Here are all the fantastically amazing entries posted during May, 2009
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 individually. This is what becomes of those stories: a Pile o’ Slaps!
A Texan mayor has announced that he’s leaving the States to legally live with his lover, a gay, illegal immigrant. In other news, conservative Texans have been mysteriously exploding.
A progressive church in Québec has embraced the silly “Adam and Steve” play on words, erecting a large anti-homophobia poster with the slogan: “Si Jésus aimait Jean, pourquoi pas Adam et Steve?” Or, if I may flex my translation skills: “If Jesus loved John, why not Adam and Steve?”, referring to a popular French expression about John being “the disciple Jesus loved.” Already, the sign has caused controversy as some residents complain about its proximity to a school bus stop, and one enraged mother declaring “I don’t care what people do in their bedroom but I don’t have a picture of my husband and I naked with a fig leaf in front of our crotch outside my house.” Err… Does that mean she doesn’t use the fig leaf?
Still on the topic of Québec, the province has announced that they will be launching an anti-homophobia campaign by the end of the year. The campaign has been confirmed to be province wide, hopefully referring to Alberta—where it’s needed most.
Speaking of which, the Alberta legislature is very, very close to passing the inappropriate Bill 44, legislation that will require teachers to receive parental permission before mentioning any gay topics in class, and to pull out any students whose parents don’t approve. A good clue that this is a terrible idea: The National Post, Canada’s largest right-wing newspaper, is already referring to it as hillbilly human rights.
Slap reader John writes in with a story about a gay student who successfully ran as his high school’s homecoming queen, complete with tiara rights. Congratulations!
Finally, Canada’s capital city is examining the health of its arts scene and nightlife as more and more gay Ottawans leave for larger neighbouring cities, such as Toronto and Montréal. It’s what city officials are dubbing the “gay brain drain,” but, uh, are they absolutely sure it’s due to the arts scene and not, say, proximity to Stephen Harper?
Well, that’s all for this Pile o’ Slaps! Until next time, have a great weekend kids!
Well, the big news is no doubt yesterday’s decision by the California Supreme Court that Proposition 8, a referendum banning same-sex marriage in the state, is a legally valid constitutional amendment. While I’m disappointed, I’m not sure I can add to what many other commentators have put more eloquently than I could.
All I can say is to keep up the fight. Equality is not inevitable; it must be fought for, and I wish California all the best in overturning Prop 8 in the next referendum!
One of Canada’s largest anti-gay lobby groups is seizing on Alberta’s Bill 44, a proposed amendment to the Human Rights Act that would disallow teachers from mentioning or discussing gay topics in front of students that did not receive parental permission.
The bill is ominously vague—a point which has piqued the interests of Brian Rushfelt, head of Canada Family Action Coalition. “It’s up to the parent to make [the legislation] as broad or narrow as they want,” he said, adding that neither “the schools nor the government should be the ones to put parameters on it and say it’s only sexuality classes or only evolution classes or only religion classes.”
Anti-gay lobby groups have been actively opposing measures to prevent the bullying of gay students for years, but now may have a new tool beyond the mere lobbying of school boards to get what they want. Parents, according to Rushfeldt, should file human rights complaints against teachers who promote tolerance of gay students so that the boundaries of the new law can be broadened. Broadened, of course, in a means befitting only to those crazy enough to devote time to this nonsense.
This proposed abuse should be enough evidence for even supporters to reconsider the bill, but the real flaw lies within its intended uses. The effect of this legislation is to always postpone discussion of gay rights, student reports on gay historical figures and role models, anti-bullying campaigns, and sexual education information until all parents can be consulted. But parents who want their children to be able to actively examine different sides of issues as they arise, who wish for spontaneous discussion to be encouraged, whose lives—if they are gay—will now be treated as a topic so dangerous that all discussion of it must be halted until every student’s family gives their blessing to proceed, and who would have to see their child’s fellow classmates ushered out into the hallway when their family is up for discussion, would have no say in any of these matters if Bill 44 passes.
