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Submit photos for Just One Look…
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – Believe it or not, California law requires mental health officials to seek a cure for homosexuality, but Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal said “it’s time to strip that vestige of institutional bigotry from California’s code books.”
The law originally was written in 1950 and re-enacted in 1967, the same year gay men protested police brutality and harassment at the Black Cat Tavern in Silverlake, which some historians consider the birthplace of the gay rights movement.
Some minor amendments were made to the law as late as 1977, but the basic language – calling for a cure for homosexuality – remains in state law.
On Feb. 19, Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, introduced AB 2199. The bill would repeal Section 8050 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, which declares the State Department of Mental Health “shall plan, conduct and cause to be conducted scientific research into the causes and cures of sexual deviation, including deviations conducive to sex crimes against children, and the causes and cures of homosexuality…”
Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California and bill sponsor, brought the idea in the past few months to Lowenthal’s attention.
He said it’s “deplorable” that – under the current law – homosexuality is considered a deviance in need of a cure and gays are compared with child molesters.
“It propagates blatantly false, harmful and outdated mischaracterizations,” he said.
Lowenthal likened existing law to race restrictions on deeds. Even though the law is no longer enforced or acted upon, it has no place in California’s code books, she said.
“Our codes are constantly updated, and the fact this language has survived this long is pretty amazing,” Lowenthal said. “We need to blot it out and make it clear we’re moving forward as a society, not backward.”
from The Press-Telgram
When celebrities pair with a cause, some are quite obvious. Oprah Winfrey publicly supported Barack Obama — a fellow Illinois figure who has often fought similar fights. Politically active actors Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon have supported those who seek to end battles overseas that they don’t approve. Various stars have supported gay rights, civil liberties and other causes that hit close to home.
But some may ask why Daniel Radcliffe would film a public-service announcement in support of a nonprofit that seeks to help gay youths, to which the actor would respond: You don’t have to be gay to be a supporter — you just have to be human.
“It’s something I’ve always been quite passionate about,” Radcliffe explained to us when he stopped by the MTV studios recently. “Because I grew up around gay men, it was always a natural thing to me. It was never something I ever gave a second thought to.”
Founded by the filmmakers of a movie entitled “Trevor,” which took home the Oscar in 1994 for best short, the Trevor Project is a nonprofit organization that offers support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youths. The group’s prevention hotline and trained counselors have helped save many lives of at-risk youth contemplating suicide, as well as fostering safe, inclusive environments at their homes and schools.
“Some are gay, some are straight — didn’t make any difference to me,” Radcliffe said of his own personal upbringing, which unfortunately isn’t always the case. “When I went to my second school, I heard terms like ‘puff’ and ‘homo’ getting thrown around. It never occurred to me that some people might have a problem with it.”
Now that Radcliffe is an international superstar with an enormous fanbase behind him, he’s determined to get the word out that downtrodden LGBTQ youths can depend on the Trevor Project — and those ignorant enough to torment them need to be stopped. “I remember being quite shocked when I was young,” Radcliffe remembered of his early encounters with homophobia. “And now I am in a position where I can help an amazing thing like the Trevor Project.”
The Trevor help line is a free and confidential service that offers help 24/7. The help line is a no-judgment zone and the trained counselors are always available at (866) 4-U-TREVOR (488-7386).
“The Trevor Project is the only nationwide around-the-clock crisis- and suicide-prevention help line [of its kind],” Radcliffe said of the cause. “[It's designed] for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. There will also soon be a ‘Trevor’ iPhone application.”
For about a decade, volunteers have worked tirelessly to help the Trevor Project — now they have one more very important person in support of their efforts. “There are about 160 people in total who work around the clock, and that number is obviously growing over time. It is an incredible thing,” Radcliffe marveled. “I was talking to one of the [volunteers] who said, ‘I hate the fact that this needs to exist.’ But it’s so important that it does.”
