Run for dear lives, Irene on the way

Irene was expected to make landfall in North Carolina on Saturday, then roll along the East Coast before hitting near Manhattan on Sunday.

 

“Waiting until the last minute is not a smart thing to do,” Bloomberg said. “This is life-threatening.”It was the first time part of the nation’s largest city was evacuated. And never before has the entire mass transit system been shuttered because of a storm. Despite not knowing how the city would react, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was confident people would get out of the storm’s way.More than 300,000 people were told Friday to evacuate and New York ordered buses, planes and its entire subway system shut down as Hurricane Irene marched up the East Coast.

Queen Latifah out

If you are “chomping at the bit” for down-to-earth Jersey girl Dana Owens a.k.a reigning Hip-hop’s Queen Latifah to come out of her open closet, don’t hold your breath.

If, however, you’ve derived pleasure from Queen Latifah’s unintended  “Gotcha!” moments of being outed — and there are many — so, too, has the media.

But the media’s cat and mouse game of chase with the Queen leads us to another “Gotcha!” moment that’s not.

In the upcoming September 2011 issue of Sister 2 Sister (S2S) magazine, which features Latifah on the cover, the Queen in an in-depth interview with its publisher Jamie Foster Brown, discussed everything from her days touring with fellow rap artists and her brother’s untimely death to the beef between Hip-hop and R&B recording artists Nicki Minaj and Lil Kim.

In the interview Queen Latifah also revealed to S2S the type of women she likes:

Queen Latifah: …I just like ladies who have class. Period. And if it’s “T and A” you’re sellin’, that’s fine, as long as that’s what you’re selling. But you don’t have to show everything, you know? You can hold some back and just be yourself and let your personality shine and let your individuality show. To me, that’s sexier. A confident woman is a sexy woman, in my opinion. And I think guys find that to be the same way.

without men

Ladies,this is a must watch because there is nothing desperate about these housewives.

Eva Longoria stars in the indie comedy, “Without Men,” as the de facto lady in charge of a Latin American village that loses all of its men when they are forcibly recruited by a bunch of guerilla revolutionaries. It looks like a largely fun film about women taking over the various unsavory roles that men fill in everyday society, with “The Office” star Oscar Nunez, as a priest, the only hombre in town.

Eventually, American journalist Christian Slater comes to town and seems to spark a romance with Longoria’s character, but before that, any and all sexual interplay is strictly a ladies-only affair.

Which means Longoria some lesbian moments — with co-star Kate del Castillo.

“It was a little difficult as the two girls are both straight so they were very nervous and laughed a lot,” the film’s director, Gabriela Tagliavini, told Fox News. “But I think that just made it even lovelier. [Female audiences] don’t want to watch porn, so it was all very sensual, both are very beautiful women aside from being incredibly funny.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time Longoria has dabbled in girls-only kissing on film — though she may want to forget the last time it happened.

In April, Longoria re-upped her contract for “Desperate Housewives,” and she’ll also soon star in “The Baytown Disco.”

Based on James Cannon’s best selling book, “Tales From the Town of Widows,” the film hits theaters July 29th. For more on the film, click over to Fox News.

A third of US workers have health benefits for gay partners

Around a third of workers in the US have access to health benefits for gay partners, research shows.

 

 

According to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 33 per cent of state and local government employees can get same-sex partner benefits. For private sector workers, the figure was 29 per cent.

This is the first time the number of workers who can get health benefits for gay partners has been calculated.

In the annual National Compensation Survey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics asked 17,000 businesses and local governments whether they offer benefits for gay partners.

While half of public sector workers – gay and straight – have access to survivor benefits, just seven per cent of private employees do.

Gay rights groups praised the Obama administration for taking steps to collect the data.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said:

“With each effort to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees in surveys like this, the Department of Labor moves us closer to being able to better serve the community.

“Data collection is fundamental to addressing the disparities in employment, health, education and income facing our community.”

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said: “As with so much about our community – from the health disparities we face, to simply how many of us there are – we can’t begin to fully understand and address the challenges that LGBT people face until major surveys and studies actually ask about them.

“Thankfully, the Obama administration is taking critical steps to ensure that questions about LGBT people and our families are finally asked.

