Showing posts with label Gays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gays. Show all posts

January 15, 2017

New Study Shows Younger Gays Want Monogamous Relationships



                                                                       


As I spent my single-again social days meeting guys I liked but to be told interested but into hook ups only, not into relationships. This let me into going without it even though donating blood was not my primary intention like the guy on the UK.

 I felt cheap sleeping in different beds or bringing strangers to mine knowing I probably will not see that person again. I knew those days were over for me. Ever since the days of AIDS I felt compelled to be with someone even though alarms were going on that I was may be making a mistake. But I had fooled around long enough and many people like me were dead so I thought I will really try to make a relationship work. That takes two! After those days were spent and after 9 years and a couple of start ups I was certain I would rather take my chances with the wrong guy on a relationship that be alone and dependent on cruising eyes and hook up dates over the net. 

II have change!  I no longer consider a relationship that important but neither being out there like a piece of meat for people to touch and decide wether is good for the night supper. I have other priorities and believe what ever happens, happens. I no longer “actively”look and I would not be with someone just to have a warm body next to me.

However it’s been my understanding younger guys were interested into hook ups mainly but I was nicely surprised to read about this particular survey.
AG

                                                                           _*_

In a previous study we interviewed 86 long-term male couples who were in mutually consensual non-monogamous relationships. The purpose was to describe what ‘successful’ non-monogamy might look like and to identify helpful behaviors, mecha- nisms, and perspectives. Because we required cou- ples to be together 8+ years, couples skewed older, with the average age being 50 years old.
This current Study targets gay men from 18 – 40 years old. We’ve enlarged the scope of the Study to include monogamous, as well as non-monog- amous couples, in order to get more data about preferences of respondents in this age group. Al- though most of the questions and focus are on respondents who are currently coupled, we also polled younger single men on certain questions, particularly those pertaining to preferences for mo- nogamy or non-monogamy.
Study Objectives
  • Identify the prevalence and attitudes about mo- nogamy and nonmonogamy in the younger gay male population
  • Describe existing monogamous and non-monog- amous couples in terms of viability, relationship health, what works and what’s challenging
  • Identify to what degree gay marriage is desired by younger gay men and the degree to which marriage is associated with monogamy
  • Provide findings that bring greater awareness and information to younger generations of gay men as they make decisions about their relationships
Methodology
The study consisted of two different online surveys and 30 telephone interviews.
Quantitative Survey
Initially, we conducted an online survey which we advertised on Facebook in September, 2014. (See Quantitative Survey Questions in the Appendix). The Facebook referrals came from diverse parts of the USA, both urban and small town environs and their responses served as our primary quantitative data. We had the following respondents in the FACEBOOK CO- HORT:
  • ○  Singles — 242
  • ○  Monogamous Couples — 290
  • ○  Non-Monogamous Couples — 48
    Since we had so few non-monogamous couples respond to the Facebook ad, we also, placed an ad in Grindr (a gay male sex hook-up app) in late September, 2014. We had the following respondents in the Grindr COHORT:
    Singles — 328
    Monogamous Couples — 42
    Non-Monogamous Couples — 79
    Because we assumed that the Grindr audi- ence skewed toward non-monogamy and the population was urban (Seattle, San Francisco, Portland) we were selective about how we used the data. We added the data from non-mo- nogamous couples responding to the Grindr survey to data from non-monogamous couples responding to the Facebook survey for purpos- es of better understanding non-monogamous
page3image28344
Choices: The Perspectives of Younger Gay Men on Monogamy, Non-Monogamy and Marriage • Blake Spears and Lanz Lowen © 2016 1
Chapter 1
couples. This gave us 127 non-monogamous couples. We purposely omitted the data from Grindr singles and monogamous couples in most of our analysis.
Qualitative Survey
  • ○  632 monogamous couples, of which 161 completed the written comments
  • ○  152 ‘monogamish’ couples, of which 45 completed the written comments
  • ○  48 non-monogamous couples, of which 16 completed the written comments
• Participants answered the open-ended ques- tions that pertained to their ‘orientation toward monogamy.’
Interviews
• We conducted follow-up interviews with 30 re- spondents that volunteered by self-identification at the end of the second Facebook survey. In- terviews averaged 30 minutes and provided us with additional examples, perspectives and the ability to profile a small number of couples. We interviewed:
  • ○  15 participants involved in a monogamous relationship
  • ○  5 participants involved in a ‘monogamish’ relationship
  • ○  10 participants involved in a non-monoga- mous relationship
As we were analyzing the Facebook and Grin- dr data, we noticed there were a significant number of couples who described themselves as monogamous, even though they had ‘three- ways’ and/or occasional sex with ‘outsiders.’ We were curious about this, and decided to conduct a second survey in October, 2014. The survey, which primarily consisted of open-end- ed questions (See Qualitative Survey Questions in the Appendix), was conducted online using a FACEBOOK advertisement.
In this survey we only enlisted participants who were in relationships (no singles).
page4image19576We instructed participants to identify as:
Strictly monogamous
Monogamous, but held ‘loosely’— ‘monon- gamish’
Non-monogamous
We had the following number of respondents:
• •

Study Population


Single
242
N/A
Monogamous
290
632
Non-monogamous
127*
48
“Monogamish”
N/A
152
Total
576
853

*Includes Grindr cohort 

thecouplesstudy.com

November 28, 2016

Why China Needs a Conversation About Gays,Sex and HIV




Lin Hui, a student in China, thought condoms only served to prevent pregnancy. So when he had sex with another man, in high school, he didn’t think he was exposing himself to any risk.
Lin, who asked that his real name not be revealed, was diagnosed with HIV in 2014, a few months before turning 18. He is now a university student in Nanjing, keeping the virus in check with daily medication. He feels resentment, however, about contracting a disease society taught him little about.
“I never imagined it could happen to me,” Lin says. “There is very little sex or HIV-prevention education in schools or in society in general. People only talk about it around World Aids Day, and then we forget about it.”
Lin is one of a growing number of young people in China to have been diagnosed with HIV in recent years. While the country has managed to dramatically reduce HIV transmission through drug use and blood transfusions, the rate of new, sexually transmitted infections among young people has accelerated in the past five years, particularly among men who have had sex with other men.
















