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UCLA Study Reveals Hollywood May Not Be So LGBT-Friendly After All

Lgbt-hollywood

The film industry specializes in illusion: actors can play anywhere along a gay spectrum and full storylines are effectively created for gender non-conforming, bisexual, or transgender persons, even if American "culture" is not reflective of the willingness necessary to accept those representations. The "liberal Hollywood" archetype may be revealed as just an illusion, however, thanks to a new study out of UCLA's Williams Institute. 

In a survey of 5,700 SAG-AFTRA members, over half the lesbian, gay, and bisexual respondents reported hearing anti-gay comments from the crew. 53% "believed that directors and producers are biased against LGBT performers." These are surprising statistics when one considers the rapidity with which actors and actresses have been coming out in recent years, egged on by increasing levels of awareness and equal rights throughout the country. 

Deadline reports:

“We found that LGBT performers may have substantial barriers to overcome in their search for jobs,” said the authors of the study, M. V. Lee Badgett, a Williams Institute Distinguished Scholar and Director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, and Jody L. Herman, manager of Transgender Research at the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law...

According to the study, “gay men were the most likely to re­port they have experienced some form of discrimination, with one in five reporting an experience. Bisexual actors were about half as likely to report discrimination as gay or lesbian actors. Gender nonconforming gay and bisexual men were more likely to experi­ence discrimination, as were men who were out professionally...”

The study also found that LGBT performers are less likely than heterosexual performers to have agents, “which may put LGBT performers at a disadvantage when looking for work.

Still, 72% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual respondents reported that coming out had had no ill effect on their career, and they recommended that other LGBT actors follow suit. The damning first-person accounts included in the study (gay actors being recast, fired, or told they "aren't right" for a role) would seem to suggest otherwise, but SAG-AFTRA is confident that the study will make an impact.

“Although our industry is heading in the right direction, there is clearly work left to do as certain attitudes and behaviors persist and continue to put pressure on actors to stay in the closet,” wrote Traci Godfrey and Jason Stuart, national co-chairs of the SAG-AFTRA LGBT Committee. “We are confident that this unprecedented study will have profound ramifications for the entertainment industry as a whole. By utilizing the data it contains as it reflects the realities performers face, we can identify the obstacles to equal employment opportunities and full inclusion.”

Image via Deadline.


Cameroon's Anti-gay Laws Often Invoked Based On Stereotypes and Trickery Rather Than 'Sexual Relations'

Michel-TogueAnti-gay legislation in Cameroon is meant to punish "sexual relations with a person of the same sex" and can result in prison sentences up to five years in length. One attorney, Michel Togue (right), is speaking out against the injustice not only of the law itself, but also the shoddy, treacherous ways in which it is reinforced. According to Togue, article 347 of the Cameroon penal code is more often than not invoked based on stereotyping and entrapment.

Think Progress reports:

Togue told ThinkProgress that of the dozens of such cases he has represented, very few people were actually caught in the act of actually having sex. Once an accusation of homosexuality is made, police make arrests based solely on how individuals present themselves. For example, if a man is found to be cross-dressing, that could be used as proof that he is gay in court. If somebody has a job that doesn’t fit their gender, like a male hairdresser, that too could be used against them. A judge convicted one of Togue’s clients for feminine mannerisms and for drinking Bailey’s Irish Cream, which he felt only a woman would drink...

Cameroon2One of the most high-profile cases was that of Jean-Claude Roger Mbede (left), who texted a picture of himself holding a sign that read, “I’m very much in love w/u” to another man. The recipient reported the image to the police as “sexual harassment,” then invited Mbede over to his home, where the police were waiting to arrest him. Mbede was sentenced to three years in prison. “If Roger was sentenced as a homosexual,” Togue asked, “with whom did he have sex?” Mbede was provisionally released on medical grounds in 2012 and went into hiding; he died earlier this year after he could no longer afford hospital treatment for a hernia.

While the widespread misuse of the penal code is disturbing, the reinforcement of anti-gay laws by the Catholic church is spreading a message of hate further than it would otherwise reach. in 2013, bishops from around the country issued a statement reading: "homosexuality opposes humanity and destroys it." The cultural ramifications of such fear-mongering are incredibly dangerous.

