December 2, 2013 /LGBT News/ Denial, Deceit, Discovery is a new work of fiction by J. James. Written in the style of a personal memoir, James tells the complex, engaging and moving coming out story of the book’s main character, Jack Ellis. Jack is a young Catholic man living in the UK who struggles mightily on the road to self-awareness. Jack’s life is inspired by many events experienced by the author, but the universal themes of honesty, personal growth and acceptance transcend one person’s story. Denial, Deceit, Discovery is available at YPD Books, Amazon, and iTunes.
James recently completed the following interview exclusively for LGBT-News.com!
What inspired you to write Denial, Deceit, Discovery?
Having always worked in education I had always planned on writing a children’s book but that all changed when I came out. My wife and I were Catholics and when we divorced she requested that I support her application for an annulment from the church, which then allows either party to remarry in the eyes of God. As part of the process of obtaining an annulment for my marriage I was requested by the priest to write a page expressing my situation and the feelings I experienced about men, etc. and the confusion around my sexuality. I found the task difficult to do on one page and it took 6!! The priest said it was the most moving and emotional account he had ever read. Having talked to so many other men who had gone through similar trials I realised then that my story and experiences could really help. I also found it incredibly cathartic.
Would you describe this book as a 'Coming Out Story'?
Essentially. I guess the book has a very strong ‘coming out’ story within it. It expresses the confusion, fear and difficulties that many men face prior to, during and after coming out. It tackles the emotions of not only the person revealing their identity but also the emotional responses of loved ones. However, the book does also deal with many other themes such as growing up and puberty, relationships, sexual behaviour and the pursuit of happiness.
You say that Denial, Deceit, Discovery is "written in the style of a personal memoir" and inspired by events in your own life. Is it an auto-biography?
The book is based on true events and many of these are events from my own life. However, I have drawn on the stories and experiences of the many other gay men I have met over the years of which there were always common themes. I think there is a little bit of every gay man in the main character Jack.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing your first book?
Considering this is my debut novel I found it surprisingly easy to complete. There was no real need to plan out the story as it followed a natural time line and involved familiar characters. Probably the most challenging aspect was having to re-live some of the more emotional moments expressed in the book such as the death of my uncle and the breakdown of my marriage. If I am honest, the greatest challenge has not been writing the book but actually marketing and promoting the book. I know the book can help many others but making those people aware in the first place is tough. Social media and websites like this have been really helpful.
How have your family and friends responded to Denial, Deceit, Discovery?
Many of my friends read the story as I was going along. Each time I finished a chapter I would send it to a group of friends for appraising. They were so supportive and encouraging and really believed in me. Originally when I started the book I never even thought about publishing it but my friends and especially my partner, made me believe in myself. I have to be honest and say that some of my friends are struggling to read such intimate details about me, especially the sex scenes! Some of my family members who are featured in the book have also been great supporters whilst others find it difficult to read – especially reading about how alone and confused I felt. I know my father has read the book, which is in fact the only book he has ever read! I am a little bit embarrassed to know my father has read about my sex life. My mother has chosen not to read the book – which is a bit of a relief!
What can you share about the visit you're planning to the U.S. in 2014 to promote Denial, Deceit, Discovery?
I am really excited about my trip to the US in April 2014. The book has been attracting a lot of supporters in America and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to come and meet people. This will be my debut book signing tour and I am so happy it will be in the US. I am currently planning the event with my publicist in the US – Brian Goldthorpe and aiming to visit NYC, Boston, Washington and Philadelphia. Be sure to catch me on the East Coast guys!
Are you planning write another book in the future?
At the moment I am so busy promoting my debut book that I don’t have as much time as I would like for writing. I have started on my second book and can reveal that maybe it won’t be too long before Jack makes an appearance. I’m experimenting as an author and trying some different genre and styles of writing. You will have to wait and see.
November 11, 2013 /LGBT News/ How do parents feel when their child tells them that he or she is gay? An aspect of homosexuality not taken up too often. CNN-IBN’s Anubha Bhonsle spends time with 4 sets of parents, to document how they responded when they learnt their child was gay. Parents from different parts of the country, different backgrounds, different sections, yet standing together as parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children. Stories of how parents came to accept, understand and stand by their children, and why they are standing up to the self-appointed guardians of family values.
Director: Anubha Bhonsle
Producer: Rohit Khanna
Produced In: 2011
Story Teller's Country: India
by Peter Kenworthy, Africa Contact
“When we are talking about gay issues in Swaziland, people are uneasy. They know we are there but they deny it,” says Sibusiso Masango, Secretary General of Swazi Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) organization, House of Our Pride (HOOP). “There is discrimination and we struggle when for instance applying for jobs.”
