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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Russia: Moscow Pride 2011

The May 28 Moscow Pride event - banned by the city authorities on May 17 - did not go smoothly: according to news reports, at least 18 gay rights activists and 14 of their opponents were detained by the police, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Manezhnaya Square and, later, in front of the Mayor's Office on Tverskaya Street. This was the sixth attempt to hold a gay pride parade in Russia's capital; a 2006 GV translation about the first attempt is here.

LJ users zyalt [ru], drugoi [ru], o_maksimoff [ru], al_31f [ru], edelveis8 [ru] and linuel_foto [ru] were among those who posted photo reports of the rally and the clashes on their blogs.

An anonymous Moscow-based riot police officer, who blogs as LJ user omon_moscow [ru] and tweets as @OMON_Moscow [ru] (more about him in this post by Kevin Rothrock of A Good Treaty), shared some photos [ru] from Tverskaya Street, where he was on duty at the time of the rally, noting that “the activists of homosexual relationships” had been trying to ruin the Russian border guards' official holiday, which is marked annually on May 28 (photos from the May 28 celebrations at Gorky Park, by LJ user ridus-news, are here). On Twitter, @OMON_Moscow defended the actions of the police this way [ru]:

To all the smart ones who are telling me about gay rights and European laws, I suggest not to bother. I live by the laws of [the Russian Federation], not by those of the European Union. :)

A number of foreign gay rights activists were arrested in Moscow on May 28, including a former U.S. Army officer Dan Choi (a report on his violent detention, which includes a video, has been published by AMERICAblog Gay, here). @OMON_Moscow posted this casual-sounding, work-related comment [ru] about it:

Okay, the majority of foreign [homos] have been detained at [Manezh Square]. [A black one] is still running somewhere. They're here now. I'm running off to do some work.

Yelena Kostyuchenko (LJ user mirrov_breath), a 23-year-old Novaya Gazeta journalist who, among other things, has written extensively [ru] about the Khimki Forest case (GV coverage is here), explained on her blog why she was planning to attend this year's Gay Pride event in Moscow. The post [ru] has generated 7,414 comments so far (it has also been re-published [ru] by Novaya Gazeta, where there are two pages of comments now).

Kostyuchenko - pictured here, by LJ user o_maksimoff, with a printed note that reads, “It's boring to hate :)”, and here, by LJ user zyalt, as she was being taken away by a police officer - reportedly suffered a concussion [ru] after someone had hit her in the temple during the rally, and is now at the hospital.

Here is a translation of excerpts from Kostyuchenko's powerful post, in which she writes about her 31-year-old partner, describes problems that homosexual couples are facing in Russia, and responds, in advance, to the homophobic readers of her blog, recounting some of the obvious truths, which may not seem all that obvious to many.

[…] We've been together for two years. […] Moved in together after two weeks. I haven't regretted it for a minute. I'd like to spend my whole life with her.


It is this very ordinary kind of happiness. I don't think it's much different from yours.


We'd like to register our relationship. […] We are adult, capable [women], citizens of the Russian Federation, we work a lot and well, we pay taxes, do not violate laws and love each other - we would like to register our union.

We'd like the state to recognize us as relatives. Not just relatives, but spouses, with all that it involves. We'd like to be able to take a family mortgage. To get a family medical insurance […]. I'd like my woman to feel secure in property lawsuits that may follow after my death. I'd like her to have an opportunity not to testify against me in court. And if I find myself at ER one day (which is, unfortunately, quite possible with my health), I'd like her to make decisions.

We will have children. You, my dear homophobes, may [defecate yourselves] right now on the other side of the computer screens, but we will have children. And we already love them and look forward to their arrival very much. And, if necessary, we'll [do anything] to make them happy. And yes, we do want to have both of us listed in our children's birth certificates. We want - both of us! - to represent our children's interests at school, at the doctor's office, and (God forbid!) at the hospital and in court. […] WE DEMAND GUARANTEES that, in case of the biological mother's death, our children will not be sent to an orphanage, while the second mother is trying to prove to the [damn] Russian custody authorities that she is related to these children.


Everything written above relates to your question as to “why do they need parades if the Criminal Code article [criminalizing male homosexuality] is no longer there?” and “screw quietly in the corner and no one will touch you.” I'm sorry, but we want a little bit more than this safe “screwing in the corner.” We want a normal human life. Scary, isn't it?