This stigma is also having a negative impact on health care in the country, particularly when it comes to HIV outreach. “They can’t go to the hospital for the treatment or even for a test because they’re afraid,” Togue explained. He knows of at least one case where an individual admitted to a nurse that he’d had same-sex relations and she called the police on him.

CameroonTogue remains hopeful, however, and believes that the work of LGBT organizations in Cameroon could positively impact the cultural milieu surrounding homosexual identity.

Togue hopes that local organizations in Cameroon will help people learn that “a homosexual is our friend, is our brother, is our sister, is part of our family — is not a stranger, not someone coming from outside.”

Image of Togue via Global Rights.


Catholic Choir Director Fired For Same-Sex Engagement Meets With Cardinal, Receives Support Rally

Collette

Colin Collette (above center in white jacket) was fired from his position as music director at Holy Family Catholic Community church in Inverness, IL this July after photos of his same-sex marriage proposal emerged. Ever since he has received an intense outpouring of support from the church's parishioners, though the archdiocese of Chicago have remained tight-lipped. When Collette reached out to Cardinal Francis George for a meeting regarding the incident, however, the response was immediate and affirmative; the two met on Tuesday, praying together and, if all went to Collette's plan, discussing his job. 

Collette1The Chicago Tribune reports:

“I was incredibly grateful to the cardinal for meeting with me. This is an incredibly difficult time for him. ... I was moved beyond words that he would meet with me,” Collette said of George, who is battling cancer. “We prayed together. He was wonderful. He was very pastoral.”

Collette declined to elaborate on the nature of the discussion Tuesday. He said he had sought the meeting in hopes of getting his job back. While there was no indication that would happen, Collette said the cardinal urged him to speak to his pastor.

“My head is sort of spinning, but as I said over and over, my whole life has been the church. It's my love. It's my passion, and I pray for the opportunity to do that,” he said.

Check out a Chicago NBC 5 report on Collette's meeting with the Cardinal, AFTER THE JUMP...

Though Collette has been the recipient of a great deal of community support--including a rally held Sunday to indicate that support to church leaders--he is well aware that his sexual orientation and relationship are not to everyone's liking.

“I'm not that naive to know that there are some people who believe that who I am basically is wrong. I'm not that naive, but the love and support I have received is truly humbling and is beyond words,” Collette said.

We will continue to report on Collette's story, but for now we are happy to see the level of affirmation he is receiving from church members, and a willingness on the part of some church officials to discuss the matter. Collette said that he and the Cardinal would meet again soon.

Check out video coverage of the press conference at the Chicago Tribune.

Continue reading "Catholic Choir Director Fired For Same-Sex Engagement Meets With Cardinal, Receives Support Rally" »


Massachusetts Could Make History This Fall Electing First Out Gay Attorney General, Lt. Governor

Massachusetts

On Tuesday night, two openly gay candidates secured their party's nominations in the Massachusetts primary, paving the way for a history-making election night on November 4th.

Maura Healey (top left) beat out former state senator Warren Tolman to become the Democratic nominee for attorney general. Steve Kerrigan (top right), became the Democratic lieutenant governor nominee alongside gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley. If Healey and Kerrigan are elected this fall, they would be the first LGBT people to hold their respective positions in the United States.

Buzzfeed reports:

“As an advocate, as a prosecutor, and as a civil rights attorney, you have got to make your case and you have it give it all of your heart,” Healey said in her victory speech. “We have made our case tonight.”

As an assistant attorney general in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, Healey played a key role in the state’s fight against the Defense of Marriage Act, arguing against DOMA’s constitutionally at the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in 2012.

Martha Coakley, Kerrigan's gubernatorial running mate, coincidentally filed the very same DOMA suit in 2009 while serving as attorney general. 

Kara S. Coredini of MassEquality was thrilled with the primary's outcome:

“Tonight was a tremendous night for LGBTQ justice and equality. Voters saw Steve Kerrigan and Maura Healey for what they offer and not solely who they are — and both won by resounding margins. For the young LGBTQ people growing up anywhere in Massachusetts and anywhere in the country, the people of Massachusetts have said to them tonight, it’s what you do that matters, and we celebrate who you are...

Massachusetts is poised to shatter several glass ceilings after tonight. Our first elected female Governor of Massachusetts, our first openly gay Lieutenant Governor and state Attorney General in Massachusetts and the country, and the second female treasurer in the Commonwealth’s history, which is a great accomplishment given the glass ceiling that has existed for women in politics, both statewide and nationally. They will bring to the job the wisdom and insight of the lives they’ve led, and they will give hope to all that follow.”

