Category Archives: News

Tumblr Bans Adult Content

Tumblr will permanently ban adult content from its platform on December 17th in a move that will eradicate porn-related communities on the platform and fundamentally alter how the service is used. The ban includes explicit sexual content and nudity with a few exceptions. The new policy’s announcement comes just days after Tumblr was removed from Apple’s iOS App Store over a child pornography incident, but it extends far beyond that matter alone. “Adult content will no longer be allowed here,” the company flatly stated in a blog post published on Monday

Banned content includes photos, videos, and GIFs of human genitalia, female-presenting nipples, and any media involving sex acts, including illustrations. The exceptions include nude classical statues and political protests that feature nudity. The new guidelines exclude text, so erotica remains permitted. Illustrations and art that feature nudity are still okay — so long as sex acts aren’t depicted — and so are breastfeeding and after-birth photos.

After December 17th, any explicit posts will be flagged and deleted by algorithms. For now, Tumblr is emailing users who have posted adult content flagged by algorithms and notifying them that their content will soon be hidden from view. Posts with porn content will be set to private, which will prevent them from being reblogged or shared elsewhere in the Tumblr community. Users have a chance to appeal Tumblr’s decision in situations where they think there’s been a mistake, and the platform admits there’s a chance that the automated tools it’s using could make errors. It’s a process that could take a while, as a bulk of Tumblr posts feature explicit content. Users who run adult blogs can also export their content before the change takes place in order to save what they have.

Explicit blogs will be allowed to remain on the service, but they’ll be heavily censored for all visitors. Here’s Tumblr’s FAQ:

What if my blog (not to be confused with posts) was marked as “explicit” before December 17, 2018? 

Blogs that have been either self-flagged or flagged by us as “explicit” per our old policy and before December 17, 2018 will still be overlaid with a content filter when viewing these blogs directly. While some of the content on these blogs may now be in violation of our policies and will be actioned accordingly, the blog owners may choose to post content that is within our policies in the future, so we’d like to provide that option. Users under 18 will still not be allowed to click through to see the content of these blogs. The avatars and headers for these blogs will also be reverted to the default settings. Additionally, posts from these blogs are kept out of search results.

Since Tumblr was founded in 2007, it has largely turned a blind eye to adult content. The company has tried to shield it from public view through Safe Mode and more stringent search filters. But in recent months — and under the ownership of Verizon’s Oath unit — it began to consider removing content more aggressively. “We’ve given serious thought to who we want to be to our community moving forward,” CEO Jeff D’Onofrio says in a blog post. “We’ve realized that in order to continue to fulfill our promise and place in culture, especially as it evolves, we must change.” D’Onofrio says Tumblr weighed the pros and cons thoroughly before making its decision. It also decided not to remove explicit accounts because it wanted to give these accounts a chance to post appropriate content instead.

Under Oath, Tumblr has been cleaning up its platform more rapidly than it had done in previous years. In August, Tumblr announced new community guidelines that banned revenge porn, hate speech, and posts that glorified school shootings.

If users mourn the loss of adult content on Tumblr, D’Onofrio claims they have many other solutions. “There are no shortage of sites on the internet that feature adult content. We will leave it to them and focus our efforts on creating the most welcoming environment possible for our community,” he said. That argument will do little to curtail anger over this decision from people who have used Tumblr as a safe place to enjoy, share, and discuss their preferred flavor of porn and adult content.

Ask Tumblr to reverse this extreme censorship:

https://www.change.org/p/tumblr-com-allow-nsfw-content-on-tumblr


Inappropriate? Indecent? What do you think?

A man claims he was sexually harassed at a New York City gym when three men in a steam room with him dropped their towels and started pleasuring themselves.

The alleged victim has filed a lawsuit against the fitness chain Equinox, after claiming he was enjoying an afternoon steam at the location on Broadway in Gramercy Park last November.

‘I’m relaxing, I’m sitting in the corner, it’s very meditative,’ the man, identified in court papers as just GB, told the New York Post.

‘The steam clears… And I look across from me. This gentleman, sitting pretty close, his towel is open, his legs are spread and he’s looking right at me, and the guy next to him was rubbing [the man’s] inner thigh.

