New Finnish Stamps Feature Homoerotic Themes

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Tom of Finland

Tom of Finland

FINLAND – For the cost of mailing a letter, you can be the proud owner of a piece of miniature homoerotica.
If you’re in Finland, that is.
That’s because Itella, the Finnish postal service, is releasing commemorative stamps featuring the art of Tom of Finland, or Touko Laaksonen (1920-1991). Laaksonen remains a towering and iconic figure in the gay art scene. His sketches, often explicit, were unapologetic depictions of gay sex and relationships. Laaksonen’s subjects were almost always muscle-bound, handsome figures, often bursting out of their clothes. His work, a meditation on masculinity, was also heavy on leather fetish imagery. It’s a pretty risque sheet of stamps, which will feature 33 different designs based on Laaksonen’s work. They even include a little exposed booty, but nothing hardcore.
“Of course, the choice was discussed, but we wanted to live in the year 2014,” Itella development director Markku Penttinen told the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.
Laaksonen’s art is part of a number of public collections, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.
“The sheet (of stamps) portrays a sensual life force and being proud of oneself,” said graphic designer Timo Berry, who selected the work that will be printed on stamps released this fall. “There is never too much of that in this northern country.”
The announcement of the Tom of Finland stamp follows news that the U.S. Postal Service is honoring gay rights icon Harvey Milk with a postage stamp that will be released on May 22, Harvey Milk Day. Milk, the San Francisco supervisor whose story was the basis for Gus Van Sant’s film “Milk,” was killed by a former city supervisor in 1978. Milk will be the first openly gay person person to grace a U.S. postage stamp, which features Milk’s picture and the LGBT pride flag.
from The Washington Post

Teenager Convicted Of Stabbing Gay Man

Floyd Evans

Floyd Evans

UNITED KINGDOM – A teenager has been found not guilty of the attempted murder of a gay man on Chester’s historic City Walls.
But the jury sitting at Chester Crown Court took more than three hours to decide that Floyd Evans, 19, did intend to wound 35-year-old Francisco Nascimento on October 21 last year, by stabbing him in the chest.
The attack left Mr Nascimento, originally from Brazil, fighting for his life and was believed by police to have been a homophobic assault because it happened at the top of the City Walls steps on Frodsham Street, a known meeting point for gay men in the city.
In a trial that lasted five days, the jury was told in detail the events leading up to the night of October 21. They heard that on that evening, Mr Nascimento, a cleaner who has lived in the UK since 2005, had been shopping at Tesco on Frodsham Street before making his way along the City Walls, in the hope of finding ‘someone to talk to’.
The court was told that he led a fairly solitary life, had few friends and did not frequent pubs or bars.
That night on the City Walls he encountered a friend, Gareth Davies, whom he chatted to for 40 minutes before they both noticed a ‘skinny, young male’ approaching them.
The man appeared to stop for a few minutes before turning round and coming back up the steps, which Mr Nascimento said was a signal commonly used by gay men at that spot.
The young man was wearing a hat and hoodie that covered that covered much of his face, and the victim said he felt ‘apprehensive’ about him the moment he saw him.
At one point he moved to show the side of his face, and Mr Nascimento was able to make direct eye contact with him.
He had thought the man was about to walk away when he was suddenly struck in the chest before the other man ran off in the direction of Northgate Street.
Gareth Davies called for help and in the meantime, applied pressure to Mr Nascimento’s wound, which doctors later said may have played a part in saving his life.
Evans, who had recently secured work with Cheshire West and Chester Council’s highways department, was arrested on November 11 after PC Lisa Smith, who had encountered him before, identified him from CCTV footage.
Although Mr Nascimento and Mr Davies were unable to pick out Evans from the first identity parade they saw, they later both identified him as the attacker in a second line-up.
During his testimony to the court, Evans accepted he had been out in the city centre on the night of October 21, saying he had visited pubs, was drunk on lager and spirits and had taken some drugs.
He said he then went to Tesco to do some shopping, and claimed he had no recollection of anything that happened after walking through the store entrance until he woke up the next morning.
When shown CCTV images of a man fitting his description walking on the City Walls around the time of the attack, he admitted ‘it could have been me’ but denied knowledge of attacking someone, saying: “I’m sure I’d remember plunging a knife into someone.”
When Peter Moss, defending, asked Evans what he thought about the possibility it had been a homophobic attack, Evans replied: “I have no anti-gay views. Everyone is equal. My brother is gay and I’m perfectly happy with that” – a statement later backed up by his brother who testified in court.
The jury was also told of a 999 call made by Evans months before the incident, in which he threatened to stab police officers and set them alight.
When asked by Mr Moss why he did that, Evans said he’d had an argument with his brother about living arrangements and thought it would be easier to get himself arrested and find a bed that way by making ‘empty threats’.
In his summary, Judge Elgan Edwards told the court that Mr Nascimento was still recovering from his injuries, which had punctuated his body 10-15cm.
He had been left ‘mentally distraught’ by the events of that night, and were it not for the paramedics and skilled doctors at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, it is likely he would not be alive today.
Evans will be sentenced on the wounding with intent charge during the week commencing May 12.
from The Chester Chronicle

