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Next Magazine Asks Whether #BlackLivesMatter to Gays

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Last Saturday, Al Sharpton’s National Action Network organized a peaceful March and rally in Washington, D.C. in protestation of the recent high profile police killings of young black men and children. Thousands flooded into the District’s streets, forming a procession that flowed down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol. Similar demonstrations including marches, “die-ins,” and occupations have sprung up across the country following a series of grand jury decisions not to indict various police officers involved in civilian killings.

Writing for Next Magazine, columnist Gabe Gonzalez wonders “Do Black Lives Matter to Gays?” A casual glance at the demographic makeup of protesters shows a mix of different races and genders organizing under the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, but Gonzalez takes to task the seeming lack of support he sees within many gay social groups.

“After a Staten Island grand jury refused to indict Daniel Pantaleo on December 3 for the murder of Eric Garner, I logged on to Twitter hoping to see a queer community ready to organize and lend support on behalf of black lives,” he writes. “It was just two short months ago that we rallied together under the hashtag #MyNameIs, after all. Instead, I saw someone tweet about seeing Kinky Boots for the nth time, some sharing a drag queen’s new music video, and others sending out party invitations.”

The social mobilization around Facebook’s cracking down on drag performers’ use of their stage names was swift, though in reality it only affected a relatively small portion of Facebook’s total users. Gonzalez argues that regardless of the size of the community impacted, members of the LGBT community are remiss in their decisions to remain virtually silent in the public outcry.

Earlier this year the HRC and 16 other LGBT rights organizations penned an open letter expressing their solidarity with Michael Brown’s family. A number of NYC-based LGBT advocacy groups shared a similar letter after it was announced that Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who killed Eric Garner with an illegal chokehold, would not be indicted. Though solidarity from organizations is a start, Gonzalez’s call to action is squarely aimed at individuals who seem to have extricated themselves from the conversation:

“When LGBT causes like #MyNameIs grab national headlines, we urge friends and allies of all backgrounds to join our voices in seeking justice. But now, when our black friends have spoken out; when the media has no choice but to repeat the names Michael, Trayvon, Eric, and Akai; when it matters most that we permanently etch these atrocities into our collective histories—we’re quiet. Those very same voices that flooded your feed with #MyNameIs or #LoveIsLove and never let you forget they were holding space for a cause until they saw a meaningful outcome can’t seem to find the 140 characters to articulate how or why #BlackLivesMatter.”


Freedom to Marry Campaign Director Says Organization Will Disband if Supreme Court Rules for Marriage

365ade297fb3ee2d6a_1hm6bxevnThe Washington Blade has a new interview out today with Marc Solomon — National Campaign Director for Freedom to Marry (pictured).

Probably the highlight of the interview comes at the end, when Solomon talks about what happens if the Supreme Court rules for marriage nationwide. Solomon says this would mean the end of Freedom to Marry, because the organization's goal would be achieved:

We’ve always been set up as a campaign, and we are a campaign, and when we’ve won nationwide, we’re finished...I want to see some of the really good people stick around in LGBT stuff, or in other progressive causes, but Freedom to Marry’s done. That’s I think a great holding out is put yourself out of business.

Solomon is optimistic about such a ruling, deeming it "highly unlikely" that the court will rule against same-sex marriage. Further, with support climbing in the polls, he is "pretty confident" that voters are also more supportive of gay marriage. He suggests there will not be the same opposition to pro-gay marriage ballot marriages we saw in 2012.

Solomon also talks the long road it's been to this point, saying he must've seen "more than 10 field organizers" bit by dogs while going door-to-door. “Other people have been chased down the street by homophobes," he said. "We don’t send people door-to-door in Cambridge, or in Chelsea, or in parts of the Chicago that we’re doing well."

Check out the whole interview here.


Russian Gay Activists File Complaint With European Court of Human Rights Over Banned Rally

AlexeyevA group of Russian gay rights rights activists has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The group made an application in October 2013 to hold an equal marriage rally in central Moscow. The request to hold the rally was denied, with officials citing the country’s laws banning "gay propaganda."

The group has attempted to appeal the decision, but it was to no avail. Moscow’s Tverskoy District court upheld the ban of the rally.

The activists hope to have more luck with the ECHR, where they will be citing the ECHR charter's Article 11 (the right to freedom of assembly and association). They will also cite Articles 13 and 14, which ensure the right to an "effective remedy" and forbidding of discrimination, respectively.

Russian LGBT rights activist, lawyer and journalist Nikolai Alexeyev (pictured) is working with the activists. Via Pink News, Alexeyev says that in the last year, there have been 90 similar applications go through the same process.  In addition to the "gay propaganda" law, police have pulled one from the Serbian playbook, citing  a risk of violence to ban the events.


