11 Ideas on Stopping Violence From a Gun-Owning Gay

The United States is a nation built on ideas — and compromise. When most of us sit down face-to-face with our neighbors, we tend to find common ground on even the most divisive issues. I believe our country remains a land in which civic discourse can solve even the most difficult problems. But we have to start the conversation with ideas.

In the wake of another school shooting, this one at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the time has come for ordinary people to solve the extraordinary problem of gun violence in the United States. Unfortunately, hyperpartisanship fueled by social media and 24-hour news has driven people apart instead of bringing them together. Too many people are clothed in ideology but bereft of ideas, so I will attempt to jump-start the conversation.

None of these ideas is original, but many have collected dust over the years. None of these proposals would solve all our problems, but perhaps we can save at least one life (and wouldn’t that be worth it!). None of these suggestions is perfect, but each has significant reasons for us to support it. Making the United States safer and passing reasonable gun safety measures does not have to be hard, but it requires us to honestly explore the ideas without hiding behind political ideology. So, in the spirit of honesty, I have a few disclosures. First, I grew up in a home with firearms. Second, I own handguns, which are stored in a steel safe with a combination lock at my family’s home in Louisiana. Third, I support strong gun safety laws.

Now that my disclosures are out of the way, here are some ideas that I have found useful when discussing what I believe is our nation’s failure to regulate firearms reasonably well.

1. Before a person can buy, trade, donate, receive, or otherwise transfer a firearm, they should be required to purchase liability insurance. This should apply whether the firearm is new or used. (States already do this for cars.)

2. There should be a national firearm registry. All new purchases, used purchases, person-to-person transfers, donations, etc. should be mandatorily registered. The federal registry should be executed by local law enforcement, in compliance with constitutional limits. (States already do this for cars.)

3. There should be a rebuttable presumption of liability if a gun registered to a person causes harm to a person or property. (Many states already do this for rear-end collisions in cars.)

4. Before purchasing or otherwise receiving a firearm, a person should be required to go through a universal background check that includes screening Social Security disability recipients who have been deemed incapable of managing their own affairs.

5. Before purchasing or otherwise receiving a firearm, a person should be required to prove they have completed a firearm safety training course and satisfactorily passed a written and practical exam. (States already do this for cars.)

6. There should be a cooling-off period of at least five days between the purchase of a firearm and the date on which you are able to leave the store with the firearm. (Some states already do this for marriage licenses.)

7. “Assault”-style weapons should be prohibited for civilian ownership, transfer, or possession.

8. All firearms, including handguns, should have a limited capacity of six rounds. (The Colt 1860 Army, the godfather of handguns, was a six-shooter.)

9. Sales of ammunition should be limited, and it should be unlawful to hoard ammunition in large quantities.

10. There should be a national firearm buy-back program, wherein local police departments are given prepaid credit cards to trade for firearms, starting with a program for AR-15-style weapons. Police will then render the guns inoperable and melt them down or drill them out.

Bonus. If the brave young people who survived the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland have taught us nothing else, it’s that the country should consider lowering the voting age. Young people have a stake in the affairs of our nation, and they are capable of contributing to our civic discourse.

R. KYLE ALAGOOD is a lawyer and public policy scholar from Harrisonburg, La.

Trump Is Pushing Health Care Discrimination. Here's How You Could Be Affected

Imagine being denied a prescription for Truvada as PrEP because your doctor disapproves of your sex life. Or being denied hormones or a hysterectomy for gender transition by a doctor who provides them for other purposes. Or being refused dental care for your child because the dentist won’t treat a kid with two moms.

All these scenarios are possible — and even enabled and, some might say, encouraged — by new moves at the Department of Health and Human Services to protect health care providers’ “religious freedom,” creating what civil rights advocates say is really a license to discriminate against LGBT people, women seeking abortions or contraceptives, and anyone else who offends a provider’s beliefs.

“The Trump administration has attempted to promote discrimination at every turn against many groups of Americans, particularly LGBT people,” says Harper Jean Tobin, director of policy for the National Center for Transgender Equality.

In health care, the administration is using two means of promoting discrimination. On January 18, HHS announced the formation of a Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom within its Office of Civil Rights. “The creation of the new division will provide HHS with the focus it needs to more vigorously and effectively enforce existing laws protecting the rights of conscience and religious freedom, the first freedom protected in the Bill of Rights,” says a press release announcing the move. The web page for the new division provides guidelines for health care providers who wish to file complaints if they believe they’ve been forced to participate in a procedure that goes against their religious beliefs.

The next day, HHS unveiled a proposed rule outlining how it will enforce so-called conscience protections and providing for penalties against institutions that it finds to have violated employees’ religious freedom. The rule is subject to a 60-day public comment period before HHS makes a decision on putting it into effect.

