Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation

Sept. 2 2014 5:27 PM

Should Denmark’s Trans Law Be a Model for the Rest of the World?

Even in countries that are nominally supportive of transgender people, sterilization—whether by surgery or hormones—is often the price a trans individual must pay in order to receive legal recognition of his or her transition. It’s a paradigm that the World Health Organization has called "counter to respect for bodily integrity, self-determination and human dignity," and it’s one that doesn’t acknowledge the fact that for many trans people, transition is not necessarily tied to invasive physical changes.

Earlier this week, Denmark moved beyond this inhumane legal logic when its new gender recognition law came into effect. Under the new policy, trans people in the country are now only required to fill out some paperwork in order to receive a new social security number and accompanying personal documentation for their gender. Medical intervention, including surgery, psychological diagnosis, and official statements, are no longer necessary prerequisites—in Denmark, gender identification is now based solely on self-determination.

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Sept. 1 2014 9:00 AM

Why I Don't Ride the Night Bus

I was stranded downtown at 2:47 a.m. I had lingered too long with someone I enjoy spending time with, and the subway was closed. It was too late to prevail on a friend for a couch to crash on. So I was stuck, far from home, with limited or no options.

This doesn't happen to me very often, because I'm usually quite careful to avoid it. I have to be.

I briefly recounted this true tale recently to a stranger, a friend of a friend. He shrugged and laughed a little. The gesture stung, although I'm sure he didn't intend for it to be hurtful. I guess, as a straight, white, cis man, the prospect of walking city streets in the middle of the night in club wear must not be very scary for him.

The intersecting classifications that influence my life experiences are a little bit different: I experience life as a queer white trans woman.

Aug. 29 2014 9:00 AM

“I Moved Here With My W-W-Wife”

An essential part of the queer experience in the second decade of the first century of the third millennium of the Common Era is that of sudden, unasked-for moments of social awkwardness. I'm talking about the many tiny, uncomfortable moments when I'm not marching in a pride parade, not making a political statement or writing for Outward, nor even attempting to share something deeply personal about myself with a loved one. Rather, I am simply attempting to answer someone's seemingly innocent question as honestly as possible and can't do so without outing myself.

Aug. 28 2014 2:03 PM

The Hypocrisy of Gay Shower Panic

On Tuesday, NFL teams had to cut their rosters down to 75 players—one in a series of trims before the start of the regular season in September. St. Louis Rams rookie Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in the NFL, made that cut, putting him one step closer to making the team. In advance of the announcement, ESPN’s SportsCenter presented a segment checking in on how the rookie was “fitting in with his Rams teammates so far.” This is a perfectly fair question–assuming you’re talking about issues of athleticism or team camaraderie. But ESPN defined “fitting in” in far steamier—and classically homophobic—terms: How is Sam getting on in the locker room shower?

Aug. 27 2014 3:35 PM

Berlin’s Openly Gay Mayor Steps Down. The Airport’s a Disaster, but the City Is Cool.

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit—the first high-profile openly gay German politician—has announced that he will end his 13 years in office this December. His popularity in Berlin and beyond has been compromised in recent years by construction delays and cost overruns for the Berlin Brandenburg Airport, which is now expected to be completed in 2016, years overdue and billions of euros over budget. Wowereit has declared it his “greatest defeat,” and he will step down to cries of economic incompetence. But he will do so in a city that he made cool.

“I’m gay, and that’s OK,” Wowereit said before his election in 2001. In fact, for Berlin, it was more than OK. Since Wowereit first took office, Berlin, “poor but sexy” (his 2003 quip and the city’s unofficial slogan), has transformed. In 2006, it was likened by the New York Times to “New York City in the 1980s,” in that “[r]ents are cheap, graffiti is everywhere and the city crackles with a creativity that comes only from a city in transformation.” More than 150,000 jobs have been created since 2005, with start-up firms being drawn to the city like tourists to—well, to Berlin since Wowereit took office. (This past year, Berlin broke tourism records for the 10th time in a row.) As Berlin International Film Festival boss Dieter Kosslick put it, Wowereit’s Berlin “has made culture its primary industry.”

Aug. 27 2014 2:53 PM

Listen to a Conservative Judge Brutally Destroy Arguments Against Gay Marriage

Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit Court is a moderate conservative with an unapologetic bias toward reality and logic. This bias makes him an idealSlate columnist. It has also turned him into something of an iconoclast among his conservative colleagues, who frequently jettison prudence and precedent in order to achieve results that just happen to align with the Republican Party’s platform.

On Tuesday, Posner put his judicial independence front and center during marriage equality oral arguments at the 7th Circuit. While lawyers for Wisconsin and Indiana attempted to defend their state’s marriage bans, Posner issued a series of withering bench slaps that unmasked anti-gay arguments as thesilly nonsense that they are. Reading this string of brutal retorts is fun enough—but it’s even better to listen to them delivered in Posner’s own distinctive cadence. With the help of my Slate colleague Jeff Friedrich, I’ve collected the most exhilarating, satisfying, and hilarious of the bunch.

Aug. 27 2014 12:17 PM

Queer Life in Kampala, Uganda

Following the news coming out of Uganda I often asked myself, “What is going on over there?”

Most of the conversation concerned the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, signed into law this February by President Yoweri Museveni. This controversial piece of legislation and its fallout have dominated the headlines out of Uganda for almost half a decade and landed Uganda it hot water with several states and organizations.

On a trip to Uganda this spring, I wanted to learn what it meant to be queer in a country where gay sex was punishable by life in prison and where the law required citizens to report gay people to the authorities. On Aug. 1, Uganda’s Constitutional Court struck down the law on a technicality, but when I visited, it had been in effect for several months, and nullification was not yet on the horizon. By photographing queer Ugandans, I hoped to learn about their daily lives, their work, their feelings, and their plans for the future.

Aug. 27 2014 9:54 AM

Ask a Homo: Acknowledging a Closeted Co-Worker

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, advice for a woman who wonders how she should greet a closeted co-worker’s partner.

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.


Other Questions Asked of Homos:

Aug. 26 2014 2:57 PM

Ryan Murphy Honors Larry Kramer at the 2014 Emmys

HBO’s The Normal Heart may have won the Emmy award for “Outstanding Television Movie” last night, but it was Larry Kramer, outspoken gay activist and author of the 1985 play, who garnered a standing ovation as he slowly made his way to the stage along with director Ryan Murphy and members of the film’s cast and crew. It was good to see Kramer, who is said to be ill, at the event, wearing his ACT UP hat and being honored. After thanking the academy and HBO, Murphy pointed out that “we’re only here because of one person, and that’s Mr. Larry Kramer. We did this for him.”

Aug. 26 2014 1:12 PM

“Homosexual Themes” Get Pennsylvania School Production of Spamalot Canned

“Just think,” says Sir Lancelot, of his nuptials to a young man named Herbert in Monty Python’s Spamalot, “In a thousand years time, this will still be controversial.” The administration of the South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Junior/Senior High School seems determined to prove the gallant knight prescient, as it has canceled a planned 2015 production of the musical due to its “homosexual themes.”