Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Outrage In Fort Worth

Wayne Besen
June 30, 2009

The fortieth anniversary of Stonewall, the 1969 bar riot that kicked off the modern gay rights movement, was supposed to be a time of reflection. Judging from the gushing media coverage and flowery political speeches, it momentarily seemed that
Huckabeethe struggle for equality had ended in victory. Out with marches and in with museums, where gay and straight people could walk the marble corridors and gasp in astonishment, "The police actually used to raid gay bars?"

When the Fort Worth police stormed the gay Rainbow Lounge at 1AM on Sunday, June 28, the patrons could be forgiven for thinking it was a quaint cabaret show in memory of Stonewall - very much like the Civil War reenactments so popular in the south. But, no, this was the real deal - a gang of gun-wielding thugs using their badges to badger helpless patrons who committed the crime of drinking beer while gay.

It was the third such raid of the night by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and Fort Worth police. They were allegedly harassing bar customers to crack down on public intoxication, which is as ridiculous as raiding the mall for public displays of shopping. While they claim they were carrying out their duty, it sure seems to me like a band of good ole boys with too much time on their hands. Instead of fighting real crime, becoming the criminals must have provided a greater adrenaline rush.

By the time these taxpayer supported public servants reached the gay bar, they unleashed a viciousness and violence not seen at the other establishments. According to the Dallas Voice, seven bar patrons were arrested on charges of public intoxication. One customer, Chad Gibson, suffered brain injuries during the raid and is still hospitalized, reportedly suffering from bleeding on his brain, which may require surgery.

The armed hooligans tried to excuse their thuggish behavior by reviving the stereotype of gay men as sexual predators. Incredibly, they claimed that as they stormed the bar, patrons made sexual advances.

Yeah, right.

They actually want people to believe that their magnetic, sexual appeal triggered the insatiable sexual appetites of the drunken gays, who thought they were being rushed by the Village People. That's odd, because the patrons describe the invasion as more terrifying than titillating.

Clearly, the police are insulting the public's intelligence by offering a lame, implausible excuse, based on bigotry. As they used to say when I lived in Texas: "They are shoveling ten pounds of shit into a five pound bag."

And, quite frankly, it is irrelevant whether sexual advances were made. If Gibson had chased the officers across the dance floor with a male blow up doll, they are still guilty of excessive use of force. The police don't have the authority to mug people - and when they do so, they transform from protectors to perpetrators.

In many ways, such actions are worse than hate crimes. We can accept the fact that wild-eyed, crazy extremists will always exist. But, when the cops become the criminals, it creates an insecurity and raw vulnerability that affects the entire GLBT community in a substantial way.

What is troubling is that Fort Worth is a sophisticated town teeming with gays. If a raid can happen here, it can happen anywhere. The city needs to quickly investigate this outrage and punish those who planned and participated in this brutal attack on innocent beer drinkers.

This week, President Obama met with gay leaders and offered more pretty words. He should be applauded for this meeting, because it does send the right message and adds to an atmosphere of acceptance that transcends policy.

Still, we need this president to make history because the discrimination faced by gay people is not a relic of the past. The hatred is alive, it is sometimes deadly and our lives - no matter how enchanted - can take a lethal turn if we are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

While I am thrilled that Obama recognized the rainbow flag, he and Congress must take action to end discrimination, because the Rainbow Lounge is a grim reminder that the fight for justice is far from over.

© 2009 Wayne Besen. All rights reserved.
Anything But Straight | www.waynebesen.com

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The Dark Side of Christian History

by Helen Ellerbe (Author)

Over a period of nearly two millennia, the Christian Church has oppressed and brutalized millions of individuals. Meticulously researched and courageously written, "The Dark Side of Christian History" by Helen Ellerbe examines the Church's devastating impact upon human freedom, dignity and spirituality. Written for the lay reader, this controversial book is especially relevant today as the religious right is attempting to assert greater influence in American politics and society. "The Dark Side of Christian History presents a compelling argument that the Church's desire to control and contain spiritually motivated its persecution of heretics, its burning of libraries, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the witch-hunts. This dark Christianity has left a legacy, a world view, which permeates every aspect of Western society. It is a legacy which fosters sexism, racism, the intolerance of difference and the desecration of the natural environment. Helen Ellerbe is a researcher, writer, and public speaker living in the San Francisco bay area. -- Midwest Book Review

221 pages
Publisher: Morningstar Books (July 1995)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0964487349
ISBN-13: 978-0964487345

