poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The quiet warrior 
Activist Sir Jesse of Decatur speaks at trans conference

“Doesn’t it take a man to get hit in the head, skull cracked, and still come back to march fifty-four miles for freedom?” the teacher asks his class of alternative school students in Decatur. The man the teacher references is U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who was a pioneer of the black civil rights movement alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.

It’s a lesson that activist Sir Jesse of Decatur, known to his students as Mr. McNulty, hopes his class takes to heart. Because of their age and various life circumstances, McNulty says that the odds are stacked against most of his students in their pursuit of happiness and prosperity. Their attitudes and opinions typically buck society’s mores, and bucking the system doesn’t usually make life easy.

McNulty can relate.

At least a little spectacle follows Sir Jesse of Decatur to most places he goes. As a transgender man, he acknowledges that other people are naturally curious about him, but he is empowered enough to demand the same respect given anyone else.


What if It’s (Sort of) a Boy and (Sort of) a Girl?

When Brian Sullivan — the baby who would before age 2 become Bonnie Sullivan and 36 years later become Cheryl Chase — was born in New Jersey on Aug. 14, 1956, doctors kept his mother, a Catholic housewife, sedated for three days until they could decide what to tell her. Sullivan was born with ambiguous genitals, or as Chase now describes them, with genitals that looked “like a little parkerhouse roll with a cleft in the middle and a little nubbin forward.” Sullivan lived as a boy for 18 months, until doctors at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in Manhattan performed exploratory surgery, found a uterus and ovotestes (gonads containing both ovarian and testicular tissue) and told the Sullivans they’d made a mistake: Brian, a true hermaphrodite in the medical terminology of the day, was actually a girl. Brian was renamed Bonnie, her “nubbin” (which was either a small penis or a large clitoris) was entirely removed and doctors counseled the family to throw away all pictures of Brian, move to a new town and get on with their lives. The Sullivans did that as best they could. They eventually relocated, had three more children and didn’t speak of the circumstances around their eldest child’s birth for many years. As Chase told me recently, “The doctors promised my parents if they did that” — shielded her from her medical history — “that I’d grow up normal, happy, heterosexual and give them grandchildren.”


Archbishop backs Tutu on gay stance

Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane says his church condemned homophobia and preached the message of "open and loving support" for gay and lesbian Anglicans.

This follows his predecessor Desmond Tutu's remarks -- quoted in his authorised biography -- that he was "ashamed to be an Anglican" following the Anglican church's decision not to change its stance on gay and lesbian issues some years ago when George Carey was the head of the Anglican church and Archbishop of Canterbury.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Witness gives first testimony in gay pride attack hearing

SAN DIEGO – A man who attended July's gay pride festival testified Thursday he was hit twice with a baseball bat by a member of a group that attacked two other men in Balboa Park while using a gay epithet.

Paul Mullins, 34, who moved to San Diego the day before, said he followed the attackers for more than 10 minutes toward the festival grounds while talking to a 911 dispatcher and saw them attack a man on a bench.

“They just beat him,” he said. “They just kept beating him.”


Gay marriage opposers warned by cabinet

The cabinet has warned opponents of same-sex marriage legislation to be careful not to behave in a way that suggested they wanted to defy the decision of the Constitutional Court.

Government spokesperson Themba Maseko said yesterday that the cabinet had "noted the discourse on the Civil Unions Bill". 

"While every individual or group has the right to express their views, the cabinet emphasised the need for everyone to be reminded that the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act was unconstitutional," he said.


Hong Kong court upholds rejection of gay sex ban

The Hong Kong Court of Appeal Wednesday upheld a 2005 ruling that laws prohibiting gay sex are unconstitutional and discriminatory and violate Hong Kong's Basic Law [text and background] and the Bill of Rights. The law in the former British colony, now a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, authorizes life sentences for men under 21 who engage in sodomy, while heterosexual and lesbian relationships are legal after the age of 16 and their sexual activity prior to age 16 only calls for a 5-year maximum jail sentence. Chief High Court Judge Geoffrey Ma ruled Wednesday that there was no justification for the different age limit for homosexual men.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Conservative Anglican bishops to sign anti-gay pact

KIGALI (Reuters) - Conservative Anglican bishops largely drawn from developing countries are expected to agree on a pact condemning the ordination of gay clergy, Nigeria's archbishop said on Wednesday.

