America’s gay-rights moment is over and left a legal mess behind

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Half a decade after the Supreme Court’s same-sex-marriage decision, the justices and Congress are still trying to figure out what federal law should say about LGBTQ rights.

Roughly half of Americans think federal law bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Despite four years of nationwide same-sex marriage, despite rapidly growing cultural acceptance for LGBTQ people, despite extensive annual Pride celebrations—these Americans are wrong.

Now that all of this summer’s glitter floats have been dismantled and the rainbow confetti has been cleared, lawyers, legislators, and judges have turned back to the ongoing fight over whether federal law does, and should, specifically protect LGBTQ people from being fired, denied a rental lease, or refused service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

This year will mark several important milestones in the battle over LGBTQ discrimination. In the spring, the House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, a sweeping bill that would prohibit anti-LGBTQ discrimination in all aspects of public and commercial life, without any religious exemptions.

While the bill has basically no chance of gaining traction in this Senate, if Democrats sweep Congress in 2020, it will likely be high on the party’s priority list. In the fall, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case R. G. & G. R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC & Aimee Stephens, about a former funeral director who was fired after coming out to her employer as transgender. The justices will consider whether existing workplace protections in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 already cover discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

And yet, the legal status of LGBTQ rights remains murky. As the movement has gained cultural momentum, activists have largely moved away from a posture of compromise—they believe they can win full protections for LGBTQ people in any context, without exceptions. A small but significant group of conservative religious leaders has been working the middle ground, trying to build support for a bill that would protect LGBTQ people but leave space for institutions, such as Christian colleges and Catholic hospitals, to operate according to their religious teachings.

But they’ve faced resistance from their right, with prominent pastors and conservative legal groups opposed to any kind of bill that would mark sexual orientation and gender identity as special legal categories.

As America has largely moved on from its gay-rights moment, with many Americans believing everything got taken care of with same-sex marriage, legal advocates on both sides have been left with bitter disagreements about where the country should go next—and the possibility that the status quo will perpetually remain in place.

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Tumblr was sold, porn ban stays

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Rumours about Tumblr being sold were making the rounds for a few months now and many people hoped that a new owner might get rid of the site’s dumb porn ban that effectively killed the platform.

Alas it wasn’t supposed to be. PornHub, who promised to undo the porn ban if they manage to buy tumblr, let us down. After driving Tumblr into the ground, Verizon just sold the site for peanuts to Automattic, the parent company of WordPress. And they’re keeping the porn ban in place so Tumblr’s days of being a haven for the queer community, nsfw content creators and fandoms are definitely over.

Mr. Mullenweg said his company intends to maintain the existing policy that bans adult content. He said he has long been a Tumblr user and sees the site as complementary to WordPress.com. “It’s just fun,” he said of Tumblr. “We’re not going to change any of that.” — Wall Street Journal

In a statement made up of words that definitely mean something, Verizon characterised its sale of Tumblr as “the culmination of a thoughtful, thorough and strategic process” and called Automattic “the perfect partner” which “will unlock new and exciting possibilities for Tumblr and its users.”

LOL.

Update: Reportedly Verizon/Yahoo sold Tumblr for less than $3 million. We could have bought it with a GoFundMe. For comparison, Yahoo acquired Tumblr for $1.1 billion. Amazing how easy it is to burn a slick billion and destroy one of the biggest websites in the world just by banning porn.

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Study: gender-neutral pronouns boost positive attitude towards queer people & women

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More than 100 failures litter the battleground that is the hunt for an English gender-neutral singular pronoun. From thon, ip and hiser to hem, ons and lers, the discarded terms have piled up since the mid-19th century.

But the quest for the right word is not in vain, a new study suggests. Using a gender-neutral pronoun, it found, reduces mental biases that favour men, and boosts positive feelings towards women and LGBT people.

The finding marks an easy win, the researchers believe, and shows how a minor change in language can help chip away at long-standing gender inequities.

“Let’s assume there are societies that generally agree on being more inclusive of women and LGBT individuals, and there are more than a few,” said Efrén Pérez at the University of California in Los Angeles. “Our findings suggest that the words we choose to use can matter in getting us a little bit closer toward reaching that ideal.”

Pérez and Margit Tavits at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, explored the impact of gender-neutral pronouns on the views of more than 3,000 Swedes. In 2015, the country adopted the gender-neutral term “hen” to sit alongside the existing terms “hon” and “han”, the English equivalents of “she” and “he”.

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Disney’s Andi Mack star Joshua Rush comes out as bisexual

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Turns out Disney star Joshua Rush wasn’t just acting when he played a queer character on Andi Mack. The 17-year-old who portrayed Cyrus Goodman on the show just came out as bisexual. Cyrus is the first openly gay main character on the Disney Channel.

Rush posted on Twitter that the first person to respond to his tweet is bi. He then responded to his own tweet writing “first! i win! it’s me. i’m bi. And now that I’ve said that, I have a few things to rant about. There are more important things to talk about than me liking a whole bunch of genders, but I do want to share a few things with you guys.”

“I saw so many of you watch Cyrus come out and said “Hey! I can be me! How ironic, isn’t it, that me, playing that character, never had mustered up that courage?” Rush continued. “Instead of feeling the courage to tell you today that I am an out and proud bisexual man because of the character I played for four years, I feel that courage thinking of all of you, who felt emboldened by Cyrus to come out.”

He explained that while he was playing a character on television who was becoming open with his sexuality he still dealt with internalized homophobia in his personal life.

