SAN FRANCISCO — There were times — after he told his parents he was gay, for example, and his mother wept and his father tried to hit him — when Fredy Bolvito curled up on a bench in Union Square here and cried because he had AIDS and no job and no place to stay and he felt, he said, that “my life was over.”
But there were also days when he sat on the bench in the square and sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” looking up at the flags atop the Westin St. Francis hotel and thinking, “That’s breathtaking, that’s my American dream.” Or when he mingled with tourists, giving them directions to the cable cars, or gazed through the windows at the shoppers in Macy’s and was saddened by how rich and healthy they looked.
He scavenged for meals in garbage bins. He avoided the homeless shelters, where he had heard that gays were taunted, or worse. His “angel,” he said, was in the center of the square: the statue “Victory,” a trident in one hand, a wreath in the other.
“I would look at it at night and think, ‘Oh my God, that’s my hope,’ ” he said.
San Francisco is often viewed as a Mecca for gay people. But the warmth of the city’s welcome can quickly vanish for those who are poor.
City leaders were startled this year when a survey revealed that 29 percent of the homeless population —about 2,100 of the 7,350 people counted — identified themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
Bevan Dufty, the director of the city’s homelessness initiatives, said he was surprised the percentage held true for all age groups, even adults and the elderly. “What was really staggering was to see that it didn’t change as you got older,” he said.
The survey found that gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people who are homeless had higher rates of disability than homeless heterosexuals and were more likely to be homeless when they arrived in the city. Some of them were older gay men with AIDS who had been evicted from their apartments or people who had been cast out by their families in other states. Others, like Mr. Bolvito, a native of Guatemala who graduated from college in Hayward, Calif., with a degree in political science and once worked as a real estate agent, had good jobs that disappeared during the recession.
In response to the findings, Mr. Dufty and Kara Zordel, a coordinator of Homeless Connect, organized an event in October that offered medical and dental services and other assistance to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who are homeless. And in August, the city’s planning commission approved permits for a 24-bed shelter with a focus on helping them. The shelter is expected to open in the coming months. Other cities have shown interest in San Francisco’s efforts, Mr. Dufty said. Officials from Santa Clara and Phoenix attended the Homeless Connect event.
Brian Basinger, a co-founder of the AIDS Housing Alliance in San Francisco, said the harassment of gays is common in the city’s shelters.
People there “do not have a lot of status in society to begin with, and so the way they protect or generate status in these social environments is to step on the queers,” Mr. Basinger said.
Gay and transgender residents have their shoes stolen, he said. They are robbed or beaten up in line.
Mr. Basinger, whose partner was homeless for 10 years and who came close to being homeless himself after he developed AIDS, brought in an architect to design the new shelter.
“I really wanted to think about how does the built environment impact people’s experiences,” he said. “So we spent a lot of time thinking that through and talking to people and designing something that was going to be functional and respect people’s dignity.”
But the shelter will house only a fraction of those who are without homes.
On a recent evening in the Castro District, Hjalmar Bjorkman, 48, sat cross-legged in a doorway. He has lived in the Bay Area for years. But two months ago, he said, he lost his job at a bar and his partner kicked him out. Since then, he has been sleeping on the sidewalk behind an old theater, he said, or at the home of a friend, who charges him $20 a night for the couch.
“My ex-partner walks by me every day,” Mr. Bjorkman said.
Bobby Spencer, 47, arrived in San Francisco from Atlanta in May, thinking he had a job as a nanny with a former co-worker at the company where he had worked as an executive assistant.
He was excited about the move. “Being gay in the South is still a lot different than being gay here, even in Atlanta,” he said. “I moved here to be queer, that was part of the plan.”
But the job did not work out and, after having volunteered in soup kitchens in Atlanta, Mr. Spencer abruptly found himself without a place to stay.
He bunked for a while with people he had met, but then ended up on the streets. He was hungry and sick. He is H.I.V. positive, and his viral load rose from undetectable to high levels after his medication ran out, he said.
Mr. Spencer said the gay community he had expected to open its arms to him had been less than gracious.
“It’s a mad, cold world out there, even in your own family,” he said. “My own community treats most queers that are homeless as pariahs; they want nothing to do with them.”
He eventually found a clinic where he can get his medication and moved to a shelter, where he has settled in for now, taking cooking classes and living on food stamps.
But he said he is constantly alert for trouble. On his first night in the shelter, a man in the next bed became abusive.
“It makes you anxious and it makes you nervous to have things like that going on and knowing that it’s absolutely being directed at you,” Mr. Spencer said.
Supervisor David Campos, who held hearings on the shelter problem, said that even though the homeless population may not have grown, homelessness has become more visible in San Francisco recently, perhaps because of an increase in evictions. Mr. Basinger and other advocates held a “sleep in” in Dolores Park in October to protest a proposed ordinance that would close city parks, where many homeless people sleep, between midnight and 5 a.m. The proposal narrowly passed on Nov. 5.
For Mr. Bolvito, Union Square, with its tourists and constant stream of pedestrians, provided a sense of safety for the months he spent there. But he is happy now to have enough to eat and a roof over his head — in September he moved into a single-room-occupancy hotel that he found with the assistance of Mr. Basinger’s housing alliance. Mr. Bolvito earned a cosmetology degree while he was homeless and is looking for a job. His mother, who lives in Oakland, helps him out when she can.
