Sunday, January 25, 2015 / Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 / Labels: , , , , , ,

Kyrgyzstan’s New Anti-Gay Law Is Even Worse than Russia’s

anti LGBT map Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyzstan’s New Anti-Gay Law Is Even Worse than Russia’s, LGBT news

January 21, 2014 /LGBT News/ In a few months, writing these words might get me thrown in prison.

I live in Kyrgyzstan, where soon any public mention of homosexuality will likely be forbidden by law.

That’s because in October, the Kyrgyz version of the notorious Russian law against “gay propaganda” passed its first reading by a vote of 79 to 7. Following one more reading, the bill will reach President Almazbek Atambayev’s desk, where it is almost certain to pass into law. Legislators even proposed that the minimum sentence for making reference to homosexuality be increased from one year to three.

Kyrgyzstan’s close affiliation with Russia inspired the law, and the Kyrgyz version is even tougher. To protect “traditional Kyrgyz values and families,” the law states, any “positive image of nontraditional sexual relations” will be prohibited. Anyone caught distributing a photo, writing an article, or posting on Facebook about homosexuality will face up to a year imprisonment.

The law will effectively make it illegal to advocate for, provide information about, or even organize a peaceful assembly in support of LGBT rights. Human rights organizations like my own will cease to exist as our current activities will be deemed unlawful.

This violates Kyrgyzstan’s commitments under both international law and its own constitution, which protects the right to peaceful assembly, free access to information, and freedom from any form of discrimination. In a society as homophobic as Kyrgyzstan’s, the law will only encourage more anti-gay crimes. In fact, one form of speech that’s not criminalized under the new law is homophobic hate speech.

Being LGBT in Kyrgyzstan today means being exposed to blatant violence. In the past, cases of violence were sporadic, but today they are systematic, premeditated, and executed by groups. Since 2008, human rights organizations in Kyrgyzstan have documented over 200 cases of homophobic attacks, ranging from beatings on the street to raids of the offices of LGBT rights organizations.

The crimes begin in our own families, which disown us and force us out of our homes. Many among us have suffered horrific sexual violence, including so-called corrective rape. If you dare to report these crimes to the police, the abuse continues.

Severe and prolonged beatings, threats of rape, and denial of food and water are some of the testimonies from victims whose only crime is being gay or bisexual. A report by Human Rights Watch released earlier this year suggests that these abuses by the police have on occasion risen to the “level of torture.”

The space for the LGBT community in Kyrgyzstan is shrinking. If passed, this discriminatory law will serve as an instrument for even more repression. It’s not just about LGBT rights. It’s about the broader, long-term implications for our country. Outlawing any public expression of identity threatens the fundamental rights and freedoms of Kyrgyz society as a whole.

Written by Syinat Sultanalieva for the Open Society Foundation

comments (0) / Read More

Sunday, January 18, 2015 / Labels: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, January 11, 2015 / Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, January 8, 2015 / Labels: , , , , ,

Nepal to issue passports with third gender for sexual minorities

January 8, 2015 /LGBT News/ The Nepalese government is to issue passports with a third gender option for citizens who do not identify as male or female.

'We have changed the passport regulations and will add a third category of gender for those people who do not want to be identified as male or female,' Lok Bahadur Thapa, chief of the government’s passport department, told Reuters.

The decision comes after a 2007 Supreme Court ruling in the country ordered authorities to amend legislation to include a third gender.

Nepal joins a handful of countries that recognize a third gender: citizens of Australia and New Zealand can choose from three genders for their passports - male female or indeterminate, marked by an "x" in the passport. 

South Asia nations appear to be ahead of the curve regarding the right to identify as third gender on official documents. Court decisions in Pakistan in 2009 and India in 2014 both cleared the way for people who identify as being of indeterminate gender to do so formally.

comments (0) / Read More

Monday, January 5, 2015 / Labels: , , , ,

Leelah Alcorn's suicide note: 'My death needs to mean something. Fix society. Please.'

January 5, 2015 /LGBT News/ Leelah Alcorn’s suicide has been grabbing headlines since the transgender teen took her own life on December 28. 

Born Joshua Alcorn, the Cincinnati-area 17-year-old walked in front of a tractor-trailer in Warren County.

A suicide note posted on Leelah's Tumblr page - through scheduled publishing just a few hours after her death - blamed her parents for isolating her from support systems. (Leelah's Tumblr post was later deleted by her parents.)

Leelah writes that although she was born a boy, she began identifying as a girl at the age of four.

'When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. 

'I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong.'

She was taken out of school and barred from using social media, thus isolating her from friends and a support network. She was taken to see therapists but, Alcorn noted, only to 'Christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help'.

