Here are all the fantastically amazing entries posted during January, 2009

In The Meantime…

January 30th, 2009

Jazz hands!

Well, there was only so much I could prepare in advance while I’m out travelling this week, so in the meantime…

Dr. Flamingo Jones And The Wholly Inaccurate Film

January 28th, 2009

THIS... IS... A REALLY GAY MOVIE

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. Normally I, Dr. Flamingo Jones, intrepid explorer and researcher extraordinaire, use this space to answer one of the numerous intriguing questions that I have come across in my work as the Department Head of Queer Archaeology at the University of Oxbridgeshire. This time, however, I am going to doll out one of these “metaphorical slaps” for which this electronic compendium is so highly acclaimed for. In particular, a Slap shall be delivered to Mr. Frank Miller, Zack Snyder, Gerard Butler and everyone else who worked with the script of the film 300.

300 recounts the Battle of Thermopylae, where a small army of 300 Spartans and 4000 other Greek allies attempted to defend their homeland against the Persian army (estimated between 200,000 and 2.5 million soldiers) during the 480BC invasion of the independent Greek city-states.

Most anyone who has seen the film generally agrees on one point: It is extraordinarily gay. 300’s somewhat pronounced homo-eroticism, depicting muscular, manly warriors wearing the classical era’s male equivalent of bikinis, made it an enjoyable viewing experience for me and every other gay man (closeted or otherwise). However, there was one remark made in the movie that just boiled my blood, and probably that of every other gay historian. Specifically, King Leonidas of the Spartans announces that it would be cowardly to surrender because the Athenians have decided to fight, and they are a nation of “philosophers and boy-lovers.”

Now, perhaps we could ignore that many of western civilization’s roots come from Athenian “philosophers and boy-lovers” such as Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates.  Perhaps we could also ignore that these “philosophers and boy-lovers” succeeded where the Spartans failed by proving their military superiority in that same war, as their navy of approximately 300 ships defeated the massive Persian fleet of 800 ships during the Battle of Salamis. We may even ignore Hollywood’s recurring anti-gay themes. There is, however, an unignorable inaccuracy with King Leonidas’ comment. Bluntly, the Spartans were some of the biggest queers in history.

The Spartans were gay—and fabulously so—to the extent that they were one of the few ancient societies that actually had institutions of mandatory homosexuality embedded within their culture. All Spartan males were taken from their families as children, to be trained as warriors though endless tests of self-reliance and endurance that Plato himself described as harsh and violent. Then at the age of 20, they joined military organizations called syssitia (those sissies), in which they lived their entire lives surrounded by men in which all were equal regardless of birth, wealth, or age. Homosexuality would have been the only option for the men, as they were not allowed to have wives, or even to leave their syssitia on their own.

An interesting aspect of Spartan homosexuality involved the traditions surrounding their weddings: They were finally allowed to take wives once they turned 30. The ceremony were like a reverse drag show, with the bride starting off the ceremony wearing a man’s clothing, changing into a woman’s clothing, signifying the husband’s transition from having sex with men to sex with his wife.

Makes you think of the Spartans in a whole new light doesn’t it? Perhaps they should name a condom line after them too.

Update: Slap reader Murray writes in with Frank Miller’s official stance on this issue:

The issue […] was discussed in the letters page of the original 300 comic mini-series. Frank Miller’s position was that the Spartans only had sex with men who were their equals in age and status—in the Spartan army, it was believed that full intimacy with the man standing next to you in the phalanx would increase your will to fight and protect him. Therefore he had Leonidas deride the Athenians for being ‘boy-lovers’ rather than men-who-have-sex-with-men.

Thanks, Murray. I think Dr. Jones will be relieved to hear this, though I can’t imagine why this wasn’t mentioned in the series itself…

Blog Dredging: Gays Join Millitary For Sex

January 26th, 2009

Blog Dredgin'

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

Writing for his online column at the North Star Writers Group, Gregory D. Lee, an army recruitment officer, posts an article entitled “Why Do Homosexuals Want to Serve in the Military? For Sex, Of Course.”

This should be a good one!

[…] you need to understand that homosexuals predominantly want to serve in the military in order to have access to people their own age with whom to engage in sex. It’s just that simple. It’s all about sex, and not about serving the nation.

Totally. Why should all those randy, randy gays bother with Internet hookups and the whole bar scene when they can ship off to Iraq and get some hot action in between the unspeakable horrors of war?

