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Watch Nevada’s Openly Gay Senator Publicly Propose to His Partner

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You may remember Senator Kelvin Atkinson for the bravery that he exhibited when he came out as gay while opposing Nevada’s gay marriage ban. Now the senator is making headlines again by proposing to his partner of six-and-a-half years. But will the pair be allowed to marry?

There is nothing I like more than a good proposal video. Sure, the highly-polished and creative ones are great, but there’s also something to be said about an earnest proposal without much fanfare (just being in public doesn’t count). And there’s even more to be said about such a proposal if it’s right on the heels of an historic decision regarding gay marriage (or, as many gay people like to call it, marriage). Therefore, it’s no surprise that I got a little teary-eyed as I watched Atkinson ask his partner to marry him in the middle of a speech yesterday. And while I don’t know if it’s the way I’d like to be proposed too (not enough people dressed as Disney princesses or fireworks), there’s no denying that Atkinson and his partner’s happiness is infectious. And adorable. And all sorts of nice adjectives that mean good and sweet and cute and awesome.

http://youtu.be/AalHZdtIFys

http://jezebel.com/watch-nevadas-openly-gay-senator-publicly-propose-to-hi-1644090692

Relationships: The Gay Man’s Kryptonite?

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“The gays can’t stay in relationships because they’re always looking for the next best thing,”

Is it true that gay men have a harder time than heterosexual couples sustaining and developing romantic relationships?

“The gays can’t stay in relationships because they’re always looking for the next best thing,” said a friend of mine when asked the aforementioned question.

Was he onto something, or should the veracity of his statement be questioned?
Truth be told, I didn’t buy it.

If we look around, the marriage equality movement is undoubtedly moving at a steadfast pace. It seems as though every few odd months or so, another state is coming to its proverbial senses by allowing those who identify as LGBTQ the right to marry. Be that as it may, how many of us actually know someone—who identifies as LGBTQ, specifically—who has jumped the broom? Never mind the marriage chatter—how many of us actually know someone whom we could see tying the knot in the foreseeable future?
If you’re me, you certainly won’t need your toes for this calculation. Hell, a second hand isn’t even necessary.

Why?

Sure, there are many guys out there who are “looking for the next best thing”—as my friend contends—but that is hardly the entire story; in fact, I believe it’s a red herring. In order to fully understand why some gay men struggle with longevity in their relationship, I believe we need to consider the following:

After we realize and accept the fact that we are attracted to men, we then take time to get to know ourselves and to figure out what it is we want. Growing up, I’m sure there weren’t many archetypical gay couples—if any at all—that we could look to and say, “Oh! So that’s how it’s done.” Ergo, most of us spend quite a bit of time trying to understand where we fit in, figuratively (and perhaps even literally) speaking. Moreover, most of us usually do this while still in the closet, since…

…Many of us don’t even “come out” until we are young adults, or even older. Ponder this: If an individual isn’t comfortable with himself such that he lives and dates clandestinely, how can we expect him to be comfortable with another person?

Regrettably, many of us don’t feel as though the environments in which we submerge ourselves—whether familial, professional or even public—are welcoming and supportive, namely because of our sexual orientation. If we have to spend the better part of young adulthood—which is typically the time most individuals meet and settle with their significant other—overcoming these mental obstacles, then we have to believe these battles impede on our ability to fully invest in a romantic relationship.

Labels, labels, labels. I’ve argued ad nauseam against the overreliance of labels in the LGBTQ community, but, honestly, I’m swimming upstream on this topic. These labels—top, bottom, masculine, feminine, trade, fish, etc.—are concerted attempts to draw comparisons to our heterosexual counterparts, whether we want to admit it, or not.
Often, people claim that they lean on these labels to help make dating easier, insofar as matchmaking is concerned. However, I believe that these labels actually strain the development of relationships.

Society considers same-sex relationships to be second-tier. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg famously posited that the existence of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was proof that our society viewed same-sex marriage and unions as “skim milk,” relative to heterosexual unions. And while DOMA was eventually declared unconstitutional, she certainly was on to something.
How often do you see images of same-sex couples in public advertisements, in movie trailers or even television commercials? The answer: Not very. If society hasn’t fully embraced same-sex partnerships, could it be that we’re subconsciously relegating our relationships to a lower status?

Yes, there are some us who simply haven’t been, and aren’t in long-term relationships because we are “looking for the next best thing.” Honestly, quite a few of us probably aren’t even looking for anything at all (and there’s nothing wrong with that, either).

