Novel Rejected As ‘Too Gay’ Receives Flood Of Crowdfunding Support

The Madonna of Bolton by Matt Cain was turned down by mainstream publishers more than 30 times, but has won keen backing from readers


A novel that was rejected more than 30 times by publishers for being “too gay” has been inundated with backing from names including David Walliams, Mark Gatiss and SJ Watson after its author turned to crowdfunding.

Matt Cain’s The Madonna of Bolton tells the story of Charlie Matthews, who falls in love with Madonna on his ninth birthday. The obsession “sees him through some tough times in life: being persecuted at school; fitting in at a posh university; a glamorous career in London; finding boyfriends; getting rid of boyfriends; growing up and family heartbreak”. Launched on the crowdfunding site Unbound this week, it has already racked up 60% of what it needs to be published, with backers also including One Day author David Nicholls and the bestselling writer Lisa Jewell.

Cain, the editor of Attitude magazine, said the support for his book – which is on course to be the fastest-funded novel on Unbound – showed there was a market for a commercial novel about a gay man, even though publishers rejected it as “too working class, too 80s, too immersed in pop culture, and too gay”.

The Guardian has seen the rejection letters, including some from major UK publishers. One called Cain’s book “a little niche”, while another said that “it’s just such a tricky area of the market that I’m not sure this story has a strong enough hook to really appeal to a mass-market readership”. One also said that “it was difficult to envisage who the reader might be”.

One publisher told Cain that while “the subject of growing up in the 80s and embracing your sexuality is brilliant”, it would perform better with “a more serious slant”. “This type of book,” he was advised, “really needs to fall into the literary fiction arena, think of Edmund White or Alan Hollighurst [sic]”.

“I have more than 30 rejection letters and emails. Most of them say the novel ‘isn’t commercial enough’ or ‘too niche’ and then an editor tells my agent off the record that gay doesn’t sell,” said Cain. “Nobody comes out on email as saying it’s too gay, it’s kind of dressed up – the thing about homophobia is it’s often covert. When my agent has phone conversations, they don’t say ‘We don’t like it’, they say ‘It just won’t sell’. I just don’t believe that that’s the case.”

Cain was clear that the book was not aimed solely at gay men – “It’s a family drama more than anything else”. But “even if you just take the gay people, do not erase us as a market,” he said. “Attitude sells more copies every issue than it takes for a book to become a bestseller.”


Cain said he was always hesitant to “play the [homophobia] card, but the truth is phobia means fear, not hatred, [and] I was just reading these rejection letters and thinking ‘there’s a real fear of this not selling, they’re assuming it’s only the very intelligent in society who read literary fiction who understand and accept gay people’. They don’t realise that it’s not the case … Just because there have been literary successes does not mean there can’t be a commercial success.”

Cain first started work on the novel 12 years ago, but when it was initially rejected, he went on to write two more novels, Shot Through the Heart (2014) and Nothing But Trouble (July 2015), which have straight protagonists. “I started Shot Through the Heart as a reaction to all these editors telling me gay doesn’t sell. I went away and got a book deal,” he said. “For the second book, my editor pushed me towards bonkbuster style, and I had lots of sex scenes with straight characters but only one minor sex scene with gay characters and I was told to take it out or I wouldn’t get stocked in Asda or Tesco. And I did, and they didn’t get me stocked in Asda or Tesco anyway.”

Cain said he had spoken with many gay writers who had encountered resistance from publishers when writing about gay life.

“It’s really deep-rooted and I want to uproot it. In some ways it’s completely humiliating for me to go out there and say I’ve had more than 30 editors reject that book. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who’ll say he’s just a crap writer. But I really passionately believe in it,” he said. “Don’t tell me there’s no one out there who wants to read about gay lives.”

Cain’s editor at Unbound, Katy Guest, said that the crowdfunding for The Madonna of Bolton showed that publishers were wrong in thinking there was no audience for commercial fiction with a gay protagonist.

“Other publishers rejected this for being too niche – by which they mean too gay – but the support we’re getting already belies this. EM Forster said about Maurice that he knew no publisher would let him publish a gay love story with a happy ending,” she said. “Well, isn’t it a bit crap that publishers are still saying that Matt can’t write this funny, flirty, lighthearted novel because gay characters are only a subject for ‘serious’ fiction … They still have to end up miserable or dead or riddled with Aids. They can’t just have mates and dance to Madonna and fall in love and live happily ever after?”






Taken From TheGuardian.com 


 

Romania ‘Turns Illiberal’ With Moves Against Gay Marriage

Conservative campaigners in the country are gearing up for a referendum that could put the country on a collision course with Brussels.


BUCHAREST — Romania is gearing up to hold a referendum to amend the constitution to prohibit gay marriage, a move that civil rights groups warn could put the country on an “illiberal” path alongside the likes of Hungary and Poland.

Romania’s civil code forbids same-sex marriage, and civil partnerships — whether between heterosexual or gay partners — are not legal. But the constitution’s gender-neutral formulation on marriage, which defines it as a union “between spouses,” has left the legislative door open to legalizing gay marriage.

“This is an issue of immense depth,” Liviu Dragnea, leader of the governing Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the most powerful politician in Romania, told reporters last month, pledging to quickly amend the constitution. “Even if some of my colleagues in Brussels are unhappy with what is happening in Romania, we will make it happen.”

The planned vote — which could be held as early as November — is the result of a campaign by “Coalition for Family,” which brings together more than 40 groups, many of them religious or describing themselves as “pro-life.” With the backing of the influential Orthodox Church, the organization collected 3 million signatures (Romania’s population is 20 million) in just a few months in 2015, enough to take the initiative to parliament.

“We have the constitutional right and moral obligation to defend the family from those tendencies of modern society which diminish its importance and accelerate its degradation,” says the Coalition for Family’s website.


All major political parties in Romania have expressed support for the constitutional change, with the exception of newcomer Union to Save Romania(USR), and the initiative is expected to be approved in parliament. The government has said it wants to call a popular referendum as soon as November, but the Constitutional Court’s announcement this week that it would analyze the law’s compatibility with the rest of constitution may push back the date of the vote.

As long as participation exceeds 30 percent of the electorate, a vote in favor will give the green light to constitutional change, undoing decades of campaigning by LGBTQ groups in Romania and possibly putting the country on a collision course with Brussels.

“This referendum is evidence of Romania’s moving in an illiberal direction,” said Vlad Viski, the president of MozaiQ, one of Romania’s largest LGBTQ rights groups.

Religious influence

Romania’s referendum against marriage equality is not the first of its kind in the region.

In Croatia, a group called “In the Name of the Family” collected 750,000 signaturesin 2013 to launch a referendum that successfully amended the country’s constitution to stipulate that marriage can only take place between a man and a woman.

