First Same-Sex Couple Adopts in France

Last May, France became the fourteenth country to legalize gay marriage and gay adoption. (Other European Nations that allow gay adoption include Belgiium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Britain). Many Parisiens, particularly rural Catholics, did not cotton to the law that was signed by President Francois Hollande, and took to the streets in droves to protest. The marches focused heavily on adoption rights.

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#NCOD and Coming Out Still Matters: National #ComingOut Day Is October 11

National Coming Out Day Is October 11

#NCOD and Coming Out Still Matters: National #ComingOut Day Is October 11

If Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he would want me to say to all the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told they are less than by the churches, by the government, by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value, and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights, federally, across this great nation of ours.”― Dustin Lance Black

Every year in October during LGBT History Month National Coming Out Day is celebrated in tandem. Though The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is currently the largest or most well-known promoter of the event, it was founded in 1988 by activists Dr. Robert Eichberg, his partner William Gamble, and Jean O’Leary.

Though not an expected action, coming out is essentially necessitated by the human spirit for optimal health in all aspects of life—not just those related to the LGBTQ community.

Visibility, mental health, educational opportunities and encouragement for collective self-esteem are just a few reasons for the existence of the holiday, meant to raise consciousness and create dialogue regarding bisexual, gay, trans*, and lesbian issues, needs and achievements. Transparency in safe spaces regarding sexual and gender identity is a key component—however, there’s a special youth outreach contingent that has evolved in order to raise awareness about bullying and suicide prevention.

The co-founders of National Coming Out Day created the commemorative day in order to celebrate the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which took place in Washington, DC (with over 500,000 participants in attendance). As the campaign for civil rights and equality awareness continued to build momentum, more and more municipalities and institutions began to celebrate the event locally.

Organizations have embodied the spirit of National Coming Out Day in myriad ways—for example: via teach-ins, parades, rallies, parties and celebrations, multimedia presentations, movies, art projects and various offline events.

The Human Rights Campaign in particular has been instrumental in making sure National Coming Out Day is honored in every state in the United States. In spite of its name, this holiday has also been embraced by other countries including New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Each year, the HRC creates a new theme for this occasion. In 2013, which is the 25th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, the theme is “Coming Out Still Matters.”

Why does coming out still matter to our community? The HRC explains:

“25 years ago, on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, we first observed National Coming Out Day as a reminder that one of our most basic tools is the power of coming out. One out of every two Americans has someone close to them who is gay or lesbian. For transgender people, that number is only one in 10. Coming out STILL MATTERS. When people know someone who is LGBT, they are far more likely to support equality under the law. Beyond that, our stories can be powerful to each other. Every person who speaks up changes more hearts and minds, and creates new advocates for equality.”

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Coming out is a rite of passage–acknowledging Queer and Trans* identity in a meaningful way is essential to mental health, at the very least. Why does coming out still matter to you–or does it still matter to you?

Let us know.

Namaste!

Gay Agenda

For more information about NCOD, visit the HRC here.

#NiceUp And Dance: Queer-Friendly Reggae And More | YouTube Playlist

 

“It ain’t about who ya love/it’s all about do ya love”

- From “Do Ya Love,” Michael Franti and Spearhead

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#NiceUp And Dance: Queer-Friendly Reggae-Plus Playlist 

There’s nothing that touches your body, mind and spirit quite like Reggae—same with all musics inspired by or related to it.

If you’re at all lyrics-conscious, finding queer-friendly Reggae and Dancehall music can be a bit of a minefield to say the least (not even going to get into live shows right now!) But if you proceed carefully, you’ll find that many Reggae and related jams songs apply to us whether or not the creators intended to include us in their musings.

(Plus you know we’ve got some Diana King up in this mix—the Strong Diva among Divas who recently came out to the press.)

This playslist includes bits and pieces of Reggae or Reggae-influenced tracks—there’s some Dancehall, Ska, Dance, Pop, Soul, R&B, and many songs here are simply “irie for irie’s sake.” Too, there are some uplifting, empowering cuts up in this: a Diva over here, a Diva over there….

Many of these performers are in the community or advocate for LGBTQ folks. Some songs were just co-opted for goodness’ sake. All and all, these tracks flow with that Nice Up And Dance Vibration, so we got you!

Enjoy.

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Erykah Badu – On & On Reggae Remix (A7 Remix)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6hIdyLjy2g

“On and on, and on and on, my cipher keeps moving like a Rolling Stone:” it’s a keep ya head up jam if you’ve ever heard one.

