France fights anti-queer bullying

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France introduced a national campaign to fight bullying of queer kids in middle and high schools across the country. Starting this week France’s Ministry of National Education and Youth launched All Equal, All Allies. It’s a campaign that ensures all state schools put up anti-bullying posters, as well as provide accompanying guides about queer students for teachers.

SOS Homophobia spearheaded the campaign, which aims to make queer youth in France feel more included at school. They found an increase of reports of anti-queer incidents by 38% in the last year. Their recent report also said this causes decreased self-esteem, isolation and dropping out of school. The risk of suicide attempts remains four times higher for queer youth than for the rest of the population.

They wrote in a press release: ‘SOS homophobia hopes that all institutions, public and private, will open their doors to this campaign so that it can reach a maximum of students and complete the work of prevention and awareness provided by SOS volunteers.’

In November last year, a French queer activist group warned of an increase in anti-gay attacks across the country. Across France, complaints of homophobic attacks increased by 15% since the beginning of 2018.

A number of French queer rights activists also believe that the number of people to experience homophobic attacks or abuse is widely underreported. This is just the tip of the iceberg,’ said the spokesperson for rights group Inter-LGBT, Clémence Zamora-Cruz.

‘On the ground, many attacks go unreported. Often, victims don’t complain for fear of reprisals, or because they’re afraid of speaking to police officers who aren’t aware of issues relating to LGBT identity. They’re scared of not being listened to.’

Last month, a handful of French artists got together to release a song to help tackle homophobia. De l’Amour tells the story of gay refugee Azamat, with all proceeds raised going to French charity Urgence Homophobie (Emergency Homophobia).

Among the artists volunteering to sing on the track and appear in an evocative video were Emmanuel Moire, Christophe Willem and Muriel Robin.

The Pink Triangle

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When the Nazi Party seized power in Germany in July 1933, the newly installed dictatorship lost no time to persecute and murder minority groups, including Jews, queer people, the Romani, Socialists, Social Democrats and other political opponents. The Nazis built a network of concentration camps throughout Germany, where these “undesirable” groups were detained.

This persecution continued following the outbreak of World War II in 1939 and, between 1941 and 1945, the Nazi Party systematically murdered six million European Jews—as part of a plan known as “The Final Solution to the Jewish Problem”—in extermination camps and mass shootings. This genocide is referred to as the Holocaust, or the Shoah in Hebrew.

In total, up to 17 million people, including thousands of gay and bisexual men, were systematically killed at the hands of the Nazis.

Holocaust Memorial Day is held on January 27 annually—marking the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp—and remembers the millions of people killed by the Nazis and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Nazi persecution of queer people

Under Nazi rule, the persecution of queer men intensified, although gay sex between men had already been illegal since 1871. It’s estimated that the Nazis imprisoned more than 50,000 gay men, including an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 men who were sent to concentration camps, according to research by historian Rüdiger Lautmann.

Although sex between women was not officially illegal in Nazi Germany, lesbians were also persecuted. But their persecution is “much harder to trace because they weren’t included in the penal code and there was no specific categorisation of gay women in concentration camps (although some were made to wear a black triangle badge used to denote “asocial” prisoners).

Trans people, too, are known to have been persecuted under the Nazis, including being sent to concentration camps. According to Transgender Day of Remembrance, in 1938 the Institute of Forensic Medicine recommended that the “phenomena of transvestism” be “exterminated from public life.”

The pink triangle in concentration camps

In Nazi concentration camps, a pink triangle was used to identify some gay men. Queer inmates were subjected to starvation and forced labour, as well as facing discrimination from both SS guards and fellow inmates.

The classification system used for the uniforms of inmates—including the pink triangle for homosexuals—in Dachau concentration camp.

Pierre Seel, a gay survivor from the Schirmeck-Vorbrück concentration camp near Strasbourg, who passed away in 2005, recalled one traumatising incident in his memoir. Seel wrote that a group of SS guards stripped his 18-year-old lover naked before releasing a pack of German Shepherd dogs which mauled him to death.

“There was no solidarity for the homosexual prisoners; they belonged to the lowest caste,” Seel wrote in his 1995 book I, Pierre Seel, Deported Homosexual: A Memoir of Nazi Terror. “Other prisoners, even when between themselves, used to target them.”

Gay men were also subjected to torture—including forced sodomy using wood—and human experimentation at the hands of the Nazis. There are records of gay men being forced to sleep with female sex slaves, and lesbians being made to perform sex acts on males, as a form of gay conversion therapy.

Thousands of queer people are believed to have been murdered by the Nazis. However, the Nazis’ poor documentation of LGBT+ people means that historians have been unable to calculate an exact estimate. Lautmann has argued that the death rate for gay men could be as high as 60 percent of those detained in concentration camps.