“In Swaziland, LGBT acts are seen as ungodly, unacceptable, and illegal and there are no laws against discrimination against LGBT,” a report published earlier in the year by HOOP’s partner organization, SWAPOL, said.
Swaziland’s Prime Minister, Barnabas Dlamini, has called homosexuality “an abnormality and a sickness,” and LGBT people “who are open about their sexual orientation and relationships face censure and exclusion from the chiefdom-based patronage system, which could result in eviction from one’s home,” according to a 2012 report from the United States Department of State. In fact, the Times of Swaziland recently published a story of two young gay boys who were beaten and evicted because they were gay.
According to the SWAPOL report, 40% of respondents to a survey claimed that they felt like “outsiders where they live,” and less than 10% had discussed their sexual preferences with anyone beyond their immediate family. And the true numbers are probably even less encouraging as those who accepted to take part in the survey were mainly people integrated within Swaziland’s LGBT community.
But Sibusiso certainly doesn’t want to be seen as a victim. He wasn’t really interested in talking about the discrimination of LGBT persons in Swaziland when I interviewed him, as much as he wanted to speak about the role and successes of HOOP in challenging and eradicating this discrimination.
“We see that there are some changes and we do push. We see ourselves as a strong organization and we have tried to introduce the issue with the Minister of Health”, he says. “The ministry appreciated this and we are working together.”
HOOP was started in 2009 and has approximately 300 members. Amongst other things they have trained peer educators who have campaigned on the rights and provided support for LGBT people, started reporting on LGBT issues, distributed condoms and lubricants, and improved the access of LGBT people to health services.
But the clandestine nature of LGBT activities in Swaziland “may increase risk taking,” as they “feel they have no recourse to bring incidents of abuse to the authorities,” the SWAPOL report says whilst also pointing to the obvious fact that this is an additional health risk in a country where over a quarter of the population are HIV-positive.
This is why LGBT-organisations such as HOOP are so vital, both in attempting to stop the spread of HIV, in ensuring equal rights for LGBT people in undemocratic countries such as Swaziland, but also in ensuring day-to-day care and survival, medical and otherwise, for LGBT people who in many cases are discriminated against at by government-controlled institutions such as Swaziland’s underfunded medical clinics.
But a general lack of support stifles the work of HOOP and other LGBT organisations. Little support is given and almost no money is spent on programmes for LGBT people by national governments, amongst other things because there is a “lack of robust engagement by donors, implementers, and governments,” according to a recent report by Aids-research organization, amfAR.
So civil society needs to increasingly align itself with HOOP and organisations like them ensure that everyone in Swaziland and elsewhere are allowed their own identity and to fall in love with whomever they choose without being treated as outcasts.
Because intolerance in one area allows for intolerance to spread to other areas, so when human rights organisations and civil society in both the South and the North remain silent about human rights violations against LGBT people, they are in effect undermining their own cause.
Watch: Paragraph 175 - A documentary about the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust
November 18, 2013 /LGBT News/ Paragraph 175 is a 2000 documentary film that chronicles the lives of several gay men and one lesbian who were persecuted by the Nazis. The gay men were arrested by the Nazis for the crime of homosexuality under Paragraph 175, the sodomy provision of the German penal code, dating back to 1871.
Between 1933 and 1945, 100,000 men were arrested under Paragraph 175. Some were imprisoned, others were sent to concentration camps. Only about 4,000 survived; see Paragraph 175 for full details.
In 2000, fewer than ten of these men were known to be living. Five come forward in the documentary to tell their stories for the first time, considered to be among the last untold stories of the Third Reich.
Paragraph 175 tells of a gap in the historical record and reveals the lasting consequences, as told through personal stories of gay men and women who lived through it, including: Karl Gorath; Gad Beck, the half-Jewish resistance fighter who spent the war helping refugees escape Berlin; Annette Eick, the Jewish lesbian who escaped to England with the help of a woman she loved; Albrecht Becker, German Christian photographer, who was arrested and imprisoned for homosexuality, then joined the army on his release because he "wanted to be with men"; Pierre Seel, the French Alsatian teenager, who watched as his lover was eaten alive by dogs in the camps.
Stonewall publishes five year review of Workplace Equality Index
Over 800 employers across Britain have benchmarked using WEI
Review demonstrates new challenges for gay people at work
November 14, 2013 /LGBT News/ Stonewall publishes a ground-breaking review of its annual Workplace Equality Index which finds it continues to be ‘best in class’. The review confirms that organisations that took part year-on-year see tangible transformations in their workplaces.