‘He’s looking right at me, his towel’s off, and he’s masturbating.’

GB, who is a straight single father, told the paper that he then looked around and realized the third man in the steam room at the time was also masturbating.

He then said he panicked and thought he wouldn’t be able to escape – worried the three men might overpower him and sexually assault him.

The alleged victim then quickly left the steam room, dressed and went to the front desk to report the incident, but said staff members didn’t take any action.

He said the incident left him ‘shaken up.’

GB also alleges in the Manhattan Supreme Court Filing that Equinox ‘has known for as much as 10 years prior that similar wrongful acts were occurring in its steam showers.’

In a recording, taken by GB and obtained by the Post, the manager of the fitness chain location acknowledged it was a problem.

‘It’s something that every gym in New York City, not just Equinox, has an issue with,’ the manager can be heard saying.

The gym, where memberships cost upwards of $200 a month, told the Post it ‘thoroughly investigates’ complaints.

A spokeswoman for the location said staff ‘did exactly what in this case,’ adding ‘we maintain a zero-tolerance policy for any inappropriate behavior in our clubs.’

But GB claims the gym refused to revoke the masturbators’ memberships.

From UK Daily Mail


From WBHM in Birmingham

The Southeast is home to roughly 35 percent of LGBT people in the U.S., the largest LGBT population in the country, according to data compiled by the Williams Institute at UCLA. This find might seem surprising to some since most Southeastern states have few or no policies protecting LGBT people. A team of researchers in Georgia are seeking to learn more about the lives of LGBT people in the South. Eric Wright, who chairs the sociology department at Georgia State University, says there are a number of reasons why so many LGBT people call this region home.

“One of which is that the cost of living generally speaking is lower in the U.S. South than in other parts of the country,” he says. “There’s also been what some researchers have called a reverse migration, particularly of minorities.”

That means many Southern LGBT people who migrated to more progressive areas of the country are returning to the Southeast. To find out why so many call this place home, Wright and his research partner, Ryan Roemerman with the LGBT Institute created what they call the Southern Survey. It’s a comprehensive study that seeks to examine the lives of LGBT people across 14 Southern states.

“One of the things that we want to be able to accomplish through this survey is to be able to provide our non-profit partners across the South with data that they can use for policy development, grassroots organizing and fundraising,” Roemerman says.

The survey is by and for LGBT people in the South. This may help them better understand individual needs of the community, such as housing for transgender people or health services for lesbians living in rural areas, Wright says . And, he says, it will also help decipher the needs of this community in different Southern states. According to the LGBT Institute, more than half of the 100 anti-LGBT bills proposed this year were drafted in Southeastern states.

The survey is open through this month and the team expects to release its findings early next year.


A Posthumous Wedding

Gay Man Makes History By Marrying Cop Killed In Terrorist Attack

Curtis M. Wong is the Senior Editor of HuffPost Queer Voices
A gay police officer killed by a gunman in Paris was married in a posthumous wedding that’s believed to be a historic first.
Xavier Jugelé, 37, was shot dead April 20 on the Champs-Élysées three days before the French presidential election. The Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the attack, which left two other officers wounded. The gunman, identified as Karim Cheurfi, was shot dead by security forces.
Though details of Wednesday’s nuptials are scarce, Etienne Cardiles married Jugelé in a ceremony attended by former French president François Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, The Guardian reports. It’s believed to be the first posthumous same-sex wedding to take place in France (where marriage equality has been the law of the land since 2013) and possibly the world, according to the BBC.
The U.S. does not recognize posthumous matrimony under federal law, but its origins in France can be traced back to 1803. The practice became particularly popular during World War I, when it allowed women to wed slain soldiers, thus legitimizing any children conceived beforehand and entitling them to a pension.
France’s current legislation allowing people to marry the dead dates back to 1959, when a woman named Irène Jodard requested permission from former French President Charles de Gaulle to wed her fiancé, André Capra, after he had drowned. Hundreds of people have since applied for post-mortem matrimony under the law, which requires applicants to send a formal request to the president, according to The New York Times.
Cardiles made global headlines when he delivered an impassioned eulogy at an April 26 memorial service for Jugelé, who had also been deployed during the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m suffering without hate,” Cardiles said in the speech, which was transcribed by Time magazine. “This hate, Xavier, I don’t have it because it never existed in you… Because tolerance, dialogue and temperance were your best weapons. Because behind the policeman there was the man. Because you become a policeman by choice; the choice to help others and to fight against injustice.”
An associate described Jugelé as having been “really committed” to queer causes. Mickaël Bucheron, who is the president of Flag, a French association for LGBTQ police officers, said Jugelé had been active with the group for several years. “He protested with us when there was the homosexual propaganda ban at the Sochi Olympic Games,” Bucheron told The New York Times.
Here’s to hoping the union gives Cardiles some comfort following his tragic loss.


