Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation

May 22 2015 3:30 PM

For Many Gay Men, Summer Means Circuit Time

Memorial Day is, of course, the official start of summer, and so, in honor of the holiday, the Outward team thought we’d share this delightful ad for a classic gay summer pastime: the circuit festival. While Outward has no official opinion on circuit parties—the large, dance-focused events that draw gay men from around the globe into one city for a few days and nights of bacchanalia—in general, we do heartily endorse this wonderfully over-produced spot for the weekslong August gathering in Barcelona and Ibiza. First, because it features Rossy de Palma and Chus Lampreave, two legitimate stars of the Spanish screen, in a sort of Rocky Horror send-up. Second, because there are lots of pretty, swim-suited people in it. And finally, because it is a prime example of the glorious frisson that can result when over-the-top campiness grinds up against highly coiffed sex appeal under the Mediterranean sun.

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May 22 2015 2:53 PM

Of Course We Should Condemn Josh Duggar. We Should Also Pity Him.

A boy grows up in a controlling, cultlike family that rejects Enlightenment values and closes off much of the outside world. He is deprived of any conception of morality separate from a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. His intellectual and ethical development is stunted by reactionary, dogmatic views about gender and sexuality. He is told that women were made to be subservient to men, to be obedient to their masters. How should we react when it comes to light that this boy repeatedly molested young girls?

Because that boy is now 27-year-old Josh Duggar, much of the left has greeted the news of his molestation charges with a kind of derisive,jeering disgust. Duggar—star of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, oldest child of the right-wing Duggar family, and (until now) a key player at the Family Research Council, a certified hate group—has spent his career fighting LGBTQ rights. He has fought against marriage equality and LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances, suggesting that such laws could jeopardize children. His mother implied that trans people are child predators. His employer wrote that gay marriage and gay adoption should be outlawed because gay men are extremely likely to molest young boys. And at the same time he and his family were promoting these noxious views and using reality TV to build their fame, they were covering up Josh’s record of molesting multiple young girls as a teenager. (TLC pulled the show from its schedule on Friday.)

May 22 2015 10:04 AM

A High School Teacher Was Forced to Resign for Sharing an Allen Ginsberg Poem. How Absurd.

By most accounts, David Olio was an excellent high-school English teacher, beloved by many of his students and their parents. But in February, the veteran teacher made a fatal error: When a student asked to share the Allen Ginsberg poem “Please Master” with his AP English class, Olio obliged, playing a video of Ginsberg reading the poem aloud. Several students in the class complained to their parents and the school administration. In short order, Olio was suspended, then pushed by the administration to resign.

Olio’s decision to share Ginsberg’s poem was, undoubtedly, rather questionable. “Please Master” is discomfiting and profane, an explicit account of a fantasized sexual encounter between Ginsberg and Neal Cassady, the inspiration for the Dean Moriarty character in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. I don’t want to quote individual lines out of context, as the poem derives its power from the steadily intensifying rhythmic build toward an explosive climax. If you can, listen to the performance that Olio played his class:


May 21 2015 2:56 PM

Girls Clearly Rule When It Comes to Inclusive Scouting

Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense and current head of the Boy Scouts of America, told the organization today that its ban on openly gay adults in leadership roles “cannot be sustained” and warned that the strong possibility of court action means that the group should act “sooner rather than later” to address the issue, according to a report from BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner. The BSA changed its policy that excluded gay members in 2013, but the ban on adult leaders has remained in place.

According to a transcript of his remarks, Gates had not planned to deal with the adult ban during his two-year term as president, but, he admitted, “events from the past year have confronted us with urgent challenges I did not foresee and which we cannot ignore.” He pointed to the fact that a number of local units are already in open defiance of the ban as an immediate concern. However, instead of pursuing the revocation of those units’ charters, he encouraged the organization to consider an approach in which they and their sponsoring organizations—largely churches—could “establish leadership standards consistent with their faith.”


No official policy changes have been announced as of yet, but Gates’ exhortation that the BSA “deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be” is a strong indication that reforms may be on the way.

Meanwhile, the Girls Scouts continue to lead down the trail to LGBTQ equality. Though the guidance has been in place for a few years now, news broke nationally this week that the organization welcomes transgender girls—a stance that predictably has some Christian parents up in arms. The policy, as presented on the Girl Scouts online FAQ, states “[I]f the child is recognized by the family and school/community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, then Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe.” (Note that while local units are encouraged to follow national guidance, they are technically allowed to make their own decisions regarding trans inclusion.)

The discovery of this policy led the American Family Association to start a petition, which relies on grossly transphobic logic for its argument: “This means girls in the organization will be forced to recognize and accept transgenderism as a normal lifestyle. Boys in skirts, boys in make-up and boys in tents will become a part of the program. This change will put young innocent girls at risk.”

Luckily, the GSA isn’t backing down. In an interview with CNN, Andrea Bastiani Archibald—GSA’s “chief girl expert”—expressed confidence in the organization’s position. “We don't serve our critics,” she said. “We are proud to serve all girls.”

May 20 2015 5:10 PM

Gay Parents Fight Valiantly to Protect Children From Gay Culture

Over the weekend, the New York Times published one of the most frustrating, yell-at-the-screen articles I’ve read in a long time. The piece, cheekily headlined “Chelsea’s Risqué Businesses,” explored an ongoing skirmish in Chelsea, a Manhattan neighborhood that used to be edgy and largely gay but that’s now mainly blanketed in the boringness of gentrification. The fact that no one actually thinks of 2015 Chelsea as particularly seedy, in a gay sense or otherwise, makes the battle—which apparently has sanctimonious gay parents trying to drive out gay porn/novelty shop owners in the name of the CHILDREN—all the more exasperating. But, as I explored in my recent long-form piece on the history and future of gay culture, the phenomenon of gay people attacking traditionally gay spaces and practices in the name of respectability is, sadly, nothing new. Indeed, it’s been the main mechanism by which much of the mainstream advocate class has tried to cajole “equality” from straight people in the wake of the first AIDS crisis.