In 2015, the “Alliance for Family” mobilized Slovakians to trigger a referendum to restrict the family rights of gay people, but the vote eventually failed because of low turnout. That same year, Slovenia’s “Children are at Stake” group used a referendum to block the government’s plan to legalize gay marriage. (The country passed the legislation this year.)

Efforts to prohibit gay marriage also tend to go hand-in-hand with campaigns to remove sexual education classes and restrict abortion rights.

Similar efforts to mobilize citizens to restrict gay rights have taken place in Georgia, Bulgaria, France and elsewhere across Europe. In many cases, U.S. religious groups have played an active role in their campaigns.

Romania’s Coalition received legal assistance from the international chapters of several U.S.-based conservative Christian groups, including the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Liberty Counsel. In the U.S., both have been designated as anti-LGBTQ hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The international chapters of both organizations submitted pro-referendum legal opinions to Romania’s Constitutional Court while the body assessed whether the civic initiative could be considered by parliament.

In response to repeated requests for comment for this article, the Coalition responded with three internet links — one to an article about alleged attacks on pro-lifers, another to a video of a kink festival, and another to an article about propaganda. It gave no further information.

Liberty Counsel’s vice president of legal affairs, Horatio Mihet, said his organization “provided legal support and shared lessons we have learned while advocating for natural marriage in the United States and elsewhere.” Andreas Thonhauser, a spokesman for ADF International, said that the group also gave legal expertise to other countries in the region that requested help.


Local churches — be it the Orthodox Church in Romania or the Catholic Church in Slovakia or Croatia — were also involved in recent anti-LGBTQ rights campaigns.

Efforts to prohibit gay marriage also tend to go hand-in-hand with campaigns to remove sexual education classes from school curricula and restrict abortion rights.

Academics from Central and Eastern Europe, including feminist historian Andrea Peto from the Central European University in Budapest, have argued that this type of initiative constitutes an “anti-gender movement” that targets not only LGBTQ people but also takes aim at women and people who don’t fit into their conception of a “natural, traditional” family pattern.

“They do politics, they are lobbyists,” Peto said of the movement’s campaigners across the region. “They rely on transnational know-how, borrow talking points and transfer symbols, concepts and ideas.”

“The American groups have been promoting these themes for a long time, also outside of Europe, but in the last five years or so they became very active in Eastern Europe where they seem to have found fertile ground,” said Viski, of MozaiQ.

‘Traditional values’

Despite Eastern European countries’ accession to the EU, most are still plagued with social inequality and have not attained the prosperity they expected as European citizens. The resulting frustration has made them a fertile breeding ground for conservative social and political movements.

Self-styled illiberal regimes such as Viktor Orbán’s in Hungary and Jarosław Kaczyński’s in Poland have honed a political formula that strategically builds support among lower-income classes with targeted economic measures and pushes a socially conservative agenda rooted in a nationalist narrative of defending the nation from outside threats: refugees, gay people, feminists.

The fight against “gender ideology” — or “sexo-Marxists,” as liberals defending gay rights in Romania have been labeled — fits into this narrative, with illiberal regimes claiming to be protectors of traditional family values.

Since Orbán became prime minister in 2010, Hungary has changed its basic law to protect a fetus’ life from conception and to restrict the definition of marriage to a union of a heterosexual couple.

Earlier this year, Orbán hosted the World Congress of Families, a U.S.-founded global coalition of religious groups that opposes gay rights, abortion and sex education. It was the first time a government hosted the annual congress, which has taken place since 1997 and is widely thought to be the influence behind stringent anti-gay laws in Russia.


In Poland, the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party has declared war on what it calls “gender ideology” — which it portrays as an imposition from Brussels — and has introduced an education reform bill that would eliminate anti-discrimination education in schools and promote “education for family life.” The government has also cut support for female victims of domestic violence.

Last year, conservative legal group Ordo Iuris collected close to half-a-million signatures to further restrict Poland’s abortion legislation. The proposal was rejected in parliament after tens of thousands of women took to the streets in protest, but Poland still has some of the most restrictive abortion laws on the Continent.

Unlike in Poland and Hungary — where a push for “traditional family values” is part of the ruling parties’ conservative agenda — the Romanian group’s effort to block same-sex marriage is a novelty in the country.

Romania is, overwhelmingly, a conservative country. Until 2001, it was illegal in Romania for same-sex couples to hold hands or express any other sign of affection, which was considered indecent exposure in public. The law changed as part of Romania’s EU accession process.


The Coalition for Family describes itself as a “pro-family group,” saying its main objective is for Romania to have “as many families as possible, as long-lasting and numerous as possible, and to ensure to their members a proper economic, social, psycho-emotional environment … and to ensure the continuity and demographic, economic, social and cultural development of the nation.”

The group has proposed measures that would increase economic support for traditional families, including subsidized housing for young couples and early retirement for full-time mothers, and would cut state funds that go toward elective abortions.

No matter the result of the upcoming referendum on the definition of marriage, the Coalition for Family and its Christian conservative backers have already changed the terms of the debate by portraying it as a fight between those who defend “the natural family” and “the Brussels-supported, [George] Soros-financed” NGOs, said historian Dan Cirjan.

“In Poland and Hungary, the political space has been defined in a similar way,” Cirjan said. “As an opposition between the ugly forces of globalization and the white cavaliers of tradition and ‘Christian Europe.’”

An illiberal turn

In Romania, the governing Social Democratic Party (PSD), by far the most popular party, has been cutting its teeth on the illiberal formula. The party ramped up the nationalist rhetoric in the run-up to the 2016 general election and since coming to power, it has tried to bring the judiciary under its control in order to safeguard the interests of corrupt party members.

“There’s a high risk that Romania will go the way of Hungary,” political scientist Cristian Pirvulescu, the founder of Respect, a campaign opposing efforts to outlaw gay marriage, said in an interview published on Respect’s Facebook page.

“We cannot separate the referendum from the Romanian government’s judiciary reforms, which would transform judges into terrified agents of the state,” he said, noting Romania has also become susceptible to rhetoric demonizing philanthropist George Soros and has started looking at tightening control over NGOs, much like in Hungary.

“These are all attacks on the liberal philosophy of democratic states and they come together. What happened in Russia is being reproduced here, in Hungary, Poland and Romania,” he warned.

Some effects of the referendum campaign in Romania are already visible. LGBTQ rights group MozaiQ reported an increase in violent attacks against gay people since the referendum campaign started in 2015.

Still, the group’s leader struck a note of optimism.

“The LGBTQ community and its allies have been forced to mobilize more,” said Viski. “We’ve had more protest actions and bigger participation in Pride marches, and there is more support expressed for the legalization of civil partnership.”

“This has — paradoxically — opened up opportunities.”



Taken from Politico.Eu


 

The Gay Men Turning To The Far Right In Germany

Karsten holds the metal implements that held his face together following the attack.

