Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Breaking News on Women's Sexuality: Men Don't Understand It, or Care

Your bloggerbot comes out of semi-retirement to express his dismay at this latest finding, cited in a New York Times article that pretends to break the latest scientific discoveries on sexuality and gender:

Straight men, it seems, have neural circuits that prompt them to seek out women; gay men have those prompting them to seek other men. Women's brains may be organized to select men who seem likely to provide for them and their children.

It's not completely the Times' fault, but you'd think they'd at least observe that science is seriously skewed toward studying men's sexuality. But the article accomplishes the reverse, claiming to shed light on sexuality for both sexes when it mentions only men. After quoting a thinly researched observations about how sexual orientation seems more fixed in men than in women, the article concludes, "Sexual orientation, at least for men, seems to be settled before birth." The "at least for men" drips with condescension and dismissal of female sexuality—making the articles supposedly reported conclusions that women don't have a sexual orientation that much more suspicious.

Yes, I'm serious about the claim that women don't have sexual orientation. The article quotes J. Michael Bailey, an expert on sexual orientation at Northwestern University: "I'm not even sure females have a sexual orientation. But they have sexual preferences. Women are very picky, and most choose to have sex with men." That's right, they pick men because men are objectively the best candidates! Bailey goes on to claim that the systems for sexual orientation and arousal make men go out and find people to have sex with, whereas women are more focused on accepting or rejecting those who seek sex with them.

Here we are in an article by a man, that quotes only male scientists and deals only with studies focused on men, and—shocker!—it concludes that women's sexuality is a mystery that nobody really gives a fuck about anyway. The one thing we do know about them is that they're passive.

That's right: all male scientists, male writer, all studies about men. Yet the article has the balls to introduce its rundown of research on homosexuality as follows:

Researchers have devoted considerable effort to understanding homosexuality in men and women, both for its intrinsic interest and for the light it could shed on the more usual channels of desire," the article gives examples only of studies on male homosexuality.

The article concludes with no evidence whatsoever that male and female sexuality are utterly different. It also seems hell-bent on arguing that male and female brains are completely different. Yet this is the best they can do:

Widespread regions of the cortex, the brain's outer layer that performs much of its higher-level processing, are thicker in women. The hippocampus, where initial memories are formed, occupies a larger fraction of the female brain.

Or this:

Techniques for imaging the brain have begun to show that men and women use their brains in different ways even when doing the same thing. In the case of the amygdala, a pair of organs that helps prioritize memories according to their emotional strength, women use the left amygdala for this purpose but men tend to use the right.

This one is my favorite. Listen to how many weasel words it uses to conclude that straight men are turned on by women and gay men are turned on by men:

Presumably the masculinization of the brain shapes some neural circuit that makes women desirable. If so, this circuitry is wired differently in gay men. In experiments in which subjects are shown photographs of desirable men or women, straight men are aroused by women, gay men by men.

Do I need a smart conclusion after that? Because I just feel done.

Monday, March 26, 2007


I've never heard of a transguy deciding to go back to being female, but I bet, given the popularity of transitioning among those in their early 20s, it will become more popular. But maybe, just maybe this is first-ever account of (and by) a person who came to regret the decision to become a man. (There are a lot of verbs in there, but I think that's appropriate, if clunky.) Which makes blogs feel a little worthwhile again. (In my opinion, they make more sense as vehicles for voices otherwise unheard than anything else.)

Do you know of more such man-interrupted stories? What do FTMs who have fully transitioned think of them?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Gates on Gays in the Military: I'm Too Busy for this Crap

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff declared that homosexuality, like adultery, is immoral and the Army shouldn't allow any immoral behavior. I have a few questions left about that. First of all, immoral according to what standard in a secular state? The Bible? Even the Bible takes adultery to be the bigger issue: It made the top 10; biblical pronouncements on homosexuality are tucked away in odd places and not especially clear. "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife" is pretty clear. And yet, there's no word from the DoD that a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on adultery is forthcoming.

None of these obvious questions has been asked. The media has, however, tackled likely '08 Democratic candidates Obama and Clinton and asked for their opinion on the morality of homosexuality. They hedged. (Clinton had asked for the gay vote just days before at an under-the-radar speech at the Human Rights Campaign.)

Finally, someone has gotten around to asking the Secretary of Defense what he thinks. Robert Gates veritably brimmed with substance and insight when he said, "I think we should just move on at this point." Asked whether he thought Pace should apologize, Gates said no. Gates went on to say that he was too busy to evaluate whether "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"—which less than half the nation supports and which costs a strapped military 4,000 soldiers a year—is an effective policy.

Tale of the First Two Transsexuals

In an article I wrote for AlterNet that was meant to serve as an introduction to the many-splendored world of queer identities—about which, more later—I claimed that male-to-female gender reassignment surgeries have been around for longer, and consequently so have MTF transsexuals.

Well, slap my ass and call me Sally! It turns out the first ever transsexual was Michael Dillon, né Laura. He fell in love with a man who wanted to become a woman, and did—making her the first male-to-female transsexual. (Their love was predictably ill-fated.)

All of this is in a book reviewed in the New York Times, called The First Man-Made Man: The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution, by Pagan Kennedy.

The review is pretty interesting, but I'm a little disturbed by this pronouncement by the writer (Mary Roach, of Stiff fame):

I wanted to stand by [Dillon] through all 200 pages, but I fell hard for Dr. Gillies. It is no small feat to make a romance between the world’s first two transsexuals seem ho-hum, but Gillies almost manages…Gillies was altering not merely faces and bodies, but the very nature of surgery.

See, surgery that affects everyday people is more interesting that the intense plight and bravery of the first ever transsexuals, who served as Gillies' guinea pigs in order to live the lives they needed to. Or am I just being hypersensitive? And hypersensitivity is precisely the subject of my next blog post (OK after the one on Gates that I'm cross-posting from Mother Jones), so stay tuned.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

In Which My Hands Tremble with Anger at Homophobes Who Think They Know More About Gay Issues Than Gay People

When I blogged about Garrison Keillor's ridiculous stereotyping of gay men as camped-up, self-obsessed, effeminate jerks, I got a lot of comments like "can't you recognize satire?" and "lighten up." I'm really baffled by these. No, actually, I'm pissed.

