With 1,150 votes to Sandra Pupatello’s 866 votes on the third ballot at the Ontario Liberal leadership convention on Saturday, Kathleen Wynne was elected to lead the party and becomes Ontario’s first female premier — and Canada’s first out LGBT premier. Wynne, 59, is married to Jane Rounthwaite, and the party’s new leader said she believed her sexual orientation would not be an issue in the race or going forward. “The province has changed, our party has changed,” she said earlier in the balloting. “I do not believe that the people of Ontario … hold that prejudice in their hearts.” After the third balloting, Wynne said, “It is a remarkable night for all of us.”
Ontario is by far Canada’s most populous province. Provincial premiers are the US equivalent of a state governor. There has not yet been an openly gay state governor in America, unless you count New Jersey’s Jim McGreevey, who resigned halfway through his term in 2004 after confessing to cheating on his wife with a man.
United Kingdom: Border Agency Halts Deportation Of Lesbian Asylum Seeker Bound For Cameroon
Pink News UK reports:
A lesbian asylum seeker who fears for her life managed to avoid being flown back to her native country at the start of last weekend after she was escorted off a plane for causing a disturbance. Alice Nji, who is being supported by the campaign group, Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary (MFJ), spoke of how she “started crying, shouting and screaming for almost 20 minutes” in order to prevent the plane from taking off. She had previously been held at the Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre in Bedfordshire, awaiting her deportation back to Cameroon. Speaking of her ordeal of travelling to the airport, Ms Nji said: “Inside the van one of the escorts, a lady, she was telling me that going back to Cameroon had no risks attached to it, that I will not have any problem on my arrival, when we got in to the plane, I told one of the escorts that I [would] like to speak with the pilot. Ms Nji added: “They told me that I am not allowed to speak with the pilot, I started crying, shouting and screaming for almost 20 minutes, the plane was about to take off – that was when the pilot came and asked the escorts to take me out. “While we were inside the van, coming back to Yarl’s Wood, the escorts were telling me that next time it will not be a private plane, it will be a charter plane because the UK government is bent that I should go back to Cameroon.” According to Amnesty International, Cameroon has a poor record of protecting its LGBT citizens. It’s Penal Code criminalises same-sex relations and even the National Human Rights Commission refuses to defend the rights of LGBT people. In August a “Gay Hate Day” took place in the country. MFJ has repeatedly accused the UK Border Agency of trying to deport LGBT asylum seekers back to countries where they face homophobic persecution – the claims have always been denied by the department. Earlier this year, a gay man had his deportation order to Cameroon halted after he refused to board a flight from London to Paris.
Mexican Lesbian Folk Singer Chavela Vargas Dies At The Age Of 93
Most Americans may not know the name of Chavela Vargas, but foreign film buffs will recognize her distinctive voice from the soundtracks of Pedro Almodavar’s movies. Vargas died yesterday at the age of 93.
Vargas rose to fame flouting the Roman Catholic country’s preconceptions of what it meant to be a female singer: singing lusty “ranchera” songs while wearing men’s clothes, carrying a pistol, drinking heavily and smoking cigars. Though she refused to change the pronouns in love songs about women as some audiences expected, many of her versions of passionate Mexican folk songs are considered definitive. Born in San Joaquin de Flores, Costa Rica, on April 17, 1919, Vargas immigrated to Mexico at age 14. She sang in the streets as a teenager, then ventured into a professional singing career well in her 30s.
“I was never afraid of anything because I never hurt anyone,” Vargas told the audience at a Mexico City tribute concert in June 2011. “I was always an old drunk.” Vargas recorded 80 albums, becoming a major figure in Mexico City’s artistic explosion of the mid-20th century. She was a friend and a frequent house guest of the Mexican painters Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and was close to the Spanish writer Federico Garcia Lorca. Along the way she was honored as a “distinguished citizen” of Mexico City and was given Spain’s Grand Cross of Isabella the Catholic. In 2007 the Latin Recording Academy gave her its lifetime achievement award.
Although it had been widely known among her fans for decades, Vargas did not publicly confirm being a lesbian until the age of 81.
NEBRASKA: No Suspect Yet In Horrific Hate Crime Attack Against Lesbian
Early Sunday morning, a quiet neighborhood in Lincoln, Nebraska, was startled by the appearance of police cars, responding to a vicious attack on a lesbian in which the assailants carved anti-gay slurs into her skin and tried to light her house on fire. The 33-year-old woman, whose name is being kept private, was attacked by three masked men who broke into her home and tied her up before cutting her all over her body. They also poured gasoline on the floor and lit it with a match, according to reports. The victim was able to crawl free from her home, naked and bleeding, and reach a neighbor for help. Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime, but are keeping details out of the press to avoid tainting the investigation. “We don’t want to provide too many details,” said a spokeswoman for the Lincoln Police Department.A vigil held in the woman’s honor drew hundreds, with many holding candles and waving rainbow flags. “Hate crimes are despicable and appalling to me and to all Lincoln residents,” said Mayor Chris Beutler. “Lincoln strives to be a community that embraces tolerance and equality. We stand united with our gay and lesbian citizens in denouncing violence directed at any group.”
