Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bad Plastic Surgery - The Lionel Show

Lionel discusses the dark side of plastic surgery.

Be careful and use good judgment as you explore and consider plastic surgery.

Sworn to virginity and living as men in Albania

June 23, 2008

Dan Bilefsky

KRUJE, Albania: Pashe Keqi recalls the day nearly sixty years ago when she decided to become a man. She chopped off her long black curls, traded in her dress for her father's baggy trousers, armed herself with a hunting rifle and vowed to forsake marriage, children and sex.

Had she been born in Albania today, says the 78-year-old sworn virgin, who made an oath of celibacy in return for the right to live and rule her family as a man, she would choose womanhood.

"Back then, it was better to be a man because, before, a woman and an animal were considered the same thing," says Keqi, who has a bellowing baritone voice, sits with her legs open wide like a man and relishes downing shots of Raki and smoking cigarettes. "Now, Albanian women have equal rights with men and are even more powerful, and I think today it would be fun to be a woman."

Sworn virgins became the patriarchs of their families, with all the trappings of male authority, by swearing to remain virgins for the rest of their lives.

The ritual was a form of self-empowerment for rural women living in a desperately poor and macho country that was cut off from mainstream Europe for decades under a Stalinist dictatorship. But in Albania today, with Internet dating and MTV, the custom is all but disappearing. Girls no longer want to become boys. . . .Read More

be like others

June 24, 2008

David F. Khalili

What would you do in order to be with the one you love? To be able to walk down the street without facing constant discrimination? That was the question that many of the young gay Iranian men faced in the documentary Be Like Others. While homosexuality is deemed as a sin in Iran, feeling as though your gender and biological sex do not match is viewed as a mistake made by God. Therefore, Ayatollah Khomeini offered a "path" towards correcting this mistake 20 years ago by not only permitting sexual reassignment surgery but allowing it to be financially covered by the government. As an Iranian-American and sexuality researcher I became incredibly fascinated when I first heard about this, I knew homosexuality was very much unacceptable but was completely unaware of this ruling. This is especially poignant during a time where there is a war between western states and the Middle East, where war against Iran and its ideologies seems depressingly imminent.

The film follows a group of young pre-op Male-to-Female transgender women who are going through the preliminary stages and bureaucracy of obtaining the right to have this surgery. We meet Vida, a 26 year-old queen of all "diagnosed transsexuals." . . .Read More

Good Vibrations Showcases David Steinberg’s "Divas of San Francisco"

David Steinberg is pleased to announce that an exhibit of 39 photos from his new book, Divas of San Francisco: Portraits of San Francisco will be on display at the Polk Street Gallery of Good Vibrations from June 26 through July 20, 2008. This show is an expanded version of his recent show at Seattle's Benham Gallery, which received much attention in the press when the show was vandalized on two occasions.

Join him, as well as several women photographed for
Divas of San Francisco, at a reception for the opening of the show, this Thursday evening, June 26, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Good Vibrations Polk Street Gallery is located at 1620 Polk Street, between Sacramento and Clay.

Gender-bending: the original spirit of Pride

Special to Globe and Mail Update

Downtown Toronto will shut down Sunday as people gather to celebrate homosexuality and gender-bending. The occasion is Pride Day, one of Canada's largest cultural events.

Some complain that the event's mainstream acceptance has left Pride without soul, a massive corporate-sponsored opium-farm. Where, the radicals ask, is the deep iconoclastic spirit of the very first Pride marches, before it was safe to be gay?

More than ever, the answer is in the second part of what the Pride revellers gather to be proud of: not homosexuality, but gender-bending. Today, in most parts of Canada, almost anyone can be gay. But to be transgender takes a particular courage.

Canadians are steadily approaching the new cultural battleground of transsexual rights mindful of ethical lessons from previous debates about minorities. There is also a more personal connection. Everyone is realizing that their gender identity is complex, and we feel natural empathy where that complexity is most intense. An extraordinary transgender "pride" is still necessary, however.

Canada's youngest MP, Pierre Poilievre, spoke out against covering sex changes under the public health budget a few weeks ago. Inventing a term that conjures images, Mr. Poilievre said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty favours a "sex-change program" because he wants the funding for his province. Mr. Poilievre also said surgery for diagnosed transsexuals is meantime "medically unnecessary," which is news to medical scientists. . . .Read More