Showing posts with label Sexual Orientation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sexual Orientation. Show all posts

October 26, 2018

Why Sex is Not Binary and Why If You Are Educated You should Already Know There is More Than Two Sexes

No single biological measure unassailably places each and every human into one of two categories — male or

Two sexes have never been enough to describe human variety. Not in biblical times and not now. Before we knew much about biology, we made social rules to administer sexual diversity. The ancient Jewish rabbinical code known as the Tosefta, for example, sometimes treated people who had male and female parts (such as testes and a vagina) as women — they could not inherit property or serve as priests; at other times, as men — forbidding them from shaving or being secluded with women. More brutally, the Romans, seeing people of mixed sex as a bad omen, might kill a person whose body and mind did not conform to a binary sexual classification.

Today, some governments seem to be following the Roman model, if not killing people who do not fit into one of two sex-labeled bins, then at least trying to deny their existence. This month, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary banned university-level gender studies programs, declaring that “people are born either male or female” and that it is unacceptable “to talk about socially constructed genders, rather than biological sexes.” Now the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services wants to follow suit by legally defining sex as “a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth.”

This is wrong in so many ways, morally as well as scientifically. Others will explain the human damage wrought by such a ruling. I will stick to the biological error.

It has long been known that there is no single biological measure that unassailably places each and every human into one of two categories — male or female. In the 1950s the psychologist John Money and his colleagues studied people born with unusual combinations of sex markers (ovaries and a penis, testes and a vagina, two X chromosomes and a scrotum, and more). Thinking about these people, whom today we would call intersex, Dr. Money developed a multilayered model of sexual development.

He started with chromosomal sex, determined at fertilization when an X- or Y-bearing sperm fuses with an X-bearing egg. At least that’s what usually happens. Less commonly, an egg or sperm may lack a sex chromosome or have an extra one. The resultant embryo has an uncommon chromosomal sex — say, XXY, XYY or XO. So even considering only the first layer of sex, there are more than two categories.

And that’s just the first layer. Eight to 12 weeks after conception, an embryo acquires fetal gonadal sex: Embryos with a Y chromosome develop embryonic testes; those with two X’s form embryonic ovaries. This sets the stage for fetal hormonal sex, when the fetal embryonic testes or ovaries make hormones that further push the embryo’s development in either a male or female direction (depending on which hormones appear). Fetal hormonal sex orchestrates internal reproductive sex (formation of the uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes in females or the vas deferens, prostate and epididymis in males). During the fourth month, fetal hormones complete their job by shaping external genital sex — penis and scrotum in males, vagina and clitoris in females.

By birth, then, a baby has five layers of sex. But as with chromosomal sex, each subsequent layer does not always become strictly binary. Furthermore, the layers can conflict with one another, with one being binary and another not: An XX baby can be born with a penis, an XY person may have a vagina, and so on. These kinds of inconsistencies throw a monkey wrench into any plan to assign sex as male or female, categorically and in perpetuity, just by looking at a newborn’s private parts.

Adding to the complexity, the layering does not stop at birth. The adults surrounding the newborn identify sex based on how they perceive genital sex (at birth or from an ultrasound image) and this begins the process of gender socialization. Fetal hormones also affect brain development, producing yet another layer called brain sex. One aspect of brain sex becomes evident at puberty when, usually, certain brain cells stimulate adult male or adult female levels and patterns of hormones that cause adult sexual maturation.

Dr. Money called these layers pubertal hormonal sex and pubertal morphological sex. But these, too, may vary widely beyond a two-category classification. This fact is the source of continuing disputes about how to decide who can legitimately compete in all-female international sports events.

There has been a lot of new scientific research on this topic since the 1950s. But those looking to biology for an easy-to-administer definition of sex and gender can derive little comfort from the most important of these findings. For example, we now know that rather than developing under the direction of a single gene, the fetal embryonic testes or ovaries develop under the direction of opposing gene networks, one of which represses male development while stimulating female differentiation and the other of which does the opposite. What matters, then, is not the presence or absence of a particular gene but the balance of power between gene networks acting together or in a particular sequence. This undermines the possibility of using a simple genetic test to determine “true” sex.  
The policy change proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services marches backward in time. It flies in the face of scientific consensus about sex and gender, and it imperils the freedom of people to live their lives in a way that fits their sex and gender as these develop throughout each individual life cycle.

