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

March 9, 2017

Oklahoma Prisoner Blackmail Scams Gay Men at the Tune of $125K

 Sean Siwek, scammer, blackmailer

An Oklahoma prisoner posed as an Elyria man in an elaborate scheme to blackmail gay men across the country by threatening to expose their sexuality and falsely claiming that the men had offered to have sex with minors.

The prisoner, Sean Siwek, was sentenced Tuesday to two years and three months in federal prison and ordered to repay $124,990 to various victims, according to Bob Troester, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorneys Office in the Western District of Oklahoma.

According to court documents filed in the case, Siwek was being housed at Lawton Correctional Facility, a private medium-security prison in Lawton, Okla., when he and other co-conspirators, who weren’t identified in the indictment, hatched their scheme.

Using a voice-based dating service, Siwek and others created messages that were the equivalent of personal advertisements that they used to find men across the country, including in Colorado, Maryland, Ohio and Oklahoma, prosecutors said.

Siwek and those working with him would get messages from legitimate users of the dating service and then contact them separately using illicit cell phones that had been smuggled into the prison.

Siwek would falsely tell those he got into contact with that he was a male prostitute interested in having sexual relations with men who were married or had girlfriends.

“After establishing a rapport with a legitimate user and arranging to meet for sex, Siwek or another coconspirator called that legitimate user, claiming to be a law enforcement officer, and fraudulently represented that the legitimate user had agreed to have sex with a minor, which was a crime,” the indictment in the case said. “Siwek and his coconspirators then falsely represented that they would publicize the legitimate user’s sexual orientation and bring criminal charges against him, or cause such charges to be brought, unless the legitimate user paid them.”

Prosecutors detailed how Siwek and his allies were able to convince an Ohio man to give them approximately $86,840 between October 2011 and February 2012 through the scheme.

Siwek created a profile claiming to be a 24-year-old from Elyria and ended up communicating with the Ohio man, and the two eventually arranged to meet “for a good time sexually,” prosecutors wrote.

The next day, Siwek called from the prison and claimed to be the 24-year-old man’s father but said the person who the Ohio man had been communicating with was actually 15.

Siwek demanded $500 and the Ohio man bought two debit cards and provided the information over the phone to Siwek. In a later call, Siwek told the Ohio man to expect a call from an FBI agent.

When the “agent” called, he told the victim that he had committed a crime by arranging to have sex with a minor and threatened to charge the Ohio man unless he was paid.

Over the next few months, Siwek and his co-conspirators demanded additional money, including for bribes to a fake judge and to get others to keep “quiet.”

Court records show Siwek pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and false impersonation of a federal officer two years ago. Troester said Siwek will receive credit for all the time he’s served behind bars while awaiting sentencing.

Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or

November 21, 2016

“Gender is a Biological Accident” (Indian Gay Activist)

Harish, gay activist

It’s International Men’s Day. What does that mean? What do we celebrate? Masculinity? Machoism? The stache? The muscles? Or the sexual orientation…?
Harish Iyer, Director and Strategic Partner at the Humane Society International/India, and a renowned activist for LGBTQ rights in the country, decided to speak to us this Men’s Day and his words will leave you with enough to ponder over.

“Gender is nothing but a biological accident,” says Harish who would have been just as happy had he been a woman, or a transgender. “My gender is always perceived as the tormentor, the bread-winner, the un-emotive. Masculinity is not a mustache that you grow, the muscles you develop, the abs or the way men fuck; it is about equality.”

Harish is one of the most well known men who have always spearheaded any movement or revolution for those who cannot speak for themselves—be it a member of the LGBTQ community, the animals, or the people who don’t have a voice. He has been the guest speaker for world renowned talks and on television to voice his opinions and make a difference in whichever way he can. As someone who is from the LGBTQ community ( in India, Harish knows exactly what it is like to be a man of different sexual orientation; to be gay and proud about it. “It was my friend Sheetal Kher, wife of Kailash Kher, who pulled me out of the closet,” says Harish. “Sheetal did a college journalism profile on me and outed me.”

Speaking about explaining to his family, Harish says, “I told my mother I was willing to marry a woman, but asked if she would willingly marry her daughter to a gay guy.” Harish, like countless other men in our country, was also subject to criticism and social judgment. But, he believes it to be because people are curious. “There have been relatives who wanted me to get married and some nosy neighbours. I sarcastically tell them I can marry their daughter and divorce her if it doesn’t work out.” It pays to have a sense of humour when you’re different from the pack. Ask anyone who doesn’t run the rat race; they’ll agree. “I think there is ingrained misogyny in many of our Indian practices, most of which are patriarchal,” he opines.

According to Harish, there needs to be more liberty for people who want to come out openly. “We should not have to prove time and again that we are just like everyone else who is part of society,” he reasons. “The bisexual community is the most invisible in society.

They face prejudice in the LGBT community and also the heterosexual community,” Harish explains. “Trans people face a lot of discrimination, mostly due to people’s ignorance and refusal to study issues in detail. All this gets augmented, when you also are a person of color, caste, are a woman.” And while society has always been rather vague about the LGBTQ community as a whole, Harish sees hope. “While some members of society see us as ‘diseased and ‘perverted’, a lot of them also see us as creative and dependable individuals which is true.” He agrees that it’s not always easy to talk about it.

 We need to keep talking—make the invisible visible and bring issues to the forefront, he says. “It will get easier when we speak at times when it is most challenging to do so.” As for his own sense of self, Harish has never let the words of others affect his being in any way whatsoever. “Living your life truly and unabashedly is the truest form of activism,” he quips in a matter-of-fact tone.
And his message to men on International Men’s Day is simple.

“Yes, we have been privileged. You don’t need to step out and offer your seats to women to be considered a man. Women need no charity; only equality. Also some men are assholes; and some women label all men as that. Learn to give a rat’s left testicle to both of them.”

November 6, 2016

What Type of Gays Would Endorse Trump? Think Male, Vanilla

 Male, White

On Sunday night in Greeley, Colorado, Donald Trump spotted something he wanted in the crowd. He gestured to a supporter, who handed a wad of rainbow fabric up to the stage. Trump unfurled it for the fans and cameras — a pride flag scrawled with the words “LGBTs for Trump.”