Only in Alabama 


Beauty and the Beast has a gay scene in it. If you didn’t know this by now, what rock have you been under? The thing is, an Alabama drive-in theater, the Henagar Drive-In Theater, refused to show the movie because of its gay scene. Tragic as that is, this story has a funny ending. The owner replaced Beauty and the Beast with a film called Fierce because, based on the film’s poster, she thought it was a Game of Thrones style film about dragons. By the way, Game of Thrones has many gay scenes, but that’s beside the point because Fierce is about drag queens. She replaced a movie that had a small gay scene with an explicitly gay movie. What a dumbass!

Henagar is not a place where I have been nor is it a place I’d visit. It’s up on Sand Mountain. Those people are bat-shit crazy. That’s where the snake handling churches are. If you don’t know about snake handling churches, these churches release venomous snakes into the congregation and only the holy won’t be bit. There also used to be a sign as you went up the mountain that told black people not to be caught on the mountain after dark, implying they’d never leave alive if they did. These are seriously fucked up people.


Just a Matter of Time

Ending guidance from the Obama administration, Trump’s new policy aims to allow states to establish their own rules for transgender students in some settings — such as requiring transgender boys to use the girls restroom — without objection from the federal government.

The Trump administration on Wednesday issued new guidelines that roll back an Obama administration policy that had been designed to reduce anti-transgender discrimination in public schools.

In issuing new school guidance, the Department of Justice and Department of Education sent a letter to public schools that said the departments “have decided to withdraw and rescind the above-referenced guidance documents in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved. The Departments thus will not rely on the views expressed within them.”

“Please note that this withdrawal of these guidance documents does not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying, or harassment.”

Originally issued last May, the Obama-era guidance told schools they “must not treat a transgender student differently from the way it treats other students of the same gender identity.” While that was not a new position for the government under Obama, it was the most explicit interpretation of existing law, concluding that transgender students must be allowed access to gender-appropriate restrooms and locker rooms.

The government said at the time that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bans sex discrimination in public schools, also bans transgender discrimination as a form of sex discrimination, and warned that schools breaking the rules could lose federal funding.

Despite the federal government’s position, states and local school districts could adopt their own transgender-inclusive rules — and those with existing rules will remain in place. Trump’s latest guidance also does not block individuals or advocacy groups from raising their own complaints in federal court that a transgender student’s rights have been violated.

James Esseks, who oversees the ACLU’s litigation on behalf of a transgender student in Virginia, told reporters on a call Tuesday, “Courts enforce Title IX and courts at the end of the day decide what the scope of Title IX is.”

Withdrawing the guidelines was widely expected, given Trump’s nod to state’s rights on the campaign trail, and Press Secretary Sean Spicer announcing that a new policy was imminent. The new guidance also dovetails with the Justice Department’s decision this month to step away from defending the guidance in a federal appeals court.

Still, a fight broke out between factions of the Trump administration, when US Attorney Jeff Sessions pressed to reverse the guidance and ran up against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, according to a New York Times report on Wednesday.

Both of their agencies, the Justice Department and Education Department, which issued the guidance last year, had to concur on any new guidance. Citing three Republicans with direct knowledge of the internal discussions as sources, the Times said Trump sided with Sessions after a meeting in the Oval Office, leading DeVos to capitulate.

