am as a person.

Nature made me biologically mostly female but with male sex characteristics too. There is nothing wrong with that or anything to be ashamed of.

That is who and what I am.

Tony Briffa

Most intersex people are female or male. For me, I accept my sex is mostly female but with a twist of male as well.

If anyone should feel ashamed it’s the doctors that mistreated and abused me as a child, and those that still mistreat and abuse intersex children today.

Even today the Royal Children’s Hospital reduce the size of intersex girls’ clitorises without their consent and without any medical need.

Sex and gender are different

Sex is about biology and gender is about identity. Like most people, my gender is consistent with my sex.

I am very comfortable in women only places, and am also comfortable in men only spaces. Thankfully society is gradually getting more accustomed to people who do not fit old-fashioned stereotypes of what women and men should look like and how they should behave!

Hopefully in the near future, society will be more aware of intersex variations and people born with them. It’s wrong for doctors to medicalize us and conduct normalizing intervention without our consent.

Our bodies will be as accepted as beautiful natural variations of human kind.

Tony Briffa is a Co-executive Director of Organisation Intersex International (OII) Australia and Vice-President of the AIS Support Group Australia

]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 11:55:03 +0000
Read our exclusive interview with Hanne Gaby Odiele: ‘What’s not broken doesn’t need fixing’]]>

Top model Hanne Gaby Odiele believes intersex people are the ‘missing link’ the LGBTI community needs.

The Belgian model, who has walked the runway for Chanel, DKNY and Prada, has said ‘sex is a spectrum’, much like gender and orientation.

In an exclusive interview with Gay Star News, the Vogue star is speaking out for Intersex Awareness Day.

Odiele was born with androgen insensitivity syndrome. Her doctors told her at the age of 10 if she did not have the testes surgically removed, she ‘might develop cancer’ and ‘not develop as a normal female girl’.

So she had the surgery, and at 18, underwent vaginal reconstructive surgery.

Odiele came out in January this year, with the help of interACT.

‘The past few months has been truly amazing and also very healing for me as well,’ she said.

‘Comparing to many great examples we’ve seen in the trans community I think visibility is super important. Intersex is not the problem.

‘Too often intersex people are forced into unfair binary standards. I think intersex proves sex, gender and sexuality is on a spectrum.

Intersex model Hanne Gaby Odiele: ‘What’s not broken doesn’t need fixing’

She added: ‘We’ve been told to be ashamed of our bodies for a long time, there’s something wrong with us.

‘I’m very happy being intersex and I wouldn’t want to change it for anything else.

‘I do think we have an urgent need for intersex children to decide for themselves, and we need a law protecting us from harmful invasive unnecessary surgeries.

‘I think visibility is super helpful not just for the 1.7% of people around the world, but also for their parents, peers and their partners.

‘What’s not broken doesn’t need fixing.’

GSN: How has coming out been?

Hanne: I haven’t faced discrimination. I feel like my story is confusing to people at first for them to understand.

I’m lucky I live in New York City and I work in the fashion industry which is an open-minded world. It was easy for me to come out because of that.

What has dating been like?

I married my wonderful husband last summer. It’s difficult for a lot of intersex people because they feel like they need to be ashamed of their bodies or there’s something wrong with their bodies.

There’s a lot of trauma because of the surgeries that have been happening. It’s difficult but I do think if you can find an understanding partner, the right person, it’s totally possible. A lot of people are scared but I’m very lucky.

Was it difficult to tell guys before you met your husband you are intersex?

It was very difficult in the beginning. But my partner has been nothing but patient. We’ve been together for 10 years. I could be open with him in the beginning.

Before I could never really tell anybody, I couldn’t be honest with them. Whenever the relationship went a bit further, I almost sabotaged it.

But if you find the right person the person will accept it too.

A lot of trauma happens because of surgeries and that will put strain on relationships and on sex.

Sex and sexuality is not just being able to fit a penis in a vagina or whatever. Too often those surgeries are based on heterosexual norm of having sex, saying “Oh you won’t be able to have normal penetration we need to change this.”

Do you feel you were traumatized from the surgeries?

Yes I feel like I’ve been. I wasn’t able to consent to the situation. The surgeries were medically unnecessary.

I have the consequences for the rest of my life because of it. I have androgen insensitivty syndrome which means I was born with internal undescended testicles.

But they were producing my hormones, the testosterone, and those hormones were transformed into estrogen. I would look completely the same today if I still had them.

‘You can’t just fuck up people’s genitals. It’s fucked up.’

But when doctors decided at age 10 to take them out, I had to be put on hormone therapy for life. It’s like a piece of my body is missing and it’s never going to be the same.

It shouldn’t be happening. It’s cruel. You shouldn’t go around mutilating genitals. You can’t just fuck up people’s genitals. It’s fucked up. You hear stories of girls having their clits cut off. It’s barbaric.

It’s awful. If it’s happening as a baby or as a kid, you can’t give informed consent about that.

Parents aren’t informed enough. Parents should be told they have a healthy child and it’s fine. They can decide for themselves when they’re older and nothing has to happen. Most cases of intersex there’s no medically necessary surgery. It needs to stop.

It does need to stop. How can LGBT people be better allies to intersex people?

It’s about understanding what it is. Intersex proves so many things like how sex is on a spectrum. Sexuality, gender, everything is on a spectrum. It’s like a little bit of a missing link towards acceptance. Even conservatives understand intersex because it’s literally nature, it’s black and white.

I agree with you. There are so many religions that are so binary in their treatment of gender and gendered roles.

We prove sex is a spectrum. It’s all on a spectrum. I hope the LGBT community can see that. The LGBT community has paved the way and breaking so many boundaries. But still, intersex people are not protected in the vast majority in the world. There’s only one country in the world that has it – Malta.

What are other common intersex experiences?

Everyone has a different experience but we all have a shared history. We all felt out of the box and we all felt the same experience of being outside. I can’t speak for anyone else.

What are some misconceptions about intersex people?

A lot of people have an issue with the word hermaphrodite, mainly because it’s not relevant to a lot of intersex people. I don’t really have an issue with any word as long as it’s accurate. You probably shouldn’t use hermaphrodite because it’s misleading. It’s like saying I could reproduce myself but I definitely can’t! It’s not really the word that’s important but it’s our rights.

Is there anything else you’d want people to know about being an intersex person?

It’s pretty awesome! I’ve met amazing people because of it. I wouldn’t want to be anything else. We need to be protected so we can be our authentic best selves.

Read more

Here are the 7 biggest intersex myths busted

]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 11:44:42 +0000
Pose will feature five trans actors in series regular roles]]>

A new Ryan Murphy show will feature the highest number of trans series regulars ever for a scripted show.

The five actors playing regular roles are: MJ Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Hailie Sahar, and Angelica Ross.

They will all be playing trans characters.

MJ Rodriguez will play a character called Blanca, and has previously appeared in Nurse Jackie, The Carrie Diaries and Luke Cage.

Hailie Sahar will play Lulu and has also played roles in Mr. Robot and Transparent.

It took a six-month nationwide search to find the cast.

Also due to appear on the show are: Ryan Jamaal Swain, Billy Porter and Dyllon Burnside.

Murphy created the show with Brad Falchuk and Steven Canals.

Falchuk and Murphy have previously worked together on the likes of Nip/Tuck and American Horror Story.

Trans activist Silas Howard will serve as co-executive producer on the show.

Canals involved Our Lady J and Janet Mock in the script writing process.

80’s ball culture in New York City

He said: ‘We are thrilled that POSE pushes the narrative forward by centering on the unique and under-told experiences of trans women and gay people of color,

‘Ryan has assembled a strong team of storytellers and innovators to collaborate on telling this important narrative. As a Bronx-bred queer writer of color, I’m honored to aid in ushering this groundbreaking show into homes.’

FX will begin filming the pilot episode for Pose in November.

The show is ‘a period piece set in the mid-’80s in New York City, examining the juxtaposition of several segments of life and society in Manhattan: the emergence of the luxury Trump-era universe, the ball culture world, and downtown social and literary scene.’

Michael Roberson and Twiggy Picci Garçon will be serving as consultants to the series as it look at ball culture.

Leiomy Maldonado and Danielle Polanco will be responsible for choreographing the ball scenes.

Polanco has choreographed previously for legends such as Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.

]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 11:09:08 +0000
Qantas chief says companies have duty to push gay equality as he tops list]]>

A champion of marriage equality in Australia and a professor fighting gay ‘cure’ therapy have topped lists of LGBTI executives.

Openly gay Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has supported the Yes campaign as Australia holds a postal survey on marriage equality. He leads the top 100 LGBTI business executives list.

Joyce said: ‘World leaders and companies have a responsibility to ensure everyone feels they can bring their whole self to work. This will only be possible if people continue to drive LGBT+ inclusion and push for policy change.’

Meanwhile Dinesh Bhugra, President of World Psychiatric Association, heads the list of the top 20 LGBTIs in the public and charity sectors.

His organization has called out people carrying out so-called ‘conversion therapy’ to cure people of being gay and lesbian. Experts worldwide agree this therapy never works and is unethical and dangerous.

Bhugra said: ‘Research has shown that LGBT+ individuals have increased rates of psychological disorders. When the laws around being LGBT+ change, these rates go down. This is no coincidence.’

Trans champion making change

Stuart Barette, who works at HSBC bank, tops the list of 50 future LGBTI business leaders. He is one of the top trans people included in the lists.

Barette said: ‘There are not enough visible trans role models in business, and this is especially the case amongst trans men.

‘I have Asperger Syndrome, a form of high functioning autism, so for me, intersectionality is also important.’

He hopes his inclusion sends a message: ‘Being trans or having a disability is not a barrier to career progression or being able to affect positive change in the world.’

Manchester United enters ally premiership

With football struggling to be more LGBTI inclusive, there’s an interesting ally listed.

Richard Arnold, managing director of Manchester United, is included in the top 50 business allies of the LGBTI community.

Arnold said: ‘To receive this recognition is something of which I’m immensely proud for the whole club.

‘We have dedicated members of staff working on equality issues throughout the organisation and it’s an area which we continue to develop – ensuring we are at the forefront in our thinking and inclusion programmes.’

LGBTI professional membership organization, OUTstanding, created the lists. You can read them in full here.

Top 50 LGBTI executives

1 Alan Joyce, Qantas
2 Stacey Friedman, JP Morgan Chase
3 Jim Fitterling, DowDuPont
4 Gigi Chao, Cheuk Nang (Holdings) Limited
5 Dr Vivienne Ming, Socos LLC
6 Inga Beale, Lloyd’s of London
7 Martine Rothblatt, United Therapeutics Corporation
8 Jan Siegmund, ADP
9 Siobhan Martin, Mercer
10 David Hynam Bupa UK
11 Louis Vega, DowDuPont
12 Michael Salter-Church, Open Reach
13 Daniel Gerring, Travers Smith
14 Peter Arvai, Prezi
15 Stephen Clarke, WH Smith
16 Josh Graff, LinkedIn
17 Philip O’Ferrall, Viacom
18 David Furnish, Rocket Entertainment
19 Christopher Bailey, Burberry
20 Sander van’t Noordende, Accenture
21 Stephen Day, Burson Marstellar
22 Brian Bickell, Shaftesbury
23 Margot Slattery, Sodexo
24 Geoff Godwin, AIG
25 Bethmara Kessler, Campbell Soup Company
26 Cliff Hopkins, Instagram
27 David Isaac, Pinsent Masons LLP
28 Ken Janssens, JP Morgan
29 Jim Ford, Allen & Overy
30 Robert Hanson, John Hardy
31 Alex Schultz, Facebook
32 Daisy Reeves, Berwin Leighton Paisner
33 Amanda McKay, Balfour Beatty
34 Dan Fitz, BT
35 Tudor Havriliuc, Facebook
36 Elliot Vaughn, The Boston Consulting Group
37 Deborah Sherry, GE Digital
38 Angela Darlington, Aviva
39 Mark Anderson, Virgin Atlantic
40 Ali Berryman, Barclays
41 Suresh Raj, Zeno Group
42 Ben Foat, Post Office
43 Lawrence Spicer, RBC
44 Alan Mason, Blackrock
45 Bob Annibale, Citi
46 Cynthia Fortlage, GHY International
47 Deian Rhys, Simmons & Simmons
48 Iain Anderson, Cicero Group
49 Gerry Stone, Bank of America
50 John Clifford, McMillan LLP

LGBTI executives, 51 to 100

51 Antonia Belcher, MHBC LLP
52 Jon Miller, Brunswick Group
53 Justin D’Agostino, Herbert Smith Freehills
54 Moriaki Kida, EY
55 Sally Susman, Pfizer
56 James Miller, GB Group Plc
57 David Levine, Disney
58 Marion McDonald, Ogilvy
59 David Shelley, Hachette UK
60 John Basnage, Hogan Lovells
61 Kevin Jenkins, Visa
62 Marianne Roling, Microsoft
63 Cynthia Armine-Klein, First Data
64 Dan Perlet, Amazon
65 Nicci Take, M62 Vincis
66 Steve Wardlaw, Emerald Life
67 Liesbeth Botha, PwC
68 Simon Altham, Wyndham Vacation Rentals
69 Mark Bonham, Bonham & Co
70 Shachar Grembek, Reps AI
71 Pips Bunce, Credit Suisse
72 Matt Scarff, ITV
73 Tim Ehinger, American Express
74 Kevin Goodman, Babcock International
75 Steven Chan, State Street
76 Tim Millward, ExtraStaff
77 Wesley Bizzell, Altria
78 Adam Rowse, Barclays
79 Dario Parente, BNY Mellon
80 Masa Yanagisawa, Deutsche Bank
81 Emma Cusdin, Aviva
82 Hayley Sudbury, WERKIN
83 Jeffrey Krogh, BNP Paribas
84 Michael Sosso, BP
85 Narind Singh, Clifford Chance
86 Debra Wilfong, BP
87 Nicholas Collins, Telstra
88 James Frost, Gay Times
89 Darren Styles, Stream Publishing Ltd
90 Simon Linares, Direct Line Group
91 Christy O’Gaughan, Roche
92 Abby Fiorella, Mastercard
93 Martin Stead, Nutmeg
94 Amy Borsetti, LinkedIn
95 Pedro Frade, HSBC
96 Greg Lowe, Aon
97 Kimberley Bird, Lloyd’s Banking Group
98 Jorge Pikunic, Centrica
99 Richard Beaven, Swinton
100 Daniel Winterfeldt, Reed Smith

Ally executives

1 Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup Company
2 Jose Berenguer, JP Morgan
3 Paul Polman , Unilever
4 Andrew Liveris, DowDuPont
5 Jean-Laurent Bonnafe, BNP Paribas
6 Cathy Bessant, Bank of America
7 Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
8 Rekha Menon, Accenture
9 Sue Fox, M&S Bank
10 Mark Wilson, Aviva
11 Chris Grigg, British Land
12 James Harris, Mott MacDonald
13 Rhian-Mari Thomas, Barclays
14 Peter Grauer, Bloomberg LLP
15 Patrick Vallance, GSK
16 James Forese, Citi
17 Howard Ungerleider, DowDuPont
18 Michael Cole-Fontayn, BNY Mellon
19 Richard Arnold, Manchester United
20 Mitchell Harris, BNY Mellon
21 Greg Case, Aon
22 Jennifer Rademaker, Mastercard
23 Anne Sheehan, Vodafone
24 Hannah Grove, State Street
25 Philip Clement, Aon
26 Mark McCombe, BlackRock
27 Anna Cross, Barclays
28 Danny Harmer, Metro Bank
29 Jim Herbert, Aon
30 Sarah Morris, Aviva
31 Kim Newell Chabator, State Street
32 Peter Harrison, Schroders
33 Kent Wasson, Goldman Sachs
34 Paul Geddes, Direct Line Group
35 Matt Elliott, Virgin Money
36 Sharon Thorne, Deloitte
37 Neta Feller, Natural Intelligence
38 Eileen Taylor, Deutsche Bank
39 Mike Gamson, LinkedIn
40 Heidi McCormack, Emerald Life
41 Dan Klein, Microsoft
42 Jenny Dearborn, SAP
43 Tommy Stadlen, Polaroid Swing
44 Allan Wardrop, Hogan Lovells
45 Karin Cook, Lloyd’s Banking Group
46 Richard Kirkman, Veolia
47 Kevin Martin, HSBC
48 Ollie Roberts, AB InBev
49 Wendy Murphy, LinkedIn
50 Susan Allen, Santander

Future leaders

1 Stuart Barette, HSBC
2 Phoebe Bloomfield, Aviva Investors
3 Robert Ronneberger, BlackRock
4 Sayid Abdullaev, Google
5 Anthony Shop, Social Driver
6 Jose Alberto Pino Andrade, DowDuPont
7 Krishna Omkar, Slaughter and May
8 Daniel Ricard, PwC
9 Anjeli Patel, EY
10 Peter Foley, Mercer
11 Darren Beaumont, Deutsche Bank
12 Nicholas Deakin, Citi
13 Daniel Koh, BP
14 Ramkrishna Sinha, Intel
15 Billy Kamberis, Barclays
16 Harjit Saggu, Deutsche Bank
17 Brendan Walls, LinkedIn
18 Herman Duarte HDuarte-LEX, Fundacion Igualitos
19 Asako Kawamura, EY
20 Lauren Peel, Aviva
21 Cory Valente, DowDuPont
22 Dane Renner, Woodside Energy
23 Joao D Bevilacqua, LinkedIn
24 Daniel Docherty, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
25 Jonathan Andrews, Reed Smith
26 Ben Cawley, Standard Chartered
27 Jonni Learoyd, Edelman, Channel 4
28 Paul Macey British Land
29 Christina Riley, Balfour Beatty
30 Filipe Roloff, SAP
31 Isabella Bardswell, IBM
32 Samantha Jayne Nelson, Marsh
33 Jason Sloan, GSK
34 Mark Darby, Salesforce
35 Amanda Walker, JP Morgan Chase
36 Tuvia Borok, Goldman Sachs
37 Celine Tan, HSBC
38 Sharon Slinger, Carillion
39 Danielle Piergallini, American Airlines
40 Cortland Russell, Accenture
41 Joanna Walker, Virgin Money
42 Andrew Porter, Diageo
43 Joanne Legge, BP
44 Dominic Moore, Barclays
45 Adir Ron, Microsoft
46 Josh Rivers, Gay Times
47 Filipe Mota da Silva, Tata
48 Jeremy Seeff, Epstein Rosenblum Maoz
49 Alice Delahunt, Burberry
50 Marion Bentata, State Street

Public sector LGBTI executives

1 Dinesh Bhugra, World Psychiatric Association
2 Maura Healey, Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
3 Lee Marshall, Church of England
4 Antonio Zappulla, Thomson Reuters Foundation
5 Professor Gill Valentine, University of Sheffield
6 Tammy Smith, US Military
7 Carole Anderson, Golden Jubilee National Hospital
8 Alan Gemmell, British Council
9 Martin Shanahan, IDA Ireland
10 Craig Beaumont, Federation of Small Businesses
11 Ken Batty, East London Healthcare Trust
12 Aziz Rashid, BBC
13 Malcolm Press, MMU
14 Neil Bentley, Worldskills
15 Rob Salter-Church, Ofgem
16 Polly Shute, Together for Short Lives
17 Tony Lloyd, ADHD Foundation
18 Eric Shaw, Washington DC Office of Planning
19 Carolyn Regan, West London Mental Health Trust
20 Neil Buckley, Legal Services Board

]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 10:15:01 +0000
Almost a third expect to be single ]]>

Over two thirds of people living with HIV (PLWHIV) in the UK are too scared to reveal their status to potential partners, according to a shocking new survey.

The ‘HIV is: Expectations from Life’ survey found 68% of PLWHIV said a fear of disclosing their status has impacted their decision to go on dates.

Conducted by Gilead, the survey shows an overall increased fear in people living with HIV over people who aren’t.

It surveyed people in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy and found stigma is the worst in the UK.

In fact, more than two fifths (44%) of PLWHIV in the UK say stigma is a barrier to a long-term relationship/marriage.

This is compared to 25% in Germany, 28% in France, 17% in Spain, 12% in Italy.

A HIV diagnosis can still have a great impact on mental health

Surprisingly, 31% of people living with HIV expect to be single. This is compared with no one expecting to be single living without HIV.

This is because they’re uncertain about longterm health and being unable to commit.

People living with HIV expect less

The survey results show a clear perceived stigma against people with HIV, despite advancements in treatment.

Chris Woolls, Director of Cara Trust said: ‘With advances in treatment, the possibility to lead a long and healthy life with HIV is more real than ever before, yet the expectations don’t always meet this reality.

‘Each and every person living with HIV should be receiving the best care available to them, based on their needs and preferences, and not let misconceptions about HIV stop them from leading the life they want,’ he said.

Stigma still exists around HIV

The survey interviewed 3,245 adults with and without HIV.

It also found people living with HIV expect to live shorter than people without.

General life is also impacted. 28% of men who have sex with men worried about their HIV status impacting starting a family naturally.

Matthew Hodson, Executive Director NAM aidsmap told Gay Star News: ‘Most people I know living with HIV have some experience of being rejected when they disclose their status.

‘Dating apps in particular can embolden people to express levels of prejudice that they would usually avoid in face to face settings, including language that is often cruel and hurtful.

‘A blanket rejection of anyone with HIV means that fewer men feel able to be open and honest.

‘This silence around HIV status contributes to ongoing ignorance and fear,’ he said.

]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 10:00:49 +0000
Joshua Rush’s character will realize in the show’s season two premiere he has feelings for a male friend]]>

A Disney Channel show aimed at tweens will feature the networks first LGBTI storyline.

Andi Mack starts it’s second season tomorrow (27 October) with an hour long premiere.

In the episode, character Cyrus realizes he has feelings for Jonah.

Main character Andi also has a crush on Jonah.

Cyrus confides in friend Buffy.

This scene is intended to provide viewers with ‘positive role models for children – and adults – watching.’

Future episodes will follow Cyrus’ journey of coming to terms with his sexuality. He will also navigate how to tell new girlfriend Iris.

Disney Channel reportedly spoke to a number of child development experts and LGBT groups to ensure the story arc was age-appropriate and respectful.

They spoke to GLAAD, PFLAG, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, and Common Sense Media.

The organizations also all received screenings of the hour long special.

‘Young people will be excited to see Cyrus’ story unfold’

15-year-old Joshua Rush plays the character of 13-year-old Cyrus.

Sarah Kate Ellis is the President and CEO of GLAAD.

She explained: ‘With more and more young people coming out as LGBTQ, Andi Mack is reflecting the lives and lived experiences of so many LGBTQ youth around the country,

‘Television reflects the real life world and today that includes LGBTQ youth who deserve to see their lives depicted on their favorite shows.

‘Disney has been a leader in LGBTQ inclusion and there are so many young people who will be excited to see Cyrus’ story unfold.’

Andi Mack premiered on Disney Channel 7 April 2017.

Disney Channel renewed the show for a second season on 25 May 2017.

‘A powerful message about inclusion and respect for humanity’

Execute Director of PFLAG National, Jaime M. Grant, said: ‘Sharing one’s innermost self can be challenging. To do so as an adolescent can be particularly so, especially when in the midst of figuring it out for yourself.

