Cuba marks IDAHO with drag pageant, parade

When I think of countries that are enlightened and progressive when it comes to LGBT rights, Cuba has never ranked very high on the list. But it looks like I need to rethink my attitudes.

Miss Trasvesti 2011 contestant

Today is International Day Against Homophobia, but Cuba got a jump on the celebration with the second annual Miss Trasvesti pageant, featuring a line-up of truly stunning drag queens, if the photos posted here on Huffington Post are any indication.

You can watch video from Cuba’s 2010 Miss Travesti pageant below.

The article also says that Cubanos celebrated IDAHO with “a colorful parade and other events throughout Havana,” and notes that Mariela Castro, niece of longtime president Fidel Castro (and daughter of current president Raul Castro), is head of Cuba’s National Sexual Education Center and a longtime advocate on LGBT rights and HIV/AIDS issues.

Although IDAHO has been around for seven years, this is the first time that Dallas will have an IDAHO event. Everyone is invited to gather at the JFK Memorial in downtown Dallas at 8 p.m. for a candlelight march followed by presentations by speakers.

—  admin

An open letter to the Texas A&M Student Senate, signed ‘An Aggie No More’

A Texas A&M student holds up a sign during the “Hands Across Aggieland” Unity March on April 15. (From GLBT Aggies on Facebook)

Dear Senators:

I once thought that I was an Aggie. Next year will be my 5th year of study. I am a Presidential Endowed Scholar. I attended Fish Camp. I went to football games and yelled until my voice was dead and my ass was red. I joined a FLO. I started two organizations. I received the prestigious Buck Weirus Spirit Award for my contributions to this student body. I have made hundreds of friends, touched hundreds of Aggies’ lives and been touched by thousands more. Yes, I once thought that I was an Aggie.

On April 20th, 2011 the Student Senate made it clear that, in their eyes, I am an Aggie no more.

That day, the student senate told me that I was not worth as much as other Aggies. You told me that breaking the Aggie Honor Code and lying to my fellow students was preferable to you deciding to respect me for who I am. On that night, S.B. 63-106, otherwise known as the “Sexual Education Equality in Funding Bill” in support of Representative Wayne Christian’s amendment to HB 1 passed. And with its passage, the Student Senate made its position clear: that because I am gay, I am not truly an Aggie.

Now you may be saying to yourself that I’m being overly dramatic, that that was not your intention in passing that bill, or something else along those lines. Some of you may have stopped reading this letter as soon as you saw the words “I am gay”. I would expect nothing less from the 17th least friendly campus for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) students in the country (according to the Princeton review). If you’re still reading, then allow me to explain why I don’t at all feel like I am being melodramatic and state my reasons for concluding that the Student Senate no longer views me as an Aggie:

—  admin

Bill would remove sodomy law from Texas books eight years after it was ruled unconstitutional

Rep. Jessica Farrar

It’s been almost eight years since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas’ sodomy law as unconstitutional in a landmark ruling in Lawrence v. Texas. But the law itself, Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code, remains on the books. Bills have been introduced in every legislative session since then seeking to repeal the statute, but needless to say they’ve never passed. (Remember, the state GOP platform actually calls for the re-criminalization of sodomy.) This year, the 21.06 repeal bill has been introduced by Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston. Farrar’s HB 604, which was introduced today, would not only repeal 21.06, but also strike related anti-gay language from the Health and Safety Code. With a Republican supermajority in the Texas House, the bill is likely doomed again. At the very least, though, it should serve as a sobering reminder. Here’s 21.06, which Farrar’s bill seeks to repeal:

Sec. 21.06.  HOMOSEXUAL CONDUCT.

(a)  A person commits an offense if he engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex.

(b)  An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

And here’s the language from the Health & Safety Code that Farrar’s bill would strike:

SECTION 2. Section 85.007(b), Health and Safety Code, is amended to read as follows:

(b) The materials in the education programs intended for persons younger than 18 years of age must: …

(2) state that homosexual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle and is a criminal offense under Section 21.06, Penal Code.

SECTION 3. Section 163.002, Health and Safety Code, is amended to read as follows:

Sec. 163.002. INSTRUCTIONAL ELEMENTS. Course materials and instruction relating to sexual education or sexually transmitted diseases should include: …

(8) emphasis, provided in a factual manner and from a
public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle
acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a
criminal offense under Section 21.06, Penal Code.

Read the full bill by going here.

—  John Wright