Monday, June 23, 2008

If You Are Gay, You Are Born Gay

If You Are Gay, You Are Born Gay.

The brains of gay men and women look like those found in heterosexual people of the opposite sex, research suggests.

The Swedish study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, compared the size of the brain's halves in 90 adults.
Gay men and heterosexual women had halves of a similar size, while the right side was bigger in lesbian women and heterosexual men.

A UK scientist said this was evidence sexual orientation was set in the womb.
As far as I'm concerned there is no argument any more - if you are gay, you are born gay Dr Qazi Rahman Queen Mary, University of London Scientists have noticed for some time that homosexual people of both sexes have differences in certain cognitive abilities, suggesting there may be subtle differences in their brain structure.

This is the first time, however, that scientists have used brain scanners to try to look for the source of those differences.

A group of 90 healthy gay and heterosexual adults, men and women, were scanned by the Karolinska Institute scientists to measure the volume of both sides, or hemispheres, of their brain.

When these results were collected, it was found that lesbians and heterosexual men shared a particular "asymmetry" in their hemisphere size, while heterosexual women and gay men had no difference between the size of the different halves of their brain.

In other words, structurally, at least, the brains of gay men were more like heterosexual women, and gay women more like heterosexual men.

A further experiment found that in one particular area of the brain, the amygdala, there were other significant differences.

In heterosexual men and gay women, there were more nerve "connections" in the right side of the amygdala, compared with the left.

The reverse, with more neural connections in the left amygdala, was the case in homosexual men and heterosexual women.

The Karolinska team said that these differences could not be mainly explained by "learned" effects, but needed another mechanism to set them, either before or after birth.
'Fight, flight or mate'

Dr Qazi Rahman, a lecturer in cognitive biology at Queen Mary, University of London, said that he believed that these brain differences were laid down early in foetal development.
"As far as I'm concerned there is no argument any more - if you are gay, you are born gay," he said.

The amygdala, he said, was important because of its role in "orientating", or directing, the rest of the brain in response to an emotional stimulus - be it during the "fight or flight" response, or the presence of a potential mate.

"In other words, the brain network which determines what sexual orientation actually 'orients' towards is similar between gay men and straight women, and between gay women and straight men.

"This makes sense given that gay men have a sexual preference which is like that of women in general, that is, preferring men, and vice versa for lesbian women."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/06/16 23:28:31 GMT

Thursday, June 5, 2008

NIGERIA: Homosexual Trial Adjourned

The case of the 18 gay men in Bauchi Adjourned.

Dear friends/Readers,

The decision to go to Bauchi was one of the craziest I have done thus far, but I know that Jesus was moved much more with compassion for people.

I love Jesus and I learnt that Jesus never discriminated, it was not necessary to determine whether you are Jewish, Gentile or Greek, a man or woman, old or young, gay or heterosexual, Jesus will talk and play with you. In Nigeria the segregation of religions, tribes and sexuality is more open than anything. If you are not a Muslim and a Northerner you are not welcomed in most part of the North, let alone if you are a homosexual. I learnt this was one of the problems during the sixties Biafra war against segregation, and the continued conflicts between Muslims and Christians.

In preparing for the trip sponsored by The Independent Project, I was careful. I carried my bible on my trip as far as the hotel in Jos, Plateau State, but did not take it with me to the Sharia court, I understand it is a criminal offence, it would have been the wrong place to present Jesus and come out alive. I have been advised by all my friends and well meaning people to keep safe. We love Jesus and I too really want to stay alive, to preach and further the inclusive gospel of Metropolitan Community Church.

Meeting the men was like walking into familiar territory, you know when you are there, gay and lesbian people are universally unique, there were smiles and tears. I think that the gaydar in Bauchi Nigeria is as strong at the gaydar in St Louis Missouri USA and we connected, emotionally and spiritually. It took a few moments to trust me as I looked either like a preacher (ofcourse which I am) or a reporter, I ensured they understood we are their friends and not the persecutors. I tell you a few eyes were coiled up and rolled over as many times and we tapped our feet and fingers in response, there were even cheeky but unique laughter.