I don't like it when you are [wishing death on the homosexuals] in the comments. […]

I feel even worse when seemingly mature people who look smart and speak good Russian start musing on the “propaganda of homosexuality.” My dear ones, are you serious? […] I understand that you don't want to read all those boring scientific works and research by anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, sexologists and historians. OK, they are indeed boring. Just turn on your brains then. The absolute majority of the Russian homosexuals were born and grew up in heterosexual families in the Soviet Union, where [there wasn't even any sex], let alone gays. So where do we come from? […]


It makes me furious when ignorant comrades recommend that “homos undergo treatment.” Treatment of what, [damn it]? Homosexuality has been officially excluded from the list of disorders, both internationally and in our country. […] To make it easier to understand, a variation of the norm, it's like with the hair: some people are black-haired, others are quite blond, and some have red hair. One doesn't encounter redheads too often. But no adequate person would suggest that someone get treated for red-hairedness. […]

Some of the people I consider friends say: “you are right, but in this country…” And then follows a lengthy message about national culture, religion, social mores, etc., with a hint on emigration at the end. And I don't remind them of the fact that “this country”'s traditions included slavery and mass executions just a short time ago, and national culture and religion, as well as social mores, tolerated it well enough. I don't remind them because I believe that our country deserves something better. […] Russia will change. It is changing already.

And it will happen even if you, bastards, smash my head with a baseball bat [at the Gay Pride event later today].

Because love and common sense always - even though not at once - defeat hatred and [nonsense].

This is how this world works, and gays have nothing to do with it. […]

We'd like to register our relationship. […] We are adult, capable [women], citizens of the Russian Federation, we work a lot and well, we pay taxes, do not violate laws and love each other - we would like to register our union.

NY Senator Ruben Diaz Is Not Feeling The “Gay Versus Black Debate”

NY Senator Ruben Diaz Is Not Feeling The “Gay Versus Black Debate”


05/29/2011 – by Cynthia S. Wright

With all the attention same-sex marriage equality has been given in New York, one senator has spoken out against all the fuss surrounding same-sex marriages and how they align with the black civil rights movement. Diaz’s outburst stems from NY mayor, Michael Bloomberg who gave a speech linking black civil rights with the current struggle for marriage equality.

You can probably guess on what side Mr. Diaz’s allegiances lie being that he is both a black man and old enough to recall the civil rights era. In a statement, released on Thursday, Diaz goes in on how he is tired of seeing black civil rights trivialized by marriage equality.

“There is no just comparison between America’s struggle to overcome the evils of slavery and the promotion of the lifestyle of homosexuality. It is preposterous for Mayor Bloomberg to degrade and minimize the plight of African-Americans in this civil rights struggle by equating it with the effort to push to legalize homosexual marriage.


Black leaders should not allow Mayor Bloomberg or anyone else trivialize their suffering and their history!”

Now, now Diaz – even though as a black woman – I do understand where you are coming from, but as a gay female (one looking to get married next year), your analysis is not completely on point. Are the two struggles identical? No, they are not – with relatives born and bred in the South, I have heard plenty of stories of the segregation and abuse some of them had to endure during the civil rights era. The hoses, the attack dogs, being bludgeoned with billy clubs not being able to go to certain places unless there was a designated spot for you. As a black person today, I can’t image that – even though I do feel a form of racial segregation still exists in the society, the obvious use of it that my grand-parents and older relatives witnessed is something I can’t begin to fathom.

So for that, I do understand why Diaz feels the way that he does. In his logic, you can’t change the fact that you are black – so to be ostracized for such is a horrible thing is illogical and hurtful. Where as (in his mind), being gay, it was your choice to do something against the “mainstream.” So, why should it be lumped together when it is obvious that a person is black, where as with being gay it isn’t necessarily so clean cut.

Although, it is has been well documented that LGBT’s members helped the civil rights fight, Bayard Rustin being one of the key players that helped fight injustice towards blacks, was bullied and in some ways bashed for not only his race but for who he chose to love unashamedly. How quickly that is forgotten in order to promote a skewed view of societal politics.

I will be the first person to tell anyone that being gay is not a choice, due to the fact that the issues I faced being a lesbian are not the same types of prejudices I face as a black woman. My gayness is not apparent and it something you wouldn’t know about me until we engaged in a conversation; I can’t hide the fact that I’m black.  However, I have struggled with both, not necessarily equally but at the same time being called out and made to feel less than for being your authentic self – Diaz and others like him should understand how it feels to be the “scapegoat” for those narrow minded, bigoted folks that are afraid of change and of losing “control.”

