Here are all the fantastically amazing entries posted during August, 2008

Blog Dredging: Gay Marriage Worse Than Tsunamis

August 29th, 2008

Let’s forgo the mainstream news sources for today. It’s time for some blog dredgin’!

Writing from his free account at Mississauga Blogs, Surjit Singh, reporter for Ontario’s Hamdard Weekly Punjabi community newspaper, argues against same-sex marriage by comparing it to the horror and mayhem of tsunamis:

Scary, Horrifying, Terrifying, Fearsome are the descriptive words used to describe the disaster “TSUNAMI “. The earth full of dead bodies and wrecked houses, buildings is called “Tsunami “. People living on the side walks, under the trees, at the school corners, is called “TSUNAMI “. Also called God’s anger! But I think same sex marriage is not less then Tsunami disaster.

Hey, I think we’ve found a second nomination for this year’s Enjoyable Hyperbole Award! And, if I must say so, I think this nominee will sweep up the competition like a tsunami. Singh seems outright convinced that same-sex marriage will cause nothing short of the end of civilization. Oh my!

[...] there will be no more new generation , no more love and romance between men and women  and no more kids, isn’t  that more scary , horrifying then Tsunami?

Ah, the classic “everyone will turn gay, not bother to reproduce, and mankind will go extinct” argument. Some would say that line of reasoning has holes the size of tsunamis, but I won’t bother pointing them out; I’m much too delighted for having discovered an additional argument against same-sex marriage that I’ve never heard before:

[A]nd think about that there will be more abuses and assaults, violences, fights, more people killed every day  because every gay man will try to find in every single man as a homosexual , and a lesbian woman will be looking in every woman as a bisexual.

How could I have missed this connection? Everyone, please, ban equal marriage rights; it’s the only way to stop violent homophobia!

And, of course…

Dr. Flamingo Jones And The Search For The Two Adams

August 27th, 2008

I’m exceptionally pleased to present today’s Guest Slap. The author, Dr. Flamingo Jones, is a world-renowned archaeologist and researcher at the University of Oxbridgeshire. While I know little about his reclusive past and current whereabouts, he has kindly agreed to share with us, occasionally, his knowledge, discoveries, and insights.

Good day to you, ladies, gentlemen, and those who do not wish to confine yourselves to such limiting terminology. Today, I, Dr. Flamingo Jones, will be answering a question I received from one of my many fans about homosexuality in ancient times.

For those few of you out there who are unfamiliar with my work, I am an intrepid explorer, researcher extraordinaire, head of the Department of Queer Archaeology at the University of Oxbridgeshire, and part of the team of researchers that made international headlines when we discovered the world’s longest, 16th century gay club inside the Great Wall of China.

As my work deals with queer archaeology, I am often asked about how far back into antiquity evidence of homosexuality can be found. Of course, as long as there have been human beings, there have been Adams who find themselves oriented toward another Adam over an Eve (as has been demonstrated in classical legends of kings, gods and heroes in many ancient works, such as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey); however, finding actual archaeological proof of it is a much more difficult matter.

The oldest known evidence of homosexuality would have to go to the ancient Egyptians—specifically to two men whose remains were found in Ahmed Moussa’s 1968 excavation of the necropolis at Saqqara, Egypt.

Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum were two male manicurists serving Pharaoh Niuserre around the time of the fifth dynasty, which was about 2400BC. They were buried in the same tomb, much in the same manner as a wealthy husband and wife would have been. At first, theories were proposed that the two were brothers, even twins, or maybe just good friends. In fact, the tomb has become known as the Tomb of the Brothers. Modern interpretation by more open-minded archaeologists, however, has allowed for a more sensible consensus to be reached: that Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum were a same-sex couple, wealthy enough and favoured by the Pharaoh, to have their own elaborate tomb built for them.

Covering the walls of the tomb are various pieces of artwork depicting the couple together—one image depicting them embracing, with their noses touching. Some of the hieroglyphs of the names Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum form a play on words, and can be translated as “joined in life and joined in death.”

