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Thursday, April 27, 2017

LGBTQ News Compilation-April 28

Do gay men have more casual sex, and if so, why?

Philadelphia, PA - Apps like Grindr and Scruff have become the gold standard for men to meet men. These apps, and others like it, use geo-locational technology to connect users to other men currently logged onto the app within a certain physical range, creating easy opportunities to both meet and hook up with new guys. It is generally understood that Grindr, Scruff and the like are used for casual sex. But why are these apps seemingly reserved for gay men? What about a hookup app for lesbians or for straight people? Certainly, Tinder is the closest thing to a hookup app for non-gay men but it absolutely falls short of being a full-fledged hookup app. Surely, gay men aren’t the only group of people who want to engage in casual sex. In fact, much research shows that men and women, regardless of sexual orientation, choose to have casual sex (just for the sake of it) at roughly the same rate. But — and this is a very distinctive but — biological differences between men and women seem to be the cause of differences in hooking up habits.

Oxytocin is released in the brain during sex and plays a primary role in our ability to bond and attach to others, to develop romantic feelings and to establish feelings of trust. While this chemical is produced by both men and women, it is only released in men during orgasm, while oxytocin is produced in females all throughout the sexual experience and at higher levels than men. Additionally, testosterone suppresses oxytocin’s effects while estrogen maximizes it, making the differences between men and women’s sexual experiences even more pronounced. In short, men are not emotionally attaching because of sex unless they are already connected to their sexual partner in other ways (i.e., dating or in a relationship).

Beyond serotonin, from a societal level, when girls are taught about sex, they learn to look at it in the context of love and commitment instead of physical pleasure. They are taught to be cautious of sex instead of embracing of it. On the other hand, boys are taught about sex much more expansively. Society teaches boys that sex is equated with not just pleasure, but also with power, self-worth and pride. A man who has many sexual partners receives positive labels and associations; historically, we might have referred to such a man as a “Don Juan” or “Casanova,” while a woman with the same habits might be called “slut” or whore.” This unfair assignment of labels in response to the same sexual behavior tends to create shame in girls and women, which results in a more-limited sexual experience and a lower likelihood of going out and having their sexual desires fulfilled. . . If females were taught to be sex-positive (promoting of an open and positive attitude towards sex) from a young age, more women would be comfortable with casual sex and hookup apps would probably exist for everyone. (Philadelphia Gay News - Kristina Furia [a psychotherapist committed to working with LGBT individuals and couples] at epgn.com)


 

Gray Prom gives LGBT elders a second chance

Dallas, TX - Portia Cantrell’s wife wants the Gray Pride Prom to be as authentic as possible, so she’s not agreeing to go until she receives a proper promposal. “If we’re doing this, we’re doing it right,” she told Cantrell. Cantrell’s mother died when she was six. When she was 15, her sister caught her in her bedroom with her girlfriend. “If you’re going to act like this, there’s the door,” she recalled her sister saying. A friend of her father let her live in his garage. But he got her pregnant, and she dropped out of school. “Life is good, but it doesn’t turn out that way for a number of people,” the always optimistic Cantrell said about what happened to her. Although she dropped out of high school, Cantrell earned her GED and went to college. So she got to walk across a stage to receive a diploma. But she never got to walk down a red carpet to her prom — and that bothers her. A lot.

Other members of Gray Pride, a program of Resource Center that holds a weekly meetup on Monday afternoons, have similar reasons they’re going to the Gray Pride Prom. Serena Smuckers, a transgender woman, explained the discomfort of putting on a tux for her prom. “Prom was miserable,” she said. “I had to be the upstanding dude.” Could she go as her authentic self? “You couldn’t do that in a town of 6,800 in Nebraska,” she said. Larry Derrick called his coming out a revolving door — he was out with gay friends, but not with his family. He finally came out at 29. “What I want to get out of prom is to bring the person I wanted to bring in high school,” he said. Even if he was really out in high school, he said his school would never have permitted him to go to prom with another man. Phil Garbera is from Cooperstown, a small town in upstate New York, best known as the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. “Prom for me was non-existent,” Garbera said. “It was an awkward time for me.”

The Gray Pride Prom is for anyone 50 and older and those accompanying someone 50 or older. The event will be held at Resource Center on May 13, with a DJ, cocktails, a red carpet and photographer. Gray Pride runs a support group on Mondays at 11:45 a.m. for people to discuss their issues with aging with a counselor from Resource Center’s mental health program in conjunction with Southern Methodist University. From 1-5 p.m. is a meetup for senior socializing.  All in all, Cantrell said she’s had a good life. After college, she became a nurse and then a trauma nurse specialist. And in May she’ll make up the one thing she says she missed in her life — the prom. (Dallas Voice – David Taffet at dallasvoice.com)


Seattle mayor’s accuser reveals identity, questions remain

Seattle, WA - The plaintiff in a sex abuse lawsuit against Seattle Mayor Ed Murray - identified only as DH in the original court documents - revealed his identity in an April 18 court filing, but many unanswered questions remain in the case. The man is Delvonn Heckard, and he said in a letter released by his attorneys that he “expects” Murray to remember him as “Delvonn” but “doubts Mr. Murray ever knew his last name.” According to allegations in his lawsuit, Heckard met Murray when he was 15 years old and had sex with him repeatedly over a period of years in return for money. Murray has repeatedly denied the allegations.

