Saturday, June 18, 2022

More Saturday Male Beauty


The Right's Lie That Being LGBT Is "Contagious"

I have long believed that LGBT individuals terrify the far "Christian" right because if the truth is that being LGBT is a normal variation of human sexuality and that we are "born gay," then the myths and fairy tales upon which these false Christians have constructed their so-called world view are threatened.  Thus, in the minds of these people it becomes necessary to demonize and, better yet, eliminate those who threaten their house of cards beliefs - hence the calls by extremist pastors to execute gays.  In addition, with more and more young people feeling safe enough to "come out" - 20% of Generation Z identifies as LGBT - the chances that little Bobby or Suzie might identify as LGBT despite being raised in far right "Christian" homes are greatly increased and extremist parents are terrified that their friends and families will believed they "failed" in raising their gay children (note, the concern is not about their children but rather the parent's own perceived embarrassment).  The result is claims that children are being "groomed" or "recruited" into the ranks of LGBT individuals - in short anything rather than to admit the truth of the science that confirms sexual orientation is set before birth and while it can be suppressed, it cannot be changed despite the claims of self-loathing "ex-gays," most of whom are on the payroll of anti-LGBT "family values" organizations.  Sadly, prositiute like Republican politicians are only too happy to pander to religious extremist fears and jump on the bandwagon who depict being LGBT as a kind of social contagion that must be stopped through "don't say gay" legislation.  A piece at Salon looks at this latest effort to demonize LGBT individuals.  Here are highlights:

The HBO show "Real Time with Bill Maher" recently ran a segment called "Along for the Pride," which raised alarm about the gradual rise in people identifying as LGBTQ over the last century — from 1% of the Silent Generation to 20% of Generation Z. . . . . , The segment is a hodgepodge of statistics, anecdotes, misinformation, and genital jokes, but the message it sent was clear: This apparent rise in LGBTQ prevalence cannot possibly be "natural."

The same premise — that LGBTQ identities are spreading "unnaturally" — was also the underlying rationale behind Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law and copycat bills introduced in other states, which restrict or prohibit discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. The sponsor of Florida's legislation, Republican state Senator Dennis Baxley, has made numerous remarks espousing his belief that there are too many LGBTQ kids nowadays and that his bill would counter that trend.

Conservative New York Times opinion columnist Ross Douthat described this line of thinking held by many on the political right: "What we're seeing today isn't just a continuation of the gay rights revolution; it's a form of social contagion which our educational and medical institutions are encouraging and accelerating."

While these might seem like new developments, the notion that LGBTQ identities are "contagious" is actually quite old. Late 19th-century sexologists, who coined the term "invert" to describe people that we would now call LGBTQ, believed that it was largely an acquired condition, often the result of being "seduced" by other inverts. This idea — that queerness can spread from person to person much like a disease—provided the rationale for criminalizing and institutionalizing LGBTQ people during this time period.

When I was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, people would often treat the revelation that someone they knew was LGBTQ as though it were a potential contamination event: They might distance themselves from the individual thereafter, or worry that their past association (especially if there was any romantic interest or intimacy) might "taint" or "compromise" their own gender and sexuality. Part of the reason why I kept quiet about my trans-related feelings as a child was that I knew the disclosure would implicate everybody close to me — my family and friends would all be affected (or perhaps "infected") by my queerness. You could say that I was "closeted" back then, but to me, it felt more like self-imposed quarantine.

In subsequent decades, there has been growing acceptance of LGBTQ people, much of it hinging on the public understanding that we are "born this way." . . . But others have critiqued "born this way" for its failure to account for their later-in-life shifts in identity, their experiences with gender or sexual fluidity, and/or that the phrase gives the impression that LGBTQ people have suffered some kind of "birth defect."

Because of its success, anti-LGBTQ campaigners have worked hard to upend the "born this way" narrative. This is why they have long flaunted "ex-gays," and more recently, people who detransition, as though the existence of such individuals disproves the authenticity and longevity of all of our identities. And now, they are citing the growing LGBTQ population as supposed evidence that our identities are merely "trendy" (in the words of Maher), or worse, the result of "social engineering" (in the words of Baxley).

In other words, they are trying to revive the idea that queerness is "contagious."

But there are less sinister explanations for these shifts. Gary J. Gates, a well-regarded expert on LGBTQ demographics, attributed the aforementioned increases to "reduced social stigma and accompanying advancements in legal equality."

There is no "queer contagion" sweeping the nation. What we are witnessing is simply a new era of openness and possibilities. Young people who in the past never had the words to describe their feelings, or who knew what they were but felt coerced into remaining closeted (or worse), are now more able to freely express themselves. People who have had same-sex experiences on occasion — who have always outnumbered people who exclusively identify as gay or lesbian — are now more comfortable explicitly calling themselves bisexual (or some similar label). People who in the past would have felt too afraid to experiment with their gender or sexuality for fear of the stigma that might entail may now be more willing to explore those potentialities.

