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Volume 15/Issue 22

by PlanetOut,, a Worldwide Online Community of Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Trans People

Warning: Massive Condom Recall

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers to check their supplies of three brand of condoms made by Ansell Personal Products, which the manufacturer discovered (following complaints from consumers) may break before reaching their expiration dates. Since Ansell has been unable to identify which specific batches may be problematic, some 57 million of the condoms are subject to recall. Only U.S.-manufactured condoms are involved; those distributed in Australia, for example, are manufactured in Japan and will not be recalled.

The recalled products are:
CONTEMPO: Intensity Assorted Colors with Spermicide, expiring Nov., 1997; Power Play with Spermicide, expiring Oct., 1997-Feb., 2000.
PRIME: Spermicidally Lubricated, expiring Oct., 1997-Feb., 2000.
LIFESTYLES: Assorted Colors with Spermicide, expiring Oct., 1997-June, 1998; Spermicidally Lubricated, expiring Oct., 1997-Oct., 1998; Ultra Sensitive with Spermicide, expiring Oct., 1997; Vibra-Ribbed with Spermicide, expiring Oct., 1997-Apr., 2000; and, Extra Strength with Spermicide, expiring Oct., 1997-Apr., 2000.

If you have already purchased any of the above, you can return them either to the store where you purchased them or to Ansell, Inc., Consumer Relations Dept., 1500 Industrial Rd., Dothan, Al 36303.

The FDA also reminds consumers that no condom can be trusted to provide protection once past its expiration date.

"Wilde" Film Opens in Britain

Wilde, the new film biography of 19th century gay writer Oscar Wilde, made its official opening in Britain this past weekend-and would you believe it's been 37 years since the last one was made? It didn't leap to the top of the charts, or even the top 10, but then it won't have to be in the top ranks to make a nice return on its modest $10-million budget. How it fares definitely has something to do with point of view: Wilde's grandson Merlin Holland felt it was unbalanced by being too focussed on his grandfather's gay sexual orientation: London Times critic Geoff Brown was disappointed that it wasn't more explicitly gay; and Variety's Derek Elley predicted weeks ago that it could go far because it went "the whole enchilada on Wilde's homosexuality" yet "with its appeal cleverly positioned across the sexual spectrum." For the film's star Stephen Fry, who actually resembles Wilde in age and appearance, It's the role of a lifetime, a cause of both "delight and terror"-and a reason to drop his trousers at the London premiere.

Holland has his own kickoff in progress, presenting his new book of Wilde photos, just one of several book projects he's involved in relating to his famous forebear. He had a chance to serve as a consultant on the film to the time of $8,000, but having read Julian Mitchell's script (based on a biography by Richard Ellman, one of more than 400 Wilde books in print) and had his recommendations rejected, he decided to absent himself even from the premiere. As both family member and editor of Wilde's papers, he finds historical errors in the limited medium of film, and especially regrets that more attention has not been given to Wilde's works. He actually counted the gay bits in the film to support his contention that homosexuality has overshadowed all else: he finds that of the film's 109 scenes, 11 have sexual physical contact and 30 more have dialog or body language-without even counting the courtroom scenes relating to Wilde's sodomy conviction.

On the other hand, Brown says the film is "timid in its treatment of sex, and never makes much headway in exploring the fatal attraction between Wilde and the destructive Lord Alfred Douglas (Jude Law)." And while Holland feels that inadequate attention is given to Wilde's genuine feeling for his family, Brown is particularly touched by the scenes between Wilde and his wife Constance (Jennifer Ehle).

The enthusiastic Elley feels the script "is far from just an in-your-face '90s version of the story...[it] equally addresses Wilde's love for his wife and children, the nervousness behind his outward courage as a convention-breaker, as well as his higher, Platonic ideals of beauty and youth." Elley praises director Brian Gilbert for the look of the film.

Fry believes he may in fact have been born to play the role of Wilde, and is ready to go to great lengths to demonstrate his adoration for the writer. He took his pants down at the premiere to show off boxer shorts with some of Wilde's greatest quotes-notably, "We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars."

Norris Judges "Don't Ask" Evil

In a moment of candor unusual for a veteran of the federal bench, Judge William A. Norris urged President Bill Clinton in the strongest possible terms to "admit his mistake of judgment" regarding the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gay and lesbian service members. Accepting a Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund "Liberty Award" in Los Angeles Oct. 16, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals jurist called on Clinton to "Renounce it because it is wrong, it is evil-as you surely know in your heart."

Author of a 1988 opinion calling the constitutionality of "don't ask, don't tell" into question, Norris said that while race and gender discrimination remain "grave social problems in America...they are no longer acceptable as official government policy. Regrettably, however, it continues to be acceptable for the government and government officials to promote hatred, fear and intolerance against gay men and lesbians," and to espouse a policy which "demands that gays and lesbians live a lie if they wish to serve in the military, and fight and die for their country.... I can think of no other instance in which the government passed a law whose very purpose is to force people to live a lie, to pretend that their true selves don't really exist."

When asked by the Los Angeles Times what possessed him to take such a strong lesbigay-rights stand, Norris said, "I'm honored to get this award and it occurred to me this was an appropriate occasion to say what is in my heart." The 70-year-old judge will retire from the bench later this month.

A White House spokesperson, who spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity, said in response to Judge Norris' remarks, "the so-called don't ask, don't tell' policy is the law of the land and the president and the Department of Defense maintain a keen interest in ensuring that the policy is fairly enforced."

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