Showing posts with label Gay Couple. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Couple. Show all posts

June 2, 2020

A Study shows Gay Couples Could Teach Their Straight Counterpart How To Deal With Arguments





                  Why Gay Parents May Be the Best Parents | Live Science

 

Elana Arian and Julia Cadrain, a same-sex couple in Brooklyn, recently fought about a hat.

OK, it wasn’t really about the hat. (It never is.)

Cadrain likes things tidy. Really tidy. To the point where it annoys her entire family.

“I put things away while they’re still using them,” she admitted.

So when Cadrain found one of Arian’s favorite hats lying around, she promptly scooped it up, but neglected to store it properly. Arian later discovered her hat had accidentally been crushed.

“I was irrationally so angry about that,” Arian said.

They took a long walk, and had an honest, calm conversation. Soon, they realized that Arian’s frustration was actually about something deeper. 

“One of the things that came up was this stress that we’re both under as a result of the quarantine,” Cadrain, 37, said. The couple is caring for their 9-month-old daughter while also guiding their 7-year-old daughter through distance learning. Arian, 39, a freelance musician, is working much less than she typically would. They had each been coping with this in different ways.

“It feels like a very lesbian way to fight. There’s definitely never any yelling. There’s no voice-raising,” Cadrain said. “It’s more kind of tense and quiet and sort of process heavy.”

But is there really a lesbian way to fight? Or a way to address conflict that is specific to gay men? While there is not much research to draw from, the studies that do exist suggest that, on average, same-sex couples resolve conflict more constructively than different-sex couples, and with less animosity.

There are always exceptions, and even the healthiest of gay couples are not continually basking in a rainbow-hued utopia. They have problems just like everyone else.

If they did not, “I’d be out of business,” said Rick Miller, a psychotherapist in Boston who works with gay and straight couples. 

Likewise, it is unfair to lump all straight couples together, and disingenuous to suggest that they are not capable of arguing in a healthy way.

But because male and female same-sex couples each have different strengths that help them endure, we can all learn from them, Miller said.

Here are some constructive methods to handle disagreements, as observed by researchers of gay couples:

Use humor to diffuse anger

Cracking a joke in the midst of a heated moment can backfire, but when done properly, “it almost immediately releases the tension,” said Robert Rave, 45, who lives with his husband, David Forrest, in Los Angeles.

Rave cited a recent car trip where Forrest, 35, used humor to help end an escalating argument over whether they should rely on Google Maps.

“For me, as a general rule, I self-admittedly will get very much in my head. And David will just simply take the piss out of it and make me laugh,” Rave said.

A 2003 study compared 40 same-sex couples with 40 heterosexual couples over the course of 12 years to learn what makes same-sex relationships succeed or fail. The findings suggested that same-sex couples tended to be more positive when bringing up a disagreement and were also more likely to remain positive after a disagreement when compared to heterosexual couples.

“Gay and lesbian couples were gentler in raising issues, far less defensive, and used more humor than heterosexual partners,” said John M. Gottman, Ph.D., the lead author of the study and co-founder of the Gottman Institute, an organization that provides resources, like workshops and online courses, to help couples strengthen relationships and offers professional training to clinicians. “These were large differences.” 

Stay calm

If you find that your heart is pounding during an argument, take a break, said Julie S. Gottman, Ph.D., co-founder and president of the Gottman Institute.

“During the time when you’re apart don’t think about the fight. Instead, practice something self-soothing, like reading a book, something distracting so that your body can calm down,” she said.

But if you need to leave, you should always say when you are going to come back and rejoin the conversation, she said, adding that the minimum amount of time away should be 30 minutes and the maximum should be 24 hours.

Gay men were less likely to go into fight-or-flight mode when they were in conflict, said the Gottmans, who are married, and they also reach resolutions more quickly than different-sex couples.

Treating your partner with respect is always important, but especially during an argument when you might say things you’ll later regret. When you’re heart is racing, “all you perceive is attack, no matter what your partner is saying,” Dr. Julie Gottman said.

And that’s exactly why Rave and Forrest try to end an argument quickly.

“Life is too short to have everything be so dramatic,” Rave said.

A 2018 study suggested that when members of a same-sex couple try to influence one another, they are more likely to offer encouragement and praise rather than criticism or lectures when compared to different-sex couples. 