Anne Fausto-Sterling is an emeritus professor of biology and gender studies at Brown University.

September 12, 2017

Facial Recognition to Discover Sexual Orientation? Gay-Straight?

A facial recognition experiment that claims to be able to distinguish between gay and heterosexual people has sparked a row between its creators and two leading LGBT rights groups.

The Stanford University study claims its software recognizes facial features relating to sexual orientation that is not perceived by human observers.

The work has been accused of being "dangerous" and "junk science".
But the scientists involved say these are "knee-jerk" reactions.
Details of the peer-reviewed project are due to be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Narrow jaws

For their study, the researchers trained an algorithm using the photos of more than 14,000 white Americans taken from a dating website.

They used between one and five of each person's pictures and took people's sexuality as self-reported on the dating site.

The researchers said the resulting software appeared to be able to distinguish between gay and heterosexual men and women.

In one test, when the algorithm was presented with two photos where one picture was definitely of a gay man and the other heterosexual, it was able to determine which was which 81% of the time.
With women, the figure was 71%.

"Gay faces tended to be gender atypical," the researchers said. "Gay men had narrower jaws and longer noses, while lesbians had larger jaws."
But their software did not perform as well in other situations, including a test in which it was given photos of 70 gay men and 930 heterosexual men.

When asked to pick 100 men "most likely to be gay" it missed 23 of them.
In its summary of the study, the Economist - which was first to report the research - pointed to several "limitations" including a concentration of white Americans and the use of dating site pictures, which were "likely to be particularly revealing of sexual orientation".

'Reckless findings'

On Friday, two US-based LGBT-focused civil rights groups issued a joint press release attacking the study in harsh terms.

"This research isn't science or news, but it's a description of beauty standards on dating sites that ignores huge segments of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning) community, including people of colour, transgender people, older individuals, and other LGBTQ people who don't want to post photos on dating sites," said Jim Halloran, chief digital officer of Glaad, a media-monitoring body.

"These reckless findings could serve as a weapon to harm both heterosexuals who are inaccurately outed, as well as gay and lesbian people who are in situations where coming out is dangerous."
Campaigners raised concerns about what would happen if surveillance tech tried to make use of the study

The Human Rights Campaign added that it had warned the university of its concerns months ago.
"Stanford should distance itself from such junk science rather than lending its name and credibility to research that is dangerously flawed and leaves the world - and this case, millions of people's lives - worse and less safe than before," said its director of research, Ashland Johnson.

The two researchers involved - Prof Michael Kosinski and Yilun Wang - have since responded in turn, accusing their critics of "premature judgment"

"Our findings could be wrong... however, scientific findings can only be debunked by scientific data and replication, not by well-meaning lawyers and communication officers lacking scientific training," they wrote.

"However, if our results are correct, Glaad and HRC representatives' knee-jerk dismissal of the scientific findings puts at risk the very people for whom their organizations strive to advocate."
'Treat cautiously'

Previous research that linked facial features to personality traits has become unstuck when follow-up studies failed to replicate the findings. This includes the claim that a face's shape could be linked to aggression.

One independent expert, who spoke to the BBC, said he had added concerns about the claim that the software involved in the latest study picked up on "subtle" features shaped by hormones the subjects had been exposed to in the womb.

"These 'subtle' differences could be a consequence of gay and straight people choosing to portray themselves in systematically different ways, rather than differences in facial appearance itself," said Prof Benedict Jones, who runs the Face Research Lab at the University of Glasgow.

It was also important, he said, for the technical details of the analysis algorithm to be published to see if they stood up to informed criticism.

"New discoveries need to be treated cautiously until the wider scientific community - and public - have had an opportunity to assess and digest their strengths and weaknesses," he said.