In a statement issued shortly after Heckard revealed his name, Murray emphatically denied knowing him. “I can state categorically that I have never had a sexual relationship with this individual, Delvonn Heckard, of any kind or at any time,” Murray says in the statement. “I have never paid for sex, and I have never had sex with a minor. Heckard's claims about my anatomy were proved medically false last week. His accusations are not true,” Murray added, saying he'd just learned Heckard's name and it was “not familiar to me.”

In his first court filing, Heckard, then known only as DH, said that he could prove he'd had sex with Murray because he could describe a distinctive feature of Murray's genitals - a mole or 'bump' on his scrotum. In a subsequent report by Murray's doctor, it appeared that the mayor had no such bump and no evidence that anything like it had been surgically removed. Far from putting the accusations to rest, however, Murray's release of the doctor's findings only escalated the media war over Heckard's allegations, and many questions remain. Foremost among them, perhaps, is the question of how Heckard's attorneys came by their client in the first place. Other questions center on Heckard himself. He has led a complicated life, and it's not entirely clear what motivated him to bring charges against Murray some 30 years after the incidents he alleges. According to his attorney, his “claims are politically motivated in that he does not think a man who abuses children, and then lies about it in office, should be in high office without the public being afforded full information.” (Seattle Gay News – Mike Andrew at sgn.org)


LGBT people encouraged to be organ donors

Dallas, TX - Unlike blood, LGBT people and those who are HIV-positive are encouraged to donate organs. Donate Life Texas is the only official organ and tissue donor registry in Texas. Executive Director Suzy Miller wants the LGBT community to know during April — National Donate Life Month — that their organ donations are welcome. To get word out to the LGBT community, Donate Life Texas plans to exhibit at the Dallas Pride Festival in September.

Blood banks focus on whether the potential donor is gay and reject all blood from someone who has had a same-sex sexual contact. Hospitals doing organ transplants are more concerned with whether the donor was HIV-positive or HIV-negative, regardless of sexual orientation. But being HIV-positive doesn’t exclude someone from donating organs. People who are HIV-positive may donate and those organs would be used to save the life of someone else who is HIV-positive.

Miller said the need is great: “590 Texans died last year on the transplant waiting list.” There are three ways someone may leave their organs for transplant — by signing their driver’s license, by signing up on the Donate Life Texas’ website and by signing a legal document stating one’s wishes to donate. Miller said any of these is considered a legal document, and “Your family can’t overturn your decision.” So that there’s no confusion, Miller noted, a transgender person who has legally changed their gender designation or their name since signing organ donation documents should sign a new document so that current information matches current status. But she stressed that transgender people are welcome and encouraged to donate organs. (Dallas Voice – David Taffet at dallasvoice.com)


Senator Cardin denounces anti-Gay violence in Chechnya

Washington, D. C. – Maryland’s senior United States Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee released a statement in response to reports of Chechen government violence against Gay men. Baltimore Outloud reported on this in the last issue of this newspaper (“Gay men being tortured and murdered in Chechnya” see Beyond the Beltway April 14, 2017)

Cardin issued his statement on April 17 and decried the reports of forced disappearances, torture, and killing of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) individuals, primarily gay men, in Chechnya. Cardin said, “I am gravely concerned about the growing threat facing LGBT individuals in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation, given reports that hundreds of LGBT persons, particularly gay men, have been detained and tortured, and at least three individuals killed, by Chechen security forces.  Moreover, the Novaya Gazeta journalist who bravely reported on this alleged anti-LGBT campaign has now come under threat herself. The calloused, inhuman behavior of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov is well-known, and he has created an atmosphere of terror for LGBT individuals.”

Cardin added, “But in the Russian Federation, the buck stops with President Vladimir Putin—who must  immediately signal that any violence against individuals on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity is unacceptable and ensure a robust investigation and prosecution of any officials who are perpetrating it. No one should fear for their life simply because of who they are.” (Press Release from Senator Ben Cardin)


UK survey shows many LGBT people live rural counties

London, England - After performing its first-ever geographical survey of the country’s gay and lesbian populations, the British government has found that a surprising number are living in the country. When stacked up against other U.K. counties, the relatively sleepy region of Devon was found to have the fourth-highest number of residents identifying as gay or lesbian. However, openly gay populations still remained strongest in liberal-minded urban areas. The central London borough of Lambeth ranked as the single gayest U.K. municipal area, with 5.5 per cent of residents identifying as gay or lesbian. The numbers, pulled from a three-year population survey, were published April 19 in a report issued by the U.K. Office for National Statistics. The report stressed that the numbers only cover “sexual identity” — a polite way of saying that they have no way to count gay Britons who are still in the closet.