The Workplace Equality Index Five Year Review, supported by EY, shows that the Index remains the most effective proven tool in Britain for improving the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual people at work.
The Workplace Equality Index is the definitive benchmark for employers who want to provide the best possible working environment for their lesbian, gay and bisexual staff. Over 800 organisations have entered Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index over the last ten years from across the private, public and third sectors.
The Five Year Review enables Stonewall, and leading employers in the Workplace Equality Index, to further develop best-practice for gay employees in Britain and around the world. The review sets out detailed plans for how organisations can ensure that equality in the workplace is a continuing commitment and looks at the challenges faced in engaging with harder to reach staff – particularly lesbians and bisexual people and black and minority ethnic gay staff.
Stonewall’s Deputy Chief Executive Ruth Hunt said: ‘Leading employers from across the country know that improving the working environment for gay employees makes good business sense. They also know that the Workplace Equality Index is the best tool for accelerating and embedding this work. This review will ensure that Stonewall’s Workplace Programme remains the best in class for improving the lives of gay people in the workplace’.
Liz Bingham, Managing Partner for Talent at EY, said: ‘Businesses have evolved their thinking about diversity over the last five years. It’s no longer simply about levelling the playing field and providing equal opportunities. Truly diverse companies recognise, celebrate, and embrace difference. We believe this creates stronger businesses and competitive advantage. Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index sets a benchmark that helps companies to measure their progress and encourages continuous innovation and development’.
The Workplace Equality Index Five Year Review can be found here:
Details of Stonewall’s Workplace Programme can be found here:
November 6, 2013 /LGBT News/ If you can count on kids for one thing, it's their honesty. How do they react to the idea of gay marriage? Watch below!
What do you think about their reaction?
November 11, 2013 /LGBT News/ All Out just released a short film showing what it might look like if a gay Olympian wins at Sochi and chooses to celebrate their success with the person they love. The video is shining a spotlight on Russia’s new anti-gay laws, calling on the International Olympic Committee to stand by their principles of non-discrimination, before the Winter Olympics kick off next February.
October 31, 2013 /LGBT News/ Small or Large Productions and Arcadia Creative’s award-winning feature, The Perfect Wedding, whose ensemble cast is anchored by Hollywood veterans James Rebhorn (Independence Day, Scent of a Woman, Homeland) and Kristine Sutherland (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Honey I Shrunk the Kids), will be available on demand beginning November 10, 2013, and will be available for streaming and for purchase on DVD beginning December 3, 2013, from LGBT film distributor Wolfe Releasing. Orders can be placed by visiting the movie’s website: www.theperfectweddingmovie.com.
A family collaboration was the genesis of this family-based, LGBT romantic comedy. New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann, her screenwriter husband, Ed Gaffney, and their son, actor Jason T. Gaffney, co-wrote and co-produced the movie.
“I love romantic comedies, and I love movies with gay characters,” said Jason, who had the original idea for the script. “But I wanted to see a comedy about a couple of guys who fall in love that didn’t rely on stereotypes for its humor. So I called my parents, and asked if they wanted to work with me in developing that kind of a story. Luckily, they jumped at the chance.”
The co-creators describe The Perfect Wedding as a touching, funny story that takes place in Florida during a gathering of family and friends over the Christmas holidays. Meryl and Richard Fowler are planning their daughter Alana’s wedding, struggling with an unspoken conflict between Meryl and Alana, and trying to face a newly diagnosed health problem for Richard. And with that as a backdrop, their son, Paul, falls in love with a young man he believes to be the new boyfriend of his ex.
The movie was inspired by the 1980s hit TV program, The Cosby Show, a sitcom about an African American family that didn’t use race or racial stereotypes as a basis for its humor. Brockmann explains: “The Perfect Wedding isn’t a movie about being gay. We didn’t rely on a coming-out story or gay stereotypes for the drama or the humor in the script. Just as The Cosby Show redefined “normal” by presenting itself not as a “black sitcom,” but rather as a sitcom that happened to feature an African American family, we would love for The Perfect Wedding to be seen as a romantic comedy that happens to feature a couple of young men who fall in love. We’re hoping that labels like “gay romantic comedy” will soon be as outdated as “black sitcom,” as we all come to realize that being gay is just as normal as being left-handed, or having blue eyes.”