That all may sound innocuous enough. There is no law saying all doctors or hospitals must offer certain procedures, such as abortion or gender-affirmation surgery, that might raise religious objections. Indeed, there is a scarcity of providers for these procedures. No one would expect, for instance, a Catholic hospital to provide abortions, or a physician who believes the procedure is murder to perform one.

But the moves by HHS are dangerous, according to civil rights activists, because the definition of “participating” in a procedure is very broad, as is its interpretation of laws such as the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed in 1993. And many staffers who have come to HHS during Donald Trump’s presidency, such as Office for Civil Rights chief Roger Severino, have a record of hostility to LGBT rights and reproductive freedom.

The proposed rule purports to enforce existing laws, but in reality it “goes well beyond” them to “create sweeping, dangerous exemptions that would encourage health care providers to pick and choose which patients they will and won’t treat,” says Mara Keisling, executive director of NCTE. This particularly poses a risk to trans people, who are already denied care at an alarming rate, she adds.

“We look at these rules — they are just breathtakingly broad,” adds Susan Berke Fogel, director of reproductive health at the National Health Law Program. “It virtually allows anyone even remotely involved in health care to refuse to do anything to which they claim any kind of religious objection. The rules redefine basic words like ‘refer’ or ‘participate,’ and they really are a call-out to encourage discrimination instead of lifting up our civil rights laws.”

Scheduling an appointment or transferring a phone call could be considered participating in a procedure, activists say. For instance, a health care worker could refuse to schedule an appointment for an ultrasound for a pregnant woman to confirm fetal abnormalities if the worker had a religious objection to abortion and feared that the confirmation would lead the woman to terminate the pregnancy, says Gretchen Borchelt, vice president for reproductive rights and health at the National Women’s Law Center.

The possibilities go even further. “If you think about this, could an aide refuse to serve lunch to a patient having a service to which that aide has an objection?” Fogel says. “Could the person at the visitors’ desk refuse to give you a badge to go visit someone because they object to the service that person who’s in the hospital has received?”

For transgender people, a provider could refuse certain services they perform for others. In a case cited extensively in the proposed HHS rule, a Catholic hospital had scheduled a hysterectomy for a transgender man, and his surgeon was willing to perform it. But after the patient mentioned his gender identity to a nurse, she informed hospital administrators, and the procedure was canceled. The same surgeon ended up performing the hysterectomy at a different hospital, and the patient has sued the hospital that denied him care. But under to the new rule, such discrimination would have the blessing of the federal government.

The rule could also allow discrimination against trans people for hormone therapy as well as surgery, along with services having nothing to do with their gender transition, according to civil rights activists. Some providers even “want to be able to refuse to recognize a transgender person for who they are,” adds Sarah Warbelow, legal director at the Human Rights Campaign. “That’s a really scary situation for a trans person.”

Trans people already have difficulty getting health care, transition-related or otherwise. In major surveys of transgender Americans, about one-third of respondents have reported being refused health care, and some have put off needed care out of fear of discrimination. And trans people and LGBT people in general who live outside major metropolitan areas have difficulty finding an alternative health care provider if they’re turned away by one.

Indeed, others within the LGBT acronym would suffer under the new rule. In the past few years, many gay and bisexual men have begun taking Truvada, an anti-HIV drug, as pre-exposure prophylaxis, a.k.a. PrEP, to prevent infection with HIV if they’re exposed to the virus during sex. Warbelow says she envisions doctors refusing to prescribe Truvada for PrEP because they believe it promotes promiscuity.

That’s bad not just for the patient seeking PrEP but for everyone, she says. “People all along the spectrum benefit from the utilization of PrEP,” she says. “It is the path to an AIDS-free generation.”

Another area where she predicts expanded discrimination is fertility treatments, with providers citing religious objections in refusing to help single people or same-sex couples have children. Such discrimination has occurred over the years, but again, under the new HHS rule it would have the approval of the federal government, and the definition of participating in a procedure would be greatly broadened.

Family members would suffer too. Julie Kruse, federal policy advocate at the Family Equality Council, a group representing LGBT parents and their children, notes the case of a child in Texas refused emergency care by a pediatric dentist because the child had two mothers. She also mentions a lesbian couple in Mississippi who couldn’t find a midwife or child care. As HHS covers child welfare services as well as health care, there’s the possibility of discrimination against LGBT young people in foster care, those who need suicide prevention services, and more.

“This is just going to embolden people to steer not only LGBTQ people but our families away,” she says.

The moves by HHS appear to be doing so. The Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom, set up to handle complaints from workers who say they’ve been forced to participate in procedures despite their religious or conscientious objections, appears to be encouraging such complaints. More than 300 workers have filed such complaints over the past month, The Hill reported this week, compared to 34 in the period from Trump’s election in November 2016 and the opening of the office, a period when the Office of Civil Rights was still focused on enforcing privacy and antidiscrimination laws. The rate of complaints between 2008 and 2016 was even lower, about 1.25 per year.