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO - James Dobson made his last radio broadcast Friday for Focus on the Family, the conservative Christian ministry he founded 33 years ago and built into an influential political and social voice.
“I have a lump in my throat, but God’s in control,” Dobson told listeners.
Dobson, an outspoken opponent of abortion and gay marriage, has been gradually withdrawing from the organization, stepping down as president in 2003 and as chairman of the board last year.
He plans to start a new show, “Family Talk with James Dobson,” this spring.
Dobson said Friday the new show isn’t competition for Focus on the Family, noting that Focus agreed to donate $1 million to help him start.
“I’m not setting out to construct some magnificent organization like, frankly, this one is,” he said. “But I also do not believe the Lord is done using my voice in the culture and speaking to parents.”
Dobson said he’ll continue to speak out on family, marriage and public policy.
Co-hosts on the new show will be his son Ryan, who heads KOR World Ministry, and LuAnne Crane, a senior producer of Focus on the Family radio.
He joked Crane would speak to women, his son to younger people, “and I will speak to the geezers.”
from The Associated Press
VANCOUVER, CANADA – Johnny Weir is looking for understanding, not an apology.
Broadcasters on French-language RDS who made derogatory comments about the American figure skater’s masculinity need to consider the impact their words will have on others, particularly impressionable youngsters, Weir said Wednesday.
“I want them to think before they speak. I want them to think about not only the person they’re talking about, but also other people like that person,” he said. “What people as a majority need to do is think, and think about who they’re affecting. … I don’t want, 50 years from now, more boys and girls to go through this same thing.”
The Quebec Gay and Lesbian Council demanded a public apology from RDS after one commentator said Weir hurts figure skating’s image and another said Weir should be made to take a gender test. The remarks were “outrageous” and “homophobic,” CQGL said in a statement on its Web site.
Mark Tewskbury, a gold medalist in swimming at the Barcelona Olympics, called the remarks “totally unacceptable.”
“I think Johnny Weir adds a fantastic element to men’s figure skating,” Tewskbury said at a news conference at Whistler Pride House, a venue designed to support gay and lesbian athletes and coaches. “It doesn’t send the message that you have to be Johnny or be like him. It shows that all kinds of people take up figure skating, and all kinds of people can be excellent at figure skating.
“I was actually quite shocked that that is still happening in 2010.”
Although Weir said he found the comments “offensive,” he supports free speech and doesn’t think the broadcasters should be punished. He also doesn’t really care if people criticize him.
But he does worry that the broadcasters’ comments and the attitudes they foster will hurt kids who are different and are trying to find their place in the world. Or cause parents of those children to be less supportive.
“I hope more kids can grow up like I did and more kids can feel the freedom to express themselves,” he said. “Out of ugly, I think the most important thing in life is to make something beautiful.”
Weir is one of skating’s most oversized personalities, and he enjoys challenging convention. He was targeted by animal-rights activists after adding white fox fur to his free skate costume for last month’s U.S. championships, and he once posed for a photo shoot in a skirt and stilettos.
But he repeatedly has avoided questions about his sexual orientation, and did so again Wednesday. People shouldn’t be defined by labels, Weir said.
“I don’t think the fact I’m a figure skater matters. I don’t think who I sleep with matters. I don’t think where I’m from matters. I want people to see me for who I am, not what I am,” he said. “I don’t feel there’s anything that anybody has to be out and about about. I think you should be out about being yourself. You need to be out and really own who you are.”
from The Associated Press
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – Lauren Ashley, a Miss California USA contestant and outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage, claims to represent Beverly Hills; Beverly Hills lays no claim to her whatsoever.
Quite the opposite.
In a statement Wednesday, the city said it was “shocked” by Ashley’s description of herself as “Miss Beverly Hills.” The city “does not sponsor a beauty pageant and has no association with Miss California USA,” the statement said. “As such, there should be no individual claiming the title of Miss Beverly Hills.”
The city’s statement said Ashley lives in Pasadena and “does not represent Beverly Hills in any capacity.”