Almost 17,000 people aged between 15 and 24 were diagnosed with HIV in 2015, according to China’s National Centre for Aids/STD Control and Prevention (NCAIDS). That was 10 per cent more than the number of new cases identified in 2014 in the same age group, and more than double the number of new cases reported in 2008.
Over the past decade, the number of HIV transmissions among young Chinese has increased by as much as 20 per cent annually. China’s health authorities have recognised the problem but have been slow to respond.

























“The real challenge today is especially among young populations, especially among young gay men,” says Bernhard Schwartländer, the WHO representative in China. “There’s a real spread of HIV in these populations, and we don’t seem to reach them well. I think it’s a real challenge to Chinese society to deal with populations that are outside of social norms, that are different in some way.”
Almost 70 per cent of the people aged between 15 and 24 years who were diagnosed with HIV last year were infected through homosexual sex. Of the students in that age group, gay sex was the cause of infection in 82 per cent of cases, according to NCAIDS. About 3,200 students received HIV diagnoses last year, but four times as many newly infected young people were outside the school system.
This suggests that starting HIV prevention education in university might already be too late, because most young people at risk are outside of college campuses, says Catherine Sozi, UNAids country director for China.
“So if they don’t get the information while they’re in school ... then it’s a bit of a missed opportunity to help young people” gain the knowledge that will help protect them, she says.
The Ministry of Education and the National Health and Planning Commission have mandated six hours of sexual education for all middle school pupils and four hours for high school students.
But few schools offer any type of sex education, sexual health activists say. And when they do, classes are usually focused on biological changes during puberty, not on relationships or gender identity diversity.
Liu Shi, project manager at the non-profit Beijing Gender Health Education Institute, sees two barriers preventing young people from receiving sex education in schools. One is parents.
“So many parents want their children to stay away from any sexual education before college because, especially if the sex education is in high school, they are worried that their kids may be encouraged to have sex earlier,” says Liu, who is HIV positive.
Many Chinese parents want their children to concentrate on studying for the national college entrance exams, wait until college to have personal relationships, and wait until they’re married to have sex, after graduating from university.
The reality, of course, is different. Technologically savvy, and increasingly free from the constraints of living with their families in small, rural communities, young people are exploring their sexuality earlier and more boldly than previous generations. At the same time, sex remains a taboo subject in schools, official discourses and pop culture.
“There’s not enough government and social publicity,” says Wang Long, founder of the non-profit Zhejiang Love Working Group. “Movies, TV series, talk shows, newspapers and radio all avoid talking about sex.”



The Ministry of Health has a condom distribution programme, but condoms adverts are banned from television.
Even though many universities have programmes, clubs or lectures that address HIV prevention, the message often goes astray, according to Martin Yang, China Aids Walk project manager at Beijing Gender Health Education Institute. The content fails to resonate with young people, or they merely ignore it, Yang says.
“I think the perception of a lot of people in this country is that [HIV] is far away,” says Sozi. “It’s a sex worker somewhere, and some gay man somewhere. It’s not here.”
Health workers are realising there needs to be a paradigm shift in the way they tackle HIV/Aids prevention, she says. “We’re still doing what we did 20 years ago,” Sozi adds. “There’s been no shift in keeping up with the emerging populations and how they do things, how business is done. It’s done on the phone; it’s no longer posters and reading newspapers.”




At the Blued offices in Beijing’s Chaoyang district, employees are making last-minute preparations for World Aids Day events. Blued is China’s largest gay dating app, with 27 million users. Since 2008, its parent company, Danlan, has worked with government agencies on online and offline HIV prevention efforts.
The app has a section with information about HIV, and a feature that allows users to find the nearest testing centre and make an appointment. There are regular live-streaming events and photo contests. Its HIV-related information has logged 70 million views in 12 months, says Hank Chen, director of Danlan Public Welfare.
“Compared with the entertainment feature and the socialising feature, the HIV-prevention feature is not that popular,” Chen says, adding they are looking at new ways to get the message across.
Discussion on HIV prevention should not just involve medical terms, says Fabio Scano, a disease control coordinator at the WHO Beijing office. It should be tied to people’s lifestyles, and to combating stigma and discrimination by involving more NGOs and community groups. In particular, gay men should be involved in “the planning and implementation of services: from being merely service providers, to full partners in planning”.
The government has established a fund for NGOs to tap into for HIV testing. However, funds are not available for most advocacy or awareness-raising work.
Yang of China AIDS Walk wants students to become more involved in the search for efficient ways to get the HIV-prevention message across to other young people. The organisation is making available micro-grants for student groups at 100 universities around the country to conduct their own outreach experiments. The funds come from individual donations but should be enough to plant the seeds of community work among students.
“It can be anything from a board game to a radio show,” Yang says. “It will give them the opportunity to disseminate information and be creative.”