I think, and hope, if you've been reading my blog, you'll know that, yes, in fact, I do have a sense of humor. About queer issues. It is that same sense of humor that tells me Garrison Keillor's remarks weren't funny. Sure, I think they were meant to be a little tongue-in-cheek, but all in the service of saying, let's go back to that peachy simpler time when men were men and women were women and children were important. First of all, much to my chagrin, gender norms are still firmly in place. Go to a random person's house: Who's cooking? What does the husband watch on TV? Who quits to raise the baby? And children, sweet mother of God, children are still fetishistically important—especially to gay parents who pay good money and put lots of time and thought into the matter.

(Now just a quick aside, Mr. Keillor is a fine one to blame others for the passing of that sweet, simple time of the nuclear man-woman family. He has cheated on at least 2 of his 3 wives.)

But how is it that people are so totally ignorant about discrimination? Here's a primer:

Jokes are a big part of the problem!

They seem to be an especially big part when it comes to queer stuff. I've had more people make jokes in front of me in that "I'm only laughing at this because I know you know I'm too sophisticated to be a biggot, but you've got to admit the stereotype is really true (or else you have no sense of humor)" kind of way. Let's just say if I pooped the tiniest turd in the world for each of these remarks, I'd have taken a mighty big shit.

The funny thing is, these people—and Keillor is especially guilty of this—think the stereotypes are true because, well, because they think the stereotypes are true. If you aren't gay sensitive, it's likely the only gay person you'll know is gay is the one that fits your stereotype. Meanwhile, non-stereotypical gays are moving all around you. Now I myself am a fairly stereotypical homo in many ways--certainly the way I look. But does that mean I'm no more than the sum of my stereotypes? That's kinda demeaning, don't you think?

And then there's this comment: "I don't think that Garrison has evil intent or wants to hurt anybody. Just like Chris Rock when he says unkind things about EuroAmericans. If we are offended by what Chris Rock says, just don't watch him and/or Comedy Central shows." Pop quiz: How is a black man making fun of white people different from a straight guy making fun of gay people? Answer: Either the humor supports real-world oppression (and if you don't think there's any of gay people, are you dead?), or it challenges those oppressions.

By the way, that's also why "there isn't this kind of outrage when straight White men are lampooned, denigrated, and presented as the stereotypical bumbling moron white man daily in TV shows (Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens, Friends, etc.), ads, and in countless articles and blogs." Oh, and those shows are produced and written by the people they mock. Oh, and one other thing, the purpose of these shows is not to deprive straight white men of anything.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Military Man in a Pickle Over Anti-Gay Remarks

pace.jpgComments made by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune may make his, from a PR perspective, one of the most disastrous interviews ever given.

Pace said he believed homosexuality was immoral and that he doesn't "believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way." He compared homosexuality to adultery, I suppose to avoid the obviously delusional comparisons conservatives such as Rick Santorum have made. But his comparison raises the question: Will the military institute a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy with regard to adultery?

Of course, Pace was only saying what most military men think—but the military, led by Colin Powell, carefully crafted an alibi for its homophobia when it demanded in 1993 that Clinton not allow out gays to serve in the military. It's not that we're homophobic, the brass said; it's that the grunts are so homophobic they'd sooner fight a gay platoon-mate than the enemy—and that's OK.

Pace also violated another military stance in speaking the truth that dare not speak its name. The military is, at present, desperate not to revisit the gays in the military issue, because commanders know now would be an opportune time to repeal the rule. Homophobes can get down with the idea of sending gays and lesbians off to die for them, as evidenced by the drop by half in the annual number of soldiers discharged for being gay since 9/11.

John Warner, a Republican on the Armed Services Committee, suggested that the policy will at least be reviewed when he said, "I respectfully but strongly disagree with the chairman's view that homosexuality is immoral." A Republican! This could only happen with the military desperate to boost its numbers.

Why is Salon Running a Bigoted Anti-Gay Column by Garrison Keillor?

In a column called "Stating the Obvious" no less, Keillor spouts:

The country has come to accept stereotypical gay men -- sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in over-decorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog and who worship campy performers and go in for flamboyance now and then themselves. If they want to be accepted as couples and daddies, however, the flamboyance may have to be brought under control. Parents are supposed to stand in back and not wear chartreuse pants and black polka-dot shirts. That's for the kids. It's their show.

Does Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva who fought and was wounded in Iraq fit this stereotype? Does John Amaechi, a retired NBA player? Keillor is just vomiting up his own homophobic impressions.

Write Salon and ask why they're giving bigotry a platform.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Largo City Commissioner Becomes Trans Activist

Steven "Susan" Stanton has protested being fired as Largo City Commissioner after coming out as a transsexual (she is being represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights). The Saint Petersburg Times ran this kind, human portrait. The Saint Petersburg Times, y'all. It always does take someone pretty mainstream who's cried a lot about who they are to break through the walls, but it's still great when it happens.

Military Will Institute "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy for Adultery

General Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke out against proposals to loosen the "don't ask, don't tell" policy today in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. He said he believed homosexuality was immoral, much like adultery is immoral, and that he doesn't "believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way."

Friday, March 2, 2007

City Employee in Florida Transitions, Gets Canned

Transsexuals in the national news, Oh my! But the news isn’t good. Steven Stanton, a city commissioner in Largo, Fl., went public with his intention to begin living life as Susan (she has been on hormones for more than 2 years) and was promptly fired.

It’s unclear whether Largo has adequate antidiscrimination legislation to bolster a case against, err, itself, and Stanton says she hasn’t decided whether to fight the move or not. (Stanton claims the city shot down a measure to bar discrimination on the basis of gender identity, but the Human Rights Campaign suggests otherwise.) The media has been all over it. Newsweek is featuring an interview, in which Stanton seems so raw and human it’s painful.

A transgender woman recently fired by a Michigan Christian university said today she does plan to fight the dismissal.

Here's a little good news. You knew it already but the girls in the Go-Go's go go both ways!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The End of the Castro?

The Castro—the world's gayest neighborhood at 95 percent gay and lesbian—is heterosexualizing, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. As I found the article, my immediate responses were sadness and resignation, because it's a pretty mainstream neighborhood anyway. (But if the Castro Theater goes, I will chain myself to the organ!) In fact, the end of gay enclaves might even signal the beginning of true acceptance.

I was surprised to find myself a more offended than simply resigned as I read the article. Here's one married woman's account of her recent move into gay Oz: "The only thing that meant anything to me was the area would be nice"… At first, [she] wondered if her family's presence would provoke a backlash from gay and lesbian residents...She rejects suggestions that families like hers should live in other neighborhoods. "You could also say this neighborhood used to be full of families."

