Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Female Rejected as Gay Blue Ducks Threaten Survival of Species

When an article is in the Scientific American, you know it is for real. And when it is in the Scientific American, you have not read the whole thing, only the short synopsis in Reader's Digest or on some website. So we close out today's blogging with this question of note:

Why are all the good blue ducks gay?

That's what Cherry, the last remaining lass of her kind in England, may be asking herself after two male prospects that might have helped her perpetuate the species fell for one another instead of for her.

"They stay together all the time, parading up and down their enclosure and whistling to each other as a male might do with a female he wants to mate with," Paul Stevens, the warden at Arundel Wetland Center, tells the Telegraph.

The boy birds, Ben and Jerry, were introduced to Cherry, but to no avail. "Cherry showed some interest in him," Stevens told the newspaper, referring to Jerry. "She displayed typical mating behavior—she approached him and called to him, she even looked like she was nesting. We thought it was great and it was all going to happen, but nothing ever did.

"Feathers flew, however, when Ben and Jerry were shacked up together. "To our surprise, the two males really took to each other and it was obvious that they really liked each other,"

Ben and Jerry aren’t the first gay members of the animal kingdom. Roy and Silo, penguin residents of the Central Park Zoo in New York City, mated there a decade ago—among the 1,500 species that have been observed engaging in homosexual activity.

But Ben and Jerry's coupling is bad news for blue ducks in England, where the threesome is thought to be among the only such birds in the country, the Telegraph reports. Blue ducks are native to New Zealand and are threatened with extinction, according to that country's Department of Conservation. Too many damn gay ducks. Man, that is just what the guys in my fantasy baseball league say about South Beach.

Two Women Initiate Cross Country Homeless Pride Walk for LGBT Youth

Start a blog like this and you cannot cover every AIDS walk in every city in the country or every pride festival, important though they are. What you can do is salute the heroes who make a difference, mention the voices that are heard, and the people whose contributions today lead to hope for tomorrow.

Found out with Nationalgaynews.com as a website that to just publish every press release and report every pride event is to say a little about a lot. I would rather say a lot about the little efforts that lead to big things. So today a shout out goes to Jill Hardman and Chloe Noble, who beginning next month are walking across America for LGBTQ homeless youth.

They will set out on foot from Seattle, Washington traveling first to San Francisco, then east across the country to Boston, New York, and then Washington D.C. From there they will continue souththwest to New Orleans and end their long journey in Austin, Texas. Their goal is to cover 6000 miles, to raise awareness about Queer homeless youth in America. Their entire walk will be homeless, which will give them a unique opportunity to film Queer homeless youth all over the United States.

Says Noble, "We are excited for this opportunity to serve those less fortunate in the LGBTQ community. Through this walk we will be a part of something beautiful, powerful, thought-provoking, and meaningful."

Everyone who is interested can "virtually walk with them" by following their website - which will be loaded with videos, photos, and posts collected on their journey.

"Almost 40% of homeless youth in America identify as LGBTQ," says Noble, "We want to help give this incredibly diverse group of Queer youth a voice and a platform to stand on.” Let’s hope their efforts materialize. Here is their site:

Monday, March 30, 2009

Genre Magazine 'Suspends' Publication

Gay men's glossy Genre Magazine has 'suspended' publication, according to a statement by CEO David Unger, blaming the magazine's failure on the recession. Call it what you want, fold or suspend. It is not no more.

"We thank all of our readers, advertisers and editorial staff for their support throughout our more than 16-year history and hope that we can re-establish our relationship when times are better."

It is wishful thinking. The times won't allow for it. But Unger noted emphatically that the decision to suspend Genre will not have any impact on other publications produced by HX Media, Window Media or Unite Media, which include the Washington Blade, Southern Voice, South Florida Blade, New York Blade and HX magazine. Let's hope so. They are the heart and soul of the gay national media, reaching into diversified local communities. I am happy to say one of their most successful ventures, the South Florida Blade, formerly the Express Gay News, was my own creation, which I sold to them in 2003. Times were a lot better than for all of us.

Window Media, the parent company of Genre and a half-dozen gay publications, including the Washington Blade, is in federal receivership because of capital shortages which compromised their legal obligations under SBA loan provisions. Hopefully, their lawyers can work out new loan terms and they can work their way out of this involuntary receivership.