Lauryn Hill – Lost Ones (reggae version by reggaesta)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCsgMypQfQ0

Speaking of keeping your head up: we love you, Lauryn, peace and blessings. Much, much love. Lauryn Hill is one of the best rappers and/or toasting musicians in the game (and one of the most underrated—ironically).

Boy George – Turn 2 Dust OFFICIAL VIDEOhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdnAqR2nqZU

Personal life aside (his violent incidents in the past were made very public), this track is a beautiful plea for getting spiritually aligned and replacing all hatred with love. The queer aesthetics in the video and diversity of dancers, singers and performers drive the point home with that much more inclusiveness. Nice one, George.

Mista Majah P The Maverick – Gay Marriagehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiC6Sq3hrU4

You may know Mista Majah P from our earlier feature: he’s an openly-out, lion-hearted and prolific Reggae artist who advocates on our behalf via activism and in song regularly.

Beautiful how he reclaims the words “Legalize it” in the context of same sex marriage. You go, Brother.

No Doubt – Settle Down http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pb_zZ3xItPI

Fashion-diva and totally O.G. Ska-Pop Diva Gwen Stefani is a queen: what more do you need to know? Now get to skankin’…. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skank_%28dance%29)

Bob Marley – One Love - www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ou5pzKuKP8w

Y’all know…

Ziggy Marley – Set Your Piggies Freehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7pU-ygiFPk

Adorable. True! Totally naturalist and organic. Love.

Michael Franti & Spearhead – Say Hey (I Love You) - www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehu3wy4WkHs

Speaking of walking around the world in naturally bare feet, Michael Franti’s all about it—he’s well-known for staying well-rooted, down to his strong, bare feet. Born and raised in San Francisco, Michael Franti is a regular advocate for many humanitarian causes, including LGBT advocacy.

Lauryn Hill – Lost Ones - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56wrMKBLUvA

The original.

The Specials – Free Nelson Mandelahttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgcTvoWjZJU

Activism and love is powerful. Music helps support that power. This tune is forever uplifting.

Diana King ft GunJun – Yu Dun Know – Reggae Music Videohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzP4cypb35c

This song doesn’t mess about. Of course she’s singing from a regal throne in this video. Yes, but of course.

Big Mountain – Baby I Love Your Wayhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5VQV8jTl5Q

Classic slow jam, plus: smiles for miles just waiting to happen.

And all the rest of the goodness…!

 

Michigan And Smiley-Nice Up The Dance Part 1+2.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-n2kElk_1A

Beyoncé – Standing On The Sun (SOS Reggae Mix) -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONZWRTACXHo

Ziggy Marley – Tomorrow Peoplehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnYfENJZVuI

Jimmy Cliff – I Can See Clearly Now - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jsw_r0hILQ

Bob Marley – Iron Lion Zion - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tESLeLhYg0M

Matisyahu – King Without A Crownhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-w1Va4DqDWs

Private Domain and Pato Banton – Absolute Perfection -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjcHzRey7tw

Zap Mama – Rafiki - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6onXt2bwDY

Michael Franti & Spearhead – Do Ya Love - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNo41BY-Xc0

“Sunshine and loveiness/ain’t nobody feelin’/no ugliness tonight.”

Michael Franti & Spearhead – Skin On The Drum - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Z8qpqOlwic

“I keep on living with the fullness of The One/like the heat on the sun/or the skin on the drum.”

Michael Franti & Spearhead – All the Freaky People - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=580NWAdGaAo

Zap Mama & Erykah Badu – Bandy Bandy - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEj9QZakbxU

Erykah Badu & Stephen Marley – I’m In Love With You - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF0TzvImsl0

Luscious Jackson – Don’t Look Back - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3tuSNMO-u4

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Check out the entire playlist here:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBRcoGrPV–ar_MF44mcH3cff8NkDH8pK

 

May the irie, chill forces be with with you.

 

 

N.J. Same-Sex Marriage Now Legal on October 21

But Gov. Christie Vows Appeal

New Jersey Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson’s ruling on September 27 would make New Jersey the 14th stateto allow same-sex couples to marry. Judge Jacobson directed that her ruling take effect on October 21 to allow the state enough time to put the ruling into place or to appeal it.

Christie Expected to Appeal Decision

Republican Governor Chris Christie favors civil unions which New Jersey has had in place since 2007. Under the state constitution, civil unions guarantees those same-sex couples the same rights and benefits of opposite- sex married couples.

