Monday, July 21, 2014

Obama signs XO regarding all employers receiving federal funds

President Obama has singed an Executive Order banning discrimination in employment in companies that receive any federal contracts, as well as federal contractors (and federal agencies), with USA story here.    It’s noteworthy that highly sensitive jobs were made open to openly gay civilians (like in the CIA) by Executive Order from President Clinton in 1995 and took effect at the beginning of 1996.  Intelligence and defense agencies frequently have booths at LGBT Pride events, especially in Washington. 

Yet, Todd Starnes has an article in Fox (where else?) claiming that the order undermines religious liberty (link).  Rick Warren, of the Saddleback Church, has a letter to the president on Scribd  Warren says that some persons in faith communities are motivated by religious identity, which may run contrary to individual equality and even complete autonomy for LGBT people, in order to serve those in need and therefore “the common good” (a common Santorum phrase).  The Senate version of ENDA has the religious exemption, which has undermined some LGBT support for it. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

CDC survey seems to give a lower count on the gay population, until you look at it more

The Centers for Disease Control has reported on the first ever large federal survey of sexual orientation. 
Just 1.6% of the surveyed adult population was gay or lesbian, and 0.7% was bisexual.  But 1.1% basically answered, “don’t know”.  The Washington Post has a typical story here.  The Blade has also reported on it Friday.  The CDC report is a “National Health Interview Survey” and “Statistics Report” and is published here.  It was conducted by workers from the Census. 

Previous reputable surveys have tended to come up with a total of 3-4%.  This does not include transsexuals, who number around 700000 in the US.  

The total number of adults who identify as somewhere in LGBT (including the “uncertains” or essentially asexual or inactive) is probably about 9 million, somewhat larger than the population of New York City.
The study did not breakdown by gender, or race.  Anecdotally, it seems that white people (especially males) may be more likely to identify as gay than people from racial minorities.  But the popularity of gay events and clubs with minorities has obviously, if slowly, increased in recent years.

People in higher income levels may also be more likely to self-identify. Coming from a conservative religious culture (especially overseas) probably reduces the likelihood of self-identification.

The large public response to the gay marriage issue in many states may lead to the impression that the population is larger.  So does the recent increase of portrayal of gay issues in Hollywood, as with the willingness of many younger actors (generally under 40)  to identify as gay or appear in or even direct gay-oriented films. 

Gay events, like Pride marches, are now well attended.  The recent NYC Parade, over 5 hours long, leaves the impression of a larger population. It’s common, however, for “straights” to come to parades.  In the Washington DC parade, in a couple of cases some young “straight” couples told me they came because a younger adult sibling of one partner was there. 

What is curious is a flip side, why in countries like Russia, conservative forces see homosexuality as such a threat to population levels and common competitiveness, which would not make sense if the population were only 2-3%.  (see posting Jan. 13, 2014). 

The survey suggested that gay men were slightly more likely to smoke than straight men, and drink (more than 5 times a day).  But gay men were likely to exercise more and (much) less likely to be overweight or obese.  Gay men were more likely to have been tested for HIV, but were also more likely to take flu shots.  
By observation, smoking is not as common as it was a few decades ago.  In the outdoor bar area at JR’s during DC Pride, relatively few men smoked.  (No I don’t keep track of who does.)  CDC has warned that tobacco companies target the LGBT community with ads. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Many AIDS researchers were on downed Malaysian flight

Over 100 passengers on Malaysian Flight MH17 were headed for an HIV conference in Sydney, many reports indicated now, as with this story from the UK Independent by Lizzie Dearden, here. The collective knowledge that could lead essentially to cures or finally effective vaccines could have been lost to the struggle from Russian separatists. Former  President Clinton was to meet the researchers in Australia.

In other news, German Lopez reports on Vox that a federal appeals court has agreed in striking down Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage, and has acknowledged a fundamental right to marry; story here, wlin links to Vox explanation panels.

Wikipedia link for map of Donbass insurgency area near crash. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What's the scene like in Richmond, VA?

Although Baltimore MD has an interesting gay club and event scene (which sometimes reinforces the Maryland Film Festival in May as well as Pride in June), what about going the other direction, to Richmond. 110 miles to the south of DC, the capital of Virginia and unfortunately, in the past, of the Confederacy.

