Saskatchewan Stands With The LGBT Community

Pride flag-Legislature (small)
photo by Darrol Hofmeister, sharpshooter photography

On the topic of Pride flags… I was at the Legislature today for two press scrums trying to untangle this casino business (pray for me). Darrol and his trusty camera were along, and since we were there anyway, I asked him to take some shots of the pride flag flying outside the Legislature. Here it is. It’s beautiful.

It’s fantastic that Premier Brad Wall acted so swiftly on this, and he and his government deserve a round of applause (and maybe a friendly tweet or two to @PremierBradWall). Well done.

Weekly Reckoning: Reckon To The Max Edition

weekly-reckoningThis week, there’s no stopping the Weekly Reckoning. It’s totally extreme. It’s taking reckoning TO THE LIMIT.

YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING, FOLKS. LET’S RECKON THIS STUFF OUT.

1. LET’S PRIDE. Saskatchewan flies the pride flag. Way to go. Regina is still not flying the pride flag, because why respect and support human rights unless absolutely given no other choice? This has been written about already on the Dog Blog, but it bears repeating. Oh, and that Leader-Post  currently stands at 84 per cent bigot.

2. COME BACK TO THE iOS, FLAPPY BIRD, FLAPPY BIRD. Flappy Bird, the mobile game that no one can stop playing, is no longer available on Google Play or Apple’s app store. The success of the game has ruined creator Dong Nguyen’s life. So there you go. Sometimes even $50,000 per day in ad revenue isn’t worth it.

3. LET’S PRIDE SOME MORE. There are six out LGBT athletes participating at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, and one of them just won gold. Congratulations, Ireen Wüst of the Netherlands.

3. DANISH CHILDREN TREATED TO LIVE GIRAFFE EXECUTION, DISSECTION. I’m not kidding. This weekend the Copenhagen Zoo killed and dissected Marius, a healthy two-year-old male giraffe, in front of a live audience. The zoo carried out the act in order to prevent inbreeding (apparently Marius’ genes are overrepresented in the captive giraffe population), despite a petition and offers from other zoos to shelter the genetically unremarkable animal. The dissected carcass was then fed to lions – again, in front of an audience. The article contains some fairly graphic images.

THE LAST BEST WORD (SO FAR) ON THE NEAR-FUTURE DYSTOPIAN HELLHOLE KNOWN TO THE WORLD OF SOCHI. See if you can figure out whether these images are Sochi hotel rooms or contemporary art installations (It’s actually not too difficult to figure out which is which, especially since the bizarre hotel pics have been circulating for a few days now, but it’s fun to think of Sochi as a gigantic Russian art piece work that people ended up inhabiting because it was no worse than anywhere else in Russia).

 

Regina Tells L-P, “Heck No, We Don’t Want The Pride Flag”

Leader Post LGBT Flag PollI know it’s just a dinky little online poll so it doesn’t mean anything really. But still… as of 6:32pm on Saturday, Feb. 8, the poll the Leader Post has up on their website has 1,302 out of 1,538 people voting AGAINST flying a pride flag at city hall during the Olympics.

Only 236 people have voted in favour.

That means L-P readers are voting more than five to one against this expression of solidarity with LGBT people.

It’s fucking shameful.

But it does make me think there aren’t nearly enough Prairie Dog readers hitting that poll.

As always if you’ve thoughts on this issue, I’d love to hear ’em in the comments below.

UPDATE: Hey Regina, look at this… even your Sask Party Premier supports flying the Pride Flag:

 

So What Can You or I Do About Sochi?

One of the questions that comes up a lot among members of the LGBT community and its allies is: What can people do to show their support for LGBT Russians and their distaste for how the International Olympic Committee and the main Olympic sponsors have handled the issue?

Today’s Prairie Dog notes that Russian LGBT organizations do NOT support a boycott of the Games. But there are things you and I can do to show our support.