Like the gradual increase in left-handedness, there is nothing threatening about any of these developments. Unless, of course, you believe that LGBTQ identities are inherently immoral, or feel uncomfortable living in a world where you can no longer presume that everyone you meet is straight by default. This lack of serious negative ramifications explains why so much of this "social contagion" discourse has been squarely directed at trans kids, where moral-panic-inducing memes about "experimenting on children" and "rushing children into hormones and surgery" (both of which are not true) can be used to scare people into believing that we must put the proverbial "LGBTQ genie" back into the bottle.

LGBTQ people simply are. And when there are two or more of us in the same space, that isn't a sign of "trendiness" or "social contagion"; sometimes it's just happenstance. Other times, we seek each other out due to our mutual interests and circumstances, especially given the anti-LGBTQ stigma we routinely face. We must recognize the "queer contagiousness" myth for what it really is: an attempt to separate us from one another, to silence our collective voices and perspectives. In a word, it is an attempt to quarantine us.

LGBTQ identities and experiences are no more "ephemeral" or "contagious" than heterosexual and cisgender ones. Those who suggest otherwise are not merely incorrect, but they are often pushing an agenda to isolate and silence us.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty


Friday, June 17, 2022

More Friday Male Beauty


Pride Month Marred by Rising Anti-LGBT Hate

In August it will be twenty years since I began living as an out gay man and struggled to find self-acceptance and escape the self-hate indoctrinated into me by my Catholic upbringing and the larger society.  It was a very rocky road and along the way societal acceptance of LGBT people and same sex unions has increased remarkably.  During this period the sodomy laws were struck down, same sex marriage was legalized and here in Virginia LGBT non-discrimination protections were enacted. Given the religious extremist majority on the U,S. Supreme Court some of these gains may be threatened if the Court reverses Roe v. Wade and eliminates a right to privacy in one's personal life upon which they are based.  Meanwhile, across the nation there is growing anti-LGBT hatred being whipped up by scamvangelists and pastors and "family values" hate groups who seek to line their pockets with money and need the bogeyman of LGBT individuals to frighten their flocks.   At the same time, Republicans from Ron DeSantis to Glenn  Youngkin have stoked anti-LGBT sentiments for political gain with zero regard for the lives they damage - it all about their own perceived political advantage.  A piece in The Hill looks at the rising hate that is causing many in the LGBT community to again have fears for their safety and legal rights.  Here are article highlights:

Pride Month celebrations across the country are playing out against a backdrop of growing threats to the LGBTQ community from conspiracy theorists and far-right extremist groups, and the results have already turned violent.

On Saturday, 31 members of a white supremacist group called the Patriot Front were arrested in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where they allegedly planned a riot to disrupt a Pride event. Those arrests came hours before a group of Proud Boys, the far-right militia, disrupted a children’s book reading in San Lorenzo, Calif., given by a local drag queen who is also a social worker.

Baptist ministers in Idaho and Texas have gone viral in recent weeks for calling on the government to execute gay people.

And three people were assaulted as they left a Pride event in Salt Lake City last week, while flags celebrating Pride were vandalized along a major arterial in Boise

The vitriol and bloodshed come after a decade of stunning advancements for LGBTQ rights, as more Americans accept and embrace marriage equality and as more states adopt anti-discrimination legislation. Just over a decade ago, fewer than half of Americans favored same-sex marriage; today, 70 percent do. Acknowledgement of the community has also broadened. The vast majority of MLB teams now offer specific Pride celebrations at home games.

Experts who follow the national conversation over LGBTQ rights say the growing acceptance of gay and lesbian people has forced opponents to target a new minority group — the transgender community.

“This is fundamentally an anti-trans movement that has come to target other parts of the LGBTQ coalition,” said Sasha Issenberg, author of “The Engagement,” a book detailing the history of the fight for same-sex marriage rights. “Even before the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that gay and lesbian couples had the right to marry, those on the losing side of those cases accepted their defeat, and redirected much of the infrastructure developed over two decades to fight same-sex unions towards issues related to gender identity.”

Conservative legislatures across the country have passed measures barring trans people from the bathrooms that conform to their gender identity, and from girls’ and women’s sports. In some states, legislatures and governors are working to block access to gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors.

“As recently as 2004, the Republican Party was using gay marriage as a wedge issue,” said Melissa Michelson, a political scientist at Menlo College and the author of several books about the LGBTQ community and public opinion. “They can’t do that anymore because people generally support gay marriage. So they’re looking for a new wedge issue, and transgender people are not nearly as supported.