I saw young men who by God’s love have made them the way they are and wondered why selfishly the system has decided cruelly to destroy them because of their uniqueness in God’s lovely creation.

It is obvious that these men are heroes for many other young gay men and women in Nigeria and all over the world, they just wanted to get on with life, they least understood the seriousness of the problems and why they are in court, they acted as normal and as natural as they could until their assailant arrested them and determined by the Sharia law that their behavior was not acceptable.

Because of this case their lives have been disrupted and I believe they need the help of the community as far as we can get, they need support to regain their positions in the society, they need to be able to trust us and help us in future. I also believe that they are not public about their sexuality as they appear coy. The Hausa language is rich and has a strong culture, Homosexuality is a difficult lifestyle generally in Nigeria, made worst in the Northern part of Nigeria by Sharia law, However we must remember that we are moving on in the world and ever ready for a revolution to reality, even a place as odd as Bauchi Nigeria.

The case was administratively adjourned to the 25th June 2008, 2pm. The defense team is asking for a complete dismissal of the case.

The prevailing problems for the accused men and their legal team include;
The length of the case and the apparent waste of time,
They informed us of the fact that their lives have been disrupted and are no longer receiving support from their immediate families, therefore life has been more difficult.
All the students informed us that their families have refused to support their education and they are struggling to keep up with expenses related to their studies.
Those that are students claimed that there is an increase in homophobic abuses and they are unable to defend themselves at their different institutions.
For those trading, they have lost clients and they have been dropped and not supported by the workers union.
They have lost earnings due to the numerous court adjournments.
Two who are in work, claimed discrimination from their clients and other market traders and they have not been able to earn adequate income to support themselves.
Legal team is being discriminated against and don’t feel safe
The case is costing the legal team new opportunities for other legal work, due to the time spent on this case.

We can help NOW, please let us ACT now by raising funds

Even when this case is over these men will need some support to get their lives in order, I strongly feel that we can help.

The lawyers are also on seemingly low pay for this case and are also losing other major clients due to discrimination and stigmatisation. There is an urgent need to support their efforts by subsidizing their legal fees and other expenses.

Thanks so much. Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

We Are Proud Pride March in Moscow

Proud Pride March in Moscow by Ken Coolen.

Hello all! First let me say we are all safe and soundhere in Moscow and are all filled with a sense ofextreme honor to have been a part of the first actualPride March here in Moscow. The experience we had wasone that none of us will ever forget, including ourdear straight cameraman Josh Rainhard. In order tohelp you all understand what this experience was likeI will take you all back to Friday. On Friday we were anxiously trying to get in touchwith Nikolai to find out what the plan was for theweekend.

He had already shared with us the fact thatno decision had been made officially as to when theywould assemble to have the annual attempt of Pride inMoscow. This was to help ensure that what they didwould not give any of the anti-gay groups too muchopportunity to counter-assemble against us. We weretold that there would be a meeting on Saturday thatwould explain the plans for the Sunday and we couldattend that meeting. In order to maintain a level ofsecrecy, we would be given a call on Saturday to betold the location on the meeting.

So the adventurebegins. Before this however, we were invited to the CanadianEmbassy here in Moscow, as the Ambassador is apersonal friend of one of the team, MorrisChapdelaine. It was an amazing affair and the four ofus, myself, Morris, Josh, and Bob Christie ourdirector and leader were able to dine with some otherguests such as Nikolai and some of his associates fromthe Pride Moscow team and some other Russian guestsfrom human rights groups and media.

It was definitelythe calm before the storm, so to speak. On Saturday, we were contacted about 3pm and told thatthe meeting was happening and given a landmark to goto and told to call again once we reached thatlocation. After we did were given an address and itwas an apartment of someone who cannot be mentionedfor safety reasons and we headed forward. When wearrived it was a large building complex and we weretold to say to the guard at the gate that we weregoing to a "birthday party".

