Periodical Political Post *86

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Slowly but surely, we’re winning the war against the gay “cure”

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New York bans gay conversion,  protects trans people

In the state of New York bills to ban therapists and other mental health providers from engaging in gay conversion therapy with minors and prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression passed the state Assembly and Senate.

The bill makes it a an act of professional misconduct for mental health providers to engage in any practice that seeks to change the sexual orientation of any individual under the age of 18, including “efforts to change behaviours, gender identity or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings towards individuals of the same sex.” Read more about the the ban of gay conversion on minors here and about the new protections for trans people here.

The long war against a gay “cure”

For most of human history, homosexuality has been condemned on three grounds: that it is a sin, a crime, and a sickness. Despite the emergence in recent decades of gay-affirming scriptural exegeses, many major religious denominations continue to regard homosexual acts, if not the homosexual inclination itself, as immoral. As to the second rationalization, only in 2003, with the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, was gay sex decriminalized across the United States, thereby lifting the menace of legal sanction that had long shadowed gay lives. And thirty years earlier, a similar liberation had taken place when the stigma of mental illness was officially disassociated from same-sex attraction.

For this latter advance in human understanding, we largely have Frank Kameny to thank. A Harvard-trained astronomer fired from his job in the Army Map Service in 1957 because of his sexual orientation, Kameny was the first person to challenge the federal government over its anti-gay discrimination policies. Understanding that the rationale for barring highly qualified homosexuals like him from public service rested not only upon the McCarthyite claim that they were liable to subversion, but also that they were mentally unfit, he took it upon himself to change the scientific consensus. Kameny’s most consequential insight as an activist was that it was not the homosexual who is sick, but rather the society that deems him so.

Read on…

Periodical Political Post *85

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Pillowfort, a Tumblr alternative?

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If you were one of the Tumblr users impacted by the Tumblr porn ban, then chances are you’ve heard of Pillowfort, an up-and-coming Tumblr alternative, at one point or another. The site itself is largely inspired by Tumblr, although it touts several new improvements that make the service stand out compared to Yahoo’s microblogging platform. These include an improved home feed layout, better filtering capabilities, and a lax policy on NSFW content.

While Pillowfort is still in closed beta for the time being, some users already have access to the site and can meet other users, build followings, and join a wide range of communities dedicated to everything from Homestuck to BDSM. If you want to join, here’s what you need to know about how the service works.

Read on…

Periodical Political Post *84

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Rainbow Arcade: the history of queer gaming 1985-2018

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Schwules Museum, a well-known queer museum in Berlin, Germany, has launched an exhibition titled Rainbow Arcade. It explores the rich history of queer themes and characters in video games since 1985.

The exhibition leads its visitors through different sections highlighted in different colours. The exhibit covers more than 30 years of queer content in games through fan art, memorabilia and video interviews with designers. The last part of the rainbow tour also presents several playable contemporary LGBTI titles.

The exhibition was curated by Adrienne Shaw with Jan Schnorrenberg from the Schwules Museum and German gaming journalist Sarah Rudolph. Shaw was also responsible for the rediscovery of 1989 explicitly queer game Caper in the Castro, by developer CM Ralph. The game takes place in San Francisco and the protagonist is a lesbian detective, Tracker McDyke. She will need to solve the disappearance of her friend and drag queen Tessy LaFemme.

Moreover, Shaw created the LGTBQ Video Game Archive website in 2016, the first attempt to catalogue queer content in games. “Until the archive, there just wasn’t a historical understanding of LGBTI content in this medium,” she told The Guardian. “It makes it really easy to forget that this kind of content has always been in games.”

According to their website, “the exhibition will be taking stock of contemporary pop cultural questions of representation, stereotypical and discriminatory narratives in entertainment media, and our cultural memory.” This will also be the first time a museum will show the research by the LGBTQ Game Archive.

“Rainbow Arcade is special because it explores the intersection of queer history and game history, two distinct areas of contemporary culture that have been neglected and underestimated for a long time and therefore haven’t been archived really well,” explains Schnorrenberg. “It is actually one of the very first sociopolitical video game exhibitions ever and many video games and designers that we are featuring have never been shown in a museum before.”

Pretty people are more open-minded about sex & queer rights

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People who are, by today’s standards, physically attractive are apparently more open-minded towards many behaviours relating to sexuality, according to a study published in Social Science Quarterly. The findings indicate that having more opportunities to engage in certain behaviours can influence one’s ethical standards.

“When tempting but morally suspect options become more readily available, people often downgrade previous moral objections,” wrote Robert Urbatsch of Iowa State University in his study.

The study examined data from the 2016 General Social Survey and the 1972 U.S. National Election Study. Both of these large sociological surveys are unusual, as they took the extra step of having the interviewers provide evaluations of the physical attractiveness of respondents. Good-looking respondents were more likely to support premarital sex, gay sex, gay marriage, and abortion rights. But they were not any more tolerant of issues not related to sex, such as civil disobedience or marijuana legalisation.

“These results support the hypothesis that greater opportunity to indulge in a behaviour — as good looks typically provide for sexual activities — reduces the sense of moral stigma surrounding that activity,” Urbatsch said in his study.

But more attractive people were not more permissive in one regard. There was no statistically significant difference between attractive and unattractive people when it came to extramarital sex.

Urbatsch noted that it’s also possible that less attractive people tend to have less permissive views on sex-related behaviours. “In general, people tend to perceive situations when they receive less than others do as unfair and unjust, and want to constrain such inequality,” he wrote.

Brazil enters new dark age for queer people & other minorities

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Brazil’s new fascist president, Jair Bolsonaro, wasted no time to crack down on minorities and signed executive orders targeting the queer community literally as fast as he possibly could. The ‘proud homophobe’ used his first day in office to sign the orders. They will affect queer people, indigenous groups and descendants of slaves.

Just hours after his inauguration Bolsonaro removed LGBTI issues from consideration at the new human rights ministry. He did not name another agency tasked to handle queer issues. The new human rights minister and former evangelical pastor, Damares Alves, has previously said ‘the Brazilian family is being threatened’ by inclusive policies.

“The state is lay, but this minister is terribly Christian,” she said in her first address as minister. “Girls will be princesses and boys will be princes. There will be no more ideological indoctrination of children and teenagers in Brazil.”

Bolsonaro’s actions against the queer community and other minorities come as no surprise. He has previously said he would rather have dead son than a gay son. He also said parents should beat their children back to being “normal” if they suspected them of being gay.

Read more…

The chill girl’s guide to changing your gender

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The steep climb out of manhood can be daunting to the uninitiated trans girl, but look on the bright side: Before you came along, countless others have made that same hike, and they’re doing just fine.

This is a guide for trans women, so I’ll stick to addressing a few things that I’ve found useful based on my specific experience as a male-to-female trans woman. My advice might be helpful, but you deserve actual medical and mental health care providers to ensure you’re being cared for. (Recommendations on finding them are forthcoming.)

Not all transgender people transition, and transitions look different for all kinds of people. They can be fast, or slow, and include lots of different kinds of treatments. Whatever your identity is, some things are true of transitioning across the board.

Chief among these: Transition is not one-size-fits-all. You may be comfortable altering your gendered existence without hormones or surgery; other people will feel those kinds of physical transitions are necessary for their survival. There are lots of tools at your disposal, like changing your pronouns, your name, or what you wear. Whatever you’re looking for in your quest, trust there’s something out there for everybody.

Read on…

Periodical Political Post *83

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