The pastors who called for executions repeated disproven tropes about pedophilia. The Proud Boys who broke up the book reading accused the drag queen, Panda Dulce, of grooming children. A conservative agitator affiliated with the group Turning Point USA published videos accusing parents who attended the Pride parade in Los Angeles of grooming their own children.

Some of the same people who spread hate against the LGBTQ community have connections to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection and former President Trump’s failed efforts to hold on to power.

The conservative agitator in Los Angeles was also present at the Trump rally that led to the insurrection, according to videos he published on Twitter. And leaders of the Proud Boys were charged last week with seditious conspiracy in connection to the Capitol riot.

“It’s all part of the same hard right authoritarian movement in the country,” said Michael Edison Hayden, a senior investigative reporter at the Southern Poverty Law Center. . . . . “What they want to do is stoke a mob, and what we’re seeing is the mob.”

The number of hate crimes specifically targeting LGBTQ people has risen in recent years, according to statistics published by the FBI. At an event at the White House last month marking International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, President Biden cited both the progress made in recent years and the ongoing violence.

“We continue to witness disturbing setbacks and rising hate and violence targeting LGBTQI+ people in the United States and around the world,” Biden said. “This is wrong.”

“This is a logical reaction to when you dehumanize people. When you dehumanize the transgender community, when you say they are monsters and a danger to children, people are going to think they have to neutralize that threat,” Michelson said. “It just takes one guy or one small group of people to decide, ‘This threat is so serious, I need to do something.’” 

Friday Morning Male Beauty


Thursday, June 16, 2022

More Thursday Male Beauty


"Ginni" Thomas At Heart of Coup Conspiracy?

I have long viewed Clarence Thomas as unfit for a position on the U.S. Supreme Court and the growing revelations about his wife's efforts to overhtrow the 2020 presidential election and to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to illegally block the certification of Joe Biden's victory - including her emails with John Eastman, the arcitect of the illegal coup effort - only serve to underscore Thomas' unfitness for the Court.  At a minimum, Thomas should be forced to recuse himself from any case involving any aspect of the election.  Better yet, he needs to resign from the Court.  As for Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, if criminal prosecutions are brought, she seemingly should be among those indicted.  She has long refused to avoid appearances of impropriety and newly released emails suggest she was in the center of the conspiracy to overthrow the 2020 election. Like Trump, Ginni Thomas - a true whack job in my opinion - views herself and her husband as above the law.  Respect for the Court is at an all time low and the Thomas duo will only serve to further destroy want credibility the Court continues to retain.  The Washington Post looks at the new relevations.  Here are excerpts:

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol has obtained email correspondence between Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and lawyer John Eastman, who played a key role in efforts to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory, according to three people involved in the committee’s investigation.

The emails show that Thomas’s efforts to overturn the election were more extensive than previously known, two of the people said. . . . The committee’s members and staffers are now discussing whether to spend time during their public hearings exploring Ginni Thomas’s role in the attempt to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election, the three people said.

Last week, a federal judge ordered Eastman to turn more than 100 documents over to the committee. Eastman had tried to block the release of those and other documents by arguing that they were privileged communications and therefore should be protected.

Thomas also sent messages to President Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and to Arizona lawmakers, pressing them to help overturn the election, The Post has previously reported.

While Thomas has maintained that she and her husband operate in separate professional lanes, her activities as a conservative political activist have long distinguished her from other spouses of Supreme Court justices. Any new revelations about Thomas’s actions after the 2020 presidential election are likely to further intensify questions about whether Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from cases related to the election and attempts to subvert it.

In January, the Supreme Court rejected a request by Trump to block the release of his White House records to the House committee investigating Jan. 6. Clarence Thomas was the only justice to dissent, siding with Trump.

Eastman, who once served as clerk for Clarence Thomas at the Supreme Court, outlined scenarios for denying Biden the presidency in legal memos and in an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 4 with Trump and Pence, The Post and other outlets have previously reported. Eastman has said that Trump was his client at the time.

Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter ordered Eastman to release numerous documents to the committee, rejecting privilege claims Eastman had asserted. . . . .He ordered Eastman to turn over documents regarding three December 2020 meetings of a group that Eastman described as “civic minded citizens of a conservative viewpoint,” including messages from a person Carter described as the group’s “high-profile leader” inviting Eastman to speak at a meeting on Dec. 8, 2020. The meeting agenda indicates that Eastman discussed “State legislative actions that can reverse the media-called election for Joe Biden.”

“The Select Committee has a substantial interest in these three meetings because the presentations furthered a critical objective of the January 6 plan: to have contested states certify alternate slates of electors for President Trump,” Carter wrote.

Carter also ordered the release of part of a Dec. 22 email written by an attorney he did not identify. The attorney encouraged Trump’s legal team not to pursue litigation that might “tank the January 6 strategy” by making clear that Pence did not have the ability to intervene in the counting of electoral votes. “Lawyers are free not to bring cases; they are not free to evade judicial review to overturn a democratic election,” Carter wrote.

