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in the news-3

Volume 15/Issue 21

Crooked Ratings

Charged with assigning movie ratings, the Motion Picture Association of America has tainted this process with homophobia (again). Scheduled for release on Nov. 26, Bent-a new film about homosexual persecution in Nazi Germany-has received the MPAA's most restrictive rating: " NC-17."

The MPAA claims this rating was assigned because Bent contains a "strong scene of graphic sexuality." Specifically, the scene in question depicts a nightclub orgy; the camera pans a crowded room in which various couples some gay and lesbian-are engaged in disparate acts of love. Yet, as "Variety" (Oct. 2) reports: "The sex scenes in Bent are actually less graphic than many that appear between heterosexuals in mainstream movies that have received R ratings, according to sources who have seen the film."

According to guidelines issued by the MPAA's Classification and Rating Administration, an R rating is given to indicate that a movie is: "Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian." On rating of NC-17, on the other hand, indicates: "No one 17 and under admitted."

Unfortunately, Bent is a typical case. The MPAA has repeatedly assigned more restrictive ratings to movies with lesbian or gay content-suggesting that homosexuality itself is essentially offensive, dangerous, and "for adults only."

The MPAA's homophobic bias can be costly-in more ways than one. According to a Hollywood Reporter Poll of adults (18+), "an NC-17 rating can keep nearly a quarter of the available audience away from a movie." The survey further suggests that NC-17 ratings can "steer away a substantial segment of the audience for a film considered to be a high-quality production. Twenty-four percent of those polled said they would refuse to attend an NC-17 rated film even if it has received mass critical acclaim." Based on these findings, Marcella Berland, senior vice-president of KRC Research, has concluded that the NC-17 rating is a definite "handicap"-significantly diminishing a film's chances for mainstream exposure.

Often, when threatened with an NC-17, movie makers will re-edit the film to earn a more marketable R rating. In the current case, however, Bent's distributor is leaving things just as they are. "We wouldn't do anything to compromise the integrity of the piece," said Gerry Rich, president of MGM worldwide marketing. "And we certainly wouldn't ask the filmmaker to change a frame of his film to change the ratings." Unfair NC-17 ratings discourage audiences in general, and young filmgoers in particular. [from MEDIAlert!]

1998 AIDS Benefit Calendar Arrives

Jeff Palmer's 1998 AIDS Benefit Calendar-"FO- CUS"-will be available in general release beginning in early-October at gay and gay friendly bookstores and other retailers. Ask your favorite shop if they are carrying it! Stunning black and white photographic images are the hallmark of this best selling male nude Calendar. The 11 x 22 month-at-a-glance Calendar features thirteen photographic images including powerful and beautiful images of men alone and men with men-sensual and erotic, but non-sexual-all celebrating the beauty of men and male couples. All early mail orders postmarked by Oct. 16, 1997 will receive an-artist signed 8 x 10 photograph of an image from the 1998 Calendar (a $65 value)-free! Proceeds from the sale of the Calendar are distributed to agencies across the US that provide direct services to people living with HIV and AIDS. More than $400,000 has been distributed since the first Calendar issue in 1990.

To receive the 1998 AIDS Benefit Calendar, please send $13.00 plus $3.00 shipping and handling to: AIDS Benerit Calendar; Dept. NO; PO Box 230034 Encinitas, CA 920023-0034. Locally, Hibiscus Bookstore, 635 Main St., Baton Rouge, will stock the calendars.

Contact the AIDS Benefit Calendar on the Internet at ""

Faith, Hope & AIDS Workshop

The Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana has scheduled an HIV/AIDS Workshop with keynote speaker Rev. Dr. Kenneth Orth from Boston, MA on Sat., Nov. 8 at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, 3412 Haring Rd. in Metairie,LA from 9am to 2pm. The keynote address is entitled "Recognizing God in the Changing Face of HIV/AIDS". Orth, a psychotherapist and ordained UCC minister, will emphasize the powerful role spiritual life and prayer plays in living with HIV/AIDS in an era when new treatments suggest "cautious" hope. Registration is at 8:30am. The cost is $10.00 with lunch included. The workshop is for laity, clergy, pastoral care providers, adults, youth, HIV/AIDS caregivers, families living with AIDS and friends.

