Here are all the fantastically amazing entries posted during November, 2010
I’m very happy 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.
Salutations ladies, gentlemen, and those who do not wish to confine yourselves to such limiting terminology. Today, I, Dr. Flamingo Jones, will discuss a controversy surrounding a famous historical leader that has been hotly debated amongst many of my colleagues in the field of Queer Archaeology.
Julius Cæsar, one of the ancient world’s most powerful figures, is best known for expanding the power of Rome and consolidating that power for himself by transitioning Rome from a republic to a dictatorship. In fact, the word “Cæsar” carried on after his assassination to become a synonym for “emperor.”
There is also evidence suggesting that he may have been gay.
In 80BC, when Julius Cæsar was just 20 years old, he was assigned as the ambassador to Nicomedes IV, the king of the nearby land of Bithynia (near modern Istanbul). He was sent to convince Nicomedes to use the resources of Bithynia to build a fleet for Rome—a brief task—but spent such a long time there that rumors began to surface that Cæsar may have been interested in more than just Nicomedes’ ships.
There are many pieces of evidence that Cæsar had been involved in a sexual relationship with Nicomedes. Bithynians referred to Cæsar as “the queen’s rival,” and “the inner partner of the royal couch.” One day, while Cæsar was lecturing the Roman senate on the country’s obligations to Nicomedes, Cicero Marcus Tullius interrupted: “No more of that, pray, for it is well known what he gave you, and what you gave him in turn.” Later in his career when Julius Cæsar was responsible for subduing Gaul (modern-day France), Cæsar’s own soldiers chanted a victory song that poked fun at him, including lines like “Cæsar may have conquered the Gauls, but Nicomedes conquered Cæsar.”
When Nicomedes died in 74BC, he actually bequeathed his entire kingdom of Bithynia to Rome. All of this resulted in Julius Cæsar being nicknamed as “The Queen of Bithynia,” but it wasn’t the only time Cæsar was accused of homosexuality. There is a weaker suggestion in a couple of poems by Callus, one of Cæsar’s political rivals, in which he claims that Julius Cæsar had a homosexual relationship with Mammus, an equestrian who benefitted from great wealth and patronage from Cæsar.
I must point out that in ancient Rome, Julius Cæsar made many enemies, and one popular form of character assassination was to create rumors that described someone as living an old-fashioned, Helenistic lifestyle full of luxury and homosexuality—that is, those naughty, naughty Greeks. So, it is still unclear as to whether these rumors were based on Julius Cæsar’s real relationships, or just false political attacks. But the large amount of evidence in the case of Cæsar and Nicomedes certainly implies that this emperor may have been a little bit of a queen too.
The United Nations has voted to remove sexual orientation from a resolution against immoral executions. Sexual orientation had been on the list for the past ten years, alongside religion, ethnicity, and language as unacceptable reasons to execute civilians.
The motion, which was introduced by Morocco and Mali, was supported by 79 countries, opposed by 70, and there were 17 to abstain.
Looking over the list, I found very few surprises, with the exception of South Africa, which voted in favour of removing gays from execution protections despite having legalized same-sex marriage in 2006 via parliamentary vote. I’m not under the impression that South Africa has solved all of its homophobia problems, but their vote is a pretty bizarre contradiction and certainly a large step backwards.
At any rate, if you need a good reason why human rights issues should never be put to a vote, this seems like a pretty compelling demonstration. The deletion sends a baffling message to the world, easily interpretable as a sort of OK to executing gays simply for having a different sexual orientation.
Good thing the UN doesn’t have any real power. Still, I guess this means I should cancel my vacation to Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brunei Dar-Salam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. (And I was so looking forward to it, too.)
(Special thanks to Slap reader Alex for the story!)
- The United Nations of homophobia [National Post]
- UN deletes gay reference from anti-execution measures [Pink News]
Last week, CBC employees released their own contribution to the It Gets Better Project, encouraging bullied gay teens to stick through the tough years and reap the rewards that life offers afterwards. Like most contributions to the project, it’s heartwarming and very badly needed.
Not everyone seems to appreciate the sentiment, though. Sticking up for the bullies by being one himself, television commentator Michael Coren blasted the video, suggesting that gay teens aren’t more at risk for bullying than anyone else. Coren then picked on specific personalities in the video, calling Rick Mercer—a comedian whose lighthearted look at the news helped inspire this site—“pathetic” for sharing his story about a third-grade crush.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Why is David Letterman bald and talking like Ann Coulter?