Sounds a lot like "this land is my land, and this land is my land, too." (And, yes, Dorothy we are still in Kansas!) I would suggest it is still full of families, though they may not have children.

The article also suggests, convincingly, that the Castro's visibility has contributed to San Francisco gays and lesbians' political power:

"Having a specific neighborhood politicians can point to, can go to and shake hands or kiss lesbian babies, has really solidified the gay vote, our political muscle," said longtime community activist Tommi Avicolli Mecca.

San Francisco is one of precious few places where politicians worry about the GLBT vote. That may be because the Castro has become an affluent neighborhood, but it could also be because the Castro is, as Mecca indicates, a visible reminder of how may gay people live in the city.

The Castro is also an exception in that dykes and fags—usually white ones—are often the agents of gentrification. We are the first to move into undesirable neighborhoods, which we then make culturally vibrant in those white, middle-class ways that bring white heterosexuals in. (Case in point: San Francisco's Mission.) The process is difficult on both ends: I don't like being the beacon to people of color that their homes are about to become unaffordable or that their neighborhood is about to lose its individuality. Nor do I like having straight people move in behind me, making my home unaffordable. But then, that's kind of the predicament of the queer in America: It's better than being a racial minority, but the straights will squeeze you out in the end.

Advocates are proposing that the city's gay institutions (including its Gay and Lesbian History Center) be permanently housed in the Castro, which seems reasonable. But I did get a little misty when I read that Don Reuter, a historian of gay enclaves, says "I think the only gay neighborhood that is going to survive is the Castro. In every city this is going on—we're unraveling. Our gay neighborhoods are unraveling."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Scientists Say Enough to Right-Wing Manipulation of Their Work

The religious right defends its intolerance towards gays and lesbians by generating misleading statistics about them. For example, groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council claim that gay men are more likely to be pedophiles than straight men simply by calling men who abuse boys "gay," rather than pedophiles. A greater proportion of child molesters choose victims of the same sex than consenting adults choose partners of the same sex, so there you have it: Gay men molest boys. (Confused? You should be.)

They also claim again and again that children do best with a mother and a father. That's not what the research says. Research says that kids do better with two parents than one, but parents' gender and orientation have no effect. Just as their bogus studies make a mockery of science, so does their success getting their views reported by media outlets trying to be balanced make a mockery of that basic journalistic tenet.

Well, at long last, the scientists whose professional studies are being cherry-picked and distorted to bolster the religious right's claims have created a website to refute the misuse of their work. The site,, lists the studies that have been distorted and explains how. It also has a portal researchers can use to report misuse of their findings.

If only mainstream media outlets will check it before they publish bogus claims fed to them by right-wing think tanks, maybe some intelligent public dialogue about GLBT issues will follow.

Monday, February 26, 2007

What Is a Dyke to Wear to Host the Oscars?

So Ellen hosted the Oscars ceremony and Melissa Etheridge won one. Dykes have made it right? Maybe not. The media has its panties in a wad about Ellen's bad--er, dykey--fashion. I posted on this at Mother Jones. I could repost here, but half the fun is seeing it there.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

In Which I Pump You Up, Only to Bring You Back Down Again

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports today that two breakthrough bills for gays and lesbians are likely to be passed by the new Democratic Congress. Both possibilities have me on the brink of tears of joy, they are so overdue and yet still seem so implausible. The first is an employment discrimination ban. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) projects that the bill will even include gender identity—which, to have any teeth, it must, lest employers say “it wasn’t that Cameron sleeps with women that bothered us, it’s that Cameron stomps around acting like a man!” (Let's translate this argument: "It's not that Cameron is a dyke that bothers us, it's that Cameron acts like a dyke!") A gender identity clause would also stop harassment of men who are perceived as effeminate whether or not they are actually gay.

The only problem with this bill—and it’s a major one—is that churches and small businesses would be exempt. Churches: Feh—I don't have the energy to wade into the constitutionally murky waters of whether they should be exempt or not. But small businesses, which is to say most businesses? Why should they be exempt? No one is talking about a quota; the issue is whether GLBT people are turned away from positions for which they are qualified.

The other bill would include GLBT identity among those covered by hate-crimes legislation. That's right, nearly 10 years after Matthew Shephard was executed there is no national hate-crimes protection for GLBT people, who make up 14 percent of all victims of hate crimes. If that's not reason enough to support it, here's what Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council has to say: "It's taking us to the point where anyone who opposes the sexual behavior of homosexuals will be silenced." Now, he's probably exaggerating (he also claimed that gay-rights groups exaggerate the extent of discrimination as a means of accomplishing their broader political not be discriminated against), but just for a moment imagine the utopia of slapping lawsuits on groups like Perkins' who invent slanderous anecdotes and statistics about GLBTs and spend millions lobbying against their civil rights. The sweet, sweet silence of it.

But, before you get too hopeful dear reader, remember in whose hand the veto pen rests.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Rampant Abuse of GLBT Students in US Schools

A study released last week by Human Rights Watch reads, in part:

In the United States, only 55 percent of students say they feel safe in school. Human Rights Watch found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in many U.S. schools are particularly vulnerable to unrelenting harassment from their peers. Despite the pervasiveness of the abuse, few school officials intervened to stop the harassment or to hold the abusive students accountable; in fact, some teachers and administrators encouraged or participated in the abuse. Over time, verbal harassment often escalated into sexual harassment and other forms of physical violence.

Turns out all the drumming up of anti-gay sentiment Republicans have been doing to win elections has real consequences. For kids.

In the "It's About Time" Department...

A lesbian couple staged a non-violent sit-in at Focus on the Family today, after they were refused permission to talk with founder/leader James Dobson. More! Bigger! Better!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Anglicans Make Big Show of Homophobia...Yawn.

This whole Peter Akinola homophobia thing is getting kind of tiresome, so I'm not going to write much about it, but Akinola, the leader of the Anglican church of Nigeria, and 6 other church leaders from developing countries refused to take communion with the U.S.'s bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, at an international church meeting in Tanzania, the Washington Post reports.

I've written elsewhere about what a raging homophobe this guy is, and how the American Episcopalian churches that have spurned Jefferts Schori's leadership for his are completely nuts.

But what I haven't said elsewhere is that the rift in the Anglican/Episcopalian church actually began when women were allowed to join the clergy, so it's especially fitting that Jefferts Schori be the one to hold her own against the secessionists.