At the seminar, people will learn updated medical facts, statistics about HIV/AIDS in Louisiana, and overviews of new AIDS medications; eplore new avenues of community service and outreach ministry; meet in small groups for discussion and to share experiences. Participants will also hear local professionals: Dr. Tom Farley, local epidemiologist and Dr. Lynn Besch, infectious disease physician, discuss new treatments for HIV/AIDS and their drawbacks.

Call "AIDS Workshop," the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana at 504.895. 6634 or FAX 504.895.6637 for further information and pre-registration. Lunch will be provided.

Ru And Improved

On Oct. 2, on the always fun and flamboyant "RuPaul Show" on VH-1, Ru introduced the audience to his family. First the show featured footage of RuPaul performing at a large family reunion. Then RuPaul brought out his three sisters and father, and they reminisced about his childhood and his deceased mother. When RuPaul asked one of his sisters what she would do if her son asked if he could be a drag queen "just like his Uncle Ru," she responded, "I'd say 'Let's go to Patricia Field,'" a New York shop that caters to drag queens.

Please thank RuPaul and VH-1 for this continually fun, gay-positive, drag extravaganza. Contact: RuPaul and Jeff Gaspin, Senior Vice President of Programming and Production, VH-1, 1515 Broadway, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10036, fax: 212.846.1751, e-mail: [from GLAAD]

AIDS Action Praises
Miss America's Needle Conversion

AIDS Action recently named Kate Shindle the winner of the Miss America "Courage Competition" for changing her position and supporting needle exchange programs that prevent HIV transmission among intravenous drug users.

"She may have already won the crown, but today Kate Shindle won the Courage Competition," said Daniel Zingale, AIDS Action's Executive Director. "Kate Shindle today shattered every ugly stereotype about Miss America. By investigating this life-saving issue and demonstrating a willingness to change, Miss America proves herself a young leader of substance and importance."

In a Washington Post article dated September 14, Miss Shindle said, "I don't endorse needle exchanges because they really sort of break the law. I do support teaching people how to clean needles and educating people on how to start protecting themselves. But as far as giving needles to the public, I'm not in support of that."

At the launch of her AIDS prevention campaign, Miss America said she now supports needle exchange programs. Her change of view came after AIDS Action and others began an intensive effort to inform her of the facts about these programs. Zingale as well as AIDS Action senior policy staff met with Miss America several times to educate her about this issue.

"It is more than understandable to be uncomfortable with needle exchange programs at first glance. After learning the facts and hearing the voice of the medical and legal establishment, there's no rationale for opposing needle exchange programs,' added Zingale. "Winning the war on AIDS requires genuine acts of courage; Miss America today is leading the battle with valor."

Needle exchange programs have been proven to reduce HIV infection among intravenous drug users without increasing drug use. These programs have the support of the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Bar Association and other organizations.


The recent "Promise Keepers" rally in Washington was, if nothing else, a victory of public relations over professional journalism. Media coverage was decidedly skewed toward the shallow end of the press pool. At best, both print and broadcast journalists glossed over the Keepers homophobic agenda. At worst, they supported it.

Promise Keepers was founded nearly a decade ago by former University of Colorado football coach Bill McCartney. A notorious homophobe, McCartney championed his state's "Amendment Two"-a measure which, if successful, would have denied basic civil rights to lesbian, gay and bisexual citizens.

In published reports, McCartney has further declared that "homosexuality is an abomination against Almighty God." He has regularly made even dimmer statements, such as his contention that lesbians and gays are "a group of people who don't reproduce, yet want to be compared to people who do reproduce."