imina MistreanuWang YanSouth China Morning Post
Additional reporting by Qu Chaonan

December 11, 2015

US Gay Attitudes in Afghanistan and Now in Syria Seems to be Unsupportive of Gays



                                                                           
Afghan Tajik leader Ahmad Shah Massoud

Although the U.S. government seems to support gay rights domestically, it might be pursuing an opposite approach in its foreign affairs. Perhaps the earliest indication of this during the beginning of the Islamic revolution was the failure of the U.S. to wholeheartedly support the Afghan Tajik leader Ahmad Shah Massoud. The “Lion of Panjshir,” named after the valley in Northern Afghanistan where Massoud was born, seemed to be quite tolerant of homosexuality among his troops in Afghanistan who fought against the Soviets and the Taliban in the 1980s and 1990s, unlike most of the Arab world.

As a glaring example of this prejudice by the United States, it was widely believed the crucial factor in winning the war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan was putting American-made Stinger missiles into the hands of the Afghan mujahideen. Massoud’s forces, though considered among the best, received none of those missiles while the war against the Soviet Union’s military was still going on.

More recently, the same pattern seems to be emerging in the Syrian war, wherein the U.S.-supported Syrian rebels might be almost as intolerant of homosexuality as ISIS and the Taliban are. Major news outlets reported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, though wanting above all else to stay in power and willing to do almost anything to accomplish this, has relatively benign attitudes toward gay rights and other lifestyle choices. Whether this is true or not, or whether he is at least better than the rebel forces, why aren’t matters like this being investigated beforehand, before the United States goes off half-cocked in support of, or opposition to, some foreign power?

“The fear of a horrific death [throwing people off of high buildings] among gay men under Islamic State rule is further compounded by their isolation in a deeply conservative society that largely shuns them,” wrote Associated Press reporter Bassem Mroue. “Even among IS opponents, gays find little sympathy. Some in the public who might be shocked by other IS atrocities say killings of gays is justified. Syrian rebel factions have killed or abused gays as well.”

Mroue continues, “In mid-2013, IS had just started to spread from neighboring Iraq into Syria. It didn’t yet hold the large stretches of territory across both countries that it would capture the next year. Instead, its fighters pushed into rebel-held areas in Syria and tried to dominate other rebels, often clashing with them for control and imposing the group’s strict law wherever they could.
“In September 2013, IS fighters besieged … [an] Aleppo neighborhood … trying to wrest it from the rebel Free Syrian Army. The two sides negotiated over an end to the siege and during the talks, IS gave the rebels a list of people [including gays] they demanded be handed over to them.”
Whether the Free Syrian Army complied with ISIS’s demand, Mroue does not state.

Mroue then writes: “Life for gays in Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city, was always hidden, [Daniel Halaby, a gay Syrian man] said. When the secular-led peaceful protests erupted against al-Assad in 2011, he said he quickly joined, sure they would lead to a democratic government ‘that will respect everyone no matter their religion, ethnicity, sect or sexuality.’

“‘We were very naive’, he said. ‘What happened was exactly the opposite.’”
Was this hidden life of gay men in Aleppo primarily the fault of al-Assad, or was it the result of the conservatism of the Syrian people that will continue on unabated, even if Assad is ousted, the Free Syrian Army wins and a democratic regime is established in Syria?

Jonathan Miller is a graduate student studying geography. He can be reached at jsmiller@umd.edu.

diamondbackonline.com [DBK]



                                                                   
 Gays and heroes come in all colors and nationalities. Massoud is seen as abandoned by the Bush administration. Now the gay supportive Obama administration needs to be seen in supporting gay supportive people even if they are in the Syrian camp. Many times in a civil war is not the side you choose but the one that chooses you. Adam Gonzalez




December 5, 2015

ISIS Searching for Gay Men and Throwing them off to Their Deaths


                                                                             


BEFORE a crowd of men on a street in the Syrian city of Palmyra, the masked Islamic State group judge read out the sentence against the two men convicted of homosexuality: They would be thrown to their deaths from the roof of the nearby Wael Hotel.
He asked one of the men if he was satisfied with the sentence. Death, the judge told him, would help cleanse him of his sin.


                                                                             




“I’d prefer it if you shoot me in the head,” 32-year-old Hawas Mallah replied helplessly. The second man, 21-year-old Mohammed Salameh, pleaded for a chance to repent, promising never to have sex with a man again, according to a witness among the onlookers that sunny July morning who gave The Associated Press a rare first-hand account.

“Take them and throw them off,” the judge ordered. Other masked extremists tied the men’s hands behind their backs and blindfolded them. They led them to the roof of the four-story hotel, according to the witness, who spoke in the Turkish city of Reyhanli on condition he be identified only by his first name, Omar, for fear of reprisals.

Notorious for their gruesome methods of killing, the Islamic State group reserves one of its most brutal for suspected homosexuals. Videos it has released show masked militants dangling men over the precipices of buildings by their legs to drop them headfirst or tossing them over the edge. At least 36 men in Syria and Iraq have been killed by IS militants on charges of sodomy, according to the New York-based OutRight Action International, though its Middle East and North Africa co-ordinator, Hossein Alizadeh, said it was not possible to confirm the sexual orientation of the victims.

The fear of a horrific death among gay men under Islamic State rule is further compounded by their isolation in a deeply conservative society that largely shuns them.

