Saturday, 24 March 2012

Dogging Round-Up

A number of 'dogging' stories have appeared in the media in recent days - or so they initially seem.  First off, let's visit Las Yucas Beach in Benalmadena Costa, Spain.  Euro Weekly reports that: 'action taken by Benalmadena Council to stop perverts having sex on a local beach has been declared a firm success.'

They go on to say that: 'the incident of people engaging in ‘dogging’, sexual acts in public places, or watching others do so, has decreased by 95 per cent, according to the local police. For years this beach had become a popular meeting place for people engaging in ‘dogging’, it even appeared on websites promoting locations for the activity, with people travelling all over the Costa del Sol to meet and have sex with strangers. The properties above this beach are luxury apartments and people living there say they were not able to enjoy the beach due to these sex romps.'

Really they are talking about 'cruising' but curiously the 'dogging' label has erroneously been used.  One 'luxury' apartment owner (interesting that it's important the apartment is luxurious isn't it?) said it was fantastic that she no longer had to see naked men having sex when she looked out at the beach.

The steps taken apparently comprise of Benalmadena Council installing cameras and signs by the entry point to Las Yucas, prohibiting nudism and sexual activity on the beach. People caught breaking the rules face fines of up to €3,000.

All entirely appropriate given this rash of men apparently bonking in view of luxury apartments, no?  One last thing, the news site also asked the resident how many times she had seen naked men on the beach (given the amazing relief she now has you'd expect double digits wouldn't you?).  She replied simply "once".  Read the full story here.

Meanwhile, back in blighty, Puttenham Parish Council requested £3,500 from the borough council towards a scheme dubbed the Hog’s Back Wildlife Conservation Project.  The project is designed to transform a dogging site into a wildlife site where people can enjoy wild animals cavorting - just not human beings.  Interestingly, the concern by residents is once again in relation to children and is about them playing 'nearby' - an un-named danger of being near to where people have sex (not necessarily in sight).  One wonders how the nation copes with the prospect of parents bonking in neighbouring bedrooms in homes across the land.  Perhaps we need some sort of bonk monitoring vans, ready to hurl degenerate parents into rehabilitation programmes?  New building regulations on the wall thickness of children's bedrooms?  Read the wildlife story in full here.

Finally, journalists at the Northampton Chronicle & Echo must have been having a little bit of fun with their headline 'Doggers put off by trimmed bushes at Northampton sex lay-by'.  Curiously, the page has been pulled from the newspaper site but thanks to the power of the Internet, you can view it via Google's cache.  Check it out here.  it seems a mixed picture as to whether cutting back trees reduced the 'problem' of public sex and there seems the - perhaps obvious but important to state - point that people just move elsewhere.  Again, I'm not sure that this story is entirely about dogging.  It does seem to be about cruising and potentially dogging but dogging seems to be a lexicon of sex that the media think the general public understand more clearly.

Event: Critical Sexology Seminar

Readers may be interested in this forthcoming event.

Next Critical Sexology Seminar: 30 March 2012: "Sexuality and Time"

Venue: Laws Building, Room 1.00, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS
Time: 2-6pm

Guest-organised by Dr Jana Funke, University of Exeter (All welcome. There is no need to register your intention to attend with the organisers.)

Dr Jessica Cadwallader (Behavioural and Social Sciences, University of Groningen): "Wounded Detachments: Violence, Sex and Therapeutic Forgetting"

Dr Ben Davies (English, St Andrews): "The Erotics of Exceptionality: Agamben, Time and Sex" Dr

Emily Grabham (Law, University of Kent): "The Politics of Prognosis: HIV, Anti-Retrovirals, and the Definition of Disability in UK Equality Law, 1996-2005"

Dr Bob Mills (English, KCL): "Transgender Time"


Matthew Helmers (English, University of Manchester)
Dr Olu Jenzen (English, University of Brighton) 

Critical Sexology is a successful seminar series which has been running in London for nearly a decade. It is an interdisciplinary seminar series for psychologists, psychoanalysts, medical doctors, literary and cultural studies scholars, philosophers, artists, lawyers and historians with a critical interest in the construction and management of gender and sexuality in the medical, human sciences, discursive and cultural spheres. Established in 2002 by Iain Morland and Lih-Mei Liao, Critical Sexology has since held three seminars per year, with meetings taking place in London. The seminar is currently co-organised by Lisa Downing (University of Exeter), Meg Barker (Open University), and Robert Gillett (Queen Mary, University of London). Since 2011, one in three of our yearly sessions now takes place in a University in the north of England.

Music to Watch Kinky Girls (and Boys) By: Escaped Pleasure

Skin Two reported this month on a  fascinating music project called Escaped Pleasure.  According to Skin Two: born from a passion for fetish and a passion for music, Escaped Pleasure is a music project with a difference. Although described officially as “chill out electronica”, each track is written and produced by a fetishist, with fetish in mind.

Inspired by the sounds and grooves of people like Massive Attack, Moloko, John Mayer and Prince; Escaped Pleasure's sole aim is to add a little groove and beat into your life. Designed with lifestyle people in mind and can be heard in clubs and lifestyle events around the world.

From the tracks I've listened to, they are just wonderful relaxing tracks with some nice twists.  Perfect background music for me as I write.  I like them a lot and they deserve a wide audience, so please check them out and share.  

You can commission Escaped Pleasure to create a bespoke track or set of tracks just for you. With a commission comes an initial meeting, so that he can determine what elements of music work for the client. Then he will go away and create the tracks. Whether it’s for a play session, a photo session, a private party or even the soundtrack to a your home made film, having a unique set of music to set your scene is a deeply sexual feeling and will make a huge difference.  Brilliant stuff.

Check out some of their tunes here.

GLAAD Awards Live

Gay Star News reports that the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City will be available to watch online on Saturday 24 March 2012 at 4.30pm EST.  I make that as being 8.30pm for Brit viewers. GLAAD, which stands for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, is one of the most prominent LGBTI organisations in the US, and describes its role as 'holding the media accountable for the words and images they present as well as promoting and amplify an array LGBTI voices and groups.'

You can watch the awards here.

Read the full story on Gay Star News here.

Northumbria Police: LGBT Consultation

Northumbria Police are continuing their consultations with the LGBT community and have launched a survey.  Here's what they say by way of an introduction:

Northumbria Police has been talking to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people about what they need and expect from the police. We have learnt that people’s experience of Northumbria Police tends to differ depending on who they are, where they live, where they work and where they go. Before we go any further we think it’s important to share what we have learned. We would like to know what you think about the issues raised by everyone who took part. Your feedback will help us improve the service we provide. Please take a few minutes to help us by clicking on the link below. Access the link here:

Friday, 23 March 2012

Community Opportunity: AMIS: Support for men surviving domestic abuse

Scotland-based readers might be interested in this helpline volunteer opportunity.  

Abused Men in Scotland (AMIS) is a national organisation dedicated to supporting men who are experiencing, or who have experienced, domestic abuse. We work with any man over 16 concerned about domestic abuse, regardless of sexuality, age, dis/ability or ethnic origin. We welcome calls from men in immediate need of support or advice and from men and women seeking help for male friends or relatives, or an understanding of what male friends or relatives may be experiencing. Our helpline offers a supportive space for men to talk things through in confidence and consider what action if any they may wish to take for their own safety and that of any children.

