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Posts for July, 2010

Congrats to Detroit’s black gay pride

Timothy Kincaid

July 23rd, 2010

It is tougher as a minority. But it can be crazy difficult being a minority within a minority. And sometimes you just need a time and place where you look out and everyone you see knows exactly where you are coming from.

So congratulations to Detroit’s Black Pride for 15 years of giving a voice, presence, and closer sense of community to a part of our family.

The Kansas City Star Readers’ Representative plays devil’s advocate

Timothy Kincaid

June 29th, 2010

When the Kansas City Star ran a web article about NY gay pride accompanied by a photo of a nude man on a bike in San Francisco, I wrote to the Star to express my discontent. Derek Donovan, the Readers’ Representative responded to clarify how the picture came to be and to give me a little lesson about what is an appropriate illustration for gay pride.

I did not agree.

Here is my less-than-friendly original comment:

Really, KC Star?

The best possible picture to accompany a story about this year’s gay pride parade in New York City was a picture of a nude guy on a bike from last year’s pride in San Francisco? What kind of irresponsible hateful jerk decided to try and trash gay people universally by tying this picture to the entire community? I’m sure he’s really proud of his little homphobic effort

Here is Mr. Donovan’s much-more-polite response:

Dear Mr. Kincaid,

The letters editor shared your note with me, since it pertains to how The Star covers the news. That photo came directly from The Associated Press, where it was posted online automatically. When a Web editor at KansasCity.com noticed it, he removed it. Wire content rotates in and out of KansasCity.com automatically every day without an editor’s hand, as it does on many news sites.

However, I’m going to play devil’s advocate here. That man in the photo was indeed a participant in the pride parade, as were a number of others in skimpy and outlandish costumes. It’s the journalist’s job to document what goes on — and that includes images that some people don’t want to see. A column from the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association says:

“Some photojournalists may feel like ignoring the femme boys, the butch girls and all those drag queens on Rollerblades. That’s just as wrong as making them the entire focus of coverage.”

Full column:

http://www.nlgja.org/publications/articles/dotinga_pride.htm

Some gay people love pride events, and others disdain them. Some are ambivalent. The Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics says to “Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.”

The bottom line (no pun intended) is that the man in the photo chose to appear nude in the parade. And again, an editor removed the image when he saw it. I don’t really think the word “homophobic” is applicable here, but I will include your comments in my weekly report to the publisher, vice presidents and the entire newsroom.

Best wishes,
Derek Donovan
Readers’ representative
The Kansas City Star

And this is my rebuttal

Derek,

Thank you for your response. And let me state up front that I am appreciative of the Star’s decision to remove the deceptive picture from accompanying and illustrating your article.

However, in playing devil’s advocate, I think you failed to closely read your own position or apply it to the situation.

Yes, the NGLJA does advise:

“Some photojournalists may feel like ignoring the femme boys, the butch girls and all those drag queens on Rollerblades. That’s just as wrong as making them the entire focus of coverage.”

In other words, don’t color the story to portray a false impression. The man on the bike, as the only picture provided, became the entire focus of coverage. He became the sole image of Gay Pride, regardless of the fact that the article was about the New York gay pride parade – and he was from an entirely different type of gay pride parade 3,000 miles away (New York and San Francisco have sharply different gay cultures and their parades have both different messages and different meaning).

And NGLJA follows that advice with this:

“Photos that only show stereotypical images of gays and lesbians without reflecting the diversity of our community have rightly caused anger for many years,” Poller said. “But at the same time, it’s good to remember what the day is about, what the event feels like. Pride is loud and boisterous and fun, and the published photos should reflect that.”

Was that picture loud, boisterous or fun? No. Only to the person who got a chuckle from tying this image to the gay community as a whole.

And was it honest, true or a fair representation of pride? Again, no.

Readers had no way to know that this man on his bike was extremely atypical for gay pride parades. Indeed, he would not have been allowed to ride nude in the vast overwhelming number of pride parades, including the subject of your article.

The Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics says to “Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.”

This picture did not tell the story of diversity and magnitude. This was not an inclusive photograph showing several floats, a marching band or two, some drag queens, and a few go-go dancers. Rather this was a picture that focused on a single individual and, by default, portrayed him as representative.

Based on the criteria you stated, the AP – and the Star – failed miserably.

And I’m troubled by your failure to see the problem with the decision to use this photograph. This was not an accidental happenstance.

Yes, the man in the photo chose to appear nude in the parade. But someone else chose to photograph him, to put him on the wire, and to allow the picture to represent gay pride.

To understand my point, ask yourself this question: would you not feel shame for accompanying a story about the MLK march or Saint Patrick’s Day parade or the Lotus festival with a picture that sought to stereotype the participants in a negative way? Would you not be embarrassed if the coverage of a Tea Party rally deliberately pictured a person who, say, was missing teeth?