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New Food Festival To Celebrate LGBT Chefs

GaySomething new is coming to the parade of food festivals that has sprung up around the country – CookOUT/RockOUT, a food and music event celebrating LGBT chefs and other food luminaries.
“It’s a way to showcase, in a positive, fun light, diversity within the food world,” festival founder Bruce Seidel says of the event, which launches in Los Angeles in the fall. The goal is to show “people that, `Hey, gay people are everywhere and this is a way to celebrate that whether you’re gay or not.’”
Seidel is a former Food Network executive who developed hit shows including “Iron Chef America” and “Next Food Network Star.” These days he runs Hot Lemon Productions, a consulting and production company he created with a focus on food. CookOUT is one of several projects the company is working on.
He first thought of creating a television program built around mentoring people in the food profession who were struggling with coming out or other issues. But then he began thinking about creating something new on the food festival front and the two ideas jelled.
The festival won’t be as big as some, aiming for 400 to 500 people rather than thousands, and the plan is to hold it at an LA estate built by a silent film star in the 1920s. Music will range from rock to classical violin and the culinary events will emphasize food experiences as opposed to “you eat 300 things, but you have no idea what you’ve tasted in the end,” says Seidel.
The roster of performers and chefs still is being put together, but among those from the LGBT community who already have signed up for the event are Big Gay Ice Cream, the New York-based frozen treats shop which also has a branch in Los Angeles, and Art Smith, Oprah’s former personal chef. Straight chefs also will be in the lineup.
Smith is looking forward to an event celebrating “the vast diversity within the food world of openly gay chefs,” noting that “there are many who still cannot be openly gay in their chosen careers.”
from The Associated Press

Gas Station Signs With Gay Slur Causing Controversy

GayLAGRANGE, GEORGIA — A sign with a gay slur on it is upsetting some customers at a LaGrange convenience store.
The owner said he put it up because he was sick of customers coming in with saggy pants. The sign calls customers a gay slur if they choose to wear saggy pants.
“I came up with that sign, nobody else did,” said Anil Patel, who owns PCA Food Store on Hogansville Road. “Since that sign went up there, I don’t see no pants down in my store, because they read the sign and they decide what they want to be.”
“I couldn’t believe they put something like that up,” said customer Joshua Southern, who said he plans to no longer shop at the store.
“It doesn’t bother me, not a bit. I have a girlfriend and I am gay,” said Kerrie Williams, a clerk at the store
Other customers also supported the owner.
“Ain’t nobody want to see all that. I don’t want to see no grown man with they pants down,” a customer told Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman.
“It really offends me by them coming in, pants down. So it is not that I’m against them, gay people or anything like that, but just trying to prove a point. If you are going to come in my store, make sure you have your pants on,” Patel told Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman.
“There is other ways to deal with it. You could say, ‘Pull your pants up. Nobody wants to see your butt,’” Southern said.
Late Thursday night, the owner’s father pulled the signs down but Patel, who is out of town,  plans to come back first thing Friday morning to put the sign back up.
from WSBTV