He strutted stage left, grinning and nodding to the audience with a literal sign of his diverse support. A Facebook group called LGBT for Trump posted a photo of Trump with the flag on Monday morning, captioning it: “Most pro-gay nominee of any party ever.”

Both Trump and his supporters have nurtured this LGBT-cozy image, diverging from past Republican presidential candidates. That coziness was on display during the Republican National Convention in July, when a group calling itself Twinks for Trump held a soiree festooned with poster-size photos of lithe, shirtless young men in Trump caps. Inside the convention two days later, Trump pledged to protect “LGBTQ” citizens, taking care to enunciate the “Q” — a gesture to queer people.

Despite all this, Trump’s campaign has not confirmed any direct outreach to LGBT voters. Over the last three months, his staff has not answered questions from BuzzFeed News about whether Trump has an LGBT policy platform, contacted or plans to contact LGBT communities, or if anyone on the campaign staff is LGBT themselves. He also did not fill out at least two LGBT groups’ surveys about his positions.

Further, Trump’s most prominent LGBT supporters and surrogates are not a spectrum of LGBT diversity, but rather, are overwhelmingly white gay men. Which is to say, “LGBTs for Trump” reflects much of same homogenous bloc of dudes who make up the rest of his base.

“Essentially it is a Facebook page,” Barron explained in a phone call. There is no board of directors and its members are the 1,509 people who have liked the page. A smattering of other Twitter and Facebook accounts, which are run independent of Barron and separate from the Trump campaign, promote variations of the same theme.

Barron has become the most public face of LGBT for Trump supporters, pressing his message in cable TV interviews. He built bridges in the past between Republicans and gays with the group GOProud. And this year, he said, he has been in touch with the Trump campaign to consult on media and other LGBT issues.

He brushed aside any concern that Trump lacks an LGBT platform or that he supports certain anti-LGBT positions, because, he said, Trump tolerates LGBT people around him. “If there had been a pride flag on stage at a Mitt Romney event,” he speculated, “Romney would have been running off the stage.”

Barron was not aware of any LGBT Trump staffers nor a lesbian Trump group, but argued the movement is diffuse. “There are a bunch of grassroots activists — they are all over the place,” he said. “I certainly know lesbians for Trump. I know more than one, but I don’t know the exact number.” He added that “there was a picture of a transgender person for Trump” at a pride event in Savannah, Georgia, though he didn’t specify where that photo was published.
Trump’s most prominent gay supporters are Peter Thiel, a PayPal co-founder who spoke at the RNC, and Milo Yiannopoulos, a columnist of the white nationalist alt-right.

“Just because the most visible LGBT folks for Trump happen to be gay white men, not every LGBT person for Trump is a gay white male,” said Barron. “We are an incredibly diverse community.”
There is no doubt that Trump has backing from some lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people — though polls show the numbers are quite slim and they don’t compare to Hillary Clinton’s hearty LGBT support.

Yet in July, they appeared in short support supply at the Twinks for Trump event.
“I do not remember seeing any trans people,” Carlos Maza, who attended the event and works for the left-leaning Media Matters, told BuzzFeed News. “There were women, though the few I interacted with seemed to be straight.”

Lucian Wintrich leads Twinks for Trump. “It’s not really organization,” he said on the phone this week, calling it a small collective of “primarily gay men.”
“I am a gay man, so by virtue of that, gay men will reach out to me,” said Wintrich.

Inside the Twinks for Trump party

Finding a lesbian Trump supporter became a goal for Jennifer Bendery, a Huffington Post reporter, who wrote an article about her search last month accompanied by an illustration of a unicorn in a haystack.

“It took me a week to find just one lesbian,” Bendery told BuzzFeed News. “A couple others started trickling in after that. Add to that a smattering of gay white men, and you’ve got an LGBTQ coalition as diverse as a bag of iceberg lettuce from Safeway.”

Statistics bear out Trump’s paltry LGBT support — and he struggles particularly among women. A Gallup poll this month found LGBT voters view Clinton almost five times more favorably than Trump, but LGBT women were especially wary. Only 9% of LBT women reported favorable feelings for Trump; GBT men were at 16%.

“You’ve got an LGBTQ coalition as diverse as a bag of iceberg lettuce from Safeway.”
Trump lost many voters by picking running mate Mike Pence, who, as Indiana governor and former Congressman, opposed LGBT-rights bills. Trump also created furor in September with a pledge to sign the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill in Congress that would protect those with religious objections to same-sex marriage.

The country’s top LGBT Republican group, the Log Cabin Republicans, declined to endorse Trump this year due to his anti-LGBT advisors and support for anti-LGBT legislation.

This flaccid buttressing from LGBT people hasn’t stopped Trump from inflating the appearance of their support. His online campaign store features an LGBT for Trump t-shirt. And though none of the positions on his website address pro-LGBT policies, the site links to external news articles to help burnish his image, including one ABC News piece titled “Donald Trump says LGBT voters like him ‘very, very much.’”

“It seems every time he opens his mouth, Donald Trump boasts about fictitious support from one corner or another,” said Jay Brown, a spokesman for the LGBT group Human Rights Campaign, which was unable to get Trump to fill out its candidate survey.

“He’d undo all the progress we made in the last eight years — and his campaign is especially threatening to those of us who are transgender, who are women, who are Latinx, who are Muslim,” Brown said. “I don’t think that’s lost on the majority of LGBTQ people despite his claims.”
The transgender advocacy PAC Trans United Fund also told BuzzFeed News this summer that Trump never responded to their survey. Clinton did not fill out that group’s survey, either.

Yet Clinton’s campaign has wooed an LGBT bloc aggressively, using a bench of LGBT surrogates, targeting outreach to LGBT voters, and pairing with with LGBT originations. Clinton also enjoys lavish donations from LGBT funders. But, as BuzzFeed News has also noted, one of her LGBT rallies this spring also skewed white and male.

There is some notable diversity in Trump’s LGBT support, including transgender activists on the Trump train. In June, as Breitbart reported, Facebook deleted the account for Transgender for Trump after the group’s administrator posted a video of an Imam advocating death to homosexuals.