Of the various countries within the U.K., Northern Ireland was found to have the highest proportion of gay men with 1.6 per cent. Scotland, at 1.1 per cent, had the lowest. When respondents were divided by age, a clear pattern emerged: Younger people were much more likely to identify as gay than their parents or grandparents. One of the few exceptions was London, where 2.4 per cent of 34 to 59-year-olds identified as gay compared with only 1.8 per cent in the 16 to 34 cohort. Conversely, the biggest generation gap emerged in Northern Ireland. Nearly one in 50 of Northern Ireland’s under-34 population identified as gay compared with one in 500 for the country’s senior citizens.

Across the board, meanwhile, the U.K.’s gay men were found to vastly outnumber gay women. In England, the proportion of gay men to lesbians was double. In Northern Ireland, gay men outnumbered gay women more than five to one. But interestingly, despite low numbers of lesbians Northern Ireland women were also the most likely in the U.K. to identify as bisexual. In fact, with the exception of Scotland (where rates of bisexual men and women were neatly matched at 0.4 per cent), women across the U.K. were vastly more likely to identify as bisexual than men. The average Welsh woman, for instance, is twice as likely to consider herself bisexual than the average Welsh man. (The Montreal Gazette at http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/world/found+where+gays+living+surprising+number+country/13313329/story.html)


S. Korea said to target gay soldiers after sex video surfaces

Seoul, South KoreaThe Associated Press reports that a watchdog group is alleging that South Korea's army is hunting down and prosecuting gay servicemen after a video of two male soldiers having sex was posted on the internet earlier this year, stoking fear in an already persecuted minority group. Military investigators looking into the case have threatened soldiers to out their gay peers, confiscated cellphones to check communication records, and even used dating apps to dupe soldiers into revealing their sexual identity, said Lim Tae-hoon, the head of the Military Human Rights Center for Korea, which tracks down abuses in the armed forces.

"Military investigators used the information they gained from the investigation on the sex video to track down other gay soldiers in the army, starting by forcing the suspects to identify who they had sex with and then widening their search from there," said Lim, who said a soldier tipped his group off about the alleged crackdown. "South Korea's military doesn't exclude gay men from compulsory duty, but once they enter the military, they are seen as dangerous and treated as potential criminals, as the ongoing army investigation shows," said Han Ga-ram, an openly gay human rights lawyer. In conservative South Korea, gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people are harshly stigmatized and struggle to be politically visible, while a powerful Christian lobby immobilizes politicians seeking to pass anti-discrimination laws. Han said the investigation had "touched off fear in the LGBT community." "Hate crimes against LGBT people are already a serious problem, and the government could make it worse by sending the wrong message by punishing gay men in the military," Han said.

South Korea's army says it's conducting a proper criminal investigation into soldiers allegedly involved with filming and uploading the video, which is a violation of the country's communications laws and a military penal code that makes homosexual activity punishable by up to two years in prison. The army has denied allegations that investigators are using the case to embark on a broader mission to weed out gay soldiers. (Mail.com and The Associated Press at https://www.mail.com/int/news/world/5132110-sex-video-s-korea-accused-targeting-gay-soldiers.html#.1258-stage-hero1-5)


Sweden to pay Trans people required to be sterilized

Stockholm, Sweden - Sweden's center-left government has proposed legislation that would grant compensation to transgender men and women who had to undergo mandatory sterilization in order to have their sex legally reassigned. Transgender Swedes had to be sterilized before they could legally change their gender until 2013. The government's bill would allow an estimated 800 people to claim 225,000 crowns ($26,000) each in compensation from the state. Many European countries, such as Finland, Switzerland and Greece, still require transgender people who want to legally change their gender to undergo sterilization, according to Transgender Europe.

"Sterilization as a condition to obtain a change of gender was an expression of a view that society today distances itself from," Healthcare Minister Gabriel Wikstrom said in a statement. Maria Sundin, a transgender activist and former chairwoman of Transgender Europe, was forced to undergo sterilization in 1999. She said of the bill: "It is a very positive outcome. It is vindication, and very positive that we didn't have to take it to court." The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Rights had long threatened to sue the government over the sterilizations and wanted 300,000 crowns in compensation for each affected individual. "It is very welcome that the government, the first in the world, is paying compensation in recognition of the crimes committed by the state against transgender people," it said in a statement.

Sweden - often viewed as a bastion of tolerance - has a dark history of sterilization that dates back to the 1930s when Roma were often targeted in drives for racial purity. Mental disability, institutionalization, or simply having what authorities deemed to be too many children, could also result in sterilization during those decades. An estimated 63,000 people - the vast majority of them women - were sterilized between 1935 and 1975, around half force or coercion. The practice of involuntary sterilization has been widely condemned as a human rights violation, including by the United Nations. (Reuters - Johan Ahlander with editing by Niklas Pollard & Mark Trevelyan at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-sweden-transgender-sterilisation-idUSKBN16Y1XA?il=0)

Beyond the Beltway

Beyond the Beltway

Compiled by Jim Becker

These news notes have been compiled, with permission, from the online version of various newspapers and other websites. We thank these publications for allowing us to bring you their news stories. Usually the reports have been significantly edited and you can read the full story by going to the website mentioned following the item. Comments are strictly the opinions of Jim Becker and not of Baltimore Outloud or Pride Media.

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