Karsten P. empties a test tube filled with metal pieces into the palm of his hand. They’re the tiny screws and bolts that held his face together after he and his partner Sven were violently assaulted in a life-changing attack outside their local store.

Two surgeries later and fearful of being attacked again, the openly gay 52-year-old taxi driver — who doesn’t want to be identified because of concerns of another attack — avoids public spaces and always takes pepper spray with him. He and his partner have also been forced to move neighborhoods in the northwest German city of Bremen following mounting costs as a result of being injured.
“I went outside and saw someone kicking my partner’s head. I was trying to stop him and right at that moment, I got hit from the side,” Karsten recalls about the attack. “I kind of lost consciousness and when I got up again, I thought my partner was dead. He was all covered in blood and he didn’t move at all.”
Police identified the attackers as two locally known Muslim extremists. They were never arrested and later fled to Syria. After demanding answers from local prosecutors and the mayor’s office and not getting a response, Karsten turned to Germany’s far right party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD).
“I don’t like everything they say,” Karsten says, “but this is too dangerous for gay people to live openly here, if we get attacked like that. We need a party that’s talking openly about this.”
Campaigning on a vociferously anti-immigration platform, the four-year-old AfD party now has seats in 13 of the country’s 16 state parliaments. It has proposed a ban on mosque minarets and cutbacks on migration, from within the European Union and beyond, while its party manifesto says that “Islam does not belong in Germany.”
Critics accuse the party of being a flimsy disguise for neo-Nazi sentiment, and cite one candidate who allegedly sent a photo of Hitler to some AfD supporters with the text: “Adolf please get in touch! Germany needs you! The German people!”
Germans vote in national elections this month, and the AfD is contesting them for the first time. The party is polling around 9% in recent days, which could put it in contention for third or fourth place, well behind Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats and the center-left Social Democrats, who have ruled out entering into a coalition with the AfD.
In some ways, the AfD is an unlikely place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) voters. The party has threatened to sue the government for allowing the recent vote to legalize same-sex marriage, and the AfD manifesto advocates the “traditional family as a guiding principle.”
Yet one of the AfD’s top candidates, Alice Weidel, is an openly gay woman raising children with her partner. Weidel, an economist, was brought in as the softer, moderating face of the party, but her campaign speeches show she can deliver an angry rant on immigration as well as her AfD peers.
“Merkel’s refugee policy will destroy our welfare state of the Federal Republic of Germany!” she said in a recent campaign post. “We, as AfD, will make sure that this comes to an end. Because open borders do not work with a sustainable social state.”

‘Homonationalism’

People like Karsten and Sven aren’t alone in supporting the party. There is even a German term for gay support of the far right: “homonationalism.” A 2016 survey from “MEN,” a monthly magazine for gay men, showed that 17% of respondents openly supported the AfD, higher than the national average.
“A party like the AfD gives people from minorities an offer of social identity,” says Beate Kupper, a social psychologist at Hochschule Niederrhein University in North Rhine-Westphalia who studies the far right in Germany. “If you identify strongly with a group and you have an ‘out-group’ that you can position yourself against, that is a good feeling for your personal belonging.”
Kupper singles out Weidel’s campaign speeches as a particular example of this. “If you look at Alice Weidel, she’s an economist, so her expertise is on the economy. [But] she is not speaking that much about the economy. Her topic is very much devaluation and hatred towards Muslims. Muslims are now the identified out-group.”
Mirko Welsch was also once an AfD supporter, initially drawn to the party by its resistance to the euro currency. He was even an elected AfD official in his district council of Saarbrucken, a rare feat for a gay member of the party.
“I was convinced that the AfD would grow as a party into a well-respected opposition to the Christian Democrats,” he says. “I believed in what it originally stood for.”
But he became increasingly uncomfortable as party leaders ratcheted up the anti-immigration rhetoric. He resigned in March, after one AfD leader called for a “180-degree turn” in the way Germany deals with the Second World War, particularly “national guilt” over its Nazi history.
“The AFD has developed in a way that we are seeing incitement against different groups of minorities,” Welsch says. “The party has just moved too many inches to the right.”
Welsch believes that LGBT support for the AfD is actually dropping, despite Alice Wiedel’s prominence within the party.
“You will see that many more AfD voters in the LGBT community won’t vote for the party in the future. There is just too much turmoil going on,” Welsch says, adding that his former party “has become a farce.”
Welsch points out that he was once one of the 130 or so openly gay AfD members. That number now stands at 20, says Alex Tassis, the man who is now responsible for the AfD’s gay outreach.
Tassis heads up Alternative Homosexuals, the AfD group that reaches out to the LGBT community. A gay immigrant from Greece, Tassis says he strongly believes that “Islamization” is a threat to Germany and Europe and that the AfD will soon become the most popular party among gay men. There’s no contradiction in the party’s stance against gay marriage, he says. And it’s clear he views the LGBT community as an overlooked source of votes this election.
“Gays, lesbians and also older migrant groups in Germany — like myself who came to Germany a long time ago — are just as important to Germany as any other human being who lives here,” he says.
“The LGBT and older migrant groups have concerns that other parties simply don’t understand and don’t get. I represent those groups and want to give those groups a voice. That’s what I am here for. “
Tassis was the one who answered Karsten’s email for help after he and his partner were attacked. Within three hours of reading it, Tassis met the couple in a downtown Bremen cafe and connected them with a lawyer, encouraging them to sue the local prosecutor, something the pair are looking into.
“Cases like Karsten’s or similar cases have unfortunately happened in Bremen amongst citizens before,” Tassis says. “This case was particularly dramatic. Every citizen has a right to be heard, every citizen needs an ear and this is what I did In Karsten’s case.”
That swift response turned Karsten from someone who used to vote for the left-wing Green Party into an AfD supporter.
“It has nothing to do with being a Nazi or being totally right. I’m not against every foreigner. And I’m not against every Muslim. But I’m against the criminals,” Karsten explains. “This was the only way we could get some help. Because the other parties didn’t care.”

 


Taken from Edition.CNN.com


Kid Rock’s Full Senate Speech From The First Little Caesars Arena Concert

DETROIT, MI – Kid Rock for U.S. Senate in 2018 is not official, but the Detroit area rocker is already delivering campaign speeches. Sort of.

Amid protests outside of Little Caesars Arena calling for his concerts to be cancelled, and accusations of campaign finance violations, Rock received some of his loudest cheers at the inaugural Little Caesars Arena concert on Sept. 12 when he gave fans a mock political speech.

Just one song into the show, Rock left the stage and returned to an introduction: “Ladies and Gentlemen. Will you please welcome, the next Senator of the great state of Michigan, Kid Rock.” Then, “Hail to the Chief” played. A graphic on the screen said “Kid Rock ’18 For U.S. Senate.”