The agreement, expected to be signed later this week by clerics from Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia meeting in Rwanda, is likely to deepen rifts between the conservatives mainly from the "Global South" and liberals in the United States and Europe


Anti-gay group posts essay claiming Africans better off under slavery

The LGBT advocacy group Truth Wins Out expressed extreme disgust with the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) on Sept. 19 after a racist column that defends slavery was discovered on the group's website. The comments come only days before Ron Oden, the openly gay African American mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., is to appear at Focus on the Family's Sept. 23 anti-gay"Love Won Out" conference, headlined by NARTH's Executive Director Joseph Nicolosi.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What’s law got to do with it?

The implications of decriminalising same-sex love transcend the immediate concerns of gay people

 The campaign to decriminalise same-sex relations has received high visibility with the release of writer Vikram Seth’s public letter demanding a “reading down” of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. Co-signed by prominent citizens, the letter demands the reading-down of the “brutal law” that “punitively criminalises romantic love and private, consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex” while being used to “systematically persecute, blackmail, arrest and terrorise sexual minorities.” In a separate statement supporting the open letter, economist Amartya Sen asks for the abolition of the “colonial era monstrosity” that runs contrary to “the enhancement of human freedom” and India’s commitment to “democracy and human rights.”


Jerusalem Loses Battle to Ban Gay Pride Parade—Court-Ordered Date Set for November 10

JERUSALEM, Israel, - An ongoing battle over homosexual pride demonstrations in the city of Jerusalem came to an end today, after the controversial Gay Pride parade was rescheduled for November 10, the Jerusalem Post reported.

After talks lasting three hours between the Jerusalem Police, State Prosecution, the Jerusalem Municipality and homosexual activist groups, Jerusalem police agreed to provide security to the event.


Moscow court rejects appeal against gay parade ban

MOSCOW, September 19 (RIA Novosti) - The Moscow City Court rejected Tuesday an appeal lodged by the organizers of a gay pride parade in May against a ban on the event, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported from the courtroom.

The Tverskoy district court issued a ruling against the parade, planned for May 27, a day before, upholding a ban imposed earlier by City Hall.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Nepal government begins crackdown on gays

Kathmandu - Nepal’s vulnerable gay community, who had taken part in the popular protests against King Gyanendra’s regime, are now being targeted by the new ‘democratic’ government they supported to power, a gay rights organisation said.
The new government of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, that was sworn in May and pledged to uphold democracy and human rights, has now started a cleansing drive against homosexuals in the capital, arbitrarily arresting them, detaining them illegally and beating them up in police lock-ups, according to the Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s most prominent gay rights organisation.

Sunil Pant, president of Blue Diamond Society, says the new drive against metis - homosexual men who dress up as women - began about a month ago.

Metis are being prevented from moving around in the capital, especially in the Thamel area, that is the capital’s tourist hub and a prime destination for male prostitutes.

Last month, three metis were arrested from the Thamel area because they were carrying condoms. This month, five more were arrested from a dance bar in another area of the capital.


Backing gay rights

NEW DELHI: Author Vikram Seth and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen are leading a group of activists seeking de-criminalisation of gay sex between consenting adults and demanding a repeal of Section 377 of IPC, which prescribes punishments for gays.

In open letters to the Government of India, the group, which has several actors and social activists, said Section 377, by making same-sex relations a crime, violates fundamental human rights of gay and bisexual men and women.

"It is disgraceful that Section 377 has on several recent occasions been used by officials to suppress the work of legitimate HIV-prevention groups, leaving gay and bisexual men even more defenceless," said Seth in his letter released on Saturday at the launch of a campaign in Delhi.

Economist Amartya Sen, in a separate letter of support to the campaign, stated that criminalisation of gay behaviour also curbed the enhancement of human freedoms.


Notables Urge India to End 145-Year Ban on Gay Sex

NEW DELHI, Sept. 15 — A British-era relic is facing a new challenge in India, as a growing citizens’ movement rallies against a 145-year-old law still embedded in the Indian penal code that bans gay sex

On Saturday an open letter to the government will be officially unveiled, calling for the repeal of what is known by its official moniker, Section 377, which makes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with man, woman or animal” punishable by 10 years in prison.