As a black, gay woman it bothers me to see my race not aligning itself with the LGBT equality. The black community would be an extremely positive ally; once they got over pushing those away who are also seeking freedom to be who they are without fear of being harmed or threatened. Showing support would not take away from black civil rights because even though integration still happened – racism has not gone away. If minority groups took the time to stand together in opposition to anyone’s civil right being taken away – things would have been handled a long time ago.

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this is a great article-i hope all of her black brothers and sisters stop fighting against equality and get on board. It is religious brainwashing that keeps the black against gays; the brainwashing runs deep. A simple study of history shows gays have suffered just as much as blacks-yes, gays were killed, gays were tortured, gays were beaten-that suffrage enough is reason to compare the murual struggles. Freedom denied to one group is freedom denied to all.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lesbian sues GA sheriff's office for sending her to gay conversion therapy ( : Atlanta, GA News)

Atlanta, GA — A lesbian says she was taken for gay conversion therapy by a Georgia county sheriff's office instead of a psychiatric hospital for court ordered drug abuse treatment. 


Amanda Booker 
credit :: the ga voice
    In a lawsuit filed on May 13, Amanda Booker alleges that officials of the Bartow County Sheriff's Department violated her constitutional rights when she was taken to a private residence for ex-gay conversion therapy.

    The suit claims a sheriff's official paid three individuals using county funds to watch the 25-year-old and "convert her from being a lesbian." Chris and Donna McDowell described as evangelists were allegedly paid $600 to "covert" Booker.

    Further, the suit alleges that instead of transporting Booker to Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital, sheriff's department officials harassed her over her sexual preference and took her to the individuals' homes. 

    "At all times relevant to action, it was normal procedure, practice and custom of defendants Bartow County, Brown, and Milsap to punish homosexuals and persons holding different religious beliefs," alleges the lawsuit. 

    Booker is serving part of a 10-year sentence for theft conviction. After being granted a court order in April, her family contacted the Bartow County Sheriff's Office to have her committed to a psychiatric hospital for drug addition treatment. 

    The lawsuit seeks a monetary award to be determined by a jury. Booker has yet to received treatment for her drug addiction. 

    Read more on the story in The GA Voice

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    Atlanta, GA — A lesbian says she was taken for gay conversion therapy by a Georgia county sheriff's office instead of a psychiatric hospital for court ordered drug abuse treatment.

    [UPDATED] Ga. state Rep. Rashad Taylor: 'I am a gay man'

    Georgia State Rep. Rashad Taylor (D-Atlanta) came out today as a gay man at a press conference after the ex-boyfriend of his current partner sent out emails to legislators alleging he is gay and also accusing him of misusing his office.


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    Ricky Martin - GAY BLACK THUGS

    Martin’s comfort level as a gay performer translates to his music

    Ricky Martin is performing in San Diego this Sunday to end his successful tour to promote his first studio CD in two years,Musica+Alma+Sexo. It has been quite an exciting few months for Martin who had been in self exile for almost three years taking care of his twin sons Matteo and Valentino.

    Musica+Alma+Sexodebuted at No. 1 on the Latin Billboard Chart and at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 200. It is the highest-debuting Spanish language album since Selena’s 1995 albumDreaming of You.

    While Martin’s return to music was welcomed by his fans and the industry, it was almost overshadowed by the revelations in his book, Me. Released late last year, Martin lets it all hang out.

    “The moment I sat down and held my children in my arms, I said enough is enough,” says Martin. “I need to tell the world what I’m about, my nature, because not doing so would be teaching my children how to lie. I didn’t want it to be, ‘At home, we’re one thing, but when we go out, we’re another.’”

    Martin officially came out to his fans on his website in March of 2010, Martin said “Today is my day, this is my time, and this is my moment. These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn’t even know existed … I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.”

    Those attending the final leg of Ricky Martin’s concert at Valley View Casino Center, the former Sports Arena, will be treated to the real Ricky Martin. His most recent CD Musica+Alma+Sexo has allowed Martin to truly be himself in music.

    Billboard says “Martin’s comfort level translates to the music … it’s a fun album. While many songs carry a deeper meaning, it never supersedes the spirit of the music … “Lo Mejor de Mi Vida/The Best Thing About Me Is You” feels like a genuine expression of delight … the video portrays positivity and freedom from beginning to end.”

    Many have watched Martin grow from a 12 year old member of boy band Menudo to an international pop star. However, Ricky Martin was on his own journey of self-discovery and acceptance, one that many of us have travelled. He has even become an advocate for same-sex marriage.

