Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Papa Frankie Not As Hateful to the Gays, World Freaks Out

Pope Francis threw the Earth off its axis this weekend when he spoke about gays in terms that were less than hateful.

Returning to Rome on his private jet after a trip to Brazil, Papa Frankie responded to a reporter's question about gay priests, saying “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

The radical pontiff drew a massive crowd of 3 million to Copa Cabana beach, with nary a thong in site.

Predictably, gays around the world are hailing this news as some sort of about face on the Catholic Church's two thousand year old anti-gay doctrine. Just as predictably, the Vatican is working overtime to correct God's infallible messenger on Earth.

The NY Times reports:
Vatican experts were quick to point out that Francis was not suggesting that the priests or anyone else should act on their homosexual tendencies, which the church considers a sin. But the fact that he made such comments — and used the word “gay” — was nevertheless revolutionary, and likely to generate significant discussion in local dioceses, where bishops are divided over whether to accept priests who are gay but celibate.
“It’s not a great opening in terms of contents, but the fact that he talked about it that way is a great novelty,” said Paolo Rodari, a Vatican expert at the Italian daily La Repubblica. Francis would probably agree with Benedict’s writings on homosexuality, he added, “but it doesn’t interest him.”
“It interests him to say that the problem in the end isn’t if someone has this tendency, the important thing is to live in the light of God,” Mr. Rodari said. “Said by a pope, it’s enormous.”
By using the word "gay", the pope has, unwittingly, dragged the church, kicking and screaming, into the pre-Stonewall 1960's. Now that's what I call progress!

But make no mistake. The Vatican is making it clear that it runs the show - not the Pope - and being gay is still a "problem" to be overcome, despite what he has to say about it. Don't expect to see Frankie leading the Vatican City Gay Pride parade in his tricked out Popemobile any time soon.

So keep it in your pants and grovel for forgiveness for being made in the Lord's queer image and you can still be a good Catholic, even a priest. Catholics love a good martyr, so go suffer away, boys and girls. Well, maybe not the girls. You still have no rights in the church and can't be priests, so please continue being subordinate and shut up and sit down.

As for all you gays who aren't Catholic, or have any shred of self respect, you're still going to Hell.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Russian Gay Rights Activist Responds to Stoli Boycott: "LOL"

Russian gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseev responded to Dan Savage's call for a worldwide boycott on Russian vodka today on his FaceBook page. 

"I think all this bullshitting about boycotting Russian vodka only makes outsiders (heteros, authorities, media) think that all gays are real alcoholics that their boycott can have impact on Vodka sales and that they have nothing else to boycott except Vodka. LOL." 

As usual, Savage is taking credit for kicking off a boycott that was actually the brainchild of someone else. In this case, LGBT activist Cleve Jones.

Alekseev elaborated in a post on Gay Star News:
Nikolai Alekseev, a regular Gay Star News contributor, has said it will have little effect on the ‘gay propaganda’ law.
US gay rights campaigner Dan Savage pioneered the boycott, telling gay bars to ‘dump Russian vodka’.
Alekseev, in the heart of fighting against the homophobic law, described the boycott as a ‘symbolic gesture doomed to failure’.
‘To be honest, I don’t see the point in boycotting the Russian vodka,' he said.
'It will impact anyone except the companies involved a little bit. The effect will die out very fast, it will not last forever.’
Alekseev added: ‘And what is the aim of this boycott? The producers, even if they become bankrupt because of the boycott (which is unlikely) will not be able to influence Russian politics and President Putin as well as the decisions of the State Duma.’
The human rights campaigner said if people around the world want to do something that will actually help Russian gays, then they should target the homophobic lawmakers.
He said: ‘Just three or four persons on the visa ban list of the EU, USA, UK and several other countries will dissuade other Russian politicians to follow this path.
‘This is the only thing which can effectively work.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Has Cleve Jones Jumped the Shark with Stoli Vodka Boycott?

As many in the LGBT community have heard by now, Russian president, Vladimir Putin, signed some of the the most draconian anti-gay legislation into law this summer. In Russia, "homosexual propaganda" is now considered pornography and is punishable by imprisonment. This includes any public mention, even by judges, that homosexuality is anything other than evil. Gays are forbidden to adopt and natural born children of lesbians and gays can be taken away by the state.

Foreign visitors found to be in violation of any of Russia's anti-gay laws can be arrested and detained for up to 14 days. This last bit is especially problematic, considering that Russia will be hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics, which will draw LGBT's from around the world as competitors and spectators.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has issued a statement affirming its commitment to nondiscrimination. Via The Windy City Times :
"The International Olympic Committee is clear that sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation," said the statement. "The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination, and that applies to spectators, officials, media and of course athletes. We would oppose in the strongest terms any move that would jeopardise this principle.
"As you know, this legislation has just been passed into law and it remains to be seen whether and how it will be implemented, particularly as regards the Games in Sochi. As a sporting organization, what we can do is to continue to work to ensure that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media. Wider political issues in the country are best dealt with by other international organizations more suited to this endeavor."
There is a growing sense of discontent in many gay-friendly countries, where discussions of boycotting the games are growing.