“I stuffed the existential crisis of talking about my sexual orientation into a box in my mind for years. Today, I release it into the world,” Rush tweeted.

He ended his Twitter thread with a couple resources for his followers. He posted GLAAD’s resource on bisexuality saying that it helped him better understand his sexuality. Rush also encouraged his followers to donate to the Trevor Project.

 

For some guys a dead planet is a price worth paying for their fragile masculinity

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That some dudebros suffer from extremely fragile masculinity is nothing new. But just how far these guys go to uphold some fucked up image of what they think “being manly” means is still shocking at times.

New research found that one of the deterrents for not letting the planet go to shit for some men is the fear of their heterosexuality being questioned, according to the journal Sex Roles. Researchers found in a previous 2016 study that environmental consciousness fell into perceived ideas of masculinity and femininity, with eco-friendly behaviour widely perceived as feminine.

In the new study, 960 participants were asked to evaluate whether fictional characters felt “feminine” or “masculine,” based on several environmentally friendly activities such as paying bills online, turning off the air conditioner, caulking windows, recycling, or using reusable shopping bags. Participants were then made to give their impression based on a 10-point scale from heterosexual to homosexual. Kinsey is shaking!

Participants who learned that a male fictional character exhibited behaviours associated with women said that they were “uncertain of his heterosexual identity,” the researchers write. In the example of the reusable shopping bag or recycling, men across the board deemed it as “feminine.” Therefore, those “perceived as being more likely to have positive feminine than positive masculine traits” were not associated with manliness.

Professor Janet K. Swim at Pennsylvania State University who led the research determined that some men might be put off behaving in a more eco-friendly manner because of these stereotypes.

The research suggested that if being seen as heterosexual is important to them, men will opt out of gender nonconforming behaviours, with a stigma by that association. A latter part of the study showed that “men were most likely to socially distance themselves” from gender nonconforming behaviour — a social consequence to the construct of gender at large.

“People may avoid certain behaviours because they are managing the gendered impression they anticipate others will have of them,” Swim said.  If we don’t implement drastic changes the earth will literally be uninhabitable by 2040 but, you know, no homo…

Yay! You’re gay! Now what?

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The light beneath the door of the closet is just a sliver. It’s enticing, though, and you’re eager to see what’s on the other side, finally ready to open that door and come out. In Yay! You’re Gay! Now What? a book for queer boys by Riyadh Khalaf, you’ll find some advice for doing it.

For awhile, months, maybe years, you’ve been “feeling different.” You think you might be gay and that’s “OK, it’s normal, and it’s not something you need to change.” Or you may be bi or pan or non-binary, “it simply comes down to how you feel” and it may have everything or nothing to do with the anatomy you got at birth. The thing to remember is that, “You cannot change who you are.”

This may cause a lot of worry, for yourself and for people you love. Recognize that anxiety before it goes wild and know how to break the cycle. Being gay, Khalaf says, is actually a “gift,” as you’ll eventually begin to see.

That’s a gift you can share or not, says Khalaf, because “you can come out whenever and however you want,” it’s your call. Yes, family members might freak out at first and your friends might retreat but you’ll find advice on how to cope with that and a reminder that “almost every relationship is salvageable.”

So let’s say you’re out, comfortable with it and you’re ready to find your first true love. It’s OK to go online and look but Khalaf says to be wary: you know how easy it is to pretend you’re someone you’re not when you’re on a computer, so be safe. Also be safe when you go to clubs or parties and remember that protecting your heart is important, too. Relationships can be different, your first kiss can be amazing and your body may respond in embarrassing ways to all of the above.

Here’s the first thing you’ll need to know about Yay! You’re Gay! Now What?: absolutely anyone can read it, including parents and allies, but it’s really geared toward gay teen boys and young men. Indeed, author Riyadh Khalaf includes pages expressly for those allies and parents, but later parts of the book are filled with valid information that may be more graphic than they’ll want.

Still, that info will speak directly to the heart and the health of young men just coming out in a way that’s not stuffy or clinical, but that’s more lightheartedly factual. Khalaf is gay and he uses his own personal anecdotes as tools to teach, but he’s not pious or pushy. Instead, there’s a whole lot of care and camaraderie in these pages, and the words “you are not alone” are not just written, they leap from each page.

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A Victim of the anti-gay purge in Chechnya speaks out

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It was just after lunchtime on the day Amin Dzhabrailov was taken. A woman who was about to get married had come to the salon in the Chechen capital of Grozny where he worked, and the two were happily chatting as he colored her hair. Then, he recalls, three men in uniform barged in, asking for him by name. Soon, Dzhabrailov was being hauled outside, handcuffed and thrust into the back of a car. It was hot. He felt like he couldn’t breathe. As the car took off, “my heart stopped,” he says.

Though the three men didn’t explain why they had come, it soon became clear, as they took Dzhabrailov’s phone, demanded his password and started scouring the device for messages and photos that would prove he was guilty of something considered deeply shameful in the conservative, predominantly Muslim republic: being gay. Dzhabrailov doesn’t recall how long the car ride lasted, but he does recall his overriding fear. “The door is going to open,” the 27-year-old tells TIME, “and I’m going to die.”

Dzhabrailov is one of at least dozens of men who were detained and tortured in an anti-gay “purge” that took place in Chechnya in 2017, according to news reportshuman rights organizations and European agencies. He is also one of the first to go on the record about his experience and reveal his identity in the media, though he fears retaliation against himself and his family.

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