By the way, there arepolice of various levels and guards everywhere inMoscow. We arrived at the apartment and invited in tojoin a group of people of men and women of variousages who were all speaking in Russian. Our host, whoI will say nothing more than the fact that she was awonderful person and it was a pleasure to meet her,also spoke English. So she brought us in and startedto translate information for us as the official partof the meeting started. The short of the meeting wasthat the decision had been made this year to try andcreate a positive event instead of the traditionalviolent gathering of the previous two years. So,though the website officially listed the City hall asthe gathering place for the event, it was not where wewere going to meet. I should mention at this pointthat the city government here denied all of theapproximately 150 applications that were made to havea gathering. As Nikolai spoke to his team I watchedas they were all listening with a sense of excitementand commitment to this cause.

What was shared with uswas this, Nikolai said that though he trusted everyoneone on the team completely, to ensure a successfulexecution, he would not share the actual meeting spotto any of them. There were a couple of people on theteam who knew what that plan was and they needed totrust them. All we were told is the Metro station tomeet at and the time. We were told that when wearrived there to wait until someone contacted us andtake us to the meeting place. We were to go in nomore than twos or threes and not to acknowledge eachother when we arrived. After meeting a few people weleft, excited and anxious for the next day. Sunday morning we woke up and met our Russiantranslator that we had hired, Vladimir and Graham andLola.

Graham is a previous employee of Transmission,which is the production company that is backing thisproject. Lola is his girlfriend who is studying inEurope and they came to meet us in Moscow to help withthe documentation of this event. The decision hadbeen made to split into two groups, Bob, Josh,Vladimir and myself will go to the secret meeting spotto attend the actual event and Morris, Graham and Lolawould go to City Hall to the 'public' event that wouldmost likely attract many anti-gay and hate groups totry and stop the event. We headed from our hotel andwent downtown, wished each other good luck and went toour secret meeting spot. I was on the wireless microphone, so Josh could hearanything I said so the decision to split into coupleswas made, Bob and I and Josh and Vladimir. We got offof the subway onto a platform and immediatelyrecognized one of the other organizers.

We walked past him with out acknowledging him and walked intothe platform of the station. We then also saw acouple of others, all alone and not acknowledging eachother. We were not sure what to do and have to say ourhearts were all racing. There were 4 police walkingthe platform, though this was not necessarily unusual,as I have said police are everywhere here. Thoughwhen one of them stop and spoke to one of theorganizers our hearts started racing. We kept tryingto look like dumb tourists and looking at our Subwaymap hoping we just looked lost. As we stood there,another dozen or more police appeared on the metroplatform. Just as our panic seemed too much tohandle, one of the group approached us and said tofollow him, and we happily did.

Once outside he explained we were going to a café and that we wouldwait there till the appropriate time. We arrived atthe café, which was next to the TchiackovskyConservatory. This place was chosen as it was abeautiful serene spot and also that Tchiackovsky isone of the most famous Russian composers and wellknown as a gay man. As we sat in the café sipping ourcappuccinos we were in constant contact with our othergroup by text message and listened to them talk asmedia and protestors started to gather as time wenton. It is important to mention that a handful ofmedia were chosen by Nikolai and brought to the realevent with him. As the time got closer, we recognized other couples inthe café as people who were from the meeting the daybefore and also saw others, hanging out on the streetand the sidewalk.

All anxiously waiting for thesignal to go and gather in front of the building. Thewoman who was given the task as the key person wasactually sitting right behind us. As the time gotcloser, the anticipation grew. Then, finally, we sawher answer her phone, she got up and started to moveand then the rest of us followed. In what seemed likea split second, there was assembled a group of 15- 20people. The Moscow Pride banner came out as well as abunch of Pride Flags. Nikolai appeared as though fromnowhere with a contingent of media and press in tow. He spoke and led the team in chants of protest andcelebration. And then came the moment that Nikolaiand his team had dreamed of for so long, WE MARCHED. It might have only been for a short distance (not evena whole city block), but none the less, we marched. No one to stop us, no protestors, no police, no hate. I must share that the feeling that emanated from thegroup was tangible. A sense of freedom, a sense ofsuccess, a sense of true PRIDE!

