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04/19/2007


Russian 'LGBT Open Games' Receive Bomb Threat Before Opening Ceremony: VIDEO

Louganis

Moscow's Open Games, an LGBT and ally sports festival pointedly fighting back against Russia's anti-gay propaganda laws by inviting all players to openly express their sexual orientation, has had its fair share of difficulties. We previously reported that several sports venues shut their doors to the five-day event, and now a bomb threat, called in just before the opening ceremony, has derailed action further. 

OpengamesABC News reports:

“This is nothing new in our community, unfortunately,” organizer Konstantin Yablotskiy (inset, left) said. He expected the building to be cleared in time for the ceremony later in the evening...

But the bomb scare forced Yablotskiy and honorary guest Greg Louganis, the American Olympic diving champion, to host a planned kick-off news conference outdoors in the club’s parking lot.

“The aim of these games is to send a positive message to our society, to our authorities, that we are normal people,” Yablotskiy said.

“I think sports transcends many differences, whether it be political differences, religious differences, or views about LGBT people,” Louganis said, noting he was able to relate to Soviet athletes at the height of the Cold War when they competed against each other and hung out together during the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

“By being here and supporting these games I hope I can shed a little light on [gay life] and share a part of my world of being  gay man living with HIV, but also living a full life and integrated life,” he added.

Hopefully the Open Games will not garner any more violent attention from the public, though rising levels of hate crimes after the approval of Russia's anti-gay propaganda laws indicate that the outcome could be less than desirable. We will keep readers posted on any developments.

The games will conclude on Sunday, March 2nd. 

Watch an interview with Louganis at last night's opening, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Russian 'LGBT Open Games' Receive Bomb Threat Before Opening Ceremony: VIDEO" »


Charlotte, NC Man Fired From Job After Altercation With Governor Now Receiving Help From Mayor

Drew Swope, a gay grocery store employee who had a verbal altercation with North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (right) on Sunday wound up fired. Now, in a remarkable turn of events, he is receiving help from Charlotte's mayor, Pat Cannon, to secure a new job.

PatmccrorySwope reportedly said, "Thanks for nothing" as McCrory passed by him at Reid's Fine Foods, an understandable sentiment given McCrory's already tumultuous term, fraught with anti-abortion measures and slashed education budgets. Swope claimed that McCrory's response may have had something to do with the employee's sexual orientation.

Talking Points Memo reports:

"...he started yelling at me and eyes were bulging out of his head," Swope told TPM in a phone interview on Tuesday.

The openly gay Swope also told TPM that McCrory was hostile to him "for being a fag."

A spokesman for the governor said that McCrory did not raise his voice, and claimed that Swope actually made an obscene gesture — a charge that Swope vehemently denied.

McCrory's office did not respond to TPM's request for comment.

PatrickCannon2009Swope subsequently lost his job, an action which he understood and respected given the behavior he exhibited while at work.

“I wasn’t surprised at all," Swope told TPM. "I mean, I would have fired me. I’ve been in the restaurant business for 25 years. I know the rules.”

Charlotte's mayor, Pat Cannon (right) has not taken the situation lightly, however, and he asked Swope to send him his resume so that he could help secure a position for him in the city's private sector.  

“To lose a job is nothing that someone wants to do,” Cannon said. “I felt that I would do what I could to help him along the way, if I could make something happen. I have a few leads for him to help him continue being a contributing citizen of Charlotte.”


Poll: 86 Percent Of NFL Players Would Welcome Gay Teammate

A new survey from NFL Nation and ESPN Magazine suggests that while most players in the NFL would welcome a gay teammate, on and off the field, there may be other issues ahead.

MichaelsamThe survey was obviously generated in response to Michael Sam, who may become the first openly gay player in the NFL after the draft, and his coming out experience. The most telling statistic revealed that of the fifty-one players polled, forty-four (or 86%) responded "False" to the statement, "A player's sexual orientation matters to you." Thirty-nine answered affirmatively when asked if they would shower around a gay teammate, too, perhaps putting some of Rush Limbaugh's concerns to rest.

Where the poll soured slightly was in the amount of homophobic language used by coaches as well as other team members. Thirty-two poll respondents said that they "had teammates or coaches who used homophobic slurs last season." This mixed bag of largely supportive teammates and offensive rhetoric seemed evident in the final question on the survey. When asked to respond "True" or "False" to the statement "An openly gay player would be comfortable in an NFL locker room," twenty-five respondents were affirmative while twenty-one were negative (five did not respond).

ESPN.com reports on the data:

If Missouri defensive end Michael Sam is drafted in May and becomes the NFL's first openly gay player, he'll walk into a league that seems to be moving closer to acceptance but is still dealing with growing pains as it does so...

One concern for players appeared to be learning how they could relate to a teammate they knew was gay and whether they would need to behave any differently around him.

