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Miscellany January 3rd

I keep seeing a lot of news go by that I really don't have any chance to comment on. I don't know if this will be a regular thing, but I wanted to mention a few happenings of late, some local and some not:

1) I've wanted to comment on the death of Calgary Herald reporter Michelle Lang in Afghanistan. As health correspondent, Michelle was the one who interviewed those of us in the Calgary area regarding the delisting of Gender Reassignment Surgery and the subsequent human rights complaints. When something like that is happening that feels to us like a matter of life-and-death, we tend to get a bit self-absorbed and miss things, so I can't say that we got to know her as a person very well, the conversation was unfortunately somewhat one-sided. But I do remember her as having a warm, open and inquisitive manner, being very respectful (in a way that was very new to us at the time). Her death is quite jarring, and makes me appreciate all of the media folks we were in contact with in 2009. I've known enough to sense that she was a vibrant person whose loss will be an enormous void for her colleagues, and I offer my condolences to the Herald staff (and am sure that the rest of our community feels the same).

2) Qatar authorities are becoming increasingly worried about the prevalence of cross-dressing. Attempts to counsel, rehabilitate and “redeem this misguided lot” are proving unsuccessful. Discussions are ongoing as to how to address what is being called a “serious menace to society.” Because if girls are allowed to wear pants, society will collapse.

3) Nevada's Shady Lady Ranch is advertising for male sex workers. Prostitution is legal in Nevada, but as yet, licensing had only applied to women, since the guys had a little trouble passing the cervical exam. Business owner Bobbi Davis petitioned for the regulations to be changed, and the health board complied. But Nevada Brothel Owners Association lobbyist and former Assemblies of God minister George Flint calls this the industry's “Pearl Harbor,” though, fearing that the possibility that gay sex might occur will bring the industry crashing down.

“We’ve worked hard for years to make the traditional brothel business in this state socially acceptable an something we can be proud of that most Nevadans accept,” Flint added. “We have some concerns that this can be diluted by what Ms. Bobbi Davis wants to try.”

Sorry to break it to you George, but until the “war on sex” is addressed head-on, sex work will always be considered unacceptable by the heteronormativity-within-monogamous-marriage crowd. You're dealing with an uncompromising lot.

4) In my old stomping grounds, a young man is reassessing Muslim teachings about homosexuality. Says Junaid:

… Muslims misinterpret the Qur'an if they consider the ban on homosexuality to be as firm as bans on alcohol or pork. The common story from which most Muslims draw their teaching is about violent homosexual rape, he says, and it's time to rethink the possibility of consensual, supportive relationships.

He's become a pariah in the Edmonton Muslim community, and is afraid to be photographed because of the danger of recrimination — but still, he continues to have a positive impact in peoples' lives.

5) In Alberta, the battle for health care continues, with the formation of Reboot Alberta (and blog), and the Whitemud Citizens for Public Health. Meanwhile, the Provincial health gurus continue to kick at those they perceive unable to fight for themselves, by trying to claw back funding already promised to persons with developmental disabilities. If you're an Albertan, please get involved. Friends of Medicare is an excellent place to start (they have a video up of the Red Deer rally, BTW).

(Crossposted to DentedBlueMercedes)

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