We would recognize these images as attempts to demean. And they would be.

So let’s not pretend that there was no intent on someone’s part to portray gay people and gay pride parades in as outlandish a way as possible. To do so discredits an otherwise credible response.

Again, thank you for your reply. I am taking the liberty of sharing it with my readers.

Timothy Kincaid

Gee thanks, Kansas City Star

Timothy Kincaid

June 27th, 2010


Is Peter LaBarbera working for the Kansas City Star?

Seems like it. For some reason, the KC Star decided that an article about today’s Gay Pride parade in New York City should be accompanied by this photo, from last year’s pride parade in San Francisco.

And, of course, this is the photo that pops up on Google News to illustrate the 973 news articles about Gay Pride events around the world. Stanley Cup? nope. Ernie Banks? not a chance. The elected officials or PFLAG or health services or even baton twirlers or drag queens? un-uh. This year’s image for Gay Pride is a year old picture of a nude man on a bike.

Oh goodie.

UPDATE: The picture appears to have disappeared from the KC Star website.

The importance of Ernie Banks

Timothy Kincaid

June 25th, 2010

Sports Illustrated writer, Jeff Pearlman, writes about the message that the Chicago Cubs are making by sending their most iconic symbol to Chicago Gay Pride.

The team could have enlisted any former player without a peep of complaint from the community. Here’s Dwight Smith waving to the crowd! Or Ray Burris! Or Mike Maksudian! It could have just sent the float along with Biff, the 19-year-old eager-to-please PR intern. Hell, the Cubs could probably get by merely contributing the float and a box of donuts. But by putting forth Banks, an iconic Hall of Famer and one of the classiest men to ever grace the diamond, the Cubs have made a bold and powerful statement that, even in the oft-closed-minded world of professional team sports, homophobia no longer has a place.

Judge: anti-gay activist can’t be kept out of pride event

Timothy Kincaid

June 25th, 2010

In a truly mind-boggling decision, a judge in Minneapolis has decided that an anti-gay activist must be allowed to distribute anti-gay literature within the park which the gay pride event has rented from the city.

A federal judge ruled Friday that a restraining order would violate Johnson’s First Amendment rights.

The city’s park system fought Pride Fest in court.

Since the Fest is held in a public park, attorneys for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board argued on Johnson’s behalf, although they insisted they were merely trying to clarify the rules and were not advocating one viewpoint over another.

To recap, just so we know the law,

  • The Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which marches down public streets, has the right to exclude gay people from marching so as to protect its “message”
  • The Boy Scouts of America, who recruit in public schools, have the right to exclude gay people because they have a freedom of assembly right
  • The Boy Scouts have the right to insist that their discriminatory policies can’t be used to deny them taxpayer-funded free rent
  • BUT

  • The Twin Cities Pride Fest doesn’t have the right to deny entry into a park that they rented to someone who is there for the sole purpose of working against their message.

Yeah. And we’re the ones who they say want “special rights.”

UPDATE: WCCO provides additional information:

In a footnote, Tunheim proposed a compromise in which Twin Cities Pride could designate content-neutral “free speech zones” where anyone could distribute literature or display signs.

Pragmatically, they may be smart to allow such a zone. It would minimize disturbances and confrontations and would allow those who are there to seek a space where they can feel safe and free from hostility can avoid the area.

Johnson, of course, doesn’t want to be restricted in any way.

Zagreb Pride

Timothy Kincaid

June 23rd, 2010

The Pride Parade in Croatia seems to have gone off without much problem. Yes, the neo-Nazis protested (they seem not to have read Scott Lively’s Pink Swastika), but riot police were on hand to protect the marchers. Check out some great pictures and commentary here.

You can’t even buy a right

Timothy Kincaid

June 23rd, 2010

Two stories today reflect how issues of justice, rights, fairness, and civil responsibility are often presumed to disappear the minute that gay folk arrive. Far too often it is assumed, indignantly, that civil governments belong to heterosexuals.

Take, for example, the situation in Philadelphia.

In 2000, the US Supreme Court found that the Boy Scouts of America are a private organization and that their freedom of association allowed them to exclude gay and/or atheist boys and men from participating. And I agree with that decision; the Boy Scouts should be able to limit their membership in whatever manner that they choose.

However, if they choose to operate as a private organization, they are not entitled to preferential treatment from the taxpayers, who include a large number of gay people, atheists, and their family, friends, neighbors, and allies. In other words, discriminate however you like, but don’t do it on my dollar.

In Philadelphia the city counsel had passed protections that banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. But they found that they were in conflict with this policy when it came to the Boy Scouts. The Cradle of Liberty council has been leasing nearly 2,000 square feet of office space from the city at the cost of one dollar per year. So Philadelphia said that the local group either needed to renounce the discrimination policies of the national group or they were not going to get any more freebies.