Congratulations to Healey, Kerrigan, and Coakley!


Big Question: Is The Catholic Church Undergoing An Evolution On Same-Sex Marriage?

Popefrancis1Christopher J. Hale, a senior fellow at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, is asking a big question following a year of semi-relaxed treatment of homosexuality by the Church: is the Catholic Church really evolving on the issue of same-sex marriage? Are we on the precipice of a larger revolution? Evolution, yes, revolution, no, according to Hale, who believes that sensitive leadership from Pope Francis may bring Catholic leaders into a warmer, more tolerant phase but doubts we will see said leaders approving of gay marriage anytime soon.

Time reports:

6a00d8341c730253ef01901e14e593970b-800wiLast week New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan gave his okay to the St. Patrick Day Parade Committee’s decision to allow a gay group to march in the 2015 parade under their own banner. This was a remarkable shift from one of Dolan’s predecessors Cardinal John O’Connor who in 1993 declared that to allow a gay group to march in the parade would be a slander to the Apostle’s Creed.

This closes a remarkable summer in which a number of high-ranking Catholic prelates have signaled that Pope Francis’s more open posture on gay issues has permeated through the Catholic world. In May, a top-ranking Italian bishop said that the Church should be more open to arguments in support of same-sex marriage. And just a few weeks ago, one of Pope Francis’s closest friends Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes said in an interview that he “didn’t know” whether Jesus would oppose gay marriage.

High-ranking Catholics from around the world will congregate at the Synod of the Family this October, and Hale believes that therein lies a chance to communicate the need for acceptance rather than cold dismissal of homosexuals. After a 1975 declaration that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered," a somewhat liberal backlash forced some Catholic leaders to reconsider the harsh rhetoric of the church.

In 1997, the American bishops grew concerned that the language from Rome had grown too cold and in response published the pastoral letter Always Our Children.

In it, they write: “God does not love someone any less simply because he or she is homosexual. God’s love is always and everywhere offered to those who are open to receiving it.” It says Church ministers must “welcome homosexual persons into the faith community, and seek out those on the margins. Avoid stereotyping and condemning. Strive first to listen.”

Hale believes that Pope Francis will bring this ideal to the Synod of the Family and continue a quite public, very evident evolution of homosexual ideology within the church.

His is only one opinion, though not without reason. And many will still argue that a slow "evolution" is not enough. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Stephen Rhodes Hopes To Be NASCAR's First Openly Gay Success Story, Seeks LGBTQ Sponsorship: VIDEO

StephenRhodesStephen Rhodes grew up in Goldsboro, NC, a small southern town, but he has always been ambitious. An ace racer from a young age, Rhodes racked up rookie trophies in stock car races and found himself in the upper ranks of lower-tier NASCAR competitions throughout the 1990's and 2000's. After stepping back from his dream of becoming the first openly gay, successful NASCAR driver in order to help his partner open a restaurant in 2010, Rhodes is ready to get back behind the wheel. But he needs the LGBTQ community's support.

His crowdfunding page, Race for Equality, explains more:

This campaign is the most important thing in my life for two reasons....first and foremost this has been a life long dream of mine as I started when I was eight years old and devoted every weekend of my life to my racing career. Secondly when I came out at the age of seventeen I knew that I could use my talent to create a ever lasting impression on the gay community by providing exposure for equality in the biggest sport in the world with over 75 Million fans.

What Will Happen if we raise the money?! Stephen Rhodes will return to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as the First Openly Gay Driver, expand equality in the sport and will be sponsored solely by those in the LGBT Community and who supports our efforts!

Stephen explains that while most NASCAR drivers have the support of Walmart, Lowe's, and other big corporations, he wants to be sponsored by his own community. He is seeking $3 million, a hefty sum, though not as much when one considers the cars, parts, maintenance, entry fees, travel costs, etc...involved in one of the most widely publicized and watched sports in the world.

Consider sponsoring Stephen by donating to his crowdfunding page! Good luck, Mr. Rhodes--we hope to see you behind the wheel of a hot rod soon.

And check out a video/interview Rhodes filmed for the Speed Network, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Stephen Rhodes Hopes To Be NASCAR's First Openly Gay Success Story, Seeks LGBTQ Sponsorship: VIDEO" »


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