“I wanted people to know that poverty is not just the addicts,” he said. “It’s people who are educated like me. It is so many.”
from The New York Times
Archive for the ‘Gay’ Category
SAN FRANCISCO — There were times — after he told his parents he was gay, for example, and his mother wept and his father tried to hit him — when Fredy Bolvito curled up on a bench in Union Square here and cried because he had AIDS and no job and no place to stay and he felt, he said, that “my life was over.”
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating a surge of sexual activity at the Central Library. It has been going on for nearly a year at least, with lewd acts occurring sometimes in restrooms, and other times in public areas, according to LAPD officials.
Since January, the Central Division, which patrols most of Downtown Los Angeles, has coordinated 14 undercover operations that have resulted in nine arrests for lewd conduct, said Capt. Mike Oreb.
Oreb said Central Division officers are working on the problem with civilian security officers from the LAPD’s Security Services Division. Those civilian officers are stationed at the library.
Central Division has been focused on the library issue for about six months, said Oreb. He said the situation has improved since undercover Vice officers began staking out the building. Additionally, Oreb has increased the number of uniformed officers that patrol in and around the library.
“We’ve seen sexual activity in other places throughout the region, parks and public bathrooms,” he said. “[We’re] not sure why anyone’s decided to focus on the bathrooms at the library.”
Oreb said that all of the arrests have been for encounters between men. He said the bulk of the incidents involve one person masturbating while another watches.
Los Angeles Public Library spokesman Peter Persic described the incidents as rare, saying that 145,000 people visit the Financial District library every month. He noted that in September, two incidents of lewd conduct were reported, following three in August. Still, he said the issue is being taken seriously.
“The safety of patrons and staff is a top priority for the Los Angeles Public Library,” Persic said. “The Library has an excellent relationship with LAPD and works closely with the agency to prevent incidents from happening and respond quickly if an incident does occur.”
The LAPD’s Security Services Division, which is comprised of civilians rather than sworn officers, took over library security from the city’s Department of General Services in July 2012, said David Aguirre, deputy chief of the city’s office of public safety. Persic said that on average, the LAPD stations seven officers from the security services division at the library during operational hours. Authorities would not break down the total number of sworn and civilian officers monitoring the area.
Persic said he is unaware of a particularly problematic section of the building. The 500,000 square feet of space is spread across eight floors. There are thousands of book stacks and scores of study carrels.
“It’s a large building, which is why we have security officers and police officers patrolling the building and why we ask visitors to keep watch of their personal belongings and report any problems to staff or security,” Persic said.
While Oreb would not say where the bulk of the sexual activity is happening, he did say that it mostly occurs between noon and mid-afternoon. That prompted him to bulk up on foot patrols in the library during that time.
“It’s not a daily event, but it is going on,” he said. “We’ve stepped up enforcement and are addressing all the complaints of lewd conduct.”
On a recent weekday afternoon, library patron Alix Sharkey sat in front of the fountain at the Flower Street entrance and checked email on his phone. The Hollywood resident said he hadn’t witnessed any untoward behavior while perusing the collections and looking at photographs. However, he said the floor plan allows for “lots of strange blind spots,” and noted that a couple could stealthily dash into any of the hidden pockets formed from the maze-like stacks.
Oreb noted that there is another problem at the Central Library: People leaving laptops, purses and other valuables at tables, then walking away and coming back to find their possessions gone. Though the number of thefts of unattended items has decreased slightly since security was heightened at the building, he said it remains an issue.
Additionally, he said, officers have been receiving complaints of patrons watching pornography at the public computer stations in the library, though that is not illegal. Persic said the LAPL cannot forbid people from viewing Constitutionally protected material at the library, even if some visitors find it offensive. He noted that viewing child pornography is illegal, however.
Oreb said anyone who sees sexual or other lewd conduct in the library should report it to a library staff member or the security desk on the main floor of the building.
from Los Angeles Downtown News
LONDON – When it comes to the bedroom, the British may be getting less busy, but more creative. According to results from the latest national sex survey, Britons are having sex less often – but the kinds of sex they’re having are more diverse than in the past.
Scientists also found the sex habits of British women are changing faster than those of men, with a fourfold jump in the proportion of women who had a same-sex experience since the first survey was done in 1990, from 4 percent to 16 percent. In comparison, the numbers of men who reported a same-sex experience have remained virtually unchanged since 1990, at about 7 percent.
On average, the number of sexual partners reported by women has doubled, from four to eight, whereas the number for men rose from nine to 12. The research also found an increasing sexual repertoire among both genders, with higher levels of anal and oral sex reported.
“It reflects a shift away from sex being seen purely in the context of reproduction toward a greater emphasis on pleasure and recreation,” said Kaye Wellings, head of social and environmental health research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, one of the leaders of the research. She said similar results about changes in women’s sex lives have been found in France.
The study found half of Britons reported having sex at least three times in the last month, versus five times when the first survey was done in 1990. Wellings noted that drop occurred at the same time as major changes in the use of technology and the financial crisis, which could interfere with a regular sex life.
“People are taking their iPhones and iPads into bed,” she noted. “They’re also working harder and maybe have less time for sex,” she said.
Researchers also found half of Britons also lose their virginity by the time they were 17, about the same as 20 years ago. The study found people under 25 are at greatest risk of sexually transmitted infections and of being forced or coerced into sex.
The series of six papers were published online Tuesday in the journal, Lancet. Researchers interviewed more than 15,000 people aged 16 to 74 between 2010 and 2012 using in-person interviewers and a computer-assisted part for sensitive questions; no names of participants or other identifying details were shared. The studies were funded mostly by U.K. governmental groups and the Wellcome Trust.