At a White House Press briefing, however, Spicer played down those fractures Wednesday afternoon, noting that “there’s no daylight between anybody between the president, between any of the secretaries” and said DeVos was on board “100%.” While officials considered legal and procedural issues, he said, “where you might be hearing something” relates to timing and wording of the new guidance.

Spokespeople for the agencies did not respond to inquires about the new policy on Wednesday.

Overriding the old guidelines will likely have little short-term impact on schools — the old guidelines were suspended by a federal court last summer. Most immediately, the move could neutralize lawsuits from more than a dozen states that had challenged the policy and could be a factor in a case scheduled before the Supreme Court next month.

The new guidance was submitted to the Supreme Court on Wednesday night as an attachment to a letter announcing the move in that case.


Monogamy

After all this talk of open relationships and polyamorous love, a new study has just found that younger gay couples are trending toward monogamy once again. At least, according to a new study.

The study, titled “Choices: Perspectives of Younger Gay Men on Monogamy, Non-monogamy and Marriage,” was conduced by researchers Blake Spears and Lanz Lowen. They surveyed over 800 single, monogamously-coupled, and non-monogamously coupled gay men ages 18-40 years about their relationships. A handful of “monogamish” men were also interviewed.

More at: https://www.queerty.com/monogamy-making-comeback-among-younger-gay-couples-study-finds-20160922


Italy Finally Approves Same-Sex Civil Unions 


Italy’s parliament approved same-sex civil unions and expanded rights to unmarried heterosexual couples on Wednesday after Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called a confidence vote to force the bill into law.

Italy is the last major Western country to legally recognize gay couples and an original draft law had to be heavily diluted due to divisions in Renzi’s ruling majority. The bill had faced stiff opposition from Catholic groups who said it went too far, while gay activists said it was too timid While parliament was voting, gay rights groups gathered outside with a banner reading: “This is just the beginning.”

“Today is a day of celebration in which Italy has taken a step forwards,” Renzi said in a radio interview after the legislation was approved. The 41-year-old premier promised to prioritize legislation for gay rights when he took office in early 2014, but the bill has proven to be one of the most contested of a raft of initiatives he has pushed through parliament. The bill, originally presented in 2013, cleared its final real hurdle earlier on Wednesday with the confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies, which passed it by 369 votes to 193. The chamber then rubber-stamped the bill with a final ballot.

“There is still a long way to go for full equality but this is an excellent starting point,” said Gabriele Piazzoni, president of gay rights group Arcigay. The bill gives gay couples the right to share a surname, draw on their partner’s pension when they die and inherit each other’s assets in the same way as married people.

As a member of Arcigay (I got my membership when I was in Italy because many gay clubs require it), I am very happy that Italy has moved this far. The Catholic Church is a major force in Italy and has been a major opponent to gay rights. Italy still has more to do, but this is a step in the right direction.

Now is there a handsome Italian man who’d like to marry me and bring me to Italy? I’m a great cook. I’m smart, a good conversationalist (once you get me going), know a little Italian, and would make a wonderful house-husband for the right man. I spent a month in Italy doing research a few years ago and have always wanted to go back. I’ve always said that I’d love to live in Italy.


Ambrosia Starling


From the Montgomery Advertiser in Alabama:

Opinion: Josh Moon — Make Alabama great again, elect the drag queen

We should elect the drag queen.

Over the past few weeks and months, as one top Alabama elected official after another has been indicted or lied about a mistress or was removed from the bench or failed in a thousand different ways to govern with the best interest of the people in mind, it has become more and more clear that there is one solution to the madness that has engulfed this state.

Elect the drag queen.

I am, of course, speaking of Ambrosia Starling, the absolutely fab-u-lous, “known transvestite,” who is has become like a beeping watch buried deep in a closet to newly-suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore. The guy can’t say two sentences in a press conference or press release without mentioning Starling, which, if we were using elementary school dating rules … but I digress.

Moore apparently blames Starling and her complaints for his suspension from the state Supreme Court, and not the fact that he repeatedly ordered probate judges to ignore the law of the land and not issue marriage licenses to gay couples. The latter seemed to be more of a concern to the Judicial Inquiry Commission, but, you know, facts and junk.