Be mindful of each other’s emotional needs

Unlike gay men, women who are married to women are “constantly monitoring each other’s emotions and needs and responding to them — but they are doing it for each other, so it’s reciprocated,” said Debra Umberson, Ph.D., a professor of sociology and the director of the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Two men, in contrast, do less monitoring, which is less labor-intensive.

“They’re on the same page about it,” said Dr. Umberson, who has studied gay couples for more than a decade. Two men will tell each other what they need or speak up when there is an issue.
 
If a couple has similar philosophies about emotional monitoring, there is less potential for conflict between them, Dr. Umberson said.

In heterosexual couples, women are the ones who tend to do emotional monitoring and responding, but the men tend to be unaware of it and often are not doing it, she added — and that can negatively affect the couple by making them feel more frustrated, worried, irritable or upset.

Dr. Umberson's latest study, published in May, examined the psychological toll of providing for the emotional needs of a spouse. The researchers found that the well-being of women married to women seemed to be affected less by the work of assessing and managing each other’s emotions than that of women married to men. Earlier research suggests this could be because lesbians are more reciprocal in taking care of a spouse’s emotional needs and also have a greater appreciation for doing so.

Strive for equality in your relationship

Same-sex couples do not have traditional societal roles defining which tasks each member of the couple ought to perform at home or how they ought to relate to one another, which allows them to create their own dynamic.

Straight couples should negotiate and discuss things more, Cadrain suggested, and “don’t presume certain roles or jobs in terms of who is the breadwinner or how the household is taken care of.”

Although Arian cannot remember the last time she made the bed, she has other responsibilities, like being the chef of the family — or as Cadrain calls her, “C.E.O. of the food and the nourishment.” And because Arian was a teacher for many years, she is responsible for distance learning and staying on top of their 7-year-old’s schooling.

They do not typically fight about chores, the couple said, because they try to divide them based on what they like to do best or which of them is best positioned to complete a task.

“I suspect that has to do with gender roles not being present,” Arian said.

In heterosexual couples, researchers have found more of a power difference between members of the couple than among same-sex couples, Dr. John Gottman said.

“The same-sex couples we studied were very aware to try to make the power relationships more equal between them,” he said.

And if members of a same-sex couple disagree, they are more likely to listen to one another’s point of view, he added.

The Gottmans’ 2019 study, an assessment of more than 40,000 couples worldwide who were about to begin couples therapy, found that same-sex couples have a better quality of intimacy and friendship in their relationships.

Recognize and appreciate your differences

Each person brings their own baggage and their own way of looking at the world, Miller said.

“Really appreciating those differences and similarities and figuring out how to deal with it together — that’s what makes a healthy couple. And that goes across all borders, groups and genders,” he added. 

Cadrain and Arian, for example, said they tried to be mindful of each other’s different communication styles.

“I tend to kind of under-communicate when I’m upset,” said Arian, who said she has a temper but often becomes restrained and terse during arguments. “I’m not proud of it.”

Cadrain, however, likes to talk things out — sometimes before Arian is ready. Simply being aware of their differences helps them manage conflicts when they arise.

Rave and Forrest are also different in a lot of ways: Forrest likes to go out and be social; Rave is more of a homebody. This has been a point of contention in their relationship.

“Allowing space for the person to be themselves is so important, and not shaming that person into what you want them to be,” Forrest said.

Finally, when thinking about your differences, try not to focus too much on the negative.

“Look for what your partner is doing right rather than always looking for what your partner is doing wrong,” Dr. Julie Gottman said.

October 5, 2019

'Heavy, Thick Black and Gay Men in Love and We Want The World To Know'


Tyler Hightower posted a picture of him kissing his boyfriend, Ahdeem Tinsley, to Twitter, in a now-viral post.
Tyler Hightower posted a picture of him kissing his boyfriend, Ahdeem Tinsley, to Twitter.  Courtesy Tyler Hightower
         

