SQUIRREL NEWS EXCLUSIVE
Outside of a small bar, you see a rainbow flag, to be honest, it’s quite surprising and a little out of the place. Since 1979 being gay is no longer a crime, however, under Article 303a of Cuba’s Penal Code "publicly manifested" homosexuality remains illegal, as does "persistently bothering others with homosexual amorous advances." The Caribbean island has undoubtedly evolved, for example, there are glimmers of free enterprise (a first in about 55 years). The one constant that remains is that Cuba is the regime is your customer. LGBT rights have improved in Cuba over the past decade, but while there have been some gains, several problems still remain. Cuba is still a predominately Catholic country, and the church still holds to the notion that being gay is a sin. Cuba (the Castro family) no longer sends LGBT individuals to labor camps as they did in the 60’s and 70’s, the only LGBT movement is a state-run overseen by Mariela Castro. While most of the world begins to celebrate Pride, Cubans are not allowed. Since the Government refused to recognize the international week of LGBT Pride. Under Mariela Castro, the LGBT community is allowed to come together and celebrate the World Health Organization’s “International Day Against Homophobia.”
Cuba by all accounts has been run as a family business since the Castro’s took over the country in 1959, so it’s no surprise that Mariela would end up working for her dad. As the daughter of President Raul and niece to "Maximum Leader" Fidel Castro, she holds an interesting place in the government. “Brokeback Mountain” might have aired on Cuban state television in 2008, but the complete control Mariela and CENESEX have over the LGBT community and agenda really don’t give Cubans a real sense of ownership of their own cause.
To the LGBT Cubans, I spoke with pretty much all agree that she is the creation of the state propaganda machine, a face to the world showing tolerance while the regime continues to hold a tight grip on society thus the totalitarianism continues. Why, well tourism is Cuba’s largest industry with more than 2 million visitors last year. Tourist (Western) would prefer a “Friendly Cuba” than one that is a notorious human rights violator. Ario a 24-year old gay man resents when gay men come to Cuba and think everything is fine, and that they somehow have these perceived freedoms. “They come from outside and know nothing about what we endure, they flaunt their money, and it’s insulting to us.” He further stated, “Tourist get to leave when their done having fun, we remain behind.”
One major announcement came in 2008, when the government announced that the national health-care system would begin providing free gender-reassignment surgeries to those that qualified. Then in 2014, the Cuban parliament passed a set of new labor laws that included language that outlawed employment based on sexual orientation. On the surface, it appears that Mariela is trying to move the LGBT agenda forward. BUT, not everyone is buying it!
"The reality for the LGBT community in Cuba is very different from that described by the international media," Diego Martinez (some names were changed to protect their identity), a 33-year-old gay man from Santa Clara, tells me. "We live under constant government surveillance and harassment, while at the same time being manipulated for their political purposes."
Martinez is married to a transgender who once worked at CENESEX, she pledged loyalty to the Revolution and became the first Cuban to receive government-sponsored sex reassignment surgery and completed a full male-to-female transition. Martinez’s partner started the illegal independent organization the Cuban League Against AIDS, they became dissident’s. They both participated in an unauthorized Pride Day parade in Havana in 2011 and the government responded by arresting all 20 participants. “The parade wall allowed to continue so not to allow any tourist to see the government position on homosexuality, but that night they came and arrested us all,” Martinez stated. Martinez married his partner in 2011 on August 13, 2011, and send a powerful message to the government. Opposition bloggers Yoani Sanchez and her husband, Reinaldo Escobar were there. Martinez wife stated about Mariela "Mariela is a chameleon; she can change her character very easily, and she is very sociable with the people who work for her, but never does anything for anyone without expecting something back in return."
Gay activist and independent journalist Mario Jose Delgado also thinks that the outside world has been duped by Mariela. He along with other LGBT Cuban are "very unhappy about the awards and recognition,” furthermore he stated, "It does not reflect the feelings of the gay community on the island." Delgado wants people to know that LGBT life in Cuba is more dire and uglier than what is projected by the government.
Delgado recounts about an incident several years ago, when he was heading home to the Alamar section of Havana when three men (in civilian clothes) pushed him into the backseat of a car and drove him to the outskirts of town where he was beaten in the face with a rock. The men have never been identified and were interested in the information he carried, mainly the names of members of a Christian LGBT group (Divine Hope) Delgado belonged to. The men took his cellphone and USB drive, along with his calendar which contained details about a demonstration the group was planning.