The issue became a sore point for city officials after Ashley, 23, was quoted extensively as saying same-sex marriage goes against God and the Bible.
She recently told Fox News and other outlets that “in Leviticus it says, ‘If man lies with mankind as he would lie with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death and their blood shall be upon them.’ The Bible is pretty black and white.”
To Beverly Hills Mayor Nancy Krasne, those were fighting words. “We are dismayed by any potential association with the city of Beverly Hills, which has a long history of tolerance and respect,” Krasne said.
Keith Lewis, a K2 Productions stage director for the Miss California USA pageant, said Ashley’s “Miss Beverly Hills” moniker was of her own choosing. Under pageant rules, he said, “the girls pick the territory they represent. Her representation area is Beverly Hills USA. When she competes [in November], her sash will read ‘Beverly Hills USA.’ ”
According to Lewis, Ashley was attending a birthday party for Paris Hilton on Feb. 17 when a reporter asked for her view on same-sex marriage. Lewis, who is gay, said she has since been unfairly pilloried.
Lewis produced the documentary “For the Bible Tells Me So,” about how the religious right has used its interpretation of the Bible to support its effort to stigmatize the gay community. He thus considers himself “a credible person to ask for respect and tolerance.”
“I don’t agree with her,” he added, “but I will fight to the death for her right to have her opinion.”
Ashley’s comments were made just months after Carrie Prejean, the dethroned Miss California USA 2009, settled her legal duel with pageant organizers over her high-profile stand against gay marriage.
A bit of history serves as backdrop. In 1977, one-time beauty queen Anita Bryant spearheaded a successful drive to overturn a gay rights ordinance in Dade County, Fla. Before long, she was speaking about the evils of homosexuality even as she promoted the virtues of oranges. The media generally took a harsh view of her views. She lost endorsement deals and vanished for a time from show business.
Beverly Hills said it had contacted pageant officials to see how to prevent any future beauty contestants from claiming the title of Miss Beverly Hills. The pageant is put on by K2 Productions in L.A. Ashley declined comment.
A frequent shopper in Beverly Hills, Lewis said he was surprised that the city would risk alienating anyone at a time of such economic challenge. But he sees a bright side. “I love the fact that people are tuning in for something other than the swimsuit portion of our competition,” he said.
From The Los Angeles Times
I just finished reading a very unsettling blog post by serial entrepreneur Jason Goldberg, whose new startup fabulis has apparently had its bank account blocked by Citibank over posting “objectionable content” on its company blog, at least according to a bank employee he spoke to on the phone.
Fabulis is described on the blog as “the social network that helps gay men connect with amazing experiences nearby and around the world”. Could that be what Citibank is objecting against rather than the content on the blog, which is perfectly innocent any way you look at it indeed?
Now, in case you don’t know Goldberg: he’s an accomplished Internet entrepreneur, who had stints at the White House, AOL and T-Mobile under his belt before founding Jobster (and raising more than $50 million for the startup) and after that socialmedian (which he sold to Xing in December 2008).
For his latest startup fabulis, Goldberg has raised $625k in seed funding from the likes of Washington Post and Venture Partner at Mayfield Fund Allen Morgan, and essentially aims to become the leading social network and lifestyle website for homosexual men.
Which is challenging if your financial institution freezes your bank account and marks it for immediate termination after reading a couple of your – again, perfectly harmless – company blog posts.
This is Goldberg’s take on the blocking of the account:
In a bit of strange and disturbing news, fabulis discovered today that someone(s) at Citibank had decided arbitrarily to block fabulis’ bank account due to what was described to us on the phone as “objectionable content” on our blog. In fact, the account — it turns out — was blocked a few days ago without anyone letting us know about it by phone or email.
Mind you, fabulis is a serious business, backed by some serious players, and for the life of us we can’t find anything “objectionable” on our blog besides some good humor, some business insights, and some touching coming out stories from some great and fabulis gay people.
So, what gives?
