Invented by Alfred Kinsey in the 1940s, the Kinsey scale plots individuals on a range of sexual dispositions from exclusively heterosexual at 0 through to exclusively homosexual at 6. Where the original study had a large number of methods for placing people, YouGov simply asked people to place themselves on the sexuality scale.
Taken as a whole, 72% of the British public place themselves at the completely heterosexual end of the scale, while 4% put themselves at the completely homosexual end and 19% say they are somewhere in between – classed as bisexual in varying degrees by Kinsey. Of the people that do place themselves in this 1-5 area, the majority incline away from homosexuality – 15% are closer to the heterosexual end, 2% directly in the middle and 2% are closer to the homosexual end.
With each generation, people see their sexuality as less fixed in stone. The results for 18-24 year-olds are particularly striking, as 43% place themselves in the non-binary area between 1 and 5 and 52% place themselves at one end or the other. Of these, only 46% say they are completely heterosexual and 6% as completely homosexual.
People of all generations now accept the idea that sexual orientation exists along a continuum rather than a binary choice – overall 60% of heterosexuals support this idea, and 73% of homosexuals. 28% of heterosexuals believe that ‘there is no middle ground – you are either heterosexual or you are not’.
But what does it mean to be at 1 on the scale, and what is the difference being here or at 2? According to the research, progressing further away from ‘completely heterosexual’ (0) towards the midpoint (3, or ‘completely bisexual’) increases the chance that you have had a sexual experience with a member of the opposite sex. 23% of those at level 1 have had a sexual encounter with a member of the opposite sex, while 52% of people at level 2 have had such an experience.
Clearly, these figures are not measures of active bisexuality – overall, 89% of the population describes themselves as heterosexual – but putting yourself at level 1 allows for the possibility of homosexual feelings and experiences. More than anything, it indicates an increasingly open minded approach to sexuality. In a further set of questions asking if respondents could conceivably be attracted to, have sex with or have a relationship with someone of the same sex (if the right person came along at the right time), level 1s were at least 35% more likely to say they could than level 0s.
For so long, David Denson desperately wanted to reveal to his baseball teammates that he is gay. He just never envisioned it happening in such impromptu and unstructured fashion.
A first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers’ rookie affiliate in Helena, Mont., Denson had just entered the clubhouse a month or so ago when a teammate jokingly referred to him using a derogatory term for a gay male. It was the kind of profane, politically incorrect banter heard in that environment since team sports have been around.
That teammate had no way of knowing Denson actually is gay, but the 20-year-old slugger of African-American and Hispanic descent quickly seized the opportunity.
“Be careful what you say. You never know,” Denson cautioned the player with a smile.
Before he knew it, Denson was making the emotional announcement he yearned to share, and the group around him expanded to the point that he soon was speaking to most of the team. Much to Denson’s relief, when the conversation ended he was greeted with outward support and understanding instead of condemnation.
“Talking with my teammates, they gave me the confidence I needed, coming out to them,” recalled Denson. “They said, ‘You’re still our teammate. You’re still our brother. We kind of had an idea, but your sexuality has nothing to do with your ability. You’re still a ballplayer at the end of the day. We don’t treat you any different. We’ve got your back.’
“That was a giant relief for me,” Denson said. “I never wanted to feel like I was forcing it on them. It just happened. The outcome was amazing. It was nice to know my teammates see me for who I am, not my sexuality.”
The more Denson thought about it, though, the more he came to realize that a clubhouse confession wasn’t going to be enough. Until he came out publicly as gay and released that burden, Denson didn’t think he could truly blossom and realize his potential on the field.
With the help of former major-leaguer Billy Bean, who last year was named Major League Baseball’s first Ambassador for Inclusion, Denson reached out to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to tell his story in a telephone interview. In doing so, he becomes the first active player in affiliated professional baseball to reveal he is gay.
Sean Conroy, a pitcher for the Sonoma Stompers of the independent Pacific Association, revealed in June that he is gay, becoming the first active pro baseball player to do so. That league is not affiliated with MLB. In the history of the game, only two major-leaguers revealed they were gay — Glenn Burke and Bean — and both did so after leaving the game.
Former NBA player Jason Collins announced that he is gay after the 2013 season when he was a free agent. Collins played in 22 games with the Brooklyn Nets in 2014 before retiring, and therefore was the first active player in one of the major team sports to reveal he is gay.
When Denson learned of Bean and his new role with MLB, he reached out for advice and counsel, and the two have become like brothers. Bean long has rued not revealing his sexuality during his modest big-league career from 1987-’95 with Detroit, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego, and said he is immensely proud of Denson for having the courage to come forward.
“He is definitely cognizant of how it might affect his team,” said Bean, who eventually quit baseball over the personal conflict of hiding his sexuality. “I just wanted to make sure his parents were part of the conversation. David has two loving parents who obviously are very concerned. They’re worried about how this will affect him.
“Any player who happens to be gay and is a professional and has kept that secret, they just want to be judged for their baseball or football or basketball ability. David would not be playing professional baseball if he wasn’t an excellent baseball player.
