Buffy is coming back and this time, she’s going to be Black

I’ll never forget the first time I saw the show. It was Season 3, part 2. I was flipping through the channels, looking for something to watch and for maaaaaaaaaaaaybe 30 seconds (possibly a minute, but, well, I wasn’t timing it, so…yeah) I landed on Buffy’s climactic battle with the Mayor. He had just transformed into a giant snake and graduation day had gone from “Wheeeeeeeeee, no more school, no more books, no more Snyder’s dirty looks” to “Um, there’s a giant snake AND WHERE THE HELL IS BUFFY, THIS IS HER WHEELHOUSE?!” i didn’t remain on the channel for long (see above, re: 30 seconds) as nothing grabbed me. I changed the channel right as the Mayoral Snake devoured someone (can’t recall who).

The next time I saw Buffy, I watched as Glory love tapped her way out of Willow’s force field barrier and absconded with Dawn (the antepenultimate episode of S5; Alexandra, that’s for you). I saw Buffy try to hit repeat on Glory’s actions–but without Glory’s strength–thus failing to save her sister.  For some reason, *something* about the end of this episode grabbed me. Maybe it was the feelings of complete and utter failure Buffy experienced, the sense of impending doom that permeated those last few episodes, or maybe it was the fact that Buffy collapsed into what looked like a waking catatonic state. Whatever the reason, I had to know more.

I made sure to set my VCR to record the next…did I really just type a sentence with VCR? Man, I feel like worn out aged cheese. Anyways…I recorded the next episode, which featured Willow venturing into Buffy’s mind to help her out of her catatonic state, and while it was entertaining, I wasn’t hooked.

What hooked me was the *final* episode of Season 5, ‘The Gift’. The snappy banter, the snazzy dialogue:

“You’re just a human. You can’t understand my pain.”

“Then I’ll just have to settle for causing it.”

 

“<gasp>…the Slayer’s a robot?  Did anyone else know the Slayer was a robot?”

“Glory?

.

.

.

You’re not the brightest god in the heavens, are you?”

the quips, the emotional arcs, the action…it all was just a great big ball of wow (over time, especially when I watched the series from start to finish, this became one of my favorite episodes, in no small part due to the satisfaction of watching Buffy FINALLY kick Glory’s royally obnoxious ass).

As I mentioned, I eventually watched every episode of the series. I also watched every episode of the series David Boreanaz Is A Sexy Vampire Seeking Redemption, aka Angel (who had THE most bangin’ theme song in the history of ever), which in some ways, I found superior to Buffy’s show. Once the series ended and Joss Whedon made a deal with Dark Horse Comics, I even started collecting the comic book series which is an official part of the canon (recently picked up the first 2 issues of Season 12, in fact). The one thing I haven’t done though, is watch the Kristy Swanson movie. I know it’s part of the history of the show, and I know it is important, but the cheesiness of the 10-ish minutes I did watch (once, in days long ago) reeeeeeeeeeeeeally turned me off. It was groan inducing. Not in the good way either.

Over time though, I found that repeat viewings of the series were…hmmm…they were still enjoyable, but there was another layer on top. My appreciation of the series found itself sitting alongside some issues I had with the show. I hadn’t picked up on these issues when I first watched the series all the way through, nor when I did it again. It wasn’t until I started chatting with other fans, reading online fan sites, and perhaps most importantly, when I began hanging out in online feminist sites.  Among the many issues:

  • ableism
  • classism (Cordelia’s ‘softer side of Sears’ comment towards Willow back in S1 is one example)
  • stigma against mental illness
  • the series’ feminist rep is overblown
  • Xander–the epitome of the “Nice Guy” was actually a Grade-A douchebag (which says a lot about Whedon, as Xander was based to some degree on teen Joss)
  • ‘magic as a metaphor for addiction’ was far from the greatest idea,
  • Angel is a creepy, paternalistic stalker

aaaaaaaaaaaand (not that this is the only other issue, but it’s the one most relevant to this post), the depiction of People of Color on the series was firmly on the Not Remotely Good Side. I mean, come on…if a white guy is aware enough to notice the failings of the show vis-a-vis race, then you know it was P-R-O-B-L-E-M-A-T-I-C. Or, you know…racist.