Mother, father and son are all thrilled that The Perfect Wedding was picked up for world-wide release. “Most independent movies never find distribution, so it’s very exciting that The Perfect Wedding will be widely available to lovers of family-driven romantic comedies,” said Ed. “We knew the odds were against us from the start, but all of us, including our ferociously dedicated and talented cast and crew, really believed there was an audience for this story. And Wolfe Releasing proved us right.”
To place an advance order for DVDs of The Perfect Wedding, and for more information about the film, visit the movie’s website at www.theperfectweddingmovie.com
or its Facebook page
Contact: Jason T. Gaffney
Movie trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yvpdk-igoLY
Photos from the movie:
|Director Scott Gabriel on Set|
|Eric Aragon on Set|
|Eric Aragon with Jason T. Gaffney|
|Jason T Gaffney with Eric Aragon|
|Kristine Sutherland and James Rebhorn|
October 30, 2013 /Photography News/ AT&T recently launched the “Love is Changing History” project to benefit the Trevor Project – the world’s leader in LGBTQ youth suicide prevention. This interactive project demonstrates how LGBTQ love is changing history in everyday life. To support “Love is Changing History,” AT&T has created two videos with longtime LGBTQ supporters and activists Lance Bass and Pauley Perrette.
It has never been easier to raise money for The Trevor Project. Through November 11, there are 3 simple ways to make a difference:
1. Visit the “Love is Changing History” website, www.loveischanginghistory.com to share the site on Facebook and Twitter and AT&T will donate $1 to The Trevor Project.
2. Share one of the films from the “Love is Changing History” website on Facebook and Twitter and AT&T will donate $1 to The Trevor Project.
3. Submit a story that represents a “Love is Changing History” moment on the website and AT&T will donate a $1 to The Trevor Project.
For each person who shares on Facebook or Twitter from the site either the Love is Changing History Project or a film before 11:59PM PST November 11, 2013, AT&T will donate $1. Limit one share per person per Facebook account and one share per person per Twitter account. Maximum $2. For each person who submits a story to the Project, AT&T will donate $1. Total maximum of $3 per person. AT&T will donate a minimum of $25,000 and maximum of $100,000.
October 29, 2013 /LGBT News/ Using video clips from the film, BULLY, and other Facing History resources the staff will engage in thinking critically about the dynamics and impact of bullying in schools and explore ways to make classrooms more inclusive.
Facing History staff will open with a facilitated discussion and exploration of a resource. The guest teachers will share how they have used the same or a related resource in their classroom. Webinar attendees are invited to ask questions and share their own classroom experiences.
Guest Teacher: Amanda Rowley, Douglas County High School, Castle Rock, CO
Event Date: November 12, 2013
Event Time: 3:30 - 4:30 PM (Mountain Time)
Event Fee: No Fee
If you are interested in attending this free online workshop, RSVP here.
October 24, 2013 /LGBT News/ Ivo Widlak, who since moving to Chicago from his native Poland in 2001 has become a highly popular local media personality, is in a battle to not be deported, wishing to stay in Chicago with his wife of 11 years. Being legally married to a U.S. citizen, Ivo Widlak's wife has been seeking citizenship for her husband. Unfortunately, due to controversial reasons, the U.S. Government is instead seeking to deport Widlak, claiming he cannot be legalized and his work permit is expired.
A media star in Poland since 1992, Ivo Widlak was a journalist, a writer, a blogger, a TV host, a producer, a publicist, and an event emcee there. While he was college educated in Gliwice and Warsaw, Poland, he wanted to learn even more. He chose to get that additional education by attempting to get an internship or job with Oprah Winfrey at Chicago's Harpo Studios. Widlak's hope was that by working with a media giant like Winfrey, he could then return to Poland to apply those lessons to his own media career there. In 2001, Widlak left Poland and moved to Chicago to try and achieve that dream.
He did arrive in Chicago as planned, but did not end up at Harpo Studios. Instead, he started working as a foreign correspondent and journalist for a Polish website. He also did some work as a publicist locally and a few other jobs.
Another unexpected turn of events happened to Widlak after arriving in Chicago in 2001. He met a woman named Laura Zabedra, or "Lale" as he affectionately calls her, and fell deeply in love. The two were wed in September 2002.
Since then, Widlak's star continued to rise in Chicago. He has created and hosted many local television shows, became a local news anchor, was a TV Executive Producer, been a special assignments reporter for local newspapers, hosted events, and did a great deal of work, much of which was targeted toward helping Chicago's Polish community. Ivo Widlak also founded the Polish Cultural Institute in Chicago, a not-for-profit organization established to promote a positive image of Polish people.