Blogging about this same issue for the fourth or fifth time, it also occurs to me that perhaps the press could do a better job of covering gay issues than to have their coverage focus on churches that reject homophobia. Yes, it might take a little bit of work and may even involve a tiny bit of an agenda to decide to cover something rather than letting events wash over you in Zen fashion, but it's ignorance about gay people that allows hate crime and bogusly unconstitutional legislation to bloom—and journalists either care about the constitution or they like to use jail stints as street cred.

Now this second part isn't ground for the Washington Post, but has anyone done a really good analysis of what the Bible actually says about homosexuality? Because the Bible says a lot of shit, and I know it includes coveting thy neighbor's wife and taking the Lord's name in vain in its top 10, from which gay sex is markedly absent. Since those two seem more sinful and are also more common, maybe we should stamp them out before we even consider homosexuality? Just a thought.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Texas Lez 3, Texas Leg 0 (Or, My Grudge Against Warren Chisum)

Way back in 1999, a ridiculous Texas lawmaker named Warren Chisum was on the record defending the state's sodomy ban (which applied to hets as well as homos, prompting one sane and humorous lawmaker to ask Chisum if she should go to jail if her husband happened to slip during intercourse [and by the way, we're laughing with her husband, not at him: it's easier to do than you might think!]). Chisum also supported a law that would prevent gay couples—and all households of which any member is suspected of homosexuality—from adopting.

Wow, I was one pissed off little baby bulldagger those days, since I was living in Texas and had just been thrown out of a creative writing class because my queer politics were disruptive—about which the University of Texas said, "Wait, are you calling this sexual harassment? Because it's not, and that's the only way we could make a case against it."

But I digress. Chisum. Yes, Chisum continues to be the world's biggest asshole, claiming—gosh it seems like yesterday, but it was actually a whole week ago!—that Jews invented the theory of evolution (and the Copernican revolution), making it a religious theory that cannot be taught in public schools. (Silly reader, Christian theories are OK, because, well, the people that made them up didn't have big noses!)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Nigeria: Homosexuality Is "Barbaric and Shameful"

Nigeria's parliament moved a step closer to passing the sweeping anti-gay legislation supported by Peter Akinola, the leader of the rogue U.S. Episcopalian churches. Supporters of the law say it upholds the country's cultural values, which is confusing to me because I thought "culture" was what the people made it, not what the government dictated. Good news (?): One sane MP mentioned that it would be a good idea to "remember to protect people's rights even if they are a minority."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hey, Hey, What Can I Do?

Maybe it's because the camp gene is right next to the gay gene, but I heart tribute bands. I'm not sure how I feel about Rolling Stone reviewing them, but it is. Still, I can't help but be titillated by their mention of transgendered bands like Lez Zeppelin and (male) Madonna. I've been giving Klezbians and Isle of Klesbos CDs for gifts for years, for the name alone! But the idea of some dykes rocking out to "I've gotta little woman but she won't be true" is just too fantastic. I love the underground, irreverent humor, especially as it pertains to gender, about which we tend to be sooo reverent. But if Rolling Stone is covering it, does that mean it's already over?

Update: Buzz-kill, I got some PR photos of Lez Zeppelin and, oops, it turns out they aren't using the word "lez" ironically. Their T-shirt says "All Women, All Zeppelin," and they would so not be hot singing "I gotta little woman..." Meanwhile, I was repeatedly scolded for not pimping AC/DShe, which I didn't pimp because of the whole "she" thing. Just goes to show, you can't judge a band by its name. I will say that Zeppelin is, in my opinion, a better band on balance. But go see AC/DShe, OK?

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

WWTD (What Would Tzara Do)?

I'm a big fan of Dada activism. So are the folks at the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance. Following the state of Washington's high court ruling [PDF] last summer that it was fair to limit marriage to heterosexuals because marriage serves the purposes of procreation, the group has decided to call the state's bluff. They are proposing legislation requiring married heterosexual couples to procreate within three years--or have their marriage forcibly dissolved. In principle, I like this approach, and I seem to have good company. But I don't think I would actually sign a petition supporting it. Gay groups trying to earn respectability have balked because they don't want to "be seen as taking anyone else's rights away." My problem is that there's too much Dada in the law already, particularly when it comes to sexuality, so I think the joke would be lost. (Is requiring the would-be bride and groom to promise that they "are capable of having children with one another" that different from requiring them to promise that neither is a transsexual, as one county in Ohio does?) I think proposing the measure is a winner, but unless I created a funny alias, I wouldn't be signing any petitions.

P.S. Tristan Tzara, author of the "Dada Manifesto," was a huge misogynist and homophobe, so the question is actually a puzzler.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Flow Chart: Gay? --> No

Supporters of Michigan's amendment refusing to recognize same sex marriage "for any purpose" claimed in their campaign that they did not intend or expect the amendment to revoke benefits.


A Michigan appeals court ruled yesterday that the wording means that employers cannot provide benefits for same-sex domestic partners. The suit was filed by the ACLU after the state attorney general issued a legal opinion that public employers could no longer offer benefits to same-sex couples shortly after the amendment was passed.

Call me naive, but shouldn't the attorney general have called the amendment's supporters' bluff when they lied about the content of the measure put before voters? Is there no provision anywhere in our legal system demanding that the voters know exactly what they're voting on when they vote on it?

Now take the statements made by the executive director of the Michigan Family Forum, (wait for it) Brad Snavely. "No one knew for sure what the language would mean," said Snavely. But, now that a court has determined that the language denies gays benefits, he hopes judges in other states will follow suit.

Let's recap what Snavely is sniveling about. Queers cannot marry because it's a sin. Straights can. If straights choose not to marry (which is also a sin), they still get benefits. Queers cannot, under any circumstances, get benefits.

Part of me is tempted to say that the situation has gotten so absurd, that surely the ACLU will win on appeal, and may even have other broadly worded amendments deemed unconstitutional (or is that impossible, since they've been voted in to the constitution?). But I said that in my last blog post. And I recently watched a truly amazing (seriously) movie about Anne Frank, which drove home the point that millions of Jews in Europe didn't leave when they had the chance because they thought surely things would get better.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Gimme Shelter!

A report on LGBT youth homelessness released yesterday by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Coalition for the Homeless is, put simply, a shit show. It finds that 20 to 40 percent of homeless youth in the U.S. are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. (About 4 percent of youth are GLBT.) Discrimination makes the youth more likely to be turned out and it also makes it harder for them to access shelters. Less than 1 percent of the $105-million budget for the federal Runaway, Homeless and Missing Children Protection Act goes to organizations that work exclusively with GLBT populations. Even San Francisco, a destination for many homeless queer youth, has just 25 public housing units set aside for them. I'm morbidly curious to see if Congress will turn a blind eye to the study, or if legislators will set their homophobia aside long enough to deal with the massive problem it documents.

