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January 19, 2015

“I want to be an equal citizen in my own country.”

A photograph of Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s Minister for Health, and the quote "The only worry I have is that people see me differently or treat me differently. I hope they don’t. I am still the same person. To me it is not a big deal, I hope it is not a big deal for people."

Ireland’s Minister For Health: "I’m Gay"

Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s Minister for Health, and member of Parliament representing the Dublin West constituency, came out as a gay man, on RTÉ Radio 1. He is the first member of a government in Ireland to disclose that he is gay. “I want to be an equal citizen in my own country.”

Leo made his announcement almost five months before a national referendum in Ireland to give gay marriages equal status under their laws. He is 36, and a medical doctor by training.

Leo said that being gay isn’t “something that defines me. I’m not a half-Indian politician, or a doctor politician or a gay politician for that matter. It’s just part of who I am, it doesn’t define me, it is part of my character I suppose.”

Miriam Lord, a columnist for The Irish Times newspaper, wrote a touchingly funny piece about Leo’s radio interview with Miriam O’Callaghan.
Leo Varadkar was a teenager when he came out as openly Fine Gael.
The early signs were there. His mother now understands why, at the tender age of seven, young Leo confided that he wanted to be the Minister for Health. 
At the time “she was mortified”. 
Minister for Health Varadkar is still saying things that stop people in their tracks. 
Some see it as his biggest failing – he’s too straight sometimes for our nod and wink political culture. 
Yesterday morning, he shocked the political establishment by telling RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan that “a politician should trust people with the truth”. 
Then he shocked the nation by revealing that he is still only 36 years old. 
It was his birthday. 
Doing anything on the big day? 
“Not doing anything special.” 
Nothing, apart from becoming the first Irish Cabinet Minister to publicly come out as gay. 
It came as news to a lot of people, including some from his own parliamentary party.
Henry McDonald, the Ireland correspondent for The Guardian newspaper, wrote that Leo has been tipped as a future party leader, and possible Prime Minister. [Note: The Taoiseach is the head of government or Prime Minister of Ireland.]
Tipped as a possible future prime minister, Leo Varadkar told Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ Radio 1 on Sunday morning: “I am a gay man. It’s not a secret.” 
He said that he had briefed the Irish taoiseach, Enda Kenny, who is his party leader, that he was going to out himself live on radio this morning. “He [Kenny] said it was my private life, it’s a private issue, and none of this was his concern,” Varadkar said. 
Varadkar said the taoiseach even asked him if he had visited one of Dublin’s most famous gay bars. “He actually asked me if I had ever been to the PantiBar, and I told him ‘no, I haven’t,’ and he said ‘there you go Varadkar, I’m ahead of you already’.” 
He told the programme: “The only worry I have is that people see me differently or treat me differently. I hope they don’t. I am still the same person. To me it is not a big deal, I hope it is not a big deal for people. 
The Roman Catholic Church dominated Irish politics until the 1980s and the country legalised homosexual acts in 1993, but Ireland has become much more liberal in recent years as the Church’s public influence waned in the wake of a string of child sex abuse scandals.
Three gay cheers for Leo Varadkar! It is a big deal Leo, and we thank you for it.

Jive in the [415]     straight talk in a queer world.

NYT: End The Exclusion & Inequality Of Gays & Lesbians

Follow me on twitter @thespiansfo

January 16, 2015

The Top Gay LGBT News Of The Week - January 16, 2015

An image that says “The top gay LGBT news story links for the week of January 16th, 2015.”

The top gay or LGBT news links for the week ending January 16, 2015:

There have been great strides in the search for a vaccine and cure for HIV/AIDS!

A comprehensive collection of articles describing the broad scope and current status of this global effort is published in a special issue of AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses.

There’s a new HIV/AIDS vaccine that comes in a capsule. The vaccine is “made using a common cold virus called an adenovirus, genetically engineered with a tiny piece of the AIDS virus.”

Alternet and the Southern Poverty Law Center published an updated “10 Vile Homophobic Myths Debunked.”

Think Progress reports that Judge’s Anti-Gay Opinion Unintentionally Reveals Just How Weak The Case Against Marriage Equality Is.”

I wrote a story for Medium about the Texas Solicitor General and the gay marriage hearing at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Louisiana. The story is entitledBigotry on the Bayou: Texas Solicitor General perjured himself with “no animus” for gays.”.

Jive in the [415]    straight talk in a queer world. 