Ginni Thomas repeatedly pressed Meadows to overturn the outcome, according to text messages obtained by The Post and CBS News. After Jan. 6, she told Meadows in a text that she was “disgusted” with Pence, who had refused to help block the certification of Biden’s electoral college victory. She wrote, “We are living through what feels like the end of America.”

Thomas also pressed Republican lawmakers in Arizona to help keep Trump in office by setting aside Biden’s popular-vote win and to “choose” their own electors . . .

The woman is a menace - and so is her husband. 

Thursday Morning Male Beauty


Wednesday, June 15, 2022

More Wednesday Male Beauty


The Future Criminal Case Against Donald Trump

So far the hearings of the House Select Committee on January 6th have been devastating for Donald Trump in that they have documented that he had no legitimate basis to claim he had won the 2020 presidential election and that there was absolutely nothing to back his "Big Lie" that the election was stolen.  He was repeatedly told by numerous inner circle sources that his claims were, to quote William Barr, "bullshit."  As the Committee hearings continue to unfold, the evidence will likely only get worse for Trump and some of those who deliberately sought to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden's victory or to overthrow the election entirely.  Thus, what has been revealed so far is what many of us expected: the Big Lie and the January 6th insurrection were the product of a malignant narcissist intent on holding on to power - and a shield from criminal prosecutions - at any cost, even overthrowing democracy.  Like Trump's entire life story, the efforts to overthrow the election was a matter of putting his own sick interests over the rule of law and once again lying incessantly.   A piece in the New York Times looks at the possible criminal indictments coming against Trump.  Here are excerpts:

Congress and the Justice Department now find themselves in a complex dance, set to the tempo of the Jan. 6 hearings. The House select committee has already uncovered evidence suggesting that former President Donald Trump committed serious federal crimes.

Congress cannot bring criminal charges; the Justice Department must do so. And critics of the department are asking why it does not appear to be investigating these allegations. The hearings point to a potential answer: The committee is laying a foundation upon which prosecutors can build in a subsequent investigation.

And a subsequent investigation is virtually inevitable, given the evidence generated by the committee. How could Attorney General Merrick Garland ignore the facts the American people are now learning about?

Critics of the hearings who say they are too detailed and dry miss the multiple intended audiences. . . . there are several audiences. One is the nine justices. Another audience is the public — both in the courtroom and listeners online. And there’s a third audience: history.

Whatever the immediate outcome, history can render a different judgment. The same is true for this committee. Twenty million people watched the first hearing, but the other two audiences — the immediate decision makers and the eyes of history — potentially will have an even more profound impact on our democracy.

Merrick Garland and high officials at the Justice Department, not nine justices, are the immediate decision makers. . . . . A highly respected federal judge, David Carter, has already said in a published opinion that “the court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.” Those are not easy words for the Justice Department to cast aside. If that doesn’t merit an investigation, it’s hard to think what should.

Mr. Garland has known from the start that Congress is investigating the whole set of facts involving an attack on its own seat of government, and he may have made the conscious choice to hold off until he sees what Congress has developed.

Public hearings serve a subtle function. They permit the minds of the American people to acculturate to the facts and evidence. By laying out the facts that explain what Trump did, the Jan. 6 hearings can in advance help acclimate the public to why the Justice Department has to take criminal action against the former president. The hearings may afford the department a deeper and public explanation of its reasoning than an indictment out of the blue would offer. Public sentiment of this kind could help insulate the department against a claim that it is politically motivated. These hearings may prove to be a bridge between the Justice Department and the public.

Now consider that elusive third audience: the eyes of history. On the one hand, Mr. Garland has to fear being seen as political, and on the other, he knows that the rule of law requires him to bring an indictment if the evidence shows Mr. Trump committed one of the most serious crimes against the United States in our history.

What would criminal charges against Donald Trump look like? Obstruction of an official proceeding is a serious offense that requires the prosecution to show that a defendant obstructed, or attempted to obstruct, an official proceeding and that the defendant did so corruptly.

Before the hearings, it was thought that Mr. Trump’s defense against this charge is that he genuinely believed that he had won the election and wasn’t acting “corruptly.”

The testimony in last week’s hearing cast immense doubt on that claim. Mr. Trump’s close ally, former Attorney General William Barr, testified that he told the president that arguments claiming he had won the election were “bullshit.” Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka testified that she believed Mr. Barr. Mr. Trump’s own election data people told him the same. Mr. Trump might try to claim he still believed the nonsense, but such an argument would be difficult to make given the array of people who told him in no uncertain terms that he had lost. Mr. Trump persisted, despite the warnings, to try to interfere with the lawful transfer of power. This looks very much like an attempt to obstruct an official proceeding.