Other scientists said the findings supported previous research that have found sexual orientation for women tends to be more fluid than for men.
“Women are more changeable in relation to social norms than men,” said Cynthia Graham, a sex researcher at the University of Southampton, who was not part of the series. “Orientation isn’t just gay, straight or bisexual,” she said. “The boundaries are getting fuzzier.”
Debra Lynne Herbenick, who led a survey on American sexual habits at Indiana University in 2009, said the findings in the U.K. were comparable to evolving attitudes in the U.S.
“There’s been a relaxation of constraints on sexual expression,” Herbenick said. “People are now more free to explore their sexual interests,” she said.
Still, she said doubted current trends on increasing rates for certain kinds of sex would continue to increase indefinitely.
“Not everybody is going to want to do certain things, like have sex with somebody of the same sex,” Herbenick said. “So there will be limits in terms of people’s attractions.”
from The Associated Press
NEW JERSEY – After a gay server at a New Jersey restaurant said a customer denied her a tip and wrote her a hateful note on the receipt, a local family contacted NBC 4 New York and said their receipt shows they paid a tip and didn’t write any such note.
Dayna Morales, a former Marine and a server at Gallop Asian Bistro in Bridgewater, posted a photo on Facebook earlier this month, showing the bill with a line through the space for a tip. The photo of the receipt showed someone had written, “I’m sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle.”
Morales indicated in her Facebook post, and in subsequent media interviews — including with NBC 4 New York — that the customer wrote that line.
But a family contacted NBC 4 New York claiming their receipt from the restaurant shows they did leave a tip, and provided what they said was a credit card statement as proof.
The husband and wife, who asked to remain anonymous, showed NBC 4 New York a receipt that appeared to be printed at the same minute, on the same date, for the same $93.55 total, except with an $18 tip.
They also provided a document they said was a Visa bill, which appears to indicate their card was charged for the meal plus the tip, for a total of $111.55.
The couple told NBC 4 New York that they believed their receipt was used for a hoax. The wife says she is left-handed and could not have made the slash in the tip line, which she said looks to be drawn from the right.
“We’ve never not left a tip when someone gave good service, and we would never leave a note like that,” the wife said.
The husband said he and his wife have both worked in restaurants and believe in the value of tipping, and noted that he didn’t vote for Gov. Chris Christie because the governor doesn’t support gay marriage.
“Never would a message like that come from us,” he said.
Morales told NBC 4 New York on Monday that she was certain she did not receive a tip, and insisted the handwriting on the receipt was not hers. When asked if there had been some sort of misunderstanding, she said, “I don’t know, all I know is what I’ve been saying.”
A manager and the restaurant owner insisted they had the original ticket for the $93.55 charge, but would not produce the receipt for NBC 4 New York and could not explain why the family’s credit card was charged for more.
The restaurant later said in a statement it was aware of the allegations and had no comment pending an internal investigation.
Whatever happened, the couple believes it may have begun with a misunderstanding.
They said they thought the hostess who sat the family told them their server would be “Dan,” and when Morales showed up at their table, the wife exclaimed “whoa, you’re not Dan.”
Morales wrote in her Facebook post that the wife said, “oh I thought you were gonna say your name is Dan. You sure surprised us!”
According to the couple, the rest of the meal with their two children went fine.
They said they came forward because the story of the receipt note didn’t appear to be going away; Morales had recently announced that people were sending her tips from all over the world, and was donating some of the money to the Wounded Warrior Project.
“I just felt like people have a right to know that — it’s fine if people want to donate to her or to the Wounded Warriors, but they’re doing it under a false pretense,” the wife said.
from NBC New York
UNITED KINGDOM – Norman Lamb said the practice had “no place in modern society” but the Government was not planning to ban it, he explained in a Commons debate.
He was speaking after Labour MP Sandra Osborne called a special debate in Westminster Hall in which she urged ministers to impose regulation on the psychotherapy sector.
She claimed conversion therapy was “extremely harmful” to patients and during the debate other MPs labelled the practice as “voodoo”.
MPs are concerned NHS GPs are referring people struggling to accept their sexual orientation for conversion therapy.
Addressing MPs, Ms Osborne said: “Virtually every major national and international professional organisation has condemned this practice as ineffective and potentially extremely harmful to patients.”
She added: “This is more than just a problem amongst religious fundamentalists, it’s an issue for the NHS and professional sector.
Ms Osborne continued: “We also need to ensure that psychotherapists who aren’t members of professional bodies which explicitly have positions against conversion therapy, are not commissioned by the NHS.”
Currently in the UK there is no minimum level of qualification that needs to be reached in order to practice as a psychotherapist, meaning anyone can set themselves up as a counsellor.
Ms Osborne argued introducing regulation into the profession which make it easier to stop conversion therapy being carried out.
Mr Lamb began his response by saying: “I find this practice wholly abhorrent and it has no place in a modern society.”
He said: “It is completely inappropriate for any GP to be referring a patient for this sort of therapy.
“The Government are not aware the NHS commissions this type of therapy.”
He added: “The Government believe state regulation will not be appropriate, as the cost of registration for therapists and for the taxpayer could not be justified.”
Lesbian, gay and bisexual charity Stonewall welcomed the comments from the Government on the issue.
