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Drag Queen Conchita Wurst goes public with HIV Diagnosis

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Conchita Wurst has revealed that she is HIV positive, adding that she has decided to make the diagnosis public because an ex-boyfriend threatened to out her. Taking to Instagram, the Austrian drag queen, who won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014, said that she “will not give anyone the right to frighten me or affect my life.”

She added: “Since I received the diagnosis, I have been in medical treatment, and for many years without interruption I have been below the detection limit, which means I am unable to transmit the virus.

Until now, I did not want to go public with this information for a number of reasons, only two of which I’ll mention: first and foremost my family, who know everything and have been supporting me since day one. I would have gladly spared them the attention connected to the hiv-status of their son, grandson and brother. Likewise, my friends have been aware of this for quite some time and are dealing with it with an impartiality, that I would wish everyone concerned.

Secondly, it is information that, in my opinion, is almost exclusively relevant to those with whom sexual contact would be an option.”

The global superstar drag queen with a beard rose to international fame when she captured hearts and minds across Europe to win the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest for Austria with Rise Like A Phoenix.

She added that she hoped her decision to go public helped “lessen the stigmatisation of people who have become infected with hiv” and thanked her fans for their support.

Since her victory in Copenhagen nearly four years ago, she has gone on to use her fame to campaign for tolerance and equality. She has performed at the European Parliament and the United Nations and challenged Russian president Vladamir Putin to sit down and talk to her.

#IAmGay Protest in China

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The Chinese microblogging website Sina Weibo appeared on Saturday to censor a series of online protests decrying the platform’s decision to remove “illegal” content related to homosexuality.

Outraged Weibo users rallied under the hashtag “I am gay” early on Saturday to protest the company’s announcement. By midday, it had reportedly gathered over 130 million views and generated some 153,000 comments. However, by the afternoon, Weibo appeared to have also banned the hashtag and deleted most of the related comments.

Weibo announced its latest censorship drive — or “clean-up campaign” — on Friday, saying it would be removing “illegal” content, including “manga and videos with pornographic implications, promoting violence or (related to) homosexuality.”

The new bans would “create a sunny and harmonious community environment,” the platform added. Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, boasts some 400 million active monthly users — roughly 25 percent more than Twitter itself.

Weibo’s announcement, however, provoked a flood of stunned and angry responses from Chinese users.

“You want to shut my mouth, but you can only delete my account,” one user posted using the “I am gay” hashtag. Another said: “As a member of this group, I am proud, I am glorious … I refuse to be discriminated and misunderstood.”

Weibo’s content ban is the latest attempt by the Chinese government to purge the internet of content it alleges deviates from the country’s “core values” or criticises the country’s established policies.

Although China decriminalised homosexuality back in 1997 and removed it from the state list of mental disorders in 2001, conservative attitudes remain widespread. A 2013 Pew study found that only around 20 percent of Chinese respondents said the believed homosexuality should be accepted by society.

Parenting done right

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Many parents are worried by the idea their kid might be different. Some just worry about how to support their child in such a case. A dad who thinks his son might be gay has asked Reddit how he can show his son that he got his back.

The single dad stumbled across the reality TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race on his son’s Netflix account. At first taken aback, the dad asked the internet about some of the language on the show.

‘I was cleaning up his room while he was in the shower and I [see] this show (rupaul) was paused on Netflix,’ he wrote. ‘He has been using different kind of phrases like “the shade” and “I’m gagging” (that one worried me at first). I googled the shade and found it was a drag term but I didn’t understand it.’

The single dad of two boys aged 4 and 15, said the older boy was having some trouble at school, because of his shyness and stutter. He also believes his son might be gay and wants advice in how to be the best father he can be.

‘Is there any advice you can give me? I won’t embarrass him and start quoting the show but when he said he was “gagging” I had no idea how to react,’ he said. ‘I would like to know how to react. I was hoping I could get a crash course on this sort of chat.’

Reddit users inundated the dad with mostly positive replies giving all him all kinds of advice. Some suggested watching the vogue documentary ‘Paris is Burning’, while others pointed him to YouTube videos of famous Drag Race sayings.

Others said they wished they had parents as accepting as this man. ‘LMAO BICTH I SCREAMED. You’re an amazing parent for doing this (well, I don’t know you, but I can only assume so),’ wrote one Reddit user. ‘I only wish I had a parent that was interested in learning and not shunning gay culture.’

Photo by Prince Rabbit from softcreatures

Let Queer Kids be different

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This year we’ve seen a number of mainstream stories focusing on straight people’s relationship to queerness — which insist that queer people are “normal” and “just like you!” — rather than queer people’s relationship to their own identities.

The queerest part of Greg Berlanti’s Love, Simon — the first major studio release to feature a gay teenage protagonist, which has been warmly received since its premiere last month — isn’t that titular gay teen. Instead, it’s Ethan (Clark Moore), femme and black with a Michelle Obama blowout and a sanguine rejoinder for every bully he encounters, who embodies the familiar high school figure of the kid everyone knew was gay.

