National & World Briefs

PFLAG founder, RIP

The founder of PFLAG, formerly known as Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gays, Jeanne Manford, has died. In 1973, she founded, Parents-FLAG after her son, Morty, was attacked while distributing pro-gay flyers in New York City. She walked alongside Morty at the 1972 “Christopher Street Liberation Day March,” holding a sign urging other parents to support their gay children. The positive responses from gays, lesbians, and their families spurred her to found Parents of Gays the following year. Manford cared for her son, who died of complications attendant to HIV in 1992. President Obama honored her with the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal.

Guns and gays get Gonzales

U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales faces censure by the Republican Party of Texas because he voted in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act and gun control in Congress. Censure by the party is extra-constitutional and means nothing, but Gonzales is one of the very narrow Republican majority in Congress, so censure has national ramifications.

Fighting the last war

It was only a matter of time before the anti-marriage equality force reared its head. Iowa voted to legalize same-sex marriage in 2009. Now eight legislators want to change that by amending the state constitution with a definition of marriage contrary to marriage equality. The resolution reads, in part, “The laws of nature and nature’s God, the state of Iowa recognizes the definition of marriage to be the solemnized union between one human biological male and one human biological female.” Leaders of the Republican lead legislature say the resolution “likely won’t get a hearing.” Even if it did, the federal “Respect for Marriage Act” and the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling supersedes state law.

Tennessee drags drag

Some drag performance is now illegal in Tennessee after the state general assembly passed a bill criminalizing the performance in public places where children may be present. Gov. Bill Lee signed the bill within hours of passage. The law redefines “male and female impersonators” as adult cabaret performers and bans “adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors.” Drag performances could not take place on public property or in venues accessible to minors. A violating drag performer can be charged with a felony.

Can animals be gay?

The Greek historical figure, Aristotle (384–322 BC), observed same-sex bonding behavior in pigeons, partridges, and quails. An ancient Egyptian writer, Horapollo (circa 4 AD), also wrote about observing it in partridges. Contemporary scientists do not call animals “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” or “queer” to avoid “anthropomorphizing” or “Disneyfying”  animals and seeing them as “imperfect copies of humans.” Biologists have documented same-sex behaviors in over 1,500 species in every major animal group and significant geographic region worldwide, according to a University of California study. These behaviors can include sexual and genital contact; courtship, affection, pair-bonding behaviors (like hugging, nuzzling, licking, and grooming); and parenting offspring. The study posits that male sheep are quite gay.

Voters hotfoot Lightfoot

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot lost her bid for a second term failing to be among the top two spots in the city’s nonpartisan mayoral race. There will be a run-off election since no candidate received over 50% of the vote. Competing for the office will be Paul Vallas, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson. Lightfoot was the city’s first Black woman and openly gay person to serve as mayor.

Spacy-like accusations against conservative leader

A campaign staffer in the last Georgia Senate race has accused conservative activist Matt Schlapp of groping him. Schlapp is a former advisor to the last Republican president and was a Fox News contributor. He is currently chair of the American Conservative Union, which hosts the Conservative Political Action Conference. ACU is a 50-year-old think tank that is most famous for the CPAC conference, a testing ground for conservative ideas, and a showplace for Republican candidates. The accuser, Carlton Huffman, claimed violation of personal space, lewd comments, and unwanted touching. Schlapp denies the charges. Huffman has apologized for posting sexist and racist comments on his blog, saying he was young and is ashamed of past comments. He has also been accused of making unwanted sexual advances toward two women this year. Schlapp’s other problem is CPAC is losing its standing in the political world with dwindling attendance and media coverage. CPAC is criticized as becoming not much more than “a pagan fire dance” for the last Republican president who gave a two-hour speech at this year’s February gathering.

Presidential interview on stuff, LGBT

The current president gave a long interview touching on many LGBT issues to Kal Penn, a guest host of “The Daily Show.” He denounced legislation regulating surgical and pharmaceutical therapies of minors under consideration or passed in some U.S. States as “cruel.” He used a catchphrase from his mother to describe the legislation as “close to sinful.” He also decried the exclusion of classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in primary schools, which Florida and other states propose. Discussing Penn’s pending marriage to his longtime boyfriend, the president offered congratulations and marital advice. Penn asked the president about his “epiphany’ in support of marriage equality. The president recounted he saw two men kissing while he was in high school, “I turned and looked to my dad. He said, ‘Joey, it is simple. They love each other,'” Biden said. “It’s just that simple.” After 50 years of ignoring his father’s sentiments, he became a supporter of marriage equality in 2012 after having voted for legislation such as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and “Defense of Marriage Act” and campaigning against marriage equality as late as 2008. His signed legislation to codify marriage equality, the “Respect for Marriage Act,” passed by Congress at his urging this year.

Brendan Fraser, best actor

The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences presented the Oscar for Best Actor to another straight-washed portrayal of a dying gay man. Brendan Fraser won for his portrayal of an overweight man, estranged from his family and suffering angst over body issues in “The Whale.” Fraser joins other notable avowedly straight males who won Oscars playing gay men: Tom Hanks for “Philadelphia,” William Hurt for “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” Philip Seymour Hoffman for “Capote,” Sean Penn for “Milk,” and Rami Malek for “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Fraser appeared with gay-icon Sir Ian McKellen in “God’s and Monsters.” This time Fraser in the straight role and McKellen, the gay character.

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