So, when I read that joss Whedon is working on rebooting Buffy (YES, I JUST SAID THAT), I initially got more than a little bit cringe-y on the inside. See, not only is he rebooting the show, but he’s doing so with a Black lead. Given the way the original series treated Black women characters (sidelining them, giving them virtually nonexistent narrative arcs, literally forgetting about them once they died, using them solely as a vehicle to make white characters shine), such a headline filled me with the opposite of excitement. However. There is reason to hope. A very significant one. In the form of Monica Owusu-Breen:

 

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Buffy is coming back and this time, she’s going to be Black
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Trailer Thursday: Moonlight

You know how I recently mentioned that I was tired of the movies Hollywood puts out about black people? How I’m over movies that showcase black people suffering, or movies that show us being the help, or those movies that treat us like we’re good for little more than a few yucks? How it’s so often the same old, same old? Yeah. I’m over those. I want Hollywood to offer more diverse roles to black actors. I want to see black actors in the kind of movies that white folks receive. And while there’s a long way to go before we see any sort of parity in the movie industry in this regard, every little step does help. Steps like the upcoming  film, Moonlight (debuting in theaters on Oct. 21), which features a story about black people in roles that differ from the norm; in a couple of different ways. As such, I think I’ll plunk down my hard earned cash to watch it:

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Trailer Thursday: Moonlight

The end of the world is nigh

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“Some say the world will die by fire. Others say the world will die by ice. They’re both wrong. Rainbows and drag queens. The world will die bc people accept rainbows and drag quens.” -anti-gay bigots everywhere

Bigots of all stripes love to claim that homosexuality is destructive and the cause of so many of the ills in society. World-class bigots like Theodore Shoebat claim that homosexuality is a cancer that should be excised from our culture. There’s Mr. “Legitimate Rape” Todd Akin, who has said[…] there is no civilization which has condoned homosexual marriage widely and openly that has long survived.” And then there are my “favorite people”. Oooh, and who can forget Pat Robertson, who thinks that God uses snow to punish people who want to do gay things. But my favorite are those like Scott Lively, who think acceptance of homosexuality is a dress rehearsal for the End Times:

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The end of the world is nigh

Are you interested in an African-influenced space opera?

From its very beginnings, the USAmerican comic book industry has been dominated by white characters. Whether we’re talking genres like crime, romance, horror, or science fiction, the industry has demonstrated a very clear bias in favor of white people (specifically white, heterosexual, cisgender men, but my focus here is on race). This holds true for my genre of choice: superheroes. For most of the history of superhero comics, white people have been headliners. From the Golden Age to the Silver Age, through the Bronze Age and into the Copper Age, the overwhelming majority of characters with their own comics have been white people. Even when writers began featuring characters of color in their stories (think of heroes like the Black Panther, the Falcon, Shang-Chi, Sunfire, Red Wolf, Karma, Danielle Moonstar, Storm, Tyroc, Dawnstar, Invisible Kid II, Vixen, Vibe, Black Lightning), these characters were typically members of teams, or background supporting characters. Rarely did they carry books of their own. It was almost always white people who had their own comics.

Even as we entered the Modern Age of comics, there have still been relatively few comic books featuring People of Color as the main characters, at least not at Marvel and DC. That’s not to say there have been none. Milestone Comics was a DC imprint in the 90s which featured primarily African-American leads in all their titles (Milestone 2.0 is on the way in the not-to-distant future too). And in the last few decades, a handful of characters of color have held their own titles at Marvel and DC-some for a short time, others for several years (Steel, Black Panther, Storm, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Ms. Marvel and others). But even today, the industry is still dominated by white characters.

The lack of People of Color starring as the lead in their own books falls on the shoulders of creators and publishers to a large degree (some of it is certainly the market to some degree). The people making comic books and producing comic books have predominately been white. So of course, they’re going to write and publish what they know. As a result, we’ve had a plethora of white characters. It’s not necessarily a deliberate thing. I don’t believe writers for DC or Marvel down through the years said “I want to create a new character or a new comic book and I want a white lead character and mostly white supporting cast”. Nor do I think the Editors-in-Chief at Marvel or DC sat down and said “We need to publish another book with a white character as the lead”. But the bias in favor of white people that exists all throughout our society manifests in all its corners. And “white” has long been considered the default in our culture. It’s the automatic assumptions laden in society (which can be seen when you realize that white people are often described as “that guy” or “that woman”, but People of Color are often described as “that black woman” or “that Hispanic guy”). It’s the standards of beauty that use white folks as the default. And yes, it’s the default to white characters on the part of creators and publishers of comic books when new titles and characters are created.

