All five members of One Direction will be individually gracing their own cover of GQ's UK edition this upcoming September. To commemorate that fact, the boys were also interviewed by the magazine, and it was during that interview that Styles was asked point blank about his alleged bisexuality. According to GQ and E! News, rumor has had it for months now that Styles has been engaging in a relationship TV and radio host Nick Grimshaw.
His answer? "Bisexual? Me? I don't think so. I'm pretty sure I'm not." He went on to say...
"Some of them are funny. Some of them are ridiculous. Some of them are annoying. I don't want to be one of those people that complains about the rumours. I never like it when a celebrity goes on Twitter and says, 'This isn't true!' It is what it is; I tend not to do that. The only time it gets really annoying is that if you get into a relationship and you get into a place where you really like someone and then things are being written in the papers that affect them and how they see you. Then it can get annoying."
One hopes that this isn't an instance where Styles finds the rumors to be "annoying". Otherwise, he might want to give a more committal response.
At a legislative meeting in St. Petersburg, co-author of Russia's bill banning homosexuality Vitaly Valentinovich Milonov urged President Putin to not suspend the law during the Sochi Olympics, claiming that doing so would be "selective enforcement." This runs directly counter to the International Olympic Committe's assertions that athletes and spectators would be exempt from the gay ban law. According to Milonov,
[I]f a law has been approved by the federal legislature and signed by the president, then the government has no right to suspend it. It doesn’t have the authority.
The timing of the gay ban is going to be problematic for Russia. If it makes an exemption for the spectators and athletes of the Olympics, it undermines the "necessity" of the law and implies that "corruption of children and traditional values" are sometimes ok. If the law is strictly enforced, then it's only a matter of when - not if - spectators and athletes are arrested and deported, which would spark resentments and even possibly incite an international incident.
Called the "Next Generation Science Standards", the new guidelines proposed by the state Department of Education seek to revamp science education standards throughout grades K-12 in accordance with an improvement law passed in 2009. The department hosted a hearing earlier today in Frankfort, during which supporters and opponents could meet, discuss, and debate the newly-proposed standards. As was noted by the Courier-Journal:
"The majority of comments during the two-hour hearing came from critics who questioned the validity of evolution and climate change and railed against the standards as a threat to religious liberty, at times drawing comparisons to Soviet-style communism."
Blaine Ferrell, a representative from the Kentucky Academy of Sciences, was one of the few who attended that day who expressed his support of the Next Generation Science Standards. "Students in the commonwealth both need and deserve 21st-century science education grounded in inquiry, rich in content and internationally benchmarked." Another advocate, a biology professor named David Robinson, explained how Kentucky frquently gets overlooked by biotechnology companies, and cautoned that a lack of contemporary science education could potentially cause the state to be "left behind" when it comes to industrial development.
According to The Spectrum, Kentucky's Department of Education did just that. "The standards, which incorporate all areas of science, were developed through a consortium of 25 other states and input from educators and scientists across the nation." Unfortunately, many community members reamined unconvinced. One was Matt Singleton, a Baptist minister and internet radio host from Louisville, who said:
"Outsiders are telling public school families that we must follow the rich man’s elitist religion of evolution, that we no longer have what the Kentucky Constitution says is the right to worship almighty God. Instead, this fascist method teaches that our children are the property of the state."
Another, Dena Stewart-Gore of Louisville, claimed that the new standards would single out students with religious beliefs. She subsequently speculated as to the potential consequences:
"The way socialism works is it takes anybody that doesn’t fit the mold and discards them...we are even talking genocide and murder here, folks."
Daniel Phelps, an environmental geologist who attended the hearing, fired back:
"I’ve actually read this, unlike many of the people who have commented today. Everything is actually based on evidence — arguments from evidence are actually given priority in the Next Generation Science Standards."
As was noted by the Huffington Post, states like Kansas, Maryland, and Vermont have already adopted the Next Generation Science Standards. While today's hearing was the only one conduncted in person, the state Department of Education will also be accepting written testimonies until tomorrow, July 31st.
The Pennsylvania Department of Public Health today filed a state lawsuit to prevent Montgomery County and its clerk, D. Bruce Hanes, from issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples, the AP reports. Hanes first started granting marriage liscenses to same-sex couples last week, compelled he said by the ruling in United States v. Windsor and a desire to be "on the right side of history." While Pennsylvania does not ban same-sex marriage in its constitution as many other states do, the state did pass a law in 1996 that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman and goes even further in not recognizing same-sex unions codified out of state. It is this law that Hanes, an independently elected Democrat, is accused of "repeatedly and continuously" flouting in the suit filed by the state. Meanwhile, Montgomery County solicitor Ray McGarry has insisted that the county will continue to issue marriage licenses to gay couples and believes the state's lawsuit "has serious flaws." That lawsuit seems to be particularly concerned with illegal requests for benefits and the alleged "administrative and legal chaos that is likely to flow from the clerk's unlawful practice of issuing marriage licenses to those who are not permitted under Pennsylvania law to marry."