Wear Our Principle on our Sleeves

Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter currently states: “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender of otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement.” The International Olympic Committee claims that this principle already includes sexual orientation, but has done little to guarantee the right of athletes and spectators to speak freely in Sochi.

In response, two LGBT organizations—All Out and Athlete Ally—have partnered with American Apparel to produce a line of clothing based on Principle 6. A group of activists, current Olympians, and past Olympians has endorsed Principle 6, and will be sporting logos on their clothing during the Games.

Since Principle 6 does not specifically mention gay or lesbian people, it will not technically violate the Russian law.

Net proceeds from the clothing will be used to support Russian LGBT organizations.

Boycott the Sponsors, Not the Games

Michele Tyndall is a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Community of Regina (GLCR), which operates the Q Nightclub on Broad Street and the community centre in the same building. She says that people should boycott the products of companies that are either endorsing the Olympics or the policies currently affecting the Russian LGBTQ community. The GLCR has already removed all products produced in Russia from their menu.

Tyndall believes that such campaigns can, over time, have a powerful impact. “One of the biggest actions the community took was the Coors boycott in the late seventies in response to the brewery’s antigay practices. As a result, Coors now has some of the strongest GLBTQ protections for its employees and supports GLBTQ rights across North America.”

Many groups have already had great fun with online campaigns rebranding sponors like Coke as haters.  It’s turned into a bit of a public relations nightmare for some of them, but no one can say they weren’t warned about the consequences of turning a blind eye.

The largest sponsors of the Sochi Olympics are Coca-Cola, Atos, Dow, General Electric, McDonalds, Omega, Panasonic, Proctor and Gamble, Samsung and Visa.

Donate to Human Rights Groups like #loveconquershate

Tyndall noted that there is currently a poster campaign in Regina to support and raise funds for the Human Rights Campaign#loveconquershate for GLBTQ rights in Russia. There was also a drag show on January 25th hosted by Regina’s drag Entertainers of the year to raise funds for the same group. For more information on the Russian Freedom Fund, visit www.loveconquershate.org.

Support the Pride House International Campaign

The 2010 Vancouver Olympics included a Pride House in the Olympic Village, which provided a venue for LGBT athletes, spectators and supporters to come together. Unfortunately, Russia has denied the request to host a Pride House during the Games in Sochi, and so far, no country including Canada has taken up the suggestion to host Pride Houses in their respective national hospitality houses. In response, many communities around the world are hosting Remote Pride Houses, including Toronto, Montreal and Waterloo. Unfortunately, no Remote Pride House has been announced in Regina or any other Saskatchewan community.

 

2014 Winter Olympics

Mascots_2014_Winter_OlympicsI’m probably violating copyright law with this image, both with respect to the Olympic ring symbol and the images of the three mascots for the 2014 Winter Olympics which begin today in Sochi, Russia. So sue me.

Actually, don’t sue me. Or Prairie Dog. I’m just trying to do a simple blog post and figured the mascots would be a cutsie-poo way of drawing eyeballs. The mascots — from left to right, a snow leopard, a doe hare and a polar bear — were chosen during a nation-wide Russian TV broadcast from a short-list that also included a Pussy Riot-imprisoning President Vladimir Putin, a corrupt oil billionaire, a gay-reviling Russian Orthodox patriarch and a stylized vodka bottle.

Located on the shores of the Black Sea in the south-west corner of Russia, Sochi was a controversial choice to host the Winter Olympics. It has a humid, sub-tropical climate, and virtually no winter sports tradition. But for some reason Putin was keen on it so, in the vernacular of the Russian mafia, he “made it happen”.

From the get go there were concerns about the lack of snow for the alpine events in the nearby Caucasus Mountains. But apparently they had plenty of snow before Christmas so those venues should be fine. As for the indoor venues and Olympic Stadium, Russia spared no expense in ensuring that they’d be ready in time. And I mean that literally. Whereas the bill for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver was around $7 billion, Russia has reportedly spent around $50 billion on its facilities.

