Gay U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Daniel Baer married his partner Brian Walsh today.
Tweeted Baer: "So, I got married this morning. Thank you @BarackObama, @HillaryClinton, & @JohnKerry for your commitment to equality".
Congrats to them both!
Buoyant, clever, sensitive; words can do very little to express the exuberance and authenticity of Daniel Ribeiro’s near-perfect debut feature, The Way He Looks, based on his 2010 short film with the same cast and premise. The film screened this week at NYC's NewFest. A coming-of-age dramedy with a highly original narrative, the movie’s title is provocative for calling into question the ways we “see” the ones we love and just how narrow our worldview may be.
At the center of a sun-dappled, pastel-colored Sao Paulo, Brazil is Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo, right), a teenager who was born blind and bears the brunt of several surly bullies' wrath at his suburban high school. He longs for independence from his overbearing parents “like every teenager” director Ribeiro was quick to point out at the film’s talkback. His only real friend is Giovana (Tess Amorim, below left), a neighbor and classmate; they adore each other and spend every day together. Their routine is interrupted by the arrival of a cute new student, Gabriel (Fabio Audi, below right), who becomes fast friends with the pair. When Gabriel and Leonardo pair up for a school project, though, Giovana quickly becomes jealous, and the two boys grow even closer.
It’d be a shame to give away too much more, but suffice to say that the film takes unexpected romantic turns while retaining a bubbly and heart-warming sheen. It won the Audience Award at NewFest for good reason. The applause following its screening was deafening.
Perhaps the most engaging element of the film is the way it film negotiates Leo’s blindness. We are constantly reminded that Leo cannot see the world around him, or even the people he is closest to in his life. One spooky dream sequence finds him interacting with shadowy black-and-white figures of his classmates, but otherwise the film plays with the idea that sound is Leo’s most prominent sense, and that the people around him are privileged to be able to see. When he and Gabriel go to the movies, the camera lingers on their mouths as he describes what is happening on screen, and the sounds of the cheesy sci-fi film are heightened; at another point, Gabriel and Leo sneak out to “watch” a lunar eclipse, a concept which Gabriel struggles to explain to someone who has never seen one. Leo’s blindness is, therefore, a prominent plot point, one which heightens the tension surrounding he and Gabriel’s relationship with Giovana and each other.
At the film’s talkback, Ribeiro discussed the different vision of love that he hoped the film could present, one based not on the pretense of physical attraction and visual memory, or on fixed notions of sexual orientation. The Way He Looks is not a coming out film in any sense; the word “gay” is never used, Ribeiro stated proudly. Instead he sees it is a natural experience of romantic interest, that someone should fall in love with a person without the confines of a specific label. In this sense, Ribeiro recognized that his film is an ideal vision, though that does not mean the characters exit the narrative unscathed.
The Way He Looks deals frankly with jealousy, bullying, parent-child conflicts, and confusing sexual desires. There are tough scenes, and despite the sunny lensing and cheery outlook, every character has faults. Still, rarely have I left a theater feeling as fulfilled, or as happy to have gotten to know the characters on screen. Perhaps because the film’s love story, constrained by lost sight, is the most original, sensitive, and touching one to come along in quite some time.
Watch the film's trailer as well as the original short film (which *spoiler alert* gives away the whole movie), AFTER THE JUMP...
Cornerstone University radio host John Balyo, who was arrested in June in connection with the rape of an 11-year-old boy, confessed late last month to the rape of a second boy.
Detroit Free Press reports:
“Balyo and Ronald Lee Moser paid the boy for his involvement in the April 19th assault. His hands and feet were handcuffed and he was tied to the bed, according to courtroom statements today. While bound, Balyo took nine photos of the boy, first in his underwear and then naked. The boy's family wept in the back of the sixth floor courtroom as details of the assault were told to Magistrate Ellen Carmody during today's plea hearing.”
Baylo’s courtroom confession reads in part:
“I did take images of a child and they were sexually explicit involving bondage and nudity. I performed sex acts as described. I knew it was wrong.''
Cornerstone University, a "Christ-centered" college in Grand Rapids, Michigan, requires students to sign a "lifestyle pledge" prohibiting "every form of immorality, including immoral sexual behavior, homosexuality, lying, stealing and cheating."
Concerns have been raised that Balyo may have had many more victims.
Balyo faces life in prison on the first case and up to 50 years for the second.
Watch a Wood TV 8 report on the case, AFTER THE JUMP...
Dutee Chand, representing India, was disqualified last month from the 2014 Commonwealth Games after failing a gender test, reports Bustle. The test showed that 18-year-old Chand’s testosterone levels were above the range considered “normal” for female athletes.