The Justice Department could also bring the charge of “conspiracy to defraud the United States.” A charge of conspiracy requires proof that two or more people agreed to defraud the country. A key feature of conspiracy charges is that the plot need not succeed . . . . Prosecutors need not wait until the bomb goes off (or in this case, until the election results are wrongfully thrown out) before bringing charges.

Here, Mr. Trump faces yet another problem: Even if we were to ignore Mr. Barr and others, and accept that Mr. Trump believed he had won the election, courts have ruled that a genuine but mistaken belief is not enough to defeat a conspiracy charge.

Finally, the Justice Department could bring seditious conspiracy charges. Such charges have already been used by the Justice Department against members of the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys. This is one of the most serious charges in the federal criminal code, but it’s also the one that is the hardest for prosecutors to bring against Mr. Trump.

The charge requires prosecutors to prove that two or more people agreed to use force to delay the execution of a law or to overthrow the government. Here, Mr. Trump’s defense would be that while he may have wanted to delay certification of the election, he did not ever formally agree with someone else to use “force.”

Based on the evidence presented so far, it seems as if the most likely charges are obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy, and not seditious conspiracy.

The committee has done a masterful job of starting to present its case to the American people, who are, after all, the first audience for their argument. And it has done so at a time when inflation, war in Ukraine, reproductive rights, gun violence and climate change equally demand our attention.

But the only way we as Americans have control over the decisions of elected bodies and the president in each of these areas is through our votes. If an incumbent president can use the machinery of government to orchestrate a way to throw our votes out, the foundations of our democracy will have crumbled. If you care about inflation, or foreign policy or anything else, you have to care about this. And so too should the Justice Department. Because history will.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty


Tuesday, June 14, 2022

More Tuesday Male Beauty - Pt 2


The GOP's Dangerous Child Exploitation for Political Gain

Inceasingly, Republican politicans - especially in Florida and Texas - are engaging in dangerous actions aimed at stirring up their hate and bigotry filled base and/or appealing to anti-LGBT Christofacists that are literally putting children and youths at risk of suicide or stripping them of needed medical and mental health support.  While pretending to care about children, this behavior has nothing to do with protecting children and has one goal: winning perceived political advantage.  The wreckage done to families and children and youths simply doesn't matter to these callous and amoral politicans.  While the worse offenses have occurred in Texas and Florida, other Republicans in state houses and governors' mansions have jumped on board with "don't say gay bills" and efforts to purge schools of LGBT themed books and even any references to LGBT people (think Glenn Youngkin).  Having grown up gay and in the closet (with constant thoughts of suicide), these efforts will and are harming harm real children and youths and causing needless fear and stress to families.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the vile trend:

Fresh off defending parental rights in education, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has a new cause: using the power of the state to harass parents who see drag performances as family entertainment.

Last week, DeSantis (R) projected distress after video emerged of children attending a “Drag the Kids to Pride” show in Texas. “That is totally inappropriate,” he said. “That is not something children should be exposed to.” He added: “We have child protective statutes on the books,” and “we may have the ability to deal with something like that.”

DeSantis is not the first conservative to treat child protective services (CPS) as a potential political tool. . . . Texas has already started investigating parents who allow their transgender children to receive medical interventions.

We should name this vile trend for what it is: child exploitation for political gain.

A CPS investigation is one of the most invasive, disruptive experiences that families can live through. And the consequences of turning an important, high-stakes tool for ensuring child welfare into a culture-war instrument are almost too awful to contemplate.

The stigma of being charged with negligence, neglect or abuse can be personally and professional annihilating, even when the allegations prove to be unfounded. Hiring a lawyer to represent a family during an investigation, or to fight an emergency order removing a child from their family home, can be hugely expensive. . . . And if the worst comes to pass, government employees might take a child from a loving, caring family and place them in an environment that is less safe and nurturing.

Weaponizing protective services reports could also make it easier for people to file CPS complaints as a form of abuse or persecution.

Given how invasive CPS investigations are, people who initiate them with allegations that are found to be “maliciously false” face legal penalties in many states. But if politics . . . can become the basis of investigations, it will be easier for bad actors to target their enemies without fear of prosecution for making up allegations.

And distorting the profession in this way could attract people more interested in political skullduggery than in child welfare, while driving dedicated professionals out of the system.

There aren’t objectively correct answers for the many conundrums parents face. But because decisions about parenting are so deeply felt and highly subjective, it’s easy to look at another family and interpret difference as malice, latitude as neglect or stringency as abuse.

The only way to preserve autonomy for all families is for the government to refrain from trying to adjudicate parenting decisions that are matters of taste and personal politics.

Even conservative parents who regard drag performers with horror should be wary of hurling themselves down this slickest of slippery slopes.

Should CPS scrutinize parents who let 9-year-olds watch R-rated movies or Tucker Carlson? What about adults whose lax approach to their browser settings allows their children to stumble into cesspools of pornography or white supremacy? Should parents who own guns be subject to weekly checks to ensure they’re securing their weapons properly?