While the Big Two publishers have made strides to diversify their staff  in the last few years, their ethnic diversity initiatives have a long way to go before they reach anything at all representative of the wider USAmerican population. Similarly, while their publishing lines have expanded to appeal to ethnic demographics outside of white folks, they have a loooooooong way to go before they’re putting out enough product to satisfy the appetites of People of Color looking for greater diversity in the Big Two. For those people looking for books featuring People of Color in starring roles, or those looking to support creators of color, or both, it may be necessary to explore beyond Marvel and DC. Beyond superheroes. And beyond print comics for that matter. One example of a book featuring an ethnically diverse cast by a Person of Color recently came to my attention. New Jersey-based artist Paul Louise-Julie has worked to craft something visually stunning in his creation, Yohancé.

Continue reading “Are you interested in an African-influenced space opera?”

Are you interested in an African-influenced space opera?

Woo-hoo! Home runs for both Marvel Netflix shows

They say it is best to arrive to a party fashionably late. How late that is can vary from person to person, but I’ve often heard 15-20 minutes is a reasonable time. If that’s the case, then I arrived UNfashionably late to the Marvel Cinematic Netflix series Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Over the last 5 days, I’ve binge-watched all 26 episodes of each series (in-between catching up on Season 1 of Flash, a few episodes of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, the first three episodes of Young Justice Season 2, and a couple of episodes from Season 1 of Arrow), and I’ve got to say those 26 hours were some of the best television I’ve ever seen and definitely in the ranks of “best cinematic adaptations of comic book properties”. From the characters, to the stories, to the atmosphere, Daredevil and Jessica Jones hit near-perfect notes. If you haven’t seen either (and plan to at some point), I’ll be discussing plot points of both shows ahead. So read on only if you don’t mind spoilers:

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Woo-hoo! Home runs for both Marvel Netflix shows

So you don’t understand the hubbub around #OscarsSoWhite?

Ok, so I read this comment on the Facebook page of a Root article on the lack of diversity in the Academy award nominations:

I’m just curious as to why people freak out and scream “Racism!” just because no black films were chosen. Maybe the committee just didn’t think they were good enough. Maybe I’m kinda playing devil’s advocate here but I’m genuinely curious.

This person clearly doesn’t understand why people (largely, though not exclusively, black folks) are crying “Racism!” over the Oscar nominations. People like this do not understand what the big deal is bc to them, these are just awards. They can’t seem to see beyond the awards and see the deeper problems. Or maybe they haven’t tried to view the world outside the lens of their privileged experiences. In any case, even though people like this are being blatantly racist (I mean, come the fuck on with this “black people just weren’t good enough” bullshit. Because white people, by default *are* good enough?!), I’m going to give a response that treats such inquiries in good faith (don’t ask me why). The following is my response to the queries of the above commenter about why African-Americans take issue with #OscarsSoWhite:

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So you don’t understand the hubbub around #OscarsSoWhite?

Pop Culture Link Round Up 1.22.16

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Continue reading “Pop Culture Link Round Up 1.22.16”

Pop Culture Link Round Up 1.22.16

A bit more gender diversity from Marvel Studios

One of the many upcoming projects from Marvel Studios is the long-simmering Doctor Strange movie. In the comics, Doctor Stephen Strange was a talented yet arrogant neurosurgeon who sought to regain the use of his hands after a tragic accident. He traveled around the world seeking the best doctors to repair his hands, but all to no avail. Despondent, distraught, broke, and homeless, Strange continued his search and eventually learned of the Ancient One, a hermit in the Himalayas who might be able to assist him. While he is initially rebuffed by the hermit, Strange eventually proves his worth and the Ancient One agrees to help the doctor, though not by repairing his hands. Instead, he trains him in the use of the mystic arts and eventually grants him the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme.

