Tag Archives: gay

Fortnum & Mason: Adam & Steve | Valentine’s Day

In the last 5 years, as each February goes by I notice a gradual increase in the amount of same-sex Valentine’s Day cards being sold (in the UK). Last year Sainsbury’s sold its first range of Valentine’s Day cards aimed at same-sex couples, along with a very small range of independent and “quirky” gift shops selling same-sex Valentine’s gifts and cards.

I have always seen Fortnum & Mason as a store that is very much behind the times based on the fact that they continue to produce and sell foie gras, despite its barbaric and archaic production methods. Fortnum & Mason holds a royal warrant as a supplier of goods to the royal family, and has never showed any interest in changing their traditional custom despite criticism (and protests) for years. However, the brand has listened to its public in a different area of concern regarding the representation of gay and lesbian relationships, by creating a set of Valentine’s Day biscuits for gay, lesbian and straight couples:

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The Garden of Eden-style biscuits feature “Adam and Steve”, “Eve and Niamh” (pronounced “Neve”) and the traditional Biblical version, “Adam and Eve”. The “Adam and Steve” tin sold out almost immediately, and at £15 a tin with each biscuit delicately hand-iced I can certainly see why!

Fortnum’s has always been for everyone, with excellent taste, and we are delighted with the response to this collection. We can’t think of better biscuits to enjoy with a cup of tea this Valentine’s Day.

This product launch could be in reference to the common phrase many Bible bashers use: “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” – something I was once told by a classmate at art college, can you believe!!! The phrase has often been used by religious, homophobic politicians in parliament when arguing against equal marriage. It’s nice that Fortnum & Mason have created a product to celebrate love and turn that awful phrase on its head into something positive.

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ANZ: #HoldTight

In the lead up to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and Auckland Pride Festival, ANZ bank have released a campaign specifically focusing on LGBTQI couples and their reluctance to hold hands in public. Agencies TBWA Melbourne and TBWA Auckland aimed to highlight this problem and encourage people across New Zealand and Australia, and beyond, to show their support.
The campaign is based on research commissioned by ANZ which discovered that members of the LGBTIQ community were three times more likely (39%) to feel uncomfortable holding hands in public. In Australia, they are more than twice as likely (52%) than non-LGBTI (14%) to have felt uncomfortable performing the most basic gesture of love: holding hands in public. Also, while the vast majority of New Zealanders (95%) agree that everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should feel comfortable holding hands in public, less than half of the LGBTI community (39%) truly feel comfortable doing so. Similarly, in Australia, 94% of people support everyone feeling comfortable with this show of affection, but only (43%) actually say they feel very comfortable. What a sad reality, and something we all definitely take for granted.

As part of a broader social campaign, in collaboration with Twitter, a custom emoji was developed alongside the hashtag #HoldTight. The campaign launched the ad (above) accompanied by stories told by ANZ staff:

Additionally, they also developed a limited edition custom wristband (featuring the same heart-shaped emoji hands), which will light up when people hold hands. The wristbands will be worn by attendees at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and Auckland Pride Festival:

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Carolyn Bendall, head of marketing at ANZ said:

ANZ is using #HoldTight as a platform to share an important message about diversity, inclusion and respect and to help people understand the challenges that many members of the LGBTIQ community face. We hope to make a difference by encouraging the wider public to join in the conversation and show their support.

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LGBT Refugees: Abuse Uncovered in Asylum Centres

Stonewall UK and UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) have uncovered some shocking truths from refugees fleeing to the UK in a report called No Safe Refugee . A large majority of asylum seekers in the UK are those from the LGBT community who face violence, abuse, rape, torture and even death in their countries. This is something that has made me so proud to be British, because despite a small amount of gay-bashers in the UK, as a whole we are very inclusive and accepting of sexual orientation and gender. However, I seem to have been under the illusion that the UK is a safe place for those who are being persecuted for their sexuality or gender identity. Researchers carried out interviews with 22 LGBT asylum seekers, who’ve been held in UK detention centres, asking about their experiences with staff and other asylum seekers, their physical and emotional well-being in detention, and access to legal and health services.