I visited the tomb of Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum seven years ago, hoping to find even more conclusive evidence of their sexual orientation. I scoured the tomb looking for hidden chambers or artifacts overlooked by previous researchers; however, I came up empty-handed as I realized that feather boas are probably too fragile to be well-preserved even in the dry Egyptian climate, and Madonna’s first album would have still been another four and a half millennia in the making.

I’d love to explain more about those queer Egyptians, but now I’ve got to go off to some ancient ruins to fight some mummies, avoid some very complicated traps, recover some lost treasure, fight aliens, Russians & Nazis, and then rescue a handsome single prince while I’m at it. You know, just an average day in the life of your typical archaeologist.

Vancouver Bar Evaculated After Anti-Gay Bomb Threat

August 25th, 2008

The Pumpjack Pub, a Vancouver gay bar, was evacuated after a caller left several homophobic messages, including a threat to blow up the bar at 6pm, last Wednesday.

Vince Marino, a co-owner of the bar, said that they received nearly 8-10 calls from a male caller, and whenever no one answered, he would leave a homophobic message. After one message included a specific bomb threat, the police were called and the bar was evacuated. The messages, which Marino described as involving “derogatory comments toward the gay community,” were also turned over to the police.

There’ll be no additional snarky comments on this story, kids. Death threats are serious and have no place in a civil society.

Hallmark Introduces Gay Wedding Cards

August 22nd, 2008

Hallmark, the internationally beloved greeting card company, is introducing a handful of cards suitable for presentation at gay weddings this year. While the company made a special point of mentioning the new products were due to demand and not to make any sort of political statement, the cards are surprisingly neutral. The card cover features, at the buyer’s option: A pair of tuxedos, roses, or hearts with a simple offering of best wishes on the inside. The word “marriage” isn’t to be found anywhere.

Hallmark spokesperson Sarah Gronberg Kolell was pleased with the new cards, saying the market is ready for gay-themed products after California’s recent legalisation of same-sex marriage. In explanation of the card’s kid gloves approach, however, she added: “It’s our goal to be as relevant as possible to as many people as we can.”

Aw, how inclusive. Though, to fit in with this goal better, I’m told the next batch of cards will feature androgynous cartoon couples accompanied by the text “Best wishes for a generic celebration with family and friends, either religious or non-denominational, in recognition of your unification for life, or perhaps until a regional government amends their constitution to nullify said union.”

Sniff… Does anyone have a tissue?

Exorcist Says Gays At Risk Of Demonic Possession

August 20th, 2008

A 73 year old Catholic exorcist, Father Jeremy Davies, has warned that gays are at serious risk of demonic possession, if they aren’t already controlled by Satan.

In a book entitled Exorcism: Understanding Exorcism in Scripture and Practice, Davies, who believes that there has been an “explosion in homosexuality” in recent years, said that most of today’s gays are the result of “a contagious demonic factor.” However, he does also warn that “even heterosexual promiscuity” can be a pathway to having your body used as a puppet for demons and I guess make furniture fly around the room.

What an excellent day for an exorcism… Hiss!

Tony Clement Embarasses AIDS Delegates

August 18th, 2008

Canadian AIDS delegates at the International AIDS Conference in Mexico were embarrassed by Health Minister Tony Clement, according to reports at Xtra.

Richard Elliott, director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, expressed his concern and disappointment, calling Clement’s performance “an embarrassment for Canada”:

It’s become very clear that we have a health minister, and presumably a government behind him, who are denialists. It’s similar to the condemnation the South African government received for denying that HIV causes AIDS.

Though I’m not exactly sure what Mr. Clement did, I can at least confirm that no lampshade hats or naughty xerox pranks were involved. Still, while the rest of the world is making the fight against AIDS a higher priority, Canada has been lagging. Stephen Harper was a no-show when Canada held the conference in 2006.

