New York Pride! At some point in the next 24 hours, pictures will surface of George Takei in a Boy Scouts uniform. Stay tuned.
Harlem getting gayer:
... gay men who used to date on the down-low are now coming out of the closet more readily.
Harlem may have a ways to go before it could be described as the new Chelsea. Still, one year to the day since New York State legalized same-sex marriage, members of the gay community and those who move in its orbit say they detect a palpable change in the way gays are being treated.
“There is more acceptance and higher tolerance now,” says Tezra Bryant, who until this month worked as a manager at Corner Social on W. 126th St. and Malcolm X Blvd. “Businesses are starting to see the value of the gay community,” she adds. “People know that when they enter a business they are to be warmly welcomed.”
Andy reported last September on Mitch Stein, the high school water polo coach who was fired from high position for posting (rather tame) pictures on his Facebook page. Novelist Kergan Edwards-Stout interviewed him this week for HuffPo:
Kergan Edwards-Stout: Let's start first with your termination. What was your reaction when you'd learned you'd been let go?
Mitch Stein: I'm the typical mother hen, and my initial thoughts were all about my daughter, Devynn, as she currently attends the school. I wanted to make sure that I got to her with this news before she heard it from anyone else. And my second thought was, how will this affect her? I mean, thinking back to how hard high school can be, imagine how it would be if one of your parents taught at your school and was fired for being gay. All that gossip and chatter...
Alex Trebek suffers a mild heart attack.
Sandusky's lawyers tried to ditch the case:
A day after Sandusky's conviction, his lawyers disclosed they felt too unprepared to adequately defend him because of how quickly the case was brought to trial. Experts have said the seven months between Sandusky's November arrest and trial was fast-paced by Pennsylvania standards.
"We told the trial court, the Superior Court and the Supreme Court we were not prepared to proceed to trial in June due to numerous issues, and we asked to withdraw from the case for those reasons," attorney Joe Amendola told The Associated Press.
Don Lemon wonders why young people are less religious than their parents; talks about "atheists" like they're an exotic animal.
The incredible gay journalist Peter Zuckerman has written one of the coolest books you'll read this year. It's called Buried In The Sky, and it's about Sherpas. Here's the WSJ's review:
When disaster strikes, as it did during that August 2008 climb, it is often the Sherpas and their Pakistani brethren whose courage and skill can make the difference between life and death. We learn a great deal about these remarkable men in Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan's enthralling Buried in the Sky, a chronicle of "K2's deadliest day" ...
"Matt" leads the awesomest life. He travels the world, dances with people, and films it. Turns out, everybody dances. Watch his latest, lovely vid AFTER THE JUMP ...
Salon's Tracy Clark-Flory has penned a neat summary of and reflection on the controversy swirling around rural Washingtonian elementary school principal C.J. Gray: a principal accused, as one irate papa put it, of "raping" his daughter's mind early this month.
How'd Ms. Gray perform this brain-rape? By doing her job. Briefly: Ms. Gray was teaching the sex-ed curriculum known as FLASH -- that is, Family Life And Sexual Health. Her pupils were 5th graders, and the subject under discussion was HIV/AIDS. From Salon:
The lesson plan for the HIV portion of the fifth- and sixth-grade classes explains, “We use the term ‘sexual intercourse’ as an umbrella expression to represent all three risky sexual behaviors: oral, anal and vaginal intercourse,” it says. “These will be spelled out in later grades.” But here’s the important part: “That’s not to say that you can’t define them simply if students ask about them.” That’s exactly what Gray did: A student asked about oral and anal sex, and she responded with a straightforward description.
There was no demonstration, and no one's reporting that Ms. Gray used foul language. She merely explained what went where. And she even explained the anotomical particulars in heterosexual terms. A girl does so-and-so to a boy; a boy does so-and-so to a girl.
The Pannkuk and Gilliland families said they knew something was wrong when the daughters came home from school. They were quiet and withdrawn.
“You could tell she was embarrassed,” Jean Pannkuk told Fox News Radio. “She didn’t want to have to repeat what had been said. It was really sad to see her struggle with feeling like she was responsible.”
Pannkuk and her husband sat their daughter down and asked her explain what she was taught in the class.
... “Steam was coming out my ears,” he said. “I was very, very upset. I understand that they need to teach these kids sex education – but 11-year-olds? I have a problem with that. The wife and I were very – very upset.”
Gilliland said another child explained to their parents that [oral sex] “was basically like a lollipop.”