Why all this background about Dr. Strange and the Ancient One? Weeeeell, Marvel is currently in the casting stage for the upcoming Dr. Strange film. They already have Benedict Cumberbatch lined up to play the arrogant, former neurosurgeon, and they might be close to picking someone to play the Ancient One. And they’re thinking outside the box on this one. In a move that many (myself included) see as a positive step, actress Tilda Swinton is in talks to play the Ancient One:

The Ancient One is a hundreds year old mystic who has mastered magic and travels the Earth, battling demons, later settling in the Himalayas with an order of monks. In the comics, The Ancient One was an older, Tibetan man, — and earlier in the film’s production, they had talked with Ken Watanabe, Morgan Freeman and Bill Nighy for the role — but the character’s identity is being altered slightly for the film. In the film, the character will train the villainous Baron Mordo before sensing evil in his heart and turning to mentor Dr. Stephen Strange, eventually bestowing on him the powerful Eye of Agamotto.

Swinton’s casting is exciting for a variety of reasons. The first, and most obvious, is that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and superhero movies as a whole) don’t need another all-powerful male character; there are plenty of those. It’s honorable that Marvel was looking at a group of actors that were ethnically diverse, but even better than they were thinking further outside of the box to cast a woman.

For all that Stan Lee’s work at Marvel was groundbreaking and noteworthy, he was still writing comics at a time when women were not well represented in pop culture because the socially approved role of women was homemaker or housewife. Yes, Stan created the Wasp, the Scarlet Witch, and the Invisible Girl, but they were frequently relegated to the role of damsels-in-distress or the girlfriend (and dear Odin, Stan wrote many a cringe-worthy scene involving female superheroes). Meanwhile, their male counterparts rarely (if ever) received such treatment. No, male characters in the various titles written by Stan got to be more than the boyfriend. They didn’t have to worry about being hogtied, captured, and held hostage waiting for a savior to swoop in and free them. The men got to steer the plot. The women were treated as window dressing. So it probably never crossed Stan’s mind that a woman could serve as mentor to Doctor Strange.

It’s sad in a way. Like so many people back then (and plenty today), Stan Lee’s creativity was constrained by an adherence to rigid gender roles imposed by society-he was thinking inside the box. As a result of such limited thinking, Stan Lee’s comics did not-contrary to a long-running narrative about Marvel Comics-“reflect the world outside your window“. How could it, when the Marvel Universe as created by Stan was populated by a sea of white, male faces (with a few women and a smattering of black folk included for token attempts at diversity)? That’s not what the real world has ever looked like.

That’s one of the reasons I like the idea of casting Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One. Women exist in the world outside my window (and everyone else’s). Yes, some women are housewives and homemakers, but they’re also sanitation workers and teachers, doctors and dental hygienists, lawyers and judges, astronauts and chemists, sociologists and electricians, librarians and painters, writers and activists, and so much, much more. That’s why it makes sense to me for Hollywood executives to widen the pool of potential candidates for movie roles. Instead of treating men as the default, they’re slowly beginning to realize that women can do the same things as men (hello Charlize Theron in Fury Road), and that includes playing the role of wise and aged mentor to the master of the mystic arts.

A bit more gender diversity from Marvel Studios

Feminist Link Round-Up 4.14.15

Swedish musician Robyn is hosting Tekla, a one-day festival aimed at girls 11 to 18 with an interest in tech. The festival will include workshops on game development, electronic music, programming, and more. As a bonus for visitors, the singer will also perform at the festival, which will be held April 18:

The festival is being thrown in partnership with the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, which awarded Robyn its Great Prize in 2013. Recipients are required to hold a seminar at the university, but Robyn is instead choosing to throw this day-long event. “I thought of KTH’s motto, ‘science and art’, and wanted to do something to inspire girls who are curious about technology, while at the same time highlighting that too few women are applying to KTH programs,” Robyn says. KTH says that only about 34 percent of its new students are women. Google, Spotify, and other tech firms are partnering for the event. It’ll be held April 18th. It’s not stated whether the event will recur in the future.