Caitlyn Jenner, a leading voice for transgender Americans, praised Trump in April for standing “behind the LGBT community,” and she spoke at the RNC to advocate for LGBT inclusion in the party generally. But Jenner has since said she is not outwardly supporting any candidate this election.

A person who runs one of a handful of “LGBT for Trump” Twitter accounts told me by direct message they are transgender. But when I asked for a Facebook or Twitter account to verify their identity, they blocked me. That account, which has more than 5,000 followers, published a lewd anti-Muslim tweet recently about Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, who is gay. “Robby Mook needs to be thrown in a mosque during prayer time wrapped in bacon with stapled pictures of muhamad getting banged by a pig.

A Facebook page with about 5,000 followers, called “LGBTrump - Gays for Trump,” is run by a gay man named Joe Murray who contributes op-eds to local papers. “Of the two major political party candidates,” his website explains, “Trump is the only one not afraid to say radical Islam and Trump is the only one who has the back of our brave law enforcement.”

Another Twitter account called “LGBT support Trump” pinned a tweet that says “we represent the millions of #LGBT that support @realdonaldtrump.” It has 81 followers.
But Barron, from the most established LGBT for Trump group, said no single entity “is going to be emblematic of all of a candidate’s supporters.”

“People can take Trump to task for plenty of things, but not the LGBT issue,” said Barron, emphasizing that Trump departs from years of anti-LGBT hostility from Republicans. “I feel like I’m driving a Rolls-Royce after years of driving a Yugo.”

October 17, 2016

Brothers in Law Dumped Wives for Each Other

Same sex unions have a history as old as men

AHMEDABAD: "Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments," says William Shakespeare in Sonnet 116 declaring that nothing should come in between two souls in love with each other. One such marriage, however, has proved devastating for two other marriages.
In a particular case, two men have dumped their wives, both sisters, to unite and start a separate family.

The two got involved in a homosexual (gay) relationship after being introduced to each other as brothers-in-law. The two recently moved in together in a separate house.

Both the sisters on Saturday approached a local court accusing their husbands of duping them and sought justice. The sisters have demanded an interim relief in form of maintenance and shelter.
Ironically, the elder sister has also been divorced through triple talaq delivered to her in a legal notice sent by her husband.
Top Comment

'A muslim gives triple talaq (which IMPB defends) according to sharia, and start gay relation which acc to sharia is death....This is how the islam, sharia are used misused by muslims which Govt want to end!
Aug.15 1947’

The elder sister got married with a local trader in 2010 and the couple was blessed with a child soon after. Trouble in paradise began after the younger sister got married in 2013. The elder sister's husband, whose homosexual leanings had got exposed by then, developed gay relationship with the husband of the younger sister. One and half years ago, both men dumped their wives and have started living together. 

Devastated, the sisters first approached police, but since there was no violation of law except evasion of duty to maintain family on part of men, police expressed their helplessness.

Left with no hope, the sisters have now knocked on doors of a magisterial court and filed a case under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. They have alleged harassment and neglect on part of their husbands due to their homosexual relationship. They have urged the court to direct their husbands to pay them maintenance amount as part of interim arrangement. The court has fixed hearing on their complaints on November 19.

October 14, 2016

New Research: Lots of Gay Men Hiding Their Gay at Work

It might be 2016 but there’s still some way to go when it comes to society’s dealings with the LGBTQ community. Especially in the work place.

New research by the University of Cincinnati has found that gay men often hide or ‘manage’ their sexuality in corporate jobs. 
Travis Dean Speice, who lead the research, says that his findings show that gay men often feel they have to change certain distinctive body language behaviours and gestures in order to avoid ‘potential negative consequences from co-workers’.
He conducted in-depth interviews with 30 gay men between 22-52, and asked them to think about the concepts of masculinity, femininity, and gayness.
He also asked about how they came out and their specific job titles – which he says is where gay men often try to manipulate their identities.
‘From the initial (job) interview to moving up the ladder at work, if a gay man feels his supervisors don’t agree with a gay population, he may not want to reveal his sexuality to them,’ says Travis.
He says that men are worried about their sexuality affecting chances of promotion or even being hired in the first place.
And that can mean changing the way they dress, the way they talk and whether or not they open up about your private life at work.
Travis calls these adaptations ‘hegemonic sexuality’ – a tool for avoiding unwanted scrutiny.
The interviewees referred to some men as being ‘too gay’, and this was associated with certain kinds of body language, speech patterns and dress sense which they were keen to avoid in professional settings.

Apparently loads of gay men are still hiding their sexuality at work
(Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Many of the study’s participants believed that particular colours or patterns on clothing could give their sexuality away, and often opted to dress somberly and formally.
A social worker who Travis interviewed said that he once wore ‘burnt orange khakis’ to work one morning and when he went to visit a correctional institute later that day, realized that all the inmates were staring at him.

‘The colour of his clothes was significant in his perception of his own masculinity and gay identity, but later became too flamboyant in the face of scrutiny… the inmates had suddenly gained a sliver of power over him.
‘Although there is no hard, fast rule for general masculinity, there are lots of anxieties related to identity management and self presentation for gay men in many professional settings,’ Travis explains.
We spoke to Mark*, 24, who identifies as gay and is about to start a trainee scheme with Teach First. He says that he doesn’t plan on revealing his sexual identity on the course. Before starting university, he was in the navy.
‘The navy was the most macho place – it was awful for the guys who did come out, I mean just awful,’ he tells
‘Generally, the more male-dominated the job, the more difficult it is to come out.’

October 3, 2016

Egypt The Great Jailer of Gay Men in the Middle East

Just after it became known in June that the attacker of Orlando's Pulse nightclub had pledged allegiance to ISIS, Egypt's foreign ministry immediately moved to condemn the attack on a U.S. gay bar.

"Egypt stands next to the American people in these difficult times, offering sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wishing the injured a speedy recovery," the ministry said.

Yet the statement didn't acknowledge that Pulse was a gay club, and that many of the victims were members of the LGBTQ community.

Three days later, a court in Cairo sentenced two 18-year-olds to three years in prison on charges of "debauchery": The young men were apprehended through government surveillance of social media dating apps for gay men, according to court records.

It's no surprise to gay Egyptians, say community leaders. In fact, they say Egypt has become one of the world's biggest jailers of gay men, with as many as 500 behind bars on "morals" charges — and the crackdown is escalating.