“The beauty of what could come from this is he can be an example that can help change that perception and change the stereotype that there would never be a gay person on a men’s professional sports team. That was something I struggled with.”
Before revealing his secret to teammates, Denson figured it was time to finally tell his family, and did so in the spring. First, he told his sister, Celestine, a professional dancer married to former Brewers farmhand Jose Sermo.
“She said, ‘I’ve known since you were little,'” said Denson. “I said, ‘How did you know?’ She said, ‘You’re my little brother. I’m around you all the time.'”
Telling his parents, Lamont and Felisa, was not as easy. His father, a former athlete, needed some time to come to grips with the news.
“It took some stress off me, but it kind of built up a wall at the same time,” said Denson. “They weren’t too happy about it at first, though I think they sort of knew since I was little. They were afraid I’d be judged. They jumped right into the stereotype. No parents want to see their child discriminated against and talked about and put down.
“I don’t question that they love me. They never said they were upset about me being gay. It was harder on my dad than my mom. He’s a very hard-core Christian and he goes off the Bible and all that, which I completely understand, growing up in the church. I’m a Christian myself.
“It was an eye-opener for him. He finally came to terms with it. Coming out to my father was even harder than coming out to my teammates, because I knew how he felt about it. He grew up in sports, and I heard him talk (in derogatory fashion) about gay guys. That was hard for me to hear at the time.
“But I’m his son and he said, ‘It’s your life and it’s who you are. I love you.’ There’s a difference between accepting it, and supporting it and respecting it. I know he loves me and supports me and has my back.”
Denson had concealed the fact he is gay since being taken by the Brewers in the 15th round of the 2013 draft out of South Hills High School in West Covina, Calif. But the secret began to weigh more heavily on him, to the point he felt on the verge of a mental breakdown — or worse — at the outset of spring training this year.
“It became a depression level,” he revealed. “I wasn’t being myself. It was visible in my body language. I didn’t know if I should still stay in the sport.”
Denson sought advice from Becky Schnakenberg, a professional counselor contracted at that time by the Brewers to provide mental health assistance to players in need. He said those consultations convinced him it was necessary to let the Brewers know he is gay or risk a further downward spiral.
Denson requested a meeting at the Brewers minor-league complex with farm director Reid Nichols, who was accompanied by Class A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers manager Matt Erickson and hitting coordinator Jeremy Reed.
“I was shaking and crying, and just very scared,” recalled Denson. “I didn’t know if it would go good or bad, or if they’d look at me any different.
“When I finally told them about my sexuality, Reid said, ‘To me, it doesn’t matter. You’re still a ballplayer. My goal for you, as well as anybody else in the organization, is to get you to the big leagues. You are who you are. That doesn’t make a difference. Just go out and play the game. This is a very brave thing for you to do.’
“I wasn’t doing it to be brave. I just couldn’t hide it anymore. For them to be so accepting and want the best for me, it showed they are looking at me for my ability, not my sexuality. They don’t treat me any different. They said if there was anything they could do to help, let them know. It was a huge relief.”
Nichols said his message to Denson at the time was simple: Concentrate on developing as a player with the knowledge that the organization was behind him.
“I told him we supported him and would continue to support him,” said Nichols. “I thought the meeting went well. We told him that was his personal business and we would judge him only on his career in baseball, as we do with every player.”
Denson was assigned to the Timber Rattlers, for whom he had played 68 games in 2014, batting .243 with four home runs and 29 runs batted in. The second time around, he struggled mightily at the plate, hitting only .195 with a .569 OPS in 24 games before being sent to Helena to regroup.
Denson was convinced the personal torment over concealing his sexuality from teammates contributed to his struggles on the field.
“There was that stereotype stuck in my head that there would never be a gay player on a team,” he said. “I was thinking that once they found out, they would shut me out or treat me different.
“That was one of the things that was holding me back. I was always saying, ‘Just keep it quiet. You don’t need to tell them. You don’t want them to see you different. You don’t want them to judge you.’
“It started to affect my game because I was so caught up in trying to hide it. I was so concerned about how they would feel. I was pushing my feelings aside. Finally, I came to terms with this is who I am and not everybody is going to accept it. Once you do that, it’s a blessing in itself.”
Since coming out to his Helena teammates, Denson said he has felt like a different person and player. He was selected for the Pioneer League All-Star Game in August and was named most valuable player, displaying his prodigious power with a home run.
As for Denson’s teammates living and playing with a gay player, Helena manager Tony Diggs said: “I don’t think there have been any problems whatsoever with the team. I’m pretty sure everybody on our team has an understanding of it.
“We are professional baseball players first, and I think that’s the way they’ve taken it. They’ve handled it well. David has always gone about his business professionally. He has shared with me that (keeping the secret for so long) was a burden for him and he feels more freedom after coming out.
“This is a new chapter as he decides to say it publicly. Now, there will be more people that know and they’ll have their opinions as to what they feel about it. At least, he’s being himself.”
