The 10 Best LGBT Films of 2015

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i-am-michael-x750_2It’s the holiday season, which means it’s time to carol. Or at least, it’s time to sing our praises forCarol and the other LGBT cinematic standouts of the year.

Making a film with LGBT characters and themes is no easy task, even in a post–marriage equality country like the United States. Yet around the world, brave filmmakers continue to try, and they often succeed in creating stories that increase visibility and move the cultural needle for the LGBT community.

The Advocate salutes all these filmmakers and would like to give special recognition to several standout productions. Thus, here is a list of 10 of our favorite films from 2015 (in no specific order).

The New Girlfriend
Channeling Brian De Palma and Alfred Hitchcock, The New Girlfriend is a gender-bending new film by François Ozon (Swimming Pool). Set in France, the plot centers on the relationship between the characters of Claire and David. David’s wife (and Claire’s best friend) has recently died, and her passing makes David come to terms with their gender identity. Claire is at first alarmed, and then is seduced by “The New Girlfriend” in her life, as were we.

Carol
It’s New York in the 1950s. You’re working as a shopgirl in a department store, when suddenly, you lock eyes with a gorgeous older woman in a fur coat. You sell her a train set, but she forgets her gloves on the counter. Perhaps you should give her a call. So begins the electrifying romance between Therese (Rooney Mara) and Carol (Cate Blanchett), women who develop a friendship and then something far deeper in a time when same-sex love still dared not speak its name. Directed by Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven), the film was adapted for the screen by Phyllis Nagy from The Price of Salt, a 1952 romance novel written by Patricia Highsmith under the cover of a pen name. At the time, the story was highly unconventional, as its lesbian characters did not die or “meet the right man” or join a convent. It took decades before the world was ready for a film adaptation. At long last, audiences can see Carol in all its glory.

The Danish Girl
Eddie Redmayne delivers an astounding performance as 20th-century transgender icon Lili Elbe in director Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl. An adaptation of a book of the same name by David Ebershoff, the film follows the remarkable love story inspired by the lives of artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener (played by Alicia Vikander) as their relationship evolves while the two navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey to discover her true self. “I hope others are as inspired by Lili’s story as I was and continue to be,” Redmayne told The Advocate. “At a time in which there were no predecessors that she knew of, she still had the absolute knowledge in herself of who she was and what she needed to do to liberate herself. The fact that she valued life and authenticity enough to give her everything and anything, I think that is extraordinary.”

Grandma
Grandma marks Lily Tomlin’s first lead role in a film in nearly three decades, which is one reason to celebrate. Another reason? The lesbian actress portrays a lesbian character — Ellie, a poet whose partner has recently died. The film, which has generated much-deserved acclaim for Tomlin’s performance, centers on the relationship between Ellie and her granddaughter as they go on a road trip together and confront their pain. What are grandmas for, darlin’?

Tangerine
Tangerine is one of the year’s most acclaimed independent darlings. Directed by Sean S. Baker and Chris Bergoch, the film follows the story of two friends, who also happen to be transgender sex workers, Alexandra and Sin-Dee Rella, across the backdrop of the saturated streets of Hollywood. And it’s shot entirely on an iPhone 5s. The story goes: Sin-Dee, after being released from prison, discovers that her boyfriend has been cheating on her with a white cisgender woman. Furious, she goes on a hunt for revenge and solicits Alexandra as an accomplice. And in the process, the friends show the audience a side of Los Angeles that is rarely seen in media. Nominated for four Spirit Awards, including acting nods for its leads, Tangerine is a must-see film.

Bessie
Queen Latifah stars as legendary bisexual blues singer Bessie Smith in the HBO film Bessie. Directed by out filmmaker Dee Rees (Pariah), the production charts Smith’s rise to fame through the 1920s and ’30s as one of the greatest talents of her time. It also stars Oscar winner Mo’Nique as her mentor (and rumored lover) Ma Rainey. Ooh-la-la! Don’t miss this Emmy Award–winning production.

I Am Michael
Michael Glatze, a former LGBT activist, ignited a firestorm of controversy when he publicly renounced his homosexuality and became an antigay born-again Christian. This “ex-gay” story is told cinematically in I Am Michael by writer and director Justin Kelly, who based the screenplay on a New York Times Magazine article by Benoit Denizet-Lewis. Glatze himselfpraised lead actor James Franco, whose performance he credits with being part of his own “gigantic healing process.” The rest of the cast, including Zachary Quinto as his ex-partner, do a wonderful job of telling a story that could have been quite judgmental but succeeds in recounting one man’s struggle for identity.

Eisenstein in Guanajuato
Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, known for his 1925 classic Battleship Potemkin, is depicted in new, sensual light in the international biopic Eisenstein in Guanajuato. The film, which shows Eisenstein’s relationship with another man during his time in Mexico, has incited controversy in Eisenstein’s native Russia, which considers him a national hero from its cultural past. Directed by British filmmaker Peter Greenaway, Eisenstein in Guanajuato has been attacked for its accuracy (or lack thereof), but it has already proved itself a relevant, passionate, and much-needed film in a world that still tries to erase LGBT history.

