on 03/23/2012 - 09:43 pm
AIDS has been a buzzword since it was first reported in the early eighties. Now, with the advances of stem cell treatments and possibilities of a cure, the face of the disease is changing. But is it too late? We take a look into the gay community and how HIV has affected the population.
The statistics are shocking, actually. WebMD reports that 1 in 5 gay/bi men have HIV. The site also states that half of them don’t know they are infected, which puts everyone at increased risk. If you or someone you know is struggling with AIDS or HIV, there are a number of resources that can help.
The Jerusalem House in Atlanta is making a difference. Jerusalem House is Atlanta’s oldest and largest provider of permanent housing for Atlanta’s low-income and homeless individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS. More than 100 children live in Jerusalem House programs.: http://www.jerusalemhouse.org/
What other resources are available? The government answer a number of your questions at http://www.aids.gov/. The National Coalition for LGBT Health has more information at http://lgbthealth.webolutionary.com/content/national-hivaids-strategy. If you need assistance, Avert can also provide help at http://www.avert.org/help.htm Many cities now have an AIDS resource alliance as well, check with your local health department or shelter.
How has the disease changed over the years? One difference is how a person’s information is saved and shared. Sexually Transmitted Infections can now be tracked online. Ever wonder if an ex was carrying something that you could have caught? Gaydar, which asks online dating site users to receive updates from former partners who are diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections, has over 30,000 Gaydar users that have opted-in. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/03/01/over-30000-gaydar-users-opt-in-to-sti-notifications/)
By registering on the website myHIV, people with HIV can also privately store health and treatment information, access online counseling and advice, and gain 24-hour community support. http://www.myaids.org/
How are other countries handling the epidemic? We turn to Europe for new methodologies. England is welcoming free HIV treatment for foreign nationals, according to Pink News. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/02/28/free-hiv-treatment-for-foreign-nationals-in-england-welcomed/
Some of the biggest supporters of the the cause are stepping up as well. Long-time advocate Elton John is at the forefront of the movement. THT has relaunched the HIV hardship fund with help from Elton John AIDS Foundation. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/02/21/tht-relaunches-hiv-hardship-fund-with-help-from-elton-john-aids-foundation/
One promising story is of a man, Timothy Ray Brown, who was cured of the deadly syndrome after a stem cell transplant. http://www.naturalnews.com/032457_AIDS_stem_cells.html. Fortunately, this is only the first step towards a future of recovery. The battle to understand and, eventually, cure HIV and AIDS seems to have just begun.
This is Straighty Says, and I’ll shoot it to you Straight!
on 03/15/2012 - 07:43 pm
What better way to spend the summer than camping, music and the great outdoors? Throw in a little sunshine and you’ve got the perfect weekend. I’m always looking for something fun that keeps me physically active and helps me to be one with nature. Music festivals offer something for everyone! Camping is so refreshing! In this week’s report, I’ll share some of the places to go for the gay and lesbian community. Of course, straighties are welcome too. Just know that you will find these campgrounds and festivals donned with rainbows.
Gay Music Festivals
Ahhh, Lilith Fair. Sadly it is no more, but this immensely popular showcase for women’s music ran for three years and raised $10 Million for women’s charities. The festival was the highest grossing of any touring festival and included a lineup of female-only artists. They have converted the festival into a songwriting contest for women and continue to be a powerful musical force!
Kush Kamp, the only gay music festival in all of the UK, is being held the 13TH - 16TH of JULY. You’ll see acts like Fynn Ferrell, Alice Olivia and Dance A La Plage on stage. Get ready for a DJ tent, Karaoke stage, Bouncy Castle, Gladiator Duels and much, much more. Visit http://kush-kamp.com/# for more info!