Not sure how to explain it myself, but it looks like this guy is just another commentator that relies on controversy to sustain a career. When Coren says stuff like gay Christians are “an oxymoron,” it makes for sensational copy, and some people get a kick out of seeing someone get away with saying their discriminatory leanings out loud. Let’s call it a CYST career: Eking a living out of the “Can You Say That?” reaction.
Coren likes having his CYST, and that’s alright. I like mocking his CYST. Though if it gets out of hand, he might want to get it checked.
We’re getting heard, kids! The Quebec section of the federal New Democratic Party officially slapped into action over the weekend, unanimously adopting a position to revoke the charitable status of gay “curing” organisations in Canada.
Matt McLauchlin, president of the NDP’s LGBTT Commission, put it wonderfully in their press release. “It’s unacceptable,” McLauchlin said, “for the government of Canada to offer any support to a group whose aim is the elimination of homosexuality and bisexuality.”
“This [charitable] status must be immediately withdrawn and the Canada Revenue Agency must be vigilant to ensure that ex-gay groups never again receive such advantages,” he continued.
The Slap Into Action campaign started here in September, and since then letters have been sent to the CRA, politicians, and media personalities—and signatories include all kinds of people including medical professionals in the fields of medicine, psychology, psychiatry, and of course concerned people like you!
Keep sending your letters, let your MP know, let the CRA know, and keep spreading the word!
Charles McVety, the president of Canada Family Action Coalition, Canada’s largest anti-gay lobby group, has ramped up his opposition to Bill C-389. The bill, if passed, will prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity, giving transgendered men and women equal rights in housing, employment, and public services.
This, of course, has thrown McVety into utter fits, conjuring some pretty bizarre ideas. “As adults,” he told the media, “we can handle these things, but my daughter turned 13 on Saturday, and I don’t want some guy showering beside her at the local swimming pool.”
McVety continued, saying that the bill would allow people like convicted killer Russell Willams, who was photographed wearing women’s lingerie, to enter gender-restricted spaces.
Well, I hate to alarm McVety, but convicted killers can already enter locker rooms in public pools. Karla Homolka could be in his daughter’s locker room right now. Heck, there could be murderers in the men’s locker room too. Who knows who’s waiting to jump out from behind the shower curtains? No one is safe from the these maniac killers—no one! What was that sound?! AAAAAH!
Bill Siksay, the Bill’s sponsor, put it eloquently: “I think this is Mr. McVety being his alarmist best, once again, when it comes to an issue of human rights, equal rights, for minorities in Canada.” Clarifying the obvious, Siksay continued: “There is nothing in this bill that will change our understanding of appropriate behaviour in public washrooms or in gendered spaces.”
Indeed, transgendered people can largely already use the gendered spaces with which they identify, and it hasn’t even entered my mind that they’d somehow be any more likely to be voyeurs or act inappropriately than anyone else. Bill C-389 is simply about ending discrimination, particularly with regards to employment and other standard rights. And as it enters its third and final reading, things are looking promising, regardless of whatever paranoia McVety is content on spreading.
- Evangelical leader accuses Tories of helping push NDP bill on gender [Globe and Mail]
Monumental news! Jesus Christ—a tremendously influential historical figure, human incarnation of the Christian deity, and inspiration for the yearly increments of both the Julian and Gregorian Calendar—has communicated from beyond the earthly realm! For the first time since his bodily ascension into the sky nearly 2000 years ago, Jesus has spoken with humans in a way that leaves actual, physical proof.
His topic: Homosexuality.
It’s an interesting choice. Having refrained from mentioning anything about it, even once, during his time in the New Testament, Jesus has decided to finally clarify his position on gays via a letter sent to the owner of the After Stonewall bookshop in Ottawa, Ontario. “Those who continue to sin in homosexuality and their sympathizers,” Jesus writes, “will be going to the Pit for Eternity.”
“I cannot make this any plainer,” he continues, “homosexuality is a sin.”
Well, it’s a bit of a shift in character for a guy who was always speaking out against judgement, instead teaching love and acceptance. The owner of the bookshop has even expressed doubt that the letter was even written by Jesus in the first place. Nonetheless, we should alert the pope just in case. I’ll send a text. Anyone have his number?
- Gay bookstore gets letter from Jesus [Capital Xtra]
Let’s start the week off with a story about zoo animals. Cuddly ones. Like vultures!
The Allwetter Zoo in Muenster, Germany found itself caring for a pair of gay vultures this year. The two male scavengers, both 14 years old, spent the last several months building a nest together. As adorable as that sounds, the zoo, which is in need of some new baby vultures, isn’t too keen about the whole deal.