The contrast between the two is sharpest following a bullying incident in the school cafeteria, when two jocks dressed like Simon and Ethan jump on a table and pantomime anal sex. Simon runs over, ready to fight them, while Ethan more or less rolls his eyes: To him, this is merely a change in flavor from the usual menu of ridicule. Before Simon can get to them, the drama teacher, Ms. Albright (Natasha Rothwell), marches in and, after a flurry of well-deserved shaming, sends the jocks to the vice principal’s office, along with Simon and Ethan, who wait to receive a forced apology nearly as humiliating as the incident itself.

Waiting with Ethan outside the office, Simon apologizes to Ethan, saying, “Nothing like this ever happened when just you were out.” But by this point in the film, Simon has personally witnessed Ethan getting bullied on at least one other occasion, so we have to suppose what Simon means is, This only used to happen to you. Ethan delivers a brief, moving monologue about his mother’s reaction to his gayness, and her obvious disappointment in who he is — an experience common to queer teens, but seemingly inconceivable to Simon.

In his few minutes of screentime, Ethan is exactly as sidelined in a film about a teen who is gay (but not that gay) as he would be in the hundreds of thousands of high school cafeterias that Ethans must move through. Ethan can’t hide or code-switch the way Simon (Nick Robinson) — white, masculine, conventionally handsome — is able to. Simon spends so much energy on preserving the secrecy of his own homosexuality that he fails to see the pain and danger for queer people who don’t have the luxury of keeping such a secret.

In an op-ed for the New York Times last week, one of a number of pieces to criticize the movie’s love affair with normalcy, activist and writer Jacob Tobia wrote a stirring critique of Ethan’s treatment in Love, Simon. “He is a sideshow, a subtle foil to show how palatable and masculine Simon is.”

Normalcy pervades Love, Simon, from the landscaped, Stepford-y suburb through which its protagonists drive to school to Simon’s parents’ cookie-cutter high school love story. In the film’s opening voiceover, Simon calls himself “normal” more than once, as if in a prima facie defense of his secret homosexuality. I’m gay, but I’m still normal! Even though, obviously, if he truly were like everyone else — that is, straight — there would be no movie to be made.

In a review for Time, critic Daniel D’Addario asks, “Can a love story centered around a gay teen who is very carefully built to seem as straight as possible appeal to a generation that’s boldly reinventing gender and sexuality on its own terms?”

Apparently, it can. Simon’s normalcy is one of the reasons why everyone from grown-up critics to teenagers themselves has loved the movie — it’s following in the footsteps of so many teen rom-coms before it about the lives of conventionally attractive straight kids; shouldn’t queer kids get a “normal” aspirational rom-com too?

Normalcy, after all, doesn’t only feel good — it also has political power. “Gays are just like everyone else” has been the rallying cry of a certain strain of gay liberation, a tactic that succeeded in ending policies like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, toppling the Defense of Marriage Act, and achieving federal marriage equality. And yet these efforts have been criticized from more radical corners of the LGBT community for their focus on issues concerning only the most privileged of Americans. The double-edged sword of normalcy-as-value is that it is always including and excluding with the same stroke.

Ultimately, Simon offers no more queer representation than hyper-mainstream antecedents like Will Truman (Eric McCormack) in Will & Grace, upstanding gay lawyer, or Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) in Philadelphia (1993), upstanding gay lawyer: a poster boy for well-behaved deviance, never forcing straight people to look directly at the boundaries of their world. Simon Spier is basically Wally Cleaver with an iPhone.

“I’m just like you” as an argument for equal treatment suggests that Simon Spier, or any other gay person, deserves respect and understanding by virtue of our similarities with straight people, rather than despite our differences — a construction we’re still being fed in queer media that sets the limits of acceptable queerness at the border of heterosexual comfort. Simon’s opening voice-over leans on his “totally normal” surroundings to excuse his deviation from them, rather than to question the boundaries “normal” builds.

Of course, all teenagers deserve to hear that they aren’t deviants and that they’re worthy of love — but what queer teens may need to hear more than anything is that popular notions of what’s “normal” are what make you feel wrong, or weird, in the first place.

Read on…

Periodical Political Post *62

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Sorry for the lack of posts the last few days, my cable modem died over the holidays so I had no internet access. We’ll be back to the normal posting schedule from here on.

School Lies

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A post from my dear friend Xag:

I wanted let you know of this project I’ve been working on and that you might find interesting: As a photographer I’ve been working with my own body in front of a camera and I’ve made a photo book about my memories from school, because being in school is weird, being a teenager in school is weirder and my time there was especially weird.

During the past years I’ve kept my used teenage uniforms, and created images, that I hope to share with you to give you an insight with a photo story that shares what happened there, what I saw, what it felt like.