It’s one thing for a family to suffer through a CPS ordeal because of someone else’s mistake or tragic misjudgment. But to whip up false moral panics over drag queens or covid caution — to subject parents and children to investigation as a form of gleeful political point-scoring — is outrageous.

Childhood is a special time, and parents’ child-rearing decisions have real consequences. With their latest reckless crusades, politicians such as DeSantis seem willing to place children in peril for the sake of their own ambition and vanity.

DeSantis is an utterly vile individual. 

More Tuesday Male Beauty


Glenn Younkin's Strange Dance Around Pride Month

A week ago to my shock and amazement I received a personal invitation form Glenn Younkin's office to attend an event in Virginia Beach that was pitched as a meeting of "business and LGBT leaders."  I was shecked by the call given my strong support for Terry McAliffe and this blog's strong criticism of Youngkin and his ties to the virulently anti-gay Christofascists/white Christian nationalists at the Family Foundation, perhaps the foremost hate group in Virginia. From my conversation with Youngkin's aide I was invited because I had been a founder of Hampton Roads Business OutReach ("HRBOR"), the first gay chamger of commerce in Virginia. I opted to attend the event largely out of curiosity - most of the other invitees I know chose not to attend - and to see what Youngkin might say.  Other than saying that he intended to represent all Virginians and that he wanted business opportunities for all Virginians, Youngkin never said anything about LGBT rights nor did he address fears in the LGBT community that Republicans might seek to undo the pro-LGBT legislation and nondiscrimination protections enactedwhile Democrats controlled the General Assembly and governor's mansion.  I continue to be unsure what it was all about.  A piece the Washington Post looks at Youngkin's strange dance around gays (note: the haters at the Family Foundation were NOT anused).  Here are highlights:

Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who ran for office last year as a sunny but deeply conservative culture warrior, traveled to this gay-friendly city this week to meet with Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative LGBTQ group — chatting amicably with them for more than an hour without uttering a word about LGBTQ rights.

A day earlier, the Republican hosted a private Pride reception at the Capitol without inviting any of Virginia’s openly gay, lesbian or transgender state legislators.

More than a week into Pride Month, the new governor has not issued a proclamation but has made some deliberate — if highly cautious — outreach to a community that he once embraced as a private equity executive but hardly courted in last year’s gubernatorial campaign.

As co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, Youngkin celebrated on Twitter in 2019 when the Human Rights Campaign lauded the company as one of the nation’s “best places to work for LGBTQ equality.” But on his way to the governor’s mansion, he campaigned against certain trans rights measures, such as opposing the participation of trans girls on teams that align with their gender identity. And while saying he accepts same-sex marriage as a matter of law, he also indicated he personally opposes such unions.

Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said the governor’s recent overtures, such as the Pride reception, are consistent with his promise to be a governor for all Virginians.

Youngkin’s outreach, however limited, has surprised some political observers in a state where LGBTQ rights have not been widely championed by Republican leaders. Just two years ago, Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) got the boot from fellow Republicans after presiding over a same-sex wedding. Last year, a candidate for the GOP lieutenant governor’s nomination endured attacks from at least one Republican rival for supporting LGBTQ rights and attending a local Pride event. And this year, a Republican-led state House subcommittee killed a bipartisan effort to strip a defunct ban on same-sex marriage from the state constitution.

Youngkin’s overtures also run counter to the culture fights he has continued since taking office — and to the approach that two of his potential rivals for the 2024 presidential nomination have taken toward LGBTQ issues.

Just last month, Youngkin seemed to flirt with a policy similar to DeSantis’s as he sounded the alarm over what he characterized as age-inappropriate teaching. . . . Youngkin declined to explain what he meant at the time and has announced no policy on that front.

“He’s dancing on the edge of a tightrope, not wanting to offend either side,” said conservative radio host John Fredericks, who has been supportive of Youngkin but thinks his have-it-both-ways approach to the issue “comes off as consultant-driven and swampy.” “If he’s supportive of the Log Cabin Republicans, as I am, and the LGBT community, as I am, then say it. It is what it is. But … he doesn’t want to end up as the next Denver Riggleman.” 

Even Youngkin’s cautious approach has troubled some conservatives.

“Governor Youngkin should meet with all citizens but celebrating pride month dismays many people of faith who encounter the inevitable conflict between their religious freedom and the lgbtq agenda,” Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, wrote in a text message to The Washington Post.

Youngkin’s recent outreach includes a private lunch at the Executive Mansion with a group of Log Cabin Republicans earlier this month and his appearance Wednesday before the Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board to condemn a hate-fueled disruption at a previous meeting. His efforts have drawn mixed reviews, with more liberal LGBTQ leaders highly skeptical of Youngkin’s motives and more conservative Log Cabin leaders happy for the outreach.