‘Coming out requires honest self-reflection, no small amount of bravery, and a safe place with at least one trusted person – a friend, a parent, a teacher – who can hold your confidence and your heart.

Andi Mack’s creative team captures this moment of revelation with such thought, care, and authenticity; it will be a memory moment for some, and a teachable moment for many.’

Cyrus will be Disney Channel’s first LGBTI main character but not their first LGBTI character ever.

The network’s show Good Luck Charlie featured lesbian moms in an episode.

Terri Minksy created the show Andi Mack.

Previously she has written several episodes for Sex and the City and created teen show Lizzie McGuire.

A Disney Channel spokesperson explained said: ‘Andi Mack is a story about “tweens” figuring out who they are,

‘Terri Minsky, the cast and everyone involved in the show takes great care in ensuring that it’s appropriate for all audiences and sends a powerful message about inclusion and respect for humanity.’

]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 09:57:46 +0000
It’s a day when intersex activists said ‘enough is enough’]]>

Intersex Awareness Day commemorates what I call ‘intersex Stonewall.’

On 26 October 1996, two intersex activists were removed from the American Academy of Pediatrics Conference in Boston.

They tried to address the conference to challenge the treatment of intersex children, which still includes surgeries and other unnecessary and irreversible intervention to ‘normalize’ their genitals.

That was a defining moment in the intersex human rights movement. It’s when intersex activists clearly said enough is enough.

Intersex people are born with any of several variations in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals that, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, ‘do not fit the typical definitions for male or female bodies.’

26 October is Intersex Awareness Day

It’s the day we as an intersex community conduct events across the globe to raise awareness of people with intersex variations. We have the aim of ending the shame and secrecy intersex people experience, and the unwanted medical intervention inflicted on intersex children without their consent and for no medical need.

‘We call for the immediate prohibition as a criminal act of deferrable medical interventions, including surgical and hormonal interventions, that alter the sex characteristics of infants and children without personal consent.’

This year will be a very special Intersex Awareness Day.

In Australia, we have events taking place across a number of states and territories, and the Parliamentary Friends of LGBTI people hosted a forum at Parliament House in Canberra last week.

First federal Parliamentary Forum hearing from intersex activists

That was the first federal Parliamentary Forum hearing from intersex activists. Speakers included members from Organisation Intersex International (OII Australia) and the Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) Support Group Australia.

The feedback from Senators and Members of Parliament was very positive. The forum might even become an annual event.

Our events include public talks, screenings of intersex documentaries, and even smaller events with organizations keen to learn more about intersex people and our personal experiences.

Importantly, they give us the opportunity to speak with legislators about the changes we seek to protect intersex children and support the work we do as intersex organizations run by and for intersex people.

Story Bridge, Brisbane

This year, Brisbane City Council will also light up the Story and Victoria Bridges in purple and yellow on the night of 25 October to commemorate the occasion.

‘Sex and gender binaries are upheld by structural violence’

All these events come after a very busy time for intersex activists in Australia.

Early in the year, intersex activists from Australia and New Zealand held a gathering in Sydney and formulated the Darlington Statement – a detailed joint consensus statement articulating who intersex people are, what issues we face, and how we want those issues addressed.

The statement said: ‘As with race or religion, sex/gender should not be a legal category on birth certificates or identification documents for anybody.’

It calls for easily accessible documents and a ‘simple administrative procedure’ for correcting sex/gender in a legal sphere.

It also states: ‘We call for effective legislative protection from discrimination and harmful practices on grounds of sex characteristics.’

Find out more about the Darlington Statement.

]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 09:43:00 +0000
Let us know now! ]]>

It’s time for Halloween, and a whole load of couples will be planning their costumes together?

Is it adorable? Sweet? Corny? Gross?

A lot of people have their opinions but we’re dying to know, what do you think of couple Halloween costumes?

Take Our Poll
]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 08:26:56 +0000
EXCLUSIVE: The makers of the speculative film are hoping it will be picked up by a major party-costume brand

A heartwarming new film, released just ahead of Halloween, explores gender nonconformity.

In ‘My Heroes’, a family is shown preparing for Halloween. Mum reveals the costumes the kids requested. Dad looks on hesitantly.

Both parents accompany the children as they go trick or treating – watching from a distance as their ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Batman’ knock upon doors.

[embedded content]

It’s only at the end of the video, when the kids are being put to bed, that we realize who is wearing which costume.

The film was produced as a speculative advert. The filmmakers hope that a major party-costume brand might pick up the idea.

‘Why can’t a boy be Wonder Woman?’

It was written by friends Alex Day and Brian Carufe, and produced by Max Landwirth and Landwirth Legacy Productions. The director is Almog Avidan Antonir

Asked what had prompted him to make the film, Day told GSN: ‘I had been itching to make something again and one day the idea of just, “Why can’t a boy be Wonder Woman?” popped into my head.

‘I immediately called my creative partner Brian Carufe and the basic premise of what would become “My Heroes” was established in that conversation.

‘Max and the team at Landwirth Legacy Productions fell into my lap through an introduction from another close friend, Toby Wosskow, who directed a previous video of mine and it was a perfect match.

Asked whether he thinks society is moving towards embracing gender non-conformity, Carufe says: ‘Society is traditionally slow at accepting new status quos and gender nonconformity is no different.

‘While we made the film knowing it would resonate with the LGBT community, it carries a message that’s universal, namely being comfortable and confident in every life choice regardless of the opinions of others. That’s a message all brands should be able to get behind.’

‘Children are our future’

In the last couple of years, major retailers have announced the removal of ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ sections. This has included Target, Disney Store and the clothing section of John Lewis.

Alex says that the pair had a particular brand in mind when making the film.

‘Party City was the first direct target of ours. We have worked hard to get their attention in perhaps picking it up but alas, some dead ends were hit. I think “My Heroes” has a message every company/brands should want to embrace from John Lewis, Walmart, Target, and more.

‘Children are our future. Our next heroes moving forward. And we should want them to be whoever they want to be.

‘I hope this video shows that yes, a boy can be Wonder Woman, and look just as good as anyone else.’

The film has been welcomed by Mermaids UK – a leading charity supporting children and young people questioning their gender identity.

‘Mermaids welcomes conversations around gender non conformity and this film is a moving example of how children should be supported to express themselves, whatever their gender or identity,’ a spokesperson told GSN.

See also

Disney Store ends gender divide of kids Halloween outfits with ‘I Am Awesome’ collection

]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 05:10:23 +0000
‘I need justice’]]>

Anita Wadekar, a prominent trans activist in India is has survived a suicide attempt after facing extreme harassment from online trolls.

Wadekar is believed to have tried to take her own life after facing hundreds of online messages of harrassment.

Her roommates found her unconcious in her room on Sunday morning and alerted police who rushed her to a nearby hospital.

Wadekar is the secretary of the Kinnar Maa Trust, an 5000-member strong organization advocating for trans people.

The activist was added to a WhatsApp (mobile messaging service) group by ‘fake transgenders’ without her permission. She was then allegedly sent hundreds of abusive voice messages.

‘They added Wadekar on October 16 and gradually six to seven more people from our trust. Some gays run the group and have been abusing our members and threatening us on it,’ Kinnar Mass trust chairperson, Salma Ji told the Times of India.

‘They sent over 250 abusive voice messages. They kept harassing Wadekar who got very depressed about it.’

Wadekar tried to report the alleged perpetrators to local police, but it is believed they refused to file aFirst Information Report. After the police’s refusal, she fell into a deep depression and then tried to take her own life.

Thankfully Wadekar was released from hospital on Monday.

‘I need justice. I have been working for the betterment of our community but anti-social elements are forcing us to indulge in prostitution and begging,’ she told DNA India.

‘Police should take strictest action against the accused involved.’

Trolls arrested

Police has since arrested four people in relation to the harrassment. The four people were charged with the abetment of suicide and for attempting to commit offences punishable with life imprisonment.

‘Fake transgender’

It is not the first time Wadekar has had a problem with police believing her.

In July she spoke out about being assaulted and mugged, but when she reported the crime to police she was the one accused of theft.

‘The police can’t distinguish between transgenders and imposters,’ she said at the time.

]]> Thu, 26 Oct 2017 04:36:01 +0000
‘It is a cold world here for for these youths’]]>

Singapore singer Leon Markcus has opened up with his own struggles of self-harm and eating disorders to help young people.

The bisexual 21-year-old is making waves in Asia as he champions around issues such as, mental health, eating disorders and LGBTI youth.

Markcus’ latest single, Alive, raced up the charts in Singapore. He hopes it will be an inspiration to all young people across the continent.

Based on his life of ‘unfortunate events’, Marckus tapped into his own struggles to come up with the song.

‘Alive was inspired by my personal struggle with self harm,’ he told Gay Star News.

‘I guess my life was basically made up of a series of unfortunate events. I grew up in a really traditional household and with that came a ton of expectations to live up to.

‘My family was pretty much dysfunctional, thus, I hardly interacted with my parents. They weren’t on very good terms then as well.’

At school the singer was often bullied for ‘acting gay’ and he had no one to turn to for support. His school’s solution for all his problems was to simply ignore his bullies.

‘I became really toxic to myself and that’s when I began the path of self harm,’ he said.

Eating disorders

Markus believes he can help raise awareness of issues through his music. But he can also send a message to young people that they’re not alone.

He is especially passionate about teaching the world that eating disorders also affect men and has bravely spoke about his own challenges.

‘I am currently battling with anorexia nervosa. It’s a pretty important topic… it is a challenge that both men and women might face and equal emphasis should be placed for both,’ he said.

‘I am also very open about my struggles with my eating disorder because I don’t want to be ashamed of it.’

Musical community

Markcus has many fans across Asia and not just because of his catchy pop tunes. He often sings about taboo topics which strike a chord with young people.

As a result his music has brought together people from across the region who love his music and also have shared experiences they’ve bonded over.

‘I hope that my music would also create a community of people who would be there to support one another through their tough times,’ Markcus said.

‘I’ve seen so many of my listeners become really good friends and that’s really heartwarming. To let them know that they are not alone in whatever challenges they might have in life.

‘But on a bigger scale, I’ve seen what music positive energies music can bring to its listeners and I hope I could do the same.

‘I mean, I don’t want a kid to feel what I felt many years back. Abandoned and forgotten by the systems in place.’

LGBTI singer

The singer just wrapped a month of touring with a moving performance at Hong Kong’s massive Pink Dot festival. Pink Dot celebrates Hong Kong’s vibrant LGBTI community.

For Markcus it was the perfect way to end his tour. For him, the LGBTI community ‘has always held a special place in my heart’.

That could be because he is bisexual or because he has a lot of friends who are still in the closet.

‘I truly believe that they deserve to have the freedom to appreciate and love their partners in the light instead of hiding in the shadows. It is a cold world here for for these youths,’ he said.

‘And I though, I love my home, I also want my friends to be able feel at ease as well as to appreciate a place that accepts them for who they are without being denying their basic rights to love.

‘Everyone deserves equal opportunities for happiness. No one, should ever be made to feel like they don’t belong or they are undeserving of the life they are given.’


[embedded content]

]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 23:49:20 +0000
Plus: Find out Pennywise’s nickname for Babadook]]>

Wedding bells are ringing! And the newly engaged couple might surprise you — it’s Pennywise the Clown and Babadook!

Hopping on the unlikely ship train, the YouTube channel Enemies of Dorothy released a new video today that’s hilarious, charming, and a little disturbing.

The Babadook first became an unlikely gay icon earlier this year when Netflix accidentally classified the movie under the LGBT genre.

Then, when It came out recently, it became a sensation, quickly building up its own fandom.

In September, the internet started shipping the two terrors and, well, the rest is history. And while not everyone is on board the ship train, clearly there are plenty who still are.

‘Who’d have thought the first gay person I met would also happen to be a child terrorizing monster?’ Pennywise muses in the video.

The video is intercut with, er, adorable shots of the couple’s domestic life.

As Pennywise continues their story, Babadook interrupts him, telling him to call Babadook by his nickname.

While Pennywise is embarrassed at first, he eventually gives in.

‘Okay, Baebadook! He makes me call him Baebadook.’

So do you want to know who proposed to whom? You’ll just have to watch and find out.

Watch Pennywise and Babadook’s engagement:

[embedded content]

]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 23:29:35 +0000
This is a big step toward a future without discrimination]]>

The state of Missouri still does not prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, the state does have laws banning discrimination based on sex.

For the first time, Missouri now protects LGBTI workers from discrimination based on gender stereotypes. This is according to a historic ruling from the Missouri Court of Appeals.

Harold Lampley worked in the Missouri’s Office of Administration’s child support enforcement division. When he claimed his employer discriminated against him because he didn’t conform to traditional masculinity, he sued.

Lampley’s friend and co-worker Rene Frost also sued, citing discrimination through association with Lampley.

The pair brought their case under the Missouri Human Rights Act, who threw it out. Then the appeals court ruled, saying the discrimination was based on the pair’s sex, not sexual orientation.

‘It’s the first time a Missouri court has explicitly said that sex stereotyping discrimination constitutes sex discrimination under Missouri law,’ said Tony Rothert, legal director of Missouri’s ACLU organization.

One step forward

The appeals court’s decision was crucial.

Judge Anthony Rex Gabbert wrote in his ruling: ‘If an employer mistreats a male employee because the employer deems the employee insufficiently masculine, it is immaterial whether the male employee is gay or straight.’

Although the state continues without specific protections for LGBTI citizens, this is still a win.

Discrimination based on gender stereotypes often goes hand-in-hand with discrimination based on sexual orientation.

‘It’s that expectation that we put on about how men should be men and women should be women,’ commented Steph Perkins, executive director for PROMO, an LGBTI equality organization in the state.

‘We often see that toward the LGBT community if a women dresses or acts more masculine than an employer thinks she should, or if a man dresses or acts more feminine than an employer thinks he should, which is what this case was about.’

Gabbert’s ruling cited the precedent of a 1989 Supreme Court case.

In that case, a female senior manager at Price Waterhouse alleged her employer denied her partner at the firm because she was insufficiently feminine. The Supreme Court ruled gender stereotyping is a form of sex discrimination.

Lampley’s case is now back with the Human Rights Commission. This gives him the opportunity to show how his employer discriminated based on gender stereotyping.

]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 22:22:35 +0000
What do you think he dressed up as this year?]]>

Colton Haynes goes all out with his Halloween costumes.

The evidence goes back to 2014, when he debuted his first fabulous costume: Princess Fiona from Shrek. In ogre form, of course.

Colton Haynes’ Fiona costume

He said his 2015 costume was going to be hard to top Fiona.

But then he absolutely did it when he donned a killer costume as the evil sea witch, Ursula, from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

Colton Haynes as Ursula

It was hard to imagine him going beyond even Ursula — but of course he did.

Last year he went as Miss Piggy, really committing to the prosthetic and make-up of the Muppet character.

Colton Haynes as Miss Piggy

So now it’s 2017 and another Halloween is upon us. More importantly, another epic Colton Haynes costume for the spooky holiday is here.

And what did he decide to go as? A timely political figure? Another beloved Disney character? One of his American Horror Story cast members?

Well, he continued with the fictional trend…

Source: Instagram

As matriarch Marge Simpson from the classic animated series The Simpsons!

Just check out that wig and those prosthetics and those eyes! Way to do out-do yourself.

Here’s another look at it.

Source: Instagram

And finally the aftermath…

Source: Instagram

Honestly, should any of us even try next week? There’s no topping Colton Haynes and his dedicated to his Halloween costumes year after year.

So what do you think of Haynes’ latest dress-up adventure for the annual holiday?

]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 19:05:37 +0000
Get out the tissues]]>

Ellen DeGeneres is known for a lot of things on her talk show: scaring people, dancing, hilarious games, making us cry…

Oh boy, that last one. I fully admit I occasionally get stuck in Ellen holes on YouTube, watching clips where she gives a generous donation to inspiring people, and furiously wiping at my eyes.

This one is no different.

Before college senior Trent Bauer and his friend Stephanie went to a taping of The Ellen Show, Stephanie sent a letter to the host.

It read:

Dear Ellen,

I want to tell you about the most selfless and special person I know and his name is Trent Bauer. He’s your biggest fan.

He spent his entire college career fighting for gay rights and was even nominated for homecoming king because of all the good that he does.

Trent has a heart of gold. He is the definition of true angel.

Ellen, thank you for inspiring Trent to be the guy that he is.

Love, Steph

Ellen invited Bauer to come chat with her about all sorts of things, including his height (he’s 6’10”!) and his activism.

Bauer is the LGBT Student Coordinator at his school, Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. He wrote to the university president to create the role as a way to offer more resources for LGBTI students. He’s now working on developing a center for LGBTI students on campus.

At the end of the clip, Ellen explains she’s partnering with Cheerios to perform One Million Acts of Good.

One of those acts just happens to be giving Bauer $10,000 to help pay for college and continue his good work! Bauer bursts into tears at the news and frankly, I did too.

Watch Ellen’s inspiring gesture:

[embedded content]

See also

Gay homecoming king stands up to haters in epic way

]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 18:26:35 +0000
Down with fake news about trans people]]>

Fed up with false ideas about the trans community, the hashtag #MythsAboutTrans started trending on Twitter yesterday (24 October).

The idea is pretty straightforward — dispel any myths stories perpetuate about trans people.

The hashtag started to gain traction when activist Jane Fae tweeted about the idea that trans people want to replace the term ‘expectant mother’ with ‘pregnant people’. Spoiler alert: It’s not true.

‘The stories currently making headlines are a mix of gender issues rather than trans issues, spurious reporting (where things alleged subsequently turn out to be not QUITE as alleged) and poor allyship,’ Fae said.

She continued: ‘That is, organisations seek to help the trans community while not actually consulting with us as to what would be helpful.’

Fae’s issue comes from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s proposal to the UN for adding reference to trans people in the ‘pregnant people’ story.

It seemed clear to her they contacted no trans organizations.

‘Many in the trans community are seriously upset by these stories, since they create in the public mind a misperception that we are obsessed with petty details of language and dress,’ she said.

‘In fact, the vast majority of trans campaigners are focused on achieving simple rights for trans people: necessary health care; an end to discrimination in education and work; and serious attempts to tackle the violence that all too many trans people still experience while trying to pursue their daily lives in public.’

People quickly jumped on the hashtag to address other myths.

More myths to ponder

Some continued down the ‘pregnant people’ path.

Some discussed the census and other ideas.

Then, of course, there’s the idea about whether or not this hashtag had to happen at all.

]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 15:48:50 +0000
Aristotle Polites is a model and lifestyle coach in New York; his nephew is 18 months old]]>

Every proud parent loves to take photos of their offspring. Mom Katina Behm has picked up thousands of followers for her account featuring her 18-month old son, Augie.

Why is the account proving so popular? Because in each photo, Behm gets Augie to adopt a similar pose to his ridiculously photogenic, model uncle.

Aristotle Polites is a successful model and lifestyle coach based in New York City. He’s Behm’s younger brother.

In an interview with HuffPost, she said that it started one day when she couldn’t get her infant son into a plaid shirt.

‘The image of him with the shirt undone and his bare chest exposed made me laugh because he looked like he belonged on the cover of a romance novel,’ she said.

‘I took a picture and then realized I bet my brother Aris has a picture just like this on his Instagram page which is filled with modeling photos.

Sure enough, he did. The photo comparison (top) proved so popular that it led to Behm setting up an Instagram account, babyandthebody.

The Instagram account attracted 9,000 followers by the time Behm chatted to HuffPost last week. Since then it’s gone viral, and now has over 40,000 followers.

‘I am surprised by how far and how fast the story has spread’

Behm says brother Polites (who’s godfather to Augie’s twin sister, Delphi) approves of the account, and has shared some of the images to his own Instagram account. She says they have a great relationship that includes ‘lots of poking fun.’

He describes himself as a proud LGBT ally, and recently posted an Instagram shot wearing a rainbow-decorated hoodie.

‘I’m so proud of him because he’s out there doing his thing and following his passion, but it’s hard not to rip on him a little bit.

‘Some of his modeling pictures are hilarious, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously which is good because I get such a kick out of recreating them with Augie.’

In a statement to GSN, Behm commented on the reaction to the Instagram account since her HuffPost interview.

‘So far the reactions have been mostly laughter and enjoyment, which is great since that’s really the purpose of the account. I am surprised by how far and how fast the story has spread but as long as it’s bringing joy I think it’s a good thing.’

H/T: Read the full interview at HuffPost

]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 15:25:07 +0000
Singer dodie looked stunning as she wore a pride flag signed by fans around her shoulders]]>

Bisexual singer Dodie is making waves on the music scene.

Last night (24 October), she performed another date of her current tour.

Fans all signed a pride flag before the show.

They intended on giving it to her during a song about an unrequited same-sex crush she released in 2014.

Dodie, real name Dorothy Clark, came out as bisexual on YouTube last year (2015).

During pride month this year she wrote a song about coming out as bi, and it went viral.

‘She’s just so nice to look at’

As planned, Dodie was given the flag before singing She.

Before starting to perform, Dodie explained: ‘I thought that when we all got older we would all just shout about the days where we never talked about girl crushes and hahaha, how that we all had secrets.

‘Turned out, no one else came out like that.’

The first lyrics of She are: Am I allowed to look at her like that?
Could it be wrong, when she’s just so nice to look at?

While singing the song, the stage also lit up with the colors of the bi pride flag.


Dodie is currently on tour promoting her second EP You.

At the end of the show, Dodie released a shower of balloons over her audience.

She had written notes to her fans on each of the balloons.

As well as speaking out about being bi, Dodie is often praised for her openness around mental health.

She won the award for YouTube Musician at this year’s Shorty Awards.

The awards honor the best of social media by recognizing influencers, brands and organizations from every social media platform, including YouTube and Twitter.

]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 14:27:02 +0000
Ellen has to wipe away tears from laughing so hard]]>

Sean Hayes and Ellen DeGeneres are so hilarious whenever they sit down together for a chat.

Their chemistry is undeniable and this latest instalment is no different.

They start off talking about a small health scare from Hayes but the mood lifts in a fun little game afterwards.

Hayes brings in a breathing device that he had to use while in the hospital.

Then hilarity ensues.

Megan Mullally, Eric McCormack, Debra Messing and Sean Hayes all won Emmys during the eight year run of Will & Grace.

Megan Mullally, Eric McCormack, Debra Messing and Sean Hayes all won Emmys during the eight year run of Will & Grace.

Sean Hayes explains: ‘So, what you do – you suck and then you breathe – it’s for your lungs, so you don’t get pneumonia. It’s for your lungs so you don’t build up fluid in your lungs.

‘It’s to keep your lungs strong,’ he explains.

Hayes then says: ‘Whoever can suck their balls the hardest, wins!

The interview derails from there, with both of the hilarious TV personalities losing it.

Watch the hilarity unfold:

]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 12:25:05 +0000
The Romeo + Juliet director creates a fairytale romance featuring an exclusive Years and Years track]]>

Famed director Baz Lurhman, or Romeo + Juliet and The Great Gatsby fame, has shot a high-budget, stunning promo for H&M.

The Secret Life of Flowers features an exclusive track, Hypnotized, by Years and Years. Gay singer Olly Alexander fronts the British pop band. The film itself features strong hints of same-sex attraction between one young man and his best friend.