We will always meet someone or hear of someone who is a bigot – someone who makes you feel uncomfortable because of their backwards views – but I had no idea that the centres (which are made specifically for those who are desperate for a safe place) would contain these stupid, uneducated people too. The report uncovered frequent incidents of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, and some violent incidents. Also, some asylum seekers were denied vital medication for HIV, and transgender detainees were banned from taking hormones.

Vani, a transgender asylum seeker from India said:

They didn’t provide me with any kind of medicine. I have to take regular cycle of hormones. I normally get hormonal implants. Then in detention they told me I can’t have any kind of hormones. If I don’t have the hormones I get hot flushes and all those hormonal imbalance things. I get like blisters, get depressed, get anxiety and all sorts of stuff.

How does this happen? The UK is so lucky to have a fantastic free healthcare service alongside a ‘good’ (I say that with hesitation, as I know there are a lot of concerns from trans* people when it comes to their treatment under the NHS) understanding of medical services and advice for LGBT patients.

Not only were vital medications confiscated from the refugees, others told of shocking instances of homophobia at every level of the system – from guards, other detainees, interpreters and even legal representatives.

Sathi, from Sri Lanka said:

He asked me if I am speaking with my parents. I said no because they are not happy with me because of my sexuality. He then told me that ‘if you are not happy with your parents then God isn’t going to be happy with you. So make your parents happy and go back’. It means leave my sexuality and just make them happy.

Why is this important? Why should we care about what happens in other countries – shouldn’t we focus on our own? Well, I’m proud to live in such a multicultural and diverse society, and when I saw a group of LGBT asylum seekers strut down the street at the Pride Parade this year, I felt incredibly overwhelmed with emotion because I knew that they had to give up their families and lives to live authentically in this wonderful city. I care because I’m privileged – I’m a white, middle-class woman from London who has never suffered any discrimination or violence (other than for simply being a woman, of course), so if I can’t take advantage of how lucky I am by trying to help others who aren’t as lucky, what’s the point of my existence? It takes some serious guts to start an entirely new life in a different country, but most refugees have no other choice. Often, death is the only solution if they stay in their homeland, but Brianna from Jamaica managed to escape, and told the reporters that back home:

I have been shot, I have been raped, I have been beaten. I just got fed up because Jamaica is a very homophobic place. They don’t tolerate LGBT people. You have to live a life of lies.

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I’m hoping this public report allows further investigations from the Home Office as it is simply not acceptable that asylum seekers are not protected by the detention centre staff. Many say they felt they have to hide their sexuality to avoid abuse, which is the exact reason they fled in the first place! The UK has one of the largest detention estates in Europe, where it detains more migrants and asylum seekers than most other countries, which is so fantastic… but this isn’t the first time there have been concerns about the welfare of refugees. In July 2015, the High Court found that the detention process was “systematically unfair and unlawful”. Umm… So why is it still happening?!

A Ugandan asylum seeker said :

It felt like I was betrayed because if somebody seeks asylum, they’re just trying to get some protection, but then you’re detaining them. It’s like you’re putting them in prison for having come to you for help. It didn’t make sense to me.

Seeking asylum is a right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is not a crime, and those looking for help should not be treated like criminals. We should be accepting those who are trying to live authentically, but unfortunately the reports clearly show that UK detention centres offer little respite.

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There are no homosexuals in Iran | il n’y a pas d’homosexuels en iran

Iranian photographer Laurence Rasti travelled to the Denizli (Turkey) to meet gay refugees who are now seeking refuge, due to fear of death, violence and persecution. LGBT+ Iranians have no option but to either flee their country, hide their sexual identity or transition (which would probably still pose an issue in Iran).

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In 2011 Iranian former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave a speech at Columbia University where he claimed that unlike America, there aren’t any gay people in Iran (lol). This comment was the catalyst for outrage, which Rasti focused her project on, but rather than focusing on the negatives, her photographs highlight the beauty and innocence of love, whilst still subtly concealing the identity of the subjects.

