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04/19/2007


Source Close To 'Duck Dynasty' Clan Believes A&E Set Up Phil Robertson

Duckdynasty

The unceasing "Duck Dynasty" saga will not end today. Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the famous southern family, is currently suspended from the network based on the homophobic comments he made in a recent GQ interview. Now, some of the Robertson clan are claiming that they believe A&E set up Phil when they became fearful of the conservative values the stars tout. They believe the controversy could have easily been avoided. 

The New York Post reports:

Robertson’s opinions about gays and religion were so widely known, in fact, that members of his family are accusing the A&E network of “hanging him out to dry” — setting up an inflammatory interview with GQ magazine just so they could punish him.

Sick of the Robertsons and their Christian beliefs, liberal television executives at A&E manipulated the situation to control the Louisiana family, the Daily Mail reported, quoting sources within the clan...

“You have to ask yourself why this interview happened and why it ever became public. Someone from A&E was there and was aware of the kind of answers Phil was giving,” one source said. “But despite that, they didn’t ever try to stop it or control it. Instead, they let it hit the headlines and then released a statement condemning it.”

Is it a publicity stunt? A display of A&E's liberal values? Does the motive matter when the words are discriminatory? Sound off in the comments below.


Pakistan: 'A Gay Man's Paradise'?

Gay couplePakistan may not seem like the most gay-friendly place on Earth. Not even close, since its anti-gay laws are technically more restrictive than Russia's (Russia's laws don't actually criminalize gay sex, Pakistan's do). However, with the advent of the internet, more and more members of Pakistan's underground gay community have managed to find each other and create an underground community. Thanks to a recent article released by BBC News Magazine, we now have a glimpse into that community. As it turns out, gay men in Pakistan are a lot more sexually active than some might expect. 

The article's title sums up the situation pretty succinctly: "Gay Pakistan: Where sex is available and relationships are difficult". Precisely how easy is gay sex to come by? Just ask "Danyaal", a businessman from the wealthy city of Karachi. He tells BBC that "if you want sex...it's a gay man's paradise." Danyaal is part of the city's underground gay party scene, where invite-only parties host sometimes hundreds of gay men in a private venue where they can be open about their sexuality. That doesn't mean that gay men in Karachi only get together in private setting, though. Ironically, one of the city's best gay cruising spots is one of its busiest shrines, the Abdullah Shah-Ghazi shrine:

"Every Thursday evening, as the sun sets, men from across the city gather there. A tightly packed circle is formed and those in the centre of the circle are groped by those on the periphery. To outsiders it looks like a writhing mass of men huddling around one another. Some even describe it as a 'mysterious religious ceremony'. For participants, it's anonymous group sex. This kind of behaviour is, of course, not condoned by Pakistan's religious authorities."

...Of course. Gay sex is also readily available via a malchi walah, or a "masseuse" who offers certain "extras" for a small additional fee (the equivalent of approximately $7.80 USD). These masseuses don't usually have to worry about local authorities, either, since many of them are loyal clients. "We get important people - police, army officers and ministers too," says one masseuse called "Ahmed". Ahmed even has two wives, who know about his unusual career choice and are fine with it.  "I know he has sex. No problem," said one wife. "If he doesn't work how will the kids eat? I get angry when people call them names. People are stuck in their ways."

Gay pakistanOne researcher, Qasim Iqbal, explained the possible origins of Pakistan's casual male-on-male sex culture:

"In Pakistan men are discouraged from having girlfriends and so often, their first sexual experiences will be with male friends or cousins. This is often seen as a part of growing up and it can be overlooked by families - it's the idea that 'boys will be boys'. Sex between men will be overlooked as long as no-one feels that tradition or religion are being challenged. At the end of it all, everyone gets married to a member of the opposite sex and nothing is spoken about."

Just like Iqbal says, while gay men in Pakistan have no trouble soliciting sex from other men, relationships are much harder to come by. More often than not, they will end up marrying a member of the opposite sex for convenience purposes while continuing to sleep with men on the side. Iqbal says that:

"Gay men [in Pakistan] will make every effort to stop any investment in a same-sex relationship because they know that one day they will have to get married to a woman."

Thus, in Pakistan's patriarchal society, long term man-on-man relationships are exceedingly rare. In the case of gay couple "Ali" and "Akbar", they were allowed to continue because Ali's family was run by a matriarch instead. Akbar told BBC:

"His grandmother was the head of the house so I knew that winning her over would mean everything else would fall into place. I took the time to talk to her and convince her that I was a good person. That was first and foremost. It wasn't about 'coming out' in a formal sense. It's more important to convince Ali's family that I'm a good human being.

"She once gave me a hand-embroidered decorative cloth that she had made as a teenager. She said she was giving it to me because she knew I 'take care of things'. It was a kind gesture and a very personal kind of acceptance."