Friday, January 26, 2007

¡Ay, Caramba!

In Mexico, transgender rights have about as much chance of succeeding as, say, a comprehensive political ethics package. Or maybe just a basic social safety net.

Researcher of Gay Sheep Claims He's Misunderstood

Like many other bloggers, I picked up on a story in the Sunday Times of London about researchers working on homosexuality in sheep. Today, the New York Times is reporting that the researchers objected to being portrayed as abusing animals and potentially contributing to medical "cures" for homosexuality in humans.

It should be said that the Sunday Times article was wrong about devices being implanted in the sheep's brains. But, after reading the scientists' rebuttal, I'm not convinced that much else about the article was wrong. Sheep are, in fact, killed in the experiment. To which the researcher, Dr. Charles Roselli, responds: "Why would you pick on a guy who’s killing maybe 18 sheep a year, when there’s maybe four million killed for food and clothing in this country?" OK, sure, he's not a flagrant example of animal cruelty, but he's still killing animals for less-than-necessary research.

To charges that their research finding a fix for homosexuality in sheep fuels the idea that human homosexuality should be fixed, rather than accepted, Roselli responded that they had never claimed their research would help find a cure for human homosexuality. When he wrote that the research "has broader implications for understanding the development and control of sexual motivation and mate selection across mammalian species, including humans," he was using "control" in a scientific way that we laypeople couldn't possibly understand. And, he said, he only mentions human implications because scientists are "forced to draw connections [to humans] in a way that we can justify our research."

Now that is the weakest claim of all. It essentially says that, however disturbing the potential human use of his research might be, you can't blame Roselli for doing what he has to do to get money. That argument wouldn't even stand if the research were more vital than increasing sheep fertility.

The Times article is way too sympathetic, making gay activists look too stupid to understand science, and letting Dr. Roselli off the hook without even asking him if he would reject grant money from the mad scientists at, say, the Foundation for the Family.

Baaaad Times.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

That book pretty much describes my day today. (Let's just say it started with my dog eating an enormous and particularly unhealthy-looking human turd in the park as I watched in horror, unable to catch her.) When I got home I found this article in my inbox, via Google Alerts. It reports that a recent, fairly credible poll found that 51 percent of Americans favor a law banning gay marriage. So not only have I had a brutally crap day today, but these randomly selected Americans would like to tell me that they hope I never find love and happiness. In fact, they'd like to see legislation preventing me from finding love and happiness.

But then it struck me: That's what this is all about. The whole idea of banning gay marriage is to make gay people feel that they don't deserve happiness. And whoever is polling on gay marriage right now is on their side. Hasn't gay marriage been polled enough? Wasn't there just a spate of polling in November? Is there any new legislation to prompt new polling?

Nope. Gay marriage is quite definitively illegal (in many cases by both law and constitutional amendment) in all but one state, where the wheels are already in motion to make it illegal again.

New Insult: "You Kiefer" (Meaning You Immature, Hypocritical Loser)

Parents in Farmingdale, Minnesota, are opposing the school district's No Name Calling Week. That's right, they're fighting for their right to call names. Specifically against GLSEN, the moderate, respectable gay-lesbian group that helped organize the week—which bans all name calling with no particular emphasis on GLBT issues. Michael Monroe Kiefer was one of a group of parents who stormed a meeting this morning to air their grievances. His petulant and hypocritical rant was interrupted when he attempted to name—and out—a particular teacher. That's right, he was exercising his God-given right to call names. What a grown up! Thankfully, Kiefer was thrown out. You can't make this stuff up, people. I just wonder how these parents can possibly delude themselves into thinking they're setting a good example for their children. I would love to see one of their kids say, "No, I'm not going to clean up my room because that man you work with is a poopy-head!"

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

In England, When the Pot Calls the Kettle Black, the PM Listens

Catholic priests hardly have a reputation for rugged heterosexuality. Remember the worldwide scandal, which continues to bear strange fruit, about priests molesting kids in droves?

No matter: Do as I say, not as I do. Catholic priests are demanding exemption from a new British equality law that demands that gays not be discriminated against in adoption proceedings.

They say the law would force Catholics to go against the teachings of the church. Never mind that the priests are hardly in a position to criticize any group when it comes to the treatment of children. And, needless to say, they don't generally ask potential adopters if they covet their neighbor's wife or take the Lord's name in vain.

The shocker is that T.B., who's wife and children are Catholic, is rumored to be thinking about granting the priests an exemption—as is his Opus Dei (read: Loony Tunes of the Mel Gibson variety) communities secretary, Ruth Kelly. However, Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, gave reason a voice when he said, "If we take the view as a society that we should not discriminate against people who are homosexual, you cannot give exclusions to people on the grounds that their religion or their race says 'we don't agree with that.'" I mean, I know British law isn't exactly the same as U.S. law (they don't have a constitution), but the reason for granting basic rights through foundational law of whatever sort is to pre-empt people claiming that, for whatever reason, they have the right to treat a particular group badly.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Grey and the Gay

The New York Times has also picked up the story about Grey’s Anatomy actor Isaiah Washington calling his cast-mate, T.R. Knight, a "faggot" on the set and again (indirectly) at the Golden Globe awards. The story is on the most emailed list.

Do Americans just love a clebrity smack-down or are they actually concerned about the use of epithets? I have a hard time believing the latter given that, even in San Francisco, I hear "faggot" used as an epithet at least once a week. (See update below.) Perhaps the story has gotten big because the entertainment industry wants to make a show of its tolerance. The number of gay actors in Los Angeles is so high that if networks develop a reputation for crapping on them, they won’t be able to stay in business.

More compellingly, the Times is running an article on GLBT opposition to Harold Ford’s nomination for chair of the Democratic Leadership Council. Ford lost his bid for Tennessee’s Senate seat largely because he was just as conservative as his Republican opponent (that and he’s black). Ford was one of just 34 votes for a national constitutional amendment barring gays from that precious institution of marriage.

As Democrats try to portray Ford as one of them, conservatives are frantically trying to defend Mitt Romney from charges that he is a closet gay-lover (these charges come despite the fact that after Romney had exhausted all legal options for halting gay marriage as governor, he filed suit as an individual.) Both dust-ups suggest that gay rights advocates will have a voice in the 2008 election, rather than being just an easy smear target as they have been in the last three elections.