Rock took the podium and delivered this more than four-minute intense speech:

“What’s going on in the world today? Seems the government wants to give everyone health insurance, but wants us all to pay. To be very frank, I really don’t have a problem with that since God has blessed me and made my pockets fat. But, if redistribution of wealth seems more like their plan, then I don’t believe you should save, sacrifice, do things by the book and then have to take care of some dead beat, milking the system, lazy ass @#$#$ man.”


“The issue of struggling single parents is an issue close to my heart. But, read my lips: We should not reward those who can’t even take care of themselves but keep having kid after @##% kid. Of course we should help them out. I don’t want to stand here and sound like a jerk. But let’s help them out with child care, job training and find them a @#$# place to work.”

“And you deadbeat dads who refuse to be a man. Who refuse to be there for your sons and raise them up to be good men. You no-good derelict sperm donor wannabees. I say lock all you a-holes up and throw away all the keys.”

“If you want to take a knee or sit during our Star Spangled Banner, call me a racist because I’m not PC and remind me that Black lives matter. Nazis, @@#% bigots and now the KKK. I say @#$# all you racists. Stay the hell away.”

“And why these days is everything so gay? Gay rights. Transgender this and that. I say let gay folks get married if they want and I’m not even close to a death trap. But things shouldn’t be this complicated. And, no, you don’t get to choose, because whatever you have between your legs should determine the bathroom that you use.”

“It’s no secret we’re divided and we all should take some blame. We should be ashamed because we all seem scared to call him by his name. (Picture of Jesus appears) So, please almighty Jesus, if you’re looking down tonight, please guide us with your wisdom and give us the strength to fight. To fight the tyrant evils that lurk here and abroad and remind us all we are still just one nation under God.”


“I do believe it to be self-evident that we are all created equal. I said it once, I’ll scream it again. I love black people. And, I love white people. But, neither as much as I love red, white and blue. And, if Kid Rock for Senate has some people in disarray, wait until they hear Kid Rock for President of the U-S-A.”

“Wouldn’t it be a sight to see. President Kid Rock in Washington, D.C. Standing on the desk in the Oval Office like a G. Holding my @#$@ ready to address the whole country. I’d look them straight in the eyes. The eyes of the nation live on TV. And I simply turn. You’ve never met a @#$# quite like me.”


Rock says he is considering a run for U.S. Senate in Michigan. He even has Kid Rock for U.S. Senate shirts available for sale online and at his concerts. In a recent MLive interview, Ted Nugent says Rock has no plans to run for U.S. Senate.

Meanwhile, the D.C. based organization Common Cause has accused Rock of violating finance rules. The complaint argues despite the Rock’s statements to the contrary, he should be considered an official candidate based on the merchandise sold and the continued existence of the Kid Rock for Senate website.



Taken from Mlive.com

Stars Of Eurovision 2016 Promise It’s Going To Be A ‘Very Gay Year’

eurovision-2016 (1)Huge crowds watched as artists from 42 participating countries walked the red carpet for the opening ceremony of Eurovision 2016, in Stockholm, yesterday.

Gay Star News was on the red carpet and talked to many of the fabulous performers as they arrived at the star-studded event.

Christer Bjorkman, the contest producer, and Petra Mede, one of the show’s hosts were among the first on the carpet.

Sweden last hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013, when we at Gay Star News proclaimed it the ‘gayest Eurovision ever’. How will the 2016 contest compare – will it be just as good?

Christer told us: ‘If you perceived it as gay last time you probably will this time. It has a lot to do with Petra’s humor. She’s sort of an icon for us.’

Petra added: ‘It’s going to be just as gay – don’t you worry.’

UK artists Joe and Jake seemed very appreciate of Eurovision’s LGBTI audience. Joe told GSN: ‘We’ve had a lot of love from all of the gay community and all the gay fans, and we’d like to give that love back to them and just say thank you.’




Nicky Byrne from Westlife is representing Ireland this year. We asked him about Eurovision’s large LGBTI viewership. ‘It’s the same as every viewer. To me – gay, straight – it makes no difference. So, everybody is out to have fun, enjoy the show, and vote for Ireland.’

Serhat, the performer representing San Marino was a little more philosophical. ‘They ask me what is the color of life? Life is beautiful with all colors. That is my message.’

Though there are many flamboyant performances, the number of openly LGBTI contestants historically has been very low.

Douwe Bob, the artist representing the Netherlands, is a rare exception and is openly bisexual. ‘I think personally it shouldn’t matter if you are gay or not. If you are a fan of something you love, that’s a good thing. It’s a beautiful thing.’ When asked about being an out contestant, Douwe added: ‘I don’t consider myself out because I’ve never been in.’




Jamala from the Ukraine thinks it’s important that all artists can be authentic. ‘Be real, be yourself. No matter what they say we have important thing that god creates us and we are different and it’s a good thing that we can be different.’ Michal Szpak from Poland added: ‘Just be yourself’

While it is becoming easier to be openly LGBTI in many European countries, it’s still a challenge in others.

Ira Losco from Malta had words of support for LGBTI people in more difficult countries. ‘I hope that coming out isn’t too hard. For some people because that’s always the worst part. Just know that people will love you no matter what. Just keep strong and believe in yourself. People around you love you.’

Christina Lachana, the lead singer from band Argo representing Greece was equally encouraging. ‘Think positive. Enjoy every good stuff in your life.’

Sandhja, representing Finland, see’s Eurovision as a unifying force. ‘It shouldn’t be about being gay or lesbian or straight. Music and love and healing all come together in a holy triangle. I believe that music brings people together.’

Our Eurovision coverage will continue throughout the week. If you have a favorite Eurovision song from this year, let us know.


 

Taken From GayStarNews.Com


Corporate Christ is a Musician and Author from Cardiff, UK.

CORPORATECHRIST BLOG LINK

As A Gay Child Of Fundamentalist Christians, I Was Horrified By The New Jehovah’s Witnesses Video

gayrightsA few days ago, I read an article in one of the more LGBT-focussed online publications about the Jehovah’s Witnesses (hereafter JWs) highlighting the fact that they’ve recently put together a selection of films. In amongst them is a film entitled “One Man, One Woman”, that I’d encourage you to watch – it’s currently listed proudly in the ‘Featured’ section of their very slick website. This video purports to be about gay parenting, but it’s really a direct challenge to the first encounter many children will have with gay people – namely classmates with gay parents.

For anyone who thinks they’ve never encountered the JWs before, you probably in fact have. You’re quite likely to have seen a pair of well-dressed inoffensive-looking middle-aged folk, Watchtower magazines in both hands (and on a magazine stand next to them), holding out both hands with a benign expression in an ostentatious gesture of assumed generous benevolence. In London they’re usually outside major train stations like Oxford Circus or Liverpool Street, but you will also find them in high streets around the country, and of course sometimes they’ll even come a-knocking. Most people dismiss them gently but firmly, although some are gentler than others.




