E.J. Graff

My "Friend" Is Travelling with Me

Following up on Hillary Clinton's announcement last week that foreign aid would be tied in part to nations' LGBT rights records, the Christian Science Monitor took a look at the state of those rights across Africa, reporting that almost all 54 countries criminalize homosexuality.

Fearless in Uganda

Ever wondered what it would feel like to be hunted and hated for your sexuality? Read Mac McClelland's indispensable report in Mother Jones on being out and gay in Uganda. It's a brilliant portrait, simultaneously intimate, terrifying, and inspirational.  Mac makes it impossible to see these men and women as foreign "others" facing the unimaginable; she makes it easy, rather, to relate to each one. For instance, reading this made me feel like I'd hung out with these women or their American incarnations:

Occupy Our Ovaries

Here's a prediction: The Plan B backlash is going to reverberate for quite a while. The ladies are  furious that, once again, the administration has backed the bus right over their ovaries, overruling scientific research in the name of patronizing paternalism. If boys and men can pick up condoms as easily as a bag of Skittles,  why can't girls and women also bypass a potentially conscience-ridden pharmacist and buy an easy-to-use pill to prevent pregnancy after—afterhaving sex? Come on, people, it's already happened; if she's too young to have sex, surely she's also too young to have a baby and raise a child.

Barney Gets Frank

Over at the Washington Blade, longtime gay community reporter Lou Chibarro Jr. offers up the gay exit interview with Barney Frank. Here's why we love Mr. Curmudgeon:

Frank said he became the first member of Congress to voluntarily disclose he was gay in 1987, six years after taking office in 1981, after he determined staying in the closet was too constraining on his personal life.

“I got there and I thought, OK, well I can be privately out but publicly closeted,” he said. “But it didn’t work. I found it very hard to have a satisfying, healthy emotional and physical life.”

All in the Family: Teens, Sex, & Politics

Yesterday's Plan B shocker, in which the Obama administration sold out women's health for what appear to be clearly political reasons, has jaws dropping all over the country. James Fallows wrote that now it's the administration's turn to be anti-science by overruling a mass of testimony that allowing Plan B to be sold over the counter wouldn't harm teen health and would help improve women's lives in general.

In Today's DOMA News...

You may have noticed that litigating Prop. 8* has become a full employment project for lawyers (Not that there's anything wrong with that ...). They're back at it today: The Ninth Circuit is hearing two appeals from the folks who originally put Prop. 8 on the California popular ballot. According to the Courage Campaign's Prop. 8 Trial Tracker,

You Big Bully

Over the past five years we've seen a surge of concern—as evidenced by legislation in 46 states—about bullying. That's heartening. There's no question that serious bullying hurts children and adults alike, especially Lord of the Flies-type bullying that goes beyond the usual teen drama and can destroy a child.

Some bullying, especially what happened to many now-adult gay men when they were young (cf: the masculinity patrol), includes severe physical harm. In the 1990s, Lambda Legal won a landmark lawsuit on behalf of Jamie Nabozny, whose experience in a Wisconsin school included four years of this:

Department of Overreaction: Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Longtime gay community reporter Rex Wockner passes along this story of a Wisconsin teacher who has taken the "gay" out of Deck the Halls. You can't really blame her, what with "gay" being a common grade school slur, and all:

The music teacher at Cherry Knoll removed the word "gay" from the song Deck the Halls because the children kept giggling. Instead students were taught to sing "don we now our bright apparel".

That's not so gay, now, is it?

Astrophysics Goes Down the Rabbit Hole

Over at The New York Times, Dennis Overbye reports:

Astronomers are reporting that they have taken the measure of the biggest, baddest black holes yet found in the universe, abyssal yawns 10 times the size of our solar system into which billions of Suns have vanished like a guilty thought.

Such  holes, they say, might be the gravitational cornerstones of galaxies and clues to the fates of violent quasars, the almost supernaturally powerful explosions in the hearts of young galaxies that dominated the early years of the  universe.

Die, Faggots

I have a tendency to hurrah, regularly, about how vastly American attitudes toward lesbians and gay men have improved. (Attitudes toward transgendered folks are much further behind, as I will discuss here soon, as that column of the movement started later and includes fewer people.)

But whenever I write about how amazing it is that I never worry that someone will call me a f***ing dyke on the street, or that The New York Times not only uses "gay" instead of "homosexual" but actually profiles same-sex couples in the wedding section, I am reminded that it's not this way everywhere.

The (New York) Times, They are A-Changin'

Last Sunday, I got silly-happy when I came across the Vows column in the Times' Style section. (For those who don't know, every week NYT highlights one couple's wedding with a little feature story and pictures, among the wedding listings.) Usually I simply scan that section briefly, checking up on how many same-sex couples appear, almost by habit. Since the NYT started allowing same-sex announcements in its wedding section in September 2002, a few prominent couples have crashed that Vows feature.

Ain't Misbehavin'

Ginger White's apparently painful confession of having had a 13-year on-again, off-again affair with Herman Cain seems to have dealt the final blow to his tottering political campaign. I've heard conversations, since, in which political insiders are annoyed about that—believing that adultery should never be what brings a public person down.

Ask for More

Gentlemen, I would like to ask you to leave the room for a moment. Move along, now. Yes, you too, over there in the corner, I see you!

Okay. Ladies: Do you have trouble asking for more money when you're offered wages, salaries, speakers' fees, or any other financial negotiations?

Read. This. Now.

So You Think You Have Problems?

Even if your parents didn't like who you dated, they didn't send him to Siberia. And while they may haunt you in various ways after their deaths, that haunting can never weigh on you as much as Stalin's overhanging ghost. Do read this sad obituary of someone who, because of her father, could never find a place in life:

“Wherever I go,” she said, “here, or Switzerland, or India, or wherever. Australia. Some island. I will always be a political prisoner of my father’s name.” 

 Yes, the sins of the fathers are indeed visited upon the children, often in very peculiar ways.

The Barney Frank Greatest Hits Reel

You knew it was coming. Some fabulous news organization would assign someone to come up with the Barney Frank YouTube highlights. Here it is at HuffPo. And here HuffPo's Ryan Grim fondly recalls being chewed out by the honorable member of Congress from Massachusetts, adding a few others' such memories:

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