Wednesday, October 17, 2007

SF Archbishop Uproar: Communion To Fake, Gay Nuns

Festival celebrates gay pride with activities, drag show

By HEATHER STRANGE, Alligator Contributing Writer

Members of local pride organizations and their supporters cheered in celebration while marching down University Avenue on Saturday, holding colorful signs and waving water noodles, as part of Gainesville's Sixth annual Pride Parade.

The parade preceded the 15th annual Pride Festival, and both events celebrated the conclusion of Gainesville's Pride Week and National Pride Coming Out Week.

The parade, which began at University Avenue and Seventh Street and ended at the Downtown Community Plaza, was led by members of Gainesville High School's Students Teaching Open Mindedness and Pride club, or S.T.O.M.P. They held a large banner that read "STOMP OUT DISCRIMINATION."

Representatives from organizations such as Wild Iris Books and Trinity Metropolitan Community Church also marched in the parade. Once the parade reached Main Street, people standing on the sidewalks waved and cheered as it marched by.

At the festival, hundreds of people roamed around the plaza getting airbrushed tattoos, face paint and supporting the different groups at the event. About 1,000 people were expected to have come and gone throughout the day, said Staci Fox, board member of the Pride Community Center of North Central Florida. About 40 vendors were at the festival, said Kim Kelley, board member of the center.

The Human Rights Council of North Florida also had a booth at the event with petitions to get gender identity and expression on Gainesville's anti-discrimination code of ordinance.

The council recently helped pass the domestic partner registry, which allows couples to declare themselves as partners regardless of sexual orientation, and are now working toward the change in the ordinance, said Bob Karp, council secretary. They've already received one vote toward the change and need three more, he said. . . .

Trans Iran with Afsaneh Najmabadi

Still from Daisy Mohr and Negin Kianfar's 2006 documentary "The Birthday," about sex changes in Iran

One of the weirder outcomes of combining fundamentalist religion with national governance is that you have the leader of your country say things like “There are no gays in Iran. We do not have this phenomenon,” at an American university, only to be practically laughed offstage and spend the next week backtracking on the statement.

Another is that your country finds itself in the somewhat awkward position of punishing homosexuality with death, yet publicly funding gender reassignment surgery. According to this recent report in the Guardian UK, Iran is second only to Thailand in the amount of sex change surgeries performed there. Yep, folks – sharia law commands that gays be killed for having sex with each other only once, and that lesbians be executed if they have sex four times (talk about double standards!). But it'll foot your trans bill.

Yet another strange thing to emerge from this situation is that your country is so fucked up that the leader of the major transsexual organization can say, as Maryam Khatoon Molkara recently did, "Transsexuality is a real disaster. It's a one-way street. But if somebody wants to study, have a future and live like others they should go through this surgery." Eek. (She herself convinced Khomeini to make transsexuality legal -- no small potatoes!)

Iran’s fundamental answer to gay love is change one of the partners into a woman. Shazam!

Maryam Khatoon Molkara

But that’s just the sensational side. In fact, there are an estimated 15,000-20,000 transsexuals in Iran today. Afsaneh Najmabadi, Professor of History and Women's Studies at Harvard University, is coming to Berkeley to talk about the phenomenon and share her own experiences this Thursday – should be fascinating, especially with our supposed representatives in Washington thinking they can sell out the trans community to achieve protections for “socially acceptable” gay men and women in the workplace.

Bishops seek exemption to British proposal on transsexuals' records

By Simon Caldwell

Catholic News Service

LONDON (CNS) – English and Welsh bishops have expressed concern that they would not be able to stop transsexuals from becoming nuns or priests under new equality legislation proposed by the British government.

The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales said it feared proposals to ban "indirect discrimination" against people who have had sex-change operations would take away the church's right to check vital records – such as baptismal and confirmation certificates – that would reveal if candidates for the priesthood, religious life or marriage were transsexuals.

The bishops expressed their concerns in a Sept. 10 submission to the British government, which has proposed that vital records be altered when a person has a sex-change operation. A copy of the submission, prepared on behalf of the bishops by Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff, Wales, was obtained by Catholic News Service.

Archbishop Smith asked for an exemption for the Catholic Church on the grounds that church officials would have no way of knowing, for instance, if a woman who applied to be a nun had been a man, or if a man applying to join the priesthood had been a woman. He said the bishops were worried that the church could be sued by transsexuals if a priest refused to change parish records.

"There is no convincing evidence that a gender can really be changed or acquired, much less chosen," he said. "Furthermore, the Catholic Church would hold on theological grounds that gender is given before birth and cannot be changed."

The archbishop said there were a number of areas of Catholic life and teaching "where gender reassignment would be an issue." For instance, he said it was likely that a transsexual would not be accepted into a religious order. . . .

Private Lives Become Public Record

Dozens of so-called sexual deviants cataloged their lives for one of San Francisco’s public libraries yesterday.

In an effort to chronicle queer American history, Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Library archivist Susan Goldstein asked gays, lesbians and trans folk to contribute their own personal photos, which will become part of the library’s permanent collection.

Of her mission, Goldstein says,

We’re getting the photos, and we’re getting the history,” said city archivist Susan Goldstein. “We’re hearing: ‘This is my family. They didn’t talk to me because I was gay’; ‘This is when I was in the military’; ‘This is when I came to San Francisco.’ It’s a great cross section.

Not to be confused with a cross-dressing session, of course.

Activist Felizia Elizondo (pictured) submitted pictures of herself from her boyhood days, declaring, “I’m a transsexual woman who had surgery in 1974 to go from male to female. I’m here because I’m a pioneer, a legend and a diva.”