In fact, Equality Virginia says that Virginia Pride will occur there Sept. 27, 2014 on Browns Island.  I went to some Equality Virginia dinners in April of 2005 and 2006 (during the days of Marshall-Newman, as I almost got swept by a tornado on the way down once) and found it quieter.  For a state capital, much of the city looks a little run down when compared to other southern capitals, like Austin, Raleigh and Atlanta.  (Montgomery looks worse, though as did Jackson the last time I was there). 

Nevertheless, in 1997, I recall a big special disco event in late July in an arena in the “Bottoms” area just E of I-95.  The artsy area is Carytown, but the best area for clubs may now be the “flats” area in the valley.  (Sounds like Cleveland, doesn’t it.)  There are lots of quaint properties for rent and sale.

There was a club called “Mars” (like the planet) that seems to be replace by “25 Volt”.  Next door, there is a bizarre looking place called “Fall Our” (either like radiation, or like leaving formation in Army Basic Training).  It had a no photography sign, only the second time I have seen this.  A guy, heavily tattooed and smoking, seemed to be watching over it.  You get the picture. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Gay friend" plot twist closes out classic comics series

The “Life with Archie” Comics series will come to an end, after 75 years, with Archie Andrews taking a bullet for a gay friend. Fox news has a typical story here

I don’t know if this sounds politically correct, or sentimental.  I’ve never been one to follow comics. 
But I can remember back in the 1980s, the way gay teachers dealt with potential discrimination was to say “I have gay friends.”  There was a time when people accepted this kind of ruse.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

The new HIV-prevention pill (Truvada) is still controversial

There’s a new blue pill which is being touted for HIV-negative people as a way to prevent infection with HIV from sex with an infected person (especially for MSM).  It’s called Truvada, and the process is called “pre-exposure prophylaxis” or “PRep”.  (Yes, that sounds like a “prep” in organic chemistry lab, for undergraduates). 

It’s expensive ($14000 a year), and I would question whether normal insurance would cover it.  If you think that Hobby Lobby had an issue with contraception, see how this plays out.

The drug is said by some to be pretty safe as far as side effects (remember that was an issue for a long time with protease inhibitors, until more recent years).  But it might increase HIV drug resistance or even mutation among someone recently exposed but not yet detectable. 

On the side effects, however, some people report fever and fatigue, and mental laziness, as well as loss of libido.  

CDC says it should not replace condom use, and is not necessary for most people other than active MSM.  Vox Media has a “10 things you need to know” explainer here. This may not be the last of it.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Finally, I visit "Bear Party" at Town again

Last night I tried the double event at Town DanceBoutique, the “DC Bear Crue” happy hour party (with free cover before 9:30), followed by  the regular Friday night party, which admits 18+ (but sometimes with higher cover) at 10 PM.  The upstairs is closed briefly to new visitors at 9:30 and reopens around 11 PM.
For the most part, the dance floor was filled with people in conversation, not much dancing, with some booths and items for sale, and some 80s and 90s music.  My Shaun White cap seemed to attract attention.
The regular drag show is a bit crowded still, because the coat area (which you don’t need in summer) was moved into the old rear seating area, and you can see construction for an outdoor patio outside.
The “appearance” of the crowd on the dance floor changes a bit, as one would expect, at 11 PM.  This time, there seemed to be more more  “under21” persons (including women) than I recall from the past.  There were a few cases that I recognize from around Arlington, various churches, and the GWU campus, that I often transit (partly because I go to the West End Cinema nearby a lot, and sometimes eat at Quigley’s -- and I am a GWU alumnus).  Since "the kids" aren't allowed to drink, they tend to use the dance floor even more enthusiastically.  
Again, we get to the debate:  if someone is old enough to serve in the military (especially post-DADT) isn't he or she old enough to drink and take full responsibility?  That's the libertarian position.  As as practical matter, the chance to attend bars or discos occasionally before age 21 for three years gives a college-age person a chance to ponder the possible consequences of alcohol abuse first.  But, as in the movie "Begin Again", "the kids" don't have their own money.  Unless they're like Zuckerberg,