LGBT

LGBT News Recap of 2012

Now This News recaps the biggest highlights and setbacks for LGBT rights in the US and worldwide from 2012.

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FFFF: Coming Out Service

FFFFIn this Conan sketch, Andy Richter promotes his new service to help you come out to your family over the holidays, with a little help from some of his celebrity friends.

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U of A’s “No Homophobes” Project Confronts Casual Homophobia

nohomophobesby Jarrah Hodge

The first time I visited nohomophobes.com it was an emotional experience. The site acts as a “social mirror”, capturing real-time use of homophobic slurs on Twitter, and it quickly becomes clear just how staggering a problem casual homophobia is.

I spoke to Dr. Kristopher Wells, Associate Director of the University of Alberta Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, which started the project earlier this year, about how this relatively simple Canadian idea has had such a wide impact.

Wells told me that the idea for No Homophobes came out of research on casual homophobia and how it manifests in our public education system. EGALE Canada’s national national climate survey on homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in Canadian schools, for example, found that 70% of LGBTQ youth hear phrases like “That’s so gay” every day in their schools. 10% of the time the phrases are actually coming from teachers.

“Sadly, for many LGBTQ youth this kind of casual homophobia is part of their daily reality,” said Wells.

The challenge was to put something together to bring public awareness to the issue of casual homophobia – not just in schools, but also in our society as a whole. The idea was to create a website that compiles tweets, using our four key words (“faggot”, “so gay”, “no homo”, and “dyke”), in real time, from all over English-speaking world. Wells and the iSMSS turned to their community partners, getting help from Calder Bateman in Edmonton and Burnkit in Vancouver to set up the website graphics and technical aspects.

Wells explained: “We wanted to do something different that was actually going to target and speak not only to youth, but also to the broader community – and we figured out pretty quickly that we needed to do something with social media, which is where most youth seem to live.” Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, LGBT 2 Comments

AP “Homophobia” Decision Doesn’t Reflect Reality

ap_stylebook_coverby Jarrah Hodge

The Associated Press Stylebook sets a newspaper industry standard for grammar, language, and reporting principles. So when the AP makes changes, they can have a significant impact on the media we consume. That’s why a lot of LGBT writers and activists are upset at the recent move by the AP to ban the use of the word “homophobia”. The AP has chosen to read a very literal definition into the word “homophobia”, arguing any word ending in “-phobia” represents “an irrational, uncontrollable fear, often a form of mental illness” and that such words should not be used “in political or social contexts” (this also nixes “Islamophobia” and presumably “Transphobia”).

AP Deputy Standards Editor Dave Milthorn was quoted in POLITICO as saying:

“Homophobia especially — it’s just off the mark. It’s ascribing a mental disability to someone, and suggests a knowledge that we don’t have. It seems inaccurate. Instead, we would use something more neutral: anti-gay, or some such, if we had reason to believe that was the case.”

Even though when you take “homophobia” that literally it doesn’t seem like the most precise term, there are a couple of big problems with the AP’s move.

The first is that their definition doesn’t reflect common usage. Occasionally I’ll use the term “heterosexism” because I think it’s a better word to show that the privileging of heterosexual people and the subordination of LGBT people is systemic (e.g. it makes more sense to say a policy or institution is “heterosexist” than “homophobic”). But I still use “homophobic” more frequently and one reason for that is that people generally get it. People understand when you say someone’s homophobic that you’re not literally saying they need mental health care. They understand you’re not implying they aren’t responsible for their actions or attitudes. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in LGBT 1 Comment

FFFF: You Can’t Be Gay Unless You Have a Job

San Francisco writer/performer  Graham Gremore tells the story of the first times other kids tried to explain to him what it means to be gay.

Warning: one NSFW phrase in this film.

-Jarrah

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Recommitting to the Vision of a World Without AIDS

by Jarrah Hodge

Today, December 1, is World AIDS Day. Over two decades since the first World AIDS Day was recognized, much has been achieved. But unfortunately the prevention and treatment tools that have been developed still aren’t available everywhere for everyone. The World Health Organization (WHO) has set the day’s theme until 2015 to be: “Getting to Zero: Zero New HIV Infections. Zero Discrimination. Zero AIDS Related Deaths.” But As Kai Wright points out in a post at Colorlines:

Globally, those who have access to social and economic capital avoid the virus or, when infected, live healthy lives with it. Elsewhere, infections and deaths continue to mount.

Wright continues:

These three slices of black America—queer men (however we identify), women and transgender people—hold some of the least social and economic capital in this otherwise wealthy and comfortable nation. In fact, what’s true in HIV is true in just about every other aspect of life in the U.S. Pick the indicator of distress, and you’ll find these groups ranking near the top of those who struggle. HIV is and has always been an excellent measure of who societies value and who they don’t.

Stephen Lewis’ Worlds AIDS Day message talks about how looking at HIV/AIDS on a global scale shows the same inequality. The top ten countries with the highest percentage of people living with HIV/AIDS are in Africa:

Two and a half million new infections last year; 330,000 are children. More than 50% infected in Africa are women…AIDS must be restored to the international agenda. The one place where it’s never been off the agenda is at the grassroots in Africa.

Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, LGBT, Politics, Racism 1 Comment

Canadian Politicians Let Bullied Kids Down

Pink Shirt Girlby Jarrah Hodge

Despite more and more high-profile bullying cases being reported in the media recently, in the last few days we’ve seen two anti-bullying policies defeated in Canada. The first was a motion brought forward by the Edmonton Public School District to the Alberta School Boards Association to protect LGBT students and staff from bullying through requiring schools to develop a zero-tolerance policy.

Disgracefully, 62% of trustees voted the measure down, including representatives from the Calgary Catholic and public school districts.

“Our concern was that if you are appearing to promote one group preferentially over the other, that it’s not appropriate,” Calgary Catholic chairwoman Mary Martin said in the Calgary Herald.

ABSA President Jacquie Hansen echoed Martin’s remarks, telling the Edmonton Journal that the ABSA didn’t want a policy that only protected LGBT kids. At least that was a nicer way of framing it than Pembina Hills trustee Dale Schaffrick, who was forced to apologize after telling the CBC that kids should act less gay to avoid bullying:

“If children with a gay tendency appear a certain way, we know that we have to be vigilant to make sure they are not discriminated against,” Schaffrick told CBC News.

When asked if those students should try to be less identifiable, he said, “I think for their own benefit… it would be helpful.”

The idea that LGBT kids somehow ask to be bullied by acting or appearing a certain way, and that their sexual orientation is nothing more than a “tendency”, is obviously ridiculous and offensive. But let’s take a step back again to look at what the more mainstream folks said about why they opposed this motion: because it singled out LGBT students and staff for protection from bullying. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, LGBT, Politics Leave a comment