I didn’t grow up a JW, but I was brought up by fundamentalist Christians. We had no television, went to church twice a week, and I spent a good portion of my earlier life almost entirely unaware of popular culture. An insular environment like this can have a profound effect on a child, and gives parents a great deal of control over what the child does, thinks, and is exposed to. For me growing up, my parents were my whole world – I hung on their every word, believed it passionately. I’m sure this is the same for many children, but I think for me it was a little more extreme.


Learning how my parents felt about homosexuality (they definitely weren’t on board with the whole thing whatsoever) took me to quite a dark place, especially for an 11-year-old. My parents were very fond of that catchall quotation from 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed”, taking it to mean that every word in the Bible was literally and directly from God. As they gently and kindly explained to me that how I was feeling could be changed, should be changed, and didn’t fit with what God wanted (going so far as in fact to say that it was the moral equivalent of bestiality), I believed every single word. They were quoting from the Bible, which came from God, and so clearly everything they were saying was indubitable, incontestable and I was just wrong somehow. Sounds pretty absolute, doesn’t it?

In this case it was clear to me that I had somehow been programmed wrong, or maybe I just didn’t understand myself properly – so for the next few years I meandered on in something of a grey, periodically suicidal daze.

“This is ridiculous, imagine believing something like this!” is the reaction from the intellectuals, the secularists, even some mainstream Christians, no doubt. The natural way so many people deal with these messages is with dismissal and ridicule. Articles on LGBT websites reporting on the videos take pretty sardonic stances – Pink News refers to a “Creepy Cartoon Mother” and comes to simple conclusion: “Solid parenting.” Sure, it’s good to laugh – but we’re missing something important here.


Taken From Independent.Co.Uk



Corporate Christ is a Musician and Author from Cardiff, UK.

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The Queering Of Pee-Wee Herman: How The Gay Icon Redefines Queer Boundaries Beyond Sexuality

Pee-wee's Big Holiday
Pee-wee’s Big Holiday

“I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.”

These sentiments are voiced three different times in “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” the Tim Burton-directed film that popularized Pee-wee Herman, the guileless manchild in the grey suit and red bowtie. Throughout the 1985 film, Pee-wee routinely rejects the advances of Dottie, a button-cute blonde played in a rare on-screen role by voice-over actress Elizabeth Daly (“Rugrats”). The joke isn’t just that Dottie is hopelessly, cluelessly in love with Pee-wee but seeing the character’s own image juxtaposed with his statement. These are the words you might hear from Johnny Depp’s meticulously coiffed greaser in John Waters’ “Cry-Baby,” not someone whose closest antecedent is Waters himself.

Pee-wee’s noted lack of interest in the fairer sex has long led to speculation about his sexuality—with the implication that he’s gay. If you’ve come into “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday” with that idea in mind, the film will do little to dissuade you. The Netflix release, directed by John Lee (“Wonder Showzen”) and produced by Judd Apatow (“Freaks and Geeks”), finds Pee-wee Herman getting his bromance on with Joe Manganiello, playing a version of himself. Manganiello rides up to the diner where Pee-wee works on a motorcycle wearing a too-tight tee, and Pee-wee nearly faints. True to form, he refers to the “True Blood” actor as “triple cool!”

The movie never plays down its potential homoerotic elements: Aside from Pee-wee’s clear overexuberance at serving Joe Manganiello a milkshake, the character develops something of a crush on the hunky actor (and who could blame him?). He expresses his desires for “friendship” with Manganiello in fantasies where the two joust on what appear to be giant piñatas; meanwhile, fireworks explode in the background. It’s about as subtle as the end credits of “Deadpool,” in which the spandexed superhero jerks off a unicorn.



The film’s overt gayness led many, like BuzzFeed’s Louis Peitzman, to declare it a “queer romance.” “[C]ategorizing Pee-wee and Joe as ‘just friends’ would be, at best, a euphemistic solution to a relationship that’s deliberately vague but undeniably queer,” he writes. “Because Pee-wee is almost entirely sexless, his age indeterminate but his interests decidedly childlike, he can never consummate anything. Instead, he and Joe share the kind of mutual crush that passes for grade-school intimacy.” Slate’s Paul H. Johnson added that the character has always been gay, even back in the days of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.” He married a fruit salad in one episode, forgodsakes.

These takes are smart, well-written and accurate: There’s something that’s always been defiantly, unmistakably queer about Pee-wee Herman, but it would be a mistake to solely ascribe that to his sexuality. Pee-wee might live in a world of adult longings and eroticism, but Pee-wee does not partake. It’s not that he’s queer or even asexual, but that—by being frozen in a state of stunted adolescence—he exists in a prepubescent universe where sexuality doesn’t quite exist yet. The queerest thing about Pee-wee Herman is that he purposefully breaks with those notions by rethinking the boundaries of what “queerness” really is—an act of societal rebellion.

If Pee-wee is a PG character in an R-rated universe, that’s no accident: The persona was developed while Paul Reubens was a member of the Groundlings, the L.A.-based improvisational comedy group that also gave Will Ferrell, Phil Hartman and Melissa McCarthy their starts. Reubens’ “Pee-wee Herman Show” began as a weekly midnight show with a grown-up slant. When he appeared on “Late Night With David Letterman” in 1983, Pee-wee romped around the set like a kid in a candy store—seemingly unaware of the adult show he’s on. “Camping with Pee-wee, that’s like a headline in the Post!” Letterman jokes. Pee-wee has no idea what he’s talking about.

His own lack of awareness is central to how we understand Pee-wee Herman—and how we read his character. In Peitzman’s essay, he refers to homosexuality as the “subtext” of “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday,” but if we’re being honest, it’s the context. “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” might as well take place in a gay bar. Take the program’s holiday special, for instance: The episode boasted a queer cornucopia of guest stars, including community icons like Cher, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Dinah Shore and kd lang. Pee-wee goes ice-skating with Little Richard. Grace Jones even drops by to sing “The Little Drummer Boy.” If that’s not enough, a group of shirtless construction workers build a tower out of fruitcakes.

If subtext by definition is furtive and secret, the queer reading of this episode couldn’t be any more overt if it were singing the Village People in gold booty shorts. The joke is that if the world around him is fabulously gay, Pee-wee hasn’t the slightest clue. The ongoing series of Pee-wee Herman films and television programs delight in placing the character in settings where his naive innocence is at odds with his surroundings, even the film he’s in: “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” finds him in a coming-of-age tale, even if Herman—by nature—doesn’t grow. “Big Holiday,” however, reimagines his hero’s journey as a romantic quest—except that the character himself finds that concept gross, like eating his peas.


 

Taken from Salon.Com


Corporate Christ is a Musician and Author from Cardiff, UK.

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Danny Dyer Stars As Drag Queen In Moving New Music Video

The EastEnders star features in a new video from British singer Lucy Rose

Danny Dyer DragEastEnders’ Danny Dyer has taken on one of his most challenging roles – becoming a drag queen for a guest appearance in a music video.