July 13, 2017

Researchers in Canada Have found Top Men, Bottom or Versatile is in The Genetics

For many men who date men, chats on dating apps usually start with a particularly important question: Are you a top or bottom? Sex roles are often the base of relationships between men, and verifying who’s pitching and catching is critical. Sure, some fellas are versatile and enjoy giving or receiving equally, but for those who prefer a position, your sex role could be a deal breaker.
Recently, researchers in Canada found that there’s a biological element that decides whether a queer man tops or bottoms. The University of Toronto conducted two studies and discovered fascinating similarities among men who have sex with men. In 2015, the researchers talked to 240 men at Toronto Pride. The participants took a survey that asked about their sex-position preferences as well as questions around their physical and character traits and their families. 
VanderLaan, an assistant psychology professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga, told Jezebel’s Rick Juziak, “What’s interesting about this work is even among a group of individuals who are pretty similar in terms of their sexual preference — that is, gay men preferring men — there could be a diverse set of processes that lead them to exhibit that same sexual orientation outcome.” 
The study found that men who bottom are more likely to be non-right-handed and gender-nonconforming, and have more older brothers than men who top. According to VanderLaan, the handedness question proved to be a particularly useful in the study.
“One thing about handedness is we know it’s related to brain organization and we know that it takes place really early. People very early in life — infants and children — will show hand preference for activities. That’s what makes handedness such a valuable marker is that it tells us about a particular developmental window,” VanderLaan explained. 
Although the findings are captivating, the team doesn’t expect concrete evidence linking sex roles to biological traits. Instead, they’re focused on finding “biomarkers” that help clarify the decision-making process and complex identity formation. 
“Sex role identity development is a complex process that unfolds over decades, so the idea that some early life developmental experience that happened in the womb has a direct impact on someone’s sex-role behavior decades later,” VanderLaan continued, “that seems potentially a little too simplistic, and we certainly don’t have demonstrative evidence that that sort of scenario is indeed the case.”
To learn more about the findings of this study, head over to Jezebel.