We invite applications from individuals across Scotland who wish to explore the possibility of offering support by working on our helpline. The Helpline is open every night from 7 until 10pm and workers are home based. Training will be provided and CRB disclosure is required.

We intend holding two all-day training sessions in Edinburgh in early May and mid June. The closing date for receipt of completed application forms is therefore 13th April. Initial training will be provided by The Helpline Association (Basic Telephone Helpline Skills on the 2nd May and Supporting by Email/Text on the 11th June) with further in-house training on domestic abuse as it affects men and the information we can provide, to be arranged. Please see further information on our website at 

For further information and application form please contact: or call the office on 0131 447 7449. The office is staffed part time so please leave a message.

Training for this opportunity is funded by the Scottish Government.

Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History Awards

Exciting news from America! The Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History (CLGBTH) proudly announce the winners of three competitive awards. The Allan Bérubé Prize recognizes outstanding work in public or community-based lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ) history. The Audre Lorde Prize recognizes an outstanding LGBTQ history article published in English. The Gregory Sprague Prize recognizes an outstanding published or unpublished LGBTQ history paper, article, book chapter, or dissertation chapter completed in English by a graduate student. These are awarded in even-numbered years, covering work completed during the previous two years. Scholarly committees determine winners after an open nomination process. The CLGBTH received 11 submissions for the Bérubé Prize, 20 for the Lorde Prize and 14 for the Sprague Prize.

Allan Bérubé Prize 2012: CO-WINNERS:

Out in Chicago, produced by Chicago History Museum, curated by Jill Thomas Austin and Jennifer Brier, staffed by Jessica Herczeg-Konecny, Emily H. Nordstrom, Daniel Oliver, Anne E. Parsons, Mark Ramirez, and Morgan W. Valenzuela.

The Queer Music Heritage Radio Show and Website, produced and staffed by JD Doyle, Houston, TX. 

The Out in Chicago project team’s innovative installation for the Chicago History Museum worked extensively over a three-year period with community members to, as they describe it, “create an exhibition that recasts the city's LGBT and urban histories thematically.” It was open to the public from May 2011 to March 2012. Out in Chicago is a lively exhibit that centers the experiences of individuals—especially African Americans, Latinos, transgender people, and the leather community—through four sections: family, home, community, and activism. Extensive use of oral history helped the curatorial team to create an impressively inclusive portrayal of the city's many and varied queer peoples. New uses of archival and other objects, as well as innovative social media sources, also bring the exhibit to new audiences. Out in Chicago not only is one of the first exhibitions of its kind in a mainstream museum, but also showcases the possibilities of collaboration among institutions and community partners. 

Queer Music Heritage is a labor of love of JD Doyle, who for over a decade has worked to “preserve and share the music of queer culture.” Doyle produces and hosts an engaging and informative monthly radio show and maintains an innovative user-friendly website that features a full audio archive of the program, transcribed interviews, and a wide range of visual materials. Among the many historical themes explored are the music of the “pansy craze” of the 1920s and 1930s, the Women’s Music Movement, and the music and politics of Queer Nation. Site content, impressive in its volume and scope, is organized to optimize access by researchers and educators. One noteworthy resource is “Queer Music History 101,” an exhaustively researched two-hour audio course covering the history of LGBT music from 1925-1986. Queer Music Heritage exposes diverse audiences to an important theme in LGBT history and encourages new research avenues. 

HONORABLE MENTION: Memory Flash, produced by John Q. Collective, staffed by Wesley Chenault, Andy Ditzler, and Joey Orr. 

Deriving from Atlanta-based queer archives, Memory Flash was a one-day, temporary art piece and performance that “reactivated” historical sites in Atlanta through oral history, installation, projection, and audience interaction. This “discursive memorial" was also presented though publications, academic conferences, and a museum exhibit, and deserves special recognition for its creative bridging of archive and repertoire and innovative exploration of place, memorial, and queer history. 

Audre Lorde Prize 2012 PRIZE WINNER: Kevin J. Mumford, “The Trouble with Gay Rights: Race and the Politics of Sexual Orientation in Philadelphia, 1969–1982,” Journal of American History (June 2011): 49-72. Using Philadelphia as a case study, this article demonstrates that we cannot understand “the longer history of gay and lesbian rights without reference to African Americans.” The committee was especially impressed with how Mumford wrote a LGBTQ history that not only draws heavily on other literatures to conceptualize the evidence at hand, but also is written in such a way as to make it highly relevant to scholars in those related fields. The essay builds on and reconceptualizes work in LGBTQ history that is recognizing that communities are not discrete, homogenous, or necessarily in competition with each other, even though much of the evidence might suggest that they are. Instead, by centering rhetorical strategies that urged audiences to recognize intersectionality and common interests, Mumford shows how activists were able to move rights agendas forward in the public sphere. 

HONORABLE MENTION: Leila J. Rupp, “The Persistence of Transnational Organizing: The Case of the Homophile Movement” American Historical Review (October 2011): 1014-39. This article examines the history of transnational homophile organizing in the 1950s, in particular the International Committee for Sexual Equality. It demonstrates that the development of identity movements in a coordinated way, over time, allows certain kinds of thinking to move forward despite the limitations of any one national frame. Rupp introduces historians to the notion of "abeyance structures" which is particularly important to LGBTQ rights, since it demonstrates the ways in which homophilia as a project could be pushed forward and developed despite the limitations of any one nation (particularly, in this case, the U.S.). It also hints at numerous ways that homosexual organizing survived WWII. 

Gregory Sprague Prize 2012 PRIZE WINNER: Ryan Lee Cartwright, “Sissies, Strumpets, and Queer Old Maids: Eugenic Family Studies and the Perversion of the Rural Idyll,” Queering the Countryside: New Directions in U.S. Rural Queer Studies, ed. Mary Gray and Colin Johnson (under review with NYU Press). 

This essay examines rural U.S. gender and sexual nonconformity by making use of eugenic fieldwork from the 1910s and 1920s. It operates at the intersections of queer studies, rural studies, gender studies, and disability studies and tells us a lot about how ideas about white sexual deviance in the hovel families—particularly “promiscuity”—cemented themselves into the minds of Progressive thinkers. This intellectual trajectory would flower in social policies of the mid to late 1930s that favored support for industrial motherhood over rural motherhood. The committee was especially impressed with Cartwright’s ability to read archival sources against the grain, a crucial technique for doing queer and other subaltern histories. It is also successful at unseating the pastoral, seeing intersectionality, and asking important questions: What is the language used when categories are not stable, what must be borrowed, and what are the consequences? 

HONORABLE MENTION: Howard Chiang, “The Science and Transformations of Sex in Republican China,” Ph.D. dissertation chapter (Princeton University). 