Boy Meets Girl
Boy Meets Girl is a romantic comedy that crosses gender lines and is set (and was filmed in) rural Kentucky. The plot centers around four characters in a small town: a transgender woman (Michelle Hendley), a barista who aspires to be a fashion designer, a car mechanic (Michael Welch), a Southern belle (Alexandra Turshen), and a military veteran. As each of them grapples with love and identity, Boy Meets Girl itself becomes a quiet revolution in how a film with LGBT characters can be made.

Girlhood
French filmmaker Céline Sciamma is known for her coming-of-age classics like Water Lilies andTomboy, which explore how young people grapple with sexuality and gender identity. Her latest film, the acclaimed Girlhood, is no less revolutionary in its portrayal of a group of African-French teens navigating race, gender, class, and their own sexual identities in the Paris suburbs

 

Editorial

 

Now this list is what The Advocate has published, the question for our readers which LGBT film do they think is the best in 2015 – please let us know by writing in on our comments board and we will gather your votes and publish them.

 

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Gay man wins court fight to avoid extradition to Dubai on theft charge

Belfast Telegraph logoPUBLISHED 22/12/2015

 

Dubai, UAE

A gay Briton has won his battle to avoid being extradited to the United Arab Emirates, where homosexuality is illegal.

Mr Halliday said in a statement quoted by The Guardian newspaper: “I have been through a distressing eight months of uncertainty not knowing if I would face extradition to UAE to face accusations that I firmly believe I can prove I am not guilty of.

“It is not the clearing of my name that I feared. It was more a serious question as to whether there was a realistic prospect of me being able to prove my innocence at trial given the UAE’s unfair justice system (has a) poor track record in (its) treatment of foreign prisoners and particularly members of the LGBT community.

“Thankfully, after today’s outcome, I can now continue my life without fear of the prospect of extradition.”

Gay sex is punishable by death according to UAE federal law and carries a 10-year prison term in Dubai.

Mr Halliday, from the Midlands, is reportedly accused of taking money from a safe at a department store where he worked as an operations manager.

The UAE made formal request for his extradition in June last year.

The Guardian quoted District Judge Jeremy Coleman saying in his ruling: “The trial, treatment and conditions of those accused or convicted of criminal offences in the UAE is still the subject of complaint and is often alleged to fall well below the required standards … Taking into account Mr Halliday’s own circumstances, I cannot be satisfied that he would not be at significant risk.”

A Crown Prosecution Service spokeswoman said: “We are carefully considering the judgment.”

Kiss Me Softly (Kus me zachtjes) 2002

Kiss-me-Softly-cc

 

Director:   Anthony Schatteman

Writer:   Anthony Schatteman

Stars:   Ezra Fieremans, Tim Bogaerts, Marijke Pinoy

Another welcome short movie, this one is from 2002 and is about 17 year old Jasper who cannot be himself in his family.  His father, Lukkie Luk, is a singer and he draws in all the attention within the family to himself, and Jasper is left almost in limbo trying to find ways of handling this whilst also trying to find answer to the typical questions of a teenager growing through adolescence.

NIghtfall (Anochecer) 2012

Yet again I have found a short movie which hasn’t see much light of day, and deserves a better airing.  Anochecer (or Nightfall) is a beautiful written and acted tale about the start of a love affair.  Of the journey yet to come, and of a tale in which more is left to our imagination than is explicitly told.

 

Director: Lucas Mac Dougall
Cast: Leandro Gauto, Juan Yarcho
Argentina | 2012 | 9 min

 

 

This Phone Ad Shows You How To Turn Your Penis Into A Lightsaber (NSFW)

huff-post-gay-voices-logo-1 Ron Dicker

16/12/2015

 

Why didn’t George Lucas and J.J. Abrams think of this? (Don’t answer that. We know why.)

Watch two naked guys have a “Star Wars” lightsaber duel with what appear to be their condom-sheathed penises.

The NSFW ad for Wiko in France promotes the mobile phone company’s deal of a portable plus glow-in-the-dark rubbers.

The offer lasts through Dec. 23 — plenty of time to be ready for when your Force awakens.

Please note the following might be too explicit for some viewers.

If It's Hard to Picture Legal Anti-Gay Witchunts, Watch This Movie About Cameroon

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John-Manuel Andriote

16/12/2015

 

African American in Prison

African American in Prison

 

Picture this: A neighbor decides he doesn’t like your hairstyle. He figures it’s cut in a way that must mean you are gay. He calls the police. You are arrested for violating the law that criminalizes homosexuality.

You’re rushed through a court packed with anti-gay religious zealots, shouting insults, demanding conviction. You are convicted and now face five years in prison.