NPR: A Pastor Attracted To Men & Married To A Woman

The graphic says "National Public Radio Weekend Edition Sunday brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines."

On NPR’s  Weekend Edition Sunday they talk with a pastor who is attracted to men, and is married to a woman.
“My expectation was, if I started talking to other guys about this, I’m going to get ostracized and lambasted,” Allan says. “I actually had the exact opposite experience. ... I actually was received with a lot of love, grace, charity: some confusion, but openness to dialogue.” 
Allan considered following a Christian denomination that accepts gay relationships, but his interpretation of the Bible wouldn’t allow it, he says. 
“I studied different methods of reading the Scripture and it all came down to this: Jesus accepts the rest of the Scripture as divined from God,” he says. “So if Jesus is who he says he is, then we kind of have to believe what he believes.”
God bless them.

Jive in the [415]      straight talk in a queer world 

January 14, 2015

Are you a gender fuck? Bravo! Make no apologies. Ever.

A red frame and a black background with the words gender talk, and gender police, and gender neutral names. by

By Roy Steele

The television was on, and I heard a Catholic priest waxing on about gay people and our sinful ways. The priest was well versed in his catechism, and said it was “ok to be gay,” but sinful to engage in “homosexual behavior.”

“Blah blah blah,” I thought to myself, “it must be awful to be you.” Those sibilant sounds, every time you say “homosexual,” must have gone over well with your school chums, I thought to myself.

People talk a lot of “shit.” And not just gay people. One’s sexuality has no bearing on whether you do or whether you don’t. People just do and unfortunately LGBT people are often targets of derision.

In adolescence, when you feel different from the “crowd,” you’re always on your guard. You’re afraid to tell someone to fuck off.  You try to sense hostility to avoid it. You remember where the bully lives and take an alternate route. You feel alone and unprotected, and do your best to avert conflict.

I read this in the Huffington Post yesterday, written by Olivia Wilson. As I read the article, I remembered feeling different. I could sense the looks and stares. It must be a tribal thing that many LGBT people share.
The lady blocks my way as I try to walk into the bathroom, I go to walk around her, she’s looking me right in the face and when I try to dodge her she sidesteps into my path again, we do a little dance, her challenging me, me trying to walk in the door, coincidentally I need to pee.
When I hear a story like that, it breaks my heart. I didn’t have to finish reading (though I did), because I knew there was conflict. Olivia wrote “she thought I was a man. This isn’t unusual for me, it happens all the time.” I wanted to give Olivia a hug, and tell her she’s loved.
No matter how comfortable I become with myself, it’s nearly impossible to filter out the discomfort of the wider world and it’s the placing of otherness on oneself that stays with you.
So when I read articles about the wonderful gender non-conformists who refuse to identify as either male or female, I feel happy. I love how they refuse to select the binary asked of them because I know absolutely the space that they occupy.
Olivia’s article “The Gender Police” represents a discussion that our society never has. It got me thinking about gender, and I challenged myself to be more sensitive and aware.

I was thinking about colors and shapes, and their correlation to masculine and feminine. Pink is allegedly feminine, and blue allegedly masculine. I wish that I was the art director that day!

A red frame with black background and the equation culture plus society equals conform.

When you look at the signs on restroom doors, we see shapes meant to reflect male or female. The woman is wearing a dress, and the man is not. I know men who wear dresses, and women who don’t own a dress, and that’s my normal.

Which brings me back to Olivia and the gender cop. There are lots of ignorant and scared people out there, just like the woman who tried to block the restroom door. No empathy, no courage, and downright rude. The gender cop woman lost her humanity and gave in to her fear, and that’s how bullies roll.

When you’re different and don’t conform with the majority, you’re red meat to the bullies.  Bullies only engage when they are prohibitive favorites to win. They always pick on someone smaller.They threaten to fight with an opponent who never fights  back. They prey on a sexual minority or gay kid, because glitter bombs don’t scare them.

This emotional response to our presence is triggered by fear. Whether it’s the woman in the bathroom, or the bully down the hall, they’re both responding to the same feeling. That feeling is fear.

How do we combat other people’s ignorance and fear? We fight it by living out and openly in the most authentic way we can. That’s all we can do. With no apologies or excuses to anyone for who are we, and who we love.

Olivia closed her article with insight and wisdom.
The tribalism of organizing the world into categories comes from a very basic place to identify those around us. There are those that are men, those that are women and there are those that are not. Having the wisdom to know when it matters is what will make the world a better place.
Knowing when it matters is what will make our world a better place. Amen to that!


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