In trademark Lurhman style, the surreal story is set in a crumbling stately home. Some will spot the influence of Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel, Brideshead Revisited.

[embedded content]

One young man brings his new friend home to a place where, ‘it’s always spring.’ A mysterious elderly relative throws a dinner party for a predictably gorgeous selection of young people.

Will our young hero return his friend’s penetrating gaze, or will he opt instead for the enigmatic, androgynous woman on the other side of the room? She, in turn, turns out to his friend’s sister!

Being Boring

The film highlights plenty of new H&M spring wear including exclusive designs from a collaboration with ERDEM.

Designer Erdem Moralioglu told Vogue earlier this month that his collection for H&M is partly inspired by the Pet Shop Boys video for the song Being Boring.

The film received its premiere last night at a party at H&M’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue, New York City. Years and Years performed after the screening.

Years and Years

Years and Years

‘It was a really wonderful experience working with Baz,’ said Olly Alexander in a statement. ‘He’s so passionate about every detail, and I was really excited to be part of something so creative. Plus, I’ve always been a fan of Erdem.

‘The song is about falling head over heels for somebody and it totally up-ends everything you thought you knew about yourself.’

Alexander is no stranger to the world of film. He starred in the 2014 film God Help The Girl and in several episodes of the TV series Penny Dreadful. Earlier this year he made a film for the BBC, Growing Up Gay, in which he explored the impact on homophobia on his mental health.

]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 11:32:45 +0000
It seems these former friends are not going to be making up any time soon]]>

Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper are still fighting, and the former friends aren’t going to make up any time soon.

The comedian was the target of a lot of criticism when she posed with a Trump mask covered in ketchup.

Griffin was fired from the CNN New Year’s Eve show, which she hosted after more than a decade with Cooper.

When the controversial photo was exposed, Cooper publicly criticized the comic on Twitter.

‘For the record, I am appalled by the photo shoot Kathy Griffin took part in. It is clearly disgusting and completely inappropriate.’

Griffin was hurt, and could only silently shake her head no at a press conference when asked if she had spoken to Cooper since CNN fired her.

Kathy Griffin fights back against Anderson Cooper

But now she’s fighting back.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Griffin laughingly quoted a quip ‘from my gays’, as she said it, slamming Cooper.

She called the Vanderbilt scion ‘The Spineless Heiress’.

Anderson Cooper on Kathy Griffin: ‘I wish her well’.

Since the falling out, Cooper has not been as critical of the comedian as she has of him.

He said: ‘I wish her well, and I hope she bounces back and keeps doing what she does best, which is make people laugh.’

The two had not only been a successful television team for more than a decade, they have also been personal friends, appeared on each other’s talk shows and even did a CNN pilot together.

Griffin is also good friends with Cooper’s famous mother, Gloria Vanderbilt.

]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 11:00:44 +0000
Andre Fili responded: It ‘makes you look so insecure’]]>

Irish professional boxer and reigning UFC Lightweight champion Conor McGregor is under fire for calling a fellow fighter ‘a faggot.’

On Saturday (21 October) night, McGregor was talking to Artem Lobov after his fight with Andre Fili. Consoling Lobov on his loss, he said: ‘He [Fili] was a faggot.

‘And everyone knew he was a faggot and I was calling him a faggot,’ he added.

The official UFC account uploaded the video to Twitter, but deleted it after a negative backlash.

Twitter user Curtis, re-uploaded a blurry re-recorded version:

Commenting on the homophobic slur, Fili told MMA Fighting: ‘There’s no need to use words like that.

‘You don’t need to demean other people to make yourself seem bigger.

‘Whenever you hear someone use that word or call someone a “bitch,” that makes you look so insecure,’ he said.

Connor McGregor

Fans also took to social media to condemn the words of the championship fighter.

One said: ‘Conor McGregor is racist, homophobic & misogynistic. Why do people choose to consistently overlook this?!’

Another commented: ‘So disheartening to see Conor McGregor using homophobic slurs. So many young people admire and look up to him.’

McGregor vs Mayweather

This is not the first time McGregor has come under fire for using offensive language.

Earlier this year, McGregor told Floyd Mayweather to ‘Dance for me, boy’ – a historically racist slur used against black men.

Mayweather, an American world champion boxer also called McGregor a series of names, including faggot, punk, bitch, pussy, and ho.

Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor

Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor

In a press conference, Mayweather said: ‘Racism still exists. It’s all about treating people like you want to be treated. To get respect you must give respect.

‘There are certain levels you don’t stoop to and certain levels you just don’t go to. I love everybody from all walks of life,’ he added.

]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 10:44:04 +0000
Admit it. You’re jealous.]]>

Your mother loves him. Your grandmother loves him. Mary J. Blige and Gladys Knight love him. The whole world loves him, recently sending him to number one on Spotify’s Global Top 50.

But there’s one exception to the rule. Gay men.

OK, not all gay men. But enough of them. Most I know roll their eyes at the mere mention of his name.

We see it every time we write about him on Gay Star News. The hostility is fierce.

‘Pathetic attention whore,’ said one non-fan when we reported on Sam’s new new romance this week.

‘I can’t stand this ex-fat and his “sad declarations,”‘ elaborated another. ‘He only wants attention, and believe[s] he’s the only gay guy in the world. When he doesn’t understand, even gay guys we can’t stand him.’


Sam’s believed to be dating 13 Reasons Why star Brandon Flynn. I must admit, he’s picked a convenient time to speak about it for the first time – the week before his new album comes out. And on Ellen’s sofa no less.

The news coincides with his – I think, brave – revelation about gender fluidity, that he’s ‘as much a woman as I am man’, in the Sunday Times.

Once again, there were negative reactions. Some were disbelieving. Others were misogynistic, transphobic and abusive.

At this point I ask: how much more of this is he meant to take?

He’s one of the most talented and successful gay men of his generation, but his peers want to take him down. Why? The inconvenient truth is, we’re jealous of him.

‘I too have struggled to warm to him – he annoyed me when he waited to come out’

Of course, there are legitimate reasons to not like him. I too have struggled to warm to him – he annoyed me by waiting a few years into his career to come out publicly, surprising absolutely no one. (But as I always remind myself, I’ve no right to dictate when someone does, even if they’re rich, famous and privileged.)

That same year, he deigned to question app culture. ‘No offence to people who go on Tinder but I just feel like it’s ruining romance, I really do,’ he said.

‘We’re losing the art of conversation and being able to go and speak to people and you’re swiping people. […] Stop Tinder and Grindr!’

His comments prompted the still-irresistible Gawker headline ‘Sam Smith’s fucked up gay conservatism‘ and the pulverising line: ‘I wonder if Smith leaves his shirt on during sex because he needs to keep his heart on his sleeve.’

Again, ouch.

Worse still was the fall-out from that acceptance speech. Last year, he referred to himself as the first gay man to win an Oscar, inspiring the wrath of Dustin Lance Black and many others. (The song itself, a middling Bond theme, Sam wrote ‘in about 20 minutes.’)

‘He risked everything by disappearing for a staggering 18 months’

He swiftly apologised, temporarily quit Twitter, and risked everything by disappearing for a staggering 18 months – almost unheard for a star of his stature. For some it wasn’t enough.

OK, he’s made some mistakes. But it’s easy to forget just how young Sam Smith is, old soul or not. He was 23 at the time of the Oscars gaffe. Who hasn’t said something as stupid, or worse, aged 23 and beyond?

We drag Sam like we drag Tom Daley for not living up to expectations. But there’s no ‘correct’ way for a gay man to be, famous or not. All Sam has to do is sing. All Tom has to do is dive. Not everyone has to be endlessly politicized and outspoken – there is such a thing as free will. (Although to his credit, Sam spoke out in support of Australian marriage equality recently).

Furthermore, while we dismiss elements of Sam’s image as ‘safe’ and straight-baiting, misogynists might condemn the same as traditionally feminine and overly emotional. Most notably in his biggest hit Stay With Me, in which he desperately begs his one night stand to be tender with him. (Who hasn’t been there? More to the point, who’s willing to admit it?)

But he isn’t compromising. His new songs Too Good At Goodbyes and Pray are as emotional and navel-gazing as ever. Millennial gay men were all over it when Adele took the same course two years ago.

‘He’s finding he doesn’t need the gay community’s support to be a star’

There is something subversive about Sam’s femininity. It’s not a parody – he’s not ‘sashaying away’ – and it’s not a huge political statement, either. He’s just being himself. And in doing so, selling millions of records, making millions of dollars and the cherry on top: he’s found a boyfriend.

He’s rich, famous and, ironically, quite happy, and he’s not had to feign masculinity, invent an activist persona or in any way change who he is to get there. In fact, he’s evolving, speaking out about tricky gender questions in an entirely personal way. And that, I think, is a tough pill for some of his peers to swallow.

But what does it matter? Evidently, Sam doesn’t need the gay community’s support to be a star.

It’s a shame gay men aren’t more behind a member of their own tribe. But conversely, maybe there’s a silver lining there. We’ve long idolized straight pop stars and claimed them as our own. Maybe the opposite being true of Sam and his straight fans indicates a levelling of the playing field.

I say good luck to him.


]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 10:22:41 +0000
Think intersex people are completely different from LGBTs? Think again as we bust some myths]]>

When a baby is born, the question always is: is it a boy or a girl?

But what if the baby is born with sex characteristics that don’t match up with the medical definition of what ‘male’ or ‘female’ is?

That’s intersex, and there are a bunch of misconceptions about it.

The reason there are so many myths is that very few people know what intersex actually is.

But why is it so unknown? Many intersex people suffered needless medical intervention as a child. Many fear speaking out.

But are intersex people a part of the LGBT community? Some would say no. But if the community is intended to represent sex and gender minorities, and you think of the language a lot of what they hear, then they are definitely part of the club.

A lot of hateful speech (intersexphobia or interphobia) intersex people hear includes: ‘It’s unnatural’, ‘you should be ashamed’, ‘you need fixing’, or even ‘you’re an abomination’.

To help bust these myths, I spoke with Kimberly Zeizelman, attorney, advocate and executive director of interACT – one of the world’s largest intersex organizations.

Myth 1: Intersex people don’t exist

MTV’s Faking It, which featured TV’s first intersex character

Intersex people make up 1.7% of the population.

The word, intersex, is an umbrella term. There are a lot of different ways you could be considered intersex.

These sex ‘characteristics’ could involve a large clitoris, a person being born with internal testes, no vagina or a micropenis.

Hypospadia, or being born with the pee-hole on the underside of the penis instead of the tip, is another condition.

Surgery is often done on babies and young people needlessly, without consent, and for cosmetic reasons. Intersex groups are fighting for people to be given the right to be allowed to grow up without medical intervention. If they want to seek surgery at an age they can consent to it, that’s their choice.

‘There is a lot of shame when it comes to intersex people,’ Kimberly said.

‘We have to stand up and say we aren’t medical disorders. We’re not ashamed of this, we’re not going to need “fixing”.

‘A lot of the language is similar in the LGBT community when we talk about so-called ‘gay conversion’ therapy. That’s essentially what doctors and parents are doing who are driving the surgery.

‘We hear from doctors confidentially saying to us, “we’re not always comfortable cutting off a girl’s clitoris for cosmetic reasons”, but the parents insist on it and threaten to go somewhere else if they don’t do it.’

Myth 2: Intersex people are the same as transgender people

Think of sex, as in genitals, as a spectrum like gender, orientation and expression.

Like bisexual, pansexual and asexual are in the middle of a spectrum of sexual orientation, intersex fits in between male and female genitalia.

Just because you’re intersex, it doesn’t mean you can’t also consider yourself trans, straight, gay, bi, or whatever.

Your sexual organs have nothing to do with how you consider your gender or which gender(s) you find attractive.

‘The danger of intersex being aligned with the LGBT community is there’s an assumption that it’s to do with sexual orientation,’ Kimberly said.

‘That’s the issue with transgender as well, which is not a sexual orientation.

‘Intersex is just a physical state of being. It’s how you were born. Transgender is how you were born as well, but with your mind not matching up with your body.

‘We’re in the same boat. It’s the education we’re all doing is on the difference between sex and gender and orientation.’

Myth 3: All intersex people consider themselves non-binary

If you are cisgender and non-intersex, you’re likely very used to your genitals matching up with your gender identity. And that’s how it’s been for all your life that your penis makes you a man, or your vagina makes you a woman.

But this doesn’t apply to everyone. Transgender people’s gender identity, for example, doesn’t correlate necessarily with the sex they were assigned at birth.

So you might think every intersex person automatically is non-binary or genderqueer and considers themselves bisexual.

But they don’t. Every person is different.

‘Many don’t feel male or female describes themselves adequately so they use genderqueer or non-binary,’ Kimberly added.

‘Recently California passed a state-wide law to allow for non-binary markers on all legal documents. This is definitely big news.

‘It’s also great news for our non-intersex non-binary friends and friends in the trans community who are wanting to change their gender marker but not wanting to go through the hoops to do that or go through the surgery to do that.’

Myth 4: Intersex people need ‘fixing’

Tiger Devore, a clinical psychologist, was born with hypospadia – with his pee-hole on the underside of his penis. If he had been left alone, he would have to sit down to urinate.

But because doctors pushed needless intervention, he has experienced over 20 surgeries and four full reconstructions. He says, ‘all the surgeries I suffered up to age 19 were unnecessary failures’.

‘The concern there is a not a medical concern – it’s a social concern,’ Kimberly said.

‘Surgeons say they can fix it and they’ll never remember this and to do it so they won’t be mocked by other boys. Penises grow. And then there is a need for constant surgeries and it continues to leave scar tissue.’

She added: ‘Who made up the rule men stand up to pee? Why is that worth subjecting your child to very invasive and irreversible surgeries throughout their lives.’

For Kimberly and the rest of the interACT team, they are up against the medical industry. Their group is small, and can only do so much.

Myth 5: Surgery is the ‘best option’ for an intersex child

Vogue model Hanne Gaby Odiele

You might think doctors know what is best for an intersex child, but the reality is many have no idea how to treat them.

‘If you ask them, they might have had a small paragraph in their medical textbooks,’ Kimberly said. ‘There’s this real lack of understanding.’

There are influential policy makers, according to the interACT executive director, who are trying to stand up and say enough is enough.

‘[Intersex] is not a quick soundbite to describe,’ she said.

‘We’re not going to be changing the hearts and minds of lawmakers, and getting to the institutions, until we are also changing the hearts and minds of parents and brothers and sisters. It’s about people understanding we exist.’

Myth 6: Operating on intersex children is illegal

Operating on a baby for a needless medical procedure sounds like it should be illegal, right?

However these surgeries are currently only illegal in one country in the world – Malta. There is legislation pending in Portugal. Chile briefly had complete legislation protecting intersex children, but this was later changed.

Intersex groups believe children should have the right to body autonomy. No one is fighting against necessary medical procedures, like if a person’s hypospadia means they’re unable to urinate. But there is no need to, for example, reduce someone’s slightly bigger clitoris.

In June this year, three former US Surgeons-General called for an end to forced medical surgeries on young intersex people.

‘We felt it was massive,’ Kimberly said. ‘We thought this would change it and nothing has happened.

interACT also hoped the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, who made a statement in Geneva about the need to protect intersex people, would make a difference.

‘It certainly got people’s attention particularly those who are doing these surgeries. Has it stopped? Do I have evidence anyone has told me this has changed their point of view. Unfortunately not,’ Kimberly said.

Myth 7: There are no fights for intersex people to win

interACT youth members

Ultimately the most pressing issue is stopping forced unnecessary cosmetic and irreversible medical surgeries on babies and children.

There is also a need to fight for non-binary to be legally recognized, and this will undoubtedly help intersex people.

But there is also need for visibility, and to change those hearts and minds.

Large LGBT organizations like GLAAD and Stonewall don’t cover intersex issues. Gay Star News does include intersex in our coverage, as we believe in covering every sex and gender minority. This means the number of intersex advocates remain small.

‘We have been successful in doing a lot with very little,’ Kimberly said.

‘Getting the message out, it’s important to hear from young people. We’re working with a project for interACT youth providing peer connection, leadership development, to advocate for themselves. These young people and their voices are the future.’

]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 09:02:01 +0000
‘I was treated different because I was Aboriginal. We’re going to treat gay and lesbian people differently? Why?’]]>

A respected Aboriginal elder is the latest high profile person to throw their weight behind marriage equality.

Harold Hunt OAM voted yes for marriage equality for all Australians because, ‘we’re talking about a fair go’.

Australia is holding a non-binding, non-compulsory postal survey on same-sex marriage. People are encouraged to post back their survey forms by this Friday. The survey results will be revealed November 15.

The 91-year-old recalled the discrimination he faced because of his Aboriginality. Now he wants to see his fellow Australians treated equally, regardless of their skin colour or sexuality.

‘I was treated different because I was Aboriginal. We’re going to treat gay and lesbian people differently? Why?,’ he said in a new video for the Equality Campaign.

‘We’re talking about equality, and we’re talking about a fair go.’

Hunt received his Order of Australia Medal for services to Indigenous communities and is a pioneer in the health and justice systems for programs relating to alcoholism and other drug additions.

For Hunt, the simple link between marriage and love is clear.

‘It’s terribly important, to have the love of another human being, that we care enough about each other to want to be able to share the rest of your life with that person,’ he said.

‘What harm will it do to the country if gay and lesbian people get married? If people of the same-sex marry each other, what effect is that going to have on the country, on the lifestyle of people?’

Hunt has seen Australians embrace change for the better throughout his life.

‘I’ve seen lots of change over the years and from being accepted as an Aboriginal, and a lot of these changes have been very gradual,’ he said.

‘This situation today, this voting today is a major change, and it’s something that needs to be done, to be cleared up right away.

‘There’s one group of people here that we’re not giving a fair go.’

Hunt urged his fellow Australians to vote ‘yes’ to marriage equality because, ‘love is caring, and deeply caring about somebody’.

‘If you tick that YES box, you’re going to be helping a lot more people than you think. You have a choice today, grab it with both hands and get in there. Stand up and be counted. Be proud of yourselves,’ he said.

‘I’m voting YES because it’s the decent thing to do.’

]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 08:36:41 +0000
Police called the gay men ‘scum’ as they arrested them at a sauna earlier this month]]>

One of the hundreds of men rounded up in Indonesia’s crackdown on its LGBTI community has shared his story from jail.

Justin – not his real name – was arrested earlier this month along with other gay men in the capital, Jakarta.

His arrest brings the total of men targeted by police at gay parties and saunas to more than 200 just in 2017.

Justin said police were violent and intimidating when they raided the sauna.

‘They yelled “you’re all scum”,’ Justin told the News Lens.

One crime scene photographer even had the gall to suggest he should have gone to a massage parlour to pay for sex with women.

‘You could have gone to any of those places and you wouldn’t have had this problem,’ the photographer allegedly told Justin.

Even though it is not illegal to be gay in Indonesia the country has been experiencing a crackdown on LGBTI people.

There have been multiple mass arrests at gay parties and saunas, lesbians were kicked out of their home and in the most high profile case, two young men were sentenced to 85 lashes for homosexual sex in Aceh.

Police have justified the mass arrests of gay men by using the country’s anti-pornography law. If convicted, Jason faces up to 10 years in prison.

Support for Justin

Justin said since his arrest he has felt let down by Indonesia’s LGBTI community. On social media gay men said he was ‘an idiot’ for getting caught.

‘We talk about a LGBT “community”,’ he said.

‘But we hide. We won’t help each other make our lives better.’

Thankfully Justin’s family have been supportive since arrest, even though they didn’t know he was gay. But he’s worried about his future after he gets out of jail.

‘My mother cried for a few weeks but she’s fine now. I’m still her son,’ he said.

‘When I apply for a job they’re going to Google me and this will come up. I have to fight.’

]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 06:14:23 +0000
The woman said she was thrown out unfairly and it has made it harder for her to finish her studies]]>

A home for the ‘destitute and infirm’ care home has come under fire for throwing at a 19-year-old woman because they suspected she was a lesbian.

Sree Chitra Home for Destitute and Infirm is a charitable organization in India that houses women of all ages. It many cases it provides employment training and schooling for girls. According to its website ‘most of the girls are married to the right partners found by the authorities’.

But one girl in her twenties – known only as Shilpa – was not so fortunate after she was expelled from the home in June. She claimed she was thrown out for her ‘lesbian tendencies’.

‘At present, I have to travel all the way from my home to pursue my education in the city,’ Shilpa told the Deccan Chronicle.

‘Though the administration had told me that I was being expelled for my lesbian tendencies, officially they said  the reason was indiscipline.’

Shilpa’s case only came to light after trans activist Syama S. Prabha took up her case.

Prabha helped Shilpa make a formal complaint to the state’s District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) and the Kerala State Youth Commission.

The DLSA did take up her case but have had trouble pursuing action against the home. Representatives of the Sree Chitra Home failed to turn up to multiple proceedings about the case.

Prabha argued this was the home’s deliberate ploy to delay the proceedings.

The Sree Chitra Home has not responded to media requests for comment.

Prabha the star

Shilpa’s case was able to get the media’s attention thanks to Prabha’s high profile.

Along with being  the vice president of trans advocacy group, Queer Rhythm Organization, Prabha was the first trans TV anchor in India.

She hosts the show, Marivil Pole Manasiger, which is talk-show style show highlighting issues around marginalized communities.

]]> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 05:07:27 +0000
Organizers claimed 80% of Goa’s LGBTI community was still in the closet]]>

Goa, the Indian coastal town and popular tourist destination is about to host its first pride parade.

Organizers hope the Goa Rainbow Pride Walk 2017 will help to raise awareness about LGBTI issues.

‘It is happening for the first time in Goa. We want to create awareness about the rights of the LGBT community,’ organizer Alexander Fernandes told the Indian Express.

‘There are several wrong notions about the community, which need to be addressed through this event.’

Despite being a commonly visited spot for international tourists, attitudes to LGBTI issues are still very conservative in Goa.

‘We hope this walk will get rid of homophobia in some way,’ Fernandes told

‘We want people to know that we are not harmful or ‘bad people’. We deserve respect like anyone else, and that we too have human rights.’

goa pride india

Goa’s first pride festival is full of fun events

Not yet out

Fernandes claimed 80% of LGBTI people in Goa still live in the closet.

‘People are skeptical about admitting that they belong to the LGBT community… we want to tell the world that it is absolutely okay to be an LGBT. They are not the people, who harm others as is presumed,’ he said.

To protect their identities, parade participants will be allowed to wear masks to allow them to still march and remain in hiding.

Much like other pride events in India, parade participants will not be allowed to wear costumes depicting religious or political figures.

Along with the pride parade the organizers will also host an LGBTI film festival and beach party.

‘We have a large LGBT community in Goa, but most prefer to stay under the scanner since it’s a very small place and everyone knows each other. However, we are trying to create more awareness now,’ organizer Diana Dias told

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 23:43:20 +0000
New directives were sent to priests recently]]>

New directives reveal that Catholic funerals may be denied to LGBTI people in the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin. The reason? To avoid ‘public scandal of the faithful’.

Pray Tell blog made the directives public over the weekend.