Hundreds of LGBT Protesters and Allies Flood UK Supermarket for Kiss-In Protest: VIDEO

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Prompted by a security guard who told a lesbian couple to stop their "disgusting" kissing (on National Coming Out Day, no less), hundreds of protesters flooded a Sainsbury's supermarket in Brighton, UK on Wednesday for a "big consensual kiss-in" to protest the couple's ejection.

Sainsbury's has agreed to donate £100 but protesters say that's offensive given the supermarket's profits for the first three months of 2014 were £898 million.

Watch some heartwarming videos of the protest, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Director Matthew Warchus Breaks Down A Scene From 'Pride': VIDEO

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As a part of their "anatomy of a scene" series, The New York Times has posted a new video focusing on the film Pride. The scene includes commentary from director Matthew Warchus. He details some basic plot elements, and creative choices such as the disco soundtrack — in this scene, the crew (cheekily) selected Shirley & Co.'s "Shame Shame Shame".

In a week where "Skeleton Twins" has been so dominant, it's easy to overlook gay gem "Pride." The film is based on true events; it's the story of a Welsh miner town in financial trouble that embraces the help, and later the friendship, of a gay activist group. In the NYT video, watch as the women of the town are thrilled by an activist's campy dance, and the men are, well, somewhat more hesitant.

Intrigued? Check out Nathaniel Rogers review, and the video feature, embedded AFTER THE JUMP...

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Hollywood's Overrepresentation of White, Gay Men

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Television shows and movies like Looking, and Dallas Buyers Club are increasingly bringing LGBT stories to the big and small screens, but their representations of diversity within the queer community are sorely lacking. White, gay, male characters are grossly overrepresented, according to a Vox analysis of a number of recent shows and films focusing on gay narratives. The issue, write Alex Abad-Santos, is not with the specific stories that are depicted, but rather with the meta-narrative created by an unchanging stream of stories solely about white guys:

“We don't and shouldn't expect anyone to change Harvey Milk's race or change who Larry Kramer's friends were. Kramer's and Milk's experiences aren't in our control. However, choosing which stories to tell is. And having a willingness to tell other kinds of stories, perhaps some that are just as worthy as Milk's or Kramer's, from places we're not necessarily looking, is something filmmakers and writers can do better.”

Gary Gates, an LGBT demographer at UCLA, says that statistically speaking the kinds of LGBT groups being portrayed in modern media simply don’t reflect reality. In addition to nearly half of the characters being non-white “if you had a show with a cast of 20 characters who were LGBT, two-thirds of the women would be bisexual, and one-third of the women would be lesbians, while two-thirds of the men would be gay, and one-third would be bi.”

Gates goes on to point out the disproportionate amount of screen-time given to characters that read as being affluent. The persistent idea that all LGBT individuals are more economically successful than their heterosexual counterparts is due in large part to to a conflation of statistical findings. College graduated, same-sex couples, with two partners actively participating in the workforce do, on average, make more than heterosexuals, Gates explained in 2013 to US News. These couples make statistical headlines because they are exceptional, however, and portraying them as The New Normal is disingenuous at best and problematic at worst.

The-new-normal-utah-new-home__oPtIn terms of movies and documentaries like The Normal Heart and How To Survive A Plague, filmmakers are presented with the task of parsing through the historical record in order to suss out compelling stories. Problems arise when the cinematic truth depicted on screen only reflect the limited perspectives of certain characters. In an interview with Vulture Sarah Schulman, co-creator of The ACT UP Oral History Project, recently voiced her misgivings about what she perceived as a whitewashing of early HIV/AIDS activism as depicted in How To Survive A Plague.

We call it “The Five White People Who Saved the World” — that’s our nickname for it. And those white people are very busy because apparently they’re always saving everything all the time. Everywhere you go, you see them.

Referring to a discussion following screenings of Jim Hubbard’s United in Anger: A History of ACT UP and David France’s How To Survive a Plague, Schulman recalls that same point blank critique.

At one point they open up for questions and the first question to David is: Why do you have no women or people of color in the film? And he says, well I wanted to focus on wealthy white men because they had the time to devote to activism. Now as a person who has interviewed 168 surviving members of ACT UP New York, I can tell you that’s not historically correct.

People in ACT UP gave their entire lives to ACT UP. All different kinds of people from every class and background would report in our interviews that they were at ACT UP five nights a week, that their entire life was ACT UP. And that had nothing to do with how much money you had. And the second thing he said was that these men went to good universities and so they were able to understand the science. That is absurd. The audience almost started laughing. One of the best experts on the science of AIDS in ACT UP was Garance Franke-Ruta who was 19. We all sat there and realized that this man knows nothing about ACT UP.

Watch a video of the exchange AFTER THE JUMP...

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