Monday, January 31, 2011

Univision wants to know: Is it OK for a priest to call gays "faggots"?

  • UPDATE 1: I posted this entry at 3:30pm. It's 4:47pm and the page is gone (reader comments remain, though). Univision must know they erred but there's been no apology yet.
  • UPDATE 2: An explanation for the disappearance of the page and the poll. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) got wind of the poll through this blog and asked Univision to remove it ("Problematic poll removed from after GLAAD Intervenes" via GLAAD Blog)
Remember last September when those kooky kids at wanted to online readers to chime in and say if soccer was compatible with homosexuality?

Well, kiddies, on Tuesday they went one better and posted a new poll asking "Is it correct for a bishop to call gays 'faggots'?".

On the soccer question one of the options they gave readers as a possible answer was "No, soccer is a sport for macho men".

This time they give the following options:

a) Yes, there is freedom of expression
b) No, it's an insult
c) Clergy should not give an opinion on social issues
d) Yes, it is a defense of a religious perspective
e) No, and it should be penalized

The answers here, of course, don't really make sense nor do they matter that much.  Online sites use these "polls" to engage readers and keep them on their page.

The true issue here is why deems it fit to keep posting these homophobic polls even after they've been caught red-handed in the past (the soccer poll was quickly pulled within a couple of days after Queerty and After Elton picked up on my post).

Or does Univision feel there is any question whatsoever on whether it's OK to call gays "faggots'? That's one explanation I'd really like to get my hands on.

Background: There IS some background to the poll. I've even got some video:

As the presidential race is heating up in Peru, the issue of civil unions for same-sex couples has jumped to the forefront up with the leading political party in the polls promising that they'll back such unions - as long as it's not marriage.

The Peruvian Catholic Church has been trying to mount an effort to paint same-sex civil unions as marriages in riling against those political candidates who back the measure and are using the same tropes used elsewhere to argue against them.

In this interview, which aired a week ago today, Bishop Luis Bambarén doesn't stray from the script until the end. He says that marriages are between "a man and a woman" and are part of "God's plan" and that any attempt against changing the rules of marriage is an attack on God's plan.  Yada, yada.

If that's all he'd said to reporters, it probably would have been a blip on the media radar.  But, just as he seems to have finish answering the question, the Bishop turns back to the reporters and asks "why is there so much talk of 'gay', 'gay', 'gay'! Let's talk Spanish, in common language [we say] 'faggots'! That's how it's said, right? So let's say it clearly" [jump to the 2:43 mark on the video].

As you might expect, the comments drew immediate international attention and reproach. Australia's Herald Sun picked up on it as well as the Bishop's semi-apology which he released a day later ("Bishop apologizes after gay slur", January 26, 2011).

So, even Bishop Bambarén had apologized by the time Univision posted their most recent poll on their site yesterday.

Shouldn't Univision stop their homophobic polls and apologize as well? We'll see what happens.

  • Bishop Bambarén's apology, as transmitted on Peruvian radio, here.

    Friday, January 28, 2011

    United States to assist in the investigation of transgender murders in Honduras

    BREAKING NEWS: The lat 48 hours have brought tremendously sad news when it comes to international LGBT activism:

    42 year-old David Kato, by all accounts a tremendous LGBT rights advocate from Uganda, was bludgeoned to death with a hammer on Wednesday, months after he was prominently featured in a local newspaper as a man who deserved to die for being gay.  This, of course, in a country whose legislature is considering a "kill-the-gays" bill drafted with the help of right-wing Evangelical preachers from the United States.

    His death, understandably, has elicited worldwide repudiation in what seems to be a turning point for the global LGBT rights movement.  Sometimes it's difficult not to make facile assertions about a specific moment, but this moment certainly reminds me of the immediate outrage that followed the beating and death of Matthew Sheppard in the United States, if on a global scale.

    Today, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement which reads, in part, as follows:
    We are profoundly saddened by the loss of Ugandan human rights defender David Kato, who was brutally murdered in his home near Kampala yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and colleagues. We urge Ugandan authorities to quickly and thoroughly investigate and prosecute those responsible for this heinous act.
    Hours later, U.S. President Barack Obama also released a statement. An excerpt:
    At home and around the world, LGBT persons continue to be subjected to unconscionable bullying, discrimination, and hate.  In the weeks preceding David Kato’s murder in Uganda, five members of the LGBT community in Honduras were also murdered.  It is essential that the Governments of Uganda and Honduras investigate these killings and hold the perpetrators accountable.
    Last week I posted my latest update on the horrible string of brutal murders that have been happening in Honduras involving, for the most part, victims who are transgender women.  In that post, I noted that the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Lllorens, had made the Honduran authorities responsible for the proper investigation of these crimes.

