Nick Bertke, better known as ‘Pogo’ released a video in which he explained why he hates gay people and went so far as to cheer the Pulse nightclub massacre went viral yesterday. Well, it appears that he’s now backtracking in an attempt to address the outrage he provoked by releasing a distasteful video.
Bertke claims in the video, as well as past blog posts were about evils of feminism were an attempt to “grind the gears” of individuals on the internet who are prone to requiring trigger warnings and draw them out (I’m still not sure what the hell that is supposed to mean). Bertke stated; “The things I said in this video I think have deserved the reception that the video has had…I love confusing people…Then I took it too far [and created the ‘fagottron’ video].”
He further added: “There is no pinch of salt big enough to be taken with what I have said. It’s all good and well for me to open a valve and to draw people out into the open – people I don’t like, you know, hypocrites etcetera, but I feel very strongly that it’s been very naive behavior on my part. If I’m going to tuck my tail between my legs and admit anything it’s that these posts and these videos and these things I’ve made for the sake of being edgy have not contributed to any productive conversation.”
But let’s not forget that Mr. Bertke is a fan of Milo Yiannopoulos and other alt-right and conservative figures. “I like some of the things people like Milo Yiannopoulos say, but I don’t like the way he says them. He’ll get up in front of a crowd of people and bash the indigenous people of Australia. He’ll speak in a very sort of derogatory, very provocative way, and I’ve often found myself thinking, ‘is that productive?'”
He hoped the video didn’t cause anyone (especially gay) people to want to kill or harm themselves: “It has never been my intention to hurt people.” He added: “Apparently I hate gay people…Many of my friends and supporters are gay. There is definitely a degree of irony.”
Typical that he would suggest you refer to his family for moral clarification and to somehow absolve himself of the words he used to describe gay individuals and that this is a process of him growing up. “if you ask my family members, and closest friends, they’ll all tell you the same thing, ‘Nick’s just being an asshole’…It’s a part of me that I think is slowly growing up…if you have recognized the jokes you have my deepest appreciation,” he stated.
The simple fact is that words have meaning and those meanings have a direct impact on those around you. This video was done in poor taste, extremely upsetting to those who lived through the Pulse shootings. Furthermore to claim this was done in some attempt to “wake” people up and provoke discussion is simply an excuse for your lack of sympathy and appreciation for human life.
24-year old Michael Troina a former firefighter from Queens has claimed that was told to “have sex with a stripper” to prove he isn’t gay, he has since filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the FDNY.
Torina was a member of Ladder Co 1/Engine Co 7 and was subjected to “hazing rituals” which included homophobic and racist abuse, to stomping on his bunker gear, putting peanut butter on his car and taking his face and superimposing it on a crying baby.
Nine firefighters, three lieutenants, two chiefs, Daniel Nigro (Fire Commissioner) and the city of New York as defendants. In the lawsuit, Troina stated that he “was singled out time and time again on account of his race and national origin as a Hispanic American male as well as perceived homosexuality” Furthermore, was “threatened with physical violence if he dared to report any incident of battery, harassment or discrimination to the FDNY’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office.”
The worst and most disturbing is the claim that Troina colleagues “tried to coerce” him to “have sex with a stripper” just to prove he wasn’t a homosexual. Troina refused and was called a “faggot”, a “closet homo” and a “closet homo”, as alleged in the suit. He also recalls an account when he was excluded from a firehouse volleyball outing, and was told his colleagues described him with homophobic insults.
Another time he saw another firefighter doing an impression of him, when he reported this incident to his supervisor, he was told it was done “in good fun and to not take it too hard.”
In the suit is claiming that Troina suffered “mental and emotional stress” and endured “constant discrimination and ridicule, the lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
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.
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.
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.
WATCH THE VIDEO
There has been a lot of talk about the migrant caravan coming to the U.S.- Mexico border from Central America. It has been reported that the caravan is carrying LGBT people who have been persecuted in their own country.
Neta, a non-profit organization with the assistance of the caravan organizer Pueblo Sin Fronteras posted a video on Facebook. The video shows the vast diversity of sexual and gender identities. This is a direct call to stop discrimination and violence against women and LGBT people in Central and South America.