AIDS workers and researchers have been disappointed with Canada’s role in the fight against AIDS worldwide, blaming the government for a lack of funding and action.

Hat tip to Matt at Queer Liberal for the story.

Indian Health Minister Talks Gay Decriminalisation

August 15th, 2008

Anbumani Ramadoss, India’s Union Health Minister, has garnered praise from the Indian gay community after publically advocating the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the country.

Homosexuality is illegal in India, falling under the infamous Section 337 of the Indian Penal Code, which has been reproduced in several other British colonies. Speaking as part of an official address at this year’s International Conference on AIDS in Mexico City, Ramadoss said that Section 377 “must go.”

Indian gay rights activists, such as Aditya Bandhopadhyay, praised the health minister for his statement, hoping that cabinet members will eventually heed the message:

In spite of section 377, homosexuals have continued to live, love and have sex in India, so it is really immaterial to the IPC act. It has only stigmatised and made homosexuals more vulnerable, thereby increasing their risks of contracting HIV, which ultimately is a public health concern.

The health minister’s condemnation of Section 377 comes only weeks after it was striken from Panama’s lawbooks. Several other countries still enforce it.

Businesses Battle Over Ottawa’s Gay Village

August 13th, 2008

Plans to turn six blocks of Ottawa’s Bank Street into a gay village have been put on hold after contradicting surveys put a chill on the proposal. Two surveys commissioned by the Bank Street Promenade Business Improvement Area failed to conclusively state whether or not area businesses would be open to branding the street as a gay neighbourhood. The first survey suggested that 75% of business owners in the area opposed the idea, while the second suggested that 73% were in favour.

Other cities, such as Toronto, Vancouver, and Montréal have thriving gay villages which draw tourists and have revitalized what would otherwise be rundown neighbourhoods. However, these areas generally formed organically on their own without surveys and committees drafting up plans for a tourism boost.

Still, I’m not sure I buy all the opponents’ excuses. A spokesperson for the Bank Street Promenade said that some businesses were concerned that branding the neighbourhood would pigeon-hole them, saying “they feel they needed a policy that would not convey any special status or treatment or benefit of one group over another.”

You know, because all the Chinatowns, Latin Quarters, and Little Italy’s worldwide are totally about favouritism, right?

Religiously Busy Independent Singapore Lawyers

August 11th, 2008

In my web travels, I often collect stories that I intend to share, but then become distracted by newer, shinier stories—or feel too lazy to illustrate them. This is what becomes of those stories: a Pile o’ Slaps!

While the Anglicans are battling each other over whether or not to bless gay couples and clergy, the Lutheran Church is facing censure over doing just that. Ooh—Burn! That’ll learn ‘em for interpreting ancient texts relative to cultural understandings!

Tom Lukiwski, the Tory MP who said he would “spend the rest of my life making amends” to the gay community after using homophobic slurs, refused an invitation to join in his riding’s gay Pride celebrations. His rationale: He’s too busy. Interesting, ’cause I’m too busy to believe him.

A television station in Singapore has been fined for showing a gay couple decorating their nursery in a home renovation show. Singapore law forbids images and stories of gay people in the media, lest the country catch a bad case of the gay. Wait a sec… Since this site is accessible worldwide, that makes it illegal. And you, the readers, are now participants in a seamy, criminal underworld. Oh yeah, this site just screams “badass.”

Craig Chandler, the former Alberta Tory nominee who was booted from the party over homophobic remarks and human rights violations, lost his bid as an independent in a landslide victory for his opponent. Funny—he said that he was winning after some in-house polling. Does that mean we can no longer trust the claims of politicians

Finally, over 1500 same-sex couples who were awarded Canada Pension Plan benefits in a class action lawsuit can expect to actually receive their pension after a court decided that the case lawyers were not entitled to $15 million dollars in fees they were planning to take from the award. Imagine that; all those poor lawyers ever wanted to do was charge exorbitant amounts to the public purse for simple justice and equality.