He added: “Offering domestic partner benefits has increasingly become a standard best practice in America’s workplaces, with nearly 60 per cent of Fortune 500 companies offering them. The data released today reflects that progress, but also reminds us that, despite the advances in corporate America, many American workers still lack access to equal benefits for their families.”

Ireland to elect gay president?

Irish Independent senator and presidential candidate David Norris, who happens to be gay, comes out ahead in the nation’s latest polls.


The election is not until October, and Norris has not yet secured his party’s nomination, but many Irish are already leaning towards the 67-year-old gay rights activist and James Joyce scholar.

Norris won the support of 25% of likely Irish voters, four points ahead of the second most popular candidate. Norris gets much of his support from Dubliners, as well as those aged 35-49.

Should Norris be elected president of Ireland, he would be the first openly gay male to lead a nation.

Kenyan queer lady sings her heart out

Uses the Arts to push for acceptance; awareness

Kate Kamunde describes herself as a ‘queer woman of color’ She is a performing artist, poet, blogger and the face behind AFRA-KENYA, Kenya’s sophmore lesbian group.

 

 

Kate is a lesbian activist and whose face has also been featured in newspapers. She has appeared also on talk shows to reach out to other lesbians and share her life. Through the collaboration of Internews, Kate has produced a video where she sings on the discrimination facing gay and lesbian persons. Her message is clear – Accept us the way we are.

She has not been spared the brunt of homophobes. Her Facebook account was hacked into and the hackers posted derogatory pictures and updates. Concerted efforts from her friends and work colleagues, the account was removed. She has also been on a war path with the Daily Nation newspaper that has published her photoswithout consent putting her in danger of being recognized.

Kate lives in Nairobi with her partner.

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Sodomy case reduced to indecent assault

Suspect released on cash bail of 50,000 KShs

Behind the Mask

When a Kenyan radio station reported that a man had been arrested and charged with sodomy last week, there was alarm in the LGBTI community. BTM correspondent Melissa Wainaina spoke to lawyer, Monica Mbaru, to get the details of what actually happened and why the charge was changed.

Please give us some insight to the incident that affected a member of the LGBTI community? What were the circumstances and what were the allegations that led to an arrest?

On the morning of Friday, July 15 John* was arrested at his home in Nairobi, allegedly for sodomy. He was held briefly at Ngara Chief’s Camp [in Nairobi] and then forwarded to Nairobi Central Police Station in the afternoon. This was to avoid the constitutional holding limit that require any arresting person not to keep a suspect overnight while the police cannot hold such a person for more than 24 hours unless the arrest falls over a weekend.

John managed to call a friend on Saturday July 16 and we got the information on Sunday morning to assist him. I managed to meet the Officer Commanding Police Station (OCS) prior to seeing John and he alleged that the accused had greeted somebody along the streets, given him Sh20 (US$0.22) and “confused him.” He led him to a lodging [house] and sodomised him. He asserted that the arrest was made by the Ngara Chief’s Administration Police.

However, there was no recorded statement from the complainant, only the arrest had been recorded. The OCS summoned the investigating officer who indicated that the arresting AP was off duty at the time.

What is the progress of the case as of Thursday July 21, 2011?

John was charged at the Makadara Magistrate’s Court in Nairobi on Monday, July 18 with the offence of indecent assault as the complainant had not filed the necessary medical documents to confirm the sodomy allegations, maybe due to the fact it never happened or they had hoped John would simply pay a bribe and get the police to drop the case. Now that there was a lawyer giving attention to the case, the officers needed to have an offence.

What are the Kenyan legal strengths and/or challenges in regards to this case?

The challenge will be to prove the case of indecent assault, what exactly happened and the evidence available. So far the complainant has not written his statement and could use this opportunity to cook up some.

Another challenge is to frustrate the case with many adjournments, [a tactic] which investigating officers [are known to] use to avoid taking responsibility for illegal detentions and malicious prosecutions and just ‘punish’ the accused for hiring a lawyer instead of either paying [them] off for the closure of the case or admitting to the offence.

The police did not expect that he would get a lawyer. My presence at the station caused such a huge commotion.

What is your way forward in this particular case?

The accused is out on a cash bail of Sh 50,000 (US$555). He was released on July 20 upon a deposit of the cash bail.