Many Muslims consider homosexuality to be sinful. Gay men are haunted constantly by the possibility that someone, perhaps even a relative, will betray them to the militants — whether to curry favor with IS or simply out of hatred for their sexual orientation.

Islamic State group fighters sometimes torture suspected homosexuals to reveal their friends’ names and search their laptops and mobile phones. Even among IS opponents, gays find little sympathy. Some in the public who might be shocked by other IS atrocities say killings of gays is justified. Syrian rebel factions have killed or abused gays as well.

A 26-year-old Syrian gay man told the AP that even two years after fleeing to Turkey, he wakes up shaken by nightmares that he is about to be hurled from a building. The man spoke on condition that he be identified as Daniel Halaby, the name he now uses in his activism tracking IS atrocities, and that the city in Turkey where he lives not be named for his own safety.

Halaby says a childhood friend who became radicalised and joined IS betrayed him to the militants in 2013, forcing him to flee his home city of Aleppo.
“He knew everything about me, such as being secular and gay. ... I am sure he is the one who gave my name to Daesh,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

At that time, in mid-2013, IS had just started to spread from neighbouring Iraq into Syria. It didn’t yet hold the large stretches of territory across both countries that it would capture the next year. Instead, its fighters pushed into rebel-held areas in Syria and tried to dominate other rebels, often clashing with them for control and imposing the group’s strict law wherever they could.

In September 2013, IS fighters besieged the Aleppo neighbourhood where Halaby lived with his family, trying to wrest it from the rebel Free Syrian Army. The two sides negotiated over an end to the siege and, during the talks, IS gave the rebels a list of people they demanded be handed over to them. Halaby said he learned his name was on that list.

He quickly escaped to Turkey.
Another man is thrown from the roof by the terror group.
Another man is thrown from the roof by the terror group.Source:Supplied

There, his bedroom is decorated with a flag of the Syrian opposition and a rainbow banner that covers an entire wall. His parents, who remain in Aleppo, refuse to talk to him because of his sexual orientation. When he watches videos of gays being killed, he said, “What breaks my heart most is that I feel helpless.”

Life for gays in Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city, was always hidden, Halaby said. When the secular-led peaceful protests erupted against President Bashar Assad in 2011, he said he quickly joined, sure they would lead to a democratic government “that will respect everyone no matter their religion, ethnicity, sect or sexuality.”

“We were very naive,” he said. “What happened was exactly the opposite.”
Subhi Nahas, a 28-year-old gay Syrian who now lives in San Francisco, said he fled because he feared his own father might turn him in to al-Qaeda’s affiliate, the Nusra Front, which also has targeted homosexuals.

When his father learned he was gay, Nahas said he called him a shame to the family and beat him. Around the same time, in late 2013, Nusra fighters launched a crackdown on suspected gays in Nahas’ hometown of Maaret al-Numan, detaining 25 men and announcing through mosque loudspeakers that they would cleanse the town of homosexuals.
“With the problems between me and my father, I did not rule out that he might (hand me over),” he told the AP.

So he fled, first to Lebanon, then Turkey. But in Turkey, he said, he began getting death threats from a former school friend who joined the Islamic State group. Fearful that he wouldn’t be safe even in Turkey, he legally resettled to the United States in June.
Pictures show onlookers below.

Pictures show onlookers below.Source:Supplied
In August, Nahas and a gay Iraqi man spoke about the suffering of homosexuals in their countries at the first-ever U.N. Security Council session spotlighting violence and discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

The stigma surrounding homosexuality makes it difficult to document IS killings and identify victims, rights groups say. Families and friends refuse to talk about victims. Gays under IS rule are terrified to speak, and most who flee abroad go into hiding.

The Islamic State group’s announcements are the main source of information, but the group often does not name the victims, perhaps in deference to their families, who could lash out in anger at having their names publicly linked to homosexuals.

“Such a barbaric show of murder leaves LGBT individuals in constant state of fear and would deprive them of a normal life that any human being is entitled to,” Alizadeh said.
Widespread public hostility leaves the community even more vulnerable.

“They are violating God’s laws and doing something that is forbidden in Islam, so this is a legitimate punishment,” said Hajji Mohammed, a resident of the IS-held northern Iraqi city of Mosul. There the group has thrown men suspected of being gay off the Insurance Building, a landmark about 10 stories high.
 
Assad: Russia Impact on ISIS Stronger Than U.S.

By employing the grisly method, the Islamic State group aims to show radicals that it is unflinchingly carrying out the most extreme strains in Islam — a sort of “ideological purity” the group boasts distinguishes it even from other militants. The punishment “will protect the Muslims from treading the same rotten course that the West has chosen to pursue,” IS proclaimed in its online English-language magazine Dabiq.

The Koran tells the story of Lot and the destruction of Sodom — and sodomy in Arabic is known as “liwat,” based on Lot’s name.

Men having sex with each other should be punished, the Koran says, but it doesn’t say how — and it adds that they should be left alone if they repent. The death penalty instead comes from the Hadith, or accounts of the sayings of the prophet Muhammad. The accounts differ on the method of killing, and some accounts give lesser penalties in some circumstances.

The Islamic State group bases its punishment on one account in which Muhammad reportedly says gays “should be thrown from tremendous height then stoned.”
Before IS, the method was rarely used, though other militants have targeted homosexuals for death. During their rule in Afghanistan in the 1990s, the Taliban had their own method: The victim would be put in a pit and a stone wall would be toppled on top of them.