This examination of the history of “sex change” in mass circulation publications in China from the 1920s to the 1940s addresses the question of how a body might be in transformation from one set of sexed/gendered characteristics to another, and the model is only partly scientific. Many transgender histories are either U.S. or European based, focused on a set of either legal or scientific epistemologies, and organized around the consolidation of identities. Chiang suggests another, perhaps more common, route: Societies with ideas about gender variance already in place had their own notions about how these might correspond, intersect with, or diverge from models emerging in endocrinology, psychology and sexology. The committee was especially appreciative of Chiang’s article in that it fills an important void in the field. He crystallizes how science understood and dealt with sex variance prior to the “discovery” of a transsexual category. It tackles larger issues of science and modernity, including the role of the media (and journalists) in advancing gender norms and also international prestige. Bérubé Prize Committee members included Marcia Gallo, Lauren Jae Gutterman, Kevin P. Murphy, and Joey Plaster. Sprague and Lorde Prizes Committee members included Julio Cesar Capo, Thomas A. Foster, and Claire Potter. All would like to thank the entrants for their submissions, which are worthy of praise and make important contributions to LGBTQ History. 

The GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco underwrites the Bérubé Prize and the Gerber/Hart Library in Chicago funds the Sprague Prize. 

 The Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History, an affiliated society of the American Historical Association, encourages the development of historical scholarship and instruction in LGBTQ studies, promotes local LGBTQ archives and public history projects, and seeks to prevent discrimination against LGBTQ historians. A full description can be found at Find them on Facebook:

Met Police Sex Trafficking Investigations Criticised: Silence On Violence

The Guardian carried a very interesting story earlier this week which you might have missed. According to the paper, an elite Metropolitan police squad has come under fire in a highly critical report commissioned by the London mayor, Boris Johnson, for its investigations into sex trafficking in the runup to the Olympics.

The report accuses officers of a "heavy handed" approach to brothel raids and of failing to find victims of trafficking. The report, Silence On Violence, from London assembly member Andrew Boff, is being considered by Johnson. It criticises the police performance and estimates that they have a success rate of less than 1% in finding trafficking victims during brothel raids.

You can read the full Guardian story here.

The full report can be read here.

An executive summary can be read here.

Andrew Boff, author of the report, talks about it in the clip below:

Thursday, 22 March 2012

No Sex Please, We're Cruising

There was a time when 'gay' men cruising meant wandering around parks and other public spaces in the quest for an ephemeral sexual encounter.  A fleeting rendezvous with a stranger and danger, with the aspiration of an ejaculation at the end of it, and a potential arrest.

In our modern de-sexed times in which happy clappy homosexuals play out with 'the adults' and pursue sensible recreational pursuits rather than wandering around parks at 3am, the new 'gay' man interprets cruising as a brief vacation on a floating hotel with naff entertainment, an excess of bars and restaurants, and hordes of other human beings also pursuing the same activity.  The danger element has ceased to be about whether you'll be arrested, and become about whether you'll have an Italian captain and/or dice with some stomach bug which will reduce your itinerary to a bed and lavatory (but not in a good way).

Or, at least so it was.  It was revealed today that two 'West Coast Americans' as some reports put it (I did wonder if that was code for screaming homos from California) have been arrested for having sex.  According to Pink News, two men from California (see, it was code) have pleaded guilty to charges of breaking Dominica’s anti-gay laws after being spotted having sex on a gay cruise ship which was in port.

This was a 'gay cruise', which unfortunately gives the impression that it's alright to be on a gay cruise, so long as you don't have sex.  Which - and this may just be me - seems kinda ironic.  It's a reminder that homosexuality has culturally ceased to be a sexual identity, and is instead a social label that can be disassociated with a particular sexual act or set of acts.  What exactly renders a cruise 'gay' if people cease to have gay sex?  A fondness for gratuitous photographs of Tom Daley? An uncanny instinct for interior design?  Are we reduced to an identity defined by social stereotype?

There have been those who took to social media sites to question visiting an island which has less than welcoming laws for its passengers, to which the organisers responded by commenting: 'these [anti-gay] statutes don’t pose a concern to us in planning a tourist visit'.

Needless to say, the Daily Hate - sorry, Daily Mail - has brought itself to orgasmic delight at the story with mug shots and a range of publicity photos which make it look a rather jolly holiday to me, and which are sure to leave many Daily Mail readers with sleepless nights (and not in a good way.  DM readers don't do that sort of thing).  If you want to read it, Google it.  

Anyhow, in this new world it's all about sun, sex and ahem, sightseeing.  No hanky panky, we're homosexuals is arguably the new mantra.  That said, I don't want to be seen as being critical or cruise organisers.  Oh no no.

Imagine a cruise where you could get some enlightening academic chat from someone talking about the history of cruising, or laws around the world and homosexuality, or HIV and barebacking.  That would surely add an extra sprinkling of delightful joy to your voyage.  Well...funnily enough, hello cruise organisers, I am available for booking!  Have anti-dysentery tablets, will travel (although no Italian Captains thank you).  Alongside the danger of arrest and dysentery, let's add the possibility of encountering Chris Ashford in the Oceanic Theatre talking about an older form of cruising.

HIV+ and Slutdom

Josh of Confessions of a Bareback Sauna Slut (NSFW) 'fame' has published on his blog a video that was previously available via the porn performer Christian Knox.  Josh has regularly talked about his promiscuous sexual behaviour, that this behaviour is bareback (condomless) and most recently, that he is now HIV+ (and continuing to engage in bareback sex).  I would have embedded the video here but there is the occasional (very brief) bit of sexual footage which intercuts this video interview.

The video was filmed in Chariots Sauna in Shoreditch, London in mid-January 2012. They took over a small cubicle in the sauna, and it was filmed on Cristian’s iPhone.  For many it will be the first time they are able to put a voice to the man. He is un-repentant about his behaviour in the past, or his continued bareback sex.  He explains his rationale and his je ne regrette rein philosophy in the course of the video and comes across as comfortable with his status and behaviour.  He also comes across as articulate and (I think this is incredibly significant) likeable.  Likability is important in reaching out to a wider audience, in enabling people to feel comfortable for long enough to 'tune in' to the message that is being presented.  

This presentation is important in putting a face - and now voice - to the increasingly visible identity of the HIV+ barebacker which goes some way to helping wider society get their heads around people who choose a mode of behaviour which puts them at greater health risk, and then having become positive, they become the transmitter to someone else.  This is a form of behaviour that policy-makers and legislators around the world are increasingly concerned with, whilst jurists must grapple with the criminal law implications that arise from this increased policy focus.

Check out the video interview (NSFW) here.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Tom Daley (not in a kimono)

Gay Times carries a refreshingly honest if frankly odd interview with Tom Daley in the new May issue.  It accompanies a big feature with Matt Cardle half dressed (straight) and Pasha Kovalev (sexuality avoided but he's straight isn't he?) so the homosexuals, Adam Lambert (back sporting eye liner and the 'over-groomed' look sported by many a orange homosexual), Ian Watkins (fretting over his 'swimmers' in an LA fertility clinic) and Julian Clary (feeding chickens in a silk kimono) are cast as slightly bonkers side characters.

The Daley 'interview' is actually far from it.  Instead it turns out that PR moguls turn Tom Daley into shark bait and hurl him into a pool of journalists.  The questions and answers in GT seem to have been overheard questions posed by a lady from Sky Sports.   Sexuality doesn't come up (there is a question about screaming girls) and Daley does seem fixed on defining himself and any potential actor portraying him as being tanned with dark hair.   We learn little - other than about his sponsorship deal.

