Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation

Sept. 29 2014 1:29 PM

Pride: A Heartbreaking British Comedy About the Time Gays and Miners Worked Together

Pride, the wonderful new movie about a group of London-based lesbian and gay activists who raised money for Welsh miners during a major 1984-85 strike, is a love letter to solidarity, a powerful force that we still talk about inside the LGBTQ community but rarely act upon. It’s an unapologetic piece of agit-prop, and it’s the most stirring film I’ve seen in years.

The early establishing scenes showing dueling TV appearances by National Union of Mineworkers President Arthur Scargill and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher could have been plucked from any number of British films about the political turmoil of the 1980s—Billy ElliotBrassed OffThe Fully Monty, orSammy and Rosie Get Laid. But Pride quickly transcends the uniting-to-make-it-through-adversity clichés, thanks to Matthew Warchus’ direction and a wickedly witty script from Stephen Beresford.

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Sept. 29 2014 8:30 AM

The Smartest Constitutional Argument for Marriage Equality That No One Is Making

The justices of the United States Supreme Court meet on Monday to consider whether they should tackle the issue of same-sex marriage this term or give the lower courts more time to grapple with the question and flesh out the legal theories involved. What is perhaps most interesting about the evolution of this issue is that to date all the courts addressing the question have missed one remarkably simple proposition: Bans against same-sex marriage are unconstitutional as a matter of law because they punish children in an effort to control the conduct of adults.

Punishing children for matters beyond their control is patently impermissible as a matter of Supreme Court precedent regarding the constitutional rights of children. In the first of these cases, the court considered a Louisiana law that forbade children born out of wedlock from receiving benefits upon the wrongful death of their mother. Louisiana argued that the law was a perfectly legitimate means of expressing moral disapproval of extramarital liaisons. The Supreme Court, however, determined that the law violated equal protection because it is fundamentally unfair and irrational for a state to deny important benefits to children merely to express moral disapproval of the conduct of adults—or to incentivize adults to behave in a particular way.

Sept. 26 2014 4:32 PM

What Do We Really Mean When We Say Women Are Sexually “Fluid”?

Women. They're so darned complicated! Pretty near ineffable, particularly when it comes to sex and romance, right? Unlike men, who are born with their erections pointing infallibly in the direction of whatever or whoever they find desirable, women gradually come to understand what gets their engines running as they gain romantic and sexual experience. This is so strange and different from the way men work that there's a term for it—fluidity—that marks it as distinct from the uncomplicated on/off switch that is male sexuality. After all, no man has ever found himself surprised by an attraction to someone who wasn't generally his type, has he? Certainly not—we all know men are bold line drawings and women are fuzzy, pastel shaded blobs of changeability and uncertainty.

Setting sarcasm aside, it's inarguable that women and men differ in some ways. Men have tabs and women have slots. I get it. They're different. But just how different are they, and what sorts of differences are these? The way in which we view the differences between men and women matters hugely, because if females experience and interact with the world in ways that diverge wildly from how males do then it makes sense to say that females should be treated differently from men, and that their role in society ought to be a different one.

Sept. 26 2014 3:58 PM

The Continuing Case of Homophobia in Russia

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The crisis isn't over.

Still from HBO trailer.

In the lead-up to the winter Olympics, the plight of homosexuals in Russia received a great deal of media attention: Homophobic legislation had passed through the Duma in Moscow against international protests, and Olympic athletes were forced to compete under a cloud of controversy. Garry Kasparov and Lawrence O’Donnell chatted about it on MSNBC. The Daily Show covered the “homophobic Olympics.” Even Google got on board. And then the Olympics concluded and so, too, did most of the attention paid to the issue.

A new documentary from HBO hopes to change that. Narrated by Matt Bomer and airing on October 6, Hunted: The War Against Gays in Russia seeks to shed new light on the very much ongoing violence being perpetrated against LGBTQ people in Russia.

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The documentary is as timely now as ever. On Friday, a Russian court upheld the law banning “gay propaganda.” Crimea, following its annexation by Russia, has adopted similar legislation. Russia has used homophobia to turn neighboring countries against the West (and has further spread homophobia throughout the region in the process). All of this creates a depressing backdrop for the main subject of the documentary, which is the rash of homophobic hate crimes spreading across the country. 

