Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for July, 2013

Welcome Baby Cambridge

Timothy Kincaid

July 22nd, 2013

CNN

It’s a boy! Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and husband Prince William on Monday welcomed their first child.
The baby boy was born at 4:24 p.m., weighing 8 pounds, 6 ounces. A name has not yet been announced for the child, who is now third in line to the throne.

“Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well,” read an official announcement that was placed outside Buckingham Palace.

Welcome, Baby Cambridge. It’s quite a different world than the one your great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, entered. And when you gain your throne, should the monarchy continue ’til then, we cannot begin to guess what challenges or triumphs will face you and this world you have just met.

BSB: In a World Like This

Timothy Kincaid

July 22nd, 2013

The new Backstreet Boys video In a World Like This

SYTYCD supports equality

Timothy Kincaid

May 16th, 2013

Kudos to the judges of So You Think You Can Dance for supporting Jessie Tyler Ferguson’s Tie The Knot charity, which either supports marriage equality or the wearing of bow ties (it’s kinda hard to tell, but I think it’s both).

It’s probably not a huge risk, as the audience for SYTYCD is probably pretty supportive, but it’s appreciated anyway. And as equality becomes ever more stylish and status quo, the easier it is to point out how treating each other with dignity and respect benefits us all, and how barriers and discrimination eventually leave us outside in bitterness wondering why the world rejected our pretenses of superiority.

(Oh, and Brian Brown, I did NOT call you a bigot. That was the voice inside your head)

Welcome out, Clive Davis

Timothy Kincaid

February 19th, 2013

20130219-081400.jpg

Unless your taste is limited to polka, your music has been impacted by Clive Davis. Responsible for finding or cultivating the careers of artists as diverse as Janis Joplin, Miles Davis, Annie Lennox, and Whitney Houston, he has helped shape the sound of half a century.

And, as he reveals in a new biography, he’s bisexual (USAToday)

“After my second marriage failed, I met a man who was also grounded in music. Having only had loving relationships and sexual intimacy with women, I opened myself up to the possibility that I could have that with a male, and found that I could.”

Davis is currently involved with another man (who isn’t in show business), “but I never stopped being attracted to women. Bisexuality is misunderstood; the adage is that you’re either straight or gay or lying, but that’s not my experience. To call me anything other than bisexual would be inaccurate.”

Welcome out, Clive.

Go Ravens

Timothy Kincaid

January 23rd, 2013

20130123-002348.jpgI haven’t been to a football game since college; my hometown, the nation’s second largest, doesn’t have a team. And as I find watching televised sports to be an exercise in frustration, I haven’t much cared about the NFL.

But this year I will be watching the Super Bowl, and not just for the commercials and half time show.

This year I will be cheering on a team, the one that Brendon Ayanbadejo is on. The Baltimore Ravens.

On Sunday night WeHo’s gay sports bar was packed with people wearing blue and purple jerseys. And when the night was over (long after I left) the Ravens had won a place in the SuperBowl.

And that night, a night of exhilaration for the underdog team, Ayanbadejo thought about his personal priorities and reached for his computer. (Times)

He tapped out an email to Brian Ellner, a leading marriage-equality advocate with whom he had worked before, and Michael Skolnik, the political director for Russell Simmons, a hip-hop mogul who has become involved in many issues, including same-sex marriage.

Ayanbadejo wrote: “Is there anything I can do for marriage equality or anti- bullying over the next couple of weeks to harness this Super Bowl media?” The time stamp on the email was 3:40:35 A.M.

Yep. I’m a fan.

Welcome out, Matt Dallas

Timothy Kincaid

January 7th, 2013

From 2006 to 2009, Matt Dallas was the lead on Kyle XY, a science-fiction mystery drama on the ABC Family channel. Today he officially came out and, in a tweet, announced the name of his fiancé.