However, the next time we ready our diatribes against gay men and their alleged aversion to settling down, let’s stop ourselves and think about why that may be the case.

After all, things aren’t always what they seem.

– See more at: http://www.musedmagonline.com/2014/01/relationships-gay-mans-kryptonite/#sthash.r8INDGyz.dpuf

Trinidad and Tobago LGBT community left in the dark, Gov rejects equality

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Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar struck a sour note with citizens last week when, after making the feature address at the Trinidad and Tobago Investment Conference in New York, she told the media that her government would not seek to decriminalise homosexuality as “it would not be prudent […] to proceed in that direction at this time”.

Persad-Bissessar cited the draft National Gender Policy, explaining that feedback on the document was still “very divided”. Her position comes despite her promise, back in 2012, to end discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community via the very same gender policy. Two years later, it seems that equal rights is no longer a priority of her government.

In Trinidad and Tobago, Section 13 of the Sexual Offences Act (1986), criminalises “buggery”. If anal sex is carried out between adults, the imprisonment term can be as much as 25 years. While the law is not generally enforced, the fact that it remains on the books means that it theoretically can be. Religious fervour contributes to the general lack of social tolerance.

To underscore the point of the prime minister’s reneging on her promise, the Trinidad Guardian newspaper published portions of a letter which she sent to Lance Price, founder of The Kaleidoscope Trust, a UK-based non-profit that advocates for gay rights worldwide. Her 2012 correspondence was in reply to Price’s concerns about the way in which Trinidad and Tobago’s Immigration Act and Sexual Offences Act were discriminatory against the LGBT community. Persad-Bissessar wrote:

I wish to assure you that due consideration is being given to these issues by my Government.

I do not support discrimination in any form against any individual, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

I share your view that the stigmatisation of homosexuality in T&T is a matter which must be addressed on the grounds of human rights and dignity to which every individual is entitled under international law.

I have mandated my Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development […] to prepare and present a national gender policy to Cabinet over the coming months.

It is expected that once adopted, this policy will forge the way forward for T&T as my Government seeks to put an end to all discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation.
On Facebook, reaction was swift, with one user noting that when it came to equal rights, the prime minister passed the buck onto the citizenry, suggesting that the issue “may require as a referendum to get the views of the people”, yet her government was more than happy to proceed with constitutional reform without public consensus.

Blogger and university lecturer Rhoda Bharath took issue with the prime minister’s short memory, saying:

Remember the promise of the national gender policy?
Remember that Kamla promised to review gay rights?
Neither does Kamla….
Can’t wait to have folks in Gender studies tell me about all the hard work they doing on the national gender agenda….
An interesting angle to the controversy was the reaction of the country’s Roman Catholic Archbishop, who retaliated against the prime minister’s blame game. Persad-Bissessar had pointed fingers at the church, saying that a “Roman Catholic group” was up in arms about the draft gender policy; Archbishop Joseph Harris called the accusation “untrue” and “reckless”, saying that it insinuated the Catholic Church was supportive of the discrimination against the LGBT community. The Archbishop maintained that the church was just one of several religious groups that had reservations about some aspects of the gender policy.

On Facebook, Vernon O’Reilly Ramesar quipped:

I dunno but when you have the Catholic church saying you are backward this country’s politicians better start reassessing their policies. That’s like the Taliban saying you are too conservative.
He also posted a photo quote from American TV host and political commentator Rachel Maddow saying, “But here’s the thing about human rights. They’re not actually supposed to be voted on. That’s why they’re called rights.” Ramesar added:

Can we get Rachel to fly down and explain this to T&T politicians? They really don’t seem to grasp the concept.
Diaspora blogger Jumbie’s Watch called the prime minister’s stance “political cowardice”:

Obviously, with elections due next year, the PM is wary of her political survival, and is unwilling to tackle any contentious issue, including this one.