And that’s only the beginning. What you face inside makes life outside of prison look like a cake walk.

Is it only a bad dream?

Unfortunately it’s real life for gay men and lesbians in Cameroon. The French-speaking country on Africa’s west coast has managed to avoid the bad publicity that has greeted Nigeria and Uganda’s harsh treatment of their gay and lesbian citizens, perhaps because it possesses nothing coveted by the West — such as oil, as does next-door Nigeria. Cameroon has been arresting, imprisoning and ruining the lives of gay men and lesbians with impunity. It’s one of the world’s 79 countries that criminalize homosexuality.

A 2015 report from the International Federation for Human Rights concludes that Cameroon’s government, the police and judiciary are all “accomplices in arbitrary arrests and ignoring complaints against the perpetrators of violations of the rights of the defenders of LGBTI persons’ rights.” To ensure maximum repression, the government can even arrest, convict and imprison someone simply for standing up publicly for a gay friend — even if that person isn’t gay.

The report notes that any person can be targeted, “whether a lawyer, activist, academic, intellectual, religious leader, trade unionist, journalist, community leader, public officer or a member of an NGO or an association” for peacefully protesting against violations of the rights of LGBTI persons. “Their actions are criminalized and their freedom of speech, association and assembly impeded.”

If it’s hard to picture such blatant, legalized anti-gay witchunting and its impact on your life as you go about your business in Cameroon, I urge you to watch an exceptional film called Born This Way. The documentary follows Cedric, a young gay man determined to stay in his home even as his neighbors threaten to kill him, and Gertrude, a young lesbian struggling to come out to the nun who, she says, is more like a mother to her than her actual mother.

For his part, Cedric doesn’t want to come out to his mother. “My mother is everything to me,” he says. “But telling her I’m gay would be a shock for her.” He explains that “family is everything” and he is not willing to risk losing his family’s affection.

Gertrude works at Alternatives Cameroon, a human rights center that offers counseling, legal counseling for men and women incarcerated for homosexuality and even HIV prevention and testing. The organization’s important role in the local LGBTI community is an example of how HIV/AIDS programs in developing countries frequently also serve as vital resources for political and social organizing.

All of us who have struggled to come out to a parent or other revered figure in our lives will see ourselves in the look of dread on Gertrude’s face as she is about to come out to the Mother Superior she adores, the stumbling effort to share her truth and the palpable relief after she does so. Those of us fortunate to have found a loving response, rather than rejection, will share Gertrude’s relief when the nun responds, “It’s something so profound, so personal and it’s often difficult to take on. But when you’re like that, you’re like that. So it’s something you take on. Now how will you live it? That’s your responsibility. Understand?”

“The affection she had for me is still there,” says Gertrude. “I won’t forget that. She took time to understand me. That takes love.”

The film — winner of a number of awards including the 2013 Outfest (Los Angeles) Grand Jury Documentary — also highlights the brave work of Cameroonian human rights lawyer Alice Nkom, based in Douala, one of the few lawyers in the country willing to represent men and women accused of homosexual conduct.

The most dramatic moments in Born This Way come by way of a hidden camera brought into a packed courtroom where Ms. Nkom is representing two women, Esther and Pascaline, arrested for being lesbians. The women lost their jobs and had to move. Ms. Nkom argued the judge should throw out the case because Article 347 of the Penal Code, the law used to persecute and prosecute gay and lesbian people, is invalid as it is contrary to Cameroon’s constitution. The judge rejected Ms. Nkom’s argument, convicted and sentenced the two women to five years in prison. While the women await their appeal to the country’s supreme court, they have become outspoken LGBT activists in Cameroon.

Cedric and Gertrude’s stories have happier outcomes, as both of them ultimately receive asylum and relocate to the United States. “I’m very happy to be here,” says Cedric. “It’s a big relief to be rid of those people.”

Over footage showing her receiving communion from the Mother Superior, Gertrude says, “Before, if I’d go by a Catholic church, I’d just go in and cry and cry. I still cry, but not like before.”

The bright smiles, happy dancing and joyful music shared by men and women at an Alternatives Cameroon gathering will be familiar to anyone who has attended an LGBT Pride event. But so will the stories, like Cedric’s and Gertrude’s, and the private fears and tears behind the smiling, dancing and joy.

 

 

God's warriors are locked in a barbaric, futile battle against marriage equality

The Guardian LogoDavid Marr

Thursday 10 December

 

 

 

 

 

 

The opposition of Australian bishops to equal marriage is ignored by the public and will ultimately be faced down. But not before the established church threatens mayhem and terrifies politicians in defence of the status quo

 The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, delivering the homily during the annual marriage mass and renewal of vows at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney. ‘Fisher said nothing that cold night at St Mary’s Cathedral about his church’s rule that these men are bound for hell if they ever have sex with one another. Perhaps he didn’t need to.’ Photograph: Paul Miller/AAP


The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, delivering the homily during the annual marriage mass and renewal of vows at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney. ‘Fisher said nothing that cold night at St Mary’s Cathedral about his church’s rule that these men are bound for hell if they ever have sex with one another. Perhaps he didn’t need to.’ Photograph: Paul Miller/AAP

 

The power of the hard men of God is one of the great political puzzles of this country. They are the only opponents of equal marriage. They don’t remotely have the numbers. But they have log-jammed reform.