Matt Damon on playing Liberace’s lover

Timothy Kincaid

December 14th, 2012

HBO is producing Behind the Candelabra, the story of famed pianist Liberace, starring Michael Douglas. In the role of Scott Thorson, Liberace’s lover, is Matt Damon. Here is what he had to say to Playboy:

PLAYBOY: Are there any kinds of roles you think twice about doing now that you’re a family man?

DAMON: Well, normally I’d say no to nudity, but I just did a lot of it playing the long-term partner of Liberace, Scott Thorson, in Behind the Candelabra. I mean, it’s tastefully done. Steven Soderbergh directed it, and Michael Douglas plays Liberace. But this movie’s not going to be for everyone.

PLAYBOY: A movie about a closeted, larger-than-life TV and Vegas entertainer and his much younger lover, whose plastic surgery he paid for so they could look more alike? Sounds like must-see family viewing to us.

DAMON: These two men were deeply in love and in a real relationship—a marriage—long before there was gay marriage. That’s not an insignificant thing. The script is beautiful and relatable. Their conversations when they’re dressing or undressing or having a spat or getting ready for bed? That’s every marriage. It feels like you’re witnessing something really intimate you would normally see with a man and a woman, but instead it’s two men, which was thrilling. There’s stuff I think will make people uncomfortable. Great. It’s HBO—they can change the channel.

There’s more.

Just cuz sometimes crazy is tied to crazy – AND SOMETIMES NOT

Timothy Kincaid

November 27th, 2012

I’m sure you’ve all heard by now about Angus T. Jones, the ‘half’ in CBS’s Two and a Half Men denouncing the moral character of the television show in which he stars.

I’m on Two and a Half Men, and I don’t want to be on it. Please stop watching it, and filling your head with filth. People say it’s just entertainment. Do some research on the effects of television and your brain, and I promise you you’ll have a decision to make when it comes to television, especially with what you watch.

I certainly would agree that the show is an inappropriate choice, but that’s because it’s insipid and banal and will rot your brain until is oozes out of your ear and drips on your collar. But as for “filth”, meh.

I also think that if you make millions off of a television about which you think others should not watch, perhaps the “moral” thing to do is to politely resign. And if you think that people should not watch they show, then give back the money they paid you. But that’s just me.

What I find interesting is that Forerunner Church is aligned with and seemingly based on the International House of Prayer. Which was in our commentary just last week.

UPDATE: When this story broke, the Associated Press reported that the video was posted by Forerunner Christian Church in Fremont. Oooops. (WaPo)

NEW YORK (AP) – In a story Nov. 26 about Angus T. Jones, the teenage actor in “Two and a Half Men,” criticizing the show as “filth” in an online video, The Associated Press misidentified the organization that posted the video. It was Forerunner Chronicles in Seale, Ala., not Forerunner Christian Church of Fremont, Calif.

I haven’t found any connection between Forerunner Chronicles and either the Forerunner Christian Church nor the International House of Prayer. So it seems that this particular dose of crazy is sitting out there by itself.

Romney loses “Republican at heart”

Timothy Kincaid

October 22nd, 2012

Y’all may have heard of a sweet lil’ girl named Kelly Clarkson. The first winner of American Idol, she turned her moment in the sun into a strong decade long career, giving us such hits as A Moment Like This, Since You Been Gone, Because of You, Walk Away, My Life Would Suck Without You, Mr. Knowitall, and the ubiquitous (What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You) Stronger.

Being a Texas girl, Kelly calls herself “a Republican at heart.” But she told a British tabloid that she just can’t vote for Romney: (Daily Star)

Kelly added: “I’ve been reading online about the debates and I’m probably going to vote for Obama again, even though I’m a Republican at heart.

“I can’t support Romney’s policies as I have a lot of gay friends and I don’t think it’s fair they can’t get married.

“I’m not a hardcore feminist but we can’t be going back to the 50s.

Partners, the new Will and Grace

Timothy Kincaid

October 10th, 2012

Partners, the new CBS comedy on Monday Night, has a familiar feeling. It has the pace, the comedy, and even the same characters as Will and Grace (during their fresh and funny years).