And wtf. When did Citibank start reviewing blogs to decide who can bank with them?
Calls into Citibank tonight resulted in a temporary lifting of the block while a compliance officer is asked to re-review our website on Thursday. Stay tuned … we’ll update you on this shocker as we learn more.
Whatever update comes, this is a PR nightmare for Citibank, and I’ll be curious to see what the company has to say about this atrocity. In a comment on Hacker News, Goldberg says he doesn’t think Citibank is being homophobic, and calls out moronic behavior instead:
Do I think Citibank or Citigroup is a homophobic malicious company? No. Do I think some compliance officer is a moron who made a really stupid decision? Yes. Three hours of trying to sort this out provided even more comedic insanity than I even revealed on the blog post. Including a bank manager who didn’t want to talk about this because she was uncomfortable talking about the content of our blog over a recorded phone conversation. Oh, and we’ve learned that the account was marked to be a cancelled by said compliance officer for this “objectionable content.” wtf.
All we know so far is that we finally got someone to lift the block on the account, but that the best she could promise is another review of the situation today.
Very uncomfortable for sure, but mostly for Citibank, who for the record, apparently does not want to be reached by e-mail even by press. So even if there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation to this – that the bank’s allowed to share publicly – I can only hope to reach someone by phone when it’s morning in the U.S. who can look into it and tell us what’s up.
from Tech Crunch
MADISON, WISCONSIN — A regional governing body of the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country has voted to ordain a gay Madison man with a long-term partner, bucking national church policy that bars gays and lesbians in open relationships from the ministry and perhaps setting a precedent.
The decision Saturday in Madison by the John Knox Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is expected to have a nationwide effect and be challenged by opponents.
Members of the presbytery — which encompasses parts of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, including churches in La Crosse and Winona, Minn. — voted 81 to 25 to ordain Scott Anderson, 54. Anderson said he’s been in a committed relationship with a man for 19 years.
“Some will proclaim this decision the best thing in the world and others will say the church is dying,” the Rev. Alex Thornburg of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Madison said, adding he voted for ordination. “It will have its drama around it.”
National church policy requires married candidates for ordination to take a vow of fidelity and single candidates — gay or straight — to take a vow of chastity.
However, the church does allow candidates for ordination to file an objection to a rule based on conscience. The presbytery then must decide the seriousness of the candidate’s departures from official teaching, said the Rev. Ken Meunier, executive director of the John Knox Presbytery.
In Anderson’s case, a majority of the presbytery decided his relationship status did not undermine essentials of church doctrine and his departures from official teaching “were not serious enough to overshadow his many other gifts,” Meunier said.
Presbyterian Church (USA) is the country’s largest Presbyterian denomination, followed by the Presbyterian Church in America, a more theologically conservative and evangelical denomination.
The John Knox Presbytery represents 61 churches with about 10,000 members.
Anderson is a former pastor of Bethany Presbyterian Church in Sacramento, Calif. He voluntary resigned in 1990 and gave up his ordination after two church members outed him as gay, he said.
He’s been executive director of the Wisconsin Council of Churches in Sun Prairie, an association of 13 denominations that promotes unity among Christian churches, for seven years. He expects to continue that role after ordination but hopes eventually to return to parish ministry.
A May 15 ordination date has been set but could be delayed. At least one church in the presbytery — Caledonia Presbyterian Church near Portage, Wis. — likely will appeal Saturday’s vote, said Whitman Brisky, a Chicago attorney representing the 60-member church.
The appeal would be based on the church rule prohibiting installation of a minister “who is engaged in an extramarital, sexual relationship,” Brisky said.
The national offices of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Louisville, Ky., did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Anderson said he thinks he’s the first gay person in a long-term relationship approved for ordination in the denomination. A gay theology professor not in a relationship was ordained in Minnesota, Anderson said. That candidate declined to take the vow of celibacy, leaving open the possibility of a relationship and church sanctions.
