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Former Ex-Gay Leader Tim Rymel Releases ‘Going Gay,’ Memoir About His Life-Long Struggles With Homosexuality, Religion

TimRymelAs the former Outreach Director for ex-gay group Love in Action, Tim Rymel was convinced that the years he had spent praying for a heterosexual life had come to a fruitful end. He married a woman, had two children, and appeared on national talk shows assuring gays and lesbians that they too could change. After a bad divorce, though, Rymel went on an arduous journey to come to terms with his homosexuality. Now he has released a book, Going Gay: My Journey from Evangelical Christian Minister to Self-acceptance, Love, Life, and Meaning, telling his story from start to finish. 

From the press release:

Going Gay not only recounts Rymel’s journey but provides a starting point for dialogue about LGBT inclusion in the church.

“I want the conservative church to see the painful reality that many of their own believers go through to come to terms with their inborn homosexuality,” Rymel said. “I wrote the book ‘as one of their own’ to create dialogue and cause them to rethink what they believe and what the Bible says about homosexuality.”

...

Going Gay is a heartbreaking, thought-provoking account of one man’s journey to accept and understand himself,” said Justin Lee, founder and Executive Director of Gay Christian Network. “In a culture where faith and sexuality seem often to be at war, the stories of those caught in the crossfire are critically important. Readers may not agree with all of Rymel’s views, but this is a story worth telling and a story worth understanding.”

A Q&A with Rymel reveals a self-loving, accepting human being. “Being LGBT does not send you to hell,” he says, and “God loves you exactly the way you are.” These are certainly words to live by for many struggling LGBT folks around the country.

Congrats to Rymel for not only persevering through numerous difficult years, but for sharing an important story. His book is available in paperback, hardcover, and as an e-book.


Members Of Ugandan Parliament Sign Petition To Swiftly Reinstate Anti-Homosexuality Act

Members of the Ugandan parliament held a press conference yesterday to announce their plan to bypass rules of procedure in order to vote on and reinstate the anti-homosexuality act (struck down by the Ugandan constitutional court last Friday). Led by Latif Sebagala, the group of MPs stated that they were collecting signatures (pictured below, in a tweet from Parliament Watch) in order to build support and petition for a reconsideration of the law.

Petition1Sebagala seems to believe that House speaker Rebecca Kadaga should be able to suspend the rules of procedure, which would otherwise necessitate starting the legislative process over from the beginning. The court's decision last week was predicated on parliament's breaking of Ugandan law, though, so it is unclear just how viable an option Sebagala's plan would be. Supporters of the bill are conflicted about his risky strategy but are still adamant about the anti-homosexuality stance.

Buzzfeed reports:

A group of MPs led by Latif Sebagala said the petition for a re-vote had already collected 100 signatures from MPs. He said that by Friday he believed he would have signatures from a majority of parliament...

In a phone interview, the bill’s original sponsor, MP David Bahati, would not directly answer several questions about how soon he wanted to see the bill brought to the floor and whether it should be passed under rules of procedure...

“Any bill will pass through the procedure, and by the rules of procedure we will follow them and we will pass it,” Bahati said, adding, “We can suspend any of the rules if we think it is important.”

“Whether it’s tomorrow or a week or a month, we will take whatever time is required to make sure that the future of our children is protected, the family is protected, and the sovereignty nation of the protected,” Bahati said. “The issues of technicalities is not a big deal to anybody. But the big deal … is that homosexuality is not a human right here in Uganda.”

Whether or not the bill can be passed quickly, Ugandan officials risk increased tensions and financial restrictions with the United States and other global organizations. Still, the vehemence of Sebagala and the other MP's is disturbing: not only did they share news of the petition at the press conference, they also reportedly broke into song:

Petition2


LGBT Servicemembers To Receive Memorial In Congressional Cemetery

DADTNearly three years ago, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal was made official, paving the way for lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members to perform their duties openly and honestly. The repeal by no means erased a traumatic history, however, and now gay veterans, and those currently serving, will receive a memorial to honor their sacrifices. Located in Washington, D.C.'s congressional cemetery, the memorial will cement DADT as a thing of the past.

Blue Nation Review reports:

The monument will be three pillars in a triangle shape with each branch’s insignia on it and a flag in the middle. The point of the memorial is to make people aware of the sacrifice and hardship that LGBT people face in the military. There are countless stories of veterans repressing their sexuality in order to serve their country. Thanks to President Obama’s leadership and the action of Congressional Democrats ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in 2010, soldiers don’t have to do that anymore.

Of course, transgender service members cannot serve openly in the military, a tragic oversight which requires immediate attention. Still, this memorial will be an important symbol of equality for many Americans.

