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Gay Serbs find glimmer of hope in Eurovision Song Contest May 21, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Gay Life, Music.
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Annual song competition this week in Belgrade > Twelve points? This year’s Eurovision final takes place in Belgrade this Saturday. Serbia’s gay community feels the event is a chance to express itself.

The last time gay men and women took to the streets of Serbia’s capital, they were beaten by nationalist gangs while police looked on.

Seven years after their first and only Pride march, activists now see the glitz, media attention and gay tourists coming to Serbia with the Eurovision Song Contest as a big chance to come out again, louder and more confident than before.

“There are no gay celebrities in Serbia, nobody’s out,” said Predrag Azdejkovic, one of a handful of openly gay Serbs. “Eurovision is so gay, so camp, it’ll be a shock to the system.” “Yes, maybe it reinforces stereotypes, so people think all gay men are effeminate and all lesbians drive trucks. I have no problem with that. All visibility is good and we must use it.”

Homosexuality is a taboo subject across the Balkans’ largely conservative and patriarchal societies, where many people view it as a treatable mental illness. Boban Stojanovic, who runs the gay rights group Queeria with Azdejkovic, said homophobia in Serbia stems from an obsession with national identity in the 1990s, a notion of aggressive masculinity created by and for the Yugoslav wars, and the increased influence of the Orthodox Church.

“Before 1990 the gay scene was more free. Although formally illegal, homosexuality was tolerated because the social climate was more liberal,” Stojanovic said. “But when Yugoslavia started breaking up, there was a rush in all the republics to define a very clear national identity. Today, to be a Serb means to be Orthodox and heterosexual. Being Serb and gay is seen as incompatible. The macho warrior culture of the 1990s is the root of Serbia’s homophobia today.”

Eurovision’s mix of high camp and low culture attracts millions of viewers and a loyal gay following. The 2008 event is held in Serbia after Marija Serifovic won last year’s contest with the ballad “Molitva” and a daringly lesbian chic-tinged act. The nuance was lost on far-right groups who declared open season on gay visitors.

“We are waiting for them,” the Obraz group said, adding it would patrol Belgrade’s streets and show “zero tolerance to the promotion and spread of evil” and use “all means to stop it.” Authorities initially pondered having policemen escorting gay visitors, then opted for increased security across the city for the week of semifinals and up to Saturday’s final. The attention meant the time was ripe for the first campaign in years, Stojanovic said. Discreet posters featuring same-sex couples called for “Love on the streets, hooligans in prison.” They survived several days on the streets of Belgrade before being torn down or defaced.

“With all this repression there is huge pressure to be invisible,” Stojanovic said. “We don’t agree. First we must be visible to the majority and then we can start to communicate.” Azdejkovic and Stojanovic say the influx of color and fun that comes with Eurovision will be a much-needed challenge to Serbia. An international pariah in the 1990s for its role in the wars, it still has a love-hate relationship with the West.

The two men don’t expect any violence because the flipside of nationalism is “an obsession with being a great host.” ”The government wants to project a great image of Serbia and make this the best Eurovision ever,” Azdejkovic said, adding that there was pressure on police to contain extremists. “We can only ask our government: Please, if you are going to protect gay foreigners, also protect gay Serbs. The foreigners will be here for a week and then leave, but they’ll have a freedom we can only dream of.”

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Lonely farmer’s wedding night letdown April 14, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Gay Life, Lifestyle.
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A German farmer who married a woman he met on the internet has asked for the marriage to be annulled after finding out ‘she’ was a he.

Wolfgang Zober, 55, from Naumburg, said: “I don’t meet many women as I am often out in the fields working all day, and so a friend suggested I try internet dating. “I was delighted when I contacted Randy Victoria, 38, and was delighted when I met her and realised she was as lovely as her photographs. “She even knew loads about farming – I didn’t realise that was because she used to be a farmer herself.

“We only had a kiss and cuddle before we married. But on my wedding night she told me she had a penis – and that her real name was Ralf. I was devastated. “The only true thing she did say was that she had two children, but she was the father – not the mother.”

Ford cars still a friend to LGBT community March 15, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Cars & Motors, Gay Life, Marketing.
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Although Ford is spending less on gay marketing and to support gay groups, the cutbacks are due to the slowing economy and not because of any “settlement” with the American Family Association, as the group announced this week.

“I can tell you there was not a negotiated settlement to this boycott,” said Ford spokesman Jim Cain. The automaker still backs groups including Human Rights Campaign and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

Read this artcle at > Portfolio.com

Gay, bisexual men’s health threatened by STDs March 15, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Gay Life, Health.
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Experts > Gay, bisexual men’s health threatened by STDs

With many gay men not having regular checks for gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis, these sexually transmitted diseases pose “a major threat” to their health and that of bisexual men, according to Dr. Kevin Fenton, a senior official of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who spoke at a scientific meeting in Chicago.

The situation reportedly could be helped, however, if the federal government gave the green light for additional ways to use a new kind of DNA test to screen for STDs.

Read this article at > The New York Times

Iranian gay man gets second chance to make asylum case March 15, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Gay Life.
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British authorities are reconsidering their denial of a petition for asylum by a 19-year-old gay Iranian man, who says he fears for his life in his home country, where his boyfriend allegedly was arrested, charged with sodomy and hanged.

Mehdi Kazemi initially was denied asylum by the British last year and then sought residency in the Netherlands, which this week also rejected his application.

Read this article at > Google/Agence France-Presse