Similarly, in an early interview with the "Denver Post," Promise Keepers co-founder Dave Wardell announced that he was drawing "a line in the sand"-to stop homosexuals, "Act Up people" and "the foreign religions coming in here." Under the guise of the Promise Keepers "spiritual" gatherings, featured speakers echo this phobic party line.

At a Promise Keepers rally in Dallas, for example, evangelist Tony Evans defined homosexuality as "immorality in the name of hell." The official Promise Keepers position on homosexuality is that it "violates God's creative design for a husband and a wife and that it is a sin."

Not surprisingly, a major focus of the Washington rally was "sexual purity" (i.e., monogamous heterosexual marriage)-and, by extension, sexual "impurity" (i.e., everything else). In his keynote, McCartney again affirmed the Promise Keepers' conviction that "the sin of homosexuality cannot be excused."

In covering the rally, major wire services at least acknowledged the group's opposition to homosexuality-though almost in passing. In a 22-paragraph story by the Associated Press (Oct. 2), for example, paragraph 16 finally reports that "religious leaders and academics held a news conference to voice concerns about the Promise Keepers' message, a message some say denigrates women and condemns homosexuals." Homosexuals say nothing in this article, however, as none are quoted-and the issue is examined no further.

What "some say" is not really the point, in any case. What McCartney and his fellow homophobes HAVE SAID is evidence enough of denigration - but that evidence is missing from AP's story.

Similarly, in a 27-paragraph article from Reuters (Oct. 4), the 24th paragraph first mentions that "the movement has aroused fear and suspicion among some women, gays and political moderates who say that McCartney and his followers have a hidden political agenda that is profoundly right-wing." Once again, no gays-suspicious, fearful or otherwise-are quoted in the article. The matter is dropped almost as soon as it is raised.

Significantly, no one needs to "suspect" the existence of McCartney's homophobic agenda, for it is perfectly clear. That background material was left out of this and most other articles, however, leaving an impression that lesbian and gay critics of the Promise Keepers are somehow overreacting-responding not to the reality, but to a mere "rumor" of threat.

In this absence of substantive reporting, public figures like President Clinton were free to "applaud the Promise Keepers movement for its commitment to family" (Associated Press, Oct. 4). No one expected Clinton to seriously explain his support. He was not asked, for example, just how it is that homophobia "strengthens our families."

Perhaps this deference to homophobia and heterosexism reached its most pathetic heights during an MSNBC newscast, featuring lesbian journalist Donna Minkowitz. Remarkably, she too downplayed the reality of homophobia-and actually described the Promise Keepers as "a force for good." Minkowitz based her conclusions on undercover work she did for an article on the group, written several years ago for "Ms." magazine.

Even public television's venerated "Newshour" failed to provide an alternative to the rose-colored coverage. One day after the rally (Oct. 6), a "Newshour" segment purporting to "focus" on the Promise Keepers offered little depth and even less diversity.

The report opened with a video review of the Promise Keepers rally, which did (briefly) mention the group's "opposition to...homosexuality." This was followed by a live discussion amongst a panel of five "regional commentators," representing major newspapers across the country.

Not ONE commentator condemned the Promise Keepers' homophobia. In fact, they all seemed to overlook it-as EACH found reasons to praise the group.

Patrick McGuigan of the "Daily Oklahoman" argued that the Promise Keepers "are definitely a force for the good." Robert Kittle of the "San Diego Tribune" agreed, and suggested that the group is "part of the spiritual renewal that's going on in this country...a very encouraging trend." "It doesn't offend me a lot," Kittle said. "This group is reaching out to all male Americans."

Never mind GAY Americans, Kittle might have added, unless of course they can be "saved" or "converted." The Promise Keepers ARE indeed "reaching out" to homosexuals-in the hope of ELIMINATING them.

Another commentator-Cynthia Tucker of the "Atlanta Constitution"-suggested that critics of the group are just overly "nervous" or paranoid. "If they (the Promise Keepers) say they don't have a political agenda, we have to take them at their word," she also insisted.

