Sexy Sex, Newsy News—Week of February 22-28, 2014

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It’s Pretty Much an All Homosexual,* All the Time Week!

In a “best of times, worst of times” sort of way. Let’s start with something cheerful.

Most cheery to me were incursions of sanity in two red states, starting with Chapel of Love, deep in the heart of Texas! Yep, the  wave of sensibleness that has overtaken multiple state attorneys general crested up on the shores of the Alamo. While the weddings may not have started quite yet, it looks like the wedding planners can now get busy. Or maybe they can just do a nice mass wedding at South by Southwest! That’s practically as cool as being married at the Grammys. If I ever get married in Austin, which I’m pretty sure I won’t, I’ll do it under the bridge at dusk, so that when I say “I do” (or whatever I’d say under the circumstances), a huge flight of bats would take to the sky right on cue. See how festive things will be with marriage equality? Such lovely parties. No one will ever complain about going to weddings.

The other big deal, of course, is Jan Brewer’s Arizona, home of a really impressive all-purpose xenophobia. And they may be small-government folks there, but they know when to deploy the power of the state: to kick people out and refuse them service, that’s when! That’s what gummint is for!

But this week, the attempt failed to empower good Christians (ooops, I mean “good” “Christians”) to keep their covenant by refusing to take wedding pics at fabulous same-sex wedding parties, baking same-sex wedding cakes, and denying any other form of public service potentially provided by a “good” “Christian.” Discussion of this proposed law kept centering on the notion that people needed to be able to act according to “sincere beliefs,” regardless of whether those beliefs are, you know, actually “good” or “Christian” or, in fact, based on any sort of correct information. The trouble is—and I’m not sure Governor Jan Brewer had thought this all the way through when she wielded her veto pen—the average observer, even with legal training, may not be able to differentiate “sincere beliefs” from homophobia and hate.

Regardless of whether Brewer had this parsed, the notion that the Super Bowl might not come to Arizona seems to have given her pause. It’s not every day that rampant capitalism and positive sexual inclusion go hand in hand, but maybe that’s what happened this week in the fine state of Arizona. Incidentally, Arizona is far from an all-red place. Shout-outs to my friends in Tucson, who were likely completely and utterly horripilated about the nonsense that’s been going on in their state.

Thanks to Huffington Post and ABC News, among other media outlets, for Arizona reporting, and to the Houston Chronicle for the scoop in Texas.

Speaking of Attorneys General…

The recent groundswell of state AGs who won’t go to bat for their states against marriage equality is notable in and of itself—but just as interesting is the fact the the Big Kahuna AG, Eric Holder, has weighed in on this trend—favorably. As the New York Times noted this week, Holder considers marriage equality a civil rights issue; pro-equality voices keep reminding us of the parallels between same-same marriage and the laws against miscegenation that would have kept marriage partners of different races from tying the knot in the US scant decades ago, and Holder clearly finds this parallel. (Wikipedia tell me the word miscegenation today is “avoided by many scholars” because “the term suggests a concrete biological phenomenon, rather than a categorization imposed on certain relationships.” Fair enough! But I use it mindfully because back in the day when these marriage laws were on the books, it was the common term. By the way, grasshopper, that last of these laws was removed from the books in the US in 1967. And I can remember 1967, so it wasn’t all that long ago.

(Oh and–if you ask me, Wiki, a better reason to avoid using the term is that it implies that people who get married will “mix” and have kids, and I’d just like to remind everybody that not all marriages are entered into to engage in procreation. Just sayin’. Though maybe the phrase “a concrete biological phenomenon” is an oh-so-delicate way of saying just that.)

And from a Blue State…

Just in case you are still mad because LGBTQI groups are not welcome at Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade (what, you didn’t know this was a thing? Yes, it’s been a thing for decades)… you might want to watch the prices on plane tix to Beantown, because Mayor Martin Walsh is not very happy to be presiding over a city that goes nuts over St. Paddy’s while excluding gay folk. Yup, he is standing with his town’s LGBTI population and refusing to march unless this ban is overturned, or at least nudged a bit (if it happens incrementally, it will be a gay veteran’s organization that joins the parade first. Apparently the parade bills itself as partly honoring vets, so… ooops, homophobes. So few places to hide these days, huh?).

Thanks to the Boston Globe for that!

Keeping Up with Past Stories:

The Good News Stops When You Cross the Border into Uganda

We note that any US homophobes who are blinking uncomfortably in the bright light of scrutiny and change may be thinking of booking tickets to Uganda this week. That country’s president Yoweri Museveni , citing extremely crappy science that he has been assured proves that homosexuals could change if they only wanted to, signed the bill making LGBTQ people non grata. That was bad—offenders, a.k.a. run-of-the-mill gay people, can be sent to prison for life—but then there was a special Insult to Injury moment when Red Pepper, a Ugandan tabloid newspaper, outed a bunch of Uganda’s LGBTQ population. In the US, being outed may be rude and in other ways problematic; in Uganda, it could well be a license to be killed, and amounts to an extra-horrific other shoe dropping.

