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Final Fantasy XIV Gamers Hold Virtual 'Pixel Pride' Parade: VIDEO

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The digital denizens of of Final Fantasy XIV’s Eorzrea gathered last weekend to celebrate Square Enix’s decision to finally allow avatars of the same sex to marry each other with a virtual pride parade. The inclusion of LGBT marriage comes as the latest in a long line of revisions made to the fourteenth entrant into the Final Fantasy franchise. Initially released in 2010, Final Fantasy XIV was met with widespread disappointment from fans.

Problems ranging from convoluted menu systems to clunky controls to effectively useless non-playable characters drew so much criticism that Square Enix owned up to its mistakes and made the decision to relaunch the game last summer as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. It was a much better game.

As more and more new mechanics were added to the game to enhance gameplay, Square Enix created a forum to get more direct feedback from players. Amongst the hundreds of suggested tweaks to the game was the option for players to create characters that were queer-identified. Statistics surrounding the number of LGBT gamers are few and far between but a survey conducted in 2007 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign concluded that gay gamers made up about 23% of the gaming population and preferred RPG games like Final Fantasy.

"People within Eorzea will be able to pledge their eternal love and or friendship in a ceremony of eternal bonding.” Game director Naoki Yoshida announced at this year’s E3. [T]his will be open to people regardless of race, creed, and gender. Two players...if they want to be together, in Eorzea, they can-through this eternal bonding ceremony."

The pride parade was organized by the Rough Trade Gaming Community, a group of LGBT gamers with significant presences in a number of popular massively multiplayer online (MMO) games.

Watch video of the digital pride parade AFTER THE JUMP...

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Sailor Moon Reboot Returns With LGBT Storylines Intact: VIDEO

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Usagi Tsukino, better known by her crime fighting persona Sailor Moon, is back after a 14 year hiatus, and she’s brought some of her gay friends with her. Initially published by Naoko Takeuchi as manga for Nakayoshi magazine in the early 90s, Sailor Moon’s original source material and its subsequent run as a popular anime series were noted for their inclusion of complex lesbian, gay, and trangendered characters.

References to the romance between Sailor Venus and Sailor Mercury were written out of the American releases, as was that between notable villains Zoisite and Kunzite. Sailor Moon: Crystal, the latest release from Toei animation and Viz Media here in the West, seeks to restore the series with a retelling much closer to the original story.

“SAILOR MOON was groundbreaking in the way its storyline and main characters resonated with both a male and female audience,” said VIZ Media VP of Animation Brian Ige. “We’re thrilled to be able to release this empowering action title uncut and in its entirety.”

The series, airing on Hulu here in the US, premiered last weekend to much internet fanfare. Featuring Kotono Mitsuishi, Usagi’s original Japanese voice actress, Sailor Moon: Crystal integrates updated animation as well as a global simulcast, airing here in the States every first and third Saturday online.

Watch the trailer for Sailor Moon Crystal AFTER THE JUMP...

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Monday Speed Read: Mary Yu, Gene Robinson, Indiana, Wisconsin, HUD Discrimination, Akie Abe, Russia

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

LESBIAN TO WASHINGTON SUPREME COURT: Yu

Washington State’s Democratic Governor Jay Inslee appointed openly lesbian Judge Mary Yu to the state supreme court May 1. In making the announcement, Inslee noted that Yu, 56, a native of Chicago, becomes the first openly gay, the first Asian-American, and the first Latina on the state supreme court. She will be sworn in next month and must run for election this fall in order to serve out the two years remaining in the six-year term of the retiring justice she is replacing. Yu has been reelected four times for her current seat on the King County Superior Court.

RobinsonGAY BISHOP ANNOUNCES DIVORCE:

The Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, announced in an email to his diocese and a column in the DailyBeast.com Sunday that he and his husband, whose civil union automatically became marriage under New Hampshire law in 2010, are divorcing. Robinson offered no details for why the couple is splitting after 25 years together, except to say “gay and lesbian couples are subject to the same complications and hardships that afflict marriages between heterosexual couples.” The Episcopal denomination’s General Convention affirmed Robinson’s election as bishop in 2003.

INDIANA DECISION COMING ‘SOON’:

A federal judge in Indiana heard oral arguments for two hours May 2 in Baskin v. Bogan, a case brought by Lambda Legal on behalf of three lesbian couples in Evansville. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Richard Young (a Clinton appointee) said he would rule soon on a motion for summary judgment in the case, reports the Indianapolis Star, but both sides intend to appeal if they lose at this level. Such an appeal will be the first marriage ban lawsuit to reach the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which covers Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. The Baskin case is one of five currently pending in federal court in Indiana.

ON WISCONSIN, ON WISCONSIN: Crabb

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb (a Carter appointee) last week denied Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s request to dismiss an ACLU-led lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on marriage licenses. The lawsuit, Wolf v. Walker, also challenges the state’s ban on civil unions and its prohibition against same-sex couples obtaining marriage licenses from other states.