I’ve been tracking the power of these people most of my professional life. It’s no wonder. When I was a kid journalist, sex for men like me was a crime nearly everywhere in Australia.

Kissing was assault. One year in the early 1980s, a Sydney magistrate fined a man $50 for tongue-kissing another on the dance floor of an Oxford Street club. Fucking carried a prison sentence of 14 years.

In that lost world, hardly anyone was thrown behind bars. The point was the threat and the shame. The upshot was corruption and violence. Lives were ruined.

And just as they are fighting today against equal marriage, warriors of the cloth battled with everything they had to keep it that way.

They fought from the pulpit, in the press and along the corridors of every parliament in the land. They fought in the name of children – and, yes, some of these men turned out to be protecting paedophiles. They vilified homosexuals. They declared the fate of western civilisation was hanging in the balance.

Australians wanted these cruel laws changed. We are not a profoundly conservative country. Support for keeping sodomy a crime had collapsed here just as it had in the rest of the western world.

What made reform such an agonising business in Australia wasn’t overcoming public reluctance but defeating the preachers. They can’t promise votes. They can threaten mayhem.

Politicians are terrified of them. Grappling with churches is about the most distasteful contest they can imagine. The faiths remain the most resilient, most respected and the best-connected lobby in the nation.

Whether the issue is homosexuality, divorce, abortion, euthanasia or equal marriage, religion has the power to shatter party discipline.

Neville Wran, an atheist premier with a fat majority, shilly-shallied over the change for the best part of a decade. He could count absolutely on the people of New South Wales. Their support for decriminalising homosexuality was never in doubt. But he feared humiliation at the hands of his caucus.

Sydney Mardi Gras was already touted round the world before Wran acted. That was in 1984. Already over the line were South Australia, Victoria and the ACT. Tasmania was the last state to stare down the preachers in 1997.

The battle for equal marriage brings back to the field the same old rhetoric, the same fears, the same tactics and the same combatants.

This is not a pitched battle between Christian and secular Australia. Many Christians find the fight against equal marriage embarrassing, even barbaric. Their voices are hardly heard.

 

 Facebook Twitter Pinterest A letter from the Catholic Bishops of Australia arguing against same-sex marriage and marriage equality. Photograph: Catholic Bishops of Australia


A letter from the Catholic Bishops of Australia arguing against same-sex marriage and marriage equality. Photograph: Catholic Bishops of Australia

 

Politicians fear the defenders of the citadel: Catholic and Orthodox bishops; evangelical Anglicans; Presbyterians and other protestants who shunned the Uniting Church; mighty Hillsong and those who gather under the umbrella of the Australian Christian Lobby. Their (mostly) silent partners in the struggle are Muslims and conservative Jews.
Miraculously they are holding the line.

Much deeper than bigotry

I know many of these warriors. I’ve debated them, read their work and reported their campaigns. To call them bigots is too simple. Though without the loathing of homosexuality, there would be far fewer recruits to their crusades.

Disgust comes gorgeously packaged these days. “God made every person unique and irreplaceable as His beloved images in this world,” the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, preached this past winter. “If God loves people with same-sex attraction, so must the church.”
Fisher said nothing that cold night at St Mary’s Cathedral about his church’s rule that these men are bound for hell if they ever have sex with one another. Perhaps he didn’t need to. The teaching is so familiar.
Disgust comes gorgeously packaged these days

And though he spoke of the “justice and compassion” Catholics offer homosexuals, he forgot to mention the exemptions his church – and most faiths – demand from anti-discrimination laws so they can go on refusing to employ lesbians, transsexuals and homosexuals or sack any they discover on the payrolls of their schools, charities and hospitals.

The faiths call this just discrimination. As Fisher said so piously that night: “All forms of unjust discrimination must be opposed.”

This goes much deeper than bigotry. It’s about claiming the most intimate power over believers, the power to forbid any sex without the blessing of the church. That means never before marriage; never outside marriage; and, of course, never with the same sex.
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These ancient rules were law for centuries. Judges and police were supposed to jump to the aid of bishops and preachers. The noose and the stake sent the worst offenders to hell. Shame did the rest.
Nearly every one of these laws is dead and gone after titanic brawls we tend to put out of our minds because they seem, in retrospect, so absurd. This is a mistake. The lesson is that we’re fighting the one battle here, over and over again.
And because the warriors of the faiths know the tide of popular opinion is running strongly against them, they fight for keeps. They realise no defeat will ever be reversed. It’s once and forever.
So they dig in with a particular and at times comic ferocity. The example of the world counts for nothing in their eyes. Though equal marriage has been embraced by nearly every Western nation, the warriors are fighting to the last – just as they fought no-fault divorce, the morning-after pill, IVF for lesbians, smut on television and sparing gays the useful terror of prison.