Tucker's attitude seems something of a throwback-reminiscent of a time when journalists took Joseph McCarthy "at his word." Whatever happened to the notion of INVESTIGATIVE reporting?

Like Tucker, however, the "Boston Globe's" Mike Barnicle also lashed out at the "hysterical reaction" of "special interest groups." Those who find fault with the Promise Keepers are basically nuts, according to Barnicle-"they are more afraid of people who pray in public, than people who prey upon the public.... Worse things can happen than a group of guys gathering on the mall and promising to be better husbands, fathers and human beings," he sarcastically noted.

Lee Cullum of the "Dallas Morning News" echoed the sentiment. "You certainly can't fault them for trying to be good fathers," he said. "That's a good thing."

What Barnicle and Cullum failed to ask is how many thousands of those fathers, wittingly or not, brought a tormented gay son to this anti-gay rally? Homophobes promise to be BAD parents-especially of lesbian, gay and bisexual children.

Promising to combat the "sin" of homosexuality (as the Keepers do) is effectively to embrace the real evil of homophobia. This dedication to bigotry is incompatible with becoming a "better human being."

The media pundits seem unable or unwilling to grasp this point, however simple. You certainly CAN fault them for not trying. [from MEDIAlert!]

UFMCC's Perry Receives Invitation
To White House Conference
On Hate Crimes

The Rev. Troy D. Perry, founder of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, the world's largest gay and lesbian spirituality organization, has received an invitation to participate in the upcoming White House Conference on Hate Crimes on Nov. 10, 1997.

The conference was announced in June by US President Bill Clinton during an address to the nation in which he called for all Americans to "use the full talents of all of our people, regardless of race or religious faith, national origin or sexual orientation, gender or disability."

The White House Conference on Hate Crimes will explore both federal options for addressing hate crimes as well as community-based remedies.

In a letter to the President, Perry noted that, "UFMCC members and congregations have suffered a two-fold victimization by hate crimes-crimes against our worship facilities because of our faith and crimes against our predominantly gay and lesbian members because of their sexual orientation.

"Since its founding in 1968, more than 20 UFMCC churches have been bombed or arsoned," said Perry, "while many others have been vandalized, desecrated or threatened. Proportionally, no other institution in America has been the recipient of as much arson, bombing, vandalism and desecration motivated by hate crimes as have the churches of UFMCC. An astounding and shocking seven percent of our congregations have been targets of bombing or arson."

Perry will represent the more than 42,000 members of UFMCC congregations at the White House Conference. "I intend to use my voice to call for enactment of broad protections for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered citizens," said Perry.

UFMCC was founded in 1968 by the Rev. Troy D. Perry, who serves as moderator of the fast-growing denomination. A frequent international speaker at churches, universities, and conferences, Perry has appeared on C-SPAN, 60 Minutes, Phil Donahue, Tomorrow with Tom Snyder, and The Mike Douglas Show. UFMCC's story has appeared in virtually every international news magazine. Perry is the recipient of awards from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Gay Press Association.

UFMCC is composed of more than 300 local congregations in 15 countries. With a combined budget in excess of $15 million, the UFMCC churches comprise the largest predominantly gay organization in the world.

Additional information on UFMCC's participation in the White House Conference on Hate Crimes is available by e-mail from

A partial, representative listing of hate crimes committed against the congregations of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches during its 30 year history: A UFMCC church building in Sacramento, CA sustained $600,000 in damages due to arson; a fire at a UFMCC congregation in New Orleans, LA claimed the lives of more than 30 persons, including the church's pastor; UFMCC's "Mother Church" in Los Angeles sustained $90,000 in arson damages; MCC San Francisco's worship facility endured $100,000 in arson damages. Threats to the pastor's life were scrawled on the church door. A UFMCC congregation in Texas was victimized by a hate campaign of threats by the Ku Klux Klan. A UFMCC church facility in St. Petersburg, FL sustained $34,000 in arson damages. A UFMCC church in Santa Monica, CA sustained $20,000 in fire damages in the aftermath of a hate-filled, telephone threat. During 1996, stained glass windows at the UFMCC church in Richmond, VA were smashed by hate crime vandals. In 1997, the UFMCC church in Bradenton, FL has been repeatedly desecrated with spray-painted swastikas.

