Tuesday, September 22, 2009

News & Pop Culture Round-Up

Scottish gay couples to be allowed to adopt next week

Gay couples in Scotland will be permitted to adopt children together from next week. Currently, a gay person can adopt a child but their partner has no legal rights or responsibilities as a parent. The new provision will come into law on Monday September 28th and will bring Scotland in line with England and Wales on gay adoptions. It was welcomed by Carl Watt, the director of Stonewall Scotland, who said: “What all children need and deserve most of all is a safe, secure, loving and stable home environment and same sex couples are equally able to provide this as opposite sex couples. “This legislation also means that there will be hopefully fewer children in care homes and more with homes and families of their own.” Adoptions by gay individuals in Scotland are thought to be rare, with only two cases in Edinburgh. The Catholic church in Scotland has already criticised the new rights, saying that gay relationships are not stable enough to care for children. Read more at UK Pink News.

Audience boos the Metropolitan Opera's new Tosca production

It had just about everything: a new production of a beloved work, Puccini's Tosca; a starry cast; music director James Levine in the pit — and from the audience, the loudest and most sustained booing in memory. The justified anger of so many of the 3,800 fans at Monday night's gala was directed not at the singers or conductor but squarely at Swiss director Luc Bondy and his production team. Their appearance on stage at the end turned what had been a standing ovation for the cast into a raucous protest, prompting the management to bring down the curtain. The production is scheduled for seven more performances this fall and then returns with some cast changes for eight more outings in the spring. Other new productions over the years have been greeted with boos, but rarely if ever has a Met opening night performance received such a hostile reaction. Read more at CBC.

The complexities of human sexuality, Islamic laws and regulations in Iran

A sexual relationship is only permitted within a heterosexual marriage. Homosexuality is completely forbidden (Duran, Khalid 1993), and the proximity of persons of opposite sex outside of marriage is authorized only within the limits set under Islamic law. All sexual relations that occur outside of a traditional, heterosexual marriage (i.e. sodomy or adultery) are illegal and no legal distinction is made between consensual or non-consensual sexual activity. Read more at LGBT Asylum News.

Abuse led to my singing career: Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera says living with an abusive father helped her become a successful singer. The pop star was the victim of domestic abuse when she was growing up and also regularly witnessed her father Fausto attack her mother Shelly. Christina turned to music to help her cope with the trauma, and insists it was her tough upbringing that inspired her to follow her dream. She said: "I witnessed a lot of unpleasant things - a lot of pushing and shoving and fighting and quarrelling. Growing up I did not feel safe. Feeling powerless is the worst feeling in the world. I turned to singing as an outlet. The pain at home is where my love for music came from." Shelly eventually left her husband when she found a four-year-old Christina covered in blood. Shelly revealed in a TV documentary: "I scooped her up and said, 'Oh my God. What's wrong?' She told me, 'Daddy wanted to take a nap and I made too much noise.’ ” Fausto has since begged for forgiveness but Christina refuses to have contact with him. The ‘Candyman’ singer – who has a 20-month-old son Max with husband Jordan Bratman – said: "I let him back into my life briefly but I soon realised that he is not necessary in my life." (Bang)

Lesbian officer, Jane Castor, appointed Tampa police chief

Out officer Jane Castor will be the first woman to rise to the position of police chief of Tampa, Florida. Appointed by Mayor Pam Iorio, Castor will be responsible for a department budget of $133 million and 1,300 employees. But her reputation as “a born leader in her demeanor” as assistant police chief isn’t the only tribute to her appointment. Castor is also being hailed as a product of years of dedicated outreach to the gay community. Read more at GayPolitics.com.

Chaz Bono to write memoir detailing sex change

Chaz Bono, the son of singer Cher, is to write a memoir detailing his experiences of gender reassignment. Bono, who lived as a lesbian named Chastity for 20 years, announced his plans to transition in June. According to TMZ, he has signed a six-figure publishing deal and a tentative title for the book is 'Coming Clean'. It is scheduled to hit shelves in 2011. The 40-year-old is Cher's only child with late husband Sonny Bono. He is a gay rights activist but also works as a musician, writer and actor. He wrote about his experience of coming out to his mother in the memoir Family Outing. In June, Cher publicly gave her support for Bono's transition. She said: "Chaz is embarking on a difficult journey… I respect the courage it takes to go through this transition in the glare of public scrutiny. "Although I may not understand, I will strive to be understanding. The one thing that will never change is my abiding love for my child." (Pink News)

CBS loses attempt to dismiss Dan Rather lawsuit
Former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather enjoyed a victory today when a New York judge rejected CBS’s attempt to dismiss Rather’s $70 million wrongful termination lawsuit against the network, reports Reuters. The judge also set a Dec. 22 hearing in the case, and ordered that witnesses be deposed, including Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone, who controlled CBS when Rather alleges he was unlawfully fired in the wake of a controversial Sept. 2004 report concerning former President George W. Bush’s military service during the Vietnam War. (EW)