The role of Jack is now Louis and is played my Michael Urie, who you may remember at Marc St. James on Ugly Betty. He has all the same flamboyant, over the top, self obsessed confidence that Sean Hayes brought to Jack mixed with Marc St. James’ quick wit. And underneath he is loving and generous and caring. This is a character that America should find comfortable and unthreatening, they already know him by another name.

Playing Will is David Krumholtz, whose character is Charlie, Louis’ best childhood friend. Except unlike Will, Charlie is straight (and yes, yes, I know so was Will for all practical purposes for the first several seasons).

The story line revolves around Louis and Charlie who are not only best friends but partners in an architect firm. They are joined by Wyatt (Brandon Routh), Louis’ nurse boyfriend who was raised Mennonite and is an anti-stereotype balancing out Louis’ manic antics, and Ali (Sophia Bush), Charlie’s fiancée. Rounding out the cast is RoRo (Tracy Vilar) their slightly inappropriate office secretary/receptionist.

It is no coincidence that the feel is so familiar. It’s a project of David Kohan and Max Mutchnick (Will and Grace creators) and is based on their own mixed-orientation friendship and partnership.

It’s fresh and crisp and a bit more risqué than they could get away with earlier. And last night I found myself laughing out loud in parts. While so far this show hasn’t found its feet (or its ratings) I think that it has real potential – if it is given a chance for word of mouth to spread.

It isn’t likely to change the world in the way that Will and Grace did. But it helps continue a comfort level that viewers have with gay characters and, consequently, with gay people. For eight years Middle America invited their old best gay friend into their home each week (and changed their views in the process). Maybe they will now have a new one.

When ignorant and stupid combine with privileged and entitled

Timothy Kincaid

July 16th, 2012

In one of the most truly stupid and whiny complaints I’ve heard this week, Russell and Lauryn Mark, both shooters representing Australia in the Olympics, are all upset that they can’t room together.

That’s not the whiny part – actually, I think the Olympic committee should find a way to allow couples to room together. If maximizing comfort and readiness are important to their performance, then that would probably be a smart move (though I’m sure the Australian Olympic Committee cares very little about my opinion on the subject).

The whiny part is this (Herald Sun):

But Mark says there is a clear double standard given many gay sportspeople on elite teams are in relationships but a heterosexual couple cannot room together.

“The stupid part of this, which I have argued to them, is that there are tons of gay couples on the Olympic team who will be rooming together so we are being discriminated against because we are heterosexual.” Mark said.

Ah, yes, tons of gay couples on the Olympic team. Tons and tons.

But this isn’t a case of stupid husband, tolerant wife. Nope, he truly found his match when he married Lauryn.

“I am very frustrated because in sport there are a lot of same sex couples and its OK to be partners with someone of the same sex but if you are heterosexual you are penalised.”

And let me guess… they also think it’s unfair that they had to pay for their wedding license when same-sex couples don’t have to pay for a license at all, right?

Ignorant. Stupid. Privileged. Entitled. Whiny. Jerks.

I am celebrating Frank Ocean

Timothy Kincaid

July 15th, 2012

I don’t know much about urban music. Sure I know Beyonce’s music and can probably sing along to an Usher song or two, but beyond that I’m at a loss.

However I have, in a small way, been paying attention the way in which the attitudes of American black youth about sexuality are reflected in music and writing and I believe that I have been detecting a significant change.

In the Pre-8 world it seemed to me that black males loudly and proudly trumpeted their homophobia and black women either made the mildest of protests or offered excuses. That is no longer the case.

In the past four years we have witnessed a number of highly respected and influential black men – politicians, writers, sports legends, musicians, spiritual leaders, and even the President- have expressed their support for gay equality. The most established symbols of masculinity have made it clear that they do not see gay people as weak or inferior or less a part of the authentic black experience.

And it has impacted the community.