It's interesting that GT devote two pages to an overheard interview (with official Adidas picture of Tom in his sponsored Adidas trunks).  The appetite for Daley as a celebrity continues and the appetite for Daley as a homo celebrity is certainly there despite his continued utter lack of sexuality (other than appearing as camp as a row of pink tents).  When GT do catch Tom briefly to themselves (to shake his hand) they take a photo which is 'one of the most unintentionally camp photos ever' and describe it as 'our fault, sorry Tom' but sadly the said image isn't published.  The truth is its in Daley's commercial interest to remain a symbol of sexual curiosity - and he may not know himself yet.  Daley will however, be someone who negotiates his sexuality in the public and commercial arena - at least for as long as the general populace wants to have sex with him.  He's such a bottom right?      

Friday, 16 March 2012

Marriage Equality?

There is a Yes Minister joke that the British Civil Service would take care of the hardest part of a proposal by putting it in the title.  So seems to have been the case when it comes to the publication yesterday of the government consultation 'Equal Civil Marriage: A Consultation'.

Many on the usual social media sites and LGB advocacy and campaign groups sprang to life seeking to motivate people into responding to the consultation.  I deliberately held off.  I wanted to see how the debate initially shaped up and - something I'm not convinced everyone who is commenting has done - read the actual consultation document.

Let's deal with the politics of this first off.  The Conservatives need this.  Ever since Cameron announced he was in favour of 'gay marriage' at the Conservative Autumn conference last year, it's been a done deal. It's win-win for Cameron.  He has a majority to pass a bill on same-sex marriage of some description.  if the party does it with just one or two dissenters, he can claim it to be a further sign that the party has genuinely changed.  Something that LGBTory - the LGB group of the party - has been keen to establish as a narrative.

Peter Bone
On the other hand, he may have a fight on his hand.  I don't think this is likely but let's explore the scenario.  In this situation, the comments of Peter Bone (the MP famous for introducing Mrs Bone at PMQs and looking like a man who once ran a football team and slept with Ulrika Johnson) would gain wider support among MPs and party activists in the same way that the NHS Bill did for for LibDems.  This would give Cameron a sort of 'Clause IV moment', defeating his party and able to demonstrate he is a true reformer.  Either of these scenarios also allow the Tories to knock on the head the developing narrative that the Lib Dems are a moderating influence on the coalition.  Tory strategists know this is an effective line and this would go some way to neutralising it.

This brings us to the Liberal Democrats themselves.  Long committed to this reform - and long before it was popular to be - this will probably appear on lots of LibDem election literature as an achievement.  Unfortunately, it doesn't take them any further forward in terms of support in off-setting tuition fees or NHS reforms, and the Tory strategy outlined above removes any possible 'credit' for the LibDems.  The one plus is it does enable them to do is to say that a minister in government has achieved something.  It's a questionable narrative but the party needs every crumb of comfort they can get.  The LGBT+ LibDems have however created a useful resource supporting the bill and telling people step-by-step how to respond to the consultation.

For the Labour Party, this is the natural extension of their reforms.  That narrative - which has not yet been clearly articulated - enables them to reach out to the New Labour voters who have deserted the party since 2010 (arguably in stages since 2001).

So politically, everybody - more or less - backs the idea of same-sex civil marriage.  It's a done deal.  The real politics and the real legal debate should therefore be about the nature of the law, and what it embraces.

Puzzlingly, few activists have engaged with this.  Peter Tatchell has called the consultation out on this issue but seemingly everyone else - notably Stonewall - are fighting what I would describe as the 'wrong war', and seeking to argue for a law on civil marriage.

Every Government figure I've seen on and in the media since the consultation emphasises the same line - this is about 'civil marriage' and not 'religious marriage'.  This is a bid to neutralise the challenge from religious lobbies - notably the Catholic Church  - to attack legal reform.   Don't be fooled by the media brouhaha, the Government need not cave in as dramatically as they have.

The proposals on the table - and this aspect is not up for debate as the consultation makes clear - prohibit religious same-sex marriages or to be more precise, do not change the present arrangements in that regard.

Let's revisit the overall aims of the legal reform, as set out by the Government:
  • To remove the ban on same-sex couples being able to have a marriage through a civil ceremony.
  • To make no changes to how religious organisations solemnise marriages 
  • To allow transsexual people to change their legal gender without having to legally end their existing marriage or civil partnership
So, even if a religious institution wanted to solemise a same-sex marriage they would prevented from doing so by law.  The Government had two alternative approaches.  Firstly, they could have enabled religious institutions to choose not to conduct marriages.  However, as the Church performs a combined civil and religious ceremony, LGB activists could have argued that it was discrimination that only they were begin rejected by a particular church as a class (expect a legal case revolving around comparison to divorcees and so on).  So, the chance of a legal challenge down the line would be high and the churches would have seen this.   Not an attractive option for anybody.

The second option I would suggest, would have been to remove civil marriage powers from churches.  It avoids the discrimination both in the proposed provisions and the first option I just outlined.  It would upset many in faith groups, and would be a more radical or complicated message to convey to the public.  It would not stop churches performing religious ceremonies for whoever they wanted but the actual civil - legally binding - marriage would come into existence outside of a religious institution.  Although the harder road, I believe this would have been the better solution.

If it worked for them...
If you want a model of how this would look in reality, just look at the marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles.  A 'legal' ceremony followed by a religious one.  Legally, they became married in Windsor Registry Office but for the Queen and many, they became married in the Chapel at Windsor Castle.  This would be genuinely equal under law and would also remove any potential legal challenges.  I am sure that this is where we will eventually end up but it's a shame that all three parties are running scared of religious groups this time around.

Thanks to the government proposals on transgender marriage, it is now possible for someone legally defined as a male and someone legally defined as a female to enter into a marriage in a religious building and then for one of those individuals to transition so that there will be some individuals who are legally a same-sex couple and who married in a combined religious/civil ceremony.  Don't be fooled, these proposals create as many legal anomalies as they remove.

Speaking of which, the proposals also contain a paragraph (2.16) which will long be a focus for family law student seminars and tutorials in the coming years.  It states:
'Specifically, non-consummation and adultery are currently concepts that are defined in case law and apply only to marriage law, not civil partnership law. However, with the removal of the ban on same-sex couples having a civil marriage, these concepts will apply equally to same-sex and opposite-sex couples and case law may need to develop, over time, a definition as to what constitutes same-sex consummation and same-sex adultery.'
This is a polite way of saying that the law tends to think of consummation in terms of penile/vaginal penetration (although no orgasm or ejaculation is needed).   This paragraph in the consultation is the equivalent of lifting a giant rug, shoving half-baked proposals under it, and hoping that nobody will notice.  We did.  This could have significant implications for different-sex marriage and the Government knows that but doesn't want to get into that debate.  We should.

Adultery too will need to be re-visited and a sensible move would simply be to abolish it.  Anything else, and the Government will be lost in the midst of another legal mess.  Again, a potentially major reform for family law.