“We’ve announced to the world that we’re open for business and the public is responding,” Severino said in a statement to The Hill. Severino has a history of opposition to LGBT rights, including marriage equality and transition-related care for transgender people. While he’s in charge of the Office of Civil Rights overall, there will be someone appointed to head the new division, but that person has not been selected yet, an HHS spokesperson tells The Advocate. This person but will be drawn from senior career employees, the spokesperson said, indicating it will not be a political appointment. Many of the political appointees at HHS under Trump have been drawn from the religious right.

Despite all this bad news, there are things people can to fight back rather than just wait for a new administration. Everyone with concerns about the new rule should go to the Federal Register and leave comments, even though the Trump administration has a pattern of ignoring comments that don’t support its position. But career HHS employees will likely take notice. “We do believe that public comment matters,” Tobin says. Keisling adds, “We really want to flood [the website] with really good information.”

After the comment period, HHS can finalize the rule as is or with changes, or choose not to adopt it. If it is finalized, it will almost certainly be challenged in court, according to Tobin. That’s why it’s important, various activists said, to document cases of discrimination and seek counsel from the many legal groups that take on LGBT rights cases. “It’s going to cause a lot of people to be sued,” Keisling says.                                                                                      

They also suggest contacting members of Congress with concerns. “There are definitely folks in Congress that are watching,” Kruse says. This is, she adds, anything but the time for inaction. “We’re really talking life and death here,” she says.

8 Celebrities Surprisingly Skeptical of #MeToo, Time's Up, and Sexual Harassment

Since October, when Harvey Weinstein’s dark, serial predations came were exposed in a New York Times article, #MeToo has become a necessary and overdue rallying cry, a point of connection, an outlet for survivors of harassment and abuse. Of course, all movements have detractors, and #MeToo has its predictable opponents like Donald Trump

But more surprising are those like Matt Damon, Liam Neeson, and New York Times opinion writer Bari Weissm who generally skew left and who’ve spoken critically about #MeToo, often chastising the movement for not making crystal-clear distinctions between rape and harassment while failing to realize the movement already allows for gradations in behavior. 

Here are eight of the most surprising critiques of #MeToo. 

Michael Haneke 

The Austrian director of acclaimed films like Funny Games, Amour, and The White Ribbon came out hard against #MeToo, calling it a “witch hunt” that “should be left in the Middle Ages.” While the filmmaker allowed in an interview with Kurier that any form of “rape or coercion is punishable,” he slammed the notion that accused serial predators like Kevin Spacey have lost their jobs based on the word of accusers. 

“This hysterical pre-judgment which is spreading now, I find absolutely disgusting,” Haneke said, according to Deadline. “And I don’t want to know how many of these accusations related to incidents 20 or 30 years ago are primarily statements that have little to do with sexual assault.”

Haneke, the filmmaker behind two versions of the uber-violent home invasion film Funny Games, expressed concern that #MeToo could ruin art, citing Nagisa Ôshima’s 1976 study of sexuality, In The Realm of the Senses, as a film that would not get funding in the era of outright believing survivors of harassment and abuse. 

The two-time Palme d’Or winner at Cannes blamed social and online media for making people hate men.

“Any shitstorm that even comes out on the forums of serious online news outlets after such ‘revelations’ poisons the social climate. And this makes every argument on this very important subject even more difficult,” Haneke said. “The malignancy that hits you on the internet often stifles you. This new puritanism imbued with a hatred of men that comes in the wake of the #MeToo movement worries me.”

Bill Maher

Earlier this month, Real Time host Bill Maher lashed out at “fucking fragile” millennials for the existence of #MeToo, as if survivors of other generations aren’t also fed up with sexual harassment and abuse. But it’s not that Maher doesn’t believe accusers, he just doesn’t act as though it’s a big deal, rightfully calling for equanimity when it comes to believing Donald Trump’s multiple accusers and then quipping that married men harass women in the workplace because “they have shitty sex lives.” 

In a segment with New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss, a millennial he appears to agree with, Maher also spoke out about how men who have not experienced harassment are being asked to listen at the current juncture rather than share their thoughts on something of which they have no experience. He defended Matt Damon, who was skewered for speaking out and saying that distinctions need to be made between harassment and rape (as if survivors aren’t capable of walking and chewing gum). While standing up for Damon, Maher, like a 1950s-era comic, took another stab at marriage. 

“When you’re wrong even when you say the right thing, then I feel like a husband,” Maher said about his fear, not of speaking out, but for being called out for his antiquated opinions. 

Maher then likened the hard line supporters have taken #MeToo to a police state. “A police state is the safest place to live but we don’t want to do that with love,” Maher said, failing to recognize that harassment and abuse have nothing to do with love.

