Gay marriage makes big gains but attitudes are stuck in the 1960s


California State Capitol, Sacramento (Google)

By: Massoud Hayoun/Al Jazeera

In a 1967 CBS news program titled “The Homosexuals,” a young Mike Wallace takes viewers into a gay club in an unnamed American city, where men meet amid the flashing lights of a bowling lane. “The homosexual, bitterly aware of his rejection, responds by going underground,” Wallace reports. “They frequent their own bars and clubs and coffee houses, where they can act out in the fashion that they want to.” Literally and figuratively, homosexuals live in the shadows.

Nearly a half-century later, they no longer live in the shadows. They are television stars on shows like “Modern Family,” which won an Emmy this year. They run companies such as Apple, whose CEO, Tim Cook, came out publicly in October. And they are victorious plaintiffs in several civil rights lawsuits — even in Republican strongholds including Kansas and South Carolina, where judges in November overturned same-sex marriage bans..

Despite these important public gains, private attitudes among Americans have not changed as significantly. A November survey by the American Sociological Association found that an overwhelming majority – 70 percent – of gay and straight Americans approved of equal legal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans, but only 45 percent said they approve of a scenario in which a gay couple kiss each other on the cheek in public. That kind of measure hasn’t changed much since Wallace’s report, which included a survey concluding that two-thirds of Americans “look[ed] upon homosexuals with disgust, discomfort or fear.” And yet only 10 percent felt homosexuality should be a crime punishable by law. Today, as in the 60s, there is a large discrepancy between America’s feelings on rights for gays and their more private feelings about homosexuality.

Closing that gap will be a key priority for the gay rights movement in 2015 and for many years to come. Negative opinions about homosexuality are at the root of violence against LGBT communities, and despite progress on legal rights, physical assault and other orientation -based crimes against those communities persist. The latest FBI Hate Crime Statistics Report, released in December, showed 1,402 such crimes against LGBT reported in 2013 — only a minor fluctuation from previous years. In one recent case, a young gay man was lured to a home in Springfield, Texas, where he was “brutally assaulted” because of his sexual orientation. His attacker was sentenced to 15 years in jail in November, the FBI reported.

Physical violence isn’t the only problem stemming from persistent homophobia. As gay marriage rights gain ground, employment discrimination may become a more important battlefield. Gay couples can now legally marry in 12 states where they nevertheless have no protection from orientation-based discrimination at the workplace. As gays become more visible in communities,they may also increasingly become targets for discrimination. Without legal protection, some fear even talking about their marriage could put a gay person at risk of losing his or her job. But so far, the fight for gay rights in the workplace has focused on passing laws to empower victims of discrimination, rather than change the social perceptions of employers. Some activists are starting to question that strategy, arguing that a strictly rights-based approach won’t change what employers think in private.

Long Doan, author of the November survey, told Al Jazeera, “It would be great to take a more comprehensive approach” to securing gay empowerment. Rather than fighting for legal rights and hoping that attitudes will follow, some in the movement are shifting it back toward an earlier, more radical tradition of activism more radical tradition of activism that began with the riots at a New York City gay club called the Stonewall Inn — hailed by many in the community as the birthplace of the gay rights movement — just two years after Wallace’s CBS segment.


Jane the Virgin is the best new show of the season!

By CityFella,

Okay, I’m late.  I have a Hulu account and Jane the Virgin was in my queue.  There has been a lot of Hype sounding this show and have to admit, I usually avoid Hyped shows.   The other problems is it was on the CW, so here it is. Hulu reminded me the first show was about the expire and I felt obligated to watch.

I was hooked within the first five minutes and after four episodes this show is my favorite new show of the season.

 Believe the Hype- it IS that good. 

Someone described Jane the Virgin as a Telenovela without the villain.  Its a bit Scandal, Modern Family,and a bit (for those who remember) Ugly Betty… except Jane isn’t  syrupy sweet.

Jane is a virgin. she goes into the clinic for a pap smear, a confused doctor  mistakenly artificially inseminates her. The biological donor is a married man, a former playboy and cancer survivor who is not only the new owner of the hotel where Jane works, but was also her former teenage crush. Did I mention the doctor who made the mistake is his sister, who may be having an affair with her step mother. (Yes I said-the stepmother)  His best friends,his having affair with his wife.   Who has a mean mother who is disfigured and is in a  wheel chair.   Jane’s mom (who had Jane when she was 16) is a bit loose, can we say her Milkshake brings the boys to the yard.   Gina Rodriguez as Jane is fantastic as is much of the cast.   The show has the twist and turns of Scandal  and its smart and funny like Modern Family.

I love the  telemondo  voice overs and the screen captions.

