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


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. 

Gay People Can Begin Marrying in England and Wales on March 29


The marriage equality law in England and Wales will take effect on March 29, 2014, the BBC reports:

Initially it was thought the first same-sex marriage in England and Wales would not take place until the summer. Couples wishing to be among the first to marry will need to give formal notice of their intention to marry on 13 March. It comes after the government's controversial legislation on the issue received Royal Assent in July. The Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat leaderships all backed the proposals.

'Queer As Folk' Scribe Penning Two New Gay Dramas, Web Series For British TV

The brain behind Britain's now fifteen-year-old Queer as Folk will be pumping out two new shows in 2014, and just like that show, it sounds like it'll be all (or at least partially) about sex. Russell T. Davies has penned Cucumber and Banana, companion shows with interrelated characters that will be accompanied by a supplemental program online called Tofu. The delicious trifecta is named after a scientific study Davies once read which "divided the hard-on into four categories, from soft to hard. One, tofu. Two, peeled banana. Three, banana. And four, cucumber." Sounds promising, right? 

RusselltdaviesThe Hollywood Reporter reports:

Cucumber is eight hour-long episodes for Channel 4 and follows 46-year-old Henry and his long-suffering boyfriend Lance.

Life for Henry and Lance is comfortable and settled. But after the most disastrous date night in history -- involving a death, a threesome, two police cars and the Glee Christmas Album -- Henry's old life shatters, and his new one begins.

On E4, Banana will follow the lives of characters orbiting around Henry in Cucumber, in eight 30-minute episodes.

From young lesbian Scotty's first love to 19-year-old Dean's mysterious family secrets, Banana covers "50 shades of gay, and beyond," Channel 4 said.

Tofu aims to take the experience online with eight factual episodes navigating the landscape of 21st-century sex in its own inimitable way.

The shows, which are still being cast and are set to begin shooting in early 2014, will likely have a great deal of hype surrounding them. Davies is well-known not only for QAF, but also for his work on Doctor Who, a show which has consistently grown in popularity both across the pond and domestically. His collaborators rightly have faith in his ability to deliver on his new shows.

Channel 4 head of drama Piers Wenger said: "No one can look into the heart and soul of modern relationships quite like Russell, and across Channel 4, E4 and online, he paints an unflinching and forensic portrait of how our sex lives affect us all. It might be 15 years since Queer as Folk, but he has made it more than worth the wait."

Church of England: Growing Support for Gay Marriage is 'Not a Case for Changing Obedience to God'

WelbyWith marriage equality in the United Kingdom now law, the Church of England has found itself in a bit of a pickle in terms of how to address the UK's changing attitude on homosexuality. While the Church has taken positive steps recently, such as its new campaign to combat homophobic bullying in schools across the country, the official doctrine of classifying homosexuality as sin remains firmly in place.

Justin Welby (pictured right), the Archbishop of Canterbury and senior bishop in the Church of England, says that despite the Church's opposition to marriage equality being 'utterly overwhelmed' by vocal supporters, Christian views on same-sex relations should not change. Pink News reports:

"Addressing over 6,000 people at [a Church of England] conference, he said it would be 'foolish' to ignore the 'revolution' of same-sex marriage coming into law in England and Wales.

"He acknowledged that the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, which has now received Royal Assent, had support from all parties, but said that was not enough for Christians to change from their 'obedience to God.'

"Archbishop Welby voted against equal marriage in the House of Lords, and had said he could hear the 'roar of revolution' on listening to debate around the issue.

"The Church of England had opposed the same-sex marriage bill until June, when it said that it accepted that there was a clear majority in Parliament to introduce same-sex marriage and that it would therefore end its opposition to changing the law."



Duncan Fallowell’s 'How To Disappear: A Memoir For Misfits': Book Review


Fallowell coverIt’s hard to know how to describe this strange, appealing book, which recounts adventures—geographical, intellectual, sexual—undertaken by the English writer Duncan Fallowell over the last thirty years. It calls itself a memoir, and in Britain the book won the PEN/Ackerley Prize for “literary autobiography”—but this is autobiography of a very peculiar kind, invested in explorations of exotic places and unusual lives rather than in confession or personal revelation.

The lives Fallowell explores are bound by two things: a misfit quality and a talent for disappearance. One piece follows the career of an Indian woman who first marries and then is abandoned by an English nobleman; she spends the rest of her life in obscurity, desperately striving to reclaim her place at the high table of fashionable England. In another, Fallowell is asked to write a profile of an unknown artist who has bought an island in the Hebrides; having traveled there for an interview, he waits with the locals for the new landowner, who never arrives.

