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Gay News, Drag Race #13, Tom of Finland

Plus Biden struggles to keep LGBTQ cabinet promises, a gay teen petitions to wear nail polish, the latest on Bert and Ernie, and more gay news and noteworthy articles...

As the Electoral College voted to formalize Joe Biden’s victory, Mr. Biden moved forward with the task of filling his cabinet. One demographic missing from the list so far? LGBTQs. As the Daily Beast reported, “pressure…is increasing for Biden to live up to his campaign promise to nominate an openly LGBTQ cabinet member.” We couldn’t agree more; we just hope he can successfully shepherd his nominees—straight, gay, cis, or trans—through a Senate that may well still be controlled by Republicans.

Gay Books, Arts, and Culture

This past weekend, the Tom of Finland Foundation presented the Plugged In online festival of erotic arts; tour the show on the web site, but (in case this isn’t obvious) many of the images are NSFW, so 18+ only please! RuPaul’s Drag Race announced the cast for its thirteenth season, set to kick off on January 1; among the performers is Gottmik, “the first ever trans man to compete on” the show. And the Advocate reported, “Bert and Ernie differ on relationship status and Twitter goes wild.” The latest round of speculation kicked off when someone noticed that “Ernie’s [Twitter] bio claims he is a ‘friend’ of Bert, while Bert’s says he is the ‘roommate’ of Ernie.”

The New York Times named Garth Greenwell’s Cleanness [ Buy @ Bookshop ] to its 2020 list of critics’ picks. In his review, Dwight Garner compared the “incandescent second novel about a gay middle-aged American teacher in Sofia, Bulgaria” to the straight-but-beautiful Unbearable Lightness of Being, by the Czech great Milan Kundera. How did I miss that one? And while most stories about religious “conversion therapy” deal with evangelical Christianity, Nicole Cox’s prize-winning Abomination focuses on the tribulations of three queer yeshiva grads. Watch a virtual reading of it online starting Thursday (registration required).

Gay News

In Texas, 17-year-old Trevor Wilkinson was suspended for wearing nail polish to school, in violation of his school’s dress code. While he remains on in-school suspension, his case has gone viral, and his change.org petition “Allow males to wear nail polish” has garnered over 300,000 signatures (including ours). The U.S. Department of Labor finalized regulations allowing federal contractors to discriminate against LGBTQ (and other) employees for religious reasons. In a bizarre ruling, a Michigan court has found that state law “prohibits businesses from discriminating against customers for being transgender,” but not for being gay. An appeal is expected. And in happier news, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an Oregon case seeking to bar transgender students from using the restroom corresponding with their gender identity.

In Hungary, Parliament will vote on a bill to prohibit adoption by unmarried couples, including same-sex couples, and on a related constitutional amendment. “This attempt to rush through these discriminatory, homophobic, and transphobic new laws are [sic] part of an ongoing attack on LGBTQ people by Hungarian authorities,” said David Vig of Amnesty International. By contrast, the Swiss parliament will vote shortly to legalize same-sex marriage, making it one of the last western European countries to do so. The new law, however, restricts surrogacy for male couples and prohibits same-sex couples from receiving survivor’s pensions. And Bhutan’s parliament voted to strike down a law criminalizing gay sex; the amendment now goes to the king for his signature.

Two recent studies have highlighted risk to gay people’s health. One study found that older gay, lesbian, and bisexual people are at higher risk for dementia than their straight peers; they ascribed the difference to higher rates of depression among “sexual minorities.” Another study found that gay men are at higher risk of osteoporosis than their straight peers, but not bisexual men or lesbians. In a health-related win, the United Kingdom will permit gay and bisexual men in long-term relationships to donate blood without first remaining celibate for three months. It is high time to change the rules in the U.S., too.

Art Note

Starting this week, we intend to provide a bit more information about the art accompanying each post. This image is cropped from a portrait of George Agar-Ellis, later first Baron Dover, by the English painter Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769–1830). Lawrence never married, but this seems to have been due to unluckiness in love rather than natural proclivity; there is no evidence that he was gay. Agar-Ellis married his third cousin once removed, with whom he had four children before dying at the age of 36. He had a smashing sense of style, though. Credit: Yale Center for British Art.

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