Tech isn’t the area you’d expect to see Robyn working in, but KTH still views her as an important figure in the industry because of what it calls her use of “new technology in IT, audio, and video in innovative and exciting ways.” And throwing an event like Tekla is important. An interest in these subjects too often isn’t fostered in girls throughout school, and introducing it to them through a dedicated festival could help to change that — even if it starts with a small number of people.

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Taylor Swift makes it onto Forbes’ list of the “World’s greatest leaders”

Taylor Swift didn’t become the highest-paid woman in the music business by accident. Pop’s savviest star has crossed swords with Spotify, embraced corporate sponsorship, and moved to secure dozens of trademarks (including phrases like “This sick beat”)—plus she has proved shrewder at honing a brand in the social media age than virtually any other person or company. And she’s done it without resorting to dumbed-down salacious gimmickry. (Swift, ahem, is arguably the anti–Miley Cyrus.) With 1989, the top-selling album in 2014, Swift’s efforts to ensure she gets paid for her music could have a huge ripple effect on the way artists are compensated in an era of free streaming.

No slight against Swift, but I fail to see how any of the above justifies her placement on a list of the world’s greatest leaders.

* * * *

UK audiences tell broadcasters: “we want more real and older women on tv”

There needs to be more “normal” and older women on the news and the radio, according to a new survey commissioned by the BBC.

The findings of the Blurred Lines: Contemporary Attitudes to Gender Portrayal in the Media revealed that viewers believe that news and radio lacked high profile names compared to other areas.

The corporation’s detailed and wide-ranging study also revealed that well-known presenters like Clare Balding and Gabby Logan are improving sports coverage. Comedy, too, was getting a boost from female stars like Miranda Hart and Sarah Millican.

The survey found that people want less scantily clad women on reality television shows as well and that audiences did not think that they were good representations of real people.

Interestingly, the study also showed that audience perception of gender balance is better than the reality, with two men to every one woman.

* * * *

Walmart refuses to sell Ronda Rousey’s book in stores

Walk into just about any Wal-Mart and you’ll find a whole section filled with  MMA gear and accessories. You’ll have a harder time, however, finding UFC champion Ronda Rousey’s new memoir, “My Fight/Your Fight.” The store confirmed to Jezebel this week that it will not display the title on its in-store shelves, but instead only offer customers the opportunity to purchase the tome online.

Why? ESPN and the New York Post both reported last week the content was considered “too violent” for the store, which displays and sells copies of “American Sniper,” “Walking Dead” graphic novels and, oh yeah, shot guns. This is just the story of an Olympic athlete’s life and career. What could possibly be so offensive?

Of note in this story-ESPN, NY Post, and the Washington Post all fail to cite their source for the claim that “Walmart deems the content of the book (or Rousey herself) too violent”. A Walmart spokesperson refutes this assertion in a Jezebel article:

Walmart spokesperson Danit Marquadt tells us that’s not correct, that Walmart has been “preparing for the release” of Rousey’s book since September 2014, and that they’re pre-selling it online now. (That’s true: it’s right here.) She told TMZ virtually the same thing.

“When the book is officially released on May 12, customers interested in purchasing it can use the ‘site to store’ feature and pick it up at a local store, “ Marquadt added.

I asked if the book’s content had anything to do with Walmart’s decision to sell this book in this way. Marquadt responded: “There’s a variety of factors that we look at when determining what items to offer our customers. At this point we’ve chosen to offer this particular title to our customers online. We’ll continue to watch how customers respond.” She added that Walmart’s website sells millions of items versus the 150,000 sold in an average Walmart Supercenter.

I asked again if the book’s content was one of those deciding factors; at this point, Marquadt could presumably have said “No,” or “I don’t know” or “We’re saving space for more in-demand titles” or something. Instead, she told me: “I’ve shared with you what I have to share. In terms of the factors that we look at, there are a lot of different factors that we look at when determining what items to offer our customers.” This information—and not one iota more—was all repeated in an email that she sent to me after we hung up.

I wonder what those factors are and if sexism played a role in Walmart’s decision.

 * * * *

Last year, a 9-year-old Massachusetts girl emailed President Obama to inquire about the absence of women on paper currency in the U.S. Back in February, she received a response from the President:

“I think there should be more woman on a dollar/coin for the United States because if there were no woman there wouldn’t be men,” she wrote, adding that there are many women that deserve to be featured on U.S. currency because of the “important things” they’ve done.