Well, have a great Monday!

Dr. Flamingo Jones And The Lost Kingdom Of The Coral Sea Islands

August 8th, 2008

I’m exceptionally pleased to present today’s Guest Slap. The author, Dr. Flamingo Jones, is a world-renowned archaeologist and researcher at the University of Oxbridgeshire. While I know little about his reclusive past and current whereabouts, he has kindly agreed to share with us, occasionally, his knowledge, discoveries, and insights.

Good day to you, ladies, gentlemen, and those who do not wish to confine yourselves to such limiting terminology. It is with great pleasure that, today, in my guest post, I will be presenting to you my discovery of a lost civilization!

First, let me introduce myself for those of you unfamiliar to my work. I, Dr. Flamingo Jones, intrepid explorer and researcher extraordinaire, am the head of the Department of Queer Archaeology at the University of Oxbridgeshire. You may have heard of me from my groundbreaking paper on the discovery of a cache of phalli that had been chiseled off the nude male statues in the Vatican by order of the pope back in the 14th or 15th century.

To get right to the point, I recently stumbled across scarce but conclusive evidence of a civilization composed exclusively of homosexuals! Although homosexuality has been existent in one form or another in every human society, this nation, known as the Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands is the first one discovered in which all members were exclusively homosexual.

This unique realm was not found through usual methods such as carbon dating wooden tools, metallurgical inspection of coinage, or genetic analysis of indigenous peoples. No, this unique civilization was found through… their Myspace page.

You see, the Gay & Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands (GLK) was established in modern times (on June 14, 2004, to be precise) as a protest by a group of gay activists who were upset with the Australian parliament’s 2004 revision of the Marriage Act to officially ban same-sex marriages. A pioneer by the name of Dale Parker Anderson and a group of followers sailed out (their ship was named The Gayflower) to the chain of uninhabited islands off the coast of Australia and annexed the area for themselves, proclaiming Emperor Dale I as their ruler. Their main exports are fishing, tourism, and postage stamps. They don’t seem to have gotten around to actually building settlements on the islands yet, but Rome wasn’t built in a day… or 4 years.

The population of the GLK has to be commended on taking every possible legal action defend their sovereignty. Here are just a few of the bases they have covered:

  • There is an archaic British (and hence Australian) law of Unjust Enrichment, which states that if something is unjustly taken away, compensation must be made. As their right to marry was taken away, the GLK argue that the land they have ceded is their just compensation.
  • A Kingdom, not a Republic, was chosen because the GLK website claims that Australia has another archaic law stating “A defacto Prince trying to claim his crown and his supporters can not be charged with treason.”
  • The GLK declared a state of war against Australia for a period of about one week in 2004. There were no hostilities, but since the Australian government was notified through all the proper diplomatic channels and didn’t defend their claim to the islands, the GLK states that Australia effectively lost any rights to that territory.
  • Emperor Dale I has genetics on his side to help him bolster his royal legitimacy. First, he claims to be of royal blood, as he is a descendant of England’s King Edward II (who was also gay, but did produce heirs). Secondly, Dale I’s great grandfather was one of the sailors loyal to Captain William Bligh of the HMAV Bounty (the story of the Mutiny on the Bounty). When Bligh and his loyal men were left for dead by the mutineers, guess where they were abandoned? Why, the Coral Reef Islands, of course. As a descendant of British (and Australian) royalty, and a descendant of the first and only humans to ever settle on the islands, I’d say he actually has a credible case.

Emperor Dale I seems to have started a trend, as there are actually several other self-proclaimed gay nations out there as well, such as the Gay Homeland Foundation established in 2005 in Cologne, Germany, and two American groups: The Unified Gay Tribe, and the Gay and Lesbian Commonwealth Kingdom.