This recreation was a methodical effort. I stalked people’s old photos on Facebook, I had a list (I keep a lot of lists) of moments, of memories from what I witnessed back then. Then continued to shoot myself all over the city of Bogotá, especially around the neighborhood I grew up in and reenacted through images, my experiences of those transgressive school moments as faithfully as I could.

There are a lot of behaviors almost exclusive to school-like environments, some which are unexpectedly outrageous, or silly and simple and some that are… just hot (Specially if you are boy, a queer boy, in a boys-only catholic school.) The themes of bullying, hazing, boyhood and masculinity are at the cornerstone of this work.

Now, I’m looking for your help, to publish a photo-book I created called: School Lies.

If you want to help Xag publish School Lies you can read more about it at http://igg.me/at/school-lies 

Is being Straight a Myth?

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This just in: A new study published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has found that “fully straight” people don’t actually exist.

Researchers looked as the eyeballs of straight-identifying men to determine just how straight they actually were. Turns out, every single one of them was just a wee bit gay.

“It’s basically a study that assesses sexual orientation by looking at the eyes and whether they dilate or not,” Ritch C. Savin-Williams, the Director of Developmental Psychology and the Director of the Sex and Gender Lab in the Department of Human Development at Cornell University, told Broadly.

He continues, “You can’t control your eye dilation. Essentially, that’s what the whole project attempts to get at, another way of assessing sexuality without relying on self report.”

Savin-Williams and his team closely monitored the eye dilation of men while showing them a range of pornographic imagery.

“We show straight men a picture of a woman masturbating and they respond just like a straight guy, but then you also show them a guy masturbating and their eyes dilate a little bit. So we’re actually able to show physiologically that all guys are not either gay, straight, or bi.”

So what does this all mean?

“There are aspects [of male sexuality] along a continuum, just as we have always recognized with women,” Savin-Williams says. “Men have gotten so much cultural crap put on them that even if a man does have some sexual attraction to guys, they would never say it.”

Savin-Williams says another way of monitoring responses would be by monitoring a person’s genital arousal, but, he says “that gets a little invasive.” So they just stuck to their eyeballs.

Savin-Williams adds that while the study once again confirms that sexuality operates on a spectrum, it also finds that it’s not a binary system, which means that while someone can’t be 100% straight, they also can’t be 100% gay either.

The choice to be unafraid

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Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon was honoured with the Visibility Award at the Human Rights Council annual gala on Saturday — and as we’ve come to expect from him, he completely stole the show with his poignant words.

“When I was little I used to care so much about what others thought of me,” he said. “I was mindful of the way I dressed, my mannerisms, the way I talked. I was afraid people would think I was weak. I was afraid of making mistakes. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be welcomed by the LGBTQ community because someone like me wouldn’t be the role model they were looking for. Maybe I was too gay, and maybe I was just too myself. Throughout my life, I have fallen short many times. I have felt depressed. I felt not good enough. And I felt like there would never be a day where I would feel like I belong. I was living life afraid. I remember hearing the quote, ‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’ I remember really hearing it, and honestly asking myself, ‘What would I do differently?’

“I remember making the choice to be unafraid,” he continued. “I made the choice to not care what others thought of who I was. I was going to be truly me. This was the biggest and most important decision I’d ever made: To live fearlessly. To take risks. To let go of my fear of what others may think of me, and to always keep learning. You will find that you will have your greatest success when you wear your scars proudly. Through my shortcomings and from my successes, I’ve learned that a champion is more than a medal. It’s a mindset.”

He closed with a powerful, inclusive sentiment: “To all the young kids out there, whether you are gay, straight, bi, trans or still on a journey of self-discovery; whether you are white, black, or any color in between, you are smarter than you think. You hold more strength than you may ever know. You are powerful. No matter where you have come from or where you are going to, there is someone who looks up to you, and they will find inspiration in your strength of just being yourself. Be a role model, and never forget that you can be someone’s champion. You are a winner. When we all come together, we can change the world.”

So, what’s the actual average international Penis Size then?

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Ever wondered about the average penis size? Of course you have. Well, finding an accurate number can be tricky, because many studies depend on self-reporting, a flawed methodology that often leads to people over-reporting their actual sizes.

But the World Penis Data website is trying to cut through the bad methodology and determine an actual average penis size by averaging up measurements from different worldwide studies and separating the results based on whether the measurements were self-reported or objectively measured in a laboratory setting.

Through a bunch of statistical analysis, the website determined that the average length of a flaccid or erect penis varies a quarter of an inch to half an inch, depending on whether the length is self-reported or objectively measured.

Here are the averages the World Penis Database came up with:

  • Average flaccid penis length when objectively measured: 9.25 cm (3.6″)
  • Average flaccid penis length when self-reported: 9.9 cm (3.8″)
  • Average erect penis length when objectively measured: 13.3 cm (5.2″)
  • Average erect penis length when self-reported: 14.7 cm (5.7″)

Unsurprisingly, when men were asked to self-report their penis sizes, they typically reported them as larger. Oh, men. How predictable.