Not all of Fallowell’s subjects are quite so obscure. “Who was Alastair Graham?” seeks out an early lover and muse of Evelyn Waugh, who fled his fashionable friends to seek refuge in a fishing village on the coast of Wales. And the final, extremely moving essay takes up Princess Diana, “the most legendary personality of the age,” who “made the most astonishing exit.”

But it’s inadequate to talk about these essays as if they were primarily determined by their subjects. Nearly all of these pieces are structured by chance: a casually acquired Indian Yearbook sets Fallowell off on one adventure; a random encounter in a bar sparks another. In the book’s first piece, recounting a trip to the Maltese island Gozo, a vaguely menacing man repeatedly appears until, through a series of digressions and evasions, we find ourselves of a sudden in a narrative of seduction.

What this means is that Fallowell writes as a great traveler travels: governed by accident, open to possibility, free of any agenda save curiosity. He despises the packaged, controlled experience, insisting instead on openness to surprise and risk. “The crucial fact in all adventures is the gift,” he writes. “Something coming at you unannounced, unscheduled, free of charge, impossible to refuse.”

Even in their investigations, then, these pieces are anything but goal-oriented, and their openness to misdirection allows them an exciting expansiveness. "Nobody has come up with a satisfactory explanation which marries human psychology to history,” Fallowell claims, and as they pursue their individual subjects these essays also meditate on the larger forces shaping those lives: the legacy of British colonialism, the “state terror” deployed against gay men in Britain between the wars, the mad culture of celebrity by which Princess Diana was caught.

Duncan-fallowelThe effects of history are not always what one might expect: in their grief for Diana, Fallowell writes, “People were impassioned but slowed right down. Which are the two best conditions for sex.” He then recounts the “transcendental, unexpected burst of ‘yes’” that fueled a month of seemingly constant sexual encounters.

For all their intellectual pleasures—Fallowell is ever entertaining and sometimes brilliant, quick with aphorisms that nearly always find their mark—it’s the supremacy of sensuous experience that the book finally proclaims, not just “those divine gifts of pleasure and beauty, anguish and excitement in human life which are sex," but also the pleasures of old hotels, of images glimpsed through the windows of trains, of flowers “floodlit by the moon.” One night in India, he writes, “Taking off my clothes and extending my full length I rolled from the top of the hill all the way down, crushing lilies as I went, wetting my naked body with cool lily juice.”

And so the book is a memoir after all, offering not so much the facts of autobiography as an account of vision and value, a kind of manifesto for an impassioned life lived far from the usual roads. “If you are drawn by something or someone,” Fallowell writes, “you have to give it a try,” which sounds simple enough but often proves so difficult. What’s most moving in these sinuous, surprising essays is the example Fallowell sets as he tries to hold himself to that standard—working to learn, however difficult it is, “how not to be shy of the heart.” 

Previous reviews...
Frank Bidart’s ‘Metaphysical Dog’
Alysia Abbot's 'Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father'
Gerbrand Bakker’s ‘Ten White Geese’

Garth Greenwell is the author of Mitko, which won the 2010 Miami University Press Novella Prize and was a finalist for the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award as well as a Lambda Award. This fall he will be an Arts Fellow at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.

MPs Push For Same-Sex Nups In Westminster Chapel Under Parliament

WestchapelThough marriage equality will most likely be passed very soon in England, the proposed law includes a loophole prohibiting religious bodies like the Church of England from performing same-sex nuptials, meaning same-sex couples won't be able to get married in their chosen places of worship by men or women of their preferred cloth. This includes chapel of St. Mary Undercroft, or Westminster Chapel, the small chapel nestled beneath Parliament.

A number of MPs are now hoping to change all that by converting the chapel from a strictly Anglican space to a non-denominational interfaith chamber. The Telegraph has more:

The plans to open the chapel to worshipers of all faiths are being considered by senior parliamentary officials together with Helen Grant, the equalities minister.
The scheme was first proposed by Chris Bryant, the Labour MP and a vocal supporter of the Government's plans to legalize same-sex marriage, in a debate on the legislation.
Mr Bryant, a former Anglican vicar, said the chapel was already being used to hold Catholic masses, adding that it seemed "odd" not to formally open it to worshipers from other religions and Christian denominations, including those who will conduct same sex marriage.

He added: "St Mary Undercroft has been many things in its time. It was the Speaker's dining room and before that Cromwell used it to stable his horses.

"It is a bit odd that we have no place for people of other faiths to worship. If we have got over this hurdle with Catholic masses being celebrated there it seems odd not to allow services of other denominations to be held there."

And, again, if it was good enough for Oliver Cromwell's horses...


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