It is not unheard of to have a lesbian officer coerce a lower enlisted woman into engaging in lesbian sexual activity. “I’m an officer and you’re a private, who are they going to believe if you tell them I forced you to have sex with me?” Or two male soldiers go out on the town. One has too much to drink, and when they return to the barracks, he passes out in his buddy’s room. When he wakes up, his “buddy” is performing fellatio on him. 

Gee, we gays are sex-obsessed. I never realised. Just for fun, though, let’s try an exercise:

It is unheard of to have a straight, male officer coerce a lower enlisted woman in sexual activity. “I’m an officer and you’re a private, who are they going to believe if you tell them I forced you to have sex with me?” Or a male and female soldier goes out on the town. One has too much to drink…

That was fun!

Having openly gay men and women in close living quarters with heterosexuals would make straight soldiers uncomfortable, to say the least. The morale of units would decline almost immediately, and re-enlistments would most certainly suffer. 

Look, that’s not fair; we gays have apologised several times for being ceaseless joy vaccuums, sucking the morale from all forms of life. It’s awful, I admit, but we can’t help it. Just the other day, I went to have a lovely brunch and three patrons collapsed of malaise; the rest swore never to visit a cafe again. It’s unfortunate, but let’s move on, OK?

This is another example why liberals should never be in charge of national security.

Let’s not tell Gregory who the new guy in charge is just yet, m’kay?

Have a great monday, soldiers!

Polygamous Sect Uses Gay Marriage In Defense

January 23rd, 2009

Gee, what happened to all those people defending religious freedom?

The leaders of a religious, polygamous sect in Bountiful, British Columbia will use same-sex marriage as a court defense in a trial that could see them jailed for having up to 20 wives. Winston Blackmore and James Oler will claim that since gay couples can wed legally, polygamy laws should be struck down as invalid.

Anti-gay groups are already somersaulting on the “I told you so” trampoline, blaming the gays for this whole situation. (I think they’ve also got a “dog marriage” cartwheel mat, “incestuous marriage” trapeze ropes, and other acrobatic devices for each claim in their Hall of Ridiculous Arguments™.)

A pet peeve of mine involves the idea that legalizing same-sex marriage somehow  changed the definition of marriage and therefore makes gays responsible for this whole polygamous marriage discussion. Scoff.

The rights and legalities of marriage have remained identical after same-sex marriage. I’m betting the story with polygamy would be a tad different, as virtually every law involving cohabitation would likely have to change. Joint tax returns, pension transfer, guardian rights, maternity/paternity rights, GST rebates, family allowance, employment insurance… I’m no lawyer, but it would be a massive, exhaustive update. Same-sex couples have demanded nothing of the sort, and polygamous sects have been pushing for all this long before same-sex marriage was ever up for discussion.

Still, ignoring the fact that the polygamy lawsuit is just an ostensible charge for larger allegations of abuse, lack of consent, and sexual relations with minors, the main difference between this situation and the one that brought about same-sex marriage is simple. People do not choose their sexual orientation, but they can absolutely choose their crazy religious sect.

Wait—I thought of another! “Paedophilic marriage” uneven bars.

Quick Question For My Stateside Friends

January 21st, 2009

Like, really?

But, regardless, congratulations on your brand new president, Barack Obama!

Google Stands Up For Equal Marriage

January 19th, 2009

Well, do ya? Punk?

Google, the California-based search giant that I’ve just totally wasted my first sentence even bothering to describe, is continuing to follow through with its support of same-sex marriage. The company announced on Thursday that they had officially signed an amicus brief in support of court challenges aiming to strike down the ill-conceived Proposition 8:

Denying employees basic rights isn’t right, and it isn’t good for businesses. We are committed to preserving fundamental rights for every one of the people who work hard to make Google a success.

In protest, anti-gay lobby groups will now use a methodical guessing procedure to find websites—at least until their own search portal, www.search-engine.jesus, goes live.

Gay Magazine Found In Store Display Draws Complaint

January 16th, 2009

Where you can go to look like a Koodo ad

A Vancouver woman has complained to the press after discovering a gay magazine while rummaging through a display at American Apparel.

BUTT, a Netherlands-based magazine, was partially sticking out of a backpack in one of the store’s displays when Trina Campbell decided to remove it and leaf through its contents:

I slammed the magazine closed and looked at my daughter in horror. She looked at me and said “What?” I said, “Did you see that?” She said “No.”

I actually started crying.

The magazine, which is available for sale at all American Apparel stores,  is not actually pornography; however, it does contain R-rated images, so the store requires proper ID to be shown in order to buy a copy from behind the counter.

Funny. Judging from American Apparel’s all-Lycra stock, I was under the impression that they couldn’t sell anything to minors. My mistake.