Governor Christie opposes gay marriage and plans on appealing the head judge of Mercer County’s deccision – all the way to the Supreme Court. Christie wanted to have a referendum on gay marriage on Election Day. He argued that the matter was out of Jersy’s hands since the only pressing questions were over federal, not state benefits.

However, since the Democrat -contolled Legislature refused to allow the people to decide, the state Supreme Court will make the constitutional determination which could take months. In the interim, Jacobson’s order may be frozen while the appeal is pending.

State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) and U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) are both urging Christie NOT to appeal. The Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey Udi Ofer, stated that a coalition of groups would keep pressing state lawmakers for an override of Cristie’s gay-marriage veto last year.

The Law According to Jacobson

According to Jacobson, who granted an emergency request by six couples, said that gay couples would be denied federal benefits if the state kept allowing only civil unions. Jacobson modeled her decision on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on United States v. Windsor.

This is the first state judicial ruling ordering same-sex marriage since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last June. The judge wrote in her 53-pageopinion that “same sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey constitution. The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts. For example, civil union partners who are federal employees living in New Jersey are ineligible for marital rights with regard to the federal pension system, all civil union partners who are employees working for businesses to which the Family and Medical Leave applies may not rely on its statutory protections for spouses, and civil union couples may not access the federal tax benefits that married couples enjoy.”

New Jersey to Become 14th State Allowing Gay Marriage

If the ruling stands, New Jersey will be the fourteenth state to allow same-sex marriage. If not appealed, “October 2 should be a very exciting day for many loving couples. Justice has already been denied for far too long. Let’s clear the way for equal rights for all families.”

Hawaii’s Special Session for Gay Marriage

Although one of the first states to outlaw gay marriage, Hawaii looks to be the most likely next candidate for legalized same-sex marriage.

 

Monday September 9, Governor Neil Abercrombie called for a special session of the Hawaii legislature to deliberate the “Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013.” This comes after the Supreme Court dashed parts of the Defense of Marriage Act, and because of recent decisions made about tax law by the IRS and the U.S. Treasury department.

 

The special session is set to begin October 25, and if things go quickly, Hawaii Attorney General David Louie estimates that marriage licenses could be issued by the state starting as soon as just three weeks later, November 18.

 

The main reason Governor Abercrombie gives for the special session is that it will allow “the Legislature to focus squarely on this important issue, without having to divert attention to the hundreds of other bills introduced during a regular session.” He also wants to expedite the passage to allow “various tax and other financial issues to be achieved for citizens” when recognized as legally wed couples.

 

Court clerks estimate that if the legislature cooperates and moves things along quickly (which Governor Abercrombie thinks is possible), a four or five day session could cost around $28,500. While the passage of the bill isn’t guaranteed, democrats outnumber republicans in the House 44-7, and 24-1 in the Senate.

 

Governor Abercrombie said in his statement this week that the bill strikes a “delicate balance” to make a compromise on same-sex marriage possible for the state. “Every variation on a view with regard to the issue of marriage and equitable treatment for those engaged in marriage has been aired, has been analyzed, has been discussed. No one has been left out or has been marginalized in the process to this point.”

 

If the bill passes, Hawaii would join the other 13 states and the District of Columbia with legalized gay marriage. Hawaii is already one of the few states with civil unions as an option for same-sex couples, but proponents of the current bill say that civil unions do not go far enough. In 1998 Hawaii passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage throughout the state in an odd reversal of an earlier court case. Even opponents to the bill cite it as clearly written and able to protect the rights of individuals with religious reasons for not officiating a same-sex wedding.

 

Stay tuned for updates on the latest in gay marriage across the U.S and the world!

Author: Eugene Riordan, Jr.

Another Term of Discrimination for Zimbabwean LGBT People

Sworn in for his seventh term as President of Zimbabwe last month, President Robert Mugabe has vowed to make this term especially complicated for queer people in that country.

 

Before the August elections, President Mugabe told a rally of his supporters, “If you take men and lock them in a house for five years and tell them to come up with two children and they fail to do that, then we will chop off their heads. This thing [homosexuality] seeks to destroy our lineage by saying John and John should wed, Maria and Maria should wed.” He had spent previous months assuring that he would amend existing laws to make punishments for homosexuality in the country greater and equating it with child rape and pedophilia.

