Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

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At age 15, Ari is a loner who has never had a friend before — until he meets Dante at the swimming pool. When Dante offers to teach Ari how to swim, the boys discover they make each other laugh, which seems more important than the fact that they have little in common.

Dante’s love of books and art, as well as his open appreciation of his parents, makes Ari look at his own family differently and inspires him to try to uncover the mystery of his dad, who rarely speaks. Over two summers and the intervening school year, the boys share laughs, secrets, and philosophies. As Aristotle tries to figure out his role in the universe, the importance of Dante’s friendship both bothers him and keeps him going — and, ultimately, changes the course of his life.

The story is narrated by Ari and it’s his point of view that colours the narrative. Ari is a loner who likes to wallow in its loneliness and who is in a state of constant anger: at the secrets his family keeps from him, at his father for not being open and talkative.

Dante is in a way, his opposite: quick to laugh and play, an artist and philosopher as well as a crier. Except as it turns out, they are not so different after all – and soon Ari learns to love poetry and philosophy and words whilst still being the same questioning, angry Ari (it takes him some time to learn that boys can cry too). The letting go of this anger (for a myriad of reasons) is one of the driving points of the novel and one that comes with a series of moments of self-discovery and life-discovery.

It’s interesting how Ari’s narrative is somewhat unreliable although not on purpose because it is very clear that Ari represses his feelings and don’t tell us how he truly feels about certain things because he doesn’t know them either – but his actions speak more than a thousand words.

Aristotle and Dante is a smart, intelligent, engaging coming-of-age story and a deep, thoughtful exploration of identity and sexuality. It turns out that both Ari and Dante are gay although it takes Ari the whole book to come to terms with it, whereas Dante is much more conformable in his own skin when it comes to his sexual identity. But there are other sides of who they are that are also thoughtfully examined here.

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How OnlyFans changed sex work

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“With a G-string and a strobe light, he could make as much as $1,000 on a good night.” Sounds like a line from a bargain-bin paperback at an adult bookstore? It’s actually printed in the New York Times.

The paper took a deep dive into the very profitable (for a select few) world of OnlyFans, the service that lets users subscribe — for a monthly fee in the $10 range — to their favourite thirst traps. In return, subscribers get access to models’ photos and videos. As part of its report, the NYT spoke with Matthew Camp, the go-go dancer turned OnlyFans entrepreneur who’s been doing very well for himself.

“If the four main quadrants of the gay approval matrix were daddy, twink, bear and boy next door, [Camp] seemed to sit smack in the center, not falling neatly into any of those categories but appealing to the potential audiences for each.”

With his broad gay appeal, Camp quickly began receiving offers from adult film companies to appear in scenes. “Having sex for money is appealing,” he said. But $1,000 seemed low for something that would sit on the internet and brand him for life as [and adult film star].

So he turned them down and instead used a PG-13 feed on Instagram to build a following of more than half a million. About a year ago, as the club scene continued its slow death, he moved to Hudson, N.Y., and signed up for OnlyFans. Weeks often went by without him posting a single picture or video. He didn’t show a full penetrative sex clip for the first nine months, yet he still regularly took home more than $10,000 a month.

Camp wagers that his success with the platform comes down to a human desire for intimacy. The irony, of course, is that the intimacy he and other OnlyFans models offer comes fully synthesised. Which isn’t very intimate at all.

“Tumblr was filled with the most extreme sexual experiences you could see and I think a lot of people were turned off by that. It’s not what they’re looking for. They want more intimate experiences. They want a boyfriend experience. They want to fantasize about someone that they want to have sex with and not feel disgusted by it.”

Read the whole NYT piece here…

Brazil’s president wants to make sure schools won’t mention homosexuality or feminism

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Brazil’s fascist President Jair Bolsonaro is fulfilling his campaign promise to oust the “Left” from Brazilian life by taking his anti-leftist ideological war to classrooms and universities, “causing angst among teachers and education officials who say the government wants to fight an enemy that doesn’t exist” according The Albuquerque Journal.

“Bolsonaro and top officials have announced plans to revise textbooks to excise references to feminism, homosexuality and violence against women, say the military will take over some public schools and frequently bash Paulo Freire, one of Brazil’s most famous educators, whose ideas had worldwide influence,” the AJ continued.

In January, following Bolsonaro’s inauguration, the country’s Education Ministry reportedly dismantled its diversity department and provided textbook publishers with new guidelines, eliminating any and all references to topics like feminism, gender, transgender, and homosexuality.