Jockstrap Central / Ballz-Out

Same-Sex Marriage And Gay Sex Are Still Not OK

Gay CoupleIn the early 2000s, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ stance on same-sex marriage aligned with the opinions of most Americans: Gays and lesbians shouldn’t be allowed to marry.
Since then, popular opposition to same-sex marriage has collapsed across much of the country, with 17 states and the District of Columbia allowing the practice.
Shifting public opinion may explain the message that Neil L. Andersen, an elder in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles – the second-highest governing body in the Mormon Church – had for listeners at the semiannual General Conference in Salt Lake City on Saturday.
“While many governments and well-meaning individuals have redefined marriage, the Lord has not,” Andersen said in his remarks, which warned of “whirlwinds” that would test Mormons’ adherence to the church’s socially conservative theology.
The church has not been immune to doctrinal changes throughout its history. It halted plural marriage among its members in 1890 so Utah could become a state, and announced in 1978 that black men could become ordained priests. (Women are still not allowed into the priesthood, which has caused division among church members.)
With the church now seeing public opinion diverge with its position on same-sex marriage, Andersen urged Mormons – especially the youth – to hold firm to the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.
God’s law, Andersen said, is clear. Then he quoted from a church statement after a federal judge struck down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban in December: “Sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife.”
He added that church members who “struggle with same-sex attraction” were of “special concern,” and expressed support for those conflicted about their sexuality. He urged kindness in all cases.
The conservative bastion of Utah is one of several states fighting recent court rulings that have struck down bans on same-sex marriage. Oral arguments before the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals are set for Thursday. A week later, the 10th Circuit will hear arguments in a similar Oklahoma case.
One of the most prominent Mormons in the public sphere, Tyler Glenn, the lead singer for the pop group Neon Trees, recently came out as openly gay.
“It is a whirlwind of enormous velocity,” Andersen said of same-sex attraction. “I want to express my love and admiration for those who courageously confront this trial of faith and stay true to the commandments of God. But everyone independent of his and her decisions and belief deserve our kindness and consideration.”
from The Los Angeles Times

Supreme Court Declines Case Of Photographer Who Denied Service To Gay Couple

Gay MarriageThe Supreme Court declined on Monday to consider whether a New Mexico photographer had a right to refuse service to a same-sex couple who wanted her to record their commitment ceremony.
Without comment, the court said it would not review a decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court that the denial of service violated the state’s public accommodations law, which bans discrimination by those offering their services to the public.
The justices Monday turned aside several requests that they hear controversial issues. Also among them: the manner in which executions are carried out and the National Security Agency’s collection of bulk telephone records. Last week, the court fueled a national debate on campaign finance laws with a contentious ruling that struck down the overall limit on how much a donor can contribute to political candidates and parties.
The New Mexico case prompted some states, such as Arizona, to propose laws that would protect companies and individuals who say providing some services to same-sex couples would violate their religious beliefs.
The case at the court came from Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin, whose company, Elane Photography, refused service for the 2007 commitment ceremony of a lesbian couple, Vanessa Willock and Misti Collinsworth.
he Huguenins said that they would “gladly serve gays and lesbians” by taking portraits. But photographing same-sex marriages or commitment ceremonies would “require them to create expression conveying messages that conflict with their religious beliefs,” according to their petition to the court.
The state human rights commission found that the Huguenins violated the New Mexico Human Rights Act, and the state Supreme Court unanimously upheld the decision.
“When Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the NMHRA in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races,” the court said.
In their petition, the Huguenins and lawyer Jordan W. Lorence of the Alliance Defending Freedom mentioned religion frequently. But their plea did not cite constitutional protection of their right to freely exercise their religion. Instead, they relied on another part of the First Amendment: their right to free speech.
Elaine Huguenin’s work is artistic expression, the petition said, and she cannot be forced to “communicate messages antithethical to her religious beliefs through government coercion.”
Tobias B. Wolff, a University of Pennsylvania law professor representing Willock, pointed out in his brief that the Huguenins acknowledged that courts were not split on the questions they raised, normally a prerequisite for Supreme Court action. He said the issue was a simple one: “Whatever service you provide, you must not discriminate against customers when you engage in public commerce.”
At the time of Willock’s attempt to hire Huguenin, same-sex marriage was not available in New Mexico. The state is now one of 17 where it is legal.
Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Windsor , striking down a part of the Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as a union between only a man and a woman, federal judges across the country have ruled against similar bans at the state level.
As a result, some states have proposed or enacted legislation aimed at protecting those who do not want to offer their marriage services to same-sex couples because they say it would violate their religious beliefs. The controversy came to a head in Arizona, where Gov. Jan Brewer (R) vetoed legislation that the state’s business community and others said was seen as a license to discriminate.
from The Washington Post