Most moderate Muslim clerics ignore the death penalty provisions, even as they fiercely denounce homosexuality. Across the Arab world, homosexuals have been arrested and sentenced to prison on charges linked to “debauchery” — and sometimes lashed in Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Omar, the man who watched the killings in Palmyra, said he remains shaken.

It began when IS militants blared on loudspeakers for men to gather. Then a black van pulled up outside the Wael Hotel, and Mallah and Salamah were brought out.
The first to be thrown off was Mallah. He was tied to a chair so he couldn’t resist, then pushed over the side.

He landed on his back, broken but still moving. A fighter shot him in the head.
Next was Salameh. He landed on his head and died immediately. Still, fighters stoned his body, Omar said.

The bodies were then hung up in Palmyra’s Freedom Square for two days, each with a placard on his chest: “He received the punishment for practicing the crime of Lot’s people.”


November 28, 2015

Sham Marriages in China Helps Gay Grooms Match to other Gay Grooms




                                                                           
 
Qiang is sitting next to his wife, Jing, in a Shanghai shopping mall. Also at the table is Jie, Qiang’s boyfriend. The trio are attempting to explain their relationship. “It’s complicated,” says Qiang, laughing.

When Qiang married Jing in 2013, his boyfriend Jie was his best man. That same week Jie married Jing’s girlfriend. Then Jing split up with her girlfriend, who subsequently divorced Jie. The tangled situation represents two examples of a recent surge in China in the amount of sham unions between gays and lesbians.

There are around 16 million gay Chinese men married to women who are unaware of their husbands’ sexuality, say researchers at Qingdao University. The unions are fraught with emotional dangers. So increasing numbers of gay men and lesbians are now turning to each other for what they see as an option with less potential for disaster. “I didn’t feel jealous seeing Qiang marry a woman in front of me,” says Jie, 32. “As long as our families felt happy, we were happy. We solved a problem.”

Like millions of other Chinese of their generation, the trio faced pressure from their parents to have a traditional family, complete with grandchildren. “I couldn’t force my parents to accept that I’m gay,” says Qiang. “Beliefs are different between generations. You can’t change it.”
 
There is no bitterness or anguish in his voice when he talks about this deception. He and Jing have planned their marriage to cause minimum disruption to their real lives. They meet for family dinners a few times a month but do not live together – Qiang lives with Jie. “We have parents round but we don’t let them stay overnight,” says Jing. “My wife lives very close to me,” says Qiang. “It’s easy when parents visit at short notice.”

Qiang and Jie met their wives after trawling lesbian websites, exchanging messages then meeting and forging friendships. Jie unfolds a hand-written contract he and his ex-wife signed prior to their wedding and reads through the terms they agreed on. Such contracts are common in sham marriages and usually outline terms of financial independence. Jie’s also states that he would be responsible for 70 per cent of the costs of raising a child born in his marriage.

“We argued a little about the about the surname of the child,” Jie says. “Then we finally agreed that it would be the same as mine.” Qiang, a lawyer, has a similar contract with his wife. “They are legally binding,” he says.

China-2.jpg
Homosexuality is still described as a mental disorder in some Chinese textbooks
Homosexuality is still described as a mental disorder in some Chinese textbooks
The process for organising such marriages got easier last January with the launch of the app Queers. It works like a dating site, matching gay men with lesbians. Users upload photos and vital statistics such as weight, height and income. They explain whether they want a baby from the marriage.

Women who look typically straight “are desirable as it makes it easier to cheat parents”, says Liao Zhuoying, the founder of Queers. 

Queers has over 400,000 users, around half of whom are aged 25-35: the age when pressure to marry is most heavy. “Activists have accused us of setting up barriers, helping people shy away from their problems,” says Liao. “But we are solution providers. It’s impossible for all gays and lesbians to come out in Chinese society.”

China-3.jpg
People take part in the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) parade in Hong Kong on November 6, 2015.
Homosexuality was illegal in China until 1997 and was listed as a mental disorder until 2001. Last month media reports showed that gay conversion therapy is still widespread in China.

It’s unsurprising that so many people keep their homosexuality a secret. Although most users of Queers use it to set up a marriage to fool their parents, Liao says that some do so with the co-operation of their families to keep their sexuality a secret from wider society. “In China, keeping a family’s face is important,” he says.

The website ChinaGayLes.com serves the same purpose as Queers. Launched in 2005, it has around the same number of users as the app, and founder Lin Hai claims that it has facilitated around 50,000 sham marriages so far. “Before the site there was no real concept of sham marriages in China,” he says. “Gay men would just marry a straight woman.” Lin says that, like Liao, he sometimes hears from parents of homosexuals. “They are trying to find a way to respect their children while still conforming to society.”

China-3.jpg
People take part in the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) parade in Hong Kong on November 6, 2015.
Gay man writes letter after his parents refused to come to his wedding
Rules stopping gay men from giving blood to be reviewed
Gay men give straight men their best life tips
For most users the ultimate goal of such marriages is to have a baby. After two years as husband and wife, Qiang and Jing are planning for a pregnancy. They will soon buy a syringe and attempt to use it to inseminate Jing with Qiang’s sperm at home, but will consult medical experts if that proves unsuccessful. “We want to do this for ourselves as well as our parents,” says Jing. “But we will probably let our child spend most of its time with our parents then take over when it reaches the age of three.”

For Jie, the issue of a child led to the breakdown of his sham marriage. His wife had agreed to have a baby but changed her mind after the wedding, prompting their divorce. Jie then took the uncommon decision last August to come out to his parents.