While none of the above countries is actually recognized by the United Nations, The Gay & Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands has a Wikipedia entry, which makes it legitimate. In fact, I think it’s time for an expedition there! Wish me luck, loyal fans, as I brave the fury of the dingoes! I’ll bring you back some t-shirts or stamps or fish.

Anglicans Halt Gay Blessings

August 6th, 2008

Worldwide Anglican bishops have ended their once-a-decade conference with a “wide agreement” on implementing a moratorium on gay blessings. In a statement, Anglican Leader Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said that non-acceptance of the moratorium would put the entire church in “grave peril.”

(As an off-topic interjection, nominees for this year’s Enjoyable Hyperbole Awards will be announced shortly. Stay tuned!)

The issue of same-sex blessings has deeply divided the Anglican community, which genuinely appears on the brink of separation. Progressive churches say that the bible has never condemned or forbid loving, monogamous, same-sex unions, and the overwhelming message of love instructs them to bless all parishioners without judgement. Conservative factions disagree, particularly within the international Anglican community.

The rift has been controversial, to understate the matter. Over 200 bishops have boycotted the conference, and one gay bishop was barred from attending. Both sides did appear to agree to lay off the rhetoric, though. In a joint statement, the bishops announced that “we need to repent of statements and actions that have further damaged the dignity of homosexual persons.” The church then imploded from the contradiction.

Montréal’s Fractured Pride

August 4th, 2008

Yesterday marked the end of Divers/Cité, Montréal’s annual gay and lesbian Pride festival. Or, at least that’s how I used to describe it. This year, the event organisers designated the event as a “a pluridisciplinary arts festival.” Pride, the traditional symbol of cultural celebration and a protest of those who would make gay people feel ashamed, was a theme curiously absent.

In fact, there was one traditionally beloved event that was missing entirely: the annual Pride parade. It’s still coming, mind you. Sunday August 17th, for those that are interested. But, for the second year in a row it’s not being organised by Divers/Cité. Worse, rumour has it that Divers/Cité has actively thwarted the parade from taking place during the rest of the festivities and has taken no part in clarifying what happened to it.

This bizarre situation started last year when Divers/Cité cancelled the parade outright, citing an internal survey that showed the annual gay rights march negatively affected beer sales. A group called Célébrations de la Fierté quickly formed to save the parade, and after last year’s success have now extended it into a four-day celebration, complete with outdoor shows and sponsored parties. In other words, they’ve basically created a second Divers/Cité, two weeks after the first one.

This has many people understandably confused. During the real Divers/Cité, I’ve been asked about the parade both on the street and via email. One New Yorker even wrote me to say his vacation plans were ruined by the change:

I come all the way from lower New York each year, and have already scheduled my vacation around [the parade] only to find it is now in August.  I will not now spend a dime or attend any event this year.

And is it any surprise? Since neither organisation wishes to acknowledge the other, both locals and travellers are scratching their heads as to what exactly is going on.

If you ask me, attendees don’t understand or care about the internal politics of the planning committees. These organisations really ought to take a cue from the gay community in general and unite themselves to celebrate what makes them special. Even if they want to remain seperate entities for organisational reasons, the time split only serves to showcase a bitter fracture.

Quel embarras.

Judge Calls Gay Refugee A Faker

August 1st, 2008

A refugee claimant in Winnipeg is set to be deported to his native Nigeria after failing to prove that he’s gay. The anonymous refugee said that, as a gay man, life for him was not safe in his home country. Indeed, homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria, and violators can face lengthy prison terms.

Judge Yves de Montigny, however, rejected the refugee’s claims, saying that since the man couldn’t describe the function of EGALE—Canada’s largest gay rights organisation—and confused the names of two Winnipeg gay bars, he mustn’t be gay at all. This new legal definition of “gay” now puts most of Canada’s gay men in danger of deportation.

The 38 year old man says he will apply to stay in the country on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, though if past cases are any indication, he won’t have much luck. Canada’s record on gay immigrants is atrocious, and doesn’t appear to be improving.