Lithuania held its second ever gay pride parade today and, like the first one held three years ago, participants were met with anti-gay demonstrators. The protesters attempted to rush a stage that had been set up for pride but police in the capital city of Vilnius were able to keep them at bay.
The Associated Press reports:
They were met by hundreds of unruly protesters, 28 of whom were detained, police said. Among them was Petras Grazulis, an anti-gay lawmaker who rallied protesters with a bullhorn. He was thrown face-down on the ground and carried off in handcuffs by police, though the lawmaker soon reappeared at the protest after being released from police custody.
About 50 protesters tried to storm a concert stage where activists were to speak, but police forced them off. Protesters also threw eggs, hitting Lithuanian lawmaker Giedre Purvaneckiene and Sweden's European Union Affairs Minister Birgitta Ohlsson, who were standing at the front of the parade along with other dignitaries.
"It shows that we need to march until eggs aren't thrown anymore and people can march freely and without fear," said Purvaneckiene, who was not injured.
The parade, dubbed "the March for Equality," is only the second such event for Lithuania, a predominantly Catholic nation of 3 million people that activists say has not done enough to ensure gay, lesbian, and transgender rights.
Large segments of the population in Lithuania, along with other areas of the former Soviet Union, are opposed to the idea of equal rights for gay people.
Last week, an AFP article reported that the country's television broadcaster refused to air clips promoting pride during the day because they felt that the segments would "'promote same sex relationships,' which do not meet the constitutional definition of marriage as a union between man and woman."could be harmful to minors."
Watch video of police effectively push back the mob of anti-gay protesters, AFTER THE JUMP.
After receiving 'assurances from the highest level' that any LGBT individuals participating in the upcoming 2014 Winder Olympics will be exempt from Russia's newly minted anti-gay laws, the IOC released a statement on Friday in the hopes of putting growing concern at ease.
The Human Rights Campaign, however, isn't letting the IOC off the hook that easily.
"Mere verbal assurances from the Russian government that foreigners will be exempt from their repressive laws are not enough...The IOC must obtain ironclad written assurance from President Putin. But more importantly, they should be advocating for the safety of all LGBT people in Russia, not simply those visiting for the Olympics. Rescinding this heinous law must be our collective goal."
Putin, for the record, is still adamant that that homosexuals are "full fledged members of [Russian] society and are not being discriminated against in any way."
I was already deep into this essential collection of impassioned, incendiary essays when I read of the most recent instance of anti-LGBT violence in Jamaica, the brutal murder of 17-year-old Dwayne Jones. For Thomas Glave, who was born to a Jamaican mother and split his early life between the Bronx and Kingston—histories and geographies explored in the essays gathered here—the “flesh” of his title lives under constant threat of the most horrific violence, prone at any moment to being “chopped to death with a machete or burned to death in public.”
It is a threat he imagines again and again carried out on his own flesh and the flesh of his friends, in sentences that heave and roil with rage and grief. In the essay “Toward a Queer Prayer,” Glave remembers the murdered activist Brian Williamson, with whom he founded the Jamaican LGBT rights organization J-FLAG: “Chopped up with a machete, someone chopped him; carved up with an ice pick, someone carved him. Brian: remember him? His insides were ripped open by metal gripped in a pair of angry hands.”
It can be hard to understand why anyone would choose to remain in—would claim any connection whatsoever with—a country that so brutally attacks one’s right to exist. But these essays are fueled not just by rage but by love for what Glave calls “the bloodpeople: the people of shared DNA, shared genes and facial likenesses,” and for Jamaica itself, which emerges in Glave’s prose as a place of extraordinary color and music and life, “the place that provides you with such indescribable joy in your heart--yes, in your very deepest heart.”
Above all, Glave feels bound to the “mercurial, acrobatic
language” of Jamaica, the music of creole and patois that he “long ago
absorbed” and that emerges in the strenuous melody of his own remarkable
The word is a physical thing—as physical as flesh—in the world of Glave’s writing, which is also marked (like the work of James Baldwin, perhaps his most important forebear) by the pulpit cadences of the American black church.
Central to all of these essays is the assertion that the literary, the political, and the erotic are so tightly bound as to be inextricable, and Glave writes about literature with the same urgency that fills his essays on anti-gay violence. In short pieces addressed to four writers—Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Nadine Gordimer, and Toni Morrison—Glave describes how each of them provided him not just with a literary model, but with something much more precious: a warrant to exist.
Questions of language are questions of life and death, Glave argues, forcing us to see how the dehumanizing rhetoric about LGBT people that is so prevalent in contemporary Jamaica, as in so many places, “makes people into ghosts, unpeople, things. Things which, because less than human, are more easily hated, feared, despised. And killed.” “It is a sickness,” Glave writes, giving us an example of such language, his own voice punctuating it in parentheses, “a white people t’ing, a (to some, to many) satanic t’ing…a t’ing we cannot bear inna dis ya country, Massa God: so annihilate de battyman dem, de sodomite dem.”
Against the language of hatred and threat, Glave sets the
literary imagination, which can “re-member” the very lives that dehumanizing
language tears apart, can “put them back together, and ourselves, as, putting
our best feet forward, we proceed…farther away from disremembrance and
Glave—himself a celebrated writer of fiction—calls for “the kind of literature that enables survival because it says (or shouts), But wait, because I am here, and I exist.”
As these essays repeatedly address forbidden topics, from a defense of barebacking to a painful, moving meditation on suicide (a taboo subject for black men, he writes), Glave crosses boundaries of genre and community, speaking with extraordinary candor and vulnerability variously as the American son of immigrants, as a Jamaican, as a professor, as a queer boy from the Bronx.