Torrent link at the Ebooks Bay

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

From Publishers Weekly
"Uproariously funny" doesn't seem a likely description for a book on cadavers. However, Roach, a Salon and Reader's Digest columnist, has done the nearly impossible and written a book as informative and respectful as it is irreverent and witty. From her opening lines ("The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back"), it is clear that she's taking a unique approach to issues surrounding death. Roach delves into the many productive uses to which cadavers have been put, from medical experimentation to applications in transportation safety research (in a chapter archly called "Dead Man Driving") to work by forensic scientists quantifying rates of decay under a wide array of bizarre circumstances. There are also chapters on cannibalism, including an aside on dumplings allegedly filled with human remains from a Chinese crematorium, methods of disposal (burial, cremation, composting) and "beating-heart" cadavers used in organ transplants. Roach has a fabulous eye and a wonderful voice as she describes such macabre situations as a plastic surgery seminar with doctors practicing face-lifts on decapitated human heads and her trip to China in search of the cannibalistic dumpling makers. Even Roach's digressions and footnotes are captivating, helping to make the book impossible to put down.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Those curious or brave enough to find out what really happens to a body that is donated to the scientific community can do so with this book. Dissection in medical anatomy classes is about the least bizarre of the purposes that science has devised. Mostly dealing with such contemporary uses such as stand-ins for crash-test dummies, Roach also pulls together considerable historical and background information. Bodies are divided into types, including "beating-heart" cadavers for organ transplants, and individual parts-leg and foot segments, for example, are used to test footwear for the effects of exploding land mines. Just as the nonemotional, fact-by-fact descriptions may be getting to be a bit too much, Roach swings into macabre humor. In some cases, it is needed to restore perspective or aid in understanding both what the procedures are accomplishing and what it is hoped will be learned. In all cases, the comic relief welcomes readers back to the world of the living. For those who are interested in the fields of medicine or forensics and are aware of some of the procedures, this book makes excellent reading.
Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Conn. church creates stir with gay exorcism video

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut church has outraged gay rights advocates by posting a video of members performing an apparent exorcism of a teen's "homosexual demons."

The 20-minute video was posted on YouTube before it was taken down.

Gay youth advocate Robin McHaelen (mih-KAY'-lehn) says the video appears to show abuse. She says she plans to report it to the Connecticut Department of Children and Families.

The boy confirms he is 16 but otherwise has declined to comment.

The Rev. Patricia McKinney of Manifested Glory Ministries in Bridgeport says he is 18 and came to the church on his own seeking help.

She denies the church is prejudiced and says it took care of the youth.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cured ‘Ex-Gay' caught misbehaving; banned from gym; Disturbing criminal record

Truth Wins Out

Wed., June 24, 2009

Contact: Wayne Besen
Phone: 917-691-5118
E-Mail: wbesen@truthwinsout.org

NEW YORK - A new report by the website, "Ex-Gay Watch", has cast a dark cloud of skepticism over "ex-gay" activist Matthew Manning's tale of being "delivered" from homosexuality and AIDS. According to the report, Manning has been repeatedly dragged into court for allegations of inappropriate behavior and was even banned from a popular gym after improper sexual advances were made on a 22-year-old heterosexual male. Manning, a frequent television guest and the founder of Lighthouse World Evangelism Inc., based in Santa Rosa, California, has yet to comment on the allegations made in the investigative report.

"The 'ex-gay' myth is one of the largest frauds ever foisted on the American consumer," said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. "We call on Manning to immediately close down his snake oil shop. We also urge those in the media who promoted his fake miracle to apologize and update their audience on the sordid facts that have been revealed."

According to an older version of Manning's website: "Matthew was delivered from homosexuality in 1989 and miraculously healed from HIV/AIDS in 1994. Matthew's experience not only enables him to minister effectively to those seeking deliverance from homosexuality, but to all people seeking to know Jesus Christ in a deeper way."

VIDEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kba3dGOeD0I

Ex-Gay Watch discovered that Manning found his way into the courthouse three times, all for activity that contradicted his testimony as an "ex-gay" born again Christian. On September 2, 2005, a complaint was filed with the Superior Court of California, County of Sonoma, accusing Manning of one count of violating CA Penal Code 243.4(e)(1), which states:

"Any person who touches an intimate part of another person, if the touching is against the will of the person touched, and is for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of misdemeanor sexual battery, punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by both that fine and imprisonment."

Manning pleaded "no contest" to a lesser charge. Still, as a result of this incident, Manning was ordered to stay away from the 22-year-old victim for one year, and also ordered to stay away from one of the 24 Hour Fitness locations in Santa Rosa for the same length of time. There were also two other incidents, one in 2000 and another in 1998, according to Ex-Gay Watch.