There’s also going to be a hefty security tab. Sochi is in an area of Russia where there’s a fair bit of ethnic and religious tension, and 40,000 police and soldiers have been assigned to the games, and all sorts of “forbidden zones” have been created, to limit the possibility of anything tragic happening. And there’s lots of communications monitoring and other surveillance going on with everyone on high alert after the two bombings in Volgograd in late December.

As far as the games themselves go, 86 countries are going to be represented from Albania to Zimbabwe. At the 2010 Winter Olympics Canada took home the most gold medals with 14, followed by Germany and the United States with 10 and nine respectively. As host country, Russia will be hoping for a similarly strong performance from its athletes this time around.

There’s preliminary competition in figure-skating, freestyle skiing and snowboarding today, and the gala opening ceremony will be on Friday. Once the Olympics conclude with the Men’s Gold Medal hockey game and closing ceremonies on Feb. 23, the 2014 Winter Paralympics will be held at Sochi from March 7-16.

CBC is the official Canadian broadcaster. You can find out more about its coverage plans here. And if you’re looking for a local connection, the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame has a special exhibition focusing on the Winter Olympics and Paralympics that will run into April.

Russia’s Idea of Welcoming LGBT Visitors to Sochi?

The Winter Games start in less than three days and Vladimir Putin says LGBT people are welcome in Russia so long as they” leave children in peace”. Those comments reflect the widespread practice of equating gays with pedophiles in Russia and have inspired groups like Occupy Pedophilia. This group of thugs has bashed, tortured and even kidnapped queer Russians and the police have done little or nothing to stop them.

The following video compiled by the Human Rights Campaign includes disturbing footage of many of those attacks. Anyone who gets the urge to vacation in Russia after watching the Olympics might want to keep these images in mind.

Performatorium 2014

photo taken by Michael MyersThis performance festival has its roots in Queer City Cinema — the LGBT friendly film and video festival that Gary Varro has been programming in Regina since 1996. Performatorium has a similar thematic focus as QCC, but here the emphasis is on live performance. The 2014 festival runs from Jan. 15-18. It includes a mix of performances, talks, panel discussions and a Labounge  that functions as a hybrid creative and social space. Venues include the University of Regina, Neutral Ground, Artesian on 13th and the Artful Dodger.

One highlight promises to be Sydney, Australia artist Julie Vulcan. Friday from 11a.m.-7 p.m. she’ll be conducting her performance I Stand In at the University of Regina Fifth Parallel student gallery. That’s an image from a previous version of I Stand In above. What it involves is 32 volunteers who “stand in” for nameless casualties we often see in news reports covering natural disasters, wars, crime and other incidents of violence. Because we’re viewing these people through the lens of mass media, we’re necessarily distanced from the tragedies that we are bearing witness too. By attending to each volunteer and performing a “corpse washing” ritual Vulcan invites us to think more deeply about the tragedies that news media (with varying degrees of sensitivity and insight) report on.

You can find a complete list of events for Performatorium 2014 here.

Let It Be Known That The Following Nations Have Been Pathetic, Bigoted Dicks To LGBT People Recently

Australia: you’re a goddamn disgrace:

Australia’s highest court struck down a landmark law on Thursday that had begun allowing the country’s first gay marriages, shattering the dreams of more than two dozen same-sex newlyweds whose marriages will now be annulled less than a week after their weddings. The federal government had challenged the validity of the Australian Capital Territory’s law that had allowed gay marriages in the nation’s capital and its surrounding area starting last Saturday. For Ivan Hinton, who married his partner Chris Teoh on Saturday, the result was heartbreaking. The couple just received their marriage certificate on Wednesday and immediately applied to change their surnames to Hinton-Teoh. Still, Hinton said he doesn’t regret going through with the wedding, and will always consider Teoh his husband. “This was an unprecedented and historic opportunity,” he said. “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”

