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Where we’ve been. Where we are. Where we’re headed.

That, in a gist, is how I perceive San Francisco’s “LGBTQIA central”, Castro District to be. It celebrates where we are now by paying (some) attention to our shared past; but it also highlights the areas where our community needs to act (and act fast) before we can truly say that we have Pride.

Castro District is a neighborhood in Eureka Valley in San Francisco, California. It was named after José Castro (1808–1860), who opposed US rule in California in the 19th century. As one of the very first gay neighborhoods in the US, it actually became LGBTQIA-centric starting only the late 1960s, aided by the hippie and free love movements in neighboring Haight-Ashbury district.

By the 1970s, it was already an upscale gay community (first mitigated by people’s movement here before it became the prime spot that it is now).

Castro’s influences in the (global) LGBTQIA community are numerous.

Harvey Milk was from here; in 1973, he opened a camera store here, Castro Camera, and he also began his political involvement as a gay activist here. So this place sorta helped exemplify LGBTQIA political involvement, particularly at a time when we had even harder times.

Then in the 1980s, the area was hit hard by the HIV and AIDS crisis. This is a defining moment for the LGBTQIA community (with HIV “blamed” on gay people, and with the American government not lifting a hand to do something/anything about this sitch then), so this helped galvanize the (particularly) gay community.

Castro also shows cracks in the rainbow. Perhaps most apparent is the blatant commercialization of Pride. In Castro, everything LGBTQIA-related can be bought.

And then there are some of our stereotypical concepts of “beauty”, which surfaced from Castro. The one that immediately comes to mind is the “Castro clone” that exemplified butchness and masculinity; to date, this idiotic penchant for “straight-acting and straight-looking” continues…

Truly, nowadays, Castro is a “living” reminder of the LGBTQIA community’s history.

But Castro also shows cracks in the rainbow.

Perhaps most apparent is the blatant commercialization of Pride. In Castro, everything LGBTQIA-related can be bought.

This – not surprisingly – highlights the social stratification within the LGBTQIA community. Exactly because the we’re talking moolah, and because not everyone has this, the social classes that divide the community is highlighted. Even the nearby LGBT Center isn’t immune to this, with some LGBTQIA people critical of it (supposedly) for being elitist.

Then there’s the leaving behind of members of the LGBTQIA community. For instance, in San Francisco, the homeless population is approximately 7,499 – 29% of them identify as LGBT; and 11% of them have HIV or AIDS. If you want to see some of them, try waking up early – like 6.00AM or so – and take a walk along Castro Street to see them, living in the midst of the trash from the partying that happened the night before.

Castro has long become a tourist trap that highlights “progressive LGBTQIA community” a la America. And – as such – it can’t be denied how it’s a good reminder that we’ve (well, at least ‘they’ have) made progress.

But it also stresses – for me – that so much more still needs to be done…

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan is a graduate of Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies) of the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. Though he grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City in Maguindanao), even attending Roman Catholic schools there, he "really, really came out in Sydney," he says, so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing and a developed world". Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, research (with pioneering studies under his belt)... this one's a multi-tasker, who is even conversant in Filipino Sign Language (FSL). Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism. Cross his path is the dare (read: It won't be boring).

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Norway to prioritize LGBT refugees

Norway will be prioritizing refugees who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. This move is said to be in recognition of the persecution experienced by LGBT refugees on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

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Norway will be prioritizing refugees who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT). This move is said to be in recognition of the persecution experienced by LGBT refugees on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

This will be the first time that members of this community will be given priority both as a group and individuals when Norway selects for transfers. But the new rules will only apply for the transfer of refugees from one asylum country to another for permanent resettlement.

Under Norway’s previous guidelines, vulnerable women and children were given priority.

According to State Secretary for Integration Affairs in the Ministry of Education, Grunde Kreek Almeland: “It is unfortunately the case that in many countries it is not the case that you are free to love whoever you want. In almost 70 countries, homosexuality is criminal and those who violate norms of gender and sexuality can be subjected to persecution and discrimination in their home country.”