But, as a ‘senior counsel’, the PM ought to be aware that the laws against the LGBT community are illegal. Not might be, but actually are. Given that the Constitution is granting equal rights to all, those laws that ban homosexuality etc are ultra vires… Outside of the Constitution.
The blogger also noted, however, that “these laws have not been challenged by the LGBT community in court” — a point that Rhoda Bharath also picked up on. Her perception was that gays in Trinidad and Tobago are not very vocal about advocating for their own rights as a community. She asked on Facebook:

Is the gay community willing and ready to step up, step forward and lead a mature discussion sexuality, identity and what they want?
She added, in a comment on the thread:

Trinis are generally insensitive and naive about gender and sexuality issues. We inadvertently oppress people with our ideas of normal and acceptable when it comes to those areas. However, if the community wants to be taken seriously… Beyond the news cycle… It needs to seize the opportunity to start and sustain the discussion. No movement for human rights was won on the sidelines.
The local gay community might argue that it hasn’t been on the sidelines. The executive director of the Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO) criticised the prime minister’s stance, saying that her “human rights by referendum” approach was an embarrassment to the nation. The timeline of CAISO’s Facebook page is full of links and reader comments about the prime minister’s faux pas. The page encourages people, whether gay or not, to “raise voice, raise children, raise funds and raise consciousness” so Trinidad and Tobago can become a more compassionate country when it comes to differences in sexual orientation and gender expression.

The gspott blog is also used as a means of disseminating information about any progress CAISO and other advocacy groups have made when it comes to LGBT equality as a human rights issue, putting the onus on changing the country’s laws not just on the LGBT community but on others who value human rights.

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/09/30/gay-rights-in-trinidad-tobago-are-once-again-out-of-reach-as-prime-minister-backpedals/

Same-Sex Rape in the Military on the Rise

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Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is on the rise for both men and women, according to a Pentagon report earlier this year that was widely covered in news outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, Reuters, and CNN.

But virtually none of that coverage addressed an obvious aspect of the problem: the 2011 introduction of open service by gays and bisexuals undoubtedly has increased the incidence of sexual assault against men in uniform. Despite repeated LGBT assurances that integrating gays into the military would not affect morale, an uptick in same-sex rape – especially involving straight victims – most assuredly affects morale. In fact, just the fear of increased sexual violence could affect morale.

Only a fierce ideologue would suggest that introducing many thousands of same-sex-attracted men into a mostly male service would decrease or maintain the previous extent of male-male MST.

Indeed, the numbers bear that out. Male-male sexual assaults have risen each year since the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” that excluded “out” gays from the military. More specifically, Pentagon statistics show nearly 4,000 more male-male rapes in the year after the ban ended (2012) than the last year it was in place (2010).

Some of these instances are deeply unsettling. For example, the Killeen Daily Herald reported last month that an openly gay medic at Fort Sam Houston acknowledged that in 2012, he had a 45-minute sexual encounter with a fellow soldier who was unconscious due to his sleep medication. The medic claims he thought the interaction was consensual because he didn’t know the other soldier had taken Ambien. (“I didn’t know she passed out” would never pass muster in a campus sexual assault case.)

Astonishingly, many experts interviewed in articles on this topic, as well as gay community leaders, argue that the rapists involved are usually heterosexual. Aaron Belkin, the executive director of the Palm Center (an LGBT-funded think tank on the military and sexuality) even told the Washington Times that “very few” male-on-male perpetrators are gay.

When two reptiles have a same-sex encounter, gay activists rush to the microphones to declare “We have found gay lizards!” They proclaim Abraham Lincoln “gay” because he once shared a bed with Joshua Speed. But if a Scoutmaster has intercourse with a 15-year-old boy, or a male Marine rapes another man, those people are supposedly “not gay.”

In March, I published a report showing how gay historians and anthropologists have extensively documented being gay as a sexual orientation no more than 150 years old and originating in the West. In response, many LGBT people stated that if we know a man had sex with other men, even if he felt no gay identity or orientation, he was gay. By that standard, nearly all the male-male rapes in the military are perpetrated by gays.

Which is it? Does gay sex make you gay – or (as I believe) is sexuality far more complex than GayThink wants you to accept whenever it suits LGBT purposes?

Further, of course men claim they’re heterosexual when they’re accused of raping a man, since coming out as gay would make them appear more guilty.

Some of those interviewed in the news articles about male-male military rape resurrect the tired feminist canard that rape is about power and violence, not sex. In truth, it’s usually about all three.

Belkin compared rape in the military to prison rape. But given the prevalence of what scholars call “situational homosexuality,” many perpetrators in both settings are pursuing the only sexual outlet available, regardless of consent. In fact, this problem helps explain why transgender women are so vulnerable in prison – they’re the only women in an otherwise all-male institution.

Written By: David Benkof

http://dailycaller.com/2014/08/27/same-sex-rape-in-the-military-on-the-rise/

Gay Games: the power of LGBT pride in driving sustainability

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“You don’t have to be gay, you don’t have to be good, you just have to be 18,” is the unofficial slogan of the 2014 Gay Games. Perhaps what goes without saying is that it’s best to be eco-friendly as well. Personal commitment to environmentalism is more pronounced in the US LGBTQ community than in the heterosexual population, according to a 2010 Harris poll.

