September 30, 2014

Lithgow: “Defiance and Prejudice/Humanizing Gay Rights”

John Lithgow, who stars as a gay man in Love Is Strange. Photo: Sony Classics.
John Lithgow, who stars as a gay man in Love Is Strange. Photo: Sony Classics.
The World According to John Lithgow, ‘Love Is Strange’ is in theaters now
By: Chris Azzopardi*/Special to TRT—
There’s a beautiful moment in Ira Sachs’ indie hit Love Is Strange involving two older men—a New York couple, forced to live apart after one of them loses his job, tearfully embraces. Life-changing? No. But that’s the point: Its simplicity is a revelation.
That distinctly post-gay perspective is what attracted John Lithgow to the role of Uncle Ben, an elderly artist adjusting to life away from his husband, George (Alfred Molina), after financial woes drive them into separate residences.
During a recent chat with Lithgow, the actor discussed being touched by the gay community’s response to Love Is Strange, the underrepresentation of LGBT people in film, and his groundbreaking turn as a trans woman alongside Robin Williams inThe World According to Garp.
Chris Azzopardi: “Love Is Strange” is resonating with the gay community on a very personal level, especially now that many of these longtime gay and lesbian couples are able to wed. For you, what does it mean to be part of a film that means so much to the gay community?
John Lithgow: It’s extremely moving to me. Even if the whole same-sex marriage issue had not become such a major issue of our times, this would still be a very, very moving film just by virtue of the fact that it is a portrait of a 40-year-long relationship. And since it’s a 40-year-long relationship between two gay men, there is such a history there: They’ve been through 40 extraordinary years; they’ve seen the terrible scourge of AIDS in the ’80s and ’90s; between them they’ve lost scours, if not 100s, of friends; they’ve somehow survived, and they have seen the sort of awakenings of freedom—this slow emergence from second-class citizenship through these gay marriage initiatives. The great thing is, it puts a human face on it. You see real people. These are the people who are really directly affected by it, and I just find it terribly moving.
The narrative hones in on these vignettes of their life together, which says a lot about relationships—that, no matter who’s experiencing it, love is love…
… and it’s complicated and it’s messy, but they are the luckiest people in the film because their relationship has survived and they’re inseparable. They’re so essential to each other.
Q. Is there a particular exchange between Ben and George that left an impression on you?
A. Oh, there are so many of them! I think the finest scene is right toward the end: the scene in Julius bar, followed by their walk through the streets of the West Village. It’s the moment when Ben apologizes to George for being less monogamous and less faithful, and yet reassures him and acknowledges the fact that they are essential to each other. I think that’s a wonderful scene, and I love the fact that that scene itself is shot with humor—there are two moments in that scene where they laugh uncontrollably. The way it swings back and forth between the serious and the silly just seems to define their relationship in so many ways. And, as they salute their old friend Frank—it’s quite clear what happened to Frank—that scene is also acknowledging the loss they feel because of AIDS.
Q. You and Alfred have such a rapport—not just in the film, but in real life. You’ve been friends for years. But besides the obvious answer—that it’s called actinghow do you take that platonic affection for each other to the next level?
A. It’s impossible to be self-conscious with Alfred. Both of us have done a lot of acting, and so it takes an awful lot to throw us. But it’s very rare that you find an actor that you feel so completely free with, so unself-conscious with, and both of us share a certain quality as actors. We’re both very serious actors who are also very frivolous people. (Laughs) We love to laugh, and yet we take acting very seriously—that gives you a lot of reference points in playing a love relationship. You can’t have a relationship of 40 years without having both a sense of humor and a sense of compassion and forgiveness.
Q. It’s refreshing to see an elderly gay couple portrayed on screen. In Hollywood, there aren’t many stories about older people being told, let alone older gay people.
A. Yes—they’re not very well served in this very youthful industry.
Q. What’s your take on the representation of LGBT characters in film?
A. They’re underrepresented, and to the extent that they are represented—I mean, there have been important and fine films on gay themes. Many! Longtime CompanionMilkPhiladelphia and Prick Up Your Ears. But so many of them have been shot through with torment and crisis. Milk is about an assassination,Philadelphia is about death by AIDS, Prick Up Your Ears is about a crime of passion between two gay men. This one is exactly the opposite. It is so prosaic. What’s extraordinary and revolutionary about the film is how ordinary it is. It goes beyond acceptance of a gay lifestyle right on to taking it for granted.
You know, there are different gradations—there is prejudice, and then there’s tolerance, and then there’s acceptance, but the best of all is simply taking something for granted as if there’s nothing unusual about it. That’s what’s revolutionary about this film. That’s exactly how this relationship is viewed, and I think it’s a sign of the times that this is actually happening. I’m not saying the battle is won by any means, but it’s getting harder and harder to be bigoted about homosexuality, and that’s extremely good news.
QAnd the film acknowledges that.
A. Yeah—that heartbreaking moment when Joey (Ben’s teenage great-nephew) uses the word “gay” in such a derogatory way is just heartbreaking, and yet you know that things are changing and changing for the better.
Q. There’s still a battle to be fought, and that’s demonstrated in the film when George loses his job as a longtime Catholic school music teacher because he marries Ben.
A. And yet, even in that moment you can tell—because of a beautiful little performance by John Cullum as the priest—he doesn’t want to be doing this. He hates to do this. By that very fact you get the sense that this can’t stand 10 years from now. People are not gonna be fired by the Catholic Church for having a gay lifestyle. So, I think it’s a hopeful film.
Q. I do hope that’s the case.
A. They simply can’t keep doing this. They just can’t. It’s unacceptable.
Q. You received an Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign and also participated in the star-studded reading of Dustin Lance Black’s 8, but when did gay issues become important to you?
A. Much, much earlier than that. I’ve grown up in a theater family and I’ve lived my life in the creative arts—half of the people in the creative arts are gay! The arts community is way, way beyond the rest of the society in some degree of acceptance, so I’ve grown up in an atmosphere of acceptance.
Q. Though there were things about the gay community you apparently didn’t know that you learned while shooting Love Is Strange. I understand Cheyenne Jackson schooled you in gay culture.
A. Yes! Cheyenne was absolutely an essential consultant. (Laughs)
Q. Having played two queer characters who inhabit very different time periodsUncle Ben in Love Is Strange and, in 1982, transgender woman Roberta Muldoon in The World According to Garpwhat does it say about the gay community when you look at these roles side by side?
A. I approached both characters the same way, and that is, loving the people and treating them with great dignity. Roberta is a slightly bizarre character, especially in the context of that film. When I talk about somebody being taken for granted, that is much more true of Love Is Strange than of Roberta Muldoon in The World According to Garp. To that degree, times have changed, but it feels very, very good to have been a part of changing that sensibility just a tiny part perhaps. I love that I have dignified these two characters almost in defiance of prejudice.
Q. You co-starred with Robin Williams in that film…
A. Yes, rest his soul.
Q. Such a friend to the gay community as well. Do you have a fond memory of Robin you’d like to share?
A. All my memories of Robin are very, very fond, and I’m still extremely sad about it. The world has lost a lot of laughter.
*Chris Azzopardi is the editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBT wire service. Reach him via his website at 

