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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 2:35 pm 
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Aging & Suicide: the Dark Side of After-40
by Peter Cassels
Sunday April 29, 2012

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Bob Bergeron

New York City therapist Bob Bergeron seemed to have everything to live for: a thriving private practice counseling gay men; famously good looks; his own apartment in the high-priced Chelsea neighborhood; and regular trips to Europe.

According to friends, acquaintances and clients, he was always very upbeat. At 49, he may not have been the head-turner he was in his 20s, but he was still undeniably handsome. His daily visits to the gym were proof that he had been able to maintain a toned physique. To his friends, family, colleagues and his publisher, he appeared excited about the forthcoming publication of his first book, a self-help guide on a subject he knew well. The title, "The Right Side of 40: The Complete Guide to Happiness for Gay Men at Midlife and Beyond" describes the fruits of several years of Bergeron’s own practice -- not to mention his own real-life experience.

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The cover to Bob Bergeron’s book "The Right Side of 40: The Complete Guide to Happiness for Gay Men at Midlife and Beyond"

Invisible after 40?

The book was apparently meant as a counter to all the negative feedback gay men get that they don’t age gracefully, that they become invisible once they lose their looks and youth, that they’ll grow lonely in old age, and that the best years of their lives are behind them. So an April 1 cover story in the New York Times’ Style section caused a huge amount of comment and consternation, not only there but throughout the United States. Bergeron, the article noted, had committed suicide around New Year’s Eve. He was found days later in his condo with his head in a plastic bag.

The suicide note he left was written on the proposed cover of the book and included the line "It’s a lie based on bad information" with an arrow pointing to the title. Its publisher has since cancelled the book’s publication.

Actually, Jacob Bernstein, the Times reporter who wrote the story, wasn’t the first to report the therapist’s death. Local gay newspaper Gay City News did a shorter piece in mid-January authored by an acquaintance.

Image
Bob Bergeron

The Times story, however, went into possible root causes for the shocking suicide in some depth. Not surprisingly, the gay blogosphere quickly picked up the Times story, not only because the Times still to some extent defines the news cycle, but also because it focused new attention on what is perceived as the great fear among gay men. Jacqueline Suzanne, who, as author of the novel "Valley of the Dolls," probably put it best, if most brutally when quipped about women (and by extension gay men), "40 is our Hiroshima."

Despite the bromide about 60 being the new 40, gay men are said to worry that as they grow older and lose their looks, they will wind up alone and invisible. (In a corollary, those who never had the looks may not share the concern.)

Many gay men on several blog sites commented that they do, indeed, have few friends, seldom go out of the house except to work, are lonely and afraid, and occasionally contemplate thoughts of suicide. They site the vehement age segregation on most profiles on Internet hook-up sites, and the lack of other older men in bars as evidence that it is difficult, if not impossible, to find romance late in life.

Others, however, insisted suicide for someone with as much going on as Bergeron was the easy way out, and that it implied a mania over good looks. Still others pointed to the sexual nature of much of gay life. Author Ethan Mordden may have put it best in one of his novels when he quipped that charm and wit won’t carry you far when you’re wearing a Speedo.

In a case of either "kill the messenger" or personal discomfort, some comments on the major social network sites turned it back on the Times writer. They accused him of homophobia because of the emphasis in the article on looks and age.

Source: Edge Boston.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 2:36 pm 
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Hmmm.

PFFFFFFFF.

:yeahright: :?

This obsession by gay men about youth and looks is a whole lot of nonsense, IMO. And it isn't limited to gay men. Despite his credentials Mr. Bergeron was obviously a very shallow man living in a very shallow little universe if that was all he was worried about and found it reason enough to kill himself besides having everything, a good living and good looks, etc. that most people - including heterosexuals - do not have. Not even at a young age. It's his own failure, not anyone or anything else's.

I know this scene quite well and happily left it far behind even at a younger age. First of all, my life and my body isn't defined by what other people think it should be, nor by magazines or television or other media or trends. Happiness is what you make it and trying to conform to some impossible ideal is never going to make anyone happy. Certainly not for any length of time!

He is a bad example and role model for gay men, young and old. Good riddance, is all I can say about it.

:x

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:03 pm 
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victor wrote:
US researchers find evidence that homosexuality linked to genetics

Such findings would further the debate over whether homosexuality is innate or a choice

* McClatchy newspapers
* guardian.co.uk, Monday December 1 2008

Compared to straight men, gay men are more likely to be left-handed, to be the younger siblings of older brothers, and to have hair that whorls in a counterclockwise direction.

US researchers are finding common biological traits among gay men, feeding a growing consensus that sexual orientation is an inborn combination of genetic and environmental factors that largely decide a person's sexual attractions before they are born. Such findings - including a highly anticipated study this winter - would further inform the debate over whether homosexuality is innate or a choice, an undercurrent of California's recent Proposition 8 campaign in which television commercials warned that "schools would begin teaching second-graders that boys could marry boys", suggesting homosexuality would then spread.

Some scientists say the political and moral debate over same-sex marriage frequently strayed from established scientific evidence, including comments by Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin that homosexuality is "a choice" and "a decision". Until 2007, CNN polls had found that a majority of Americans believed gay people could change their sexual orientation if they chose to; it was only last year that a majority for the first time said homosexuality was an inborn trait.

Christian groups such as Exodus International argue "that homosexuals who desire to change can do so". One prominent psychiatrist, Dr Robert Spitzer of Columbia University, found controversial evidence that therapy can cause some gay people to change to a heterosexual orientation, although the study concluded that a "complete change" was uncommon.

While sexual behaviour may be chosen, the preponderance of researchers say attraction is dictated by biology, with no demonstrated contribution from social factors such as parenting or other factors after birth. A host of studies since the mid-1990s have found common biological traits between gay men, including left-handedness and the direction of hair whorls. The likelihood that if one identical twin is gay, the other will be also be gay is much higher than the "concordance" of homosexuality between fraternal twins, indicating that genes play a role in sexual orientation, but are not the entire cause.

"In the past decade, I think the pendulum has swung more toward biological theory and biological causes," said Richard Lippa, a psychology professor at California State University-Fullerton, who has studied hair patterns and other biological traits in gay men.

Sven Bocklandt, a geneticist at the David Geffen school of medicine at UCLA, is bewildered by the argument that people choose their sexual attraction. He said that virtually every animal species that has been studied - from sheep to fruit flies - has a small minority of individuals who demonstrate homosexual activity. "I really believe the reason most humans are straight is the same reason that most crocodiles are straight, and the same reason most whales are straight," Bocklandt said. "Nature would not leave something so important for reproduction, for the survival of the species, to coincidence."

Less understood is the degree to which sexual orientation is determined by genes or environmental factors, such as hormones or immunological factors that may act on a foetus. What scientists call "the fraternal birth order effect", the fact that each successive boy born to the same mother has a greater chance of being gay, may be due to an increasing immunological response by a mother's body to each male foetus in her womb.

Long discredited are theories that parenting - one mid-20th century theory held that boys raised by a domineering mother with a distant father were more likely to be gay - has anything to do with sexual orientation. Evidence of that, said Michael Bailey, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University in Illinois, comes from studies of genetically male infants born with malformed or ambiguous genitals. In many such cases, surgeons would construct a vagina, and instruct parents to raise the child as a girl, with no knowledge of his medical history. As adults, those prenatally male/postnatally female people were virtually all attracted to women, Bailey said.

"If you can't make a male attracted to other males by cutting off his penis, castrating him and rearing him as a girl, then how likely is any social explanation of male homosexuality?" he said.

Researchers are eagerly awaiting a DNA study of male siblings with at least one gay brother by Bailey and other scientists at Northwestern University due in early 2009, because it may shed light on the role genetics plays in sexual attraction. By researching 800 sets of brothers, by far the largest study of its type, the Northwestern study is searching for the specific genes that influence some brothers to be gay and others to be heterosexual.

Women may have more fluidity of sexual expression than men, but that doesn't mean they don't have a specific sexual orientation, said Lisa Diamond, a professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah who studies female sexual orientation.

