Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Icelandic PM would be world's first openly lesbian leader...

Not counting those world leaders from bygone eras who remained in the closet, it's fair to say that Johanna Sigurdardottir (pictured), appointed today interim Prime Minister of Iceland, is the world's second openly gay leader, and the first openly lesbian national head of government. The first openly gay world leader was Per-Kristian Foss who served as interim Prime Minister in Norway very briefly in 2002.

Iceland's conservative-led government collapsed earlier this week, partly as a result of problems caused by the failure of the country's banks in the credit crisis last fall. Sigurdardottir's appointment is expected to be confirmed within days by the new ruling coalition of the Social Democratic Alliance party and the Left-Green movement. She would lead Iceland until general elections, expected in May. If elected, she'd be the first openly gay world leader elected by the people. However, polls show her party currently trailing the Left-Green Movement.

While being an openly queer leader doesn't seem to be a big deal in most parts of Europe, the pink ceiling remains firmly in place throughout most of North America. We've had openly gay mayors in Canada and the U.S. (one of whom recently has been in a bit of a sex scandal).

But no openly queer leaders have ever won the big prize of governing a province, state or country. In the U.S., New Jersey Governor James McGreevey resigned in 2004 after admitting he cheated on his wife with a gay lover. We've had at least one closet case lead a Canadian province and perhaps more. Canada's only openly gay leader of a political party, Andre Boisclair, led his Parti Quebecois to an historic defeat in 2007 and stepped down soon thereafter.

These failures - coupled with basic politics 101 which dictates that members of the voting public usually want to see themselves in their leaders, plus the tendency of political parties to shun leadership candidates deemed too outside the mainstream or "radical" to get elected - have previously led me to conclude that we're a long way off before we elect a major government leader who is openly gay in North America.

But I don't doubt that one day some extraordinarily charismatic and talented political leader - who also happens to be openly queer - will come along who is capable of winning the hearts and votes of mainstream heterosexuals. One day we'll have our gay Obama. Here's hoping...

Doctor's alleged refusal to treat lesbians sparks rights complaint

Will conservatives out there who condemn immigrants for refusing to embrace "Canadian values" like equality now come to the defense of this Winnipeg lesbian couple? Apparently not the National Post.

Clearly, the case of Dr. Kamelia Elias and Andrea and Ginette Markowski illustrates the need to ensure that foreign-trained physicians receive better cultural-sensitivity before setting up shop in Canada.

While the Globe article today focused on the possible need for better cultural sensitivity training for such doctors, the National Post, as per usual, focused only on the bogus issue of freedom of religion, as if a doctor in our public health system should be able to discriminate against patients based on sexual orientation due to religious bigotry or ignorance. Shame.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Liberals should do the responsible thing and let the budget live...

Since the tumultuous days of late November/early December, I've grown less and less enthusiastic about the idea of a Liberal-NDP coalition government in Ottawa, backed by the Bloc Quebecois. Many friends and family members contacted me during that period to express their outrage at the prospect of Stephane Dion, having been so thoroughly trounced at the polls, seizing power with the help of the NDP and the sovereigntists.

Since Michael Ignatieff's ascendancy to the Liberal leadership, the Canadian public has not warmed much to the idea of a new coalition taking over in Ottawa.

Today, we've got a fairly decent budget that puts Canada in line with other G-8 countries in terms of combatting the economic downturn. We've got the Prime Minister on the run. Why would Liberals vote down this budget and attempt to take power now?

It's possible, should the government be defeated over this budget, that the Governor-General could ask the coalition to form a government. Then the Liberal Party would wear this recession and all the downsides of being in cahoots with the NDP and the BQ. Suddenly, Grit times would be tough times.

As there is a little something for everybody in this budget, I expect that the vast majority of Canadians will support it. Forcing an election now over this would be dangerous, as would the alternative of forming a coalition government. I say the Liberals should let this budget (with amendments) live and prepare for an election later in the year.

Daniel Radcliffe 'flattered' by adoring gay male fans...

This is how all hot straight actors should react to the affections of gay men, I must say. Good on Daniel Radcliffe, who's finishing up his successful and fully nude appearance in Broadway's Equus in a couple weeks.

Here's an excerpt from the Daily Beast interview:

"Q: What’s it been like working in the small bower world of the theatre? It’s a very different environment than film. Much more collegial and camp and...well, let’s face

A: And for a lot of straight guys—and I know I’m guilty of it sometimes—when you know a gay guy has a crush on you it is the most flattering thing.

Q: Forgive me, but to be politically incorrect here, I’ve seldom met a straight actor who is not a “fag hag.” Are you?

A: Oh, yeah. I know I definitely caught it. Absolutely. My mom was a casting director and my dad was a literary agent and I was surrounded by gay men from a very young age. And I was the only boy in my class at school who had that kind of relationship with gay men. Most of my friends had parents who had proper jobs in banks and law firms so none of them had been exposed to homosexuality in the way I had—as a normal course of things. So they had a rather different attitude toward it than I.

Q: They’d just bugger each other.