GayMuslimsExist1-e1281529089994-360x270Unfortunately, it's much more difficult for lesbians, since any sort of outward expression of sexuality by women, gay or stright, is generally frowned upon. That's why lesbians "Beena" and "Fatima" have to keep their relationship rather discreet. Beena is still in the closet while Fatima contributes to an invite-only online support group for other gay Pakistanis online. Beena says that the two of them are looking to find a gay couple with which to enter into a marriage of convenience:

"I think we'll have a marriage of convenience. I know some gay guys and maybe we'll do a deal so we put in money together and they have one portion of the house and we'll have another portion. We may as well do that."

And as for the progress of LGBT rights in their home country? Beena has noticed a correlation between LGBT and women's rights in other nations. Unfortunately, that likely means that full equality will not come during their lifetime should they choose to stay in Pakistan:

"Gay rights in America came after women had basic rights. You don't see that in Pakistan. You are not allowed a difference of opinion here. My father is a gentleman but I wouldn't put it past him to put a bullet through my head. I'm all for being 'true to myself' but I don't want to die young. I think it's selfish for me to come out and campaign for gay rights now. It's selfish to the women in my family who are fighting for education and the right to marry the man of their dreams, or not to marry at all."


Russian Teen Fights Homophobia on Twitter

SOS Profile PicWith the Russian government passing its new laws on gay "propaganda", it has effectively created one of the most hostile climates on the planet for its LGBT citizens. LGBT Russians face discrimination, entrapment, and violence, and are unable to go to the authorities should they become the victim of a crime. This has caused many gay Russians and LGBT advocacy groups to go underground, often relying on the anonymity of the web to stay safe. One activist is choosing not to remain anonymous, though, and has taken to Twitter to advocate for his fellow LGBT Russians both nationally and globally. The account is @ru_lgbt_teen, and currently boasts almost 700 followers. The account's administrator recently say down for an interview with Vice Magazine.

"Generally speaking, you have a gay teen being seen as a 'disenfranchised deviant' in the eyes of society and the state. People are different, but the male members of society are trying to avoid having anything to do with gays, [because they don’t want anybody] to think that they are gay. In Russia, gays are not people."

Tweet photoIn terms of the actual content of the account, much of it is standard fare for any teenager on social media: personal life updates, snapshots of his daily activities, his periodic struggles with depression. His current home, however, as well as his willingness to display his homosexuality, makes it much more revolutionary. He also tweets updates on Russian news, as well as homoerotic historical depictions of men from Russia's artistic past. Thanks to the release of the Vice interview, many have also reached out and expressed their support for the Twitter account, which he occasionally retweets. 

Be ProudHe also told Vice how, while no one has felt safe approaching him in person, many gay Russians have reached out to him via social media:

"In real life, I do not know of any other LGBT teens. But on social networking sites, I talk with several kids from other cities. I would not say that their problems are drastically different from my problems. Not all of them know what it means to be an outcast at school, but they know firsthand what it means to be an outcast in society as a whole."

He also occasionally tweets the desire to leave Russia and seek asylum abroad:

"I would very much like to leave Russia. I would say that for me, it is a kind of an obsession at the moment. I can't be granted asylum, because I cannot prove school bullying, and I do not have the mental health or the mental capacity to protest to help the gays. But that does not mean that I am not doing anything to leave Russia. In the fall I will start learning German, and I plan to study for a few years in Germany. For me, this is one of the most accessible options in terms of my financial situation."

You can read the full interview HERE, and follow the Twitter account HERE


41 Mormon Authors Sign Letter Defending Gay Author Over Book Cancellation

In an overwhelming show of support, Mormon authors have come out of the woodwork to indicate their respect for the craft, and for one of their own, after Cedar Fort Publishing and Media canceled a contract on 'Woven,' a young adult fantasy novel written by Michael Jensen and David Powers King. As Towleroad previously reported, the book was dropped when Jensen, a gay man, refused to let the author bios go through without the sentence, "He lives in Salt Lake City with his boyfriend and their four dogs.” Jensen was told that the book would sell better with its Latter-Day Saints-affiliated distributors with an amended biography omitting the "boyfriend" reference, but the author was not pleased. Many others feel the same way.

CedarfortThe Salt Lake Tribune reports:

As of Saturday morning, 41 Mormon authors had signed a letter asking publishers to base decisions on "content, quality, and commercial viability, not on any other factor." Meanwhile, an Arizona-based LDS author said Cedar Fort just last week published a book of his that contains a significant gay subplot.

...

The letter from a contingent of Mormon authors reads, "While publishers have the right to choose what they will and will not publish, we believe books should be accepted or rejected upon the merits of their content, quality, and commercial viability, not on any other factor."

...

