Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ukraine Gay Activist Reports Being Hospitalized After Being Attacked During Apparent Bias-Assault, Berlin Pride, UK Coalition Of Politicians And Religious Leaders Opposed To Same Sex Marriage Release Pamphlet Arguing Marriage Equality Will Lead To Incest, 24-Year-Old Gay Minnesota Native Creates Website Aimed At Helping In Coming Process Intended To Help Fight Proposed Amendment To Ban Gay Marriage, Equality Ohio Executive Director Resigns Following Arrest, Adele Biography Says First Love Was Bisexual Who Left Her For Gay Friend, Jonathan Groff Wears Zachary Quinto Shirt, Diver Nick McCrory Sports Impressive Bulge

A leading Ukrainian gay rights activist says he was hospitalized after being beaten during an apparent hate attack in the country's capital, Kyiv. Taras Karasiychuk, a top member of Gay Forum, said Saturday he sustained a concussion and a fractured jaw during the attack Thursday by a group of unidentified assailants, who screamed homophobic insults at him. Police said Saturday an investigation is under way, reports The Associated Press. The incident comes a month after another violent attack on a member of the gay community caused an international outcry. Ukraine was rocked by allegations of racism and xenophobia ahead of the start of this month's Euro 2012 football championships. Officials deny the claims, but rights groups say Ukrainians, stung by economic hardship, are taking their frustration out on minority groups.

In Berlin, camp costumes and colourful drag flooded the streets of German city on Saturday as hundreds of thousands took part in the city's annual Christopher Street Day gay pride parade. Marching and dancing to thumping techno music, the crowds made their way from the cosmopolitan Kreuzberg district to the Brandenburg Gate, where DJs and musicians were scheduled to keep the party going until midnight, according to the AFP. The German capital's gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit, kicked off the event. Organisers said 700,000 people had taken part in the parade, which celebrated its 34th anniversary this year. The treatment of homosexuals in Russia was a hot topic at the parade, with some participants bearing giant portraits of President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev retouched in the flamboyant style of gay French artists Pierre and Gilles. Gay pride parades are banned in Moscow and since 2006 have been systematically dispersed when organisers try to start them. Homosexuality was a crime in Russia until 1993 and was classified as a mental illness until 1999. Christopher Street Day parades commemorate the Stonewall uprising of June 28, 1969, when police harassment at a New York gay bar sparked five days of rioting that launched the US gay rights movement.

In the United Kingdom, The Guardian reports that a lobby coalition against same sex marriage, formed by MPs and bishops, is embroiled in controversy after one of its leaflets claimed that the logical argument for reforming the law would be equally applicable to the legalization of incest and polygamy. The eight-page document, produced by the Keep Marriage Special campaign, whose supporters include the former bishop of Rochester, the Right Rev Michael Nazir Ali, warns of the "consequential impact" of the reform. The glossy leaflet, which has a picture of a mixed-race couple in an embrace on the cover, claims: "If the only basis for marriage is the desire of the parties to get married then there is, according to the logic of this proposal, no reason not to open up marriage to more than just same-sex couples. Polygamy, polyandry and incest would all be permissible,” adding, "The immigration service is already swamped with false marriages – this would only add to their problems." At the moment, only men and women are permitted to marry; same sex couples can only form civil partnerships, which became law in 2005. Civil partnerships give same-sex couples the right to the same legal treatment as married couples across a range of matters, but the law does not allow such unions to be referred to as marriages. A Home Office consultation exercise on a change to the law is believed to have received more than 100,000 responses, including one from the Keep Marriage Special campaign, whose vice-presidents include the Democratic Unionist MPs Nigel Dodds and Jeffrey Donaldson and Bishop David Samuel, president of the Protestant Reformation Society. The campaign's president is Viscount Brentford, of the Church Society. The campaign's leaflet boasts: "We include members both of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, as well as bishops, clergy and members of the Church of England and the free churches,” adding, "There is nothing homophobic about stating the biblical position that all sexual activity outside marriage is wrong. Christians must show love to all people and are themselves sinners whose sins have been forgiven. They have a duty to tell the truth about right and wrong and to proclaim the good news that God forgives the sins of all who repent and trust in Jesus Christ." However, Ethan Bourne, from the cross-party equal rights video campaign, Out4Marriage – which is backed by the home secretary, Theresa May, and the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg – described the Keep Marriage Special campaign as "extremist and confused,” and added, "We are not for incest or polygamy, but for allowing marriage between two people of the same sex who love each other. What the Keep Marriage Special campaign is doing is talking about a different issue altogether." Although David Cameron supports the change, a number of Conservative MPs have voiced their opposition to the measures. They include the defence secretary, Philip Hammond, who has said that gay marriage is "not a priority", and the Northern Ireland secretary, Owen Paterson, who has said he will not vote for it. However, Clegg issued a stark warning last week to Conservative MPs and church leaders who oppose gay marriage. The deputy prime minister, who last week became the most senior politician to record a video message for the Out4Marriage group, said: "I've always been very clear on this: love is the same, straight or gay, so the civil institution should be the same too. All couples should be able to make that commitment to one another, regardless of who they love." A running survey of MPs' stated views by the Coalition for Equal Marriage suggests 245 MPs are likely to support legalising gay marriage, with 62 against and 16 neutral. The views of the remaining 327 MPs are not yet known.