The British actor (who plays Queen Vic landlord Mick Carter in the long-running BBC soap) features in the new video from singer Lucy Rose.

Entitled ‘Nebraska’, the film, directed by Christopher McGill, also includes Ghostpoet, Rae Morris and Josef Salvat.

In the video, Dyer plays a man who is struggling with his desire to dress as a woman. He visits a London drag club and after watching the acts, goes to the dressing room with his own bag of make-up and sequin-encrusted gown.

Speaking to The Independent, Dyer said, ‘I was honored to be asked by the maestro that is Lucy Rose to be part of her video.

‘When I got the treatment through I was overwhelmed. I think it’s such a moving piece of work. I’m beyond proud to be part of it, I’ve always believed that people should be who they wanna be, regardless of race or gender.

‘Freedom of expression is so important – I really hope that this video gets the recognition it deserves.’



British singer Rose released her sophomore album, Work It Out, last October. It reached number 9 on the UK album charts. She said that she had reached out to Dyer after she noticed he began following her on Twitter and recommending her music.

‘I built up the courage and sent him a private message asking if he would be interested in collaborating on a music video. This was back in August 2015 and straight away he was keen and really enthusiastic.

‘We discussed which song to do, I gave a few options and he chose ‘Nebraska’ which suited me down to the ground as it’s a song that I think really shows a different side to my record.’

She said that the idea for the video came from director Chris McGill, and although she loved it, was ‘bricking it’ at the idea of sending it to Dyer.

‘How could I ask Danny to do what we were asking him to do? The miracle to this story is that almost an hour after I sent over the treatment he replied saying lets do it, I’ve always wanted to be a drag queen.’

‘This video to me isn’t about Danny being a drag queen but a freedom of expression and a form of escapism. I’m sure there’s many things we all want to do but we are worried that it means we won’t fit in. Fit into the mold that society has told us to live in which is accepted.

‘Let everyone be who they want and don’t make them justify their choices.’




 

Taken from GayStarNews.Com

 

Americans Increasingly Approve Of Gay And Lesbian Adults Adopting Kids

Approval of same-sex relationships also grew, hitting 60 percent among women and 49 percent among men. Given recent major political shifts, like the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide in June 2015, it’s possible that these figures have grown even further since. Many states, like Mississippi, still have laws that prohibit or limit same-sex couples from adopting, so shifting views on adoption are every bit as important as advocates continue to press for equality.




Colorado Fight To End ‘Gay Conversion Therapy’ Could Carry National Weight

State will debate legislation this month that would ban the counseling on minors, a practice psychologists say can lead to depression and suicide

 

gayrightsThe day before Brad Allen planned to kill himself, he had an epiphany. It was September 2012, and the then 31-year-old Colorado pastor had spent years learning from his therapist and church leaders that his same-sex desires were a disease that could be cured.

“I was disordered and embodied toxicity to other people … I had a suicide plan, and I was ready to go through with it,” the Denver man recalled. “But I felt this thought: ‘You are not toxic.’ And that resonated deeper than what I had learned in therapy.”

Allen, now an openly gay worker at a not-for-profit organization, is sharing his story in the hopes that it will inspire state lawmakers to pass legislation this month banning therapists from using “gay conversion therapy” on minors.

But Colorado Republicans and conservative religious groups have mobilized against the proposed ban, even though the practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation has been widely discredited as harmful and dangerous, and are expected to defeat it.

Repeating homophobic and scientifically disproven claims about sexual orientation, Republican legislators and backers of “reparative therapy” have argued that this kind of counseling can be effective at enabling LGBT people to live heterosexual lives. And if their efforts to defeat the bill are successful, the state’s licensed professionals will continue to expose queer youth to a methodology that advocates and psychologists say can lead to depression and suicide.

The legislative battle could have national implications as other states explore similar efforts. Some supporters of the ban who have experienced conversion therapy will testify that their parents sent them from across the country to Colorado for the controversial services, which can have long-term negative impacts on mental health.

Colorado Springs, which has a high concentration of evangelical Christian groups, is also the headquarters of Focus on the Family, a Christian conservative organization that does national advocacy work and is a major defender of therapists’ rights to promote what the group calls “sexual orientation change efforts”.

“There are therapists and mental health professionals licensed by the state of Colorado who are harming children,” said Paul Rosenthal, a Democratic state representative who sponsored the bill, which passed a legislative committee this week and is awaiting a vote on the House floor.

“They are still trying to convert people to be a person they are not,” said Rosenthal, who is gay. “Why should we condemn an individual to a lifetime of guilt and shame?”

A handful of states, including California and New Jersey, already ban conversion therapy for minors.

Colorado’s Republican-controlled senate is expected to block the bill from reaching the governor, and Republicans at a recent committee hearing interrogated experts in psychology and LGBT people with a line of questioning that advocates deemed insensitive and offensive.

Representative Kathleen Conti, a Republican, compared being gay to alcoholism, asking psychologists who testified against reparative therapy whether they would help a minor who came to them wanting to overcome the addiction.

Conti further expressed concerns that the bill would prevent professionals from helping LGBT minors who want to “compartmentalize” and suppress same-sex desires, who may say to a therapist: “I feel like I have these homosexual desires, but … I know innately I want to have my own biological children.”

Sarah Musick, 33, said that after she came out, she and her parents in Virginia agreed that she should travel to Colorado Springs for conversion counseling through Focus on the Family – an experience that damaged her for many years. “I felt like I was just this broken, good-for-nothing human that didn’t deserve to be loved,” she said. “I spiraled into a long depression.”



Musick, who still lives in Colorado Springs and is married to a woman and has two children, said she was shocked by Conti’s comments that implied she and others were failures for not successfully completing conversion therapy. “It just triggered so much of the hurtfulness.”

In an interview, Conti defended her comments, saying she was not homophobic and that the bill’s backers are “heterophobic” for proposing a law that would specifically prevent gay youth who want to live heterosexual lives from getting help.

“I have many friends that are gay that I love unconditionally … but I feel there’s a sector of the population that may have these attractions and yet may not want to live that way and would like to follow a different path in their life,” she said. “They have a right, whether they’re a minor or an adult, to pursue their happiness.”

Jeff Johnston, an issues analyst with Focus on the Family, said his organization does not have licensed professionals who currently offer reparative therapy, but said it may refer people with “unwanted homosexuality” to professionals who offer these services.

Johnston dismissed the testimony from those who said the therapy made them suicidal. “Just because a counseling practice doesn’t work for one person doesn’t mean we should ban it for everybody,” he said.


 

Taken from TheGuardian.Com

 

Primary School Stages ‘Gay Play’ To Teach Children About Diversity – But ‘Homophobic’ Parents Don’t Like It

Two parents were reported to police following the homophobic comments they made about the school on social media

Sacred-Heart-Primary-School teacherA headteacher has said she refused to be cowed by homophobic parents who slammed her primary school on social media for staging a “gay play”.