By Gwen Aviles
Just a few days ago, Tyler Hightower had only 40 Twitter followers. Now, he said his Apple Watch won't stop buzzing to alert him about replies people are leaving to a photo of him and his boyfriend sharing a kiss.
“Posting this because of representation matters. The black, gay, and happy world is out here!” Hightower wrote in an Oct. 1 tweet that has since gone viral. “We live together and have two cats. … We are at our 1 year and 8th-month mark and still going strong!”
Hightower, a cancer research coordinator, and his boyfriend, Ahdeem Tinsley, a construction manager, met about two years ago through a dating app. They started off as friends who would chat over drinks, but at some point, Hightower, 26, realized he wanted more.
“I realized this was insane: This was someone I couldn’t get enough of and who understood me on so many levels, and I didn’t want to wait any longer,” he told NBC News. “I said to him, 'You and I are dating.'”
The couple moved in together with their cats, Buddy and Gigi, in Philadelphia. On their anniversary — the night the viral picture was taken — they got matching tattoos on their forearms with each other’s initials and the date. After seeing another black gay couple post a picture on Twitter, Hightower realized the salience of representation and decided to post one of his own. In just two days, the tweeted photo garnered more than 100,000 likes, 12,000 retweets, and countless comments.
“The responses have been awe-inspiring,” Hightower said. “People are replying saying that the picture made their day and that they didn’t know there was love for people like them.”
In the LGBTQ community, according to Hightower, “classically attractive white gay men” receive the most representation, which excludes others who may not fit that paradigm. As a result, he wanted to show others that people like him and his partner are “out here, working and living and falling in love.”
“Part of our identity is being fat, heavy, thick, black and gay men, and we want all people to know that no matter your size, color or religion, be yourself and live authentically, and you will find love,” Hightower said. “I’d been closeted for a very long time, and now I’ve found true happiness.”

March 6, 2018

When A Practicing Jesuit Loves a 20 yrs+ Gay Relationship of 2 Married Men









Since the first edition of my book Building a Bridge, about L.G.B.T. Catholics, was published last June, I have been privileged to speak at many parishes, colleges, retreat houses and conferences. At each venue, L.G.B.T. people and their families and friends have shared their experiences with me. Some were so powerful that they have become almost like parables for me. In the revised and expanded edition of the book, published this month, I share six of these stories.
In his now-famous definition, the biblical scholar C. H. Dodd said that a parable was a story designed to “tease the mind into active thought.” Stories have the capacity to open our minds in a way definitions cannot. This is one reason Jesus used parables extensively in his public ministry, as a way of inviting his listeners to see life from a new perspective.
I hope these few stories about L.G.B.T. Catholics tease your mind into active thought. Stories have the capacity to open our minds in a way definitions cannot. 

1. One of my oldest friends is a gay man named Mark, who was once a member of a Catholic religious order. About 20 years ago, after Mark left the order, he came out as a gay man and began living with his partner, with whom he is now legally married. His partner has a serious, long-term illness, and Mark has cared for him for many years with great devotion and loving-kindness.
What can we learn from Mark about love?
2. An elderly man told me that his grandson recently came out to him as a gay man. I asked what he had said in response. He said that he had suspected for some time that his grandson was gay, and so when his grandson sat down to tell him, before a word was even on the young man’s lips, the grandfather said, “I love you no matter what you’re about to say.”  
What can we learn from this grandfather about compassion? 
3. After a talk I gave at a Catholic college in Philadelphia, a young man told me that the first person to whom he came out as a gay man was a Catholic priest. During a high school retreat, he decided to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality, but he was so nervous that he was “literally shaking.” The first thing the priest said to him was “Jesus loves you. And your church accepts you.” The young man told me, “It saved my life.”
What can we learn from this priest about acceptance? 
“I have a grandchild who is transgender, and I love her so much. All I want is for her to feel welcome in the church.” 


4. A woman in her 80s, with snowy white hair and apple cheeks, came to my book-signing table after a talk I had given in Connecticut and said, “Father, I have something to tell you.” The focus of the talk had been on Jesus, not on L.G.B.T. issues specifically. I thought she might share an insight about Jesus or tell me that she had been on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Instead she said, “Father, I have a grandchild who is transgender, and I love her so much. All I want is for her to feel welcome in the church.”
What can we learn from this grandmother about faith?
5. At a parish in Boston, a gay man and a lesbian woman were invited to respond to my lecture on L.G.B.T. Catholics, in the spirit of fostering a real conversation. In her response, the lesbian woman, named Maggie, chose to discuss a reflection question that appears at the end of my book: “When you think about your sexual orientation or gender identity, what word do you use?” My intention was to invite readers to reflect on biblical passages about names and naming and encourage them to “name” their sexuality.
So I had expected words like “gay,” “lesbian” and “bisexual.” But that night in the parish, Maggie said that when she read that question and thought of her sexuality, she thought of the word “joy.” It was such a surprise!
What can we learn from Maggie about sexuality? 
What can we learn from these stories? What does God want to teach us? 