April 30, 2017

Study:Top/Bottom Not A Preference but An Orientation

 While a single factor (the elusive “gay gene,” for example) has yet to emerge in the ongoing scientific investigation of what determines sexuality, there are a host of theories. Genetic factorshormonal factorsimmunological factors, and more have been posited as possible biological causes. However, many experts argue that it’s most likely a confluence of factors, as Barbara L. Frankowski and Committee on Adolescence did in a 2004 article in Pediatrics: “Sexual orientation probably is not determined by any one factor but by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences.”
Regardless of how wide-ranging these studies are, they tend to have one thing in common: they treat gay men as a monolithic group. But now a research team out of the University of Toronto Mississauga (Ashlyn Swift-Gallant, Lindsay A. Coome, D. Ashley Monks, and Doug P. VanderLaan) has investigated variation within the population of gay men based on their anal-sex roles (that is bottom, or receptive, top, or penetrative, and versatile, or both receptive and penetrative depending on circumstance). The results of two of their studies suggest there very well could be biological subgroups of gay men, which is to say that one’s biological makeup could possibly (and most likely, indirectly) influence whether or not he likes to fuck or get fucked (or both).
When it has been studied, anal-sex role has been viewed as a result of social factors (more on that in a minute). Despite every study I’ve read that asks about the anal-sex role of its respondents has found that the majority men who have sex with men identify as versatile (including the two studies at hand from the University of Toronto team) as well as my own anecdotal experience suggesting as much, the top/bottom binary persists in gay culture. It comes with predictable cultural baggage for those who firmly fit on either pole (pun intended—but only for the bottoms). Tops are stereotyped as masculine, taking up the male tradition of putting their dicks in things, while bottoms are regarded as more feminine (despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary in porn, and the preponderance of self-identified “masc bottoms” in sex-app profiles). And with the assumptions of femininity in men come insults (“bottom” as a pejorative amongst gay men) and with those come a specific kind of shame in addition to the shame many gay men already experience merely living in a heterosexual world.
But perhaps if the variation among gay men has biological basis, it could help make one’s desires, not to mention those of others, less fraught or intimidating, for one thing. 
“What’s interesting about this work is even among a group of individuals who are pretty similar in terms of their sexual preference—that is, gay men preferring men—there could be a diverse set of processes that lead them to exhibit that same sexual orientation outcome,” explained VanderLaan, an assistant professor in the University of Toronto Mississauga’s Department of Psychology, and the senior author on two recent papers: “Handedness is a biomarker of variation in anal sex role behavior and Recalled Childhood Gender Nonconformity among gay men,” published on PLOS One, and “Gender Nonconformity and Birth Order in Relation to Anal Sex Role Among Gay Men,” published in Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Both studies built on previous research suggesting that gay men are more likely to be gender-nonconforming (“less interested in, say, male-typical activities...and [exhibiting] less masculine personality characteristics,” said VanderLaan), are more likely to be non-right handed than their straight counterparts, and are more likely to have older brothers (in what’s known as the fraternal birth order effect, which technically posits that the more older brothers a man has from the same mother, the more likely he is to be gay). The University of Toronto team contacted what would become their sample of men during the 2015 Toronto Pride festivities and asked them to fill out online surveys regarding their sexual positioning (both in preference and behavior—there was discernible variation between the two), their recalled childhood gender nonconformity (which was assigned a number through a regularly used 23-item questionnaire The Recalled Childhood Gender Identity/Gender Role Questionnaire, which asks questions like “As a child my best or closest friend was 1-always a boy, to 5-always a girl,” and “In fantasy or pretend play, I took the role 1-only of boys or men, to 5-only of girls or women), their handedness, and their amount of siblings (the samples of the two studies were almost identical, with 91 straight men surveyed in both studies, and 242 gay men in the handedness study versus the 243 men of the birth order study).
“One thing about handedness is we know it’s related to brain organization and we know that it takes place really early,” said VanderLaan. “People very early in life—infants and children—will show hand preference for activities. That’s what makes handedness such a valuable marker is that it tells us about a particular developmental window.”
The team’s ultimate findings pointed to statistically significant variation amongst the gay men, with bottoms being more likely within the sampled populations to be gender-nonconforming (Table 1) and non-right handed (Table 2), as well as to have a higher proportion of older brothers (Table 3):
Table 1 (Graph: Lindsay Coome)
Table 2 (Graph: Lindsay Coome)
Table 3 (Graph: Lindsay Coome)
Table 4 (Graph: Lindsay Coome)
Note that the handedness study found the strongest links in terms of behavior (i.e. what actually happens during sex) as opposed to preference (i.e. what would ideally happen during sex), whereas the fraternal birth order study found statistical significance in terms of preference (and additionally, it found a correlation between between being versatile and having older sisters). (Contrast Table 3 with Table 4.) 
“That was an interesting discrepancy,” said VanderLaan. “Behavior is generally more constrained by what your partner is willing to do with you. Whereas attraction is a more personal aspect of sexuality. You can have a fantasy about whoever you like. This is part of the reason why I feel like there probably isn’t a direct relationship between these early-life developmental biological developmental experiences and these later-life sex role behaviors. There’s probably some set of circumstances that these biological factors are having an indirect effect on anal sex role behavior.”
Additionally, bottoms and versatiles were so similar in terms of reported childhood gender nonconformity as well as handedness that they were grouped together in that study; they differed in terms of birth order, though (bottoms had more older brothers; versatiles had more older sisters) so in that study they were not grouped together.
VanderLaan said that he’d like to see if these studies could be replicated, as they’re the first to look at biomarkers differing between anal sex groups. As with all self-reported studies, this one had its limitations (we can never ignore how sex-based shame may color some gay men’s responses regarding their sexual interests and practices, for example). And VanderLaan concedes that it wasn’t necessarily representative of the entire population as it wasn’t a national probability sample, and it certainly seems that way: The respondents were overwhelmingly white with 301 in the handedness study identifying as such and 302 in the birth order. (Of the remaining 32 in each study, one identified as black, two as Chinese, eight as Asian, two as aboriginal, three as Latin American, 15 as “other,” and one declined to answer.) Additionally, what’s entirely missing from the conversation these studies are attempting to start is why such variation may be occurring.
“Sex role identity development is a complex process that unfolds over decades, so the idea that some early life developmental experience that happened in the womb has a direct impact on someone’s sex role behavior decades later,” VanderLaan explains, “that seems potentially a little too simplistic and we certainly don’t have demonstrative evidence that that sort of scenario is indeed the case.” Nothing about these findings is meant to be all-encompassing; indeed, this very post has been written by a right-handed gay man with only younger sisters and who identifies as militantly versatile. And I still find it to be interesting as hell.
Instead, though, VanderLaan and his team are looking to biomarkers to get a broader picture of people’s decision-making and that complex process of identity formation. Until now, the vast majority of the research regarding the development anal sex roles in gay and bisexual men has focused on social factors. For example, in a fascinating paper from January’s Archives of Sexual Behavior, “Recognition and Construction of Top, Bottom, and Versatile Orientations in Gay/Bisexual Men,” Northwestern University’s David A. Moskowitz and Northwestern University’s Michael E. Roloff, examined a variety of factors including “attitudinal constructs suggested by previous literature as important” and found that “sexual position self-label was learned over a 15-year timespan.” The attitudinal constructs investigated were: finding bottoming pleasurable, sexual anxiety when bottoming, sexual anxiety when topping, strength/control of a partner, gender typicality of a partner, penis size as a factor, and race/ethnicity of partner as impactful. Though a number of indirect connections were postulated after examining the results, “finding bottoming to be pleasurable and the importance of sexual control dynamics were the only two direct predictors,” according to the paper’s abstract.
I reached out to Moskowitz, whose work has captivated me for years, to ask if the University of Toronto’s biological findings necessarily opposed that of his social-based research or if they could operate in conversation. He emailed back this response:
I specifically conducted [the “Recognition and Construction of Top, Bottom, and Versatile Orientations in Gay/Bisexual Men”] study to try to prove that anal penetrative role was far more innate than ever thought. We wanted to suggest that role, not unlike sexual orientation, was predetermined by biological factors. People could be born a top or a bottom, and that was that. However, we found both in the chronology of gay and bisexual men’s self-labeling of their penetrative roles and in their attitudinal measures, evidence to suggest that understanding and assigning a role developed over time. Role orientation was essentially socialized by reactions to sexual trials, with adjustments made in label according to positive and negative outcome efficacies. Put simply, the more good or bad sexual experiences, over time, lead people to a role.
But despite my study, I am convinced that it is more complicated than that, as the authors of the University of Toronto study suggest. Our studies don’t rule each other out. I still ardently believe that biology plays a vital role in predisposing individuals towards more of a bottom or top orientation, with social maturation and sexual experience accrual potentially doing the rest… shaping the inherently sociopolitical process of self-assignment of a label in a community that LOVES labels.
And that, perhaps, is why Moskowitz (who considers VanderLaan a “great colleague and friend”) is so enthusiastic about the University of Toronto team’s work. “The study is pretty ground-breaking in that no studies to-date have looked at actual biological determinants of penetrative sex roles,” he writes. “For years now, we have anecdotally and empirically understood that some association roughly exists between gender typicality and anal sex roles. Most of us in the field have scrambled to understand the underlying influences of that relationship. The authors of the article provide some well-needed insight into the more innate characteristics that lead to top or bottoming behaviors.”
Additionally, VanderLaan says that his research provides a window into the formation of the nervous system, and that it starts to help answer the question that many queer people ask of themselves: “How did I come to be the way that I am?”

