Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation

July 23 2014 4:12 PM

And They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love

It was 1997. I was 16, right up front, and one of more than 1,000 delegates to the United Methodist Church’s East Ohio Youth Annual Conference. This was like the pee-wee league for regional annual conferences where bishops preside over clergy and adult delegates, who together govern and conduct the business of the regional church. We followed Robert’s Rules of Order, passed motions, and offered amendments in preparation for the varsity conferencing we might do as adults. Methodism—as a Protestant denomination founded by guys who were into, well, method—is big on bureaucracy.

Packed into a sweaty hall in Lakeside, Ohio, we raised our hands aloft as we sang “Our God Is an Awesome God.” It felt good, alternating between praise-music jam session and calls to vote on the doctrinal nuts and bolts of our church. We were devout and democratic. After a motion passed supporting measures to limit Satanic and pornographic material on the Internet—and another condemning censorship—it was proposed that we express our official disagreement with a single sentence in The Book of Discipline, the church’s official rulebook: “We do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.”

The floor opened for debate.

It was LeviticusSodom and Gomorrah. It was teenagers with unkempt facial hair sputtering damnation. It was hate dressed in Scripture, and it rolled on and on as I sat stiffly in my chair. Something chilled within me. If this sea of believers condemning gays were Christians, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be one of them.

Video Advertisement

July 23 2014 12:28 PM

Ask a Homo: Bitchy Queens

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. This week, we address a classic straight-on-gay misconception: Gay men are just so bitchy! While it's true that some queens are straight-up rancid, there's also a venerable tradition of artful insulting that's been an important part of gay sociality for decades. In this edition of AAH, J. Bryan Lowder reads the shady phenomenon for filth.  

If there are questions you’ve been dying to ask a member of the real rainbow coalition, this is your chance. Send your queries—for publication—to slateoutward@gmail.com, and please put “ASK A HOMO” in the subject line. Note that questions may be edited.

July 22 2014 5:24 PM

The Pixilated Beauty of Gaymer Pride

Here at Outward, we focus most of our energy on monitoring the analog world for progress on LGBTQ equality. But every so often, an encouraging sign emerges from cyberspace to remind us that advances are happening there, too. The massively multiplayer online (MMO) game Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn recently offered such an insight, in the form of a virtual pride parade of players organized in response to the announcement that game developer Square Enix would allow same-sex marriages in the role-playing universe.

July 22 2014 3:22 PM

The Disgraceful New Trailer for the Alan Turing Biopic

Based on the new trailer for The Imitation Game, the Alan Turing biopic due this fall, it would be easy to conclude that Turing was a wily code-breaking genius whose chief struggle was against his own ego. Riffing on the roguish, Sherlock-y charms of the movie’s star, Benedict Cumberbatch, the trailer frames the movie as a wartime epic and romance between Turing and his contemporary, Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley). For viewers in-the-know about Turing's sexuality, there are some coy allusions to what’s really going on (“What if I don’t fancy her in that way?”). But it's not long before we're back to tender scenes of the photogenic couple in duress.

July 22 2014 2:22 PM

Catholic Writer Espouses a Penetrating Argument Against Gay Marriage

First Things is one of my absolute favorite magazines, largely because its writers make such an admirable effort to come up with fresh, fun ways to justify their religious-based prejudices. Remember when they took over 4,000 words to say that gay people don’t exist at all? If that didn’t convince you, try this bit o’ logic: Because anuses aren’t vaginas, gay marriage is not a civil right.

That’s the thrust of a new piece out by Stephen H. Webb, best known for his work on “Mormons obsessed with Christ” and intelligent design. Webb’s article begins with an attempt to illustrate why the gay rights movement is distinct from the black civil rights movement. “Gay marriage advocates,” Webb argues, “have convinced millions of Americans that gay marriage is just the same as straight marriage.” But “[i]f the argument of sameness works for gay rights, could it have worked for Civil Rights?”

July 22 2014 11:05 AM

Tony Dungy Brings Some Late-Breaking Homophobia to Michael Sam

On Sunday, the Tampa Tribune quoted former NFL coach Tony Dungy saying that he wouldn’t have drafted the openly gay Michael Sam. Dungy added that his stance wasn’t “because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.”

Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams despite similar comments earlier in the year from NFL executives and coaches, mostly anonymous, who believed the rookie would “chemically imbalance” the locker room. For his part, Dungy believes Sam is a pro-caliber player, but wouldn’t want him on his team because of the inevitable controversy. This isn’t just unreasonable, it’s blatantly homophobic—a perfect example of the anti-gay animus that many LGBTQ people fear from their employers. It’s the reason why President Obama felt compelled to issue an executive order prohibiting anti-LGBT workplace discrimination.Dungy believes Sam is a pro-caliber player worthy of drafting, but wouldn’t hire him because of the inevitable controversy surrounding his decision to play as an openly gay man. This isn’t just unreasonable, it’s blatantly homophobic—a perfect example of the anti-gay animus that many LGBTQ people fear from their employers. It’s the reason why President Obama felt compelled to issue an executive order prohibiting anti-LGBT workplace discrimination.

July 22 2014 8:42 AM

Yet Another Study Proves It: Truvada Is Incredibly Effective

The results of a massive, years-long, worldwide study on HIV-preventing drugs (PrEP) are in, and the news is unsurprisingly great: PrEP is highly effective, extremely safe, and unlikely to lead to a drop in condom usage.

The new study, called iPrEx OLE, reinforces two important—and frequently challenged—facts about PrEP. First, not a single participant in the study who took PrEP 4-7 times a week contracted HIV. (The drug is meant to be taken once daily.) Taking PrEP only 2-3 times a week still resulted in a 90 percent reduced risk of HIV acquisition. Taken together, these figures suggest that PrEP truly does reach near-perfect levels of effectiveness when taken as prescribed.

July 21 2014 3:42 PM

The Trouble With “Lady Parts” 

 

Last week, Lizz Winstead, a writer, comedian, and activist, launched Lady Parts Justice, an organization with a mission to educate the public about the ongoing assault on reproductive rights in America. The group's cause is both noble and needed in the wake of the Supreme Court's 5–4 decision affirming Hobby Lobby’s right to decline covering certain forms of contraception in employee health insurance plans, which came at a time when an increasing number of states are limiting abortion access and the far right continues its misinformation campaigns.

 

 

Despite my support for all of the issues Lady Parts Justice stands for, I have one big problem with Winstead’s new project: Its name.

 

 

I understand that Winstead and her colleagues are using the term “Lady Parts” as a playful euphemism for much more clinical-sounding terms like “uterus,” “vagina,” and so on. The problem with this name—and with use of terms like “lady parts” or “lady bits” more generally to refer to reproductive organs that have been typically associated with women—is that it reinforces biological essentialism, tying gender to genitals.

 

July 21 2014 2:25 PM

Hillary Clinton Should Be a Gay Rights Icon—So Why Isn't She? 

Hillary Clinton’s LGBTQ supporters desperately want her to be a gay rights icon--or at least a staunch advocate for the community. But given that Clinton is emphatically not a gay rights icon, or even a particularly steadfast ally, this desire has led to some awkward cognitive dissonance. Her apparent position on gay marriage—leave it to the states—is about as progressive as Dick Cheney’s circa 2004. (It’s alsoconstitutionally incoherent.) Her biggest gay rights achievement to date is a single speech that doesn’t mention marriage. In fact, until 2013, Clinton’s public views on marriage equality seemed to be about the same as Brendan Eich’s.

July 21 2014 10:40 AM

Obama Signs Historic LGBT Non-Discrimination Order

On Monday morning, President Obama signed an executive LGBT non-discrimination order, barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity among federal contractors. The order also protects all federal employees from discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Crucially, Obama did not include the broad religious exemption that some faith leaders had begged the White House for. (These requested exemptions would have allowed religiously affiliated corporations to fire gay and trans workers with impunity.) The executive order does, however, preserve a Bush-era exemption that allows religiously affiliated contractors to continue to preference workers of a certain religion.

The president’s action on job discrimination is probably his biggest single gay rights accomplishment since signing the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” As the gay marriage battle draws to a close, Obama repeatedly targeted LGBT job discrimination as the next frontier of gay rights, urging Congress to outlaw it through federal legislation. But the Republican-controlled House has refused to countenace any sort of LGBT non-discrimination law, even after a bipartisan coalition pushed a weak bill through the Senate. That bill recently lost support from gay rights groups in the wake of Hobby Lobby thanks to its broad religious exemptions, officially flat-lining the effort for the foreseeable future.

Advertisement

Obama’s executive order won’t help nearly as many workers as federal legislation would, though it’s estimated that his ordinance will protect an impressive 20 percent of the American labor force. His order is also a moral victory for the LGBTQ movement, which fretted that Hobby Lobby would lead to a new era of discrimination under the guise of religious liberty. Although the debate over religious exemptions remains fierce and unsettled, Obama’s refusal to hand religiously affiliated companies a special license to discriminate suggests his administration has not bought into the notion that legalizing bigotry is necessary to preserve religious freedom. 

READ MORE STORIES