Friday, October 28, 2011

An ode to Steven Mackin

It's been five years to the day since my friend Steven Mackin lost his battle with cancer. He would have been 32 yeas old this year.

Before he passed away, Steven asked me to write about him and post his photos on this blog so he would not be forgotten.   I am not prone to observe annual themes on this blog but I always make an exception for Steven on this day.

In Steven's name, I ask you to Stand Up To Cancer.  Better yet, if you have some time on your hands, please visit his hilarious, candid, sad, unpolitically correct and incredible LiveJournal blog "Things I've Found In My Butt".

Steven began writing as a way to document his struggle with cancer and, ultimately, he ended up leaving a testament of the amazing, funny and beautiful man he was while alive.

In 2007, the Associated Press featured his blog as an example of how people dealing with a terminal illness were using online diaries to leave a legacy behind ("Blogging at Life's End").

My heart goes to his mom Sheila tonight.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Univision promotes homophobia through sister network Telefutura

***START OF UPDATE (as of Oct. 14, 2011): Monica Trasandes from GLAAD reached out to me this afternoon and said that they brought up my concerns to the producers of "Noche de Perros". In response, the producers said they "get" why the clip might be considered offensive by some viewers and have made a decision to pull it off the air.

As for the English-language online version of the promo - as can be seen here - it turns out that a second person used basically to make the same joke as in the televised version happens to be openly gay and is one of the show's hosts.  The producers have told GLAAD that they are more than thrilled to include an openly gay person as a host.

That's great of the producers but does the fact that the person is gay change the fact that he is still being used as the punch joke? If they found the televised version to be problematic, it should be clear why the online version is problematic as well. They should pull it offline as well. END OF UPDATE***

Lately I have been watching a great telenovela from Colombia called "Correo de Inocentes".  It's airing on the Telefutura network which was launched by Spanish-language powerhouse network Univision to counter Telemundo.

On the Univision corporate site, they describe Telefutura as a "leader in cutting-edge content" and highlight the fact that it often beats Telemundo in their ratings - though not during prime time.

Imagine my surprise, then, when the following clip ran during the commercials as I watched the telenovela...

Sigh! But wait! There is more!

The same Univision corporate site has an English-language promo reel aimed at drawing advertisers for the show and it pulls a similar joke using a different actor.

Promoting homophobia on television and lesbophobia to draw English-language advertisers? I have a feeling GLAAD will be knocking on Univision's door pretty soon.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Mexican president Felipe Calderón in hot water over comment perceived as homophobic

While current Mexican president Felipe Calderón might have his hands full with the failing state he'll undeniably leave behind, he also leaves a homophobic legacy as the man who ordered his general attorney to challenge Mexico City's marriage equality law before the Mexican Constitutional Court --- and failed to get the Court to overturn the historic law.

Yesterday, at a government sponsored breast cancer awareness event, Calderón inadvertently stoked up his homophobic legacy by making a throw away comment that was quickly picked up online and turned into a widely shared Twitter hashtag.

At the event, President Calderón wore a pink ribbon.

Halfway through his speech, he made note of the ribbon and made sure the audience knew that the color pink symbolized breast cancer awareness and nothing else.

"No vaya a pensar otra cosa", he said with a sheepish smile (or "Don't go thinking it means something else" in English).

Picking up on those exact words, people on Twitter started using the #NoVayaApensarOtraCosa hashtag to make fun of Calderón's snide dismissal of all things pink and it quickly found traction and started spreading online.

By tonight it became clear that the Calderón camp knew it had a problem on their hands and that the "pink ribbon" issue threatened to overwhelm political discourse in the next few days.

President Calderón himself took to Twitter to apologize. Using the #NoVayaApensarOtraCosa hashtag himself, Calderón wrote "I reiterate my profound respect towards sexual diversity and my rejection against all discrimination".

In short, Calderón himself was acknowledging that the comment he made a day earlier had homophobic connotations.

As a Mexican friend wrote to me, the faux-pas wasn't necessarily something to lose sleep over, considering the hardships facing the Mexican government.  But the easy way in which the Mexican president seemed to engage in homophobic sentiment was not something that should have been easily dismissed either.