With growing confidence and peace of mind, Denson hopes for understanding from those now learning about his sexuality. Rather than holding him back in any way, he believes coming out will help him reach his full potential.
“Growing up trying to hide it, knowing I’m an athlete, I was always nervous that my sexuality would get in the way of me ever having an opportunity, that people would judge me on my sexuality and not my ability,” he said.
“I wasn’t able to give fully of myself because I was living in fear. What if this person finds out? What if somebody else finds out? Instead of going out and just playing, I was trying to hide myself.
“I didn’t get drafted because of my sexuality. I didn’t start playing this game because of my sexuality. I started playing this game and got drafted because I have a love for this game. It’s a release for me to finally be able to give all of myself to the game, without having to be afraid or hide or worry about the next person who might find out.”
If Denson can serve as a role model for other gay professional athletes hiding their sexuality, he welcomes the opportunity to help others as Bean has helped him. He’s not sure what public reaction will be or how his story will be treated by the media going forward. If the folks at “60 Minutes” come calling, so be it. But there are no hidden agendas with Denson or Bean.
“David is not doing this for celebrity or publicity,” said Bean, who has remained in constant contact with Denson, using his own experiences as a compass. “David is very humble. It’s really about being his best self. He’s a great baseball player, but he needs to be his best self to get to the big leagues.
“I was just starting to understand how to play and when everything started to unravel, I just gave up on myself. I was consumed with the part I hated about my life.
“I’m excited to see David not have to worry about all of that. He can just tell the truth all the time. That’s a huge relief. When your life is a secret, you have to navigate on what levels of truth you’re allowed to share. And that becomes exhausting.”
What if this revelation in some way prevents Denson from attaining his goal of making the major leagues? He is not considered an elite prospect in the Brewers’ organization, but any player with his kind of power has a chance. During a showcase at Marlins Park in Miami before the 2013 draft, Denson crushed several home runs, including a 515-foot blast that scouts still talk about.
Football player Michael Sam, who revealed he is gay after his college career at Missouri, was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2014 but didn’t make the roster and recently cited mental health issues for leaving the Montreal team of the Canadian Football League. Did coming out prevent Sam from securing an NFL roster spot, or was he just not good enough?
“I don’t have any expectations of what might happen,” said Denson, who is batting .253 with four homers and 17 RBI in 41 games with Helena. “I’m hoping it will open the eyes of people in general that we’re all people, we’re human, we’re brothers in the sport. We’re all here trying to get to the big leagues. I’m excited to see where it goes from here, now that I don’t have that wall holding me back anymore.
“It has crossed my mind (that his revelation could be an obstacle). Baseball has taught me a lot of life lessons. One is to worry about what you can control and not worry about what you can’t control. I’m going to go out and do the best I can do, and hopefully make it one day.
“I think what I do on the field will matter more than my sexuality. At the end of the day, if I’m playing well, why should I not get the same opportunity as anyone else?”
I really enjoy an artist that’s not afraid to take risks. It’s been a couple years since We The People has taken a look at Tom Goss’ creativity and he has been up to quite a lot since we last visited his realm.Throughout 2014 Goss was quite energetic, starring in the Guest House Film feature “Out To Kill” and releasing his fifth album, “Wait.” The soothing song “Illuminate The Dark” and it’s accompanying video uses color to enhance feeling and emotion in the most revealing fashion and the images are worth a thousand words unspoken.
But WAIT, there’s more! While the Wait Project ushered Goss into a pop territory direction, he then released an EP of selected tracks, remixed (and several club-orientated), to further expand expectations. I was highly impressed by this effort to take an already career defining work of art and allow it’s impact to flourish.
Though Tom is in the mist of a tour, he has taken time to answer some questions for our readers about his craft and other projects he’s involved in.
Gaysonoma: Tom some time has passed since we last chatted in 2013 and you have been a busy boy with starring in the feature film “Out To Kill,” releasing your fifth album “Wait,” taking on challenging LGBT issues, and touring the States and Internationally. I imagine the last year has been a bit of an rollercoaster of thrills and creative excitement. I can only hope you’ve had time to reflect on these events. At this point what seems to have been the most gratifying and the most challenging and why?
Tom Goss: I’m extremely proud of ‘Wait.’ I think it’s a great record and I’m excited that people continue to respond positively to it. For me, the process of creating is always what I’m most gratified by. In addition to what you’ve mentioned professionally, on a personal note I ruptured my achilles tendon, underwent surgery/rehab and moved to Los Angeles in that time period. That was, without a doubt, the greatest challenge. In many ways it seems like 2014 was a period of upheaval and change that I wasn’t expecting. It forced me to adapt and grow in ways I wasn’t expecting.
Gaysonoma: Funny you mentioned surgery Tom, I myself dealt with that in the last year. It’s a surefire way to change your perspective on things and re-think priorities and what’s important in the future! “Wait” was an incredible effort on your part and I sensed you were leaning towards a more “pop” experience with that, aside from the remixes which I found simply unexpected and fascinating. On the original “Wait” release what took you in that direction?.