In response to Moore’s repeated references to her, which included the chief justice proclaiming in a press conference that transgenderism is a “mental disorder,” Starling said this in an interview with al.com: “I am crazy for democracy. I’m insane for civil rights and better behavior. I am out of my mind when I see people losing their manners and disrespecting people they don’t know.”

And that is precisely the attitude missing from Alabama politics, and in many ways, Alabama in general.

We have excused away self-indulgence and self-interest for decades. We have made excuses for personal greed and excess. We have turned a blind eye to helping the least of us so long as it meant making a dollar for someone.

Our elected officials, particularly those of the conservative brand, have become a national embarrassment because of their greed and selfishness.

Gov. Robert Bentley was thumbing his nose at the state’s poor, refusing to expand Medicaid so they could have basic healthcare and a hospital within 100 miles, all while he was gallivanting around on a private plane with his mistress and declaring Celine Dion an honorary Alabamian.
(By the way, governor, I saw your endorsement on Monday of Donald Trump for president. A man you previously said was promoting racism and misogyny. Guess he turned out to be a better fit for you.)

Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard has led a Republican Party super-majority in the state legislature that has routinely sought to undermine and defund social programs, and which recently allowed a petty fight to derail funding Medicaid appropriately, all while he was seeking every way under the sun – legal and illegal, it seems – to line his own pockets.

That would be surprising if it didn’t happen every single day in the state house, on both sides of the aisle. Because too often now, decisions in this state boil down to how much money a proposal can bring to a lawmaker and his pals instead of whether it’s truly good for the people.

And then there’s Moore.

By all accounts, Moore is a smart judge. Those who know him well, including those who don’t like him much, often compliment his ability on the bench. When he’s actually trying.

But that’s not good enough for Roy Moore. It’s not enough to serve the people well by leading a Supreme Court that makes sound, smart decisions rooted in law and precedent and serves as the ultimate means of justice for the people.

No, instead, Moore has trashed all of it in search of personal glory. First, by defying an order to remove a religious monument he clearly knew was in violation of the law. And now, by issuing order after order in hopes of drawing complaints from the likes of a “known transvestite” and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Because doing so, playing on the fears and prejudices of the ignorant, is how Moore keeps donations rolling in and keeps his name in the headlines.

This is the leadership of Alabama. Built on greed, bigotry and self-indulgence.

Which is why I say we should elect the drag queen. We’d be much better off.


Gaydar

image
I saw this on HuffPost Gay Voices and found it pretty interesting.

Is Gaydar Real?
By Rebecca Adams

Academic studies can be fascinating… and totally confusing. So we decided to strip away all of the scientific jargon and break them down for you.

The Background

Whether or not “gaydar” — a supposed intuitive ability to identify gay people — is real, many people believe it’s possible to tell someone’s sexual orientation just by looking at them. The problem is, research (and anecdotal evidence) has found that gaydar tends to rely on stereotypical attributes — like the way someone dresses or how they style their hair — that don’t actually tell you anything about who someone’s attracted to. Gaydar, therefore, seems to legitimize these stereotypical myths, something that’s been shown to lead to prejudice and oppression. Unlike other forms of stereotypes, however, gaydar has seeped it’s way into popular culture, and it’s considered relatively harmless and socially acceptable.

In a new five-part study, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison set out to see if what they refer to as “the gaydar myth” is as “harmless” as some people may think or if it’s just a veiled method of perpetuating gay stereotypes.

The Setup

In the first study, participants looked at pictures of 55 gay men and 50 straight men’s faces selected from an online dating site. Each photo was rated for overall quality, from “very poor” to “excellent,” by a set of student raters before the study. Then, the researchers randomly paired the photos with a supposed descriptive statement about the person that was either gay-stereotypic (“He likes shopping.”), stereotype-neutral (“He likes to read.”) or straight-stereotypic (“He likes football.”). These weren’t actually applicable to the men in the photos, but participants didn’t know that. They were then instructed to determine whether or not the man in the photo was gay. For the second study, the researchers repeated the first study, but this time they only chose photos that were rated highest in quality from both the straight and gay men groups of photos.