    What I did not say in that post was that in my years covering LGBT rights in Latin America, I could not remember the last time an U.S. ambassador had spoken up specifically on the issue of human rights violations against a Latin American country's LGBT population.

    Well, tonight, add the voice of a sitting United States president to that list. And words do matter.

    Time will tell if the senseless brutal murder of David Kato will bring upon the sort national soul-searching and re-evaluation of common-held beliefs that needs to happen for Uganda to counter the virulent homophobia of its political leadership (it's too soon to tell but click here for a hopeful editorial from Uganda's The Monitor).

    As for Honduras: Following today's statement by United States President Barack Obama, the Honduran president Porfirio Lobo Sosa held a press conference today and announced that the United States Department of State had committed to send trained personnel to investigate the recent number of transgender murders, even as he took the opportunity to play down the number of transgender murders.

    According to La Tribuna, Lobo said that the U.S. Department of State had committed to send an expert on police investigations and a legal adviser who would evaluate all internal investigations on these crimes so far.  The Honduran president said that the assistance would come at his request and added that they would help to investigate "the murder of journalists and what is alleged to be one or two gays who were murdered".

    Unites States pressure on certain countries, when it comes to human rights violations, can be very effective. I am glad to see the Obama administration take these steps and hope that they show a new and open willingness to engage Latin America and, particularly, the LGBT rights movement in the region.


    Monday, January 24, 2011

    Argentina: Bears attacked

    On Tuesday, January 18th, three members of the Buenos Aires Bear Club in Argentina visited the offices of the National Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism (INADI) and filed a claim detailing a number of recent homophobic attacks against the club and its members.

    Club coordinator Gabriel Sánchez tells Tiempo Argentino that on the night of January 15th, as club members and their friends began to arrive to a monthly grill-and-meet event, twenty or so individuals living in a nearby hotel started harassing them and asking them for money.

    When members refused to give money, Sánchez says that some of the assailants began to shout "You getting together to fuck, fat faggots!"

    As the tone got more aggressive, club members went inside the clubhouse and shut the door.  Outside, assailants pulled a discarded mattress and some trash bags against the door and set them on fire, as captured in this photo which was posted on the paper's website.

    Club members were able to open the door and put out the fire with a fire extinguisher. By then, Sánchez says, the police had arrived and kept guard preventing further violence.

    "We are well aware of the different economic situation and the reality of living in an overcrowded hotel, but were never hostile to them," said Sánchez, "These people are enraged by sexual diversity, something that has never been a problem in the neighborhood."

    Sánchez says that the problems began a month earlier when the hotel accepted a number of new residents a month before the latest incident.  Bear club members started to complain of being verbally harassed as they made their way to the clubhouse or that their vehicles were damaged after refusing to pay them a bogus parking fee.

    AG Magazine says that, in their complaint to INADI, bear club members describe the assailants throwing rocks and glass bottles which left a few of their members hurt. They also say that while the police did eventually arrive, they treated the altercation as a minor problem between neighbors but refused to arrest anyone or to register a complaint.

    Maria Rachid, a former president of the Argentinian LGBT Federation who was appointed as Vice President of INADI in December by Argentinean president Cristina Fernandes de Kirchner, said that the government-led agency would accompany the members of the bear club and help them to file criminal charges on the basis of any personal damages or injuries as well as attempted murder.  She also vowed to approach the local police department to address the way their officers responded to the attack.

    Rachid was also instrumental in pushing and securing marriage equality rights for all gays and lesbians in Argentina.

    Saturday, January 22, 2011

    Achy Obejas: Cuba goes both ways on gay rights

    "Cuba goes both ways on gay rights". That's the title of a masterful opinion piece published yesterday in In These Times and authored by renown lesbian Cuban author Achy Obejas.

    An excerpt:
    "Cuba’s split personality on LGBT issues came onto the international stage at the United Nations in November, when it was the only Latin American country that voted to have 'sexual orientation' removed from a list of discriminatory motivations for extrajudicial executions. The amendment would have changed the LGBT-specific language to the vague phrase, “for discriminatory reasons, whatever they may be.”
    Citizens around the globe raised such an outcry that, a month later, the international body reversed itself and passed an inclusive resolution.

