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

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.

March 6, 2013

‘Abstinence' A LifeTime of it???

After another sex scandal involving a senior member of the Catholic Church, questions are again being asked about celibacy. Is it realistic for someone to permanently go without sex?
priest alone
Celibacy does not mean abstinence.
To the purists, celibacy - derived from the Latin for unmarried - means a permanent state of being without sex.
Abstinence can be temporary. And it's possible to be abstinent in a relationship. "True" celibacy means a life without both sex and a spouse or partner. Of course, there are many who give it a looser definition - merely indicating some sort of commitment to be without sex.
The subject is back in the headlines after Cardinal Keith O'Brien admitted that his "sexual conduct" had fallen below the standards expected of him amid allegations of "inappropriate behaviour".
As a Catholic priest he was expected to abstain from all sexual activity and devote himself to God and the Church's followers. Buddhist monks have similar expectation. In both religions, masturbation is regarded as a breach of celibacy.
For non-religious people the institution can be hard to comprehend.
 Catholic priests are all men and while there are celibate women - typically nuns - much of the debate tends to focus on male celibacy.
Taken in its strictest definition, there is a question mark over whether celibacy is possible.
Men are driven by testosterone to want sex, says John Wass, Professor of Endocrinology at Oxford University. Women are driven to a lesser degree by a mixture of testosterone and oestrogen, he explains. "I'd regard celibacy as a totally abnormal state."
Around 80-90% of men masturbate and it's likely that priests do too, he says.
There is data to suggest that men who ejaculate more are less prone to prostate cancer, he says. "You could argue that it's not so healthy to be celibate."
Many people simply cannot imagine, purely on a physical basis, going their whole life without sex of any kind.

  • From 1906 Indian nationalist leader Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) vowed to abstain from sex
  • He was following the practice of Brahmacharya, a Hindu spiritual path which attempts to eliminate desire
  • To test his discipline, he habitually slept with - but refrained from sex with - naked young women, something he called "a worthwhile experiment"
 O'Brien, who left the priesthood to start a family remembers how difficult it could be for young men. "You have to fight the urges. For a lot of people it can be a daily battle, others are not so affected."
The power of the mind through exercises like meditation can banish physical cravings, argues Vishvapani, a Buddhist contributor to Radio 4'sThought for the Day. "There's no doubt in my mind that some people are able to practice it quite happily. It may sometimes be a bit of a struggle. But the idea that biologically you can't - that's false."
Father Stephen Wang, dean of studies at Allen Hall Seminary, says it is a sacrifice that many priests manage. "It's possible when people have an inner maturity and the faith and support structures are in place." For him it is no different to the challenge of a husband trying to be faithful to his wife.
There is no celibacy get-out in the form of masturbation, says Wang. "For every Christian, masturbation, sex before marriage and sex outside marriage are wrong and something you shouldn't be doing.
"Masturbation is forbidden for every Catholic. The reason is that it makes us more selfish, more introverted and less able to open your heart in love to other people."
Of course, there are many millions of Christians who would disagree with Wang's position.
Buddhist monks in BurmaBuddhist monks are typically expected to be celibate
It's not just biology, sexual chemistry makes celibacy a difficult lifestyle, says Jimmy O'Brien. Women sometimes saw priests as "forbidden fruit" and a bit of a "challenge", he remembers. But what he found hardest was not having someone to share life with.
"We're only human and there's an element of loneliness. A lot of us need that significant other in life."
Western society dwells on the huge importance of the search for a romantic life partner. Giving up the idea is a huge sacrifice.
"All the intimacy of sharing life with someone who is fundamentally on your side - all that you're denied," says Vishvapani. He is married because he too wanted that significant other in his life.
Modern life is sexualised and individualistic, he says. People in past centuries were either married, in which case they could have sex, or celibate if they were not. Now the options are more varied.
"The idea of being single and sexually active just wasn't possible for people in traditional society. People were more willing to accept a role, such as for priests to be celibate." As a result, numbers willing to make a vow of celibacy are declining in the West.
Plenty of Catholics, including Cardinal O'Brien, have called for a rethink on celibacy.