Stonewall’s senior health officer James Taylor said: “We’re deeply concerned about voodoo ‘gay-cure’ therapies and their promotion and welcome any efforts from the Government and the UK Council for Psychotherapy to stamp out this damaging practice.
“In 21st century Britain lesbian, gay and bisexual people should be able to access therapy and counselling services without fear of discrimination or judgement.”
Religious group Core Issues, which supports conversion therapy, claims there is no evidence the practice is harmful and any ban would show an “intolerance” of those who wish “to turn from homosexuality”.
Core Issues spoeksman Dr Mike Davidson said any moves to ban conversion therapy would be an “affront” to individual freedoms.
He urged MPs to vote against a Private Members Bill set to be debated in Parliament in January which would lead to regulation of the counselling sector.
Dr Davidson said: “The UK Parliament is in danger of promoting an injustice against a minority group who wish, quietly, to turn from homosexuality for personal and/or religious reasons without offence to any other group.
“We call on the government to ratify evidence-based scientific data, rather than to promote political ideology which exploits and uses people who understand themselves to be homosexual, for its own ends.
“Although only a private member’s Bill, this is a clear attempt to test the water for the imposition of such measures in the future.
“We deplore such intolerance.”
from The Express
The condom of the future might be made of cow tendon or fish skin. It might have “shape memory” to instantly mold to a specific man. Or it might come with pull tabs so a man could slip it on with little fuss.
Those ideas are among the winners announced Wednesday by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation of a contest to create a condom that men would actually use. The contest, the foundation said, aimed to decrease unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases with “a next-generation condom that significantly preserves or enhances pleasure.”
The foundation received 812 applications, chose 11 and awarded the winners $100,000 each. They could receive up to $1 million after they develop the ideas. Steven Buchsbaum, a Gates Foundation official, said winners ranged from a longtime condom manufacturer in India to American chemical engineers to British design consultants whose previous work included vacuum cleaners.
Many ideas involved materials besides latex, aiming for thinner, stronger, less constricting condoms with better sensation, “reducing the loving distance between partners, so they will be more close,” said Dr. Papa Salif Sow, a Gates senior program officer. Other ideas focused on “how to improve the donning,” he said, because “in sub-Saharan Africa, sex is basically done with low light and it might be very difficult to see the direction of the condom.”
Winners include the “ultrasensitive reconstituted collagen condom” proposed by Apex Medical Technologies in San Diego. Apex’s president, Mark McGlothlin, said his product would feel like skin and be made from collagen fibers from cows’ Achilles tendons or possibly fish skin.
“They’re unbelievably strong,” said Mr. McGlothlin, who currently gets beef tendon from a Vietnamese grocery. “I could yank all day and not break this thing.”
A “wrapping condom” proposal by the California Family Health Council in Los Angeles will build on a version manufactured in Colombia, made of polyethylene plastic that “clings like Saran Wrap rather than squeezes,” according to Ron Frezieres, the council’s vice president for research. It would come in three-packs the size of a credit card and almost as thin, he said, and, like another grant winner called the Rapidom, would have pull tabs to “keep you from being confused about which way to put it on,” Mr. Frezieres added.
At least two winners will work with polyurethane, including Richard Chartoff, a University of Oregon chemical engineer, who foresees a “one-size-fits-all” design having shape memory to “fit like an extra layer of skin, conforming to the shape.” He is also considering adding nanoparticles containing antiviral or antibacterial drugs, and, more prosaically, offering different colors.
Stephen Ward, a Gates Foundation program officer, said that among the problems tackled were “improving lubrication, internal friction, external friction, heat transfer.”
Two or more grantees might be teamed to make one design, he added. “There’s not one magic bullet,” he said. “The idea is making them easier for people to use in the moment, in the dark, whatever situation they’re in.”
from The New York Times
You can tell homophobia has gotten out of control when even handshakes between men are scrutinized for being “gay.” In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), one man stands trial after being accused of giving a gay handshake to a colleague, reports The Huffington Post UK.
As a Care2 member stated in a petition she created, “THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GAY HANDSHAKE!” It is an absolute joke that Dubai courts are entertaining the allegation as a potential criminal matter. The fact that the case wasn’t immediately thrown out shows how the government is inclined to condemn homosexuality in even the most ludicrous of scenarios.
The handshake in question occurred between a pair of firefighters with a longstanding grudge. The prosecution has charged the defendant with indecency for shaking hands in a “perverted” manner. The supposed “victim” says that, when shaking hands with his coworker, the defendant rubbed his middle finger on his palm.
Although the gesture seems too insignificant to be considered a homosexual act, even supposing it were meant to communicate something “gay,” a harmless handshake should not warrant judicial intervention.
For what it’s worth, the defendant denies giving the “perverted” handshake. He cites a workplace feud as the reason the plaintiff pressed charges.
“If this case goes any further it has the potential of setting a dangerous precedent,” argues the head of the UAE LGBT advocacy group. “It is inviting misuse by other claimants who are simply against homosexuality, causing a witch hunt against an already prosecuted minority group. What[‘s] next? ‘He look at me in a funny way, therefore he is gay and must be punished?’”
Unfortunately, legal action over something this trite isn’t all that surprising given the other anti-gay legislation on the books in the UAE. In Dubai, both parties of a same-sex couple that engage in consensual sex can receive up to 10 years in prison, while a federal law stipulates that male sodomy is punishable with the death penalty.