One explanation is that women's sexual behaviour is driven more by relationships. For some women, "your sexual orientation does not provide the last word on the sorts of behaviours and identities you might experience in your lifetime," Diamond said. "Some lesbian women are predominantly attracted to women, but some of them have found themselves becoming incredibly close to their best male friends, sometimes having sex with them. It does not make them straight. It's not, since you had a one-night stand with your male friend, that you can choose to become straight."

Source: Guardian UK.


Psychiatrist who championed 'gay cure' admits he was wrong

Dr Robert Spitzer apologises for 'fatally flawed' study, published in 2001, which claimed gay people could be 'cured' if properly motivated

by Paul Harris
Saturday 19 May 2012

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US gay and lesbian groups are likely to be delighted by Robert Spitzer's apology. Photograph: Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

One of the most influential figures in modern psychiatry has apologised to America's gays for a scientific study which supported attempts to "cure" people of their homosexuality.

The survey, published in 2001, looked at "reparative therapy" and was hailed by religious and social conservatives in America as proof that gay people could successfully become straight if they were motivated to do so.

But Dr Robert Spitzer has now apologised in the same academic journal that published his original study, calling it "fatally flawed". "I believe I owe the gay community an apology," his letter said. "I also apologise to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works."

Spitzer's letter, which was leaked online before its publication in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour, is sure to cause delight among gay civil rights groups and stir up anger among social conservatives, who have used the study to combat the acceptance of homosexuality as a normal part of human society.

Reparative therapy is popular among Christian conservative groups, which run clinics and therapy sessions at which people try to become heterosexual through counselling. Gay rights activists condemn such practices as motivated by religious faith, not science, and call them "pray away the gay" groups.

Spitzer's study looked at the experiences of 200 people undertaking the therapy, including subjects that had been provided by religious groups. He then asked each person the same set of questions, analysing their responses to the therapy and their feelings and sexual urges afterwards. He concluded that many of them reported feelings of changes in their sexual desires from homosexual to heterosexual.

Spitzer's stance was notorious, because in 1973 he had been instrumental in getting the American Psychiatric Association to stop classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder in its diagnostic manual: a move seen at the time as a major victory for gay rights. His 2001 study caused a huge stir because many people felt that it was not rigorous enough for publication. The central criticism was that Spitzer had not paid enough attention to the fact that subjects might lie about their feelings or be engaged in self-deception.

For more than a decade Spitzer shrugged off the attacks and stood by his work, but he has now admitted that his critics were right. "I offered several (unconvincing) reasons why it was reasonable to assume that the subject's reports of change were credible and not self-deception or outright lying. But the simple fact is that there was no way to determine if the subject's accounts of change were valid," Spitzer wrote.

In an interview with the New York Times last week, Spitzer, who is 79 and suffers from Parkinson's disease, described how he had written his letter of recantation in the middle of the night after agonising over the study's impact.

He had also recently been visited by a gay magazine journalist, Gabriel Arana, who had described to him his own experience going through reparation therapy and how damaging it had been and how it had led to thoughts of suicide. "It's the only regret I have; the only professional one," Spitzer told the New York Times, which described him as being almost in tears as he talked about his decision to admit he was wrong. "In the history of psychiatry I don't know that I've ever seen a scientist write a letter saying that the data were all there but were totally misinterpreted. Who admitted that and who apologised to his readers. That's something, don't you think?" Spitzer told the newspaper.

Gay rights group Truth Wins Out published the full text of the letter on its website and hailed the moment as a major step forward. "Spitzer's apology to the victims of 'pray away the gay' therapy … marks a watershed moment in the fight against the 'ex-gay' myth," the group said.

Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:10 am 
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Anderson Cooper was bullied into coming out. We should know better

With the increasing acceptance of gay lifestyles, why should we care if someone chooses to keep their sexuality private?

by Emma G Keller
Monday 2 July 2012

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Anderson Cooper revealed his sexual orientation in an email to the Daily Beast's Andrew Sullivan. Photograph: Ethan Miller/Getty

On Monday morning, CNN's star primetime anchor Anderson Cooper told the world, via a thoughtful email to Daily Beast columnist Andrew Sullivan, that he was gay.

"Even though my job puts me in the public eye, I have tried to maintain some level of privacy in my life. Part of that has been for purely personal reasons. I think most people want some privacy for themselves and the people they are close to," he wrote.

Most of us – no, let's make that everyone – would like a measure of privacy, whether it's about our sexuality, our eating habits or our taste in TV shows. But Cooper, like a bunch of Hollywood male movie stars and one or two powerful people in the entertainment industry that many of us can name, has never been given that luxury. Type "Anderson Cooper" into Google, and it gives you the option of autocompleting "gay" before spewing out pages of innuendo, rumor and ridicule.

"There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in making clear where I stand," writes Cooper in his email. What he doesn't complain about is that he has been a personal victim.

Cooper has been harassed to come out for years. By Gawker, by Out magazine and by Twitter – to name some of the worst offenders. (Gawker's founder and proprietor, Nick Denton, still found fault in Cooper's declaration: "The choreographed publication of a private letter from Anderson to Andrew Sullivan has so much in common with Obama's mealy-mouthed statement of personal belief on afternoon TV: both are missed opportunities," he wrote.)

But, as Cooper says in his email to Sullivan, he was actually never "in": "I have always been very open and honest about this part of my life with my friends, my family, and my colleagues." He never tried to hide his sexual orientation, as he has been accused of. He just didn't think it was the public's business.

And why should it be? Why did Cooper have to be so bullied? He never pretended to be straight. He just chose not to address the issue. Why did that enrage people? Shouldn't the increasing acceptance of gay lifestyles, the growing legalization of gay marriage, the realization that 21st century families come in all shapes and sizes, mean that Cooper should have been left alone? Of course it does. Why should anyone care about this? What's it got to do with you or me? Are you NOT going to watch him on TV now that you "know"?

It's interesting that Cooper doesn't express any uncertainty about the effect his public statement will have on his career. Those days are definitely over. I would guess that you're either going to continue to watch him or not based on whether you think he's a good reporter.

Towards the end of his email Cooper writes that he hopes his coming out to the public, "Doesn't mean an end to a small amount of personal space." Now that he has come out – or been forced out – because, by not responding to pressure he eventually decided he may "have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something", let's give him that small amount of personal space he's more than entitled to.

The news trend of this cycle is that gay people can now come out in a quiet, understated way with their dignity intact. Three cheers for that. But there are still many, many people in the public eye who won't want to talk about their orientation. It's time to spread the dignity. Stop the taunting. Leave Anderson Cooper alone and hope that next cycle's trend will be that those who choose to keep their sexuality a private matter are given some peace.

Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:06 am 
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I don't regret outing Anderson Cooper

Given the struggles that gay men and women deal with in this country every day, Cooper's silence on the issue was a problem

by Brian Moylan
Monday 2 July 2012

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Anderson Cooper and Oscar the Grouch at the 39th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards. Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Congratulations, Anderson Cooper, on finally coming out of the closet. This is a big day for you, a day when you can finally leave the converted firehouse you share with your live-in boyfriend with your head held high and, for the first time, not worry about what people may be writing about your relationship.

It is also a great day for gay people around the world, a day when we get another successful gay man to combat negative stereotypes and ignorant bigotry. Even with his notorious giggle, who better than the "silver fox" to increase the visibility in the fight for gay civil rights. This guy is a walking, talking "It Gets Better" video.

Though Cooper's declaration of gayness may come as a revelation to some, it won't be much of a surprise to followers of celebrity gossip websites and gay magazines, which have written about Cooper's sexuality for some time. As a staff writer at Gawker, I was one of those who wrote most often about the subject. I once published a post titled Anderson Cooper Is a Giant Homosexual and Everyone Knows It. Even this was two years after Out magazine put Cooper on the cover of its "glass closet" issue and five years after Village Voice legend Michael Musto first published the fact of his homosexuality. My point was that Anderson Cooper's sexual orientation was something that many journalists already knew, and refused to report.