“There are a lot of pissed off parents besides this pissed-off cowboy,” he said. “I’ve been told they’re getting sexually active, younger and younger – maybe in the city – but not here in the country.”
But Supt. Fenter told Seattle’s Fox affiliate that parents were sent a notice informing them about the program – and that they had a right to review the curriculum. But he said, only three parents showed up.
Mrs. Pannkuk said she was aware of the class “but I didn’t know it was going to be that explicit.”
Gilliland said he has no problem teaching sex education – but this particular class went too far.
“It’s one thing to teach about reproduction,” he said. ‘She knows about breeding her guinea pigs, horses, dogs and so on. She knows how babies are born and how they are created, but when they go teaching them these extra acts – it’s appalling.”
Mrs. Gilliland said it’s important for parents across the nation to get involved and to pay attention.
“Be more involved in your school,” she said. “See what your kids are learning. Pay attention. Talk to your kids.”
She said many of the families are now dealing with the aftermath of the class.
“She should be bouncing on the trampoline, riding horses – doing normal kid stuff,” she said of her daughter. “We don’t need to talk about that stuff at that age.
But now they do.
“The damage is done,” Pannkuk said.
Today is the 39th anniversary of the firebombing of the UpStairs Lounge, the New Orleans gay bar, which killed 32 gay men and constituted the single largest mass murder of gays in the history of the United States.
The UpStairs Lounge was located on the second floor of an old building at Chartres Street and Iberville Street, just off Canal Street, near the edge of the French Quarter. In 1973, June 24th fell on a Sunday, and most of the 60 or in attendance were members of New Orleans' Metropolitan Community Church, which held services in the bar. That evening, they sang their unofficial anthem, Brotherhood of Man's "United We Stand," with accompaniment from resident pianist David Gary. They socialized. Just before 8 p.m., a doorbell rang. Someone opened the door, and discovered the Lounge's wooden staircase was ablaze. The UpStairs Lounge was promptly engulfed.
Erik Ose, writing four years ago in the Huffington Post, described the scene:
The emergency exit was not marked, and the windows were boarded up or covered with iron bars. A few survivors managed to make it through, and jumped to the sidewalks, some in flames. Rev. Bill Larson, the local MCC pastor, got stuck halfway and burned to death wedged in a window, his corpse visible throughout the next day to witnesses below.
Bartender Buddy Rasmussen led a group of fifteen to safety through the unmarked back door. One of them was MCC assistant pastor George "Mitch" Mitchell. Then Mitch ran back into the burning building trying to save his partner, Louis Broussard. Their bodies were discovered lying together.
29 lives were lost that night, and another three victims later died of injuries from the fire.
The mainstream media was largely uninterested in showing compassion for gay arson victims:
Initial news coverage omitted mention that the fire had anything to do with gays, despite the fact that a gay church in a gay bar had been torched. What stories did appear used dehumanizing language to paint the scene, with stories in the States-Item, New Orleans' afternoon paper, describing "bodies stacked up like pancakes," and that "in one corner, workers stood knee deep in bodies...the heat had been so intense, many were cooked together." Other reports spoke of "mass charred flesh" and victims who were "literally cooked."
The press ran quotes from one cab driver who said, "I hope the fire burned their dress off," and a local woman who claimed "the Lord had something to do with this." The fire disappeared from headlines after the second day.
A joke made the rounds and was repeated by talk radio hosts asking, "What will they bury the ashes of queers in? Fruit jars." Official statements by police were similarly offensive. Major Henry Morris, chief detective of the New Orleans Police Department, dismissed the importance of the investigation in an interview with the States-Item. Asked about identifying the victims, he said, "We don't even know these papers belonged to the people we found them on. Some thieves hung out there, and you know this was a queer bar."
In the days that followed, other churches refused to allow survivors to hold a memorial service for the victims on their premises. Catholics, Lutherans, and Baptists all said no.
Eventually, a Unitarian congregation agreed to host a memorial service. The UpStairs arsonist was never apprehended.
AFTER THE JUMP, see the only surviving news coverage of the fire.
On June 6th of this year, the New York Times Magazine published a long and gruesome article on generations of sexual abuse perpetrated by male teachers upon male students at the exclusive Horace Mann School, in Bronx County, New York. The abuse happened long ago -- there was no whisper that anything of the kind had occurred lately -- and the abusers were all dead. From the article, they appeared to be generally awful people.