"Most of the gay people in Egypt are even not out to their families — they are living in fear, not living their lives," said Yousef Rizik, who at 18 is one of Egypt's youngest gay leaders and among the few willing to speak openly about the wave of repression against the community.

"If you have money and you are just being secretly gay and not an activist, then you are fine but if you are poor with no connections and openly gay, then you are definitely in prison," he added.

Activists say the current wave of arrests started in October 2015, as Egyptian security services extended their crackdown from Islamist groups to civil society organizations.

The situation is being echoed in a number of countries in the region, they add.

"Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait have all rushed to condemn the crime in Orlando labeling it terrorism while insisting Islam has nothing to do with it," said a spokesman for Mesahat, an LGBT service organization operating in Egypt and Sudan.

"These same governments keep arresting and torturing gay people and are putting them in jail. Meanwhile they are sponsoring a religious discourse that feeds homophobia."

A new phenomenon

The Quran mentions homosexuality only once, in a retelling of the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

But gay people in the region say widespread condemnation of homosexuality came about only in the 1980s, when the rise of the global LGBT rights movement coincided with the expansion of ultraconservative Wahhabism sponsored by Saudi Arabia.

Activities and relationships that were considered normal 30 years ago are now described as haram, an Islamic term to describe religiously prohibited behavior like eating pork or consuming alcohol. Homosexuality is now frequently condemned as a "Western" vice and a threat to Arab and Islamic culture.

"Wahhabi attitudes spread to Egypt and took over a more enlightened, liberated Islam," said Ahmed Hafez, an Egyptian analyst with the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based LGBT advocacy group.

"Now the police in Egypt are targeting gay people to show the public that they are on the side of morality and are doing a good job in fighting debauchery, as a distraction to hide their failures in the crackdown on terrorism or drug trafficking," he added.

In Iraq and Syria, the shadow of ISIS adds to the danger

"Day after day, we read about how the Islamic State, militias and extremists handle the LGBT community in countries like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Morocco," said Khalid Abdel-Hadi, 27, publisher of My Kali, the only LGBT magazine in the Middle East.

"[We often see] videos of LGBT individuals being thrown from tall buildings, head first, and then stoned by bystanders." In mid-August, ISIS released a video of a man accused of "homosexual acts" and "corruption of thought" being pushed off the roof of a tall building.

In Jordan, too, local rights groups say ISIS has killed people for being gay. The country has no formal groups responsible for protecting LGBT rights.

"LGBT people still often cannot report or seek redress for discrimination or criminal acts against them, given the social stigma," said Adam Coogle, a researcher for Human Rights Watch in Amman.

But an Amman restaurateur who works on HIV awareness among Syrian refugees in Jordan's Zatari Camp said "it's not the right time for advancing gay rights here." He asked that his name be withheld for safety reasons.

"The Ministry of Social Development turned down our request to register a LGBT social service organization last year, but after Orlando, I'm more concerned about a lone wolf attack by Daesh against the few places where we can openly socialize," he said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Coogle says the situation for LGBT people in Jordan is still better than in other Middle East countries.
Meanwhile in countries like Egypt and the Gulf states, safe spaces are limited to discreet hotel bars catering mostly to foreigners, and small gatherings in wealthy private homes.

Online entrapment by the authorities is also a pervasive worry in Egypt, Syria and Palestine.

The exception that proves the rule

Despite its political instability, Beirut, Lebanon, may be the one Arab capital where LGBT people are increasingly comfortable and safe.

"We even have a 'straight-friendly' gay bar in Beirut," joked 32-year-old Georges Azzii, co-founder of Helem, a Lebanese nonprofit organization advocating for the LGBT community. "But it was empty for the first few days after Orlando."

Lebanon does not explicitly outlaw homosexuality, but article 534 of Lebanon's penal code punishes "any sexual intercourse contrary to the order of nature" with up to one year in prison.

The law does not specify what might constitute "contrary to the order of nature," leaving a large margin of interpretation to individual judges. The provision has been used mainly to prosecute people suspected of homosexuality.

Azzi says four court rulings over the past few years have restricted the use of these laws against Lebanese gays, although the police and security forces still punish those perceived to be gay or transgender.

"Even with the advancements in the law and increasingly supportive media," he says, "people in the community are now on edge."

This story was reported from Cairo, Egypt.

This article, by Jacob Wirtschafter, originally appeared at GlobalPost.

September 1, 2016

Lifetime Ban on Gay Men Donating Blood in Northern Ireland “Lifted”

A controversial lifetime ban on gay men donating blood in Northern Ireland has been lifted.

The decision by Stormont Health Minister Michelle O’Neill comes after a long campaign by gay rights activists and a series of court battles over the contentious prohibition.

A similar ban was ended in England, Scotland and Wales in 2011 and replaced with rules that allowed gay men to give blood 12 months after their last sexual encounter with another man.

Northern Ireland has now adopted the same deferral policy. 
Mrs O’Neill said: “As Health Minister my first responsibility in this matter is patient safety.

“Surveillance data from England, Scotland and Wales and survey evidence from across Britain and the north of Ireland have provided assurance that the risk is lower with a one-year deferral.

“My decision is based on the evidence regarding the safety of donated blood.”

The lifetime ban had been retained in Northern Ireland by successive Democratic Unionist health ministers, who cited blood safety concerns.

A lifetime ban on donations by men who have had sex with men was introduced in the UK and many other countries in the 1980s in response to the emergence of AIDS.

In May 2011 UK experts concluded that the evidence no longer supported a lifetime ban and in September 2011 the health ministers in England, Scotland and Wales adopted a one-year deferral.

The absolute prohibition remained in place in Northern Ireland until today.

In the most recent court judgement on the gay blood ban, the Court of Appeal decided the decision on whether to lift the ban rested with Stormont, not the UK Health Secretary.

A previous ruling that former DUP health minister Edwin Poots had acted with pre-determined bias based on his Christian beliefs in retaining the ban was overturned.

It was one of a number of LGBT issues that have stirred controversy at Stormont.

The most high profile remaining dispute is over the ongoing bar on same-sex marriage.

