The Final Frontier The solar system got a little gayer this summer when an asteroid was named for the late Frank Kameny, the pioneer activist who was also an astronomer. While many GLBT people remember Kameny as the organizer of the first gay rights demonstrations in Washington in the mid-1960’s, he had earned his doctorate in astronomy at Harvard and was working at the U.S. Army Map Service when he was fired for being gay in 1958. It was upon reading Kameny’s obituary last year that astronomer Gary Billings decided to take the lead in getting the Paris-based International Astronomical Union and the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., to designate Minor Planet 40463 as Frankkameny. But it was Kameny’s work as a gay activist that Billings (and Richard Kinne in Cambridge) sought to memorialize. While this may not be the “first” gay satellite in the solar system—don’t forget about Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter—it just may be the largest object ever named in honor of a real GLBT person.
We’re Here! Some years ago, we reported on a Gallup Survey showing that Americans believe on average that 22 percent of the population is gay or lesbian. It was speculated that this inflated estimate was due to the high visibility of GLBT issues at the time. (Among other things, the backlash against marriage equality was in full swing in 2002.) Things have settled down since then, a new survey has been carried out, and the average estimate has gone up to 25 percent. Of course, it’s quite possible that things haven’t settled down at all, so the collective guesstimate—which is surely off by a factor of five or six—may still be affected by the media din. Gallup notes that people’s estimate of the gay percentage has risen along with the proportion of respondents who say they personally know someone who’s gay. So, assuming the number of GLBT folks that you encounter in the real world is likely to be under ten percent, it appears that some cousins and coworkers are making a quite an impression on the people they meet.
The Late, Great Ex-Gay Movement Last issue, it was reported here that the intellectual guru of the ex-gay movement, Dr. Robert Spitzer, had retracted his 2001 study that has served as the scientific foundation for “ex-gay therapy.” Now Alan Chambers, the head of Exodus International, the largest ex-gay network, has renounced his organization’s central tenet while admitting to his own lingering same-sex desires. In a statement and in interviews, Chambers questioned the whole notion that a person can ever change his sexual orientation, and he repudiated the method known as “reparative therapy” that Exodus had pioneered. He also pointed out the fundamental hypocrisy of the ex-gay mission: “We’ve been asking people with same-sex attractions to overcome something in a way that we don’t ask of anyone else,” including those guilty of “heterosexual lust, pornography, pride, or gluttony.” All this has led to a rift in the ex-gay movement, as one can imagine. At last count eleven ministries had severed their affiliation with Exodus, including the Desert Stream Ministries of Kansas City, MO, whose leader, Andrew Comiskey, said the break was “due to leader Alan Chambers’ appeasement of practicing homosexuals who claim to be Christian.” The key word here is “practicing.” Comiskey knows very well that homosexual desires cannot be “repaired” away. It’s the practicing part that bothers him. So it’s really all about celibacy, which is all that Exodus has ever achieved, at best—scarcely a novel concept in the annals of Christian sexual repression.
Rebooted The suspense was killing us, but DC Comics, having teased for months that one of its superheroes would come out as gay, has revealed that the lucky winner is the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, who will be “rebooted” in an upcoming issue. A spokesman for DC noted that the 1940 creation was originally conceived as “a mystically-based superhero whose powers were derived from the flame of a magic lamp.” Actually, it turns out Marvel Comics is out in front this time, as it already has a gay character, Northstar, who’ll be marrying his boyfriend soon in Astonishing X-Men. Ah, but the Green Lantern has a long history, and at last it all makes sense: the need to rub the green lantern once a day to charge his magic ring, the lavender cape, his “big happy boy” good looks…
Shirts and Skins The Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia revealed that it plans to hold an all-male sports camp with the purpose of teaching men how to “resist homosexual urges.” Now, if one looks at the history of school sports, a movement that began in England in the 19th century, one finds exactly this kind of rhetoric—which is only to confirm that history repeats itself as farce. Then, too, the English public schools were notorious for the very type of activity that the sporting life was meant to squelch. Coincidence? In the case of the Philadelphia camp, the boys attending will be ones who already have homosexual urges, and now they’re facing a daily regime of all-male team sports. Good luck with that.
The Catalog of Mormon It was bound to happen: once word got out that Mormons are required to wear some kind of special underwear, meant to be restrictive, someone would create a knock-off for the rest of us, only comfortable. Thus has a line called “Mormon’s Secret” popped up to feature an eroticized rendition of the Mormon unmentionables. Their website (www.mormonssecret.com) describes the production process thus: “You start with a bit of Free Masonry and then add a sprinkle of beeswax. Then, cut out divinely approved textiles and use a pinch of pioneer stitching. Finally, recite the 2nd passage in the Book of The Called and The Elected. And then *POOF*, Magic Mormon Underwear for the endowed!” The designs cover a lot of skin and appear to preserve the basic lines of the Mormon originals, but somehow one suspects this is not what Joseph Smith had in mind. (Shown: Men’s Mormon underwear mesh bottom.)