Fence Jumper Runs through the First Floor of White House

If this is not a disastrous occurrence that should leave everyone turning their heads then I don’t know what is! adamfoxie

 The man who breached security at the White House this month raced through several rooms on the main floor, penetrating farther into the building than previously disclosed, a Republican congressman said on Monday.
Representative Jason Chaffetz, who chairs a House subcommittee on national security oversight, told CNN an alarm box near the front entrance had been muted, leaving interior personnel 
unaware of the intrusion before the suspect burst through the open front door.
"I have deep concerns that the president is not as safe as we want and need him to be," he said on CNN.
The suspect, Omar Gonzalez, 42, a decorated Iraqi war veteran, was charged with unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon. Officials said he was carrying a knife when he jumped the White House fence and entered the executive mansion on Sept. 19.
The new details of the breach were first reported by the Washington Post on Monday on the eve of a hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. They differ starkly from the Secret Service's statement the day after the incident that the suspect was "physically apprehended after entering the White House North Portico doors."
Chaffetz said his information on the wild chase through the executive mansion came from whistleblowers interviewed during his congressional investigation into the incident.
"The Secret Service has no comment on that at this time due to the ongoing investigation,” Brian Leary, a spokesman for the agency, said of the Post story. A White House spokesman declined comment.
A prosecutor said in court last week that officers found more than 800 rounds of ammunition, two hatchets and a machete in Gonzalez' car.
Gonzalez had been arrested in July with a sniper rifle and a map on which the executive mansion was marked, the prosecutor said.
The Post said Gonzalez ran past a guard immediately inside the door, past the stairway leading up to the living quarters for President Barack Obama and his family and into the East Room, where he was tackled at the far end of the room by an agent.
The officer posted inside the door appeared to be delayed in learning the intruder was about to come through, the Post reported. Officers are trained to lock the front door immediately if they learn of an intruder on the grounds.
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson is expected to face questioning at a congressional committee hearing on Tuesday.
White House Fence Jumper Map