Manning first burst on the scene several years ago when he claimed, while in the studio audience of the Roseanne Show, that God delivered him from AIDS and homosexuality. Actress Sharon Stone was also in the audience and mocked him as a modern miracle who defied logic and modern medicine.

Since then, he has appeared on several Christian broadcasts, including at least five episodes of The Joni Show and Pat Robertson's 700 Club. Exodus President Alan Chambers, lauded Manning's story on the Joni Show as "amazing" and "unbelievable".

"It just goes to show you how 'ex-gay' activists continue to dupe gullible people and promote fake miracles to gain new followers," said Besen.

For more information on this very detailed story, please visit our friends at "Ex-Gay Watch."

Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that counters anti-gay propaganda, exposes the "ex-gay" myth and educates America about gay life. For more information, visit TruthWinsOut.org.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Buddhist Dead: Practices, Discourses, Representations

Product Description
In its teachings, practices, and institutions, Buddhism in its varied Asian forms has been--and continues to be--centrally concerned with death and the dead. Yet surprisingly "death in Buddhism" has received little sustained scholarly attention. The Buddhist Dead offers the first comparative investigation of this topic across the major Buddhist cultures of India, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Tibet, and Burma. Its individual essays, representing a range of methods, shed light on a rich array of traditional Buddhist practices for the dead and dying; the sophisticated but often paradoxical discourses about death and the dead in Buddhist texts; and the varied representations of the dead and the afterlife found in Buddhist funerary art and popular literature.

The paradigmatic figure of the historical Buddha, his death, the symbolism of his funeral, and his relationship to the impurity of the dead are treated in the opening essays by John S. Strong and Gregory Schopen. The deaths of later remarkable adepts, following the Buddha's model, and their significance for Buddhist communities are investigated by Koichi Shinohara, Jacqueline I. Stone, Raoul Birnbaum, and Kurtis R. Schaeffer. A dramatic, often controversial category of exemplary death, that of "giving up the body" or Buddhist suicide, is examined by James Benn and D. Max Moerman. Moving from celebrated masters to ordinary practitioners and devotees, Bryan J. Cuevas, John Clifford Holt, and Matthew T. Kapstein take up the subject of the "ordinary dead" and the intimate relations that often persist between them and those still living, while Hank Glassman, Mark Rowe, and Jason A. Carbine shed light on Buddhist funerary practices and address the physical and social locations of the Buddhist dead.

This important collection moves beyond the largely text- and doctrine-centered approaches characterizing an earlier generation of Buddhist scholarship and expands its treatment of death to include ritual, devotional, and material culture. Its foundational insights are both culturally and historically grounded and at the same time offer a basis for further, comparative conversations on death between scholars of Buddhism and other religious traditions.

About the Author
Bryan J. Cuevas is associate professor of Buddhist and Tibetan studies in the Department of Religion, Florida State University. Jacqueline I. Stone is professor of Japanese religions in the Department of Religion, Princeton University.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Wesley Eure of TV's "Land of the Lost" Comes Out

For many gay and bisexual men of a certain age, the first inkling that they weren’t like other boys came on Saturday mornings from 1974 to 1976, in the form of a television show called The Land of the Lost. The show, about a father and his two children who were stranded in a mysterious land of dinosaurs, also featured vicious, but curiously slow-moving reptilian humanoids called Sleestak. Now the classic kids’ program by Sid and Marty Krofft, the producers of H.R. Pufnstuf and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, has even been made into a feature film starring Will Ferrell, opening this Friday.

But it wasn’t just the gloriously campy-even-at-the-time nature of the show itself that appealed to gay boys. It was also the fact that it featured the role of Will, the Marshall’s handsome teenage son, played by an actor billed only as “Wesley,” but whose full name is Wesley Eure.

A major teen idol at the time, Eure eventually found his way out of the time vortex that was the Land of the Lost, appearing as Michael Horton on the NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives for almost ten years (several of them while simultaneously filming Land of the Lost), and then moving onto to hosting Finders Keepers, a children’s game show on Nickelodeon.

Eure on Days of Our Lives (left) and hosting Finders Keepers

Eure still works in children’s entertainment, having created the animated PBS series Dragon Tales and authored a number of children’s books, including The Red Wings of Christmas, which was almost turned into an animated Disney movie in the 1990s.

And all those gay and bisexual boys who had their first crushes on Will Marshall? It turns out that the actor playing him had something in common with them: he was gay too, something the actor is publicly talking about for the first time in this exclusive AfterElton.com interview.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

China Creates Specter of Dueling Dalai Lamas

Shiho Fukada for The New York Times

The Karmapa, left, of the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism, is seen as a possible interim communal leader after the death of the Dalai Lama, right.

Published: June 6, 2009

DHARAMSALA, India — For centuries, the selection of the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama has been steeped in the mysticism of a bygone world.