I’m late….  There are twitter, and Jane discussion groups.  and the CW has ordered a full season.

For most of the country, its going to be wet, cold or snowy especially in upstate New York, Minnesota and Canada)   So this is the perfect weekend to catch Jane and get back to me.    

You can see Jane the Virgin from the beginning  via  You Tube, CW web site, and Hulu.

Jane the Virgin, on the CW airs Monday 9pm on the west coast.(Check your local listings) 

Absent dads – Hollywood rarely gets the story right


Judging from the depiction of fatherhood in most movies, you’d think all dads are simply a variation on three stereotypes: a bumbling but lovable idiot, a distant workaholic or a nutcase. And that’s if he’s even around.

In Sofia Coppola’s film Somewhere, which opens today in limited release, a bored, womanizing movie star named Johnny Marco, played by reputed real-life womanizer Stephen Dorff, is left to care for Elle Fanning’s Cleo, the adolescent daughter he rarely sees, in the days before she leaves for summer camp.

Somewhere is not unlike Ms. Coppola’s other beautifully shot movies about beautiful girls (Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette).But her new film is centred on a father who is, except for their week of video games and burgers, as unavailable to Cleo as he is preoccupied by strippers and sex. The sympathetic take on the relationship between Johnny Marco and his placid daughter is sweet, but far removed from the reality of most children of absent fathers.

The problems that affect the increasing number of children without dads (or with dads who drop haphazardly in and out of their lives) and the profound social issues they generate have been documented in many studies, most of them based in the United States, where one out of three kids is considered “fatherless.” The U.S. Census Bureau notes that children who grow up without fathers are five times more likely to be poor. And the Journal of Adolescent Health reported last fall that upper-middle-class girls without dads are likely to experience early puberty, which has been linked to early drug use and sexual activity. Fatherlessness is routinely stated to be a major predictor of criminal behaviour and poor health. Boys who grow up without fathers have a greater likelihood of repeating the pattern.So why are so many films and television shows casual about bad dads?

Andrea Litvack is a professor of social work at the University of Toronto. Asked why absent fathers are something that Hollywood rarely gets right, she says: “It may not translate well because it’s a very complex issue. There are many combinations of factors that impact on anyone’s situation.”

Except for the disapproving glare that Cleo gives her dad over breakfast after a starlet spends the night, their relationship is portrayed as fun and undemanding. Whatever feelings she has about her father aren’t discussed. The other side of this Hollywood habit of diminishing an issue is that thorny social problems are sometimes exaggerated, which is no more plausible than Ms. Coppola’s withdrawn approach.

Paul Moore, who teaches sociology at Ryerson University, says that depicting a social problem “is a form of exposure even when it isn’t realistic.” He says that sometimes issues have to be glorified to work onscreen. This is especially true when it’s something that the audience may still be figuring out. Dr. Moore cites the 1979 classic Kramer vs. Kramer as an example, and says that while it was “revolutionary for its depiction of divorce at the time, we would now see it as utterly melodramatic.”

It’s unlikely that Hollywood will change its depictions of absent dads any time soon, but innovative ideas are out there to help combat the problem. Two years ago, Tom Matlack co-founded the Good Men Project, which includes a book, a magazine and a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to at-risk boys. Mr. Matlack says: “One of the core problems with manhood in America is that so many children grow up without fathers.” He felt that no one was really talking to boys about issues such as death, divorce, war and sex, and when he speaks to audiences in places ranging from private schools to prisons, “jaws drop.” Mr. Matlack wants to make being an engaged and active dad appealing. “What a mother gives a child is obviously essential, [but] I think what a father gives a child is equally essential and different,” he says. “Every boy is asking themselves a question, ‘How do I be a man?’ and they’re looking for role models, mentors, clues.”

Prof. Litvack points to ABC’s hit sitcom Modern Family as an example of how much the family unit has changed in the past 50 years. “We have to stop thinking of the mother, the father, the two children, the white picket fence as the norm,” she says, and that in many families an absent father is “not necessarily perceived as a negative thing.”


From Friday’s Globe and Mail

10/10/10: TV’s top 10 moments of the first 10 months of 2010

It’s been a big year in television, and we still have 82 days to go. To mark the date — 10/10/10 — here are the biggest moments of the first 10 months of 2010:


There was no holiday lull this new year. 2010 began with two departures that are still resonating across the TV landscape.  Simon Cowellannounced that he would leave  “American Idol” in May. Cowell traded in the Fox talent show he helped shape into a juggernaut for his own British talent competition, “The X Factor,” which will debut on Fox next fall.