A: Well, I didn’t go to a boarding school if that’s what you’re getting at. That’s one thing Harry Potter has done if nothing else. It has restored the reputation of the English boarding school. It has made it something other than a hotbed of homosexuality."

Not that there's anything wrong with hotbeds of


It appears that Daniel's co-star Rupert Grint also seems eager to shed his clothes for art...

Movie awards update: "Milk" among GLAAD nominees

Sorry to be so delinquent in blogging lately, I've been feeling a bit unmotivated, possibly due to the winter funk I've fallen into. I'm not one to celebrate this season by any stretch of the imagination and my tan from my Florida vacation has almost faded away.

One of the few winter rituals that I truly love is the run-up to the Oscars in late February. Last week's nominations jibed well with my own predictions. I had hoped to see 'The Dark Knight' among the Best Picture nominees, but the Academy proved again that prestigious Holocaust pictures like 'The Reader' will always get more respect than superhero masterpieces.

Their loss, although I must say I quite enjoyed 'The Reader', particularly the star turn by German hottie David Kross (pictured), whose nudity in the flick rivals that of star Kate Winslet, perhaps even surpasses it.

But I digress. Gus Van Sant's superb 'Milk' has picked up some well-deserved nominations, including eight Oscar nods last week (incl. Best Pic) and a Best Picture nomination today from GLAAD, which also nominated 'Brideshead Revisited,' 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist,' 'RocknRolla,' and 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' in its top category.

'Milk' is already doing very well this awards season with Sean Penn's win this weekend at the SAG Awards. I have a feeling that Mr. Penn is headed to his second Oscar win on Feb 22nd, but we'll see. Keep your eyes on the BAFTAs for any last minute changes in film awards momentum (yes I'm a film awards junkie, what can I say?)

'Slumdog Millionaire' continues to knock out the competition, taking the top prize on Saturday from the Producers Guild of America, as well as the Best Ensemble award from the Screen Actors Guild. It'll win Best Picture at the Oscars next month and it totally deserves it.

I'll be back soon hopefully with more serious topics.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Defence to invoke gay marriage as polygamy trial begins in B.C.

This is quite the interesting article this morning.

I find myself in agreement with Ottawa law professor Daphne Gilbert who says the monogamous aspects of formal same-sex relationships are "actually in keeping with our view on marriage" while polygamy is not.

"First of all, [polygamy] is not a one-on-one partnership. Secondly, the dynamics of polygamous relationships in Bountiful certainly involved serious harms around the age of the women getting married, whether or not they are truly consenting to the marriage, the extent to which parental involvement is a coercive part of those marriages, and the patriarchy of how those marriages operate."

And even if a lawyer could prove that a ban on polygamous marriage is a violation of the Charter, the government is entitled to defend the ban on the basis of greater societal good, Prof. Gilbert said.

One more aspect I'd like to add: gays and lesbians come to their sexual orientation like heterosexuals - we don't choose to be gay. The only marriage partners we should choose, if being honest and authentic, are members of our own gender. There is nothing natural about the desire to have multiple marriage partners. Polygamists are not born that way! They truly choose that lifestyle.

When one gives it some rational thought, one realizes the comparisons between same-sex marriage and polygamy are truly weak.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Forget Warren's prayer today, give Robinson's a listen...

As I post this, controversial pastor Rick Warren is giving his very high-profile invocation at the inauguration of Barack Obama in Washington, DC.

It does appear that Obama reserved the back of the bus position for openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson on Sunday. Robinson's prayer opened all inaugural events, but wasn't televised. Shame.

Obama's political skills are considerable. Giving the offensive Warren such a high profile position was a smart sop to the American right. Obama clearly has decided he more needs to build bridges with American evangelicals than with the LGBT community. If he keeps this up, he'll lose a key part of his base.

My philosophy regarding politics is it's all well and good to reach out to groups outside of your political base, but neglect your own base and the whole house will surely come crashing down. Just ask Bob Rae.

I wish Obama well on this historic day. I just hope he soon starts exhibiting leadership on LGBT issues in America.

January 20, 2009: Landmark date in the history of world progress...

As of today, for the first time in modern history, a man of colour occupies the most powerful office on Earth. Hallejulah!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Email from Bishop Gene Robinson...

I've been enjoying a lovely family holiday in (mostly) sunny Florida the last week, so I've been neglecting my blogging duties, my sincerest apologies.

I understand it's been bloody cold up in most parts of Canada and I'm truly sorry about that. I've been busy by the pool getting sunburned and reading a great book called 'Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America' (please expect my review soon) and thinking about how 62% of Floridians voted in November to write discrimination against LGBT people into their state's constitution. I chose to spend as little as possible while here as a form of protest, while my accommodations I'm proud to say were provided for free by my lovely mother and her husband at their snowbird cottage. I'll take your sun, Florida, but you won't take (much of) my money!

I merely wanted to share tonight (no time in the morning as my flight back to T.O. leaves early) an emailed letter I (and many others) received today from Bishop Gene Robinson (who's also featured in 'Crisis.'):


Tomorrow, in one of the most humbling honors of my life, I will deliver an invocation at the first event of inauguration week.