The 2014 Gay Games, taking place this week in Ohio, are working hard to represent this core value of environmental sustainability among the LGBTQ community. Expected to host between 20,000 to 30,000 participants and spectators, the games have a sustainability plan (pdf) that includes everything from water refill stations and bike-sharing, to the greening of internal operations. So what is it that makes the LGBTQ crowd so environmentally friendly in the first place?

There are various theories about why someone’s LGBTQ sexual identity can be linked to greater environmental values. One is that fighting marginalisation and having progressive viewpoints means LGBTQ members come in contact with other fringe movements, such as environmental causes.

“Coming out and claiming your identity is revolutionary for each of us,” says Gerod Rody, the founder of OUT for Sustainability, which mobilises the LGBTQ community for social and environmental action. “With this [coming out] comes great responsibility because our eyes are opened to what is possible in the world around us.”

This vision of a better world inspires environmental activism – which has yet another parallel to the LGBTQ movement. Beau Daane, director of sustainability at Fairmount Minerals and active in the LGBTQ community in Cleveland, says: “The overlap between the two is in the sense that you work now for something you may not see happen in your lifetime.”

The LGBTQ rights movement can take decades to achieve change (think of the long campaign to make same-sex marriage legal in Britain) in a similar way to the long-term effort needed to restore a damaged environment.

Daane further explains that urbanisation contributes to environmentalism within the LGBTQ community. Often relocating into urban centres and faced with tangible social and environmental issues, LGBTQ members tend to get involved in the revitalisation of their adopted cities.

Several struggling US cities have tried to attract LGBT populations with the hope they will help regentrify areas in decline. For example, developers and city leaders in Detroit attempted to attract LGBT residents to downtown areas by granting benefits to same-sex partners of city employees and advertising vacant properties in gay publications.

The power of pride
Pride is one of the strongest human emotions, whether it relates to where you live or who you are. Academic research suggests that pride is a powerful motivator for behaviour change. Rare, an environmental conservation organisation, has long understood this and calls pride its secret ingredient to success. Rare taps into the pride of local communities to mobilise them to protect the environment.

“The reality is that people are motivated even by subconscious emotional impulses which can be extraordinarily powerful – and pride can be among the most powerful of these,” says Kevin Green, senior manager of conservation research and monitoring at Rare.

Rare’s environmental Pride Campaigns often operate in areas of the world where LGBTQ pride is not yet publicly discussed, recognised or even legal. But in more liberal countries, it seems LGBTQ pride could be harnessed to exploit and foster the environmental values held by many in this community.

Rody taps into LGBTQ pride and rallies LGBTQ community members to be leaders in the environmental movement. “Let’s show how the LGBTQ community cares for the environment” is the call to action on OUT for Sustainability’s website.

Rody, who holds an MBA degree in sustainable business, recognised early on that the two worlds he was circulating in – the environmental and LGBTQ crowds – were not making any effort to honour the values held by the other group, let alone trying to work together. At environmental gatherings, there was no organised presence of the LGBTQ community or discussion about what this particular demographic group could bring to the table for sustainability. Likewise, when attending LGBTQ events, Rody found no discussion about the importance of environmentalism or the potential of the LGBTQ crowd to have an impact on sustainability.

“When I went to environmental events, I felt like my [sexual] identity was invisible. But I also didn’t want to have my [environmental] values invisible among my gay community.”

Bridging the environmental and LGBTQ movements
What does Rody think of the sustainability plan for the 2014 Gay Games?

“The opportunity is huge – to bridge these two movements and to align values is incredibly important,” says Rody. As all interviewees comment, this opportunity on a global scale would alter the face of sustainability. With the LGBTQ community cutting across all political, cultural and economic lines, it would mean lots of different people, doing a lot of good for the environment.

For now, the 2014 Gay Games will be a test run of a large scale attempt to align sexual identity with environmental values. Participants and spectators in Ohio for the games have a huge torch to carry for environmentalism. The US may be ranked highly for LGBTQ equality, but it ranks 33 out of 178 countries on the Environmental Performance Index. (With France ranked 27, organisers for the 2018 Gay Games in Paris also have the opportunity to create a roadmap for how the European LGBTQ community can shine as leaders of environmental sustainability in Europe.)

