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04/19/2007


Will Our Young Lead Us To A Gender Free Future?

BY DAVID MIXNER

541618_374978435950280_1527175703_nOne of my favorites quotes is from Nobel Prize winner Bertrand Russell who wrote in the first lines of his three volume autobiography:

"Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind"

The quote has been on my desk ever since it first appeared. Russell continues:

"I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved."

Even now, being officially a 'senior citizen,' one the great joys of my life is seeking new knowledge. Taking great pride in living my life on the edge, I seek not only wisdom from those who have come before me but also I discover joy in listening to where our young want to lead us.

Recently over dinner with a new young friend he wonderfully shared his vision of a 'gender-free' world. While having some knowledge of the concept, the reality of how important this is to young people was an eye opener. Clearly this could be a real possibility for future generations and it was exciting to learn from him what it meant. The endless potential for healing between people simply by erasing the concept of gender is breathtaking.

This former college football player who gives off a strikingly handsome, self confident and masculine aura, was fearless in his convictions. With great animation he shared with me the dialogue taking place among his friends who were attempting to abolish gender.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Where Anti-Gay Laws are Concerned, Nigeria Is No Russia

BY DAVID MIXNER

You bet Nigeria is no Russia. It is much worse than Russia.

JonathanWhile the LGBT community is jumping up and down (as we should be) about Russia, Sochi and the severe repression of Russia's gay community, Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has just signed much more repressive legislation against LGBT citizens.

The repercussions of this new law are chilling.

Not only does the law ban marriage equality but also any LGBT relationship. If discovered, gay couples will be sentenced to fourteen years in jail. That is bad enough. However, it also provides for ten years in jail for forming any LGBT organization or supporting the formation of one. The law criminalizes even meetings between homosexuals.

Basically, you can now go to prison in Nigeria for owning an LGBT club, creating a LGBT social organization, supporting or forming an LGBT advocacy organization or simply meeting to discuss LGBT issues. The prison terms are harsh. The prison conditions are shockingly bad.

The odds of an LGBT African being sent to a Nigerian prison for ten to fourteen years and emerging alive are almost nil. Any such sentence is a death sentence.

Africa must be on LGBT Americans' radar screen as much as Russia. The conditions are rapidly deteriorating and tens of thousands of our brothers and sisters are impacted by these draconian laws. Uganda still has pending legislation waiting to be signed by its President that would trump Nigeria and give LGBT Ugandans a life sentence.

Secretary of State John Kerry has lobbied against the new Nigerian laws and quickly expressed America's shock and concern.

Religius_and_Ethnic_map_of_NigeriaWith all the dramatic problems facing Nigeria (including an insurgency that threatens its very existence as a nation state) why would President Jonathan be using political capital to pass and sign such legislation? It is exactly because of the Boko Haram insurgency that the President has signed the law. With his signature, he distracts his Christian followers from his failure to stop Boko Haram in the Islamic northern provinces.

Ironically, the anti-gay law only deepens the division in this frail nation state and in the end won't make a damn bit of difference in the direction of the emerging civil war. Don't be surprise to see political opponents arrested for 'homosexual conduct'.

LGBT Americans must put pressure on the Obama administration to take decisive action against Nigeria and Uganda now, or no nation in Africa will feel there is a price to be paid for these kind of horrific laws directed at LGBT Africans.


Welcome David Mixner

Some of you may have read the news over at longtime gay activist and author David Mixner's blog that he is shutting it down to work on other projects.

MixnerWhile we are sad to see his rich, opinionated, energized site come to an end we are thrilled that one of the pursuits born as a result will be a regular series of columns at Towleroad, in which David will write about LGBT issues, foreign policy, politics, and other of his varied interests such as wildlife and the climate.

David's tenacious and admirable work as an activist, fundraiser, strategist, consultant, and advisor to LGBT community organizations and public figures and his engaging writing style will inform and energize the conversation at Towleroad and I couldn't be more excited to have him joining us. As a personal friend, I thank him, and I hope you'll welcome him too.


Barilla Pasta Announces Major 'Diversity and Inclusion' Initiative in Response to Anti-Gay Controversy

Barilla, the international pasta maker who came under fire in September after its chairman Guido Barilla told a radio host that gay people could find another brand if they didn't like the fact that the company would never make an advertisement with gay people in it, today announced a new Diversity & Inclusion Board, a Global Diversity Officer, and participation in the HRC Corporate Equality Index.

BarillaThe new initiatives are a result of meetings with civil and human rights leaders in Italy and the United States, it says.

Said Chief Executive Officer Claudio Colzani in a press release:

“Diversity, inclusion and equality have long been grounded in Barilla’s culture, values and code of conduct. They are reflected in our policies and the benefits we provide to all employees, regardless of age, disability, gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. At the same time, we are committed to promoting diversity further because we firmly believe that it’s the right thing to do.”

The steps include:

- A newly-established Diversity & Inclusion Board, comprising external experts and advocates who will help Barilla establish concrete goals and strategies for improving diversity and equality in the company’s workforce and culture with regard to sexual orientation, gender balance, disability rights and multicultural and intergenerational issues. Individuals who have accepted positions on the Board to date include, David Mixner, a prominent global leader in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and Alex Zanardi, a Paralympic gold medalist.

- Appointment of the company’s first Chief Diversity Officer, Talita Erickson, a Brazilian-born attorney who for the past year has served as General Counsel to Barilla America.

- Participation in the Corporate Equality Index (CEI) created by the U.S.-based Human Rights Campaign to measure and rate large companies on their policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) employees.

4_barillaSaid Mixner: “I am encouraged by Barilla’s commitment to seek outside guidance and advice on these crucial issues and pleased to be a part of it. I am also impressed with the willingness of the Chairman and company to listen and learn from LGBT community leaders and work towards improving diversity, inclusion and equality.”

The company adds:

Barilla will also launch a global online contest in 2014 designed to engage people on diversity, inclusion and equality. Entrants will be asked to create short videos that represent the multifaceted nature of pasta, which will be submitted to the web community to be liked, shared and voted. The videos will be then judged by an expert panel and the winners will receive awards.


Gay Couple Together For 46 Years Finally Ties The Knot: VIDEO

Wedding

David Mixner points out a wonderful video posted by The New York Times about a couple together for more than 46 years, Lewis Duckett and Billy Jones, who recently got married. The couple were first introduced by a mutual friend. "Before either one of us knew it, we were in love," said Jones. They survived Jones's deployment to Vietnam (they wrote to each other in code), and went on to have children and grandchildren together.

"For most of our forty-six years together, it's been, 'I don't know sort of where I stop and where he begins,' it's been that kind of blending," according to Jones.

The couple has been officially married a little over three months now, and while Duckett points out that, "nothing really feels different," he adds, "It's an enhancement to the relationship that we had."

Watch the full video AFTER THE JUMP...

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NYC 'Lights the Way to Justice' in Times Square

Lightjustice

Last night I headed up to Times Square to find a warm and friendly crowd for a 'Light the Way to Justice' gathering to give witness to the coming events this week at the Supreme Court. Several hundred joined me including longtime activist David Mixner, Jane Clementi (Tyler's mother), producere Vance Garrett, activist Peter Yacobellis, and Cuomo aide Erik Bottcher.

It was a great start to the week ahead.

More photos and videos from the rally and march earlier in the day can be found HERE.

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