Speaking of half-baked botches, Let's turn to civil partnerships.  The proposals set out a way that people can 'covert' from a civil partnership to marriage and answers my question in previous posts about the continued presence of civil partnerships - they stay.  Hurrah!  Unfortunately, they remain for same-sex couples only, and in doing so fails to address the arguments of the ongoing Equal Love legal challenge.  That legal challenge will come and I can't understand why the Government isn't pre-empting such a challenge.

Paragraph 2.20 sets out another wonderful fudge:
'The Government is not considering opening up civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples because we have been unable to identify a need for this. However, we appreciate that there are a number of views on this issue.'
How have they explored this need?  What constitutes a need?  If civil partnership ceremonies for same-sex couples fall below some mystery figure as a result of these reforms, will they then be abolished as there is 'no longer a need'?   Big questions with potentially hugely significant answers, but who is asking them?

This consultation is a significant document but it's formal questions are limited and fail to engage with the real difficulties.  That should not stop the big campaign and advocacy groups from questioning the Government.  Yet as things stand, we are failing to provide that scrutiny to these proposals.  The legal community similarly needs to wake up to the potentially half-baked and wide-ranging reforms that could come through as a result of these reforms with historic implications for marriage.

Read the full consultation here.

The Men's Room

News reaches me of a new little film project that's now doing the rounds of some film festivals.  The official synopsis describes the film in the following intriguing terms:

'The Men's Room is an emotionally charged short film dealing with explicit themes of male sexuality, intimacy, and the concept of public decency. When Thomas ventures into a park for a sexual encounter with a stranger, he uncovers a striking complexity composed of desire, fear, and betrayal when his would-be anonymous sex partner turns out to be a cop. The Men's Room explores the seemingly unwelcome yet enduring pastime of public sex, a world of secrecy and code lurking just below the surface of normalcy.'

It's hard to judge from just the trailer-  i'd certainly like to see the full film - but it does seem a bit arty/pained dry US drama of the type I've seen before.  The conversation in cubicles scene didn't immediately ring true although I'd like to see how they get to that point.  Moreover, it's fascinating to see that cottaging/tearooms can still be a key context in which to set a film.  Quite what that means for defining the subject I'm not sure - and is another reason as to why the film will be worth watching.

Anyway, check out the trailer and see what you make of it.

The Men's Room Trailer from Nature Show on Vimeo.

Journal Alert: Sexualities

A new issue of Sexualities has been published.  Full contents can be viewed here.

Desiring difference, desiring similarity: Narratives on sexual interaction between boys and men in the Swedish homosexual press 1954–1986 Hanna Bertilsdotter Rosqvist Sexualities 2012;15 117-138

Norwegian sexualities: Assimilation and exclusion in Norwegian immigration policy Wencke Mühleisen, Åse Røthing, and Stine H. Bang Svendsen Sexualities 2012;15 139-155

More like a donor or more like a father? Gay men’s concepts of relatedness to children Deborah Dempsey Sexualities 2012;15 156-174

The colour of gayness: Representations of queers of colour in Québec’s gay media Olivier Roy Sexualities 2012;15 175-190

Regulating homophobic hate speech: Back to basics about language and politics? Andy Harvey Sexualities 2012;15 191-206

‘God forgives the sin but not the scandal’: Coming out in a transnational context – between sexual freedom and cultural isolation Ernesto Vasquez del Aguila Sexualities 2012;15 207-224

Shattering and reassembling hypersexual moments: Girls indulging in the pursuit of pleasure Ronika Mudaly Sexualities 2012;15 225-242

Book Reviews
J. Stacey, Unhitched. Love, Marriage and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western China Petra Nordqvist Sexualities 2012;15 243-244

Fran Martin, Backward Glances: Contemporary Chinese Cultures and the Female Homoerotic Imaginary Elisabeth L Engebretsen Sexualities 2012;15 245-247

Thursday, 15 March 2012

London Calling

Word reaches London of my planned visit...
I've had quite a few people talking about the need to come up to London.  Normally I dive down for meetings and have to dart back.  However, rather happily a variety of events have come together to give me an excuse for splashing out on a little expedition to England's Capital.

This exciting jamboree will be in May.  I'm going to be at a Law and Sexuality tweet-up on Wednesday 16 May (details, and info on indicating you'd like to go here) which is being organised by the excellent @ObscenityLawyer.  Anyone on twitter (or indeed thinking about it) interested in law and sexuality should come along for a few drinkies.

It's yet to be firmed up, but it looks like I'll be at a book launch on Thursday evening for an edited collection that I have a chapter on public sex in.  Details to follow once it's firmed up as I'm sure a small crowd will be welcomed.  I'm then off to the UCU LGB conference on the Friday to present a paper on (hetero)normativity and future directions for legal reform in England and Wales (some of you might be there!).

If anyone would like to get together during the day on Thursday or the Wednesday afternoon, let me know.  A day and a half of lunching, boozing and intellectual/debauched conversation would be ideal.  Otherwise, I shall have to be a tourist and float around galleries for a couple of days.  Give me a shout on Twitter if you'd like to meet up or drop me an emails at:  

Sunday, 11 March 2012

HIV and Online Identities

The ever-lovely @leomack87 flagged up this post on the excellent UKPositiveLad blog.  UKPositiveLad or Sam, set up a blog when he was diagnosed as HIV+ in 2011.  He uses the blog to share his activism and document his own journey with HIV.  His latest post post contains a story that is perhaps unsurprising but that does not reduce the importance of examining it.  Within the post he writes:

'I started wondering last weekend (25th Feb 2012) what kind of responses someone would get if their profile said that they were HIV+. So I created myself a second profile on Grindr, almost identical to mine in (but different enough to look like a different person), still looking for “Friends, fun and dates” – but this time I mentioned my HIV status in the profile text.

'Over the course of the week (25 Feb – 03 Mar) my existing profile received messages from 74 users. On the other hand my (almost identical) profile that mentions my HIV status had 11 people message it. Four of those eleven messaged purely to ask me questions about HIV and one felt it necessary to send me foul mouthed abuse for seemingly no reason. Which leaves me with six people actually showing an interest in me.

'Let’s look at that for a second shall we? That’s a 92% reduction in interest purely by mentioning my HIV status.'

The reduction is somewhat unsurprising (although you'll note he still seems to be doing reasonably well!), reminding us of the 'fear' that men still associate with HIV+ men.  For Sam, it undoubtedly highlights issue of prejudice and discrimination in that men just don't want to be with someone who is HIV+ because of ill-educated beliefs, fears for their own safety or unease at the need to adapt their own sexual practices.  This has perhaps been compounded by the rise in bareback sex.   Knowing your partner is HIV+ may lead to a decision that a condom is necessary in order to make sure that you don't become HIV+ yourself.  You therefore opt to have sex (bareback) with someone else who states they are not HIV+ in order to 'protect' yourself from HIV.  Spot the flawed logic.

It also doesn't take a genius to see the sexual market forces this sets in train.  More people don't disclose their HIV status at a time of increased bareback, leading in turn to a rise in HIV rates.  This can - and I believe will - continue exponentially.  The only things that would stop this are (1) death.  The return of the holocaust, or (2) growing drug resistance creating increased complications in HIV treatment.