All but one member of the advisory board boycotted his Pride reception despite its convenient timing and location. (The event kicked off early Wednesday evening as the board wrapped up a meeting just steps from the Capitol.) Some board members warned during the meeting that their attendance would help the governor “gaslight” the public on his social views.

Chairwoman Lisa A. Turner also said it was “ridiculous” that some invitations had been extended with just two days’ notice and that the state’s four LGBTQ legislators — all Democrats — were not on the guest list.

“I appreciate the Governor’s invitation, but I think it is premature for this administration to celebrate LGBTQ+ equality when it has yet to take any meaningful steps to advance it,” James Millner, director of Virginia Pride, said in a written statement issued to the public.

Two years ago, when Democrats won full control of state government, Virginia passed sweeping LGBTQ rights legislation that bans discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Some activists fear those gains could be reversed if Republicans, who flipped the House on Youngkin’s coattails and will get a shot at the state Senate next year, win full control of the legislature with a Republican chief executive. Adding to their anxiety is concern that the U.S. Supreme Court could reverse itself on same-sex marriage, which could have the effect of reviving Virginia’s defunct constitutional ban.

Holding a Pride reception two months after House Republicans killed an effort to repeal the state ban and replace it with an “affirmative right to marry is the equivalent of ‘thoughts and prayers’ without action,” said Del. Danica A. Roem (D-Prince William), who in 2017 became the first openly transgender person to be elected to any U.S. statehouse.

Youngkin’s appearance Thursday evening in Virginia Beach was open to the press but was billed on his public schedule in a way that included no tie to LGBTQ causes: “Governor Glenn Youngkin meets with business and community leaders.” An advisory issued to reporters a few hours beforehand noted that the event, at Town Center City Club, would be hosted by the Log Cabin Republicans of Hampton Roads.

Phil Kazmierczak, president of Log Cabin Republicans of Hampton Roads . . . . aid Youngkin is finding common ground with LGBTQ conservatives by speaking to issues they already agree on — lower taxes, for instance, or business-friendly policies. He does not expect Youngkin to champion LGBTQ rights, but also feels confident that the governor will not try to roll them back.

Again, the whole thing was strange and I have no clue what Youngkin really thinks.

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty


Sunday, June 12, 2022

Sunday Afternoon Male Beauty


The Moral Desolation of the GOP

A column at The Atlantic by a former Republican contemplates the moral bankruptcy of today's Republican Party.  Donald Trump has rmade the Grand Old Party in his image and he was assisted every step of the way by rank and file members of the party leadership always motivated by a desire for power over all else and a fear of the hideous base of the party - white supremacists and Christofascists - who Trump beaconed to slither out from under the rocks where they had long layed largely out of sight. Along the way the self-described party of law and order, constitutional conservatives, of morality and traditional values, and patriotism became the anthesis of the values claimed to govern the party.  Each time when a choice of honor and decency presented itself, the party leaders chose perceived self-advantage and a lust for power at any cost first.  Trump may have been the opportunist who let loose the haters and bigots, but the rest of the party leadership gladly welcomed them and threw principle and decency to the wind.  At this point, the party appears beyond saving despite the efforts of a handful of Republicans to stand for the values that once defined the GOP.   Here are column excerpts:

[T]he leaders of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol opened their public hearings—hearings that will show, in the words of vice chair Liz Cheney, that “Donald Trump oversaw a sophisticated seven-part plan to overturn the presidential election and prevent the transfer of presidential power.”

Or, as committee chair Bennie Thompson put it, “Donald Trump was at the center of this conspiracy.” The violent assault on the Capitol was the culmination of that effort; Trump “summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” Cheney said. And he reveled in what he had done. The more carnage, the better.

That Donald Trump acted the way he did was hardly a surprise; some of us had been warning about his borderless corruptions and disordered personality since before he became president. It’s hard to imagine that there’s any ethical line this broken, embittered, vindictive man wouldn’t cross . . . .

But the story of the Trump presidency isn’t only about the corruptions and delusions of one man; it’s also about the party he represents. Trump recast the Republican Party, of which I was long a proud member, in his image. His imprint on the GOP is, in important respects, even greater than Ronald Reagan’s, despite Reagan being a successful two-term president.

“Other presidents have been accused of wrongdoing, even high crimes and misdemeanors,” Peter Baker wrote in The New York Times, “but the case against Donald J. Trump mounted by the bipartisan House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol described not just a rogue president but a would-be autocrat willing to shred the Constitution to hang onto power at all costs.”

It was bad enough that many Republicans were complicit in Trump’s wrongdoings when he was president; that they continue to be complicit 17 months after Trump left the presidency is an even more damning indictment.