Aid to Uganda has already been cut by the Netherlands and certain other EU countries, and Obama has warned that the US may follow suit. John Kerry spoke up quickly to compare the situation to Nazi-era Germany and South African apartheid.

Africa’s Mail & Guardian ran a moving—harrowing, in fact—op-ed/message from “a transgender woman in Kampala” on behalf of all queer Ugandans pleading for global support; cutting aid is one thing, but that will just piss other Ugandans off, she says, and what they really need is a supportive asylum policy from other countries and help getting their queer folk out. “Save Us From this Sexuality Genocide,” the article begins.

Ironically, President Musveni keeps saying that the international outcry is due to a colonialist mentality from the West, trying to interfere with Uganda. The anti-gay laws and public policy in Commonwealth countries worldwide, as we’ve said here before, is the real colonial interference—the Western mindset of 150 years ago imposed upon countries who may have had little to no anti-gay sentiments before England (or other colonial powers) arrived. Mr. Musveni may be president of Uganda, but he is no historian.

CNN, Miami Herald, and the Mail & Guardian at mg.co.za, among many other outlets, have kept us apprised of these horrific events.

*BTW, I do know that marriage equality is not just a homosexual (or gay, or gay and lesbian) thing. I’m bisexual, remember—or at least I am in a world in which there are only two genders (which is not true of this world, but still). I use this term here partly to contextualize what’s going on in Uganda and other homophobia zones in light of the history of LGBTQI**/homosexual labeling and oppression.

**Hey, why isn’t there an H in LGBTQI? Oh, because heterosexual starts with H too, I guess. Well, as is so often the case, maybe the H is silent anyway.

Finally…

I hope all readers of every sexual orientation know how relevant the questions of marriage equality and homophobia are to their own lives. “First they came for the gays…”—remember? And if you don’t remember, please just go google that phrase right now. I guarantee you they remember it this week in Uganda.

But I’ll close out with a couple of things that are not associated with sexual orientation, just in case you haven’t felt personally close to the column this week.

First—I read with great astonishment that some docs apparently think Lyme disease (usually a deer tick thing, you know) might be sexually transmitted. Not between us and deer! I totally do not even mean that, and I don’t think the deer are even remotely interested in this. No, between humans! People, just be careful out there. Apparently spirochetes of every kind may have us in their crosshairs. Thanks, National Geographic, for keeping us apprised.

And I’m sure you have been dying to know how they make those foxy figure-skater dresses that look like a teeny bit of bling (plus a flippy skirt), strategically glued onto those goddesses-on-blades we watched with such appreciation in Sochi. Well, now it can be told! And we have Slate to thank for it—they are all over everything, those guys. Nude mesh: it’s one of the things that makes life worth living, especially during the not-quite-as-fraught-as-expected Winter Olympics.

And Livescience tells us that the world’s thinnest condom has been made in China. The Aoni measures “0.0014 inches (0.036 millimeters) thick,” and is currently available only in Asia. It may get here eventually, so you won’t have to bathe with your socks on much longer. (JOKE! If you want condoms to feel better, put a couple of drops of lubricant in the tip before you put one on yourelf or others. It works!) By the way, condoms are getting thinner in part because of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation money in action. Thanks, PC users!

 

Dr. Carol Queen

Carol Queen has a PhD in sexology; she calls herself a "cultural sexologist" because her earlier academic degree is in sociology: while she addresses individual issues and couple's sexual concerns, her overarching interest is in cultural issues (gender, shame, access to education, etc.). Queen has worked at Good Vibrations, the woman-founded sexuality company based in San Francisco that turned 35 years old in 2012, since 1990. Her current position is Staff Sexologist and Good Vibrations Historian; her roles include representing the company to the press and the public; overseeing educational programming for staff and others; and scripting/hosting a line of sex education videos, the Pleasure-Ed series, for GV’s sister company Good Releasing. She also curates the company's Antique Vibrator Museum. She is also the founding director of the Center for Sex & Culture, a non-profit sex ed and arts center San Francisco, and is a frequent lecturer at colleges, universities, and community-based organizations. Her dozen books include a Lambda Literary Award winner, PoMoSexuals, and Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture, which are used as texts in some college classes. She blogs at the Good Vibes Magazine and at SFGate's City Brights bloggers page and contributes to the Boston Dig. For more about her at carolqueen.com.

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