Both the first and second studies found that when participants were given stereotypically gay personal statements with photos, they were much more likely to guess that the man in the photo was gay. Meaning: The pictures didn’t matter nearly as much as the stereotypes did.

The third study had participants categorize the same gay and straight men’s pictures without the accompanying stereotypic statements. The researchers found that people were more likely to assume men in higher quality photos were gay — they seemingly assumed gay men would take better photos. The fourth study replicated the third with women’s photos instead of men’s to see if the same was true for lesbians. Participants were unable to gauge sexual orientation simply by looking at a person’s face.

Finally, the researchers did their fifth study to determine whether or not gaydar serves as a legitimizing myth for these stereotypes. They gathered 233 undergraduate participants and divided them into three groups: one that would be told that gaydar is stereotyping, one that would be told that gaydar is real and one that would be given no information regarding gaydar. Participants then completed a modified version of the first study, using the same pictures and statements. This time, however, participants could refrain from guessing the person’s sexual orientation if they wanted.

The Findings

In the final study, participants’ answers depended on which group they were in. Those in the “gaydar is real” group tended to believe in gaydar more than the other groups, and people in the “gaydar is stereotyping” group believed in it less than the control group. In this final version of the study, it was easy to see that people didn’t assign sexual orientation simply because they were forced to choose — participants had a “no idea” option, yet they chose it “very infrequently,” according to the study.

As the researchers put it: “The evidence provided in Study 5 indicates that the folk concept of gaydar serves as a legitimizing myth, promoting stereotyping to infer orientation by giving that stereotyping process the alternate label of ‘gaydar.'” Basically, when people slap on a euphemism for stereotyping — in this case, “gaydar” — they feel free to judge groups of people by very limited parameters which legitimize societal myths. These findings build on past research about how stereotypes that seem plausible will likely lead to inaccurate assumptions.

The Takeaway

Taken at face value, the concept of gaydar may not seem like such a big deal, but there’s one big problem with stereotyping: It often leads to inaccurate conclusions. The researchers put it in terms of the “gay men like shopping” trope. If people assume gay men like shopping, that doesn’t mean that all men who like shopping are gay (or that all gay men like shopping). Not to mention, if gay men make up 1.8 percent of the male population in America, even if they’re ten times more likely to enjoy shopping, men who like shopping are still more likely to be straight — there are simply more men who identify as straight out there.

Perhaps the researchers put it best: “Whether people fit or violate their group’s stereotypes is immaterial to their value — we would hope that, rather than being judged or pressured based on the existence of a stereotype, people can be treated as individuals and judged on their own merit.” Amen.

The Closet Professor’s Conclusion

It seems to me that the study has two major flaws. First, it assumes that gaydar is purely visual and can be determined by a picture of a face. When my “gaydar” goes off, it’s more than just a picture of a face. It has to do with how he moves, how he talks, and basically, how he carries himself. The most sure fire way is to watch his eyes. If a hot guy walks by and his eyes follow, then he is probably gay, but if a hot girl walks by and his eyes follow her, then he is probably straight. You have to watch the eyes though, because head movements can be misleading, especially for someone in the closet.

Second, the study assumes that gaydar is something that heterosexual men possess. While I do think that some women possess gaydar, most straight men do not. Heterosexual men often use all kinds of bad stereotypes to identify gay men; however, gay men and some women use more subtle stereotypes to identify gay men. I do not dispute that a large part of gaydar is stereotyping, but I think gay men tend to be more careful with stereotyping and are more intuitive. Many gay men were stereotyped before they came out, so they aren’t as quick to judge others unfairly. That being said, I will postulate that wishful thinking does occasionally interferes with gaydar.

Finally, I think gaydar is possibly an evolutionary characteristic. Gay men have always existed, but we had to find one another. Historically, if a gay man hit on the wrong man, i.e. a straight man, then he might not survive the attempt. Therefore, I think along with the genetic code that makes us gay, we also have the ability to find one another. Then again, gaydar could be a complete myth built on stereotypes, but I think it is very real, some people just have better gaydar than others. I tend to think mine is pretty good.


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