August 20, 2016

Gay German Men Seeking Reparations from NAZI Law

Ernst Röhm—the gay German paramilitary commander executed in the Night of Long Knives—alongside Nazi leaders Heinrich Himmeler and Kurt Daluege in 1933. Photo via Wikimedia, courtesy Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archives)

It is no secret that gay men faced violent oppression in Nazi Germany, but few people realize that the German persecution of gay men continued far after the Nazis' defeat in 1945, or that more gay men were convicted under Paragraph (§) 175, Germany's former anti-sodomy statute, in the first two and a half decades of the Cold War than ever were under Nazi rule.

Though Germany repealed the law in 1994, it has never atoned for this "monstrous disgrace," as Germany'sGreen Party representatives Katja Keul and Volker Beck called §175 two weeks ago in a demand for reparations on behalf of the over fifty thousand men convicted under the provision. And it wasn't until this May—more than 20 years since the law was repealed—that Justice Minister Heiko Maas introduced the idea of expunging those convictions, which ruined the lives of many gay German men, and stifled the development of what could have been a thriving national queer culture.

Understanding West Germany's extraordinary persecution of gay men first requires revisiting exactly how homosexuals were treated under Nazi rule. When the party came to power in 1933, gay men were among the first victims targeted—Nazi brown-shirts closed gay bars, stormed Berlin's famed Institute for Sexology, and burned gay texts, effectively stamping out Weimar Germany's renowned gay community. Gay elements within the Party, including Ernst Röhm, the commander of its Sturmabteilung (SA) paramilitary force, were purged in the 1934 Night of Long Knives, opening the way for more homophobic policies championed by, among others, Schutzstaffel (SS) chief Heinrich Himmler.

On June 28, 1935, Hitler's government introduced a new, bleaker version of §175, which had previously prohibited only penetrative intercourse—something difficult to prove in court. Under the new Nazi statute, any act construed to be homosexual was criminalized—a wrong glance could land a man in prison. This looser definition caused convictions to skyrocket from a few hundred per year to over eight thousand. A horror-house of punishments awaited those found guilty, from heavy prison sentences to concentration camps and castration.

Between 1935 and 1943, around 46,000 men were convicted under the provision. Of those, between 5,000 and 15,000 were sent to concentration camps, where their clothing bore pink triangles, now a ubiquitous symbol of gay liberation. Fewer than half survived.

When the Allied Powers occupied Germany in 1945, they repealed particularly egregious Nazi laws, such as the infamous Nuremberg Laws that banned intercourse and marriage between Jews and those defined as Aryans. But the occupiers remained silent on the question of which version of §175 would stand—the harsher law passed in 1935, or the milder provision it had replaced. While East German courts quickly decided the 1935 version was an illegitimate Nazi law, West Germany continued to enforce it.

In 1950, a new wave of persecutions began in West Germany. In a mass action, the state's attorney in Frankfurt rounded up hundreds of men on the testimony of young male prostitutes, and charged at least 140 under the 1935 version of §175.

Most faced jail sentences; at least seven committed suicide. One nineteen-year-old man jumped from Frankfurt's Goethe Tower, while anotherpoisoned himself in a movie theater. The president of the American Civil Liberties Union, Roger Baldwin, visiting Frankfurt at the time, protested it was "incomprehensible that such treatment of innocent, adult persons was still possible in the 20th century," as reported in Der Spiegel.

At least seventeen hundred men were sentenced in 1950. Convictions peaked in 1959, when West German courts found almost four thousand men guilty under §175. Between 1950 and 1969, when §175 was finally reformed, West Germany would convict more men of sodomy than the Nazis had.

Throughout this period, an increasing number of legal and medical scholars insisted that §175 was inconsistent with democratic rule, but it took until 1956 for Germany's Federal Constitutional Court to weigh in on the constitutionality of §175, when it accepted appeals from two men convicted in Hamburg. The men's argument—that the law was a Nazi fossil that violated Germany's constitutional guarantees of "free development of personality" and equality between the sexes (§175 famously did not criminalize female homosexuality)—failed spectacularly.

The court declared that "congenital homosexuality is so rare, that it can be ignored for practical purposes"—an outrageous assertion from a democratic court that came a half-century before Iranian President Ahmadinejad's infamous claim that "we don't have homosexuals." The case settled the question of §175's legitimacy, ensuring that WestGermany would continue to pursue the most draconian persecution of gay men of any postwar democratic state.

As the 1960s progressed, sexual mores loosened across Europe, and conservative WestGermany was no exception. In 1966, the ruling Christian Democratic Union entered a so-called grand coalition with the Social Democratic Party, bringing socialists into the government for the first time since 1930. In particular, the left-leaning justice minister, Gustav Heinemann, began to push for reform of the criminal code. In 1969, the government finally decriminalized homosexuality between consenting adults.

The memory of over thirty years of violent oppression has helped gay Germans—in Berlin, Hamburg, and Cologne in particular—develop one of the most vital gay scenes in the world today.

Homophobia remained ingrained in the German criminal code nonetheless. As part of the reform, the government had created a bizarre loophole, closed five years later, which criminalized any sexual acts between a man over eighteen with another under twenty-one; in other words, if two 19-year-old men slept together, they could still be prosecuted under §175. When that loophole was closed in 1973, the age of consent for gay sex still remained higher than that for heterosexual acts. Until the law was fully repealed in 1994, approximately 180 men would be convicted under §175 every year.

The damage inflicted upon Germany's gay community, though difficult to quantify, was great. It undoubtedly stunted Germany's gay rights movement, which only got off the ground in the early 1970s, after repressive censorship and aggressive policing shuttered earlier postwar attempts at organization and visibility.

Postwar Germany never developed the same vibrant, queer literary culture that came to characterize postwar Anglo-American letters. For every Tony Kushner or Alan Hollinghurst in the Atlantic world, there is a deafening silence in Germany. And, of course, Germany remains one of the few major Western countries where gay men and lesbians do not enjoy the right of marriage.

At the same time, the memory of over 30 years of violent oppression has helped gay Germans—in Berlin, Hamburg, and Cologne in particular—develop one of the most vital gay scenes in the world today. The sheer exuberance of the gay rights movements that burst forth after the 1969 reform helped create the uniquely permissive and experimental gay culture that persists today—which The New Yorker in 2014 called Berlin's "most essential and distinguishing element."