Lesbians, banned from giving blood since 1998, are now legally allowed to donate, according to a new national policy which took effect Sunday. While applauding the move, those in the gay community believe there is still room for improvement, as gay men will still find it difficult to donate. The Whole Blood and Component Donor Selection Requirements, released by the Ministry of Health last year, amended the provision which had forbidden homosexuals from giving blood. The previous requirements dated from 1998. It now does not mention homosexual identity, only stating that men who are sexually active with other men are still barred from donating. An anonymous staff member from Beijing Red Cross Blood Center confirmed Monday that the center and the city’s mobile blood centers had received the notice. “According to the new policy, mobile blood centers should have started accepting lesbian donors from Sunday,” she said. The director of Common Language, an NGO dedicated to supporting lesbians and bisexuals, nicknamed Xian, said that she applauded the amendment and is planning to coordinate members of the NGO to donate blood. Xian did not know lesbians were barred from giving blood until after the earthquake in Sichuan Province in 2008, when she was told she could not donate blood. “It’s scientific that the policy doesn’t mention homosexual identity but only fences off some who have certain sex behaviors, because AIDS is not caused by one’s homosexual identity but improper sexual behavior,” said Xian. She added that in the past, although a lesbian was able to donate by concealing her homosexual identity, the new policy is still meaningful for them. “It is also about our dignity and the elimination of blood donation discrimination,” she said. An employee at the mobile blood center in Xidan, Xicheng district, who refused to give her name, said Monday that she has not heard of the amendment, and so far, no one who came to donate had claimed to be a lesbian. “But there is a training course tomorrow from the Beijing Red Cross Blood Center; that’s possibly about the amendment,” she said. Well-known sexologist Li Yinhe said that as China learnt about AIDS and homosexuality at roughly the same time, in the 1980s, “the nation easily believed that being a homosexual equates to AIDS.” “Inadequate understanding of the two things is the main reason why ‘homosexuals’ was listed as a group not allowed to donate blood, as a way to prevent the spread of AIDS,” said Li. The first account of people contracting AIDS came in a report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in June, 1981. It mentioned five men, presumed to be homosexual, had contracted a disease thought to be caused by sexual contact. The first case of AIDS in China occurred in 1985 when an Argentine visitor, also an AIDs patient, died during a trip to the country, according to Li. “Judging from the amendment, the country’s views on homosexuals and AIDS has progressed,” Li said, noting that gay men were still thought of as a high-risk group for AIDS transmission, but lesbians are a low-risk group. Huijin, 27, a lesbian in Beijing, said that she is happy to know about the amendment as it has restored lesbians’ rights to donate blood. “But the amendment is still not complete,” she said, adding that gay men should also have the same rights. “In Western countries, gay men can donate if they haven’t had sex for a period of time,” Huijin said. USA Today reported in December, 2011 that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibits men who have had sex with other men at any time since 1977 from donating blood. In 2010, the FDA reviewed the policy but upheld it, while in the UK, since November, 2011, gay men can donate blood, but only if they have abstained from sex for 12 months, according to a report in the Guardian on June 14.
Trailer: Chely Wright’s Documentary “Wish Me Away”
I can’t wait to see the story of this incredibly brave and talented woman.
Critics in New York City (a tough crowd) have nothing but good reviews (Via The Advocate):
Chely Wright’s documentary filmWish Me Away premiered in New York on Friday and critics are warming to the country star’s harrowing coming out story. The New York Daily News liked the film’s coverage of Wright’s relationship with her family, while The New York Times calls part of the film “heartbreaking.” “By the end you may not be a fan of her music,” writes theTimes’ Jeannette Catsoulis, “but it’s hard not to root for her rebirth.”
Ten women were arrested in Cameroon on suspicion of being lesbians and are facing charges of six months to five years in jail and a fine.
Alice Nkom, founder of the Association for the Defense of Homosexuals, told the Associated Press that police often torture detainees to coax confessions. She said the climate for LGBT people in Africa is getting worse.
“People accused of homosexuality are put in jail straight away,” she said.
Meanwhile, Liberia’s government is considering a bill that would ban marriage equality, and make homosexuality a first-degree felony. The bill was introduced by the country’s former First Lady and current Senator, Jewel Taylor.
Suze Orman Says Sound Finances Fight Income Inequality
The Advocate reports:
Financial guru Suze Orman’s arsenal of free or inexpensive advice has been her own way of sticking it to The Man. And she sounded optimistic about what President Obama might have planned for a second term. Orman told reporters during a Tuesday meeting about her Oprah Winfrey Network series, The Money Class, that her books, television appearances, and tool kits have been her own way of empowering everyone — particularly gay couples and their families — to dodge the oppression of antigay political agendas that result in income inequality “What we can do in a society that really isn’t trying to help us is —you have to take the actions you need to take to protect yourself,” she said. In the time of Proposition 8, the Defense of Marriage Act, and private companies’ own policies deciding whether they grant equal benefits for their LGBT employees, Orman urges individuals to keep robust documents spelling out any financial provisions that they can control, like a revocable living trust, or power of attorney. As the November presidential election nears, Orman said the best way for voters to determine which candidate can help them the most is to ask candidates what they’re willing to do for them. But Orman has already made up her mind about for whom she will pull the lever. “I do think President Obama would be able to do a lot more if he’s elected again than the other candidates because they would be in their first term, and worried about the second. He would be in his second term,” she said. Obama has never said he supports same-sex marriage and has instead said his position on the issue is “evolving.” But that seems to give Orman reason to hope. “As a lesbian woman, what would you expect from me?” she said. “I have a higher expectation to see marriage equality in the next four years with Obama than I do with anyone else.”