    He told Larry King, “I can go to Spain. I have many friends in Spain. And get married. And make it very beautiful and symbolic. But … I (can’t) do it in the backyard of my house. I want to have that option. I don’t want to be a second class citizen anymore. I pay my taxes. Why can’t I have that right?”

    Twin boys, his life partner Carlos Gonzalez, a hit CD and book, what more could Ricky Martin want? He is living la vida perfecta!

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    'The Voice's' Blake Shelton responds to GLAAD: 'I love everybody'


    Country singer and one of the coaches on NBC's "The Voice," Blake Shelton has responded to The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's (GLAAD) request for an apology after he tweeted a comment that the organization felt was anti-gay and may be confused as supporting violence against gay men.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    Gay Marriage Activists: Minn. Vote Offers Opportunity

    Gay Marriage Activists: Minn. Vote Offers Opportunity

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    May 25, 2011
    The circumstances were familiar: emotional debate, hundreds of demonstrators, and a decision by legislators to ask voters if they want to amend their state constitution to ban marriages between residents of the same gender.
    Gallup poll results show majority of 2011 respondents approve same-sex marriage. The trend since 2006 has been more people saying same-sex partners should be allowed to marry.
    2011 Gallup Poll results show majority say gay partners should be allowed to marry.
    This time it was Minnesota, where House members voted 70-62 Saturday night to put the proposed amendment to a statewide popular vote next year.
    If it passes, the state would join 31 others that have approved similar measures.
    But same-sex marriage advocates say they believe there's a good chance, given changing attitudes toward gay unions, that voters in Minnesota could become the first to reject such an amendment.
    "For so long, we've had these ballot measures, and we keep losing them," says Sarah Warbelow, state legislative director at Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights organization. "But our hope is that Minnesota is going to turn the tide."
    The reason for that optimism? A slew of recent national polls — from Gallup to CNN — have found that for the first time since pollsters started asking, a majority of Americans surveyed say they support same-sex marriage.
    A recent Star Tribune Minnesota Poll also found that 55 percent of state residents surveyed said they oppose the proposed gay marriage ban amendment.
    "We're in a cultural shift on this," says Michael Cole-Schwartz, also of HRC. "The polls are indicative of a larger movement."
    "Party leaders realize this doesn't play like it used to," he says.
    The developments in Minnesota, which has a Republican-controlled Legislature and a pro-same sex marriage Democrat in the governor's office, come as a high-stakes challenge to California's voter-approved constitutional ban on same-sex marriage wends its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
    Debate on the issue continues to roil state legislatures, such as in New York, where Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's agenda includes an aggressive push to legalize gay marriage.
    And the Obama administration recently announced that it would no longer defend in court a federal law barring same-sex marriages.
    Whose Polling?
    But supporters of the Minnesota amendment say the notion of that state as a bellwether for change in same-sex marriage attitudes is hogwash.
    "People doing polls want to get the results they're getting," says Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, a powerhouse behind efforts to prohibit gay marriage.
    His organization commissioned a poll in Minnesota, where state law already defines marriage as between a man and a woman, that found that 57 percent of those surveyed opposed same-sex marriage.
    The poll was conducted by Gary Lawrence, a Mormon writer and pollster who has been closely involved in anti-gay marriage efforts in California that have been heavily funded by Mormons.
    Brown asserts that other polls routinely understate support for bans on same-sex marriage by an average of 6 percentage points.
    "In Minnesota, they'll do what 31 other states have done — vote for traditional marriage," Brown says. "We've been working with the state groups, just as we did in Maine and California, and we will financially support the effort."
    In New York, his organization has pledged to commit $1 million to mount a primary challenge against, he says, "any Republican who votes to redefine marriage."
    "I don't think you're going to see New York redefine marriage," he says.
    In Minnesota, amendment proponents also expect support from the Catholic Church and from the national organization Focus on the Family, whose affiliate, the Minnesota Family Council, was the driving force behind the amendment effort.
    "We feel there is strong support for marriage in Minnesota," says Tom Prichard, the council's president. "We also see this as an opportunity to have a discussion and a debate on the issue of marriage."
    Debate Tone
    But the debate has already shown signs of getting ugly.
    The Minnesota Family Council's website has posted inflammatory material linking homosexuality with bestiality and "other deviant behaviors," including pedophilia.
    Prichard defends the postings as getting "into the nature of homosexuality and homosexual behavior," but says that won't be the focus of his group's efforts to pass the constitutional ban.
    "The focus of this campaign is the nature and purpose of marriage — not a referendum of homosexuality per se, or its lifestyle activities and behaviors," he says. "I would see that as a separate issue."
    Monica Meyer, executive director of Out Front Minnesota, a nearly 25-year-old gay rights organization, says activists knew based on campaign promises of the incoming GOP-controlled Legislature that the constitutional ban would be an issue.
    In the past, she said, similar amendments were proposed, usually by former state Sen. Michele Bachmann, who is now serving in Congress and weighing a presidential bid.
    "It was really disheartening to have the amendment measure pass," Meyer says. "We are seeing so much support for LBGT equality."
    "We've got this $6 billion deficit here, and leadership says they want to work to improve the economy, and this is the only issue they get done," she says. "It's a sad statement for our state."
    Many editorial writers, including Kevin Sweeney, editor of The Journal in New Ulm, Minn., cautioned the Legislature against endorsing a constitutional amendment effort.
    Some argued that the proposed ban promoted bigotry, and Sweeney made a case against using constitutional amendments to "squash the political process and institutionalize one party's political ideas."
    Sweeney says there are two questions before Minnesotans.
    "Should marriage be between a man and a woman — and I think most people would say yes," he says. "And there's the question of whether the state needs to amend its constitution."
    He argues that legislating by amendment "is not a good idea — it gets messy."
    Voters Will Decide
    Brown asserts that gay activists should not be afraid of the ballot box next November if they are convinced they have the support to block the amendment.
    Minnesota historically leads the country in voter turnout — in the 2008 presidential election year, 77.8 percent of registered voters showed up at the polls. And with the White House up for grabs next year, as well as a U.S. Senate seat and the entire state Legislature, turnout is expected to remain in the stratosphere.
    "It's a really, really big election year in 2012," says Meyer, of Out Front Minnesota.
    And advocates on both sides are convinced that works in their favor.
    "I do think times are changing, and we in Minnesota should be able to defeat this amendment," Meyer says.
    Says Brown: "The only poll that counts is what happens in the ballot box, and we've never lost."