India: you’re an ignorant ass and an embarrassment:

The Supreme Court ruling reverses a landmark 2009 Delhi High Court order which had decriminalised homosexual acts. The court said it was up to parliament to legislate on the issue. According to Section 377, a 153-year-old colonial-era law, a same-sex relationship is an “unnatural offence” and punishable by a 10-year jail term. Several political, social and religious groups had petitioned the Supreme Court to have the law reinstated in the wake of the 2009 court ruling. Correspondents say although the law has rarely – if ever – been used to prosecute anyone for consensual sex, it has often been used by the police to harass homosexuals. Also, in deeply conservative India, homosexuality is a taboo and many people still regard same-sex relationships as illegitimate.

Russia: you’re a vicious, bigoted shit show:

In an apparent reference to the laws banning “propaganda of non-traditional relations”, the Russian president said that on the international arena Russia sees itself as a defender of conservative values against what it considers an assault of “genderless and fruitless so-called tolerance” which he said “equals good and evil”. He said Russia will oppose attempts to impose foreign political ideology on sovereign countries. Such attempts, Putin stressed, often lead to destruction and bloodshed, citing events in the Middle East and North Africa as an example.

All three of you ridiculous gay-bashing, mean-spirited, on-the-wrong-side-of-history, weak, frightened and cowardly babies are totally gay, completely in denial and riddled with self-loathing. Get over yourselves and stop hurting innocent people.

Or I’ll write more blog posts like this! Don’t think I won’t!

Girl Geek Dinner

eden rohatenskyThe words “girl” and “geek” don’t often go together. That’s because geekdom, at least stereotypically, is regarded as the preserve of boys and men, while girls and women aren’t supposed to be interested in technology.  That stereotype is slowly eroding, though, and on Nov. 27 at Bushwakker the first Girl Geek Dinner is being held to acknowledge the role women currently play in the tech industry, and to encourage more women to become involved in technology-related pursuits.

“The ratio of men to women in the tech industry is problematic,” says organizer Eden Rohatensky (pictured), who is a web developer and interface designer. “The number of women is growing, though. This [June] there was a Barcamp event in Regina, and a fair number of women showed up who were working in the tech industry. It was the first time, most said, that they felt they could come out and learn something and network and be comfortable. What we’re trying to do with the dinner is expand that idea where it’s not only comfortable to talk about women’s issues in the tech industry, but also talk about other diversity issues with sexuality, gender, race and try to increase the amount of diversity.”

Not only is this a good idea from an employment perspective in terms of opening up job opportunities for non-traditional tech workers, it’s also smart from a business perspective.  “In the tech industry you’re always solving logical problems,” notes Rohatensky. “If you look at a problem from a different perspective, you’ll arrive at a different solution. These days pretty well everyone has technology needs — whether it’s a website, data base, or app. That goes from teachers to [health care workers] to government to whatever. And those workplaces have different demographics than the tech industry. Technology has responded well to scientific changes, but it hasn’t always responded to demographic changes in the workplace.”

A student at the University of Regina, Rohatensky says that many barriers to girls and women entering tech fields still exist. “When I was in high school the advice you might get from a guidance counselor was sometimes gender-specific. If you were a girl, and you were interested in math, you might be sent to accounting instead of physics or computer science or math. That’s part of the problem. We have certain ideas about what men and women should be doing and what their roles are and that’s what we’re tying to change.”

At the dinner three women with different backgrounds in the tech industry will give short presentations. “Aleana Young is on the edge of the tech industry, she does project management and deals with programmers who are a lot more technical than she is,” says Rohatensky. “Kim Schmidt is a web developer. And Donna Kovatch has been in the tech industry for a number of years and manages a group at ISC. They’ll be talking about how they got into technology, what roadblocks they encountered, and what and who encouraged them to continue in the industry.”

Often when women work in the tech industry, says Rohatensky, “they’re ‘the girl’ in the workplace or ‘the girl’ in the group, and it can be lonely.” By reaching out to women in other workplaces, she adds, it should be possible to build a broader sense of community.

