Posts tagged USA

Club Kid to be released

Michael Alig, the quintessential party boy who reigned supreme over New York City’s gay party scene throughout the early ’90s, is due to be released from jail on May 5, according to a personal friend reporting for BlackBook.

Alig is credited with fueling the early days of the “club kid” scene and throwing some of the greatest and most historical gay events in a pre-Giuliani New York City. His life and conviction inspired the Fenton Bailey-directed movie Party Monster, which detailed the events leading up to March 17, 1996 — the day Alig murdered and dismembered the body of his drug dealer Angel Melendez in the apartment they shared.

Alig’s arrest was largely credited to Michael Musto’s unrelenting reporting for the Village Voice at the time. The investigation also led to the arrest of Peter Gatien, a legendary New York club owner who is now banned from entering the United States.

Alig has been up for parole several times since 2006, but was allegedly denied after his parole officers obtained and watched a copy of Party Monster. (FYI, for those interested, a more informational documentary about Alig’s life was released in 1998, called Party Monster: The Shocukmentary. It’s available to stream on YouTube.)

According to BlackBook writer Steve Lewis, Alig has been recruited for creative jobs and will stay with a friend once released from prison. “There is no chance that he will return to clubs as a way of life,” he says, “but he will paint and write, and as always, try to impact the way we think.” Alig has reportedly “never used a computer or cell phone, but has remained keenly aware of the world we live in.”

Furthermore, after several visits in the past few years, Lewis believes Alig has been rehabilitated:

I was for many years Michael’s friend. Like so many others, I left him behind when drugs and power created a “Party Monster.” We reconnected in recent years, and during my visits to him in prison I observed the Michael Alig that I loved—the Alig prior the downfall. I believe he is ready to enter the world, and that reentering will be a good thing. No one, no act, no time, no hatred will bring back Angel, but Michael has served a great deal of his adult life in a bad place. I believe he has been rehabilitated. I believe he is forever remorseful and I look forward to his redux. To those who say nay, I respect that, but hope chances are given, and that we can move on. It is a time to remember Angel and reflect on the meaning of life. For me, forgiveness is part of it.

Below, watch a trailer for Party Monster, the 2003 film inspired by Michael Alig’s life.

Party Monster Trailer

Via Queerty

  

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Different: Gay Youth Troubles in America

“I am often picked on because of who I am,” 12-year-old Marcel Neergaard writes in a new op-ed published on The Huffington Post. “Sometimes being openly gay is like having a sign above my head that flashes ‘Different’ in neon colours.” The article paints a heart-breaking portrait of what life is like for too many gay youths in America.

Neergaard made headlines last summer when he helped squash Tennessee’s homophobic  “Don’t Say Gay” bill. But now, nearly a year later, he claims the law is still being used to trample his free speech and to create a negative learning environment at school.

The “Don’t Say Gay” bill was authored by Tennessee Representative John Ragan. Had it passed, it would have forbidden teachers from talking about being gay in classrooms, and required principals and guidance counsellors to call parents if a student mentioned anything about being gay to them. Last summer, Neergaard wrote a petition against the bill that received over 50,000 signatures.

At the time, Neergaard was being home-schooled. Excessive bullying had forced him out of public school. Last fall, he returned to public school for seventh grade. But the bullying persists.

“In chorus we are going on a field trip to King’s Island, which they do every year with seventh and eighth graders,” Neergaard writes. “The other boys in chorus refuse to sleep in the same room as me for fear of being ‘turned gay.’” He continues: “The teacher pulled me aside and explained how the boys didn’t want to be in the same room with me because I’m gay … Then she told me the principal had called my parents to talk about this. It was upsetting. I was mad because if the same thing had happened to a student who was not ‘out’ at home, the principal would have outed them to their parents. That’s just not safe.”

“When it came time to sign up for rooms, all the boys except me were together,” he writes. “The principal pulled me aside to explain that I would have my own room on the trip. He didn’t say why, but I knew… they don’t like me.”

Neergaard also writes about the things other students say to him on a daily basis, including: “Who did you turn gay for?” “When did you turn gay?” “How do you know that you’re gay if you haven’t been on a gay date?” “Do you want to be a girl?” and “You’re gay because you act gay.”

“The protection of the classroom doesn’t seem to extend to me,” he confesses. “One day I was talking with my friends about Zachary Quinto being gay. An otherwise supportive teacher stopped me and told me ‘talking about being gay in the classroom is illegal in Tennessee.’”