May 20 2015 3:47 PM

Groundbreaking Study on Shifting Attitudes Toward Gays Used Faked Data

In December, I wrote a post about a groundbreaking new study published in Science, which had profound implications for the gay rights movement. The study’s researchers claimed that a mere 20-minute conversation about the importance of marriage equality could convince same-sex marriage opponents to support gay rights. People who spoke with straight canvassers demonstrated a slight boost in tolerance; those who spoke with gay canvassers demonstrated—and retained—an even more significant boost in support for gay rights.

Does that sound too good to be true? It was. The study was co-authored by Donald Green, a professor of political science at Columbia University, and Michael J. LaCour, then a political science Ph.D. candidate at UCLA. LaCour, it turns out, fabricated the data—and masked his deception so well that nobody, not even statisticians, noticed it for months. When two graduate students, hoping to extend the study, took a closer look at LaCour’s data, however, they realized something was amiss and ultimately cried foul. Green quickly asked Science to retract the story, writing that he was “deeply embarrassed by this turn of events.” LaCour claims to be working on a “comprehensive response” to the accusations.

I’m at once disappointed and a little relieved to discover that the Science study relied upon made-up data.

May 20 2015 1:14 PM

The United Nations Stiffs Sexual Minorities Once Again

Negotiations on the United Nations’ 15-year development strategy, which involve all 193 member states, have at last produced a set of ambitious Sustainable Development Goals. These focus on social justice, poverty, human rights, development, and other related areas that require concerted effort over the coming years.

The goals incorporate strategies to protect and ensure the equality of individuals belonging to vulnerable groups—all individuals, that is, except those who belong to sexual orientation or gender identity minorities.

May 20 2015 12:24 PM

Bobby Jindal, Critic of Executive Orders, Issues Executive Order Allowing Anti-Gay Discrimination

On Tuesday, Louisiana’s anti-gay “religious liberty” bill died in committee after a bipartisan coalition of representatives voted it down. The bill, which would explicitly permit all businesses, state-funded programs, and state agencies to discriminate against gay couples, was a keystone of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s political agenda. So, soon after the measure failed, Jindal issued a nearly identical executive order to permit every business and agency—from restaurants and hotels to banks and social services—to refuse service to gay couples

Jindal’s executive order is notable for two reasons. First, the Louisiana governor is clearly considering a run at the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Over the last few years, Republican strategistspundits, and young’uns have been telling us that this time around, the GOP would take a tolerant turn on gay rights. But like Jeb Bush, Jindal is doubling down on LGBTQ issues, zigging hard to the right even as the rest of the country zags further to the left. As the New York Times’ Ross Douthat admitted a while ago, the conservative endgame on marriage equality at this point is to guarantee anti-gay holdouts the legal right to demean same-sex couples and their families. Jindal, like Bush, appears to be more interested in pandering to this shrinking minority than appealing to the supermajority of Americans who support equality.

May 19 2015 5:57 PM

Vienna’s Same-Sex Traffic Lights Are Staying Put

Same-sex love has gotten the green-light in Vienna, as the city has installed special traffic light filters depicting male-male, female-female, and opposite-sex couples in place of the typical stick figures. The charming initiative was originally undertaken as part of preparations for a cluster of tolerance-themed events taking place in the city, including the Life Ball (a major European HIV/AIDS fundraiser) and the upcoming Eurovision song contest. Described by city traffic official Maria Vassilakou as having already achieved “cult status,” the traffic lights, which were placed at 47 different intersections, have now been approved to remain in place indefinitely after June, when they were scheduled to be taken down.

According to the Associated Press, a right-wing party in Austria has threatened to file a criminal complaint against Vassilakou on the grounds that the lights are a waste of state funds; but local reports suggest that most citizens and tourists are supportive or at least indifferent to the signals, and a Facebook page created to support their presence has received over 20,000 likes. The AP also reports that Munich is pursuing the installation of similar lights in the near future to coincide with that city’s LGBTQ Pride events this summer. If I were running the Pride festivities in a city stateside, I'd be taking notes right about now ...

May 19 2015 2:21 PM

What’s at Stake in Ireland’s Same-Sex Marriage Referendum?

Ireland is due to hold the world’s first popular vote to decide whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. The most recent opinion poll in the Irish Times indicated that 58 percent will vote in favor, with 25 percent against, and 17 percent undecided or not intending to vote. Leaving aside the last group, this would suggest that 70 percent will vote Yes.

Women, single people, and those living in urban areas were more likely to vote in favor, but the main division was along age lines. Only a third of those over 65 said they would vote Yes, compared to 70 percent of people under 34.

Opinion polls over the past few years indicate that the size of the Yes vote is declining, albeit slowly—among those who said they had decided, as many as 80 percent indicated they were voting Yes last December. The big questions, then, are to what extent there is a shy No vote and to what extent young people will turn up to vote.

The referendum is said to be about many things. The Yes proponents say that it is simply about giving gay and lesbian couples the same constitutional rights as heterosexual couples. Legislation passed in 2010 gave similar but not equal rights and responsibilities to gay and lesbian couples. A Yes vote will copper-fasten equal rights to all married couples regardless of sex.