It is important to point out that the reasons for the caravan is vastly different than what has been stated by the Trump administration. “The purpose, they say, is not to encourage Central American migration, nor to ‘storm’ the U.S. southern border,” The Hill reports. “Rather, by traveling in large numbers, the caravans provide protection for Central Americans who are vulnerable to abuse as they cross through Mexico.”
According to The Hill, the abuse includes “extortion, rape or even kidnapping by gangs and drug cartels,” And there is no evidence that members of the caravan are perpetrators, as Trumps stated last week. “There is almost no actual evidence on which to base this claim,” The Washington Post reports, adding. “There don’t appear to be any mainstream news reports of a rape epidemic taking place in the caravan. The only mentions of rape with regard to the caravan in recent days, in fact, refer to criminal behavior that the migrants have been trying to escape in their home countries or along the route.”
It is not uncommon to see migrant caravans crossing during the Christian Holy Week (the week before Easter), as this caravan set out. Some are indeed seeking asylum in the United States, most are wanting to call attention to the violence in their home countries.
Most caravans consist of roughly 200 to 300 people, this year the number is about 1,500 mostly because of current developments in Honduras, “where gang violence has made the murder rate one of the highest in the world,” The Arizona Republic notes. Many in Honduras are outraged over last year's presidential election where incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez (A U.S. ally) defeated his challenger, and many believe the elections were stolen.
The human right organization The Latin American Working Group (a coalition of groups) issued a report highlighting election fraud, and denouncing U.S. policy toward the nations. “We are reaping what we sow in Honduras: a failure of the international community including the United States to take a strong stance against repression is intensifying the human rights crisis in the country and contributing to the outflow of refugees,” executive director Lisa Haugaard said in a press release.
Reggie Bullock who plays for the Detroit Piston's us using his fame as a major NBA player to bring awareness to LGBTQ equality in memory of his sister.
His sister Mia Henderson was murdered in Baltimore; Henderson was a trans woman. Since 2014 Bullock, who is straight, cannot make sense of the extreme violence and struggled to understand the transgender community.
Well, he and his team have just announced that they are partnering with GLAAD and other members of the LGBTQ community to encourage open conversation about inclusion in the NBA and elsewhere.
During a game against the Atlanta Hawks he wore Equality shoes and on the sole of the shoes was his sisters name.
If you remember last summer he posted on his Instagram page a picture of his rainbow watchband. With the following caption (in part): “You are free to choose how you live, so I choose to stand for equality in the community and inclusion of all human beings.”
The man who was charged with Henderson's death was acquitted by a jury two years ago. Bullock who refused to dwell on that, instead is focused on remembering his sister's memory and doing what he can to make the world more compassionate for LGBTQ people. “A lot of people joke and do all these type of things about those type of people,” he said in a 2016 radio interview. “But me, it touches me, because I had a [sister], I had a person who was that way.
I'll just leave with this quote from Bullock; “I have come to accept trans people because I loved my sibling.”
Gus Kenworthy an Olympic skier was seen wearing a 'Make America Gay Again' hat while in PyeongChang for the Winter Olympics. The out skier has been vocal about his support for LGBT rights - while at the same time speaking out against the head of the US Olympic Delegation, Vice President Mike Pence.
Kenworthy has vowed to skip the White House reception for the athletes, stating “When we have people elected into office that believe in conversion therapy and are trying to strip trans rights in the military and do these things that are directly attacking the LGBT community, I have no patience.” So the skier decided to take direct aim at the current administration by wearing a 'Make America Gay Again' hat. He wore the hat while making a video to support the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT non-profit. “I am a huge supporter of the Human Rights Campaign because they’re a huge supporter of me. “It’s been an incredible Olympics – we’ve seen so much change, so much progress, and so much visibility for the LGBT community, and that’s been incredible. “I don’t think we would be anywhere near where we are without all the hard work the Human Rights Campaign has done. You guys have changed lives, you have saved lives, and I cannot thank you enough.” He stated.
This Past Tuesday the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that all 20 member countries in Central and South America must legalize same-sex marriage (at best confer the legal rights associated with it).