A great story out of Minnesota, a Bemidji native has developed a website to help fellow gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people come out. The Pioneer reports that the website, Great Minnesota Outing, was created by Jon Staff and is set to launch today at the Twin Cities Pride Festival. Staff, 24, graduated from Bemidji High School in 2006 and continued his education at Harvard College, earning a degree in government. He now works for AeroDesigns, Inc., a breathable foods company he helped start, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Staff said he started developing Great Minnesota Outing after hearing about the proposed constitutional same sex marriage ban, which will be on the Minnesota ballot this November. “I was living in London when I first learned about the issue,” Staff said. “I had watched it with interest go through California, Iowa and New York, but it was only when it was on the Minnesota ballot that it became real and upsetting.” He started thinking about what he could do to help, but decided just donating money or flying back to Minnesota and volunteering with the campaign to defeat the proposed amendment would be too easy, Staff said. “I felt I could do something more, help make something bigger happen,” Staff said. That’s when he remembered his own coming out experience, he said. “I grew up in Bemidji,” Staff said. “I went away to college and came out. I admitted it to myself and then told my close friends and then all of my friends and then my parents, which is the pinnacle. You never really go back and tell other people you’re gay – the people you only see once a year.” Staff’s mom, Diane, said it felt good when her son came out to her and her husband. “We felt honored that he trusted us enough to share that with us,” Diane Staff said. “It brought us closer as a family.” It didn’t surprise Diane Staff when her son started Great Minnesota Outing, she said. “He’s always been so driven and successful,” Diane Staff said. “He’s such a natural born leader. I’m proud that he’s standing up for what he believes in.” Great Minnesota Outing was born as a way to help institutionalize the coming out process to tell all of those people who normally don’t get told, Jon Staff said. “I thought if you could make it easier to tell all of these people, people would support the defeat of the ban if they knew a gay person,” Jon Staff said. “It makes it possible for everyone like me to tell everyone.” Great Minnesota Outing asks LGBT Minnesotans to record a video of themselves identifying their sexual orientation and explaining why they love their state and why it is important to have the freedom to marry in Minnesota. “That’s part of it, but the other part is distributing the videos,” Staff said. “Not just through the website, but getting the videos out there on social media and telling the people’s stories in their local newspapers.” Staff said voters need to remember the proposed amendment affects people all over the state. “If the gay marriage ban passes, it will limit marriage not just in Minneapolis or Duluth, but also in the most rural parts of the state,” Staff said. Cathy Peck, whose daughter is lesbian and is legally married in Iowa, said it is time for change. “We’ve been through this before when we testified in front of the Minnesota Senate in 2006,” Peck said. “It’s time for the uninformed to learn something about this issue. If it passes, it means our child would never have legal rights in her home state.” Diane Staff said the proposed amendment not only takes away her son’s rights, but affects everyone. “Everybody has the right to be who they are,” Diane Staff said. “If they want to be married, then they should be able to be married.” Great Minnesota Outing’s November 6 goal is to introduce all Minnesotans to one or more people in their community who are LGBT and to help defeat the amendment, Jon Staff said. “I think if you know at least one gay person, it can make you change your mind and support our rights,” Jon Staff said. Peck said it was a challenge for her and her husband Wally when their daughter came out. “But we educated ourselves,” Peck said. “She’s our daughter. As a young girl, I always thought all citizens had equal rights, but clearly not everyone thinks that.” As for coming out to more people via Great Minnesota Outing, Peck said while she thought it was still best to do it face to face, it was one way for the younger generation to do it. “It may open a conversation so things aren’t in the dark,” Peck said. “Because things are always better in daylight, aren’t they?” Outside of the ballot issue, Great Minnesota Outing hopes to initiate social change, Staff said. “Our more overreaching goal is to change how gay people interact with their community,” Staff said. “We want them to take it that step further than just telling their parents. It’s easier to stop discrimination if more people know you’re gay.” While he now works and lives in Massachusetts, Staff said Minnesota, and especially Bemidji, will always be home. “I only identify with Minnesota as home,” Staff said. “To me, (the ban) is personal. I’ll get married some day, and there are a few places I can get married, but I can’t get married at home.”