The memory of those early postwar decades still weighs heavily on Germany and its queer communities. It is a persistent reminder that even modern democracies can exercise the most brutal repressions, and that free elections are no guarantee of minority rights.

 Samuel Clowes Huneke

Samuel Clowes Huneke is a doctoral candidate in Stanford University's department of history whose dissertation focuses on homosexuality in postwar Germany. Follow him on Twitter

May 11, 2016

Gay Men Tend to Adore Hillary, Why is that?

Image result for hillary and gay men


“She was bullied a lot by Republicans. I can relate to that”
Stop in on any given night at Revolver, a popular West Hollywood gay bar, and you’ll be bombarded by visions of perfectly chiseled men and underwear-clad dancers.
But instead of ogling go-go boys, the 200 or so men who arrived on this particular evening in late April were there to pay homage to their queen.
Queen Hillary, that is.

“Gay men love powerful women,” said Alex Mohajer. “And not just because it’s campy. We identify with her.”

A lawyer by day, Mohajer is the political director of Bros4Hillary, a grassroots organization boasting mostly gay men from Los Angeles (though its founders insist it’s open to anyone) that was throwing its first major event at the bawdy bar. The group started as little more than a Facebook page, but for reasons even its organizers can’t quite explain, it took off.
These days, “Bros4Hillary” has close to 8,000 members, including some of Clinton’s own campaign staffers. The group has also raised some cash for its candidate — about $9,000 so far.
“I was really surprised at the response,” founder Nelson Melegrito told TheWrap. “It just exploded.”

 In an effort to gain attention on social media, “Bros4Hillary” produced a series of sexy memes, including one featuring a hunky firefighter that reads: “We’ll Put Out Your Bern,” a jab at Sen. Bernie Sanders’ ubiquitous catchphrase.

It seems gay men are flocking to Clinton this election cycle. A February survey conducted by the gay dating app SCRUFF found that more than 63 percent of respondents supported Clinton for president, while less than half — 31 percent — backed Sanders.

Clinton also scored the endorsement of major gay organizations, including Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT advocacy group in the country, and Equality PAC, a political action committee formed by leaders of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.

Despite being painted as part of the establishment by the Sanders campaign, when it comes to many in the gay community, Clinton is seen as the underdog candidate.
“She’s so qualified, we forget that she’s a woman vying for the biggest, hardest job in the country,” Mohajer said. “Having been vilified as a community, you’re on the outside looking in. And so is Hillary.”

According to psychotherapist Adam D. Blum, who serves as the director and founder of the Gay Therapy Center in Los Angeles and San Francisco, there’s a reason gay men are drawn to Clinton.
“The story of women who’ve had to overcome adversity is appealing to them,” Blum told TheWrap. “Gay men have been the outsiders in a world of straight male power.”

Some of those who grew up in the days before “Queer as Folk” and “Will & Grace” seem to relate to Clinton on an even deeper level than, say, Millennials. As one 40-year-old “Bros4Hillary” member, who preferred his name not be used, told TheWrap, “She was bullied a lot by Republicans. I can relate to that.” 

The gay community is one of the most sought-after voting blocs, particularly when it comes to donations. The combined buying power of the U.S. LGBT adult population for 2014 was estimated at a whopping $884 billion, according to an analysis by Witeck Communications, a D.C.-based pubic relations and marketing firm.

Gay Hollywood has already rolled out the rainbow carpet for Clinton. Ellen DeGeneres, “I Am Cait” star Candis Cayne, Jim Parsons, Michael Kors, Rosie O’Donnell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Chris Colfer, Greg Berlanti, Lee Daniels, Andrew Rannells, Elton John and Ricky Martin have all endorsed her.
Sanders, on the other hand, has only a handful of LGBT celebrity backers, including Heather Matarazzo, Ezra Miller and singer Meshell Ndegeocello.

Over the years, Clinton has become something of an icon in the gay community. Despite a mixed history on LGBT issues, she’s managed to establish herself as a champion of LGBT rights.
Critics are quick to point out that she did not endorse gay marriage until 2013, after polls showed most Americans were on board with the idea. (Clinton owned up to that in a “Saturday Night Live” skit last October.) In March, Clinton ruffled feathers when she praised former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s “effective, low-key advocacy” of HIV/AIDS, praise she was forced to walk back after AIDS advocates corrected her: The Reagans were widely criticized for largely ignoring the AIDS epidemic.

Also Read: Hillary Clinton Holds Private Meeting With Hollywood Big Wigs
But Clinton’s supporters note she’s been a strong advocate for HIV research and has appeared at countless gay events over the years. Her signature 2011 gay rights speech in front of the United Nations as secretary of state — declaring that “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights” — remains to this day one of the most significant moments in LGBT history. And in April 2015, Clinton made history again when her official campaign launch video featured two men holding hands, a first for any presidential candidate.

“She’s thoughtful and she cares,” said Mohajer. “She’s undoubtedly an ally.”

April 26, 2016

How Gracefully Can a Gay Man Age?

man washing

Good God, the mirror's a challenge. Gravity's relentless tugging and all those summer tans are conspiring with time. They dash in an unholy, unruly, triathlon of, well, let’s call it maturing. It’s not as if I wasn't warned. Beauty is only skin deep, and stay out of the sun. But, I must admit, gravity kind of surprised me. Unless a cliff was involved, I always thought it such a benign and helpful force. Gravity keeps everything in place and the heavenly celestial bodies orbiting as they should. But that sneak, gravity, eventually pulls your face, your butt, and everything else on your body in the absolutely wrong direction.

There’s no denying that sometimes it's hard to face your maturing face. I remember Dad looking at his reflection once and exclaiming, "Hell's bells, who is that old man?" I got it, but at the time I could only sympathize with his pain. Now I feel it too. The quest for graceful aging — and a salient belief in the truth of inner beauty — is officially urgent. 

So take a deep breath, ignore most of the new music, most of the fashion, and all the teenage supermodels. Pay no attention to the economic demographers that conspire to make you last year's iPhone before it's even released. Remind yourself that getting old is an honor and a privilege. Also know that’s BS, but it’s the kind of BS you must work with. There are two options: Get older or don’t. 