Bolsonaro, who once declared, “I’m homophobic, with pride”, pledged to review the content of the country’s national high school exam to remove questions he finds “corrupting the youth” according to The Independent. He made the announcement in a YouTube video after seeing a question from last year’s exam on a “secret dialect used by gays and transvestites” called Pajuba, which mixes Portuguese and West African languages. It is mostly used in Afro-Brazilian religions but has also been adopted by the Brazilian LGBT community.”

via Towelroad

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Alan Turing named most iconic figure of 20th century in UK

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The BBC named Alan Turing the most ‘iconic’ figure of the 20th Century on Tuesday. Turing was instrumental in cracking Nazi codes during World War II. But he was later chemically castrated for being gay and committed suicide. He’s commonly known as the founding father of computer science.

Broadcaster Chris Packham gave an inspiring and heartwarming speech commemorating his life:

To win the accolade, Turing beat figures such as Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Ernest Shackleton, Pablo Picasso, David Bowie and Muhammad Ali.

In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II pardoned Turing for his 1952 conviction for having sex with another man. Some 49,000 gay men were convicted for homosexuality. They include poet, wit and playwright Oscar Wilde.

Gay men are increasingly voting for the politicians who despise them

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 Gay men in n Western countries are increasingly voting against their own interests–and throw other minorities under the bus in the process.

In last year’s U.S. midterm elections, 82% of queer voters voted for the Democrats, America’s more pro-queer political party. But in many other Western countries “right-wing and virulently homophobic parties enjoy considerable support among gay voters,” says Samuel Huneke, a gay historian at Stanford University who studies modern European culture.

Huneke looked at voting data from 14 elections in five Western countries — the US, UK, France, Germany and Brazil — and then published a recent article on the troubling phenomenon. It it, Huneke observed:

“LGBT voters in other countries were less likely to support the conservative (or in some cases far-right) party by an average of only seven percent. And when you look only at gay men, the results are even more striking. In other countries, gay men were, on average, more likely than the general electorate to support the conservative or far-right party.”

For example, a 2015 French poll showed 26% of gay and bisexual male voters supporting Marine Le Pen, the anti-gay politician with the far-right National Front party — only 16% of straight voters supported Le Pen. That same year, 38% of gay male couples voted for Le Pen’s party whereas only 29% of straight couples did the same.

Huneke notes that in France and Brazil’s run-off presidential elections, the far-right politicians in each of those two-person races each received a substantial fraction of the gay male vote. In the UK, 26% of queer voters supported the Conservative Party.

This isn’t a formal study and Huneke states that the polling around this issue is slim, so we can’t draw overarching conclusions. For example, in Germany, Huneke admits the picture is hazier: Only 2.7% of queer voters supported Germany’s far-right, homophobic party Alternative for Germany (AfD).

But even still, Huneke thinks that when gay men are studied as an individual group, substantial numbers of them vote right-ward. He says this isn’t true in America where the GOP’s longstanding opposition to HIV-related healthcare, marriage equality and other queer civil rights have driven majorities of gay voters into the Democratic tent. But in other Western countries lacking the same two-party system of villains and heroes, the gay vote doesn’t always lean left.

“Gay politics in other countries prove that LGBT people — especially gay men — are not inherently progressive voters. Give them the chance and they will vote for xenophobia, for racism, and for misogyny. Democrats (and progressive parties in other countries, for that matter) cannot and must not take the gay vote for granted,” Huneke concludes.

Read more…

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UK ban on “fetish porn” overturned

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The words “UK Government” and “porn” rarely ever are part of a headline announcing good news but here we go: Porn depicting a number of previously banned sex acts has been made legal in England after a review of their ridiculous obscenity laws.

Essentially, sex acts that are not illegal in another context can now be shown in pornography. Certain types of violent porn are now permitted so long as the sex acts are consensual (focusing on ‘full and freely exercised consent’) and do not cause serious harm to participants.

Not illegal in the UK anymore (video by Helix Studios)

The UK government first stated fetish pornography would be outlawed under the Obscene Publications Act. This included any form of BDSM and other pretty tame subjects like face-sitting, fisting and female ejaculation.

This was seen as a major blow to British porn producers. Many protested this change as censorship. ‘Distributing’ obscene material can simply mean sending a video via private message and can be punished with time in prison.

But even if you can watch fetish porn, you will still have to prove your age. New porn laws, officially coming in April, will mean Brits will have to input credit card details if they want to view a site that is at least one-third pornographic.

Obviously this opens the door for credit card data being intercepted by a third party or saved in an unsafe manner by website owners. The  habits of people looking at porn could also be tracked by the government.