So it is that this one incident documented by UKPostiveLad gives us an insight into much larger trends that are taking place in sex lives globally and driving increased criminalisation - and ever tougher measures - in relation to HIV transmission.

Read Sam's post here.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Sunderland Pride Launch Research Survey

Readers in North East England may be interested to hear Sunderland Pride has today launched a research survey to collect opinions on the way the project is currently running. Membners of the community are being asked to take the time to answer a few short questions on the 2011 event as well as the new services that have been implemented in the past year, the survey also asks how the event can be improved this year.

Sunderland Pride is the organisation behind the annual LGB&T celebration event in Sunderland, that made its innaugral appearance in the city on Sunday 25th September 2011. Sunday 23rd September 2012 will be the second Sunderland Pride event to be held. Last year’s event was attended by around 3,000 members of the community.

The survey runs until April and can participants can participate in the survey via, more information on the survey can be found on Sunderland Pride’s official website Alternatively, you can request the questionnaire via email,

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas

Many thanks to Mark Simpson for flagging this story up.  The New Yorker magazine carries a book review piece on some new work due to be published by Dale Carpenter, a Law Professor at Minnesota Law School.  His book can be pre-ordered on Amazon here.

The book seeks to explore the story behind the story of the landmark case of Lawrence v Texas - a US case that resulted in 2003 in anti-sodomy laws being ruled unconstitutional.

Read the full New Yorker piece here.

Please don't look at this rather amazing, really, please don't....

A Dad definitely NOT looking for the porn
I don't know what you were like as a child but my Mum would sometimes say "don't open x", or "don't go in x cupboard".  Inevitably this led to an overwhelming desire to do the prohibited thing.  It was with this in mind that I greeted the news from San Francisco that Junior high school students have been asked not to search Internet sex sites for a teacher who may have been moonlighting as a porn star, a Southern California school district said in a letter to parents.

This according to the San Francisco Chronicle, which states that Oxnard school district officials say a junior high school teacher was put on paid administrative leave this week after allegations surfaced that she was moonlighting as a porn actress. District officials stressed the teacher is not being accused of a crime, but they are concerned about the effect the allegations might have on the students.

So, no crime, nothing done wrong.  Officials are concerned about the impact on children who wouldn't have known (unless they were busy constantly looking at porn and happened to come upon this teacher (as it were).  A highly unlikely event.  At least it was, until parents were sent letters telling them to not search/discourage their children from searching porn videos for this teacher.  The only thing more amazing than this approach is the fact that nobody in the administrative chain thought "hang on, will this actually make matters worse, and potentially make us look rather inept?".

Check out the full bizarre story here.

Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? The Event

I previously blogged on a new book, Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? and now you can watch video of an event involving authors from the book.  It took place at the wonderful City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco and I was going to embed the video for you to make life easier but it seems the video producers don't want that so you'll need to click here for the first video, and then pick the second, third and fourth videos from the right hand side.

There was also an event at the City Library in San Francisco and that can be viewed here (you'll notice the opening is the same as City Lights) and again you'll need to pick the following bits from the right hand side.  Both events feel very 'San Francisco' and very familiar for these sort of sexuality events.  It's hard to put into words but hopefully after watching the videos, you might know a little of what I mean.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Yorkshire Dogging and Police Strategies

For some, the annoying thing about cars is their tendency to move.  So it is that when doggers - people who have sex in cars - are tackled by the Police and geographical/local government measures they tend to move somewhere else.  The Halifax Courier carries a story that a Police clampdown on outdoor sex in a secluded part of Calderdale may have shifted the problem to the Calder Valley, councillors believe.

Baitings Dam: A former dogging location
There's a rather wonderful quote from a local councillor who told the paper: “At long last it is an issue which is being taken seriously,” said Coun Geraldine Carter. “The amount of dogging at Baitings has diminished since the police began recording car number plates and sending letters to the registered owners,” she told the council’s 1,000th meeting. “But I believe these people are now moving to areas around Hebden Bridge, Luddenden and Todmorden,” she said.

Cllr Carter
What better way to celebrate a 1000th meeting than celebrating the writing of letters to doggers telling them how naughty they are?  This letter writing technique seems increasingly common, and is an interesting way that the Police are navigating the law.  It avoids any need to see anything that is criminal or even potentially criminal.  It is - quite simply - a scare tactic based on recording your presence in a location, potentially prompting difficult conversations in the home as a letter with a Police logo is intercepted on the doormat by a child, partner or other household member.

The aim is to scare the crap out of people and move them on.  As a tactical strategy, it has arguably succeeded in the past, at least reducing behaviour in the short term.  Interestingly, this story suggests that people are taking heed of a specific warning relating to one area but not feeling deterred from their more general mode of behaviour.   Nonetheless, one is surely bound to ask how Geraldine knows that people are moving to these spots?  Is Geraldine busy surfing the web for dogging spots?  Is she busy spying on dogging locations?  Will we have to wait another 1000 meetings to find out?

Read the full story here.

Underground Sex, Irish Style

The Irish Independent published a rather wonderful little story on Sunday. The paper reported that elite swinging clubs among professional classes - costing thousands of euro to join - are now operating in Ireland, according to an undercover documentary maker. The VIP clubs - which 'swingers' describe as akin to a 'freemason' society where members swear under oath not to reveal the identities or details of those involved - are one of the groups that have been unearthed as part of an investigation into Ireland's secret sex lives.

 The documentary also involves talking to doggers and also 'fetishists'. Screened on Monday, the documentary can also be viewed via the TV3 catch-up service (yes it works for those of us in the UK!). Check the documentary out here and read the full Irish Independent piece here.

Simi Valley Next in Condom Battle?

A shocked Mrs Aspenstein.  Bob didn't want to be photographed.
The LA Times (which encouraged along the LA condom law) reports that Simi Valley - which neighbours LA - is now contemplating a similar law to prevent an exodus of deprived condom free porn makers setting up in town (the laundry and hotel industry will no-doubt be mourning the potential loss of trade).  Simi Valley seems keen to a dress the enforcement gap which is evident in the LA law.

According to the LA Times, under its proposed law, the city would require producers to hire on-set medical professionals, who would attest to appropriate condom use. At the end of a shoot, the producers would have to send their unedited video to the police department, where employees would scrutinize it — for compliance with Simi Valley Municipal Code Title 5, Chapter 32, as amended. Civilian employees, not officers, would do the heavy lifting, scanning films for possible violations.

So, whilst porn might becoming a rather unpleasant occupation, the role of being one of these new civilians who watches unedited porn all day must surely be an attractive prospect?  Presumably it must be done in pairs to avoid *ahem* distraction so even a continued modest amount of porn activity will require new posts.  Or perhaps staff will be re-deployed?  Mrs Aspenstein works on reception normally but we dragged her in to watch Spunk on My Titties Part 15.  She's such a trooper!  Bob the Janitor was on hand as normal.

Not to mention the medical professionals who may have to shunt operations and surgeries to pop down to the porn shoot (unless they do it full time - will that pay enough?).  "Sorry Mrs Snodgrass, we've bumped your hernia to tomorrow as I've got Cum Explosion 19 at 2pm".