Tom Goss: There’s a handful of reasons. I was spending a lot more time exploring new kinds of music, especially EDM (Electronic Dance Music). A lot of that was influenced by my work with Rich Morel when producing ‘Bears.’ He’s amazing. I would go to his dance parties and I loved everything he was spinning. Before his influence I hadn’t heard much EDM that moved me. Subsequently, it changed my approach in the studio.
You’ve also got to understand that I have no musical training. Everything I’ve learned I’ve learned hands on. By the time I was producing ‘Wait,’ I had a clear understanding of what I wanted. Even more importantly, I understood the language, approach and people that would help get me there.
Speaking of people, in addition to Mike Ofca (Back To Love, Turn It Around) I enlisted my friend Liz DeRoche to help mix the record. She’s one of my inspirations, her talent is boundless. She plays the drums, keys, synth and all the vocal arrangements on ‘Wait.’ Her insights really helped push the level to the next level.
Gaysonoma: It’s always a great thing to fine-tune one’s craft. I was thinking about the Wait Remixes and wondered if you had the chance to experience them in a “club” setting. Generally performers get great satisfaction watching their audience as they perform live or hearing their song on the radio and that sort. For “dance music” I would imagine it would be a great high to see people dancing to your music and even participating in the Celebratory Act yourself along side them. Has that opportunity presented itself with the Wait Remixes and if so, what was the feeling for you?
Tom Goss: Yes, I have. I’ve even performed them in clubs. It’s definitely a new experience, and one that I’m really enjoying. There is something extremely satisfying about seeing a room full of people dancing to your song. I will definitely be producing a lot more remixes as I move forward. I really appreciate the collaborative process.
Gaysonoma: My favorites off the Wait Remixes EP are “Illuminate The Dark” and “Falling.”The original version of “Illuminate The Dark”is the most powerful track on the original Wait album, aside from the video image you gave to it, which of course enhanced it incredibly. It really does stand out as a high moment in your catalog. The remixes gave in an additional feel while still holding the dramatic quality of the original track. Aside from the recognition you have already achieved with it, I really thought that song was going to take off and catapult you to international fame and notoriety It should have been your “Stay With Me-Sam Smith” moment, land on one of those “Now” collections or “Ministry of Sound” compilations, and find a home in the Big Box markets. I’m sure others in business have praised that track to you. Your thoughts?
Tom Goss: Wow, what a sweet thing to say. The truth is, it’s hard being an independent musician. I try to take on ambitious projects, but you never know how folks are going to react to it. I don’t have a marketing team working with me, I don’t have strong industry connections. I create what I create in hopes that it’ll touch people on a personal level. The great thing about the music industry today, is that I’m able to get my music and my message out there, without big box stores or ‘Now’ collections having any idea who I am. And trust me, they have no idea I exist. I’m not complaining, just explaining. I’m extremely lucky to be able to reach the people I do. I’m grateful for that. However, it would be nice to see some mainstream recognition in the future, no doubt!
Gaysonoma: Well Tom as an independent, you are surely top of line. The sound quality of your music and the film work with your associated videos appear top of the line and major label. You certainly have the right people around you. The world is waking up and it’s only a matter of time when the right people are recognized. Sadly the right people don’t always get to the big leagues.
It makes me think of an instance of where my young niece was singing along with a song last year, which happened to be her favorite song of the moment, and had no clue that the artist was gay. When I told her she didn’t believe me and so of course I proceeded to educate her. It didn’t matter if the artist was gay or not, a good song is a good song. In any TV appearance she saw him on, it was never mentioned by him or the interviewer.
I was wondering as an Out Artist what are your thoughts on mainstream acts like Sam Smith and Adam Lambert, and also flying “under the radar” Steve Grand and Adore Delano? Personally I don’t think the mainstream is focused on issues. You only hear from them on an award show or when some tragic thing happens that is covered nationally. I think it would serve the LGBT community better if they displayed more gratitude with their success and in every interview, they would discuss LGBT related ideas/issues along with promoting their new project. They’ve already come out, so the “hurt my career” worry shouldn’t be an obstacle. I feel we need stronger role models, do you agree?
Tom Goss: I have mixed feelings about it all. Who am I to tell someone else how to live their lives? Especially with something as sensitive as sexual identity. That said, you are right, we need more strong role models in the mainstream arts community. Many gay artists are OK with being gay insofar as it advances their career, however, they cease to talk about it when it no longer is beneficial. I spent the weekend at VidCon and like your niece, it seems like the majority of the YouTube generation is ‘post-gay.’ That’s really exciting! However, that wouldn’t have been possible without generations and generations of trailblazers forging that path. I hope we don’t forget that. Furthermore, no matter how much progress we make, there will always be people who hate me, simply because I am gay. Pretending it’s a non-issue is ignoring reality.
Gaysonoma: I like your answer and agree. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter who’s in your bed, but how your bed is made. I think there is hope for the new generation as they are smarter about worldly things and seem to question more about what they are taught. There will always be those who are weak of mind, so discrimination will always be lurking in the background regardless. So to lighten the mood Tom, tell me what causes are you currently involved in? Is there anything our readers might help you support?