    In a second round of voting, to re-insert the original inclusive language, Cuba abstained.

    Breaking with Cuban officialdom, pro-government Cuban bloggers joined dissident bloggers—in defiance of a complete blackout on the matter in official Cuban media—in criticizing the Cuban U.N. delegation for the anti-gay vote..."
    Read the rest of the essay. Now.

    Update: The United States Ambassador to Honduras addresses transgender murders

    An update: As I wrote Wednesday, the United States Embassy in Honduras has taken the highly unusual step of releasing an official statement asking the Honduran government and it's authorities to investigate a number of recent murders committed against members of the LGBT community in Honduras.

    Hugo Llorens (pictured), the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, sat down to talk yesterday with La Prensa and was asked about the murders and the official statement from his office. Here is what he said:
    "The gay community in many countries, including mine, is very vulnerable to discrimination and harassment. It's not an unique problem to Honduras, but it is worrisome that the five murders have occurred within a period of a little month than a month.  That's why we have asked the authorities in charge to apply the extent of the law [and] to see the situation as a threat to human rights."
    I am so impressed that the ambassador doesn't shy away from admitting that gays in the United States are not immune to discrimination or persecution, nor from stepping up and firmly asking the Honduran government to take matters at hand.

    This is the same guy who got into some WikiLeaks trouble when it was revealed he'd sent cables to the United States Department of Defense calling the 2009 ouster of left-wing president Manuel Zelaya "illegal" and "unconstitutional" (this from a Cuban-American guy appointed as ambassador to Honduras by President George W. Bush).

    You might think that this might disqualify the Ambassador from being heard by the current right-wing administration of president Porfirio Lobo Sosa but you'd be wrong.

    Combined with the pressure put upon the Honduras government by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), UNAIDS, the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Transgender People (REDLACTRANS), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, and Honduran LGBT rights activists, there finally seems to be movement from authorities in resolving and preventing these crimes.

    Yesterday, José Romero Luna, the Vice-Minister of the government's Security Commission, said the department was very well aware of the persecution against transgender people in Honduras and had launched investigations into these crimes, according to El Heraldo. He also said the department was ready to collaborate in developing preventive measures to protect the transgender community from these type of crimes.

    Marco Palma, of the Honduran Criminal Investigation Division (DNIC), told the paper that their investigations had advanced and that they expected imminent arrests in at least three of the recent crimes.

    The local, regional and international pressure on the Honduran government is definitely working.  If you haven't added your signature to a call for justice in these crimes, please do so by clicking here and completing the form.


    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    Blabbeando nominated for the 1st ever GLAAD "Oustanding Blog" award

    Seriously. Seriously? --- OK, "Seriously" is probably the one of those 2010 expressions that I hoped wouldn't survive the new year but I can't help but use it as I express my surprise at being chosen as one of five nominees to the first ever Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) "Outstanding Blog" awards.

    And the nominees are:
    For a long time, GLAAD has used its awards ceremonies to highlight excellence in media and televised coverage of LGBT issues but this the first time they honor excellence in social media including blogs.

    It's bizarre, though, to be named in the same list as Burlesque (a nominee for 'Outstanding Film - Wide Release'), Grey's Anatomy (a nominee for 'Outstanding Drama Series'). Modern Family (a nominee for 'Outstanding Comedy Series'), the Scissor Sisters (a nominee for 'Outstanding Music Artists) and others

    A preview:

    I wanted to highlight some of the other nominees that might not get as much attention elsewhere.  They include the incredibly moving Peruvian film "Undertow / Contracorriente" which I saw in December and thought was the best movie of the year (nominated as 'Outstanding Film - Limited Release').

    And, under Spanish-language nominees, I wanted to highlight amazing Mexican singer Christian Chavez who came out a couple of years before Ricky Martin did (he released a solo album called 'Almas Transparentes' last year and is a nominee for 'Outsanding Music Artist - Spanish language nominees'').

    The great thing about being nominated for this first-ever 'Oustanding Blog' award is not necessarily that I expect to win. It's that I know each and everyone who has been nominated and consider them to be friends.  It might certainly be a cliché, but I am truly honored to be nominated.