100 French Women 

Actress Catherine Deneuve was among 100 French women artists, academics, and business professionals who signed a letter in January that denounced #MeToo for going too far. 

While the letter, published in the French publication Le Monde, allowed that rape is, in fact, a crime, it accused #MeToo of being a threat. The signatories alleged that men’s “freedom to pester” is “indispensable to sexual freedom.” 

The letter continued to defend the right of men to harass women as if women’s freedom to live a life unbothered by men isn’t also a type of freedom. 

“Rape is a crime, but insistent or clumsy flirting is not an offense, nor is gallantry macho aggression,” the letter read. 

The French women also slammed #MeToo for its predilection for believing survivors without allowing the accused the chance to defend themselves. They wrote that “swift justice” had claimed its own victims in forcing men to resign “when all they did wrong was touch a knee.”

The letter also insisted on separating the artist from the work even in the case of filmmaker Roman Polanski, who drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl. The letter wagged a finger at #MeToo for a movement to ban a Polanski retrospective in Paris. 

Matt Damon

Actor Matt Damon has a habit of putting in his two cents when he’d be better served to listen, so much so that the term “Damonsplaining” has sprung up in response to his predilection for weighing in on issues about which he’s no expert. On Popcorn With Peter Travers in December, Damon called #MeToo a “watershed” moment for women who feel empowered to speak out against abuse while also noting that the country is in a “culture of outrage.” Then he couldn’t help but “Damonsplain” that harassment and abuse should be viewed on a spectrum.

“There’s a difference between patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation,” Damon said. “Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated.”

Following much criticism from people including #MeToo activists Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan, Debra Messing, and ex-girlfriend Minnie Driver, Damon apologized, admitting, “I really wished I’d listened a lot more.” 

Margaret Atwood

Of all those who’ve questioned the #MeToo movement the most surprising has been author Margaret Atwood. The writer’s most famous novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, is about a dystopian future under a fascist patriarchy under which women are reduced to the viability of their reproductive organs; the book has reemerged as one of the most important texts during the Trump years. 

In January, Atwood published an article in her native country Canada’s Globe and Mail in which she asserted that #MeToo arose out of an ineffectual legal system in which survivors of assault were not given their day in court. Atwood wrote:

“The #MeToo moment is a symptom of a broken legal system. All too frequently, women and other sexual-abuse complainants couldn’t get a fair hearing through institutions – including corporate structures – so they used a new tool: the internet. Stars fell from the skies. This has been very effective and has been seen as a massive wake-up call. But what next? The legal system can be fixed, or our society could dispose of it. Institutions, corporations, and workplaces can houseclean, or they can expect more stars to fall, and also a lot of asteroids.” 

Atwood warned of the urge to rush to judgment about the accused without due process. 

“But understandable and temporary vigilante justice can morph into a culturally solidified lynch-mob habit in which the available mode of justice is thrown out the window, and extralegal power structures are put into place and maintained,” Atwood wrote. “In times of extremes, extremists win. Their ideology becomes a religion, anyone who doesn’t puppet their views is seen as an apostate, a heretic or a traitor, and moderates in the middle are annihilated.”

Germaine Greer

Australian feminist Germaine Greer, who has a history of making anti-trans statements, has criticized not only the #MeToo movement but also women who’ve come out as having been sexually abused. 

The author of the seminal rallying cry The Female Eunuch, Greer recently slammed survivors of abuse like Woody Allen’s accuser Dylan Farrow, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.  

“It was 20 years ago, so you want him to stop making movies now? It might be a good idea because he’s probably no good anymore,” the 78-year-old glibly said about Farrow’s trauma. 

Greer’s wider response to #MeToo essentially posited that boys will be boys and that it’s incumbent upon their victims to fight back immediately. 

“I want, I’ve always wanted, to see women react immediately,” Greer said, as if that’s always an option. “I want women to react here and now. I want the woman on a train who feels a man’s hand where it shouldn’t be … to be able to say quite clearly, ‘Stop.'”

Greer attempted to qualify her remarks when discussing wealthy predators who wield a threatening power. 

“What makes it different is when the man has economic power, as Harvey Weinstein has,” Greer said. “But if you spread your legs because he said ‘Be nice to me and I’ll give you a job in a movie,’ then I’m afraid that’s tantamount to consent, and it’s too late now to start whingeing about that.”

Bari Weiss

New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss appeared with Bill Maher on Real Time, with Maher deeming her a “sensible” millennial to speak on #MeToo because she showed up and agreed with him across the board. Weiss made a name for herself as a contrarian in the movement when she penned an article in January defending Aziz Ansari — who, from one woman’s account, struggles with boundaries of consent — as guilty of “not being a mind reader.” 