Considering that the UAE Supreme Court permits men to abuse their wives and children so long as they don’t leave visible marks (sigh) and rape victims in Dubai can still be placed in jail for their part in getting raped (double sigh), this case shows the warped priorities and sense of justice in the region. When actual sexual misdeeds are committed, the courts look the other way, but when the smallest hint of something that someone has construed as “gay” occurs, then they hold a trial.
Join others around the world in telling Dubai officials that a handshake is not “gay” and prevent this homophobia-based witch hunt from escalating further by signing the petition below.
from Care 2
Nick Maddock used to assume that being gay could only limit him on Wall Street. Instead, it opened a door.
“I want to break that mold, the stereotype of what gay people want to be,” said Maddock, 22, a senior at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, during a reception at the Out for Undergraduate Business Conference at JPMorgan Chase & Co. headquarters in New York.
The OUBC organization covered Maddock’s travel and lodging expenses, putting him in contact with recruiters in the industries where he’s aiming for a job.
Wall Street is paying special attention to young lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) applicants during the hiring process for college seniors. Beyond embracing gay rights, the country’s largest banks, brokerages and consulting firms are vying to retire their conservative image and try to improve profits along with diversity.
“The perception of Wall Street, historically, was that it’s very macho and doesn’t necessarily have space for difference,” said Todd Sears, 37, a former investment and private banker who now consults on LGBT business opportunities. “Companies are realizing that diversity is a smart business choice.”
Last week the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would prohibit firings based on sexual orientation, which currently isn’t outlawed in 29 states. The bill’s future is less certain in the Republican-controlled House, where Speaker John Boehner of Ohio has expressed opposition to the measure.
Virtually all of Wall Street has extended protections to LGBT workers and benefits to their partners. Companies such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are among those that have supported changes in state laws that bar same-sex marriage.
“LGBT equality is not only a civil rights issue, it is also a business issue,” said Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein in April while speaking at the Out on the Street summit founded by Sears. “To be successful, we must attract, retain and promote from the broadest pool of talent available.”
The buying power of LGBT Americans is estimated at $830 billion this year, according to Washington-based marketer Witeck Communications Inc. That’s up from $790 billion in 2012 and compares with about $12.4 trillion in total spending power of U.S. consumers, said Bob Witeck, who has been advising corporations on LGBT consumers since 1993.
“By hiring gay people, a financial services company may recognize they have a chance” to expand their share of LGBT clients, Witeck said. Gay financial counselors “will probably have a lot more sensitivity” in connecting with that market, he said, because “they have some affinity for their needs and issues.”
Of 688 large U.S. companies rated on their inclusive treatment of LGBT workers, 33 in the banking and financial services sector received a perfect score in the 2013 Corporate Equality Index, compared with one bank when the survey began in 2002. The survey is conducted by the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for lesbian and gay Americans. Part of a company’s score hinges on best practices, including gay-focused recruitment.
Appealing to that population is a “particular passion” for Brian Rolfes, the director of global recruiting at McKinsey & Co., who is gay. The consulting firm “looks for the same attributes in all the candidates we hire,” according to Rolfes.
“We will reach out to various communities to encourage folks to consider us,” he said. “Today, a lot of our competitors are also targeting LGBT talent, as they should be.”
As part of their outreach, financial services companies are donating to conferences like OUBC. Bloomberg LP is one of the sponsors. In 2011, OUBC reported $279,500 in contributions, up from $166,000 the previous year.
“By having a more diverse workforce, you’re better reflecting your clients,” said Baylee Feore, the executive director of OUBC, which just had its 10th conference. Attendees “have more chances to make a good impression, but when you go to the interview, you fail or succeed on your own merits.”
Many of OUBC’s 30 sponsors also hold their own LGBT networking receptions at top-ranked schools like Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, according to their directors of career services.
The “Big Three” consulting firms — McKinsey, Bain & Co. and Boston Consulting Group Inc. — will match self-declared lesbian and gay students requesting support with employees who volunteer to help prepare them for an interview.
One such volunteer is Marco Chan in the Washington office of Bain. The Harvard graduate, 25, said he probably would’ve shied away from a business career if not for OUBC.
Chan said he views his sexual orientation as an asset in his career, providing a network of mentors and friends. “I’m very deliberate in sharing parts of my LGBT life,” said Chan, who attaches a rainbow pin to the bag he takes on client visits. “It feels less transactional when you come out to your clients and involve them in your LGBT identity.”
Henry Orzynski, 24, an analyst with JPMorgan, said being openly gay has helped him earn the trust of clients and the respect of his managers. In his year-end review, Orzynski said he was praised for displaying his boyfriend’s picture on his desk, a reaction he didn’t expect.
HOUSTON, TEXAS – The sheriff of Houston’s Harris County has adopted a sweeping policy designed to protect and guarantee equal treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender inmates, including allowing transgender individuals to be housed based on the gender they identify with instead of their biological sex.
The new policy, which Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia’s office believes to be one of the most comprehensive in the country, states “discrimination or harassment of any kind based on sexual orientation or gender identity is strictly prohibited,” and outlines how such inmates will be searched, booked and housed, according to a copy of the policy obtained by The Associated Press ahead of an official announcement Thursday.
The policy also covers intersex inmates, defined as people born with sex chromosomes or reproductive systems that are not considered standard.
Houston has the third-largest county jail in the U.S., after Los Angeles and Chicago’s Cook County, and processes some 125,000 inmates annually. Other major jails, including L.A., Washington, D.C., and Denver, have taken similar steps to meet new federal standards for protecting inmates from sexual abuse and assault.