    Thanks, GLAAD, for considering this blog worthy of the nomination.

    • GLAAD website here
    • GLAAD media awards page here
    • GLAAD on Twitter here

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    U.S. Embassy in Honduras expresses concern for recent killings of members of the LGBT community

    Photo: LGBT rights advocates hold a press conference on the streets of Tegucigalpa on January 13th, 2011. The banner reads "No to hate crimes" and it highlights the brutality used in the recent murders of transgender women and gay men who have been stabbed, shot, strangled and incinerated (Source: La Prensa)
    Earlier today The United States Embassy in Honduras released the following statement (Spanish version here):
    United States Embassy Notes Concern for Recent Killings of Members of the LGBT Community
    January 19, 2011

    Tegucigalpa - The U.S. Embassy notes with concern the five killings that have been committed against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community since December 18, with the latest being in San Pedro Sula January 17.

    The protection of Honduran law extends to all its citizens regardless of sexual orientation and the Lobo Administration has repeatedly expressed its commitment to defend the rights of all Honduran citizens.

    It is in this regard that we call upon Honduran law enforcement authorities to vigorously investigate these crimes, bring to justice the perpetrators, and take all necessary steps to protect LGBT persons, who are among the most vulnerable to violence and abuse in Honduras.
    It's the highest-profile official statement I have seen since Honduran media began profiling a series of gruesome murders, mostly against the transgender community, that have taken place since December 18th and since the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission launched an action alert demanding authorities investigate these crimes (Warning: Graphic images).

    On Monday, the Geneva-based UNAIDS also released a statement condemning the murders:
    UNAIDS condemns killings of transgender people in Honduras

    17 January 2011

    GENEVA, 17 January 2011—UNAIDS is concerned by the recent reported killings of transgender people in Honduras. Since late November 2010, five individuals from the transgender community have been reportedly killed in separate incidents in the country. The motive for these killings has not been determined.

    “UNAIDS urges the Government of Honduras to take every step to investigate these killings thoroughly,” said Mr Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “All forms of discrimination, including transphobia, block access to HIV prevention programmes and impact the quality of care for people living with HIV.”

    Honduras has committed to protecting the human rights of all individuals in various international and regional resolutions. “I urge all states to provide adequate protection to transgender people,” said Mr Sidibé.

    UNAIDS expresses its full support for the community of transgender people in Honduras and for the Latin American Network of Transgender People (REDLACTRANS) in their efforts to stop intimidation and violence against transgender individuals.
    On January 13th, a number of LGBT rights advocates protested outside the national Public Prosecutor's office demanding action.  Holding banners that called for an end to hate crimes and graphic images of murdered transgender women that had been featured on the cover of several local tabloids, activists argued that the government-sponsored institution had done little to stem the violence.

    According to La Prensa, activists called attention to the killing of of well-known and respected LGBT rights activist Walter Trochez on December 13th of 2009 and the fact that his murder was still unresolved a year after his murder.

    José Zembrano, one of the protesters, said that there was hate in Honduran society towards sexual diversity.  "Just in the last 45 days we have learned of the killing of five of our [transgender] friends", he said.

    The activists said they knew of 31 transgender women who had been murdered since June 28th of 2009.

    Later, La Tribuna reported that Sandra Ponce, the Public Prosecutor herself, had stepped out of her office and expressed concern about these crimes:
    The Prosecutor's Office is giving priority to every case, independently of whether it's our responsibility to pursue state officials who commit human rights violations while on duty; nevertheless, taking note that there might be an element of discrimination and homophobia in these killings, we have put them under investigation.
    On January 17th, as today's U.S. Embassy statement mentions, La Prensa reported yet another murder of a transgender woman. The sixth transgender woman found murdered, according to the paper.

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    One more 'Blabbeando' shout out from "Pura Politica" on NY1

    Bear with me a little bit.  I know this might come out seeming as self-serving as the last time I mentioned something like this but this just tickles my bones.

    Last week I shared a translated clip from the weekly political Spanish-language show "Pura Política" which airs Friday nights at 6pm on Time Warner Cable's NY1 Noticias. In it,  New York State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., who we have criticized profusely on this blog due to his homophobia, gave props to this very blog.

    Well, I'd saved the show on DVR and decided to finish watching it today. Little did I know that the show's host, Juan Manuel Benitez, followed up the Reverend's comments by doing a small segment explaining this blog to the show's viewers (click on the clip above).