I think the trick is to not embrace the “aging gracefully” thing completely, and certainly not all at once. It’s OK to kick and scream and dig in your heels a little, as long as it doesn’t involve super skinny jeans on a 60-year-old body. But do try to take baby steps toward enlightenment. Just take a lot of them, and at a quick pace. One must keep up with Old Man Time's long, loping strides to the finish line.

So why are our ambition to age gracefully and the actual reality of getting older in a demolition derby? It's the fault of a market-driven youth culture, sort of. But, Grasshopper, look within. Practice that inner, beautiful wisdom you so easily preached when you were young and beautiful. And before casting rainbow-hued stones through the iridescent glass houses of the total culture, look at the particulars. Consider what lurks in the shadow of the rainbow flag.

The LGBT community's grown tremendously in a relatively short time. We've grown from closeted toddlers to rowdy teenagers to more thoughtful, AIDS-scarred adults. But the divisions in our community glare. Bright as a supernova or subtle as the cranky shopper you beat to the checkout, we glare. One only needs to look in the mirror to see the real culprit.

Our community is hilariously obsessed with physicality. Too often, only chiseled abs and chins need apply. A cold chill passes over me every time I see those sculpted couples in a print ad for gay cruises. Personally, I can imagine wearing a burka for the duration at sea. I suppose a full body cast could work too, and sympathy would be an effective icebreaker. It’s all so crazy, because I know we’re better than the form, reflected by light, off our skin. But I also know that very few people, including myself, don’t judge. Our first impression of others is their appearance, and as hard as I try, I still evaluate. We all do this, straight or gay, but I think gay people do it more and do it longer.

Here’s another theory. I think straight people are off the hook, once they have kids. Mom just went through a physical ordeal that’s unbelievable. Conveying the nutrients and the astoundingly mysterious life forces of gestation, then stretched beyond belief, and then ultimately giving birth, which is such a pleasant euphemism for a really horrifying process. I know pediatricians and neonatal medical folk who secretly believe the human reproductive system as preposterous. Marsupials figured this one out a million years ago. But the point is, Mom is allowed not to wear a bikini for a while.

Meanwhile, Dad’s done his thing. He goes to work and comes home and goes to work helping raise a family. He has to, because two incomes are the root for survival in America. Suddenly, there’s just no more gym time, and the little time left is dedicated to a well-deserved time-out with the recliner.

Are these huge, sweeping generalizations? Hell, yeah! And wait, there’s more!

Gay folks, especially men, generally don’t have these societal fallback positions. We’re expected to die at the pec fly machine, working in that third set of 10 reps. And if we have to leave a button on our 501s unbuttoned, it can’t be the top button. We can only let people speculate if there’s not enough room for the bottom buttons.

The reality is the fine line between healthy fetishes and unattainable or unrealistic stereotypes. Not everyone can be a muscle-bound biker or a wasp-waisted lipstick lesbian. And let's not even get into ageism in the gay community. Ahem ...  note this column, the voice from the old gay elephant graveyard. But the point is, these aspirations and fetishes have to lose some grip as we grow older unless we want to be that mad, bitter queen in the skinny jeans, drinking alone.

Now, how do we do these things? How do we age gracefully? Who are our role models to guide us through the golden years? Why. it’s us, by golly! It’s up to you and me, and I think there are many paths down the golden yellow brick road. Garden, play bridge, go to the gym and do eight reps instead of 10. It’s all good. Just don’t buy into the hype. Businesses and corporations are always going to try to sell you stuff, and most of them think a 20-year-old can sell anything.

OK, another sweeping generalization. Sorry.

A 20-year-old pitching Viagra might be kind of creepy. 

By KURT NIECE who is an artist, jeweler, and author of The Breath of Rapture and Mercury Fields. He and his partner, Gary, live with their beloved feline in the crystal valleys of Hot Springs Village, Ark.   The Advocate

March 24, 2016

What is more Masonic? Being Gay or Banning Gay

On June 26, 2015, just hours after the Supreme Court validated same sex marriages, Dennis Clark (center left) and Mark Henderson (center right) exchanged vows at an Irish pub in Midtown Memphis. This photo would lead to their suspension from the Freemasons in Tennessee, one of two states that prohibits homosexuality within the organization.

When the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide last June, a couple of farmers in rural Somerville, Tenn., tied the knot.

The couple — Mark Henderson and Dennis Clark — say their neighbors responded within hours.

"We came home and there was a bottle of champagne in a potato salad bucket on the front porch," Henderson says.

But the response from another community, one that they've been actively involved in for years, wasn't as welcoming.

Danny Done, 26, worshipful master of the Queen Anne Masonic Lodge in Seattle. The fraternity is "a really interesting social network that's not online," he says.
Freemasonry Still Alive And Well, And (Mostly) Men-Only
"The first letter that we got from the Grand Lodge of Tennessee was that we were being brought up on charges for un-Masonic conduct," Clark says.

Clark and Henderson are Freemasons, members of a worldwide fraternity that shares the same rites, symbols and secrets.

The organization is known for secrecy, but it's having an increasingly public dispute: For the past 30 years, the Tennessee group has banned gays (each state or jurisdiction has its own penal code). On Wednesday or Thursday, members in the state will decide whether to uphold the ban.

The Label Of Bigotry

Lodges from California to Belgium are urging Tennessee to lift the ban. They say it harms the future of the organization, which is looking to stay relevant and attract younger members.

What Is Freemasonry?
According to the Masonic Service Association of North America, the Masonic Fraternity is the oldest fraternity for men in the world. Members practice rituals with languages and symbols from the Middle Ages — many believe that the fraternity began from that time.
The first Grand Lodge of England was founded in 1717. Freemasonry then continued to spread through Europe and the American colonies. Many prominent figures in the United States were Freemasons, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and even Chief Justice John Marshall.
The values the Freemasons emphasize include personal study, self-improvement and social betterment along with the Enlightenment ideals of liberty of the individual and right of all persons to worship as they choose.
Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project says religious backlash to the marriage equality decision has been prominent in the state Legislature and in private organizations, such as churches and the Freemasons.

"As same-sex marriage continues to be accepted, those who don't accept it will look for new, innovative ways to carve out little realms where they can continue to discriminate," Sanders says.