 

President Mugabe and his political party, Zanu PF, has consistently been against queer Africans, adopting the idea of queerness as a cultural imposition from Western European nations. In fact, he sees a struggle against accepting homosexuality within Zimbabwe as defending the country from Western intrusion: “Obama says if you want aid, you should accept the homosexuality practice… We will never do that.” Since his first election in 1987 he has been politically opposed to queer people within his country and has used his police forces to cause fear by arresting out men and women.

 

At his inauguration, President Mugabe used some of his last few moments to further attack lgbt people within the country. He departed from his written speech to call on young Zimbabweans to “damn” homosexuality like how the government says and that to engage in same-sex relationships, “destroys nations, apart from it being a filthy, filthy disease.”

 

Now, after the elections are over (although they were considered by many to be rigged), many within and out of the country are worried about how lgbt people will be treated. The most active and political queer rights group in the country, Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), argues that while the state isn’t officially targeting lgbt individuals with violence like it did the past currently, it is using peoples’ fears to make changes within the country. They also have said that queer people may be scapegoated within the country to take peoples’ attention away from issues like the faltering economy and a lack of regional support.

 

It appears now that, unless his government does something to increase the economy, reduce unemployment, and alleviate the amount of people living in poverty (over half of the country), things may get worse for lgbt people in the country as they might be targeted as culprits of the country’s problems.

 

This is quite a sobering political reversal from what has been happening in the U.S. this past summer where things are changing so positively so quickly. In contrast, an anonymous member of the lgbt community in Zimbabwe reported to the Daily News that, “This country is getting worse by the day for us LGBT people. I hope Mugabe’s threats of making the sentences [for sodomy] stiffer were just mere politicking. Now the real fear is kicking in.”

 

Hopefully, things in the country are all talk, and President Mugabe can focus on changing the country for the better rather than distracting his citizens with attacks on innocent civilians.

Author: Eugene Riordan, Jr.

1st Same-sex Marriage Performed by a Member of the Court

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Officiates at Marriage of Michael Kaiser and John Roberts

On August 31, 2013, in the evening, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiated at the marriage of a government economist and the President of the Kennedy Performing Arts Center Michael M. Kaiser whom Ginsburg calls “a friend and someone I much admire.” Ginsburg, an opera buff, is a frequent visitor to the Arts Center.

“ You Have My Blessings”

Says Kaiser who has been President of the Center since January 2001, “it’s a big honor for someone of her stature to officiate.” Before 220 guests such as Renee Fleming and Barbara Cook, in the Center’s atrium, Ginsburg, now eighty years-old, married Kaiser and Roberts, 32, who works at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Ginsburg, who has been on the Supreme Court for twenty years, stated that “I think it will be one more statement that people who love each other and want to live together should be able to enjoy the blessings and the strife in the marriage relationship.”

Ginsburg’s Position on Gay Marriage During Supreme Court Decisions

Same-sex unions, since 2010, have been legal in the District of Columbia. Thirteen other U.S. states and seventeen other countries now have gay marriage. Last June, Ginsburg was one of the liberal supporters who voted for a pair of major gay rights victories at the Supreme Court. The court, 5 to 4, ruled that the federal government may not refuse to recognize legally married gay couples. By striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, that defined marriage as only between a man and a woman, the historic ruling gave equal benefits to same-sex marriages legalized by the states. The Court also reinstated a lower-court ruling that found California’s ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional.

During the March oral arguments leading up to the June 23rd decision, Ginsburg made the famous statement that supporters of the law seemed to want “two types of marriage,” likening same-sex unions to the “skim milk” (or less than) version of marriage.

This month, Ginsburg plans to officiate at another same-sex wedding.

Randy, Oral Roberts’ Gay Grandson, Says: ‘#ItGetsBetter…and It’s Complicated.’

 

Close-Up – by A. R. Ammons

Are all these stones

yours

I said

and the mountain

pleased

 

but reluctant to

admit my praise could move it much

 

shook a little

and rained a windrow ring of stones

to show

that it was so

 

Stone felled I got

up addled with dust

 

and shook

myself

without much consequence

 

Obviously I said it doesn’t pay

to get too

close up to

greatness

 

and the mountain friendless wept

and said

it couldn’t help

itself

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Re-Imagining Religion: “Falling In Love Will Not Send You to Hell.”

                          – Randy Roberts Potts

“All students are required to sign a pledge stating they will live according to the university’s honor code. Prohibited activities include lying, cursing, smoking, drinking, and a range of sexual acts including homosexual behavior and sex outside marriage.”

                                                                   – Excerpt, ORU Student Codes , Oral Roberts University

Wouldn’t you know it: every time the “gay agenda” is reexamined, the “master plan” appears to become more and more normal on the face of it. Because it is.