November 25, 2015

Growing Acceptance on LGBT From China and Japan to Korea

 Celebrating pride in Taiwan

When it come to homosexuality, the Confucian cultures of East Asia can be quite conservative, though they don't share the religious or moral objections of Judeo-Christian-Islamic countries. 

But across a region becoming steadily more urban and cosmopolitan, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) communities are experiencing a changes in attitudes and a greater legal recognition that echoes the trend in the West towards much greater acceptance of equality. 

Last weekend some 80,000 people from around East Asia converged on Taipei for the Oct. 31 Taiwan Pride parade, the biggest such event in the region. It was followed by a record 10,000 marchers in the Hong Kong Pride Parade. In Japan, that same November evening saw the broadcast of “Transit Girls,” the first TV drama here about a lesbian couple.

Recommended: Think you know Asia? Take our geography quiz.

To be sure, for many LGBTs in a region imbued with the Confucian ideals of filial respect and saving face, the toughest battles remain within families. Still, the overall shift seems clear across this diverse region, and is partly due to the influence of the West, including the legalization of same-sex marriage in the US and Ireland. Local media portrayed these changes as a progressive trend that the rest of the world will inevitably follow.


Earlier this year, two districts of Tokyo announced they would issue same-sex marriage certificates; the first couple had their union recognized in Shibuya on Nov. 5. The certificates are not legally binding, but rather recommending a set of greater rights, such as visitation rights to same-sex partners in hospitals and nondiscriminatory treatment by realtors. 

South Korea is something of an outlier in the region: Conservative evangelicals groups succeeded this summer in halting a gay pride parade in Seoul, even though the rest of the Korean Queer Culture Festival went ahead.

Still, among youth in Korea, 71 percent of those between 18 and 29 said "homosexuality should be accepted," according to a Pew Research Center poll this year. That figure is just ahead of the equivalent among US youth, and fewer than the 83 percent of young Japanese who agreed. 