But Harris County is the first in Texas to adopt this extensive of a policy, according to Brandon Wood, executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, a state agency that inspects, regulates and provides technical assistance to county jails.
The 11-page policy, along with a separate three-page document protecting this population from workplace discrimination, went into effect Wednesday.
“It represents a significant step forward,” said Harper Jean Tobin, director of policy for the Washington-based National Center for Transgender Equality, who worked closely with Garcia and his staff.
The new policy may be notable because it’s occurring in a staunch red state proud of its conservative values, Tobin said. But she emphasized it’s not about politics.
“This is not a red or blue issue,” Tobin said. “It is an issue of preventing violence, of meeting the state’s legal and moral responsibilities to keep people safe and safeguarding public funds that when sexual abuse happens in prison need to be spent on medical care and mental health care and recovery.”
According to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the jail currently has about 8,900 inmates and at least 250 of them, or 2.8 percent, identify themselves as lesbian, gay bisexual or transgender.
A “safe zone project” will promote a “positive relationship of solidarity” between the sheriff’s department and the gay community, according to the document. Members of this staff will wear an obvious identifier so they can be easily spotted.
The sheriff’s department will also have “zero tolerance” for staff sexual misconduct or sexual harassment toward members of the gay community. Violations could “result in termination” or referral for criminal charges or other action.
Another key section of the policy states that members of the transgender community will be addressed by their chosen name, even if it has not legally been changed, both when spoken to and on their identification bracelets.
from The Associated Press
SUDBURY, MASSACHUSETTS - A Sudbury girl has started a campaign to get Apple to remove a hurtful definition of the word “gay” from its dictionary.
Becca Gorman, 15, said she first found the pejorative definition for the word while doing a research project for school last week. According to a screen capture she took of the dictionary application on her MacBook Pro laptop, the third, informal definition of gay was listed as “foolish; stupid,” with the example, “making students wait for the light is kind of a gay rule.”
“At first, I was kind of in disbelief,” the Lincoln-Sudbury High sophomore said, adding she couldn’t find any other dictionaries that used that particular definition except to denounce it as derogatory.
Gorman, whose parents are lesbians, said she’s used to hearing the term “that’s so gay” thrown around in everyday conversations around her, but was hurt that a “humongous company” like Apple would legitimize it in its own application.
“I felt like they had to take care of it,” she said.
After consulting with her mothers, who told her they would support whatever she decided to do, Gorman sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook asking the company to remove the pejorative definition.
“I assume that you are a pro-gay company, and would never intend for any one of your products to be as offensive as this definition was,” she wrote. “Even with your addition of the word informal, this definition normalizes the terrible derogatory twist that many people put on the word ‘gay.’”
Gorman added the definition makes the use of the word sound as innocuous as “dude” or other common slang terms.
To her surprise, about an hour after she hit send, someone from Apple called her home.
“They told me it’s so hard to track the dictionaries they’re getting sources from, and that they were also shocked themselves,” Gorman said.
But while the representative indicated Apple would look into the problem, the dictionary hasn’t been changed, she said.
“I feel like we’re going to have to make a bigger deal about it before they actually act on it,” she said.
A call to the company was not returned before the Daily News’s deadline. The third definition was still coming up in newer versions of Apple’s dictionary as of Monday afternoon, although the app in the company’s latest mobile operating system, iOS7, did include the description “often offensive.”
from The MetroWest Daily News
Social theorists, above all Duke University’s Timur Kuran, have drawn attention to the phenomenon of “preference falsification.” The basic idea is that when people speak in public, they aren’t always truthful about their preferences. What they say is different from what they really think.
In unfree societies, people may be too frightened to disclose their actual views in opinion surveys. But preference falsification can also afflict democracies, if social pressures lead people to misdescribe their real views and behavior.
Recent research uncovers strong evidence of preference falsification in the U.S. When people are assured of anonymity, it turns out, a lot more of them will acknowledge that they have had same-sex experiences and that they don’t entirely identify as heterosexual. But it also turns out that when people are assured of anonymity, they will show significantly higher rates of anti-gay sentiment.
These results suggest that recent surveys have been understating, at least to some degree, two different things: the current level of same-sex activity and the current level of opposition to gay rights.
The research, conducted by Ohio State University economist Katherine B. Coffman and her colleagues, involved 2,516 participants, all from the U.S. About half of the participants were randomly assigned to take a standard survey, employing the “best practices” in widespread use today.
In this survey, people were asked to respond to several innocuous questions, not involving sensitive issues, and then to answer questions about sexual orientation, designed to elicit both their views and their reports about their own behavior. This approach gives apparently credible assurances of anonymity to those surveyed, but it remains possible, in practice, for the experimenters to link particular answers to particular questions.
The other participants were assigned to what Coffman and her colleagues call a “veiled report” treatment. The details are a bit technical, but the basic point is to design the survey so that the experimenters can’t learn, and can’t even make inferences about, any individual’s answers to particular questions. They can calculate answers only at the aggregate level.
The two approaches produced significantly different results. In the best practices survey, 17 percent of participants said they had had a sexual experience with someone of the same sex (12 percent of men, 24 percent of women). For the veiled report, the corresponding number was 27 percent (17 percent of men and 43 percent of women) — an increase of 58 percent.