The three ages of gay: old troll, young twink, and 32: “The tenth” (“zine”)


When you flip through The Tenth—a “zine” that has a heft and aesthetic vision on par withVogue’s September issue—you receive an education. Or perhaps I should say you get schooled on a version of gay black manhood developed on its own terms and written in its own words, by gay black men, for gay black men.
The publication takes its name from an idea popularized in the early 20th century by W.E.B. Du Bois, the co-founder of the NAACP, who believed that an elite group of black people—the “talented tenth”—would raise up their fellows through their ability, success, and leadership. Creative director Khary Septh founded the publication with Andre Y. Jones and Kyle R. Banks—all of who are into aspects of modern culture that Du Bois could not have imagined in his wildest dreams—to draw attention to gay movements like the ballroom scene. (In voguing, you go for tens—a perfect score from the judges.) 
The Tenth is about recognizing queer black talent in all its manifestations. As Septh prepared to embark on a 45-day road trip to capture the content for the magazine’s upcoming Americana-themed issue, I sat down with him to discuss the magazine’s origins and the impressive response it’s gotten.
VICE: So how did The Tenth get started?
Kyle Septh:
 About two years ago, Kyle, Andre, and I were feeling like we wanted to create images of beautiful black gay boys. So we did a series called Boys in the Studios, which we launched here in Brooklyn. Then we had this light bulb moment where we were like, “This feels like more than just a one-time photo series.”
We liked the idea of assembling around this collaborative work we were already doing, this kind of convenient community. We wanted a project that allowed us to reconnect to this idea of community. I think all black working professionals often feel the price of building commercial success, and it’s generally isolation, loneliness, detachment, a lot of pressure, and a lot of work. We wanted to do something that would allow us to be free, and recapture our youth and our artistic intent.
How old are you?
I'm 37, Kyle’s 37 as well, and Andre's 39. The gay midlife crisis happens at 30, right? You become the old bitch at the bar at like 32.
There are three ages of gay: old troll, young twink, and 32.
I should put that on my fucking back—exactly.  [Working in fashion], it's important for me to be aware of what's happening, but also to understand how to mature and become sophisticated. It was clear that that wasn't going to happen in parties and nightclubs, but I still needed that energy. But because we're engaging in a different space that's not sexualized, it's not shady—it's about actually getting to know one another. This bohemian arts scene can be just as cliché as the drag scene in Brooklyn, or the bourgeois-working-corporate-brunch scene that's happening up in Harlem. Our point is to mix it up and have a space where we can connect and share ideas.
What kind of reception has the first issue received?
We originally printed 400 copies, and we were concerned we wouldn't be able to get through them, but it blew up immediately. The old establishment books—traditional media outlets likeEbony and Jet—were super interested in what we were doing. To have them open up their pages to talk about the project to their audiences was amazing. We didn't know we’d get so much support outside of our community. Suddenly, we were getting emails from Tokyo and Berlin, and a lot of straight women allies, which was obvious but a little bit of a light bulb to us, like, These are our sisters, our moms, our best friends. Not in that old-school, accessory type of way—which we really can’t stand—but in a way that women are a part of our lives. Do you worry about being accused of being insular? That often seems to be the response when black people organize amongst themselves.
As figures who are misrepresented a lot of the time and stereotyped in the media, we don't believe we need to promote an idea of diversity. That flows naturally and organically, like how you might be at a party and there’ll be a straight girl and a gay girl in the room together, but the point isn't that you're making diversity a priority.
It’s important that diversity is represented, but I don't believe we need to go after that as one of our principal goals. We're going to make this magazine reflect our world, and our world is segregated, and we need to have that as part of the conversation.
Because, in truth, our entire lives are uncomfortable. America is segregated, even in urban centers like New York. This is a larger critique that needs to happen. We have, in publishing, created a space where we can exist in our own community. Ultimately, the long-term goal may be that these kinds of publications are not necessary, though I'm not sure that's the case. Assimilation is cool, but it has its downsides. Because for us, gay assimilation is moving towards whiteness, not celebrating as excellent anything that's happening in blackness.
Being black and being gay creates an interesting other space, because we feel like “others” in both of those larger communities, so we’re saying let's build our own institutions, lets support each other, let's create our own rules, our own sense of order. I think every society needs those things.
What will the next issue look like?
The theme is Americana. I'm really excited about this road trip.  A big part of this zine is creating a challenge. It doesn't make sense to be safe on this project, to just engage contemporary artists or the people who are easy to access like the Instagram stars. For us, the challenge is to connect as many dots as possible with the limited resources we have across the country, so that that network starts to build. We’re gonna do a dozen locations in 45 days, and have the issue hit the stands on December 10.
Learn more about The Tenth here.
Follow Hugh Ryan on Twitter

