Monday, May 26, 2008

Talk of Murder

The leader of The Gambia delivered a lulu of a speech recently. President Yahya Jammeh said he intends to behead gays.

Not the finest policy statement I've ever heard.

Speaking at a political rally, President Jammeh announced gay people had 24 hours to leave the West African nation, the BBC reported. He told the crowd he would "cut off the head" of any gay person found in The Gambia.

The president promised "stricter laws than Iran" concerning homosexuality.

In this Olympic year, what a spectacular idea for international competition: a contest between The Gambia and Iran to see which country can kill more of its own people for less reason. The winner gets a gold noose.

Jammeh said, "The Gambia is a country of believers . . . sinful and immoral practices [such] as homosexuality will not be tolerated in this country."

According to The Advocate, the president told another sinful and immoral group to beat it as well: criminals. I, of course, don't like gays to be lumped together with crooks. I suppose the Gambian criminals were offended at being lumped together with gays.

Jammeh directed landlords and hotel owners to boot gays out before security forces conduct a promised mass search.

Just try and imagine being a gay or lesbian Gambian under these conditions. I think I'd chain myself to a European embassy. Or even better, to a European ambassador.

A number of gay men have fled to The Gambia after a crackdown in neighboring Senegal in recent months. Out of the frying pan, into the inferno.

President Jammeh got support from Gambia's Daily Observer newspaper. Apparently he always does. In an editorial titled "Gays-Free Gambia," the editors wrote that theirs is a Muslim and Christian country, and the Quran and Bible condemn homosexuality.

The editorial noted, "Look, we are not interested in stoning anyone, even homosexuals."

Oh, good!

"What our president is saying, and we agree with him totally ('as usual' I hear you moan!) is this: Ours is a society guided by religious principles."

Those principles "leave no room for homosexuality," the editors wrote, before ending with a plea: "So, please respect our religions, cultures and traditions by keeping your homosexuality out of our country."

Um, no. When customs include murdering people just because they're different, those customs aren't worth respecting. Even more to the point, gayness is as much Gambia's as it is Holland's or America's. The claim that homosexuality is inflicted on countries is a huge helping of hooey too often served up by African leaders, and apparently by their assistant chefs, known as newspaper editors.

Gambia's President Jammeh seems to excel at hooey. Last year he startled the world by claiming he could cure AIDS. In three days. With herbs.

The Advocate reported that Jammeh's presidential Web site showed pictures of him mixing the formulas and laying his hands on patients' heads. He said he could also cure asthma.

"The mandate I have is that HIV/AIDS cases can be treated on Thursdays," the president announced in a speech before dignitaries, including foreign ambassadors, who must've wondered what the hell was special about Thursdays.

"That is the good news and the bad news is that I cannot treat more than 10 patients every Thursday . . . For asthma, I have to choose between Saturday and Friday . . . Within three days the person should be tested again and I can tell you that he/she will be negative."

And warthogs will fly.

Here's hoping, praying, that his promise to kill gays is just as empty as his claim of an AIDS cure. Better a blowhard than a butcher.

Monday, May 12, 2008

All the News That Fits

I know it's hard for you. What with the Democratic drama, China catastrophe, Myanmar mess and other big stories to keep track of, it's tough to stay abreast of LGBT news as well.

I'm here to help. I can't recount every piece of recent gay news for you, but I can offer a selection of items guaranteed to make you sound like you've been paying attention all along.

No need to thank me. I live to serve.

Starting on a positive note, the country of Nepal has its first openly gay politician. Sunil Babu Pant will represent a small communist party in Nepal's new constituent assembly. Pant leads the nation's gay rights group, called the Blue Diamond Society.

No, the organization has nothing to do with almonds, and if you hold me up like this, we won't get anywhere.

In another political breakthrough, the state of Virginia got its first black gay elected official. Voters chose Lawrence Webb for the Falls Church City Council. He won by 39 votes. I didn't say it was a landslide.

Also in Virginia, Mildred Loving died. Don't try and fool me—I know you haven't a clue who she was. Thank goodness you have me.

Loving, who was African-American and Native American, married a white man in 1958. A hoo-hah ensued—yes, hoo-hah is a legal term—and in 1967, in the case of Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws against interracial marriage.

Last year, on the 40th anniversary of that decision, Mildred Loving issued a statement in support of same-sex marriage. She's one of our community's straight heroines. Aren't you glad you know now? Honestly, I'm not paid nearly enough for this.

On the subject of marriage and what people will do to get it, Sheila Schroeder and Kate Burns of Englewood, Colo., were convicted of trespassing for staging a sit-in after the Denver Clerk and Recorder's Office refused them a marriage license. These hardened criminals now have to perform 28 hours of community service and pay $41 in court fines.

On the subject of marriage and what people will do to get out of it, the divorce trial of James and Dina Matos McGreevey got underway. I'm so sick of the shenanigans of New Jersey's former first couple, I can't bring myself to write about the pair anymore.

However, mindful of my responsibility to inform you, I suggest that if you need a fix, head to Court TV, where perhaps you'll get an answer to the question of whether she knew she was marrying a gay man. Then you'll know more about the matter than I do, and you can go all smug on me.

Over in St. Louis, administrators at Washington University have gotten an earful from those within and outside the university community who are appalled at the school's plan to bestow an honorary doctorate on Phyllis Schlafly, longtime foe of gay and women's rights, and an alumna of the school.

If this news nugget has inspired you to do further research, I recommend you examine the twin facts that Schlafly is an anti-gay activist who has a gay son. Then explain that to me.

The American Library Association reported that for the second year in a row the book most often challenged in public schools and libraries was the children's book "And Tango Makes Three." It's a true story about a penguin family with two dads. Objectors moan that the book will have children believing homosexuality is acceptable. The most hated book for two years running? Just another example of gays making it to the top.