Vicar general Fr. James Bartylla sent the directives to priests as part of a weekly email. ‘Consideration of Funeral Rites for a Person in a Homosexual Civil or Notorious Union’ detailed the specific matter.

The document reads: ‘The main issue centers around scandal and confusion (leading others into the occasion of sin or confusing or weakening people regarding the teachings of the Catholic Church in regards to sacred doctrine and the natural law) and thereby the pastoral task is to minimize the risk of scandal and confusion to others amidst the solicitude for the deceased and family.’

Some of the suggestions include offering simply a graveside service, instead of a traditional funeral.

Still others include the surviving partner not having ‘any public or prominent role’ as well as the obituary leaving out the priest and/or parish.

Not official policy

The diocese released a statement affirming this is not official policy.

It comes from the communication of Madison Bishop Robert Morlino. Yet while it’s not official, it ‘does conform with the mind of the bishop and meet his approval’.

However, pastors are encouraged to ‘think through the issue thoroughly and prudently’ and reach out to the bishop for necessary guidance.

According to Brent King, director of communications for the Madison Diocese, said these directives came from questions asked by priests.

‘No such policy could adequately cover every case, and it has always been the ‘policy’ of the Diocese of Madison, on the matter of public funerals in general, that pastors are charged with addressing the particular situations of their people,’ he continued.

Despite the clarification, the directives still have many critics.

DignityUSA, which works for LGBTI equality within the church, slammed them as ‘outrageous and shameful’.

‘This document is the very antithesis of pastoral care,’ said Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA.

‘It shows that this bishop believes that lesbian and gay people who have lived a deep commitment to a spouse or partner should be demeaned even in death. Our families could be refused the sacraments of our faith at the moment of their greatest grief. This is heartless. It is cruel. It is unchristian in the extreme.’

H/t: NCR

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 23:05:17 +0000
Students quickly showed their true colors when he won]]>

Recently, Joel Mireles, a senior at Brazoswood High School in Clute, Texas, won homecoming king.

He thought it was a long shot. ‘Typically it’s someone who’s in athletics or usually it’s football,’ he told the news station 13 WMAZ.

However, he decided to campaign anyway, hanging up posters and handing out donuts. Then he won.

‘I was shocked. I didn’t really know what to do. Then one of the members of student council put the crown on me.’

The next day, Mireles’ high came crashing down.

‘My friends kept showing me all these posts on social media that were really negative about me,’ he explained. Allegedly, some members of the student body took issue with Mireles’ title of king because he’s gay.

They even created a t-shirt with the hashtag #NotMyKing that people could buy.

He lamented: ”I didn’t want to go eat lunch because I thought people were looking at me so I stayed in the theater classroom and told my mom to come pick me up early.’

Luckily, the sting only lasted a short time before Mireles came up with an idea.

This is how you stand up to bullies

He bought one of the shirts himself.

‘I just thought, if I bought one, it would be a statement saying, “This isn’t affecting me and you guys aren’t hurting me.”‘

A picture of him wearing the shirt — and his crown — quickly went viral online. Most of the comments have been ones of support and admiration.

His cousin Danielle posted the image, along with a moving testimony.

My younger cousin worked his butt off to put his name out there to be elected Brazoswood Homecoming King. It was a proud…

Posted by Danielle Peña on Monday, October 16, 2017

Now Mireles isn’t just a king, he’s a hero.

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 22:28:40 +0000
There’s no room for Goldilocks here]]>

Rowse Honey is reinterpreting Goldilocks and the Three Bears in a decidedly fabulous way with their new ad series.

Aptly titled The Three Bears, the three-part series centers around three gay bears living together in a rustic cabin. Here’s the trailer for the series.

[embedded content]

Matt, Joel, and Phil — the three bears — ride a bicycle built for three, gather firewood, and make porridge with Rowse Honey.

The first episode, Winter Survival, debuted on Monday (23 October). It will be followed by Porridge Contest and Energy. All three episodes contain little nods to the original English fairy tale.

‘Recently, LGBT people have appeared at the forefront of several advertising campaigns,’ said Matthew Lister, one of the campaign’s stars and a competitive canoer. ‘That said, it seems certain groups have been underrepresented in the media, which is why I jumped at the opportunity to feature in The Three Bears.’

He continued: ‘We arrived on the first day not knowing each other, but everyone was easygoing and welcoming. Very quickly the banter and camaraderie between us all developed, and by the end we all felt like great mates.’

In the original story, a little girl named Goldilocks wanders into the bears’ cabin. She sits in their chairs, eats their porridge, and sleeps in their beds. When the bears return, she wakes up in a fright and runs away.

In this new iteration, Goldilocks is entirely absent.

Instead, Rowse Honey replaced her with a cooking show and great commentary from the three bears.

Watch the first episode of The Three Bears:

[embedded content]

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 20:26:18 +0000
Ron Duebbert denies the claim, calling it a political move]]>

A man alleges St. Clair County Circuit Judge Ron Duebbert of Illinois offered discounted legal fees in exchange for sex while Duebbert was in private practice.

The man, whose identity is being withheld as an alleged victim of sexual assault, made the claims in an affidavit filed Monday (23 October).

He says that on 14 October 2016, he was in Duebbert’s office discussing his felony case. As they spoke, Duebbert offered to take off $100 of his bill if the man performed oral sex on Duebbert.

When the man refused, Duebbert got physical.

‘He then reached into my shorts, felt the side of my body and grabbed my penis through my underwear,’ the victim wrote in the official court document. ‘I freaked out. I froze up for a second. I felt disgusted. I told him I’m not gay. Don’t touch me that way.’

The incident happened weeks before Duebbert defeated then-Chief Judge John Baricevic in an election.

A political move or a serial case?

In 1999, policed charged Duebbert with battery. A 19-year-old man appeared in court on a burglary charge when Duebbert offered him a ride to his office. Then, the man alleges Duebbert fondled him inside the car.

Furthermore, a special prosecutor is also examining evidence that Duebbert obstructed justice in a murder case. He appeared before a grand jury in July.

However, despite this history, Duebbert declined to comment. According to a report by the Belleville News-Democrat, Duebbert believes Democrats are trying to unseat him as a gay Republican.

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 19:21:50 +0000
The soccer star ripped into them for not caring about female players]]>

In a new interview with the BBC, American athlete Megan Rapinoe called FIFA, the world leader of soccer, ‘old, male and stale’.

Recently, the organization placed amateur striker Deyna Castellanos from Venezuela on its shortlist for female player of the year. US midfielder Carli Lloyd and Dutch forward Lieke Martens also made the cut.

‘The award just doesn’t hold a lot of weight when you’ve got someone on the list I’ve never heard of,’ Rapinoe commented.

Castellanos plays for Florida State University, while Lloyd and Martens are both on professional teams. FIFA overlooked several other players.

‘If some random male player who was not even a full professional was nominated, I’m sure [FIFA] would step in for that. It’s disappointing that the same hasn’t been done for us,’ she continued.

‘It signals to us and it signals to the rest of the world that FIFA doesn’t really care.’

The organization responded in a statement. They said they would ‘take this feedback on board in future editions of The Best Awards’.

Only the latest criticism

This is hardly the first time Rapinoe has stood up for her beliefs.

Last year, she took a stand with other professional athletes by kneeling during the anthem.

She also joined four other players in filing a wage discrimination complaint against US Soccer, which is part of FIFA. Female players are paid a fraction of what male players make, despite numerous more titles under their belts.

This year, the US men’s team failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986.  The US women’s team won the World Cup in 2015 and the gold in 2012 Olympics.

Female players have also criticized soccer organizations for making them play on artificial turf, while men have never played World Cup matches on artificial turf.

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 17:50:29 +0000
The Alabama Senate candidate made the comments more than once]]>

Roy Moore, the former judge who recently won the Republican Senate runoff in Alabama, made baffling comments about marriage equality, calling it worse than a pro-slavery court decision.

He made the comments in a 2016 Here I Stand podcast interview, unearthed by Talking Points Memo.

In the podcast, he compares the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which upheld slavery, to 2015’s Obergefell decision, legalizing same-sex marriage.

‘In 1857 the United States Supreme Court did rule that black people were property. Of course that contradicted the Constitution, and it took a civil war to overturn it,’ he says, almost casually.

The Dred Scott decision denied citizenship to African Americans and found the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional. That compromise admitted Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state. The court’s decision was a catalyst for the Civil War.

‘But this ruling in Obergefell is even worse in a sense because it forces not only people to recognize marriage other than the institution ordained of God and recognized by nearly every state in the union,’ he continues.

‘It says that you now must do away with the definition of marriage and make it between two persons of the same gender.’

[embedded content]

He outlined his issues with Obergefell as creating a right ‘that does not exist under the Constitution’ as well as compelling ‘Christians to give up their religious freedom and liberty’.

The dangers of Moore

Moore’s comments are nothing new.

He made the same comparison in a 2015 CNN interview. Plus, he was suspended as Alabama Chief Justice last year, partly for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

The real danger comes from the 12 December Senate special election.

Moore is facing off against Democrat Doug Jones for attorney general Jeff Sessions’ seat. For the first time in a long time, Democrats have hope in the red state thanks to Moore’s controversial report card. However, it’s impossible to say until the election is over but this is a crucial seat up for grabs.

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 16:25:55 +0000
‘First Dates can’t pretend to embrace the LGBTQ+ community while simultaneously crapping all over it’]]>

Channel 4 TV show First Dates is being accused of spreading biphobia without challenge.

In an episode aired last night (23 October), 21-year-old lesbian Zoe went on a date with Grace.

A cut away saw Zoe explaining she has an issue with finding ‘an actual real lesbian.’

She says everyone around her age is ‘experimenting’ and going around kissing both guys and girls.

For this reason, she is struggling to find someone who is ‘genuine.’

Zoe then says: ‘And then it is kind of like, we swapped numbers last night but is she gay in the morning?’

She then asks her date, Grace, if she’s ‘gay or…’

Grace replied yes, she is a typical ‘invisible lesbian’.

Watch the clip here.

[embedded content]

‘There’s always stigma’

Women have taken to Twitter to express their annoyance.

One Twitter user said: ‘Always root for lesbians/wlw on #FirstDates but like nah. biphobia isn’t cute.’

Another added: ‘Bisexuals aren’t genuine enough apparently!’

GSN spoke to bisexual YouTuber NeonFiona about the comments.

She explained: ‘There’s always that stigma around bisexuals on the “lesbian” dating scene.

‘It’s just nonsense because every single piece of stigma is purely based in falsities like bisexuals will cheat, or leave a girl for a man, etc.

‘Bisexual people are always not quite gay enough for LGBTQ+ scenes, but obviously we’re not straight so we don’t fit into those communities either. People think it’s a phase, or we’ll go back to men eventually. It’s nonsense.’

‘Dating as a bisexual is hard’

Lewis Oakley is a bisexual activist who has written for a variety of news outlets about the issues bisexuals face.

He explained to GSN: ‘Dating as a bisexual is hard, It’s possibly the only sexuality where your attractions actually make you less attractive to the people you find hot, it’s a cruel circle.

‘I think people just need to be mindful of what they say, we receive comments that just wouldn’t be acceptable if it were said about any other minority, even within our own LGBT community questioning bisexuals and insinuating they aren’t ‘genuine’ is seen as fair game.’

‘It’s 2017. Google things.’

Issues that face the bisexuality community need to be highlighted more in NeonFiona’s opinion.

She told GSN: ‘There definitely isn’t enough attention given to biphobia or bi-erasure because if there was we wouldn’t be dealing with this still.

‘I personally believe in calling in biphobic people, as opposed to calling them out. Biphobia is often stemmed in ignorance so by educating them we can start to tackle the problem.

The bi YouTuber added lightheartedly: ‘It’s 2017, you can Google things.’

Oakley added to GSN ‘in a way’ he is glad the comments were aired.

He explained: ‘It’s important for media to hold a mirror to society and tell us what’s going on. We shouldn’t shy away from these things and I wouldn’t want them to edit biphobia away as if it doesn’t exist.’

Oakley points out the Complicated report by Equality Network which revealed 66% of bisexuals only ‘felt a little’ or ‘not at all’ part of the LGBT community.

He says: ‘What’s important now is for us to discuss it and to make sure this kind of behavior just isn’t acceptable.’

‘Inclusivity, sincerity and honesty’

The show has come under fire before for airing controversial comments.

Earlier this month, one man on a date told a story of how he got ‘catfished by a tranny.’

Outraged viewers took to Twitter to ask how the comments were allowed to be aired.

Gay Star News contacted Channel 4 for their response.

They said: ‘First Dates is renowned for its inclusivity, sincerity and honesty.  The dates include real conversations from a broad range of social groups who reflect on their own experiences of dating.

‘Zoe is talking about women who have had relationships with her for the night and then told her they are straight.’

NeonFiona explained: ‘First Dates can’t pretend to embrace the LGBTQ+ community while simultaneously crapping all over it.

‘While showing same-gender couples on dates and normalizing our relationships is great, it’s tainted by continued comments against bi and trans people.’

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 16:06:21 +0000
The thought-provoking advert was produced for National Anti-Bullying month in the US]]>

A three-minute advert by Burger King has gone viral on social media. Within it, the burger chain directly tackles the issue of bullying. More specifically, whether people call out bullying when they see it.

The film begins with kids recounting the reasons for which they’re bullied.

‘Chubby, short,’ says one girl.

‘Queer’ says one boy.

‘Getting caught up in bullying is so easy. You’re just glad you’re not being bullied,’ says another.

[embedded content]

The brand then undertakes an experiment. It places young actors in a restaurant and they pretend to bully one of the group. It then also ‘bullies’ a burger: A chef smashes it with his fist before wrapping it up and giving it to an unknowing customer.

A bullied child or a bullied burger? Can you guess which prompts the most comments from the real customers?

Burger King 95% of customers complained about their burger while only 12% of customers intervened when they saw the child being bullied nearby.

Although it’s an advert for a burger chain, it remains a powerful film that will make you think again about your own actions if you see a young person being picked upon by others.

A statement on YouTube says that the film was produced for National Anti-Bullying Month. It recommends viewers check out for more advice on bullying. The film has been viewed over 370,000 times on Facebook at the time of writing.

Burger King is headquartered in Miami, Florida. It scored 85 (out of 100) on the most recent HRC Corporate Equality Index – a ranking of companies based on their LGBT-friendly policies and procedures.

It has previously supported LGBT causes through participation at Pride events and producing a limited edition ‘Proud Whopper’ .

See also

What to do if you’re being trolled online

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 14:20:33 +0000
The actor says he’s had ‘a wonderful experience, a very welcoming experience’ since coming out]]>

Actor Keiynan Lonsdale has spoken about his experience since coming out.

The 25-year-old Australian actor stars in CW show The Flash.

He came out as LGBTI with an Instagram post in May.

Originally, he had not planned to come out.

Lonsdale said: ‘I never had any plans to come out until I was like in my 80s. Until then I’d just live a nice sad life.’

He attended his first LGBTI event since coming out, GLSEN’s Respect Awards, last Friday (20 October).

The Hollywood Reporter asked him about life post coming out.

Lonsdale explained: ‘It’s been a wonderful experience, a very welcoming experience.’

He had previously believed that coming out ‘could be a career-ender for actors.’

‘Now they can see someone on TV…’

Now, he says: ‘We have the power to change that outcome ourselves and if you come out and you’re proud of it and you’re proud of yourself then people are proud for you. It’s infectious.’

Keiynan Lonsdale is ‘part Nigerian.’

Since coming out he has young LGBTI in Nigeria contact him.

He explained: ‘I have kids contact me from Nigeria.

‘I’m part Nigerian and now they can see someone on TV and reach out to me on social media from the other side of the world. It’s amazing.

‘To hear them say they feel better about themselves, it means the world to me.’

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 13:21:03 +0000
Learn more about one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world, the Philippines, and explore its vivid gay scene!]]>

The Philippines is the most gay-friendly country in Asia, whose gay community has developed its own culture. ‘Bakla’ means homosexual in the Filipino language, while gay people are often considered a 3rd gender.

The LGBT community of the Philippines enjoys the majority of the human rights, especially compared to other Asian countries.

Same-sex marriage isn’t legal there yet unfortunately, but it has been discussed several times by the Congress.

In addition to the good living standards of the country’s gay community, Philippines is an excellent destination for gay vacations. You could take your friends or your other half.

Gay families are also welcome. The resorts are capable of giving you a full experience of the destination featuring a wide diversity of activities that you can do with your family.

Keep reading to discover some of the most popular gay destinations in the Philippines, and see some of the best gay-friendly hotels and resorts!

Fun Fact: The local LGBT community has even created its own slang that derives from Taglish and it’s called Swardspeak, aka ‘gay lingo.’


  • Best period to visit: November to April.
  • Travel costs in the Philippines: 60.66 Philippine Peso equals to €1.00, £0,89 or $1.17. The prices are quite affordable, however, moving from one island to another tends to cost a bare minimum of 17€.
  • LGBT level of acceptance: The level of gay acceptance in the Philippines is very high, and the local gay community has developed its own culture. The locals are very positive, especially with the travelers, while the gay scene is thriving. Nonetheless, discreet behavior is always recommended in public places!

Boracay is by far the most popular beach destination in the Philippines, standing out for its sandy and crystal-clear beaches, as well as its gay-friendly vibe. It’s a recommended destination for either gay couples and single gay travelers.

In addition to a number of gay-friendly resorts, you will find several gay venues including gay clubs and bars. The most popular of which are located on the D’Mall at Station 2. The venues attract mixed crowds!

There are numerous fun activities to do in Boracay. The most unique one is dressing up and learning how to swim like a truly handsome mermaid. White Beach is the best place to work these skills!

Of course, we could not refer to Boracay, and not talk about its stunning beaches. Some of the best beaches in Boracay are White Beach, Puka Shell Beach, and Bulabog Beach.

“Sinful or Innocent: Would you prefer an organized gay beach or a secluded spot where no eyes can reach?”

Extra Tip: Don’t forget to visit the isolated Puka Beach, located about 20 minutes away from D’Mall, on the northern tip of the island.


Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa

This is definitely one of the most luxurious accommodation choices in the area, also known for its extremely friendly profile. The Villas are ideal for gay couples and honeymooners!

See the hotel

Villa Caemilla Beach Boutique Hotel

There is a wide diversity of activities to do in and around the hotel, making it a perfect option for single gay travelers, gay couples as well as gay families. The luxurious 40 to 60 sqm Beach Front Executive Suites are ideal for gay honeymooners!

See the hotel

Makati town is part of the bigger complex of Metro Manila. The gay scene in the town is very limited, however, you may find several gay venues in the nearby towns, located only 30 to 40 minutes away from the town.

More particularly, the majority of the gay bars are located on Timog Ave in Quezon City and near Ortigas Home Depot in Pasig. The gay clubs usually host live acts with drag shows, male models, and go-go dancers.

Since Makati is located in the center of Metro Manila, nearby the capital city of Manila, you will find numerous entertainment options as well as eating venues and restaurants.

“Sinful or Innocent: Would you choose a cozy gay bar with a relaxing atmosphere or a gay club where you would have the chance to get naughty?” 

Extra Tip: Don’t miss to try the delicious Rainbow cake at the gay-friendly cafe “Subspace Coffee House” in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.


New World Makati Hotel

This hotel has the perfect location, in the center of Makati, nearby the city’s nightlife, while it’s also only 30 minutes of various gay bars. It also hosts live entertainment shows from Monday to Saturday!

See the hotel

Cebu is a Filipino province that consists of the main island, Cebu, and 167 surrounding islands and islets. It’s not an island that you would visit for its gay night scene, but mainly for its natural beauty.

Nonetheless, there are a couple of gay venues located on the main island, while the majority of the local businesses are gay-friendly. If you are a gay couple, choose to visit one of the hundreds of surrounding islands, for more private and intimate moments.

Scuba-diving is one of the most popular activities on the island, after all, the Philippines, as a country, is widely popular for the beauty of its coral reefs, and here you will find the most beautiful ones.

“Sinful or Innocent: Would you visit Cebu for its amazing surfing opportunities or for those damn hot Filipinos, we can not take our eyes off?”

Extra Tip: Don’t miss to snorkel with whale sharks; a unique experience that will get you on the edge of excitement and horror!


Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa, Cebu

The ideal hotel for gay couples and families in Cebu Island, featuring a wide range of facilities, such as entertainment areas, plenty of scheduled activities, dining options and more.

See the hotel

Sampaguita Resort

Located on the South-west part of Cebu Island, Sampaguita is a beautiful oceanfront resort ideal for snorkelers, divers and sea lovers. The perfect choice for gay nature-lovers!

See the hotel

Destsetters is a client of Gay Star News.

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 13:04:17 +0000
‘I was so lonely. But I’m singing songs about another guy now…’]]>

Sam Smith has finally confirmed he’s in a relationship.

Ahead of the release of his new album The Thrill of It All, the star revealed all on –where else? – Ellen’s sofa.

It is widely believed Sam is dating 13 Reasons Why actor Brandon Flynn, although neither has named the other as their boyfriend on record.

‘I’m quite happy, so it’s quite weird!’

When Ellen asked the Pray singer: ”You’re not single right now anymore, right?’, he replied ‘No, I’m not.

[embedded content]

‘Which is crazy. It’s weird bringing out an album and not being single. Because when I brought out In the Lonely Hour I was so lonely. But now I’m singing songs about another guy, I’m quite happy, so it’s quite weird.’

Sam made headlines over the weekend by revealing in a new interview that he feels ‘just as much woman as I man.’

He told The Sunday Times: ‘People don’t know this, but when I was 17, I remember becoming obsessed with Boy George and Marilyn. There was one moment in my life when I didn’t own a piece of male clothing, really.

‘I would wear full make up every day at school – eyelashes, leggings, with Dr Martens and huge fur coats, for two and a half years.’

The star hinted at his gender-fluid identity earlier this year with a sweater bearing the slogan, ‘Attitude of a Man, Essence of a Woman.’

Did Sam Smith just make a powerful statement about gender fluidity via his sweater?

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 12:10:26 +0000
‘She’s bi. And yes, she cares very little about what men think of her. What a joy to play!’]]>

Thor: Ragnarok will feature Marvel’s first on screen LGBTI character.

The actress playing Valkyrie has confirmed the Marvel Cinematic Universe character is bisexual.

People accused Tessa Thompson’s character of being a ‘typical sexless marvel tomboy.’

She clarified the character’s sexuality – Not once, but twice.

The comic book character of Valkyrie was bisexual according to fans. They questioned if she would also be bisexual on screen.

In one tweet, Thompson explained Valkyrie really does not care about what men think of her.

In cinemas now

She explained in another tweet Valkyrie’s bisexuality ‘isn’t explicitly addressed’ in Thor: Ragnarok.

Despite this, Thompson ‘was faithful to that in her depiction.’

One review said: ‘Looking back on the film, Valkyrie being bi makes sense.’

Thor: Ragnarok had its world premiere on 10 October in Los Angeles.

The movie hit UK screens today. It’s US release date is 3 November.

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 12:07:11 +0000
How many of you have ever felt personally victimized by… one of your own?]]>

Why do some gay men think only masculine men are worthy of their love?

I recently went on a coffee date with a guy I’d met online. From matching to meeting was a few hours, a refreshing and attractive change from busy diary-syncing.