She ended her suicide note with a plea for action: 'The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.'

In the aftermath of their child’s death, Leelah’s parents have continued to express their disapproval of her gender identity.

'We don’t support that, religiously,' Carla Alcorn told CNN, adding: 'But we told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy.'

For those who want to read Leelah's final words, here they are, in full:

If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue.

Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in … because I’m transgender. I could go into detail explaining why I feel that way, but this note is probably going to be lengthy enough as it is. To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4. I never knew there was a word for that feeling, nor was it possible for a boy to become a girl, so I never told anyone and I just continued to do traditionally “boyish” things to try to fit in.

When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self. That’s exactly what it did to me.

My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to Christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more Christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.

When I was 16 I realized that my parents would never come around, and that I would have to wait until I was 18 to start any sort of transitioning treatment, which absolutely broke my heart. The longer you wait, the harder it is to transition. I felt hopeless, that I was just going to look like a man in drag for the rest of my life. On my 16th birthday, when I didn’t receive consent from my parents to start transitioning, I cried myself to sleep.

I formed a sort of a “fuck you” attitude towards my parents and came out as gay at school, thinking that maybe if I eased into coming out as trans it would be less of a shock. Although the reaction from my friends was positive, my parents were pissed. They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them. They wanted me to be their perfect little straight Christian boy, and that’s obviously not what I wanted.

So they took me out of public school, took away my laptop and phone, and forbid me of getting on any sort of social media, completely isolating me from my friends. This was probably the part of my life when I was the most depressed, and I’m surprised I didn’t kill myself. I was completely alone for 5 months. No friends, no support, no love. Just my parent’s disappointment and the cruelty of loneliness.

At the end of the school year, my parents finally came around and gave me my phone and let me back on social media. I was excited, I finally had my friends back. They were extremely excited to see me and talk to me, but only at first. Eventually they realized they didn’t actually give a shit about me, and I felt even lonelier than I did before. The only friends I thought I had only liked me because they saw me five times a week.

After a summer of having almost no friends plus the weight of having to think about college, save money for moving out, keep my grades up, go to church each week and feel like shit because everyone there is against everything I live for, I have decided I’ve had enough. I’m never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. I’m never going to be happy with the way I look or sound. I’m never going to have enough friends to satisfy me. I’m never going to have enough love to satisfy me. I’m never going to find a man who loves me. I’m never going to be happy. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say “it gets better” but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse.

That’s the gist of it, that’s why I feel like killing myself. Sorry if that’s not a good enough reason for you, it’s good enough for me. As for my will, I want 100% of the things that I legally own to be sold and the money (plus my money in the bank) to be given to trans civil rights movements and support groups, I don’t give a shit which one. The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.

(Leelah) Josh Alcorn

comments (4) / Read More

Thursday, November 27, 2014 / Labels: , , , , , ,

Study: National Trends in Public Opinion on LGBT Rights in the United States

November 27, 2014 /LGBT News/ Public support for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ( LGBT ) people in the United States has increased significantly over the last three decades, according to a new study released by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. 

Over 325 national surveys dating back to June 1977 were analyzed that ask the public their opinions on five issues including: general attitudes toward LGBT people, legality of same-sex relations, legal recognition of marriages for same-sex couples, extension of adoption rights to same-sex couples, inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in non-discrimination policies, and support for open military service. In addition, the report explores whether attitude change is primarily driven by inter-generational cohort change or other factors.

Key findings in the report include:

  • Public support for lesbians and gay men has doubled in the past three decades, more so than public support for any other group surveyed about over the same time period.
  • While support for marriage equality was static from the 1980s to the early 2000s, it has more than doubled since then. It is most likely that people are changing their minds on the issue of marriage equality as opposed to generational change.
  • A majority of the public supports adoption rights for same-sex couples and support has more than doubled since 1992. Support currently stands around 63 percent.
  • Although a national non-discrimination law has yet to be passed and twenty-nine states do not have non-discrimination laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity, 72 percent of the public support laws protecting lesbians and gay men from job discrimination and 75 percent support laws protecting transgender people from job discrimination.
  • About 48,500 LGB people are actively serving in the military and reserve. Public support for open military service for lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals has increased from about 50% in 1993 to about 70% in 2012.

Public opinion data on all five issues was not always available for transgender people and bisexual people. The few surveys that do ask about support for transgender and bisexual people indicate that support has increased over time, but not at the same rate as for lesbians and gay men.

comments (1) / Read More

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 / Labels: , , , , , ,

The Comedy Minute With Jason T. Gaffney Season One

September 16, 2015 /LGBT News/ Award winning writer-producer and out gay actor Jason T. Gaffney again teams up with small or LARGE Productions to present his new web series, The Comedy Minute With Jason T. Gaffney.