In a statement to the presbytery, Anderson wrote the ministerial prohibition against gays and lesbians in committed relationships “represents a grievous misapplication of biblical teachings” that “is unfaithful to God’s loving intentions for humankind and seriously undermines the church’s gospel witness to gay and lesbian partners. I cannot in Christian conscience support it.”
from The La Crosse Tribune
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA – RaleighClay Aiken will take the stage at the convention center Saturday night to do something he has never done before: deliver a speech about gay rights.
But don’t expect him to pound his fist and scream for the right to get married.
“There are people who are loud and make noise, and there are people who are deliberate and slow and steady,” Aiken said during an interview this week at a downtown coffee shop. “Right now, at this point in my life, I feel like a slow and steady person.”
Aiken, a Raleigh native and platinum-selling pop singer, made headlines in 2008 when he appeared on the cover of People magazine with the headline, “Yes, I’m gay.” This weekend, he will speak as part of the Human Rights Campaign Carolinas gala at the Raleigh Convention Center. Meredith Baxter, the “Family Ties” actress who recently came out of the closet on the “Today” show, also will deliver a speech.
Since it was announced that Aiken would speak at the HRC gala, organizers have received e-mail from his fans. Some have said that Aiken’s appearance has caused them to have conversations about sexuality they wouldn’t have had otherwise, said Joni Madison, who is helping to organize the gala.
“It brings a whole other side to the conversation,” Madison said. “It’s fun to watch.”
The visibility of gay Americans has never been higher. More celebrities feel comfortable sharing their sexual orientation with the public. President Barack Obama advocates ending the military’s policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” A handful of states allow gay marriage, with fervent opinions on both sides of the issue.
HRC provided a speechwriter to help Aiken, 31, with his remarks, but he decided to write his own. The original speech was too political, Aiken said, and included a slam aimed at George W. Bush.
“I don’t feel like this is the place to be horribly politically charged and bash people and talk about the wrongs that have been done,” he said. “My goal is to be hopeful, that it’s time for everyone to have equal rights.”
For Aiken, that means inheritance rights and hospital-visitation rights and all the other rights that heterosexual couples take for granted, including the right to be married.
But, he said, “I’m not going to be the person who says it has to be marriage or nothing else.”
The most basic need, he said, is that everyone have the same rights. He believes it will happen, although it could take decades.
“It’s more important to me, as a parent, that my son have all the rights – if he’s gay – than it is for me. I don’t want to do anything today that’s going to inhibit or be a detriment to his rights.”
Aiken’s son, Parker, was born in August 2008. Parker’s mother is music producer Jaymes Foster, who lives in California. Parker, who was conceived via in vitro fertilization, splits his time between the West Coast and Aiken’s home in the Triangle.
Aiken said he would probably attend Saturday’s event with his bodyguard. No family members or friends were scheduled to accompany him. Some in his family have handled the news about his sexuality better than others.
“Some Southern families like to sweep things under the rug,” he said. “We just don’t talk about it.”
Although Aiken has no plans to be a rabble-rouser in the efforts to secure equal rights, he admits he might change his mind. Even as he has decided to take a measured approach, “that sure as hell doesn’t mean I won’t be loud one day.”
from The News Observer
For some, the decision to close a big business deal weighs heavily on their shoulders; for others, the fine line between war and peace has them breaking into a sweat; but, for all, the hefty decision between the brief or the boxer is an unavoidable one.
It’s a decision that if taken wrongly, will have you squirming uncomfortably in that meeting, wishing you could straighten out that creeping wedgy. And who knows? That could be the influencing factor on the decision to close that bad business deal, or even to start a war. Your underwear is your closest companion throughout the day. It’s important stuff.
So important, in fact, that we’ve done some research into various underwear types and found some interesting results.
# The boxer: Freedom in a bag. There’s really no point in wearing these under your clothes. Grown men risk having their boxers creep up behind them in graphic ways. And it looks awfully uncomfortable. Really, you might as well go commando and save a little cash.
