Tuesday, July 27, 2010

News and Pop Culture Round-Up

Gay Tango Festival Puts New Spin on Argentine Dance
Two men locked in a tight embrace step in time to the mournful chords of a tango. Gustavo Aciar follows his partner's lead, but halfway through the melancholy song, he takes charge. The nostalgic music and passionate moves are the same as those found in most Buenos Aires tango clubs, called milongas, but a gay tango festival is giving a new twist to a dance that traditionally maintains strict gender roles. "Tango has to adapt, just like a language," Aciar, 45, an opera pianist from the Argentine capital, told Reuters. "And gay tango is enriching the language of tango." The event is an offshoot of the bigger International Queer Tango Festival, which was launched in 2007 to increase interest in the dance among the gay community in the country, which became the first nation in Latin America to allow gay marriage this month. At a workshop held as part of the weekend festival, there were none of the women in high-heels and dapper, suited men normally associated with the quintessential Argentine dance. "Gay tango takes tango to another level-- the macho leader can become the sensual follower," said Kalervo Barker, 47, a tourist from Wales, who danced a few songs with Aciar. "Tango is so sensual and for me dancing with a man is more sensual when leading or following, there is a little flirting and I don't want to flirt with a woman," he said as the mainly male participants went through their steps. A boom in tourism during the last decade has rekindled interest in tango, which was born in Buenos Aires' immigrant neighborhoods. Traditionally the man leads the woman, but if no women could be found to accompany them, so-called tangueros would perfect their steps with each other. "What the books don't say is that while some men did it for the practice, others did it because they loved it," said Augusto Balizano, 40, one of the festival's organizers. READ MORE

Working Toward More Inclusive Schools
Recently I met a gay couple with a child who would soon be entering school. They wanted to find a public school where they would be welcomed, recognized and respected as any other family, and they did not feel this level of comfort in their neighborhood school. They searched and eventually found a school in our system that could support them, but because it was not in their neighborhood, they came to me to request discretionary admission. We discussed their situation and they were pleased to enroll their child in a school that inspired their confidence. But for me, their story laid bare a significant challenge we would have to overcome as a school system. They had to do an extensive search before they came to me with their request, including multiple phone calls and school visits. Yet of our 125 schools, this couple had only found one they felt showed the expertise, resources and degree of inclusion to support them. This was totally unacceptable. READ MORE

Iowa Lake Drains In One Day After Dam Bursts
A nine-mile-long Iowa lake has disappeared after heavy rains led a dam holding back its waters to collapse. Lake Delhi in eastern Iowa drained through the breached dam within hours on Saturday, flooding a nearby town. Governor Chet Culver has vowed to aid homeowners whose once lakeside homes now overlook a stinking, muddy pit. The authorities say curiousity seekers and treasure hunters venturing onto the vast, drying lake bed risk infection, broken bones and other hazards. The 92-year-old Lake Delhi dam failed on Saturday, destroyed by rising water from the Maquoketa River. "There was just more water than it was designed for," Jon Garton, a dam safety engineer for the state Department of Natural Resources, told the Des Moines Register newspaper. (BBC)

Gay Love for Straight Titillation
I watch representations of GBLT people in the media with a great deal of cynicism. Most of the time it's not there at all, when it is there it is often highly problematic and even when well portrayed it often focuses so much on the negative (homophobia, AIDS, family rejection, internalised hatred, etc) that it's not just depressing but damn near triggering to watch. So when I see GBLTs in media or literature I tend to approach cautiously and not exactly in an open and fluffy mood. READ MORE

Hype, NOT Talent, Drives Bieber Fever
The hysteria surrounding teen pop sensation Justin Bieber has less to do with his musical talent than teenage girls getting caught up in the hype regarding his popularity, says a media expert. Tim Blackmore, a professor in media and information studies at the University of Western Ontario, says Bieber is no different than any other teen star who's risen to fame over the years. Blackmore believes Bieber Fever is similar to the hysteria that surrounded the Beatles in the early 1960s or the way young girls reacted to Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus a few months ago. Bieber Fever, of course, is not actually a disease, but rather the term used to describe teenage girls who've fallen victim to 16-year-old pop star Justin Bieber's soft brown eyes and sultry voice. "It doesn't have to do with talent as much as it has to do with a sense of excitement," Blackmore said. READ MORE