    NYC Hospitals Adopt LGBT Competence Training

    NYC Hospitals Adopt LGBT Competence Training

    The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, the nation’s largest urban healthcare agency serving 1.3 million patients, will adopt cultural competence training for staff members to help improve the health of LGBT people.
    The launch of the mandatory employee training program will be announced Wednesday by HHC president Alan D. Aviles, deputy mayor Linda Gibbs and National LGBT Cancer Network executive director Liz Margoiles. Dozens of elected officials, community leaders, patients, and hospital staff members are expected to attend the announcement at Bellevue Hospital to include a screening of the new training video, “To Treat Me, You Have to Know Who I Am.”
    The 10-minute video, produced in collaboration with the National LGBT Cancer Network, is part of a curriculum that will reach 38,000 physicians, nurses, technicians, administrators, and support services staff at new employee orientations, annual in-service programs and upcoming employee town hall meetings.
    According to a news release, “The HHC training curriculum will promote staff awareness about sexual and gender identity and increased health risks among LGBT people; ensure healthcare providers are better equipped to make the most accurate assessments and appropriate referrals; and help increase adherence to treatment among LGBT patients. Additionally, the training underscores how vital it is for healthcare providers to show openness, use inclusive language, welcome and normalize individual’s disclosures of their sexual orientation and gender identity, and utilize the knowledge they gain from
    Margoiles added, “This groundbreaking curriculum offers concrete simple recommendations for change. It teaches providers how to welcome ‘the whole person’ into the facility, including their gender identity and sexual orientation. It teaches them how to speak respectfully to LGBT patients, understand their increased health risks and welcome their chosen families into treatment.”
    The training curriculum responds to a documented need for increased cultural competence among healthcare providers that serve LGBT patients. Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a list of activities and policy recommendations for LGBT health improvements that included the need for healthcare competency training. In March, an Institute of Medicine report found that LGBT populations have unique health needs and face health disparities that clinicians are poorly equipped to address, with more research and education required. The Joint Commission, which accredits the country’s hospitals, this year will begin to require hospitals to demonstrate how they are responding to the needs of LGBT patients. Last year, President Barack Obama issued a memorandum to extend hospital visitation rights to all LGBT individuals.
    Based on different estimates of the LGBT population in New York, HHC serves from 49,000 to 98,000 LGBT people every year in its public hospitals and community health centers. The system, which serves some 450,000 uninsured city residents, already has policies and practices in place to help serve LGBT patients including non-discrimination, hospital visitation, advance directives, and in-patient room assignment.

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