Meanwhile here in the good old US of A, talk of another kind of boycott has been making it's way around social media. Veteran activist Cleve Jones, who fought alongside Harvey Milk, created The Names Project, AIDS Memorial Quilt, and - with activist and former advisor to President Bill Clinton, David Mixner - organized The National Equality March on Washington in 2009, which I attended, thinks boycotting Stoli vodka will show the Ruskies who's boss.

That's right, by merely switching your cocktail, you can show Vladimir Putin that Russia's queers will not be denied their cock and tail. It's just that simple.

There's just one little problem. The Stoli vodka sold outside of Russia is not made in Russia. In fact, it's made by a completely different company. When confronted with news of a potential queer boycott on their FaceBook page, Stoli released the following statement:
"Stolichnaya Premium Vodka continues to be fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community. This is true in all the countries the brand operates in around the world. SPI, the owner of Stoli, does not own the Stolichnaya brand in Russia. The Stolichnaya made in Russia for the local market is owned by a State controlled entity that has absolutely no connection to SPI. Stoli firmly opposes the beliefs supported by the Russian Government in relation to the treatment of the LGBT community. If SPI were to manufacture, market and sell Stoli in Russia, the brand would actively demonstrate support for the LGBT community as it does throughout the rest of the world where Stoli is available."
Being the little shit-stirrer that I am, I began posting about this on FaceBook and calling out Cleve Jones on his misguided endeavor. I pointed out that switching the vodka you drink while you party down this summer will have as much impact on Vladimir Putin as Freedom Fries did on France, when they refused to let George W. Bush use their airspace to invade the wrong country. The official French response was none at all.

I have also begun to see other postings on FB about boycotting Russian vodka in general. Queer Nation has already jumped on the train to nowhere and started posting anti-Stoli graphics on social media sites.

I did some checking (it only takes a couple of clicks on Google) and found that most so-called Russian vodkas sold in the US and around the world are not distilled in Russia at all. I mentioned that in some of my postings. While Stoli was the only brand name Cleve specifically mentioned, the fire has been lit and the distinction, as I pointed out to him when he contacted me, will be lost on most people.

The single word that best describes this Stoli boycott is "silly". It is silly to think that the Russian government will become gay friendly if America's queers stop drinking a vodka that isn't even made in Russia. Even if it were made there, it's still just plain silly. Why should they care? Cleve thinks the bad press will help sway them. I guess he forgot who controls the Russian press. Silly.

It is extremely silly that when confronted with the statement from Stoli, which I forwarded to him, Cleve Jones told me,
"You seem singularly focused on defending Stoli. You're entitled to your opinions. I've attempted a civil dialogue despite the rude and dishonest representation in your original post. As for Stoli, it is one of the most recognizable Russian brands in the world and one of the few Russian consumer goods available to ordinary folks. I'm going to continue to support the boycott of Stoli among other tactics. If you have ideas of your own on how to help, you should put them out there. But I've given you more than enough of my time on this issue." 
As I told him in response, I am singularly focused on the truth.

Cleve, you've done a lot for our community, but one of the things we cannot do if we hope to secure true equality, is to stoop to the level of those who work against us by spreading lies. If we can't win with the truth, then we don't deserve to win at all. It makes us no better than Brian Brown, Maggie Gallagher, Fred Phelps, Brian Fischer and all the rest who lie about LGBT people for a living. You are better than that.

You want ideas? How about doing something constructive, like pressuring Secretary of State John Kerry to come out with a statement condemning Russia's war on gays? How about pressuring the US Olympic Committee to boycott the Olympics next year? How about petitioning the United Nations Human Rights Council to issue a condemnation?

Personally, I don't drink and I don't care what anybody else drinks. Just don't drink Cleve's Kool Aid. You'll only end up looking silly.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Today in Sports: Jason Collins vs. Tim Tebow, Substance Over Fluff

Jason Collins
I never -- and I mean NEVER -- talk about sports, except when it's about how hot some of the jocks are and what assholes they were to me in high school. Today is a special exception because two major events have happened on the same day.

First, the-too-cute-to-be-straight, spontaneously genuflecting, darling of the religious right, Tim Tebow, got cut from the NY Jets after only one season. I honestly don't care about this story at all. Honestly, the only other Jet I can name is Tony, from West Side Story.

I thought I might just mention it, because I find it funny and ironic and all sorts of cosmically fitting that this story has been totally overshadowed by the Sports Illustrated cover story about NBA center Jason Collins coming out of the closet.

Collins writes in the May 6 issue of SI, "Imagine you're in the oven, baking. Some of us know and accept our sexuality right away and some need more time to cook. I should know - I baked for 33 years." 

Except for the Holocaust mental imagery, which Collins might know about if gay history was included in, well, history class, this is a powerful statement about coming out. We in the LGBT community each come out in our own time, when we feel comfortable enough in our own skin and strong enough to stop giving a shit about what others think about us.

Of course it's different in the testosterone filled, close quarters of professional sports. It's one thing to know that there may be gay men or women sharing the showers with you after the game, it's quite another to know who they are. We've long wondered how the professional sporting world would react to an out and proud male athlete. We're about to find out.