Dirk Wewers, the zoo curator, says the pair will be split up and one of them will be mated with a female from a Czech zoo.
Explaining the decision further, a zoo spokeswoman said she wasn’t even happy with the gay couple’s vulture nest. “The other vultures kept stealing the material they used for the nest,” she said.
Well, I’m not an expert on vulture culture, but it sounds to me like the gay vultures were building such a fabulous nest that the straight ones had to steal all their materials! Poor guys.
Oh well, although they’ll be apart, here’s hoping the two have a fantastic life full of circling carcases and feasting on disgusting, rotting carrion!
- Same-sex vulture couple to be split up by German zoo [The Province]
Gene Robinson, the world’s first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion, has announced that he will be leaving his post after seven years in service.
The Episcopal Church elected Robinson the Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, making history in the process. During his term, Robinson served the church splendidly, elevating religion to a higher standard of the love and respect it’s meant to teach.
It hasn’t been easy, though. Members of the Anglican church have been sharply divided on having gay clergy members. When Robinson was consecrated, he wore a bulletproof vest. He has received numerous death threats, requires extra security, and became a symbolic focus point of an increasingly noncivil campaign from conservatives within the church. With a split of the Anglican church nearly inevitable, the job became too much to bear.
“The last seven years have taken their toll on my, my family, and you,” Robinson wrote in a letter to the yearly diocean convention. “Death threats, and the now worldwide controversy surrounding your election of me as bishop have been a constant strain, not just on me, but on my beloved husband, Mark.” The letter was Robinson’s announcement that he will be stepping down from him position in 2013.
This isn’t to be considered a victory by those motivated by hate. Robinson was threatened and bullied as a 63 year old bishop, but stood up and served for seven years despite these threats. While he is stepping down, his legacy is continuing. The Anglicans have already elected a lesbian as an assistant Bishop back in May, and there will be others.
Thank you, Gene Robinson. I wish you the very best.
- First openly gay bishop to retire after strain of backlash [Digital Journal]
Shaun Woodward, a 37 year old construction worker, was in a Vancouver gay pub last March when he was offered a beer by Richard Dowrey, a 62 year old gay man out celebrating his retirement. Woodward, who is straight, was angered by the gesture, sucker punching the retiree amidst a stream of homophobic slurs. Dowrey suffered permanent brain damage, leaving him with severe memory problems. He will require assisted living for the rest of his life.
Robin Perelle from Xtra Vancouver interviewed Dowrey for an article published late last week. The story is heartbreaking. In Perelle’s words:
I visited Dowrey at his care home in Langley the day before his attacker’s sentencing hearing. Dowrey can’t remember the attack. He can’t remember his friends at The Fountainhead [Pub]. He can’t remember his life.
I ask him how old he is; “60-something,” he tells me, unable to be more precise. “I don’t remember a thing from the 40s and 50s,” he adds. I ask him why. “I don’t know,” he replies, watching me.
“I hope I’ll get better one of these days,” he says, pointing at himself. “I hope so.” “I just have to get this leg fixed,” he says.
Woodward claimed the attack was self defense because the 62 year old had made “unwanted sexual advances.” Provincial Court Judge Jocelyn Palmer dismissed Woodward’s gay panic defense outright, calling the gay-bashing an “unprovoked attack, driven by virulent homophobia,” delivering a six-year prison sentence.
Judge Palmer’s choice of words, “virulent,” is fitting. Homophobic sentiment spreads and strengthens itself, and silence does nothing to stop it. Homophobia must be challenged wherever it is encountered, well before it escalates to this level of violence and destroys lives.
- Man ‘driven by virulent homophobia’ sentenced to 6 years for attack on gay man [Vancouver Sun]
- Unrecognizable [Xtra Vancouver]
A Catholic bishop from Prince Edward Island has publicly condemned a violent crime that left a gay couple homeless last month. The couple’s home was burned down in late October in what evidence suggests to be a homophobic hate crime.
In a rare denunciation, bishop Richard Grecco had some harsh words for religiously-motivated hate crimes. “Hatred,” he said, “is a sin and any action that comes out of hatred is not only a sin, but in this case a crime and it must be denounced by all churches.” He continued further, “anybody that claims to perpetrate these kinds of hate crimes in the name of religion—what they’re doing is abusing and misusing religion and doing it harm.”
Shockingly well put from a Catholic bishop; although, in the interest of disclosure, I can’t be fully certain that “Catholic” wasn’t a typo. We could, in fact, be speaking of a bishop from a more progressive church who cares for an excessive quantity of feline companions—a cataholic.