The Michigan Womyn Music Festival is one of the longest-running women's events in the world. Located in the Manistee National Forest, the fest is held in early to mid-August and hosts everything from acoustic folk crooners to rocking grrrl bands. Interested? Click here for ticket info! http://gaytravel.about.com/od/gayartsevents/qt/Mich_Womyn.htm -
Interested in starting your own music festival? eHow.com has step-by-step instructions. http://www.ehow.com/how_4489255_organize-music-festival.html. Why not bring back a festival that just needs a little restructuring? Here in Nashville we are working on a re-do of the Karma Cup Festival that originated in the Pittsburgh area. And who couldn’t use a little good Karma?
Are you new to camping? Do you have the equipment and endurance that you need to make the treck and pitch that tent? Here are a few resources for the gay camper:
- http://www.campgayusa.com/ - "The Authority on Gay Camping in the USA"
- http://www.campgayusa.com/CAMPGROUNDS.html - Gay Campground Directory
- http://gaycamping.com/default.asp - GayCamping.com
- http://gaycampingusa.com/ - GayCampingUSA.com
Gay Summer Camps:
http://campcamp.com/ - 'Camp' Camp is more than just a gay vacation. Since its inception, Camp has grown into a community of people – people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, or somewhere in between – who enjoy a variety of social, athletic and cultural activities together throughout the year. Camp is located in New York.
http://campitup.org/ - A Camp for Family and Friends. What’s their unique feature? Camp It Up provides a camping atmosphere with a DIY music festival. “Come learn to drum, to play with a string ensemble, sing some rock and roll or whatever makes you come alive. Too shy? Never had lessons? Our amazing musical staff and talented camper-teachers will help you find your voice. Come on, you know you want to…… It’s nothin’ but fun at camp in 2012.”
http://www.gaycenter.org/youth/summercamp - The YES Summer Community Camp program is a week-long residential camp New York, NY designed to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people with the support, knowledge and skills they need to take charge of their own health and well-being.
Because so many LGBT youth lack a support network that is affirming of their identities, we seek to create a supportive network through the camp program and it's FREE!
So now you have an idea of places to go and things to do this summer if you love the outdoors. Personally, I can’t wait to get out the hiking boots and get on the trails. Ready to get out there and enjoy the festivities? Why not go as a gay-straight alliance and represent the community! Wear your favorite gay-friendly t-shirt and take a hike! And of course, don’t forget the bug spray. This is Straighty Says, and I’ll shoot it to you straight!
on 03/09/2012 - 04:16 pm
The San Francisco Giants caused quite a stir when they created their video of “It Gets Better”, the first of its kind to be endorsed by a professional sports team. Their bold move was a platform for a number of other anti-bullying videos across the globe. The Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Rollergirls came on board in telling teens who are the victims of bullying that it will get better.
Is being gay now completely accepted in the sports world? Not yet. But e-zines such as Outsports, a LGBT online publication that is devoted to covering athletics, are catering to the gay community and helping to facilitate this growing trend. Check them out to see the 100 most important moments in gay sports history! http://outsports.com/jocktalkblog/2011/07/05/outsports-100-most-important-moments-in-gay-sports-history/
No longer can players get away with the use of anti-gay slurs on the court. Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was fined $50,000 for yelling an anti-gay slur at a fan in April of 2011. Earlier in the year, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for calling a ref the same word. Goes to show that bullying never pays off.
According to PinkNews.co.uk, tennis was voted as the most gay-friendly sport in the world of athletics. Ice skating has been referred to as the “Gayest Sport in America” even though most gay skaters do not come out. Some speculate that hockey is overtaking baseball as the most gay-friendly sport. From my research, rugby teams across the globe showed a huge amount of support for the gay athletes in 2011.
Here’s a list of gay friendly sports in Orlando alone. These should give you a few ideas for creating gay-friendly sports groups in your city:
- Central Florida Softball League http://www.cfsleague.org
- Gay bike group GayBikeOrl@aol.com
- Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Bowling League
- Gays and Lesbians On the Waters (GLOWS) - Orlando’s premiere Gay & Lesbian water sport club.
- Orange Blossom Bowling Association (OBBA)
- Orlando Front Runners & Walkers
- Over the River Sports Group
- Rainbow Paddlers - a gay, lesbian and gay-friendly group that goes out paddling at least monthly in Central Florida.