USA: Missouri Teen Bailee Webb Fights For LGBT Rights
The Advocate reports:
A lesbian teenager in a Kansas City suburb is leading a fight against discrimination wherever she finds it — for instance, at a shop that refused to print T-shirts for her school’s gay-straight alliance. The Kansas City Star profiles Bailee Webb , 17, president of the GSA at Blue Springs South High School in Blue Springs, Mo. It reports that the GSA members recently agreed on a T-shirt design with the phrase “Why is it that as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?” After the school’s principal approved the design, Webb emailed an order for the shirts to Rod’s Sporting Goods in Blue Springs. The owner, Rod Lindemann, emailed her back the next day, saying that because of his religious beliefs, he could not do the job. “I am a man who walks my faith,” he told the Star. “God calls me to love all, but he doesn’t call me to be comfortable with things that I don’t see as God-pleasing.” Webb found another vendor to produce the T-shirts, and she contacted leaders of other clubs at her school and got them to agree to cease patronizing Lindemann’s store. She emailed him, “I respect your decision, even if I do not agree with it, and I’m sorry that the Blue Springs South GSA and many other clubs here at South cannot and no longer will be doing business with you.” Webb came out to her mother two years ago and has received unconditional support. Now a senior, she is an honor student who has applied to Harvard University and hopes to become a nuclear or aerospace engineer. Read more about her here.
Some studies have found correlations between physiology of people and their sexuality. These studies provide evidence which they claim suggests that:
Gay men report, on an average, slightly longer and thicker penises than non-gay men.
Gay men and straight women have, on average, equally proportioned brain hemispheres. Lesbian women and straight men have, on average, slightly larger right brain hemispheres.
The VIP SCN nucleus of the hypothalamus is larger in men than in women, and larger in gay men than in heterosexual men.
The average size of the INAH-3 in the brains of gay men is approximately the same size as INAH 3 in women, which is significantly smaller, and the cells more densely packed, than in heterosexual men’s brains.
The anterior commissure is larger in women than men and was reported to be larger in gay men than in non-gay men, but a subsequent study found no such difference.
The functioning of the inner ear and the central auditory system in lesbians and bisexual women are more like the functional properties found in men than in non-gay women (the researchers argued this finding was consistent with the prenatal hormonal theory of sexual orientation).
The suprachiasmatic nucleus was found by Swaab and Hopffman to be larger in gay men than in non-gay men, the suprachiasmatic nucleus is also known to be larger in men than in women.
The startle response (eyeblink following a loud sound) is similarly masculinized in lesbians and bisexual women.
Gay and non-gay people’s brains respond differently to two putative sex pheromones (AND, found in male armpit secretions, and EST, found in female urine).
One region of the brain (amygdala) is more active in gay men than non-gay men when exposed to sexually arousing material.
Gay men and lesbians are significantly more likely to be left-handed or ambidextrous than non-gay men and women; Simon LeVay argues that because “[h]and preference is observable before birth… [t]he observation of increased non-right-handness in gay people is therefore consistent with the idea that sexual orientation is influenced by prenatal processes,” perhaps heredity.
A study of 50 gay men found 23% had counterclockwise hair whirl, as opposed to 8% in the general population. This may correlate with left-handedness.
Gay men have increased ridge density in the fingerprints on their left thumbs and pinkies.
Length of limbs and hands of gay men is smaller compared to height than the general population, but only among white men.
Recent studies suggest the presence of subtle differences in the way gay people and non-gay people process certain kinds of information. Researchers have found that:
Ecuador: Lesbian Activist Appointed To Presidential Cabinet
The Advocate reports:
A woman who led the charge to shut down clinics in Ecuador that promised to help “cure” homosexuality has been appointed the head of the South American country’s health ministry. To continue his pro-gay record, President Rafael Correa has announced that Carina Vance Mafla would join his cabinet as health minister. According toBlabbeando, the previous health minister stepped down after it was clear that he was unable to solve the problems of the country’s troubled national health care system. Officials with the LGBT organization Equal Rights Now (Igualdad de Derechos Ya!) commended Mafla’s appointment and said they hoped she would “pay attention to the distribution of HIV medications, create guidelines to prevent discrimination against LGBT individuals at hospitals and health centers and take action on shutting down illegal religious “clinics” that promote ‘cures’ for homosexuality,” Blabbeando reports. A network consisting of nearly 200 illegal so-called reparative therapy clinics was uncovered four years ago. Thirty were shut down by Correa’s government in September 2011 after pressure from activists including Mafla and from Change.org and AllOut.org petitions, directed at former health minister David Chiriboga Allnutt.
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