Though many of us were deeply upset when President-elect Obama chose Proposition 8 supporter Rev. Rick Warren to speak at his inauguration, the fact that he also invited me – a proud gay man – is a hopeful sign of our president's commitment to reach out to all Americans.

Now it's up to all of us to capitalize on this moment and ensure that President-elect Obama works for equality.

Join me in asking Obama to take the next step by supporting HRC's Blueprint for Positive Change – a roadmap for LGBT equality.

As a gay American, a bishop, and a member of HRC's Religion Council, I was open about my shock and anger last month at Warren's invitation.

But I now feel it's time to turn the page on that controversy – to come together and tackle the next set of challenges.

The blueprint calls for President-elect Obama to sign hate crimes legislation into law, to support a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to end unequal taxation of domestic partnerships and more.

In the spirit of hope, we ask President-elect Obama to follow this blueprint and keep his promises.

Tomorrow, I will be blessed to stand at the Lincoln Memorial before the next leader of our great country. His message has inspired countless Americans who have waited many long years to feel represented by their government.

I owe President-elect Obama the utmost thanks for allowing me to participate in such a historic event.

Whether you're religious or not, gay or straight, please stand with me – declare your support for HRC's Blueprint for Positive Change and ask your friends and family to do the same.

The Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson
HRC Religion Council

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ignorant judge gets off lightly...

It's been almost a year since news of Justice Jon-Jo Douglas's appalling ignorance about HIV/AIDS made the news. I was livid when I heard about this last January.

It now appears that Justice Douglas has quietly received what mainstream media are reporting as a "dressing-down" from the Ontario Judicial Council, led by Chief Justice Anne-Marie Bonkalo. According to the Globe: "The council said Judge Jon-Jo Douglas has conceded his actions were wrong, and he has been given a thorough education in the reality of HIV-AIDS at a renowned treatment facility in Toronto, Casey House."

All well and good. It may be that Douglas was rare among Ontario judges in his extreme ignorance of issues related to HIV. It's encouraging that Bonkalo has asked her educational committee to consider a session on HIV/AIDS in future Council programs on "pandemic management in the courtroom." Reps from groups that launched the complaint against Justice Douglas have called that a "step in the right direction," reports the Toronto Star.

I'm still shocked that someone as learned as a judge would've been as ignorant as Douglas in 2007. No doubt for people with HIV, this case has undermined their confidence in the justice system. It does seem that Douglas has gotten off lightly.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Michael Coren will be licking his hateful lips...

Ooh, now we'll find out if 'Freedom of Religion' guarantees in the Charter of Rights mean that men in Bountiful, B.C. have the right to marry underage girls. This case is headed to court.

Michael Coren wrote last year that equal marriage for gays and lesbians inevitably meant that Canadians would soon see the legalization of polygamy.

I disagreed with him then and I continue to do so. Will Canadian courts rule that a man's right to (mis)interpret his religion and marry multiple numbers of women circumvents the rights of women to live free from sexual abuse or exploitation? It'll take a long time to find out, but I'm confident courts will rule accordingly. Then Coren will have to think up other reasons why equality under the law in Canada for gays and lesbians is a "big mistake".

WGA and DGA weigh in on the best of 2008...

Yesterday, the Writers' Guild of America (a group I hope one day to join) unveiled its list of nominees for achievement in feature film writing in 2008.

They include: Joel and Ethan Coen's Burn After Reading, Dustin Lance Black's Milk, Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Tom McCarthy's The Visitor and Robert Siegel's The Wrestler. The nominees for outstanding adapted screenplay are Eric Roth's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Jonathan and Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, John Patrick Shanley's Doubt, Simon Beaufoy's Slumdog Millionaire and Peter Morgan's Frost/Nixon.

Today, the Directors' Guild of America nominated their top five list for Best Director in 2008. Their list matches up completely with the Producers' Guild nominees unveiled earlier this week:

David Fincher, Benjamin Button
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight
Gus Van Sant, Milk

I think it's safe to say we know which five films are favoured to become Best Picture Oscar nominees on Jan 22nd.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Producers Guild Nominees: Movie awards season taking shape...

The Producers Guild of America today announced the five nominees for Best Theatrical Motion Picture for 2008.

They are:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire

The list looks strikingly similar to one I published on Dec 29th. I guess you could say I've got my finger on the pulse of the Hollywood elite? lol...I've actually had the chance to see all five of these and this is an amazing list of cinematic accomplishment - you'd do well to see all five. Which is my fave? While I love the illuminating history of Milk and I've watched my DVD of The Dark Knight about three to four times (I just can't get enough of Heath Ledger's performance), it would have to be Slumdog Millionaire as my #1 choice. Do yourself a favour and go see it's so good!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Sarah Palin on Strombo

My apologies for the headline, I couldn't resist.

But honestly, I was impressed by her on Strombo's The Hour on NYE. She's got spunk. Maybe they'll take away my liberal card, but I got to admit I like the woman.