- Sunshine Invitational Tournament (SIT)
Many disclosed and undisclosed sports figures are gay, and 2011 showed a great deal of promise for the professionals who wanted to come forward. Will Sheridan, former Villanova basketball star, and Rick Welts, President of the Phoenix Suns, are just a few examples of the brave individuals who took the route of openness. Pro tennis player Amelie Mauresmo came out as a lesbian athlete at the Australian Open in 1999, while Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova paved the way for lesbian tennis players everywhere. WNBA Star Sheryl Swoopes said she is “tired of having to hide her feelings” and has come out as a lesbian. Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said “There’s not a single openly gay professional player in British football (soccer). Perhaps if football had a wider pool of talent to choose from, our World Cup performance wouldn’t be quite so pitiful.” The suppression of a person’s identity is bad for the team, not just the person.
One notable mention is the devilishly handsome Ben Cohen, an England Rugby World Cup Winner who has been voted as Pride House London Ambassador. The Ben Cohen Stand Up Foundation supports organizations, programs and people that advance equality for the LGBT community and help for at-risk youth by standing up against bullying. Ben started the Stand Up! National Awareness Week Against Homophobic Bullying and has quit rugby to run his organizations.
With gay-friendly professional sports on the rise, I wanted to see how gay was received in the arena of Olympians. Does being gay make a difference when it comes to scores and judging? Johnny Weir was an Olympic figure skater who came out while most of his peers stayed in the closet. In the skating world, the men are required to appear manly with no apparent indicators of homosexuality. Greg Louganis and Matthew Mitcham were both gay Olympic medalist divers. Dr. Tom Waddell, New Jersey-born decathlete in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, was the founder of the Gay Games. Joan Guetschow, an out lesbian, competed for the United States in the 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics. Gay athletes at the 2010 Winter Olympics were welcomed by GayWhistler’s PRIDE House. It does seem that “gay is in play!”
For a complete list of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sportspeople, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_lesbian,_gay,_bisexual,_and_transgender_sportspeople
The sports world is coming around to coming out, it seems. Gay awareness is taking the place of anti-gay sentiment and intolerance is being reprimanded. The attitude in the sports world, which has been male-dominated for so long, is starting to include other sentiments. So where will the sports world go from here? With tolerance on the rise, it should be a slam dunk. This is Straighty Says and I’ll shoot it to you straight!
on 03/02/2012 - 09:41 am
In 1998 I found myself at the Beaux-Arts Ball, an annual bash thrown by the art department at my university. It was the first time I ever saw two guys kiss, and I wish I had a picture. The two of them, backlit by the stage, with smoke and lights outlining their silhouette, was a very memorable moment for me. My horizon had just expanded, and I was thrown into a realm that I knew nothing about. In lies the essence of photography. Moments like these can change a generation. I didn’t actually get a picture, the image is simply burned in my brain. It was, however, a shot-worthy moment and for just a minute, I wished I was a photography major.
So how is gay portrayed through the eye of a camera? Who are the gay photographers who have blazed a path for their community? What are a few trends in the industry?
Civil Unions, for one.
Beautiful ceremonies of gay weddings, baptisms, family photos and gay models, all relatively new to the scene and popping up everywhere. One artist who shines in the field of gay weddings is Kira Marie from Kira Marie Photography http://kira-mariephoto.com/ “Weddings are for Everyone” is her philosophy. Kira-Marie Photography is based in Atlanta and available for international travel. Another company is Pink Portraits. http://pinkportraits.com/ They provide fun, relaxed, gay friendly Portrait, Studio, Commercial, and Civil Partnership Photography in London.
Networking Possibilities and Meet-up Groups.
Gay Photographers Network http://www.gayphotographersnetwork.co.uk/ is a group of gay photographers and their friends who meet on the last Wednesday of each month in central London to share ideas and knowledge about all things to do with photography. Brilliant! There should be more of these in the US.