Brave New World? LA Condom Law In Force

Did you notice it?  Yesterday, a new Los Angeles city ordinance (law) come into force requiring porn performers to wear condoms when filming.  The full title of the Act is the: CITY OF LOS ANGELES SAFER SEX IN THE ADULT FILM INDUSTRY ACT.  A PDF of the full act is available from the Office of the LA City Clerk and can be viewed directly here.  I was slightly amused to discover via this ordinance that nudity or sexual activity shouldn't be visible or audible to other members of the public when being filmed, which seems vaguely farcical given the amount of bonking that can be heard in many a hotel room at the best of times. 

The key sections of the Ordinance can be viewed below:

(1) An "adult film" is defined as any film, video, multimedia or other representation of sexual intercourse in which performers actually engage in oral, vaginal, or anal penetration, including but not limited to penetration by a penis, finger, or inanimate object; oral contact with the anus or genitals of another performer; and/or any other activity that may result in the transmission of blood and/or any other potentially infectious materials as defined in California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 5193(b).

This seems deliberately designed to encompass all sexual activity but how does that equate to risk?

(2) "Producer of adult film" is defined as any person or entity directly engaged in the creation of adult films.

So stand down horny boyfriend with an iPhone, you should be safe under this provision.  You need to be 'directly' engaged, not indirectly (much dancing on that pin head to come).

(3) "Filmed" and "filming" refer to the recording of any adult film, regardless of media.

So, should you be a horny boyfriend filming with an iPhone deliberately to make an adult film, the phone counts - it doesn't need to be super duper filming technology.  Presumably, it also relates to audio only recording which is intriguing (and another potential exploratory case).

(4) All producers of adult films issued permits under the authority of the City of Los Angeles or the Los Angeles Police Department pursuant to Section 12.22(A)(13) of this Code or any other law authorizing the issuance of permits for commercial filming are required to maintain engineering and work practice controls sufficient to protect employees from exposure to blood and/or any other potentially infectious materials controls consistent with California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 5193. Engineering and work practice controls include, but are not limited to: (a) Simulation of sex acts using acting, production and post- production techniques; (b) Ejaculation outside workers' bodies; (c) Provision of and required use of condoms whenever acts of vaginal or anal sex are performed during the production of an adult film; and (d) The provision of condom-safe water-based or silicone-based lubricants to facilitate the use of condoms.

So if the State controlled sex, that's what you'd get  Bye bye Boy Butter.   Interestingly, you don't even have to be having sex, just pretending to have sex evokes the requirements to have a permit.  Yes, the mind does boggle.  It also doesn't require condoms for oral sex - which is interesting.

(5) Any film permit issued under the authority of the City of Los Angeles or the Los Angeles Police Department pursuant to Section 12.22(A)(13) of this Code or any other law authorizing the issuance of permits for commercial filming for the production of an adult film must expressly condition said permit on compliance with subsection (4) of this section. Any such permit shall contain the following language: "Permittee must abide by all applicable workplace health and safety regulations, including California Code of Regulations Title 8, Section 5193, which mandates barrier protection, including condoms, to shield performers from contact with blood or other potentially infectious material during the production of films."

(6) The City shall charge, or shall direct any other person or entity contracting with the City to administer the film permitting process, to charge, entertainment industry customers seeking permits for the production of adult films a fee sufficient to allow periodic inspections to ensure compliance with the conditions setforth in Section 12.22.1 (B)(4).

Now, I should say that I am not trained in US law (big big caveat!) but given the wording of the provision, I read California Code of Regulations Title 8, Section 5193.  According to the ordinance, this requires barrier protection (condoms) and is being ignored.  I would welcome some input from US academics/activists on this point as I've had a quick read of the regulations and can't see it.  Where is this requirement?  Moreover, the regulations were quite clearly not intended (I would suggest) to extend so widely as to encompass such activity.  I must be missing something!

In Their Room - Documentary Project

I picked up on this project via the excellent blog The Sword (NSFW). In Their Room (2009-present) is an on-going multi-city documentary series about gay men, bedrooms and intimacy. The series veers into the bedrooms of men where you see them doing everything from the most banal to the sometimes more erotic. Complimenting the revealing nature of their everyday activities are confessional interviews about fantasies, turn-ons and vulnerabilities.

The project has filmed in San Francisco and Berlin, and they are now looking for some funding to enable them to travel to London. It sounds a wonderful film project, and you can read more/pledge money here.

Journal Alert: Sexualities

A new issue of Sexualities has been published.  I've not had chance to read it yet but the content looks brilliant.  Check out the full contents below:

Feature: Queer Netherlands

Queer Netherlands: A puzzling example Gert Hekma and Jan Willem Duyvendak Sexualities 2011;14 625-631

‘As long as they keep away from me’: The paradox of antigay violence in a gay-friendly country Laurens Buijs, Gert Hekma, and Jan Willem Duyvendak Sexualities 2011;14 632-652

Hearts, groins and the intricacies of gay male open relationships: Sexual desire and liberation revisited Tony Coelho Sexualities 2011;14 653-668  

Spontaneous pleasures: Sex between women in public places Sasha Albert Sexualities 2011;14 669-680


‘You will always have to "out" yourself’: Reconsidering coming out through strategic outness Jason Orne Sexualities 2011;14 681-703

The penis as public part: Embodiment and the performance of masculinity in public settings Jared Del Rosso Sexualities 2011;14 704-724

‘Deep down where the music plays’: How parents account for childhood gender variance Tey Meadow Sexualities 2011;14 725-747

Book Reviews

Travis SK Kong, Chinese Male Homosexualities: Memba, Tongzhi and Golden Boy Sexualities 2011;14 748-750

Sexualities 2011;14 750-752

David Caron, My Father and I: The Marais and the Queerness of Community Sexualities 2011;14 752-

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Chad States: Cruising For Sex

I can't believe I've missed this project prior to today. Flavorwire reports on a fascinating art project and book focusing on the public sex as a visual performance.

The site notes that 'for Philadelphia-based photographer Chad States, whose work we spotted thanks to Feature Shoot, taking snapshots of guys cruising for anonymous sex in state parks wasn’t about passing judgement or navel gazing. Instead, his photos are a celebration of a part of gay culture that he says has been killed by the Internet, and “the sexual intimacy, however fleeting, that happens there.”'

Read the full story and check out some pictures here.  The book can be purchased from the US publisher here, and Brits can buy the book from Amazon (I've just ordered it) here.

I don't accept the assertion that the Internet is killing cruising, but it's certainly contribution to the decline of public sex but other factors - park management, policing, the extension of normative frameworks, legal equality moves and so on have had as much impact, if not more so, than the emergence of Gaydar, Grindr, Manhunt and the rest.  This project is important for capturing something of the visual experience of cruising - crucially doing so in the daylight - which probably skews the history of cruising.  I'll ponder more once I've had the pleasure of looking at this collection.

To Russia with Love

The decidedly 'straight' Putin
Pink News reports that International protest against St Petersburg’s new law banning the promotion of “sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism” have continued with a video highlighting the law’s effect. The would punish the promotion of homosexuality with a fine of 5,000 roubles, £107 or up to 50,000 roubles, £1,070 for holders of public posts.  Being gay is bad, being gay when you influence others is very very bad.

