Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation

May 19 2017 12:38 PM

Meet 9MONSTERS, the Gay App Where Grindr Meets Tamagotchi

One of the more charming elements of gay male culture is our tradition of assigning ourselves certain labels based on body type and sexual proclivities. I’m talking about groupings like pups, otters, silver foxes, and bears. (Google if you’re curious!) Jokingly, I once told a friend that I was a wolf, since I had always been drawn to the friendly/sexy energy of the bear scene but didn’t see myself as one physically—polar, muscled, or otherwise. I didn’t feel like a cub, otter, chub, or chaser either. Truth was, I knew I could pass for at least one of these common categories, but I was reluctant to conform. I made the wolf thing up instead because they’re hairy, too, and I just liked the animal. As it turned out, it took traveling all the way to Tokyo to find out that in my wolf identity, I was not alone.

According to 9MONSTERS, a gay hook-up app popular mainly in South East Asia, I was definitely a wolf—specially a Muscle Wolf Level 11, by the time I left Japan after about a two month stay. I first heard about 9MONSTERS from a guy I met in Tokyo’s gay district, Shinjuku Ni-Chome. He described it as a game, though his explanation was convoluted. Maybe I’d had too many drinks, but I didn't get it; eventually, he told me to just give the app a try.

May 18 2017 1:50 PM

Why Republican Governors Keep Signing LGBTQ “Conversion Therapy” Bans

On Wednesday, Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a bill prohibiting mental health professionals in the state from attempting to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The Nevada measure comes on the heels of a similar New Mexico ban approved by Republican Gov. Susanna Martinez. Nevada and New Mexico join California, Vermont, Oregon, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, and the District of Columbia in outlawing the widely discredited practice of LGBTQ “conversion therapy” for minors.

May 17 2017 3:32 PM

I Faced Homophobia in Med School. Not All Students Have It Better Today.

When the surgeon called me a faggot, how was he to know the medical student in the operating room with him at the time was one of my best friends?

My relations with the surgeon had gone sour the prior year, midway through my own surgery rotation as a med student. During a teaching session about the adrenal gland, he casually referred to Brazil nuts (which are around the same size as the glands) as “nigger toes.” When I reacted with shock to his comment, he expressed surprise I that would object, given that there were no black people in the class to hear him say it.

At that, I got up and walked out of the classroom.

Knowing I’d be in for a rough few weeks if I didn’t try to ease tensions, I waited around until the class was ended to speak with him again. I explained that I hadn’t meant to be insubordinate, but given the choice between an angry confrontation and leaving, the latter had seemed better. I left the conversation with the sense that I’d smoothed things over, and the remaining times I scrubbed in on cases with him seemed to pass without evident friction.


May 15 2017 12:32 PM

Why Print Shops Shouldn’t Be Forced to Make LGBTQ Pride T-Shirts

Suppose you operate a T-shirt printing shop and a customer requests a shirt with a Bible verse. When you ask which verse, the customer answers: “Leviticus 18:22: Homosexuality is a detestable sin.”

If you politely decline, are you guilty of religious discrimination?

The case is hypothetical but similar to two real-life cases: In one, a man asked a Denver baker to make a Bible-shaped cake with that paraphrased verse. In the other, an LGBTQ organization asked a Lexington, Kentucky print shop to make a rainbow-design T-shirt with the words “Lexington Pride.” Both declined, although the baker was willing to sell a Bible-shaped cake and include an icing bag so that the customer could write the verse himself.

Last week, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Lexington print shop, holding that they were not legally guilty of sexual orientation discrimination. The court was correct for the same reason the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was correct when it ruled that the Denver baker was not guilty of religious discrimination.

May 11 2017 12:25 PM

How Sodomy Became a Convenient Distraction in Britain’s Parliamentary Election

Sodomy probably wasn’t what Tim Farron, leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrats, thought he’d be talking about during his first week on the campaign trail. After all, when on April 18 Prime Minister Theresa May called a parliamentary election for June 8, she did so ostensibly to secure an endorsement from the people before negotiations with the European Union on Britain’s exit begin in earnest. Farron, who has sought to position the Liberal Democrats as the anti-Brexit party in contrast to the pro-Brexit Conservatives and Brexit-confused Labour, could reasonably have expected Europe would be the order of the day. Alas, sodomy.