Whether it be at a badminton match or cheerleading face-off, the 2014 Gay Games provides the LGBTQ crowd a chance to align their identity with their values, with pride. Or as Rody puts it, the games are “an opportunity for the LGBTQ community and allies to come out for sustainability as part of who we are, not as another separate thing.”

http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/gay-games-lgbt-pride-sustainability-environmentalism

‘Gay Men Draw Vaginas’ Is Hilarious And Telling (NSFW)

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Gay men and vaginas — historically, the two are worlds apart. So what happens when you ask a gay man to sit down and draw one?

This is the question that led Keith Wilson and Shannon O’Malley to curate an ongoing public art project and upcoming picture book called “Gay Men Draw Vaginas.” With the results ranging from fine art to clever depictions, the results are both humorous and telling about the relationship between gay men and vaginas.

As the project is currently involved in a Kickstarter campaign, The Huffington Post chatted with the pair this week how the project got started, what’s surprised them the most and more.

The Huffington Post: Where did the inspiration for the project come from?

Keith Wilson: Three years ago, we were at a restaurant with a bunch of other homos and the topic of vaginas came up. After a few unenlightened comments came out of the mouths of the gay men, Shannon asked me to draw a vagina on the table with a crayon. After I did, everyone at our table gawked at it, critiqued it. It started a totally vaginal conversation in a restaurant full of children and families — fun stuff. Shannon asked my boyfriend, who was also at the table, to draw one. When he did, everyone wanted to scrutinize it and compare it to the other shitty vagina I’d made. The night was filled with vag chat.

Shannon O’Malley: The next week at work, I spontaneously asked a designer colleague, Chris Cerrato, to draw a vag. He thought that was funny, and later showed me his piece. He’d drawn a crotch covered by a Facebook “like” button. I just loved it. It was conceptual and funny and “of the time” and unexpected. After I saw Chris’s drawing my instinct was ask him to do a few more with the same feel, just for fun, especially since I had heard him talk about how he never had time to do his own artwork. He agreed. In casual conversation, at surface level, I knew asking gay guys to draw vaginas was funny because it zeroed in on what some people might have perceived as “opposites.” What I kept to myself were my navel-gazing meditations on “queer identity” and ideas people (and the culture) hold about women and bodies. The latter isn’t fun workplace conversation.

To Read more:

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5662312?utm_hp_ref=tw

James Nichols The Huffington Post

Gay Men: 10 Red Flags on a First Date That You Can’t Ignore

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That First Date

You are getting ready to meet that handsome guy you met online or through a close friend for that all important first date.

Feeling excited and a little nervous, you look hard in the mirror and think to yourself:

“Will he like me? What should I wear? Does my breath smell? Is my muffin-top showing?”

Seriously, going on a first date can be a bit of a challenge. This is particularly true for gay men who are new to the dating scene or have been off the market for an extended period of time.

After consulting with a number of gay men who were formerly single and now long-term partnered … plus a few therapists who specialize in couples counseling at 2nd Story Counseling in Chicago, Mister Hollywood is ready to share some gay dating tips.
10 Red Flags for Gay Men on a First Date

What follows is a list of 10 “Red Flags” for gay men on a first date that should be thought of as potential warning signs that the guy may not be a good fit for you. Some of these red flags are obvious. Some are funny. Others are ones you may not have heard before and should not ignore. The list is by no means exhaustive.

Disclaimer: Not every point here may apply to your situation and is not set in stone. Think of these as general guidelines as opposed rigid rules.

1. He just got out of a long term relationship

This point may seem particularly obvious but the truth is that many gay men fall into the trap of ignoring this red flag. In gay years the phrase “long term” can often differ from straight folks. A long term relationship for a gay man can be subjective at best. As a rule of thumb, 2 years or more is a good yardstick go by, give or take.

What is important is this – the amount of time he has been out of his same sex relationship. If he was in a five year relationship and is now out on the market six months after the breakup, he is very likely not going to be emotionally available or emotionally capable of a real relationship again for some time. And if he still lives with his ex and is claiming, “We still live together but are not in a relationship” or anything like that, you need to run.

Here are some more tips under this point:

He says you remind him of his “ex” several times during first date
He talks about his ex the entire date or calls you by his ex’s first name (run!)
He tells you he wants a serious relationship (remember, he just broke up)
He is just coming on too strong and acting like you two are a serious couple.

To read more go to…

http://misterhollywood.hubpages.com/hub/Gay-Men-10-Red-Flags-on-a-First-Date-That-You-Cant-Ignore