Saturday, November 10, 2007

Gay News Update

First, here’s a story that managed to slip under the radar, relatively speaking. Cambodia’s Prime Minister has disowned his daughter for being gay.

Cambodia's prime minister said Tuesday he was severing ties with his adopted daughter, who is a lesbian, but appealed to people not to discriminate against gay people.

"My adopted daughter now has a wife. I'm quite disappointed," Hun Sen said.

Sen disowned his daughter, the only one of his six children who is not his biological offspring because of her homosexuality. He has filed a civil suit to stop her from claiming any part of his inheritance and she has been completely removed from his life. However, Sen, in the speech in which her announced that his daughter was no longer a member of his people, also appealed to Cambodians and other parents of gays specifically not to discriminate against homosexuals.

Priceless. That’s quite the example to set. Please don’t discriminate against your gay children, but I’m just going sever ties emotionally and financially with my gay child.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands has promised to pressure developing countries to legalize homosexuality, as in half of the 36 countries it gives regular aid to homosexuality is illegal with punishments ranging from prison sentences to death.

A government survey showed homosexuality is illegal in 18 out of the 36 countries the Netherlands gives regular aid to, Development Minister Bert Koenders said in a statement, with punishment ranging from prison sentences to the death penalty.

"The Netherlands will promote as much equal treatment of homosexuals as possible. We will not avoid awkward discussions about this," he said in a letter to parliament.

Koenders has asked Dutch ambassadors in developing countries to push for gay rights unless local human rights organizations object on grounds it would be counter-productive.

Meanwhile, a fuss is developing in North Carolina, where Senate candidate Jim Neal, who was expected to run unopposed for the Democratic candidacy has suddenly found himself with two candidates running against him, less than two weeks after he revealed he’s gay.

As the Raleigh-Durham Independent Weekly reports:

However, the way the Democratic Party establishment has dissed the 51-year-old Chapel Hill investment banker's candidacy since he announced his intentions to run four weeks ago has made him into a cause for many progressives and gay-rights activists.

Spaulding points specifically to the national Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and its chair, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who for unknown reasons wouldn't return Neal's phone calls.

"The cause," Neal said, "is that I'm not Washington's choice. I'm not Chuck Schumer's choice."

Neal, in the past a top fundraiser for Democrats like John Kerry, had expected to support Congressman Brad Miller of Raleigh for the seat now held by Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole. But when Miller bowed out of the race in July, and no other Democrat stepped forward, Neal decided he would. Within a few days of Neal's announcement, two other prospects courted by Schumer, state Sen. Kay Hagan of Greensboro and state Rep. Grier Martin of Raleigh, declined the race as well, seemingly leaving it to Neal.

But then, answering a question, Neal revealed that, "yes, indeed," he is gay. Two weeks later, Hagan said she'd changed her mind and would run for Dole's seat. Many top Democrats had urged her to reconsider, Hagan said, including ex-Gov. Jim Hunt, who was working closely with Schumer.

Hagan is not the only one who has come out of the woodwork to challenge Neal. Now, I’m not opposed to a primary in the Senate race. In fact, it’s a good thing for democracy and it’s also beneficial to force the candidates to debate the issues with each other and hopefully, the best candidate to unseat Elizabeth Dole, who is a weak Senator and is vulnerable, will emerge.

The fact there will be a primary isn’t the problem. The fact that after Neal, who was running unopposed, revealed his homosexuality he was apparently blackballed by Schumer and found himself with competitors is a problem. Neal is a new candidate, never having run for elected office before, but he has an impressive resume, as he’s an articulate investment banker with a long-standing commitment to the Democratic Party and has been a top fundraiser for them before. He has been out of the closet for nearly two decades and has an ex-wife and two children, 22 and 20.

The fact Hagan suddenly “reevaluated” her priorities within two weeks of Neal confirming to voters that yes, he was gay as some of them may have heard, seems suspicious. Dole’s seat is one that is winnable for the party and it’s very possible that concerns over whether a gay man could win in North Carolina factored into the DSCC putting pressure on Hagan, a previously-elected official, to run against Neal. That’s the way it seems to me, as something doesn’t smell right in North Carolina. If the DSCC, Schumer and any other party officials pressured Hagan and other candidates to run against Neal solely because he is gay, shame on them. You can’t be the party that favours gay rights and courts the gay vote if you put up roadblocks in front of gays trying to run for office.

Also, a recent study by sociologist Eric Anderson has been creating some interesting headlines, such as this one, “UK Researcher: One Third of US High School Football Players Have Had Sex With Men.”

It’s nowhere near that simplistic, but the findings are still interesting. Anderson interviewed 47 high school football players who went on to be college cheerleaders after failing to make their university football teams. Nineteen admitted to having same-sex contact, that ranged from kissing to oral sex to sexual intercourse and included instances of male-male-women threesomes and male-male sex.

Dr. Anderson claimed that his study shows a declining stigma surrounding homosexuality, leading to greater honesty from the men he polled.

Wrote Anderson in the study, which is titled Being Masculine Is Not About Whom You Sleep With: Heterosexual Athletes Contesting Masculinity and the One-Time Rule of Homosexuality, "The evidence supports my assertion that homophobia is on the rapid decline among male team sport athletes in North America at all levels of play."

Anderson, who now teaches at the University of Bath, is notably for being the first openly gay high school athletics coach in the United States. He argues that men no longer fear that they will lose their heterosexual identity if they engaged in sexual encounters with men once or on a few occasions. He basically argues the one-drop rule no longer applies. In many people’s mind, if a male has sex with a man once then he’s gay. One same-sex encounter could mark you as a closeted fag for years, even if you had a stable heterosexual relationship. However, Anderson argues sporadic same-sex encounters are beginning to be seen the same way many cultures view prison sex, in that it “doesn’t count” in one’s societally-constructed sexual identity.

This standard of behaviour applied far less stringently to women, who could flirt with other women, kiss them and even engage in female-female sex without losing their heterosexual identity. If you were 25 and met a female who said she fooled around with a few girls at college you’d likely dismiss it as college experimentation. If you met a man who had fooled around with men you’d be a lot more prone to thinking he’s a messed-up closet case (and to be fair there are probably quite a few men who are messed-up closet cases).

While I don’t think the same standard applies yet to both sexes, I do agree with Anderson in that we are likely seeing some shift in behaviour that has made same-sex encounters more acceptable for men. It is still taboo in many crowds and I don’t doubt that within every group there are still likely to be a number of guys who would recoil if somebody admitted a same-sex incident. But there are likely a number who would not automatically mark the person as a guy and that’s progress.

Lastly, some great gay humour from The Onion.


At November 10, 2008 at 10:50 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great work.


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