In 2012, Chand became the 100-meter sprint national champion in the under-18 division.
After winning two gold medals for India during the 16th Asian Junior Championship in June, Sports Authority of India (SAI) officials subjected Chand to the test which ultimately ruled her ineligible to represent the country this month in Glasgow.
Chand said that she is "completely shattered" by the result.
In a press release, SAI said:
“Preliminary investigations indicate that the athlete is not fit for participation in a female event due to female hyperandrogenism. The athlete will still be able to compete in the female category in future if she takes proper medical help and lowers her androgen level to the specified range. We reiterate that these test results do not determine her gender. The test simply tells us that she has excess androgen in her body and is therefore not eligible to compete in the female category.”
Hyperandrogenism, a medical condition in which an excessive amount of testosterone is produced by the body, is often the result of polycystic ovary syndrome and cal also manifest as a result of hyperactive adrenal glands or as the result of an intersex condition.
Bustle notes that although setting standards in sport is designed to eliminate “unfair” advantage, Chand is a woman who happens to naturally produce more testosterone than the average woman:
“If we are to believe that the advantages brought on by Chand’s naturally-produced hormones should be reason enough to disqualify her from competing against other women, where does this stop? If a women’s basketball player happens to be six inches taller than an arbitrary range of acceptable heights, should she be sent to play against men? Yes, that basketball player may be an outlier, and yes, Chand’s testosterone levels may make her an outlier, but isn’t that what professional athletes are? Isn’t that what makes watching sports so entertaining in the first place? The world’s greatest athletes aren’t average; they are outliers.
“It’s unfortunate that Chand, whose body chemistry may predispose her to athletic success, will need to take medication to curb her own gifts, and to return her to the 'normal' range. It’s unfortunate that in today’s world we have yet to realize that normal is subjective; that neither women nor men fall neatly into these arbitrarily-defined boxes of acceptable.
Writes Kalpana Sharma in The Hindu:
Our sport authorities need to be educated. Urgently. They need a crash course in understanding human biology, that there is no clear binary between male and female and that there are many conditions in-between. But clearly, this knowledge, that has now become fairly commonplace, has failed to trickle down to those controlling Indian athletics. They continue to believe that testing testosterone levels will conclusively establish whether a woman athlete is indeed a woman!
So even as women athletes are bringing home medals from the Commonwealth Games, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the Athletics Federation if India (AFI) will be better remembered for denying, virtually at the last minute, the chance for one of our most promising runners to compete in these games in Glasgow.
John Nienstedt, the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, has refused to resign despite allegations of sexual misconduct and a cover-up of child sex abuse, reports ABC News.
Last week, Minnesota newspaper the Star Tribune called on Nienstedt - who in the past told the mother of a gay son that she must reject him or risk burning in hell and said Satan is behind gay marriage - to resign.
An allegation that he touched a boy inappropriately in a public setting resulted in no criminal charges. Another involves accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior with seminarians and priests.
Nienstedt, who claims both allegations are untrue, said that although he was shown memos about problem priests, he didn't fully grasp the scope of the troubles until last year, after Jennifer Haselberger, Nienstedt’s top adviser on church law, resigned last year and publicly accused church leaders of mishandling several cases.
Writing in a column published last week in The Catholic Spirit, Nienstedt publicly addressed the numerous recent calls for him to resign:
"In a sense, you could say that I didn't see the forest through the trees. But when everything started coming out in October, whoa, Nelly, I just wasn't aware that there was the kind of breadth to the whole thing — which surprised me and kind of sickened me.
"I am bound to continue in my office as long as the Holy Father has appointed me here. I have acknowledged my responsibility in the current crisis we face, and I also take responsibility for leading our archdiocese to a new and better day.”
In a statement, The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said that it is "saddened" that Nienstedt won't resign "but distraught that he continues to deceive."
Watch a report on allegations made against Nienstedt last year, AFTER THE JUMP...
Introduced by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA), bill S. 2706/H.R. 5285 would allow adoption or foster care providers to deny service to heterosexual couples of a different faith, single parents and LGBTI couples.
In a statement, Ellen Kahn, Director of the HRC Foundation’s Children, Youth, and Families Program, said:
“If this bill passes, an Evangelical straight couple, a single father, or a committed and loving gay and lesbian couple could find their path to adoption blocked for no reasonable reason other than naked discrimination.
"Taxpayer funds should not be used to discriminate, and too many children need loving families right now for our elected officials to be playing these kinds dangerous political games. This bill has nothing to do with faith, and it must be condemned.”
Last week, it was announced that Democratic House Representative Jared Polis is preparing to initiate a discharge petition for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a means of bringing a bill directly to the floor without consideration from committee or direct input from the House leadership.