“My mother cried uncontrollably and asked, ‘How could you be that way?’” he says. “She said she blamed herself for allowing me to live somewhere like Shanghai, where ‘weird people’ live. When I told my father he said, ‘I feel like there’s a fly in my mouth. Disgusting’.”

Despite a period of estrangement from his parents, Jie is now back in contact with them. They are being educated with the help of support groups set up to help parents understand homosexuality, and Jie says he feels happier now he doesn’t have to lie to them.

China.jpg
A recently married couple take wedding photos in front of Shaghai's business district
A recently married couple take wedding photos in front of Shaghai's business district
There are glimpses of progress in Chinese society’s views on homosexuality. Government leaders have recently made public shows of meeting gay tech industry leaders in bridge-building exercises and the influence of China’s young, liberal social media users is rising.

“The wheel of history is moving forward,” says Liao. “But not everyone is courageous enough to stand at the forefront. We are solving problems for these people. Maybe the demand for sham marriages will shrink in the future, our app will die and society will progress.”

But for now the deceit continues. “I’ve wanted to come out many times,” says Jing. “But if I do that, the pressure will be transferred to my parents. It’s selfish. I’m doing this to make my parents comfortable.”

Jamie Fullerton Shanghai

Additional reporting by Cissy Young. The names of some interviewees have been changed.


June 30, 2015

Hollywood Embraces and Shuns Gays Depending on the Month



                                                                           



Activist David Mixner stood alone on a theater stage in Los Angeles at the start of this year’s Gay Pride Month, sharing his memories with an audience of friends, political figures and a smattering of celebrities, about the time Ronald Reagan saw the light.
 
It was 1978, and aides to Reagan, who was on the cusp of launching his presidential campaign, believed he was ready to endorse a California initiative to ban gays and lesbians from teaching in the state’s classrooms, a ballot proposition inspired by the anti-gay crusades of singer Anita Bryant.
Mixner remembered when he and fellow activist Peter Scott landed a secret meeting with Reagan, who was exceedingly charming and willing to listen. Mixner warned the soon-to-be candidate that the initiative would create anarchy: Students could retaliate for a bad grade by accusing their teachers of being gay.  
ReAgAn didn’t immediately reveal what he was going to do, but he later penned an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. He not only didn’t support the proposition, but rather publicly opposed it. “Whatever else it is, homosexuality is not a contagious disease like the measles,” he wrote. The initiative was defeated, delivering a nascent LGBT movement one of its first victories.
 
There is a long and turbulent road that leads from those days of activism to the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. In the recent past, it was unthinkable that the battle for equality would even reach this moment, and it is a sign of progress for the LGBT movement, and a reminder of how the media, government, the entertainment industry and people on the street played a crucial role in shaping public opinion and approval.
The Supreme Court ruling covers only marriage. LGBT citizens remain the only group in America who do not have national protection in terms of housing and employment. And, as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 proved, legal standing doesn’t guarantee universal acceptance. Yet while many may view the marriage decision as no surprise, it still has far-reaching implications, including considerations of religion, law, health coverage and child care. 
There has been a roller-coaster shift in attitudes since 1978, with moments of exuberance followed by crushing setbacks; Reagan’s initial helpfulness was followed by his administration’s years of indifference to AIDS, which killed tens of thousands of gay Americans.
Despite the aura of inevitability that surrounded the marriage decision, the fight isn’t over. The court majority established a clear constitutional right to same-sex marriage, but states may face resistance as they carry out the decision in areas where opposition is still strong.
“We are going to see a little bit of a backlash,” Mixner says. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an increase in hate crimes directed against us.”
Mixner calls the past few years “epic” in the pace of progress for LGBT rights. Jim Obergefell, the namesake plaintiff in the same-sex marriage cases weighed by the Supreme Court, filed suit to demand that Ohio recognize his out-of-state marriage to John Arthur. Obergefell writes, in an essay for Variety, “What I didn’t expect on my way to that courtroom was to discover how much our story and our fight resonated with people across the country.” (Obergefell’s essay, Page 19)
The entertainment industry has helped change hearts and minds, but the extent of its contribution is a matter of debate.
In some ways, Hollywood has embraced the LGBT movement; in others, it’s shunned the cause.
With TV shows like “Will & Grace,” primetime may have paved the way; Vice President Joseph Biden cited the sitcom as a major factor in increasing acceptance of gays and lesbians. But the industry doesn’t look so groundbreaking when it comes to the paucity of A-list stars who have felt comfortable enough to come out. Recent years have seen the first out athletes in the NBA and NFL; at the multiplexes, audiences are still waiting for a gay action hero.
Civil rights activist Julian Bond is among those who see the media as having been a significant influence. “Americans began to get used to gay people,” he says of the shift in public opinion. “Instead of being, say, frightened of gay people, or unsure about them, or (thinking) ‘What are they up to? Or is there something wrong here?’ I think they have gotten used to gay people through television, the appearance of gay actors on TV, gay characters in movies, gay people appearing in ways we hadn’t seen before.”
The biggest challenge beyond housing and employment is perception. Activists worry about complacency in the LGBT community. As Bond points out, the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in the 1960s didn’t end racism. “People who are opposed to it now are going to keep at it. They are not going to give up the ship.”
Variety commissioned a survey by USC Annenberg’s celebrity-branding authority Jeetendr Sehdev that showed that 78% of the public supports equal employment and housing rights for gays and lesbians. However, most are unaware that LGBT adults don’t already have those rights throughout the country. For instance, many don’t realize that it is still legal in many states to fire someone for being gay.
A federal employment anti-discrimination law, proposed decades ago, has yet to make it to the president’s desk, and there are doubts it will move forward any time soon with the GOP majority in Congress. A comprehensive anti-discrimination bill “will be the biggest battle we’ve ever faced in the movement,” says Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “But it’s a battle we need to have. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it’s a battle that we’ll ultimately win.”