Mormon author Ryan Rapier, whose brother —Plan B Theatre Company director Jerry Rapier — is openly gay, says that Cedar Fort had no problems with a gay character in his book, "The Reluctant Blogger." In it, the gay character leaves his fiancée at the altar and acknowledges he’s gay to his friend, the protagonist. The protagonist "responds badly," Rapier says, but "at the end of the day, the protagonist comes to realize that it doesn’t matter."

These authors have defied expectations many would have set for the historically anti-gay Church of Latter-Day Saints. Even more importantly, they have exposed the flip-flopping of Cedar Fort's policies and their desire to hide behind certain supposed preferences of their partner distributors, preferences which further the homophobic narrative of the Mormon church.

While Jensen and King are still searching for a means to publish their novel, it seems certain that at least some of Jensen's words with Cedar Fort owner Lyle Mortimer (exchanged via email) will come true:

"Regardless, perhaps this situation will become a win-win for us both, as the media attention generated by your refusal to publish a biographical sentence comparable to my coauthor's is sure to bring attention to our work, as well---particularly since it will be obvious that the inequality comes from Cedar Fort, and not Deseret Book and other LDS-based book stores that already carry a number of works by gay authors."


Tennessee Church Kicks Out Family For Supporting Lesbian Daughter

Kat Cooper

The Coopers of Collegedale, TN had been members of the Ridgedale Church of Christ for over three generations. That all changed when they were photographed at a city council meeting that voted 4-1 to approve same-sex benefits to government employees. The Coopers' daughter, Kat, is a lesbian and a detective with the Collegedale Police Department and had been leading the cause to have those benefits extended to gay couples. Because they showed up to support her, the church met privately with Kat's parents, aunt, and uncle and gave them an ultimatum: repent for their sins and ask forgiveness in front of the congregation, or leave the church, the Times Free Press reports.

The sin of Kat's relatives, according to minister Ken Willis, is that of endorsing her 'lifestyle', which he says the Bible is explicit about. While Willis doesn't expect the Coopers to disown Kat, he says that while parents should still love their children they shouldn't support their sin; love the sinner, hate the sin. But it would also seem that loving a sinner is itself a sin, judging from the actions of Willis and the church authorities.

Willis insists that since Kat's actions and support from her family were made so public, they had no choice but to take action. The implication evidently is that if Kat had stayed in the closet or kept quiet about her lack of rights then the church wouldn't have had to punish her family for loving her.  After 60 years, the Coopers chose to leave the church rather than repent for a sin they did not commit. Kat's mother is still driven to tears by the events, but the family remains resolute in the support of their daughter. 

Related: as of this writing, it appears that the Ridgedale Church of Christ's Facebook page has been hacked and filled with gay-positive posts and pictures.


Gender Identity As Explained By A Six-Year-Old

Lego pile
California Governor Jerry Brown's recent decision to sign landmark protections for trans public school students into law has already prompted negative reactions from opponents. Said opponents, when expressing their distaste for the new law, often repeat a line that's existed in the anti-LGBT playbook for years: "How do I explain it to my children?" 

Thanks to Beth Kohm's recent column for HuffPost Gay Voices, we now have an answer to give them, straight from the mouth of her six-year-old son, Joshua. She describes the incident where she was first forced to breach the subject with him: 

"About six months ago... [he] walked into our room while my husband Bob and I were watching a show in which the word "transgender" came up. He asked, "Mom, what is 'transgender'?" For a moment I hesitated over how to respond. In my work persona, I still worry that I might use the wrong pronouns or just generally not get it right on trans issues and unintentionally hurt some great people. Should I quote the American Academy of Pediatrics research? Should I cite resources from PFLAG and Gender Spectrum?"

Of course, Kohm did what any parent is likely to do when cornered with an awkward and potentially uncomfortable question, she did her best to explain the situation in as honest and age-appropriate a manner as possible. She also added, for good measure, that the issue of transgenderism is so complex and nuanced that it even proves difficult for many adults to understand. Joshua's subsequent response took Kohm by surprise: "No, it isn't, Mom. It is just like my Lego Ninjagos when I put the male heads on the female bodies. No biggie. Can I have a cookie?" She says that the entire conversation lasted a grand total of three minutes. 

Lego HeadsJoshua's quick and easy grasp of the concept got her thinking. Perhaps, when people ask the question "how do I explain transgenderism/homosexuality/etc to my kids," they're really wondering how to explain it to themselves. 

"I get it. For most of us grownups, gender identity is new territory -- but so are many things these days. It is our responsibility as parents to process all the new that is out there and figure out how to apply our family values to the conversation. For us it was just another way to reinforce the value that we in our home place on respecting the fact that everyone is different."

"We all quickly learn that our kids model our responses; if you make an issue out of something, then they will too," she adds. "In this case, I can't help but think that adults should start learning from kids." 

Perhaps someone could use Joshua's Lego analogy to help explain the concept of transgenderism to the hosts at Fox News, who apparently cannot wrap their minds around the concept


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