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Rhythm is a lady! Introducing Famba

Every now and then, something wonderful and beautiful happens.  The diversity of life is not a concept, but a brilliant expression of creation and joy.  I got followed on twitter about 30 minutes ago by @FambaGent.  I looked them up and found a Belgian, Lesbian, Feminist Samba band. 

Hell to the yeah!

Here is their bio from their web page (translated):

Famba currently consists of 25 committed and loving women who enjoy making music together. Famba has members of all ages and types from Ghent, Mechelen, Roeselare, Lier, ....

The group was created because some friends found that lesbians weren't visible enough at demonstrations and events. At the start, the group comprised seven women. Our enthusiasm was contagious: women came and went and now we have a 20+. We are all lesbian or bisexual and in one way or another socially conscious.

Percussion-training academies we don't have. But practice makes perfect and our two weekly rehearsals disciplined under expert supervision bore fruit soon. If you invite Famba, you can expect beautiful and compelling rhythms and great ambiance.

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High-Risk Sex Among Those Who "Do Not Exist"

By Christi van der Westhuizen

Cape Town — A study on men having sex with men (MSM) in Malawi shows that, as elsewhere in the developing world, this vulnerable group at greater risk of contracting HIV and AIDS than the general population. Moreover, their risk status is exacerbated as governments fail to target them for health services or information to stem HIV transmission.

The study was presented at the human rights conference of the recent
World Outgames, held in the Danish capital from Jul. 25 to Aug. 1. At the same session it transpired that MSM in developing countries are on average 19 times more likely to be HIV positive than the general population.

In Kenya, in East Africa, 38 percent of MSM are HIV positive, compared to six percent of the general population, according to data provided by the
AIDS Fund of Denmark. In the West African country of Senegal, some 22 percent of MSM are HIV positive compared to less than two percent of the general population.

Surveying MSM

The study in Malawi was conducted among 202 men - a sample of twenty originally recruited from researchers' own contacts and each then asked to recruit nine or ten other men having sex with men for the survey.

The findings contradicted the popular idea that MSM are poor, uneducated and from rural areas - though this may reflect the methodology used to sample: the majority of those surveyed (73 percent) were from Blantyre; 91 percent had tertiary education. However, only 51 percent were employed, reflecting the high unemployment rate in Malawi and that MSM are more likely to be unemployed.

Of those who regarded themselves straight, none were HIV positive. In contrast, 52 percent of those who regarded themselves gay and 47.6 percent of those who regarded themselves as bisexual were HIV positive.

Regarding condom use, 26 percent of those who reported always using condoms were HIV positive; 14 percent of those who sometimes use condoms were HIV positive; and 14 percent of those who never use condoms were HIV positive.

Finally, 13 percent had been arrested; 15.5 percent were "afraid to walk down the street"; and 17 percent had been blackmailed. In all, 12.5 percent of the respondents had been beaten up, of which the vast majority were attacked by police or government officials while a tiny percentage were attacked by a classmate or a sexual partner.

Four percent had been raped, of which only two cases were reported and one led to prosecution.

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The Safe Houses Project

IRAQ: Emergency Shelter, Human Services and Protection for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People:

IRAQI LGBT started to establish a network of safe houses inside Iraq in March 2006.

As of today, we have only two safe houses open and running funded by HIVOS a Dutch based human rights organization.

The members of our group inside Iraq urgently need funds to open at least four safe houses. These funds will allow us to keep the four safe houses open and running, and provide safety, shelter, food and many other needs for our LGBT friends inside Iraq. Any funds we receive that go beyond what we need for these four safe houses could be used to open more safe houses in the near future. We desperately need to add more because we have so many urgent cases in other cities. We receive requests for shelter every day, but we are not able to help yet.

Every safe house has around 200 square meters of living space, but harbors 10 to 12 people, so is very overcrowded. The residents are struggling badly because of the shortages of almost all the basic necessities in Iraq.

Rent: We have paid three months rent in advance. The most recent payments were in August. The average rent per safe house per month is $ 600 US Dollar.

Security: We paid the salaries of two guards per house, at $ 200 US Dollar per guard per month.

Other expenses of each house: We have paid $ 600 a month for each house approximately for natural gas and kerosene for cooking, and for food, fuel for generators which provide the electricity supply.