At first sight he ticked some of my preferences; broad shoulders, big arms, a bit of a belly, dark features and all-round hairiness, gauged by his strong beard, got my heart pumping.

But, crucially, he was engaging, talkative and shared great enthusiasm about his future.

After a casual hour-or-so, he walked me to my bicycle, took me by the waist and kissed me – with impulsive, yet misguided, passion – and asked to see me again.

I agreed, despite his somewhat forceful kiss, to take him out for pizza soon.

When I got home, a message from him lead to this:

‘But you saw me and you saw how I am and I think you understand’

Was this man, a stranger, telling me I’m not worthy of the love of a ‘real man’?

Or was he using me as an exercise to exert his perception of masculinity and compare it to others to see, using the ‘I’m more man than you’ marking criteria, if he would come trumps?

Either way, his fear that I would demasculinize his image, sexuality and alpha male status, because of the tone of my voice and love of Little Mix, showed him up to be insecure.

He became less of a man than me, in my eyes, as maturity trumped masculinity.

This ‘man’ completely disregarded the ‘positive vibes’ he saw in me because the surface of who I am didn’t match the masculine frame he believes he deserves.

I agree, we’re all entitled to preference. As I just wrote above I have a thing for hairy muscle bears, but I keep true to the word preference – meaning not a necessity.

If you find yourself attracted to a guy, whoever they are, dismissing them based on what you believe you deserve is a fool’s game.

I feel bad for this man – he is letting good men pass by while he waits for someone who matches his image, not his spirit.

Masculinity is a societal construction and it sucks that perfectly nice men, like this guy, have its shallow values buried so deep within them. They will only allow love, and good people, to enter their lives when it suits how masculine they feel at the time.

This man told me in further messages he wanted to take a chance on me because he ‘fucking likes [me] sooooo much’, maybe I should have let him take that chance and show him how wrong he is about what masculinity can and does look like to others.

But, dating one femme guy, by labeling them a ‘chance’, doesn’t tell the world you’re free of your box – it just tells the world you’re trying to hide how shallow you are in plain sight.

And I won’t be that scapegoat for anyone.

I’m proud to be labelled femme, even if I’m not as aware of myself as others, if it means I can share love and light with diverse people.

Oh, and you still want me to take you for pizza after all that? Sense the pointed tone.

Read more from Dan Beeson, Head of Engagement at Gay Star News, here.

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 11:59:19 +0000
A new study at the LA LGBT Center is seeking to recruit hundreds of transgender and non-binary participants; many will get free PrEP]]>

HIV disproportionately affects transgender people.

A 2013 study estimated 22% of transgender women in the US are HIV positive.

Despite this, according to findings released this year by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), trans people are half as likely to get a HIV test than cisgender gay and bisexual men.

Two-thirds of trans men and women in the US say they’ve never had a HIV test.

Similarly, where it is available, trans people are less likely to be seeking out PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) medication. PrEP is the daily dose of Truvada that greatly reduces your chances of contracting HIV.

A new study being conducted at the LA LGBT Center is seeking to discover why more trans and non-binary people are not taking the medication.

‘PrEP takes a back seat’

It’s running two concurrent studies over the course of a year. It wants to recruit hundreds of trans and non-binary participants in the San Diego and Los Angeles areas.

The participants will be surveyed on their attitudes towards PrEP and the reasons why they might not be inclined to use the medication.

Others will be given free PrEP. They will have to return six times a year to discuss whether they are adhering to the treatment regime.

Risa Flynn, the Center’s Health Services Senior Manager of Research, says varied factors are behind the trans community’s slow uptake of PrEP.

‘[There are] economic, social, psychological, emotional, medical factors in the lives of trans and gender non-conforming people. Things like employment struggles, legal issues, housing, substance use, partner violence, to name just some.

‘These issues can demand immediate attention … [meaning] PrEP takes a back seat.’

‘How’s it going to affect my hormones?’

However, besides the daily challenges of life in a cisgender world, other issues unique to transgender people emerge.

‘When you start talking to trans and gender non-conforming individuals, one of their first questions is, “How’s it going to affect my hormones?”’ says Flynn.

To this end, the LA LGBT Center study will include a sub-study. With consent, some of those studied will have their hormone levels monitored to see if PrEP has any impact.

A similar pharmacokinetic study is also being carried out by the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health (CETH) at the University of San Francisco. Again, some transgender people have expressed concerns about potential interactions.

Luis Gutierrez-Mock, TRIUMPH Project Director at CETH says, ‘We don’t think there are any biological indicators that would lead us to think PrEP would negatively interact with hormones. However, we cannot definitively state that.

‘Very often, trans people will prioritize their gender-related health goals over almost anything else in their lives. So if people feel that Truvada is negatively impacting their gender-related goals, it leaves them not wanting to take Truvada.’

A similar concern was found in a 2016 Los Angeles-based study. This concluded trans women ‘frequently have concerns about potential anti-retroviral treatment (ART) and hormone therapy (HT) side effects and (DDIs) drug-drug interactions that, coupled with sub-optimal provider engagement, contribute to both ART and HT non-adherence.’

The marketing of PrEP to gay men

What does it mean by ‘sub-optimal provider engagement’?

The media emphasizes the fact HIV disproportionately affects gay and bisexual men. PrEP has been aggressively marketed to cisgender gay men. As a result, many trans people simply don’t know about it, or don’t perceive themselves as being at risk of HIV.

‘Some believe they might not even need Truvada,’ says Flynn’s colleague and fellow researcher, Chloé Opalo.

‘They believe they’re not at risk. They say, “I don’t want more chemicals in my body,” which is understandable, but at the same time, if they understood how high at risk they are, I feel like they’d be more willing to take PrEP.’

Trans people left out

‘The PrEP roll-out has been fantastic,’ says Gutierrez-Mock, but ‘with the focus it initially had on gay and bisexual men, unfortunately, it left out trans people. And in particular trans women, who as a group are at the highest risk of HIV among any other population, certainly within the US but possibly globally.’

‘All of the early PrEP studies were done in men who have sex with men,’ says Flynn. ‘In one of the important first studies, called iPrEx, there was a small percentage of trans individuals, but early studies were definitely focused on men who have sex with men.

‘As PrEP has gained media attention, and public health departments are starting to supply and promote PrEP, it still is mainly in that population.’

Relationship dynamics

Gutierrez-Mock also points out that relationship dynamics play a role.

‘I’m thinking in particular of trans women right now, with their male partners. We see very similar experiences that non-trans women have with their male partners.

‘If somebody is taking PrEP and their male partner doesn’t agree with that, there’s then this gender dynamic within that relationship where the female partner is trying to take control of her own sexuality and her own sexual health.

‘If the male partner disagrees with that then that creates a struggle in the relationship. That could be a reason why someone isn’t taking PrEP.’

Sarah McBride

The LA LGBT Center study is open to transgender men and women and non-gender specific individuals. Many welcome the studies.

Sarah McBride is National Press Secretary for HRC (Human Rights Campaign). She is also the writer of the forthcoming book, Tomorrow Will Be Different. She made history last year as the first transgender person to address the Democratic Party Convention.

‘Trans women, particularly trans women of color, continue to be at heightened risk for HIV infection,’ she told GSN.

‘The LA LGBT Center’s efforts to gain a better understanding of the barriers that trans women encounter when accessing and adhering to HIV prevention and treatment medicine is a critical next step as we all work to end the epidemic once and for all.’

Anyone interested in participating in the LA LGBT Center study can call +1-323-993-8919 or email [email protected]

See also

Trans people in US half as likely to get a HIV test than cisgender gay/bi men

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 10:55:05 +0000
‘These ads are nothing more than transmisogyny. It takes our femaleness and relates it to maleness devaluing who we are.’]]>

A South African internet provider has come under fire for their transphobic adverts.

The ads feature a man dressed in female clothing, next to sexual language alike what might be found on adult websites.

Juanita van Zyl is a trans woman based in South Africa.

She was a customer of WebAfrica when she received an email with the advert in.

Van Zyl explained to GSN: ‘When I first saw the ad I was extremely angry. It was a reminder that trans people are always the punchline of jokes.

‘It was also a reminder that we aren’t respected at all in South Africa despite our progressive constitution.’

‘People discredit trans lives’

In an email seen by Gay Star News, Van Zyl contacted WebAfrica by email to explain she wanted to cancel her services with them because of their transmisogynistic and offensive ad campaign.

WebAfrica’s website claims to reply to all emails within two hours.

Van Zyl had emailed them four times with no response.

She received no response to the emails and so resorted to using the company’s online chat function on their website.

This attempt was successful.

Customer service asked her why she was cancelling her line.

She told them: ‘Your current LTE ad campaign is transmisogynistic and offensive. Before this week, I was an incredibly happy customer. Now I need to get you out of my life.’

Van Zyl is now calling for the advert to be pulled.

South Africa legalized same-sex marriage in 2006.

The South African Sex Description Act allows people to change their legal gender after surgery, after taking hormones or they are intersex.

Van Zyl continued to tell Gay Star News: ‘For me it is an issue because in every single battle of our existence people use the trope that we aren’t women. We are men in dresses.

‘You see these arguments everywhere when people discredit trans lives.’

‘In my blog I describe how it comes out in my every day life.

‘Misgendering and deadnaming is far to often used to silence our voices showing people don’t respect us as women or trans and they will used that as a weapon against us to silence us.’

‘Insensitive and hateful ad campaigns’

Van Zyl posted the blog on 18 October.

She states she first saw the ads on 16 October.

Despite rallying with fellow trans activists on Twitter, the adverts still remain on WebAfrica’s Twitter account.

In her blogpost, Van Zyl explains: ‘Transgender people, like myself, have had a long battle with the media and our representation in the media.

If we don’t battle insensitive and hateful ad campaigns, we often have to deal with terrible articles in the news that either uses hurtful or problematic language or in the worst instances, deadname a Transgender person.’

‘Deadname’ refers to the birth name of a trans person, and not their preferred one.

Transmisogyny and trans antagonism

Juanita van Zyl also explains her blog posts the adverts are ‘nothing more than transmisogyny.’

‘It takes our femaleness and relates it to maleness devaluing who we are, and thus opening us up to ridicule, hatred and violence.

‘This is where Sexism and Transphobia (Trans Antagonism) meets. In these ads we are mocked, and fetishized.’

She adds: ‘The ridicule transgender people like myself experience on a regular basis is encouraged by mockery in the media. Insensitive ad campaigns such as the WebAfrica campaign makes transphobia more acceptable in society.’

Gay Star News has contacted WebAfrica for comment.

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 10:39:01 +0000
Ravi Round the World talks honeymooning in Iceland and meeting LGBTIs in Qatar]]>

Tell us more about you…

My name is Ravi Roth and I am 33 years old living in the Big Apple and I was raised in a small town called Dalton, outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

I went to college at The Boston Conservatory for musical theatre, and have performed in a ton of shows in both NYC and on the road. I starred in the closing cast of Altar Boyz Off Broadway and have performed all around the country.

Ravi in New York City (Instagram/raviroundtheworld)

Then I started traveling about 11 years ago and have had incredible opportunities to incorporate my larger-than-life self into creating my own brand in the niche market of LGBTI travel! I am now a YouTuber, vlogger, blogger, speaker, influencer, and travel writer.

Ravi Round The World started roughly five years ago and is now taking me to places I never even dreamed about visiting. I get hosted by tourism boards all around the world and to create a tailored video on each respective city. I throw myself balls to the wall, literally, into each city and curate my material through the lens of the LGBTI locals.

How many countries have you been to?

26! I’ve been to all the continents except Australia and Antarctica!

[embedded content]

What’s your favorite destination you’ve visited and why?

Cape Town, South Africa hands down because it was simply stunning. The landscape was truly epic with hikes I never imagined I could climb. The nightlife was lit, as all the locals went out pretty much every night and the gay bars were literally in a two block radius.

Being a vegetarian, I was a little concerned about the lack of options I would have, but each restaurant I visited had a vast array of options. The culture and history blew my mind, and I happened to be in Cape Town for Pride, which was super small but super mighty!

And your worst?

I always try to find positive experiences wherever I go, however Newport News, Virginia, was pretty tragic. There wasn’t much culture, only chain restaurants, and a pretty closed-minded community.


Ravi at Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona (Instagram/raviroundtheworld)

What has been your biggest vacation disaster?

Oh boy… I would have to say the tail end of my lavish trip in Bali. Being that I am a vegetarian, I wasn’t given an array of choices of meals to eat. It was pretty much rice, rice, rice, salad, rice, and fruit. Did I mention rice?

Day five of my six day trip I started feeling super sick. I was throwing up, there was blood in my vomit and stool, and it was right at the time of the Ebola outbreak. Of course I freaked out and thought I had Ebola and was ‘that guy’ but alas, it was Bali Belly, most likely from a fruit not properly washed. The worst part was that I flew business for the first time in my life and my trip home I couldn’t eat anything or have any cocktails!

Where was your most romantic trip and why?

Mykonos hands down as I was with my partner. Holding hands by the crystal blue water, strolling through the cobblestone streets streets, and sipping coffee on our balcony made me 100% fall in love with him.

Which country has the hottest people?

Brazil. Both the men and women are so hot and are always at the beach strutting their stuff. Does anybody work in Rio de Janeiro?!

Ravi in Mykonos (Instagram/Raviroundtheworld)

Where did you typically go on holiday as a kid?

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. My family had no idea it was a gay beach.

Have you ever experienced homophobia or discrimination abroad?

I have been super lucky in that I have not experienced homophobia in any country abroad. The only place I ever experienced it was in fact in New York City. I consider myself lucky because it was just name calling, but still, words hurt.

Would you avoid a certain country because of the laws there?

I am a traveler who loves to push boundaries. Obviously I don’t want to be killed for being gay, but I had an 18 hour layover in Doha, Qatar on my way to Cape Town, South Africa. I wanted to interview people that were in the LGBTI community on the down low as it is illegal to be gay in Qatar.

But when I approached customs on my 18 hour layover they looked me up and down and asked if I was Israeli. I said ‘my mother is, would I be allowed to leave the airport and come back?’ The man said in the most shady way ‘It’s up to you.’ I decided to stay in the airport…

Ravi with friends in Sitges (Instagram/raviroundtheworld)

Do you ever hope to get married, and if so, would you consider a destination wedding?

100% and I honestly have no idea. Mykonos would be amazing as that was our first trip together, but I also love the idea of New York City as both of our families are in close vicinity.

Where would you go on your honeymoon?

Iceland as I have never been and am dying to explore!

Where were you going the last time you stepped on a plane, apart from home?

Barcelona for Circuit Barcelona 2017 where I made an episode for my travel series, coming out soon.

Ravi at Circuit Festival in Barcelona (Instagram/raviroundtheworld)

What is your top tip for making it through a long-haul flight?

Red wine, red wine, red wine. Also get up to stretch at least every hour and a half. Lastly try to not get much sleep the night before a long trip, that way you will pass out for the majority of the flight.

Where do you hope to visit this year and why?

Thailand as I hear it is super progressive, liberal, accepting, and has baller food, and a lavish nightlife.

What is the best thing about traveling with your partner?

Learning about each other. We are both in vastly different fields. When we trek the globe together we learn what truly ignites the other, we both become insanely curious, and we get the most out of each destination. He also hasn’t left me yet for the amount of selfie sticks I bring to each city!

How did you both meet?

Tinder. We both swept right and he stole my heart.

Follow Ravi on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube, or visit his official website.

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 10:22:47 +0000
An unconventional music documentary offers a behind the scenes look at the legendary Grace Jones]]>

When I first heard that BBC Films were backing a new documentary about Grace Jones, I was excited. As a big fan of the singer, I’ve often felt her contribution to popular culture has been somewhat overlooked. A feature-length documentary would be a good opportunity to explore her legacy and appeal.

Hoping for a retrospective look back at her career, I couldn’t help being disappointed in Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami. The film will be screening in UK movie theaters from 27 October.

Directed by Sophie Fiennes, the film, according to its makers, ‘re-invents the music film as an electrifying journey through the performance, private and public worlds of pop cultural icon.’

This translates as a selection of concert footage intercut with Jones backstage, visiting Paris, and on a trip to visit friends and family in Jamaica.

There are no straight-to-camera interviews or clips from old videos or films. Any historical information presented comes from snippets of conversations (such as a dressing room explanation about the infamous episode when she hit British chat show host Russell Harty in the early 80s).

If you knew nothing about Grace Jones going into this film, you’d leave knowing very little about her actual career.

‘I look like the lesbian Madam in a whore house!’

Yes, the concert footage will delight fans. Jones performs half a dozen tracks from her back catalogue including Slave to the Rhythm, Pull Up to the Bumper and a visibly emotional delivery of Amazing Grace.

Candid clips find Jones arguing with Sly & Robbie in a phone call over when the producing/songwriting duo appear to cancel studio time at short notice (which the singer has paid for out of her own pocket).

There’s a classic display of Diva Grace when she rows with a French TV producer about the staging of a performance on a ‘tacky’ TV show.

Surrounded by scantily clad female models in lingerie for a rendition of La Vie En Rose, Jones riles: ‘I look like the lesbian Madam in a whore house!’. To be fair, she has a point.


The Jamaica trip offers a glimpse of her background, but it’s one that again may frustrate some. Anyone who read her 2016 autobiography, I’ll Never Write My Memoirs, will know who she’s talking about when she refers to Mas P. He was step-grandfather who caned and beat his grandchildren, including Jones, but no explanation is offered here.

There’s also a tantalizing conversation between Jones and former partner Jean-Paul Goude.

Jones tells him he was one of only two men to make her knees tremble with fear. Goude was the photographer responsible for producing many of the iconic images of Jones in the late 70s and early 80s, but you’ll see none in Bloodlight and Bami.

None featured in her autobiography either. It leaves one wondering whether Jones wants to distance herself from Goude’s manipulation of her image, doesn’t wish to dwell on the past … or if someone didn’t want to pay for usage rights.

Lastly, little of this footage is recent. The arguments with Sly & Robbie were around the recording of her 2008 comeback album, Hurricane. A sign on the wall of a church in Jamaica appears to date that particular footage to 2005.

It begs the question: why has Bloodlight and Bami only been put together now? Interviews by Fiennes suggest a labor of love project: initiated and then put on ice until money was found to complete it. This might also go some way to explain the lack of archive material.

One for her fans, but even then, perhaps go with lowered expectations.

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami will open in UK movie theaters from 27 October. Special screenings of the film will take place 25 October, followed by a streamed Q&A from the BFI Southbank: Grace Jones and Friends Live.

See also

WATCH: Why this gay, Swedish dance producer went to Uganda to work with LGBTI music makers

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 07:06:15 +0000
‘My gut would be to vote against it’]]>

Controversial public figure, Milo Yiannopoulos, told Australians to vote no to same-sex marriage, just weeks after he married a man in Hawaii.

The alt-right poster boy has been doing promotional media interviews ahead of his national tour to Australia next month.

Yiannopoulos was asked how he would vote in the country’s postal survey on marriage equality. He replied saying he would probably vote ‘no’.

‘My gut would be to vote against it,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

‘I’m gay and a Catholic. The highest priority for me is making sure no church, no believer anywhere, is required to violate their religious conscience.’

‘I think those things can co-exist perfectly peacefully. I think the state probably should recognise a gay couple who want to commit to one another.

‘But the paramount consideration is not those gay couples – it is religious freedom.’

If the majority of Australians vote in favour of same-sex marriage, it is expected conservative politicians will push for greater religious freedoms to be included in legislation on the issue.

But a draft same-sex marriage Bill by the gay, conservative senator, Dean Smith, included a list of exemptions for religious bodies.

His Bill would allow two people of any gender to marry. But Ministers of religion would be able to refuse to perform weddings, provided they comply with anti-discrimination laws.

Businesses, non-religious organizations and civil marriage celebrants  would not be able to refuse service to same-sex couples.

Marriage will ruin gay culture

Yiannopoulos also argued that marriage would have a negative effect on gay culture.

‘One of the few advantages of being gay was that you could tumble out of a nightclub at 1am on a Tuesday and no one could have a go at you for it,’ he told the Daily Mail.

‘But if we’re buying into these institutions like marriage, I worry that there will be a deadening effect on gay culture.

‘So my instinct would be to vote against it and to look at some kind of proposed law that people could read and think about.’

Yiannopoulos married his long-term partner John in Hawaii earlier this month.

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 05:10:45 +0000
‘Inaction is not an option when harm is the likely result’


In news that comes as no surprise to the LGBTI community, new research shows discrimination and not having same-sex parents affects children more.

A team of medical practitioners and researchers released their findings in the Medical Journal of Australia.

They found ‘children raised in same-sex parented families do as well emotionally, socially and educationally as children raised by heterosexual couple parents’.

It found children were much more likely to be impacted negatively by the homophobia their parents faced.

‘Children and adolescents with same-sex parents are emotionally affected when they and their families are exposed to homophobia, discrimination, prejudice and social stigma, and do better when they live in communities that hold more accepting attitudes,’ researchers said.

‘Exposure to devaluing and discriminatory public messaging regarding LGBTIQ+ issues results in stark negative psychological and relational consequences for same-sex couples and their families.’

Marriage equality debate

Researchers argued these results were especially critical during Australia’s postal survey on marriage equality. They called on the medical community to support LGBTI people and their children during this time.

Misinformation was circulating publicly that children of same-sex parents were at risk of poorer health and wellbeing than other children. This created an increased public health risk as a result of homophobic campaign messages for the entire LGBTIQ community.

‘The entire LGBTIQ+ community is at risk of harm in the current debate concerning same-sex marriage, and the most vulnerable are children and adolescents,’ the researchers said.

‘We need to speak up. Opportunities exist to add our voices to the public debate, through public statements as individuals and from our professional associations and workplaces.

‘Inaction is not an option when harm is the likely result.’

]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 03:57:23 +0000
Young people need to step up and make sure their ‘yes’ ballots are returned by this Friday]]>

The clock is ticking for Australians to return their postal survey forms and have their say on marriage equality.

Even though ballots are due back by November 7, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has recommended survey forms be posted back by this Friday 27 October. That would be enough time for the ballots to arrive before the survey closes.

Australia is holding a non-compulsory, non-binding postal survey asking voters is they think the law should be changed to allow same-sex marriage.

A new poll released today showed more than 50% of people who have already sent back their ballot voted ‘yes’ to marriage equality. But five million ballots have yet to be returned.

The Essential poll commissioned by the Guardian older Australians had higher participation rates than young people.

Only 60% of people who under age 35 have voted compared with 91% of people aged over 55.

These numbers have the Equality Campaign – the main marriage equality advocacy group – worried. Younger people are more likely to vote ‘yes’, while older people are less supportive of same-sex marriage.

‘There is no room for complacency and no reason to think someone else’s vote will win this,’ Equality Campaign director Tiernan Brady told

To remind people to get their ballots off before Friday, Aussies have been posting videos and photos of themselves sending back their forms.

The #PostYourYes hashtag was trending on Twitter on Tuesday. Twitter got behind the push for people to return their forms and created a special emoji for the Yes Campaign: 

Here are the cutest #PostYourYes photos and videos:













]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 23:30:52 +0000
Who knew pumpkins could be so arousing?]]>

This is just what’s needed to prepare for Halloween next week — a sexy pumpkin or two!

