The US Military Recruited at San Francisco Gay Pride
This year, San Francisco’s Pride celebration fell on the absolute hottest fucking day of the year. Despite the sweltering heat, it was nice to be able to wear my Mickey Mouse tank top with a pair of running shorts without being called a fag for once. A loud, feverish energy dominated the Castro and Civic Center, calling all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and straight residents, along with thousands of out-of-towners into the streets to remind the world what this city is all about: tolerance, community, compassion, and queers. However, in recent weeks, the talk surrounding Pride has largely centered around the military. Bradley Manning was named honorary Grand Marshal of the parade, then quickly relieved of his duties; the Defense Of Marriage Act was struck down; and for the first time since the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the National Guard made plans to set up a recruitment booth in the heart of Pride.
Historically, the military has left as much of a stain on LGBTQ rights as any other oppressive majority in America (I’m looking at us, white males). But in the past two years, we’ve seen a rapid increase in the awareness of the military to the LGBTQ community, amidst an understandable animosity. Could they recruit from the very same group they’ve spent generations undermining? I wanted to find out, so I enlisted the help of my friend Misha Aziz, a particularly knowledgeable LGBTQ guy, to come to the parade with me and investigate.
Young Americans, Episode 5
We ask young people about the gender pronouns, labels, and identities they use to define themselves.
Watch it here
Don’t Celebrate Gay Marriage with a Wedding of Your Own
This morning the Supreme Court issued two rulings that made gay marriage a whole lot better in this country. My friends have been texting me since the news broke, wanting to meet up tonight at The Stonewall Inn (where the gay civil rights movement started in earnest back in 1969) to celebrate the end of the Defense of Marriage Act and the law prohibiting gay couples from marrying in California. Unrestrained joy and celebrating with the community are, of course, the natural and appropriate reactions to this news.
Even Edith Windsor, the New York lesbian who took the DOMA challenge all the way to the highest court in the land, said, “I wanna go to Stonewall right now!” when she heard about the historic decision. But it’s the next thing she said that troubles me. She then called a friend and said, “Please get married right away!” Edith, thanks so much for fighting the good fight, but no.
Joyous though this occasion may be, it has led to countless gay couples dropping to their knees and popping the question as if the only way to celebrate our rights is by exercising them, and the only way we are validated is when all the straight people out there (or at least five of them wearing long black robes) tell us it’s OK. Marriage fever is even infecting straights like Kristen Bell, who re-proposed to her fiance, Dax Shepard, after the rulings came down in some sort of well-meaning but bizarre show of solidarity.
To all my homosexual brothers and sisters: I am cheering with you today, but it should be said that just because we can get married, doesn’t mean that we should. Just look at Dese’Rae Stage and Katie Marks, one of the first gay couples married in New York. “It was kind of one of those things, to be a part of history,” Stage told The Atlantic Wire about their engagement on the eve of gay marriage legalization in the Empire State. Now they are one of the first gay couples getting divorced. Julie and Hillary Goodridge, the lesbians who led the charge for marriage equality in Massachusetts, are also among the first trying to figure out how to untie that knot. Like Stage said, this is a highly emotional time, but the decisions that are made after a few too many vodka sodas at Stonewall are going to have lasting implications.
Should We Panic About the Deadly Strain of Meningitis Hitting the Gay Community?
Last December, my friend Michael stopped me before we left his apartment in Paris. He was moving back to Brooklyn the following week and had received an urgent message from his friend who lived there: some gay men had died from a new strain of meningitis, a nasty bug that invades your brain and spinal cord and causes headaches, neck stiffness, bouts of vomiting, and, occasionally, death. In San Francisco, the government waswarning gay men to get vaccinated if they planned to travel to New York City, especially Brooklyn.
We weren’t too worried—this wasn’t the 80s, when the authorities turned a blind eye to the AIDS epidemic and dismissed it as a “gay disease.” If the New York City Department of Health knew there was a potentially deadly plague sweeping the city, they’d surely shoot the bugger in the butt before it grew into a gay-killing monster.
Months later, the monster is still alive. Four more men have fallen ill in New York City, bringing the number of infections to 22 and death toll to seven since 2010, and similar cases have appeared in West Hollywood, California. Just last Saturday, Brett Shaad, a 33-year-old lawyer, died of meningitis after slipping into a coma—he’s one of 13 men in LA who’ve been killed by the disease in the past 15 months. (It’s unknown how many of these men were gay.)
I WENT TO THE LAST GAY CATHOLIC MASS AT THE UK’S CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF THE ASSUMPTION
Other than a few fauxhawks, better music, and the bishop wearing a rainbow-colored stole (the scarf thing that goes over their robes), gay Catholic mass in the UK is pretty much indistinguishable from normal Catholic mass. Being a gay Catholic may seem kind of contradictory to you—like being a Log Cabin Republican, a Muslim EDL members, or Skrillex’s new future garage track—but just because you like hooking up with guys doesn’t mean you can’t also like the Holy Spirit.
The “Soho Masses” at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption have provided a safe place for hundreds of LGBT Catholics to worship for six years, a service provided to the community ever since neo-Nazi David Copeland nail-bombed the Admiral Duncan pub on Old Compton Street in 1999. That was until last week, when Archbishop Vincent Nichols, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, put an official end to the masses. After his recent fight against the introduction of gay marriage, it seemed to only add insult to injury, but it’s a story that has been widely misinterpreted by the media.
This Sunday, I went to one of their last masses before the dissolution, and the bishop assured his flock that they needn’t worry. “We may have been given an ‘Ite, Missa est,’” he said from behind the lectern, “but we can translate that, not as ‘The mass has ended,’ but as ‘Go forth, go forth and find God in your lives, however some people may describe those lives.’”
ASEXUALITY: THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T WANT ANYONE
Minerva isn’t gay. A fluid conversationalist, the Massachusetts native has been artfully re-hashing this point for the last three hours.
"I have been told I could easily be mistaken as a lesbian," she says, gesturing to hercropped, copper hair as evidence. “Which is not a bad thing.”
Minerva isn’t a lesbian, she says, but she certainly isn’t straight. At 29 years old, Minerva, who asked that she be identified by the name of her Tumblr, has never had a romantic relationship. She calls herself “asexual,” meaning she doesn’t experience sexual attraction. To anyone.
To the deep chagrin of some members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, Minerva also uses the word “queer” to define her sexuality. A re-appropriated term of endearment for sexual minorities, “queer” is as emotionally charged as it is oddly exclusive, and there is an ongoing, online debate about whether she should feel comfortable using it to self-identify. In some corners of the internet, that debate has turned to all out war.
In October, 2011, an outreach organization called Asexual Awareness Week released a “Community Census” that polled data from over 3,000 asexual-identifying people. In the survey, more than 40 percent of respondents said they consider themselves members of the LGBT community, and another 38 percent said they consider themselves “allies,” or supporters of the community.
The community isn’t so quick to oblige.
“Practicing sex/sexuality slightly differently, or not at all, does not make you queer,” “Aria” wrote in a Tumblr post earlier this year. “People don’t shout ‘queer’ at an asexual person on the basis that they are not (sexually) attracted to anyone.”
In a similar post, another blogger wrote: “We have the right to our own community, we fought and died for our rights and for our queer spaces … sure you can make a community to share experiences and get support, but stop trying to fucking appropriate ours.”
The remarks echo a sentiment firmly ingrained in some LGBT circles. Gay rights activists have fought for sexual freedom, often at the risk of physical harm, for more than half a century. Asexuals, an estimated one percent of the population, have kept a traditionally low profile. Why should the LGBT community cede a once pejorative, now defining epithet to a group defined by inaction?