Michael Jackson concert film, "This Is It" will have debut via simultaneous world premieres

New York, London and Seoul will be among more than a dozen international hot spots to host simultaneous premieres of the Michael Jackson concert film This Is It next month, Sony Pictures has announced. The studio paid $60 million US for rights to the high-definition footage of the entertainer rehearsing for a British concert series before his death in June. On Monday, it announced plans to hold premiere events around the globe. A premiere event is planned for Hollywood, where images of celebrities arriving on the red carpet will be beamed via satellite to the other cities hosting the film's theatrical debut. The ambitious plan for simultaneous premieres means that the different cities will be hosting the events at all hours of the day. This Is It opens for a limited two-week theatrical run on October, 28th, 2009.(CBC)

New University of Michigan gay athletes group

A group of Michiganders is forming a new organization in Ann Arbor specifically for gay student-athletes. The new Michigan Athletes and Allies Partnership aims to build a “new group at U of M working to raise awareness and give voice to the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied student-athlete.” Paul Farber, who was incredibly active with gay athletes at the Univ. of Pennsylvania, is one of the organizers. You can reach them at map-info@umich.edu or on Facebook. The group is holding its first meeting this Wednesday in Ann Arbor, and everyone is welcome. Info on that meeting after the jump. Read more at Outsports.com.

Toronto's F--ked Up nabs $20K Polaris Music Prize

Critically acclaimed hardcore punk band F--ked Up has taken the fourth annual Polaris Music Prize, the honour given to the best Canadian album of the past year. The Toronto ensemble, recognized for their full-length album The Chemistry of Common Life, picked up the $20,000 award at the Polaris concert and awards show Monday night in their hometown. "That is insane," shocked singer Damian Abraham remarked as he took the stage at Toronto's Masonic Temple to accept the award. "We got here today and we got frisked on our way in, and every time we went back, we got frisked again.… So I was like: 'Aww, this is going to suck, being frisked so much and not coming away with anything. But then I got a free iPod, and I was like: 'Yeah!' But this is better than an iPod!" Inspired by honours like the U.K.'s prestigious Mercury Prize, the Polaris is judged by a panel of music journalists and industry representatives based on musical merit, rather than other awards based on sales. Read more at CBC.

150,000 gay couples report being married in U.S. census

Nearly 150,000 same-sex couples reported being in marriage relationships last year, many more than the number of actual weddings and civil unions, according to the first U.S. census figures released on same-sex marriages. About 27 percent of the estimated 564,743 total gay couples in the United States said they were in a relationship akin to “husband” and “wife,” according to the Census Bureau tally provided to The Associated Press. That’s compared with 91 percent of the 61.3 million total opposite-sex couples who reported being married. A consultant to the Census Bureau estimated there were roughly 100,000 official same-sex weddings, civil unions and domestic partnerships in 2008. Read more at 365gay.com.

Where in the world is Mrs. Charlie Crist?

It seems that Mrs. Charlie Crist, who married the Florida governor last year, shows little interest in the role of First Lady. The sexual orientation of Florida governor Charlie Crist may be off-limits for most media, but a publication in his state recently asked about the increasingly scant public presence of his new wife, Carole Crist. Carole Rome, the New York socialite who married Governor Crist last December, rarely attends public events with the governor, according to the St. Petersburg Times, and unlike her predecessors as First Lady of the Sunshine State, she appears disinterested in philanthropic causes. Read more at Advocate.com.

Archaeologists find burial cellar in ancient Syrian city containing spectacular artifacts

The archaeological excavations at the royal palace in the ancient city of Qatna, north east of the Syrian city of Homs, have once again unfolded a remarkable archaeological discovery. The summer excavations, due to end September 25, located a rock tomb-cellar underneath the palace containing hundreds of artifacts as well as human bones from the period 1600-1400 BC. Read more at Science Daily.

Nine-year sentence in brutal attack on gay man, Dwan Prince

Three years after insisting that he was not guilty, following his conviction in a 2006 trial, Steven Pomie admitted to the brutal, anti-gay assault that left Dwan Prince partially paralyzed to this day.In 2005, Pomie attacked Prince with two other men after Prince flirted with him. Pomie returned with one of those men to deliver a second beating, and then came back alone a third time, but was prevented by witnesses from beating Prince. As Pomie left the scene that third time he delivered a kick to Prince’s head saying, “Yo, leave it alone son, the nigger’s a faggot,” witnesses said. “You’re pleading guilty because you are guilty,” said Judge John P. Walsh at a September 21 hearing held in Brooklyn criminal court. “Is that correct?” Pomie, who stood handcuffed during the proceeding, said “yes” and nodded his head. After his 2006 conviction for first-degree assault and first-degree assault as a hate crime, Pomie said he was innocent. “I did not commit this crime, first off,” he said at his 2006 sentencing. Read more at GayCityNews.