Weiss made a few fair points on Maher, suggesting that the hard left has gone too far in skipping due process and “innocent until proven guilty,” but she failed to acknowledge the dark history of sexually harassed and abused people not being believed. She also slammed what she perceives as a failure to make distinctions between harassment and rape, as if accusers are incapable of doing so.

“It means that Aziz Ansari is on a list next to Harvey Weinstein, and I don’t think anyone with common sense thinks that that’s reasonable,” Weiss said. 

Then Weiss laid out her criticism of her millennial peers. “Twenty-five percent think that asking someone for a drink is sexual harassment, an unsolicited kiss is rape. It’s over. Then words don’t mean anything,” she said. 

But Weiss didn’t just go after her generation. She went after those who came before her who fought for the Equal Rights Amendment. 

“I went to a college where I was taught gender is a social construct. Nature doesn’t matter at all. There’s really no difference between men and women,” Weiss said. “Those are myths. That’s a lie that the sexual revolution sold to women.” 

Liam Neeson 

Actor Liam Neeson called #MeToo “a bit of a witch hunt” on Ireland’s The Late, Late Show in January, in reference to accused men like Dustin Hoffman, who Neeson said committed only minor offenses, despite the revelation that Hoffman allegedly exposed himself to his daughter’s teenage friend years ago. 

Like most others who’ve spoken out about #MeToo, Neeson condescended to survivors of harassment to emphasize the distinction that rape and harassment are not the same thing. 

“There is a movement happening,” Neeson said, “It’s healthy and it’s across every industry; the focus is on Hollywood at the moment but it is across every industry. I’m a UNICEF ambassador and very proud to be one, and I get sent facts and figures and if you read what I have read about how female laborers are being treated on farms and ranches, it’s chilling.”

Still, Neeson expressed concern for Hoffman and A Prairie Home Companion’s Garrison Keillor, both of whom were accused of serial predation. 

“There are some famous people being suddenly accused of touching some girl’s knee or something, and then suddenly they’ve been dropped from their program,” Neeson said. 

Protest at Harvard Over 'Ex-Gay' Speaker Jackie Hill-Perry

Perry

Hill-Perry speaks with Rev. Russell Moore at a 2014 religious conference

February 19 2018 12:27 AM EST

Peaceful protesters crashed a Friday lecture at Harvard from Jackie Hill-Perry, a Christian activist and poet who encourages people to ignore their same-sex attractions for Jesus’s sake.

At least two dozen people held LGBT-affirming signs during the talk from Hill-Perry, which was sponsored by a group called Harvard College Faith and Action.

Hill-Perry proclaims on her website that she was “saved from a lifestyle of homosexual sin.” In her talk at Harvard, she referred to queer people as “broken,” insisted no one is born gay, and encouraged people to deny themselves same-sex relationships.

“The model for how we are to deny ourselves, whether that applies to our greed, to our lust, self-denial is not optional for the Christian,” she said, according to the Harvard Crimson.

The protest included professors, some of which said Hill-Perry’s presence sent a hostile message that LGBT people and religion are incompatible.

“The history of this speaker and the things that she keeps promoting are things that basically alienate and threaten the existence of queer students on campus,” Divinity professor Ahmed Ragab told the Crimson. “I think it is a problem to have a speaker that promotes this kind of discourse.”

After her lecture, Hill-Perry told a Crimson reporter that she doesn’t support so-called conversion therapy, but believes LGBT people should suppress their feelings and desires because it’s what Jesus wants.

Maddow Gets Emotional Over Mueller's Indictments: 'Finally Someone Is Defending Us'

Amid all the news of this week — the high school shooting in Florida, the Rob Porter scandal at the White House, and the continuing drama over Donald Trump’s mistresses — there still was room for another shock. Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians for their alleged attempt to sway American voters, specifically from Hillary Clinton and toward Donald Trump.

The Russian government spent over approximately $1 million a month on their operation, according to the indictment, paying for social media ads, payroll for bots, and even actresses who were going to dress up as Clinton — in a prison jumpsuit — at pro-Trump rallies they promoted on Facebook.

Rachel Maddow dug deep into Mueller’s latest indictments on her Friday show, saying she called off a planned three-day weekend with her partner, Susan Mikula, to cover the news.

Maddow wondered how Mueller knew some of the information obtained in the indictment, hinting that cooperating witnesses were feeding the special counsel’s office details that neither the American public nor, likely, Donald Trump knows. Maddow also posited why Mueller indicted non-Americans, people who will likely never see a day in court; possibly because it lays the groundwork to show a conspiracy, a plot that Americans could soon be implicated in.

The most salient point of the Russian indictments, according to Maddow, is it shows that someone is finally doing something to protect us from Putin-led intervention in future elections. Finally, with President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions doing next to nothing to stop Russian election meddling — partly because to do so may highlight what some see as their illegitimacy — the special counsel is stepping in.

