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Sunday, July 25, 2010

News and Pop Culture Round-Up

Canada gets failing grade in battling AIDS

A report card issued by the HIV/AIDS community in Canada sent a strong message to governments at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna today, saying current strategies for fighting the deadly disease are putting lives at risk. In the report presented by HIV-positive activists, researchers, AIDS organizations and human rights and HIV/AIDS lawyers, Canada received a failing grade in recognizing the needs of women and girls to protect themselves from HIV and to manage HIV infection. In Canada, the number of infected women continues to rise from just over 11 per cent of new infections prior to 1999 to over 26 per cent in 2008, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. By the end of 2008, the most recent year with data, there were an estimated 14,300 women living with HIV (including AIDS) in Canada. While Canada received a middling C grade for diagnosis, prevention and education, it received an F for stigma and discrimination. In particular, the report points out the problems with getting support for aboriginal and migrant women, incarcerated women, injection drug users and sex trade workers. The groups also slammed the government for taking money from Canadian AIDS funding for a vaccine plant that was never built. (Ottawacitizen.com)

Comic-Con: Wentworth Miller at the Resident Evil - Afterlife panel discussion

Wentworth Miller joined his pregnant co-star Ali Larter at the Resident Evil: Afterlife panel discussion during Comic-Con 2010, held at California’s San Diego Convention Center on Saturday (July 24). The twosome was accompanied by writer/director/producer Paul W.S. Anderson and the lead of the franchise, Milla Jovovich. (JustJared)

Comic-Con: Michelle Rodriguez shocks audiences
Never known for her demure nature, Michelle Rodriguez spoke her mind during the Battle: Los Angeles panel when asked if she’d ever take on some lighter roles to contrast the “macho badass” ones she usually plays. “What do you mean? Get raped and win an Oscar?” the actress responded, perhaps taking a swipe at actresses like The Accused‘s Jodie Foster and Boys Don’t Cry‘s Hilary Swank. She continued, commenting that most male screenwriters in Hollywood don’t understand the balance between femininity and masculinity. She said she hopes Salt will prove a game-changer, and more women will start writing strong roles for themselves. “There are lots of strong, independent women out there,” she said. “They don’t have to be butch like the characters I play.” (Hollywoodinsider)

Ryan Reynolds attended Comic-Con's Green Lantern

Ryan Reynolds and company attended Comic-Con's Green Lantern panel today in San Diego...The cast were greeted this morning by thousands of fans in the packed-to-the-max auditorium. This is Reynold's second comic book character in the big screen. He played Deadpool in 2009's Wolverine. The Wrap reports the morning started out with a small clip from the movie, which is still in production for another three weeks! Reynolds didn't comment on getting injured on set, but did recite the Green Lantern oath to screaming fans. Green Lantern also stars Mark Strong and Peter Sarsgaard and has a release date of June 17, 2011. We have a long time to wait! (Socialitelife)

Landmark legal victory for lesbian couple and their family

After a more than three-year court battle, Angel Chandler can finally have her children legally stay in her home. And for Chandler and her partner Mary Counce, the couple hopes the recent landmark legal victory makes it easier for other gay and lesbian couples facing similar situations. “It definitely makes the victory a lot sweeter knowing that not only did we win the case, but for other gays and lesbians across Tennessee, those judges aren't going to be able to say, ‘you're not good parents because you're gay,' or ‘you can't have your kids because you're gay,' or ‘you can't stay together.' Angel Chandler used to live in Gibson County, Tennessee, but now shares a home with Counce in Black Mountain. The so-called paramour clause was first imposed in May 2008 by Gibson County Chancellor George Ellis, prohibiting overnight stays by Counce. The restriction was not requested by Chandler's ex-husband and came despite a psychological evaluation finding no harm to their children, who are now ages 17 and 15. “It is gratifying to think that other judges will be held in check because of the decision from the appellate court on our case,” Chandler said. “Hopefully (other couples) won't have to go through as much as we did.” READ MORE at Citizen-Times.com.