One person whom almost no one seems to believe is especially awful is 88-year-old Buddhist and former Horace Mann English professor Tek Young Lin, who went unmentiond in the original article. He was, according to a followup published today in the Times, deeply beloved by his students. He also slept with several of them, and admits it. "It seemed O.K. in those days," he told the Times.
The Times spoke to three former Horace Mann students who claimed Mr. Lin had attempted to initiate sexual contact with them. From the Times:
While at Horace Mann, Mr. Lin lived in Yonkers and had pictures of former Horace Mann students hanging on his walls, said a former student, who was 14 or 15 when Mr. Lin initiated sexual contact with him. He called these boys his “pillars.”
The man said that Mr. Lin used phrases like “I just want to cuddle” and that Mr. Lin would not do anything he did not want him to do.
“Did Tek behave in a way that was inappropriate? Absolutely,” he said. “Was he warm, was it a wonderful relationship? He opened up areas of philosophy to me. Yes.”
The above-quoted student's relationship with Mr. Lin, according to the Times, lasted "years," though their contact was only very rarely sexual.
Since being made aware of the allegations against Mr. Lin last week, the Horace Mann School has removed his name from the English department chairmanship, which was named in his honor decades ago. Because of New York's statutes of limitations, the Times suggests it is unlikely that Mr. Lin will face any more serious punishment for his behavior. Nor does it seem the students who accuse him would want him to. From the Times:
All three students cited Mr. Lin as a positive influence in their lives, even today, and seemed reluctant to speak, not wanting to hurt the reputation of a man who had opened their eyes to philosophy and literature, and whose strict grammar rules they remembered today.
... [Mr. Lin's] Zen-like presence in a notoriously non-Zen-like environment offered students a unique outlook on the world. Long after Mr. Lin retired, some alumni started a Facebook page,“Fans of Tek Young Lin,” and many kept in touch with him.
... During the interview last week, Mr. Lin said he was now traveling the country to try to reunite with the nine surviving members of his World War II battalion.
... [Mr. Lin] said he now understood that he might have crossed a line.
“At the time it seemed it happened and it was done, but apparently it wasn’t, and if I had in any way harmed them, hurt them, I am truly, truly sorry,” he said. “I hope if they have been hurt, they will overcome that hurt, and I should be very happy to help in any way I can.”
In March, the top enlisted man aboard an American nuclear submarine was reassigned to a new vessel, after failing to keep one of his subordinates safe from a prolonged and brutal "hazing." The Associated Press has now learned the nature of the "hazing," which doesn't sound like anything of the sort: It was, in fact, incessant homophobic bullying.
The AP doesn't mention if the bullying victim is actually gay. It seems the victim was singled out because of an assault he allegedly endured while his vessel, the USS Florida, was docked in a foreign port. There, he said, a man tried to rape him. From the AP:
... the hazing was directed at a sailor who had reported that another man pulled a knife and tried to rape him while in the port at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
All names in the documents provided to The Associated Press were redacted.
The report says the sailor was generally well-liked on the ship and endured the torment for months because he thought it would eventually stop. Among other things, he was called a derogatory term for a gay person and referred to as "Brokeback," a reference to the gay-themed movie "Brokeback Mountain." In addition, someone posted a drawing of a stick figure being sexually assaulted.
Before a group training session on the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, the sailor was subjected to comments about coming out of the closet and asked when other sailors could meet his boyfriend and whether his boyfriend was Filipino, the nationality of the person he said tried to rape him.
The report says the sailors who made the derogatory comments didn't realize their shipmate had a knife pulled on him or the psychological toll the comments were taking on him. After eight months of harassment in 2011, the sailor eventually wrote a note saying he had suicidal thoughts and that he could snap and hurt himself or someone else.
According to the AP's report, sexual harrassment and bullying were common onboard the USS Florida. Naval leadership has ordered additional "counseling and training" "at all levels" to prevent future incidents.
Yesterday's Pride Parade in the Greek city of Thessaloniki was violently disrupted by a group of 50 or so thugs who pelted the approximately 400 revelers with eggs and water bottles. Police intervened quickly, and no one was injured. From the AP:
In recent days, Anthimos, the senior Greek Orthodox cleric in Thessaloniki, had publicly criticized the planned gay pride parade. Anthimos, who only uses one name, is known for outspoken speeches on social and political issues.
The AP doesn't report whether the egg-throwers were Anthimos fans. They might have just been fascists.