Photographer Gayla Thompson decided to have some fun with the autumnal season in one of her recent photoshoots.

She told the Huffington Post she ‘begged’ her husband to pose for her vision. And we are so glad he decided to say yes because the results are everything.

Thompson’s husband, Ryan, certainly gets into it.

The pair is based out of Nashville, Tennessee and made the most out of their setting and fall vibes.

‘These were my ideas but once we started the shoot, my husband took over and there was no need for direction,’ Thompson said. ‘He’s a great model.’

]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 22:43:43 +0000
Jared O’Mara was elected in June]]>

Labour MP Jared O’Mara resigned from the Women and Equalities Committee over unearthed homophobic and misogynistic comments.

O’Mara made the comments in 2004 on the music website Drowned in Sound. He was elected in June, unseating Nick Clegg.

One of the comments included saying Michelle McManus only won Pop Idol ‘because she was fat’. In another, he said it would be funny if jazz star Jamie Cullum was ‘sodomised with his own piano’.

He also joked about having an orgy with members of Girls Aloud.

While O’Mara is not being suspended from his position, criticism has been swift.

‘Deeply concerned’

LGBT Labour released the following statement regarding O’Mara’s comments on Twitter, saying they are ‘deeply concerned’.

They also say the fact that the comments were made more than a decade ago ‘doesn’t excuse such ignorance and bigotry’.

Fellow Labour MP Stella Creasy called the comments ‘not ok’ on Twitter. She also revealed LGBT Labour called O’Mara for a meeting to discuss the comments.

‘Deeply ashamed’

O’Mara released his own statement, echoing the LGBT Labour statement and saying he was ‘deeply ashamed’ of his comments.

‘I understand why they are offensive and sincerely apologise for my use of such unacceptable language,’ the statement reveals.

‘Misogyny is a deep problem in our society,’ it continues. ‘Since making those comments 15 years ago, I have learned about inequalities of power and how violent language perpetuates them.’

Some MPs suggest giving O’Mara a second chance, including Wes Streeting.

‘The battle for equality is a battle for hearts and minds and that must surely mean that people are allowed to change their views and therefore must also be offered a second chance,’ he said. ‘I hope I don’t end up eating my words and that he demonstrates his commitment to equality as a new MP. I think we owe him that chance.’

]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 21:53:36 +0000
The flyer was posted around Cleveland State University last week]]>

Last week, a horrifying and homophobic flyer spread across Cleveland State University.

The poster boasted inaccurate statistics about suicide rates among the LGBTI community. It also showed a man with a noose around his neck and big, bold letters reading: ‘Follow your fellow f****ts.’

Numerous copies of the flyer appeared the same day the university opened its first LGBT center.

Ronald M. Berkman, President of CSU issued a statement after students removed the posters.

The statement reaffirmed the university’s commitment to both respect and free speech. Many critics saw the statement as using free speech to defend the flyers.

Now, the university released a follow-up statement, admitting their ‘inadequate initial response’.

Steps forward

In the statement, the university reveals they’re investing in sensitivity education. They are also creating an advisory committee to address the concerns from students.

Here is the new statement in full:

On Thursday, October 12, appalling white supremacist flyers attacking our LGBTQ+ community and racial and religious minorities were discovered in the Main Classroom Building at Cleveland State University. The flyers were immediately removed. Hate has no place in our community. It never will.

We unequivocally condemn the abhorrent message on these flyers. An attack on one group is an attack on our whole campus. We unwaveringly value our marginalized students, faculty and staff, we honor them and we will always support them. Therefore, we must come together as one to show that inclusion and respect will prevail.

We also recognize that this hateful act and the University’s inadequate initial response made many members of our diverse community of students, faculty and staff feel unsafe, unheard and unvalued.

The safety of CSU’s students, faculty and staff is the University’s highest priority. If you need any support at any time, please visit Many campus resources are available, including the new LGBTQ+ Center, the Counseling Center and the Care Team.

We also want to affirm that our community is a welcoming one. To this end, we will invest in ongoing Cultural Humility and Cultural Sensitivity education that addresses the intersectionality of race, class, sexual orientation, gender and religious issues. Additionally, the undersigned will work with CSU’s community to co-create a collaborative advisory committee that will devise a plan to address the specific concerns we have heard from you.

Meetings have already been held to start organizing this committee with key campus organizations and the broader community in Cleveland and the state of Ohio. We ask that you play an active role in this conversation. Given the broader nature of this attack, we invite representatives of all diverse groups to participate. To do so, please contact CSU Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Maurice Stinnett at 216.523.7292 or [email protected].

We will be transparent about our progress and provide regular updates to the community through the University’s Diversity and Engagement Division website at, and distribute updates through the University’s social media channels.

Standing together as one proud CSU and the greater Cleveland community, we will emerge from this process stronger, more committed and more united than ever.

]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 19:35:20 +0000
The city of Echo, Oregon issued an apology]]>

The city of Echo, Oregon issued an apology after a city council member’s disturbing Facebook comments on 7 October.

City councilor Lou Nakapalau made the comments on a Facebook page for the film Kumu Hina. The film in question is about a transgender Hawaiian woman.

Nakapalau got into an argument with filmmaker Joe Wilson about transgender rights. The debate culminated in Nakapalau telling Wilson he was going to spit on his grave after Wilson dies of AIDS.

Some of the comments have since been deleted, while others were edited for profanity.

City councilor Robert Harris proposed the apology last week at a meeting. At first, there was silence and no move to the second the motion. As the audience began to cry out, fellow councilor Janie Enright seconded. The rest of the council voted unanimously to approve the motion, while Nakapalau remained quiet.

‘You are safe here’

In the city’s statement, they ‘extend its sincerest apology to those who were offended by comments made by a council member in a Facebook dialog’.

It continues: ‘Comments of individual council members on their personal social media accounts do not have any endorsement or approval of the council as a whole nor do they represent city policy.’

Along with the apology, Harris also suggested the council come up with ethics guidelines regarding social media use of council members.

However, despite calls from some city members for Nakapalau’s resignation, Harris affirms that’s not what he was trying to do.

Furthermore, while Harris issued an apology on his own Facebook page, Nakapalau has yet to do so.

For those that don’t know, I am a council member for the city of Echo. The events in the past few weeks has led to this…

Posted by Robert W Harris on Thursday, October 19, 2017

Still, some of the city’s residents are taking matters into their own hands.

Pam Reese and other business owners posted signs on their front doors reading: ‘We stand with you. You are safe here.’

H/t: East Oregonian

]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 18:22:33 +0000
Professor said it was ‘partly for humor and partly to discuss sexual dimorphism’]]>

On Friday (20 October), a tweet went viral of a quiz allegedly given to students at State University of New York College at Geneseo.

The professor, David Sorbello, presented the quiz in an introductory sociology class. In it, he reportedly asked students to identify trans women in a series of photos. He called the quiz: ‘Female or Shemale’.

When student Jillian Sternberg approached him after class to discuss the quiz, Sorbello said it was ‘partly for humor and partly to discuss sexual dimorphism’.

However, Sternberg said the class didn’t include any discussion about sexual dimorphism. This is a condition where two sexes of the same species exhibit physical differences beyond their sex organs.

Along with the quiz, Sorbello also allegedly made disturbing comments to his students, including: ‘Be careful not to get too drunk or you’ll take the wrong one home.’

Professor and university responds

Beyond confronting Sorbello, students also took to social media to criticize what happened in the class.

Twitter user Jasmine Cui also tweeted a screencap of an email Sorbello allegedly sent to his students after the class.

In the email, he tells students that ‘lecture slides will no longer be available for taking pictures after class’. He also reinforces a zero tolerance policy on the use of electronic devices in class.

Many are critiquing the response for missing the point and not accepting responsibility.

Furthermore, university president Denise A. Battles released a statement about the situation.

‘We are taking the matter very seriously and are gathering the facts to determine if and what action is warranted,’ Battles wrote about the university’s response.

It continued: ‘The classroom is an environment in which students and faculty can and should discuss challenging topics and ideas, which makes it all the more important that we gather and fully review the facts in this case.

‘As we review this situation, let me say unequivocally that SUNY Geneseo has a steadfast and uncompromising commitment to diversity and inclusivity. We work diligently to sustain an inviting and supportive environment for people of all gender identities, gender expressions, sexual orientations, races, religions and other identities.’

The statement ends encouraging students to reach out to the dean of students, Lenny Sancilio, and coordinator of LGBTQ Programs and Services, Dillon Federici.

]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 15:52:13 +0000
Trans Media Watch’s Helen Belcher takes tabloids to task over their transphobia]]>

’50 KIDS A WEEK SENT TO SEX CHANGE CLINICS’ screams today’s Daily Mirror’s front page headline. It seems designed to prompt concern.

The term ‘sex change’ doesn’t appear anywhere in the supporting article, instead being a fairly measured piece about growing acceptance meaning more demand, and also recognizing that some of the children referred to the Tavistock and Portman clinic may not be trans.

The only negative part in the piece is someone who seems to have self-medicated now regrets it, and has, as a result, decided that children can’t possibly know they’re trans. As a medic, she ought to be aware of the flaws of extrapolating from anecdotal evidence.

But the headline sets the tone – and is what will be read by most people. They won’t read the underlying story, and are likely to go away muttering about the decay of British society.

That’s not all. ‘DON’T CALL MUMS WOMEN’ is shouted from the front page of today’s Sun. Despite featuring Britain’s first pregnant man on more than one occasion (different people each time) you’d have thought that they, of all papers, would have understood that trans men can and do give birth – and some people might have problems calling them ‘mothers’.

Yes, the NHS did produce a paper a few months ago where, on the grounds of inclusivity, they suggested gender neutral terms be used. However, I can’t find any evidence that this was driven by trans people calling for it.

When you’re finding it hard to get or keep a job, dealing with petty bureaucracy driven by people who don’t understand their own processes, and possibly being beaten up on a regular basis – inclusive language, while nice, is some way down the list of important issues.

Nearly eight years ago a group of five of us set up Trans Media Watch, after years of corrosive and inaccurate reporting across the British media. Our submission to the Leveson Inquiry in 2012 contained numerous examples of awful coverage, prompting Lord Justice Leveson to recommend the press raised its game significantly in this area.

It was only in 2013, after a trans person they had targeted took her own life, the media stopped to think about what they were doing to real people.

Relative silence for a year, then ‘supportive outings’, then some mainstreaming, and now we suddenly find ourselves in the spotlight once again, repeatedly forced to justify ourselves against allegations and questions that show little understanding.

‘And do you have anything to prove that [you’re a woman]’, asked John Humphries of Stonewall’s Bex Stinson on last week’s BBC Radio 4 – followed up by the legally questionable ‘but you don’t have a certificate’. This was early on in 25 minutes of a feature where trans peoples’ identities were, once again, subject for debate on the national media.

One of the programme’s researchers emailed me this morning in some bafflement about what bits were transphobic. Between conflating sexuality and gender identity, including someone who is politically opposed to trans people, and highlighting the same self-medicating medic reported in the Mirror – I genuinely do not know where to start.

I know journalists and editors are under a huge amount of pressure. But, surely, the clauses in all the relevant codes insisting on accuracy mean they really ought to get some of their facts right, and spend some time researching and understanding the issue rather than leaping for clickbait headlines.

It’s not a coincidence that trans people are coming under such intense media scrutiny.

Opposition to trans rights

In July, the UK Government announced it wanted to revise the Gender Recognition Act, recognizing that it’s an overly bureaucratic and costly system which hasn’t been taken up by many people. They were thinking about revising it in line with the recommendations of the House of Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee’s 2016 report into trans issues. The Prime Minister repeated her intention to amend this Act just last week.

Most people agree the Act needs changing. It’s costly for trans people to apply and to assemble the evidence that’s needed, including two medical reports. You send the paperwork off and wait for a decision. You never meet the Panel, and you have no right of appeal. It’s dehumanizing and slow, and it’s not clear on what basis the Panel makes their decisions. (Yes, you read that right – you never meet the Panel and have no right of appeal.)

Western countries are now implementing self-declaration systems, where you make a statutory declaration about your gender, and the state simply recognizes it. No fuss, and very little cost. And, to date, no abuse either.

That hasn’t stopped the opposition to review. Conflating gender recognition with access to healthcare, creating alarm about ‘men’ in women’s spaces – surely maliciously-minded men would find easier ways to invade women’s spaces than go through a streamlined gender recognition process – and, won’t anyone think of the children?

Include trans people in the conversation

What’s missing in all this manufactured alarm is the actual life experiences of trans people? A study a few years ago showed a majority of trans people knew they were ‘different’ by the time they were 7.

It’s recognized that gender dysphoria can be disabling if not recognized or treated – so what do the opposition suggest we do for those children who simply cannot face school, or life? This is another set of examples where trans people are not seen as people, but simply as problems or theoretical issues.

We don’t expect people with physical or mental disabilities or religious beliefs to grow out of it – so why do we persist in doing this to trans people?

The past few weeks of media coverage, with all of its subtle tones and weaselly ways of staying just inside the Editors Code, should surely show that it’s now time for the wider LGB community to get behind trans people.

We’re not ‘erasing the gay experience’ or calling everyone transgender. We are simply making our constant demand, the right to be recognized as ourselves without question. And we need your support.

Helen Belcher works with Trans Media Watch to fight for better representations of transgender people on TV, radio and in the news. You can find her on Twitter.

]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 15:44:49 +0000
Pat Gothman reflects on a teacher who inspired him to become an educator himself – and showed him the joy in having a partner]]>

I used to tell people I hoped I would die young. A part of me surely pictured a romantic tragedy to wrapping up my life before everyone else was ready to say goodbye. But mostly, I just couldn’t imagine the unbearable pain of growing old.

Friends would ask me how I pictured my life as an old man and if I trusted them I would tell them honestly: I couldn’t.

I hoped one day I would just grow terribly sick. Maybe a car accident. Dying while saving someone else’s life didn’t seem too bad. It didn’t really matter how.

I had moved beyond my brief flirtation with wanting to take my own life but I was never convinced the life I was left with was worth playing out.

That’s not entirely true, I suppose. There was one time I wanted to grow old.

‘They were best friends’

My freshmen year of high school, before my church or my sexuality would assert themselves as the roadblocks to proper society I would eventually have to come to terms with, I found what felt like some kind of future I could actually desire.

My geography teacher and the pitching coach on my baseball team was a man named Paul Mazzuca. He was loud and gregarious, prone to exaggerated songs to memorize the Bay of Biscay  –  it’s so fun, so fun to say!  – and long rants on the enduring perfection of the band U2.

With the classroom dark for a quiz he would not-so-subtly lean over to me, the clear map of Europe sliding off the projector as he whispered in my ear, ‘I’ll give you a hint  –  it starts with a “B” and ends with “-altic Sea.”’

But my favorite thing about Coach Mazzuca was his relationship with the teacher down the hall. They were best friends and gleefully blurred the line between personal and professional.

They would run into each others’ classrooms and interrupt the lecture to make fun of one another or tell a story about their kids. It was a massive high school, but in first period, we felt like a family.

Less than a month in I had decided I wanted to be a teacher too.

‘I only hoped death would take me before celibacy could’

Coach Mazzuca and his classroom stuck with me for years. I imagined myself with a best friend down the hall, laughing all day, sharing a ride home and discussing how the quiet girl by the window was finally coming out of her shell. She wouldn’t be one of my students, but I would know exactly who she was from her apprehensive responses to my own interruptions to their classroom.

With time my church and my sexuality did catch up with me and the dream of growing old as a teacher got pushed aside. From then on out I only hoped death would take me before celibacy could.

‘They had something I instinctively wanted: a partner’

It’s remarkable to me now how obvious it is that what I saw in Coach Mazzuca was not so much his teaching skills  –  though he was a natural  – but his companionship down the hall.

Make no mistake, they were both happily heterosexual. But they had something I instinctively wanted: a partner. It was a deeply freshmen understanding of what the profession would be, but for some 30 years, it was the only time I imagined myself having a life worth seeing out to the end.

I did become a teacher after graduating college, though I never found someone I could share the years with like I imagined I would.

I taught and coached baseball just like Coach did, but my students never saw anyone burst through the door with another gut-busting story or sarcastic observation on my teaching skills.

They never caught a glimpse of me as more than just a man alone in his classroom, never felt the family I was so enamored with in the hall when I was their age. I sure didn’t see it this time sitting on the other side of the desk.

After two years I moved on. It wasn’t enough for me to imagine a life beyond my 30s. I saw it as a beautiful job, but a life I wouldn’t be able to sustain. Alone it seemed so much different. And compounding the pain was knowing I couldn’t tell anyone why I had no one to share it with down the hall.

Celibacy and the closet

It’s hard to know exactly what to say to someone when you think their sexuality is busted enough to require celibacy. Family and priests who knew I was gay would always mention how deeply private they understood it was. Nobody’s business but mine.

Unseemly coming out videos or gays who ‘flaunted it’ around the office taking a small piece of themselves and masquerading as if it were the whole. The recognition that this was mine to reveal was also wrapped in the unspoken hint that it would be so much better if I never did.

Maybe it was embarrassing. Maybe it was understood that bigotry was out there and real and a kind of pain better to be avoided if possible.

The sincerity of this instinct to closet I know came most truly from a place of wanting to protect and shelter me more than hide and neglect. But what type of life can you envision for yourself if you must disguise it from the world?

‘The hiding, the waiting, the lying — it left me praying for an early grave’

While those around me celebrated anniversaries and children and stories of dates gone desperately awry and delightfully well, I was left to wonder why my life wasn’t worth sharing at all. Not like theirs.

Eventually I was left with the option to either believe I would never — could never — have a partner down the hall to share life with, or to give it a shot myself, to date, to fall in love, to try and see if it measured up to what everyone else had.

Maybe it would come out as disordered and abominable as so many told me it would. Or maybe not. But at least I would know. Because the hiding, the waiting, the lying — it left me praying for an early grave.

‘Falling in love is the farthest thing from a misdeed’

Even as I said the words out loud I knew how wrong that was. If anyone I loved ever said that to me I would wrap them up in my arms so close and tell them they can’t go on like this. It took years for me to finally say it to myself.

What I know now is that my instincts were right. Whether or not I end up back in the classroom one day, the example Coach Mazzuca inspired in me was a genuine one. A partner is no scandal. To share your life is no crime. Falling in love is the farthest thing from a misdeed.

The hope two teachers gave me over 15 years ago took a while to bloom. It hid underground and grew stubbornly in fits and starts. Sometimes, though, I catch that same look Coach used to have in my boyfriend’s eye. And when I do, I know I’ve made it.

This article first appeared on Medium. Follow Patrick Gothman on Medium and Twitter.

See also

Need support? LGBTI helplines for those in crisis or seeking advice

]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 15:40:58 +0000
‘Emma becomes an instant outcast when her high school cancels the prom rather than let her attend with her girlfriend’]]>

A musical about high school lesbians will hit Broadway next year.

The Prom is about an Indiana high school that forbids a female student, Emma, from bringing her girlfriend to prom.

The official plot explains after hearing Emma’s story ‘a group of fading celebrities takes up the cause, and invades Emma’s small Indiana town.’

Casey Nicholaw directed The Prom during its debut run at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre.

Producer Dori Berinstein explained: ‘We intentionally went to Atlanta because we wanted a very diverse audience,

‘We wanted to be in an environment where that issue might be challenging for some people; we wanted to test it in front of an audience who weren’t all, “Yay, go lesbian proms!”‘

‘A crowd-pleasing spectacle’

It is based on an original concept by Jack Viertel.

Reviews described The Prom as ‘a loopy, loving and joyous musical.’

The musical then see’s as the celebrities ‘bumbling attempts at social activism’ cause chaos.

Another reviewed labelled the show a ‘crowd-pleasing spectacle with a well-intentioned message.’

Tony winner Casey Nicholaw will return to direct and choreograph The Prom on Broadway.

He is also directing and choreograph the Mean Girls musical.

There is no word yet who will play the main role of Emma or her girlfriend.

It’s opening night is billed as 15 November 2018.

Watch the trailer for The Prom’s Atlanta run below.

[embedded content]

]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 14:55:09 +0000
But there is still hope for civil unions for same-sex couples]]>

Panama has ruled against same-sex marriage, claiming a discriminatory law is constitutional.

Justice Luis Ramón Fábrega, on the Supreme Code, has said the country’s family code that prevents same-sex couples from marrying in the Central American country is not unconstitutional.

However, there is a possibility for National Assembly members to legislate on civil unions.

Panama could get civil unions for same-sex couples

‘Equality must be constitutionally guaranteed via the law,’ wrote Fábrega, according to La Estrella.

‘It is incumbent upon the Assembly to pass the necessary laws to comply with the purposes and the exercise of the state’s duties as outlined under the constitution.’

It came after a same-sex couple filed a lawsuit in which they seek formal recognition of their marriage in the UK in Panama. A second lawsuit challenges the provisions of the Panama family code that bans same-sex couples from marrying.

Article 26 of the Family Code currently defines marriage as a ‘voluntary union between man and woman, who come together to make and share a life’.

Panama has no recognition of same-sex couples. In 2008 it became the last Spanish-speaking country in Latin America to abolish historic anti-sodomy laws.

Lawyer claims no famous gay ‘creative’ ever wanted to get married

Gilberto Boutin, dean of the Faculty of Law and Political Science at the University of Panama, claimed marriage equality was a US concept – or an ‘import of gringolandia’.

He also claimed the Ancient Greeks, who he called the ‘parents of homosexuality’, did not allow same-sex marriage.

‘No monotheistic religion accepts homosexuality, neither Christianity, nor Buddhism nor Islam,’ he said.

‘One has to ask, if what is sought is a homosexual movement to replace a secular state with a homosexual state?’

Boutin also told Panamá Americá his opposition to same-sex marriage was based on how no famous gay man in history ever wished to get married.

‘The condition of being gay was to be happy with a hedonistic freedom’, he said.

]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 14:46:37 +0000
$60,000 worth of dildos and butt plugs were stolen last Monday]]>

$60,000 worth of dildos and butt plugs were stolen last Monday.

It is believed to be the biggest sex toy in history.

Fun Toys London were showcasing their products at Venus Berlin, an erotic and lifestyle sectors trade fair.

A representative of the company posted on their Facebook to explain the team had been celebrating a ‘successful end’ of the exhibition when they returned to find all their products stolen.

The total price of all the products stolen comes to over £45,000 (€50,000).

A police report has been filed and they are hoping the culprits will be found.

‘Only the brochures, bags and two boxes with testers were left’

The statement on Fun Toys London’s Facebook reads: ‘It turned out that ALL the FT products worth over 50.000 euros had been stolen! Only the brochures, bags and two boxes with testers were left.

‘Also, our award Erotix Awards 2017 was on the scene which is consoling.

‘When our representative was away for 5 minutes to meet the police at the entrance, another four boxes were stolen! This is the largest recorded theft of sex toys in history.

‘What is amusing is that not a single tester went missing during the days of the exhibition!’

They continue to explain representatives of Venus-Berlin have not helped in trying to solve the problem.

The only thing we managed to receive from the organizers on the next day is the contacts of the contractor who set up the stand,’ They explain.