The absence of overt gay-bashing or other strident opposition in most of East Asia may actually have slowed down the equality battle, some activists say.

"There's no violent discrimination against us here; nobody throwing stones or trying to kill us,” said Yuki, a gay Tokyoite who nevertheless asked to be identified only by his first name. “There's never been a law against gays in Japan."

"A lot of gay men in Japan would rather lead a double life,” Yuki added. “Many Japanese gay men went to Taipei to walk in the parade, but would be afraid to do so here.”

Yuki practices a form of “don't ask, don't tell” in his family. His mother has met his boyfriend numerous times, but he has never discussed his sexuality with her.

Masahiro Kikuchi (not his real name) has come out to his parents. But he has not yet confided to his older sister, whose reaction he worries about because she has two sons. Mr. Kikuchi works at a Japanese finance company, where he says it would be impossible to be openly gay. 

"They showed a video earlier this year at my office to educate staff about gay issues. It told people to be aware there might be someone gay sitting next to you at work,” said Kikuchi. “I was sweating and just hoping nobody was looking at me.” 

Societal and familial acceptance is a recurring theme for LGBT people. It's also the subject of "Mama Rainbow," a 2012 documentary by Chinese filmmaker Fan Popo, focused on six mothers learning to love their gay children. The film was taken down from streaming sites in China last year, and Mr. Popo is suing the censors over its removal. 

Attitudes in China are similar to the rest of the region, according to Popo, with no violent discrimination. But many people refuse to believe there are LGBT members in their family.

"But on LGBT issues, we are influenced more by the US than other East Asian countries. When same-sex marriage was legalized [in the US] it was big news in China, a lot of people changed their social media profiles to rainbows," said Popo.

Nevertheless, Popo believes that an anti-discrimination law would be more powerful in China than legalization of same-sex marriage.

Across the sea in Taiwan, Jay Lin decided it was time to come out to his parents last year when he launched the Taiwan International Queer Film Festival. He had already lived for two decades as a gay man. Mr. Lin believes that changes in attitudes are more important than legal reform since without an accompanying change in social views it could bring a backlash. 

"You need to allow people in families, in which it is so important to avoid shame in Chinese-Taiwanese culture, to come to terms with it,” Lin says. “If a lot of people are not out to parents … gay marriage is not going to work," said Lin.  

He added that having begun to think about starting a family, the idea of doing so in Taiwan without the acceptance and involvement of parents and grandparents “is farcical.”

May 3, 2014

Scared Straight



No one forced Mathew Shurka to do it, but he was too afraid to say no. In front of him was an opportunity to change his sexuality forever. At least, that’s what he was told.

Just a month before, Shurka, who was 16 at the time and living in Great Neck, N.Y., had revealed to his father, through tears filled with dread, that he was gay. When Shurka’s father embraced him and said he’d love him no matter what, a weight was lifted. However, in the weeks that followed, Shurka’s father began to worry that his gay son would not flourish in a world that often oppresses people who are different. So he did some research and found someone who offered therapy that would change his son’s sexual orientation.

Shurka, now 25, tells Newsweek that at the time he was afraid of coming out to his conservative Jewish community and losing his friends. “It was a horrifying nightmare to think that anyone knew I was gay,” he recalls. So when his father offered the prospect of conversion therapy, Shurka decided “if I can really change this, let’s do it.” He thought suppressing his feelings would make his life easier. But it didn’t work that way. Instead, the path he was led down resulted in years of confusion about his identity, emotional scarring and more mental health problems than he knew what to do with.

Teens like Shurka—not quite old enough to make informed decisions for themselves, yet old enough to know what peer and parental pressure feels like—are in the middle of a growing movement in both the U.S. and abroad. Where bunk psychology is failing children, legislatures are swooping in to protect them.

Both California and New Jersey have officially banned gay conversion therapy for minors. However, in both states, the laws have yet to see widespread implementation. In New Jersey, the state is facing a lawsuit by parents who want to send their child to a conversion camp; a ruling is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. In California, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law after challenges by conversion therapy advocates. But in February the appeals court agreed to a temporary hold on the ban, so that opponents (led by the Liberty Counsel, the same nonprofit Christian legal-advocacy group representing the opposition in New Jersey) could bring their challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has yet to decide whether it will address the question of whether conversion therapy infringes upon the First Amendment’s free speech clause.