What unifies these identities and these essays is the ferocity of Glave’s voice, his sentences that can feel like living, untamed things. Untamed, but in the service of a project that is equal parts ethics and aesthetics: to speak truthfully and boldly and exactingly, even of horror, “to properly honor and do justice to the dead, and to ourselves in pursuit of a more human future.”
Duncan Fallowell’s ‘How to Disappear: A Memoir for Misfits’
Frank Bidart’s ‘Metaphysical Dog’
Alysia Abbot's 'Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father'
Gerbrand Bakker’s ‘Ten White Geese’
Garth Greenwell is the author of Mitko, which won the 2010 Miami University Press Novella Prize and was a finalist for the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award as well as a Lambda Award. This fall he will be an Arts Fellow at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.
Meet Groundswell, The Secret Right Wing Group That Wants To Wage A '30 Front War' With Democrats And Other Republicans
Mother Jones broke the story yesterday, after obtaining documents about the covert group. Groundswell, which is comprised of high-profile hyper-Conservatives such as Ginni Thomas (wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas), former UN ambassador John Bolton, and former FL congressman Allen West, seeks to "fundamentally transform the nation." They have begun holding weekly secret meetings in the offices of Judicial Watch, where they "cook up battle plans for their ongoing fights against the Obama administration, congressional Democrats, progressive outfits, and the Republican establishment and 'clueless' GOP congressional leaders."
The group also includes certain congressional aides and journalists. While Groundswell is, by no means, the only group that meets to discuss strategies for legislation and PR, the clandestine nature of the group does raise questions about what exactly the group has to hide. In the exposé, Mother Jones noted that...
"Though members have been encouraged to zap out tweets with a #GSW hashtag, a message circulated to members of its Google group noted that the role of certain advocates should be kept 'off of the Google group for OPSEC [operational security] reasons.' This 'will avoid any potential for bad press for someone if a communication item is leaked,' the message explained."
Did we mention that one of the group's core members has a spouse that's a member of the Supreme Court? Just making sure...
An internal document describes the origins of this coalition:
"Groundswell evolved out of conversations among conservative leaders after the November elections. This is the eighth meeting. Now others are asking to be included. Growth needs to be strategic; it should be made up of senior level people willing to collaborate. It is important to keep a balance of social conservatives, national security conservatives, and constitutional conservatives. Outreach has occurred to incorporate groups with extensive reach: Heritage, Heritage Action, FreedomWorks, AFP [Americans for Prosperity], FRC [Family Research Council] and the NRA, among others…Our country is in peril. This is a critical moment needing critical leadership. We want to protect the strategic collaboration occurring at Groundswell and build on it. Please be careful about bringing guests and clear them ahead of time."
Note the inclusion of anti-gay groups such as Heritage and the FRC. Thus, it isn't all that surprising that many of the internal documents released concern the group's strategies for opposing marriage equality. One mocked Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus, saying that he “is sending messages to the party… If we were all gay illegal aliens, the party likes us."
Mother Jones' expose proves rather extensive. Those interested in reading it in its entirety can do so HERE. For those wishing for a more concise list of highlights, Queerty was kind enough to oblige:
"Other memorable quotes from the group’s memos:
- 'We’re failing the propaganda battle with minorities.'
- 'Conservatives are so busy dealing with issues like immigration, gay marriage and boy scouts there is little time left to focus on other issues. These are the very issues the Left wants to avoid but we need to magnify.'
- 'We are in a real war; most conservatives are not prepared to fight.'
- 'We need to be more clever than the Left on this… Something amusing and easy for LIVs [low-information voters] to understand.'
- 'We must reclaim the language and put ‘a face’ on our messages; tell stories. Write articles on 4th grade level!'
If Americans ever needed an example of how the GOP really feels about them, these memos are it."
Perhaps, if these hyper-conservatives make a genuine effort to fix the nation's education system, then they wouldn't need to "write articles on [a] 4th grade level"...
Back in November, President Obama nominated out gay Judge William Thomas for a seat on the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Unfortunately, Judge Thomas is still waiting to be confirmed by the US Senate while many of President Obama's other judicial nominees appointed at the same time have already been confirmed. The Washington Blade today reports that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) and a little blue slip of paper are the only things standing in the way of advancing Thomas' confirmation.
When it comes to senate confirmations of Presidential appointees to the bench, senators on the judiciary committee are not the only ones who get to weigh in. Senators from a nominee's home state are involved as well and provided with "blue slips" they must then submit in order for the confirmation process to continue. However, as the United States Senate Committe on the Judiciary notes, "The return of a positive "blue slip" is not a commitment by either home state Senator to support or oppose, a pending nomination." The purpose rather is to "encourage consultation" and respect the senator's "interest in nominees from their home state." Though Florida's other senator, Bill Nelson, recently submitted his blue slip, perhaps due to recent media scrutiny surrounding his inaction on Thomas' confirmation, Rubio has yet to submit his, without concrete explanation, his office not responding, "to repeated requests from the Blade over the past two weeks to comment on why he continues to hold up the Thomas nomination."
Fred Sainz, vice president of communications for the Human Rights Campaign, is among those calling for Rubio to take action.
“He should return the blue slip and allow this well-qualified jurist to get confirmed by the U.S. Senate,” Sainz said. “The federal district court system is already backlogged. There’s no good reason why justice should be further delayed when Judge Thomas is ready, willing and able to serve.”