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14-year-old gay student defends Howard, MI teacher who was suspended for asking a student to leave over anti-gay remarks.
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Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

PDF of the decision.
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An excellent photo essay about one of the iconic images of the epidemic.
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Was sick yesterday and just finished up Brain Plague. Unfortunately, Slonczewski doesn't appear to be publishing currently which means she's mostly out of print.

So there's good and bad there. On the positive side, I think she's done her homework in looking at the ways in which gender and sexuality could be radically different. The book focuses on a single POV character Chrysoberyl, a struggling artist who agrees to be host to a community of sentient microbes. Her microbial community comes from the notorious artist Titan, who Chrysoberyl describes as "medieval" in his heterosexuality. Titan's heterosexuality is later elaborated as predatory and callous in his treatment of others.

Chrysoberyl herself initially harbors some prejudices of her own in regards to human relationships with AI sentients and uplifted non-homo primates. So perhaps the suggestion is made that in a multi-species society that gender dichotomies becomes a bit less pronounced.

I suppose this falls into the "Everyone is Bisexual" trope, although in this case, it's not played for titillation value. Serial monogamy appears to be the norm, and with same-sex couples being more common than mixed-sex couples, it's a refreshing break. There is a romance subplot, but Slonczewski partly resists some of the familiar heterosexist tropes in regards to development. Slonczewski nicely evades the "Anything that Moves" idea that usually goes along with bisexual societies. Chrysoberyl herself has eyes primarily for love interest Daeren and an awkward lingering attraction to an ex-lover.

On the other side, for a hard science fiction (*) novel that centers so much on physical and chemical aspects of cognition, it glosses over the issues that human gender and sexual preference might be physical and chemical. I'm not convinced that technology that makes biological and physical sex trivial to change would necessarily make it socially and psychologically trivial as well.

I suppose many of these concerns can be read as still existing in the subtext. When Chrysoberyl meets the sentient Dr. Sartorius in the context of his long-term relationship, he appears as an idealized human male. Likewise, Daeren expresses anxiety regarding her sexual history and offers to become female. But characters are a bit too glib about offering to make that kind of change with respect to romantic partners.

(*) Like all hard science fiction, it has its share of biological and physical handwavium.
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I have to say that I've not been linked into the fandom of either show as I work through old episodes, but I've been mulling over the similarities and differences in regards to how they portray sexual orientation, and been generally more impressed with Dr. Who.

Torchwood certainly gets credit for adopting the campy slasher's maxim that just about anyone in a science fiction program can be read as implicitly queer. The problem is that Torchwood at times seems a little bit too camp, a little too forced.

But honestly I find Dr. Who (in the revival form) to be generally more impressive. As he travels backwards and forwards through time, mostly he focuses on the areas bordering the human universe. And in that universe, he engages in conversations with dozens of different people, some of whom just happen to be gay or lesbian. What's interesting is that the 21st century companions often have more significant reactions than The Doctor, but it's also significant gay and lesbian characters of the future have no reason to dance or play word games about their relationships. Captain Jack flirts with everyone. The lesbian car-spotters of "Gridlock" chastise another driver (himself in an inter-species relationship) for not identifying them as an old married couple. And the tragic divorcee Sky Silvestre of "Midnight" (perhaps a reference to the novels by Alastair Reynolds?) doesn't skip a beat in talking about her ex-wife.

Whoopi Goldberg made an argument about 14 years ago that minorities go through certain stages of representation in cinema, with inclusion of characters who just happen to be ___ as the end goal of inclusion. To me, Dr. Who strikes me as closer to that goal than Torchwood.

Like many science fiction shows, the futures of Dr. Who are a function of the country where they are produced rather than reflective of global diversity. Firefly and Star Trek are distinctly American futures, and the Doctor's futures are projections of the contemporary UK.

To me, that kind of representation is important, and makes the Dr. Who universe feel markedly different from the universes of other narratives I currently follow (Lost, Spooks, CSI, Fringe, Heroes) where GLBT characters so far are invisible or marginalized.
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One of my daughters was in the workplace one day, and, in her particular workplace at that moment in time, there were a whole bunch of conservative, older men. And those guys were talking about gay marriage—they were talking about discussions going on across the country—and my daughter Kate, after listening to it for about 20 minutes, said to them: "You guys don't understand. You've already lost. My generation doesn't care."

I think I learned something from my daughter that day, when she said that. And I've talked with other people about it, and that's what I see, Senator McKinley. I see a bunch of people that merely want to profess their love for each other and want state law to recognize that.

Is that so wrong? I don't think that's so wrong. As a matter of fact, last Friday night, I hugged my wife—you know, I've been married for 37 years—I hugged my wife. I felt like our love was just a little more meaningful last Friday night because thousands of other Iowa citizens could hug each other and have the state recognize their love for each other.

No, Senator McKinley, I will not co-sponsor a leadership bill with you.

Link to video.
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Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir is likely to be the first openly lesbian head of state and Iceland's first female prime minister. She was picked by the Social Democratic Alliance Party to head the interim government until elections scheduled for May.
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Netflix is a mixed bag. Somedays you get something you want to watch right away. Other days you get a double-feature of Kill Bill Part 1 and Sweeney Todd, two movies I have to get into the mood for.

But in other news:

Mexico City school systems distributes sex education booklet that includes discussion of alternate sexualities and birth control. Conservative parental groups are outraged.

Comics With Problems presents Homosexuality: Legitimate Alternate Deathstyle that includes such shocking revelations as "seminal fluid is swallowed" and "most of the contacts involve kissing."
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Why can't we get these in America?

Read more... )
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Holly over at Feministe just made a most excellent post regarding contrasting views of dealing with childhood gender non-conformity. It links to a few must-read articles on the subject.
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Loosely based on The Mo Movie Test:

Does it have:
1: At least one person identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgender, who
2: Plays an important role in plot development,
3: About something other than AIDS or prejudice.

Note, that this isn't to say stories that focus on AIDS, prejudice or both are bad. Just that it is painfully obvious when queer characters are only being used as object lessons in tragedy.

This comes from a discussion of a list by Perry Moore detailing how LGBT characters in superhero comics are cast as villains, victims, or minor characters.
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Seriously, if you have a weakness for teen-angst superhero stuff, you should really check it out.
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One of the first things I do when I hit the library is check the new science fiction bookshelves, then I hit the non-fiction bookshelves. This week, tucked next to a confessional work documenting 20 of the author's one nigh stands, :(, was Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics by Jennifer Baumgardner. I've not had a chance to get into it yet, but the first few chapters leave me with a mix of hope and frustration.

Read more... )


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