Queer men after World War II and how the pink triangle was reclaimed as a gay rights symbol

After the end of World War II, the persecution of gay and bisexual men continued. Same-sex sexual activity between men remained illegal in East and West Germany until 1968 and 1969 respectively.

While authorities in East Germany were more lenient towards gay men after Word War II, the persecution of gay men in West Germany was rather intense in the decades afterwards with large waves of arrests in cities like Frankfurt. Same-sex desiring men and women had to make sure that they lived their lives not too publicly and for men there was permanent fear of being sent to prison.

There are also accounts of gay men being re-imprisoned using evidence obtained by the Nazis. For decades after the Second World War, the Nazis’ treatment of queer people went unacknowledged in many countries.

It took until 2002 before the German government apologised to the gay community and annulled the convictions of gay and bisexual men under the Nazi regime. In 2005, the European Parliament passed a resolution including homosexuals as part of those persecuted during the Holocaust.

Pink Triangle Park in San Francisco, where the pink triangle has been used to remember LGBT+ victims of the Holocaust.

Poignantly, as the gay rights movement gained momentum in West Germany in the 1970s, the pink triangle started to be used as as a symbol for marking the history of anti-gay violence. In an act of defiance, the pink triangle was reclaimed—and often inverted, with the tip pointing upwards—as a sign of gay activism.

It became known on an international scale during the 1980s, when a six-person collective, called the Silence=Death Project, used an inverted version of the triangle on posters that the group plastered around New York to raise awareness of the AIDS crisis.

The upwards pointing pink triangle was later used by the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) in its campaigns during the AIDS epidemic. It was also used in memorials to remember queer victims of the Holocaust in San Francisco, Amsterdam and Sydney.

By PinkNews

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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…

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The trans-rights activist who was decades ahead of his time

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The Trump administration continues its assault on transgender rights. In July 2017, Trump sought to bar transgender people from serving in the military. Then, this past October, The New York Times obtained a memo indicating that the administration was considering narrowly defining gender “as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.”

Anyone wishing to challenge their officially-assigned sex would have to have the matter resolved by genetic testing. Those opposed to recognizing gender identity sometimes call it a form of “radical gender ideology” or “political correctness” gone too far.

But recognition of transgender identity is no recent phenomenon: Some doctors acknowledged gender nonconforming people far earlier than most might realise. Perhaps the most important pioneer was German physician Magnus Hirschfeld, who was born 150 years ago, in 1868. As a historian of gender and sexuality in Germany, I’m struck by how he paved the way for the legal recognition of gender nonconforming people.

Magnus Hirschfeld

Magnus Hirschfeld, on the right, sits with his partner, Tao Li, at the fourth conference of the World League for Sexual Reform in 1932. 

In recent years, the medical and psychological professions have come to a consensus that sex assignment at birth is inadequate for understanding individuals’ sexual and gender identity – and that failure to recognise this fact can have a devastating impact.

Magnus Hirschfeld was the first doctor to openly research and advocate for people whose gender did not correspond with their sex assignment at birth. He’s often remembered today as an advocate of gay rights, and in the early 20th century, his activism played a major role in nearly overturning Germany’s law criminalising male same-sex relations.

But Hirschfeld’s vision extended much further than homosexuality. He defined his specialty as “sexual intermediaries,” which included everyone who did not fit into an “ideal type” of heterosexual, cis-gendered men and women.

According to Hirschfeld, sexual intermediaries included many categories. One type was cis-gendered people who were gay, lesbian or bisexual. Another consisted of transvestites: people who comfortably identified as their assigned sex but who preferred to dress in the clothing assigned to the other sex. Yet others were “trans” in a more radical direction, like those who wanted to live fully as their non-assigned sex or longed for sex-change surgery.

As a gay man, Hirschfeld was aware of the legal and social dangers sexual intermediaries faced. Since sexual intermediaries often turned to their doctors for help, Hirschfeld worked to educate the medical community. He published medical journals including the “Yearbook on Sexual Intermediaries” and the “Journal of Sexual Science.” In 1919, he founded the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin to promote further research.

In court he gave expert testimony on behalf of men who had been accused of violating Germany’s law banning male same-sex relations. He even co-wrote and made a cameo appearance in the world’s first feature-length movie featuring a gay protagonist: the 1919 silent film “Anders als die Anderen” (“Different from the Others”).

Nor did Hirschfeld shy away from political engagement. In 1897, he founded the “Scientific Humanitarian Committee” to advocate for gender and sexual rights. Then, from 1897 to 1898, Hirschfeld worked to decriminalise male same-sex relations in Germany. He collected over 5,000 signatures from Germans willing to be publicly identified with the effort, including such luminaries as Albert Einstein and Thomas Mann. A bill decriminalising male homosexual acts gained only minority support when it was introduced in Parliament in 1898, but a new bill was reintroduced after the First World War. In the more progressive environment of the Weimar Republic, the bill advanced to parliamentary committee, only to stall when the Great Depression hit in 1929.