This is important because, according to the letter that Anderson sent decreasingly conservative gay blogger Andrew Sullivan declaring, "The fact is, I'm gay," is centered all around his own career as a journalist.

"Since my early days as a reporter, I have worked hard to accurately and fairly portray gay and lesbian people in the media – and to fairly and accurately portray those who for whatever reason disapprove of them. It is not part of my job to push an agenda, but rather to be relentlessly honest in everything I see, say and do. I've never wanted to be any kind of reporter other than a good one, and I do not desire to promote any cause other than the truth," Cooper wrote.

Those are precisely the same reasons that fueled what I am happy to admit was my personal crusade to nudge Cooper slowly out of the closet, whether he wanted to come or not. Every gay New Yorker with a set of eyes and a membership to David Barton Gym could see the truth, and I thought it the height of hypocrisy not to report it. The same held for journalists who either refused to ask questions about Anderson's personal life or, even worse, those who knew or witnessed the answer and refused to put it down on the record out of some misguided quest of decency. They never would have done that to a straight news anchor they were profiling. Cooper did not keep this secret alone and I thought all his accomplices should be held accountable.

That's why I felt the need to tell everyone that Anderson brought his boyfriend to the Vanity Fair Oscar party and was even photographed with him. It's why I also pointed out that they were partying together on a float when Anderson was the grand marshal of a Mardi Gras parade. And I snickered with delight when gossip column Page Six upgraded his boyfriend's status from "friend" to "companion", still afraid to take that final plunge in print and call him a "partner". I must have written dozens of stories over the years pointing out Cooper's orientation, details of his boyfriend's personal life and the gay bar he runs, and pointing out the hilarity that he continued to maintain his increasingly feeble charade.

I got a lot of flak, from gays and straights alike, for talking about this issue at length before Cooper was ready to do it himself. I was told to give Anderson his privacy, that everyone always knew so he didn't have to make a statement, that straight newscasters don't come out so he doesn't have to either, and that coming out would put him in danger in certain parts of the world. I felt, and still feel, that all of that is bullshit.

I don't regret my onslaught at all, particularly now that it appears the press scrutiny (hopefully including my contributions) has played some part in his decision finally to knock the closet door off its hinges.

"It's become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something – something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true," Cooper wrote.

I'm glad that he acknowledged that, because it was the same argument I used against detractors of writing about his orientation – that being in the glass closet was even worse, because it shows people that being gay is something that should be hidden. In the last few years more and more media outlets have written about his sexuality to the point where Cooper's silence became absurd. Even the New York Times mentioned it, drawing only the most transparent of veils over the salient fact in a review of his his new talk show.

Journalism was at the center of this whole thing, and in the end, integrity won out. Cooper came to realize that, in the context of the greater struggles that gay men and women deal with in this country and around the world, sometimes we need to sacrifice a bit of our privacy for the greater good.

But today shouldn't be about finger pointing, credit claiming, or rehearsing the same old Anderson arguments we've been having for years. Today is a day that everyone who has ever had the courage to come out of the closet should be glad there is one more role model for all the gay children suffering through high school, that there is one more person to show all the mothers out there that having a gay child is a wonderful thing, that there is one more person to show that, no matter who you love, you can always have the courage to tell the truth.

Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:06 am 
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Quote:
that there is one more person to show all the mothers out there that having a gay child is a wonderful thing


Hmph. Oh really?

If you were MY gay child I'd be very ashamed of you. What a mean-spirited, jealous queen you are, attention seeking fag of the lowest order. As your parent I'd be dead embarrassed to call you a child of mine, Ugh. It is YOU who are a disgrace to the gay community.

Anderson has been out to everyone that mattered to him and you're just trying to parasite off his fame for lacking a life of your own. All this lofty ranting about high gay ideals is a pathetic excuse to glorify in what exactly?

Blech. Loser.

:x

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:09 pm 
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Study: One in seven UK employees harassed over perceived sexuality in the last year
22 June 2012

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One in six UK LGBT employees said they had been harassed over sexuality (Photo: Jyri)

An international study into the experiences of LGBT people living in 21 countries around the world has revealed what it described as “endemic” homophobia in workplaces internationally.

The new research study includes information on life experiences of LGBT people across six continents and claims to reveal the clearest picture yet of the prevalence of homophobia and its current impacts on the lives of many millions of lesbian and gay people globally.

Almost one in six respondents to the LGBT2020 study from the USA and more than one in seven in the UK (US: 15.3 percent and UK: 14.5 percent) told researchers they have personally experienced harassment from colleagues at work during the past twelve months, because of their perceived sexuality.

The statistics are part of the Out Now Global LGBT2020 Study based in the Netherlands. This landmark research project has collected data from more 100,000 people internationally, measuring a broad range of aspects of the lives of LGBT people. One finding in the figures released this week is that homophobic harassment and discrimination is still commonplace in many aspects of LGBT people’s work lives. While 53 percent of people were out to all their work colleagues in the UK, that figure dropped to 44 percent in the US. Just over a quarter of people polled, 27 percent, believed coming out would harm their prospects for promotion in the UK, rising to 35 percent in the US.

According to Ian Johnson, CEO of Out Now, which carried out the research, companies need to do much better on workplace Diversity and Inclusion policies to implement real improvements for all gay and lesbian staff at work. “It is easy to become complacent in the context of upwardly trending results in the various corporate equality indexes,” Johnson said. “There is a real danger that corporations seeing the awarding of high results or 100% scores on these indexes take out the message that there is little left to do when it comes to making LGBT people at work fully integrated, feel secure, respected and able to work as valued team members. The figures we see for various countries around the world contain disturbing findings. Levels of harassment in the workplace are too high in every country we sampled, and there is not one country where all LGBT people feel able to come out at work.”

David Chalmers, Director of The Kaleidoscope Trust said “Quality independent research of this kind is invaluable in helping us to understand the scale of the worldwide problem of homophobia and discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, and to identify where best to concentrate our efforts. With levels of discrimination in the workplace remaining so high in countries like the UK and the USA, these findings show there is enormous work to do to bring about changes in attitudes towards LGBT people in the rest of the world.”

Mr Johnson said Out Now had identified what it called ‘The Diversity Gap’ and called upon companies to set about closing it. “We see it in responses to questions that show how reluctant people are to ask about diversity and inclusion policies for LGBT employees during job interviews – even though the LGBT2020 study shows this to be one of the most critically important factors in a new job for most respondents when they consider a potential employer.”

Colleen Humphrey, Stonewall’s Director of Workplace said: ‘We know from our work to tackle state-sponsored homophobia worldwide that many gay people still live in fear of harassment and discrimination, including at work. Even here in Britain, recent research for Stonewall shows 2.4 million people of working age have witnessed homophobic bullying at work in the last five years, so it’s clear more needs to be done. Over 600 major employers, with 10 million staff worldwide between them, work with us to make sure their gay staff are supported in every location they’re based, and we encourage those employers to stand up for equality whenever it’s challenged. This sort of direct intervention will make a real difference to millions of people. We’re delighted that our Diversity Champions – including global employers like Ernst & Young, Barclays and P&G – are committed to the same goal.”

Mr Chalmers added there were dangers in relying on high scores on corporate LGBT workplace indexes globally: “In countries where there is some form of legal protection against discrimination in the workplace ranking companies by their legal compliance can help but In the international context, research based on indexes and rankings can actually be counter productive.”

Out Now is presenting a workshop called ‘The Diversity Gap – Where Policy Meets Workplace Reality’ in London on 5 July, 2012 at the Out & Equal Global LGBT Workplace Summit. More LGBT2020 research will be released at the summit, including the first ever homophobia workplace data for LGBT workers in Turkey, India and Israel.

Source: PinkNews.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:32 pm 
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Is Homosexuality a Choice?
By Marcia Malory
October 19, 2012

Ask this question, and you will probably receive one of two responses: Yes. People choose to be gay. They are making an immoral choice, which government should discourage. Or No. Sexual preference is biologically determined.

