Gay Chat News: The Good, the Gay and the Ugly

Anne Hathaway – who is set to play Catwoman in the new Batman film next year – has spoken out about gay marriage. Being a New Jersey girl with a gay brother, she has called on her home state to follow New York’s lead. Quoted from Interview magazine, the Devil Wears Prada star said; “They need to get on the New York bandwagon and legalise gay marriage.” This is most prevalent as a lesbian was refused a wedding dress in New Jersey last week due to the fact she was marrying another woman.

A noted supporter of gay rights, the Hollywood star hopes other US States will follow suit. As well as her on-going support for gay rights, Hathaway has also recorded a video message for the It Gets Better campaign.

It isn’t very hard to understand why there is still so much prejudice and diversity inAmericawhen you think that there were still fifteen States that outlawed sodomy until 2003. Florida was one of those States and even though they still don’t accept it, they cannot legally enforce their own ruling on sodomy thanks to the government.

It’s strange to think of Florida clinging on to this law for so long, especially as the Sunshine State is home to a very large and diverse group of clusters such as Miami Beach, Key West, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach and even Disney World. But it must say something about the mentality and tolerance of some of the heterosexual populous. In fact a once celebrated teacher of Social Studies has recently been suspended from teaching after making anti-gay comments on his personal FaceBook account. “I’m watching the news, eating dinner, when the story about New York Okaying same sex unions came on and I almost threw up. And now they showed two guys kissing after their announcement. If they want to call it a union, go ahead. But don’t insult a man and woman’s marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool as same-sex whatever! God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable???”

I am a big believer in freedom of speech, but this man is a school teacher (for Social Studies… maybe he needs to go back to school himself!) He is shaping young people’s minds and how they will perceive the world as adults. Closed-minded and bigoted people should not be allowed to teach in schools (or be in government… yes, I do mean you Michelle Bachmann!)

For as long as I can remember, gay men have been banned from donating blood in the UK. This has always been a bone of contention and just another shocking blow for equality. To say gay men are at a higher risk is factually wrong. There is a higher infection rate of STIs with heterosexuals, homosexuals are more likely to get checked out at the clinic than their straight counterparts – and we get free condoms and lube in every gay bar and club. The gay community is now more savvy when it comes to STIs and probably more cautious ever since HIV/AIDS hit our community three decades ago.

A new petition is currently online calling for an end to the gay blood donation ban. We here at Gay Chat Towers signed it today and know that there is an evidence-based review underway with an announcement of any changes from the health association likely to be soon.

But this is not the first time a call on the ban has been incited. In 2008 an identical campaign was put forward (bloodban) and still hasn’t achieved its goal of 5000 signatures. This new petition has already reached almost that in a matter of weeks. Maybe people have now realised that this on-going saga is not just about equality, but about saving people’s lives.

My boyfriend, best friend and I were watching old music videos on YouTube at the weekend. Late at night and rather inebriated, we danced around as we watched Club Tropicana and couldn’t believe just howcamp George Michael and Andrew Ridgley look in that video. How did we not know about George back then? (Okay, we kinda guessed.) Even though they are both very flamboyant, they are still surrounded by and flirting with scantily-clad women. It’s a little unsettling to look back at now!

Since the break-up of 80s pop sensation Wham! George began a successful solo career that wasn’t even damaged by his very public, gay outing in 1998. The music video “Outside” which played homage to and glorified his cruising habits was seen by most as harmless fun – all except Marcelo Rodriguez of course, who was the officer that caught George in the LA public toilet.

George has done a lot for gay rights and HIV/Aids charities over the years. Being a close friend of Elton John who runs the Aids Foundation; together they have performed at money-raising galas and many charity gigs. But George has never really being known as a gay activist even though he has been out of the closet for thirteen years. In NME Magazine recently, George addressed this point by saying he plans to release a gay album to make up for “letting the gay kids down”.

