Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Prop 8 Upheld

*** Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight Fight ***

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From the Advocate:

After nearly three months of waiting for a decision, California's supreme court justices voted Tuesday to uphold Proposition 8, the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

The court ruled that the decision to eradicate the ban would go against the will of the people if overturned.

Despite the ruling, the 18,000 gay and lesbian couples that wed after the supreme court's original decision in May 2008 will be allowed to stay married. Six of the seven supreme court justices voted to uphold Prop 8.

Protests directly following the November 4, 2008 election called for a hearing to repeal Proposition 8. The California supreme court agreed to hear arguments later that month. Hundreds of friend-of-the-court briefs followed by various organizations followed, both for and against the state's most expensive ballot initiative in history.

Day of Decision rallies have been planned for the evening of the ruling in all 50 states. For more information about the protests, visit DayofDecision.com for locations and action plans.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

From the Advocate
Uruguay May Repeal Gay Military Ban
Andrew Harmon

While the Obama administration grapples with its stated intent to repeal the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, Uruguay has moved one step ahead.

The Uruguay defense ministry confirmed on Wednesday that minister of national defense Jose Bayardi (pictured) has signed a decree lifting a ban on gays serving in the nation’s armed forces. President Tabaré Vázquez has yet to sign the decree.

The ban, which barred people with “open sexual deviations” from attending military academies and said gays were not suited to the armed forces, has been in place since a military coup in 1973, according to the Associated Press.

In 2007, Vázquez signed a congressional bill granting civil unions to same-sex couples who have been living together for at least five years, making Uruguay the first Latin American country to legalize civil unions for gays and lesbians.

Gay marriage remains illegal throughout most of South America, though some countries, such as Ecuador, have moved to adopt similar protections for same-sex couples.
In January, Colombia’s constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples must

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thanks

A list of things I'm currently thankful for:

1. My family and everyone, of every species, whom I love and who love me. I have blessings literally coming out of my ass. I'm so lucky.

1. Having a job that I love, and for which I'm very well-compensated.

2. Living in Canada, where 90% my medical costs are federally absorbed by a healthcare system that, while by no means perfect, still operates semi-adequately and saves lives. I'm hoping that, by 2011, the cost of gender-reassignment surgery will be covered as a category of non-discrimination, and that this definition of being 'categorized' will be protected by Alberta's Human Rights charter.

3. The fact that I can write, which I would do anyways, and actually get positive public feedback on my writing, is amazing. It's like having people say cool things about you for eating a sandwich, petting your cat, or doing some other enjoyable thing that you'd be doing regardless. Imagine watching a Pedro Almodóvar movie, really enjoying it, with plans to watch another one--probably Mujeres al borde de un attaque de nervios, because it features gaspacho as a plot element--and suddenly, out of nowhere, a cheque drops into your hand. That's what it feels like to get paid for writing. It makes you feel privileged and vaguely nervous all the time, because you're afraid of being a failure, or afraid that you might want to be a failure.

4. The coffee and dessert I had today with Juan-Sebastián.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Star Trek

I saw the new Abrams-directed Star Trek today. My thoughts, as a queer trekker (no spoilers):

Captain James Tiberius Kirk: Pine is more than adequate. One-dimensional at times, but always fun and fairly natural to watch. I believed his confidence, and there was a sort of Crighton-y quality to him that endeared me. A colleague of mine said: "I want to lick him." I think that statement pretty much stands for most of the audience.

Spock: Uneven, but ultimately I think Quinto pulls off the role. His character had some unexpected developments, but none of them were unwelcome. I really liked the young-Spock as well. He had a Harry-Potter look that could spawn Teen-Kirk and Spock spin-off films.

Romulans: I didn't remember them ever looking quite that way. Bana is pleasant throughout as a lunatic, and it's oddly reminiscent of watching Dennis Hopper in Waterworld. I'm not entirely sure what their ship was supposed to look like, but it did not, in any significant way, resemble my two cast-iron and plastic models of a Romulan Bird of Prey starship (both assembled by me, in a pretty rare feat of dexterity).

Vulcans in general: meh. I didn't not like them. I got the sense that they were deeply-repressed Marxists who just really loved classical rhetoric.

Total lack of visible LGBT characters: meh. Not unexpected. At least there wasn't an atmosphere to discourage any potential queer characters (or character developments). Kirk/Spock slash is, I see, alive and well in Abrams' film, which is great.

Doctor McCoy: a bit scripted, but still, not unenjoyable to watch.

Sulu: thought the casting was weird at first, but I can see that they're trying to butch up his character. I am praying for a George Takei cameo. I thought it was fairly significant to watch him as an out actor in Heroes. I really didn't expect them to squeeze in a Sulu-oriented action scene, but man, did they ever.

Uhura: her character took some really interesting turns. I just got really excited whenever she mentioned morphology and xenolignuistics.

Starfleet trivia: very nice. I think I squealed or may have just murmured "oooooohh," along with the upper-echelon geeks in the audience. Did you own ST:TNG on VHS? Raise your hand.