But the leadership of the Boy Scouts believe that they are entitled to have it both ways. It’s discrimination, they cried, to not give us free rent. We can exclude who we want, and to insist that we open our city funded doors to all residents is a violation of our free speech rights.

So they went to court arguing that not only are they entitle to free assembly and free speech but that they are also entitled to free rent.

And a jury agreed. (WHYY)

A jury in Philadelphia has decided the city cannot evict a local Boy Scouts group from a city-owned building because of a national policy that bans gays.

Cradle of Liberty Council lawyer Jason Gosselin says the ruling means one simple fact: the Scouts can stay in their building in Center City rent free.

Meanwhile in Minneapolis, it seems like gay people don’t have a right to assembly, even if the city isn’t subsidizing them. (Tribune)

The gay pride organization paid the city more than $36,000 for the use of a park. And they are trying to keep an evangelist from coming into the festival and disrupting the event.

But the city thinks that the preacher has a right to free speech – something that is startlingly missing from gay folk.

But Pride Festival organizers say they have the right to keep Johnson off the grounds because they paid more than $36,000 for the use of the park. Festival manager Jim Kelley says Johnson is free to preach his message across the street.

The Minneapolis Park Board is backing the activist on free speech grounds, so the festival organziers are going to court Wednesday seeking an injuction to reverse that decision.

Stanley Cup coming to Chicago Pride

Timothy Kincaid

June 22nd, 2010

If you make it to the Gay Pride parade in Chicago on June 27, keep your eye out for the Chicago Gay Hockey Association; they’ll be the guys on roller blades “skating” down the street. And with them will be Brent Sopel, defenseman with the reigning Chicago Blackhawk, who will be marching with his family and with the Stanley Cup, the international ice hockey trophy entrusted into the keeping of the winning team each year. (Sun Times)

“I am honored to do it,” said Sopel, who will be accompanied by wife, Kelly, and his four kids, Jacob, 12, Lyla, 8, Jayla, 6, and Paul, 20, whom they adopted three years ago after Paul’s parents died within six months of each other.

“The power of the Cup is incomprehensible, and we recognize the importance of doing this,” said McDonough, who has arranged for the Stanley Cup to be flown back from the National Hockey League draft in Los Angeles 15 hours early. “It’s important for the city and important for the franchise.”

Sopel was motivated to participate by the story of Brandon Burke, a young hockey player and legacy who came out in a way that inspired acceptance within the hockey world and who died this year in a driving accident.

But the Stanley Cup will not be the only sports icon at Chicago Pride. Living legend Ernie Banks (“Mr. Cub”), a Baseball Hall of Famer who was the first black player for the Chicago Cubs in 1953 and who went on to play 18 years for the franchise, will be there to represent the club. The Chicago Cubs, will be, to the best of my knowledge, the first professional sports team to sponsor their own float in a gay pride parade.

GOP Gubernatorial candidate marches in Boston gay pride

Timothy Kincaid

June 20th, 2010

We are accustomed to Democratic candidates – often for high office – showing support and seeking voters among their gay constituents. But last weekend an event occurred that is telling about the future of our community. Charlie Baker, the Republican candidate for Governor, joined the Democratic candidate Deval Patrick, by marching in Boston’s gay pride parade.

Well, yes, it is Massachusetts. And Baker’s running mate is openly gay. But still, this is the GOP candidate.

And perhaps the most interesting aspect is that no one even seem to think that this is in any way interesting. No national party members are ranting. Local GOP officials are happy. Senators from Alabama and Oklahoma are not calling for his head. Rush isn’t frothing and Newt isn’t out looking for a write-in to support.

No one cares.

Oh, the MassResistance crowd is angry (especially because he marched with the guys who set up KnowThyNeighbor.org). But they can’t get anyone to return their calls these days.

And that is an encouraging sign.

Quarter of Iceland’s Population Turn Out For Reykjavik Pride

Jim Burroway

August 13th, 2009

Imagine it:

The eleventh annual Reykjavik Gay Pride parade and outdoor concert with Pall Oskar (probably Iceland’s biggest pop star) attracted about 80,000 people to the middle of Reykjavik on Saturday.

Involving roughly a quarter of Iceland’s entire population, the sheer size of the party is tribute to Iceland’s leading equal rights legislation and the citizens’ inclusive nature.

This is what a truly post-gay society looks like:

Iceland does not have a gay village. It does not even have many gay bars and clubs at all. But that has nothing to do with Iceland being a strict, conservative society…quite the opposite in fact.

Peek into a Reykjavik gay bar on a Saturday night and you will see a clientele anything but exclusively gay. And if you think all the dozens of other bars in town are straight-only, think again. People in Reykjavik go partying in places dictated by their taste in music, their taste in décor or simply by their bossy friends. They do not need to choose a venue based only on their sexuality.

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