Carrie Morrow, head of Sacred Heart RC Primary in Atherton, near Wigan, was shocked when a gay-friendly workshop aimed at teaching children about diversity was blasted by parents on Facebook.

The comments, posted by a “small minority”, came after a theatre company performed a fairytale where two princes fall in love.

Writing on Facebook, one dad said he was annoyed when his son came home “talking about gays, saying he had learned about gays.”

Two men were reported to the police by another Facebook user, and have since been spoken to by officers in the area, Manchester Evening News reports.

The head of Sacred Heart says she is proud to be one of the first schools in the area to publicly stand up to homophobia.

Ms Morrow, who has worked at the school for 13 years, said: “We are very proud of what we have done.

“I know for some schools it is not an easy aspect of the curriculum to teach, but our pupils handled it with maturity and sensitivity.

“We have been quite bold and it has not been without some negativity from the community.

“We are not intimidated as we know such homophobic attitudes are in the minority.”

As well as the play, children learned about when it was appropriate to use the word gay, and were asked to design a logo for Wigan’s first Pride festival in August.

Yet Mr Marsh accused the school of ‘social engineering” on Facebook.

In a public post, he wrote: “I think people who promote PC sex to kids below 11 border on paedophilia and are depraved.

“It has nothing to do with gay sex that upset us but the lack of parental consent, a bit like finding the school had decided it has the right to vaccinate your kids for you and did it without your consent because it knows best.”

A GMP spokesman said: “Shortly after 10:25pm on Sunday 28 February 2016, police were called to reports that a number of homophobic comments had been made on Facebook.

“This was investigated as a hate incident but it was determined that the comments did not amount to a criminal offence.

“Local resolution officers spoke to all parties involved and advised two men of their future conduct on social media.”


Taken from Mirror.co.uk


Tears Of Joy Mark Gay Inclusion In St. Patrick’s Day Parade

gay irish paradeA celebration marking the first time the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Fifth Avenue will allow gay Irish groups to march led some lawmakers to break into tears on Thursday as they spoke of the 25-year fight for inclusion in the event.

“There were many times when we wanted to give up and we wondered if we would ever see this day,” Councilman Daniel Dromm, a Queens Democrat who is gay, said before beginning to cry.

Thursday’s event at the Irish Consulate in Midtown brought together both the parade’s organizers and the Irish gay-rights activists who for decades had been banned from marching behind their own banner.

The result was an outpouring of an emotion rarely seen at news conferences: joy.

“We too are Irish. We are your sons. We are your daughters, your brothers, your sisters,” said Brendan Fay, chairman and co-founder of the Lavender & Green Alliance, the Irish LGBT group that will march in this year’s parade.

Mr. Fay thanked the parade organizers for what he called a “historic gesture of welcome” that “undoes the anguish and pain of exclusion and discrimination.”

Mr. de Blasio formally announced that he plans to march in the parade for the first time, after years of skipping the event along with many other city officials in protest of its ban on gay groups.

“For the last two decades there’s been a blemish on this city,” he said. “Who are we as New Yorkers? It is our nature to embrace and support all peoples.”



The decision by the parade’s board members to include the Lavender & Green Alliance in this year’s event was made in September. Parade organizers, gay activists and city officials said the agreement emerged through months of meetings and discussions, many at the Irish Consulate.

They said the Consul General of Ireland, Barbara Jones, played a key role in the negotiations. Ireland legalized same-sex marriage in a referendum last year.

Francis McGreal Jr., a board member, said parade organizers decided to make the change because “it’s time to move forward. What else can we say.”

Rick Hinshaw, a spokesman for the Catholic League, said it has decided not to march because of the decision. He said the League isn’t opposed to including gay groups but that other advocacy groups should be able to march under their own banners.

“If you’re going to allow groups marching under advocacy banners, you should allow like pro-life groups which are in line with the church’s teaching,” he said.

The ban was protested for decades through civil disobedience. Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former state Sen. Tom Duane were among dozens arrested for protesting the parade’s policy over the years.

So was Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who attended Thursday’s ceremony. He teared up as he spoke about finally being able to attend the event as a participant.

In 1991, Mayor David Dinkins was booed while marching in solidarity alongside gay-rights activists at the parade. Mr. Fay said on Thursday that he was thinking of Mr. Dinkins, “who way back then walked with us, stood with us.”

Mr. Fay said he was also thinking of those who had died of AIDS over the years, as well as Father Mychal Judge, the New York Fire Department chaplain killed in the Sept. 11 attacks and was regarded by many gay New Yorkers as a powerful ally.


Taken from WSJ.Com

 

California High School Students Wearing Anti-Gay Stickers On Their Name Tags Are Asked To Remove Them ‘For Now’

rainbow smiley
Response to the homophobic stickers

High school students, who sparked outrage after they started wearing anti-gay stickers on their identity badges, have been told to take the images off ‘for now’.

The symbols in question show a rainbow pattern crossed out with a red circle and a line.

They started popping up in the hallways three weeks ago, prompting concern by classmates and teachers.

Both anti-gay stickers and pro-gay rights symbols were allowed as a matter of free speech at Shadow Hills High School in Indio, California, according to The Desert Sun and FOX News.

But Superintendent Gary Rutherford said new information instigated an additional review he said on Monday but didn’t say what the new information was.

‘Recently some information has been brought forward that requires additional investigation and follow-up to determine a proper course of action.

‘Pending further investigation, we are going to ask students who are displaying the symbol showing a rainbow pattern with a circle and a line, at least for now, to remove symbols while at school,’ Rutherford wrote.





Faculty at Shadow Hills High School in Indio, California, had insisted they couldn’t force the teenagers to remove the labels because it would violate their right to freedom of speech.

However, federal courts allow some limits on student speech, allowing schools to prohibit items like banners and T-shirts that mentioned drug use.

People also slammed the labels as homophobic when images of them were uploaded to Facebook.

The school initially released a statement to the Desert Sun when the symbols started cropping up saying: ‘After consulting with district level personnel and our legal counsel, it was determined that these students do have the protected right to freedom of speech, just as students portraying rainbows in support of the LGBT would.

‘If at any point students are interrupting class time to express their beliefs, they are to be sent to the discipline office with a referral for disruption.

‘We all have a right to freedom of speech, but students also have a right to be educated without fear. This has always been our policy, and we will continue to enforce it.’

In response to the anti-gay stickers, students including eighth-grader Paige Labayog started coloring in rainbow smiley faces to wear on their ID badges.

Some teachers have also gone against their school district, insisting they aren’t happy with the decision.

Amy Oberman, an AP U.S. History teacher at Shadow Hills, told the newspaper: ‘Yes, there is freedom of speech established by Tinker, but at least in my view, it’s a hate crime because a group was targeted.