“The biggest surprise I had after covering this story so closely for this whole freaking year now… was that that hearing these charges and hearing what they were charging these Russians for, it was the first time that I felt, finally, finally, for the first time we realized this was happening, finally, finally, it feels like someone is defending us and going after them.” Watch below and skip to the 19-minute mark.

Are Gay Dads 'Treating Women as Mere Breeding Machines'?

An anti-LGBT column in the Daily Mail has incited controversy for urging, in its title, “please don’t pretend two gay dads is the new normal.”

In the piece published by the British tabloid, writer Richard Littlejohn criticized Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black, a married binational couple, for announcing they were expectant fathers through social media on Valentine’s Day. In the post, Daley and Black are pictured holding up an ultrasound photograph.

Littlejohn dismissed the joyous announcement as a “publicity stunt.” He also attacked the practice of surrogacy, which he called a “trend” among “wealthy gay couples, such as Elton John and David Furnish” of  “treating women as mere breeding machines and babies as commodities.”

“But where’s the mum, the possessor of the womb which features in this photograph? She appears to have been written out of the script entirely,” Littlejohn lamented. “We are not told her identity, where she lives, or even when the baby is due. She is merely the anonymous incubator.”

Littlejohn slammed other journalists for not asking more (homophobic) “questions about the parentage” in their coverage of Daley and Black, such as the identities of the biological parents. “For instance, is Daley or his husband the father? Was it Bill, or was it Ben? Or neither of them? More pertinently, never mind Who’s The Daddy? Who’s The Mummy?”

In the column, Littlejohn claimed he is not homophobic. He then stated, “I still cling to the belief that children benefit most from being brought up by a man and a woman.”

Not content to demean only gay people, Littlejohn had similiar invasive questions and criticisms about a 30-year-old transgender woman who recently made history as the first trans woman to breast-feed her child with the help of hormones and science:

“For a start, this person is described as a woman, but has had no surgery to transition from a man. Sorry, but I’m with Germaine Greer — someone in possession of a full set of wedding tackle is a man, not a woman.

“Secondly, if this is his/her baby, did he/she fertilise the egg in the traditional fashion? On third thoughts, let’s not go there.”

He concluded by urging journalists to “grow a pair — if that’s not too ‘transphobic’ — and stop pretending this is the new normal,” adding an antigay quip that he’s “looking forward to the photos of Tom Daley breastfeeding his new baby.”

As a result of the anti-LGBT piece, some advertisers —  Southbank Centre and vacation destination Center Parcs — have pulled out fromthe  Daily Mail. GLAAD, a media watchdog group, is calling on other advertisers like Suzuki Cars UK, Honda UK, Boots, Iceland Foods, and Carpetright UK to follow suit.

“This hateful discourse should never be normalized or sanctioned by businesses who expect LGBTQ people and our allies to use their products and services,” said Zeke Stokes, GLAAD’s vice president of programs.

“We call on these companies to take a stand against the outdated arguments and vile homophobia and transphobia expressed in this column, and put their money where their mouths are by pulling their ads, and supporting LGBTQ people.”

Black, while not referencing the Mail by name, released a statement in response to “others’ hate, bigotry & misinformation” on Twitter.

Heavens to Murgatroyd! Snagglepuss Is Now a Sexy Gay Daddy

DC Comics’ new Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles is not an easy series for the average comic book reader to digest. 

These are heady and clever books with an underlying element of sadness and doom playing throughout their colorful pages. After all, it’s not the everyday comic book story that stars a rebooted 50-plus-year-old bright pink homosexual cartoon lion who not only coexists with humans, but secretly romances one against the backdrop of 1950s McCarthyism.

If you’re of a certain age, you might remember the 1960s cartoon version of Snagglepuss, the wisecracking mountain lion who starred in his own cartoon shorts as part of the iconic Hanna Barbera cartoons. As a lisping, fussy, and fey animal, Snagglepuss was a coded gay character whose sensibilities were played for laughs as he longed for the stage. He flounced about on screen as he chased his dream, delivering his trademark catchphrases (“Exit, stage left,” “Heavens to Mergatroid”) dripping with sass.

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The 2018 comic book version of Snagglepuss is no longer ambiguously gay, at least not in his personal life. While professionally “Mr. Puss” is a successful and celebrated straight playwright married to a lady lion, privately he’s busy hitting up gay bars, hanging out with the equally queer blue hound dog Huckleberry Hound, and romancing a sexy human boyfriend. And yes, there is a male lion on male human kiss in the first issue, which is worth the cover price of the comic book alone.

Writer Mark Russell and artist Mike Feehan set Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles in 1953, encasing the narrative and images within the witch hunt for communists, deviants, and other “unsavory” individuals in America. For all the nostalgic pleasure certain readers might find seeing a familiar cartoon character rebooted in a new light, it’s clear with the recently released first issue that this series will be far from a simple meander down memory lane; it’s actually a deep exploration and a reflection on our current cultural divide.