6. And perhaps the biggest surprise: On that same evening in Boston, a couple stayed afterward to have their book signed. One was a transgender woman—that is, a woman who had begun her life as a man. The other was a cisgender woman—that is, someone born a woman who is still a woman. (I have tried to be mindful of contemporary terminology, though I recognize that these terms get dated quickly.) 
The cisgender woman told me that the two had been married for many years, which confused me, since same-sex marriage had not been legal for that long in Massachusetts. She sensed my confusion, smiled and said, “I married her when she was still a man.”
I was reduced to stunned silence. Here was an apparently straight woman who had married a straight man who was now a woman. How had she done it? “Love is love,” she said.
Here is a marriage that almost every church official would probably consider “irregular,” to use the official ecclesiastical term. Yet it was a model of faithfulness. Even after one partner had “transitioned,” the marriage was still intact.
What can we learn from them about fidelity?
Overall, what can we learn from these stories? Where are we invited to see life in a new way? What does God want to teach us? 

November 19, 2017

Surrogate Changes Mind But Judge Rules She Must Hand Over Baby to Gay Couple

 The child is a product of a donor egg and the sperm of one of the men  CREDIT: CC STUDIO/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY /SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RM 

A surrogate mother has lost custody of her child after a court ruled he would be better placed with the gay couple who arranged for her to have the baby. 
A senior judge said that the child's "identity needs as a child of gay intended parents" would be better fulfilled if he lived with the couple. 
The woman signed a surrogacy agreement with the men, who she had she met online and traveled to Cyprus in September 2015 to have an embryo transferred.
But the two families fell out and the woman and her husband changed their minds about giving the child up.  
She did not tell the men about the birth for more than a week after it took place last April. 
The male same-sex partners began legal proceedings and last year a High Court judge ruled that the child, now 18 months old, should live with them. 
The decision came to light after the surrogate mother and father appealed and a new judgment was published on Friday. None of the people involved can be named. 
Court of Appeal judges ruled that the original decision to give custody to the gay couple with limited contact six times a year with the surrogate mother and father was correct. 
Lord Justice McFarlane said that while surrogacy arrangements had no legal standing, the child's genetic relationships and welfare were the most important factors for deciding where he or she should live.         
While the legal mother and father had the right "to change their minds" this did not necessarily mean that they had the right to keep the child, he said. 
The child was conceived using sperm from one of the men and an egg from a Spanish donor, meaning one of the gay couple is a genetic relative of the child, but the birth mother and father are not. 
Despite this they remain the child's legal mother and father, because no adoption or parental order has been made. 
In the original ruling High Court judge Mrs Justice Theis had decided that "H's identity needs as a child of gay intended parents would be best met by living with a genetic parent". 
Lord Justice McFarlane said the judge had been "critical of [the birth parents] for the way in which they had behaved in the later stages of the pregnancy and immediately after H's birth. 
"She described them as having embarked on a deliberate and calculated course of conduct and as having continued to put obstacles in the way of [the same-sex couple] in seeking to establish a relationship with [the child]. 
"She referred to them as being rigid, taking a position and sticking to it, and as having little or no capacity to resolve disputes or negotiate their way through difficulties." 
She also found that the birth parents were "less able to look at matters from the child's point of view". 
However, the Court of Appeal also criticised the gay couple for "unwisely and unaccountably" generating publicity about the case, and made an order preventing them from speaking to the press.
The judge added that the case "demonstrates the risks involved when parties reach an agreement to conceive a child which, if it goes wrong, can cause huge distress to all concerned".
Lord Justice McFarlane said the subject is being examined by the Law Commission which could reform the law to create a proper legal basis for surrogacy agreements. 
The case follows another ruling made in 2015 where Justice Alison Russell said that a mother who had a baby for a gay couple and then refused them access had to hand the child over as she had entered into an informal surrogacy arrangement with them. 
That ruling led to calls for the law to be reformed.