Delgado himself doesn’t have much to lose by speaking openly to reporters, but there are those in the LGBT community and don’t want to draw much attention to themselves. Most have settled into a relatively comfortable and safe life.
Luis and Sebastian live in a small apartment in Havana and it’s obvious they are a couple, even though they would never admit it. Sebastian has a successful career working for the state theater, which doesn’t happen by making social waves. What made an impression on me was that they refer to themselves as “friends”, something I haven’t heard since I was in my twenties. It’s apparent they are awkward about their situation. “Living in peace is much better and safer considering the era where same-sex couples lived in complete fear of being rounded up and sent to labor camps’” Luis said.
There is this casual somewhat laid-back attitude about the persecution of gay and homosexuality. The government tends to take a defensive tone when talking about Cuba’s history of homophobia. When directly questioned the use of term “concentration camps for gay men” seems to set off alarms, they quickly state “there was never concentration camps, but training camps,” one official told me when asked. There is a term that some would say to me Cada cual habla de la feria según le va en ella. "Everybody experiences reality in a different way."
72-year old Ernesto remembers many friends taken to “training camps,” and how many had to live in secrecy always afraid of the state police. “They would come in the dead of night and take you away, some never returned, some would come back get married have children. It was a difficult time, not much has changed” he stated. Cubans can’t communicate fully with each other as someone might be listening to your telephone conversations, internet access is scarce, mobile phone use is the lowest in Latin America, vehicle ownership is exceptionally low and public transportation is a complete disaster.
Ernesto talks about Gats Loco (a “gay bar” in Trinidad, Cuba), most believe it was the first gay bar in Cuba, but the first display of the rainbow flag that he remembers was an LGBT center in Santa Clara, that opened sometime in the early 90’s. El Mejune opened as an independent operation but quickly found itself being offered assistance from the government. “This follows the typical practice that the Cuban government does if it’s out of their control they just make it official,” explains Ernesto.
So, where does this leave the LGBT community in Cuba? Most understand they are fighting a battle not only with the Castro government but more so trying to change the perception of Cuban society towards LGBT individuals. Currently, there has been no movement to change the penal code or allowing Cubans to live freely as the government still has immense control over daily life. Unit the time comes that LGBT Cubans can live freely then continue to fight and do what they can.
The Archives of Sexual Behavior has completed a new study that shows when it comes to gay sex, straight men just can't get enough. Over 24,000 undergraduate students were asked about any or their same-sex experiences. About 1 in 8.5 straight men admitted to having sex with other men, however, don't consider themselves gay or bi.
According to co-author Airelle Kuprberg: “There was a big disconnect between what people said their sexual orientation was and what their actions were.” Kuprberg has written extensively on the subject in the past, she further stated that there is two reasons why straight men hookup with another guy; experimentation and performance. The study found that men in their early 20's are about experimenting and trying new things, and for modern undergrads that means between the sheets as well.
Metro reported that when it comes to performance, they engage in so-called "performative bisexuality" and happen when one enjoys sexual contact. It might be due to the fact what it garners and the arousal that it provokes in others. It becomes more about the reaction than the actual act, which might explain why people who experiment with performative bisexuality don't as a rule consider themselves gay or bi.
Once again another study that shows that straight me are having more gay sex than people thought and that why most think in terms of sexuality fluid.
In 2003 the Lawrence v. Texas case that reached the Supreme Court made laws against homosexuality illegal, however, Louisiana still has laws on the books that are anti-gay. The laws are known as "crime against nature" which is defined as sex between two men or a man and an animal; “The unnatural carnal copulation by a human being with another of the same sex or opposite sex or with an animal.”
In Louisiana homosexuality is categorized as illegal and gay men in the state can still be arrested for having sex. As of 2015, there have been several arrests. Democrats in the state legislature are now trying to separate the official definition of bestiality and homosexuality, and guess what the Republicans are trying to stop the bill from moving forward. House bill SB 236 did pass the state Senate, but in the House, the conservatives are fighting the bill passage, where they hold a majority.
Republicans believe that SB 236 would legalize homosexuality; “This bill was written because the far left wants to undermine our other laws that protect family and traditional values that the people of Louisiana hold dear,” Sen. Ryan Gatti stated. He further suggested that; “that it most likely will be used as a Trojan horse to delete the sodomy law.”