And so “we are now changing the guidelines for the work with transfer refugees so that people who are queer should be given priority.”

Migrant refugees are persons who are normally registered as refugees with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It is UN that promotes the applications for the resettlement refugees, and the UDI decides which of them is allowed to come to Norway. In 2020, the Norway decided that the quota for resettlement refugees will be 3,000 people.

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Sudan lifts death penalty and flogging for gay sex

Sudan has lifted the death penalty and flogging as punishment for gay sex after approximately four decades of hardline Islamist rule. This much-needed development follows the toppling last year of autocrat Omar al-Bashir, who had been in power since 1989, with the new government pledging to lead the country to democracy.

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Small step; though one that’s long time coming.

Sudan has lifted the death penalty and flogging as punishment for gay sex after approximately four decades of hardline Islamist rule. This much-needed development follows the toppling last year of autocrat Omar al-Bashir, who had been in power since 1989, with the new government pledging to lead the country to democracy.

Same-sex relations remain criminalized in many arts of Africa and the Middle East. Sudan was one of six countries – aside from Iran, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia – that imposed the death penalty for gay sex.

Under Sudan’s old “anti-sodomy law”, gay men faced 100 lashes for the first offense, five years in jail for the second, and the death penalty the third. But the punishments have been reduced to prison terms from five years to life.

The legal amendment re gay sex was part of other reforms announced by the Sudanese justice minister, which also included plans to decriminalize apostasy or the abandonment of a religion; permitting non-Muslims to consume alcohol; banning female genital mutilation; and allowing women to travel with their children without a permit from a male relative.

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Malaysian minister advocates for trans people to be arrested and re-educated

In Malaysia, the Religious Affairs Minister caused a stir after he gave “full license” to Islamic authorities to arrest and “educate” transgender people. Minister Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri announced via Facebook that he’d given the country’s religious police, a.k.a. called JAWI, “full licen(s)e to carry out its enforcement actions” against transgender people.

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Religious extremists in positions of power?

In Malaysia, the Religious Affairs Minister caused a stir after he gave “full license” to Islamic authorities to arrest and “educate” transgender people. Minister Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri announced via Facebook that he’d given the country’s religious police, a.k.a. called JAWI, “full licen(s)e to carry out its enforcement actions” against transgender people.

He similarly said that the authorities should subject transgender people to “religious education” in a bid to “return them to the right path”.

“Islam is a religion that wants to educate,” the Facebook post stated. “We will work towards coordinated efforts from all agencies under the religious affairs wing in the prime minister’s department.”

Local LGBTQIA organizations are, rightfully, calling out the minister’s hateful stance.

For instance, in a statement, SEED Malaysia stated that the minister’s bigoted comments would “fuel hatred” against the country’s transgender community. “The transgender community in Malaysia already face continued persecution by the state and broader society… The statement by Dr. Zulkifli and the threat of arrest will drive the transgender community further into hiding. This will deteriorate the communities’ access to basic rights even more.”

This is worth noting: Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country, and it forbids homosexuality under its Islamic laws. The country’s secular laws also criminalize gay sex.

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Netherlands to remove gender from identity cards

By 2024 or 2025, gender identity will no longer be contained in Dutch national identity cards. This move is expected to counter-check the potential harms caused by gender declaration – e.g. harassment, discrimination and violence – particularly when there is no justification to publish a person’s legal gender at all.

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By 2024 or 2025, gender identity will no longer be contained in Dutch national identity cards.

This after the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ingrid van Engelshoven, announced the decision in a letter to the House of Representatives. This move is actually part of a broader plan from the Ministry, which also includes limiting “unnecessary gender registration”.

This move is expected to counter-check the potential harms caused by gender declaration – e.g. harassment, discrimination and violence – particularly when there is no justification to publish a person’s legal gender at all.