The Court was established in 1979 by the Organization of American States, which are a comprised of several countries in Central and South America. It is the judicial enforcer as outlined in the American Convention on Human Rights, a document that outlines provisions for “personal liberty and social justice based on respect for the essential rights of man.”. Currently the there are 20 countries which include: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay.
The court reached it decision when Costa Rica asked the court for its opinion on if property rights extended to same-sex couples. Seven Judges from the court said that member nations “must recognize and guarantee all the rights that are derived from a family bond between people of the same sex.” The ruling is legally binding to all member countries, in-affect legalizing same-sax marriage (or rights associated with it).
There was no language on how each country needed to go about legalizing marriage equality - and there doesn't appear to be a deadline for doing so - the court rebuffed evangelical and conservative political forces opposing LGBT rights in Central and South America.
The Court also ruled that Costa Rica must allow transgender people to change legally change their name and gender marker on government-issued identification documents. While this is clearly a monumental win for LGBT rights, several of the countries listed above have policies forbidding members of the LGBT community to donate blood, adopting children, joining the military or having access to housing, employment and public accommodations.
June is officially gay pride month, and for many communities around the country and world we come together to honor the past, live in the present and fight for the future. It is easy to forget how much we as culture has had to overcome in order to live our lives as we see fit.
Gay Pride is a time for us to come together and celebrate life in general. To show our pride in not only ourselves, but also to remember the past, those in history who give up so much so we could hold hands in public, and even get marries. There was a time that being gay (homosexual) was a crime, and the punishments could range from prison to inhuman medical procedures. Several countries around the world have legalized gay marriage, and removed laws that prevent us from being ourselves, however, for many they still struggle to just have basic human rights.
So, as we get out flags and banners, we should be thankful and supportive of our community!
Here is a timeline provided by infoplease that put together a timeline of the gay rights movements in the United States.
The Society for Human Rights in Chicago becomes the country's earliest known gay rights organization.
Alfred Kinsey publishes Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, revealing to the public that homosexuality is far more widespread than was commonly believed.
The Mattachine Society, the first national gay rights organization, is formed by Harry Hay, considered by many to be the founder of the gay rights movement.
The first lesbian-rights organization in the United States, the Daughters of Bilitis, was established in San Francisco in 1955.
The Daughters of Bilitis, a pioneering national lesbian organization, is founded.
Joe Cino, an Italian-American theater producer, opens Caffe Cino. Caffe Cino is credited with starting the Off-Off-Broadway theater movement. Six years after Caffe Cino opens, it hosts the first gay plays, The Madness of Lady Bright, by Lanford Wilson, and The Haunted Host, by Robert Patrick.
Illinois becomes the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults in private.
The world's first the transgender organization, the National Transsexual Counseling Unit, was established in San Francisco.
The Stonewall riots transform the gay rights movement from one limited to a small number of activists into a widespread protest for equal rights and acceptance. Patrons of a gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village, the Stonewall Inn, fight back during a police raid on June 27, sparking three days of riots.
The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its official list of mental disorders.
Harvey Milk runs for city supervisor in San Francisco. He runs on a socially liberal platform and opposes government involvement in personal sexual matters. Milk comes in 10th out of 32 candidates, earning 16,900 votes, winning the Castro District and other liberal neighborhoods. He receives a lot of media attention for his passionate speeches, brave political stance, and media skills.
San Francisco Mayor George Moscone appoints Harvey Milk to the Board of Permit Appeals, making Milk the first openly gay city commissioner in the United States. Milk decides to run for the California State Assembly and Moscone is forced to fire him from the Board of Permit Appeals after just five weeks. Milk loses the State Assembly race by fewer than 4,000 votes. Believing the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club will never support him politically, Milk co-founds the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club after his election loss.
Activists in Miami, Florida pass a civil rights ordinance making sexual orientation discrimination illegal in Dade County. Save Our Children, a campaign by a Christian fundamentalist group and headed by singer Anita Bryant, is launched in response to the ordinance. In the largest special election of any in Dade County history, 70% vote to overturn the ordinance. It is a crushing defeat for gay activists. [Read More]
Source: "The American Gay Rights Movement: A Timeline." Infoplease. Sandbox Network, Inc., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.
Images: Grey Villet. Gay Rights - Early Days of The Movement 1972. Time Magazine.