In 2002, Lale Widlak filed forms on behalf of her husband so that he could obtain a permanent resident card -- a green card to legally stay and work in the U.S. The story should happily end here, with no problems attached to it. Unfortunately, that is not the case...
After a very long wait for the card to arrive, Widlak was told that his paperwork was "lost." After years of trying to get the situation rectified, Ivo Widlak and his wife were asked to come to the Immigration Service in December 2009. The couple were split into different interrogation rooms and grilled for many minutes each. The Immigration Service was claiming that Widlak's marriage was nothing more than a sham to gain citizenship illegally. Despite little more than circumstantial evidence to support this, the Immigration Service began the deportation process.
This situation gets even more complicated from there.
Ivo Widlak is openly bisexual. His wife is also openly bisexual. However, by all accounts, Ivo and Lale are very much a couple, very much in love with each other, and very much married. It is possible that bigotry or discrimination toward Ivo Widlak's bisexuality is playing a role in the government's refusal to allow citizenship.
That may just be a cover for something possibly more shady going on...
Earlier in 2009, Ivo Widlak uncovered corruption taking place during the renovation of the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland building in Chicago. He published an in-depth article about his findings, which resonated not only to its Chicago readers, but also with Polish authorities. The Republic of Poland's Supreme Audit Office looked into what was happening at the Consulate General building in Chicago and found that Widlak's report about corruption was true. Many serious violations with the Polish taxpayers' money was found to be taking place.
It was soon after that expose was published that a local attorney with ties to the Consulate contacted Immigration Services about Widlak, alleging that Widlak was not bisexual and not even truly married. The attorney claimed that Widlak as gay and that his marriage was phony. That was what initiated the December 2009 interrogation of the Widlaks and Ivo Widlak's current deportation situation.
Widlak fears that his current situation has more to do with his public exposing of corruption and less to do with his sexuality. It seems to Widlak and others that he has been targeted by some "connected" individuals who are using their influence to have Widlak's paperwork "lost," his legal marriage declared fake, and force him to be deported.
Be it though corruption, discrimination, outdated views on marriage, or disturbing flaws in our immigration system, Ivo Widlak is certainly in a difficult situation right now. His deportation decision could come as soon as December 12th.
In an interview with the Polish newspaper Super Express last winter, Lale Widlak said: "Words cannot express how I feel about this case. The fact that I will lose my best friend and husband after 10 years of marriage. A bond we created with God, is being judged and scrutinized because we don't reflect the 1950's image of marriage. You can't tell me that our marriage is not consummated because we are bisexual."
Lale Widlak long ago refilled the "lost" green card paperwork. However, the Immigration Service has yet to schedule an interview with the Widlaks or acknowledge the forms after many months or requests by the couple.
Ivo Widlak is currently being represented by immigration attorney Ira Azulay. In an article in “White Eagle News” – the biggest Polish-language news paper in the U.S. - late last year, Azulay said: "The first step is to convince the Immigration Service that he and his wife are a genuine, loving married couple. If this happens, Ivo qualifies for a Green Card."
"Ivo and his wife Lale are victims of the immigration system. They are a married couple and have been living together for over 10 years and they are still trying to take advantage of the rights that they entitled to," added Azulay. "Some may think that this case is related to the sexual orientation of Ivo and Lale. But this is absolutely not so! In my opinion this is an outdated way of thinking. We continue to be forced to struggle against a rather Victorian approach to unions between sexual minorities, yet we believe that this case must be based upon evidence, like any other case, to prove the authenticity of this relationship. We very frequently tell our clients that when two different nationalities, languages, races, religions or social classes become involved they should expect a higher than usual level of control and existence under the microscope of the Immigration Service. Too many people too often struggle as a result of documents lost by Immigration and too many people too often give up as a result. This is very unfair!"
The website Change.org recently set up an online petition. The goal of the petition is to bring this case directly to the attention of Alejandro Mayorkas, the Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, as well as for an immediate and fair review of the case, with the hopes of having Lale Widlak's legal request finally approved, allowing Ivo Widlak to become a lawful, permanent resident of the United States.
Those who wish to sign the petition may do so at this link HERE. Even more information about this highly unusual case can be found there, as well.
On September 17th, Ivo and Lale Widlak celebrated their 11th anniversary. They hope to be able to celebrate their 12th anniversary together in Chicago next year, although that is by no means a certainty -- at least not right now.
More info about Ivo Widlak:
Official website: www.IvoWidlak.com
The information above is presented “as is” and “as available”, and we expressly disclaim any liability for errors and omissions regarding it.
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