3 Arrested on Gay Hate Attack in Brooklyn, NY


Police have arrested and charged the two men and teenage boy who chased and shot a 22-year-old man dressed as a woman in Brooklyn on Saturday morning.
The victim was walking with a friend on Broadway near Putnam Ave. in Bushwick about 7 a.m. when he was attacked by Cody Sigue, 22, Matthew Smith, 21, and Tavon Johnson, 17, as they screamed profanities and anti-gay taunts at the pair, cops said.
The victim and his friend tried to get away, but the three creeps ran after them and opened fire, shooting the victim in the buttocks, police said.
The man was taken to Brookdale University Hospital, treated for his injuries and released.
Cops nabbed the attackers, all from Brooklyn, after a brief chase on foot, officials said.
Johnson and Sigue were charged with menacing and third-degree hate crime, while Smith was charged with assault in the first degree, cops said.
Police sources said Johnson has one prior arrest for marijuana, Sigue has one prior sealed arrest and Smith has "an extensive arrest history," with 14 arrests including robbery.
"It's messed up," said Daquan Ruddock, 24, a gay man who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant not far from the crime scene. "That shows how gay people can't walk around in the street without someone saying something or doing something towards them. It's sad."
Eric Dowling, 30, a barber at M.J. Beauty Salon, said the victim was a customer at the shop.
"It's a violent neighborhood — a lot of things happen," Dowling said. "It's a sad thing it happened to him."

Original Story as it appeared NY’s The Daily News

A 22-year-old man dressed as a woman survived a vile anti-gay attack in Brooklyn on Saturday when he was chased and shot by a group of men shouting homophobic slurs, police said.
The victim was walking with a friend on Broadway near Putnam Ave. in Bushwick when he was confronted by three young men screaming profanities and anti-gay taunts about 7:05 a.m., cops said. When the victim and his friend tried to get away, the creeps chased after them and opened fire, blasting the victim in the buttocks, officials said.
The man was treated at Brookdale University Hospital and released.
Three suspects were arrested at the scene, cops said. The Daily News is withholding their names because they weren’t charged.
The youngest suspect, just 17, has a staggering 17 prior arrests, police sources said, on charges including robbery, burglary, assault and conspiracy. The second suspect, who is 20, has two prior arrests, for pot and robbery, police sources said. The final suspect, who is 22, has one prior arrest for marijuana.
That shows how gay people can’t walk around in the street without someone saying something or doing something towards them. It’s sad.
“It’s messed up,” said Daquan Ruddock, 24, a gay man who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant not far from the crime scene. “That shows how gay people can’t walk around in the street without someone saying something or doing something towards them. It’s sad.”
Eric Dowling, 30, a barber at M.J. Beauty Salon, said the victim was a customer at the shop. “It’s a violent neighborhood — a lot of things happen,” Dowling said. “It’s a sad thing it happened to him.”
In 2008, an anti-gay attack on Ecuadoran immigrant Jose Sucuzhañay, just 10 blocks from Saturday’s shooting, made headlines and galvanized the city in outrage. Sucuzhañay, a father of two, was fatally beaten while walking tipsily with his brother by bat-wielding lowlifes who mistook him for gay. The Bushwick block of Kossuth Place where Sucuzhañay was killed has since been renamed in his honor.