In the best practices survey, 11 percent of the population said that they didn’t consider themselves to be heterosexual. In the veiled report, that number jumped to almost 19 percent — an increase of 65 percent.
Did participants believe that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation should be illegal? In the standard survey, only about 14 percent said no. That number increased to 25 percent in the veiled report.
In best practices, only 16 percent of participants said they would be uncomfortable having a manager at work who was lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT for short). The number jumped to 27 percent in the veiled report.
The effect of assuring anonymity varied significantly across demographic groups. The veiled survey had no effect on the answers of young people to questions about their sexual orientation, apparently because social norms don’t much discourage young people from revealing the truth.
But among Christians and older people, the effect of the veiled approach was especially large, increasing their reports of non-heterosexuality and of same-sex experiences by more than 100 percent.
In best practices, only a minority of Republicans (35 percent) said they would be unhappy with an LGBT manager. Under the veiled report, most Republicans (67 percent) said they would be unhappy.
It is important to emphasize that Coffman and her colleagues didn’t have a representative sample, so the total percentages can’t be taken as reflective of what the general American population thinks and does. Among other things, the participants in their study were younger, more liberal and better educated than the general U.S. population.
But the researchers’ real interest was the effect of assuring anonymity, and on that question the absence of a representative sample doesn’t undermine their conclusions. On the contrary, the impact of assured anonymity on the answers would almost certainly be even bigger with the American population as a whole, because the demographic groups that show the largest effects from the veiled report were underrepresented in their survey.
In recent years, the U.S. has experienced rapid shifts in popular attitudes toward same-sex relationships. Americans increasingly disapprove of discrimination against gay men and lesbians. That disapproval is likely to grow over time.
But social norms continue to matter. We have good reason to believe that there is more same-sex activity, and also more homophobia, than current surveys suggest.
A new study analyzing the facial differences between homosexual and heterosexual men has found “significant morphological differences”.
A study conducted by researchers from the Center for Theoretical Study at Charles University in Prague and The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic examined the possible differences in facial shape between homosexual and heterosexual individuals and found “significant” shape differences in faces of heterosexual and homosexual men.
Their results found that homosexual men were rated as more stereotypically ‘masculine’ than heterosexual men, which they said undermined stereotypical notions of gay men as more feminine looking.
In the first part of their study, researchers looked at the morphological differences between gay and straight men.
In the second part, the team looked at whether an individual’s sexual orientation can be correctly determined solely based on facial features.
The team, led by Jarka Valentova, recruited 40 gay and 40 straight white, Czech men for the first study and 33 gay and 33 straight men aged in their early 20s for the second.
Eighty pictures were taken of the men in the first study using a Canon camera. Over 11,000 coordinates were established to allow for comparison using geometric morphometrics.
Homosexual men showed relatively wider and shorter faces, smaller and shorter noses, and rather massive and more rounded jaws, “resulting in a mosaic of both feminine and masculine features”, the authors of the study found.
Forty female and 40 male students from Charles University were then asked to rate the sexual orientation of the 66 participants in the second study by ranking their masculinity or femininity on a scale on one to seven. One indicated very masculine and seven indicated very feminine.
The face shapes of homosexual men were deemed more masculine on this scale, and raters were unable to correctly identify each participants sexual orientation just from looking at their face. The authors argue this provides evidence that “sexual orientation judgment based on stereotyped gender specific traits leads to frequent misjudgment”.
Speaking to the Huffington Post, Valentova stressed: “It’s necessary to point out to possible misunderstandings of our results. The fact that we have found some significant morphological differences between homosexual and heterosexual men does not mean that any of the groups is easily recognizable on the street (and our Study 2 actually shows that it’s not that easy to guess anyone’s sexual orientation without knowing it), or that anything like that should be done (like pointing on people with our illustrations and guessing who is who).”
She added that the study would need be replicated within different ethnic groups and in bigger sample sizes in order to strengthen its validity.
The authors concluded: “Our results showed that differences in facial morphology of homosexual and heterosexual men do not simply mirror variation in femininity, and the stereotypic association of feminine looking men as homosexual may confound judgments of sexual orientation.”
from The Independent
CHICKASHA, OKLAHOMA — A local man said he was asked by a janitor to leave the Chickasha Walmart around midnight Wednesday because of his sexual orientation.
Jonathan Pacheco said he and his boyfriend were shopping when a Walmart employee approached him and asked him a series of questions about homosexuality before he asked him to leave the premises.
“He told me that I wasn’t allowed in his store,” said Pacheco.
Spokesperson for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Kayla Whaling confirmed the company is investigating the incident.
“We are still in the process of talking to all who were involved,” she said. “As soon as we are finished we will take the appropriate measures.”
Pacheco said the employee told him prior to asking him to leave that in his Bible, “it is Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”
“I just walked away,” said Pacheco. “I wasn’t looking for any kind of fight and we weren’t acting inappropriately. I just wanted to buy some cookies.”
Pacheco said he spoke to two store managers, but no information was taken.
“They didn’t write anything down. They just kind of sent me away,” he said. “I was so taken aback at what happened, I couldn’t do anything but laugh all the way home.”
Pacheco said the incident left him feeling conflicted about where he can go to shop in Chickasha.
“I feel like I can’t go anywhere now,” he said. “Out of all the stores I go to, Walmart is the one that is prejudiced against someone’s sexual orientation. I mean, come on.”
from The Express-Star
LOS ANGELES – The new Melrose Avenue storefront is a man’s world, make no mistake.