April 10, 2017

Gay Couple is Assaulted but Now Gets Sued by Perp



 Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes and Jasper Vernes-Sewratan. Photo: Jasper Vernes-Sewratan 



One of the boys suspected of assaulting a gay couple in Arnhem on Sunday morning denies throwing the first punch, the 16-year-old's lawyer said on Pauw on Monday. According to the teen, the two gay men shouted aggressive words to the group of young people and one of the men started the fight, ANP reports.

The boy also denies that the assault had anything to do with the men's sexual identity and that a bolt cutter was used in the fight. He does, however, acknowledge knocking out one of the men's teeth with his fist. He will file charges of assault against, the lawyer, Gerald Roethof, said. 


Roethof added that the young people were a 'mixed' group. "There was a boy with blond hair and blue eyes, someone with a Moroccan and someone with a Turkish background."

The gay couple, Jasper Vernes-Sewratan and Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes, filed assault charges against the group of young people, expressly mentioning the use of bolt cutters in the attack. They were attacked as they walked home from a party around 4:00 a.m. on Sunday morning by a group of between six and eight youths. The suspects are between the ages of 14 and 20 years.

According to the victims, they were attacked because they were walking hand in hand. Dutch society's reaction was mostly one of outrage and horror. A protest against LGBT violence is being organized in Arnhem for Saturday. The bridge over the IJssel near Westervoort was illuminated in rainbow colors on Monday night. D66 leader Alexander Pechtold and party  member  Wouter Koolmees arrived at the government formation negotiations walking hand in hand on Monday, to show support. Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the incident “terrible" and GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver called it "ludicrous" that people are still being attacked because of who they love.

December 2, 2016

Walmart Settled Lawsuit That Denied Health Insurance to Same Sex Couples


 We married because we are a family. Respect us!


Walmart announced on Friday that it had settled a lawsuit that accused the company of discriminating against gay and lesbian employees when it denied health insurance benefits to same-sex spouses.

Under the deal, Walmart will set aside $7.5 million, mostly to compensate employees affected by the denial of spousal benefits during the three years before Jan. 1, 2014, when the company changed its policy. More than 1,000 people may be eligible.

But the agreement also signals how legal doctrine on discrimination against gays and lesbians is rapidly changing, making it increasingly likely to be considered a form of sex discrimination. Such a doctrine would generally make it easier for gay and lesbian plaintiffs to prevail in court, as federal civil rights laws prohibit sex discrimination.

“We’re happy both sides could come together to reach a resolution,” Sally Welborn, a Walmart senior vice president, said in a statement. “We will continue to not distinguish between same- and opposite-sex spouses when it comes to the benefits we offer under our health insurance plan.”

Since the late 1980s, the primary way for plaintiffs to fight discrimination based on their sexual orientation has been to argue that an employer treated them unfairly because they did not conform to gender stereotypes.

So, for example, a gay plaintiff might win in court by arguing that he was denied a promotion because he did not appear sufficiently masculine. But he was unlikely to win by arguing that he had been denied the promotion because he was gay or in a same-sex relationship. This frequently limited plaintiffs’ ability to prevail.

In recent years, however, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, along with some federal courts, have found that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is “inherently” sex discrimination, as the commission wrote late year, and therefore outlawed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The commission’s stance could change under President-elect Donald J. Trump, who will nominate new commissioners to the agency over time. But by then there could be an emerging consensus in the federal courts, making a reversal less relevant.

The Walmart settlement, pending preliminary approval by the judge in the case, William G. Young of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, appears to reflect the growing acceptance of the commission’s analysis by private sector employers.

In their motion for preliminary approval of the settlement, lawyers for the lead plaintiff, Jacqueline Cote, argued that Walmart had discriminated against Ms. Cote because she was married to a woman. They also made the more traditional argument that the company had discriminated against Ms. Cote because she did not conform to the stereotype that women must marry only men.

Although Walmart did not endorse any particular legal theory as part of the settlement, it also did not move to dismiss the case on grounds that the arguments were flawed.

“Some employers, as well as some employee groups, will be wondering if this reflects Walmart’s assessment of where courts might be moving,” said Helen Norton, a professor at the University of Colorado Law School.

Ms. Cote began working as an associate at Walmart in Maine in 1999 and worked continuously at the company there and in Massachusetts through 2015. In 2004, she married Diana Smithson, another Walmart associate, in Massachusetts, where she lived.