I chatted with Dave Unger last month. I wanted him to buck the tide and find the finances to underwrite a national gay newsweekly. On one hand, given the economic climate, he had to think I was crazy. On the other, there is a little voice inside me- and yearning to him, telling him he knows I am right.

The gay community has become straight. By that, I mean mainstream. And they are entitled to a national weekly newspaper which can be picked up at your local news stand every Sunday. Hundreds of thousands would. Just do not expect it soon.

Sadly, nor should you expect the imminent return of ‘Genre,’ or its suspended publication. Just not happening. It never experienced the ‘record growth’ that they advertised under editor Neal Boulton. It experienced instead the economic disaster 2008 in America will be remembered for.

Pope Benedict Blows AIDS Opportunity

So much for the papal outreach on AIDS in Africa.

While on a flight to Cameroon on Tuesday to begin a weeklong journey through Africa, Pope Benedict XVI said, "You can't resolve [the AIDS epidemic] with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, it increases the problem."

As a former director of an AIDS clinic, as a spokesman, as an activist, I am dumbfounded. He is just dumb. For the Pope to challenge the scientific truth that condoms prevent the spread of AIDS, especially to people who have yet to buy into his abstinence line is beyond comprehension.

He is a world leader with enormous influence sending a myopic message. He is showing just how out of touch the Church is.

The cartoonists had a field day. Ours is from the London Times, showing the Pope with a large condom hat pierced by a hatpin. As far as I am concerned, it could have been a dunce cap, and he should have been sent to the stool in the corner of the schoolroom.

Another cartoon showed Pope Benedict on a charger attacking a giant killer condom with his staff. Another had a large condom as the banana peel on his elegant Italian shoe. The Washington Post got heat for its March 21 cartoon showing the Pope in an AIDS ward blessing the sick because they did not use condoms.

Arriving in Africa, the home for so many afflicted with AIDS, the Pope could have made history. Well, he did, I suppose, but not the kind you want to write home to Mom about or see in history books years from now. It reminds me of Ronald Reagan never mentioning the word 'AIDS' in the first seven years of his administration. Total denial. Not good. Not healthy. Not smart.

Equality Forum Will Feature Choirs and Choruses

For the first time at Equality Forum 2009, a gay, a feminist, and a mainstream chorus will share the stage for a joint concert.

Join the Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus, Anna Crusis Women's Choir and the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia for an unprecedented choral event, featuring 300 singers.

"This unprecedented concert of gay, feminist and mainstream choral groups symbolizes inclusion and reflects Voices of Equality," stated Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director, Equality Forum.

The Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus, under the artistic direction of Joseph Buches, is the region's largest all-male chorus with over 100 members, and one of the nation's first gay men's choruses.
Anna Crusis Women's Choir, under the artistic direction of Jacqueline Coren, is the country's longest running feminist choir - empowering its audiences on important issues of the day.

The Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, under the artistic leadership of Alan Harler, has been presenting innovative choral performances for more than 100 years.

Equality Forum 2009 Visit http://www.equalityforum.com/ for more information. The event is the first week of May in Philly, and each year it gets more impressive in its depth, diversity, and significance. I have never been invited to speak so you know that it only takes classy people.

Phil Donahue Honored Rightfully by GLAAD

Phil Donahue was amongst those honored by The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) this past weekend at the 20th Annual Media Awards ceremony in New York. A number of elites were there for the gala. A posh posh star studded event, don’t you know! Phil Donahue, let's just say he was the Oprah of his day. He would get a kick out of that. Some of you might not remember him.

GLAAD is the nation's leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization. They have come under criticism from gay leaders for their focus on honoring straight celebrities and mainstream media for their efforts, sometimes at the expense of our own community’s very legitimate heroes, who allegedly are too often ignored by GLAAD’s powers that be. That’s for a later day.

One exception to that argument for sure came Saturday, as they recognized a person who has been by our side for decades, when the cause was unpopular and the numbers were few. It is therefore worthy of comment that a Special Recognition Award was presented to Phil Donahue, who was the honoree at the first GLAAD Media Awards in 1990.

Phil championed gay rights long before it became fashionable or trendy or socially acceptable. He was there in the beginning when it was gutsy and courageous to be on our side. He bucked the public tide to be supportive of homosexuals. His comments are therefore revealing and intriguing, a reminder of how far we have come:

"It's unbelievable to think about the power and the warp speed of this revolution," Donahue said during his acceptance. "Twenty years ago when I proudly accepted the first GLAAD Media Award...it was a very small crowd. There are more photographers here tonight than there were people then….And now, we look up in 2009, and [the LGBT community] is popular. The majority of the people in the nation agree with us. Our job now is to summon these people to stand up and say so out loud. To tell them to join us. To march the lavender line with us down Fifth Avenue, and to remind them, when they do join us, they're going to meet a lot of nice people."