Anyway, I don’t think it’s particularly appropriate to have R-rated material stuffed in a display backpack, but then it’s not particularly appropriate to rummage through store displays either. Since the magazine wasn’t very accessible (all sale copies are stored behind the counter), I have a feeling that the complaint has more to do with the fact that a sexually-suggestive magazine was available at American Apparel in the first place. You know, the store where the outfits you buy and the credit card you use to buy them weigh about the same.

The HRC Is Busy Enough

January 14th, 2009

Terminology's a bitch sometimes

A human rights complaint has been filed against the Capital district health authority for insensitive comments made toward a gay patient and his husband.

The complainant says that a cardiovascular unit nurse repeatedly referred to his husband as a “friend,” despite multiple corrections, and another in the neurological unit said that the patient shouldn’t mind joining a room with three female patients because he’s a gay male.

While I’ll agree the comments are insensitive, from what I understand about the complaint, the Human Rights Commission likely won’t hear this case—and rightfully so.

Insensitive comments are always unfortunate, especially when combined with an exasperating hospital stay, but if a human rights settlement were awarded for every gay partner called a “friend” or “roommate” instead of “boyfriend” or “husband,” each city’s gay village would be situated atop a scenic hill with swans.

The Human Rights Commission has an important role in assuring equal employment, housing, and services for gay people, and the criminal code protects against genuine hate speech, but this situation falls under neither umbrella. Since the HRC has traditionally been an important ally in protecting the rights of gay people across Canada, anti-gay groups have been pushing to limit its powers. Frivolous filings, even if they aren’t ultimately heard by the HRC, can only lend support to that movement.

So, in this situation, me and my “roommate” suggest a phone call with the health authority and an open letter in the paper. It can do more than you’d think.

“Safe Space” Programs Mean Just That

January 12th, 2009

This is also a commentary on the absurdity of buying ice in the winter.

Before the holidays, I linked to an excellent blog post by Montréal Simon about St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, and how anti-gay lobbyists had launched a campaign to tear down the rainbow Pride flag that is hung there.

Displaying the rainbow flag or a small rainbow flag sticker is something that many businesses and campuses across Canada choose to do—and many people probably can’t imagine the relief that this gesture can bring to a gay person.

Having the rainbow flag sticker affixed to a storefront window or an office door signifies to gay people that we can let our guard down and know that we will be treated fairly. To me, it means I won’t have a repeat of my experience at a walk-in clinic where, after answering questions about my sexual health and disclosing my orientation in the process, I was treated with a noticeable disrespect, ordered to have STD tests, and was put on antibiotics without any telltale symptoms—all for an upper leg / groin pain that ultimately turned out to be caused by a cheap, folding office chair.

On campuses across Canada, the rainbow sticker is known as the “positive space” or “safe space” program, and the University of Victoria is just the latest institution to consider it. It’s an accurate title for an important program—and it’s one that’s under relentless attack by anti-gay groups and lobbyists.

In 2004, employees at the Royal Bank of Canada launched an employee-driven, non-mandatory, safe space program. It meant that if I needed to go into the bank as a couple for a loan, mortgage, joint account, or other service—I could seek out agents displaying the rainbow sticker and know that I’d be treated with the same respect as any other customer. Almost immediately, The Canadian Family Action Coalition launched a boycott against the Royal Bank, instructing members to close their RBC accounts and send angry letters and phone calls to the company. The bank panicked and caved, and all RBC employees were forbidden to display the rainbow sticker.

The pettiness, disingenuity, and hostility toward safe space programs and rainbow flags has been a sore spot for me for quite some time. Anti-gay groups call these programs an endorsement of the homosexual lifestyle—whatever that is—and have the audacity to claim that it’s a discriminatory practise: That employees who don’t wish to display the sticker would be treated with disrespect (a notion I reject). Yet these groups encourage hostility toward anyone who chooses to display it.

So, if you run a business, or work with customers in an office—consider a simple gesture to signify that you will treat everyone respectfully. Put a rainbow sticker somewhere visible. And if anyone objects, clarify that they are welcome too; that it’s just a safe space.

Senegalese Gays Get Government-Funded Housing

January 9th, 2009

Long-term leases only.

Senegal is drawing international condemnation by human rights organisations for jailing nine gay men this week. Each of the men were sentenced to eight years in prison for “indecent conduct and unnatural acts,” Senegal’s legalese for, basically, being gay.

Homosexuality is illegal in Senegal, with a maximum prison sentence of five years. However, these men were given an additional three  years on top of the maximum for belonging to a “criminal organisation.” The organisation, AIDES Senegal, provides free condoms and information about HIV prevention.