But for Vishvapani the problem is not celibacy but the sense that it must be enforced for life. "The problem comes when people can't sustain it but don't have any way of being sexually active that isn't unethical."
There's also the question of why certain people choose a celibate life. In a less-than-tolerant society many gay people might choose the priesthood because it would be somewhere for them to hide from sex.
Whether celibacy is physically possible or not, the problem comes when it is institutionalised, some argue.
Forcing priests to suppress their urges or hide their sexual behaviour has warped people, believes Elizabeth Abbott, author of A History of Celibacy: "For thousands of years it's failed. It brings out horrible things."
Jimmy O'Brien says the next pope must look at the issue of celibacy. He has been married for 23 years and believes he made the right choice.
"Having experienced the contentment of family life I'd say I have more to offer the Church now than I did back then."
But Wang argues that people misunderstand celibacy. It ensures a unique relationship with God and one's parishioners, he says.
"It's not about repression. It's about learning to love in a certain way."
It's not just priests who are called by the church to be celibate, it's everyone outside wedlock, he argues. He rejects the link, commonly made in the media, between celibacy and scandal.
"It's not true to say that celibacy leads to sexual dysfunction or abuse. Unfortunately sexual scandals are occurring across society in various organisations, and feature married men not just celibate people."
The central issue is not about belief, says Dr Sandra Bell, a lecturer in anthropology at Durham University and author of Celibacy, Culture and Society.
"It's not an intrinsic belief in the Catholic Church, it's a law. When Anglicans want to convert to Catholicism they can keep their wives, which shows it isn't really a religious belief for priests to be celibate.”

December 15, 2012

Matt Damon Finally Talks About His Sexuality-It’s been Appreciated!

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s meteoric rise to fame with “Good Will Hunting” left behind a trail of tabloid speculation about their possible “bro-mance.” Damon, an avowedly straight man, did not address those rumors – until now.
“I never denied those rumors because I was offended and didn’t want to offend my friends
 who were gay,” Damon said, “as if being gay were some kind of f--king disease. It put me in a weird position in that sense.”
The speculation about Damon’s sexuality has decreased in recent years, as had the public shaming of openly gay individuals, Damon noted. Although there is still progress to be made, Damon is happy with the recent advancements gay people have made in the public arena
“(T)he fact that Anderson Cooper and Ellen DeGeneres can come out so beautifully and powerfully, and it’s a big f--king deal that it turns out nobody gives a shit,” Damon told Playboy magazine.
Damon discussed other issues pertaining to homosexuality because he is slated to portray Liberace’s lover Scott Thorson in the upcoming biopic “Behind the Candelabra.”
“If Liberace were alive today,” Damon said, “everybody would love his music and nobody would care what he did in his private life. Like with Elton John.”
But Liberace was unfortunate to have lived in a less accepting era.
“These two men were deeply in love and in a real relationship—a marriage—long before there was gay marriage. That’s not an insignificant thing,” he said.
Gus Van Sant, the openly gay filmmaker behind “Milk” and “Good Will Hunting,” actually approached Damon about performing in “Brokeback Mountain” alongside Joaquin Phoenix. But Damon had just finished “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “All the Pretty Horses.”
“Gus, let’s do it in a couple of years,” Damon told the acclaimed director. “I just did a gay movie and a cowboy movie. I can’t do a gay cowboy movie now.”
Damon also thought that Heath Ledger, the actor who landed the role, was “magnificent.”
He also intends to bring respect to material because of the subject’s importance, as Ledger had in “Brokeback Mountain.”
“We both (Damon and Douglas) have a lot of gay friends,” he said, “and we were not going to screw this up or bullsh-t it.

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