Greece is so back, baby!

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Greece legalises same-sex marriage and adoption in ‘historic moment of joy.’ In a significant victory for its LGBTQ+ citizens, Greece has become the first country with a Christian Orthodox majority to legalise same-sex marriage and adoption.

In a “historic moment” on Thursday (15 February), the south-eastern European nation’s parliament approved a bill by 176 votes to just 76. Despite the change, same-sex couples would still be prohibited from seeking medically assisted reproduction through a surrogate, meaning they can only adopt or arrange surrogacy outside their homeland. The bill will pass into law when it’s published in the official government gazette.

The landmark victory was celebrated outside the parliament building with LGBTQ+ groups holding banners that read: “Not a step back from real equality.”

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Drag: A British history

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Drag is an art form that’s seen a great deal of success – and a little controversy – in recent years. Yet, as Jacob Bloomfield argues in his book, Drag: A British History, it’s also entertained British audiences for decades, stretching back to the music halls of the Victorian era and revue shows of the Second World War.

News Roundup *90

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Pekka Haavisto is not your typical DJ. He’s also Finland’s former minister for foreign affairs. And there’s a good chance he’ll be elected president next month.

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Doctors worried about masturbation abstinence trend

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“Nothing scares me. Nothing hurts me anymore,” a young YouTuber tells the camera as snowflakes cut across the frame. He is shirtless in a Michigan January, he tells viewers, to make a point about embracing discomfort in order to become a great, powerful man.

The YouTuber tells the camera he can stand the below-freezing temperature because he has been taking cold showers every day and, crucially, hasn’t masturbated to pornography in a year.

“That’s the most beta thing you can do. That’s the weakest thing any man can do,” he says. The video is part of a thriving online landscape dedicated to helping men suppress the urge to masturbate.

More than two decades of growing internet use has surfaced fears about the social and psychological impacts of nearly unfettered access to pornography. But many researchers and sex therapists worry that the online communities that have formed in response to these fears often endorse inaccurate medical information, exacerbate mental health problems and, in some cases, overlap with extremist and hate groups.

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Report exposes extremist groups behind anti-trans campaigns

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In a new report, researchers at the Southern Poverty Law Center say they have identified a network of more than 60 organizations pushing anti-LGBTQ+ disinformation, as well as 100 of their most common sources of “junk” science.

SPLC published the report, titled Combating Anti-LGBTQ+ Pseudoscience Through Accessible Informative Narratives (CAPTAIN), on Tuesday this week. The anti-hate watchdog group said the CAPTAIN report is intended to document an extensive network of right-wing propaganda and pseudoscience, all of which is aimed at rolling back the clock for LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. and abroad.

“We show how this network of anti-LGBTQ+ actors have built a political and PR machine that twists data and opinion from a very small minority of the medical community and positions it as mainstream,” said senior research analyst R.G. Cravens in a press release accompanying the report.

Split into six main sections, the report details the most prevalent lines of disinformation, clarifies their roots, and identifies the people and organizations that push false statements about LGBTQ+ people today.

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Amber Glenn is first female queer US figure skating champion

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Amber Glenn  who identifies as bisexual and pansexual  has competed in the championship eight times prior, and won the silver medal in 2021 and the bronze medal in 2023.

Despite making mistakes on two major jumps in her free skate routine on 26 January, Glenn won with 210.46 points to silver medalist Josephine Lee’s 204.13 points and bronze medalist Isabeau Levito’s 200.68 points.

In an interview with NBC Sports, the victor said: “Being the first openly queer women’s champion is incredible. When I came out initially, I was terrified. I was scared it would affect my scores or something.

She continued: “It was worth it to see the amount of young people who felt more comfortable in their environments at the rink, [people] who feel, ‘Oh, I’m represented by her, and she’s one of the top skaters [so] I don’t have to try and hide the sight of me.’ Just because you have this aspect doesn’t mean you can’t be a top athlete.”

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Daddy? Are young gay men more into older guys than they used to?

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The term “daddy” has existed for centuries, but over time, its meaning has evolved to refer to desirable older men. Not only has the popularity of the term increased, but same-sex male couples, more than any other type of pairing, are by far more likely to gravitate towards this special kind of dynamic.

In his new book, Daddies of a Different Kind: Sex and Romance Between Older and Younger Adult Gay Men, author and researcher Tony Silva analyzes the stories of gay and bisexual daddies in a qualitative research project, interviewing 39 older men and 26 younger men about their May/December relationships.

Much to his surprise, Silva learned the desire for younger queer men to partner with much older queer men has skyrocketed, directly contradicting old narratives that ageism is rampant in gay culture.

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Some good news: Queer wins in 2023 US legislature

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While 2023 was a historically bleak year for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, the past 12 months have also seen groundbreaking wins for equality. Whether at the ballot box, in the courts, or even in hostile state legislatures, advocates have won major victories that either further the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans or safeguard the protections that queer and trans people hold dear.

At first glance, though, it may seem as if LGBTQ+ people have little to celebrate: Of the more than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills that the American Civil Liberties Union tracked this year, at least 84 were signed into law. The enacted legislation included 26 bills restricting trans youth access to gender-affirming medical care and 34 bills targeting trans students and restricting the rights of educators to discuss and teach LGBTQ+ topics in schools.

But for as many big wins as the far right scored in 2023, civil rights advocates remain hopeful about the LGBTQ+ movement’s future — and even its present. Chris Erchull, an attorney for GLAD, takes inspiration from the LGBTQ+ youth activists and families who successfully opposed a New Hampshire bill that would have required teachers and faculty to out trans students to their parents.

While the state has voted Democrat in the past five presidential elections, New Hampshire has a Republican trifecta in power, with the GOP controlling both houses of the legislature and the governor’s seat. In preventing the forced outing bill’s passage, Erchull believes it shows other victories are possible, including in tough places.

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The bittersweet queer history of game development

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In 1990, Capcom was in talks to port its Super Famicom game Final Fight – a beat-‘em-up side-scroller adapted from a planned Street Fighter game – to Nintendo’s Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Nintendo heavily censored the port, including objecting to female enemies Roxy and Poison, on the grounds that it had a policy against depicting violence against women.

The Japanese developers responded that Roxy and Poison were either ‘transvestites’ or trans women, and would therefore not cause controversy by being attacked. Nintendo was unsatisfied by this, and replaced Roxy and Poison with male enemies called Billy and Sid for the English SNES port, as well as renaming a boss called ‘Sodom’ to ‘Katana’.

The Final Fight saga is representative of a lot of gaming history: queerness and transness often peek from under the surface of video games, buried and/or corrupted by censorship and pejorative assumptions, but visible if you dig a little. The hidden gay and trans history of game development is rich, and important to connect with, given the false assumption that gayness and transness are new, ‘woke’ invasions into traditional gaming.

But it’s also a complicated and difficult history, full of frustrations that temper the joy of finding hidden queer figures: Roxy and Poison are aesthetically cool characters who are fun to fight, for instance, but they’re symptomatic of how trans women are considered more culturally acceptable to injure than cis women. Gaming is sometimes thought to be in such an embryonic stage for queer and trans people that we’re expected to be grateful for any representation we’re given, rather than interrogating the nature and context of that representation. But gayness in games didn’t just show up in the 2010s. It was always there, or it was kept out.

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