The theme could not be stated more bluntly.
Above the front desk: the rusted front end of a 1953 Chevy pickup.
Along one wall: a vintage sign whose faded red letters read AUTO.
Scotch is ready to pour, pending a liquor license. The lights are dim, the leather chairs deep.
This place calls itself the first man cave for … manicures.
Its name is Hammer & Nails. It will welcome the hairy-chested public starting Saturday. It offers repair treatments for mani-pedi first-timers and — in punny PR material — speaks of “Mangelenos” and promises to put “the MAN back in manicure.”
Here, a macho sort who likes a buff can get his hands massaged and his cuticles pushed back while watching the game on an individual flat-screen TV.
Here, he won’t have to suffer the stares of a salon full of women as his feet are gently dipped into paraffin wax.
The décor isn’t prissy. It’s industrial lamps and a row of hammers shadowboxed behind glass.
The floor is concrete, stained black. A punching bag hangs in the back.
Side tables hold virile volumes: “World Beer,” “Whiskey,” “Ferrari,” “Mastering the Grill.”
In truth, all this machismo could intimidate some on this fashionable stretch of street between Fred Segal and the Pacific Design Center.
Not to worry, says owner Michael Elliot. Those books? They’re mostly for looks.
Elliot is a screenwriter who has had some movies made — among them, “Like Mike” and “Just Wright.” He’s the sort of casually cool guy who knows what he’s wearing: corduroys by J. Crew, a Kenneth Cole watch, chukka boots by John Varvatos.
He’s an HGTV junkie, into “Divine Design,” who says he got the idea for the back wall covered in wide-plank flooring from an HGTV kitchen-makeover show, probably “Kitchen Crashers.”
Guys don’t have to watch sports on their TVs, equipped with cushy headphones.
“They may want to catch up on ‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,’ and that’s cool,” he said.
But with his male nail salon, staffed by decidedly professional female manicurists, he thinks he’s hit on an idea that can take off.
On Thursday, he opened the salon to the media, with the lure of free treatments. The appointment book included beauty and fashion bloggers and several writers for gay-themed publications.
Jay Shore, a screenwriter, said he’d been sent in by his wife, who has a blog, Groomed L.A. At first he didn’t want to give his name, partly because his male friends would tease him. Then, somewhere around the hand massage, he loosened up.
“I have to say it’s unbelievably pleasurable,” he said of his first manicure. “I can’t believe I’ve never done this before in my life.”
As Elliot passed by his chair, Shore — hands wrapped in warm towels — called out to him, “This is a great idea. I’d like to shake your hand, but ….” To which Elliot replied, “Look at you, you’re chillin’ in a chair.”
Soon Elliot was perched on a stool sharing his franchise dreams for a Hammer & Nails in every major city.
“I just want taking care of your hands to be as comfortable as getting a haircut,” he told Shore. “There’s nothing feminine about the brand, you feel me? It’s as manly as Gillette. It’s as manly as Black and Decker. It’s just a place that we go to relax.”
It’s also a place, by the way, for a man to put on polish, if that suits.
There are just three colors for now: black, blue, gray. Or rather: Black Velvet, Denim Du Jour, Sweater Weather.
from The Los Angeles Times
Italian pasta maker Barilla has reacted to the global storm caused by its chairman’s comments that he would never use a gay family in his advertising by saying it planned to make the company more diverse and run a more inclusive TV ad campaign.
Guido Barilla’s remarks to a radio interviewer in September led to calls by gay rights groups to boycott the products of the world’s biggest pasta maker, a company more than 130 years old based in the provincial city of Parma.
Social media quickly spread the comments that gave rise to numerous Internet satires, including one widely posted on Facebook and Twitter showing the trademark blue Barilla pasta box with the letters “Bigotoni” on it rather than “Rigatoni”.
Chairman Barilla, the 55-year-old great grandson of the company’s founder, has since held at least eight meetings with gay organizations and activists both in Italy and in the United States, a market where it is counting on for growth outside its crisis-hit home market.
“Italy is a very insular country, and in cities like Parma it’s even more so,” company spokesman Luca Virginio told Reuters, saying the firm had been shocked by the global backlash.
“The meetings have helped open our eyes and ears to the evolution taking place in the world outside Parma.”
He said the shock could lead to a shift in focus from rosy depictions of traditional Italian family life that have always been the staple of Barilla advertising campaigns.
“We are already working on new advertising concept that will be much more open and much more inclusive,” he said, without elaborating.
The pasta maker plans to introduce an advisory board that includes American gay activist David Mixner to improve “diversity and equality in the company’s workforce and culture”, according to a statement posted on its website.
However Carlos Dews, a gay English professor at Rome’s John Cabot University who has boycotted Barilla products and urged his Facebook friends to do the same, was skeptical.
He said the measures were a step in the right direction but it was too soon to tell whether they would bring any real change. “It may all be window dressing,” he said.
As well as the internal advisory board, Barilla will participate in the U.S.-based Human Rights Campaign’s corporate equality index, which rates companies’ policies relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.
Privately owned Barilla, which had almost 4 billion euros in sales last year, declined to say if the boycott had hurt sales but it cannot afford to offend consumers in the United States, now its second-biggest pasta market.
Last year net profit fell more than 21 percent to 60 million euros as Italy struggled through its worst recession in six decades.
from The New York Daily News
Bertolli Says Pasta For Everyone
Barilla: ‘Gays Can Eat Someone Else’s Pasta’