The reactions have been mostly supportive. Kobe Bryant tweeted, “Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don't suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others #courage #support #mambaarmystandup #BYOU.”

Ellen DeGeneres is "overwhelmed by your bravery."

Meanwhile over at ESPN, the Fox "News" of sports, the reactions by those who have mastered the art of reading, have been mostly snarky and insulting. Fuck them. Stuff your fat faces with Hardee's 3000 calorie bowls of fat covered in glop until your inevitable heart attack. You won't be missed.

It's better to come out fully cooked than half-baked.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

NAACP Board: "We Support Marriage Equality"

Citing the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the NAACP  announced its support for marriage Equality as a civil right in a press release Saturday:
(Miami, Florida) The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People today released a resolution supporting marriage equality. At a meeting of the 103-year old civil rights group’s board of directors, the organization voted to support marriage equality as a continuation of its historic commitment to equal protection under the law.
“The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure the political, social and economic equality of all people,” said Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the NAACP. “We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law.”
“Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP.
The NAACP has addressed civil rights with regard to marriage since Loving v. Virginia declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional in 1967. In recent years the NAACP has taken public positions against state and federal efforts to ban the rights and privileges for LGBT citizens, including strong opposition to Proposition 8 in California, the Defense of Marriage Act, and most recently, North Carolina’s Amendment 1, which changed the state constitution’s to prohibit same sex marriage.
Below is the text of the resolution passed by the NAACP board of directors:
The NAACP Constitution affirmatively states our objective to ensure the “political, educational, social and economic equality” of all people. Therefore, the NAACP has opposed and will continue to oppose any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the Constitutional rights of LGBT citizens. We support marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.  Further, we strongly affirm the religious freedoms of all people as protected by the First Amendment.
This statement by the oldest and largest civil rights organization in America goes a long way to dispelling the lies put forth by groups like the National Organization for Marriage that strive to drive a wedge between the African American community and the LGBT community.

While surveys have shown that the African American community has been slower to accept LGBT equality than the general population, increases in tolerance continue to be made. The strong leadership shown by the NAACP this week is in accordance with the argument we've been making all along that marriage is a civil right.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Obama Evolves: Welcome to the 21st Century, Barry!

As you've all heard by now, President Obama has come out in full support of Marriage Equality in an interview with ABC's Robin Roberts.
"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married."
This is an historic event in the history of the LGBT rights movement. This is the first time a sitting president has made such a statement of support for full marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.

We all have reason to celebrate this morning, but I have to say that this news is bitter sweet, coming a day after the passing of Amendment One in North Carolina. I can't help but wonder about the timing of this announcement.

On Sunday Joe Biden made a statement on Meet the Press that he supports Marriage Equality, only to have the White House spin doctors go ape shit trying to back peddle and say that Biden didn't say what we all heard him say. Meanwhile, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said at a Monday news conference that he agrees with Biden's position.

The official off-the-record explanation from unnamed White House sources is that "The Big O" evolved earlier this year, but chose not to make it public until this week, on the heals of Biden's and Duncan's statements and increased pressure from LGBT critics and high dollar donors.

The question now is whether or not this will hurt or help the president in the lead-up to the fall elections. Naturally Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, as well as Tony Perkins of the hate group Family Research Council and other professional bigots have jumped all over this story claiming that the battle lines have been drawn and that the president's words now match his actions.

Gallagher seems to think this is a good thing for the anti-gays and is happy that the president is "no longer lying" about his support for marriage equality.

CNN's Soledad O'Brien went head-to-head with Perkins this morning, grilling him about the "redefinition of marriage" argument. O'Brien pointed out that marriage has changed over the years as society has changed, but Perkins would have none of it. Via Mediaite:

“You’re talking about redefinition,” Perkins said. “There is no rational reason to keep people of different races that were of opposite sex to marry. They met the qualifications of the definition of marriage. What we’re talking about here is a further redefinition of marriage…”
“But hasn't marriage been redefined and redefined?” O’Brien interjected.
“It’s going to intentionally create environments where you have children growing up without a mom and a dad,” Perkins argued.
“But we have environments where children grow up…” O’Brien countered. “Forgive me for interrupting, but we have environments already in heterosexual couples where they grow up without a mom or dad. You’re certainly not arguing gay marriage is fine as long as the couples don’t want to have kids because you will avoid that problem, kids growing up without a mom or a dad, or an older couple who aren’t going to have kids?”
All I can say is haters gotta hate and people who don't believe in evolution never evolve.

The anti-gay folks were never going to vote for Obama anyway, or should I say the anti-gay white folks. It remains to be seen whether or not black and Latino voters, who turned out in record numbers for Obama in 2008, will shift their support to Romney over this, or just say home. It's hard to believe that anybody is a single-issue voter any more. The bigots are betting that they are enough of them left to unseat the president.

Although Obama says this was a personal decision, not a political one, there can be no doubt that he considered every angle before making his statement to ABC, which, according to those same anonymous sources, was recorded on Monday, on the condition that it not air until Wednesday. We are left to wonder whether influencing the NC vote was a consideration.

For now, let's be glad in the moment. Welcome to the 21st century, Mr. President!