    I know more than a few people have expressed dismay to me that I posted the Senator's comments last week telling me I had fallen hook, line and sinker for a strategy to paint himself more moderate and friendly. As I said then, I don't think there is any love lost on either side, even though I also think the Senator was being sincere.  It was just an acknowledgment of civility.

    Something I didn't mention last week is that I did find his comments to the effect that I loved "Pura Politica" or, more specifically, Juan Manuel Benitez, to verge on a homophobic dig at the show's host. The Senator, of course, knows exactly what this blog is about, and obviously takes pleasure in telling Benitez that I like him.

    Never met the guy before (actually maybe once when he was covering some event and I was there shooting a few pictures) but I insist he runs one of the best political television political shows in the New York City metropolitan area for the same exact reasons that the Senator says he reads this blog: Benitez is impartial and lets guests like the Senator dig their own holes.

    I also wanted to point out the following: Benitez thanks this blog for not only covering the show but also taking the time to translate those segments that might be relevant to readers of the blog. He says that it helps the show to reach people who might not otherwise watch "Pura Politica".

    I wish other media sources would take note of that. Others would ask for this type of content to be taken down. Instead, Benitez recognizes that the type of coverage I give the show increases the opportunity for people to find out about the show.  I thank him for his words about this blog and I thank him for recognizing just that.

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Marcia Alejandra, the first transsexual woman in Latin America, has died

    [NOTE: The image used for this post is that of legendary queer poet and provocateur Pedro Lemebel, who alerted media to the news, not that of Marcia Alejandra]

    Friends of Marcia Alejandra - the first woman in Latin America to undergo gender reassignment surgery to change her anatomical gender from male to female - say she has died from a stroke.

    "With her departure, this country loses - perhaps - a part of its memory," said queer activist and friend Pedro Lemebel to Chilean newspaper La Nación,

    "Marcia was never acknowledged as the great mold-breaker of her era", he added.

    Marcia Alejandra, who made a living as a hairdresser, underwent gender-reassignment surgery in Chile back in March of 1973 (that's almost 40 years ago!).

    A report published by Chilean newspaper La Cuarta in 2004 says that news of the historic surgery didn't reach the public until a year after it happened when some newspapers finally caught wind of it.

    At the time, Marcia Alejandra bravely stood up to reporters and said she was "a man with the soul of a woman" (remember, this were the early 1970's in Latin America).

    Dr. Antonio Salas Vieyra, who performed the surgery, went on to worldwide acclaim and I still see his name pop up from time to time in reference to Latin American LGBT history.  He is currently the president of the Chilean Sexuality and Sexual Education Association.

    Marcia Alejandra's name, by all accounts, has been mostly relegated to the sands of time, at least until now.

    La Nación says that when they reached out to the leading Chilean LGBT rights organization, MOVILH, they didn't even recognize her name.  Pablo Lemebel, speaking to the paper, blamed it on institutional transphobia on their part (Lemebel has been a long time critic of the organization).

    Lemebel also penned an ode to Marcia Alejandra published by El Nortero on January 10th in which he tries to rescue her name for historical posterity and highlights what it might have meant for someone in the early 1970's to have the courage to go under gender-reassignment surgery.

    Of course, to call someone the first person in Latin America to undergo gender-reassignment surgery is highly subjective. In the comments section of the La Nación article, someone argues that someone else in Chile might have been the first transsexual woman in the country.  And maybe that's correct but, if it is, it wasn't anyone who went public then nor now.

    Marcia Alejandra did go public, though, and did so at a time when it was absolutely heroic.

    In the United States, Puerto Rican-born transgender idol Sylvia Rivera has always been held high on a pedestal when it comes to te origins of the current LGBT-rights movement and her role in the Stonewall riots of the late 1960's.