Mexico City records 271 homosexual weddings in first 4 months of same-sex marriage law
Mexico City has seen 271 gay and lesbian couples get married since the capital enacted the first law in Latin America explicitly allowing same-sex marriages. The city government says there have been 142 marriages between men and 129 between women in the four months since the law went took effect March 4. The government said Tuesday that 18 foreigners were among those married, and the rest were Mexican citizens. The largest number of marriages occurred in the first month after the law took effect. Mexico's Supreme Court is considering challenges to the law, which applies only to the capital, but the measure will remain in effect while the review is under way. A decision is expected sometime around August. (Associated Press)

Cancer-free, actress Christina Applegate shows off her baby bump

Christina Applegate -- who announced last week that she is pregnant -- debuted her baby bump Sunday at the Los Angeles premiere of Cats & Dogs: The Revenge Of Kitty Galore. Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, the 38-year-old actress -- who is engaged to her baby's father, rocker Martyn Lenoble -- didn't dish on the baby's gender ("that is for me to know," she said) and would only reveal that she's "somewhere between zero and 10 months" along. As for pregnancy cravings, she said that besides avocados, she likes "weird things at weird hours." (USmagazine.com)

Gay veteran, spouse burial together nixed

Two years ago, Darrel Hopkins toured the state veterans' cemetery in Winchendon and decided he wanted to be buried there. The 20-year Army veteran was delighted with the cemetery's rolling green hills and picturesque chapel. So he applied for joint burial for himself and his spouse, and was pleased when the state promptly approved the application. But Mr. Hopkins would soon learn that discrimination can follow you to the grave. Not long after he selected his final resting place, he was summoned to the attorney general's office and told that the state could lose millions in funding if it allowed the joint burial. Mr. Hopkins, the recipient of two Bronze Stars and other medals, is married to a man. Because the federal government doesn't acknowledge same-sex marriage, the 65-year-old veteran may now be forced to choose between recognition for his longtime military service and perpetual rest with his longtime partner. “It was devastating to learn that,” said Mr. Hopkins' husband, Tom Casey Hopkins. “We were asked if we've made alternate plans. I just feel like there's no reason that a gay spouse should not be able to be buried with his partner.” READ MORE at Telegram.com.

Gay-marriage lawsuits escalate

Lawsuits over gay marriage have escalated on the nation's two coasts, energizing advocates on both sides and bringing the legal battle over same-sex marriage closer to the U.S. Supreme Court. Final arguments in a constitutional test of California's ban on such unions were held a month ago this week. A verdict in the case heard by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco could come any day. READ MORE at USAtoday.com.

Circumcision would do little to prevent HIV in gay men: Study
Circumcision in gay men would have little effect on reducing HIV incidence, according to a new US study. Circumcision is thought to reduce the risk of HIV transmission by removing cells in the foreskin that are most susceptible to infection by the virus. Clinical trials conducted in Africa have found it reduces the risk of HIV in heterosexual men, yet there is little evidence that it can reduce transmission among American gay men. The study by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, was based on surveys of 521 gay and bisexual men in San Francisco. Findings indicated that 115 men (21 percent) were HIV-positive and 327 (63 percent) had been circumcised. Of the remaining 69 men (13 percent), only three (0.5 percent) said they would be willing to participate in a clinical trial of circumcision and HIV prevention, and only four (0.7 percent) were willing to get circumcised if it was proven safe and effective in preventing HIV. The researchers extrapolated these findings to the entire gay and bisexual male population of San Francisco, an estimated 65,700 people, and determined that only 500 men would potentially benefit from circumcision. READ MORE at Deccanchronicle.com.

One in seven men on London gay scene thought to have HIV
One in seven men on the capital's gay scene are thought to be infected with HIV – markedly higher than the rate for the general gay male population. Although Health Protection Agency figures estimate that one in 20 gay men nationally and one in ten in London are living with HIV, a recent sample of 1,251 men in gay bars and clubs found that 15.2 per cent were carrying the virus. Health experts believe that up to a quarter of gay men with HIV do not know they are carrying the virus and suggests that many wrongly think HIV-positive men can be identified through their appearances or how they act. READ MORE at UK Pink News.

Mexican actress Kenia Gazcón has come out of the closet

Mexican actress Kenia Gascón came out as openly lesbian in an interview with TVNotas magazine. Gascón, who is currently on the cast of TV Azteca’s Quiéreme Tonto, joins a string of Latin American celebrities who have come out as openly gay in recent months following Ricky Martin’s coming out. “I’ve spent my entire life pretending, pleasing others out of fear of losing my job or other opportunities,” Gascón told TVNotas in an interview. “But in the end you lose your identity, ultimately limiting yourself.” Gascón also revealed she has been in a relationship with her partner, architect Andrea Vincze, for over six years. “I think we met at a mature stage in our lives. It’s been really cool because the focal point was mutual admiration.”
READ MORE at GLAAD.

Bar in the Dominican Republic: "No Blacks and No Gays Allowed"

A popular new bar in the Dominican Republic—which is more than 73 percent mixed race—has publicly banned blacks and gays. Rua's Bar in Santo Domingo has publicly stated that it serves "a demanding and "elite" clientele which "decides whom to rub elbows with and whom not"...There are no laws against racial discrimination in the Dominican Republic. It historically has been ruled by a white or fair skinned minority oligarchy which encourages racism. READ MORE at Rod 2.0.