The Olympics are over. Coverage of LGBTQ issues in Russia is, if not over, then certainly decreased, having turned instead to Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. But homophobia in Russia, benefiting as it does from state sponsorship, is still going strong. If this documentary serves only to remind people of that, it will have done much more than offer Matt Bomer an opportunity to practice his voiceover skills. 

Sept. 25 2014 5:00 PM

Is the New Olympic Host City Contract Enough to Prevent LGBTQ Discrimination? 

The Associated Press reports today that the International Olympic Committee has decided to include new language in host city contracts that will require the cities and national Olympic committees of their countries to adhere to Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter, which bans discrimination in sport. Despite the fact that sexual orientation and gender identity are not explicitly protected in the clause’s language (unlike race, nationality, gender, etc.), advocacy organizations like Athlete Ally and All Out are praising the move as a great improvement from the 2014 Sochi games, during which Russia’s “gay propaganda” laws drew criticism from LGBTQ and human rights groups around the world.

Yet nothing in this announcement can guarantee any real protection for LGBTQ people. While All Out may claim that “This clause will ensure that future host cities must abide by international human rights standards in order to host the games, including the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens and athletes,” this is more wishful thinking than reality. For that kind of protection to be certain, the IOC must explicitly include sexual minorities in its Charter or host city contract—and, more important, provide a means of enforcing such commitments.

Sept. 25 2014 4:46 PM

There’s More Overlap Within the LGBTQ Community Than You Might Think

Tuesday marked the 15th annual Celebrate Bisexuality Day. The holiday—also known as Bisexual Visibility Day—is part of Bisexual Awareness Week, taking place this year from September 21st through the 27th. Each day during the week has its own theme, ranging from Wednesday’s focus on bisexual representation in the media to Friday’s celebration of transgender individuals who happen to also be bisexual. As someone who is both transgender and bisexual, I’ve been granted the distinct honor of being a member of two most frequently overlooked segments of the grand LGBTQ initial-strand—though as it turns out, I’m nowhere near alone.

Sept. 25 2014 11:17 AM

Modern Homophobia, 140 Characters at a Time

On September 11, Katherine Knott and several of her friends allegedly assaulted a gay couple in downtown Philadelphia on account of their sexual orientation. After a lengthy investigation by both detectives and social media sleuths, Knott, the daughter of a local police chief, surrendered herself to the police on Wednesday morning, alongside two of her alleged co-assailants. Although Knott is now in custody, her Twitter account remains active and open. The portrait her tweets paint—of a young woman, of a sociable party-goer, of a casual homophobe turned alleged hate-crime assailant—is at once disturbing and potentially illuminating.

Sept. 24 2014 3:16 PM

Poet Richard Blanco Gorgeously Traces Gay Marriage From “Couldn’t” to “I Do”

Richard Blanco, who rose to fame (or literary fame, anyway) as the poet at President Obama’s 2013 inauguration ceremony, hasn’t yet married his partner of 14 years—but based on a poem and accompanying video just released, it’s clear he deeply understands the importance of marriage equality.

Sept. 24 2014 2:09 PM

Ask a Homo: Belittling Bisexuals

Welcome back to Ask a Homo, a judgment-free zone where the gays of Outward answer questions about LGBTQ politics, culture, etiquette, language, and other queer conundrums. It's Bisexual Awareness Week, and in honor of the occasion, this episode explores a vexing phenomonon: Why do some gay people—especially gay men—think bisexuals are “confused"?

Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM

Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?

 

After losing the 2012 French presidential election to François Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy swore he was leaving politics for good. He made a stab at business in the following years, bankrolled by his friends in Qatar, but was an even bigger failure at that than he had been as president. After months of fake suspense, he finally made the official announcement last week that he would run to lead his political party, the UMP, which is crippled by corruption scandals (many involving Sarkozy's own 2012 presidential campaign) and drowning in debt.

 

Although a majority of French people would like Sarkozy to go away, he remains popular among party members, and is the clear favorite to win UMP leadership race, which would in turn position him well to become the right-wing party's candidate for the presidency in 2017. But with his comments last Sunday about marriage equality—he suggested it was "humiliating" to straight families—Sarkozy may have weakened his chances of winning by bringing jaded LGBTQ voters back into play.

 

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