 Facebook Twitter Pinterest George Brandis, the attorney general, criticised ‘an alarming emergence of intolerance of religious faith’. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


George Brandis, the attorney general, criticised ‘an alarming emergence of intolerance of religious faith’. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

 

Australia is the land of the warriors’ last resort.

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But the troops are deserting them. The faithful are no longer as willing as they were to obey the ancient Christian sex rules. They have shrugged off the power of their bishops and preachers.
Just like the rest of us they live together before they marry. They use the pill. They have abortions. They divorce. They remarry without annulment. They aren’t much troubled by their homosexual brothers and children. And most back equal marriage.
When Crosby Textor asked Australians in 2014 if they supported or opposed allowing same-sex couples to marry, they found support high across the faiths as well as Australia:
Total support: 72%.
Catholics: 67%.

Christians generally: 59%.

Anglican and Uniting: 57%.

The bishops aren’t speaking for their flocks. And while the Australian Christian Lobby blasts marriage reform with startling ferocity, pollsters make it clear these preachers speaks for few of us.

According to Crosby Textor only 21% of Australians oppose equal marriage. For every opponent there are three or more Australians who support equal marriage. Success should be a lay down misère.

It isn’t.

 Facebook Twitter Pinterest A composite image of Australian same-sex couples. A Crosby Textor poll found that 72% of people supported marriage equality. Photograph: Getty Images


A composite image of Australian same-sex couples. A Crosby Textor poll found that 72% of people supported marriage equality. Photograph: Getty Images

 

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference issued a pastoral letter earlier this year called Don’t Mess with Marriage. The pictures are gorgeous. Disdain for homosexuals is buried beneath the usual gauzy rhetoric about love, respect and justice.

“We wish,” say the bishops “to engage with this debate.” There’s no debate. They simply assert in various ways on page after page that marriage can only ever be “an institution designed to support people of the opposite sex to be faithful to each other and to the children of their union.”

A complaint about Don’t Mess with Marriage has been taken to the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Board. This is ludicrous. Homosexuals don’t need to run to tribunals for protection from the insults of the clergy.

And the case is a gift to Christian hardliners. They are crying liberty.

“Same-sex marriage ideology is incompatible with freedom,” the head of the ACL thundered. “All of the debate of the past five years has been about forcing people of conscience to bow to the new definition of marriage.”

News Corp columnists have taken up this line with extraordinary passion. In prose that wouldn’t disgrace the King James Bible, Paul Kelly warns of “a calculated strike by parliaments and anti-discrimination boards using the cover of same-sex justice to achieve a quantum reduction in religious freedom and a pivotal change in the norms of our society.”

In early November, the attorney general, George Brandis, spoke of “an alarming emergence of intolerance of religious faith” by some of the most voluble elements in the community” when he opened the Human Rights Commission’s “roundtable” on religious freedom.

“It is the work of the roundtable,” Brandis said, “to develop strategies and understandings which promote a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect within a culture of freedom.”

Australians have grown cynical about claims that the faiths are the true guardians of families and children. That’s looking, after a couple of years’ evidence to the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, a little shop soiled.

But we care about religious freedom. We remain tolerant of churches. We loathe interfering in their affairs. As much as possible we want to leave them to themselves. We are oddly reluctant even to name them as opponents – often the only opponents – in political contests of this kind.

This is an asset for the faiths that gives them strength beyond their numbers. And they are even stronger because this secular, respectful country doesn’t have much appetite for interrogating their claims. We say: that’s just them.

But as the fight over equal marriage takes this turn, it has to be asked what the hard men of God mean when they say liberty of faith is under threat in Australia? Is there anything at stake here other than them wanting to go on belittling homosexuals at maximum volume?

Two fundamental claims lie behind the rhetoric of freedom imperilled.

First, the warriors say abuse is forcing them into the shadows. They want to be loved as they pursue their ancient quarrels. Men who might once have faced lions for their faith are whinging about ridicule.
Here is Fisher a few weeks ago: “When people like me … enter the fray on marriage we now expect to be tagged ‘ultra-conservative’, ‘tedious imbecile’, ‘delusional nutter’, ‘evangelical clap-trapper’ and even ‘nauseating piece of filth’ not just in the anti-social media but even in the mainstream.

“What is new is that such ad hominem hails not just from fevered activists and net trolls but from respected journalists and public figures.”