In the past, any suggestion that a rap artist might be gay put him outside the mainstream. If not totally ostracized, he was relegated to a niche and ignored (women have fared better, but only if they stayed semi-closeted). But when Frank Ocean released a statement revealing that his first love had been another man, the response has been noticeably different.

Writing for The Root, Helena Andrews says

“I could never make him love me,” Ocean sings on “Bad Religion,” the song about feeling alone in a non-relationship that first sparked the questions about his sexuality. Funny, listening to the track, one can hardly distinguish the anguish from the issue, or vice versa. Is he upset that he fell in love with a man or that he fell in love with someone who won’t love him back?

In the end, none of it really matters when your eyes are closed, eavesdropping on emotions that could easily be your own. And therein lies the strength of Ocean’s Channel Orange: You can choose to forget who he’s singing to or choose to unravel every allusion and turn of phrase. Either way, it’s good music.

Perhaps it is that he is skilled and talented. Perhaps it is the stark honesty within the poetry of his lyrics. Perhaps it was just the right moment. But the urban music world has coalesced around Ocean in a nearly universally supportive way.

And for what may be the first time in that genre, Ocean may have benefitted from his sexual honesty. His album is selling very well.

This is encouraging and a blessing in so many ways. Obviously, as a confirmation of the polls that show a shift in support for marriage equality among African American voters, this bodes well for future marriage votes – particularly in Maryland this November.

But even more importantly, this new attitude holds promise for those most impacted by HIV, young gay black men. Perhaps the single greatest factor in avoiding seroconversion are the voices in our heads, our perceptions of our own worth, and our sense of belonging. And for many young black men, acceptance of their own sexuality as being of equal value to heterosexuality comes too late.

I may be reading too much into this moment. Maybe I too desperately want it to be true. But I have hope that things have changed and I am celebrating the change I see.

A happy green glow

Timothy Kincaid

June 1st, 2012

In 1992, Marvel Comics outed the first mainstream gay comic book character, Northstar. To which I promptly though, who? I never was much of a comic book geek, but I know most of the major characters – okay, the really major ones anyway – and I had never heard of Northstar. Nevertheless this announcement deservedly got a lot of attention.

But it didn’t exactly rock the world.

When Archie Comics, that paean to middle-America and it’s values, had a same-sex marriage last December, fearful heterosexuals (including all half dozen of the Million Moms) were shocked. Shocked, I tell ya! But Kevin Keller was a new character reflecting a new reality.

Ah, but today the comic book community caught the nation’s attention. Today’s outing is a bit too big to miss: the Green Lantern is gay.

Coming in at Number 4 on ComicBookResourse’s listing, the Green Lantern is among the biggies, one of the superheros that everyone knows. Last year’s movie staring Ryan Reynolds pulled in boxoffice in excess of $200 million. This is no Northstreet, um Northbank, umm Northwhatever, this is a major figure in the world that is imagined in basements and treehouses across the nation, distinctly recognizable in the endless parade of “what are you exactly?” that knocks on your door on October 31st.

Unlike Superman, there are actually more than one Green Lantern. It’s more of a job title that various humans are assigned across the 70 years that Green Lantern has fought for justice in brightest day or darkest night. In the August 2012 issue of Earth 2, DC Comics is reintroducing their first Green Lantern, Alan Scott, along with what appears to be his boyfriend Sam (who may be Japanese).

No doubt Fox Commentators will be offended. And all the Million Moms will be apoplectic. And anti-gays will accuse DC Comics of trying to brainwash their impressionable children with perverse values.

But comic books don’t teach values; they reflect where society is at any given point. And that place is getting better every day.

False promises at the Y

Timothy Kincaid

March 20th, 2012

Like all of us, at some point Michael Keister has heard the following words of advice

It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A
They have everything for young men to enjoy
You can hang out with all the boys

It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
You can get yourself clean you can have a good meal
You can do whatever you feel

And Keister took these words to heart. He also, it seems, believed that the YMCA is a “place that champions Christian values, such as decency, kindness, and fairness.” So Keister dragged his keister down to the local Y and signed up for gym membership and the associated shower, steam room, and sauna privileges.