This context of uncertainty, where anonymity is the best protection, this series of photographs questions the fragile nature of identity and gender concepts. It tries to give back to these people a face that their country has temporarily stolen

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Laurence captured my attention as her previous projects also have connotations towards gender constructions within our heteronormative society. Whilst this particular project has a truly terrifying and heartbreaking background narrative, the photographs are so affectionate, sweet and almost comforting.

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Adidas Original Pride Pack

It’s June so that means only one thing – Pride month!

Whilst I eagerly await the main events in London, I also look forward to discovering what pro-LGBT brands do for Pride.

This year, Adidas Originals have partnered up with Stonewall UK to create a Pride Pack which consists of 9 rainbow splattered products.

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Adidas wrote on its Instagram that the proceeds will go toward…

“creating a world where every single person can be accepted without exception”.

 

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Inter-LGBT / The Obstacle Course

An ad is great when there is no need for spoken words because the narrative speaks for itself.

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A Bi Bank Robber, His Trans Wife, and a Documentary to Love

There is something alluring about John Wojtowicz, the real-life man who inspired Al Pacino’s legendary character in Dog Day Afternoon. He’s a colorful braggart, an early and abrasive LGBT rights activist, a mama’s boy (in his words), a bank robber, a sexual liberationist, and a lover of both men and women. More than anything, Wojtowicz, whose real story is immortalized in the brilliant new documentary The Dog, is an incurably romantic criminal, and the “who” and “what” components of his story aren’t nearly as interesting as the “why” of it all.

Filmed over the course of 10 years by codirectors Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren, The Dog (which hits theaters today and iTunes August 15) interweaves extraordinary archival footage of the robbery, 1970s-era interviews, early film of what was then simply the gay liberation movement, recollections from gay activists who know Wojtowicz, and a decade of interviews with the man himself.

Wojtowicz was an unlikely gay rights pioneer in New York City, at a time when he says gay couples couldn’t publicly hold hands, even in the famously queer Greenwich Village. Once, when he did hold hands with another man, a police officer called Wojtowicz a “faggot.”

His response? He grabbed the man and “tongued him” right there on the street.

But that would be a life-long M.O. for a man who as an early LGBT advocate would embarrass even other activists with his coarseness, vulgarity, self-aggrandizing, and yes, his unabashed sexuality. He loved sex. He had his first gay sexual experience while serving in the Vietnam War. He left his first wife to immerse himself in gay culture, got involved with the Gay Activists Alliance shortly after the Stonewall riots, and though mostly in the background, in 1971 helped organize one of the earliest same-sex marriage protests, when seasoned gay activists and groups like GAA didn’t want to touch the issue.

But Wojtowicz, who was nicknamed Littlejohn (he says it’s because he has a “little prick”), believed in love and marriage.

“When I love somebody, I want to marry them,” he says in the film. A message that resonates with marriage equality activists today, but one that was unusual in 1971.

He fell in love with a transgender woman, back when the word “transgender” wasn’t commonly employed and pronouns usage was rarely what we’d call politically correct today. He wanted desperately to marry Liz Eden, and so the two had a wedding ceremony — she donned head-to-toe white, and her veil towered nearly a foot above Wojtowicz. Footage of the wedding shows up in The Dog and helps remind us what a romantic this guy is, without reservations about gender.

He was openly bisexual without using that word. Though he’s hardly a great role model, with cheating on his lovers and his bank-robbing ways, when he loved, he loved.

Eden had been living as a woman but desperately wanted gender-reassignment surgery. Wojtowicz fought it at first — when the two met, Eden was still going by Ernie and performing in drag — but when Eden became suicidal he changed his mind and supported her medical transition in a big way. A very big way. In August 1972, he attempted to rob a Chase Manhattan bank in Brooklyn to finance his new wife’s surgery. That effort resulted in a 14-hour hostage situation that was broadcast live on TV and eventually left his partner in crime, Sal Naturale, dead, shot by police during their bungled escape.