In 2008, Ms. Smithson left the company to become the primary caregiver for Ms. Cote’s mother. Around that time, Ms. Cote began trying to enroll Ms. Smithson in Walmart’s spousal health insurance plan. The company repeatedly blocked her from signing up because of its policy of denying health insurance benefits to same-sex spouses.

In 2012 Ms. Smithson was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and the couple ran up some $150,000 in uninsured medical expenses over the next few years.

Under the deal, Walmart will reimburse current or former employees affected by its previous policy for the full out-of-pocket cost of their spouse’s health care from Jan. 1, 2011, to Dec. 31, 2013, if they submit documentation of the costs incurred. The company will also pay 250 percent of out-of-pocket costs for those who submit documentation for expenses of $60,000 or more in health care expenses for their spouse.

The settlement identifies roughly 1,100 people who may be eligible for compensation, though it acknowledges that the number could be higher.

The company also committed to treating same-sex couples and heterosexual couples equally when administering its health benefits. Walmart made same-sex spouses eligible for health benefits in 2014, but even after this it claimed it had no legal obligation to do so. Ms. Cote’s lawyers argued in their complaint that this left same-sex couples in a more precarious financial situation, since Walmart could easily rescind the coverage.

“We are glad that as part of the settlement Walmart will continue to provide the same health insurance benefits regardless of the gender of the associate’s spouse,” Peter Romer-Friedman, one of Ms. Cote’s lawyers, said in a statement.

A judge’s preliminary approval in this sort of settlement typically happens within a matter of weeks.

The broader legal landscape suggests a coming shift in federal courts’ thinking on whether discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates existing civil rights law.

While much of the recent litigation in this area has focused on employment-related issues, plaintiffs may successfully challenge similar discrimination in the realms of housing and lending, where federal law also prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. At least one plaintiff has brought such a complaint.

Cases litigating the question of whether sexual orientation discrimination is inherently sex discrimination are pending in multiple federal appeals courts, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch told BuzzFeed this spring that the Justice Department was “looking” at whether to adopt the new position. (The department declined to comment on when it would reach a conclusion.) The issue could come before the Supreme Court in the next few years.

One prominent case had a rehearing last month before the full United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, after a three-judge panel from the court had rejected the new discrimination doctrine. At the rehearing, the judges appeared sympathetic to overturning the court’s previous position.

“The trend lines are very positive,” said P. David Lopez, general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “The courts have really drilled down and started to re-examine whether prior precedent makes sense.”

He added: “Walmart is the latest data point in what we’ve seen is a real fundamental shift.”


NOAM SCHEIBER

September 5, 2016

Gay Couple Thrown off London Bus under Vile Attack by Driver


Omar Okai claimed he and his boyfriend were kicked off the bus for being gay (Picture: Facebook/Omar Okai) 
  