According to one starting receiver, "Whoever takes [Sam in the draft] should have an open talk at the beginning of camp, where everybody can ask what he's comfortable with, what offends him, what boundaries there should be. When it comes to race, people already know the boundaries, to a certain extent. But I don't think football players are overly familiar with what can and can't be said around a gay person."

Sam reportedly gained a great deal of strength from his teammates throughout his coming out process, and one NFL tight end said he was unsure whether he could find the same level of support on an NFL team.

"There is a little more of a family environment in college. It was more like having brothers. In the NFL, you have friends, but it's a more work-oriented environment. I hope guys can be professional and respect who he is and leave his personal life out of it."

So do we. Sam, who was named defensive player of the year in the SEC, deserves a spot in the NFL. 


First Openly Gay Oklahoma State Senator To Run For Congress

Al McAffrey, the Oklahoma state senator for District 46, announced Sunday that he would be running for a fifth district congressional seat. McAffrey, who owns a cremation and mortuary service, was an Oklahoma City police officer, and is a Navy veteran, was the first openly gay member of the Sooner State's legislature. 

Mcaffrey_bioKRMG.com reports:

At the news conference announcing the run, McAffrey said, “it’s not about political parties or bipartisanship, rather about our friends and neighbors."

He continued "but to do it, we have to send different people to Congress. I’m running because I believe there is a better way. As a father of three wonderful women and a grandfather, I know my daughters deserve better.” 

...

McAffrey went on to say, “right now, Washington is stuck in gridlock. Folks on both sides of the aisle are so stuck they can't manage to get anywhere on anything. And while they're playing politics, the folks back here at home are paying the price.”

... 

He continued “we have commitments from a lot of people here in Oklahoma and outside of Oklahoma helping us raise money.” 

McAffrey reportedly told The Gayly that he has "been looking at this race for about a year." 


British Pro Football Captain Casey Stoney Comes Out as Gay, Speaks Out Against Russia

Caseystoney

Casey Stoney, a defensive player for both the England women's football and Arsenal Ladies teams, has come out after years of silence surrounding her sexuality. Stoney cited inspiration from German footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger and Tom Daley, as well as a strong relationship of her own as impetus for her decision. And, in keeping with the times, Stoney was highly critical of Russia's anti-gay laws, particularly given that the World Cup will be hosted there in 2018.

Inside World Soccer reports:

"I've never hidden it within football circles because it is accepted. But to the outside world, I've never spoken about my sexuality

"I feel it's really important for me to speak out as a gay player because there are so many young people struggling with being gay.

"You hear about people taking their own lives because they're homosexual, now that should never happen. They should never feel those pressures.

"How can I expect other people to come out and speak about themselves if I'm not willing to do that myself?

"Now is the time because I'm in a loving relationship where I feel strong, I feel safe and I don't care what other people think any more."

Stoney said that she used to lie, saying she had a boyfriend, or acted in a way that she thought would take attention off of her sexual orientation. Now, though, it seems that there was too much at stake to remain closeted, including the Sochi Olympics and the upcoming soccer World Cups. 

She said: "I won't be going to Russia or Qatar to watch a World Cup because I wouldn't be accepted there.

"I think it's incredible that these countries get World Cups and Olympics when they don't accept everybody to go there and be part of it.

"There will be (Olympic) athletes competing out (in Sochi) who are gay. I can't imagine how frightened they must feel going out there and competing.

"When Russian President Vladimir Putin says that gay people can come over but please don't go near the children, what sort of message is that sending if he is that uneducated and he's ruling that country? It seriously worries me.

"It's about educating the people at the top, all the way down."

Congratulations, Casey! Welcome to the team. 


Woman Found Guilty In Attack On Gay Couple Walking Pink Poodle

Towleroad previously reported on the case of Portland-area gay couple David Beltier and Jeremy Mark, who were attacked while taking their pink poodle, Beauty, for a walk last March. Now, a verdict has been reached for one member of the husband-wife duo of assailants, though the charge is far less severe than it could have been. 

140129_saraya_sophia_lisa_gardner_405KATU.com reports:

The jury of 12 people found Saraya Sophia Lisa Gardner guilty on one count of obstruction of justice.

Her husband, 23-year-old George Allen Mason Jr. is accused of striking a gay man with a crowbar and hurling gay slurs at him March 1. The attacked happened at 185th and Evergreen next to a busy strip mall...

Gardner's attorney, Thomas Coan, said after the verdict that he and his client were a little bit surprised and disappointed by the verdict.

"We think the government didn't have the evidence necessary to prove Ms. Gardner's intent in this case," he said, adding that he believes some of the evidence presented in the case tainted the jury.

"There was evidence of homophobic slurs that we didn't think was relevant that could have tainted the jury or prejudiced the jury against Ms. Gardner," he said.

Beltier previously reported that he was "happy to be alive," and the trial for George Mason Jr., the physical assailant in this case, will likely begin soon.


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