Then as quickly as itbegan, it ended. People gathered the flags andbanners and put them into plastic bags and dispersedas quickly as we had gathered. After gathering ourselves, we decided to go to theother event to see what was happening and how ourother crew had made out. Our concern was growing, aswe had not heard from them for a while. We arrived tocity hall to see groups of people gathered. Groups ofOrthodox Priest and Nuns with symbols of religion aswell as Nationalists and skinheads and some who lookedthe guy or girl next door. We cautiously approachedthe group and I have to say I had never felt sofearful in my life. The level of tension and hate wastangible and I wanted to get out of there as quicklyas possible. We spotted our friends and Bob ran tothem in the midst of a group to try and gather them. Expecting that they would follow quickly, Josh and Imoved quickly to the prearranged post meeting spot. As time passed and we had not seen the rest of thegroup, the anxiety started again.

After a short time, Morris and Bob appeared. It wasobvious that something had happened as they werevisibly shaken. They shared with us that they hadbeen seen talking to someone from the Gay Activistgroup and as a group attacked one gay man, Bob wasjumped from behind. Morris quickly grabbed the guywho then swung and punched Morris in the nose. (Youshould all know that this was also Morris' birthday). They then realized that they had to get out and leftas quickly as possible, unable to communicate withGraham and Lola. Shortly after, Graham and Lolaarrived and we all sighed a huge relief. What theyhad witnessed was a Moscow Pride Banner being hungfrom an apartment beside city hall by some of theprotestors. Nikolai and his group had strategicallyplanned and rented a flat in the building a few monthsbefore just for the purpose of hanging this banner. The banner only hung for a short while before it wastargeted with eggs and eventually torn down. The sad part is the four men in the apartment were nowstranded there. We learned this later in the eveningas we gathered again with the Pride group to celebratetheir success of the day.

The feeling of joy that wasin the room, including the man who was covered inbruises and a few band aids from being beaten was alsomixed with the anxiety as some of the group tried tofind a lawyer to help successfully get the men out ofthe apartment where they were being held and had theelectricity cut. These men were eventually arrestedbut then released and there seems to be no overtviolations of their human rights. I will close this with a personal comment. I am stillwelled up with tears as I relive these events in myhead. I have never felt such a sense of humility as Idid this day. As I personally work on the events ofour own Pride, I think I may never have the feeling Ihad with my Muscovite friends, when for the first timeever, they marched with Pride in the streets ofMoscow! Humbly,

Yours in Pride, Ken Coolen

Monday, June 2, 2008

Pastor Behind The Gay Marriage Ruling in USA

Founder, Prophet, Pastor; Rev Elder Troy D. Perry Behind The Gay Marriage Ruling
by John Dart

Little noted in the history behind the California Supreme Court decision that gives the "right to marry" to same-sex couples are the bold steps taken over four decades by onetime Pentecostal minister Troy Perry in trying to establish legal and religious rights for gays and lesbians.Perry, who founded a church 40 years ago that became an international denomination for Christian homosexuals, filed the initial lawsuit with his spouse and a lesbian couple in February 2004 that led to last month's ruling making California the second state, after Massachusetts, to legalize marriage for same-sex couples.The 4-3 decision by the high court—though endangered by an expected state initiative in November to amend the constitution to ban gay marriage—marked another milestone for the homosexual-oriented Metropolitan Community Churches, started by Perry in 1968 in Los Angeles County.

In 1969, Perry performed the first public same-sex "holy union" ceremony in the U.S., and in January 1970 he filed the first-ever lawsuit seeking legal recognition of same-sex marriage. It was dismissed before coming to trial.Perry tried unsuccessfully for years to gain membership in the National Council of Churches for MCC churches. But ministers in the denomination do serve on NCC committees and have been welcomed into many regional and local interfaith councils. Meanwhile, gay caucuses grew vocal within nearly all mainline denominations, and some clergy were conducting same-sex blessings.