 
When it comes to adoption by same-sex couples, the picture gets murkier. According to the Sehdev survey, 42% oppose adoption by same-sex couples, mirroring the opposition to same-sex marriage. Earlier this month, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, signed a law giving adoption agencies the power to refuse service to couples if it violates an agency’s religious beliefs. A fear among LGBT activists is that conservative state legislatures could pass similar laws.
“The Michigan law was targeting the LGBT community, it was targeting same-sex couples, and it was a deliberate backlash to what we’re seeing on marriage equality,” says Emily Hecht-McGowan, director of public policy at the Family Equality Council. “We have a long road ahead of us until legal equality translates into lived equality.”
Even in California, where the passage of the rights-denying Proposition 8 was a wake-up call to LGBT activists and allies, another initiative may make it to the 2016 ballot mandating that people use publicly owned restroom facilities of their biological sex. It’s a response to the movement for transgender rights.
Even on the issue of marriage equality, side issues are likely to trigger debate. Corporate America, including Hollywood studios, was far ahead of federal and state governments when it came to recognizing the need for benefits for same-sex couples. If marriage is an option, however, does it still make sense to recognize domestic partnerships? Some companies have been eliminating that category of benefits. “This is unfortunate for many couples, gay and straight, who either cannot or do not wish to marry,” says Camilla Taylor, marriage project director for Lambda Legal.
A measure of where things are lies in the pressure to tie the knot — a familiar feeling for many a heterosexual.
“I never thought getting married would become such a stereotypical ‘gay thing’ to do,” says 25-year-old actor Chris Colfer (Kurt Hummel on “Glee”). “In just a few years, what was discussed as only a prospect has now become an expectation in my circle of friends. I can’t tell you how many hysterical arguments I’ve gotten into by defending my right not to get married.”
What encourages people like former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), however, is the recent turnabout in Indiana, after Gov. Mike Pence signed a religious freedom law that was met with hostility from the business community. Despite what lies ahead, Frank believes that the LGBT movement is close to winning. “In America, link up the moral argument (for fair treatment) with the profit motive, and you have a pretty tough coalition,” he tells Variety. “The likelihood of (there being) substantial religious-based loopholes to these laws is very slight.”
However, not everyone is convinced. Rick Scarborough, founder of Vision America, believes that marriage “is part of the natural created order” and should only be between man and woman; God’s law, they say, takes precedence over any civil law. His group started an online declaration, in which clerics and lay people have vowed that if the law clashes with their religious beliefs, they will commit acts of civil disobedience.
Attention also is likely to focus internationally, in countries where being gay is still a crime or others that have outpaced even the U.S. in recognition. In May, Ireland became the first country to accept same-sex marriage by popular vote. More quietly that month, Mexico (another strongly Catholic country) ruled that the country’s constitution would be violated by defining marriage as a union only between a man and a woman.
How much has Hollywood influenced public opinion?
The novelty of a gay character in primetime may be giving way to the normalcy of shows with gay couples and gay families, but it didn’t happen overnight. All but invisible in the ’50s and ’60s, gay characters began to appear as networks pursued more relevant, sophisticated content in the ’70s. The first sitcom to feature a positive gay character was “All in the Family” in 1971. A year later, the TV movie “That Certain Summer” provided the first lengthy, sympathetic portrayal in primetime of a gay relationship.
On the bigscreen, 1969’s “Midnight Cowboy” cautiously presented two sexually confused characters, without being explicit about their orientation, while “Sunday Bloody Sunday” (1971) offered up a well-adjusted gay doctor (Peter Finch).
“‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ was the first film to present gay relationships in a way that was real and honest,” recalls Rob Epstein, director of the 1984 documentary “The Times of Harvey Milk.” “It was the first gay kiss that didn’t end with a punch in the face.”
For a decade, though, it more or less existed in a bubble. With a few exceptions, such as “Boys in the Band,” Hollywood largely steered clear of gay issues and characters. When the industry did turn its gaze in their direction, in films like William Friedkin’s 1980 “Cruising,” gay life was portrayed as nightmarish and aberrant.
On Broadway, gay content claimed a bit more of the spotlight, but even there it suffered from a victim complex. “Gay people were either comic relief, or they were alcoholics or miserable and committed suicide in the third act,” says playwright Terrence McNally, who rallied against the trend along with fellow writers including Harvey Fierstein.
David France, the director of the 2012 documentary “How to Survive a Plague,” argues that the AIDS crisis in the 1980s radically altered the public’s perception of homosexuality.