The teacher, of course, was wrong. She was referring to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the very bill Neergaard had worked tirelessly the summer before to kill. “I have found teachers are quite confused because of Ragan’s bill (the Don’t Say Gay Bill),” Neergaard writes. “They’re too busy teaching to know if it passed, so they just try to be safe. Meanwhile, I am not allowed to talk about myself with my friends.” Yet despite his daily woes, Neergaard remains determined to create a more hopeful future for others. “I know I am not alone in my struggles,” he writes. “I also know that it’s not okay to be called out for being different.”

“I’m not the only gay youth in Tennessee,” he continues. ”I’m not the only gay kid in Oak Ridge. I’m not even the only gay student in my school, I’m just someone who is standing up. I know I have written about bullying many times, but this is still happening to kids like me everywhere and I refuse to let it continue.” He concludes the op-ed with a challenge to the rest of us:

“We also need people to encourage our representatives, who are supposed to represent us, to pass bills like the Dignity for All Students Act and federal legislation such as the Safe Schools Improvement Act. I want to make sure other kids do not have to go through what I have.” “This week I will be in Nashville for Advancing Equality on the Hill Day talking to my senator and (hopefully) representative about making schools safer for kids like me,” he writes. “What will you do?”

  

It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens

Sociologist danah boyd’s long-awaited first book, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, hits shelves today. boyd, who is  currently working as a researcher at Microsoft, is one of the preeminent scholars of the way young people — especially marginalized young people of diverse economic and racial backgrounds, as well as diverse gender and sexual orientation — use the Internet, and her work has been cited often for her sharp observations and her overwhelming empathy for her subjects.

It’s Complicated is a passionate, scholarly, and vividly described account of the reality of young peoples’ use of networked technologies in America today. Painstakingly researched through interviews and close study for more than a decade, boyd’s book is an important analysis of networked culture you don’t want to miss.

In eight brisk chapters — thoroughly backstopped by a long and fascinating collection of end-notes — boyd tackles the moral panics of networks and kids, and places them in wider social and historical contexts. She systematically, relentlessly punctures easy stories about how kids don’t value privacy; whether the Internet holds special danger of sexual predators; the reality of bullying; the absurdity of "Internet addiction" and the real story of "digital natives" and the important and eminently fixable gaps in kids’ network literacy.

boyd is not a blind optimist. She is alive to the risks and dangers of networks; but she is also cognizant of the new opportunities and the relief from other social problems (such as hysteria over the presence of kids in public places; sexism, racism, homophobia and slut-shaming; the merciless overscheduling and academic pressure on adolescents) and the immense power of networks to enable advocacy, agency and activism.

via BoingBoing

  

School suspends the Good Guy

Mark Betterson, a student at a High School in Florida, was suspended for 10 days after trying to stop another student from beating a gay student, a local news station reports:

“Mark Betterson says he realized he had to do something when he saw a fellow student throw milk in another’s face, use gay slurs, and then start to hit him. James Griffin, 18, is charged with battery. His alleged victim, 18-year-old Jonathan Colon, who is openly gay, walked away with bruises on his head. Many who saw the fight say it could have been worse if Betterson didn’t step in.”

Said Betterson: “Johnathan was just going to stand there and get beat up. And if I didn’t jump into it, it would have gotten serious. I was just trying to break up the whole thing because it’s just not fair for somebody to get beat up for something that he is." [via Towelroad]


Click on the picture to see the video

  

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Friday Night Rights

Missouri All-American Michael Sam Says He Is Gay

NFL draft hopeful Michael Sam came out as gay in interviews on Sunday. Sam said he knew that if drafted, he would become the first openly gay player in the NFL, that he was prepared for the challenge, but that he wanted to be open and honest.

The Daily Show has already weighed in on the situation:

  

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Riley & Marriage Equality

Riley Hackford-Peer @ LET IT STAND Rally in Salt Lake City, UT

Background

  

The Mask You Live in

The Mask You Live In – Trailer

From the producers’ website: “Compared to girls, research shows that boys in the U.S. are more likely to be diagnosed with a behavior disorder, prescribed stimulant medications, fail out of school, binge drink, commit a violent crime, and/or take their own lives. The Mask You Live In asks: As a society, how are we failing our boys?”