What it says about you: You frequently fantasise about being Tarzan because you like the idea of feeling the wind flap up the leg of your boxers as you swing from tree to tree.
# The brief: Also known as the tighty-whitey, the brief’s claim to fame is support. Contrary to popular belief, the brief won’t have an adverse effect on your fertility… if you wear the correct size. Wearing briefs that are too small for you isn’t recommended.
What it says about you: Common belief has it that the tighty-whitey wearer is uptight. Surprisingly, this is not the case. That’s all just a façade. You’re really a wild cowboy inside just doing what’s practical. We know this because we’ve watched Brokeback Mountain.
# The boxer-brief This is the pseudo-boxer for those sporty types who have worked out that they need a little support whilst running about, but just can’t face submitting to the tighty-whitey. These are really just comfy hot pants that will eliminate the risk of a ‘pantyline’ when wearing your skin-tight jeans. Not that you concern yourself with things like panylines.
What it says about you: A fence-sitter and someone who likes to be comfortable. The boxer-brief wearer is trying to decide whether or not the girlfriend will accept their stash of briefs. It’s the safer option.
# The thong Now, now, no scoffing. You know you want to. These bad boys aren’t just there for those who wish they could wear women’s undergarments. They have a purpose. At least, they must have one…
What it says about you: You’re adventurous and brave, likely even a pioneer in a previous life. In fact, your previous life was long before Tarzan when you had to strap up nice and tight in order to chase after pre-historic dinner.
# Spandex pants: Think cyclist meets gym instructor. The spandex undy is a butt lifter and shaper. Wear them when you’re looking to impress the girls.
What it says about you: Hmmm, possibly a little image conscious, but not planning on scoring. Or you’d go commando.
# Commando: Barely there and a little suspect, commando is probably best left for when you don’t have any clean underwear left. Best keep it to yourself though and make sure you’re extra careful when zipping up.
What it says about you: There’s just a little bit of exhibitionist in you. Plus you quite like the rough feel of your jean pant on your nether regions.
VANCOUVER, CANADA – One of the Olympic stats most talked about around Vancouver this weekend wasn’t medals or scores, per se, but condoms. One hundred thousand condoms are being given out in the Athletes’ Village, which adds up to 14.6 condoms for each of the 6,850 athletes and officials expected to attend the Olympics and Paralympics. And apparently, that’s what happens when you get the hottest, healthiest young people together for two weeks.
Or is it? The questions that come to mind are why so many condoms are needed by those bobsledders, skaters and other athletes? And why there’s so much interest in the number they go through anyway? After all, I haven’t seen any reports of the number of Q-tips or toilet paper needed to fulfill the whims of the denizens of Athletes Village
The official condom count
Officials have handed out free condoms to athletes since the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona. In the next Summer Games in Sydney, the initial supply of 70,000 ran out, and organizers had to order 20,000 more. Then in Athens, officials brought in a whopping 130,000. And most recently, in Beijing, organizers brought in 100,000, all with the motto “faster, higher, stronger,” then auctioned off the leftover 5,000.
So the magic number seems to be about 100,000: for winter or summer. That works out to about once a day for the two-week event, which starts to approach Wilt Chamberlain’s rate (who claimed he slept with over 20,000 women over his life, and bragged about sleeping with 23 women in 10 days).
So the magic number seems to be about 100,000: for winter or summer. Assuming that most condoms are used between two athletes, the number presupposes 29 encounters in two weeks. That’s two a day, and rivals Wilt Chamberlain’s rate (who >claimed he slept with over 20,000 women over his life, and bragged about sleeping with 23 women in 10 days).
Athlete friends of mine say that one reason for the condom binge is that many competitors abstain from sex for up to six weeks before the Olympics, supposedly to build maximum testosterone levels and get a competitive advantage. So after their event, more than one champagne cork pops, so to speak.