On the windswept Tibetan plateau, his closest aides look for divinations in a sacred lake. A mountain god transmits oracular messages by possessing a high lama. Monks scour villages for boys precocious in their spiritual attunement.

All that is about to change, as the current Dalai Lama and his followers in exile here in India compete with the Chinese government for control of how the 15th Dalai Lama will be chosen. The issue is urgent for the Tibetans because the current Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of all Tibetans and the charismatic face of the exile movement, has had recent bouts of ill health. He turns 74 in July.

Both the Chinese and the Tibetan exiles are bracing for an almost inevitable outcome: the emergence into the world of dueling Dalai Lamas — one chosen by the exiles, perhaps by the 14th Dalai Lama himself, and the other by Chinese officials.

“It’s a huge but ultracritical issue, with no clear outcome or solution except one: trouble,” said Robert Barnett, a Tibet scholar at Columbia University. “It is going to end up with two Dalai Lamas and thus with long-running conflict, unless the Chinese agree to a diplomatic solution pretty soon.”

The jockeying has put the Dalai Lama and the Chinese Communist Party in surprising positions. The Dalai Lama said late last month in an interview with The New York Times that all options for choosing his reincarnation were open, including ones that break from tradition. That could mean that the next Dalai Lama would be found outside Tibet, could be a woman or might even be named while the 14th Dalai Lama was still alive, before his soul properly transmigrated. Meanwhile, the party, officially atheist and accused of ravaging Tibetan culture, insists that religious customs must be followed.

A traditional selection process would be easily controlled by the Chinese government, since the process is rooted in the landscape of Tibet, which the Chinese seized in 1951. China has already positioned itself in other ways, including enacting a law in 2007 that says all reincarnations of senior lamas must be approved by the government.

Here in Dharamsala, India, where the Dalai Lama lives, religious leaders have been debating whether to bypass the traditional process. Meanwhile, many Tibetans say they will honor whatever the Dalai Lama decides to do.

“This is a religious matter,” the Dalai Lama said in the interview. “Of course there’s a political implication there, but it’s mainly a religious matter, spiritual matter, so therefore I have to discuss it with leaders, spiritual leaders.”

The figure of the Dalai Lama, head of the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, is without rival in influence among Tibetans and many Buddhists worldwide. He is revered as the reincarnation of Chenrezig, a deity who has chosen to remain on earth to help people achieve enlightenment. Many of China’s six million Tibetans keep photos of him in their mud-walled homes, monasteries and nomadic tents, or hidden in the folds of their clothes, even though the government has outlawed all images of the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959.

The Chinese government accuses the Dalai Lama of being a separatist, though he demands only genuine autonomy for Tibet.


Friday, June 5, 2009

'Gay penguins' rear adopted chick

A Humboldt penguin chick (file)
Humboldt penguin numbers are declining in the wild (file image)

Two "gay" male penguins have hatched a chick and are now rearing it as its adoptive parents, says a German zoo.

The zoo, in Bremerhaven, northern Germany, says the adult males - Z and Vielpunkt - were given an egg which was rejected by its biological parents.

It says the couple are now happily rearing the chick, said to have reached four weeks old.

The zoo made headlines in 2005 over plans to "test" the sexual orientation of penguins with homosexual traits.

Three pairs of male penguins had been seen attempting to mate with each other and trying to hatch offspring from stones.

Since the chick arrived, they have been behaving just as you would expect a heterosexual couple to do
Bremerhaven zoo

The zoo flew in four females in a bid to get the endangered birds to reproduce - but quickly abandoned the scheme after causing outrage among gay rights activists, who accused it of interfering in the animals' behaviour.

The six "gay" penguins remain at the zoo, among them Z and Vielpunkt who are now rearing the chick together after being given the rejected egg.

"Z and Vielpunkt, both males, gladly accepted their 'Easter gift' and got straight down to raising it," said a zoo statement.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Boy chosen by Dalai Lama turns back on Buddhist order

As a toddler, he was put on a throne and worshipped as by monks who treated him like a god. But the boy chosen by the Dalai Lama as a reincarnation of a spiritual leader has caused consternation – and some embarrassment – for Tibetan Buddhists by turning his back on the order that had such high hopes for him.

Instead of leading a monastic life, Osel Hita Torres now sports baggy trousers and long hair, and is more likely to quote Jimi Hendrix than Buddha.

Yesterday he bemoaned the misery of a youth deprived of television, football and girls. Movies were also forbidden – except for a sanctioned screening of The Golden Child starring Eddie Murphy, about a kidnapped child lama with magical powers. "I never felt like that boy," he said.