Tom Goss: I’ll probably always be most closely connected to the non-profit which I helped develop for 8 years called Charlie’s Place (www.charliesplacedc.org). Charlie’s Place works to feed, house and employ homeless and poor individuals in Washington, DC. I wouldn’t be who I am without my time there. I learned so much about compassion, generosity and authenticity.
Gaysonoma: Tom, you also tend to send great messages with the video interpretations of your songs. From the sweetness of ‘You Know That I Love You” with your Husband Mike, the magical wonders of “Make Believe,” the playfulness camp in “Bears,” and of course the phenomenal before mentioned “Illuminate The Dark,” you involve a lot of thought process and the genuine meaning shines through brightly. Do you plan on any other visionary projects from “Wait” or “The Wait Remixes?”
Tom Goss: In a couple weeks I’ll release ‘Breath and Sound,’ probably my most ambitious video yet. Completely told through lyrical dance, this video features three couples as they fall in love. Gay and straight, the feelings and emotions we all go through while falling in love are the same. Regardless of the dancer, the dance is the same. I’m excited for people to see it.
Gaysonoma: I’ll certainly be anticipating that! Now, looking ahead at 2016, are there plans for a new album? Your dabbling in remixes and new sounds seems to have opened doors creatively. Also collaborations seem to suit you well and also enhance your own ideas. Maybe a look back at your catalog and re-inventing some of your established tracks might be a direction or a nice collective overview. What’s ahead for Tom Goss?
Tom Goss: I’m always cooking up a lot of different projects. First I’ll be releasing a beautiful new, lyrical dance music video in 3 weeks. It’s a collaboration with choreographer/dancer Andrew Pirozzi and director Michael Serrato. I can’t wait for people to see it. Also, I’m in pre-production on another music video, that hopefully will take all my video production to the next level.
In terms of music, you’re right, it’s hard for me to sit still. I’ve been cooking up a new album. It’s been a different process for me because I’ve upgraded my home studio and am doing all of my work from home. Then sending files over to my producer, Marr Zimm, and he’s getting his head around them. There are a lot of different sounds on this record and I think people will be surprised and excited by it. This project is extremely revealing, and touches on topics that I’ve been avoiding. I’m always about pushing the envelope, hopefully this does just that.
You can find more information about Tom Goss at his website www.tomgossmusic.net
The United States territory of Puerto Rico will join the US in allowing same-sex marriage.
After the Supreme Court decision that brought same-sex marriage to all 50 states, Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla has said the territory will follow suit.
He acknowledged that was opposition to the move in the largely Catholic island, but said: “I ask all of those who are people of faith like me to understand that no one is allowed to impose their religious beliefs on others.”
The Caribbean island joins Guam – another US territory – which announced it was to allow same-sex marriage in April.
The first same-sex couple married in Guam earlier this month.
Puerto Rico announced that it was to stop defending its ban on same-sex marriage back in March, with the Governor saying: “The commonwealth cannot responsibly advance before this court any interest sufficiently important or compelling to justify the differentiated treatment afforded so far to plaintiffs.”
This was only a few months after voting to uphold the ban.
Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda said that the Supreme Court judgement was “a huge step in the quest for equal rights,” according to AP.
He went on: “You cannot deny people the right to love.”
Jose Rodriguez of the group Heterosexuals in Favor of Equality said: “It’s time to truly make Puerto Rico into a more fair and equal society, and not depend on decisions from the outside to achieve this.”
Transgender Law Center and Equality California Institute are launching a coalition to implement a statewide public education campaign to combat widespread public misunderstanding about transgender and gender nonconforming people and the issues they face. The coalition will include other LGBT and civil rights organizations as well as groups serving communities of color and the faith community. The effort is independent of work on any political or legislative campaign and exists solely to change attitudes towards transgender Californians through research and education.
“These past few years have seen a tremendous increase in visibility for the transgender community that hasn’t necessarily been matched by the rise in public understanding,” said Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center. “Unfortunately, this gap in public understanding contributes to the lethal dangers faced by members of our community daily, from the epidemic levels of violence directed at transgender women of color to the recent string of bills attacking transgender youth and adults.”
The transgender community has come under increasing fire from right-wing activists across the country, facing a spate of bills and initiatives in various states targeting the right of transgender people to use public facilities corresponding to their gender identity. In California, right-wing activists last month filed a ballot initiative that would require a person to “use facilities in accordance with their biological sex in all government buildings.” The measure would target not just the transgender community, but potentially anyone whose appearance does not match someone else’s standards of masculinity or femininity. Anyone offended by the presence of a gender non-conforming person in a restroom could sue that individual or the government for damages.
“Increased attacks of this kind show an urgent need for public education that increases understanding of transgender people and the challenges they face,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California Institute. We know that many people in California simply don’t know what it means to be transgender. This lack of familiarity is at the root of the anxiety many feel about transgender-inclusive policies, and our opponents waste no time manipulating and capitalizing on that fear.”