If you Can’t find him/her is NOT just you but the whole country

  (about 42 million people) had never been married,according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data. In 1960, only about one-in-ten adults (9%) in that age range had never been married.1 Men are more likely than women to have never been married (23% vs. 17% in 2012). And this gender gap has widened since 1960, when 10% of men ages 25 and older and 8% of women of the same age had never married.
The dramatic rise in the share of never-married adults and the emerging gender gap are related to a variety of factors. Adults are marrying later in life, and the shares of adults cohabiting and raising children outside of marriage have increased significantly. The median age at first marriage is now 27 for women and 29 for men, up from 20 for women and 23 for men in 1960.2 About a quarter (24%) of never-married young adults ages 25 to 34 are living with a partner, according to Pew Research analysis of Current Population Survey data.3
Public Divided over Value of Marriage for SocietyIn addition, shifting public attitudes, hard economic times and changing demographic patterns may all be contributing to the rising share of never-married adults.
This trend cuts across all major racial and ethnic groups but has been more pronounced among blacks. Fully 36% of blacks ages 25 and older had never been married in 2012, up from 9% in 1960. For whites and Hispanics, the share of never-married adults has roughly doubled over that same period. In 2012, 16% of whites and 26% of Hispanics had never been married.
Recent survey data from the Pew Research Center finds a public that is deeply divided over the role marriage plays in society. Survey respondents were asked which of the following statements came closer to their own views: Society is better off if people make marriage and having children a priority, or society is just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children. Some 46% of adults chose the first statement, while 50% chose the second.4
Opinions on this issue differ sharply by age—with young adults much more likely than older adults to say society is just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children. Fully two-thirds of those ages 18 to 29 (67%) express this viewpoint, as do 53% of those ages 30 to 49. Among those ages 50 and older, most (55%) say society is better off if people make it a priority to get married and have children.
Despite these mixed views about the role of marriage in society, most Americans (68%) continue to believe it is important for couples to marry if they plan to spend the rest of their lives together. Roughly half of all adults (47%) believe that this is very important, and an additional 21% consider it somewhat important.
While blacks are more likely than whites to have never been married (and less likely to be currently married), a much higher share of blacks (58%) than whites (44%) say that it’s very important for a couple to marry if they plan to spend their lives together.

What Never-Married Adults Are Looking For in a (Potential) Spouse

Never-Married Women Want a Spouse with a Steady JobA new Pew Research survey finds that abouthalf of all never-married adults (53%) say they would like to marry eventually. This share is down somewhat from 2010, when 61% of never-married adults said they would like to marry someday. Roughly one-third of today’s never-married adults (32%) say they are not sure if they would like to get married, while 13% say they do not want to marry.5
But the survey also finds that, among the never married, men and women are looking for distinctly different qualities in a potential mate. Never-married women place a great deal of importance on finding someone who has a steady job—fully 78% say this would be very important to them in choosing a spouse or partner. For never-married men, someone who shares their ideas about raising children is more important in choosing a spouse than someone who has a steady job.
Never-married adults—whether male or female—place a much lower priority on finding a partner who shares their moral and religious beliefs, has a similar educational pedigree or comes from the same racial or ethnic background.
Among those who have never been married but say they may eventually like to wed, three-in-ten say the main reason they are not married is that they have not found someone who has what they are looking for in a spouse. Nearly as many (27%) say they are not financially prepared for marriage, and 22% say they are too young or not ready to settle down. There are no significant differences between never-married men and women in this regard.