Thank you Phil, for being there then, for being there now, and for making it easier for so many to walk that lavender line.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

FBI Video Warns Boys About Homsexuality

Oh, did I forget to mention that this was made in 1961?

Well, friends, times change, slowly, with resistance, but they change.

It is nice to have crossed decades to see the new currents.

'The Tasty Torpedo' From Quizno's is the World's First Homoerotic Sandwich

Qweerty.com, once again on the cusp of all things gay, scores with this ad from Quizno's. May be worth going there just to meet the actor, though I do not suspect he will be serving up the subs. Too bad.

This homoerotic ad promoting Quizno's new homoerotic phallus sandwich 'The Torpedo' is arguably as gay as sandwich advertising can get.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

'Didn't Just Kiss Her' Rapidly Becoming a Lesbian Classic Number

I am lossed over the ruckus. When I first heard Katy Perry's 'I Kissed A Girl- and Liked It,' I thought it was a coming out Lesbian song that would capture the heart and soul of the GLBT community. Well, not exactly, Mr. Prescient One. Seems that some thought it was homophobic, intimating or implying that maybe there was something wrong about a girl kissing a girl.

For sure, that is what Jen Foster, an out award winning Lesbian songwriter thought, and she has gone out and created a new retort song, declaring that "I Didn't Just Kiss Her," flat out saying she went all the way. Shows you what I know. It is not on video yet, and the vocals seem a little distorted, but here it is for you to get the fair and full context of this developing battle:

Now I come here neutrally. I think both songs are good. But just days after Jen Foster posted this song on line, it has already been played more than 20,000 times, and has been featured on radio station playlists around the country.

“I had no idea it would take off like this,” says Foster, who admits she wrote the song as a witty, sexually-charged, tongue-in-cheek response to Perry’s wildly popular “I Kissed A Girl”.

“It just seemed like there was probably more to it, you know? I thought this would be a good way to tell the other side of the story.” A club remix is in the works; a video is planned.

I don't know that the two will square off on American Idol, but it is just one more example of how Lesbians are playing a more powerful role in openly defining their identities in a positive light. Good for you, congratulations to Jen, and let the war of musical words begin! Can't wait for the video. Hope they send us a press release.

'Pride at 40' A Stunning Historical Video

Over 2,500 views already on this magical You Tube 2009 'Pride Video' Release, a Stonewall Celebration, capturing the Blly Joel 'We Did Not Start the Fire' Magic. 40 years of pride, encapsulized in these fast moving five and a half minutes.

This is the kind of energy we want to deliver daily here on Nationalgaynews.com. Pride. Gotta have pride. Power is Pride. Pride is Power.

From 'An Army of Lovers Cannot Fail,' to 'Gays are People Too,' this video is historical, accurate, and stunning, capturing Ronald Reagan's silence in the face of AIDS deaths, Disney World's wrestling battle with Gay Days, Anita Bryant, same-sex marriage, crystal meth, Rosie, and so much more. You have to see it, absorb it, lend your being to its energy. Then watch it again. It is our life, from boys in the band to Matthew Shephard.

It is not just five minutes and forty three seconds of music. It is history. It is us. It is who we were, where we were, and where we are. Should actually be played in high school classes everywhere. That's my opinion, and I am queer. For a long time now, too.

Scientists Conclude Circumcision Reduces STD Risks

To cut or not to cut, that is the question. Or as a joke in my Hebrew School once went, "Tell me why, tell me why, there's no meat behind my fly, sloppy rabbi?" Or as comedian Robin Williams once remarked, tell me how they cut it off before you know how much you are going to need? Okay, enough jokes about circumcision. It's a very serious thing, doctors are saying again. Could be a lot safer to get it done. As the above drawing suggests, mankind has been doing this for a while. So live longer. Get it done.

Male circumcision can reduce a man's risk of contracting the sexually transmitted infections human papillomavirus and herpes, according to a study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, and reported in today's New York Times:

The new research "adds to the growing scientific evidence that the procedure helps stem the spread of some" STIs, according to the Journal. It follows studies showing that the procedure can reduce a man's risk of contracting HIV through heterosexual sex.