One Year After Gay Center Attack, Tel Aviv Studies Berlin Model of Tolerance
A march will be held in Tel Aviv to mark the one-year anniversary of a shooting attack in a Tel Aviv gay youth center that left two dead and 13 injured. The Berlin model has been adopted by other European cities, like Barcelona. It is based on cooperation between Maneo and the authorities, particularly the police, which has two liaison officers to the gay community to deal with homophobic crimes, he said. Steiner said if the model is adopted in Israel, Hoshen, a group working to change stereotypes about homosexuality and bisexuality and that trains professionals in matters pertaining to the LGBT community. READ MORE

Susan Sarandon Brings Her (Much Younger) Lover to Italy
Are things getting hot and heavy for Susan Sarandon and her ping-pong aficionado boy toy Jonathan Bricklin? The Oscar-winning actress brought her 31-year-old rebound fling to Italy today (July 26) with her for the Giffoni Film festival in Ravello. Before stepping out for the star-studded event, Susan and Jonathan could be seen cruising the town as they picked up some souvenirs and trinklets from local vendors. Meanwhile, Susan has opened up her business venture into the world of table tennis. The 63-year-old star helped launch Spin, a bar devoted to the sport of ping-pong, in New York, and the chain is now expanding throughout America and into Dubai. She revealed that she enjoys playing the sport and finds it a great way to relax after shooting a movie. She also jokingly said she hopes the sport traditionally perceived as nerdy could be hip. She told the Sydney Morning Herald: “We’re kind of embracing the dorkiness with a sense of humour. Dorky can also be cool.” (FadedYouth)
Target's $150,000 Donation To Fund Anti-Gay Politics
Target, practically everyone's favorite discount retail store, is headquartered in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes. But along with precious bodies of water, Minnesota is home to some pretty rabid anti-gay politicians and groups. Among them include Tom Emmer. And Target, it seems, is apparently filling his campaign coffers with nearly $150,000. Follow the money. At least, that's the message delivered by an article at sfist.com by Matt Baume, who tracks $150,000 from Target's coffers, through a political action committee (PAC) known as Minnesota Forward, all the way to Tom Emmer, who himself supports a Christian rock band in Minnesota that travels around the state saying that it's moral and righteous for religious people to kill gays and lesbians. For those into algebra, it looks a little like this: Target + Minnesota Forward + Tom Emmer = Support for a rather dangerous and radical political philosophy that diminishes LGBT people to pests that should be murdered. And Target is cool with this? READ MORE

Lilith Fair's Female Fans Still Devoted
Music fans say the feminist music event Lilith Fair remains relevant despite the festival's poor ticket sales, which resulted in many concerts being cancelled. The festival, co-founded by Sarah McLachlan, had to trim its original 35-date tour to 20. Darrelle London is now opening the show at Lilith. London decided to pursue her music career after turning down law school. She's thrilled about her new path because Lilith was the first concert she attended as a child. "I remember it so vividly because it was so inspiring. So to be able to play at it, it's literally a dream come true. I'm very excited." During its run from 1997 through 1998, Lilith became a pop culture phenomenon, drawing some of the biggest female acts of the day and attracting 1.5 million fans in total. Not just a celebration of women in music, it also raised more than $10 million for charity. Eleven years later, the reconstituted concert isn't getting as much attention. With ticket sales diving, many wondered if the pro-female event was still pertinent. "Lilith Fair is an incredibly empowering thing to be a part of and when you buy a ticket you become a part of a movement, it's still extremely relevant," notes musician Tara MacLean. Several fans attending the recent concert in Toronto echo her sentiments. "It takes the women to bring up the women. Of course we need this, definitely," said one young female fan. "It really shows that we accomplish things in the world, too. It's not an all-guys kind of world," said another. London says that in the end, it comes down to the music. "It doesn't feel very political or anything, it feels like a celebration of women in music, which is what it is." (CBC)