Gay Men Divided Over Use Of HIV Prevention Drug

GayIt’s the Truvada conundrum: A drug hailed as a lifesaver for many people infected by HIV is at the heart of a rancorous debate among gay men, AIDS activists and health professionals over its potential for protecting uninfected men who engage in gay sex without using condoms.
Many doctors and activists see immense promise for such preventive use of Truvada, and are campaigning hard to raise awareness of it as a crucial step toward reducing new HIV infections, which now total about 50,000 a year in the U.S. Recent efforts range from think-tank forums and informational websites to a festive event at a New York City bar featuring popular drag queens.
Yet others – despite mounting evidence of Truvada’s effectiveness – say such efforts are reckless, tempting some condom users to abandon that layer of protection and exposing them to an array of other sexually transmitted infections aside from HIV.
“If something comes along that’s better than condoms, I’m all for it, but Truvada is not that,” said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Let’s be honest: It’s a party drug.”
Even as gay-rights organizations celebrate collective progress in the fight to legalize same-sex marriage, the less-publicized Truvada debate has fueled bitter divisions within the gay community. Some who use the drug say they’ve felt shamed by some who don’t, and there’s now a lively backlash by users and their allies, including promotion of a “Truvada Whore” T-shirt.
“The discussion can torch emotions like a flame-thrower on a fuel depot,” wrote Steve Ramos of the Dallas Voice as the gay-oriented publication reported on the debate in March.
Truvada, produced by California-based Gilead Sciences, has been around for a decade, serving as one of the key drugs used in combination with others as the basic treatment for people who have the AIDS-causing virus HIV. However, the drug took on a more contentious aspect in 2012 when the Food and Drug Administration approved it for pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP – in other words, for use to prevent people from getting sexually transmitted HIV in the first place.
Since then, critics have warned that many gay men won’t heed Truvada’s once-a-day regimen and complained of its high cost – roughly $13,000 a year. Truvada’s proponents say most insurance plans – including Medicaid programs – now cover prescriptions for it, and they cite studies showing that the blue pill, if taken diligently, can reduce the risk of getting HIV by more than 90 percent.
Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, medical director of the ambulatory HIV program at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, served on the FDA panel that recommended approving Truvada for preventive purposes and is among many doctors who hope that doubts about it fade.
“For folks who are having a significant amount of unprotected sex, it’s a slam dunk – not only giving them protective medicine, but engaging them in testing, a whole package of regular health care,” he said.
Yet Daskalakis says that out of his large clientele, only about 25 men are taking Truvada for prevention.
“There’s some interesting social pushback,” he said. “I’ve spoken to some of my patients who’d totally be candidates but are hesitant to do it. They don’t want to be labeled as people on the drug because there’s a social stigma.”
Daskalakis is dismayed by groups like the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation – one of the country’s leading HIV/AIDS service providers – which suggest that prescribing Truvada for prevention means condoning condomless sex.
“I find some of that opposition irresponsible,” Daskalakis said. “If some men don’t want to use condoms, they won’t. You have to deal with it by acknowledging that sometimes unprotected sex happens, and you can still prevent HIV infections.”
To date, preventive use of Truvada appears to be limited, due partly to misgivings among some gay men and partly to lack of awareness.
According to Gilead, 1,774 people starting using Truvada for prevention between January 2011 and March 2013 – nearly half of them women. The company said more recent figures aren’t available, but health officials in several cities said they see no signs of a major surge in usage.
“Out of our thousands of patients, we have about 20 on PrEP,” said Dr. Robert Winn, medical director at Philadelphia’s Mazzoni Center, which serves many gay clients.
“Many ask about it, few take it,” Winn said. “The number one reason for that gap is the commitment of having to take it every day.”
Weinstein, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation leader, takes heart from the low usage figures, saying they bear out his reservations about Truvada. He says he’s undeterred by criticism of his insistence that condomless sex – even in the Truvada era – should be discouraged among gay men with multiple partners.
“There’s an element in the gay community that espouses `anything goes,’ that is for sexual freedom and not giving an inch,” he said. “But demonizing me or AHF isn’t going to shut us up.”
Another Truvada skeptic is Richard Weinmeyer, a research associate with the American Medical Association’s Ethics Group. In an article in February in Bioethics Forum, Weinmeyer – expressing his personal views – argued that preventive use of Truvada could encourage sexual irresponsibility.
Continue reading Gay Men Divided Over Use Of HIV Prevention Drug