The case comes up for mention on 1st August 2011 and the hearing date set for 3rdOctober 2011.

Any other pertinent thoughts?

As the LGBTI community in Kenya seeks to address equality and non-discrimination based on the new constitution, a case like John’s gives that opportunity to address decriminalization of same-sex behavior. As it stands today the sodomy law potentially creates a gap where blackmailers and extortionists use the law to their advantage.

John’s case would form a good test case to challenge these laws and the potential conflicts it creates in addressing personal freedoms and rights as well as other public health concerns.

Further, an arrest based on one’s perceived or real sexual orientation sets in motion other human rights violations most specifically the invasion of privacy.

It seems clear in this case that John has suffered clear violations of his rights including being in custody for six days. He is being charged with a crime that is difficult to prove without having to violate individual freedoms for instance in order to “catch one in the act” it would necessitate an invasion of privacy.

*Not his real name.

HOMO-NOMO-NATURE

Upcountry North of Nairobi City
Lives a pretty girl
Who’s just cleared high school
And spends most of her time indoors
Reading, thinking, if not helping her kind mother with house chores
Or taking care of her younger siblings

Light-skinned, average build, intelligent
Very creative and full of life
An ardent reader and lover of poetry
A carefree spirit that most regard a
Retard and a spoilt brat!

Memories of her childhood shroud
Her mind like wild rays of light
The many times she tried kissing fellow girls
‘Cha mama, cha baba’ which she mostly preferred
To play with her neighbourhood girlfriends
Instead of boys.
The confusion her teachers had to constantly deal with
When she adamantly refused to sit with boys
Nor play near them

She wonders why she feels the way she does
Why everyone treats her in a different way
Gossips about every other girl she is seen
Hanging out with spread like bush fire
Girls in her neighbourhood have received
Stern warnings by their parents to stay away from her

She is a social reject by society
A subject of malice and blasphemy
But she lives on
Happily
Her family stands by her and prays for the healing
Of this strange illness
One related to same-gender loving tendencies

She is not aware that she may be lesbian
Or bisexual, bi-curious,
Or more…
Life’s little worries do not bother her much
She has girl crushes once in a while
But only she knows how to best deal with them

She is responsible
She knows her limits
She pursues her happiness
Even when it does not rub others the right way
She has no tangible answers
Despite this feeling all wrong to her
She is just but a representation
Of the many lesbian, gay, bisexual,
Queer, questioning individuals of all ages
That are out there
Closeted, confused and lost

They represent those from within our community
That cannot stand the bullying by schoolmates
Because of how they feel
…and take matters into their own hands…take their lives

Those that will turn into introverts
Drug addicts
Losers
Because these are the labels we have stamped on their foreheads
Labels of hate
Labels of prejudice and discrimination

We never at one moment think
They could be the people we
Love and  care for
And whether we would treat them in the same way

Its the nature of double standards
The world’s ignorance to the issues at hand

It’s now turned to a blame game
But what are we doing about it?

“Resolution passage great”

A day after the UN Human Rights Council voted 23-19 in favor of a historic resolution that supports equal rights for everyone regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Gays, Lesbian, Bisexual, transgenders and Intersex community in Kenya has praised the resolution and hailed South Africa for taking charge. This despite strong opposition from Arab and African states.

Homophobic Buju Banton

Homophobic reggae singer Buju Banton was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison and for his connection to a cocaine deal.

The grammy-winner was found guilty of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and using a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense, according to an Associated Press article.


Some of Banton’s music has called for the killing of gay men, starting with the 1988 song “Boom Bye Bye.” The song mentions “batty men” (a slur for gay men) singing he will “shoot batty men in the head” or “burn them up bad.” Some call his work “murder music.”

He has been quoted as saying, “This is a fight, and as I said in one of my songs ‘there is no end to the war between me and faggot … ‘

After the initial sentence, he will have five years probation. Supporters of Banton, including fans, some of his 15 children and celebrities, have attested to his innocence in letters to the judge. Dozens are included in the court filing.

“Your honor, Mark Myrie is not a drug dealer,” wrote actor Danny Glover to U.S. District Judge James S. Moody. “Society would not benefit from his incarceration.”

Banton’s involvement as a broker in the sale of cocaine was discovered by a confidential informant working with the Drug Enforcement Administration.