Let's be honest there is a very slim chance this bill be passed by the House. There is no reason why current sodomy laws can't be enforced, but then again we are talking about Louisiana.
WHAT IS ADULT BULLYING?
It is defined in various ways, but typically it's abused aimed at an individual or group of people repeatedly, by other people or groups of people. It is important to understand that there are different types of adult bullies and how they operate. Here are a few tips:
ADULT BULLYING FACTS
The basic characteristic of a bully is low self-esteem, research has suggested that tend to feel superior to others. So instead of having a regular self-outlook, they have a pathologically high view of themselves. So when a bully feels slighted their egos causes them to lose control and lash out, it's like a defense mechanism all to maintain their 'dignity'.
WHAT IS ADULT BULLYING? PERSONAL ISSUES
You might think that as a person matures, they would give up their childish habits. Unfortunately, this usually doesn't happen with bullies. Their main goal is to assert power over another person and look untouchable.
ADULT BULLYING FACTS:
Here are a few signals of workplace bullying. It might appear that some of these behaviors may not seem related, regular recurrences are warning signs.
There is very little you can do to change an adult bully because they see no reason to change. they enjoy and sometimes take pleasure in making life difficult and uncomfortable for people, thus their not interested in discussing the issue. But don't be discouraged, you might be able to file a suit for harassment in a civil court if your employer refuses to address the issue. But just remember you need to have proof! Here is some way you might be able to deter an adult bully.
DON'T BLAME YOURSELF
Never blame yourself for other person's actions. Everyone is responsible for their own behavior. An adult bully is a coward who only seeks to get a rise out of you and vent out their own feelings of inferiority and insecurity. You have to show them that their behavior isn't affecting you as best as you can.
BE NICE TO THEM
Now, this may not work or have little effect, but understand that a bully might have received poor treatment from other's in their life. Kindness can go a long way, but if you have tried this several times and they continue to bully, then it's time to give up and seek other avenues. Remember a bully is not going to direct their behavior towards someone who is higher in authority.
Go ahead and stand up to them, show them you are not afraid by openly confronting them. It may not work right away, but constantly displaying confidence and standing up for yourself draws unwanted attention to the bully. Bring nearness to their actions and behavior; which they typically don't want. Remain calm, and stand your ground!
If you thought that Donald Trump was going to be a true ally of the LGBT community you might want to rethink that point of view. It became apparent after he named his cabinet there was no doubt that he filled it with homophobes and transphobes. Here are a few cabinet members that definitely don't support the LGBT community.
Let's just say the former governor of Indiana was the first warning shot. Pence is known as America's foremost anti-LGBT governor, you might remember the Religion Freedom Restoration Act and as a member of Congress Pence predicted right from the House floor that marriage equality was going to lead to "societal collapse." Was is even scarier is that Pence is next in line to the Presidency if anything should happen to Trump. While he has been in office Pence's resume has included insulting American Olympians and has successfully lobbied to put more pressure and hardships on both Trans troops and youth.
Where do we start with the homophobic racist? Session's has more influence on our culture and society than any other cabinet members. As Attorney General, he is the chief law enforcer on such matters at the civil rights. This can be bad news for members of the LGBT community. The former Alabama Senator (R) he fought to allow businesses to discriminate individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identification; not to mention changing the DOJ's view on civil rights. He also voted against allowing spousal benefits to same-sex couples.
Who understands this idiot? I suppose when you can't run a successful campaign, the very person you say isn't fit to hold the office of the President you just go work for him. The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development called Trans people abnormal, and associated homosexuality to bestiality. He decided that those who supported same-sex marriage were pro-pedophiles. So now he is in charge of enforcing laws that prevent landlords from discrimination against gay and Trans people. Talk about the fox guarding the hen house!
This tragic mess is the Secretary of Education and low and behold it was leaked last year that she fought to rescind protections for transgender students, a protection put in by Obama. DeVos also stated that the agency will no longer investigate any claims of discrimination form transgender students. She also supported the Trump administration's policies on Title IX protections that would reduce protections to LGBT students. Let's not forget that DeVos; family donated to the Family Research Council, a anti-LGBT organization.