In the new study, researchers compared 1,684 men who were circumcised with a control group of 1,709 uncircumcised men for two years ending in 2007. They found that circumcised men were 35% less likely to contract HPV compared with the uncircumcised men. The circumcised men also were 25% less likely to contract herpes. The study found no effect on the transmission of syphilis. The researchers accounted for condom use, the number of sex partners and additional factors when calculating the men's STI risk.

According to the researchers, male circumcision should become an accepted method to help reduce the risk of STIs from heterosexual sex among men, the AP/Google.com reports. "It must be emphasized that protection was only partial, and it is critical to promote the practice of safe sex," the researchers wrote. Aaron Tobian from Johns Hopkins said, "The scientific evidence for the public health benefits of male circumcision is overwhelming now" .

Washington Blade Expose' Reveals Salaries of LGBT, HIV Leaders of Gay Groups

Joe Solomese, HRC Director, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Joe makes more than Hillary. Reminds me of when Babe Ruth was asked how he felt making more money than President Woodrow Wilson: "Well," Babe commented, "I hit more homers."

Juicy information for great cocktail talk. Confirmation that sometimes you can make more with your shirt and tie on then with your pants off. The Washington Blade has just published a marvelous article about how much money is paid to the leaders of the nation's largest gay organizations:

Craig Shniderman, executive director of Food & Friends, which provides meals and nutritional services for homebound people with HIV/AIDS in the Washington, D.C. area, had the highest salary among the heads of the nation’s most prominent LGBT advocacy groups and groups that provide AIDS-related services in Los Angeles, New York and D.C.

A survey of the compensation paid to heads of 30 LGBT and AIDS organizations, conducted by the Washington Blade, shows that Shniderman had a total salary and benefits package of $382,200 in 2008, the latest period for which the organizations’ salary and annual revenue data could be obtained for a completed fiscal year.

Shniderman’s earnings placed him ahead of Joe Solmonese, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT political advocacy group. Solmonese, who ranked second in the salary survey, received a total compensation package of $338,400 in 2008.

To continue reading, click here. It will take you to the Blade feature.

Homophobic Justice on US Supreme Court?

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., called Justice Antonin Scalia a "homophobe" when commenting on the possibility of a case involving gay marriages reaching the U.S. Supreme Court.

In an interview with the gay website 365gay.com, Frank was questioned about legal challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, FOX News reports. The 1996 law says the federal government and states have no obligation to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal.

"At some point, [the Defense of Marriage Act] is going to have to go to the United States Supreme Court," said Frank, who is gay. "I wouldn't want it to go to the United States Supreme Court now because that homophobe Antonin Scalia has got too many votes on this current court."

Gays have criticized Scalia for his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, in which the majority struck down a law barring sodomy, according to the Catholic News Service. Scalia said the majority decision represented "a massive disruption of the current social order."

Here is Barney Frank's statement, courtesy of Herald blogger Steve Rothaus:

What About Gay Marriage?

Sometimes satire is the best way to communicate a point.

A picture is worth a thousand words. This video is worth a million.

Clips like this say more than speeches can. Share it with your friends and family. And keep on coming back to the National Gay News for more of the same on a regular basis.

It is a take off on another link you can access at our original databank, http://www.nationalgaynews.com/, in the videos section, of the 1950's FBI video on gay men.

A Place at the Table: Obama Brings Gays Into the Political Process

National Gay Leader, Congressman Barney Frank

After nearly a decade of outsider status, gay and lesbian activists are once again being welcomed in the halls of Congress and the White House. What do they plan on doing with their new access? Lots, it seems.

Access is mostly concentrated in the House of Representatives where three openly gay Democratic members – Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Barney Frank of Massachusetts and newly-elected Jared Polis of Colorado – form the backbone of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Equality Caucus.

While President Barack Obama has pledged his support for gay rights, activists have begun to question his loyalty to right wing groups doggedly opposed to gay rights. Two bills that have passed the House before but stalled due to a threatened Bush veto – hate-crimes and a gay protections (ENDA) bill – will be reintroduced this spring.

“It's one thing to go through the exercise of passing a bill through the House,” Baldwin told The Hill. “It's another thing to pass it through the House and the Senate and have it signed by the president.”

The Matthew Shepard Hates Crime Act is named after the University of Wyoming student who was beaten, shackled to a post and left to die in a field by two men he had met in a gay bar. It would expand the 1969 federal hate-crime law to include crimes against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and disabled persons.

