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Gay Men Targeted, Partially Blinded in Homophobic Bleach Attack in London

Three London men were sprayed with a concentrated ammonia solution in two separate attacks outside the Lightbox club in South Lambeth Place, Vauxhall.

LondonOne of the attacks was on a 23-year-old gay man from south-west London and his 21-year-old friend after they had begun talking to three people outside the club because it was after closing time, the Evening Standard reports:

When the women, said to be East European, discovered the pair were gay they began screaming homophobic abuse.

The victim said:

“As we walked away I heard a man shout ‘Oi! Come here.’ At first I thought it was the doorman saying he’d changed his mind and we could go in. Then I saw this white guy with a beard, and his hand coming up with a water bottle that he squirted really hard into my face. It went right in my eyes and it sprayed into my friend’s mouth. My face was burning so much, I thought it was acid. I thought I would never see again and my face was melting. He poured every last drop onto us and then turned around and walked away, like it was mission accomplished. The chemical burnt the cornea in my left eye and the vision hasn’t cleared since. The doctors said it should hopefully return but there is no guarantee. My friend’s tongue was swollen and it looked like someone had scratched part of it away. It was horrible. ”

A similar attack targeted a third man in a nearby location.

Said Scotland Yard to the paper: "Following comments made during the exchange, this incident is being treated as a homophobic hate crime."

All three men have been treated at hospitals and released.

Police released surveillance photos of the suspects.


Miley Cyrus Makes Date Rape Joke At London Gay Nightclub: VIDEO

Miley

During her performance at the London nightclub G-A-Y this last Friday, shock-rocker Miley Cyrus made a joke about gays and date rape:

“You know, everyone’s a little bit gay… It’s the truth. Everyone says everyone’s gay, all it takes is one cocktail… And if that doesn’t work, sprinkle something in their drink. That’s what I always do.”

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Considering that she manhandled a female little person and pretended to suck on a giant inflatable dong during the show, her date rape joke might have been the least offensive thing.

Daily Dot writer Celeste Mora called Cyrus’ joke ”tasteless and hurtful” adding:

Miley probably doesn’t know this, but a recent review of US studies conducted between 1989 and 2009 found that 43 percent of lesbian, gay, and bi-identified women reported some kind of sexual assault in their lifetime, and 30 percent of gay or bi-identified men. And a review of trans studies in the US showed that half of trans-identified people have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

Cyrus has previously shown appreciation for her gay fans by getting a small marriage equality tattoo on her finger and condemning Rick Santorum’s anti-gay politics.

Continue reading "Miley Cyrus Makes Date Rape Joke At London Gay Nightclub: VIDEO" »


Activists Protesting Anti-Gay Law Disrupt Speech by Ugandan President in London

Uik_museveni

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni spoke at a UK government forum last night at Lancaster House in London designed to promote UK investment in Uganda's economy, Ekklesia reports:

The opening of the forum saw President Museveni speak about trade and investment on the same day as the trial of two men charged with homosexuality starts in Uganda. The trial is the first since the new anti-gay law was passed earlier this year.

3_museveniMuseveni also spoke at the St. James Court Hotel where his speech was accompanied by "a constant background disruption" from a protest organized by the African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group, with the support of STOPAIDS, the RMT union and the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

"Foreign Office collaboration with the Ugandan government and support for the UK-Uganda Business Forum calls into question David Cameron’s commitment to tackling rising homophobia in Uganda and across Africa," according to the activists.

The demonstrators discussed the protest in a press release:

"It is hypocritical for the UK government to claim to be promoting LGBTI rights internationally and at the same time rolling out the red carpet for regimes like Uganda that persecute gay people," said Edwin Sesange, the Ugandan Director of the African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group.

"The UK government should come clean on its progress with promoting gay rights in countries like Uganda that they host and collaborate with. At this early stage since the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA) became law, it is questionable for Ugandan government ministers to claim that the campaign against the homophobic legislation has had no effect on the Ugandan economy and inward investment. President Museveni is more likely to attract foreign investors if he ensures good governance, financial probity and human rights. The AHA is a negative, which is turning off many would-be western investors,” said Mr Sesange.