That’s compounded by the fact that many athletes of this level have committed themselves primarily to sport, so don’t have partners or kids. And therefore are, um, able to hook up after their events (and body parts) are wrapped up.
Boys (and girls) in the bubble?
But it’s more than that, according to Jennifer Matthews, who authored the Whistler Guys’ Study as part of her graduate work in health promotion studies at the University of Alberta. She followed the sexual encounters of 15 guys aged 19-31 in Whistler, and said certain factors create a nexus for “hook ups.”
There can be a kind of bubble created when young people are in a culture of fitness with its focus on physicality, are away from home and their normal environment, know few people and therefore are constantly in meeting-and-socializing mode, and are in a celebratory or party atmosphere. That’s all compounded when there is alcohol involved (and who knows what goes on behind the walls of the Athletes Village?).
The bubble feeling creates a sense that the “normal rules don’t apply,” which can affect the frequency of sexual encounters and the use of protection. In a bubble can be a sense of “living only for the moment.”
“If you’re not playing by the normal rules, you may be less likely to use a condom,” says Matthews. “You might think, ‘Oh, I usually do, but I got carried away by the moment.’ But STIs don’t make that distinction. As human beings, we make exceptions, but viruses don’t.”?
Preventing unwanted souvenirs
Dr. Reka Gustafson, medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health Authority said in a recent Vancouver Sun article that handing out condoms to athletes is an opportunity to put positive health promotion messages out there, and reinforce the message of controlling sexually transmitted diseases.
Matthews cautions that we can’t necessarily estimate the number of sexual incidents by the number of condoms being handed out. (Who knows, maybe it’s a better souvenir than a country pin?). No studies have been done to track the actual sexual activity by athletes at a Games, or whether athletes take more risks than others. ??
But because of the likelihood factors, she said there’s a strong likelihood that there’s a lot of activity. She also said it likely varies by sub-culture: that certain sports have different language, behavioral, and even sexual norms.??
But even though there’s no proof, and the condom stat is often met with laughter, health officials are probably on the right track. And in addition to the STI issue, it’s probably not a great idea to end up with a baby boom nine months from now, even though those kids would be ridiculously genetically gifted.
But what’s arguably even more fascinating about this story than public health issues, STI rates, hook up rates, or even unwanted pregnancy rates, is why the public is so interested in it. ?
Why do you care?
“People like the story of athletes and sex,” says Matthews. They’re “titillated” by the idea, especially because it all happens behind closed doors.
That plays into the way “media uses sexuality, creating it as mysterious, taboo and exciting. Who doesn’t want a part of that? Sexual imagery in the media is almost exclusively young, fit people,” so “athletes are sexy by definition.
“She thinks people are also interested in sex stories because in general, when it comes to sex people “somehow feel as though they are missing out on something. Sex has been sold to us as this incredible experience, and I think most people’s human, messy, less-than-explosive experiences just can’t live up to those expectations.”
They grab on to stories like the supposed athletes’ sex party because “people want to understand if they are ‘normal’” so information they glean from other people’s stories, becomes the bar they compare themselves to. Whether or not those stories are true.
“It is ironic that we live in such a sexually explicit culture and yet know so little about sexuality.”
from The Tyee
The global extent of the HIV pandemic is one of the great failures of modern science. While the identity of the virus that causes Aids has been known since 1983, and its discoverers have won the Nobel Prize for Medicine, it has not yet proved possible to stop it from spreading.
Vaccine research has hit dead end after dead end, as HIV’s diabolical ability to mutate has confounded every promising candidate, and vaginal microbicides designed to prevent transmission have also disappointed.
Public health interventions such as condoms have worked, but require behaviour changes that can be difficult to achieve.
This failure, however, has been matched with one great triumph: anti-retroviral drugs are extraordinarily successful at containing the virus in patients who are already infected.
Where HIV was once seen as a death sentence, it is now regarded as a chronic condition with which people can live for decades.
There is now a good chance that this success can be exploited to prevent the spread of HIV.