ENDA seeks to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the area of employment. Another two bills will address benefits being blocked by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law which defines marriage as a heterosexual union for the purpose of federal agencies and allows states to ignore legal gay marriage.

Two senators – Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) – have joined two reps – Baldwin and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) – in sponsoring a measure that would extend marriage-like benefits to federal employees. The bill is expected to be introduced next week.

“This is long overdue and I think this is the year to do right by so many lesbian and gay workers with partners,” Ros-Lehtinen told The Hill. “The federal government is the nation's largest civilian employer, and it's about time [gays and lesbians] receive these benefits.”

President Obama appointed a lesbian to the US Claims Court this week, has named gay men to his cabinet, and has already been overtly inclusive to the GLBT community. So the times, they are a changin!
A comprehensive article which details some of the aspirations and goals of the gay rights movement and upon which this text is based is linked below for your further reading:

Batwoman Comes Out of the Closet

Even at the age of 60, I am still a comic book freak. When I grew up with Superboy and Lana Lang and Lois Lane, we did not read about a cast of comic book characters coming out of the closet. But we live in a new world, and it's kind of special for me to incorporate as the very first post in our new format the effort by DC Comics to diversify its publications and better connect to modern day readership.

So here you have it. 2009 will see Batwoman as the first lesbian superhero in a regular Detective Comics role. It has some real historical significance for homosexual America. You see, when I was a kid, back in 1954, there were these rabid right wingers who said costumed super heroes were perverting youngsters and DC comics came up with Batwoman as a love interest for Batman to disprove allegations of homosexuality. These would probably be the same peope opposing video games today. If you think I am making this up, google the book Seduction of the Innocent (1954).

Although Batwoman made a number of appearances during the late 1950s and early 1960s, declining sales of both Batman and Detective Comics led to the editorial retirement of the character. Then she goes back and forth for the next 30 years, getting killed off and later reincarnated. After all, it is a comic book. I mean, how old is Peter Parker/Spiderman's Aunt May? She must be 133 by now.

The new Batwoman does represent the most high profile title starring a gay superhero, but even ten years ago, when I published the Express Gay News, we had done a number of features on gay comic heroes, from Night Authority to others. My favorite was the Marvel comic play with the Rawhide Kid. See below.

I wish I could access it for you online, but the creatures who bought my paper never chose to put those four years of energy, effort, and excellence online. So it goes. Sweat not though. You can google up gay comic heroes and get a burst of entertainment:

Keep It Simple, Stupid

Publisher Norm Kent

Hi, if you are one of the three thousand people that has registered as a user for NGN, or one of the thirty five thousand people that have accessed our website nationally and internationally in the past two years, I am Norm Kent, your publisher. And I am simplifying. Going from a full scale .com aggregate website with Joomla to something so easy I can do it myself. Blogging. Commentary. News about the News.

Necessity is the mother of invention. The costs of sustaining a dot.com site are prohbitive, weighed against the revenues generated. You can perfect a blog to generate some ads and communicate your message just as effectively much more efficiently. I have found with my Broward Law Blog that simplicity works.

There is no national gay paper. There should be. The economic climate, some would say, is not right. Play into the face of defiance, I say. A weekly gay newspaper would be picked up by hundreds of thousands every Sunday. Someone just has to underwrite it. But papers are everywhere are dying, so right now no one is buying. The time will come though.

We know that gay people are about more than bars and beaches. The world is communicating it. But the message still needs to get out. This blog will be a small vehicle, with less pieces, more visuals, and more commentary than the nationalgaynews.com website. The message will still be that we are everywhere, and we are coming to a neighborhood near you. But do not be afraid. We are your friends, not the Blob Who Invaded Earth. We are your partners, your family members, your community.

Simplicity is defining. Our messages will be shorter but just as valuable. Maybe we will not run every cartoonist, feature every columnist, but we will give you links to get to sites of their own. Maybe they will trade back ours. But this site should be attractive and newsworthy enough to keep your attention on a daily basis.

If it is to be, it is up to me. There were some people that kept nationalgaynews.com going for over two years with their efforts. They should be congratulated. They are appreciated. But I am downsizing. If you had been allowed in the army, you would know what I mean: KISS this. Keep it Simple, Stupid.

Thus the new Nationalgaynews.com. Keeping it simple, keeping it sweet, driving it home.