The post asks people to look out for their products being sold by an ‘unauthorized seller’ and supplied a list of their distributors.

]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 11:57:41 +0000
‘This performance was much more than just a dance’]]>

As the campaign for marriage equality drags on during Australia’s postal survey on the issue, one group came up with a fun way to remind people to vote ‘yes’.

Tim Little came up with the idea to host a flash mob in one of the city’s busiest locations, Federation Square.

About 40 dancers and 10 support crew performed complex choreography to a medley of hit pop songs

‘The idea initially came to me while reading articles about rallies for marriage equality. And I was surprised no one had done a flash mob in support,’ Little told Gay Star News.

Little mined his various contacts and setup a registration form for people who were interested in getting involved.

After a week’s long recruitment process, the group started rehearsals at a practice studio for three weeks. A  filmmaker made training videos for the team to practice at home between rehearsals.

‘I was also gifted with a drag queen called Leasa Mann, a performance coach and a 14 year old girl who ended up singing (Macklemore’s) Same Love for us,’ Little said.

‘She was a volunteer’s daughter and she put her hand up after a choir bailed and two of her friends who were too nervous to perform.’

Flash mob for equality

The flash mob was such a hit, they performed an encore later that day ahead of a marriage equality rally.

Little decided a flash mob could be a nice way to promote the ‘yes’ campaign.

‘Flash mobs are fun and I wanted to get the message across in a non confronting way,’ he said.

‘Also, I wanted to show solidarity with all our LGBTI brothers and sisters and give them hope and give them some joy after this marriage equality debate, as it has been hard on a lot of people.’

Pride and nerves

Preparing for the flash mob was a welcome distraction for the volunteers for whom the postal survey had taken a toll.

‘For many volunteers I have spoken to this performance was much more than just a dance,’ Little said.

‘It was a feeling of belonging and being part of something that made them proud.

‘Many of which had told me of hard times, some relating to marriage equality but being part of this project really livened their spirit and gave them a sense of purpose and of belonging.’

Watch the video:

[embedded content]

]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 11:54:54 +0000
Politicians voted in favor of allowing gay couples free community venue hire for 100 days if the law is changed to allow them to marry]]>

The City of Sydney has passed a motion that will allow gay couples to hire community facilities for weddings for free – if marriage equality comes to Australia.

The country is currently holding a postal vote to gage public opinion on the matter. The results of the vote will be announced 15 November. The government is not bound to follow the result of the vote, but it is widely expected to do so.

The Sydney ruling will apply to same-sex couples for 100 days only, should there be a change in the law. It will not apply to opposite-sex couples.

Although the couples will be able to hire city halls and parks for free, they will still have to pay other associated wedding costs (catering, etc).

The motion was proposed by Labour councilor Linda Scott. She posted her delight at the motion’s success after it was passed.

On Facebook, she expanded on her feelings.

‘I’m proud to have successfully moved for the City of Sydney to provide Gay and Lesbian couples with free use of our City parks and community facilities to marry, should the survey yes vote succeed, for the first 100 days after a law for Marriage Equality is passed.’

Gay council woman says motion is discriminatory

Although it gained enough votes to pass, some councilors voted against it, including Christine Forster, a Liberal councilor and vocal supporter of the ‘yes’ campaign.

Forster, who is the sister of former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and gay herself, voted against the motion as she wanted it to also include heterosexual couples.

In a posting to her Facebook page she said: ‘This has been a fight for equality before the law and it’s my belief that we can’t ask for equality for ourselves and then deny it to others. It’s also been about making marriage inclusive not exclusive, and this motion flies in the face of that principle.

‘Marriage is important to our society, not just to one or another section of the community, and that’s what my vote reflected.’

]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 11:14:40 +0000
Bayard Rustin was the organizer who made the civil rights struggle work, but was kept behind the scenes because of his sexuality]]>

August 28, 1963 was a momentous day for African-American rights and a victory for a black, gay organizer, Bayard Rustin.

On that day 250,000 marchers gathered peacefully on the Washington Mall. They demanded the United States government fulfill the promises of freedom and equality enshrined in its founding documents.

The crowd included trade unions, religious bodies, women’s organizations, civil rights groups, and black and white individuals. They came from across the globe to stand in solidarity. They hoped to build a more inclusive nation.

On the steps of the monument to Abraham Lincoln, the President who had issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Rev Martin Luther King, Jr delivered one of the most famous addresses in history – his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

The March on Washington in 1963.

That clarion call was a dramatic climax to a summer of terror in the American South. Our nightly newscasts delivered to our living rooms the brutality of ‘law enforcement’. We saw police dogs and fire hoses unleashed on peaceful demonstrators. We heard how a white supremacist had assassinated civil rights activist Medgar Evers in Mississippi.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom lifted the spirits of those present. It inspired freedom fighters worldwide who witnessed the assembly on television. The peaceful gathering helped mobilize support for civil rights legislation by convincing citizens of the righteousness of the cause.

Bayard Rustin, the mastermind of the march

Few people knew the mastermind behind the March’s organization was Bayard Rustin. He was a 51-year-old, longtime, nonviolent activist, involved in both domestic and international social justice work.

Though Rustin was well known in activist circles, civil rights leaders often kept him behind the scenes. They feared his unapologetic gay identity would discredit the causes he tirelessly worked to advance.

The March on Washington was a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement, but also in Bayard’s life. It enabled him to emerge from the shadows to become a powerful spokesman for the causes he espoused.

I became fascinated with the concept of nonviolent struggle

Two weeks after the March on Washington I entered high school.

I was raised in a lily-white suburban town. I had no firsthand knowledge of the daily struggles that Black Americans faced. Along with many of my fellow citizens, I saw images of racist brutality, but also the inspiring images from that hot August day.

A somewhat serious Roman Catholic youngster, I became fascinated with the concept of nonviolent struggle. I was captivated by the idea of resisting evil with love and goodness as preached by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount.

How could I know that 14 years later, I would cross paths with the man who was largely responsible for introducing this tactic into my country’s movements for social justice?

Separate public facilities were the local custom

Bayard Rustin was raised in the small town of West Chester, Pennsylvania. It was just north of the Mason-Dixon line, the demarcation of the Northern and Southern states during our Civil War.

Although the town had no laws against racial integration, separate public facilities were the local custom when Rustin was born in 1912.

His grandparents raised Bayard and his grandmother instilled in him the values that guided him throughout his life. Julia Davis Rustin, who had been raised in a Quaker household and attended a Quaker elementary school.

A young Bayard with his football team.

Bayard was taught to speak up forcefully – but nonviolently – against injustice. His long career as a nonviolent activist began when, as a teenager, he protested against the segregated seating policies of the local movie theater.

Sit-ins, boycotts, demonstrations and ‘freedom-rides’

After attending two historically Black colleges, Bayard moved to New York City where he attended City College and joined the Young Communist League. He broke with the Communists when they reversed their anti-war stance and supported US entry into World War II.

Rustin protesting anti-Semitism in the 1940s.

Instead he began working with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, an international Christian pacifist organization. The group’s primary mission was peace-building and disarmament. But Bayard and fellow staffer James Farmer convinced the FOR leadership that racism was a form of violence. They made the case that resisting racism should become part of the group’s work.

A small band of FOR activists began a series of nonviolent actions. They held sit-ins, boycotts, demonstrations and ‘freedom-rides’ to challenge racist laws and customs. The police often arrested and incarcerated them.

Rustin with Journey of Reconciliation participants, 1947.

Watch this clip from the documentary Brother Outsider, explaining one of these Freedom Rides and what happened to Rustin:

[embedded content]

Though small and local, these protests gave Rustin the experience that enabled him to become, in the words of US Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, ‘the best organizer on the planet’.

Rustin handing out anti-war leaflets in the 1950s.

Partnering with Martin Luther King Jr

In 1955, Rosa Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Protest when she refused to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger. Rustin was dispatched to advise the young minister who had become the spokesperson for the campaign, Rev Martin Luther King, Jr.

Organizers planned a one-day nonviolent protest which evolved into a year-long boycott. Eventually the Supreme Court banned racially segregated seating in public transportation. Rustin and King began a partnership that led to the 1957 The Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, Youth Marches for Integrated Schools, and other actions.

They laid the groundwork for the 1963 March on Washington, which was to be the largest demonstration in US history until that time.

Rustin (left) with sign for March on Washington.

Despite this, the leadership of the black freedom struggle still feared the fallout Rustin could produce. They were concerned about his radical politics and his 1953 arrest on a ‘morals charge’. So they relegated him to a behind-the-scenes role.

Occasionally he even found himself exiled from Dr King’s inner circle. When that happened, Bayard immersed himself in the international movement for peace and disarmament. He spoke in England at the 1958 Aldermaston March against atomic weapons. And he organized the 1959 Sahara Protest against a French atomic test in Algeria.

Leading the movement from protest to politics

The African-American civil rights struggle had begun achieving legislative victories. Rustin saw the need for political action in an empowered black population. So he urged the movement to evolve ‘From Protest to Politics,’ the title of one of his most famous articles.

As racial barriers began to fall, both Rustin and Dr King recognized the larger, more entrenched challenges of poverty and economic inequality. They urged that government priorities be aligned more with human needs, rather than military defense.

After Dr King’s assassination in 1968, Rustin remained active in domestic civil rights. But again he returned to international human rights issues, including refugee resettlement and promoting democratic reform.  

At the time we met in 1977, Bayard was on the Board of Directors of the International Rescue Committee, Freedom House, and was the Chair of Social Democrats USA.

His home base, the A Philip Randolph Institute and Educational Fund, continued to serve as a liaison between African-American workers and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

During our time together, he began to speak out more about his life as a gay man. He addressed LGBTI activist groups and advocated for gay rights legislation. And he granted interviews to newspapers and magazines for the LGBTI audience.

‘You are very lucky to have such a nice young man to look after you’

Bayard was 65 when we met; I was 28. He was full of energy, full of life, always wanting to find something new, and not thinking about retiring in any sense of the word.

Bayard meets the pigeons in London’s Trafalgar Square.

In August 1977, a few months into our relationship, Bayard and I were given the use of a vacation home in St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.

The modern house, perched on a hillside with a spectacular view overlooking the harbor in Charlotte Amalie, was the perfect place for a relaxing week.

Not continuously occupied, it was sparsely furnished and without electricity for our first few days. But given the climate, the view, and some wonderful Caribbean rum, we were happy to ‘rough it’ for a time.

The University of the Virgin Islands had awarded Bayard an honorary degree the year before. Unbeknownst to us, our impending arrival came to the attention of Governor Cyril King. He dispatched a driver to meet us at the airport and offer us any assistance we might require.

We attended a luncheon in Bayard’s honor the next day. After a buffet of island delights and tropical drinks, we headed home, hoping for a swim in beautiful Magens Bay.

As I started the car, an elderly professor from the university approached Bayard’s open window. The gentleman leaned down slightly and said, smiling: ‘You are very lucky to have such a nice young man to look after you in your old age.’

Bayard thanked him, and as we drove off, we both started chuckling. Neither of us thought of Bayard as old, and we were equally lucky to have found one another!

He shinnied up a tree, plucking a few air plants

By then I was becoming accustomed to people recognizing Bayard in New York, saying hello or stopping us to talk. So I was taken aback when, sitting with him in an outdoor cafe in Charlotte Amalie, a voice cried out, ‘Walter!’

I turned to find a faculty member and several graduates from a nursing school where I had worked three years before. We exchanged greetings and invited the group to come to the house for a drink at sunset.

After shopping for drinks and hors d’oeuvres, we headed home. While driving through a forested area, Bayard commanded, ‘Stop the car!’

I pulled off the road and he sprang out and shinnied up a tree, plucking a few air plants to make the house more welcoming for our guests.

That, as the saying goes, was Bayard.

Bayard Rustin has given his name to high schools and community centers

August this year marked the 40th anniversary of that first vacation together. It also marked the 30th anniversary of Bayard’s death in 1987.

With his passing I lost a loving partner. And the world lost a charismatic and articulate spokesman for human rights and democracy.

In the last three decades, writers, filmmakers, activists in civil rights and labor, and the academic community have raised awareness of Bayard and his achievements.

He is now more widely known than in his lifetime.

High schools, community centers, and political action groups carry his name.

The award-winning documentary film Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, directed by Nancy Kates and Bennett Singer, has reached millions of viewers around the globe. People now watch it on campuses, in community venues, and as a diversity training tool.

Watch the trailer here and find out more about the documentary here:

[embedded content]

A recent short documentary Bayard & Me (Super Deluxe) is doing well at film festivals. Created by Matt Wolf, it grew out of a StoryCorps interview I did with my niece, Ericka Naegle, in 2015.

You can watch it here:

[embedded content]

‘An unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity, and equality’

In 2013, President Barack Obama bestowed a posthumous Medal of Freedom – America’s highest civilian honor – on Bayard.

You can see Obama speak about Rustin here:

[embedded content]

President Obama described him as ‘an unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity, and equality for all [who] fought tirelessly for marginalized communities at home and abroad. As an openly gay African American, Mr Rustin stood at the intersection of several of the fights for equal rights.’

He was all of those things, but also a warm, loving gentleman with a mischievous sense of humor.

I was deeply grateful to accept the Medal of Freedom from President Obama. And I am equally grateful to everyone who has been part of this process of remembering Bayard.

If you’d like to join that effort, I invite you to join the Rustin Facebook page:

Please visit it and become a member if you are so inclined.

Bayard never gave in to hate

This year has been particularly disturbing for those of us who believe in equality and social justice. We know where Bayard would stand: he believed unequivocally in free speech and nonviolence. When he and Malcolm X debated in the public square, their weapons were intellect, reason, facts, passion, and even humor.

Watch Rustin debate Malcolm X:

[embedded content]

As Dr King said: ‘The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.’

Rustin at the School of Nonviolence.

Bayard never gave in to hate. In these perilous times, I am buoyed by the memory of his optimism, his insistence on speaking truth to power, and his belief that collective action can produce deep and lasting change.

The essayist Andrew Sullivan captured these aspects of Bayard’s legacy in a piece he wrote for TIME Magazine:

‘Somehow, Rustin never succumbed to the anger that was his right; his spirit remained as light and as positive as his beautiful tenor voice. And all these years later, that’s what endures: the memory of a man unbeaten by the hate around him, dreaming of a future in which the work of integration, black and white, gay and straight, is the moral – and joyful – duty of all of us.

About the author

Walter Naegle met Bayard Rustin in 1977 and was his partner for the last 10 years of his life. Naegle is the co-author of Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist. He serves as executive director of The Bayard Rustin Fund, which works to sustain Rustin’s vision of a peaceful and equitable world. Gay Star News is indebted to him for this personal account.

]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 11:08:17 +0000
A 27-year-old electrician was arrested after accidentally touching a man’s hip in a Dubai bar]]>

A Scottish man is freed after being jailed for accidentally touching a man’s hip in Dubai.

Jamie Harron, a 27-year-old electrician, was sentenced to three months in prison yesterday (22 October).

But then the case against him was dismissed and the charges were dropped.

Ruler of Dubai intervened in tourist ‘gay’ case

Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum stepped in to personally intervene, and exonerated Harron.

Harron had been on a stopover in the Gulf city state when he brushed past a man in a bar.

Harron is said to have been holding a drink, moving through a crowded bar and held a hand in front of him to avoid spilling it on himself or others. He then ‘touched a man on his hip to avoid impact’.

He was later arrested for public indecency.

‘Unwarranted, defamatory and meritless’ allegations

‘It has now been established that the allegations against Jamie were entirely unwarranted, defamatory, and meritless; to such an extent that the Ruler of the country found it necessary to step in and correct the wrongful action of the Public Prosecutor and to quash the judgment of the court,’ Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, said.

‘This was a courageous and honorable decision on the part of Sheikh Mohammed, and while it highlights the urgent need for judicial reform in the country, it is also a hopeful sign that the UAE’s leadership possesses the will and vision to pursue such reforms in the future.’

Stirling was called by police to be told his case had been dismissed, and he should collect his passport.

Jamie Harron free to return home to Scotland

But then Harron arrived to the station, his passport was returned, and was told he was freed to go.

‘Of course, a fully functional legal system would not require outside intervention, and a case like Jamie’s would never proceed in the first place,’ Stirling added.

‘But we are enormously grateful to Sheikh Mohammed for stepping in and vindicating Jamie after months of hardship.’

The electrician was working in Afghanistan and was on a two-day stopover in the United Arab Emirates in July when he was arrested.

He since lost his job because of his detainment.

]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 11:07:15 +0000
Clever ways to emphasize your lower body assets using patterns and textures

SPONSORED: The spandex craze is real. Whether you know them as men’s leggings, meggings or compression pants, these are usually the go-to for sexy workout clothes that show off your figure. Obviously, tight spandex is hard to hide behind, so why not find a way to enhance your booty… and everything in-between?

Just like how black clothing makes our bodies look leaner, the placement of graphics on leggings can add dimension to your legs, butt and crotch.

This doesn’t mean you should completely ditch leg day, but you can highlight the area you want with certain styles, patterns and fabrics – regardless of your waist size.

You can even find shapewear leggings with extra padding that creates a more sculpted look over muscles. Essentially, you’ll find the right leggings for your body type based on what you’re trying to hide or enhance, like bigger calves or bulkier quads.

We found the most body-boosting leggings exclusively on Differio, a men’s trendy clothing site popular for their on-trend activewear. These bootylicious leggings have peach emoji written all over them.

Differio liquid leggings

1. Liquid Leggings in Glossy Black

What better way to make your butt stand out than in super-shiny liquid leggings? A favorite amongst leather lovers, these wet-look leggings (above) have a zippered crotch that’ll add extra shape to your groin.

Differio maskulo

2. Maskulo Muscle-Enhancing Men’s Workout Tights

If you’re looking for fetish-style workout clothes, Maskulo (above) is popular for their erotic activewear that’ll reveal your most ‘maskuline’ self. These workout tights include extra padding on the quads and crotch (also available as spandex shorts).

Differio rainbow leggings

3. Rainbow Leggings Pride Runner

These rainbow leggings might look like every other pair of graphic meggings, but the contoured print will actually act as a highlighter, especially against matte black spandex. This dynamic print wraps vertically around the legs perfect for drawing attention to your thighs and butt.

Differio Modus Vivendi

4. Modus Vivendi Metallic Leggings In Black

Modus Vivendi is the go-to men’s underwear, lingerie and sportswear brand for creative designs catered for the modern man. These futuristic, metallic leggings (above) found on are shaped with silver foil circles on the front and back that’ll emphasize your butt and crotch.

5. Printed Workout Leggings In Black And Silver

Feel like your calves and quads need a little boost? The metallic crosshatch graphics on these printed workout leggings are a great way to show off your outer thighs and the bottom groove of your calves.

]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 10:56:56 +0000
The local morgue refused to take her body because they said it would make their ‘freezers dirty’]]>

The identity of a trans woman who was tortured and beheaded in Pakistan’s Peshawar is still unidentified. A local morgue refused to take her body and was refused final rites and a burial by government officials.

The woman was found dead on Saturday, with Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Sajjad Khan saying her body had showed signs of torture.

Police and trans activists are still trying to identify the woman who is thought to be from Iqbal Plaza.

Khyber Medical College which has the only morgue in the area, refused to take the woman’s body overnight because it would make their ‘freezers dirty’. Activists had asked them to hold the body overnight before she was to be buried the next day.

‘They [management] have told us that the body is too decomposed and it would make their freezers dirty,’ transgender activist Qamar Naseem told The Express Tribune.

‘We had asked the morgue’s management to keep the body for just one night and they even refused to do that.

‘Not only that, the government contractor has also refused to bury the body.

‘It’s extremely shameful the way a human’s body is being treated’.

The Edhi Foundation – a not-for-profit organization in Pakistan – stepped in to help with the woman’s burial. She was buried on Sunday.

‘Shame on the principal and transphobic administration of Khyber Medical College (KMC) Peahawar who refused to keep the body of a transgender person for one night despite continued requests of civil society, trans community and police,’ advocacy group Trans Action Pakistan wrote on Facebook.

‘What would they do if it was a body of a VIP? Shame on the Govt Contractor who refused to burry the body of a Transgender person (sic).’

Violence against trans people

While Pakistan was one of the first countries to recognise trans people as a ‘third gender’ and earlier this year included them on the census, the community still faces extreme violence.

‘This is the 53rd transgender person killed since 2015 and we have around 300 cases of violence against transgender persons on record including rape, gang rape, kidnapping and torture,’ activist Tamure Kamal said.

Kamal said he held police and officials accountable for the woman’s death, because according to him, they had failed to protect the trans community.

Warning: graphic image

The woman’s body was left on display in the back of a pickup truck, with locals crowding around to look.

The body of a tortured and beheaded trans woman in Pakistan

]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 10:14:29 +0000
Waterloo Road and Lip Service star speaks to Gay Star News after welcoming twin girls in June ]]>

Sponsored: Earlier this month, we shared this sweet video of former Waterloo Road and Lip Service star Heather Peace’s staycation in Cornwall.

Since then we met the openly gay actress and singer to get the lowdown on her family trip to Portreath in Cornwall, with her wife Ellie Dickinson and their three daughters: two-and-a-half-year-old Annie, and twins Lola and Jessie, aged four months.

The family headed to the gorgeous Gwel an Mor in Tregea Hill, Portreath with Hoseasons for their trip.

Here, the Fairytales singer talks long-distance car journeys with three infants, the destinations she can’t wait to visit and the music she’s currently working on…

[embedded content]

You were delayed the day of your trip – what time did you arrive at Gwel an Mor?

We got there at 1am, put the kids down for 2am and had a glass of wine together and got to bed for 2.30am. When we got up the next morning, super early, I had no concept of where we were – and we got the sunrise. The beach was amazing!

How was the weather?

Absolutely beautiful. There was only one day when the sun didn’t come out.

What was the accommodation like?

Three double bedrooms. The master bedroom had an ensuite. There were twin beds in one and a single in the other. They set up three cribs! We called ahead with a list of what we needed, and the woman said ‘yes’ to everything. Baby bouncer, steriliser, changing mat, high chair. Insofar as what we had to pack, that made a massive difference. I think a lot of places expect you not to travel with babies.

What else did you like about it?

The hot tub was incredible. We got to go in that while they were sleeping! What was lovely is there wasn’t a central complex. It has a separate soft-play, cafes, restaurants, lodges dotted about. Then all these separate facilities, like a tiny village. It was really special, and quite high end. Also the staff. They were so helpful – they couldn’t do enough for you.

What was the highlight?

The wildlife walk. Absolutely amazing. There were reindeer, goats… The wildlife ranger Gary was wonderful with the kids. He was rearing a little baby squirrel that had fallen, he took out this tiny baby mouse the size of 10 pence piece, he got the little fox to kiss my daughter, she held the owl… She’s quite a brave little girl, but she was beside herself. She did not stop talking about it! When you’ve got kids it’s all about their enjoyment. It just is.

Credit: Instagram

heatherpeaceofficial#CountrysideLiving #LifeWithTheAnimals #GwelanMor #Cornwall #FamilyTime @Hoseasons #GayStarNews

Why aren’t there these types of activities available everywhere?!