Government should protect gay people from discrimination because homosexuality is an unalterable aspect of their identity. These two answers have something in common: With both of them, the science conveniently supports the moral decision. "Being gay is bad. How wonderful it is that nobody has to be gay!" "Homosexual behavior should be allowed to take place. Isn't it fantastic that, by an amazing coincidence, there is no way to stop it?"

What if neither answer is right? Perhaps sexual preference can be changed - and people have the right to engage in gay sex and have homosexual relationships if they choose to do so. (The fourth option, that gay people have no choice but to be gay, but should be punished for it anyway, is morally unthinkable.) What does science tell us about sexual preference?

Genes

We know, from many twin and adoption studies, that sexual preference has a genetic component. A gay man is more likely than a straight man to have a (biological) gay brother; lesbians are more likely than straight women to have gay sisters.

In 1993, a study published in the journal Science showed that families with two homosexual brothers were very likely to have certain genetic markers on a region of the X chromosome known as Xq28. This led to media headlines about the possibility of the existence of a "gay gene" and discussions about the ethics of aborting a "gay" fetus. There have also been headlines about an "alcoholism gene", which makes people become alcoholics, and a "warrior gene", which makes people unusually aggressive.

Genes can't control behavior completely, though. Genes regulate the production of amino acids, which combine to form proteins. The existence or absence of a protein can have an effect on things like alcohol tolerance or mood. Affecting something is not the same as having complete control over it.

Environment, like genetics, plays an important role in how our behavior develops. Alcoholism runs in families not only because there is a genetic component to alcoholism, but also because children learn how to cope with stress by watching how their parents and their older siblings behave in stressful situations. If you come from a culture where alcohol consumption is forbidden, it will be difficult for you to become an alcoholic, no matter how your body metabolizes alcohol.

There are factors besides a "warrior gene" that contribute to aggression. Children learn to behave aggressively when they witness aggression being rewarded. If you grew up in a family or as part of a culture where aggression was not well accepted, you would be less likely to be aggressive. You would learn, from an early age, how to control your aggressive tendencies.

Your environment affects your sexual and romantic relationships. Throughout history, marriages have been influenced by family relations and by economic needs. People adhere to cultural constraints of monogamy despite being attracted to people other than their spouses.

Your culture affects your views on homosexuality. In some societies, homosexuality is accepted, in others, it is frowned upon but tolerated, in yet others, it is a serious criminal offense, possibly punishable by death. Male homosexual behavior was expected in ancient Athens. Today, ritual male homosexuality plays an important role in some cultures in New Guinea.

Your upbringing can influence what you find desirable and what you find repulsive. Most Americans would probably be nauseated if they learned that, when they thought they had been eating beef, they were, in fact, eating dog, even though there is nothing inherently unhealthy about dog meat. What you have learned about homosexuality as you were growing up will affect whether you consider engaging in homosexual acts to be desirable or disgusting.

Some people might argue that if you are "genetically gay" but the thought of homosexuality nauseates you, then you just haven't accepted the fact that you really are gay. That argument is based on the assumption that sexual preference is purely biological; therefore, it has no place in a discussion about the possible causes of homosexuality.

The Brain

The structure of the brain might influence sexual preference.

In 1991, a study published in the journal Science seemed to show that the hypothalamus, which controls the release of sex hormones from the pituitary gland, in gay men differs from the hypothalamus in straight men. The third interstitial nucleus of the anterior hypothalamus (INAH3) was found to be more than twice as large in heterosexual men as in homosexual men.

This study was criticized because it used brain tissue obtained at autopsies, and all of the homosexual subjects in the study were believed to have died of AIDS. A later study, which was performed in 2001, showed that HIV status has no significant effect on the INAH3. This study, which also used brain tissue from autopsies, did not reveal any significant difference between the size of the INAH3 in gay men and straight men. It did, however, show that in gay men, neurons in the INAH3 are packed more closely together than in straight men.

PET and MRI studies performed in 2008 have shown that the two halves of the brain are more symmetrical in homosexual men and heterosexual women than in heterosexual men and homosexual women. These studies have also revealed that connections in the amygdalas of gay men resemble those of straight women; in gay women, connections in the amygdala resemble those of straight men. The amygdala has many receptors for sex hormones and is associated with the processing of emotions.

Some studies have shown that the corpus callosum - the main connection between the two halves of the brain- has a different structure in gay men than in straight men. However, other studies have found no difference. Gay women and gay men are more likely to be left-handed or ambidextrous than straight women and straight men, according to a number of different studies. Some researchers have suggested that this difference in handedness - preference for one hand over the other can be observed in fetuses - is related to differences in the corpus callosum.

A 1992 study showed that the anterior commissure, a smaller connection between the brain's two hemispheres, is larger in homosexual men than in straight men. However, according to a study that was performed ten years later, the size of the anterior commissure is not affected by sexual orientation.

We know from studying rats that exposure to sex hormones in the womb during a critical period in brain development affects future sexual orientation. By manipulating hormone levels during this time, scientists can make rats engage in homosexual behavior later on. So your brain was influencing your sexual preference even before you were born. This can explain why many gay people feel that they have always been gay.

Brain development does not stop at birth, though. A large amount of brain development takes place during childhood, when you are learning many new things - including how your family and the adults around you believe you should feel about things and what they believe is acceptable behavior. The education you receive as a child strongly affects how your brain will develop as you grow. For example, children who are given musical training experience changes to areas of the brain associated with hearing and motor control.

With the right experiences, your brain can change even after you have reached adulthood. Both London taxi drivers and professional piano tuners show increases in gray matter in areas of the brain associated with the skills needed for their professions. The size of the increase in gray matter correlates with the numbers of years of experience.

In one experiment, elderly subjects showed increases in gray matter in certain parts of their brains after they were taught to juggle. With proper rehabilitation, people who have suffered brain damage from strokes can develop new neural connections and regain some of their old skills.

It's important to point out that the regions of the brain that have been shown to change because of training and experience are not the parts of the brain that have been associated with sexual preference. However, women do experience changes to the structure of the hypothalamus - which is thought to be associated with sexual orientation - throughout the menstrual cycle.

So far, attempts to "cure" homosexuality by operating on the brain - homosexuals were once given lobotomies - have never worked. (Attempts to eliminate homosexuality via hormone therapy haven't been effective either. While changes in hormone levels in the womb during a very specific time can have an effect on future sexual preference, hormone levels have no effect on sexual preference afterwards. Gay men and straight men have the same levels of sex hormones; sex hormone levels are the same in gay women and straight women.)

Today, however, we know much more about the brain than we did when homosexuality was considered a disease that required treatment, and the amount of knowledge that we have about the brain is increasing. Perhaps one day we will be able to adjust sexual preference via surgery - focusing on the particular regions of the brain that are associated with sexual preference - or via neural implants or training.

If Sexual Preference Can Be Changed

Even if gay people can never stop being attracted to members of the same sex, they can learn not to act on their desires. People already learn to stop smoking, to give up certain foods, and not cheat on their husbands or wives. If we define being gay as engaging in homosexual behavior (the concept of "gay" as an identity is a Western cultural concept - people who have sex with both men and women may call themselves gay, straight or bisexual, depending on the rules of their culture or subculture), then people stop being gay as soon as they stop engaging in this behavior.

Should they stop? If they could, should they change their brains (or have their brains changed) in order to make themselves straight?

I believe that people have the right to engage in any behavior that they choose, as long as their actions do not harm others, and I believe that gay sex and gay relationships do not cause harm to anyone. Therefore, people who are gay by choice have the right to remain that way (Of course, there are abusive and unhealthy gay relationships that should not be tolerated, just as there are unhealthy heterosexual relationships that should not be tolerated.)

If sexual preference can be altered, then people who support gay rights can't rely on the argument that gay people should be protected from discrimination because gay people have no choice but to be gay - an argument that seems like an apology for homosexuality, as if homosexuality is a disease for which there is no cure. There is an element of homophobia in that argument- the implication that gay people would become straight, if only they could. Supporting gay marriage becomes equivalent to supporting the construction of wheelchair ramps.