Importantly, Hirschfeld’s advocacy extended well beyond the decriminalization of gay male sex. Like most European countries, Germany had – and still has – an “internal passport,” a government-issued ID that citizens are expected to carry with them. Germans whose passport indicated “male” but who dressed in female clothing were subject to police harassment or arrest for disorderly conduct.

Together with a colleague, Hirschfeld in 1910 convinced the Berlin police to accept a “transvestite certificate,” signed by a doctor, to nullify such charges. After World War I, he convinced the Prussian judiciary to permit legal name changes from gender-specific names to gender-neutral names, which enabled trans people to present as the gender that was most true to themselves.

Not all sexual minorities in Germany endorsed Hirschfeld’s views. Early twentieth-century Germany was a politically and culturally diverse place, and that diversity extended to same-sex and gender-nonconforming people.

Some gay men, for example, argued that far from being an “intermediary” sexual type, they were the most masculine men of all: After all, they didn’t form close bonds with women. The vision of these “masculinists” had little room for lesbians, bisexuals, or trans people.

By contrast, Hirschfeld’s approach was all-inclusive. In his view, all “sexual intermediaries” – whether L, G, B, T, Q, or I in today’s parlance – were worth recognizing and protecting. He once calculated that there were 43,046,721 possible variants of human sexuality. That was simply another way of saying that the human species was infinitely diverse.

“Love,” he said, “is as varied as people are.”

When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Hirschfeld, who was Jewish, was on tour lecturing on sexual science. From abroad, he watched newsreels of his Institute for Sexual Science set aflame by Nazi Storm Troopers. Thousands of unique medical records, publications, photos and artifacts were destroyed.

Students organised by the Nazi party parade in front of the building of the Institute for Sexual Research in Berlin prior to pillaging it on May 6, 1933.

Hirschfeld died two years later, and materials confiscated by the Nazis became evidence against gender and sexually-nonconforming people in the Third Reich. Male same-sex relations weren’t decriminalized in East Germany until 1968, and in West Germany until 1969. Full legal equality had to wait even longer.

Nearly a century after Hirschfeld’s institute burned, only tentative progress has been made in ending discrimination based on gender identity. And that progress is at risk.

Yet no bureaucratic definition of “sex” will change what Hirschfeld so clearly demonstrated over 120 years ago: Trans people exist.

Elizabeth Heineman, Professor of History and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies, University of Iowa. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Historical Hotties *1

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Arthur Rimbaud (1854–1891), often dubbed “the boy poet”,  offended writer Charles Clos by using his poems as toilet paper, is said to have masturbated into the drink of pianist Ernest Cabaner, & enjoyed spoiling poetry readings by shouting ‘SHIT’ at the end of every line.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Arthur Rimbaud in the film Total Eclipse in a scene with fellow poet and lover Paul Verlaine (David Thewlis)

Lauded as one of the greatest French poets in history, Rimbaud has inspired many generations of poets. He also wrote the bulk of his poetry in his teens and gave up on writing altogether at 21, after finishing one of his most revered pieces, Illuminations. 

His love affair with Paul Verlaine, was marked as turbulent, to say the least. Their relationship ended rather violently, with Verlaine shooting Rimbaud in the wrist with a revolver in Bruxelles.

 

Marvel got a Drag Queen now

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If you’re into superhero comics at all, you might want to hop on the Iceman spin-off train. Marvel’s making good choices, thanks in large part to writer Sina Grace.

The fourth issue of the recently launched series introduced a new mutant. She possesses teleportation powers, and she can create and enter a pocket dimension inside her handheld folding fan. Oh yeah, she’s also Marvel’s first drag queen superhero. And her name is Shade.

It’s a fitting entry point for the new mutant. Iceman is the only running Marvel series to feature a queer lead character. Bobby Drake, Iceman’s alter-ego, is an openly gay man who wrestles with his multiple, overlapping identities in the pages of the spin-off series.

The spin-off marks a return to Iceman for Grace, who was also the writer on a 2017 series featuring the character (and struggling with his identity). It was cancelled after only 11 issues, despite critical acclaim and a GLAAD Media Award nomination. The sales just weren’t there.

The trade paperback releases were a different story. The two larger books containing all 11 issues of the original spin-off series sold much better than the individual issues, and so Marvel brought Grace back for another Iceman series in 2018. Shade made her debut in the new spin-off’s fourth issue.

“I really wanted this series to push readers to new and better stories about the whole queer experience and how it applies to being both a mutant and a superhero,” Grace said in a recent interview with The Advocate. “There’s a million different queer perspectives and we’re only scratching the surface.”

Shade’s story is only at its very beginning. She pops up again in Iceman #5, and she’ll also make an appearance in X-Men: Winter’s End, a special “annual” issue that should be out in February. There’s presumably more to come than that, but that’s all we know for now.

 

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.

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