The campaign aims to introduce the public to transgender people and the issues they face in a number of settings. The campaign will be led by an executive committee and steering committee representative of California’s diverse communities and prioritizing communities most impacted, including transgender and gender non-conforming communities, immigrants, youth, low income and communities of color. It will conduct research and outreach across California and work with community and faith leaders in a field campaign to conduct door-to-door, one-on-one conversations. The campaign will also identify and train spokespeople – including transgender youth and adults, their friends, families, employers and educators – to tell their stories on air, in print and through social media.
Transgender Law Center works to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression. We envision a future where gender self-determination and authentic expression are seen as basic rights and matters of common human dignity.
Equality California is California’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization focused on creating a fair and just society. Our mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well-being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through advocacy, education and mobilization programs, Equality California Institute strives to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve our goals. www.eqca.org
According to new research, the number of LGBT MPs elected to the House of Commons today means the UK has the most in the world.
The research makes the claim, although there are actually no out trans MPs in the UK.
Research from the LGBT Representation and Rights Research Initiative from the University of North Carolina, found that one more LGBT MP was elected to the Commons today than before dissolution in March.
The study from Professor Andrew Reynolds suggests the UK now technically has the most LGBT MPs in the world, although there are no openly trans members.
Professor Reynolds notes that “27 out LGBT candidates have been elected to the UK House of Commons after at least 152 out candidates ran on May 7th.”
He goes on to say that it means the UK has the most “ever recorded in the world.”
The new parliament includes 13 Labour LGBT MPs, 12 Conservatives and two SNP.
Seven new LGBT faces will be in the House. Labour’s Peter Kyle (Hove), Catherine Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood), Gerald Jones (Merthyr Tydfil) and Wes Streeting (Ilford North). Conservative Ben Howlett (Bath) and SNP victors Stewart McDonald (Glasgow South) and John Nicolson (East Dumbartonshire).
Four sitting LGBT MPs lost their seats, all were Liberal Democrats.
Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive, Stonewall said: “We’re encouraged that people took to the polls and voted. More than 25 openly lesbian, gay or bisexual MPs have been elected, making this the largest group of openly LGB MPs elected to date. Our Parliament is richer and stronger for the diversity of voices and experiences within it, however, it is certainly disappointing not to see any openly trans people represented amongst our MPs.
“Looking ahead, our MPs cannot forget the manifesto commitments they made to the LGBT community. We must see those words translated into tangible actions. The Conservatives, alongside the Liberal Democrats, have had an impressive track record at Westminster over the last five years, and we look forward to working closely with the new government towards achieving equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people, here and abroad.”
As former President Richard Milhous Nixon so eloquently put it referring to Monte Rio’s Bohemian Grove “It is the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine. It’s just terrible!” Yes Tricky Dick, the River runs full of us!
The new Sonoma County Pride is about much more than just a fun-filled weekend. We want to be a resource for those that need assistance. We are working to make sure that all our Sonoma County residents live in Hate-Free communities. We are working with the county to raise our Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index. We are also working on chronicling and showcasing our LGBT River history. There are few places in the county that have as much local LGBT history as we do.
The River’s gay renaissance started in the mid 70’s. Wohler Bridge beach on actor Fred MacMurray’s ranch had become a popular gay spot. Not far from Wohler, the first gay resort opened as Russian River Lodge (now Farmhouse Inn) on River Road.
In the late 70’s Pete Pender bought Murphy’s Resort and opened Fifes. In 1979, a Newsweek magazine article “Where the Boys Are” featured a story that included Guerneville and called the area a “gay boom town.” Following Fifes, other resorts opened with disco-bars and clothing-optional hot tubs, and soon the Russian River was Northern California‘s gay getaway destination.
Just across from Fifes was Drums, which had a hard time recovering from winter floods. Others included The Willows, The Highlands, Paradise Cove, the River Village, and the Russian River Resort. Most of the nightlife took place at the major resorts, The Woods and Fifes, but downtown Guerneville had the Rainbow Cattle Company, which still exists today.
The most popular of the new gay resorts was The Woods.
On a holiday weekend, they had over 10,000 patrons with cars parking nearly two miles along Armstrong Woods Road back to downtown Guerneville. Disco divas such as Sylvester were regulars. The Woods, had been fighting with neighbors, for years, over the crowds and noise. The neighbors argued that The Woods was still operating under the original small cabaret license, from the Hexagon House days. There had been years of hearings on this issue and a final hearing, with an unfavorable ruling, was expected. Just days before, over a crowded Fourth of July weekend, The Woods experienced a mysterious kitchen fire, and burned to the ground.
The River Theater became Ziggurat, a packed dance club. West of town, in the space now occupied by Sweetwater Springs water company, the Mineshaft. On River Road, in Forestville, The Rusty Nail was where every weekend visitor made one final stop before returning to San Francisco. Restaurants of the day included Little Bavaria, Molly Browns, Sweets, and Burdon’s.