Senegal recently played host to an important international AIDS conference which featured several prominent gay rights activists and AIDS workers. I guess Senegal cares about human rights—when the world is watching.

Soup Ad Draws “Pro-Family” Ire

January 7th, 2009

No soup for nobody!

The anti-gay lobby group American Family Association is steaming—boiling in rich, silky broth—after Campbell’s Soup placed an ad for Swanson’s brand stock in The Advocate, a gay magazine.

The ad, which shows two real-life, lesbian café owners in New York serving soup to their son, prompted the AFA to launch a hysterical campaign against Campbell’s. From the lobby group’s press release:

Campbell Soup Company has openly begun helping homosexual activists push their agenda. Not only did the ads cost Campbell’s a chunk of money, but they also sent a message that homosexual parents constitute a family and are worthy of support. They also gave their approval to the entire homosexual agenda.

The AFA goes on to urge their base to harass Campbell’s with letters, phone calls, and emails, demanding the company stop “pushing the gay agenda” and to “remain neutral in the culture war.”

Culture war. That’s a phrase I hear from these guys a lot. I’m not sure anything of the sort exists in reality, but even if it did, wouldn’t showing family types from all walks of life, including real-life gay parents, be precisely a neutral stance? I mean, neutral means either showing all types of families, or no types—including heterosexual ones. Deliberately banning portrayals of specific famliy types due to some frothy lobby group’s boycott would be a decidedly non-neutral action, if you ask me. 

But that’s not how the AFA thinks, I guess. To them, simply showing a photo of gay parents serving soup amounts to “pushing the homosexual agenda.”

So the next time you need to entertain some AFA members,  I suggest serving a nice, hot bowl of Cambell’s soup. And after a lovely lunch, don’t feel ashamed to brag about your generous donation to the food bank this year.

Yet Another Gay Refugee To Be Deported

January 5th, 2009

They like to make it extra formal

Yep; I’ve lost count.

Samuel Kyambadde, a gay, African refugee claimant, has been denied a home in Canada and will be deported back to Uganda where homosexuality is illegal.

Samuel is one of many delegates who came to Canada for the International AIDS Conference in 2006 and then applied for refugee status. Unlike most claimants, however, Samuel based his claim on the fact that he is gay and therefore faces persecution if he returns to Africa. The Immigration and Refugee Board rejected the plea because they said Samuel “lacked credibility.”

Gay claimants are particularly unlucky in obtaining refugee status in Canada. Possibly due to scattered fake gay claims, Canadian officials appear to require substantial evidence of the claimants’ sexual orientation—a trait that must be carefully hidden in many claimants’ home country to avoid persecution. It’s a no-win situation, and something that Immigration Minister Diane Finley has been happy to avoid addressing.

If you’d like to write Diane Finley, she may be reached at Finley.D@parl.gc.ca. You won’t get so much as a form reply from her office, but perhaps if she gets enough emails, she’ll actually create one with which she can dismiss all our pleas in the future.

Update: Slap reader Matthew writes in to say that, apparently, Diane Finley hasn’t been our immigration minister since October, and it is now Jason Kenney. How embarrassing! These things change too frequently; if only there were a way to completely freeze parliament and make sure nothing changes in Canadian politics… Oh wait.

Study: Family Reaction Key To Gay Health

January 2nd, 2009

Parents Gone Wild

Gay youth are at a greater risk of suicide, depression, and self-destructive behaviours if their family reacts negatively when they come out of the closet, a new study has revealed.

Researchers at San Francisco State University found that even marginally supportive behaviour from parents toward their gay children reduced cases of drug abuse threefold,  severe depression sixfold, and suicide attempts eightfold.

Caitlin Ryan, the lead researcher of the study, said that while the results are intuitive, many parents still respond in very harmful ways.  Parents may have severe, negative reactions to learning about their child’s sexual orientation—such as forcing teens out of their homes, or forbidding them from associating with gay friends—in the hopes that an expression of extreme disapproval will somehow turn their kids straight. Ryan suggested that, while most parents have the very best intentions, greater education is required, and doctors should help spread that message.

Sten Vermund, a pediatrician at Vanderbilt University, agreed, saying that while many parents may have difficulty offering the support their gay children need, it’s important to try:

Someone can still be uncomfortable with their child’s sexual orientation, but if they are somewhat more accepting and do the best the can, they will do the youth a lot of good. That, to me, is an important message.

A great message, indeed, and an excellent lesson with which to start off the new year. Hope you all had a fantastic holiday, kids!