But much to Keister’s dismay, he soon became subjected to unwanted attention. First there was one guy soaping up another in the open showers. And then there was the guy in the steamroom who showed Keister his erection and – apparently believing that he received some form of encouragement – proceeded to masturbate.

But the most disturbing incident is reported as follows: (Courthouse News)

“A short time later, after a workout, Keister entered the sauna. No one else was in the sauna when Keister entered.
“Soon, another man entered the sauna and sat down while Keister was reading a newspaper.
“Suddenly, and seemingly out of nowhere, the man reached over and firmly grabbed Keister’s penis, yanking on it, and would not let it go.
“Shocked, Keister grabbed the man’s arm, pried the man’s hand off his penis and yelled in disbelief.
“The man ran out of the sauna.
“Still in shock from what happened, Keister tried to collect himself and chase after the man. He went into the dressing area but could not locate him.”

The failure to locate the man must have been most disappointing.

And for Keister this was a turning point. He began to wonder whether it was safe to bring his 3-year-old son to the YMCA. (Let me briefly interject into this tale to offer some advice: If you are considering bringing a 3-year-old onto a gym floor, into a steam room, or into a sauna, DON’T! This is a serious health risk to children. Now back to our story.) He began to think that when he went to the Y, he should leave his family at home.

And when the next time Keister was at the gym some man propositioned him for a date on New Years Eve, he finally connected the pieces. And he’s so upset that he – and his wife, of course – are suing the Y.

It seems that Keister has realized that the ads which he read in Craigslist and the instructions in Cruising Gays are not just fictional erotica but that some men (most often those who are heterosexually married) actually hook up at such places. And Keister is (unknowingly) encouraging such men to approach him.

Fundamentally, members, such as plaintiffs, and their families cannot engage in routine lavatory behavior at YMCAs without ‘cruising’ men assuming they are signaling a desire for sex. Patrons are unknowingly answering ‘yes’ to solicitations for sexual interaction with strangers while being oblivious to the fact that the question is being posed to them. Its patrons thus are the unwitting targets and victims of sexual crimes, such as the ones suffered by plaintiff’s keister plaintiff Keister. [I apologize for the typo]

According to the news report, “the Keisters seek class certification, restitution, and compensatory and punitive damages for violations of the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract.” It would seem that contrary to promise, Mr. Keister indeed did NOT have everything for young men to enjoy, hang out with all the boys, or do whatever you feel.

Bad Christian B*tches? OneMillionMoms vs. GCB

Jason Cianciotto

March 16th, 2012

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of all contributors to Box Turtle Bulletin.

Update: OnMillionMoms has posted a new alert claiming that “most of last week’s sponsors…did not sponsor this week’s episode.” While the reasoning behind any change in advertising is unclear, GCB’s ratings did drop from 7 million to 6.33 million viewers and to a share of 5 in the 18-49 demographic. By comparison, the highest rated show last Sunday evening was “Once Upon a Time,” which attracted 8.6 million viewers and an 8 share of the coveted 18-49 demographic. Given the content of “Once Upon A Time,” which includes witchcraft, murder and adultery, I’m surprised OMM hasn’t targeted it as well. However, since the show does not poke fun at the hypocrisy of the religious right, maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised…

One million moms are on the march again. Well, not literally.

The conservative group OneMillionMoms (OMM) has abandoned its unsuccessful attempt to oust Ellen Degeneres as the spokesperson for JC Penny, targeting the advertisers for ABC’s new hit show, “GCB.”

According to the group, “OMM is disgusted with the new program…which is blasphemy at its worst! It is based on the book “Good Christian B*tches”…[and]…blasphemes God…”

Blasphemy is the act of speaking sacrilegiously. If the definition fit, OMM would have good reason to target GCB. Freedom of religion is a human right that should be protected from defamation, whether Christian- or any other faith-bashing.