‘I’m Jewish, and if that had been a little swastika on my window, what’s the difference?’

Michelle Bachman, a senior at Shadow Hills and vice president of the Gay Straight Alliance, said she feels the anti-gay symbols ‘rise to the level of bullying and intimidation.’

‘This group of students was publicly displaying an intolerance and hate for the LGBT community when a large portion of our students at SHHS are part of the community or close to people a part of it as well,” Bachman said on Twitter through a direct message conversation with The Desert Sun. “This is definitely hate speech, but legally, we can’t do anything until these students start to physically harass us, which I believe is an injustice.


Taken from DailyMail.Co.Uk

Novelty ‘Gay Bar’ Soap Gets Business Park Boss In A Lather

pride chairmanA business park boss sparked anger after he got himself in a lather over a pink novelty soap left in a men’s toilet with the words ‘gay bar’ on it.

Danny McLaughlan fired off an email to firms at Rainton Bridge Business Park with an image attached telling workers he found the bar of soap to be “inappropriate”.

The novelty £5 bar is available for sale in numerous gift retail outlets, including Amazon and eBay.

Mr McLaughlan’s email informed workers the offending soap had been removed – and told staff to contact him if they wanted it back.

He also called for a cull of other toilet products that had been left by staff members in Alexander House on the Houghton park, where the Echo is based.




But the call backfired because staff and gay rights campaigners found the email and stance “offensive”.

It is understand the soap had been given to a gay staff member at the park as a gift and they put it in the toilet for everyone to use.

One worker said: 
“How can this be inappropriate?””

“It’s just ridiculous. We found his email inappropriate and offensive.”

“Why is he offended by the word gay on a bar of soap?”

“The whole ‘soap police’ thing is just barmy anyway.”

“It’s jobsworth attitude and over-zealous.”

“Who has got time to worry about soap and deodorant left in a toilet?”

When contacted by the Echo, Mr McLaughlan declined to comment and asked us to contact his manager.

James Millson, associate director of CBRE Ltd, which manages the building, said: “The park manager’s email makes reference to a number of items, the bar of soap probably being the most easily identifiable.

“The point being made in the email is that the items being left in the common toilets, which are shared with other users of the building, are not in keeping with consistent and corporate image that we aim to provide across the estate.

“We would have been removing any items ‘bars of soap’ irrespective of the slogan, brand or design and the point being made here is that the ‘random products’ being dispersed around the common parts are not in keeping with the management strategy for the building.

“In short there is no discriminatory agenda here, only a desire to provide premises to our tenants that are clean, smart and in keeping with the expectations of our client, tenants and visitors.”

Mark Nichols, chairman of Northern Pride, said: “It’s a bit like anything when it’s taken out of context, it could be used perfectly well, but could be taken to be insulting. It’s like saying ‘I’m gay’ and then ‘You’re so gay.

“The LGBT community use the word gay, there’s nothing wrong with saying gay.

“Everybody uses it all the time, so there shouldn’t be a problem with it.

“If he had just said ‘Please don’t leave personal items’ then fine, it would have been a bit petty.

“He doesn’t say the word gay is offensive but the fact is he has singled it out, that one item.

“He could have sent a picture of the make up bag and said this shouldn’t be left in the bathroom.”

Alisdair Cameron, North East-based Pride in Mind, a mental health support group, said: “Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans or any other sexuality or sexual identity is ordinary and a healthy part of life.

“Humour and self-mockery is also ordinary and again a healthy part of life.

“Somewhere down the line in this story, someone lost sight that both of these things are true, and that 
one does not negate the other.”




 

Taken from Sunderlandecho.com

 

Eurovision Winner Conchita Wurst Says Australia Looks Like Gay Heaven, But The Reality Is Different

conchita 2Australia looks like “gay heaven” to the rest of the world but the reality is somewhat different as Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst discovered on her first visit.

“You know, we think everybody is very liberal, very open-minded, the whole city [is] celebrating Mardi Gras,” Wurst said.

“And then I came here two years ago and they told me that gay marriage is just not happening.

“I could not believe it. How can you combine those two worlds?”



Wurst, who will be performing at the Sydney Opera House on Thursday as part of this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, has been caught in the crossfire of tolerance and bigotry since winning the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest.
Wurst’s victory with the power ballad Rise Like a Phoenix prompted widespread praise and homophobic criticism particularly from Russia, where President Vladimir Putin’s government had enacted a law restricting gay and lesbian rights in 2013.
Austria’s president Heinz Fischer declared it was “not just a victory for Austria, but above all for diversity and tolerance in Europe”.
However, Russian national politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky expressed outrage: “Fifty years ago the Soviet army occupied Austria. We made a mistake in freeing Austria. We should have stayed.”

Russian men, meanwhile, posted photos on social media showing them shaving off their beards in protest at Wurst robbing facial hair of its masculinity.

“I don’t understand why people spend so much time thinking about me if they don’t like what I do,” Wurst says. “I couldn’t care less about things I don’t like.”

Wurst, the alter ego of 27-year-old Thomas Neuwirth, grows a beard because she said otherwise “my face would look like the face of a 12-year-old”.

She expressed wonderment at the depth of hostility caused by her Eurovision win: “I’m not that powerful to take out the masculinity of a beard.”

Yet Wurst has become a global gay icon and spokesman for gay rights, performing at Pride festivals across Europe as well as at an anti-discrimination event held at the European Parliament in Brussels and at the United Nations Office at Vienna in front of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

Beyond gay rights, Wurst is vocal about other human rights issues such as the plight of Syrian refugees in Europe. Austria is one of a number of European countries that has capped the number of refugees it will accept this year.

“If you were in this situation, if you have to leave your home because there’s nothing worth staying, you would wish to meet people who would treat you respectfully,” she said.

Wurst will perform her show Conchita: From Vienna with Love with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and singers Trevor Ashley, Paul Capsis​ and Courtney Act​.

“Everyone on the planet who makes music wants to be on that stage and I can’t even tell you how honoured and happy I am to be in this position,” she said.

Wurst will perform songs from her debut album as well as showstoppers by divas such as Shirley Bassey, but she distinguishes her act from typical drag queen fare.

“I thought as a drag queen I needed to be loud, over-the-top, kinda of bitchy like many drag queens we know,” she said. “We all enjoy that … but I’m just not that kind of person. I see myself as quite boring and simple.”

Despite her advocacy of marriage equality, Wurst remains single (“I’m married to myself”).

Wurst called herself a “very complicated person” and said she was a different person in a relationship.

“I totally change my mindset and I really turn into a very annoying person,” she said. “I’m jealous, I’m moody, I’m really not good to be around as a boyfriend.”

She added: “I did not know this would turn into a psychological thing.”





Conchita: From Vienna with Love is at the Sydney Opera House on March 3.

 

Taken from SMH.com.au