Peter Tatchell (below, right), Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation, added:

“Gay people are not the cause of Uganda’s problems. The government of Uganda should fight poverty and HIV, not gay people. It is two-faced for the UK government to condemn homophobia while hosting President Museveni, whose government has legislated one of the world’s most draconian anti-gay laws. The Anti-Homosexuality Act punishes any form of same-sex contact - even mere kissing and caressing - with mandatory life imprisonment. Museveni is a tyrant who presides over a corrupt regime that is guilty of widespread human rights violations, including the arrest of opposition leaders, torture and the suppression of free speech. The UK government should not be drumming up business to sustain his autocratic rule."

(images via the peter tatchell foundation)

Tatchell


UK Teen Who Committed Suicide In 2010 Had Allegedly Been In Relationship With TV Star

In December 2010, 18-year-old UK fashion student Ben Cowburn (right) overdosed on drugs, killing himself and leaving behind a baffling and unnerving story. Cowburn, who had moved to London in 2009, had reportedly been in a relationship with a famous television actor that may or may not have led him to a compromised emotional state. Fueled in part by promises of gifts (in exchange for Cowburn's styling work), the romantic relationship was also heavily infused with drugs, alcohol, and, as some believe, unwanted sexual attention.

BencowburnPinkNews reports:

The comedian, who in the inquest was referred to only as “Mr X” to protect his identity, allegedly showered the teenager with gifts before taking him to drink and drug-fuelled parties.

The inquest also heard of how Mr Cowburn was persuaded to strip in front of a group of men and of how the comedian occasionally crept into his bed for sex.

Cowburn's parents were reportedly wary of the situation from the beginning as the comedian likely already had a stylist and did not need the student's help. When their relationship did end, Cowburn attempted suicide several times before being admitted to Longreach hospital. 

David Taylor, a nurse, told the inquest that the student had felt embarrassed and ashamed and thought he had been groomed by the man, although claimed the sexual relationship had been entirely consensual.

A different story from the Metropolitan Police claimed that when Cowburn could not pay for a cab to leave one of the actor's parties he was offered a bed and woke up to find the man lying next to him. The police noted that Cowburn's sister, Laura, said that she had been led to believe that he had been raped.

However, police decided there was no conclusive evidence that the teenager, who had sent Facebook messages to the celebrity, had been physically coerced into sex and therefore there were no grounds for questioning Mr X.


London Mayor Accused Of Banning 'Ex-Gay' Group's Bus Ads To Court Gay Vote

BorisjohnsonA London Christian organization, The Core Issues Trust, was infuriated when now mayor Boris Johnson (right) banned a series of gay conversion therapy advertisements which had appeared on public transportation. Johnson, able to exact the ban because of his position as chairman of the Transport for London commission, is now being investigated after Core Issues accused him of acting "for an improper use," namely to gain the gay vote in his campaign for mayor. The Core Issues Trust ads read, "Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!" and were a response to pro-gay group Stonewall's own bus advertisements carrying the familiar moniker: "Some people are gay. Get over it!"

BBC News reports:

...ruling on the charity's appeal, the Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson said evidence had been produced of "an email which unequivocally states that the mayor 'instructed' TfL to pull the advertisement" just before the 2012 mayoral elections.

He said the need for examination of the role of the mayor was even greater because the email sent on 12 April 2012 "shows that the mayor's office contacted the Guardian (newspaper) immediately, apparently in order to make political capital out of the story".

Arrangements had also been made for the mayor to appear the following day at a hustings organised by Stonewall.

The judge said: "This is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs."

BusadIf Johnson is cleared of the "improper use" charge, the judge's initial decision to ban the anti-gay advertisements will stand. The Core Issues Trust is not going down without a fight, though:

Dr Mike Davidson, who leads The Core Issues Trust, said he would write to the mayor to ask for all emails linked to the ban, "current and potentially deleted", to be made available to his lawyers.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre which supported the trust, said: "In a mature democracy both sides of a debate should be heard but it seems that Boris Johnson, Transport for London and Stonewall are intent to shut down the Christian side of the debate by fair means or foul.