The "gays can't help being that way" approach is reminiscent of the old view of homosexuality as a psychiatric illness. In a blog post for Slate, J. Bryan Lowder comments on Cynthia Nixon's claim that her lesbianism is a choice. Lowder agrees with Nixon that blaming biology "cedes a great deal of control to bigoted people." You don't have to defend a controversial action by arguing that you have no control over your behavior. In fact, when we you do so, you reinforce the belief that your behavior is undesirable.

Nobody has to prove that biology forces them to vote for a particular political party, practice a certain religion or follow a particular diet. Just as gay people who are happy as they are should not be forced to change their sexual orientation, gay people who want to be straight should have the right to change if they can - and the correct word is "change" - not "cure".

In his blog post, Lowder states, "Many critics will argue that appealing to biology is the only way to protect against the attacks of the religious right." It might make these critics unhappy to hear this, but that's not how science works. Science doesn't change in order to support political opinions. Scientific beliefs change as we gain new information, and sometimes science tells us things that we would rather not hear. Get used to it.

References: Bailey, J.M. & Pillard, R.C. (1991). A genetic study of male sexual orientation. Archives of General Psychiatry, 48(12): 1089-1096.
Balthazart, J. (2012). Brain development and sexual orientation. Colloquium Series on the Developing Brain, Morgan & Claypool Publishers.
Baroncini, M. et al. (2010). Sex steroid hormones-related structural plasticity in the human hypothalamus, NeuroImage, 50(2): 428-43.
Boyke, J., Driemeyer, J., Gaser, C., B?chel, C. & May, A. (2008). Training induced brain structure changes in the elderly. Journal of Neuroscience, 28(28): 7031-7035.
Burri, A., Cherkas, L., Spector, T. & Rahman, Q. (2011). Genetic and environmental influences on female sexual orientation, childhood gender typicality and adult gender identity, PLOS ONE 6(7): e21982.
Hamer, D.H., Hu, S., Magnuson, V.L., Hu, N. & Pattatucci, A.M. (1993). A linkage between DNA markers on the X chromosome and male sexual orientation. Science, 261(5119): 321-327.
Hyde, K.L. et al. (2009). The effects of musical training on structural brain development: a longitudinal study. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1169: 182-186.
Johannson, B.B. (2011). Current trends in stroke rehabilitation: A review with focus on brain plasticity. Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, 123(3): 147-159.
LeVay, S. (1991). A difference in hypothalamic structure between heterosexual and homosexual men. Science, 253(5023): 1034-1037.
Maguire, E.A. et al. (2000). Navigational-related structural change in the hippocampi of taxi drivers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 97(8): 4398-4403.
Prinz, J. (2012). Beyond human nature: how culture and experience shape our lives New York: Penguin Group USA.
Teki, S. et al. (2012). Navigating the auditory scene: an expert role for the hippocampus. Journal of Neuroscience, 32(35): 12251-12257.
Whitam, F.L., Diamond, M. & Martin J. (1993). Homosexual orientation in twins: A report on 61 pairs and three triplet sets. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 22(3): 187-206.

Photo credits: Vancouver Gay Pride Parade 2008 by ecodallaluna on Wikimedia Commons; DNA by ynse on Wikimedia Commons; Brain fMRI by NASA.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:57 am 
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Small-town Minnesota publisher supports gay marriage, loses subscribers
By David Brauer
2 November 2012

Last week, I wrote about the Pioneer Press dropping political endorsements. I hadn’t expected to write a bookend, but then a small-town publisher left this comment on another story:

At the Swift County Monitor-News in Benson, we have taken editorial stands against both amendments. We've also run letters to the editor urging people to vote for both. In small towns, taking controversial stands can mean losing precious subscribers. On the Marriage Amendment, where religious beliefs play a big part and emotions run deeper, this has been particularly true.

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Reed Anfinson

Intrigued, I contacted Reed Anfinson, who’s published the paper for 30 years. It turns out the number of cancellation letters was small — five — though at a 3,000-subscriber weekly, that’s the equivalent of the Star Tribune losing 1,000 Sunday subscribers.

Given that Swift County has lost a third of its population in the last 60 years, “every subscriber is precious,” Anfinson says. “You know for every letter you receive, there are more people who feel the same way.”

So why go there? Why write — in a place where the Catholic Church has a giant “Vote Yes” on Highway 9 — that “If you accept the Bible as the final Word of God, you can’t quote passages that are convenient to your arguments and ignore those that are not”?

Anfinson (who gave permission to reprint the 1,500-word editorial, below) says, simply: “We open the editorial page to other points of view, and [someone] wrote, ‘What the Bible said, you can’t go against it.’ Well, I have one very blue and one very brown eye. According to Exodus, I cannot approach the altar; I have a defect. I thought, ‘What if people with two different-color eyes were treated the same way as gays?’”

Anfinson is not just any small-town newspaperman; he won Minnesota’s Freedom of Information Award two years ago and just stepped down as the president of the National Newspaper Association, which represents 2,300 community newspapers around the county. And Swift County isn’t the blood-red backwater Twin Citians might assume; it gave Barack Obama in 2008 and Al Franken in 2010 a higher pecentage of its vote than did Minnesota as a whole.

Anfinson recalls a recent conversation with a South Dakota paper’s editor and publisher, who told him “they couldn’t have done what I did — they feared they’d lose not only subscribers, but advertisers. That area is very, very red.”

Pioneer Press editor Mike Burbach said business reasons weren’t why his paper switched, but he wasn’t exactly clear about the rationale beyond “people are going to make up their own minds, whether you do endorsements or not, and they have ever-more sources of information.”

Anfinson doesn’t mince words: “I’m troubled by the Pioneer Press’s stand [on non-endorsements]. That shows a real lack of depth of conviction about what your paper’s about. What is the conviction of the positions you’ve taken all year long? If candidates support policies we believe would make a better society, we’d support those candidates.”

Many Minnesota community papers have editorialized against the marriage amendment; none support it. Anfinson adds, “Community papers as a whole are much more engaged — we’re the cheerleaders, the prodders, the conscience. We’ve had a long history of editorializing on complex issues. When you write these things, you walk out the door and get immediate feedback.”

Burbach is the first PiPress editor in recent memory to run the newsroom and opinion section, breeching the big-daily divide between news and opinion. Anfinson is way past that: he’s the six-employee paper’s government reporter. “After you do this for a long time, you can see the facts of a story, and write the story that way. I always read it back, to see if I’m editorializing. Am I trying to be fair? Am I going too far the other way?”

As a journalist who tries to be fair and transparent about my beliefs, I sympathize with Anfinson’s approach; I’m sure my feelings are colored by sharing his position — my wife and I are Vote No donors. Anfinson hasn’t gone that far, but like many Minnesotans of conscience, he’s motivated by personal conviction.

“My first experience with someone who was gay was at the University of Minnesota — I worked at a place called Britches, in Dinkydale. The manager was gay, I worked for him for three years, got to know him and his friends, and have gotten to know other gays and lesbians. It angers me that they would be treated any other way than I would be treated.”

Anfinson says his journalistic responsibility compels him to open his opinion pages to opposing views, many of which have appeared in the paper. "I served six years on the Minnesota News Council, where I listened to the complaints of people. It always comes down to fairness, you didn't listen to their side. So if people can read somebody slamming me, there's more of a sense of fairness on the page."

And not every response has been critical, he adds: “I wrote one after President Obama endorsed gay marriage, and I got a call from a 90-year-old woman saying, ‘Thank you.’”

Here's Reed Anfinson’s editorial:

We have printed a fair number of letters this fall from people who would urge you to vote for a state constitutional amendment that would prohibit gays, lesbians, or bi-sexual couples from marrying.

The principle arguments of those who urge you to vote for the Marriage Amendment are:

  • The Bible says homosexual relationships are wrong
  • The Bible says marriage is between one man and one woman
  • Gay couples can’t raise kids because it is confusing for them
  • Male-female relationships are necessary to perpetuate the species
  • Children are confused by same-sex parents
  • We must stop activist courts from frustrating the “will of the people.”
    Born this way

Let’s get one fact straight right at the start: Being gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender is not a choice. It is the way a person comes into this world.

