February 6, 2014
Can the UN Change the Church’s Views on Abortion and Gay Rights?

On Wednesday, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a long report on the Vatican that has gotten attention for its sharp criticism of the Catholic Church’s response to clergy sex-abuse scandals. But perhaps more remarkably, the study also critiqued the Church’s stance on abortion and birth control.
Specifically, it recommended that the Holy See “overcome all the barriers and taboos surrounding adolescent sexuality that hinder their access to sexual and reproductive information, including on family planning and contraceptives,” and suggested the Vatican “review its position on abortion … with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services can be permitted.” The committee also made broad criticisms of the Church’s posture toward LGBTQ families and children. The Holy See has responded with a statement defending the Church’s right to define its own religious beliefs and teachings.
The Vatican, which has “permanent observer” status at the UN, is a signatory to the UN’s 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child along with 193 countries and two island nations. Notably, the United States is one of three countries that haven’t ratified the treaty; the other two, Somalia and South Sudan, have both pledged to ratify the agreement soon.
So, if a UN committee finds Church teachings to violate the human rights of children, what can it do to the Holy See? The short answer: nothing.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Can the UN Change the Church’s Views on Abortion and Gay Rights?

On Wednesday, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a long report on the Vatican that has gotten attention for its sharp criticism of the Catholic Church’s response to clergy sex-abuse scandals. But perhaps more remarkably, the study also critiqued the Church’s stance on abortion and birth control.

Specifically, it recommended that the Holy See “overcome all the barriers and taboos surrounding adolescent sexuality that hinder their access to sexual and reproductive information, including on family planning and contraceptives,” and suggested the Vatican “review its position on abortion … with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services can be permitted.” The committee also made broad criticisms of the Church’s posture toward LGBTQ families and children. The Holy See has responded with a statement defending the Church’s right to define its own religious beliefs and teachings.

The Vatican, which has “permanent observer” status at the UN, is a signatory to the UN’s 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child along with 193 countries and two island nations. Notably, the United States is one of three countries that haven’t ratified the treaty; the other two, Somalia and South Sudan, have both pledged to ratify the agreement soon.

So, if a UN committee finds Church teachings to violate the human rights of children, what can it do to the Holy See? The short answer: nothing.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

August 16, 2013
Ice Skaters Plan to Stand Against Russia’s Gay Law at Olympics

For one speed skater, making a statement means wearing a rainbow pin as he darts across the ice. For one figure skater, it means just being himself, flamboyant costumes and all, and having his husband there to cheer him on.
But both athletes, who will be competing in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, know they may be arrested under Russia’s vaguely defined ban on so-called gay “propaganda.”
But the speed skater, New Zealand’s Blake Skjellerup, and the figure skater, American Johnny Weir, are defying calls by some activists and athletes to boycott February’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. They are among the competitors and supporters who say the best place to take a stand against homophobia is at the Olympics themselves.
Read more. [Image: Grigory Dukor/Reuters]

Ice Skaters Plan to Stand Against Russia’s Gay Law at Olympics

For one speed skater, making a statement means wearing a rainbow pin as he darts across the ice. For one figure skater, it means just being himself, flamboyant costumes and all, and having his husband there to cheer him on.

But both athletes, who will be competing in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, know they may be arrested under Russia’s vaguely defined ban on so-called gay “propaganda.”

But the speed skater, New Zealand’s Blake Skjellerup, and the figure skater, American Johnny Weir, are defying calls by some activists and athletes to boycott February’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. They are among the competitors and supporters who say the best place to take a stand against homophobia is at the Olympics themselves.