Statistics on use of epithets

GLSEN, a group focused on creating GLBT-friendly educational policies, reports that in 2005 three-quarters of all GLBT high school students often heard derogatory remarks such as "faggot" or "dyke," and nearly nine out of ten frequently heard "that's so gay" to mean "that's so stupid." Meanwhile, only nine states and the District of Columbia have comprehensive anti-bullying laws that include sexual orientation and only three include gender identity.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Lesbians Only

I went to a lesbians-only party this weekend. I thought maybe it was time to bring back the lesbians-only idea. It felt like 2000 again, when people started to bring back the 80s—maybe lesbian-only space had been "out" long enough to bring back in.

Maybe not.

I met a woman there, a lesbian journalist, who greeted my claims of male-identity first with "but you do identify as a lesbian, right?" To which I said, teasingly, "of course, or else I couldn't be at this party." Then I gave a more earnest answer and she said "that's so interesting."

I'm guessing it was an "interesting" like those my colleagues and I at Mother Jones utter when pro-life activists and American Enterprise economists tell us about their views. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The conversation began by being about gay and lesbian journalism. She made a point about it being a male-run show. (I've made a similar point here.) She attributed that to women not having had enough chance to put their sistahs in power. I added "or they don't always hire women." That's where the fun began. She claimed that women are better than men; women help a sister out.

I wanted to make the point that women can be real assholes too. They don't always run the show in a feminist way. (I've made a similar point here.) And I wasn't sure that shoehorning your friends into power was a particularly good quality to emulate. I said prioritizing your people over another people never really helps anybody on either side. She disagreed. She said she was a "radical feminist that way" because she didn't give a shit how white men felt. She said that, as an Asian woman, she had suffered double oppression for thousands of years, and if evening it out meant turning the shit-stream the other way for a while that was fine by her.

So I decided to make it personal, too. I said that as a trans-identified dyke, who was ever going to take me under their wing? This isn't just about white men.

She encouraged me not to see myself as such a victim. Up to this point, dear reader, I had been very friendly in my disagreements. But being told I was acting like a victim by someone who, at age 30, was claiming thousands of years of double oppression was just too much. I called her bluff. She didn't like it much, replying "I think we should end the conversation, Cameron, because it's getting really fucked up."

She needed to see my disagreement about the nurturing benevolence of women as sexism. If I didn't identify as a "woman" and I didn't agree with her 100% about the sweet superiority of women, I must be a sexist. And sexists really piss her off. It was a fascinating experience—and one I probably wouldn't have gotten to witness had my interlocutor not been drunk—to watch someone construct a box around me and then work herself into a frenzy that yet another person fit in that box.

My question is, who is teaching her to hold so true to an outmoded ideology that isn't working for her? And how can she steer so clear of third wave feminism when she (a) lives in San Francisco and (b) works as an online journalist?

I don't know many women under 30 who still think that way. (To support my woman friend Ann, I send you to Feministing.) Sadly, those who do are usually lesbians.

Just to be snarky (it must be the man in me), I will add that this woman works for a lesbian entertainment website, and I work at Mother Jones. Maybe she thought that was a maternity magazine?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Times, They Are a-Changin'

ABC pressured Isaiah Washington to apologize to T.R. Knight for calling him a faggot. (Twice.)

And the Washington Post ran the story.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


In another disastrously-Deirdre ditty, Dee Deirdre Farmer is being returned to jail this week after being sentenced for identity theft and fraud. Dee Deirdre Farmer is a transgender woman who chose her name. She scored a landmark victory for trans people in 1994, when the Supreme Court ruled that prison officials could be held responsible for her gang rape while in men's prison. Ms. Farmer was a pre-op transsexual at the time.

But it seems Ms. Farmer's interest in changing identities goes farther than her sex change and subsequent selection of the misfortunate name Dee Deirdre:

Farmer was sentenced in 1986 to 20 years in federal prison for credit-card fraud and 30 years in state prison for theft. While awaiting sentencing, she was caught participating in a telephone jewelry theft scheme from jail.

After being released because she was dying of AIDS, Farmer again indulged in identity theft. In order to avoid prosecution, she presented a forged court order in an attempt to "change the death certificate of a man named Charles Smith, who died June 6, 2006, to reflect that Dee Farmer had died on that day instead."

Lesbian Judge is Out

Superior Court Judge Diana Hall, who is a lesbian, was removed from the bench last month and has missed the deadline for appeal. The charges against her sound reasonable, at least on their face. Among them: Her then-partner—wait for it—Deirdre Dykeman, failed to report a $20,000 contribution she made to the judge’s most recent campaign. Always expect scrutiny when you are a dyke named Deirdre Dykeman.

Grey's Anatomy Gets Even Gayer

Isaiah Washington, the Dr. Benton--make that Burke--character of Grey's Anatomy, reportedly called T.R. Knight, who plays Dr. O'Malley, a "faggot" in an on-set fight. Knight is, in fact, gay. Washington denies using the word, but Knight claims "everybody heard it." It reminds me of the time a girl on my soccer team called someone on the opposing team "dyke" because she was playing rough. You can't just throw these words out like you would "asshole" or "bitch." It's not the same thing. (I toy with the idea of finding an equally troubling name to call the name-caller to illustrate the point. I wouldn't go there with Washington, but it does sort of beg the question as to how he could delude himself into thinking slinging epithets is OK.)

I'm not sure the exchange is newsworthy enough to qualify for A.P. coverage (not to mention Knight's appearance on the Ellen DeRidiculous show). After all, this kind of name-calling happens every day. But I am perturbed that the gay actor has been type-cast as a no-balls loser nicknamed "Bambi" (or is that the no-balls loser doctor in Scrubs?)?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

You'll Never Think of "Gay Adoption" the Same Way Again

Gay people aren't allowed to marry each other to ensure hospital visitation, life-or-death decision making or inheritance rights. And, in several states, gay people aren't allowed to adopt children, because that would be wrong. But, at least in Maine, gay people are allowed to adopt each other to ensure that their partner inherits from them.

Now the heir to an IBM fortune, Olive Watson, is trying to un-adopt her ex-partner Patricia Spado so the partner won't have access to a grandchild's share of her ex's parents' inheritance.

It just gets more fucked up. Watson is claiming that the adoption was never valid because the two were in a sexual relationship. Which is why they undertook the adoption. There is nothing as repulsive as a gay person using the homophobia of the law to their benefit when it suits them. (Sure, the money-grabbing ex is no saint either, but could you resist a stab at the IBM fortune if it came your way?)