As drugs reduce the amount of virus in the body, they make carriers less infectious, so they have the potential to do much of the job of a vaccine.
The universal testing and treatment programme proposed by Brian Williams has a good chance of delivering a step change in HIV prevention, particularly if combined with safe sex education and male circumcision.
Several important hurdles remain, however. First, the approach must be rigorously analysed in randomised trials, to confirm that it can actually work in African settings.
We need to know whether people will accept mass testing, and whether those who test positive will complete their treatment: poor compliance can build drug-resistance and make the problem worse.
There is also the matter of cost. While containing Aids would certainly pay for itself in the long run, significant up-front investment will be needed.
The sums involved are large, but not that large: Dr Williams compared the estimated $3billion (£2 billion) needed for South Africa with the $30bn cost of the Iraq troop surge.
They are certainly not beyond the combined means of Western and African governments, and philanthropic organisations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
To engage these resources, though, firm evidence of efficacy will be needed. That is why the trials that start soon in South Africa are so important.
from The Times Online
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AMSTERDAM – To the winner goes the cup, the champagne and a kiss from a couple of pretty girls, right?
Or maybe from a couple of guys.
A left-wing party in Amsterdam is proposing that gay men replace the miniskirted women who traditionally kiss the winner of the first leg of the Giro d’Italia, one of Europe’s premier bicycle races, which begins May 8.
“It should be possible for gay men to celebrate with the winner,” said Fjodor Molenaar, an alderman from the Green Left party, which is part of the city’s governing coalition. One rider in 10 is gay, he said.
The idea is winning support in this notably tolerant city, which annually hosts one of the world’s most elaborate gay pride parades.
But Albert van der Meulen, whose television station is arranging the ceremony, said he’d rather have women on the podium.
“I don’t even think the race participants want to be kissed by men,” van der Meulen said.
The station has arranged a beauty contest March 5 to select two people to present the flowers to the winner of the Amsterdam leg. Most entrants are young women, but van der Meulen confirmed three are gay men.
The municipality of Amsterdam says it will support whoever wins.
“It’s an appealing proposal that fits well with the Amsterdam’s tradition of supporting gay emancipation,” said city spokesman Bas Bruijn.
Philip Tijsma of COC, a Gay and Lesbian activist group, also embraced the proposal.
“There are Moroccan lesbians in veils. There are gay teachers in Christian schools. There are soccer players who are bisexual,” Tijsma said. “So why can the glamour girls not be replaced by guys?”
from The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – A California appellate court on Thursday reversed a $6.2 million verdict against the city of Los Angeles in a discrimination lawsuit filed by a black lesbian firefighter.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal issued its decision in the case brought by Brenda Lee of Mission Hills, who sued the city alleging the fire department discriminated against her based on her race, gender and sexual orientation and refused to transfer her after she complained of harassment.
Lee claimed her superiors yelled and made derogatory comments about her and put her through grueling drills without proper safety precautions. She also claimed someone put urine in her mouthwash.
The 2007 jury payout was the largest in a string of settlements in cases that alleged discrimination and retaliation against women and minorities within the Los Angeles Fire Department. The cases have cost taxpayers more than $15 million since 2005.
An investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concluded that the city fire department engaged in a pattern of discrimination, harassment and retaliation against black and female firefighters. There was sufficient evidence to show the department violated federal civil rights laws in Lee’s case, the commission said in an October 2007 letter to the department.
The appeals court found that Lee failed to pursue all administrative remedies following her termination in 2005. Lee claimed she was placed on unpaid leave in May 2005 “under the pretext that she was psychologically unfit to be a firefighter.”
The city also argued in its appeal that some evidence didn’t support the conclusion that Lee’s termination was discriminatory, and some evidence supporting the city’s case was excluded.
Allegations of racial and sexual discrimination at the 3,900-member department contributed to the early retirement of Fire Chief William Bamattre, who was blamed for failing to root out hazing and harassment during a decade on the job.
from The Associated Press