The bullies win again as Target pulls parts of its Pride collection

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US retailer Target has pulled some of its LGBTQ+ Pride collection and displays from stores across the country after members of staff faced threats of violence. The company confirmed on Tuesday (22 May) that it will be making changes to its LGBTQ+ merchandise ahead of Pride month, which starts next week.

One of the changes includes moving the Pride collection to the back of some of its shops in southern states, following a backlash from shoppers. The New York Post quoted a Target source as saying there were “emergency” meetings on Friday (19 May) to address right-wing customers’ outrage over the collections.

The 15-minute meeting included advice about keeping sales staff safe and what Pride-related items and signage to remove. “We call our customers ‘guests,’ there is outrage on their part. This year it is just exponentially more than any other year,” the source said. The company is “terrified of a Bud Light situation”, the insider added.

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Molly houses: England’s 19th century gay sex clubs

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Thanks to shows like Queen Charlotte and the regular trickle of Austen adaptations, most of us are familiar with the Regency period, the decade between 1811 and 1820. It was a world of hot goss, fresh threads (silk and tulle, in this case), and manners so refined they could almost hide the hierarchical tensions that simmer beneath the banter.

If that setup sounds familiar, it should. Joel Kim Booster knew what he was doing when he set his adaptation of Pride and Prejudice on Fire Island: subtlety ruled the Regency’s social world, and a meaningful glance or an arched eyebrow could wreak absolute emotional devastation. Compare your average West Village brunch conversation to an after-dinner gathering in an Austen book, and you’ll hear the same codes of indirect meaning and implication.

Yet in most of the modern stories set in the Regency, we see hardly any gay characters at the balls and tea parties. It makes you wonder: in the actual Regency era, where did all the gay men go? History’s got an answer: they went to the molly house!

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News Roundup *81

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Figure skating is finally ready for same-sex teams on the ice

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It was spring 2022, and the Winter Olympics season had finally come to a close. Under the glare of fluorescent lights in a nearly empty arena in London, Ontario, two of figure skating’s most decorated athletes circled each other with ease. Four years—knocked askew by the pandemic, injuries, and illnesses—had just culminated in both receiving medals they’d worked toward for their entire careers. Now, with no upcoming competition, no pressure, and no expectations, they took each other by the hand and glided across the ice.

As piano echoed over the sound system, they began to dance, their bodies matching effortlessly, limbs stretching in identical lines, torsos coiling. With their arms wrapped around each other tightly, they unfurled to spin around in endless motion. Improvisation became choreography, and they alternated between carving across the ice and laughing at a botched move. Over and over, they practiced a Fred Astaire–style dip until it was easy. Cheek to cheek, then far apart with just a single push, the pair forged a new routine.

From the way they moved in perfect harmony, you’d never guess that they had never competed together. They looked every bit the pros they were. But there was one unusual thing about them: Both were women. For close friends like Gabriella Papadakis and Madison Hubbell—and any two figure skaters who want to compete with a same-gender partner—skating as a team had long been forbidden.

The International Skating Union, or ISU, expressly prohibits same-gender teams in competition. Pair skating and ice dance teams have both been defined as “one Woman and one Man” since the 1950s, and while athletes of the same gender can skate together in synchronized skating—which showcases teams of eight to 16—competitive rules for teams of two have remained strictly man and woman.

But several months after Papadakis and Hubbell had that private skate session, there was a startling change. In September 2022, in a unanimous ruling, Skate Canada, the country’s figure skating governing body, made history when it removed all gendered language from its competition rulebook, redefining teams as “Partner A and Partner B.” For the first time, same-gender teams and out nonbinary athletes using correct pronouns would be able to compete at Canada’s national events.

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America’s queer youth is struggling

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A new survey conducted by The Trevor Project shed light on the mental health struggles and hopes of LGBTQ young people. In a time when anti-LGBTQ legislation is at an all-time high, it’s critical to understand the needs of the communities that are being targeted. Through surveying more than 28,000 LGBTQ young people between the ages of 13 and 24, The Trevor Project brings us closer to that understanding.

Nearly 1 in 3 LGBTQ young people said their mental health was poor most of the time or always due to anti-LGBTQ policies – which shows that the political is personal and when politicians advance anti-LGBTQ legislation, they’re harming the mental health of their targets. This is especially important to note in 2023, when the highest amount of discriminatory legislation is being proposed in state houses across the country.

LGBTQ young people who had access to affirming homes, schools, community events, and online spaces reported lower rates of attempting suicide compared to those who did not. Affirmation – whether it’s in the form of a home environment or an online space – can actually change whether a person attempts suicide. And affirmation can be so simple. It can be respecting someone’s pronouns or honouring their sexual orientation.

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News Roundup *80

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Shocking no one, Republicans lie and, as people warned they would, expand bill that bans talking about gay people in school to cover all grades and age groups

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America’s most challenged & banned books right now

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The American Library Association (ALA) is out with their latest list of the most banned and challenged books, a dubious honor accorded books in library collections in the United States enduring the highest number of attempted bans and demands for censorship.

The list is aggregated by the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom from reports filed by library professionals and community members, as well as from news stories published throughout the U.S. Because many book challenges go unreported, the ALA Banned and Challenged Book List is only a snapshot. The organization says a challenge to a book may be resolved in favor of retaining the book in a collection, or it can result in a book being restricted or withdrawn from a library.

The most recent list covers bans and challenges in 2022. ALA documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources last year, the highest number of attempted book bans since the group began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago. The unparalleled number of reported book challenges in 2022 nearly doubles the 729 challenges reported in 2021.

A record 2,571 unique titles were targeted for censorship. Seven of the top 13 most challenged books contained LGBTQ+ themes and/or characters, including the most challenged title, author Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer. The graphic novel/memoir faced 151 formal calls for censorship in libraries across the country. Juno Dawson’s This Book is Gay rounds out the list with 48 formal challenges.

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News Roundup *79

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Florida is reportedly considering a bill that would give doctors and insurance companies the right to deny care to queer people, minorities and women

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The history of the singlet: Hated by wrestlers & loved by gays

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The New York Times once called it the “most mocked athletic uniform in existence.” High school coaches wail about how its presence drives kids away and negatively impacts the sport. Nevertheless, the singlet persists.

Despite a relatively new NCAA rule that permits wrestlers to wear two-piece uniforms, singlets remain ubiquitous, both on the mat and in pockets of the gay community. Unsurprisingly, all the complaints about singlets–they’re often derided as too tight and revealing–are exactly why the gays love them.

But first: the wrestlers: While singlets are synonymous with wrestling today, they’re a new phenomenon. Throughout the early 20th century, wrestlers competed in a variety of different outfits, most of which involved trunks and tights. And to be honest, it’s hard to see how wrestling trunks, which resemble bikinis, are any less gay than singlets.

But trunks are a mainstay in popular culture, probably due to their widespread use in pro wrestling. Many of the industry’s biggest stars–Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and The Rock, just to name three–have pranced around in those little things in front of millions of people.

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