Although, come of think of it, this bill may have its uses, too. Why, I actually heard of a teacher once explaining that her name was changed to “Mrs. so-and-so” because she had just married her husband. Can you imagine? Flaunting her heterosexuality and the myriad bedroom implications it entails to the whole class! And don’t even get me started on lessons that contradict the teachings of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
- Parents must get say in all teaching, group says [Calgary Herald]
Natalie Jones, a sixth grade student in San Diego, has been disallowed from reading her history report on Harvey Milk, the United State’s first openly gay and tragically slain politician, until her fellow classmates receive permission from their parents to hear it.
Theresa Grace, the principal of the girl’s elementary school, said that a school board policy forbids the teaching of any topics that include discussions of sexual orientation without first receiving parental permission.
Sound both absurd and familiar? It should! Ted Morton, a Conservative MLA in Alberta, has thrice tried to introduce a bill that would implement the same policy province-wide. And now Lindsay Blackett, a Conservative cabinet minister, has introduced a similar bill that would require teachers to pull students out of class unless they have permission to hear reports like Natalie’s.
I guess I can see where they’re coming from, though. I was involuntarily and irreversibly transformed into a homosexual after hearing too much of a classmate’s report on the Enola Gay.
- Sixth Grader Denied Right to Freely Present Report on Harvey Milk [Digital Journal]
- ACLU says school censored student’s Milk report [Yahoo News]
NDP MP Bill Siksay, one of Canada’s first openly gay MPs, is once again introducing a private member’s bill to add transsexual and transgendered people to the list of minorities protected from hate crimes.
This is the third time the bill has been tabled, and Mr. Siksay has high hopes that it will actually be debated this time. The bill had been killed twice before it had an opportunity to be debated due to the dissolution and prorogation of parliament in previous sessions.
Persistence is key! Here’s hoping it gets some attention this time around.
Hey, kids! Today is Victoria Day in Canada, so I’m taking the long weekend to reflect personally on how Queen Victoria, as well as all queens in general, has affected my life. Regular updates will resume Wednesday.
Same-sex blessings have been the epicentre of a bizarrely deep rift in the Anglican Church. Now the divisive issue has culminated in.. well, in pretty much the same way as all ridiculous issues: A court case.
Yes, the Anglicans are suing each other, as four parishes in British Columbia (St. John’s Shaughnessy, St. Matthew’s, St. Matthias and St. Luke’s, and the Church of the Good Shepherd) are scheduled to meet the Diocese of New Westminster in court next week over the ownership of four Anglican church buildings.
The Diocese locked out the parishes from their churches last year over disagreements about same-sex blessings, the appointment of a gay bishop, and other absurdly small differences in doctrine.
While both sides lament that it has come to this, they had failed to reach an agreement through a mutually selected, third-party mediator: Jesus.
- Vancouver Anglicans go to court [Canadian Christianity]
Skate Canada, the governing body for figure skating in Canada, is trying to re-imagine the sport in an attempt to increase spectatorship for Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympics. Their approach: Get rid of the gay. (Or, to put it in their words, inject some “masculinity” to draw in the “hockey crowd.”)
Elvis Stojko, the Canadian gold medal figure skating champion, is feeling rather smug about the suggestion, communicating a firm “I told you so” to Skate Canada:
Skate Canada is saying “we want to make men’s figure skating more macho, we want to make it more masculine.” And I’m like, “I told you guys that, like 15 years ago, and you guys hammered me for it.” And now they’re paying for it.
If you’re very lyrical and you’re really feminine and soft, well, that’s not men’s skating. That is not men’s skating, OK? Men’s skating is power, strength, masculinity, focus, clarity of movement, interpretation of music.
So, basically, femininity is bad. Men behaving artistically? Pfft! Leave that to the women. For men, it’s gotta be more like hockey! Where’s the tripping? The fights? The shattered teeth shards sliding across drops of frozen blood?
Oh! They should totally add some explosions. Kaboom! And maybe have everyone come out in teams and blast paintball cannons at each other. The first to triple salchow over their injured, bloodied competitor wins—then BAM! Medicine ball to the back of the neck!
Skate Canada can practically taste the ratings now…
And all they had to do is give everyone who’s secure and respectful enough to appreciate the beauty and art of figure skating—regardless of the athlete’s gender—a massive slap in the face.