The warriors of the cloth ought not to be abused. But men like Fisher are strangely unwilling to grasp why their opposition to equal marriage might stir ugly passions. Right or wrong, they seem unable to acknowledge the profound change of heart in this country to both homosexuality and marriage.

Men like Sydney Anglican priest Peter Kurti see themselves not as collateral damage in a great shift of values but targets of an “aggressive secularism that wants to drive religion out of the public square”.

“This campaign seeks completely to drive away religion, particularly Christianity, from the social and cultural realm where faith is practised, to the private and confined realm of the mind.”

That deserted public square is a key image in this debate. But men like Kurti, Fisher and Lyle Shelton are as active as ever in that space. They have all the platforms they have ever had to pursue their causes. They may not have the airtime they would like, but in a year or so there is to be a national debate on same-sex marriage on which Canberra has promised to spend $160m.

They aren’t victims. They just don’t have the traction they once had. They aren’t as respected. They aren’t as believed. They have lost their veto.

Abusing them is inexcusable, but what has happened to Christian fortitude? Aren’t the warriors of the faith supposed to boast rather than complain that standing against the zeitgeist earns them no applause?
I have read thousands of words trying to identify any freedom at stake that doesn’t involve demeaning homosexuals

The second fundamental is the claim allowing equal marriage would mean the inevitable loss of religious liberty.

It’s apparently a zero sum game for the warriors: freedom won is freedom lost. When two blokes are allowed to marry, the faiths are no longer free.

I have read thousands of words over the last weeks trying to identify any freedom at stake in this exchange that doesn’t involve demeaning homosexuals in the name of their God.

Alas, in the words of the old song, that’s all there is.

Fisher promotes a grim dystopian future should equal marriage ever become the law of the land. It’s easy slippery slope stuff: allow this, and what other horrors – like forcing churches to pay tax – might follow?

Of this mythical Australia of 2025 he said: “Already one Catholic bishop has been briefly jailed for refusing to apply the state-approved ‘LGBTIQQ safety protocols and awareness program’ to the schools in his diocese; and parents at Jewish and Muslim schools have been advised that they may not withdraw their children from such programs.

“Many clergy and teachers in faith-based schools have been cowed with threats of prosecution for ‘hate speech’ if they teach that divine law limits marriage to people of opposite sex.”

Disdain for homosexuals is key to these fears, but they go deeper than bigotry. Allow men to marry each other, and what happens to church teaching that marriage is the sacred gateway to sex?

Opposition to same sex marriage isn’t about freedom, it’s about privilege. It’s a last ditch stand to keep the most fundamental of the sex rules of Christendom entrenched in law.

Fisher and his kind know they will never be forced to perform same-sex marriages themselves. Nor would any Australian government compel them to allow their churches to be used for such ceremonies. Yet in a world that accepts same sex-marriage they see such “niggardly exemptions” as not enough to guarantee their freedom.

This is where they talk of small town martyrs in North America: men and women of profound faith compelled to bake wedding cakes, take wedding photographs and offer double beds to honeymooning gay couples.

Fisher is calling for these “ordinary believers and their businesses” to be exempted from anti-discrimination laws. Hardliners across the board want the legal privileges enjoyed – and fiercely protect – by their religious organisations to be extended to the faithful.

 Bob Katter refused to allow publicly homophobic candidates run for his party. Even a man running a breakaway party based in rural Queensland could see this was poison at the ballot box. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Bob Katter refused to allow publicly homophobic candidates run for his party. Even a man running a breakaway party based in rural Queensland could see this was poison at the ballot box. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

 

As each month passes, this astonishing demand to bust anti-discrimination schemes across Australia is looking more and more like a deal being offered by the faiths to government.

“The terms of their defeat are up for grabs,” says David Glasgow, an Australian lawyer working at New York University Law School. He has watched the same demands being made by the faithful across America since the supreme court approved equal marriage in June.

“Many religious people object to all homosexual activity and relationships, not just marital ones. If baking a cake makes a business owner complicit in the sin of same-sex marriage, a wide range of activities could make them complicit in the sin of same-sex relationships.

“What’s to stop an architect from claiming that it violates his or her faith to build a home for a same-sex couple, or a police officer saying the same when asked to keep the peace at a pride march … this is religious liberty on steroids.”

The end is nigh

I won’t be rushing to marry. It didn’t turn out so well the last time. And I reckon that after nearly 20 years, my partner and I are as married as two people can be. No kids of course, but absolutely married.

How Australia has changed even in those years. One marker I love of that transformation was Bob Katter’s refusal a couple of years ago to allow two candidates for his Katter Australia Party to fly the flag of homophobia.

One tweeted he would never allow a gay person to teach his children. The other equated homosexuals with paedophiles. Both were dumped. Even a man running a breakaway party based in rural Queensland could see this was poison at the ballot box

 Facebook Twitter Pinterest A rally for marriage equality in May, attended by Christine Forster, the sister of Tony Abbott, and her partner Virginia Edwards. Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

A rally for marriage equality in May, attended by Christine Forster, the sister of Tony Abbott, and her partner Virginia Edwards. Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

 

So why do politicians take it seriously when it’s delivered from the pulpit?