Scotty: Pegg is sort of neutrally funny, and he has some good lines. One scene with him involving water was a bit much, but I still got really scared while watching it.

The Enterprise: very nice, NCC-1701 promptly displayed. Everything seemed to be in the right place, and I liked all the interior shots.

First Ten Minutes: worth price of admission. I was riveted, and the critic in me just kind of subsided and let the whole narrative play out. It was really orchestral, and I'm glad that Abrams found a way to be contemporary and affective without just making Lost/In Space.

One Plot Point Involving scary Jell-O: I don't think this would work, ever, even granted the existence of a warp drive, which is sort of connected to the Jell-O but not completely, without giving away anything.

One Scene Involving a Cave: just really unnecessary, but I didn't hate watching it, at least.

I think the beauty of Abrams' film is its serial potential, as well as its strong casting and dedication to the original series. I really want to see a big-screen re-enactment of Kirk fighting the Saurian gladiator, and Spock mind-melding with the Horta.

Complete Lack of Andorians: disappointing.

Transporter visuals: I think they kind of phoned the CGI in here, but at least it's clean and not too distracting.

Turbolift: meh, could be better, but I guess we can't expect DS9.

Musical Score: manipulative, but still really good.

All in all, it was satisfying. There were some conventions, but also some innovations, and interesting twists, and nothing out-right pissed me off. The scenes that were meant to be fantastic really were fantastic. I'm seeing it again tomorrow in very good company.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Skating Too Gay?

From ABC World News and PlanetOut:

Last Friday, ABC World News aired a story that has been brewing for about three months and now it seems poised to explode.

In February, Skate Canada, Canada's Figure Skating Governing Body, announced a new Public Relations campaign to make skating in Canada look "tough."

Skate Canada wasn't helped when two-time Olympic Silver Medalist, Elvis Stojko, went on a self-appointed mini press tour, speaking on behalf of what Skate Canada was looking for. Stojko told the Toronto Sun "If you're very lyrical and you're really feminine and soft, well, that's not men's skating. That is not men's skating, ok? Men's skating is power, strength, masculinity, focus, clarity of movement, interpretation of music."

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If you're very lyrical? First off, Stojko, let's have a reality check. Figure skating has been pretty kind to you as a career, and you've been surrounded by LGBT folks and queer-allies within that sport for the last 15 years or so. If you can't man up and actually say something positive about your queer friends, colleagues, and co-workers within the sport, then at the very least don't slag them by contemptuously linking 'effeminacy' with 'softness,' and masculinity with 'grace.'

Basically, Skate Canada seems to be suggesting that there are two types of figure-skaters, the gay ones and the straight ones, and they need to pay more attention to the straight ones in order to butch up the sport. So, historical skating luminaries such as Brian Orser, Rudy Galindo (who quotes from Rocky Horror on his website), Brian Boitano (WWBBD?)...I guess they're soft, but not graceful, not manly. I seem to remember Boitano, Galindo, and Orser all doing triple-jumps, flips, death-spiral spins, but hey, those are just the gay spins, ignore them. Concentrate on Stojko's precious quad jump, which apparently takes so much raw heterosexual strength that only he can pull it off.

I distinctly remember watching Stojko skate in the late-1990s, with my mom (of course), to the soundtrack for the movie "Dragonheart." He was wearing leather wrist cuffs that looked suspiciously like gauntlets, a tunic, and a necklace simulated to look like a dragon's tooth. It was probably the gayest ensemble I'd ever seen him in, but he was still out there, puffing away, making mechanical arm-gestures and trying to communicate the indomitable spirit of his masculinity to the crowd. He pumped his arms like Messier scoring from the hash-marks.

Toller Cranston is graceful; Emile Sandhu is graceful; Sergei Grinkov was graceful when he skated romantic duets with Gordeeva, and still graceful when he skated alone, without pumping his arms like he'd just scored in OT. Figure skating may not be a 'gay sport' per se, but it's a sport where norms of masculinity and femininity become crucially blurred, transformed, and even renovated. I know that the many gay and straight figure-skaters I watched as a kid taught me a lot about both masculinity and femininity, movement and grace, music and silence.

Stojko may not have considered the fact that he was borrowing, even modeling his own style of masculinity from other queer skaters, or female skaters. He should thank them for the lessons on strength and grace rather than selling them out to the press in a cheap attempt to ingratiate himself with Skate Canada.



Orser, 1988 Tour of Champions

Friday, May 1, 2009

Maddow and Shepard



Rachel Maddow and Judy Shepard discuss the Matt Shepard Act.

In my hometown of Vancouver, on March 14 2009, 62-year-old Richard Dowrey was attacked outside of the Fountainhead pub on Davie St. He is now making a slow recovery, and just recently came out of his coma.



Shawn Woodward, 35, of Vancouver, has been charged with aggravated assault against Dowrey. He apparently told bystanders, after beating Dowrey: "He's a faggot. He deserved it." The Vancouver West End's queer community, along with neighborhood activists and allies, marched on Apr 6 in order to press for increased security and protection against hate crimes.

Hopefully, this bill helps all around.