    Please help me welcome Marcia Alejandra to the same pantheon as that of Sylvia Rivera's.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Honduras: Ask authorities to put an end to transgender murders

    UPDATE #2: U.S. Embassy in Honduras expresses concern for recent killings of members of the LGBT community

    UPDATE #1: There have been three more murders, including that of another transgender woman, since IGLHRC sent their original alert.  IGLHRC also says that 1,000 people have added their name to a statement condemning the murders and asking authorities to take action. You can ad your name by filling out this form]

    From the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC):
    Over the past two weeks, three travestis have been murdered in separate incidents in Honduras. In two of the incidents, the victims were set on fire either before or after their deaths. This means that in the past year and a half, there has been a total of now 31 the murders of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people in Honduras. Join the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and the Honduran LGBTI organization Red Cattrachas in calling for immediate investigations and demanding state action to prevent future killings on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
    IGLHRC is using the Spanish word travesti which is more commonly used than transgénero (transgender) throughout Latin America. The details:
    On December 22, 2010 in Comayagüela, a 23-year-old travesti named Lorenza Alexis Alvarado Hernández was found dead, her body visibly beaten and burned. Bloody stones near her corpse indicate that the bruises covering her body were caused by stoning. Her body was set on fire. Used condoms found nearby have led to the suspicion that she may also have been raped. After her death, the assailants threw her body into a ditch. News reports indicate that severe injuries to her face rendered her corpse virtually unrecognizable.

    The same day, another travesti, Lady Oscar Martinez Salgado, age 45, was found burned to death in her home in Barrio El Rincón of Tegucigalpa. Her body showed multiple stab wounds. Neighbors report witnessing two suspicious individuals running from her house as the fire ignited.

    Less than two weeks later, on January 2, 2011, a young travesti known only as Cheo was found murdered on the main street of Colonia Alameda in Tegucigalpa. Her body was left without legal documentation. She appears to have died from a severe stab wound to her chest.

    These killings are not isolated incidents. Since the 2009 coup d'état in Honduras, there have been 31 murders of LGBTI people documented by Red Cattrachas. More deaths of LGBT people have likely gone unreported. At least one of those killed, Walter Trochez, was a prominent human rights defender. In the majority of the cases, there have been no investigation or prosecution of the crimes. Since the coup, all Hondurans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, have been subjected to increased violence and have received little protection from authorities; however, LGBT people been particularly vulnerable to attack. Impunity nationwide has created this deadly spike in violence.
    How to take action? Well, IGLHRC also has information on that as well.  Click here and, in a few seconds, you can ad your voice to those calling for justice in these killings:
    In response to pressure from local human rights activists, the Honduran Minister of Human Rights and the Tegucigalpa Chief of Homicide have assigned two investigators to these murders. However, no one has yet been charged in the recent deaths, and there is little evidence that the investigations are underway.
    Urge the Honduran authorities to conduct immediate investigations into each of the recent murders of travestis, to hold perpetrators accountable to the fullest extent of the law, and to prevent similar attacks in the future. Let officials know that the world mourns these tragic deaths and demands that LGBTI killings stop.
    Those authorities include Honduran president Porfirio Lobo, from the center-right conservative political National Party, who has yet to say a word.

    Saturday, January 08, 2011

    A shout out from Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr.

    Joe.My.God. and Towleroad might get shout-outs from the likes of Kylie and Gaga but, hey, I get shout-outs too!

    "I respect him," New York State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. says in a new video clip, "Look, Blabbeando, I read you, and I admire the way he writes, because he is impartial."

    That nugget comes from last night's edition of "Pura Politica" on Time Warner's NY1 en Español and I probably would have choked on my cereal if I had been eating my cereal.

    It shouldn't have surprised me so much. In October, the Senator's office released a statement thanking me for admitting I'd been wrong in saying that Senator Diaz had been mum on the recent anti-gay hate crimes committed in the Bronx. But I had assumed it had been someone in his press office putting out the statement.

    I've certainly been a longstanding critic of the Reverend for his homophobia and in the interview he says he doesn't think I like him that much. Well, I'm not sure there's any love lost on his side either. But, in this case, I do appreciate his kind words about the blog.

    Thank you, Senator Diaz.

    Thursday, January 06, 2011

    Argentina: Alejandro tells his "Big Brother" housemates he is a trans man

    • UPDATE: Trans man Alejandro is voted out of the "Big Brother" house (March 24, 2011)
    This is turning into one of my favorite stories of the year and we are only halfway into January.

    On December 16th I wrote about the shocking twist that greeted viewers of the new season of "Big Brother" in Argentina: One of the houseguests, whose identity was kept secret until the airing of the first show of the season, is a transgender man.

    On the debut episode, producers shared Alejandro Iglesias' revealing casting tape with the viewers but other houseguests had yet to find out. Amazingly, Alejandro quickly became the viewers' favorite contestant, even if some media observers thought he'd be the first guest to be booted out of the show.

