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A Very Queer Word of the Year: The Singular “They”

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Bad news for people who have been arguing that the gender-neutral pronoun “they” doesn’t make any sense because it’s not grammatically correct: a crowd of over 200 linguists who met at the American Dialect Society’s annual meeting last Friday evening have chosen the singular “They” as the most significant term or word in the past year in a landslide vote.

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Using a singular they is common habit in English & American speech, as in “That cat loves their owner,” but has risen to prominence again as a useful way to refer to people who don’t use the pronouns “he” or “she.”

A practise several languages introduced over the last few years. Swedish speakers for example can use “hen” when the gender of a person is unknown or the classic pronouns don’t apply.

Ben Zimmer, a language columnist for the Wall Street Journal who presided over the voting on Friday afternoon, said in a press release: “In the past year, new expressions of gender identity have generated a deal of discussion, and singular they has become a particularly significant element of that conversation,” Zimmer said. “While many novel gender-neutral pronouns have been proposed, they has the advantage of already being part of the language.

Other contenders for the 2015 title of Word of the Year were “on fleek,” “ammosexual,” “ghost,” and “thanks Obama.” For a full list of the nominees and winners in each category, read the American Dialect Society’s press release here.

Syrian LGBTQ Youth: Finding Acceptance in Europe

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While most Syrian refugees are fleeing the war, others are escaping the persecution they face because of their sexual identities – and the violent punishments often inflicted on those who violate the Islamic State’s ban on homosexuality

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As war rages on, Syria’s queer youth seeks acceptance in Europe.

KALMAR, Sweden – Sara, a 22-year-old openly bisexual who was recently granted asylum in Germany, has seen her life change in remarkable ways since leaving Syria. She is also adamant: “I wouldn’t go back, not even for a visit.”

“Today, I am free on all levels. My new friends and even their families love me and support me. The whole society is on my side. People here are open-minded and accepting,” she said.

Nearly five years of war have forced millions of Syrians to flee their homes and their homeland, risking everything for the chance of a safer life in Europe. But there is a smaller group of refugees fleeing not only the day-to-day bloodshed and chaos, but a more targeted form of violence aimed at their sexual identity.

Discrimination against non-normative sexual and gender identities in Syria is nothing new. As in many parts of the Arab world, it is illegal to be homosexual in Syria and same-sex partners have long been the target of honor crimes, harassment and imprisonment.

But the arrival of Islamic fundamentalist factions such as the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) has radically intensified persecution across the country, pushing some Syrians to join the stream of refugees headed to Europe in search of sexual freedom and expression as well as safety.

“The Islamic State executes homosexuals by throwing them from the tops of high buildings,” said Logal Kako, a 21-year-old Syrian man who’s been openly gay since he was in high school.

Read on…

Is Steven Universe too Queer for the Queen?

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Cartoon Network hits like Adventure Time and Steven Universe might be the most progressive kids’ shows in the history of cartoons. Adventure Time features an on-going, complicated but charming romance between two of the female protagonists and  Steven Universe is the kind of fantasy adventure where even the villains are treated with kindness and sympathy, and where one of the major characters is literally the physical embodiment of a committed gay relationship.

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So it’s going to be pretty upsetting for fans of the show—not to mention the collected hivemind of fanart, “feels,” and animated GIFs known as Tumblr—to hear that some of the show’s more explicitly queer content is being censored from the show’s broadcasts in the UK.

As reported by Pink News—and shown in the Tumblr comparison video below—Cartoon Network UK has been editing moments of mild sexuality—as in suggestive looks and the occasional shimmy, not, like, full-on magical-alien-rock-women bacchanalia—out of its broadcast of the show.

http://officialkurapika.tumblr.com/post/136006093473/as-you-may-know-there-have-been-posts-going

The highlighted moment comes from “We Need To Talk,” an episode in which a giant space woman’s jealous lover manipulates her into having quasi-explicit magical sex in front of her boyfriend as part of a complicated emotional power play. (And if that’s not weird enough, the resulting fusion dance turns them into a sort of multi-eyed Flashdance monster.)

But it’s not the Jennifer Beals homages or bizarre relationship drama that upset the censors; rather, a couple of longing looks between the characters Rose Quartz and Pearl were apparently too saucy for British audiences to handle. (It’s also possible that the watchdogs felt that the “Fuck you” look Pearl shoots mid-dance at her romantic rival Greg was so clear as to be borderline obscene.)

Cartoon Network UK blamed the lack of a British TV rating system for the cuts, telling reporters, “The U.S. broadcast system requires that shows are marked with a rating–in this case PG (parental guidance necessary). In the UK, we have to ensure everything on air is suitable for kids of any age at any time. We do feel that the slightly edited version is more comfortable for local kids and their parents.” (Said locals are apparently completely okay with the unedited heterosexual kissing that closes out the clip.)

via AV Club, Pink News & Polygon

Young, attractive, and totally not into having Sex

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Screw promiscuity and free love—the sexual revolution has passed from freedom of sexuality to freedom from sexuality. It’s an orientation embraced by the 80,000 registered users of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network.

cake-sexThat’s where the conversation broadening the sexual spectrum started, back in 2001. Since then, it has sprawled across message boards and Tumblrs, as a way for people to identify themselves—and find each other—outside of the traditional sexual confines.

The taxonomy can be confusing: There are gray-asexuals, who identify somewhere between asexuality and more conventional interest; demisexuals, who only feel attraction in a close relationship; heteroromantics, for those who develop nonsexual feelings for members of the opposite sex; panromantics, who can feel a nonsexual crush for someone of any gender identity… Take a look at the sexual spectrum, and you’ll see that wanting sex at all—regardless of with whom—is just one part of it.

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Kafka & the Teenage Nudies

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We live in a time in which some Western countries have to deal with major cases of legislative schizophrenia. They want to protect kids by teaching them that sex is something dirty and disgusting.

But on the other hand they seem to have a perverted passion for destroying the lives of the very same kids by adding pre-teens to public sex offender lists, charging 10-year-old girls with rape for playing doctor or telling a teenage boy that he’ll have to get his boner photographed by cops because he was sexting with his girlfriend.

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The newest fad in this kafkaesque nightmare is to treat the same person as a child and an adult at the same time. This requires some mental gymnastics you’d think no sane person would be capable of.

So here’s what’s happening: A teenager takes a selfie of themselves while they’re naked. In the eyes of the Unites States legal system this means they just sexually exploited a child–themselves. But due to the seriousness of this crime they will be tried as an adult by the courts

After a 16-year-old girl made a sexually explicit nude photo of herself for her boyfriend last fall, the Sheriff’s Office concluded that she committed two felony sex crimes against herself and arrested her.

The girl was listed on a warrant as both the adult perpetrator and the minor victim of two counts of sexual exploitation of minor – second-degree exploitation for making her photo and third-degree exploitation for having her photo in her possession.

A conviction could have put the girl in prison and would have required her to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life. [source]

If sexting is a good idea in general is a debate worth having but trying a minor as an adult is an outright ridiculous premise. But in a system that literally hands out the death penalty to minors and mentally ill people all common sense must have been gone over board a long time ago.

A North Carolina 17-year-old caught in a sexting scandal faces charges of sexually exploiting a minor that could land him in jail for up to 10 years, since the law considers him an adult. But one of the minors he supposedly exploited is himself­—which raises an obvious question: how can a teen be old enough to face adult felony charges, but not old enough to keep a nude picture of himself on his phone? [source]

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