The Intimacy Project: Lesbian Intimacy is a project by and for lesbian, bisexual and transgendered women. Dawn Hartman produces photographs of admiration of women who love women and her desire to replace taboo with beauty. Her vision is to portray females with a real perspective, not the depiction of over-sexed vixens that many lesbians are stereotyped with. Visit this project online at http://www.dawnhartmanphotography.com/lesbian-intimacy-project.html
Trends in fine art.
Gay photography is often thought of as erotic. But what about the areas of fine art? The LGBT community has broken the bounds of subculture and risen to the heights of mainstream.
Where can you get a look at a few of the breakthrough photo shoots? I was happy to find some really cool concepts online.
- A Separate Peace: http://lightbox.time.com/2011/10/20/a-separate-peace-a-gay-photographers-take-on-photographing-a-gay-friendly-school/#1 A Gay Photographer’s talk about photographing a Gay-Friendly School. His journey was filled with excitement and anxiety as students from the Milwaukee Alliance School, the only gay-friendly charter school in the U.S., stood in front of the camera.
- Spotlight on gay Asian guys - A hot, up-and-coming photography book and exhibition set to study what it means to be Asian, male and gay. This exhibit proves that ‘sexy comes in many colors.
- Glen Mitchell Photography - This Florida based, gay fine art photographer, Glen Mitchell, creates black and white portfolios of homoerotic, male nude, fetish, and portraits well toned, perfectly shaved male bodies. http://www.glenmitchell.com/#mi=1&pt=0&pi=73&p=-1&a=0&at=0
Tee Corinne Lesbian Artist (1943-2006) http://lesbianlife.about.com/od/artistswriterset1/p/TeeCorinne.htm Tee Corinne was a pioneer in the world of lesbian erotic art. She was also at the forefront of the battle against censorship. Her photos were cutting edge with a coloring book of female genetalia and images of real lesbian lovers. She photographed fat women, women with disabilities, diverse body types and all sizes.
What are some of the other names on the list of gay photographers? Mark I. Chester is a self-described gay radical sex photographer in San Francisco. George Daniell created striking black-and-white photographs of celebrities before he died in 2002. His work is just now being recognized as an important contribution to gay male photography. George Dureau is warmer and more involved, revealing compassion as well as desire. For a list of other gay photographers, visit http://www.glbtq.com/arts/photography_gay_post_stonewall,2.html
When did this art form start to gain acceptance? Stonewall was very influential in the upturn. Political and social breakthroughs allowed the niche to thrive. Photographs began to celebrate the gay culture with ads such as the Calvin Klein underwear shots in New York’s Times Square. This timeless image was directed towards gay men, but straight women everywhere rejoiced once the chiseled male form was in the public eye. Names like Al Baltrop, Pierre Molinier and Arthur Tress became common names in the community. There was an ambiguity between fine art, erotic images and pornography which gave gay photographers a freedom to be expressive.
Do you have to have a degree in photography to appreciate the nuances of gay portraits? Luckily, no. You can find almost 9 thousand gay and lesbian stock photos and images at FotoSearch.com (mostly clothed, loving couples). Interested in the history behind the industry? Man to Man: A History of Gay Photography depicts 500 shots of gay males from many different eras. http://www.amazon.com/Man-History-Gay-Photography-Male/dp/0865651868
And last but not least, we have breaking coverage of a gay marine kissing his boyfriend on homecoming. This recent internet sensation has gained a ton of attention since the “DADT” repeal late last year. Again, photos like this one speak to the public and raise awareness across the globe. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/02/homecoming-photo-of-gay-marine-kissing-boyfriend-goes-viral/?fwcc=1&fwcl=1&fwl&_ft_=qid.5714190450159757675:mf_story_key.1577063029745790793:filter.h_chr:interface.m_faceweb_iphone:c.m
What have I learned from this exploration? I have come to appreciate the art form of photography as its own language. It speaks to people and takes us places that we can only imagine. Since the digital revolution, I have taken nearly 26,000 pictures. But where was my camera in 1998? That image will have to live on in my mind.
This is Straighty Says, and I’ll shoot it to you straight!