Facebook flops in customer satisfaction survey


Despite being the most popular social-networking website in the United States, Facebook ranks near airlines and cable companies in terms of customer satisfaction, a new survey suggests. The site, which recently hit 500 million users, scored a rating of 64 out of 100 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index's E-Business Report, an annual survey conducted by the University of Michigan and research firm ForeSee Results. The result puts Facebook in the bottom five per cent of all measured companies, below IRS e-filers and at the same level as airlines and cable companies, which perpetually score low. "Facebook is a phenomenal success, so we were not expecting to see it score so poorly with consumers," said Larry Freed, president and chief executive of ForeSee, in a statement. "At the same time, our research shows that privacy concerns, frequent changes to the website, and commercialization and advertising adversely affect the consumer experience." READ MORE at CBC.

Facebook hits half a billion users
Social network giant Facebook has registered its 500 millionth member, the firm has announced. The site, which launched in 2004, has gained around 100 million new users in the last six months. Facebook said the number was "an important milestone" and added that it was "humbled and inspired" by the stories of its users, which it is asking people to share on the site. The UK currently has around 26m Facebook users. Stuart Miles of tech blog Pocket Lint said its success was down to "word of mouth". "There are so many people online and so many people wanting to share with each other's friends - it's like a snowball," he told BBC News. "It started off small, rolled and rolled, then all of a sudden not just your immediate circle of friends are on it but loads of people are, and they're all evangelising about why you should be on it too. "The next milestone, which will probably be 750m, won't take as long - the more you have the more it spreads, like that snowball." Mr Zuckerberg recently said that the site was "almost guaranteed" to reach one billion users. READ MORE at BBC.

Librarian: 'My christian beliefs got me ousted

A man who left his job as a librarian with Ohio State University lost his case in a federal suit alleging that the school was "hostile" to Christians because of its promotion of what the suit called "the homosexual lifestyle," reported a June 9 Fox News Radio report. Former OSU librarian Scott Savage claimed that he was the victim of a campaign to smear him both personally and professionally because he recommended several conservative titles for a reading list in 2006, including The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom, by David Kupelian. That book is sold online at anti-gay religious sites such as WorldNetDaily, where Kupelian serves as managing editor. Savage indicated that he had found other titles on the mandatory reading list for incoming freshmen to be too "liberal," and he was seeking to balance out the selections. The judge in the case, U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman, noted in his ruling that Kupelian’s book--which claims that there is a systematic effort underway to demolish Judeo-Christian morality--refers to sexual intimacy between consenting adults of the same gender as "aberrant." In his lawsuit, however, Savage claimed to have been the victim of harassment, saying that he was attacked continually for more than a year and accused of harassing faculty members, reported a June 9 article at local newspaper the Columbus Dispatch. It was due to the ongoing alleged attacks that Savage decided to leave his job. READ MORE at EdgeBoston.com.

The gay-friendliest shows on sports radio is back!

One of the gay-friendliest shows on sports radio is back, as The Michael Irvin Show starts Monday, July 26, on Miami’s 560 WQAM. The show will run noon-3pmET. The show will stream online at WQAM.com. Irvin spent his college career wearing No. 47 for the University of Miami. We’re working out the details, but it looks like I’ll again have a weekly segment talking about the latest in sports news (gay and otherwise) on Wednesdays at 2pmET…starting with updates on the Gay Games from Germany. READ MORE at Outsports.

Ancient woman suggests diverse migration

A scientific reconstruction of one of the oldest sets of human remains found in the Americas appears to support theories that the first people who came to the hemisphere migrated from a broader area than once thought, researchers say. Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History on Thursday released photos of the reconstructed image of a woman who probably lived on Mexico's Caribbean coast 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. She peeks out of the picture as a short, spry-looking woman with slightly graying hair. Anthropologists had long believed humans migrated to the Americas in a relatively short period from a limited area in northeast Asia across a temporary land corridor that opened across the Bering Strait during an ice age. But government archaeologist Alejandro Terrazas says the picture has now become more complicated, because the reconstruction more resembles people from southeastern Asian areas like Indonesia. "History isn't that simple," Terrazas said. "This indicates that the Americas were populated by several migratory movements, not just one or two waves from northern Asia across the Bering Strait." READ MORE at Associated Press.

Fewer and fewer people were getting married in the state of Iowa, until they legalized gay marriage!