We know that the people living at the time the Bible was written had no concept of genetics and no concept of hormonal balances, or their impact on the structure of the brain and how they determine sexual orientation. What wasn’t understood, what was out of the ordinary, was either worshipped, or feared and reviled in ancient times.

Young boys will exhibit the characteristics of their sexual orientation long before they begin developing sexual interests as maturing adolescents. It is shown in photographs of the way they would stand as children. It is told in the stories of parents who relate how their son was more interested in Barbies and girls clothing than in GI Joes or playing football. It is told in the stories of families raising identical twins - one gay and one straight.

“Scientific research has led the medical and psychological community to recognize that being gay, lesbian, or bisexual are normal sexual orientations,” Katherine M. Slama, PhD, writes. Since 1975 the American Psychological Association has been fighting to raise awareness that being gay, lesbian, or bi-sexual is not a psychological disease.

The American Medical Association “…supports the dignity of the individual, human rights and … oppose(s) any discrimination based on an individual’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, national origin or age and any other such reprehensible policies.” It recognizes that sexual orientation is not a choice.
Freedom of Religion is a lst Amendment Right

The proposed amendment would violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Simply put, the government cannot dictate the liturgies in our churches, telling how we must or must not worship.

In July the Episcopal bishops passed a resolution that establishes a liturgy for wedding couples of the same sex. The vote was 111 to 41 to create this new, more inclusive, liturgy. In addressing the proposal, the Rev. Michael Louis Vono of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande said, “It is the Jesus thing to do in our time.” Through this new liturgy same sex couples would make their vows and exchange rings. The minister would then declare them “bound to one another in a holy covenant, as long as they both shall live.”

The Episcopal Church is not some fringe religion; it is a mainstream church with nearly 2 million members in the United States. The Presbyterian Church in America has also been considering redefining marriage for its ceremonies “as two people” to allow for the inclusion of same sex couples.

No one is telling the Catholic Church, or any other church, it has to marry gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender couples. They are simply saying don’t tell our church what it can and cannot do.

Male-female marriages to populate the world

We don’t seem to be having a problem perpetuating the species as the world moves to an unsustainable population. It is projected to reach 9 billion by 2050. Then it is on to 10 and 15 billion and beyond to a world crushed by population.

The tyranny of the majority & activist courts

Our government is based on a set of checks and balances. The founders rejected the concept that a simple majority could dictate law to all. They rejected it in favor of a political and judicial system that ensured minority groups would not be oppressed.

Courts are ideally meant to do one thing when it comes to considering the constitutionality of laws passed at both the state and federal levels – determine if they meet the intent of the framers. Often these laws were not written to simply enshrine the rights of a majority, but written to protect the rights of minorities against the uncompromising tyranny of majorities.

Through state constitutional amendments that can be approved not only by a simple majority of those voting, but by a minority of the population if voter turnout is low, the checks on oppression fundamental to the founder’s concept of government can be thrown out.

“Activist judge” is a common conservative mantra when it comes to courts finding conservative efforts to limit the rights of others are overturned. A judge is righteous or just if he or she rules in their favor.

If you quote the Bible…

If you accept the Bible as the final Word of God, you can’t quote passages that are convenient to your arguments and ignore those that are not.

“Here are the other laws you must obey,” Exodus 21:7 says. “If a man sells his daughter as a slave she shall not be freed at the end of six years as men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, then he shall let her be bought back again….” So it’s okay to sell your daughters?

Exodus 21:15 says, “Anyone who strikes his father or mother shall surely be put to death.” Kill your son or daughter for hitting you and you are going to be in jail for a very long time.

Leviticus 24:44 says a person can posses male or female slaves as long as they are from a foreign country. We fought the bloodiest war in American history to free slaves.

Exodus 35:2 says that a person who works on Sunday must die. We are not even supposed to light the fires in our homes on Sunday. Lighting fires is pretty essential to survival in cold climates and we would lose the majority of the world’s population if we killed everyone who worked on Sunday – Christians included.

Leviticus 21:16-19 states that no one with any kind of physical imperfection, whether of sight, or pimples, or a broken nose (you can add to the list as many imperfections as you want) can go no near the alter of the Lord. So much for the concept of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

These are only a few of the admonitions in the Bible that are not followed by anyone of the Christian faith today. Why? We’ve learned these were the ways of people living 2,000 to 3,000 years ago, ways that we grew beyond as our understanding of the world grew.

Families

Today there is a wealth of studies on children raised by same-sex couples. Time after time these studies show that “the development, adjustment, and well-being of children of lesbian and gay parents do not differ markedly from that of children with heterosexual parents,” the American Psychological Association says.

Want more proof? Just ask Zach Walls. He has written a book entitled “My Two Moms.”

“The sexual orientation of my parents has had zero (negative) effect on the content of my character,” a then 19-year-old Walls told an Iowa House Judiciary Committee in January 2011. Zach is an Eagle Scout and environmental engineering student in college.

We have known many kids with significant mental health problems who have grown up in traditional families. There are too many broken homes, abusive homes, and homes where parents give no direction, support or love to their children among heterosexual couples to begin to assume that children in same-sex parent households will be confused. So saying kids need parents of the same sex doesn’t work with us. What kids need is a loving, nurturing home.

A dream of equality

In his “I have a Dream” speech the Rev. Martin Luther King said: “I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal...’

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

King could have been saying these very same words about gays. lesbians, bi-sexual or transgender people for they also face oppression, hate, and discrimination.

Vote “No” to the proposed Marriage Amendment.

Source: Minnesota Post.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 2:50 pm 
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The AP Notwithstanding, Homophobia is Sadly Alive and Well
December 5, 2012
by Dr. George Weinberg

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Dr. George Weinberg’s 1972 book first brought the term “homophobia” to a wide audience. | MACMILLAN BOOKS

The Associated Press just changed its famous Stylebook for its reporters to ban future use of the word “homophobia.”

Writers have been told to replace the word with more “neutral language” — with words that don’t ascribe any motive or state of mind, even to those who persecute gays. This is a major mistake and an injustice to gay people everywhere.

Gay people must never forget that those who condemn them — and not they themselves — have an emotional problem. If you are condemned for being inferior, depraved, or dangerous and you aren’t, it is invaluable to know that the psychological problem is theirs, not yours.

In the case of homophobia, this was a hard-earned discovery and truth. It must never be forgotten. When it was made, the overwhelming majority of those in the mental health profession still taught that gay people were inherently sick. Homophobia — the word and the concept — trumpeted to all the fact that this view was biased and distorted. No other word makes this as clear or describes the situation more accurately.

Back in the ‘60s when I coined the word, 30 states could put two adults in jail for many years for consenting homosexual acts. You could be denied a job, thrown out of your apartment, fired and denied your pension for being gay. The picture was only somewhat better than it is in many backward countries today. My closest gay friends, understandably, kept their secret from me. Many people disowned their own children for life for being gay. Others, who didn’t go that far, wept for them.

You couldn’t reason even with professionals, who were supposedly trained to be open-minded. The frequent suicides by gay people didn’t especially bother them. One said to me about his own patient, who had killed himself after five years of “conversion therapy’ had failed, “That’s the course that this illness often takes.” The irrationality and phobic nature of their attitude were unmistakable.

In 1965, there were about 50 activists for homosexual rights in the US and many of them wouldn’t talk about their own sexuality. They called themselves ‘homophiles,’ and most talked about the problem as if it didn’t pertain to them personally. That year, I made a speech at the East Coast Homophile Organization in New York City. The other professionals talked about homosexuality as if it were a disease. An avid debate followed. A few weeks afterwards, I realized that we were up against a phobic reaction, which I called “homophobia.” Over time, the label seemed increasingly apt. If you feel unhinged by people who can do you no intrinsic harm and don’t want to, you have a problem.

It took time for both gay people and heterosexual people to appreciate this fact. By Stonewall in 1969, gay people were starting to see that they weren’t as alone as they had thought. The word “homophobia” encapsulated a truth that they’d suspected and needed to be affirmed. The real psychological problem wasn’t theirs, but belonged to those who persecuted gays. The difficulties that gay people were saddled with derived from the psychological disturbance of their oppressors.