In the meantime, legislation banning conversion therapy for minors has been introduced in several other states. In Washington, a bill has already passed in the House by a 94-4 vote and awaits approval by the state Senate. A similar bill was introduced earlier this year in both houses of the New York state Legislature, where it still awaits a vote. And lawmakers have announced they will be pushing anti-conversion-therapy laws in Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Similar changes are afoot in the U.K. Despite the country’s reputation for progressive health policies, a 2009 survey found that 15 percent of U.K. mental health professionals had tried to help patients change their sexual orientation—many within a National Health Service practice. The findings led to impassioned debate in the House of Commons last year, during which Norman Lamb, the country’s health minister, stated that “the practice is abhorrent” and “has no place in modern society.” Recently, 15 members of the British Parliament petitioned Lamb to enact “tougher measures” to ban conversion therapy. In response, Lamb promised change was on the way. “[Conversion therapy] is based on the completely false premise that there is something wrong with you if you happen to be gay,” he told The Guardian.

February 21, 2014

Sir Patrick Stewart Outed! Is He Gay?


British stage and television actor Sir Patrick Stewart met with good humour being mistakenly outed as gay by the Guardian earlier this week. In a story on Canadian actress Ellen Page coming out of the closet, journalist Jane Czyzselska wrote: “Some gay people, such as Sir Patrick Stewart, think Page's coming out speech is newsworthy,” in reference to a supportive tweet Stewart sent Page. 
Stewart, who is not gay, married his wife Sunny Ozell last year. The wedding ceremony was performed by Stewart’s friend and frequent co-star, notably gay actor Ian McKellen.
“But @guardian I have, like, five or even SEVEN hetero friends and we totally drink beer and eat lots of chicken wings!”Stewart tweeted, followed by, “Well, @guardian it makes for a nice change . . . at least I didn’t wake up to the internet telling me I was dead again.”

January 24, 2014

The Double Life of Hot 97 DJ Mister Cee

 Beloved Hot 97 DJ Mister Cee sat down recently with GQ magazine, giving in an exclusive interview for the February ‘Love, Sex & Madness’ issue, and in it he comes clean about his recent sex scandal.