The suspension of Clark and Henderson in Tennessee inspired the Grand Lodge of Georgia to enact its own ban on gay members last fall. Chris Hodapp, author of Freemasons for Dummies, says this has stirred an international debate. As Freemasonry struggles to attract new members, lodges worry about the label of bigotry.

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy S. Moore speaks to the congregation of Kimberly Church of God in Kimberley, Ala., in June.
Alabama Chief Justice Orders Judges To Enforce Ban On Same-Sex Marriage
"When a young man hears that Masons in a state are throwing gays out, they just see that as the whole organization doing that and not being isolated to a particular area," Hodapp says.

There's no Supreme Court of Freemasonry to stop the Grand Lodges of Tennessee and Georgia. Both lodges did not respond to interview requests and restricted their members from speaking to the media.

Founding Principles

Who Can Join?
According to various Freemason websites, the basic requirements are:
You must be a man (although there are Masonic-related women's groups)
You have to be at least the minimum age (usually 18-25)
You need to believe in a Supreme Being
You need to be able to support yourself and your family
You must come to Freemasonry of your "own free will and accord"
You also have to be proactive in seeking out a member or a lodge near you and contacting them. Then you'll be subjected to an investigative process, and you have to wait for the members to approve your request.
Grand Lodges of California, Washington, D.C., and the country of Belgium, among a growing list of others, have suspended relationships with Tennessee and Georgia.  Glen Cook, a lawyer and Master Mason, says there is precedence for exclusionary policies.

"Some of those who argue against the actions of Georgia and Tennessee have said that we don't discriminate. Well, we do," Cook says, in terms of being an all-male fraternity that asks members to believe in a higher power.

Cook himself couldn't be a Freemason in his home state of Utah until its Grand Lodge lifted a ban on Mormons in 1984. Cook suspects that the debate in Tennessee will hinge less on sympathetic appeals and more on whether a ban goes against the founding principles of Freemasonry.

"And whether this type of restriction forms any useful purpose, and whether it distracts from our goal of elevating mankind," he says.

Over the next day or so in Nashville, the Grand Lodge of Tennessee will decide which conduct is more un-Masonic — being gay or banning gays — a decision that could affect Freemasons around the world.

March 11, 2015

What it was to be a Gay Man in San Francisco in the 70’s


Hal Fischer’s 1977 book, Gay Semiotics, is a tongue-in-cheek look at gay life in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood. If the same type of work were attempted today, say in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen or Chicago’s Boystown or even in the Castro, the work wouldn’t walk the same fine line of artistic expression and anthropology. That’s because Fischer was uncovering a way of life that wasn’t celebrated outside of the gay world.
“I was exposing something and I was celebrating it by using text and a certain way of photographing in a very deliberately artificial way to disarm it, to not make it threating,” Fischer said. “This isn’t Mapplethorpe doing S&M work, this is a 180 degree opposite.”
 The experience of Amyl Nitrate

The work feels like a precursor to some modern-day blogs that combine street photography and portraiture—like The Sartorialist or Advanced Style—but with a focus on the various subcultures within the gay community. In the work, Fischer provided a humorous take on the various subtle methods of communication and identification gay men partook in during that time: donning handkerchiefs to identify sexual preferences or how to properly wear cowboy attire to fit into the archetypal Western prototype.
“At that point in time, any kind of gay presence that went public was celebrated because it was out there in a way that things had been closed off, you didn’t have gay characters on television,” he said. “I think there was a real sense that anybody that was doing work that was gay and got out there and became more mainstream and ended up in publications or in a museum was a good thing.”
Fischer’s previous work combined photography with drawing or painting, but for Gay Semiotics he decided to add text onto the images instead. It turned out to be a laborious process, one that he describes as a “low tech” way of doing things; it certainly wasn’t as simple as opening Photoshop and adding words. The text was print
 The hanky as good as a telegraph it signal what he is into and ether passive or aggressive
ed onto acetate and the negative was then exposed through the acetate, which is why the lettering is white.
“It was really about an approach to photography that was informed by structuralism and French philosophy and really one that was anti-metaphor,” Fischer said. “I was using the size of the text against the image so to read it from a distance would seem like an advertisement and then when you got closer you might think ‘what’s he talking about?’ but then I would disarm that by using humor.”
“This was in the Castro, which was very white male, but it represented a certain milieu that existed here,” he said. “There’s so much of the personal in this work, it’s my milieu, particularly the humor I used in it. I couldn’t have gone out to anyone else’s culture and used that humor—I could have done Jews—but that pretty much ends it!”

Almost 40 years after its initial viewing, the work was shown at Cherry and Martin in Los Angeles through the end of February. For Fischer, it provided what he calls an extra 15 minutes of fame (“or 7½ twice”). 

“What I’ve noticed from young gays is a real interest and passion for reclaiming history so the response I’ve gotten has been really great,” he said. “To see people enjoying the work is really fun and gratifying.”


 These codes are the tip of the iceberg there are more meanings but those where the ones you were suppose to know. I always got it wrong. Only once did I get to S&M locked up in an apartment by a young college professor who would not take no for an answer. I could have learn, was very young and had a desire to learn everything that was going on in this new life I found myself in; But I could not get myself to punch, whip, slapped and just for appetizers before the real game began.. Somebody was going to get Sado f* that night  he thought and went on to hit me hard for which He got hit back and I realized he got me playing the game. The windows hard bars and the door locked from the inside. My clothes hidden away. At least it was the first floor and you could see the street. I grabbed a chair and got ready to throw it at the window unless he made my clothes reappear again and open the door. He said he would have the cops arrest me and I told him let’s see who they believe and why you got me lock up in here naked in your place. After I left I got a laughing attack I could not stop, may be it was pot? I kept saying “I can’t believe it happened to me and what a shame he was so cute!” I don’t know where I had my hankie but it was red because I thought it made a nice contrast to the blue of my jeans.                       Adam Gonzalez

Color Meaning
     Black S&M
     Blue (Dark) Anal sex
     Blue (Light) Oral sex
     Brown Scat
     Green Hustler/prostitution
     Grey Bondage
     Orange Anything goes[4][unreliable source?]
     Purple Into piercing
     Red Fisting
     Pink Dildo/anal toys
     White Masturbation
     Yellow Watersports

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