Never-Married Adults Face Changing Economic Realities

For Young, Never-Married Women, the Pool of Employed Young Men Has ShrunkAs the share of never-married adults has climbed, the economic circumstances faced by both men and women have changed considerably. Labor force participation among men—particularly young men—has fallen significantly over the past several decades. In 1960, 93% of men ages 25 to 34 were in the labor force; by 2012 that share had fallen to 82%. And among young men who are employed, wages have fallen over the past few decades. For men ages 25 to 34, median hourly wages have declined 20% since 1980 (after adjusting for inflation). Over the same period, the wage gap between men and women has narrowed. In 2012, among workers ages 25 to 34, women’s hourly earnings were 93% those of men. In 1980, the ratio was less than 70%.6
The new Pew Research survey findings suggest that never-married women place a high premium on finding a spouse with a steady job. However, the changes in the labor market have contributed to a shrinking pool of available employed young men.
Among never-married adults ages 25 to 34, the number of employed men per 100 women dropped from 139 in 1960 to 91 in 2012, despite the fact that men in this age group outnumber young women in absolute numbers. In other words, if all never-married young women in 2012 wanted to find a young employed man who had also never been married, 9% of them would fail, simply because there are not enough men in the target group. Five decades ago, never-married young women had a much larger pool of potential spouses from which to choose.7
Despite the survey finding that few Americans say it is very important to them to find someone of the same racial or ethnic background to marry, the vast majority of new marriages (85%) take place between people of the same race and ethnicity.8 The pool of employed men has shrunk for both black and white young adults since 1960, but the decline has been more pronounced among blacks.
It is important to note that never-married young adults are not necessarily restricting their choice of a potential spouse to those who have never been married, nor are they limited to a spouse within their age group. Among all unmarried adults ages 25 to 34 in 2012, 15% have been divorced, separated or widowed, and these men and women are potentially in the marriage market as well. 
The relationship between education and marital status has changed considerably over time, and the patterns among men and women have reversed. In 1960, men of various education levels were about equally likely to have never been married. Today, there is considerable disparity in the shares of never-married men along educational lines. Men with a high school education or less are much more likely than men with advanced degrees to have never married (25% vs. 14%).

September 29, 2014

Pew Research: There are More Young Republicans for Gay Marriage Compared to Young Dems


In March, the Pew Research Center published a poll showing that 61 percent of “young” Republicans — those between the ages of 18 and 29 — were in favor of same-sex marriage. Compared to young Democrats, Republican support was modest; a difference of 16 percentage points. Still, overall, the difference in public opinion was extreme, with 39 percent supporting same-sex marriage on the right and 69 percent on the left (independents fell somewhere in the middle, with 54 percent support across age groups).
The poll concluded that younger conservatives are generally far more supportive of LGBT rights compared to older generations. And there’s certainly an age gap across parties, as well. Younger Democrats and independents showed considerably stronger support for marriage equality than older respondents.
This means that the coming generation is far more likely to be LGBT friendly, and it may only be a matter of time until the majority opinion is supportive of equal rights — even if that means a long wait. Currently, though, the poll shows an engrained prejudice in the age groups that are in power right now: Not many 18- to 29-year-olds hold seats in the Senate.

Do people change?

Many may have experience with this sort of generational gap. Imagine having a conversation with an older man or woman, perfectly pleasant, when suddenly, the chat is marked by a painfully racist, offhand comment — that can pretty much end the conversation right there. Casual homophobia can create similar moments of shock among youth, who may be more accustomed to hearing about gay rights in popular culture. Contrary to widely held opinion, it seems that people actually can change their views.
A separate poll from Pew quantifies what might otherwise sound like a foolish hope. A poll published last year showed 49 percent of respondents to be in favor of same-sex marriage, with 44 percent opposing it. This year, the overall number across party and age supporting same-sex marriage increased to 54 percent, and opposition decreased to 39 percent.
But what’s most interesting about the 2013 numbers is the section on those who self-report having changed their minds. A negligible 2 percent of the 44 percent opposition changed sides in a stance against gay marriage. A more significant portion, 14 percent, changed their minds in favor of same-sex marriage. That’s 28 percent of the total support group for gay marriage.

The GOP and coming out

One GOP spokesman, James Richardson, came out recently via an article in The Washington Post. He discussed his party membership and his struggle as one of the many who would like to get married but is denied the rights marriage offers. He addressed his party membership and conservative values, saying, “gay couples don’t want to rock the marriage boat — they only want a ticket for two to ride.”
He also discussed, among many things, the fact that public opinion is changing, and not just because of millennials. “Nearly one-third of these belated boosters (in favor of equal marriage) say they were won over through personal encounters with gay family members or friends,” said Richardson. “So the potential reward of convincing even one dubious neighbor is greater than the assumed risk of a diminished social orbit. And it’s okay if I alienate a Facebook friend or two.”