The politics of salvation are always on the boil in this country. But this is not an entirely bleak story. Within the churches, fine men and women continue to struggle against the forces of punitive Christianity. Christians everywhere have joined the fight for equal marriage.

And the wishes of the people can’t be denied forever. That’s the lesson from the brawls of my youth over gay rights. Good, secular sense wins out in the end. It always does.

Equal marriage will happen. There are more rounds to fight. But even the most hardline contenders know it will happen. God’s work is in the delay, in making change as painful as possible.

But Australia will get there in the end

Little Game by Benny

Little Game-5 Little Game-4 Little Game-3 Little Game-2 Little Game-1

 

“Little Game is Benny’s debut single and music video as a dark alternative pop narrative on gender roles and gender equality. The video demonstrates the skewed enforcement of falling into masculine and feminine archetypes.

 

Play us like pawns
and relentlessly confined
into living up to gender roles
and having absent minds
Don’t you think it’s funny how they tell us how to live
Don’t you think it’s funny how we’re all delinquent kids
Like hush now
Don’t say, Don’t say

Hush boy, oh hush boy
don’t say a word
throw on a jersey
no one gets hurt

Hush girl, oh hush girl
Just bat your eyes
Play our little game
Play our little game

Bounded all thoughts
and corrected common sense
you’re raising suicidals
with your predetermined titles
like a mess, distressed
I am unimpressed
Your excess
A dress
Is all you’ll be
Gender roles impose control
And deceive progressive times
Welcome, to the land of the broken mind

Hush boy, oh hush boy
don’t say a word
throw on a jersey
no one gets hurt

Hush girl, oh hush girl
just bat your eyes
play our little game
play our little game

Hush boy, oh hush boy
don’t say a word
throw on a jersey
no one gets hurt

Hush girl, oh hush girl
just bat your eyes
play our little game
play our little game

We feign opulence
just to get by
put on false confidence
just to feel alive
they cant hurt me anymore
there’s nothing left to break of me
there’s nothing left to take from me

’cause baby it’s easy to fake a smile
when you’ve been doing it for a while
baby it’s easy to fake a smile
when you’ve been doing it for a while

Hush boy, oh hush boy
don’t say a word
throw on a jersey
no one gets hurt

Hush girl, oh hush girl
just bat your eyes
play our little game
play our little game

Hush boy, oh hush boy
don’t say a word
throw on a jersey
no one gets hurt

Hush girl, oh hush girl
just bat your eyes
play our little game
play our little game

hush boy, oh hush boy
hush girl, oh hush girl

play our little game
play our little game
play our little game
play our little game
play our little game
won’t you play with me

Genius is the world’s biggest collection of song lyrics and crowdsourced musical knowledge.

Country Star Ty Herndon: 'I'm an Out, Proud and Happy Gay Man'

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11/20/2014

ty-herndon-600Five years ago, country singer Ty Herndon finally recognized that he had a very important story to share.

“During an Anthony Robbins seminar, I realized I had an incredible story that could possibly help someone’s son or daughter or grandchild’s life not be as difficult as mine has been,” he tells PEOPLE. “Maybe they wouldn’t have to go through as much pain and suffering. It’s time to tell my truth.”

That “truth” is about a part of himself he has kept secret for his entire career: “I’m an out, proud and happy gay man,” the Nashville artist revealed to PEOPLE during a sit-down in New York Tuesday. (Herndon appears on Entertainment Tonight Thursday at 7 p.m. ET, his first TV interview about his journey.)

The revelation was many years in the making for the 52-year-old singer, who first wondered if he was gay when he was about 10 years old and then began coming out to close family members at 20.

“My mother probably knew I was gay before I did. I remember sitting down with her and having the conversation,” recalls Herndon, noting his career path in country worried her. But, ultimately, “she was more concerned about me having a happy life. You have to be able to do that in your own skin, and [my family] has seen me struggle with being gay my whole career.”

Country Star Ty Herndon: 'I'm an Out, Proud and Happy Gay Man'| Country, Chely Wright, Kacey Musgraves, Ty Herndon

Ty Herndon

Valeisha Kelly-Pedigo

Some Early Snags

While his professional start was promising (he was earning steady airplay with hit singles including “What Mattered Most,” “Living in a Moment” and “It Must Be Love”), the singer hit some snags along the way – including an indecent exposure charge for allegedly exposing himself to a police officer in 1995 (the charge was later dropped in a plea bargain) and subsequent time in rehab for drug addiction.

“I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. They’ve been my mistakes, and I own them,” says Herndon, who was married to women twice before coming to terms with his sexuality. (He says both ex-wives knew he was gay.) “I’ve done a lot of work around forgiveness with people that I’ve hurt and people I’ve not been honest with because of my sexuality.”

