Us too

Painting by Scott Ewalt | Bedford and Bowery | r

According a survey by gay men’s health charity GMFA, some 62% of British gay men have been touched or groped in a bar without consent. In the US 40% of gay and 47% of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape, compared with 21% of heterosexual men,

writes Michael Segalov.

Take, for instance the “dark room” – a space few people will speak of outside the confines of the gay scene’s sweaty, hedonistic heart. To the uninitiated, the concept is simple: it’s a room in a club, it’s dark and you have sex. When it comes to consent, though, the situation is more complex.

Yes, we have a lot of work to do on our culture. It will take many years before all the harm done by oppression and self-oppression have been dealt with, and we may have to wait another generation or two to see progress – that’s assuming that our rights continue to be respected by society and our laws.

At least we are thinking about what needs to be done.


Starkville relents

Rogelio V. Solis | Associated Press | r

There will be a Gay Pride in Starkville, Mississippi, after all. Having been turned down by the city council, a community group called Starkville Pride and two organizers filed a federal lawsuit, saying the city had denied their constitutional rights to free expression and equal protection. They asked a judge to overrule the city and immediately grant a parade permit to Starkville Pride.

Now Mayor Lynn Spruill broke a 3-3 tie to allow the parade to go forward, after an alderman who previously had opposed the parade abstained, saying the city needed to move past the dispute. Aldermen had voted 4-3 to reject the application last month.

The parade will be held on March 24.

“What happened at tonight’s meeting was a victory not only for our clients and for their equal dignity under the law, but also for the core principle that in this country, we do not restrict a person’s ability to speak based on whether or not we agree with what they have to say,” said Roberta Kaplan, lawyer for Starkville Pride and organizers Bailey McDaniel and Emily Turner.

March? Isn’t that a bit early?

Mardi Gras hits the big 4 – 0

Lisa Maree Williams | Getty Images | r

More than 300,000 people lined Sydney’s streets to watch the annual – and 40th –
Mardi Gras.

There were more than 200 floats and 1,200 participants in the march.

Steven Saphore | Reuters | r

The Huffington Post notes that

LGBTQ entertainers, celebrities, sports stars and media personalities appeared on various floats alongside regular participants, their friends and families, while Cher also marched before performing at a parade after-party. Some of the biggest cheers, however, were reserved for the “78ers”, those people who marched in the original 1978 demonstration and who have a special reserved place of honor in each parade.

Vampire Pride anyone?

The Lancashire Telegraph reports:

Darkness Vlad Tepes is spearheading a campaign to add a black stripe to the … rainbow flag, which will represent the gay goth community.

Mr Tepes, a goth, believes they should have equal rights to other strands of the gay community and said adding a black stripe to the rainbow flag would help change people’s perceptions of them in society.

He has previously spoken out asking for tolerance of his ‘vampire’ lifestyle. He regularly sleeps in a coffin and drinks animal blood.

Lancashire LGBT and the openly gay MP Nigel Evans have said the rainbow flag already reflects the ‘full diversity’ of LGBT people. Phew. That’s a relief.

Is our past being censored? Or are the rights of individuals rightly being defended?

Writers Martin Malcolm, Tom Marshman and Ben Priestley are writing a play about wartime hero Alan Turing, but have been frustrated by a lack of information from the National Archives and from submitting Freedom of Information requests seeking information on similar cases, hoping to get more background for their play.

We’re developing a play about him and the 16 others accused with him.

We aim to present performances that animate social history, bringing the urgent questions of the past to life. It’s a shock when our best source of information turns out to be the News of the World.

An insidious form of censorship is at work. The National Archives seems to have wiped all evidence of this trial. Our Freedom of Information request to see court papers from similar cases has been refused, even though the 2017 “Alan Turing law” pardons all men who suffered such prosecutions.

The only justifiable reason for refusing these FOI requests that Your Activist can think of, is that the papers requested name living persons and so cannot be released. In the past, Your Activist has been contacted by other writers seeking information and contact details for contributors to this and my Gay History blog, who have been offended when I have replied that the contributor wishes to remain anonymous and consequently I cannot give them that information. There is no absolute right for access to any information you wish to see: there are a number of legal conditions which have to be satisfied before information in certain categories can be released.

Hay’s Pride

Riley Stuart/ABC | r

ABC went to the small Australian town of Hay, little more than a village, because they are having their first Gay Pride ever.

Remote and small it may be, but it is the same as everywhere else – there are gay and trans people.

For George, Snapchat provided a silver lining.

The selfie-driven smartphone app is the communication channel of choice for teenagers, in part because messages vanish shortly after they have been read.

It was on Snapchat this country boy rode his surging pangs of terror to give his best friends the news.

“I just said that I’m transgender and I explained to them I’d appreciate it if they used male pronouns and called me George and that they could speak to me about it at school if they wanted to,” he said.

Teddy, who is also a trans man, has been able to provide a different perspective.

“People are often incredibly surprised to hear that the lived experience for LGBTQI people in Australia isn’t as rosy as perhaps they had imagined,” he said.

“I think we get lulled into this idea that because we’ve got a gay uncle everything is fine now.”

Fascinating glimpse into small town life.

See you at eight

Yusuf Celik | r

In Ottawa, Canada, gay Muslims who have been largely rejected or ignored by their community are finding a sense of connection and acceptance by gathering around the dinner table. Gay Muslims United hosts a cooking night on Saturday, bringing people together to prepare food and share a meal.

“We want to create this family-like atmosphere,” said Yusuf Celik, the founder of Gay Muslims United. “The mosques are not welcoming us, our community is not welcoming us, and our families are abandoning us.” he said.

Celik’s Facebook group for Gay Muslims United, created on Jan.1, 2018, now has more than 12,000 followers, and hopes to give gay Muslims a voice and provide support, especially for those who live in fear of persecution from family, friends and their culture.

According to Celik, gay Muslims often feel left out in Canadian LGBTQ societies.

“We have different cultural practices, and different needs,” he said. “Most LGBTQ groups in Canada are focused on human rights and advocacy. But we need to build something where we can create a family atmosphere, where we can cook together, enjoy the meal together and dance and laugh together.”