There are better ways of making an impact than casting pearls before swine

Noah Michaelson, editor for HuffPo’s Gay Voices, takes on gay evangelical businessman Matt Stolhandske’s publicized offer of a $150,000 “olive branch” donation to a anti-gay Christian fundamentalist baker couple who refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple:

Well, guess what, Stolhandske? You are an apologist for homophobes. And this kind of anti-gay behavior shouldn’t be rewarded. While I don’t like to see anyone suffer, this wasn’t something that just happened to the Kleins. They willfully disregarded the law — they went so far as to close their store rather than offer their services to a gay couple — and when you break the law, there are consequences.

Besides, what kind of a message does paying for these people’s fine really offer? It’d be one thing if Aaron and Melissa had shown any sign of remorse for what they did or promised to change their behavior, but they haven’t, and it doesn’t appear that their minds (or hearts) will change anytime soon. Instead, they’d rather lose their business and put their family in jeopardy. And now Stolhandske wants us to co-sign their hate because of some misguided mumbo-jumbo about love and acceptance.

Michaelson provides a list of organizations at the end which would do more good with Stolhandske’s money.

via Here’s a Better Idea for the Gay Man Who Wants to Raise $150,000 for Anti-Gay Bakers | Noah Michelson.


Flip Benham Crashes Gay Weddings In North Carolina | Right Wing Watch

Flip Benham: one of many wastes of talent.

With gay marriage now legal in North Carolina, it was only a matter of time before Flip Benham of Operation Save America started crashing wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.

The North Carolina-based pastor, who is the father of Religious Right activists David and Jason Benham, reportedly disrupted several weddings at the Mecklenburg County and Courts Office in Charlotte last week.

Benham’s group, which in July disrupted a memorial service at a Unitarian Universalist congregation in New Orleans, “interrupted several couples’ weddings as supporters held up a large rainbow flag to block his view,” according to the North Carolina LGBT publication Q Notes. “Another protester waved a bible in the air as he screamed several profanities and vulgarities.”

via Flip Benham Crashes Gay Weddings In North Carolina | Right Wing Watch.

LGBT, Minority Rights Focus of Several Bills Signed in Last Legislative Session | Diversity | Agenda | KCET

California has really progressed on LGBT rights this past session. Cheers to Gov. Brown and the California Legislature Dems in Sacramento!

Now if only the regular police patrol were not armed, and gun control applied to both the government and the public. Hopefully someone can take up that idea next session.

Link: LGBT, Minority Rights Focus of Several Bills Signed in Last Legislative Session | Diversity | Agenda | KCET.

Drag Performance, Brand Pages and Personal Identities

The issue of the “Real Name” policy, whereby users are told to use “real” names (not necessarily actual names, but “real-sounding” names), is problematic for social networking services (SNS). It’s especially problematic when SNS operators refer users to use brand pages – profiles which are maintained and moderated corporately by one or more users for organized purposes such as promoting a brand or a movement –  as alternatives to using pseudonyms on their personal profiles. The reason is that such a solution is half-baked on the sites which most emphasize the use of “real names” for users’ profiles, particularly Facebook (and formerly Google+).

Functionality issues

The suggestion by Facebook for preferably-pseudonymous users to use their pseudonyms on brand pages ignores the fact that pages on Facebook offer less interactivity than personal profiles. Facebook pages don’t allow pages – which are built to serve organizations rather than pseudonymous personalities – to form or join groups. In relation to this, Facebook also does not allow brand pages to automatically invite other users to events; compare this to Facebook groups, which allow for automatic invitations of all members to event pages.

Google+ Pages, in comparison, offer a bit more interaction, with the ability to create and join “communities” (equivalent to groups) as your brand page. In addition, G+ Pages can also add user profiles to circles (a more advanced version of Facebook’s “adding friends”) and invite followed profiles, circles of profiles and whole communities to events.

Presentation issues

However, in the case of pseudonymous users being “nudged” to create pages for their pseudonyms, G+ and Facebook both suffer from a high learning curve and a lack of tailoring toward personal identity pseudonyms.

Facebook’s “Create a Page” has six main options: “Local Business or Place”, “Company, Organization or Institution”, “Brand or Product”, “Artist, Band or Public Figure”, “Entertainment”, and “Cause or Community”. The closest to a means of controlling a personal pseudonymic identity is “Artist, Band or Public Figure”, which is limited alongside other Facebook pages in its interaction abilities.

By comparison/contrast, G+ only has “Storefront (Restaurant, Retail Store, hotel, etc.)”, “Service Area (Plumber, pizza delivery, taxi service, etc.)”, and “Brand (Product, sports team, music band, cause, etc.)”, which is even more confusing from the outset by the grouping of so many options into just three categories.

The ideal page

The ideal brand page system which would work perfectly for personal pseudonyms at the intimacy perhaps most desired by drag performers in an SNS, IMO, is a combination of Facebook’s presentation and G+’s functionality and interactivity:

  • Having at least 6 page-creation options including “Artist, Band or Public Figure”, or even a 7th “Character or Pseudonym” option.
  • Having the ability to follow/be followed by users and create/join groups “as” the brand page.
  • Have the option to switch to a preferred brand page identity upon login to one’s personal user identity.
  • Have the ability to restrict access to one’s personal profile while simultaneously operating a brand-page identity.

In such a system, performance artists such as drag performers would have the full ability to interact with their fans as their pseudonyms or public personas, to organize their fans into discussion groups (both public, private and secret) under their personas, and to easily invite fans to events (or even games and apps), all without revealing or exposing any of their personal profiles to the public.

When the brand pages are not fully baked, not fully conceptualized as alternative identities for both individuals and corporated groups, the ability to control your presence is hobbled. Performers like Sister Roma offer an opportunity for Facebook, G+ and the SNS sites of our era to not only listen more to their users, but to make their brand pages more useful for more people. The “Real Name” policy (as well as the restriction against multiple profiles on sites like LinkedIn) only hurts privacy, doesn’t help the quality of conversations on Facebook, and is not remedied by half-baked brand page tools.

A quarter-century of civil recognition of same-sex relationships

Today, 25 years ago, we celebrate the first civil recognition of same-sex couples. On 1 October 1989, Denmark made history with approving a law for gender-neutral “registered partnerships” (registreret partnerskab). Among the first couples to be partnered in civil unions were activists Axel and Eigil Axgil, who had spent most of their 40-year-coupled lives fighting for rights for LGBT people in their country. Another couple that registered their union, Ivan Larsen, an ordained minister of the state-supported Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark, and Ove Carlsen, a psychologist, were profiled in this recent BBC Witness clip:

via BBC News – The day same-sex civil unions became legal in Denmark.

What fascinates me about this is how things may have been different if civil unions, rather than marriage, would have remained the popular wisdom. What if the United States had been more accepting to civil unions at the federal level, and had not placed DOMA into place as a bulwark against any federal recognition? Even more so, even in the post-DOMA era of federal recognition for same-sex marriages, the present lack of federal recognition of state-level civil unions is perplexing.

Right now, there are three states which still have only domestic partnerships or civil unions: Wisconsin, Nevada and Colorado. Waiting for the judicial trajectory to move marriage equality to more states still doesn’t speak to the issue of unequal civil recognition of relationships, or the obvious overall federal favoritism to marriage as opposed to civil unions.

I’m of the opinion that marriage and civil unions should both be available as options to both same- and opposite-sex couples, at both federal and state levels.

LGBT News in Columbus, GA