What Trump has done is worse even than what Nixon did and yet Republicans—despite the case against Trump being far more comprehensive and detailed than we knew in the immediate aftermath of January 6—continue to propagate his lies and either defend his seditious conduct or act as if it never happened. It’s “old news,” we’re told. Nothing to see here. Time to move on.

Not so fast.

The sheer scale of Donald Trump’s depravity is unmatched in the history of the American presidency, and the Republican Party—the self-described party of law and order and “constitutional conservatives,” of morality and traditional values, of patriotism and Lee Greenwood songsmade it possible. It gave Trump cover when he needed it. It attacked his critics when he demanded it. It embraced his nihilistic ethic. It amplified his lies.

Make no mistake: Republicans are the co-creators of Trump’s corrupt and unconstitutional enterprise. The great majority of them are still afraid to break fully with him. They consider those who have, like Liz Cheney, to be traitors to the party. They hate Cheney because she continues to hold up a mirror to them. They want to look away. She won’t let them.

Perhaps the most withering sentences of Cheney’s extraordinary presentation last night were these: “Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

Those in the Republican Party and on the American right who defended Trump and continue to do so—who went silent in the face of his transgressions, who rationalized their weakness, who went along for the ride for the sake of power—must know, deep in their hearts, that what she said is true. And it will always be true.

Their dishonor is indelible.

More Sunday Male Beauty


White Supremacists Arrested for Threatening Pride Event

Donald Trump and the Republican Party leaders have welcomed white supremacists into the party ranks and made open racism acceptable with the GOP.  They - think Ron DeSantis and Glenn Youngkin - have also whipped Christofascists into a frenzy with their efforts to purge accurate history and LGBT themed books from school libaraies and drive LGBT students deeply into the closet.   Meanwhile some scamvangelists are openly calling for the execution of gays and those who support LGBT rights.  This toxic mix of hatred and demonizing of anyone different or labeled as "other" is bearing frightening fruits as evidenced by a group of white supremacists - wearing the same logo as white supremacist who terrorized Charlottesville, Virginia in August, 2017 - planning to riot at a pride event in Idaho.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the developing situation and reminds all of us within the LGBT community to remain vigilent given the manner in which the leaders within the GOP have emboldened our enemies.  Here are story highlights:

Police in Idaho arrested 31 people who had face coverings, white-supremacist insignia, shields and an “operations plan” to riot near an LGBTQ Pride event on Saturday afternoon. Police said they were affiliated with Patriot Front, a white-supremacist group whose founder was among those arrested.

Authorities received a tip about a “little army” loading into a U-Haul truck at a hotel Saturday afternoon, said Lee White, the police chief in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, a city of about 50,000 near the border with Washington. Local and state law enforcement pulled over the truck about 10 minutes later, White said at a news conference.

Many of those arrested were wearing logos representing Patriot Front, which rebranded after one of its members plowed his car into a crowd of people protesting a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017, killing Heather Heyer and injuring dozens.

The group’s founder, Thomas Ryan Rousseau, was among those arrested, according to jail records. Like the others, Rousseau was arrested on a charge of criminal conspiracy to riot . . . .

White said the people were headed to City Park, which was hosting Pride in the Park, an event advertised as a “family-friendly, community event celebrating diversity and building a stronger and more unified community for ALL.” Organizers did not immediately respond to telephone and email requests for comment from The Washington Post on Saturday evening, but they wrote in a post to the group’s Facebook page that it was a “successful” event.

The group, North Idaho Pride Alliance, urged people to “stay aware of your surroundings this afternoon and evening” in the city.

Authorities had been aware of online threats leading up to the weekend, White said, so police had increased their presence in the city’s downtown. Two SWAT teams and officers from the city, county and state assisted in the arrests.

The Panhandle Patriots, a local motorcycle club, had planned a “Gun d’Alene” event on the same day as Pride in the Park to “go head to head with these people,” an organizer said in April during an appearance with state Rep. Heather Scott (R).

The organizer was not identified by name in a video but wore a vest bearing the alias “Maddog” and the insignia of the Panhandle Patriots group. He lamented that the Pride gathering would be “allowed to parade through all of Coeur d’Alene,” saying that “a line must be drawn in the sand” against such LGBTQ displays. Scott did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post late Saturday.

In a news release posted on the group’s website, the Panhandle Patriots encouraged the community to “take a stand” against the LGBTQ “agenda.”

White did not mention a connection between the Panhandle Patriots event and the arrests. He said those arrested had come from several states “to riot downtown,” with riot gear, at least one smoke grenade and documents “similar to an operations plan that a police or military group would put together for an event.”

[F]irearms were present in the vicinity of the park, White said. Police had been in contact with the FBI “all day,” he said.

White noted that the authorities’ understanding of the situation was still developing and said at the news conference that law enforcement had not yet interviewed those arrested.

Sunday Morning Male Beauty