Wojtowicz went to prison. Three years later, Eden sold the story to Sidney Lumet, who made the critically acclaimed film Dog Day Afternoon, in which Al Pacino plays Wojtowicz. The film had a huge impact on Wojtowicz. Fellow prisoners called him “The Dog,” in part because they couldn’t pronounce his last name (it’s WAHT-a-witz). The Dog embraced that persona and left prison as that man.

But not before falling in love again, with Georgie Heath, a gay man he met at Lewisburg Pennitentiary. Heath performed drag but identified as a man. Still, Wojtowicz calls Heath his “third wife.”

There’s plenty more to The Dog than can be summed up in a review: a mother who is as close to her son as can be; a developmentally challenged brother who is beloved; The Dog himself, now dying of breast cancer and skin cancer, getting thinner and thinner in every shot but never losing that wonderful libidinous spirit; footage of Eden, who died young of AIDS.

It’s a rose-colored trip down memory lane of a larger-than-life guy who, even in celluloid, continues to seduce just about anyone who sits down to watch The Dog.

I must watch this! Sounds fascinating.

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Stepping into the mind of a homophobic father: Todd Glass for GLSEN

Really puts things into perspective! I wish more ads like these were made in the UK.

Dealing with unsupportive family members isn’t the only thing working against LGBTQ youth. Many families are amazing and supportive, and there are other factors that result in these kinds of tragedies.

As seen on The Huffington Post, Upworthy and Perez Hilton. Emmy-winning PSA directed by Ellen Houlihan (ellenhoulihan.com) starring standup comic Todd Glass (Louie, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Last Comic Standing) which takes on the suicide epidemic in the LGBT teen community for GLSEN: The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s #ThinkB4You Speak campaign. Inspired by Todd Glass’ decision to come out of the closet on a 2012 episode of the WTF with Marc Maron podcast. Subscribe to The Todd Glass Show by Nerdist Industries on iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-todd-gla­ss-show/id456835323.

Directed by Ellen Houlihan (ellenhoulihan.com)
Written by Todd Glass with Daniel Kinno
Produced by Mei Melançon and Ellen Houlihan

Starring Todd Glass from The Todd Glass Show by Nerdist Industries on iTunes. Todd Glass’ TV credits include: Louie on FX, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Tosh.0. His new one-hour comedy special debuts this fall. He tours with David Cross, Louis C.K., Sarah Silverman, Jim Gaffigan and David Spade.

Featuring: Mei Melancon, Rory Scovel, Jordan Boughrum, Jeremy Olson, Tammy Klein, Blake Wexler, Christopher Meehan, Andrea Lwin, Whitmer Thomas and Sonia Curtis.

Associate Producer: David Peddicord
Edited by Ismael Diaz
Title Design by Christian Hernandez
Camera: Alex and Dawn
Sound Mixer: Jakob Beetem
Gaffer: Micael Albrecht
Key Grip: Zac Polhamus
Hair & Makeup: Traci Barrett

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When Did You Choose to Be Straight?

Street interviews conducted by Travis Nuckolls and Chris Baker (ilovechrisbaker.com) in Colorado Springs prove that asking the right question can be more important than anything you can tell someone.

Absolutely love these interviews. It’s funny, but also really interesting to see people say “well… I’d never thought of it like that before”, because that kind of logic and understanding can stop homophobia.
Still, it worries me that people STILL think being gay is a choice!

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Marriage Equality

Massive congrats to France today for passing the marriage bill amendment to allow same-sex marriage and adoption!

And a huge congrats to New Zealand, too:
“New Zealand decided that everyone deserves equality and legalized marriage equality. After an amazing final debate and vote, the the people in the galley and many of the members of Parliament decided the next logical thing to do would be to burst into song. So they sang the Maori love song “Pokarekare Ana.” And it’s wonderful. They start singing at 1:20.
The woman who everyone keeps hugging is professional athlete and Member of Parliament Louisa Wall, the representative who sponsored the bill. She also happens to be gay, so this one had some special meaning for her. Bet she would love it if you shared this.”

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