They want to make it the most family-friendly place. Now they’ve opened golf and a fishing lake too. It keeps expanding. But it still doesn’t feel like there’s a central hub, which is great. You do feel like you’re out in the wild. There’s no glass dome in the middle or anything.

What spa treatment did you have?

A full body massage. It was amazing. I needed it! I’m not a girl who ever went to spas – until I had kids. I couldn’t see the point, I saw it a waste of time, sitting still. My relaxation was working out, running, swimming.

You had a meal in the Terrace restaurant…

They delivered it to us! That’s what I mean, people couldn’t be more helpful. They did a grand job. It arrived piping hot. We had seafood and steak, a cheese platter… It was local stuff. I had the crab linguine.

Was this your toddler’s first holiday?

That she’ll remember. She called it her ‘adventure.’ We took her to Thailand when she was nearly a year, and Spain when she was seven months. We haven’t been away at all since then, about 18 months.

What’s motherhood like?

I’ve had an amazing life, and I left motherhood really late. I’m 42. Life was getting a bit ‘right, OK’… it lost some of its pizzazz. The kids have put that back. That’s the truth of it.

I can’t imagine parenthood – I’m on my phone every five minutes!

I’ve got a two-and-a-half-year-old. Even if there is that time, and she’s watching something on the TV, I feel I’ve got to be aware that I’m not on my phone all the time, because it’s learnt behavior. When I’m with her I try to put it down. If all you’re doing is staring at a phone, it’s soul-destroying for them.

Would you agree that you really have to put the legwork in if you want to head up a same-sex parent family?

You do. Had I not met Ellie it probably wouldn’t have happened. She was on track with it. But the amazing thing is it can’t happen by accident. None of these kids are not wanted. You have to go on a long, old road.

Did you get out and see the countryside at all during your trip?

No! We were so gutted! And a friend of Ellie’s lived close by! She literally said her favorite beach in the whole world was a 15 minute drive away, and we were on our way back! We had three full days and four nights, and that was enough. We had a day at the beach and had fish and chips – Annie was in the rock pools! – a day at the complex, and on the final day we went swimming and went on the soft play. We’re from Brighton – I realized Annie’s never seen a sandy beach that she can remember. She was running wild. Feral!

Brighton must be a lovely place to bring up kids!

We’re in the process of moving house, and we could get so much more for our money elsewhere. But I don’t want my kids to be the only ones with two mums at school. It’s important to me they’re not singled out. So we’ll be staying.

The two babies Lola and Jessie are really young – what’s your advice to anyone traveling with kids of that age?

They’re four months old – teeny tiny! My advice would be the time you travel. We knew that from having had Annie and driving up to see my parents in Yorkshire. We did it once in the day, when you might get an hour and a half where she’s sleeping, and then it’s just bedlam. There’s no point! A five-hour journey takes eight hours, you’re stopping at services. They’ve got to get out and run. So travel at bedtime and go through the routine. Give them the bath, give them the milk, put them in the pyjamas, and it’s guaranteed…

How many countries have you been to?

It’s quite a lot. I used to have a world map I’d put pins in. Sri Lanka, The Maldives, loads of places in Europe, Australia, America. I ran the marathon in New York City!

Where’s left on your travel bucket list?

India, but my wife’s not interested, which makes me quite sad! She said: ‘We’ll have all the time in the world once the kids have gone to university’ and I said ‘Just so long as you’ll do India with me…’ I’d love to do a safari in Africa, that would be my dream. Then probably an island in the South Pacific.

What are you plans for the rest of this year and next year?

I’ve got some things happening music-wise. I’m writing a lot, trying to get into the groove of finding space to write to be honest. It’s a creative process and you need space to not get it right, and that’s quite difficult with the kids. So me and Ellie are getting into the groove of her giving me that time and space. So that’s what I’m concentrating on. There are a few acting meetings coming through, a potential film. My year ahead is about combining the two and understanding what that means for us as a family. The idea of going away – for Waterloo Road I was away Monday to Friday every week – and getting my head round that would be quite hard now.

Does motherhood inspire you creatively?

It should do! I’ve written one song for Annie, but quite often I don’t know if it’s twee. Only you know how you feel about your kids, and is that really that interesting to anyone else? Probably not!

Find out more about Gwel an Mor or discover more UK holidays at

Hoseasons is a client of Gay Star News.

]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 10:05:19 +0000
‘It’s important for us to see each other’]]>

Thousands of people turned up to Hong Kong’s annual celebration of the country’s LGBTI community.

The 4th annual Pink Dot Festival went off without a hitch on Sunday, with the majority of attendees wearing pink in celebration.

‘Love is Natural’ was this year’s Pink Dot theme, which reflects the organization’s core philosophy of support for the LGBTI community, their friends, families and colleagues.

Newly married couple William Tang and Clement Cheng took to the stage to talk about how important marriage was to them.

The couple even shared an impromptu kiss on the main stage which drew shocked reactions from the crowd. The men said it showed Hong Kong still has a way to go in LGBTI acceptance.

‘I felt like doing that, it felt great,’ Tang told Gay Star News.

‘I wanted to come out today and share my story and hopefully Hong Kong can become a more LGBTI friendly city,’ Cheng said.

Pop star Denise Ho – who was the first singers in Hong Kong to come out publicly – stole the show as the headlining act.

Her organization, BigLove Alliance, was one of the main organizers of the Pink Dot event. She also said Hong Kong was making slow changes for the better for the LGBTI community.

‘We formed this [BigLove Alliance] in 2013, the year after Anthony Wong and I came out,’ she said.

‘It seems like such a long time ago, but it’s only been a few years. We see the society is changing and is evolving slowly and I guess we are making some progress.

‘I see people enjoying themselves, we don’t have so many events for the gay community in Hong Kong… it’s a good time for the community to come together.’

‘It’s important for us to see each other, I think this is an important part of the event.

Check out Gay Star News’ photos from Pink Dot Hong Kong 2017:


2. William and Clement celebrate their marriage



5. The Pink Divas

6. Intersex advocate, Small Luk













19. Covenant of the Rainbow members




Pink Dot 2017

Pink Dot 2017

]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 09:33:38 +0000
‘just taking a minute to appreciate my dads bc I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them’]]>

There’s a certain power in sharing the small victories in life.

LGBTI people are taking to Twitter to do exactly that, and share the things they’re most proud of.

The hashtag to use is #LGBTproud.

As with previous hashtags, people are sharing their pictures and their stories.
















]]> Mon, 23 Oct 2017 07:55:59 +0000
The 25-year-old singer grew up loving Britney Spears and Michael Jackson]]>

A well-known Russian pop singer who went missing in August after visiting Chechnya is feared to be dead.

Moscow-based, Zelimkhan Bakaev, went home to Grozny for his sister’s wedding in August. When he went out one night on August, he never came back.

Friends of the 25-year-old claimed he was detained in the center of the capital Grozny by people in military uniform.

Advocates believed Bakaev may have been detained as part of Chechnya’s crackdown on gay and bisexual men. Since December, hundreds of men have been persecuted on suspicion of homosexuality. Many were tortured and at least 10 have been executed, according to the Russian LGBT Network.

Bakaev disappearance raised suspicions when he allegedly told people he was planning on leaving Russia. But one friend said he had personal debts that would have made it impossible for him to leave. He told people of this plan via a WhatsApp message, which family say is also out of character for the singer. Bakaey rarely wrote text messages and preferred sending voice messages.

His Instagram account was deleted but not before a photo was posted to it after he disappeared claiming he was at a Grozny restaurant. But in the photo Bakaey is wearing a jacket, even though it was summer, leading advocates to believe it was not posted by the singer.

Chechnya’s Ministry of Internal Affairs told journalists there had been no reports of someone with Bakaey’s name had gone missing.

The Russian LGBT Network – one of the country’s leading advocacy groups – feared Bakaey was detained in Chechnya’s ongoing persecution of LGBT people.

The Network confirmed the persecutions were still happening even though a lot of political and media attention has been cast on Chechnya.
[embedded content]

Waves of persecution

The Russian LGBT network said there has been three distinct waves of mass prosecution and persecution of men based on their alleged sexual orientation

The first wave started in December last year and lasted about six months.  During that time, police would arrest men for traffic violations or minor drug offences.

On one occasion in February, police arrested a man for being under the influence. When they searched his phone, they found evidence of homosexuality. He was then detained, tortured and forced to give up of other gay men men to the officers.

The next wave in the anti-gay purge started in late March. Human Rights activists received warning signs of mass persecution and received first requests for help.

The latest reports indicate there has been a new wave of detention starting from the beginning of August.

‘The Russian LGBT Network confirms that persecutions continue to this day. The Network in response continues to provide assistance to the victims of the anti-LGBT purge,’ the group said in a statement.

The numbers so far:

Since the anti-gay purge began more than 150 people contacted the Russian LGBT Network special Chechnya assistance line.

Of those 75, managed to escape the Chechen Republic and 53 were able to leave Russia altogether. The Russian LGBT Network is calling on people to support those men who fled with very few belongings.

]]> Sun, 22 Oct 2017 19:33:55 +0000
‘Sexual harassment and assault are widespread issues that primarily affect women, with women of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups affected at an even greater rate’]]>

More than 200 female and gender nonconforming animators have signed an open letter to the animation community at large, urging ‘clear and enforceable’ sexual harassment/assault policies in every studio.

In the letter, they also write that they’d like to see an update to the Animation Guild constitution that would allow the Guild to ‘censure, fine, suspend or expel’ members who violate these policies. In addition, they would also like to see male colleagues ‘start speaking up and standing up for us.’

The signatories of the letter include popular animators, such as Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar and Bob’s Burgers writer/producer Wendy Molyneux. The full list of signatories is available on Deadline.

The letter

Read the full text of the open letter below:

‘An Open Letter to the Animation Community

We, the women and gender non-conforming people of the animation community, would like to address and highlight the pervasive problem of sexism and sexual harassment in our business. We write this letter with the hope that change is possible, and ask that you listen to our stories and then make every effort to bring a real and lasting change to the culture of animation studios.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, many of the women who work in animation have begun discussing more openly issues that we have dealt with quietly throughout our careers. As we came together to share our stories of sexism, sexual harassment and, in some cases, sexual assault, we were struck by the pervasiveness of the problem. Every one of us has a story to share, from tossed-off comments about our body parts that were framed as “jokes” to women being cornered in dark rooms by male colleagues to criminal assault.

Our business has always been male-dominated. Women make up only 23% of union employees, so it’s no surprise that problems with sexism and sexual harassment exist. Sexual harassment and assault are widespread issues that primarily affect women, with women of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups affected at an even greater rate.

As more women have entered the animation workforce, it seems that some men have not embraced this change. They still frequently make crass sexual remarks that make it clear women are not welcome on their crews. Some have pressed colleagues for romantic or sexual relationships, despite our clear disinterest. And some have seen the entrance of more women into the industry as an opportunity to exploit and victimize younger workers on their crews who are looking for mentorship. In addition, when sexual predators are caught at one workplace, they seem to easily find a job at another studio, sometimes even following their victims from job to job. We are tired of relying on whisper networks to know who isn’t safe to meet with alone. We want our supervisors to protect us from harassment and assault.

This abuse has got to stop.

The signatories of this letter demand that you take sexual harassment seriously. We ask that:

1. Every studio puts in place clear and enforceable sexual harassment policies and takes every report seriously. It must be clear to studio leadership, including producers, that, no matter who the abuser is, they must investigate every report or face consequences themselves.

2. The Animation Guild add language in our constitution that states that it can “censure, fine, suspend or expel any member of the guild who shall, in the opinion of the Executive Board, be found guilty of any act, omission, or conduct which is prejudicial to the welfare of the guild.” To craft and support the new language, we ask that an Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Committee be created to help educate and prevent future occurrences.

3. Our male colleagues start speaking up and standing up for us. When their co-workers make sexist remarks, or when they see sexual harassment happening, we expect them to say something. Stop making excuses for bad behavior in your friends and co-workers, and tell them what they are doing is wrong.

It has not been easy for us to share our stories with each other. Many of us were afraid because our victimizers are powerful or well-liked. Others were worried that if they came forward it would affect their careers. Some of us have come forward in the past, only to have our concerns brushed aside, or for our supervisors to tell us “he’s just from a different era.” All of us are saddened and disheartened to hear how widespread the problem of sexual harassment still is in the animation industry, and how many of our friends had been suffering in secret.

It is with this in mind that we resolve to do everything we can to prevent anyone else from being victimized. We are united in our mission to wipe out sexual harassment in the animation industry, and we will no longer be silent.’

]]> Sun, 22 Oct 2017 17:30:32 +0000
34-year-old Michelle Suárez is also the first trans person in Uruguay to earn a law degree]]>

34-year-old Michelle Suárez, a lawyer, fought discrimination in order to become Uruguay’s first transgender senator.

‘At some point in my life I was harassed, persecuted, and sanctioned,’ she says. ‘Today, I am applauded by many.’

Suárez is a member of Uruguay’s Communist Party. In addition to being the country’s first trans senator, she’s also the first transgender person in Uruguay to receive a law degree.

‘I wouldn’t dare ask someone to go through what I went through,’ Suárez says. ‘Because if you asked me, I don’t know if I’d be able to go through them again.’

Suárez’s activism

Suárez helped draft the bill that legalized same-sex marriage in Uruguay back in 2013.

‘The opportunities that I may currently have are impossible for many of my fellow trans people,’ Suárez states. ‘Because they don’t have the freedom to choose their personal path, to be able to to pursue the careers or dreams that I currently achieve.’

Additionally, Suárez is also a body image activist and works to fight the oppressive standards of beauty ascribed to all women.

‘The stereotype is that a trans woman deserves to be called a woman if she passes through a kind of aesthetic court. The more it resembles the hegemonic stereotype of a woman almost vedette, almost model, young, eternal, beautiful, seems to deserve to be called a woman. It’s like you’re getting it,’ Suárez explains.

‘To me it seems absurd and totally oppressive, but not just for trans women, for all women. What we would have to learn all women is that there is no such thing as originals and copies, that sort of image that today is revealed as hegemonic and that therefore we all have to appear and be faithful copy to deserve to be women. There really have to be as many women’s profiles as there are women.’

In Uruguay, trans people need a judge’s approval before being able to legally change their name and gender. Suárez wants to change that by passing anti-discrimination laws to protect the rights of over 900 transgender people in Uruguay.

‘Uruguay has evolved, but it’s still a discriminatory country,’ Suárez told the Associated Press.

Moving forward

Back in August, Uruguay introduced a new bill that would monetarily compensate trans people born before 1975 who have been treated unfairly by the government.

Uruguay also hopes to set up scholarships for trans people and encourage affirmative action on their behalf.

Learn more about Michelle Suárez’s work in the video clips below:

]]> Sun, 22 Oct 2017 17:13:41 +0000
Their crime? Trying to save health initiatives for HIV]]>

Authorities in Tanzania jailed 13 activists and lawyers, simply for trying to protect health initiatives against HIV.

On Tuesday (17 October), Tanzanian police raided a legal consultation convened in order to plan for a case against the government.

The case aims to challenge the government’s ban on drop-in centers serving key populations at risk of HIV. It also questions the ban on importation of water-based lubricants, an essential HIV prevention tool.

Two groups were present at the meeting, including the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA) and Community Health Services and Advocacy (CHESA).

Gay people are jailed for homosexuality in Tanzania

Gay people are jailed for homosexuality in Tanzania

A joint press statement issued by CHESA and ISLA said: ‘No one has been charged but all were granted bail.

‘On Friday 20 October 2017, the bail was revoked for everyone for no reason,’ the statement read.

Authorities re-arrested the group, without laying charges.

Amnesty International’s Director of Global Issues and Research Audrey Gaughran said: ‘This peaceful group of activists and lawyers will now spend the weekend behind bars despite having done nothing wrong – as illustrated by the fact the authorities have failed to even find a crime to charge them with.

‘All of these people unlawfully detained must be immediately and unconditionally released.

‘These baseless detentions are the latest example of the Tanzanian authorities’ ongoing, unlawful witch hunt against the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community,’ said Gaughran.

International pleas for help

Among the detained is Sibongile Ndashe, a South African lawyer helping with the case.

In an impassioned plea from her friend Kel Mak on Facebook, he wrote: ‘On Friday, my friend Sibongile was arrested along with 12 other people.’

Sibongile Ndashe and Kel Mak

Sibongile Ndashe and Kel Mak

He continued: ‘She has been working to bring charges against the Tanzanian Government for restricting their ability to deliver services for Tanzanians.’

Mak then lists all of the ways you can help.

He implores people to contact the Tanzanian High Commission to reiterate that the detention is illegal. He also implores you to write to them and include your name and your organization.

More details can be found here.

Use the hashtag #FreeSibongile and sign the petition to send a clear message of condemnation to Tanzanian authorities.

]]> Sun, 22 Oct 2017 16:06:06 +0000
The benefit raised over $100,000 for anti-bullying efforts in support of LGBTI youth]]>

Courtney Love and songwriter/activist Justin Tranter performed Selena Gomez’s hit song Hands To Myself together at the GLAAD Spirit Day concert on 18 October.

The surprise performance featured lots of handholding and gazing into each other’s eyes.

Tranter, who is on the board of GLAAD and has written songs for the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Maroon 5, and Fall Out Boy actually co-wrote Hands To Myself with Gomez.

Tranter was involved in organizing the Los Angeles-based event, officially called ‘Justin Tranter and GLAAD Present Believer Spirit Day Concert.’ The event raised over $100,000 [£75,805.66; €84,850.40] for GLAAD’s anti-bullying efforts to stand up for LGBTI youth.

Carly Rae Jepsen, Adam Lambert, and other celebrities attended the event.

Watch the clip of Love and Tranter’s cover below:

[embedded content]

]]> Sun, 22 Oct 2017 15:14:46 +0000
‘I think it’s setting fire to an iconic brand and pandering to this ridiculous PC world we live in’]]>

Former Playboy model Jenna Jameson has called out Playboy for introducing Ines Rau as their first transgender Playmate.

‘I think it’s setting fire to an iconic brand and pandering to this ridiculous PC world we live in,’ Jameson said via Twitter on 19 October.

‘I just think it’s a ridiculous attempt by Playboy to stay relevant. It is a foolish decision that alienates its consumer base,’ Jameson told Fox News.


Yet, many on Twitter did not agree.

And Jameson did not hesitate to answer this criticism.

Criticism over Playboy’s decision to hire a transgender Playmate is similar to the criticism the publication received in 1965 upon featuring their first African-American Playmate.

‘It’s the right thing to do. We’re at a moment where gender roles are evolving,’ Hugh Hefner’s son and current Playboy Chief Creative Officer told The New York Times.

]]> Sun, 22 Oct 2017 14:49:59 +0000
Robert Mugabe is fiercely anti-gay]]>

The World Health Organization just canceled Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe’s appointment as a goodwill ambassador, following international outrage.

On Wednesday (18 October), WHO’s Tedros Adhanom said in a speech: ‘Today I am honoured to announce that President Mugabe has agreed to serve as a goodwill ambassador on NCDs [non-communicable diseases] for Africa to influence his peers in his region to prioritize NCDs.’

But now the offer’s off the table.

In a follow-up statement, Adhanom said: Over the last few days, I have reflected on my appointment of H.E. President Robert Mugabe as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for NCDs in Africa.

‘As a result I have decided to rescind the appointment.

‘I have listened carefully to all who have expressed their concerns, and heard the different issues that they have raised.

‘I have also consulted with the Government of Zimbabwe and we have concluded that this decision is in the best interests of the World Health Organization.

‘It is my aim to build a worldwide movement for global health. This movement must work for everyone and include everyone.

Robert Mugabe is the president of Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe is the president of Zimbabwe

‘For me, what is important is to build political leadership and create unity around bringing health to all, based on WHO’s core values.

‘I remain firmly committed to working with all countries and their leaders to ensure that every one has access to the health care they need.

‘We must build bridges that bring us together and help us move forward in our quest to achieve universal health coverage.

‘I thank everyone who has voiced their concerns and shared their thoughts. I depend on constructive debate to help and inform the work I have been elected to do,’ he said.

Backlash to the appointment

As a result of the WHO’s announcement, WHO Maternal’s Anthony Costello tweeted: ‘Senior WHO staff dumbfounded.

‘Greatly concerned about the effects this decision will have on our credibility and funding,’ he warned.

Similarly, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof tweeted: ‘You appointed Robert Mugabe a WHO goodwill ambassador? What aged dictator is next on the list?’

Human rights activist Hillel Neuer tweeted: ‘UN sick joke of the week: WHO names tyrant Mugabe as global health ambassador. He destroyed Zimbabwe’s health, gets his treatment abroad.’

Robert Mugabe has been the President of Zimbabwe since 1987 and has presided over a regime many call corrupt.

During this time, he said some awful things about LGBTI people. In 2013, he promised hell for gay and lesbians if he was re-elected. In the same speech, he said gay people should also ‘rot in jail.’

He also previously threatened to cut gay people’s heads off, as well as ‘filthy gays destroy nations.’

]]> Sun, 22 Oct 2017 14:19:38 +0000
‘If someone thinks you’re gay, gay is fabulous. Gay is amazing. There’s nothing wrong with that. Toxic masculinity is bullsh*t’]]>

Laverne Cox, the trans actress best known for her role on Orange Is The New Black, spoke to Attitude Magazine about her dating life.

‘I still meet men. I’m on apps. I think you have to be on apps to be in the game, so I do it that way. I think a lot of guys are intimidated by me, but guys were intimidated by me before I was famous,’ Cox revealed.

Yet, she has no time for men who are ashamed of dating a trans woman.

‘Men who are into trans women who want to keep us a secret and are afraid if someone thinks they are gay, they’re insecure as fuck. If someone thinks you’re gay, gay is fabulous. Gay is amazing. There’s nothing wrong with that. Toxic masculinity is bullshit,’ Cox said.

Laverne Cox has been in an abusive relationship before

Cox has been involved in toxic relationships before.

‘I was so young, this guy was into me and I thought because I was black and trans that no one else was going to love me. He was an alcoholic, and I became his caretaker and enabler,’ she tells Attitude.

‘He was never physically abusive, only emotionally, that’s important to say. Sometimes that’s worse, he was such a mind fuck.’

Though she knew the relationship wasn’t good, Cox stayed in it to ‘prove’ to herself that she was ‘worthy’ of love and affection.

‘I could have died because of his alcoholism,’ she says.

‘I thought that if I could be perfect and great in bed, prepare him food and take care of him that I would be worthy. If I could turn someone who was emotionally abusive and unavailable and manipulative in some ways into someone who was available and un-abusive because I was so amazing, it would heal of of the childhood trauma that I had taken into the relationship,’ Cox reveals.

Eventually, though, she gained the strength to leave the relationship.

‘Now I know it’s not about me, it’s about him. It’s not about me being perfect or changing someone. That was never going to happen. This person is not going to change and I deserve better. I deserve someone who’s going to treat me like a queen because I am one,’ she says.

‘I just needed to let him go.’

Cox has spoken about this particular relationship before, telling Grazia Magazine ‘My biggest regret is that I dated an emotionally abusive alcoholic for four years.’

Laverne Cox graces one of the six collectible covers of Attitude Magazine’s November issue, and was honored with an Inspiration Award from the publication.