Changes for Hillary and Obama

Richardson is not the only one in the political sphere to recognize the need for entrenched opinions to change. Politicians have seen the ebb and flow of public opinion and personal opinion alike — though whether the two go hand-in-hand is hard to pin down at times. Hillary Clinton is a good example. Anyone who listened to Clinton’s NPR interview in June likely remembers the tense conversation between her and Terry Gross on same-sex marriage — specifically, about when and why Clinton openly stated her support for gay marriage. Age and her generation came up, as did the concept of gradually changing one’s opinion.
“I did not grow up ever imagining gay marriage, and I don’t think you probably did either. This was an incredibly new and important idea that people on the front lines of the gay rights movement began to talk about and slowly, but surely, convinced others of the rightness of that position,” said Clinton. “And when I was ready to say what I aid, I said it.”
She’s not the only politician to have made slow adjustments — both publicly and quite probably privately — concerning a stance on gay marriage. Even President Obama’s opinion on same-sex marriage has shifted a great deal over his time in the spotlight. At first he was against it, then he was pro-civil unions, and finally, he changed to full-blown support of same-sex marriage. But the change wasn’t immediate, and he’s hardly between the ages of 18 and 29 — just look at that hair if you need proof (sorry, Obama).
 Anthea Mitchell on Twitter @AntheaWSCS 

Gay Pride in Serbia takes place No Violence

Social media—legitimately praised as democratic mobilizing tools in the Arab world—now are being used for major civil rights violations in Egypt. Authorities have taken to scouring the internet and social media in their crackdown on the country’s LGBT community. Six men were sentenced to two years in prison for advertising their apartment on Facebook as a place for men to engage in sexual acts; they were allegedly charging around $200 a night. This follows another recent high-profile case, in which eight men were put on trial for appearing in a YouTube video purportedly showing Egypt’s “first gay marriage,” on a small boat on the Nile.

Egyptian officials told BuzzFeed they are closely monitoring some social-media sites. While sexual relations between consenting same-sex adults (in private) are not illegal (pdf) in Egypt, other laws have recently been used to imprison gay men. The defendants in the video trial, for instance, were arrested for “inciting debauchery.”
As a result of the regime’s online snooping, Grindr, a smartphone hookup app, has issued a warning to all of its Egyptian users.

The LGBT community in Egypt has launched a Twitter campaignagainst the crackdown, with the hashtag #stopgjailinggays and #ضد_حبس_المثليين.
According to the ILGA state-sponsored homophobia report (pdf), only three (Jordan, Djibouti, and Bahrain) of the 22 countries of the Arab League deem homosexual acts legal. The rest categorize homosexual acts as illegal, and five (Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, and parts of southern Somalia) punish them by death. In Iraq and the Gaza strip, matters are unclear as the penal codes have been undergoing multiple overhauls.

Human Rights Watch condemned Egyptian courts (pdf) for putting the eight men involved in the wedding video under medical examinations to “detect” homosexuality. Moreover, it is not uncommon for families to throw a gay son out of the house or send him to a psychiatrist for “fixing.”
A crackdown is underway across the region. A man in Saudi Arabia was sentenced to 450 lashes and three years in jail for for allegedly being gay and tweeting about it. In Lebanon, where the thriving nightlife makes it easy to forget the illegality of gay acts, LGBT rights have been taking a step backward. Twenty-seven men were arrested at a public, Turkish-style bath for allegedly seeking “sexual encounters with other men.” That was followed by additional arrests targeting another public bath and a private home. As a result, Lebanese gay rights organizationshave been working to annul the penal code that has been used to target gay people. The crackdowns also extend to gender identity. Dubai, which prides itself in being the least conservative of Arab cities, jailed two men for wearing women’s clothes.

There’s little sign of relief. This past week, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Kuwait, and Morocco voted against a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution against LGBT violence and discrimination.

But, rather than being a peripheral issue, LGBT rights are an important test of—and component of—any transition by Mideast regimes toward more progressive, less-controlling government. Brian Whitaker of Foreign Policy writes:
Attitudes towards gay rights are [...] an important measure of how far, or not, a society has moved from authoritarianism. Gay rights in the Middle East are not simply about gay people; they are intimately bound up with questions of personal liberty, the proper role of governments, and the influence of religion. Demands for gay rights add to the broader pressure for change and, conversely, progress in these other areas can ease the path towards gay rights.

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