Parent Demands Removal Of ‘Two Boys Kissing’ Book From High School Library

GayA parent’s request to pull from high school libraries a book about the struggle of gay and transgender teens has triggered a public hearing on whether or not the book should remain available to Fauquier public high school students.
Fauquier County Public Schools has received a request from a parent to withdraw from student use the book “Two Boys Kissing” by David Levithan which is a part of the high schools’ library collections. A school committee at Fauquier High School decided to retain the book in its library collection, and the parent is appealing the decision to the superintendent.
The book’s Amazon synopsis describes the story of “Two Boys Kissing,” in which “. . .Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS. While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing (former) couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.”
In accordance with Policy 6-5.7, the associate superintendent is forming a review committee. On Wednesday, April 23 in the conference room of the school board office, the committee will consider the complainant’s request. From 1:30-3 p.m. the committee will interview the complainant and possibly others related to the decision to withdraw or retain the book. From 3-4 p.m. the committee will hold a public hearing during which time interested citizens may speak to the review committee concerning the subject. The committee will discuss its findings and render a decision on the same date. All proceedings on April 23 are open to the public.
from The Fauquier Times

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Danny Pintauro Marries Wil Tabares

Danny Pintauro

Danny Pintauro & Wil Tabares

A lovely couple deserves a lovely day, and that’s exactly what Danny Pintauro and Wil Tabares got for their wedding. Who’s the Boss alum Pintauro, 38, tied the knot with his boyfriend in an intimate beach ceremony on Thursday, April 3.
As previously reported, the Las Vegas-based couple said “I do” in Dana Point, Calif., in front of friends, family, and even some fans, who were able to watch part of the festivities via Livestream. Both Pintauro and Tabares wore light-colored suits for their big day, with what appeared to be chrysanthemums tucked into their vest pockets. The reception was “beautiful,” too, a source said, adding that Tabares sang a special song for Pintauro. “It was all very sweet and romantic.”
“Everything went off without a hitch,” Pintauro, now a manager at a Las Vegas P.F. Chang’s, told Us of the afternoon. “The wedding was terrific, and everyone was so happy to be there. We had fun! We went into it with no stress or worries or cares, except to have a good time.”
Added his new husband, an entertainer and Cosmopolitan casino employee: “I never thought I would get married…I never thought I’d see the day that same-sex marriage would be legal, so it’s definitely a lifelong dream come true. The beautiful reality is starting to set in. This is one small step for man, one giant step for equality.”
Tabares also reflected on the wedding on his website. “I sit here now reflecting back on yesterday’s events, and now I can see why everyone gets excited about getting married,” he wrote on Friday, April 4. “It was a magical experience and one that I will never forget for obvious reasons. My friends and family were there as well as Dan’s and I can’t thank each and every one of them enough for coming out to support us on our most important day together so far.”
Us exclusively confirmed the couple’s engagement last year. Pintauro, best known for playing Jonathan Bower on Who’s the Boss from 1984 to 1992, accepted Tabares’ video proposal in April 2013 during a Palm Springs getaway.
from US Magazine
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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Denies Jerry Sandusky Appeal Bid

Jerry Sandusky

Jerry Sandusky

HARRISBURG, PENNSYLVANIA — Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s child molestation conviction will not be reviewed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, under an order issued Wednesday.
Sandusky asked the court to take up his 45-count conviction, arguing his lawyers were rushed too quickly to trial in 2012 and that prosecutors improperly made reference to his decision not to testify.
He also said the trial judge should have issued a jury instruction about how long it took his victims to report the abuse and that jurors should not have been told to weigh evidence of his good character against all other evidence.
The state attorney general’s office had countered that Sandusky did not provide sufficient basis for the Supreme Court to take up the matter, and that decisions made by the trial judge did not violate his rights.
Sandusky, 70, is serving a 30- to 60-year prison sentence for sexual abuse of 10 boys. His lawyer said he is disappointed the court denied his appeal.
Eight of his victims testified at trial, describing a range of abuse from grooming and fondling to oral and anal sex, including attacks in the basement of Sandusky’s home outside State College. Another witness, a graduate assistant for the team who had been a quarterback for the Nittany Lions, testified he saw Sandusky having sexual contact with a boy inside a team shower late on a Friday night.
Sandusky did not testify on his own behalf but has maintained his innocence. His lawyer has said the victims’ testimony was motivated by a desire to cash in. Penn State announced last year it was paying $59.7 million to 26 people who had raised claims of abuse at Sandusky’s hands.
His defense lawyers repeatedly sought delays before trial, saying they were swamped by an enormous amount of material from prosecutors and needed more time to examine the background of his accusers.
During a post-sentencing hearing, however, defense attorney Joe Amendola acknowledged that he had not discovered anything afterward that would have changed his trial strategy.
Sandusky’s 2011 arrest led to the firing of Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno and significant penalties levied against the school by the NCAA. Paterno was stripped of 111 of his 409 career wins while the school was fined $60 million, banned from bowl games for four years and faced steep scholarship cuts.
Three other high-ranking school officials, including the then-president, face charges they covered up complaints about Sandusky. Their case has not yet gone to trial.
from The New York Daily News
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Randy Blue