Iowa ended a four-year decline in the number of couples getting married last year - and experts say the turnaround could have been aided in part by an April 2009 court ruling that legalized marriage equality. Susan Stewart, associate professor of sociology at Iowa State University, said marriage rates nationally “have never been lower” so there’s a good chance the new phenomenon of same-sex marriages weighs into Iowa’s increase. “It would seem like a big coincidence if the same-sex couples getting married weren’t part of this,” she said. READ MORE at Proudparenting.com.

World Cup footballer 'in gay affair'

A World Cup footballer is the subject of internet rumours that he had a year-long affair with a British reality TV star.The player, is said to be "well-known", was accused of the affair by the TV star in a blog. The posting was swiftly removed but not before it was spotted by fans. According to the Daily Star, the reality TV star revealed details of the alleged relationship, claiming he and the player met three times a week at budget hotels behind the player's girlfriend's back. The author wrote that the footballer approached him in a club and asked for his phone number before they began a 12-month affair. READ MORE at UK Pink News.

America’s gay buying power projected at $743 billion in 2010

The total buying power of the U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) adult population in 2010 is projected to be $743 billion, according to the recently updated analysis. The estimate was originally derived in a joint study by both Witeck-Combs Communications and Packaged Facts titled, “The Gay and Lesbian Market in the U.S.: Trends and Opportunities in the LGBT Community, 6th edition.” In 2009, the gay buying power projection in the U.S. was estimated at $732 billion. This 2010 projection is slightly less than earlier analyses – given that the entire U.S. economy has suffered its worst recessionary consequences (between 2008 and 2010) since the Great Depression began in 1929. “Buying power projections are frequently a standard business measure for companies and policy decision-makers. This offers us a reasonable snapshot of the projected annual economic activity of America’s diverse gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender population even in this faltering economy,” said Bob Witeck, CEO of Witeck-Combs Communications. Since 1993, Witeck-Combs Communications has provided expert marketing and communications counsel to Fortune 500 companies in their strategies to reach the gay consumer market. READ MORE at Sdgln.com.

Outrage over huge leak of Afghan war files; fresh doubts raised
The monumental leak of classified Afghan war documents threatened Monday to create deeper doubts about the war at home, cause new friction with Pakistan over allegations about its spy agency and raise questions around the world about Washington's own ability to protect military secrets. The White House called the disclosures "alarming." The torrent of more than 91,000 secret documents, one of the largest unauthorized disclosures in military history, sent the Obama administration scrambling to assess and repair any damage to the war effort, either abroad or in the U.S. The material could reinforce the view put forth by the war's opponents in Congress that one of the nation's longest conflicts is hopelessly stalemated. The leaks come at a time when President Barack Obama's Afghanistan war strategy is under congressional scrutiny and with polls finding that a majority of Americans no longer think the war there is worth fighting. Still, the leaks are not expected to prevent passage of a $60 billion war funding bill. READ MORE at Associated Press.

ACLU Takes up Arizona case of harassed gay teen

A gay teen in Surprise, Arizona says that he has been harassed and his life threatened--at school, and in front of teachers who do nothing about it. Caleb Laieski, 15, is an openly gay student at Willow Canyon High School, reports NBC News. The young man has been open about his sexuality since age 12, and he’s stood up for his rights and those of other gay students before; two years ago, the teen created a group called Gays & Lesbians United Against Discrimination. Now he’s pursuing his rights in a more direct and immediate way, responding to threats and bullying that have targeted him specifically. "There are a lot of teachers that when people say you’re gay, or they call me a faggot, or even some death threats have been made to me in classroom," Laieski told the media. "I do see teachers, they hear it and everything, and they choose not to intervene." The Arizona branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has intervened in the case, with ACLU Arizona’s legal director, Dan Pochoda, contacting the school district about the abuse Laieski has endured. Pochoda has also requested that the school district "ensure that all District bullying, anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies specifically include actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity." Surprise, Arizona is a city of about 100,000 that is located in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. READ MORE at Edgefireisland.com.

Houston, you're not gay enough, survey finds

Although Houston is the biggest city in the country with an openly gay mayor and the launching pad for the landmark Lawrence v. Texas case, we're just not queer enough for some people: The latest Gay/Lesbian Index rankings of the top 20 gayest cities includes Austin and Dallas -- freakin' Dallas -- but not Space City. According to Richard Florida's story for the Daily Beast, the index was "developed by Gary Gates, a demographer at UCLA's Williams Institute" and it "tells you how the proportion of same-sex couples among all households of a given metro area compares to the average for the entire U.S." Hair Balls is not a demographer -- we can barely work a calculator -- but when Columbus, Ohio winds up gayer than Houston, the math just seems freakishly fuzzy. And don't even get us started on Denver, Ann Arbor, or Ithaca. READ MORE at Houstonpress.com.

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