Gender identity will, however, remain on Dutch passports due to European Union regulation.

The removal of information that used to be deemed “important” from IDs is not actually new.

Various countries, for instance, already exclude personal characteristics, such as race, religion or marital status, which could cause more harm than good.

The Netherlands is not the first EU country to do this. In 2013, Germany recognized indeterminate sex by permitting babies born with no clear gender-determining anatomy to be put on the birth register without a male or female classification.

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Thailand could become first Southeast Asian country to legalize same-sex civil partnerships

Thailand’s Cabinet approved a draft bill that will legally recognize same-sex civil partnerships while giving greater rights to same-sex couples. If/when passed into law, this could be the first for any nation in Southeast Asia; and the second in Asia to allow for the registration of same-sex unions after Taiwan legalized marriage equality in 2019.

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The rainbow rises in Thailand.

Thailand’s Cabinet approved a draft bill that will legally recognize same-sex civil partnerships while giving greater rights to same-sex couples. If/when passed into law, this could be the first for any nation in Southeast Asia; and the second in Asia to allow for the registration of same-sex unions after Taiwan legalized marriage equality in 2019.

This is a major step, but to clarify, it doesn’t endorse same-sex “marriage(EMPHASIS OURS). Instead, the Civil Partnership Bill allows same-sex couples to legally register their union.

The draft bill defines “civil partners” as “couples born with the same sex”. To register, couples must be at least 17 years old and at least one of the pair must be a Thai citizen; meaning that – similar to Taiwan’s law on this – foreign same-sex couples will not be able register their partnership in Thailand.

Those under the age of 17 must get permission from their parents/legal guardian.

Under the draft bill, same-sex couples will be allowed to adopt children, claim inheritance rights, and jointly manage assets such as property for the first time. However, partners would not be entitled to the same financial benefits that heterosexual couples get from the state.

The bill also covers rules for separations – e.g. unions could be ended by death, voluntary separation or court order.

While the Cabinet’s approval is a major development, process-wise, this is far from over as the draft bill still needs to go through a public hearing and then the House of Representatives (HOR) will debate and vote on it. If HOR passes the bill, it will then will go to the Senate for another vote.

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City in Massachusetts officially recognizes polyamorous relationships

The city of Somerville in Massachusetts in the US passed an ordinance that officially recognizes polyamorous relationships by no longer limiting the number of people included in domestic partnerships.

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#LoveisLove

The city of Somerville in Massachusetts in the US passed an ordinance that officially recognizes polyamorous relationships by no longer limiting the number of people included in domestic partnerships.

With this, Somerville becomes one of the first cities in the US to officially recognize polyamorous relationships.

This move was actually a result of a few subtle language shifts – e.g. instead of defining a relationship as an “entity formed by two persons,” the ordinance now defines it as an “entity formed by people”; replaces “he and she” with “they”; and replaces “both” with “all.”

The City Council passed the ordinance on June 25; and on June 29, Mayor Joe Curtatone signed it into municipal law.

Polyamory is usually defined as the practice of having multiple consensual intimate relationships, and is often described as consensual non-monogamy. Relationships can be sexual or romantic, and are not gender-specific. Polyamorous relationships are diverse and can look different depending on the family. Sometimes it means having a primary relationship and seeking casual intimacy, and sometimes it means involving a third or fourth (and so on) person in building a family structure.

Photo by ATC Comm Photo from Pexels.com

This is important: It is illegal in all 50 American states to be married to more than one person, which is known as polygamy, not polyamory. Polygamy is tied to marriage (and is also gendered); and does not reference romance, intimacy or even consent.

Polyamory, meanwhile, refers to different kinds of arrangements — e.g. when a married couple has regular outside partners. Prior to this ordinance, there was no legal framework in Somerville for polyamorous families to share finances, custody of children or the rights and responsibilities that come with marriage.

Somerville is now in the process of changing the application to include space for more than two partners.

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