COMMENT ON HOUSING SEARCH:

The Federal Register today announces the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is extending by another 30 days its public comment period on housing discrimination against LGBT people. The notice, originally published in January, says HUD is preparing to do focus group studies and is “interested in the manner in which people identify themselves as lesbian, gay, or transgender when searching for rental housing.”

JAPAN’S FIRST LADY JOINS PRIDE EVENT:

First Lady Akie Abe, wife of conservative Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, participated in the annual Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade April 27, according to Japan Daily Press. At a speech before the UNAIDS-Lancet Commission in London last February, the First Lady said, “I have made up my mind that throughout the rest of my life, I should work as a self- appointed, public amplifier, amplifying the voice of the voiceless, and the cause that in our life time we must work to end AIDS.”

RUSSIAN LGBT MARCH ALLOWED:

Russian authorities took no action May 1 to stop a contingent of 300 people marching behind a rainbow banner that said “Love is Stronger than Hate.” A report in GayStarNews.com said the march took place in St. Petersburg during a May Day parade in which many groups participated. Laws passed by Russia last year prohibit any public expression of support for LGBT people and authorities stopped similar demonstrations previously.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Japan's First Lady Akie Abe Joins Tokyo Gay Pride Parade: VIDEO

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Japan's first lady Akie Abe participated in Tokyo's Gay Pride parade on Sunday to show her support for LGBT people, AFP reports:

The 51-year-old wife of conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe donned a white suit to stand on a float with a drag queen, as some 3,000 participants marched through the trendy Shibuya business and shopping district.

Akie, known for her liberal inclinations, wrote on her Facebook page later that she has been involved in the issue since joining a commission set up by UNAIDS and the Lancet medical journal last year.

“I want to help build a society where anyone can conduct happy, enriched lives without facing discrimination,” she wrote.

Watch Akie on her float, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Gay Artist's HIV Awareness Billboard Censored In Japan For 'Indecency'

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Last December, an HIV-awareness billboard commissioned from gay artist Poko Murata appeared in the Tokyo gay district of Shinjuku Ni-chome. The billboard — advertising the AIDS pharmaceutical company Viiv Healthcare — featured a ring of Japanese men alongside the text, "There are people living with and without HIV and we're all already living together."

In January, Murata received a complaint from the Shinjuku district office that his billboard was "contrary to public order and morality" because of one of the men in his ad was wearing only underwear. After re-drawing the man in a slightly unzipped pair of shorts, the office continued to complain because the man's underwear was still visible.

The artist himself considers the complaint "an obvious prejudice and discrimination against gays," especially considering that the district has numerous advertisements for straight bars featuring real-life women in skimpy underclothes. Journalist Dan Littauer also notes that the Tokyo police have arrested gay bookstore employees in the past for selling obscenity even though one can easily find similarly "obscene" books in hetero sex shops.

A clothed version of Murata's sign was placed over the original earlier this week.


17-Year-Old Japanese Student Comes Out In Inspiring 'I Have a Dream, Too' Speech: VIDEO

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This past December, a seventeen-year-old Japanese student entered the Hokkaido Prefectural English Speech Contest, held in Sapporo, Japan and gave a rousing speech on LGBT rights. Little is known at this time about the young man who gave the oration which began with an examination of Russia’s recently enacted anti-gay laws and the controversy over the then-upcoming Sochi Olympics. The student asked, 

Why do gay people have to face discrimination? Is it because they are not heterosexual? Is it a sin to love somebody of the same gender? The law cannot control love or people's feelings.

However, what began as a more academic examination of persecutions LGBT people face quickly became personal:

I have faced discrimination too. I am gay. I realized this when I was a junior high-school student, although I never told anybody somehow my classmates guessed that I was. They rejected me and treated me like I was not a human being; one girl said to me "I can't believe someone like you exists". It made me feel like I was completely alone. In high school I decided to keep my secret safe and never tell anyone about who I really am on the inside. But this year I wanted to stop hiding that part of myself.

The student went on point out the differences between attitudes towards LGBT person in the United States and Europe and the rest of the world, particularly Japan:

In Japan, we are afraid of being different, but we don't show our hate so openly. It is silent discrimination. If nobody talks about the problem then it doesn't exist. Many gay people in Japan hide who they really are because they are afraid of being rejected, not with angry words or threats of violence, but with isolation. Being gay in Japan is a very lonely existence.

Maybe it will be difficult for me to live my life just like other people. But this is my life. I'm going to live it no matter what people say. Martin Luther King once said "Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." When I feel scared I often think of this quote. Making this speech was my first step, I never thought that I could tell people that I am gay.

 I too have a dream. One day down in the meadows of Hokkaido, gay people and straight people are chatting together and eating BBQ in the sunshine. I have a dream of a world without any prejudice, hate or ignorance which causes blind discrimination against what we can't understand. I can see the road ahead will be difficult, but I must be brave. Not just for myself, but for other young people like me.

You can read the full transcript of the speech and watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP…

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