"It is a great relief that the Master of the Rolls has ruled to hold to account arbitrary use of the exercise of power by a public authority".

Transport for London reported that it would supply any further evidence needed in court.


Janette Jenkins' 'Firefly': Book Review

BY GARTH GREENWELL

This short, beautiful novel takes place over a brief period in 1971, as the British playwright and composer Noël Coward, in the final years of his life, suffers from a weak heart and a slipping mind. Having fled both the gray skies and the high taxes of London, Coward spends his days at his Jamaican estate, Firefly, sunbathing and painting and sharing the occasional dinner or (more often) drinks with friends. But mostly he reminisces, increasingly disoriented as he slips between his diminished present and his glorious past. 

FireflyI can think of only a few books (Paul Harding’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Tinkers among them) that evoke so movingly a consciousness adrift in old age. It’s a strategy that allows Jenkins access to Coward’s whole biography, while freeing her from any burden of biographical linearity or exhaustiveness. The book shifts with virtuosic fluency between the bright heat of Jamaica and London’s chill damp, bringing childhood memories, artistic triumphs, and sexual conquests to life with exquisitely curated detail.

We see Noël as a boy, speculating about the lives passing in the houses he can see from his bedroom window, and then, imagining himself being watched in turn, giving “a flick of a bow” as he lets the curtain drop. A little later, after his first sexual encounter, “colliding and laughing” with another boy on the wet rocks by a stream, “he can see a frog springing from the bank side; a splash as it leaps into the water.”

Jenkins’ Coward isn’t always a pleasant character, especially in the present-day scenes. He’s always ready with a withering remark, and he lashes out, at times violently, at the Jamaican servants on whom he depends for the most basic tasks. (When, with great difficulty, he manages to do up his own shirt buttons, “he doesn’t know whether to shout, ‘Hurrah!’ or to burst into tears.”) But he still possesses, at least in snatches, the quick and sometimes cutting wit that fills his plays. “Oh, you know everyone,” one unlucky acquaintance says to him over dinner. “‘No,’ says Noël, ‘Everyone knows me.’”

One of the most moving aspects of Jenkins’ portrait is how clearly she shows that the very wit for which he’s famous has become a prison for Coward, an elaborate armor that no longer enables expression, but prevents it. Coward tosses off stylish witticisms and ironic bons mots with ease, but statements of genuine emotion seem beyond him, even as his inner life throbs with feeling. When asked whether he loves his companion of three decades, Graham Payn, the best Jenkins’ Coward can manage is “We’ve certainly had our moments.”  

Janette-jenkinsPayn and other friends make appearances in these pages, but for the most part Coward has left them behind, retreating to a small studio at some distance from the main house. Here, through most of the book, he’s attended only by Patrice, his Jamaican servant. Twenty-two, desperate to escape Jamaica, excited by the prospect of life as a waiter in London (his dream is to work at the Ritz), Patrice’s chatter and enthusiasm are juxtaposed with the jaded cynicism of Coward, who at the end of a brilliantly accomplished life seems nearly finished with the world and its delights.

It’s the relationship between Coward and Patrice—patient and caretaker, patron and supplicant, master and servant—that provides the emotional center of the novel. Jenkins has made a vivid, caustic, funny, deeply sympathetic portrait of an artist who is finally as limited as he is brilliant. “Hearts aren’t meant to be noticed, they’re just meant to work,” her Coward thinks as he struggles to finish the afternoon walk his doctor has prescribed. As the novel comes to its at once delicate and devastating end, it’s a different working of the heart he can’t ignore.

Previous reviews...
Gengoroh Tagame’s ‘The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame’
Jason K. Friedman’s ‘Fire Year’
David Levithan’s ‘Two Boys Kissing’
Thomas Glave’s ‘Among the Bloodpeople: Politics and Flesh’
 
Garth Greenwell is the author of Mitko, which won the 2010 Miami University Press Novella Prize and was a finalist for both the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award and a Lambda Award. He is currently an Arts Fellow at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.


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