Last year an article on a very hot dj Mister Cee brought to light an individual in a very dark place. Like most people that have trouble or questions about their sexuality they become damage goods. I hate to use that expression on a human being and is not fair but is truthful and it describes how some of us become  when a part that is supposed to be private becomes public or it makes us be someone in public something we are not. The main reason for this is because our sexuality like our color pf skin and height are parts that compose our personality. Our sex is not who we are but  is an intricate part of it. If its something that keep us up at night and it make us lie and be someone else because we might not like who we think we are, then is a big problem and it needs to be dealt with. Not publicly but if you are a public person yelling up on the air what a Lion you are with the opposite sex then you better do at least a good growl when you are not in public. These things tend to drip into the public eye like the plumping on an old building. Mr. DJ CEE is been talking to GQ and I will like to bring you a posting of it. I think is a very human drama story that is far from over.
After the first Daily News article came out, he went on the air and said nothing, just played Biggie's “Dead Wrong” and Nas's “Hate Me Now,” songs that in their truculence and incredulity proclaimed his innocence for him. He got caught again, in May of last year, ended up back in the Daily Newshot 97 dj “mister cee” charged with trying to pick up male prostitute, blared the headline—and then two days later, he was back on air, sitting across from his program director, Ebro. “Because I was like, ‘Cee, what the fuck. What are we doing?’ ” Ebro remembers. “We got on the air and had the conversation.”
Or, more accurately, didn't, as Cee stammered out equivocations (“Even if I wanted to lie, that's my choice”) and told the same lies he'd been telling his therapist and everyone else. All while a city of profoundly confused people listened in their cars and office buildings and headphones, wondering how the Hot 97 morning show had become a live broadcast of some unfathomable form of public therapy or performance art. “I don't have any more questions,” Ebro said in disgust, ending the conversation.
Ebro says now that he had a good idea he was being lied to: “I had my suspicions.” But at the same time, he adds, “I've met people and have known people in my life that did not categorize themselves as gay, right?” So “in the back of my mind I'm thinking, ‘He just doesn't categorize himself that way.’ ”
Cee had grown up in a conservative West Indian family, didn't know how they'd react. And he'd come up in a rap era that grew less tolerant, from its first steps in downtown clubs in the late '70s and early '80s—where hip-hop fans and gay men and women used to stand side by side—to the '90s, when Eazy-E died of AIDS, then thought by many to be a “gay” disease, and so got written out of the vanguard of rap history. Even fundamentally tolerant guys like Biggie, back then, might rhyme something like: Money and blood don't mix, like two dicks and no bitch.
It didn't matter that when Cee started getting caught, friends and other artists got in touch or sent their support. 50 Cent. Wyclef. Busta Rhymes. In 2011, Cee says, “I reached out to Jay Z for a favor, and he came through in less than a day.” Even then, he was afraid of what might happen if people learned the truth. Both his parents are dead. So is his grandfather. Now Cee takes care of his grandmother, his aunt, whoever needs help. “I hold my family down, man,” he says.
So he continued to lie. “It wasn't even about losing the job. I was just afraid of what the perception was going to be about me and that people was still going to want to stand behind the Mister Cee brand,” he says. Promoters. People he worked with. And if they didn't, “how was I going to be able to continue to support and take care of the people that I care about?”
Finally, in September—after three arrests that Cee will admit to, two Daily News articles, and one excruciating on-air interview—a blogger named Bimbo Winehouse, posing as a sex worker, made a video filmed inside Cee's car as they negotiated a price for sex. Within a few days, the video was on the Internet. That day, September 11, Cee went on air and resigned, admitting nothing but that he believed it was untenable for the station to continue employing him.
Hot 97 released a statement accepting his resignation. But by the next morning—after a series of agonized late-night phone calls between Cee, Flex, and Ebro—Mister Cee was back on air, opposite Ebro once more while millions listened, telling the truth this time, to the extent that he understood it. Two days later their extraordinary conversation landed Mister Cee on the front page of The New York Times under the headline hip-hop, tolerance and a d.j.'s bared soul: he's tired of denial.
“I am tired of trying to do something or be something that I'm not,” Cee told Ebro that morning, in between bouts of tears. “I'm tired.”
By noon, he was back in his old spot, resignation rescinded, boisterously calling attention to a Sly and the Family Stone chorus: Thank you! For letting me! Be myself!
“The truth will set you free,” he said to everyone listening.
 September 12, 2013, HOT 97, LIVE ON AIR:
I know that I'm still in denial, because I know that I love women. Any woman that's been with me know that I love women, but occasionally I get the urge to have fellatio with a transsexual, a man that looks like a woman. So—and then I'm sitting here saying, “But I'm not gay,” because I haven't penetrated another man.
The first thing he did was make amends. “Once I told the truth last month, I made a list of everybody who I needed to apologize to,” he says. His court-ordered therapist was on that list. So was his younger sister. He still hasn't talked to his grandmother or his aunt about it, but they know: The day he resigned, he received a text message from his aunt, who is a minister and doesn't listen to secular music, let alone Hot 97. But somehow she heard. The text message said, “I love you.”
He went into the station and apologized to his co-workers. “I think I said to him, ‘Yo, that videotape was nuts!’” Flex remembers. “And he's laughing. Like, now we can act like we're on the corner; we're making fun. That's a good thing.” And then, one by one, he apologized to the other women in his life—friends and those who were maybe something more. Most understood. Some were even attracted by it—the radio interviews, especially the tearful second one, made him famous, or more famous than he already had been. But the truth is, “at this point in my life, I can't even begin to try to be in a serious relationship with a woman. That's the point that I'm at now: What do I want? Where am I at? Now that it's out in the open—everybody knows, I know—where am I going from here?”
He knows the illegal activity needs to stop—“If I get arrested right now for that same type of activity, I'm doing sixty days in jail, hands down, done”—and that he could lose his job if he gets caught again.
So he's trying to figure it out, though to hear him talk, he hasn't figured it out at all, really. When I ask point-blank if he's gay, he says, “Absolutely not. And it's nothing—it's no offense to transgender women, but I only get with transgender women for one thing and one thing only, and that's for oral sex. Like I said: I never had sex with a man. I never had sex with a transgender woman.”
So he's come a long way, and now he's nowhere.
 September 12, 2013, HOT 97, live on air:
Twelve o'clock today, you on?
Twelve o’clock today, I'm on.

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