“There was a before AIDS and after AIDS in terms of civic standing,” he says. “When AIDS hit, there were no gay people out in public life; there were no gay celebrities, no gay media figures (that) anybody knew about. We went from darkness to light through the awful crucible of the AIDS epidemic. We learned gay people had relationships, and they left someone behind when they died.”
Onscreen, films like “Longtime Companion” (1989) and “Philadelphia” (1993) depicted the personal impact of the AIDS crisis. In time, the disease element vanished, giving way to films such as “The Birdcage” (1996) and “The Kids Are All Right” (2010) and TV shows “Queer as Folk” (2000-05) and “Glee” (2009-15), which featured gay people who were healthy and relatively happy in their own skin. In recent years, digital companies such as Netflix and Amazon have seen the commercial possibilities of telling stories about gay or transgender characters in “Orange Is the New Black” and “Transparent,” earning awards and subscribers in the process.
Performers like Neil Patrick Harris have proven that sexual orientation shouldn’t determine whether an actor plays a gay or straight role.
“I’ve been fortunate in getting to play against type (in the recent film “Gone Girl” and CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother”) while people know what my actual type is,” he says. “That’s been empowering to others, and certainly to me, that I can tweet pictures of my husband and my kids.”
Not everyone is thrilled with the types of gay characters being presented onscreen. Frank praises real-life figures such as Ellen DeGeneres, but is critical of what he considers to be stereotypical portrayals of gay men on shows like “Will & Grace.”
He’s not the only one who sees mixed messages from the media. According to USC Annenberg’s Sehdev, six in 10 Americans believe that LGBT characters are not portrayed in a positive light.
His survey results also show that the most influential factors in shaping attitudes about gays have been knowing someone who is LGBT (84%) or knowing LGBT parents (69%); straight leaders championing LGBT equality (80%); and famous public figures who are gay, lesbian or bisexual (78%). Just 38% identified LGBT characters on TV and in movies as influential.
That’s not insignificant. Entertainment, while not as important as a personal connection, is still a factor in public awareness.
When it comes to major movie releases, there has been a lag, especially as studios depend ever more on international audiences. In some substantial territories poised for growth, LGBT acceptance may be seen less as an issue of fairness, and more as one of permissiveness.
     

“It’s just a bigger ship to turn around,” says Jeffrey Friedman, director of “Howl” and “Lovelace” alongside Rob Epstein. “Film is bigger and bulkier and it’s less supple as a medium. TV is always looking for novelty, and gay relationships and gay experiences are a great treasure trove.”
There are pockets of the industry, such as the country and hip-hop music scenes, where progress has been mixed, despite the presence of “out” stars like Frank Ocean and Chely Wright. Country singer Ty Herndon, who recently went public about being gay, admits that he faced criticism from some fans. “We’re at the gateway of change, but there’s a long ways to go,” says Herndon, who believes that the chance to be a positive influence is more important than any career blowback from his decision to come out.
“In the South, kids are killing themselves,” he says. “It was important to let them know they’re not broken.”
This belief in the role that media can play in changing lives has prompted parts of the entertainment business to assume an activist role. The effort to overturn Prop. 8 in the federal court started with an idea hatched by Rob Reiner, his wife, Michele, and political consultants Griffin and Kristina Schake at a 2008 brunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel. David Geffen and Steve Bing provided $3 million in seed money, and producer Bruce Cohen was president of a nonprofit set up to pursue the litigation.
As the Prop. 8 case made its way to the Supreme Court, they maximized their connections to the industry, raising money from star-filled benefit performances of “8,” a play written by Dustin Lance Black about the 2010 trial over same-sex marriage.
Just this month, Lambda Legal has rolled out a series of videos from celebrity activists, including one from Julianne Moore that has generated about 670,000 views, as a way of messaging to a bigger audience. “She reaches a broad range of folks, not just the LGBT community,” says Lambda’s Leslie Gabel-Brett of Moore.
Still to be determined is whether that energy will endure — in 2016 and beyond.
The presidential election contest next year may be the first in which opposition to same-sex marriage is more of a handicap than an asset in the fall campaign. Democrats seem determined to use marriage equality as a generational wedge against Republicans, a turnabout from 12 years ago. A younger generation of conservatives no longer see gay rights as antithetical to their beliefs, with nearly half of those under 50 declaring themselves as being in favor of gay marriage, according to a study by Project Right Side.
“My great hope is that Republicans will see the writing on the wall, and not dig in their heels and gin up a wedge issue to win a primary and make themselves irrelevant in the general,” says Margaret Hoover, a pro-gay marriage political commentator and former aide to President George W. Bush.
There remain questions about whether the LGBT movement can stay unified as opposition softens and new legislative goals are pursued. When gay hoteliers hosted a reception for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, also a Republican presidential candidate, they got pushback and calls for a boycott of their hotel. One of the hotel owners later admitted to having given Cruz a campaign donation.
Frontiers Media columnist Karen Ocamb, a veteran reporter of the LGBT movement, wrote in a recent essay that “sometimes it seems bashing and bullying people for venturing an inch or two beyond the accepted cool-guys groupthink of the day is an acceptable blood sport, with the most clever and vicious turn of phrase collecting the most likes and retweets. Of course, the critics see themselves as merely holding the offender accountable.”
She got a lot of flak for her piece, but her point was, how can the LGBT community achieve full equality without talking to and persuading anti-LGBT legislators to vote for the freedom side of history?
Frank thinks the road forward demands political shrewdness — perhaps of the type that, 37 years ago, may have helped convince Ronald Reagan to go public against an anti-gay initiative.
“You know who the most successful activists in America are?” Frank asks. “The people in the National Rifle Assn.” They win because they vote, they track legislation and they badger elected officials, Frank argues. There’s a lesson there. “We can use our rights as citizens,” he says. “That is the key. Marches and demonstrations are not going to do this. It is (about) getting deeply engaged in the political process.”

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