The idea of legal marriage for gays was too politically volatile in the mid-1990s for the MCC to make it a priority issue. But by early 2001, Perry and his church were fully committed to the fight. Perry and his longtime partner, Phillip Ray De Blieck, were legally married July 16, 2003, at an MCC congregation in Toronto."Today the California Supreme Court legally recognized our marriage," Perry, 67 and now retired, exulted on May 15, saying that "our marriage is equal in the eyes of the law to all other marriages."

A sociologist of religion who has studied the MCC movement credited Perry's leadership for the changes. "He has had the audacity and the tenacity to claim for gay and lesbian people the religious and civil rights that most Americans have the privilege to take for granted," said Steven Warner, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois-Chicago and immediate past president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Warner said the movement led by Perry was "reformist" in seeking change and "conservative" in affirming the value of "two conservative institutions—the church and marriage." Many people in the gay community say "nuts to marriage" and reject all churches as homophobic, he said. But Perry and other plaintiffs "don't want to overthrow marriage; they want to be part of it."The majority opinion, written by Republican-appointed chief justice Ronald M. George, overthrew a law enacted in 1977 and a statewide ballot measure in 2000 that limited marriage to a man and a woman.

"An individual's sexual orientation—like a person's race or gender—does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights," George wrote.The justices made it clear that the ruling applies only to civil marriages: "No religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs." The ruling cited its own 60-year-old precedent that made California the first state to strike down a ban on interracial marriage.

The U.S. Supreme Court did not follow suit until 1967 in a case filed by Mildred Loving, a black woman who died May 2 at age 68 in Virginia. In comments last month, Perry referred to her as one of his heroes—one who "paid a steep price, solely for marrying the only man she ever loved."The three dissenting justices worried about what effect this precedent might have in the future.California should allow gay and lesbian people "to call their unions marriage," Justice Carol Corrigan said somewhat surprisingly. But she joined two other dissenting justices in noting that so far a majority of Californians "hold a different view."

The two other justices asked whether a future "activist court might find laws prohibiting polygamous and incestuous marriages were no longer constitutionally justified."In 2000, 61 percent of California voters approved the ballot measure, saying the only valid marriage is one between a man and a woman. Only six of the state's 58 counties voted against the initiative, all of them in the San Francisco Bay area. Public opinion polls have shown increasing ratios favoring gay marriage. Still, a Field Poll in 2006 found that 51 percent opposed a change while 43 percent approved.Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a moderate Republican who has twice vetoed bills passed by the California legislature to permit same-sex marriage, said he respected the high court ruling and would not back a constitutional amendment to overturn it.

Matthew D. Staver, representing Liberty Counsel, a firm that defends traditional marriage, and Glen Lavy, an attorney for the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, told newspapers in separate comments that they would seek a stay of the ruling until the November election.The California Catholic bishops immediately decried the ruling, and other conservative religious groups indicated that the issue may prod conservative voters around the country to action, perhaps to renew a drive for a U.S. constitutional amendment."

The California Supreme Court has taken a jackhammer to the democratic process," said the Family Research Council, based in Washington, D.C. "This decision put marriage at risk all across the nation."The decision was called "supremely arrogant" by the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a conservative group. "Churches should work to overturn it," said IRD president James Tonkowich, who noted that only two weeks earlier United Methodist delegates in their quadrennial conference maintained their longstanding policy that homosexual activity is "inconsistent with Christian teaching."By contrast, some mainline leaders who have welcomed homosexual clergy into their ranks praised the California high court.

The United Church of Christ, which joined a brief in the California case, approved overwhelmingly in its 2005 convention a resolution supporting legalization of same-sex marriages. Bill McKinney, president of the UCC-related Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, said the seminary "celebrates this historic decision."Episcopal priest Susan Russell, the national president of the gay-advocacy group Integrity, indicated that supporters for gay union rites should raise these issues at the 2009 triennial Episcopal General Convention in Anaheim, California. She told Episcopal News Service that it is time for the church to "be as prophetic as the state of California has been."

Bishop Jon Bruno, who heads the Los Angeles Episcopal Diocese, said the court decision resonates with the church's baptismal vows to strive for justice and respect for all. "To paraphrase St. Paul," Bruno said in a May 15 statement, "there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, gay nor straight in Jesus Christ our Lord."