Watson's lawyer is also claiming that allowing her ex-partner to inherit would set a dangerous precedent: Gays, prevented from marrying, would flock to Maine to adopt each other instead. Right, because we're all a bunch of sick fucks—except Watson, who adopted her lover and is just now getting around to crying "Ew!"

Last paragraph of the New England News story: "Advocates for same-sex marriage told the newspaper that gay and lesbian couples aren't likely to pursue adoption in any state because the arrangements do not always work as intended." You can say that again.

Just in case the story isn't freaky enough, the editors paired it with a picture of a woman holding a little Chinese girl. That is obviously the best way to mark someone as a lesbian without her, say, looking like a lesbian. Never mind that it's been illegal for queers to adopt Chinese babies for some time.

Straight UK Scientist: Gay Sex Sucks

All these years, when you've seen your homo friend glow after sex, you've been seeing things. And when said friend says s/he loves sex, s/he has been fudging it. Yes, it's true, an English study has found that only man-woman sex has physical and psychological benefits. Homos have just been dicking the public around all this time.

The religious right has pounced on the study's findings, but those of us pushing the homosexual agenda have our doubts. Is it because we "put maintenance of [our] ideology above science," as the study's straight author claims, or because (a) the study may have examined the effects of homosexual sex among heterosexuals and (b) we have at least on occasion found ourselves stuck to the sheets, semi-catatonic and really fucking happy?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Bulldagger Buddha

Sometimes it's hard to believe how little straight people know about sex and relationships. A relationships-for-dummies guide has been on the New York Times most emailed articles list for nearly a month! Read the questions: It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that maybe you should talk about kids, money and in-laws before you get married. The funny thing is, the last article up for a comparable period of time was a piece about how to train your husband using the same techniques you would with a wild animal. Seriously.

Last night I met a straight couple at a bar. They asked me something about oral sex and why some men didn't like going down. To which I replied, measured sage that I am, especially under the influence of a couple mojitos, "You either like pussy or you don't. Those guys have a problem."

The straights roared with laughter. But then they raised the point that some women weren't so good at getting gone down on either. To which I said, again with composed wisdom, "They really have a problem! They've taken society's shame over pussies to heart."*

They looked at me as if to say, "Say more, wise bulldagger, say more!"

So I did. I said, "Have you ever met a guy who's embarrassed about liking to have his dick sucked?" They still looked enthralled (I'm actually fucking serious here), so I said, "Let's go one further. Have you ever known a guy who says, 'It's OK if you suck my dick, but don't touch my balls--I get embarrassed'?"

This story was repeated with awe at least three times. I mean, Christ. I was loaded.

*I'm not an expert on flesh-and-blood cocks or anything, but in my limited experience I recall that they also have a distinctly genital odor and have also been known to ooze. So what is our problem?

Update: The Times story on "training" your husband is back on the most emailed list. And a piece breaking the news that more women are now unmarried than married has joined it. If married life is so bad, I'd say not getting married is a more rational response than learning exotic animal training techniques.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Queer Domestic Violence

Today's Guardian features a brief report on domestic violence in the GLBT community. The Guardian is usually one of my favorite newspapers, but this is one strange article.

A quarter of GLBT couples fall prey to domestic violence, the article says--about the same as among straight couples.

But talking about domestic violence among gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people is, to paraphrase Rick Santorum (loosely), like talking about domestic violence among people, dogs, snakes, and supernovas. The statistics require parsing to reveal anything at all. About two-thirds of the way through, the article finally notes that domestic violence is more common among gay men than among lesbians (the picture at the top is, however, of a woman, and obviously comes from stock "domestic violence" footage). That's a start, but in an article on any other topic, statistics as murky as these would end up in the editor's blue file.

Note to MSM: GLBT is an acronym that refers to four different groups of people.

The article makes a worthy point in highlighting that domestic violence programs are so heavily geared toward heterosexual women that gay, lesbian and transgendered victims may not get the help they deserve. True enough, but Mother Jones reported in 2005 that 15 percent of domestic violence victims are male, suggesting that there are more than a few straight men who also can't access social services. (Imagine the reception they would receive at a safe space!) Our public dialogue and services surrounding same-sex domestic violence are in the larval stage, to be sure. But it's not clear that underreporting is any more of a problem in the queer community. After all, 70 percent of all domestic "incidents" go unreported, and heterosexual women, like the GLBT folks in the article, fear unsympathetic ears at the P.D. To practice what it preaches, the article should give more information about underserved populations. By lumping GLBT together, it ends up giving us less.

This article is so tongue-tied in trying to talk about queer issues that it exacerbates the problem it is trying to point out. The Guardian clearly needs a queer reporter, yo. (Wait, was that a bilingual pun? Why yes, yes it was.)

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Don't Go Back to Rockville High

This creepy article from a religious right site found its way into my Google Alerts. But it tells an interesting tale, so I'm going to give it a post (with the hope that the people at LifeSite will find it and be as repulsed as I was when I found their propaganda in my inbox).

The Montgomery County, Maryland, school district developed its most recent sex-ed curriculum with some input from PFLAG. The curriculum would have taught that gayness is just another way to be. It would also have included at least a brief mention of transgenderism. Before the curriculum could be taught, a religious right group with the ironic name "Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum" sprang up and made a stink.

CRC was especially angry that the material contained "no mention of the increased risk of sexually transmitted disease inherent in homosexual sex." It's funny that the group should defend science with a scientifically incorrect statement. (Well, actually it's not because these people have made it pretty clear that they have absolutely no regard for science, which is why they just make it up.) In the world called reality, women who have sex with women are at extremely low risk of getting STDs. If STDs are really the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum's main concern, the best thing they could do is tell pubescent girls to become lesbians. The next best thing would be to tell them to use condoms, which they don't. (Is their true agenda protecting or killing the children?)

As yet another example of total disregard for science—of which this curriculum forms a part—the group complained that the curriculum did not address "that a homosexual 'orientation' could be changed." That's because the preponderance of evidence that it can't is almost as crushing as the evidence suggesting that Darwin was right.

Get this: The curriculum was then redesigned with the participation of its critics. The revision adopted 69 of 83 changes recommended by the religious organization. But they're still not satisfied. Once you start including religious ideas in science curricula, there is no good stopping point.