Urgent priority needs: Our priorities at this stage are: natural gas or kerosene for cooking and heating; fuel for generating electricity; food; mobile phones and calling cards; money for transportation to allow residents some freedom of movement; beds, mattresses, blankets, sheets and pillows; cameras; printers; two computers; house supplies, such as cooking pans, dishes, and flatware; some furniture; clean water for drinking and bathing; soap for washing and bathing, tooth paste, razors and of course housing, guards etc.

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Iraqi LGBT welcome Human Rights Watch report on pogrom, urges practical aid

The Iraqi LGBT group today welcomed the release by Human Rights Watch of its report 'They want us exterminated' which documents the killing of LGBT people in Iraq, in particular the extensive media coverage it has generated. Much of the information in the report is sourced from Iraqi LGBT members.

"This report underlines what we have been saying since our group's formation in 2006," said Iraqi LGBT spokesperson, Ali Hili. "We have information on over 700 killings including honour killings."

However Hili says that the group, which has 100 members inside Iraq (as well as refugees in neighboring countries) and supports LGBT people through safe houses, offers practical support (food etc.), psychological and educational support, is chronically underfunded.

"We are the only people offering support to our fellow Iraqi LGBT inside Iraq but because we do not have the funds we have had to turn people away," he said.

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Ma Vie En Rose

"Ma Vie en Rose" ("My Life In Pink") is the story of Ludovic, a little girl born in a little boy's body. For this child, nothing is more natural than to change gender. A hopeful and sensitive child, who truly believes that a miracle is going to happen.  Confident of becoming a girl with no doubts and in love with Jerome, a school mate, and son of the father's colleague.

Initially a source of amusement, an outrage begins in their suburb when the two children are discovered pretending to get married. The family begins to realize with horror that this desire to be a girl isn't just a little boy's fantasy. They try to make him change his mind, to no avail. The situation turns into a real-life drama of intense reactions from neighbors, friends, and teachers, resulting in a profoundly optimistic ending.

"Ma Vie en Rose" is the first feature from Belgian director Alain Berliner.

(h/t to Rory)

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Protest Anti-Gay Hate Disguised as Religious Faith

From GayLiberationNetwork, a call to protest a fundie sponsored conference to 'heal gay-ness'. 

Big Anti-Gay Confab Coming to Chicagoland July 14th

Protest Anti-Gay Hate Disguised as Religious Faith

Exodus International is the nation's foremost organization claiming to use Christianity to turn LGBT people into "ex-gays."

And while they say they "love" us, their fake attempts to change gays into straights is rooted in their hatred of gay people. They oppose all civil rights for LGBT people – equal employment, housing and access to public accomodations, and one of their board members even traveled to Uganda recently to endorse a vicious law which makes gay sex punishable by life imprisonment.

Every major, relevant professional association has denounced Exodus's efforts as potentially very damaging to the very people Exodus claims to "help."

As the American Psychiatric Association notes: "The potential risks of 'reparative therapy' are great, including depression, anxiety and self destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self hatred already experienced by the patient. Many patients who have undergone 'reparative therapy' relate that they were inaccurately told that homosexuals are lonely, unhappy individuals who never achieve acceptance or satisfaction. The possibility that the person might achieve happiness and satisfying interpersonal relationships as a gay man or lesbian is not presented, nor are alternative approaches to dealing with the effects of societal stigmatization discussed." (see for more resources on the "ex-gay" movement).

Help us expose the "ex-gay" fraud! Help show young LGBT people that there is an alternative to the damaging quack "therapy" that Exodus International promotes.

The Gay Liberation Network is organizing a protest against the opening of Exodus International's big annual convention and we invite you to join us:

6:30 PM
Tuesday, July 14
Wheaton College
500 College Avenue
Wheaton, Illinois

GLN is organizing transportation from Chicago to the protest, and may be able to offer it from some suburban locations. If you need transportation or are willing to offer it, please email

DOWNLOAD - PDF FLYER for Exodus International Protest


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Film review: “On The Downlow” (2007)

Last week, I attended the latest screening in the Sex+++ Documentary Film Series.  These films are showing at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum each month on the 2nd & 4th Tuesday.  This week's guest moderator was Lisa Junkin, Education Coordinator for the Hull House Museum itself.

The film, "On The Downlow" was directed by Abigail Child and focused on the lives of several black, bisexual men living in Cleveland, OH.  Each man kept his gay sex a secret from some of the people in their lives.  It was interesting to see who each man would choose to hide it from and what his reasons were for doing so.