It’s pegged to be a dance album and will be a collaboration with gay/gay friendly artists. “I’ll be 48 when the album comes out, but I have to say that gay men’s relationship with dance music probably doesn’t end at the same time as straight people’s does.” Ain’t that the truth George!

Terry Gee

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Gay Chat News: Are you proud to be gay?

It’s a very wide and open question, but something that we here at Gay Chat Towers would be interested to hear about.

For me personally, I love being gay. I am an out and proud man, I love my boyfriend and openly show him affection when we’re out in public with no fear or trepidation. But, I realise I am living in London which is known to be more tolerant than most cities. I also have a good network of friends who accept me for who I am without question. I live in a protected, gay bubble where the heterosexual community poses no threat to my lifestyle or whom I love.

Londonis very different from Yorkshire where I grew up, holding hands with a person of the same sex in public could cause quite a lot of animosity and even violence from fellow residents. I find that lack of education; knowledge and exposure are key factors to homophobia. Think about how most parents react when we first come out as being gay. For mine, there were tears, tantrums, arguments and hurtful things said and done. But as time goes on, they saw that this is who I am. I am still their son and what does it matter who and of what sex I fall in love with?

But then I read stories of people in countries where being gay is punishable by death or lifetime imprisonment; people who fear to walk out of their own home in case they are attacked and tortured. Countries where government officials and religious bodies tell the populous that being gay is a choice and it is wrong. How can being gay truly be a choice? Would anyone choose a life of persecution, the loss of friends and family and fear of the world outside because of who they are? No one would put themselves through that if they could help it. Being gay was hard enough for me growing up in Yorkshire, so I can’t imagine just how bad it is in places like Uganda and some major Muslim countries. If being gay really was a choice, there would be no gay people living in those places at all.

But what about you? Where do you live and how has being gay affected your day-to-day life? I imagine the residents of San Francisco are only too happy to welcome another gay person into their protective care; but what about people who live inmiddle Americaand the deep south? From what I have read, these places still have low tolerance from what they consider “the norm”. Were you forced into a heterosexual union or even been sent to one of the clinics that say they can “cure” homosexuality? Maybe you have been fighting who you really are and have only just come out or are you still in the closet?

We all must face challenges in life and sometimes they can feel too hard to bear. We find a brick wall in front of us with no way of scaling it to get over to the other side. But there is more than one way to get over such obstacles. Most of the people on Maleforce will have gone through similar situations and had to face the wall. Just speak to them and ask. I’m sure most will have a story to tell. A lot of people will have pushed and shoved, knocked through the bricks one by one and fought their way to the other side. For me, I had my friends to help me through it and their faith in me gave me the strength I needed. And then there are the few people who don’t have the support of their peers, don’t have the tools to get through the wall and feel trapped in a place they don’t belong in. It is to those people who I say there is always hope and help out there. For the fortunate ones who don’t live in repressive countries where the internet is monitored and blocked, find a local support centre and speak to someone there. These are always confidential and can help with getting your life back on track and give you the tools to break down that wall.

Always try and remember that if you are gay, this can’t be changed – and why should it? You are a loving human being with the same rights as everyone else on this planet. And as terrible and futile as life can feel at times, remember that there is nothing wrong with you, the only wrong in this instance are certain people’s misguided views on homosexuality. This is changing rapidly and I honestly believe that in time, prejudice will be a thing of the past. Try and keep that in mind. They are the ones we should pity, as they are a dying breed whose beliefs are so wrong they are now being exposed for the evil bigots they truly are. Let that thought to spur you on, find people who can help you grow and get past a stage in your life that is being repressed by the smaller man.

I am a gay man and wouldn’t change it for the world.

Terry Gee

The 56th Eurovision Song Contest – Dusseldorf 2011

We are now only days away from the competition final of the biggest music contest on the planet. But who will win? Blue say ‘I Can’ but who will be the real victor?