Written and produced by Gaffney, season one of the sketch comedy series has just been released. The TCM cast regulars feature Gaffney, along with two other out gay actors as well as two bisexual actors.  
Conscious of the need for more diversity in improv and sketch comedy, Gaffney created The Comedy Minute after being inspired by the Upright Citizen’s Brigades policies to diversify the comedy world.
Screen Shot Romantic Night At Home
“I wanted to create a series where gay men could show off their comic chops,” Gaffney said.
Jason T. Gaffney
Jason T. Gaffney is one of the writers, producers, and leading actors in small or LARGE Productions’ hit LGBTQ film, The Perfect Wedding.  
“I came out when I was fifteen and my family was completely supportive,” Gaffney said.  “And while I appreciate conflicted and angsty coming out stories and closet comedies, I honestly don’t relate.  I’m very lucky, I know that, but I also know that there are more and more young gay men like me.  And we naturally want to find our reflection in the movies that we watch -- we want to see ourselves represented.”  
So Gaffney pushed his co-producers and movie-writing partners to write a boy-meets-boy romantic comedy in which the gay main characters have loving families.  The result was The Perfect Wedding, an award-winning comedy that found distribution with Wolfe Releasing, and has gone on to garner over 50,000 reviews on Netflix.
Screenshot of Sexy Neat Freak
The Comedy Minute with Jason T. Gaffney is now available on YouTube with eleven episodes. Sexy Neat Freak is the featured gay sketch in season one.

comments (2) / Read More

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 / Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Free online course: Representations of HIV/AIDS

September 9, 2014 /LGBT News/ Explore how HIV/AIDS has been portrayed in diverse genres through the perspectives of the scientist and the literary critic.

Starts on October 6, 2014
Duration: 7 weeks
Estimated effort: 4 to 6 hours/week

About this Course:

This class engages students in a transdisciplinary conversation about representations of HIV/AIDS: in science writing, journalism, visual art, literature, drama, and popular culture. We believe that scientists and cultural critics can learn valuable lessons from one another, even as they create their own responses to HIV/AIDS. Today, over 30 years since the first scientific reports of HIV/AIDS, the pandemic remains a major health concern throughout the world. But, rays of hope have led to speculation that an AIDS-free generation may be possible. In such a timely moment, it is essential for us to connect across the "two cultures" as we consider the social and scientific implications of HIV/AIDS.

comments (8) / Read More

Monday, September 8, 2014 / Labels: , , , , , ,

African/German Lesbian Web Series Pitches Online to Raise Funds Independently

September 8, 2014 /LGBT News/ A web series based around a Namibian lesbian running a resource center for African women in the German capital of Berlin, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $30,000 to make its second episode.  'The Centre' is written by Naomi Beukes-Meyer, herself a Namibian native who has been living in Berlin for over 20 years.  

Though there is a large African diaspora throughout Europe, Beukes-Meyer felt that there was a distinct lack of film and television dramas highlighting first and second generation African female and, in particular, lesbian experience on the continent and it was this that spurred her on to write the first episode of ‘The Centre’ two years ago.

Entitled ‘I’m Still Down Here’, that episode which, like each of The Centre series’ episodes, can also be viewed as a stand-alone short film,  focused on the tender love story of two teenage girls and their struggle to deal with family, religious and cultural values.   Though the film received no funding and was primarily bankrolled by Beukes-Meyer herself, its unconventional storyline and the fact that it appeared as a webisode on various video sharing platforms across the Internet, including One More Lesbian, has resulted in it being viewed a remarkable 150,000+ times since it first aired online last autumn.  

The second episode, ‘What to do with the Silence’, concentrates on the personal journey of the central character Leoni, and the tragic circumstances that bring her from a settled life in Namibia to helping other African immigrant women in Berlin.  While the first film was shot entirely in Berlin, this time Beukes-Meyer and her team are planning to film in both Berlin and Windhoek, Namibia. The $30,000 raised through the crowdfunding campaign will help with cast and crew fees in both countries, post-production costs as well as equipment rental in the Namibian capital city.

“We began looking at the Crowdfunding model which has been used so successfully to fund film productions in the US and Canada and felt that this was a positive option for us,” Beukes-Meyer said.  

“We really liked the whole notion of peer-to-peer funding and it seemed to fit well with our own ethos, not just because this is not a big budget production but because the nature of both the Berlin and the women’s film scene has always been friends and friends-of-friends helping each other out to get a film made.”