One man discussed life 'on the streets' as being too tough on gays for him to come out.  He spoke of the need to keep it strictly secret.  That changed though, when he spoke of his time in prison.  He spoke about his male lovers from prison and their relationships in open and glowing terms.  He kept love letters and photographs of his prison lovers, whom also kept their male sex partners a secret from spouses and girlfriends on the outside.

Two men chose to 'out' their bisexuality to women they had been dating, while the documentary crew was filming them.  This seemed a bit too 'Jerry Springer' for my tastes, but it also did show some every day realities of how people navigate these relationships.

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LGBTQ and Transhumanism

Question: What does someone that identies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual or queer-fluid...have in common with someone who is transhuman?

Answer: These are terms that people use to define themselves regarding their own sex, gender, body.

Accelerating Future

if people won’t support civil rights for LGBT people, what makes you think they will support our right to modify our bodies with technology? LGBT civil rights are completely worth advocating on their own terms, but a world that accepts a diversity of sexual orientations will also be more open-minded about other forms of diversity, and that is not only helpful, but moral.


World Transhumanist Association

Gays, lesbians and bisexuals are also natural allies of transhumanism since the right to control one’s own body means being able to share it with other consenting adults. The champions of natural law attack homosexuality and human enhancement with the same arguments. In-vitro fertilization allows lesbians to have children without having sex with a man. Work on fertilizing eggs with the DNA from another egg or replacing egg DNA with sperm DNA would allow gay parents to both have a genetic link to their children.


Transhuman Goodness

The experiences and lessons learned from other social movements - the race, LGBT, feminist and other movements - may be useful here. For example, some of the commonsense values listed and many more have been reevaluated by past movements.

In traditional conversations and prejudices, the matter of what gender someone chooses to identify as, or whom they sleep with have nothing to do with someone extending the function of the human body with technology.  Yet, they are all personal decisions by individuals for how they choose to define their own sex, gender, body.  

Whose choice is it, if a person...

     - chooses to identify as one gender or another?

     - chooses to have consensual sex with another adult(s) of one gender or another?

     - chooses to replace one's own body parts with technology that improves or alters the human body?

Is it society's choice or the individual?  Who has dominion over your sex, gender, body?

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Tales of 2 gay pride parades: Shanghai & Tel Aviv

Mixed results from across the globe as pride parades are taking place this month.

In Shanghai, the Christian Science Monitor reports of China straining between competing goals for their pride parade.  Wishing to appear modern and accepting to the rest of the world while still deeply bound by age-old prejudice and systemic restrictions of individual anything, China is giving mixed signals.

Organizers of China's first gay pride week were struggling Thursday to find new venues for their events after police in Shanghai warned clubs and bars against joining the planned festival.

The crackdown came even as China's state-run English-language daily was hailing the celebration as "a good showcase of the country's social progress" and "an event of profound significance."


"Official attitudes have not changed at all," complains Cui Zi'en, a gay activist and film director. The general public, however, is growing more tolerant, he says, and young people are better informed than their parents about sexuality.

"We are still trying to make sense" of the police interference in Shanghai Pride, one of the organizers says. "But social and official attitudes will both continue to slowly and gradually embrace homosexuality in China. This is an irreversible tide."

Meanwhile in Tel Aviv, The Jerusalem Post reports a more inclusive, better supported and outright progressive experience for their pride parade.

Tens of thousands of people were estimated to have participated in Tel Aviv's 11th annual Gay Pride Parade Friday, which took place as part of the city's centennial celebrations.

The parade began in the late morning and continued throughout the day, ending in the early evening hours, with a beachside wedding of five gay couples - two male and three female.

A small group of people held a protest against the parade, but no incidents were noted between the sides.

We can be thankful for good news in both cities, as even lukewarm recognition is a marked improvement over centuries of denial and persetucion.  However, I am still holding out for acceptance, equality and respect.  It is not really an outrageous demand.


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LA City Council Condemns Iraqi Torture of Gay Men

Unite The Fight posted a detailed and compelling post: LA City Council Unanimously Passes Resolution Condemning Iraqi Torture of Gay Men.  

On Wednesday, after hearing several emotional speeches, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a resolution that "calls upon the government of Iraq to prevent the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and protect the right to life and the right of all its citizens to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Los Angeles is one of the largest cities in the United States and for them to pass this resolution is anything but a token gesture of empathy.  This is a demonstration of the civic population of one country exercising its political weight to alter the national and international awareness of this brutality.

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