This tool is the founder of the anti-LGBT Project of the Judiciary and if that wasn't enough he served on awards committee for the Family Research Council. The council named him the “leading pro-family legal scholars." He also rejected and fought against Vermont's court ruling in favor of same-sex unions. Maybe there's a reason he was Trump's second choice to become the Labor Secretary.
In 2016 Mr. Zinke pushed for a provision to the National Defense Authorization Act that would allow major anti-LGBT discrimination on all levels of government. He did this while serving as Montana's sole congressional representative. There is no reason to believe that he has changed his mind about removing protections from discrimination put into place by President Obama.
Is the director of the Environmental Protection Agency (as of now). Facing Congressional questions about his financial dealing and major breaches of ethical behavior, he has a long record of being anti-LGBT well before his appointment. While the attorney general for Oklahoma he fought against Obama-era edicts on the treatment of Trans students and opposed legalization of marriage equality, and earned the nickname "head bully."
A review of judicial appointments by Trump has shown that just about one-third of them are anti-LGBT judges. Remember these appointments are for life and they have been confirmed at record speed. These appointments will have a disproportionate and enduring impact on LGBT individuals from the South (which we know is a homophobic part of the country). A record 16 nominees have faced stiff opposition from pro-civil rights groups.
He wasn't known as the "Mad Dog" for nothing, it steamed from his intolerant anti-LGBT stances. Mattis joined Warriors & Citizens: American Views of Our Military co-editor Kori Schake in 2011 to condemn the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and questioned women's ability to serve in combat.
And to those in the LGBT community who thought or continue to think Trump is protecting our rights. Well, I suggest you wake up and get your head out of someone's ass. The damage that this administration could take years to repair.
Tim Bergling's (aka Aviciii) family released a statement regarding his death. Avicii died April 20 at the age of 28
The family of Tim Bergling, the Swedish dance music star known as Avicii, who died on April 20 at age 28, have released a statement.
We would like to thank you for the support and the loving words about our son and brother. We are so grateful for everyone who loved Tim’s music and have precious memories of his songs.
Thank you for all the initiatives taken to honor Tim, with public gatherings, church bells ringing out his music, tributes at Coachella and moments of silence around the world.
We are grateful for the privacy during this difficult time. Our wish is that it continues that way.
The Tim Bergling Family
Bergling was found dead in his hotel room in Oman, the Middle Eastern country bordering Saudi Arabia. The cause of death is as yet unknown.
Avicii was one of the most successful and popular electronic dance-music of all time - No. 4 hit on the Billboard 200 in 2013 with "Wake Me Up" and Top 5 on Forbes' "Highest-Paid DJs" list. In 2016 he retired from live performing citing health reasons. It is known he had suffered health problems for several years, including acute pancreatitis (reportedly from excessive drinking). He also had his appendix and gallbladder removed in 2014.
Sources within the Oman police department have reported they have not found any "criminal suspicion" in his death. Two post-mortem examinations were conduced and foul play has been ruled out.
Watching porn all of the time might cause the brain to literally rewire itself. Triggering the brain to produce chemicals and form new nerve pathways, leading to lasting changes to your brain. Several studies have shown that frequently viewing pornography causes the brain to be less active and smaller in some areas.
Can porn change your brain? Studies have shown a correlation between consumption and less active and smaller brains. It's important to understand that your brain is continually's changing throughout your lifetime and is constantly rewiring itself and producing new nerve connection. The brain is made up of about 100 billion unique nerves called neurons, which carry electrical signals back and forth between parts of your brain and your body.
Look at it this way. Neuronal pathways are like many trails in the woods. Each time you use the trail it gets wider and more permanent. So, when messages travel down a neuronal pathway, it gets stronger. Our brains is a very hungry organ, while it's only 2% of your body weight, it eats up 20% of our energy and oxygen. Within the brain, there is fierce competition between brain pathways and the ones that don't get used enough most likely get replaced. Like that old saying "either use it or lose it" or "only the strong survive."
That’s where porn comes in.
Porn creates new, and long-lasting pathways within the brain. It is so ferocious that most activity can compete with it, including sex with someone real. It's no joke that porn can and will overpower the brains' natural ability to have real sex! Why is that? "porn creates the perfect conditions and triggers the release of the right chemicals to make lasting changes in the brain," explains Dr. Norman Doidge, a researcher at Columbia University.