By the early ‘70s, gay activists were coming out all over the country; they cherished the word and what it did for them. Knowing that their persecutors were unhinged and delusional, even sometimes dangerously delusional, gave them much more chance to stand up straight, to feel dignity and be proud of themselves. They rejoiced in the word and saw its applicability everywhere. A father who disowned his son or daughter suddenly looked unhinged, instead of justified.

The rage against gay people, their oppressors’ mockery of them, and the refusal to hire them, all began to look manifestly phobic. You couldn’t miss it, and it was invaluable to see. The rewards of this truth were huge. It gave gay people new hope to see that their oppressors were dealing from psychological weakness, not strength. The word went on placards and I saw it wherever I went to speak. The gist of many letters I received was the same: “Now that I see that people’s contempt for me springs from a problem of theirs, I feel whole. I can finally enjoy being who I am.” More than one letter said, “Now that I know this, I am no longer suicidal.”

It didn’t solve the problem, but it clarified it. By analogy, if disturbed people all wear red hats and healthy people don’t, the new concept took the red hats off those who shouldn’t have been wearing them and put them on the people who should. It was easier to combat the problem when you saw who had the red hats.

The AP’s recent dislike of the word because it is “political” makes no sense. It is political because a large number of people have brought it to light and are opposing abuse. If one man beats up his wife nightly because he’s a drunk, it isn’t political. It is personal. If a million do and women organize in protest, it’s political. But it is still personal and psychological. “Political” just means that many people are trying to do something about it. Homophobia doesn’t lose its status as a phobia just because many people are now on to it and are trying to cure it or to live in spite of it. A phobia is an irrational dread of something harmless, motivating the desire to avoid it or expunge it.

The world needs the word “homophobia” and what it says. People need to understand what it teaches. We have no other word that places the red hats where they belong and this one is well established. As for the argument that it is imprecise, so is a word like “freelance” writer; people don’t go around throwing lances any more. And, by the AP’s logic, why not get rid of the word “gay” since not all gay people are joyous. It’s a big mistake to pretend precision here.

It was a great advance to have the term “hate crimes” brought into the language and into the law. The term underscores the psychological motive of the person who commits such crimes — for instance, violent acts accompanied by anti-semetic language or the defacing of temples. By the AP’s logic, that term should be the first to go. It clearly refers to the mental and emotional state of those who commit hate crimes. Victims of hate crimes wouldn’t tolerate the erasure of the word. I can guess why the term “hate crimes” isn’t being eliminated along with “homophobia.” AP wants its language to go over well everywhere its stories might be picked up. The term “hate crimes” wouldn’t stop the media from picking up AP stories, while the word “homophobia” might draw objection in some places. In short, AP’s decision, far from depoliticizing its reporting, is itself likely based on a political judgment.

It would be terrible for gay people to eliminate the word or even to subdue it. It would not promote accuracy. It would rather be a step backwards toward 1970, when publishers wouldn’t even read my book until St. Martin’s Press welcomed it. One editor had written to me, “There are eleven books on homosexuals already and that’s more than we need.” Whatever the intention of erasing the word “homophobia,” doing so is very much a consciousness-lowering and injurious decision. We still need the word. Badly!

Dr. George Weinberg, a practicing psychotherapist, has written 12 books. He has also written for popular magazines and for television. His 1972 book “Society and the Healthy Homosexual” introduced his little known concept of homophobia to a worldwide audience.

Source: GayCityNews.

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Epigenetics Reveal Biological Information On Homosexuality
December 12, 2012
by Connie K. Ho

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Image Credit: Katstudio / Shutterstock.com

A new study from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) reveals that epigenetics, rather than genetics, could be the basis for homosexuality.

To begin, epigenetics looks at how gene expression is managed by temporary switches, known as epi-marks. In the report, recently published online in The Quarterly Review of Biology, the authors discussed how sex-specific epi-marks generally do not transmit between generations and are considered “erased.” Homosexuality can result when these marks are not “erased” and are passed on from father to daughter or mother to son.

“Transmission of sexually antagonistic epi-marks between generations is the most plausible evolutionary mechanism of the phenomenon of human homosexuality,” explained the study’s co-author Sergey Gavrilets, who serves as the NIMBioS’ associate director for scientific activities and professor at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, in a prepared statement.

The researchers explain how homosexuality is common for men and women in various cultures despite knowledge of evolutionary methods. Past studies have looked at how homosexuality is passed through family members, but no gene related to homosexuality has been found. The current study by the researchers from the Working Group on Intragenomic Conflict at NIMBioS produced a biological and mathematical model based on evolutionary theory and new information on gene express and androgen-dependent sexual development.

In particular, epi-marks give an extra set of information on the expression of genes. Genes have instruction, while epi-marks manage how the gene instructions are carried out during gene development. For every generation, there is a new set of epi-marks; however, studies have also shown that epi-marks may be passed between generations and can cause similarity among relatives.

“There is compelling evidence that epi-marks contribute to both the similarity and dissimilarity of family members, and can therefore feasibly contribute to the observed familial inheritance of homosexuality and its low concordance between [identical] twins,” the study’s co-author William Rice, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told U.S. News.

In addition, sex specific epi-marks found in early fetal development help protect each sex from having natural variation in testosterone that occurs later in fetal development. For example, sex specific epi-marks will prevent girl fetuses from becoming too masculine while preventing male fetuses from becoming too feminine. Though, when epi-marks are transmitted from one generation to the next, from father to daughter or mother to son they show reversed effects. In this regard, some traits in sons become feminized while other traits in daughters become more masculine.

“Most mainstream biologists have shied away from studying it because of the social stigma,” continued Rice in the article by U.S. News. “It’s been swept under the rug, people are still stuck on this idea that it’s unnatural. Well there are many examples of homosexuality in nature, it’s very common.”

Furthermore, the mathematical modeling of the genes shows that the epi-marks can be passed on the population as a way to boost the fitness of the parent but decreasing fitness in offspring. “These epi-marks protect fathers and mothers from excess or underexposure to testosterone — when they carry over to opposite-sex offspring, it can cause the masculinization of females or the feminization of males,” commented Rice in the U.S. News article.

Overall, the study helps explain the various underling factors related to homosexuality.

“We’ve found a story that looks really good,” concluded Rice in the U.S. News article. “There’s more verification needed, but we point out how we can easily do epigenetic profiles genome-wide. We predict where the epi-marks occur, we just need other studies to look at it empirically. This can be tested and proven within six months. It’s easy to test. If it’s a bad idea, we can throw it away in short order.”

Source: Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Article source: Red Orbit.

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PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2013 8:37 pm 
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Most European gays still afraid and threatened
17 May 2013

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Supporters of the anti-gay marriage movement "La Manif Pour Tous" (Demonstration for all) protest on May 5, 2013 in Paris.

AFP - Almost two-thirds of Europe's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are still afraid to show their sexuality in public and most feel discriminated against, an EU report said Friday, the International Day Against Homophobia.

"Fear, isolation and discrimination are everyday phenomena for the LGBT community in Europe," the director of the European Union's Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), Morten Kjaerum, wrote in the report.

The online survey, described as the largest of its kind, questioned around 93,000 people in the European Union's 27 member states plus Croatia, which is to join the bloc in July. Over a quarter (26 percent) of the respondents said that they had been physically or verbally assaulted over the last five years. Transgenders suffered particularly, with 28 percent saying they had been attacked or threatened more than three times in the last 12 months because of their sexuality, the report said.

Some respondents said that attitudes were worsening, even in countries that are traditionally considered to be tolerant. "My situations of harassment/discrimination/violence are mainly random acts of verbal aggression," a 27-year-old gay Belgian wrote. "The situation is worse now than it was, for example, four years ago."