Harvey Milk Gets Post Office’s Stamp Of Approval

Harvey MilkGay rights activist Harvey Milk is getting the Post Office’s stamp of approval.
A photo of the slain San Francisco politician will be featured on stamps starting in May, making him the first openly gay elected official to be commemorated on a postage note.
This week the Post Office unveiled the black-and-white stamp design that will be released on May 22, Harvey Milk Day.
Milk, the first openly gay politician in California, was shot and killed in Nov. 1978 at the age of 48 by a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
from The New York Daily News

Deadly L.A.-Area Meningitis Outbreak Raises Concerns In Gay Community

GayLOS ANGELES – As three people were confirmed dead this week after having contracted meningitis in Los Angeles County, at least one medical expert said there is a “pretty strong signal” that men who have sex with men are at increased risk for the rare bacterial infection.
Robert Bolan, the medical director at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, said there is cause for concern in the gay community because the infection rate is higher in men who have sex with men and especially higher in those who are HIV-positive.
Bolan said it is unclear why the disease seems to affect men who have sex with men at a higher rate, though the weakened immune systems of people who are HIV-positive might make them more susceptible.
“I think the important thing to understand is this is not an epidemic,” Bolan said. “But there’s a pretty strong signal that men who have sex with men, at least those who are HIV-positive, are at increased risk for invasive meningococcal disease.”
The county health department announced earlier this week that there have been eight cases of invasive meningococcal disease in the county so far this year. Four cases occurred in men who have sex with men, and three of those involved men who were HIV-positive, county health officials said. On Thursday, officials said three of them had died. The victims were 27 or 28.
Some of those sickened lived or socialized in West Hollywood and North Hollywood, officials said.
The deaths come less than a year after L.A. gay’s community grappled with another meningitis scare.
Brett Shaad, a 33-year-old West Hollywood resident and attorney, contracted meningitis in April 2013 after attending a gathering of gay men in Palm Springs. He died days later.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation responded by offering free meningitis vaccines. County health officials eventually offered the vaccine for low-income and uninsured residents.
This time around, the county is providing free vaccinations for patients without health insurance.
Invasive meningococcal disease stems from a rare bacterial infection that can spread to the blood, brain or spinal cord and can affect the entire body — sometimes causing death.
It is spread by close exposure to sneezing or coughing or direct contact with saliva or nose mucus — though it’s less contagious than influenza, the county health department said.
Activities associated with risk for the illness include smoking, close contact with an infected person such as kissing or sharing beverages or cigarettes, and living in group settings for prolonged periods.
Symptoms of the illness usually strike within five days of exposure to the bacteria, and may include a high fever, stiff neck, aversion to bright light and aches.
Those interested in the free vaccinations can call 211 or visit the department’s website to get a listing of provider clinics.
from The Los Angeles Times

Mozilla CEO Resigns, Opposition To Gay Marriage Drew Fire

FirefoxMozilla Chief Executive Brendan Eich has stepped down, the company said on Thursday, after an online dating service urged a boycott of the company’s web browser because of a donation Eich made to opponents of gay marriage.
The software company came under fire for appointing Eich as CEO last month. In 2008, he gave money to oppose the legalization of gay marriage in California, a hot-button issue especially at a company that boasts about its policy of inclusiveness and diversity.
“We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act,” wrote Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker in a blog post. “We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry.”
The next step for Mozilla’s leadership “is still being discussed,” she added, with more information to come next week.
While gay activists applauded the move, many in the technology community lamented the departure of Eich, who invented the programming language Javascript and co-founded Mozilla.
“Brendan Eich is a good friend of 20 years, and has made a profound contribution to the Web and to the entire world,” venture capitalist Marc Andreessen tweeted.
Eich donated $1,000 in 2008 in support of California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in the state until it was struck down by the Supreme Court in June.
His resignation came days after, the popular online dating site, called for a boycott of Mozilla Firefox to protest the world’s No. 2 Web browser naming a gay marriage opponent as chief executive.
On Monday, OkCupid sent a message to visitors who accessed the website through Firefox, suggesting they use browsers such as Microsoft Corp’s Internet Explorer or Google Inc’s Chrome.
“Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples,” the message said. “We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.”
from Reuters
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