In related news, the Congressional Cemetery is the final resting place of Leonard Matlovich, a Vietnam war vet and gay rights pioneer who took up residence in San Francisco's Castro District in the late 70's, and appeared on the cover of TIME magazine in September 1975 under the headline "I am a Homosexual".

Matlovich's headstone is well-known. It reads: "When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one."


Review: Exuberant Coming-Of-Age Dramedy ‘The Way He Looks’ Charts Blind Teen’s First Love

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BY JOSEPH EHRMAN-DUPRE

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.

WayHeLooks2At 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.

WayHeLooks3Perhaps 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.

WayHeLooks4The 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...

Continue reading "Review: Exuberant Coming-Of-Age Dramedy ‘The Way He Looks’ Charts Blind Teen’s First Love" »


NewFest, NYC's Premier LGBT Film Festival, Opens: VIDEO

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The Film Society of Lincoln Center and OutFest combine forces this week to bring you NewFest, New York City's largest LGBT film festival.

NewFestFrom July 24th thru July 29th, NewFest will screen a series of wonderfully-curated narrative, documentary, and short films from a diverse array of directors. Nathaniel Rogers recently reviewed Futuro Beach and Gerontophilia, the opening and closing night selections, but there are many others to see in between.

Sure bets (based on other film fest's awards, including LA's OutFest) include: The Circle, a documentary about the Swiss underground gay movement post-WWII, Lilting, about a boyfriend and mother grieving the same death on very different terms, and The Way He Looks, a coming-of-age narrative about a blind teenager's affections for a new friend. 

Head over to the Film Society of Lincoln Center site to purchase tickets, and check out a trailer for the festival, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "NewFest, NYC's Premier LGBT Film Festival, Opens: VIDEO" »


Openly Gay Former NFL Player David Kopay Remembers His Scandalous Coming Out, Celebrates Michael Sam: VIDEO

DavidKopay

In 1975, David Kopay became the first NFL player, current or former, to come out publicly in the Washington Star. It was a stunning moment for sports, and he later revealed even more--including a one night stand with former Redskin player Jerry Smith--in his memoir, The David Kopay Story. Now, nearly forty years later, Kopay is one of many who are welcoming Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL, with open (but concerned) arms. 

The Hollywood Reporter recently wrote about Kopay's experience:

"I was desperate," he says. "I was totally, 'What am I going to do with my life? Can I make a difference?' " He'd hoped his tale...would encourage other pro athletes to come out. But years turned to decades and few had followed suit. Meeting Sam, the gifted defensive end who shattered the last civil rights hurdle in pro sports when he kissed his boyfriend after being drafted by the St. Louis Rams in May, came as more than just a passing thrill. It was the culmination of a life's work.

One need only consider current attitudes toward gays in sports -- when a celebratory kiss between men can result in an uproar -- to grasp just how shocking Kopay's admission was for the 1970s. And yet somehow his remarkable story has faded over the years. According to columnist Will Leitch, founding editor of Deadspin, that largely is due to Kopay being eons ahead of his time. "I think it was honestly too early," says Leitch. "It was 1975. In four years, Al Pacino would be making Cruising. People were not ready for an NFL player being gay at all."

DavidKopay2And neither were Kopay's family and friends. Married at the time, he got divorced and was excommunicated by his Catholic mother; she left him with the kind parting words, "I created you and I can kill you." Kopay moved to San Francisco, rubbing shoulders with Harvey Milk and living with Armistead Maupin, then to Los Angeles where he has lived since.

Kopay swims laps daily at nearby Occidental College, regularly hits the Rose Bowl flea market and enjoys attending NFL alumni games and serving as honorary ambassador to the Gay Games. He lives alone, his garage lined with memory boards filled with photos of debauched days spent in New Orleans. Whenever he speaks of past loves, they are invariably of the unrequited kind.

It is understandable then that Sam's decision to kiss his boyfriend after receiving his draft call would dredge up proud but conflicted emotions for Kopay.

"I was a bit unnerved," Kopay admits of watching Sam plant a passionate smooch on boyfriend Vito Cammisano, the pair later smearing cake on each other's faces. "I'm old school, you know? Certainly I felt he had a right to kiss his boyfriend and I was really glad he did. But I was not so happy with the cake in the face. It was a little bit over the top. I just worried about him like, 'Oh, what's the fuss that this is going to cause?'"

Hopefully relatively little, and Kopay seems to admit that he is of a different era. He also took the first, and perhaps bravest step of all.

"I think it was the first brick removed from the wall of homophobia," says Cyd Zeigler, the co-founder of Outsports.com. "When Kopay came out, the gay community was just beginning to find its identity. For a portion that didn't associate with the stereotypical gay identity, Dave's honesty was life-changing. I'm sure it saved lives."

Check out an interview with Kopay, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Openly Gay Former NFL Player David Kopay Remembers His Scandalous Coming Out, Celebrates Michael Sam: VIDEO" »


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