Included on her list of suggestions were Rosa Parks, Betsy Ross, Abigail Adams and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Sofia told Time she “sort of forgot about” her letter when months passed without any response from the president. But in February, she received a letter from the White House.

“This is a belated note to thank you for writing to me with such a good idea last summer. The women you listed and drew make up an impressive group, and I must say you’re pretty impressive too,” the president wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Time.

“I’ll keep working to make sure you grow up in a country where women have the same opportunities as men, and I hope you’ll stay involved in issues that matter to you,” Obama wrote.

Sofia might be happy to know that the online campaign Women on 20s shares her concerns. The non-profit campaign aims to get a woman’s face on the $20 bill by 2020.

Women On 20s, with your help, aims to compel historic change by convincing President Obama that NOW is the time to put a woman’s face on our paper currency. With over 256,000 voters casting ballots over the last 5 weeks, Americans have chosen which of the 15 inspiring American women heroes will go on to the Final Round of voting. And now we reveal that Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks are the people’s choice and will advance to the final ballot for your consideration. In addition, Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller has been added to the final ballot by popular demand in order to include a choice of a Native American to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

Susan Sarandon is also excited about this campaign. Writing for The Daily Beast, the actress says:

A few weeks ago, I came across a short video entitled, “Where Are the Girls on the Money?” on the website womenon20s.org. Women on 20s is an online campaign to put a woman’s face on the $20 bill. I was excited to see that there was a positive mission afoot to bring attention to some of the greatest women in American history.

As the Women on 20s website points out, “the year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote. So it seems fitting to commemorate that milestone by voting to elevate women to a place that is today reserved exclusively for the men who shaped American history. That place is on our paper money and that new portrait can become a symbol of greater changes to come.”

I liked how it was reframing the conversation about gender equality in a whole new way and decided to post a photo on social media that championed the cause and urged others to vote for one of the 15 incredible candidates on the Women on 20s website.

As Sarandon notes in her article, Turkey, Mexico, the Phillipines, and Syria are among several countries that recognize female leaders on their paper currency. Why is the “world’s greatest country” lagging behind in this respect?

Feminist Link Round-Up 4.14.15

LGBT Link Round-Up 4.2.15

Michigan public school removes transgender equality post after complaints from parent, students find another way to show their solidarity with trans classmates

A school bulletin board highlighting transgender equality is sparking controversy in Marshall.

The Gay Straight Alliance recently decorated the school’s bulletin board to spread a message of acceptance for their transgender classmates.

When that was taken down, some students say their right to free speech was silenced, but the district says that’s not the case.

It was meant to promote inclusion and acceptance, but instead, the board is pinning [sic] some parents against students.

“This was surrounding a Facebook incident surrounding a mother that was very upset,” said Kate Samra, the President of the Gay Straight Alliance. “She thought it was inappropriate for the school setting and that it didn’t exhibit Christian values.”

Let her be upset. It is not the job of the public school system in the United States to “exhibit Christian values”, whatever the heck that means. Come to think of it, I guess “Christian values” don’t include tolerance, an appreciation for diversity, and inclusivity. Thankfully students were able to show their solidarity in another way:

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Ooooh, this is going to cause the right-wing blogosphere to light up with irrational anger and faux outrage. The New York chapter of the Boy Scouts hired the nation’s first openly gay Eagle Scout as a summer camp leader:

The Boy Scouts’ Greater New York Councils said they hired Pascal Tessier, an 18-year-old Eagle Scout who has been a vocal advocate of opening the 105-year-old organization to gay scouts and leaders.

Board member Richard G. Mason said the councils see Tessier as “an exemplary candidate for employment as a camp leader.”

“We welcome him,” Mason said in a statement.

The Boy Scouts of America didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry about the hire. The national organization changed its policy in 2013 to allow openly gay kids as scouts, but not adults as leaders, after a bitter debate over its membership policy. The change took effect in January 2014.

Advocates for letting gays participate in scouting hailed Tessier’s hire.