“The gay agenda” is “the human agenda:” we all want love. Hope. Home. Family. We all desire the same things.

Back in 2010, Oral Roberts’ out, gay grandson Randy Roberts Potts read a letter to his closeted gay Uncle Ronnie (Oral Roberts’ eldest son) and recorded a viral video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYa0wi4XzeI) to honor Ronnie’s life, as unfortunately, his uncle had already passed away when Randy was just a kid (in June of 1982).

Randy’s irrepressible spirit remains to alchemize life’s tests and turn them into life’s testimonies.

In the video, after 2:38 minutes of silence (during which time we see the handwritten letter for his uncle), Potts reads a revelatory poem entitled “Close-Up” written by A. R. Ammons. Then, Randy moves into his own compelling testimony about the strange magic behind growing up with a gay uncle (around whom Randy’s mom was most captivated), and how it affected Potts himself.

We witness Potts as he entreats Ronnie’s spirit (for healing? For explanations?), “When my mother spoke of you, a look of awe lit up her face. You were the one voice in her life that could inhabit multiple worlds at once…. You stood for everything she was afraid I would become: gay, intellectual, and godless. And yet nothing caused my mother’s face to light up like your memory. I was jealous, and I always hoped to be you.”

Randy recounts following in his uncle’s footsteps simply by following his heart, and reminisces about the tragedy of losing a loved one who took his own life because he felt he had no options. No hope. Because he felt that life would not and could not get better.

“I’ve seen pain and loss and sorrow,” Potts continues. “I would have held you in my arms had I been a man at the time…. but there’s no one holding you, because you’re holding on to no one. And now I’m here sharing the same destiny…. your path and mine are crossed. They intersect…in some ridiculous dance.”

With a tonality not unlike Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight,” Potts brings us into present day. Yes, he is angry, but we can somehow see the light at the end of the tunnel, the burning hot flames of passion for living forever aglow in Randy’s heart. We somehow feel his uncle lives in some kind of virtual second life, through Randy.

Another “Gay Agenda,” Another Pleasant Valley Sunday.

Oral Roberts was the first and one of the biggest of the televangelists. He brought the Pentecostal faith to mainstream America, he started a self-named university, and of course lived a rich life through his relentless please for money from his followers. His grandson Randy Roberts Potts grew up with him…steeped in that really sheltered, Far Right Christian world. Now he’s following a calling like his grandfather, but with an unexpected message.”

- Reporter Page Hopkins for MSNBC

In sharing his story with MSNBC, Potts did indeed reveal he’d felt suicidal too—coming out was unthinkable to him. Having married a woman and raising three children with her, Potts’ coming out narrative is a common one that always feels mysterious and new during the discovery process. He told Hopkins, “Honestly, I thought I was just a really good christian that I just didn’t sexualize women.”

Though Potts’ closeted gay uncle passed away when Randy was just a boy, as he unfolded the discoveries about Ronnie’s life, they paralleled discoveries of his own.

It is now Randy’s life mission to reach back across the table and minister tolerance and inclusiveness to evangelicals themselves. Potts informed Page Hopkins that he’s doing so non-publicly, holding confidential meetings with religious leaders and consulting with them regarding family cohesion, suicide prevention and myriad other positive effects of practicing religious tolerance.

In one of the most romantic and courageous activism campaigns out there, Potts and his partner are now conducting what they call an ongoing “performance project designed for conservative towns with visuals of domestic gay life.” Potts is setting up storefronts from town to town , choosing to put his normal day-in day-out familial relationships on display, in a performance art piece called—what else…

“…The Gay Agenda.

Facebook.com/thegaygayagenda

Twitter.com/the_gay_agenda

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Reach out to Randy @randyrpotts and connect with ORU Out, ORU LGBTQ alumni and ombudsmen) at http://oru-out.tumblr.com.

To watch Potts’ It Gets Better video in its entirety, please click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYa0wi4XzeI

Have you got time to sit and pray a while? Check out Randy Roberts Potts – Re-Imagining Religion Series at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uYWf2WfPH8. During his ministerial speech in this video, Potts reveals that his brother is also gay and his family still ostracizes them both.

 

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And for more information about suicide prevention and LGBTQIA resources and support, please visit the It Gets Better Project at http://www.itgetsbetter.org.