Ohio’s largest gay-rights group will begin the search for a new leader to succeed Ed Mullen, who resigned after being arrested last Saturday during Columbus Pride festivities. Mullen, hired as executive director of Equality Ohio last year, faces misdemeanor charges of menacing and disorderly conduct. According to police and court reports, he went onto the property of a Buttles Avenue resident and threatened him around 7:20 p.m. last Saturday. The complaint filed in Franklin County Municipal Court said Mullen also began taking pictures of the man’s house, saying, “Smile now, we’ll be back for you.” Reached by e-mail, The Columbus Dispatch reports Mullen declined to comment. He has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges Equality Ohio officials wouldn’t discuss reasons for Mullen’s departure, effective June 29. “Ed’s leaving for personal reasons, and we regretfully accepted his resignation,” said Paul Feeney, a board chairman at Equality Ohio. “We didn’t ask for his resignation. We wish him all the best.” The property owner could not be reached for comment. Mullen, 44, is a civil-rights lawyer. He came to Columbus from the Chicago area last year to lead the 30,000-member organization. He succeeded Sue Doerfer, who resigned in 2010. Feeney said leadership tenure is a problem for many gay-rights advocacy organizations. The San Francisco-based Equality Federation lists 48 member organizations across 40 states, and Feeney said at least 12 executive directors have left their posts in the past year. Advocates cite struggles with fundraising, pay and exhausting social and legal battles. The challenge comes amid other signs of progress, he said. “We’re having great success at the city level and in the urban centers,” Feeney said. “There is momentum in the movement that we’re trying to capitalize on.” Public opinion on issues such as same-sex marriage has been shifting, with some polls showing a majority of Americans in support. For more than a decade, gains had averaged about 1 percent a year, Feeney said. “Now, it’s about 5 percent,” he said. The Equality Ohio boards expect to appoint an interim director soon and begin a national search for an executive director, Feeney said.

A new unauthorized Adele biography suggests that the singer has a history of struggling with alcohol and men, and that Adele’s first love was a bisexual boy who broke her heart when he ran off with one of her gay friends. Adele confirms the relationship, writing on her official website that “My debut album is about being between 18 and 19; about love. Daydreamer is about this boy I was in love with, like proper in love with, he was bi and I couldn’t deal with that. All the things I wanted from my boyfriend, he was never going to be, I get really jealous anyway, so I couldn’t fight with girls and boys.” Adele: The Biography author Marc Shapiro tells In Touch that Adele “loved the drama surrounding boys who treated her badly.”

This hurts: Jonathan Groff wears a tee shirt belonging to boyfriend Zachary Quinto, the two spotted in again strolling through the West Village Saturday.

This makes up for the aforementioned hurt, sort of: At Saturday’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Washington State, divers Nick McCrory and David Boudia celebrate their one/two finish in the men’s 10 metre platform dive, McCrory, who I hear plays for my team, sporting quite the bulge sans swimwear.

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