In The Netherlands, the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage in 2001, almost 20 percent of those taking part said they felt discriminated against when going to sport clubs or hospitals, looking for an apartment, going out at night, or dealing with banks. Many are afraid to go to the police, including in France where the beating of a gay couple in April hit the headlines after pictures of the bloodied face of one of the victims spread across social media. "(I am) reluctant to report anything that might indicate that I am gay, as I know (the police) just dismiss everything," a 42-year-old Frenchman said.

Two-thirds of respondents and three-quarters of gay men said they were afraid to show their sexuality in public. The FRA report noted that discrimination often begins at school, where two-thirds of respondents hid their sexual orientation. "Ten years later, I still consider being bullied at school the worst form of homophobic abuse I've ever been subjected to," said a gay Maltese man, 25. "The constant insults for being effeminate ('and therefore gay') were unbearable at school, and not much action was taken by the teachers against the bullies! Bullying forced me to remain in the closet until I reached the age of 18."

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Wilfred de Bruijn poses in Paris on April 11, 2013 showing the injuries he received after he was attacked while "walking arm in arm" with his boyfriend.

"Member states must take care that LGBT students feel secure at school, given that that is where LGBT people's negative experiences, social prejudice and exclusion often begins," the FRA said. The United Nations has launched its own education campaign, with Secretary General Ban ki-Moon reassuring the world's LGBT community: "You are not alone."

Source: France24.

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PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2013 4:46 pm 
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Poll: 47 percent of U.S. now thinks homosexuality is inherent
May 16, 2013

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Same-sex marriage supporters rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as the Court hears arguments on same-sex marriage, on March 26, 2013 in Washington, D.C. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

PRINCETON, N.J. (UPI) -- Nearly half of U.S. residents believe gays and lesbians are born with their sexual orientation, while a third say it's a matter of conditioning, a poll found.

Two years ago, the public was evenly divided, Gallup reported Thursday.

In answer to the question "In your view, is being gay or lesbian something a person is born with, or due to factors such as upbringing and environment," 47 percent responded that homosexuals were born with the orientation. Some 33 percent said homosexuality was caused by upbringing or environment.

When Gallup asked the question in 1977, the response was the opposite. Some 56 percent said homosexuality was due to upbringing, while 13 percent said people were born with the orientation.

While movement in the last two years toward the belief sexual orientation was inherent was found among all categories, the greatest change was seen in the 18-29 age group. In 2011, 38 percent of those respondents said they believed gays and lesbians were born with the orientation, while this year 49 percent held that belief. Conversely, 47 percent in 2011 said sexual orientation was a matter of upbringing. In 2013, only 33 percent said that.

The poll found more than 50 percent of respondents now believe gays and lesbians should be able to marry. Some 75 percent of those polled said they know a friend, family member or coworker who is gay.

The poll was conducted May 2-7 with 1,535 adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error is 3 percent.

Source: UPI.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2013 5:49 pm 
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When anti-gay bigotry is just another lock on the closet
by Owen Jones
Sunday, 23 June 2013

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Is it surprising that those obsessed with gay sex may have a fondness for men? Alan Chambers and his wife.

Being gay is now apparently so fashionable, even homophobes want a piece of the action.

The latest esteemed recruit to the now cliched 'bigot-partial-to-a-bit-of-man-on-man-romping' club is Alan Chambers, the head of Exodus International. He led this grouping of 260 churches which preyed on vulnerable people – ironic, given that’s what homophobes think gay men do – by offering them pseudo-therapy to “turn” them straight. Chambers’ quacks exploited the feelings of guilt and shame that torment some gay men, a twisted “treatment” that mental health experts argued could trigger depression or even suicide.

Chambers has now apologised for the “hurt” he’s caused, admitted his “therapy” was a sham and – surprise surprise – confessed he had “conveniently omitted” his “own same-sex attractions”. “The land of the free and the home of the brave is morphing into a homosexual haven,” he once proclaimed; now we know he probably silently added “I wish!” Oh for a glimpse into the undoubtedly eclectic internet history of members of the bigoted-but-secretly-rampantly-homosexual camp: a mixture of spittle-flecked fire-and-brimstone speeches on YouTube and videos of oiled-up former Soviet soldiers who want to turn the Cold War hot, no doubt.

Chambers is not my favourite outed bigot; far from it. That accolade goes to ­disgraced evangelical Ted Haggard, once a familiar fixture in America’s fundamentalist ranters’ circuit: a highly well-paid gig, incidentally (it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the gates of Heaven, but the Lord will always make the odd exception). Haggard was a leading backer of a Colorado amendment to ban same-sex marriage in 2006. You can see why that might have wound up Mike Jones, the male sex worker he’d been having sex with on a monthly basis for three years, who retaliated by outing one of Time magazine’s top 25 US evangelical preachers. If you’re going to get a bit sloppy with your interpretation of the scriptures, you might as well go the whole hog, which probably explains why Haggard added taking crystal meth to getting jiggy with a member of the same sex.

And there’s Bob Allen, a former Republican Florida state representative, who had a sterling record in voting against giving those damned sodomites any rights. So when he offered to give a plain clothes officer head for $20 in a park toilet, he had an excuse: the policeman was black, Allen was scared of black people and “didn’t want to become a statistic”. Have you just been outed as a gay man cruising in public? Racism is here to help!

Us Brits have our own burgeoning closeted bigot culture, too. At last year’s Stonewall Awards, I was forced to devote my speech to criticising Ruth Davidson, the gay Scottish Tory leader who berated the gay rights’ organisation for having a “Bigot of the Year” award. But maybe she had a point, because the winner was none other than Cardinal O’Brien, who would have been more appropriately awarded the title “Hypocrite of the Year”. O’Brien, you see, had berated gay ­people as “captives of sexual aberrations”; homosexuality was a “moral degradation”; same-sex relationships were “demonstrably harmful to the medical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of those involved,” he claimed. These are the sorts of comments that do damage to those struggling with their sexuality, not least those in O’Brien’s flock. And then – shock horror – O’Brien was forced to resign after being accused of ­unwanted sexual advances to other men, ­accepting that his “sexual conduct had fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.” Whoops.

It’s not surprising, perhaps, that those who spend their lives obsessing over what two men do in the bedroom may have a certain fondness for the male form. Studies bear this out: one found that homophobic men were more likely to get turned on by gay porn than non-homophobic straight men; another in last April’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggested that bigots could be those who “doth protest too much.” That isn’t to mock them – in a “ha ha how ironic you’re afflicted with gayness too”, sort of way – but a sad fact about what inner torment can do.

Indeed, it is tempting to pity the likes of O’Brien, Chambers and Haggard: like many bullies, they are victims, too. Despite great strides made by the LGBT movement, we still live in a homophobic society where being gay has a certain stigma. What a tragedy that there may be countless closeted gay women and men trapped in loveless sham relationships, inflicting misery not just on themselves, but leading a trail of emotional destruction. I know of a man who left his wife after 12 years: a sad waste not only of his life, but of hers, too.

I grew up at an easier time to be a gay man than it had ever been, though still a society whose laws treated LGBT people as inferior. In my early teens, I used “gay” as a term of abuse. All my friends were straight men who I feared would struggle to accept a gay man as equal. Being gay seemed somehow sordid, dirty, frightening. When gay men appeared on TV, they seemed to be one-dimensional camp clowns. The image of supposed “normality” you grow up with – having a wife and two kids – is abruptly snatched away as teenage hormones whisper unavoidable truths. I had girlfriends until my early 20s. I originally took the wimp’s option of coming out as bisexual, which ruins it for genuine bisexuals who get taunted for being “bi now, gay later”. When I came out, a girl excitedly suggested we could now go shopping. I hate shopping.

For both homophobes and the closeted – which, we’ve established, can overlap – LGBT people can be a frightening “other”, defined by crude exchanges of bodily fluids. In truth, it’s as much about love as it is for anyone else, with all the excitement, terror, anguish and joy that goes with it. If “cures” are needed, it’s for the bigotry that traps so many LGBT people, with symptoms ranging from misery to hatred. Chambers can get on his knees and grovel – or whatever else he fancies – but this struggle for social acceptance has a way to go yet.

Source: Independent UK.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:28 am 
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