Issue 2, which came out last week, finds moral crusader Gigi Allen — whose name is “synonymous with virtue and good taste” — make a request of Snagglepuss that he refuses to comply with. This encounter sets the stage for an epic battle later in the series. 

It could be easy to take a casual glance at the Snagglepuss comic book and dismiss it as a just a gimmick, but if you were do so, you’d miss out on a deeply multilayered, powerfully moving, and surprisingly thoughtful take on queer identity in the mid-20th century. Check it out here.

Female Journalists Shut Out Amid Shaun White Sexual Harassment Scandal

Snowboarder Shaun White nabbed the third gold medal of his 12-year Olympic career in PyeongChang Tuesday, but amid the cheers and tears of joy, there was no mention on NBC, the network covering the games, of the sexual harassment suit he settled last April. Furthermore, when the  International Ski Federation, the body that governs snowboarding, held a press conference about White’s medal win, the moderator skipped over female journalists with questions, USA Today reporter Christine Brennan, who had her hand raised, told CNN. 

While Brennan and ABC’s Amy Robach were passed over, one male reporter, Matt Gutman (from ABC), slipped one in about the sexual harassment suit and asked if it would “tarnish” White’s legacy. The decorated snowboarder responded flippantly, saying, “You know, honestly, I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not, you know, gossip, but I don’t think so. I am who I am, and I’m proud of who I am, and my friends, you know, love me and vouch for me, and I think that stands on its own.”

Gutman attempted a follow-up question, but White said he felt he’d answered the question, and the moderator reportedly moved on before any questioning got to the gritty details of the allegations in the suit against the Olympian. 

The suit, filed in San Diego by Lena Zawaideh, former drummer of White’s band Bad Things, alleged that he made repeated vulgar remarks to her, forced her to watch “sexually disturbing videos, including videos sexualizing human fecal matter,” and texted “sexually explicit and graphic images” of erect penises, which White later admitted to sending, according to USA Today

The complaint Zawaideh filed also alleged that “White stuck his hands down his pants, approached Zawaideh, and stuck his hands in her face trying to make her smell them. As the financier of Bad Things, White used his role to impose a strict regime over Zawaideh, going so far as to demand that she cut her hair, wear sexually revealing clothes and underwear, and refrain from wearing red lipstick.”

At a time when sexual harassers and abusers are being held accountable like never before, White course-corrected and apologized on Today for using the word “gossip” to describe the allegations that were made against him. 

I “was so overwhelmed with just wanting to talk about how amazing today was and share my experience,” White said of sloughing off the question about harassment. “I’ve grown as a person over the years. It’s amazing how life works and twists and turns and lessons learned. Every experience in my life I feel like it’s taught me a lesson. I definitely feel like I am a much more changed person than I was when I was younger. I am proud of who I am today.”

What White failed to mention while he was focused on discussing his accomplishments and how proud he is of the person he’d been given the opportunity to become is that he attempted to silence his accuser in 2016, suggesting she undergo a mental health examination when she admitted to suffering emotional stress because of what he’d allegedly done. He later withdrew the request, according to USA Today

As White attempts to focus on his accomplishments and the International Ski Federation turns away reporters, a growing number of voices on social media are calling for NBC and other outlets to not gloss over and avoid the horrific details in the suit against him. 

Lesbian Romance 'Tipping the Velvet' Comes to Streaming Service for Valentine's Day

Lesbian Romance Tipping the Velvet Comes to Streaming Service for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a day for chocolate, roses, champagne, sentimental cards, and — if you want some women-centric entertainment — Tipping the Velvet.

The 2002 BBC miniseries about a lesbian romance in 1890s London, based on Sarah Waters’s first novel, has just come to BritBox, the digital streaming service from BBC Worldwide and IFC. The series tells the story of Nan Astley, a young woman from the provinces who loses her heart to Kitty Butler, a “male impersonator” and music hall star.

Rachael Stirling (The Bletchley Circle, Snow White and the Huntsman, Their Finest) portrays Nan, and Keeley Hawes (Upstairs Downstairs, The Durrells in Corfu) plays Kitty.  Also in the cast are Anna Chancellor, Jodhi May, Alexei Sale, John Bowe, and a couple of stars in the making — Sally Hawkins and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Screenwriter Andrew Davies, known for Bridget Jones’s Diary, the 2008 version of Brideshead Revisited, and numerous British miniseries, adapted Waters’s novel, and Geoffrey Sax (Victoria, Christopher and His Kind) directed the series.

Authors aren’t always pleased with screen versions of their work, but Waters has nothing but good to say about the treatment of Tipping the Velvet.

