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04/19/2007


Rare Sumatran Tiger Gives Birth at London Zoo for First Time in 17 Years: VIDEO

Tiger

A Sumatran tiger gave birth at the ZSL London Zoo this week for the first time in 17 years. The zoo captured the rare birth on a webcam.

The Guardian reports:

The pregnancy, which lasted about 105 days, was kept secret by zookeepers who kept a careful watch on the first-time mother through hidden cameras so they would not disturb her. The cub was born six months after the opening of "tiger territory" at the zoo, designed to encourage breeding of the critically endangered sub-species of tiger.

Zookeeper Paul Kybett said everyone at the zoo was "over the moon" about the birth.

"We were nervous about the pregnancy, as it was Melati's first cub and we didn't know how she'd react. When it came to her due date, we were all watching our monitors with bated breath. The actual birth happened very quickly and Melati's maternal instincts kicked in immediately as she started licking the cub all over and it soon began wriggling around – we couldn't have asked for a smoother birth."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Jonathan Kemp's 'London Triptych': Book Review

BY GARTH GREENWELL

9781551525020_LondonTriptychProstitution, prison, and the police are recurring themes in Jonathan Kemp’s ambitious and intricate first novel. In each of the three stories that make up his London Triptych, men find themselves clients and providers in a world of transactional sex, brought there by poverty or solitude or boredom—and lured more profoundly by the promise of something that seems for a while like freedom.

But this book aims to be more than an exploration of sexual mores and sexual obsessions, though it is certainly that. The three narratives it intertwines span a century, and two are set at pivotal moments for gay history: 1895, when Oscar Wilde was convicted of gross indecency, and 1954, when Britain’s gay witch hunts reached their peak with the trial of Lord Montagu. With a third narrative set in the 1990s, the novel presents a chronicle of gay life, or at least a certain segment of gay life, in Britain in the 20th century. 

Still, this is history of a particularly subtle and intimate kind, concerned less with the center of power than with the more vulnerable periphery. In an afterword, Kemp writes about wanting to write a history of the powerless, and his account of the Wilde trial is told from the perspective of one of the boys who, to avoid prosecution themselves, testified to Wilde’s homosexuality in court. The names of these boys, who worked for the brothel Wilde frequented, are lost to history, and Kemp writes of being drawn to what he calls their “invisibility.”

He has filled that gap in the historical record with a vividly imagined world. The narrator of these sections, Jack Rose, flees from his sadistic father and his miserable East London slum, taking refuge in a world of underground clubs and elaborate balls, a world frequented not just by boys from low-class backgrounds but by celebrities and Tory politicians and priests who lend their services, in one wonderful scene, to the consecration of a drag wedding.

London Triptych doesn’t romanticize the life of prostitution, but neither does it flatten out the lives of male prostitutes and their clients to a pattern of easily understood exploitation. Money distorts but doesn’t preclude human relationships, and one of the moving aspects of this novel is how, for each of its narrators, even such purchased and partial love can be transformative. Thus Jack finds himself changed by Wilde, whose favorite he becomes and by whom he finds himself caught, admiring him in ways that shift his sense both of the world and of himself: “I reckon most for fools or hypocrites…but never before have I looked at another’s life and thought, that’s exactly what I’d like to be.”

Jkempcropped_245x0__false_nocrop_trueThe most beautiful strand of this braided book is devoted to Colin Read, 54 years old in 1954, who has quit an advertising job to devote himself to painting. He hires a young man, Gregory, as his model, and finds himself awakening both to love and to art as he listens to the man’s stories and gazes at his form. Terrified by the intense persecution of gay men in Britain in the 1950s—which would entrap Alan Turing and John Gielgud as well as Montagu, whose trial he follows—Colin has brutally repressed his own sexuality. Under Gregory’s spell, he has his first sexual encounters in London bathrooms, experiences he finds exhilarating and humiliating in equal measure.

His confession of love to Gregory provides its own kind of humiliation. But it’s also an apotheosis, and we see Colin discover a genius that, as we learn in the book’s later scenes, will survive him: “Each brush stroke charges me…my blood sings to the paint, and the paint sings to my blood, and I have become the air that carries their voices back and forth.” Nor is the beautiful Gregory unchanged by these encounters: In what may be the most moving scene in the novel, we learn that for him, too, these encounters were more than mere transactions.