A theatre director describes how he was kicked off a London bus after its driver launched a vile racist and homophobic tirade at him and his boyfriend.
Omar Okai said the “humiliating” incident happened after he had enjoyed an evening out with his boyfriend in central London on Friday.
He said the couple were left "shocked and disgusted" after the driver challenged them with an apparently innuendo-laden remark after they boarded the bus at the rear.
The 51-year-old, from Bethnal Green, alleged that the driver told them: "I bet you like it in the backdoor" during the confrontation near Tottenham Court Road station. 
Mr Okai and his Spanish partner Juan Salas Carranza, 36, have now formally complained to Transport for London and the police over the alleged incident.
20160902-215835.jpg
Behind the wheel: Omar Okai took a photograph of the bus and driver following the incident. (Omar Okai)
"We put our hands out to get the bus but he looked at us and pointed at something and just drove on," Mr Okai told the Standard. 
“We caught up with the bus at another stop. The front doors were closed but people were on the bus. The back door was open so we got on and go straight to the front and put our Oyster cards on the machine.
“He then said, the front doors were closed for a reason. We apologised and said ‘but we have paid, is it ok?’
“He just kept repeating, ‘how long have you been using buses in this country?’ I made it very clear I am British but he kept repeating it. It was really aggressive, it was vile.
“He then said, ‘why did you use the backdoor?’. We again apologised and he said, ‘I bet you like it in the backdoor anyway.’
“I kind of stopped and said, ‘what do you mean’. He said, ‘you heard’.
20160902-215738.jpg
Snapped: The bus driver who Omar Okai has reported as part of the alleged incident. (Omar Okai)
“He then pressed the button on the top of his bus panel and made this announcement. He said 'this bus is not going any further and people need to get off'. 
“It was in such a nasty way. We got off the bus but realised other passengers stayed on. He then opened the front doors and allowed another lady to enter and then he drove off.”
Mr Okai, who runs his own theatre company, said: “You don’t have to call me a poof and a queer to be homophobic. This on a bus in your own country in 2016, that’s disgusting.”   In a letter to TfL, he added: “I would like an explanation, not just an apology, as I will be taking it further. 
“This kind of behaviour is not acceptable in any shape or form in Great Britain and as a British citizen born here, I am not accepting it. My partnerand I were humiliated and intimidated, being made to leave the bus.
“In a multi-racial, poly-sexual society, this can't be allowed to pass. I use the transport system day in, day out and have never been so insulted.”
Transport for London said they are investigating what happened.
A spokesperson said: “We are concerned to hear of this incident and are investigating it with Tower Transit, the operator of the 25 bus route. 
“We expect the highest standard of public service from bus drivers."
Bus operator Tower Transit have also been contacted for comment.
Mr Okai also reported the alleged incident, which happened at around 10pm on Friday, to the Metropolitan Police. Scotland Yard have been contacted for comment. 
People have taken to social media to show their support for Mr Okai and applaud him for reporting the incident.
Steven Kavuma said on Twitter: "Absolutely disgusting. I hope his bus licence gets taken away."
Stephanie Sirr wrote: "Shocking treatment of two gay men on their way home. Feels like we’re going backwards".


August 25, 2016

He Poured Boiling Hot Water on Sleeping Gay Couple, Gets 40 Years



A jury has convicted an Atlanta truck driver accused of pouring boiling water over two gay men as the couple slept in February.
The jury deliberated for about 90 minutes Wednesday before finding Martin Blackwell guilty of eight counts of aggravated battery and two counts of aggravated assault, according to the Associated Press.
Blackwell was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
The 48-year-old wasn’t charged with a hate crime because Georgia is one of five states that doesn’t have a hate crime statute. An FBI spokesman told Reuters that federal investigators are considering whether to charge Blackwell with a federal hate crime.
Anthony Gooden had told his family he was gay shortly before the attack, which happened as Gooden slept on a mattress in his mother’s living room next to Marquez Tolbert, according to the AP. The men had been dating for about six weeks.
Blackwell, a long-haul trucker who stayed at the house when he was in town, came in and saw the two unconscious men lying next to each other.
He went to the kitchen, pulled out a pot, filled it with water and set it to boil. Moments later, he poured the scalding water over the men, The Washington Post reported.
“I woke up to the most unimaginable pain in my entire life,” Tolbert said, sobbing frequently during his testimony, according to the AP. “I’m wondering why I’m in so much pain. I’m wondering why I’m wet. I don’t understand what’s going on.” 
Then Blackwell allegedly yanked him off the mattress and yelled, “Get out of my house with all that gay,” Tolbert recalled to WSBTV.
“They were stuck together like two hot dogs … so I poured a little hot water on them and helped them out,” he said to police, according to the incident report. “… They’ll be alright. It was just a little hot water.”
Blackwell claimed the two men were having sex when he poured water on them. Vickie Gray, a friend of Tolbert’s, told the news station that’s not true; they were asleep after a long day of work — not that the alleged attack would have been justified in any case, she noted.
Tolbert must now wear compression garments 23 hours a day for the next two years, Gray wrote in an email to The Post, and is attending weekly counseling and physical therapy sessions to deal with his emotional and physical scars. It’s difficult for him to go outside because sunlight exacerbates the pain of his burns.
Gooden, who was burned even more severely, was in a medically induced coma for several weeks, Gray said. According to his GoFundMe page, more than 60 percent of his body was burned, and he had to undergo skin graft surgery to repair damage to his face, neck, back, arms, chest and head.