“The adaptation was a wonderful experience for me,” she tells The Advocate via email from London. “It was a fascinating process to be part of; there was a great team of people involved; it raised my profile enormously and took the story of Tipping the Velvet to a huge new audience. Most of all, I loved — and still love — the fact that the series stays true to the upbeat lesbian rompiness of the novel. It’s fun, it’s sexy, it’s romantic — and it puts lesbians center stage the entire time. We see lesbians quite a lot on mainstream television these days, but they’re often in minor or secondary roles — dispensable roles, which means they’re vulnerable to being bumped off. So I still enjoy the fact that Tipping is this thoroughly lesbian drama from start to finish.”

Waters was “astonished,” she says, that anyone wanted to bring her novel to the screen. “I was an inexperienced writer with pretty modest ambitions, writing lesbian stories for, I imagined, a largely lesbian readership,” she recalls. “When the producers told me that Andrew Davies was interested in writing the screenplay, I was amazed — he was such a huge name. Then Andrew told me he would only do it if the BBC agreed to keep in all the sex, dildos included, and I thought, This is never going to happen. But I think the BBC saw it as a chance to do something a bit daring — so I guess it suited everyone. I think the only sex they felt they had to leave out was a bit of fisting.” (The title, by the way, is slang for cunnilingus.)

Several Waters’s other novels have been adapted for film or TV, including Fingersmith, Affinity, and The Night Watch. Tipping the Velvet is “the most playful and lighthearted of all my adaptations, because that’s very much the spirit of the book it’s based on,” she says. “My novels since then have been a bit more somber, and the adaptations have been darker or more melancholy. I like them all, though. They’ve had some amazing actors in them: Sally Hawkins, Keeley Hawes, Charles Dance, Imelda Staunton, Claire Foy…”

Hawkins is an Oscar nominee for Best Actress this year for her performance in The Shape of Water, and she was nominated previously for her supporting role in 2013’s Blue Jasmine. “I knew that Sally Hawkins was going to be a star — she was just so brilliant,” Waters recalls. “She was lovely too, and she took her roles in Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith really seriously, doing lots of research — she used to go around the set of Fingersmith with a copy of the novel bristling with underlinings and Post-it notes. I’m so happy that she’s done so well. Every time I see her in a movie now I feel a ridiculous, possessive glow.”

And we can expect more Waters works on the screen. A feature-film adaptation of her 2009 thriller, The Little Stranger, is due out in late summer, starring Domhnall Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, Will Poulter, and Ruth Wilson. It’s directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Room), with a screenplay by Lucinda Coxon (The Danish Girl). “I haven’t seen any edited footage and am longing to,” Waters says. “I visited the filming last year, and it all looked incredible.”

We can also probably look forward to an adaptation of her most recent novel, the lesbian love story The Paying Guests, published in 2014. It’s “in the pipeline,” Waters says, “but it’s very early days, so I won’t say too much about it yet.”

Waters is working on another novel, set in the early 1950s. “It isn’t gay this time — it’s my other passion, rather gothic,” she says. “I’m about two-thirds of the way through the writing process — though I’m such a slow writer that that means I still have another year or so to go. So it won’t be out any time soon, I’m afraid — but it’s definitely well on the way.”

For that we can be grateful, and also for the chance to stream Tipping the Velvet. And if you want tales of love between men for Valentine’s Day, BritBox is also offering, beginning this week, Christopher and His Kind, based on Christopher Isherwood’s memoir of his relationship with a German man in the 1930s, and Against the Law, an adaptation of journalist Peter Wildeblood’s autobiographical tale of his affair with a military man in the 1950s.

Find all of BritBox’s movies and miniseries here, and watch a trailer for Tipping the Velvet below.

Dan Savage Raises More Than $200K for Planned Parenthood, ACLU

Just over a year ago, legendary author, podcaster, and activist Dan Savage resurrected ITMFA (Impeach the Motherf*cker Already) to coincide with Donald Trump’s inauguration. But beyond the fun merchandise it offers, including tees, beanies, caps, mugs, and pins that read “ITMFA,” more than $200,000 has been raised for Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the International Refugee Assistance Project, and hurricane relief in Puerto Rico. 

Since Savage created ITMFA in 2006 in response to George W. Bush and raised over $20,000 that he donated to the ACLU, the nonprofit has gained even more traction the second time around. Following the record-breaking 2017 protest that was the worldwide Women’s March, ITMFA began selling limited edition pink beanies and tees to raise money for women’s organizations, like Planned Parenthood. 

With Trump’s first year in office behind us, ITMFA announced it will sell its pink ITMFA merchandise through the end of February. Just last month the Trump administration announced it would revoke President Barack Obama-era guidelines that made it more difficult for states to defund Planned Parenthood. So there’s never been a better time to help PP fund its life-saving services while also sporting some anti-Trump garb.