Read more. [Image: Grigory Dukor/Reuters]

August 14, 2013
The Quiet Gay-Rights Revolution in America’s Churches

For most gay Americans in the 20th century, the church was a place of pain. It cast them out and called them evil. It cleaved them from their families. It condemned their love and denied their souls. In 2004, a president was elected when religious voters surged from their pews to vote against the legal recognition of gay relationships. When it came to gay rights, religion was the enemy.
A decade later, the story is very different. Congregations across the country increasingly accept, nurture, and even marry their gay brethren. Polls show majorities of major Christian denominations — including American Catholics, despite their church’s staunch opposition — support legal gay marriage. Leaders of some of the most conservative sects, like the Southern Baptists, have moved away from the vitriolic rhetoric of yesteryear and toward a more compassionate tone. Mormons march in gay-pride parades. A sitting Republican senator, a Methodist from the heartland state of Ohio, says the question was settled for him by “the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.” A new pope says, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
Read more. [Image: Stacy Bengs/Associated Press]

The Quiet Gay-Rights Revolution in America’s Churches

For most gay Americans in the 20th century, the church was a place of pain. It cast them out and called them evil. It cleaved them from their families. It condemned their love and denied their souls. In 2004, a president was elected when religious voters surged from their pews to vote against the legal recognition of gay relationships. When it came to gay rights, religion was the enemy.

A decade later, the story is very different. Congregations across the country increasingly accept, nurture, and even marry their gay brethren. Polls show majorities of major Christian denominations — including American Catholics, despite their church’s staunch opposition — support legal gay marriage. Leaders of some of the most conservative sects, like the Southern Baptists, have moved away from the vitriolic rhetoric of yesteryear and toward a more compassionate tone. Mormons march in gay-pride parades. A sitting Republican senator, a Methodist from the heartland state of Ohio, says the question was settled for him by “the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.” A new pope says, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Read more. [Image: Stacy Bengs/Associated Press]

July 25, 2013
A Gay-Themed Children’s Book in a Country That’s Outlawed Gay-Themed Children’s Books

 Anti-gay activists threw eggs and rocks at gay rights demonstrators in St. Petersburg last month, shouting “Sodomy will not pass.” The patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church recently called gay marriage “apocalyptic.” And in June, the Russian government outlawed discussing LGBT issues with minors by officially prohibiting “homosexual propaganda” and making the distribution of gay-rights material punishable by fines and jail time.In the midst of Russia’s crackdown on gay rights, one Russian author has published a children’s book that prominently features a homosexual character and his struggle to find acceptance in the country. 
Daria Wilke, the author of the new book, The Jester’s Cap, emigrated from Moscow 13 years ago and is now a Russian professor at the University of Vienna in Austria. Her novel centers on a boy named Grisha, a 14-year-old who lives and works in a puppet theater with his family and an older friend, Sam, who is gay.
Read more. [Image: Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters]

A Gay-Themed Children’s Book in a Country That’s Outlawed Gay-Themed Children’s Books

 Anti-gay activists threw eggs and rocks at gay rights demonstrators in St. Petersburg last month, shouting “Sodomy will not pass.” The patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church recently called gay marriage “apocalyptic.” And in June, the Russian government outlawed discussing LGBT issues with minors by officially prohibiting “homosexual propaganda” and making the distribution of gay-rights material punishable by fines and jail time.

In the midst of Russia’s crackdown on gay rights, one Russian author has published a children’s book that prominently features a homosexual character and his struggle to find acceptance in the country.

Daria Wilke, the author of the new book, The Jester’s Cap, emigrated from Moscow 13 years ago and is now a Russian professor at the University of Vienna in Austria. Her novel centers on a boy named Grisha, a 14-year-old who lives and works in a puppet theater with his family and an older friend, Sam, who is gay.

Read more. [Image: Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters]

January 25, 2013
"Why parents are afraid to talk to their kids about sexual orientation: They’re either religious (in which case they should get over themselves about the whole thing) or stupid (in which case their wishes regarding the education of their children should be ignored). Why parents are afraid to talk to their kids about sex: They follow an absurd system of morality that claims that being human should be a source of shame. Advice to all of the above: Get over it. You live in a society that is moving forward, and you’re stuck in the 1950s. Re-examine your morality, because if you seriously think that two consenting adults being in love is somehow wrong, you are the problem. And if you’re the kind of person who thinks that it’s better to have abstinence-only education or none at all, thereby causing massive teen pregnancy rates, then you’re not the kind of genetic line that should be continued."