CRC's remaining complaints reveal that members won't be happy until the only mention of homosexuality in the unit says that it will kill you. The group takes issue with several statements suggesting that queers feel better when they come out. Because homosexuality can't be changed, it's cruel to teach a roomful of students--some 5 percent of whom are immutably gay or lesbian--that they are destined to be as miserable as they probably are at that moment. Oh yeah, CRC also takes issue with the inclusion of material meant to lessen gay-bashing. The statistics on bias, the website scolds, are "provided by a non-medical, gay advocacy group GLSEN." Generally, it is advocacy groups like GLSEN—certainly not medical doctors!—who conduct large-scale issue-focused social research.

The group is up in arms about passages in the anti-bias section, such as “Homophobia may be shown in ways as mild as laughing at a gay joke” and “Children are not born hating; they learn to hate and fear from messages they receive growing up." That just speaks for itself.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Trans Kids in the Salon

Salon's Life page features an interview with Chris Beam, lesbian author of Transparent, a book about transgender street kids in Los Angeles. It's a whirlwind tour with a visually-impaired guide, but it's worth a read.

How Does It Feel, Hets?

The Family Foundation, the group which led the charge against (the possibility of) gay marriage in Virginia, is now setting its sights on curtailing abortion and heterosexual divorce. Give 'em an inch and they take a mile, those religious fanatics. The group wants to require consent from both parties for divorce. It also wants to force abortion clinics in the state to show clients an ultrasound of the fetus before conducting the procedure. Maybe I'm just naïve, but I don't think any woman or girl feels good about terminating her pregnancy; showing her an ultrasound just seems cruel. (And if we do that, shouldn't we also require medical and cosmetic researchers to watch videos of adorable animal behavior before proceeding with their research?)

Much as I don't identify as a Democrat, you gotta admit it's better to have them in power than the alternative. Take a look at the bills addressing gay rights already under consideration. My favorite is ending employment discrimination.

On the other hand, John Edwards came across as a typical sell-out Democrat in a campaign stop yesterday, trying to sound tolerant while also being pretty explicitly homophobic. How else can he explain finding it a "challenge to him personally" to wrap his mind around gays getting married?

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Could Gay Marriage Withstand a Popular Vote in Mass.?

The Christian Science Monitor has an in-depth article about the current state of gay marriage in Massachusetts. The most recent polling indicates that 62 percent of Massachussans oppose amending the constitution. But there's an odd thing about polling related to discrimination: People lie. They are embarassed to tell a pollster that they will vote to quash the rights of minorities, but in the privacy of the polling booth the temptation to do so can be great. In the days just before the November election, an Arizona pollster told me that only 30 percent of those surveyed supported the Arizona anti-gay marriage amendment. The amendment did fail--becoming the first ever to do so--but only by a few percentage points. Popular support at 62 percent is not enough to be free of this phenomenon.

The sound byte for gay marriage supporters in Massachusetts has been that the civil rights of a minority should not be put to a popular vote. After all, as Equal Marriage puts it, "This is the basic guarantee of our constitutional democracy."

Tuesday, January 2, 2007


As for the Mass. legislature's vote: FUUUUUUUCK.

The vote is, however, only the first of two needed to put an anti-gay marriage amendment on the ballot.

Homo Webians

Breaking news: Homos love the internet—this from a recent Harris Interactive poll. I'm not sure if this is good news—you know, the old optimism about using the internet as a tool to create communities (and more readers!)—or bad. Let's just say I felt a little queasy when I read that "Excluding email, nearly twice as many gays and lesbians (32%) say they are online between 24 and 168 hours per week, compared to 18 percent of heterosexuals." On the one hand, that number could simply indicate that queers are more web-savvy (a fifth of us use Craigslist, compared to a seventh of hets), especially if it includes workday hours. On the other, it could suggest that many of us are terrified to leave the house or can't find dates in the real world. Or even worse: We're lazy slobs.

Change of Heart about Gays in Uniform

The next big debate related to gay rights might just be allowing gays in the military. Retired general John Shalikashvili, who, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was established in 1993, was influential in developing it, writes in the Op-Ed section of today's New York Times that he no longer supports the policy. Shalikashvili argues that the military has changed such that "gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers." A recent Zogby poll supports the retired general's claim.

But the real issue is that our military needs more soldiers, and queer soldiers are better than no soldiers. "Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East," Shalikashvili writes bluntly, "We must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job."

The military has already lowered many of its other standards, so don't be too flattered. The most interesting thing to come from a possible policy shift will be that legislators will have to debate gay issues again, this time with pressure on them to include gays in our national cultural institutions.

Monday, January 1, 2007

New Year, Same Old Sheep

Scientists at the Oregon State University are researching the causes of homosexuality in sheep. It seems about 10 percent of rams prefer to mount other rams, rather than ewes. The research initially focused on maximizing reproduction rates. Researchers have discovered that opening the rams' skulls and injecting hormones into them provides "considerable success" in getting the rams to get on the ewes.

Gay rights activists are outraged. While it's a bit silly to defend sheep's "right" to be "gay," as Martina Navratilova did, there is talk of applying the research the humans by giving pregnant women the option to receive an injected hormonal cocktail to nip their son's homo tendencies in the bud. A Northwestern neurologist—not ethicist, not ob-gyn, not psychologist—tells the London Times that "Allowing parents to select their children’s sexual orientation would further a parent’s freedom to raise the sort of children they want to raise." (So, it's OK to mutilate your child in utero but not to abort a child you can't care for?) Udo Schuklenk, who is an ethicist, expresses concern that such technology could wind up "in the hands of Iran.…It is typical of the US to ignore the global context in which this is taking place." It seems to have slipped Dr. Schuklenk's mind that the U.S. has consistently voted with Iran when gay and lesbian issues have come before the United Nations.

Perversely, it's PETA that sounds the lone sane note of the article, condemning the study as "a needless slaughter of animals, an affront to human dignity and a colossal waste of precious research funds."

The research appears not to address ewe behavior in any way--which is odd, because their willingness is at least somewhat necessary to the mating process--or whether the hormone shot would be likely to keep human girl babies on the straight and narrow, too.

And, in yet more bad news from Iraq, this article tipped me off that gays and lesbians have been targeted for kidnappings and killings in Baghdad. Though, with the number of murders in Iraq, it's hard to say what it even means to be targeted.

On a lighter note, lesbians in Bangkok have partied through the recent coup in that country. The scene there is surprisingly vibrant, given that the country has a seriously spotty human rights record. This is how lesbians get their very own article in the New York Times? How very odd.