May 10 2017 5:45 PM

Texas House Passes Bill Allowing Adoption Agencies to Turn Away Same-Sex Couples

On Wednesday, the Texas House of Representatives passed HB 3859, a bill that would allow state-funded adoption, foster care, and family planning agencies to impose their religious beliefs onto prospective parents, families, and vulnerable young people. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, HB 3859 would bar Texas from taking “adverse action” against any private agency that refuses to provide services to young people in their care, or to place young people with an otherwise qualified family, if doing so would conflict with the agency’s “sincerely held religious beliefs”—which the bill itself does not limit or define.

The bill’s definition of “adverse action” is broad and all-encompassing. If an organization or one of its workers act on their religious beliefs, even if doing so means engaging in discrimination, the state cannot withhold state funds, redirect grant money, or take “any action that directly or indirectly adversely affects the [agency] against whom the adverse action is taken… [including] to place the person in a worse position… [or] deter a reasonable person from acting or refusing to act.” Notably, the bill does not just apply to religious organizations who provide these services—it applies to any agency that claims to hold a particular religious belief.

May 10 2017 3:07 PM

West Virginia Supreme Court Rules Anti-Gay Assaults Are Not Hate Crimes

On Tuesday, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s hate crime law does not cover anti-gay assaults, or any crime committed on the basis of sexual orientation. Its 3–2 decision marks a setback for civil rights advocates’ efforts to persuade courts that laws prohibiting violence and discrimination on the basis of sex also protect LGBTQ people. The loss, however, is a narrow one—and the poorly reasoned majority opinion is unlikely to affect the growing consensus in the federal judiciary that anti-LGBTQ discrimination is always “because of sex.”

May 9 2017 5:49 PM

As Drag Become More Inclusive, What Makes a Queen a Queen?

By traditional standards, Australian artist Tayla Macdonald should not be a drag queen. She’s not gay—she identifies as bisexual—and she’s a cisgender (non-trans) woman. But no one seems to mind her presence in the Sydney drag community. She has no problem getting into gay clubs. She maintains a gorgeous and lauded Instagram. She’s even dating a fellow queen. Drag emerged as a haven for gay men, but Macdonald—along with many cis women and other newcomers to the world of queens—are breaking down its traditional boundaries. Macdonald’s story offers an opportunity to consider what this shift means for drag—and how more traditional drag queens and audiences are handling it.

May 8 2017 12:36 PM

Steven Universe Is “Purple Lesbians From Space.” It’s Also Love, Pain, Support, and Struggle.

My little sister, Halie, and I are very close. She’s smarter than me, but I’m bigger than her, so everything balances out. At two and a half years apart, we have enough distance between us to inhabit clear roles of oldest and youngest, even though in many ways we’re the same person: We have the same eyes, the same too-loud voice, the same off-balance humor.

A couple of years ago, Halie tried to get me into yet another weird show. I was reluctant, since the last thing she had tried to sell me on was a web comic about multidimensional trolls with no arms. But this show was different, she said. “Purple lesbians from space,” she said.

Just one episode. Maybe two. Couldn’t hurt.

May 8 2017 11:36 AM

Sense8 Is Back, Preaching the Power of Empathy for Queers—and Everybody Else

This post contains mild spoilers from Season 2 of Sense8.

Let me save you some fast-forwarding: The 10 new episodes of Sense8 Netflix released on Friday do not feature any of the astonishing eight-way orgies that made Episode 6 of Season 1 and this winter’s New Year special so memorable. Although there are some wonderfully erotic moments sprinkled throughout the new season, the tone is more serious—being chased by powerful forces bent on genocide is apparently just as much of a boner kill for homo sensorium as it is for homo sapiens. And while the plotting of the second season is more coherent than that of the first, I wish there had been a more of the boundless joy that was the prevalent mood of the freshman outing, which wallowed in the sense of wonder experienced by eight very different people as they came to understand that they were connected to each other by a profound telepathic link.