As for prominent LGBT residents, there were many: Cliff Anchor, who owned the nation’s first radio station to broadcast national LGBT news from Monte Rio; Cleve Jones, the founder of the Names Project, who lived in Villa Grande. AIDS took its heavy toll on the River with 200 AIDS related deaths that had been documented by 1988, 980 by 1998; Leonard Matlovich, the gay serviceman that came out on the cover of Time Magazine in 1979 and who owned a pizza place in Guerneville called Stumptown Annies/Stumptown Inn (where Community First Credit Union is now located). His tombstone reads “When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”; Randy Shilts, who wrote books such as “And the Band Played On”, “Conduct Unbecoming”, and “The Mayor of Castro Street”, and he is now laid to rest in Guerneville’s Pioneer Cemetery. In Cazadero, a couple built their dream of a retirement business in the country and opened a bar, Cazadero Bottling Company, in the’70s, Homophobia struck, and the building was burned to the ground. The owners escaped safely, but their dog was not as fortunate. Although there were suspects in the case and this was a premeditated hate crime, there were no hate crime statutes on the books in the 1970’s.
Some will say the heydays were the good old days. I came to the River after the heyday. I wish I could transport myself back in time to the days the trains brought thousands to the river to listen to the big bands, and to the gay heydays as well. I am proud of the contributions the LGBT community has made in the River over the years. Researching this history has been fun and I learned more than I could have ever imagined. But more than that, I have come away with a stronger appreciation of the history and of the people. I realized that today, there are people I encounter daily that have contributed so much to the community over the years.
Kari Kemp, who started Food for Thought, and Robert Gray, who in 1984 posed naked for a inter-racial safe sex poster. Gray remembers watching the local news with his mom and dad when the poster flashed on the screen as a reporter discussed it and the interracial controversy. He hadn’t come out yet. He said, “My heart pounded with worry that mom and dad were seeing me naked embracing a white guy and realized I was gay.” He was relieved when they didn’t make the connection. The poster went on to be displayed in bathhouses and bars from San Francisco to New York. I know there are many others that have contributed that I am not aware of. I encourage you to contact me, so we can build on our history. I am proud that our fleeting knowledge of local LGBT history is now going to be preserved and celebrated for future generations. I thank the GLBT Historical Society for their assistance. I look forward to working with our Russian River Historical Society as well in this endeavor.
Over the last few years, the River has come back strongly. LGBT contributions and history are not just things of the past. The most significant building in Guerneville, The Guerneville Bank Building, has finally been brought back to life, after decades of neglect thanks to a gay man. Johnson’s Beach will continue to provide relaxation and enjoyment for decades to come, thanks to recently being purchased by a gay couple. The River is beautiful. We live in an exceptionally unique place. A place that has changed much over the decades, a place that embraces diversity for all. We are so ahead of most of our country and have so much to be thankful for.
Which brings us to Pride Weekend:
With the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision due in June, which is expected to legalize marriage equality nationwide, Sonoma County’s LGBT community and its allies will have much to be proud of and to celebrate at this year’s Sonoma County Pride weekend.
Sonoma County Pride incorporated as a non-profit late last year. The new energy, enthusiasm, teamwork, excitement, and results are evident. This year’s theme is appropriately titled, Equality Everywhere. The planning group has gone all out to make this year’s event a weekend to remember. Friday June 5th will have a First Friday Art Walk in Guerneville, followed by country western dancing. Saturday June 6th will have a canoe/kayaking event ending up at the Rio Theater in Monte Rio for games, BBQ, music, and LGBT short films. Later Saturday night will be a disco party in Guerneville. Sunday June 7th will be the parade on Main Street in Guerneville followed by a celebration at Guerneville Lodge. The venue is perfect, right on the river, and the entertainment lineup is guaranteed to please everyone. Weekend lodging and camping is also available at Guerneville Lodge. And of course, we will have an LGBT History exhibit on site. For more information on Pride, please check out sonomacountypride.org
Decrying Atlanta pastor Charles Stanley’s “sordid history of virulent homophobic statements and actions,” a gay Jewish group is protesting the Jewish National Fund for plans to bestow a high honor on Stanley, senior pastor of First Baptist Atlanta and a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Stanley, who rose to national prominence in the 1980s with his “In Touch” television series and books that sold millions of copies, “has publicly called AIDS God’s punishment for America’s acceptance of homosexuality and called homosexuality ‘destructive behavior,’” reads a letter to JNF Southeast region leaders from the Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity (SOJOURN).
“He has said that ‘God does not agree with the lifestyle of the homosexual’ and that accepting gay people is ‘an act of disobedience to God,’” the letter continues.
The controversy reflects the sometimes awkward embrace between American Jews and evangelicals — fervent partners in support of Israel but also outspoken opponents on many domestic social issues, including homosexuality and abortion rights.
Though not known as a culture warrior in the mold of the late Jerry Falwell or televangelist Pat Robertson, Stanley, 82, nonetheless recently joined an amicus brief at the Supreme Court that warned that nationwide legalized gay marriage would result in government actions to “silence religious dissenters who continue to hold to their millennia-old definition of marriage.”