However, the devil is in the details for the fundamentalists at OMM, who are missing a critical difference: GCB does not mock Christians. It mocks those who blaspheme Christianity, abusing it as a justification for hypocrisy.

This may be hitting too close to home for OMM, a subgroup of the American Family Association (AFA), an organization on the “frontlines [sic] of America’s culture wars.”

Labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the “sins” perpetrated by AFA’s spokespeople include calling Islam “the spirit of Satan,” claiming that “homosexuality gave us Adolf Hitler,” and stating in a recent Twitter post that efforts to mandate insurance coverage for contraception are “totalitarianism on hormones.”

Like the wealthy characters in GCB, the AFA ignores the commandment to “love thy neighbor” in exchange for a religion that not only justifies defamation, but also is very profitable. AFA reported over $19 million in revenue in 2010.

ABC is clearly luring its “Desperate Housewives” audience with a neighborhood populated by wealthier, Texas socialites. These ‘Christians’ are still angry about how they were treated in high school by Amanda, the protagonist, who returns home to live with her mother after her Ponzi-scheming, adulterous husband dies.

This “come to Jesus” experience converts Amanda to a life that honors real moral values like supporting her children through hard,  honest work—even if it’s in a Hooters-like restaurant called “Boobylicious.”

Despite Amanda’s genuine efforts to make amends, her neighbors respond with anything but forgiveness. Altered by plastic surgery and dressed in the finest stereotype of gold-plated, gun-wielding, Texas couture, these characters use Bible verses like bullets to rhetorically inflict vengeful wounds that, while not mortal, are always aimed at the heart.

The Lord saith “vengeance is mine,” but these Texans have selectively forgotten that verse, which is precisely the point.

Trading gun for Bible verse slinging, the ladies attempt to “out-Christian” each other, leading to outrageous displays of hypocrisy. For example, After Amanda revealed during ‘prayer’ before the congregation that Boobylicious is actually owned by Carlene, GCB’s villainess, Carlene is too bedridden with embarrassment to attend church the following Sunday.

Holding his Bible, her husband offers spiritual support. “There is nothing in this book that says you can’t own a boobie bar.”  Paraphrasing Proverbs 31, he continues, “You are a virtuous woman, priceless beyond rubies.”

After a friend offers to sing this week’s choir solo in her place, Carlene is far more motivated to go to church, jumping out of bed and yelling for her maid, “Carmelita get in here! The show must go on! Where are my rubies?”

While OMM is blind to its hypocrisy, the abuse of religion that occurs at the intersection of faith, money, and politics is obvious to many Americans and to GCB’s heroine. “God, she’s such a Pharisee,” laments Amanda, comparing Carlene to the legalistic religious leaders chastised by Jesus.

“Well, someone’s been reading her new testament,” replies her mother.

“No, I just googled ‘hypocrisy,’” quips Amanda.

As the series progresses, I think Amanda will continue to struggle with what it means to be a real Christian, while Carlene demeans salvation into an excuse for behavior that is anything but loving.

In the mean time, OMM continues to target the show’s advertisers. In a recent update, the group claimed “victory,” including a purported direct quote from Kraft foods. “Philadelphia [cream cheese] has decided to pull its advertising from GCB … We have received complaints from consumers and their opinions about our advertising are important to us.”

However, Kraft’s response to a GCB supporter was entirely different. “The brand has decided to redirect advertising to other programs with an established audience…. [T]his decision was not linked in any way to the content of this particular show.”

So much for the commandment to not bear false witness.

GCB puts religious hypocrisy on display before over 7 million viewers, according to the show’s latest ratings. Perhaps that’s the real reason OneMillionMoms is so upset. GCB lifts the proverbial choir robe worn by these modern-day Pharisees, and what’s underneath ain’t pretty.

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