The Daily Package
14 min

February’s top international LGBT stories

Must-read stories from Xtra’s Daily Package blog

If you haven’t been reading The Daily Package, Xtra’s daily world news blog, you might have missed these 18 must-know stories this month.

Here’s your chance to catch up on this gay February.

The rise and fall of the Russian selfie lesbians

Two Russian women and lesbian club owners fabulously punked famous anti-gay bigot Vitaly Milonov on an airplane. While Milonov dozed or hid behind his tablet, the women photographed a make-out session in the foreground. Later, police found a pretense to raid the women’s club over alleged complaints of illegal drugs and minors.

A confused Irishman accidentally rejected straight marriage

In a town hall on Ireland’s upcoming same-sex marriage referendum, one anti-gay speaker became so enraged he accidentally came out against straight marriage. “We don’t want men and women getting married!” he said, before correcting himself. According to polls, about 70 percent of Irish people say they will support same-sex marriage.

 

The gay Academy Awards

Neil Patrick Harris hosted the Academy Awards Feb 22, at one point stripping down to his underwear, and also becoming the first Oscar host to have  appeared fully naked in one of the nominated films. Gay-rights themed film The Imitation Game won for best adapted screenplay, but many other popular gay films of the year didn’t get nominations.

The pope said gender theory is like nuclear weapons

In an interview released in a new Italian book, Pope Francis said that modern theories of gender are like nuclear weapons or genetic manipulation, inventions that cause mass destruction of humanity. “With this attitude, man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator,” he said about theories that say gender is on a spectrum. “The true custody of creation does not have anything to do with the ideologies that consider man like an accident, like a problem to eliminate.”

A GAYTM was vandalized by queer activists

An ATM in Ponsonby, New Zealand which was decorated in rainbow colours and called a “GAYTM” by banking company ANZ was vandalized by a queer group who objected to “pinkwashing” and “commercialization.” The bank initially assumed the vandalization was motivated by homophobia, but a local groupcalled Queers Against Injustice claimed responsibility, saying they “object to the representation of queer identity in terms of consumptive and wealthy citizens.”

Alan Cumming launched a mock “celibacy challenge”

Scottish actor Alan Cumming created a “celibacy challenge” to poke fun at the FDA’s one-year abstinence period for gay and bisexual men to give blood. Not up for a year without sex? You can always sign his petition asking the FDA to change the rules.

A new compound was discovered that could work as an HIV vaccine

Researchers in Florida said they have created a compound that blocks binding sites on the HIV virus, making it unable to infect new cells. The scientists have repeatedly tried without success to infect monkeys who were primed with the vaccine. If the approach works in human trials, they say it could be the most effective method yet of preventing HIV infection.

“You Don’t Own Me” singer Lesley Gore died

Singer, lesbian and feminist icon Lesley Gore died of lung cancer at the age of 68. Gore was famous for the 1960s pop hit “It’s My Party,” as well as the feminist anthem “You Don’t Own Me.” She is survived by her partner of 33 years.

Mexican same-sex marriage surged forward

While same-sex marriage across the United States drew closer to realization, Mexico had its own gay revolution. The state of Baja California Sur announced its first same-sex marriages will be held in March. Meanwhile, the first gay wedding in the state of Sonora was performed, and the gay stronghold state of Quintana Roo held a mass gay wedding St Valentine’s Day in Playa del Carmen. The states of Tabasco, Mexico and Chihuahua also held marriages.

Oregon got the US’s first bisexual governor

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown stepped up to become the United States’ first bisexual governor, and arguably the country’s first LGBT governor. Brown took over from Governor John Kitzhaber, who resigned in a corruption scandal involving his girlfriend. Brown is married to a man and came out as bisexual while serving in the state legislature.

A portrait of a Russian gay couple was named Press Photo of the Year

A shadowy portrait of a Russian gay couple lying in bed together has been named World Press Photo of the Year. The photo, by Danish photographer Mads Nissen, shows two men, “John” and “Alex,” whom Nissen sees as a “modern day Romeo and Juliet story” of love under harsh conditions.

Alabama erupted in chaos over same-sex marraige

Confusion over same-sex marriage dragged on in Alabama, as probate judges tried to decide whether to follow the orders of a federal appeals court that said marriages should begin or the state Supreme Court chief justice, who stepped in to say they should not. An ordained minister in Autauga County was arrested after trying to perform wedding ceremonies inside the office of a probate judge who was refusing to perform weddings. Despite the confusion, same-sex marriages broke out all over the state, as judges came around to the court decision.

Arkansas bans local anti-discrimination laws

The state of Arkansas passed a law banning local governments from establishing any additional anti-discrimination laws, including ones that would protect LGBT people. The law prevents local governments from protecting LGBT people when the state government refuses, a strategy that has been popular in larger cities across the American South. Observers blamed the silence of national politicians like Arkansas natives Bill and Hillary Clinton, or lack of support from corporations and the business community for the bill’s passage.

 

The US Supreme Court showed its hand on marriage

According to court watchers at Slate, The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed, the US Supreme Court tacitly admitted that it will rule in favour of same-sex marriage this summer. How do we know? Because the court decided not to put a stay on an appeals-court ruling to allow same-sex marriages in Alabama. Usually, if there were any question how the Supreme Court would rule in June, the justices would halt marriages until the issue was decided. By waving marriages ahead in Alabama, the court may have shown that same-sex marriage all across the United States is inevitable.

Sam Smith cleaned up at Grammys

Gay British singer Sam Smith took three of the top four awards at the Grammys Feb 8, including best song for his melancholy one-night-stand ballad “Stay with Me.” “I want to thank the man who this record is about,” Smith said as he accepted. “Thank you so much for breaking my heart, ’cause you got me four Grammys.”  

More on the death of gay culture

There was lots to say about the death of gay culture in February. Following up on Evan Beck’s essay “The Myth of the Gay Community” in The Atlantic, Milo Yiannopoulos at Breitbart said that gay culture is dead and that acceptance killed it. “Widespread acceptance of gay lifestyles has killed gay culture because the deviance that gave birth to great characters and literature is gone,” he writes. “The present generation of gay British men is a smug class of particularly sanctimonious middle-class bores.”

A video game tournament restricted gay women for being unfairly good

One more thing was added to the list of lesbian superpowers: extraordinary video-game skills. Garena, an e-sports organizer for the popular game League of Legends, decided to limit the number of gay or trans women on each team in one of its all-women tournaments to prevent an “unfair advantage.” After the ensuing uproar, Garena withdrew the rule and said all gamers who identify as women would be able to participate.

“Mostly straight” is the new straight

At The Daily Dot, Nico Lang examined the rise of “mostly straight” men and challenged the old “gay, straight or lying” stereotype of male sexuality. Some new research suggests gay and straight men may be more sexually fluid than once thought, and if Tinder is any indication, a surprising number of straight men are willing to give men a shot.