The forming and conditions of strong neuronal pathways are called "flow". This is a satisfying state of focused attention. So when you're in the flow, it gets so deep that nothing else seems to matter. Your focus is on what you doing, and you lose track of time, everything sees to disappears, and you need more and more porn to create the process of "flow." So, your sitting in front of your computer (or on your phone) looking at porn. You become so absorbed in porn that nothing else can compete for your attention, not even going to sleep. This is the perfect condition for you to form new neuronal pathways, and that's what your brain is doing. Every time you click from movie to movie trying to find that perfect scene, you are reinforcing the pathways that are created in the brain.
Like any addictive behavior or substance, porn activates a part of your brain called the reward center, and this will trigger the release of a so-called cocktail of several chemicals that gives you a temporary buzz. One of the main components of that cocktail is a protein called DeltaFosB.
DeltaFosB is extremely important for learning any kind of new skill, is can also lead to compulsive/addictive behaviors, more so in adolescents. It is also referred to as "the molecular switch for addiction," once it builds up, it starts to switch on genes that create long-term craving, wanting you to grave porn more and more. Once released, DeltaFosB isn't going to go away anytime soon, it can remain around for weeks or months, which is why when you watch porn repeatedly you develop strong cravings long after you have stopped.
There is good news, neuroplasticity works in both directions. If you don't reinforce the porn pathways, they will over time disappear, so the pathways for porn can be replaced with something else.
There is a reason why the porn industry is so successful, and why they have overloaded the internet with porn, if you are addicted, you're going to continue to watch.
Lewis, M. (2017). Addiction And The Brain: Development, Not Disease. Neuroethics. 1-12. Doi:10.1007/S12152-016-9293-4; Hall, P., (2014). Sex Addiction—An Extraordinarily Contentious Problem. Sexual And Relationship Therapy, 29(1) 68-75. Doi:10.1080/14681994.2013.861898
Hilton, D.L, & Watts, C. (2011). Pornography Addiction: A Neuroscience Perspective, Surgical Neurology International 2, 19. Doi:10.4103/2152-7806.76977
Meerkerk, G.J., Van Den Eijnden, R.J., & Garretsen, H.F. (2006). Predicting Compulsive Internet Use: It’s All About Sex!, CyberPsychology And Behavior, 9(1), 95-103. Doi:10.1089/Cpb.2006.9.95; See Also Korkeila, J., Kaarlas, S., Jaaskelainen, M, Vahlberg, T., Taiminen, T. (2010). Attached To The Web—Harmful Use Of The Internet And Its Correlates. European Psychiatry 25(4) 236-241. Doi: 10.1016/J.Eurpsy.2009.02.008 (Finding “Adult Entertainment” To Be The Most Common Reason For Compulsive Internet Use.)
Holden, C. (2001). Behavioral Addictions: Do They Exist? Science 294(5544), 980. Doi: 10.1126/Science.294.5544.980
Voon, V., Et Al. (2014). Neural Correlates Of Sexual Cue Reactivity In Individuals With And Without Compulsive Sexual Behaviors, PLoS ONE, 9(7), E102419. Doi:10.1371/Journal.Pone.0102419; Olsen, C. M., (2011). Natural Rewards, Neuroplasticity, And Non-Drug Addictions. Neuropharmacology, 61, 1109-1122. Doi:10.1016/J.Neuropharm.2011.03.010; Nestler, E. J. (2005). Is There A Common Molecular Pathway For Addiction? Nature Neuroscience 9, 11: 1445–1449. Doi:10.1038/Nn1578
Activists from the Middle East and North Africa are taking a bold step and speaking out in a PSA "No Longer Alone". Their goal is to chronicle the world that they are not just victims of oppressive governments throughout the region. “We don’t want the image anymore of just being victims,” says Zoheir, a gay activist from Algeria. “We want to speak about reality, speak about violence, but also to [show what is] positive.”
The Human Rights Watch and Arab Foundation for Freedom and Equality worked together with the activists to produced the PSA stated that: “defying state-sponsored repression and social stigma” to share their stories. For many of them they live in countries homosexuality is illegal, for example in Egypt they could face severe punishment, just based on their sexuality. “Religious figures, the government, your parents–they all want to have a say in what you do,” says Rima, a bisexual from Lebanon. “I want to tell you it’s none of their business and that your body, your desires, and your ideas are yours alone.”
Many hope the PSA will empower many within LGBT communities around the world to speak out, and fight for their rights, according to the Human Rights Watch.
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