Hanes' move to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples has recently sparked protests and drawn the ire of the Natonal Organization of Marriage. The state's decision to challenge Hanes in court comes the same day that Pennsylvanian Governor Tom Corbett (R) announced, after much speculation, that he would defend the state's law defining marriage in Pennsylvania as being between a man and a woman in a federal lawsuit brought by the ACLU. Democratic state Attorney General Kathleen Kane previously stated she would not defend the law on the grounds that it was discriminatory, a decision which displeased Governor Corbett and The Pennsylvania Pastors Network who called her refusal to defend the law, "a direct attack on the integrity of the family." According to the AP, "[Corbett's] General Counsel James Schultz said that Kane's refusal 'establishes a very troubling precedent.' "This will create chaos and uncertainty - not unlike what we are seeing in the unlawful actions' of Hanes, Schultz wrote."
Perhaps most troubling in this case is the fate of the 34-or-so same-sex couples in Montgomery County that have received marriage licenses as of Tuesday afternoon, liscenses that could potentially be nullified should the court rule against Hanes.
In a press release posted to Facebook today, The Russian LGBT Network responded to recent calls for the boycott of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games in support of LGBT Russians and disapproval of the nation's recently enacted anti-gay laws that make it a crime in Russia to spread "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors."
Echoing the calls of others including Patrick Burke, co-founder of the You Can Play Campaign, The Russian LGBT Network urges athletes and nations not to walk out on Sochi but rather to use the games as an opportunity to highlight the oppressive acts of the Putin regime and issue a clarion call for international action in support of LGBT rights:
"We believe that calls for the spectators to boycott Sochi, for the Olympians to retreat from competition, and for governments, companies, and national Olympic committees to withdraw from the event risk to transform the powerful potential of the Games in a less powerful gesture that would prevent the rest of the world from joining LGBT people, their families and allies in Russia in solidarity and taking a firm stance against the disgraceful human rights record in this country.
In retrospect, the record of the Olympic boycotts is not utterly promising in regards the potential to bring a change; look at the 1980 boycott of the Moscow Olympics, the 1984 "retaliation" boycott of the LA Games, or at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. What is remembered from 1968 is neither the number nor the names of those who boycotted the Games, but the "human rights salute" by Tommie Smith and John Carlos who rose black-gloved fists and bowed their heads on the victory stand as a sign of resistance to racial injustice and solidarity with everyone who fought for equality and human rights."
Like many others, The Russian LGBT Network is keen to point out the influence that national organizations as well as broadcasters have in effecting change in Russia by not remaining silent on the grave human rights abuses that have become widespread in Russia:
"Participation and attendance of the Games in Sochi will not indicate endorsement of injustice and discrimination; they will only if they are silent. We hope to join forces and succeed in raising everyone's voices for LGBT equality in Russia and elsewhere.
We hope for the support of national organizations in making sure that the athletes publicly take a stance against violence toward LGBT people and stand strong for LGBT equality; that the national houses fill the gap of the banned Pride House and support LGBT athletes, staff, spectators and their allies on their grounds; that sponsors follow through with their policies and visualize their commitment to justice and observance of human rights in regards LGBT people at the Games; and that the broadcasters display all this in a positive and supportive way.
Do not boycott the Olympics - boycott homophobia! Stand in solidarity with people in Russia and bring LGBT pride and values of human rights and freedoms to the Games in Sochi!"
Clark Harding, writer for Out Traveler, had been planing a trip to Africa to go primate-sighting, to have his "Sigourney moment", as he called it. The only problem was that the best destination to see gorillas in the mist is in Uganda, and Harding was leaving for the country the day after the Ugandan government announced plans to pass its "Kill the Gays" bill. Undeterred, Harding went through with his trip and wrote about it on Out Traveler.
His story contains his friends shocked reactions, farting gorillas, and observations on Ugandan social behaviors:
“This has got to be some kind of joke,” I said to Kristin as we drove through Kampala and in to the back country. Our jet lag was pretty killer. “All the men here hold hands.” Kristin looked out the window and sure enough: dudes were hand-in-hand, hand-in-butt-pocket, pinky-to-pinky...And while [Ugandan officials] fear gays to the point of needing to execute them, little do they realize their male constituents are acting gayer than Westerners.