August 13, 2016

US Ambassador and His Husband Have Become Big Stars in Copenhagen

Ambassador Rufus Gifford and  his Husband Stephen DeVincent at Copenhagen having fun with their fans
We already need a gay President! If crazies can have a crack at it why not a beautiful committed couple that have the smarts and the background to be the leader of the free world and the envy of those18th century backward states that criticize two men holding hands only because of the boner they get and most hide, they are embarrassed by it.  
Lets keep our eyes open for this future event and keep those names somewhere in your computer, just like I do.
                                                                       _*_ 

COPENHAGEN — American ambassadors abroad tend to be low-profile diplomats who host cocktail parties and try not to make waves in their host countries.
Not here.

Ambassador Rufus Gifford is an A-list celebrity — and even a reality TV star — in this nation of 5.7 million people. On the streets of the capital, the average person knows his name.

That’s because the handsome Gifford, 42, has been a visible presence and an outspoken advocate for gay rights in a country that in 1989 became the first in the world to legalize same-sex unions, and it legalized same-sex marriage in 2012.

His celebrity status was cemented when he starred in his own hit reality show I am the Ambassador from America in 2014. In Season 2 last fall, everyone tuned in to watch Gifford marry his longtime partner, Stephen DeVincent.

Gifford’s life has been an inspiration for homosexual youth, Copenhagen Pride chair Lars Henriksen said. “He has been very open and frank about his own personal story,” Henriksen said. “This has helped to highlight the importance of an LGBTQ-inclusive society.”

Others just like his down-to-earth nature. “Rufus is not afraid to come down from his high diplomatic throne to talk with normal beer-drinking, festival-going Danes," said copy editor Jacob Andersen, 36. “We love to hear how much he likes Denmark.” 

 
In an interview, Gifford cites his diplomatic achievements — improving already close U.S.-Danish ties — rather than his lifestyle as his main accomplishment. “I think it is our job to help create an element of trust not just with the government but also with the population more broadly,” he said.To promote U.S. values, Gifford has held a series of town hall meetings with students who are encouraged to ask any question, no matter how tough. 

He is active on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Before traveling, he polls for suggestions of places to visit. Once he surprised a group of students by attending a birthday barbecue they had invited him to join.
His time in a country such as Denmark, where alternative lifestyles are embraced, marks a long journey from when he was a youth back home and had to keep secret about being gay.

Gifford grew up as the scion of a blue-blood New England banking family. His father, Charles, ran Bank of Boston in the 1980s and was chairman of Bank of America. Gifford said he grew up terrified of admitting his sexuality in public. But his parents were accepting once they discovered his feelings, which occurred when his mother opened a journal of his.

“One of the biggest struggles you have as a young, gay person is figuring out how to be comfortable in your own skin,” he said. “I mean, you would lie in bed at night when you were 15, 16, 17 years old and just figure out if there was some way to escape your body.”
 
Ambassador Rufus Gifford and Stephen DeVincent at their marriage ceremony

Stephen DeVincent places the ring on Rufus Gifford's finger during their marriage ceremony at Copenhagen City Hall on Oct. 10, 2015. Their tuxes are Ermenegildo Zegna and the rings are made by George Jensen. (Photo: Peter Brinch via the U.S. Embassy in Denmark)
Gifford's TV show covered intimate details of his life and work. It filmed him joining Danish special forces for overnight exercises, visiting Greenland to investigate climate change and traveling home after 12 hours of work.

“To the Danish eye, he resembles a Hollywood film star,” said Erik Struve Hansen, executive producer of DR3, the public TV channel that carried the show. “He has a wide, white smile. He is always upbeat but can also be serious.”
Gifford said he worried that he might lose his job if the show tanked or proved controversial. “It was terrifying, but exciting,” he said.
Some critics say Gifford has taken public diplomacy a little too far. Danish lawmaker Naser Khader of the Conservative Party complained that the country deserves a career diplomat, not a Hollywood star.

Still, I am the Ambassador from America became one of the most popular DR3 programs ever. Last October's spectacle of Copenhagen Mayor Frank Jensenofficiating the marriage of DeVincent and the ambassador in a gold-filigreed chamber in City Hall won Gifford the Danish equivalent of an Emmy for most compelling character.
Now, as his time in Denmark likely nears an end along with the Obama administration, Gifford is pondering his next career move. He said he may run for political office or work as a business consultant.
“Ultimately,” he said, "I have to know that what I am doing is making the world a better place.”

Robin Elizabeth Herr, Special for USA TODAY

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