That would have qualified for the month’s top moment if it hadn’t been for NBC’s late-night debacle and its controversial treatment of Conan O’Brien, who hosted “The Tonight Show” for seven months before NBC’s mishandling of the failed “Jay Leno Show” forced him to resign. On Jan. 22, the redheaded comic known affectionately to his fans as Coco gave up the job of his dreams in a very classy way.

“Despite this sense of loss, I really feel that this should be a happy moment,” he said. “Every comedian dreams of hosting ‘The Tonight Show,’ and for seven months I got to do it.” Addressing his viewers, and especially “young people,” he said, “Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism — for the record, it’s my least favorite quality, and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

O’Brien, who rebounded on Twitter and a live tour, has a new show, “Conan,” which premieres on TBS on Nov. 8.


Reality TV became really real on Feb. 9 when beloved Capt. Phil Harris of “Deadliest Catch” died from complications of a massive stroke that he suffered while off loading crab in Alaska and filming the Discovery Channel series’ sixth season. The episode, which covered the Cornelia Marie captain’s death, aired in July and drew 8.5 million viewers, a record for the series.

Known for his volatile but caring relationship with his two sons, Harris began fishing with his father as a boy and was one of the youngest captains of a crab fishing boat on the Bering Sea. He had been in charge of the Cornelia Marie for more than two decades when he died. His sons, Jake and Josh Harris, are at its helm now.

The clock stopped ticking for Jack Bauer on a sad spring day when Fox announced that “24′ would end its groundbreaking stint on television at the end of the season. The Kiefer Sutherland-led drama concluded at the end of its eighth day with an emotional but hopeful ending that let viewers know that someday we’ll see Jack Bauer again. (Nice and big on a movie screen!)  The finale aired in May, but our mourning began in March.


“Come on! Vogue!”

Fox’s Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe-winning “Glee” has been making news all year, with its chart-topping music, eye-opening guest stars (Britney Spears, hello!), but the musical comedy made its mark in April when it delved into the world of Madonna and delivered a memorable hour of television. Mashup of “Borderline” and “Open Your Heart” — check. “Like a Prayer” — good, even though it was performed by the enemy. Sue Sylvester voguing — marvelous.


No more “Law & Order” ching-ching on the mother ship. No more Jack Bauer saving our day, “24”/7. No moreSimon Cowell “If I’m being honest with you” scary moments on “American Idol.”

But the winner on this sad, sad month of goodbyes is “Lost” simply because we waited six years to know what the smoke monster, time-jumping island was all about and living without this ABC series is harder than deciphering what the sideways flashes meant. Always hoping to see you in another life, “Lost” bruthas.


Larry King announced he was retiring from his nightly CNN talk show, but is he also giving up his suspenders? For 25 years, King asked (questionable) questions of politicians, celebrities and everyone in between, and held the record for being the host of the longest-running show in the same time slot. King’s last show will air in December. British tabloid editor Piers Morgan (“America’s Got Talent”) will take over sometime next year.


“Jersey Shore”
returned for its second season, set in Miami, to chart-topping ratings. Seems like MTV viewers can’t get enough of “The Situation’s” abs, Snooki’s drinking, Pauly D’s “It’s T-shirt tiiiime!” and Jenny’s brawling.

But this month belonged to the behind-the-scenes chaos of “American Idol.” When Simon Cowell left the show in May, no one expected the No. 1 show on television to be thrown into “utter and “complete” turmoil (to borrow a favorite phrase from the British judge). Ellen DeGeneresannounced she was leaving after one year on the judge’s panel. And rumors –which proved true last month — that Kara DioGuardi would also leave to make room for Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler drove the entertainment media crazy for most of the summer.


ABC’s freshman comedy “Modern Family” won the Emmy for outstanding comedy, making modern families everywhere very happy. The single-camera comedy not only made family sitcoms cool again but also gave CBS’ competitors a reason to believe that they, too, could be in the comedy business. Five of the series’ actors were also nominated, and Eric Stonestreet,who plays the lovable Cameron, took home his own trophy.


The TV critics were oh-so-wrong. The critical favorite among the fall season’s newbies was the Fox drama “Lone Star,” which also had the dubious distinction of being the first show to be canceled. Starring newcomer James Wolk, the show about a con man living two lives in Texas and loving two women, aired only twice before Fox had to throw in its white flag.


CNN anchor Rick Sanchez imploded while promoting his new book, “Conventional Idiocy.” The boisterous newsman may have been one of the first to embrace Tweeting while broadcasting, but that didn’t help him when he called comic Jon Stewart a “bigot” and then insinuated that his CNN bosses are part of a Jewish group controlling the media. CNN promptly fired him, and on Friday Sanchez made his first attempt at atonement on “Good Morning America.” “I screwed up,” he said. Duh.

Maria Elena Fernandez/La Times