 

 

 

 

 

“Moscow Is Not Sodom:” Valeriya, Russia’s Madonna, Worries About Gay Propaganda

| “ RT @BBCNewsnight: Russian Singer Valeriya Perfilova says she worries about..influence of ‘gay propaganda’ on her children #newsnight ” |

Don’t Tell Me.” I Won’t Ask You.

Gay? Out? Don’t tell Valeriya about it. The living, thriving spirit of Pussy Riot continues to push the dialogue forward and keep LGBTQIA rights, allies’ rights and progressive activism in the planet’s consciousness.

In what’s being called a new gay holocaust, Russia’s resurgence of anti-gay sentiment (including myriad anti-gay/anti-ally/anti-activism laws) continues to change hands and to be bandied about by various talking heads. The revolving door of anti-gay rhetoric moves from the streets to the legislature to celebrity mouthpieces and back again.

One of the more prominent voices fearful of “gay propaganda” is Valeriya Perfilova, considered by many to be Russia’s version of Madonna. The singer directly benefits from (but does not publicly acknowledge) the love of her LGBTQ fans.

 

Using the Word “Propaganda” As Propaganda

Having sold over 100 million records worldwide, Perfilova is mainly known by her one-name moniker (see: Cher, Madonna) Valeriya. In her press materials, she appropriates much of Madonna’s heat, style and vibe—but somehow, she manages to kick the gay-friendly part of Madonnaisms to the curb. This is particularly unfortunate, as the singer’s a domestic abuse survivor and her body of work does much to buoy the spirits of female abuse survivors (all the while redirecting abusive behaviors toward another culture).

In a June 2013 broadcast with BBC Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman and Russian gay activist Anton Krasovsky, Valeriya championed a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell-esque” viewpoint, towing the party line that LGBTQ persons should not be seen or heard as such.

Regarding Russia’s anti-gay legislation, Valeriya began:

“It was funny to me, because it’s nothing to do with politics. Being the mother of three children, I approve this [anti-gay] bill… I don’t want to meddle with other people’s lives. I don’t care what they do behind their doors. But I do care about my children’s bringing up [i.e. upbringing]…. The vast majority of people in Russia, 88 percent of people, support the ban of homosexuality propaganda. That’s a fact. And this bill responds to people’s demand. That’s all.”

 

L.W.Q: Living While Queer & Beingness As Illegal

Here’s a bit of a backgrounder: in January of this year, former Russian TV journalist and presenter Anton Krasovsky came out on Russian television and was fired immediately thereafter.

Now, back to Newsnight—during the BBC television broadcast, Krasovsky brought forth the idea—and his lived experience—that essentially now in Russia, it’s illegal to be gay.

Holding back uncomfortable laughter, Krasovsky couldn’t hold back the irony of the situation:

“I’m glad that that situation is funny for Valeriya,” he responded. “But it’s not fun for me. I think it’s against me. Against my family. Against all gay people in Russia…. From today, I cannot say that I’m gay and I’m the same human being…like all of you. From today, I’ll have to pay for this. From a hundred to two-thousand pounds. Because these words could be taken as propaganda.”

The beingness of gay life, being LGBTQ, being a questioning soul, being LGBTQ and out, or even advocating for those who are—in Krasovsky’s experience and in his own words, now this is a crime in and of itself, no matter what one does or does not do. It’s about the beingness now. Beyond being a thought-crime, this is L.W.Q. “living while queer.”

Illegal.

 

Some of My Best Friends Are Gay…

Ironies continue to prevail. In 2008, Valeriya became a goodwill envoy for the Russian Federation on behalf of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an agency to combat human trafficking. She’s been bequeathed with honors and endorsement deals from Avon, from a custom perfumier, from MuzTV and MTV Russia. She was awarded the title of “Honoured Artiste of Russia” by Putin, and has been cited by Forbes magazine as one of the 50 most highly-paid people in movie, sport, literature and music.

All this to say her platform and audience is immense, and the Russian government is using her star power to their full advantage.

During Newsnight Valeriya continued, “I have a lot of friends who belong to gay society, and they do not support their unisexual marriages. They would never take part in gay parades. They’re just normal people. They do their business…. are still working on TV, the media. I don’t know why it happened to you [Anton].”

But of course, the “friends” are not out—or as Anton Krasovsky put it, they are not “open gays.”

To watch the full video, visit the YouTube link below.

BBC News – What gay ‘propaganda’ vote tells us about Russia Today:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-KfROu8AaU

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Connect with Anton Krasovsky at @krasovkin and share your thoughts with BBC Newsnight @BBCNewsnight.

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