- Figure Skating Gets Macho Makeover [ABC News]
- Elvis Stojko: If you’re very lyrical and you’re really feminine… [Toronto SUN]
GayWhistler, in partnership with the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Hotel, has announced that Pride House, a safe space for gay athletes, is being set up for gay athletes at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. While it’s not unusual for communities to get their own clubhouse at the Olympics, Pride House is the first official attempt to reach out to gay people in Olympic history.
The world of sports is one of the last places in western culture where homophobia remains the norm. Gay althletes are under enormous pressure to hide their lives and loved ones from fellow athletes and the media. In this sense, I think Pride House is a wonderful opportunity to reach out and make gay altheletes feel safer. A lot better than the Shame House from the 1988 Olympics, at least.
- Gay athletes get ‘safe space’ at Olympics [Montreal Gazette]
A lesbian couple will apply for a marriage license in Moscow next week in what will certainly be Russia’s first denied same-sex marriage.
While Russia does not allow same-sex marriages in the country, there is no law explicitly forbidding the recognition of foreign same-sex marriages. For this reason, the lesbian couple will make their lifelong commitment in either Canada or Norway before requesting to have it recognised in their home country.
The plan is unlikely to succeed. Homophobia in Russia is astonishingly widespread. Just this week, Moscow banned a gay rights parade that was planned during the Eurovision Song Contest. A spokesperson for the mayor said that “Moscow has never had gay parades and it never will,” adding “Not only do [gay rights parades] destroy morals within our society, but they consciously provoke disorder which threatens the lives of Muscovites and visitors.”
Funny the city should mention threats to life. Moscow did, indeed, have a gay rights march—their first, though unsanctioned—in 2006. The peaceful march, in which participants planned to walk to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with a symbolic wreath, was met with extreme, bloody violence from anti-gay protesters. While police were present, they did little to prevent or diminish the violence against the marchers, instead siding with the anti-gay crowd.
Considering this extreme atmosphere, this lesbian couple is very brave indeed—far braver than I. Equal rights are only inevitable when courageous people take the first steps, despite threats and hostility. I wish them the very best!
The Greek courts have annulled the country’s only two same-sex marriages after hysterical opposition from the government and religious organisations.
Two Greek couples married early last summer after discovering that there was no limitation of gender in the country’s marriage laws. Almost immediately, the government sought to render the marriages invalid, filing a lawsuit with the support of the Orthodox Church of Greece.
An unnamed, high-ranking Bishop was especially dismissive of the marriages, announcing that the marriages had to be annulled because the couples involved were merely “humanoid couples.” That, I gather, is opposed to the traditional, non-humanoid couple: One squid, one pterodactyl.
- Greek court annuls same-sex marriages following furious backlash [Canadian Press]
- Same-sex marriages annulled as illegal in Greece [Guardian.co.uk]
Gay seniors have had to endure more homophobia than younger generations can imagine, yet those brave enough to finally come out are still often treated with abuse and disdain by peers and retirement home workers.
In recognition of this, the Québec government has taken the applaudable step to fund a $500,000 education campaign about gay seniors and the discrimination they face. The education program is so badly needed that the cabinet ministers responsible for it couldn’t find a retirement home willing to host the program’s press announcement, opting instead to use a community centre in Montréal’s gay village.
This is a wonderful idea, and one in which all provinces should follow suit. The first step, I think, shall be to popularize a new hit television program, Queer as Folk: The Golden Years.
- Quebec hopes to help gay seniors [CTV News]
Alberta is amending its Human Rights Act with a provision that will force school teachers to exclude any student whose parents object to the acknowledgement of sexual orientation in classroom discussions. Failure to pull a student from such a discussion—even ones that arise from student questions—could result in a human rights complaint.
This new provision is similar to Bill 208, a failed private member’s bill headed by Ted Morton, which would have forced teachers to issue warning slips to parents before discussing same-sex marriage in class.
What a novel idea, though! Barring students from hearing or discussing any information that parents disagree with. As if the Debate Club wasn’t uninteresting enough.