Stanley led the Southern Baptist Convention from 1984 to 1986, and his son, Andy Stanley, leads the 30,000-member North Point Ministries in Alpharetta, Ga., ranked last year as the nation’s largest megachurch.
The award to be given to Stanley at an April 23 breakfast in Atlanta is coming from the group’s Atlanta office, not the JNF’s national headquarters in New York. JNF national spokesman Adam Brill defended the Atlanta chapter’s right to award it and said he has heard from both supporters and opponents.
“Not everybody is going to agree with what we do at all times, but what we do at all times is for the benefit of the people in the land of Israel,” Brill said.
The elder Stanley, who has led First Baptist since 1971, has taken many in his flock to Israel and is frequently a featured speaker at events sponsored by Christians United for Israel.
In a statement provided by Brill, JNF said Stanley “represents one of the largest Christian communities in the South which has always supported the Jewish people in times of peace and conflict.”
Stanley’s ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last summer, during the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, the statement continued, “when few would travel to Israel, hundreds of congregants from the First Baptist Church Atlanta went to stand united with the people of Israel. For such heroic actions, we honor this esteemed community, our neighbors in love.”
Rebecca Stapel-Wax, executive director of Atlanta-based SOJOURN, said that most of Atlanta’s Jewish community is “incredibly supportive” of LGBT rights and that the JNF’s decision stands in stark contrast to that consensus. More than 50 people have signed the SOJOURN letter, Stapel-Wax said.
At the same Atlanta breakfast in years past, JNF has honored Holocaust survivors and Israeli diplomat Reda Mansour, a Druze who served as consul general in Atlanta.
JNF, in addition to ecological work, sponsors Zionism education programs, promotes tourism and helps build Jewish communities in Israel. Some pro-Palestinian groups say JNF has been complicit in Israeli appropriation of Palestinian lands, a charge JNF has denied, pointing to conservation projects with Israeli Arabs.
The first formal step in the marriage cases before the Supreme Court is happening Friday, as the same-sex couples in four midwest states ask the justices to strike down bans that prevent them from marrying or having their marriages granted elsewhere recognized in the states.
When the court announced in January that it would be hearing the cases out of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, it set a schedule requiring the couples or, in one case, widower, to file their briefs with the court by Friday.
The first brief whose filing was announced on Friday was in a pair of cases out of Ohio, both of which deal with recognition of marriages previously granted to same-sex couples in other states. The brief’s filing was announced at 10 a.m.
Shortly thereafter, the couples in Tennessee — also seeking recognition of their marriages granted elsewhere — filed their brief, as did couples in Kentucky seeking the right to marry and the right to have marriages granted elsewhere recognized.
A bit before 11:30 a.m., the final brief came in from the Michigan couple seeking to marry in that state.
The states’ briefs defending the bans will be due in a month, by March 27.
The estimated 700,000 transgender people in the U.S. experience disproportionately high rates of poverty compared with the general population and others within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population, according to a new report by transgender advocacy groups.
Their financial difficulties are linked to isolation that results from discrimination in the workplace, in the health care industry and in educational settings. Financial insecurity also was attributed to a lack of legal protections, according to the report, sponsored by eight public policy and transgender organizations including the Transgender Law Center, the Center for American Progress and the Movement Advancement Project.
“Transgender people face extreme discrimination in virtually all areas of life — when looking for housing, trying to find decent and affordable health care and health insurance, opening lines of credit and obtaining accurate identity documents,” the report stated.
Transgender people in Sonoma County face the same issues, said Jacqueline Nugent, a counselor for Positive Images, a nonprofit lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender support group based in Santa Rosa.
Nugent runs three transgender counseling groups for Positive Images — one for parents of transgender people, one for male-to-female transgender people and one for transgender youths and people questioning their gender.
She said she’s seen an increase in the number of people seeking support and advice in her groups, which she’s run in Sonoma County for five years. From her perspective, more people are seeking services because of new cultural acceptance. Transgender people are increasingly visible in public and are being represented in the news and on TV, she said.
“I’ve seen a huge uptick,” said Nugent, 65, who is a transgender woman. “Trans people are out in the culture now, being normalized, much more than when I was growing up.”
Documenting challenges among transgender people, beyond anecdotally, can be difficult because few state or national surveys include questions about gender identity, transgender advocates said. However, advocates said increasingly, people are asking for gender-appropriate space to respond on questionnaires.
Nugent said the issue has come up in her support groups, in addition to other health and safety concerns. Five years ago, just two or three people would attend weekly peer counseling meetings. Compare that with today, and the same group has between 15 and 20 people showing up. Between 50 and 120 people attend her other groups.
Nugent said she fields questions and addresses problems with transgender people facing barriers to adequate health care, people who are on the verge of homelessness and many who face harassment at work.
“There is a lot of discrimination when people are transitioning, and it’s really hard,” Nugent said. “That leads to social anxiety and being afraid to go out in public.”