As these three narratives echo each other and finally (if only slightly) overlap, the book’s most profound theme becomes time and the changes it works on both people and the city that will outlast them. We watch the lives of gay men and their communities transform from Jack Rose’s underground “government of whores” to Colin’s cottage bathrooms and the raves and porn shoots of the 1990s, each era setting its own shapes for gay lives. And we see Gregory and Jack Rose, those desired objects, shift merely as a function of age from the category of pursued to pursuer. “You look back on your own youth and view it with the eyes of another person,” says Colin, striking the dominant tone of this fine and finally elegiac book, “and it seems as foreign as another country, as distant as a star.” 

Previous reviews...
Benjamin Alire Saenz's 'Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club'
David McConnell’s 'American Honor Killings: Desire and Rage Among Men'

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 and a Lambda Award. Beginning this fall, he will be an Arts Fellow at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.


London Gay Men's Chorus, Advocates Sing and Rally Outside UK Parliament for Marriage Equality: VIDEO

London_chorus

The London Gay Men's Chorus and various other speakers made a scene outside the UK Parliament yesterday as the House of Lords debated the marriage equality bill. The Chorus could be heard inside the chamber.

Watch highlights of the speeches and singing, AFTER THE JUMP...

The debate goes on today as well with a vote coming, and you can watch it LIVE HERE.

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New Sculpture of Alan Turing on Display: PHOTO

Turing
(wynn abbott - instagram)

A new sculpture of Alan Turing has been put on display in Paddington, London.

During World War II, Alan Turing, who is known as the father of modern computing, devised the Turing Bombe, a codebreaking device that was used to decipher the Nazi enigma codes, up to 3,000 messages per day. He was also gay, and two years after being convicted of "gross indecency" for being homosexual and sentenced to undergo hormone therapy, he killed himself with a cyanide-laced apple.

Activists and lawmakers are still working to get an official pardon for Turing's conviction from the British government.

Pink News reports:

The two-dimensional sculpture appeared near St Mary’s, Paddington, alongside sculptures of fellow local heroes, famous nurse Mary Seacole and Paddington Bear author Michael Bond.

The sculptures are part of the Portrait Bench series by Sustrans, transport charity, which installs the sculptures, as voted for by local residents. The sculptures are made from Corten steel, the same as the Angel of the North, and will eventually rust to give a more organic look.


London Marathon Runners Hold Moment of Silence for Boston Marathon Victims: VIDEO

London
(image via imgur)

Participants in the London Marathon today observed a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston marathon, and wore black ribbons in their honor.

CBS News:

Moments before the majority of runners set off on the grinding course, announcer Geoff Wightman used the loudspeakers to ask for silence. He described marathon running as a global sport that unites runners and supporters in every continent in a spirit of friendship.

"This week the world marathon family was shocked and saddened by the events at the Boston Marathon," he said as he asked the people gathered to "remember our friends and colleagues for whom a day of joy turned into a day of sadness."

As those gathered responded to his call, the only noise that could be heard was the buzz of helicopters and the beeping of a truck.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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London Mayor Boris Johnson Wins Court Battle Over Barring Christian 'Ex-Gay' Group's Ads from Buses

A judge has ruled in favor of London Mayor Boris Johnson in a case brought by a Christian group challenging Johnson's decision to ban "gay cure" ads from city buses, the Guardian reports:

Boris-johnsonA judge found on Friday that Boris Johnson did not abuse his position as chairman of Transport for London (TfL) last April when he imposed the ban on the advert, which suggested that people could be cured of homosexuality.

The decision is a defeat for the Core Issues Trust, a Christian charity that funds "reparative therapy" for gay Christians, which it claims can "develop their heterosexual potential". They believe Johnson was "politically driven" when he intervened to block the ad.

The ad posters earmarked for the sides of the capital's buses read: "Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!"

Johnson condemned the "gay cure" ad as "offensive to gays" and said it could lead to retaliation against the wider Christian community.

The judge agreed, though she said that Johnson's process "was procedurally unfair, in breach of its own procedures and demonstrated a failure to consider the relevant issues".

The judge also allowed an appeal, but said she thought it didn't have much of a chance.


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