New York Times writer John Schwartz’s Son, Joe, on Growing Up Gay in 2013

January 24, 2013
An Amazing 1969 Account of the Stonewall Uprising

The conflict over the next six days played out as a very gay variant of a classic New York street rebellion. It would see: fire hoses turned on people in the street, thrown barricades, gay cheerleaders chanting bawdy variants of New York City schoolgirl songs, Rockette-style kick lines in front of the police, the throwing of a firebomb into the bar, a police officer throwing his gun at the mob, cries of “occupy — take over, take over,” “Fag power,” “Liberate the bar!”, and “We’re the pink panthers!”, smashed windows, uprooted parking meters, thrown pennies, frightened policemen, angry policemen, arrested mafiosi, thrown cobblestones, thrown bottles, the singing of “We Shall Overcome” in high camp fashion, and a drag queen hitting a police officer on the head with her purse.
Read more. [Image: Joseph Ambrosini/The New York Daily News]

An Amazing 1969 Account of the Stonewall Uprising

The conflict over the next six days played out as a very gay variant of a classic New York street rebellion. It would see: fire hoses turned on people in the street, thrown barricades, gay cheerleaders chanting bawdy variants of New York City schoolgirl songs, Rockette-style kick lines in front of the police, the throwing of a firebomb into the bar, a police officer throwing his gun at the mob, cries of “occupy — take over, take over,” “Fag power,” “Liberate the bar!”, and “We’re the pink panthers!”, smashed windows, uprooted parking meters, thrown pennies, frightened policemen, angry policemen, arrested mafiosi, thrown cobblestones, thrown bottles, the singing of “We Shall Overcome” in high camp fashion, and a drag queen hitting a police officer on the head with her purse.

Read more. [Image: Joseph Ambrosini/The New York Daily News]

November 7, 2012
"Tonight in Maine, Maryland and Washington, the movement for marriage equality took on its opponents, on their field, under their rules and defeated them."

Ta-Nehisi Coates

September 17, 2012
Malaysia Declares V-Necks Gay

The Malaysian government has begun organizing seminars aimed at helping parents and teachers identify latent homosexuality in children, according to Singapore news outlet AsiaOne. One of the principal warning signs? V-neck T-shirts. It’d be sort of funny if it weren’t rooted in a wildly un-self aware bigotry.

Read more. [Images: American Apparel/Reuters]

Malaysia Declares V-Necks Gay

The Malaysian government has begun organizing seminars aimed at helping parents and teachers identify latent homosexuality in children, according to Singapore news outlet AsiaOne. One of the principal warning signs? V-neck T-shirts. It’d be sort of funny if it weren’t rooted in a wildly un-self aware bigotry.

Read more. [Images: American Apparel/Reuters]

August 14, 2012
What the Gun Control Movement Can Learn From Gay Rights

While gun control and gay rights are very different things, there are a couple of key directives that apply to both: Play political hardball, put your money where your mouth is and reframe the debate to deprive the opposition of fuel.  

Read more. [Image: AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko]

What the Gun Control Movement Can Learn From Gay Rights

While gun control and gay rights are very different things, there are a couple of key directives that apply to both: Play political hardball, put your money where your mouth is and reframe the debate to deprive the opposition of fuel.  

Read more. [Image: AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko]

August 9, 2012

The World’s Biggest Gay Rights ‘Tattoo’

If you’ve been to Chicago’s Navy Pier recently, you’ve probably noticed it’s all tribaled up. The asphalt on North Street Drive sports a meandering yellow tattoo that seems to have slipped off of Mike Tyson’s face. What’s up with that?

Steed Taylor, that’s what’s up. The 52-year-old artist visited the Windy City a couple months ago to participate in the group show BIGArt, a celebration of oversized works that featured luminaries like Roy Lichtenstein and Nancy Rubins. At about 650 feet long and 25 feet wide, Taylor’s “Galloon” is one of the more pupil-jacking pieces in this exhibition. While it’s easy to soak up the road tattoo’s surface beauty, its title – galloon is a woven trim sometimes often used in military uniforms – underscores a more serious, pain-tinged meaning.

What are people supposed to get out of your street art?

I think the thing with the road tattoos is that they work in two ways. If you were there at the commemoration [when the names are painted in], it has a special meaning for you. If you weren’t, it has to exist as a really fun thing to drive over.

Read more. [Images: Steed Taylor]

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