CNN Confuses Gay Male Erotica
With Child Pornography

An otherwise well-done Sept. 30 CNN report on an Internet sting of 1,500 suspected child pornographers needlessly attached adult gay male erotica to the story, perpetuating myths and stereotypes of gay men as predators of children. The report stated that, "[New York Attorney General Dennis] Vacco said one of the most frightening things about the widespread child pornography is that many of the pictures appear to be recent, not old pictures just now surfacing on the new medium." It continues, "A demonstration at the news conference showed just how freely pornography flows over the Internet. Within 10 minutes, investigator Michael McCartney-using an e-mail address that kept his identity secret-was in contact with someone who e-mailed him a picture of an adult male having sex with an adult male. McCartney called the images he saw during the child pornography sting `so horrific' that they kept him awake at night."

Without any apparent relevance to the story, the discussion of adult male erotica distribution via the Internet during a discussion of child pornography blurs the profound difference between the two. While some criticism lies with the investigator for trying to illustrate the ease of accessing child pornography by instead accessing gay erotica during the news conference, CNN chose to emphasize the same-sex nature of the accessed photos. For CNN to highlight gay erotica in its report without explicitly articulating its lack of relevance to the crime of child pornography fuels the flames of ignorance and bigotry towards gay men. Study after study have shown that over 99 percent of all child molesters are heterosexual men, and the connection implied between gay men and child porn in this story is both misleading and offensive.

Let CNN know that regardless of whether homo-ignorance or homophobia allowed this to happen, reporters and editors must be made more aware of the damaging influence such an anti-gay association can have on our community. Contact: Rick Kaplan, President, CNN, PO Box 105366, Atlanta, GA 30348-5366, fax: 404.827.4063, e-mail:, feedback form: [from GLAAD]

First National Gay Relationship
Domestic Violence Report Released

At a rate equal to that of heterosexual relationships, between 25-33 percent of relationships between lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender partners include abuse, according to a report released recently by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects (NCAVP). In addition, the study found that seven states explicitly exclude same-sex relationships from qualifying in domestic violence statutes, while no state explicitly includes them. Services for the population are virtually non-existent, responding police often do not know how to respond, and even if sensitive, domestic violence programs designed for heterosexual female victims and heterosexual male batterers do not tend to be utilized by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people affected by battering. "We found a worst-case scenario [of] high levels of violence coupled with a profound dearth of services" said NCAVP spokesperson Tiffany Stephan." This invisible battering hurts an uncounted number of Americans every year." For more information contact Tiffany Stephan (NCAVP) at 312.649.6671. [from GLAAD]

Gay Press Is Hot Market

According to a new study by gay marketing specialists Mulryan/Nash, lesbian and gay print media has the fastest growing print/advertising market in the U.S. In a study of the 138 gay-targeted print publications around the country, ad spending reached $100.2 million, a 35.9 percent increase over 1996. In comparison, ad revenues in mainstream newspapers grew just 12.9 percent over 1996 and ad revenues in the Hispanic press grew 11 percent. Among big-name first-time advertisers to the gay press in 1997 were Aetna Retirement Services, American Express Financial Services, IBM, HBO, and United and Continental Airlines. "For the past three consecutive years, gay-press ad revenues have grown faster than those in both the mainstream press and other niche markets," said Dave Mulryan, partner for Mulryan/Nash. For more information contact Dave Mulryan (Mulryan/Nash) at 212.633.6139. [from GLAAD]

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