Men are still welcome to attend Girl Geek Dinner, says Rohatensky. And the goal is to hold periodic gatherings to help build a network of tech professionals in Regina. You can find out more on the dinner, which goes at Bushwakker on Wednesday at 7 p.m., here.

Justice Ginsburg Is Performing A Gay Marriage Tomorrow

From the Washington Post:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will become the first Supreme Court member to conduct a same-sex marriage ceremony Saturday when she officiates at the Washington wedding of Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser.

The gala wedding of Kaiser and economist John Roberts at the performing arts center brings together the nation’s highest court and the capital’s high society and will mark a new milepost in recognition of same-sex unions.

“I can’t imagine someone I’d rather be married by [than Ginsburg],” Kaiser told the Post. Well, duh. She’s a Supreme Court justice. In terms of people down in the States who would be a bigger get to marry you, you’ve got, what, maybe if Prince got one of those internet certificates that said he was a minister in the Life Church or something.

Satanists Turn Westboro Baptist Founder’s Mom Gay For All Eternity

gawkersatanistsI have nothing to add to this story that you can’t read on heavy metal website, The Gauntlet. Or on the Huffington Post. Or Gawker. In short, a group of Satanists performed a pink mass over the grave of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelp’s mother that, they say, will make her gay for all eternity.

From the Gauntlet article:

The Westboro Baptists, famed for their bombastic “God Hates Fags” anti-homosexual activism, raised the ire of the Satanic Temple months previous. “The idea for the Pink Mass ceremony and website came during the aftermath of the tragic Boston Marathon bombings, during which time the WBC were threatening to protest the funerals of the bombing victims,” explains [Satanic Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves]. “Members of The Satanic Temple were in Boston, waiting for them, but they failed to show. Later, the WBC issued a statement that they had been present ‘in spirit’. We decided that a same-sex couple celebrating ceremony at the grave-site of Fred Phelps’s mother was an appropriate way to meet the Westboro Baptists, ‘in spirit’, but this time on our terms.”

Explaining the ceremony itself, Greaves continues, “The Satanic Temple now believes that Fred Phelps must believe that his mother is now gay, in the afterlife, due to our Pink Mass… And nobody can challenge our right to our beliefs.”

The Satanists in question have a website, westboro-baptist.com, with photos and commentary on the ceremony. It also includes a Gaying Post-Mortem, which reads…

Other same sex couples are invited to respectfully and tastefully express their mutual affection at Ms. Johnston’s gravesite. After a Pink Mass has been performed, every time a same sex couple kisses over a gravesite, the now-gay deceased is pleasured in the afterlife.

I’m sure some people may find this post-death forced reorientation offensive. But who knows? Phelp’s mother has been dead a while. Maybe this switch will help break up the monotony of an eternal afterlife.

Dear Brian, Dan Savage Is Not A Hypocrite

In the comments under my blog post about a great Dan Savage essay on global warming being a real thing and climate change deniers being cowards, valued regular Dog Blog commentator Brian Mouland writes:

Dan Savage sits on an anti-bullying committee and bullies Christians. Yea he’s great One Great Big Effing Hypocrite

Lack of relevance to the topic at hand aside, Brian’s comment is wrong-headed because it unreasonably equates Savage’s frequent criticism of anti-gay public figures and powerful institutions with the terrorizing of LGBT youth BY said figures and institutions.

Dan Savage does NOT bully Christians. He DOES criticize and mock bigots, particularly bigots in positions of power and authority (who, incidentally, are very BAD Christians). Savage isn’t telling vulnerable Christian youth that they’re going to burn for eternity in a lake of fire, or pressuring them to change things about themselves that are core to who they are, or otherwise driving them to kill themselves.

What Savage does, and what REAL bullies do, is DIFFERENT. It’s important to recognize that.

Now everybody watch this.