    The main reason why some predicted Alejandro would be the first to go was that he initially came off as being shy and off-standish, particularly among the other male participants of of the house. But many of those other participants proved to be insufferable showoffs - which meant that two other houseguests were the first ones to be let go in the twenty or so days since the season began.

    In the meantime, Alejandro has not been shy about sharing his true identity with others.

    In the casting tape he said that the reason he wanted to join the show was to have the chance to win the prize money so he can afford to pay for an expensive gender-reassignment surgery. He also said he would not have a problem telling others about it as long as he came to trust others in the house.

    In this video clip, which I've posted on YouTube, you can see Alejandro share his true identity with several people in the house, including his main confidante, Luz, who revealed early on that she was a lesbian.

    Ariana, who was the second participant to get booted out of the show, says she had no idea Alejandro was a trans man.

    Alejandro's participation in the Argentinean version of "Big Brother" is probably as visible a forum as there ever has been for trans issues in Latin America and I have a feeling that the positive impact will long outlive the negatives.


    Wednesday, January 05, 2011

    The "We Are The Youth" photojournalism project

    Meet Marina, a senior at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and daughter of a Mexican father and a Southern white woman.  She also identifies as queer and is one of the many young people profiled in a new photojournalism project by photographer Laurel Golio and journalist Diana Scholl called "We Are The Youth".

    Through the project, Golio and Scholl hope to chronicle the individual stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in the United States and capture the diversity and uniqueness of the LGBT youth population.

    Here is an excerpt from Marina's profile:
    I identify as queer. Depending on who I’m talking to, I’ll identify as bisexual, but I think the word bisexual, to me, sort of means two genders, which isn’t necessarily how I see things. I understand two genders exists in society, but they aren’t inherent or necessary. But I go by female pronouns. More or less, I identify as female. That’s how I was raised to identify and how people view me. I’m a linguistics major, so I’ve thought a lot about these terms.

    Being queer affects many aspects of my life beyond just sexual orientation. I work at the Center for LGBT Life, and the queer community here is very supportive. Other queer students on campus ended up being a pre-made social circle for me. Through the Office of LGBT Life, I've met so many people that I've really connected with. Almost all of my close friends are queer. Emory is my first experience with any queer community. I didn’t really have that in high school.
    The project is still in its infancy and 2011 will bring the launch of a project-specific website.  But I wanted to highlight
    it now because I just love the idea behind the project, particularly as it lets young queer youth speak for themselves through images and words.  One of the other current profiles is that of Derrick Martin, who famously challenged his high school to let him take his then-boyfriend Richard to the prom last year.

    You can read his take on the media whirlwind that his bravery elicited as well as find out what happened after his parents thew him out of his home here.

    It's definitely worth your time to go to the home page and work back from there.  You will meet quite an array of amazing individuals.

    NOTE: The photo of Marina I've used for this post has been modified from the original by photographer Laurel Golio and used by permission.

    Monday, January 03, 2011

    OMG! I made it to Jente's "Personalities of the Year" cover!

    OMG! There I am smack in the middle of the "The Personalities of the Year" cover of Jente magazine!  I would have liked to say that I was honored to have been the only non-Argentinean to have received the honor but I seem to have just spotted Janet Reno, Two Girls and a Cup and El Chavo del 8?  [Click on image to make it larger]

    I'm pretty sure I'm the only Colombian, though.

    This very special wrap-around version of the end-of-the-year Jente cover is actually a clever parody of the end-of-the-year special published by Gente magazine, which could be described as a cousin to the gossipy UK magazine OK!, except with delusions of grandeur ("Gente", in Spanish, means "People").

    I have no idea who most of these people are. I recognize journalists Bruno Bimbi and Osvaldo Bazan, singer-in-a-coma Cerati, homophobic Argentinean Senator Cynthia Hotton, Homer Simpson, enfant terrible Lisandro Puzzolo, the late Argentinean president Nestor Kirchner and his widow and current president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. The first grooms to tie the knot in Latin America, Alex Freyre and José Maria di Bello are also somewhere in the mix.

    It's all in the mind of La Tostada, who spent most of the year sending up Argentinean culture politics on Twitter and, sometimes, spreading terror into conservative homophobic politicians through his mordantly acidic tweets.

    Somehow, I find the whole fake "Jente" cover hilarious and feel more honored than if I had been featured on the cover of the real "Gente."

    A good way to start the year!