The atmosphere here at Gay Chat Towers is intense. As always I would like to see my favourite win, which this year isn’t the UK (again) – although I know a lot of other people who are routing for Blue. To understand the enormity and importance of this competition we first have to take a short trip back in time. The Second World War ended in 1945 andEuropewas still in pieces. Trying to reunite the people was a daunting and almost impossible task. Television was still in its infancy yet by the 1950s, TV was already becoming the main source to reach people on a global scale.

In 1955 the European Broadcasting Union came up with the idea of a European song competition televised across the lands. Just seven countries took park in the first show back in 1956: Italy, Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Switzerlandand The Netherlands. Can you imagine how strange it must have been for countries that had been at war? Killing each other in their thousands just ten years before and now, performing on stage together in a frivolous television programme. These people were true pioneers in uniting the Europe we know today.

The following year, Austria, The United Kingdom and Denmark joined with more following in the years to come, making up the 43 countries we have today.

Nowadays, The Eurovision Song Contest is the biggest competition of its kind, pulling in around 125 million viewers for the live final. It sometimes may come across as being camp and cheesy, but it is never offensive, is always good fun and (especially in the gay world) brings nations together in a celebration of song and dance. Don’t forget, this competition has made some of the world’s greatest pop stars including: Sandie Shaw, Bucks Fizz, Celine Dion and Abba.

This year, Blue are representing the United Kingdom, and after last year’s utter disaster (Pete Waterman – seriously!) the UK really needs to get into at least the top 10. With a well-known pop group and a catchy song, (which I personally think is far too twee and 90s boy band) it is looking very likely that they will be in the top 5 and even have a real shot at taking home first place. The UK hasn’t won the contest since 1997 and after coming last in 2010 we really need this. If we did win, our calendars are going to be pretty full next year as the UK is already hosting the Olympics, the Paralympics, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and World Pride.

2012 is looking to be a year of non-stop celebration… Bring it on!

Terry Gee

Gaga Targets Gay Discrimination

Lady Gaga has scored yet another hit for gay rights by persuading retail giant Target to reconsider its funding of anti-gay causes. In return for the rights to sell an exclusive edition of the singer’s new album Born This Way, Target has also agreed to start donating to gay charities.

In a meeting that Gaga describes as being “intense” the Poker Face singer took Target to task over its funding of causes that advocate discrimination against gay people.

Target has previously come under fire for a $150,000 donation it made to U.S. political action group MN Forward who supported high profile Republican nominee Tom Emmer in his bid for governor, Minnesota in 2010.

Emmer is on record as supporting a state constitutional amendment banning civil recognition of same-sex marriages or its legal equivalent. It has been reported that Emmer’s bid campaign included funding to fiercely anti-gay Christian youth ministry You Can Run But You Can’t Hide International.

Despite publicly apologising for the donation Target has continued to support causes branded questionable by gay rights activists. The company does however pay benefits to partners of gay employees and staff members have praised the firm as a gay-friendly employer.

Gaga’s deal with Target includes a special edition of her forthcoming CD release Born This Way, which includes extra tracks and remixes exclusively available from the discount retailer. In return Target has agreed to discontinue funding causes with anti-gay links and instead fund more gay charities.

In an interview with Billboard, the 24-year-old superstar said: “That discussion was one of the most intense conversations I’ve ever had in a business meeting. Part of my deal with target is that they have to start affiliating themselves with LGBT charity groups and begin to reform and make amends for the mistakes they’ve made in the past… Our relationship is hinged upon their reform in the company to support the gay community and to redeem the mistakes they’ve made supporting those [antigay] groups.”

Here at the Haus of Gay Chat we already think Gaga is God, and the Target deal yet another example of her continued commitment to gay rights. We highly recommend rushing out and buying her new album when it’s released worldwide in May. Go gays! Go Gaga!

Gary Cosby

Story Update March 9, 2011 The partnership between Lady Gaga and Target has dissolved. No official statement has been made, however it has been reported that the deal was ended by mutual agreement. GC