Either way, drawing the attention of religious moderates to the atrocities being committed against the GLBT community is exactly what needs to be done, so—if this guy doesn’t, in fact, just have a lot of cats—I’m pleasantly surprised that the Catholic church has actually come out against this crime so publicly.
Well, maybe pleasantly is too strong a qualifier.
Let’s not kid ourselves. The Catholic church is one of the greatest contributers to an atmosphere in which homophobia thrives. Doomsday rhetoric about how we gays are destroying families, society, probably Earth, and then recruiting children to an eternity of hellfire necessarily leads to these kinds of violent reactions in the first place. The bishop’s condemnation, while welcome, is a little like a guillotine pullstring manufacturer strongly condemning the atrocious use of guillotines.
One particularly telling phrase shows that Grecco still doesn’t get it. Speaking to the media, he said that parishioners should still love those with lifestyles they disagree with. The thing is, sexual orientation is a trait, not a choice, and is no more a lifestyle than the left-handed lifestyle or the brunette lifestyle. When the church defines all natural expressions of an innate identity as a sin and then decries that sin as being responsible for all sorts of impossible consequences, they’re in no position to objectively condemn homophobic violence. Not yet, anyway. They need to reform their attitudes first and resolve their ancient doctrine with modern knowledge of reality. Until then, I’m afraid no amount of kitten foster care will change that.
- P.E.I. bishop condemns alleged hate crime [CBC News]
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board is handing out surveys to each of its students in grades 7 to 12, asking—among other things—whether or not they’re gay.
The survey, which is not anonymous, specifically asks “How do you identify your sexual orientation?” The offered choices include: “Bisexual, Gay (male), Heterosexual (straight), Lesbian (female), Queer, Questioning, Transsexual, Two-spirited,” and “Prefer not to disclose.”
The school board says that knowing the diversity of students will help them correlate it with other data and decide which support avenues and other programs are required.
Well, their heart’s in the right place, even if their brain is locked in a committee meeting room, sipping coffee below buzzing fluorescent lights, contemplating even more excruciatingly dull forms for other people to suffer through.
Here’s my beef with the survey question. Even if every student answers honestly—and they won’t; I wouldn’t have in grade 7—it doesn’t take a survey to conclude that there are gay students in the system that have unique needs to be addressed through support programs. Gay people represent a consistent proportion of the population, they generally have a harder time fitting in at school, they’re more likely to be bullied, and they very much dislike filling out stupid forms. Help ’em out, Ottawa-Careton District School Board!
Bill Whatcott, Canada’s most strangely obsessed anti-gay activist, will soon be the subject of quizzical contemplation by Canada’s highest court.
Whatcott was fined nearly a decade ago after distributing hateful, anti-gay fliers in Saskatchewan, but won an appeals court ruling in February on the grounds that distributing fliers is part of his freedom of expression.
The fliers really weren’t very nice. “Our children,” one pamphlet reads in part, “will pay the price in disease, death, abuse and ultimately eternal judgement if we do not say no to the sodmoite desire to socialize your children into accepting something that is clearly wrong.”
“Sodomites,” another read, “are 430 times more likely to acquire AIDS and three times more likely to sexually abuse children.”
It should go without saying that all the pamphlets were really, really, really wrong—factually and morally. So, unhappy with the appeals court ruling, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Comission asked the Supreme Court to visit the case, and they agreed.
Now, having the same level of legal understanding as… let’s say a massive, multinational corporation, I remain utterly clueless as to what the Supreme Court will find. Personally, I feel that freedom of expression is an important right, but I don’t think that necessarily means you can go around making all sorts of wacky, unfounded accusations that gay people are bringing about the children apocalypse. Sounds a lot like slandering an entire minority to me, and I hope that’s what Canada’s provisions against inciting hatred are meant to prohibit.
One thing’s pretty clear to me, though. This guy is gay-obsessed. I mean, I’m actually gay and I still don’t have as much gay-on-the-brain as this guy. Off the top of my head: In addition to crafting and distributing hysterically nutty pamphlets, Whatcott once lead Regina’s Gay Pride parade with anti-gay signage, picketted outside private Planned Parenthood clinics declaring the workers there to be “disseminators of AIDS,” and even ran for mayor of Edmonton with a completely anti-gay platform. “As your mayor,” his official platform opened, “Bill Whatcott is committed to protecting Edmontonians from homofascism.”
Right. Well, here’s hoping the Supreme Court will protect us from whatcottcrazyism!