“This is a watershed moment,” Zach Wahls, executive director of Scouts for Equality, said in a statement. “We are proud to see such an important Boy Scout council standing up for the full inclusion of gay members.”

When the national Boy Scouts began allowing gay boys as scouts, liberal Scout leaders and gay rights groups celebrated the shift but called for allowing gay adults to participate, too. Conservatives involved with the Scouts, including some churches that sponsor troops, decried letting any gays — including kids — participate, and some threatened to defect if the ban were lifted.

* * * *

I bet among the members of the Florida House Judiciary Committee are people frustrated over the incremental advances in LGBT rights in USAmerica. Such frustration may have played a role in the decision to pass a bill that would allow adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples on religious grounds. I guess they are determined to ensure that gays in Florida remain second class citizens.  And of course, they don’t give a shit about the welfare of the children.

Thursday morning the Republican-majority Florida House Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would expressly allow open anti-gay discrimination on religious grounds by adoption agencies that are funded with taxpayer dollars.

The bill, HB 7111, applies to private child-placing agencies, stating they are “not required to perform, assist in, recommend, consent to, or participate in the placement of a child when the proposed placement would violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”

[…]

It adds, “The state or a local government or community-based care lead agency may not withhold a grant, contract, or participation in a government program from a private child-placing agency because of the agency’s refusal to perform, assist in, recommend, consent to, or participate in the placement of a child which violates the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.”

* * * *

Malta now has one of the best trans and intersex laws in the world

Malta is now leading with one of the most comprehensive laws protecting trans and intersex people in the world.

They will no longer need to have surgery, sterilization and a diagnosis of mental illness to legally change gender under a law passed yesterday (1 April).

It will also ban medically unnecessary surgery on the genitals of intersex infants.

‘To say that this Act is a groundbreaking human rights milestone is almost an understatement.’ Paulo Paulo Côrte-Real, co-chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board,said.

‘It provides an inspirational benchmark for other European countries that need to improve their own LGBTI equality standards. The Act is a beacon of hope – and bears testament to the political leadership and hard work of the LGBTI movement in Malta.’

The passage of the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act (GIGESC) followed an apology from the governent to a trans woman Joanne Cassar who was successful in her fight to marry her husband.

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Michael Sam may be joining a Canadian football team

Jim Popp, the general manager of the Montreal Alouettes, believes he has a 50/50 shot of signing the player before training starts at the end of May.

The athlete, currently appearing on Dancing With The Stars, has said he is determined to return to the game by any means necessary.

Sam made history last year when he became the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team. He was later cut by the St. Louis Rams and the Dallas Cowboys.

‘The [Canadian Football League] is cut out perfectly for his style,’ Popp said. ‘It would give him the opportunity to do what he does best.’

* * * *

Angie’s List: Indiana’s RFRA fix ‘is insufficient’

Indiana lawmakers have drafted an update to the state’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act that seeks to explain that the law cannot be used in a discriminatory fashion, but critics of the law say the “fix” doesn’t go far enough to protect LGBT Hoosiers.

The first major company to dismiss the changes was Angie’s List, the Indiana-based business-review website that has been one of the most vocal critics of the law, reports the The Indianapolis Star

“Our position is that this ‘fix’ is insufficient,” Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle said in a statement Thursday morning, reported by the Star. “There was no repeal of RFRA and no end to discrimination of homosexuals in Indiana.”

The proposed amendment to the existing legislation, announced by state lawmakers Thursday, would explicitly prohibit “service providers from using the law as a legal defense for refusing to provide services, goods, facilities or accommodations,” reports the Associated Press. “It also bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or United States military service.”

But the prohibition on anti-LGBT discrimination applies only to entities affected by the so-called religious freedom bill, also known as Senate Bill 101. It does not change existing Indiana nondiscrimination law, which does not include protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, education, public accommodations, or housing.

“Employers in most of the state of Indiana can fire a person simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning,” said Oesterle. “That’s just not right and that’s the real issue here. Our employees deserve to live, work and travel with open accommodations in any part of the state.”

As a result of the “insufficient” changes, Angie’s List is standing by its decision to cancel a planned expansion of its headquarters in Indianapolis, according to the Star.

This is a good thing by Angie’s List.

LGBT Link Round-Up 4.2.15