“My dream,” she added, “Is to film one episode of ‘The Centre’ a year.   If crowdfunding enables us to do that and to bring these stories to a larger community of film lovers, then we can help to give a voice to many lesbians who may not have had a voice, or a reason to believe their voice was important, before.” 

A note on crowdfunding: Crowdfunding enables people with a great creative idea to ask the general public for the funding they need to get the film made. The team behind the idea sets a target for the money it wants to raise and explains how it will use the cash. People can then make pledges for small amounts of money in return for a reward if the target is reached.

What To Do with the Silence’ goes live on Indigogo on Tuesday 9th September 2014 at

comments (14) / Read More

Saturday, August 23, 2014 / Labels: , , , , , ,

Homosexuality in the 6th century BC: Tomb of the Bulls

August 23, 2014 /LGBT News/ Monterozzi is an Etruscan necropolis on a hill east of Tarquinia in Lazio, Italy. The necropolis has about 6,000 graves, the oldest of which dates to the 7th century BCE. Monterozzi is also the site of the Tomb of the Bulls, a tomb constructed c. 540–530 BC. The walls of the tomb are illustrated with frescos that evidence a strong influence from Greek art. 

The panel on the left depicts a heterosexual scene
involving three persons
In the Tomb of the Bulls in Tarquinia, there are two sets of figures and 'obscene' scenes. The main scene depicts naked Troilus, Priam’s young, beautiful son, en route to a fountain below Troy where Achilles awaits in ambush. The nudity of Troilus may be used to portray him as young and beautiful, or vulnerable. It could also be used for magic apotropaic reasons (having the power to prevent evil). Troilus’ nudity may also represent a sexual appeal; ancient sources and illustrations attest to Achilles’ love for Troilus, a tradition that may explain the surrounding sexual scenes. On the left side of the illustrated panel, a man penetrates a woman who is supported on the back of a man bent on all fours. Moving to the right in the depicted scene towards two men having sexual intercourse, the ithyphallic bull has clearly defined and distinct horns; in ancient (and modern) Italy, the single horn is also a potent weapon to spear the Evil Eye.

Two standing men have sexual intercourse while bull with the head of an old man (Achelous?) and an erection trots toward them in the form of a bull with an erection.

comments (9) / Read More

Saturday, August 16, 2014 / Labels: , , , , , , ,

World War II love letter to a fellow soldier: Sleep well my love

August 16, 2014 /LGBT News/ The following love letter was written by American World War II veteran Brian Keith to Dave, a fellow soldier he fell in love with in 1943 while stationed in North Africa. The letter was reprinted in September of 1961 by pro-gay ONE Magazine. The original letter is reportedly held in the Library of Congress.

Dear Dave,

This is in memory of an anniversary — the anniversary of October 27th, 1943, when I first heard you singing in North Africa. That song brings memories of the happiest times I’ve ever known. Memories of a GI show troop — curtains made from barrage balloons — spotlights made from cocoa cans — rehearsals that ran late into the evenings — and a handsome boy with a wonderful tenor voice. Opening night at a theatre in Canastel — perhaps a bit too much muscatel, and someone who understood. Exciting days playing in the beautiful and stately Municipal Opera House in Oran — a misunderstanding — an understanding in the wings just before opening chorus.

Drinks at ‘Coq d’or’ — dinner at the ‘Auberge’ — a ring and promise given. The show 1st Armoured — muscatel, scotch, wine — someone who had to be carried from the truck and put to bed in his tent. A night of pouring rain and two very soaked GIs beneath a solitary tree on an African plain. A borrowed French convertible — a warm sulphur spring, the cool Mediterranean, and a picnic of ‘rations’ and hot cokes. Two lieutenants who were smart enough to know the score, but not smart enough to realize that we wanted to be alone. A screwball piano player — competition — miserable days and lonely nights. The cold, windy night we crawled through the window of a GI theatre and fell asleep on a cot backstage, locked in each other’s arms — the shock when we awoke and realized that miraculously we hadn’t been discovered. A fast drive to a cliff above the sea — pictures taken, and a stop amid the purple grapes and cool leaves of a vineyard.
The happiness when told we were going home — and the misery when we learned that we would not be going together. Fond goodbyes on a secluded beach beneath the star-studded velvet of an African night, and the tears that would not be stopped as I stood atop the sea-wall and watched your convoy disappear over the horizon.

We vowed we’d be together again ‘back home,’ but fate knew better — you never got there. And so, Dave, I hope that where ever you are these memories are as precious to you as they are to me.

Goodnight, sleep well my love.

Brian Keith

comments (12) / Read More