Herndon’s revelation follows fellow country artist Chely Wright‘s coming out to PEOPLE in 2010.

Longtime Partner

Wright, a close friend of his, played a big part in his coming out – as did his longtime partner, Matt. A mutual friend introduced the couple, and they spoke on the phone for six months before meeting. As a one-year anniversary and Christmas present, Matt brought them to that fateful Anthony Robbins seminar in 2009 that reminded him of his own struggle – and his wish to spare others that pain.

“I was 10, sitting in church and horrified that I might be a homosexual. Whatever that word meant, I knew that I probably was one,” Herndon recalls. “And I know there’s a lot of those kids still out there. Telling my story is an opportunity to help just one of them,” says Herndon.

“They can be loved by God, they can be married one day, they can have a family, they can give their parents grandkids,” Herndon adds. “And they’re not broken, they’re not sinners and they’re perfectly beautiful.”

Both the singer and his partner are practicing Christians, and Herndon says it’s taken time to reconcile his faith with his sexuality. But he’s getting there.

“I sit on the tailgate of my pickup truck, and I meditate, and I talk to God,” he says. “That’s really all I need to know. I have a connection to something bigger than myself, and no one’s going to tell me that I can’t have it. We get to choose who we love, and that includes God, and he loves us back.”

Aside from religion, Herndon has had to redefine his place in another establishment: the country music community. As he sees it, the genre has made great strides, which was again demonstrated when Kacey Musgraves won top honors at the CMAs for her LGBT-approving hit “Follow Your Arrow.”

“There’s never been a song more affirmative of that in country music, and it’s our CMA Song of the year,” says Herndon, who “welled up in tears” during that moment.

“I felt so proud of my city. I hope that trend continues; I pray it does.”

Country Star Ty Herndon: 'I'm an Out, Proud and Happy Gay Man'| Country, Chely Wright, Kacey Musgraves, Ty Herndon

Ty Herndon

Valeisha Kelly-Pedigo

Upcoming Plans

Herndon, who is in the midst of his return to the industry, clearly is part of that trend. Last year, he released the autobiographical Lies I Told Myself and he’s been touring with fellow singers Jamie O’Neal and Andy Griggs. He plans to release a solo album next year.

Though he understands his revelation is a big one, he views it as a beautiful starting point for the next chapter of his life.

“[Being gay] is just an addendum. I’m a gay man, and I’m looking forward to living the rest of my life authentically and happy,” Herndon says.

Now that he’s out, there are a lot of uncertainties ahead, from how fans will react to where his career will go. But “I’m feeling very blessed,” Herndon says.

“I just want to show up for the causes that I believe in. And be able to walk down the street and hold this man’s hand that will be my husband one day, and I know we’ll have kids one day,” he adds.

“I’m still the same person. Fans just know a little more about me now.”

Country Singer Billy Gilman Comes Out As Gay in Personal YouTube Video

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billy-gilman-2014-lost-in-translation-billboard-650

Country singer Billy Gilman came out as gay online Thursday, hours after fellow country act Ty Herndon revealed he was gay as well.

The former child country star — best known for 2000’s tender “One Voice” — broke the news in a personal video posted to YouTube, addressing his fans with a clear nervousness.

“Today a fellow country artist and friend made it easier for me to make this video,” he says in the clip. “And I wanted my fans who have stuck by me for many, many years to know.”

 

Gilman tells a story of being caught by a reporter in Rhode Island at a local fall festival while he was there with his partner — “somebody who I am now, happily, sharing my life with,” he says. “And this reporter took a picture of us and it was in that moment that I knew that I’d rather it be from me than you reading it somewhere else and probably filled with not-truth.”

The singer continues, with an explanation of how difficult it is to be a gay country singer and how he has felt prejudice in Nashville based on rumors over his sexuality.

Billy Gilman Grows Up: From ‘One Voice’ to ‘Say You Will’

“Being a gay male country artist is not the best thing,” he says. “If people don’t like your music, that’s one thing. But after selling over 5 million records, having a wonderful life in the music industry, I knew something was wrong when no major label wanted to sit down and have a meeting and listen to the new stuff. … It’s difficult for me to make this video, not because I’m ashamed to be a gay male artist, or a gay artist, or a gay person, but it’s pretty silly to know that I’m ashamed of doing this knowing that because I’m in a genre in an industry that is ashamed of me for being me.”

Gilman thanks Herndon as well, who he says he’s “known and been a fan of, and congratulations on such a courageous effort.”

“I’ve been going back and forth on how to approach this and rather than do it on some talk show, I thought I’d do it in front of a simple camera, very personal,” Gilman says. “I’ve been an advocate for so many things in my life I thought now why not be an advocate for me and for the cause that I believe in with my whole heart.”