I'm not sure of the impact the video will have in stopping people from travelling to Russia, but it does help to raise this issue.

There is, I think, a sense that Russian politics are shifting at the moment and even if Putin wins (as expected) the Russian presidential election which takes place tomorrow, his grip on power is apparently slipping and growing number soy Russians openly question his leadership and seek greater democracy.

Protests against him are on the increase and his Soviet-esque authoritarian brand of Russian politics increasingly seems out of kilter with a  new generation of Russians.  It is that movement which I suspect will ultimately lead to progress on social issues such as gay rights, rather than a few tourists not going to St Petersburg for a holiday.

Check out the full story here.

New HIV-specific Criminal Law

Interesting news coming out of Maryland, USA. Lawmakers in the Maryland legislature are considering legislation which will change the state’s HIV-specific criminal law from a three-year misdemeanor to a 25-year felony.  The move appears to be prompted by a perception that people have been 'let off lightly' by the courts.  As across the globe, law is being used as an instrument to a dress issues f disclosure, consent, knowledge and even race.  This move is ill-advised but we'll see what happens.  The growing and deepening criminalisation of HIV is a vital issue that remains all-too-silent.  These ongoing developments in North America are worrying.

Check out the full story here.

The Dogg Goes Walkies

Damon Dogg - formerly of Treasure Island Media (NSFW) - revealed on Twitter at the start of the year that he had left TIM and was branching out into new projects.  He indicated in responses to followers that he had done so 'very willingly' but also that he couldn't talk about why he left and there was never (as far as I can see) an "I'm off" style tweet.  In January, his Flickr stream featured a name page photograph of 'Damon Dogg, Factory Videos' from XBIZLA so we kinda knew where he had moved to.

In fact, I hadn't noticed anything else reporting his departure.  TIM's blog continued to make reference to Dogg as part of promotion for Manfuck Manifesto, the TIM tattoo challenge and the SD/STW promo in New Orleans in February.  None of these posts indicated that he was still part of the company, but nor did they suggest otherwise.  He was clearly part of the TIM narrative.  He has been a high profile figure in front of and behind the camera and his tattoo (see right) will continue to see him as a TIM figure.  It will be interesting to see if it remains, and what the tatt will continue to mean for this particularly notoriously dirty Dogg.

Yesterday, AVN reported on the move and formally indicated he had joined Factory Video Productions (NSFW) following  GP Times reporting the story on Thursday

Factory is where Dogg worked previously and even once Damon had made his name with TIM via his 'Damon Blows America' series, Factory included him as part of a compilation of scenes from those past performers who had moved on to be porn 'stars' (not a term TIM would ever use).  Consequently, you can see a young (and much more innocent looking) Dogg in 'First Cum' (NSFW) released by Factory.  So arguably, he's now back where it all began.

The news story (which reads very much like a verbatim press release) states that  Factory Videos is happy to welcome the return of two infamously creative directors. The first, Leif Gobo is apparently a veteran of nearly 20 years of adult video production with companies that span the range of gay porn. Gobo has directed for many big studios, including Falcon and Raging Stallion among many more.

'The notorious Damon Dogg, formerly of Treasure Island Media, began his career in porn with Factory Videos back in 2001. Damon Dogg has since been influential in the direction of reality based gonzo style bareback porn. Plowing down boundaries and previously “untouchable” topics in documenting sleazy man sex, today, Dogg is working with Factory Video producing his new studio Damon Dogg’s Cum Factory. Dogg is also joining the company's travelling production team to assist in finding the sleaziest men in the US.'

Interestingly his notoriety - or rather that associated with TIM - is what helps to add value to his appointment for the company.  Finally, we are told that Factory Videos based in San Francisco, currently has 10 full time employees on staff. Factory has been continuing to grow steadily since starting in 1998. It has a collection of over 350 DVDs, eight commerce web sites and an affiliate program,

What could they possibly mean by these 'untouchable' topics?  Dogg's BarebackRT profile (a sort of bareback Gaydar for those not familiar with the site) - which is linked from his current blog - clearly states that he is HIV positive and given he is (as also indicated on his blog) a versatile bottom.  Scenes from his new films, already posted on his blog, indicate that there will be fucking aplenty.  These scenes will clearly position Factory alongside TIM as a company openly producing 'positive' porn.  This is interesting in itself but given the recent LA condom measure law and attempts to extend it across California, it adds to the seeding of bareback and high-profile poz porn bareback studios in the State at a very time when some in the porn industry must be hoping they'll be quiet.

Gay men barebacking on camera is enough to get law-makers in a tizz it seems.  Men barebacking on camera who are HIV positive may just finish some of those law-makers off.   Defibrillators on stand-by!

A number of recently high profile TIM characters have been silent in recent times - Gehno, Ryan Sullivan and of course, Dawson all spring to mind.  Whilst TIM appears to increasingly 'introduce' characters it doesn't quite say goodbye to the same figures (and the above trio may still be working for TIM - certainly RS was the last time I asked but I think Gehno is gone and Dawson 'retired').  On the one hand, you might ask, well why?  Why bother continuing to tell their story, or explain their departure when they re no longer on the pay-roll?

Well, given the way these figures are defined as individuals, there is an understandable desire among fans for knowledge about 'what happened next', and in the case of someone like Dogg, he will always be TIM wherever he is.  I don't know, it's one aspect of the whole porn industry that I sort of understand why it's done, but at same time, I don't quite understand.  Take football (soccer to my American friends), players are celebrated when they join a club, but well-loved players and managers are still respected and celebrated long after moving to other clubs.  Dogg is one of those iconic players at TIM, and as such he'll long be remembered in the same breath as TIM whether he continues to work for them or not.  The fans seem to get that, but I'm not sure TIM - along with the rest of the industry - get that.

Dogg also blogs (NSFW) about his new projects (and various other bits and bobs) here (curiously, Dogg's previous blog has been deleted)

Gay-Straight Alliance Club

The Guardian carries a wonderfully uplifting story today concerning Copland community school in Wembley which imports US model in which gay and straight pupils join forces to tackle discrimination. 

The Guardian notes that: 'In the US, where there are such clubs in more than 4,000 high schools, the alliances support gay pupils, creating an environment where they can socialise with straight friends and work together against discrimination. At the London school, the alliance was the brainchild of sixth-former Kimberley Duah, 18, who ran for election as head girl pledging to set one up.'

For me, the most powerful aspect of the story is that posters in the school were initially ripped down.  This has result in ladders now being used to place the posters higher.  Too often these initiatives can be an opportunity for an organisation to tick another box, to appear able to say "look at us, we're brilliant" but the ripping down of these posters  -and the continued need to place them high on the walls - serves to evidence the very real need for this group.  It's not just some PR exercise, or media stunt.  It is a positive and very real attempt to address what is clearly an environment in which homophobic attitudes continue to be evident.  Things seem to be starting to change in the school which is to be welcomed and how wonderful that these bright kids have taken ownership of the problem and sought to lead a solution.

Nonetheless, there are evidently challenges ahead.  Although the school indicates they have had no complaints from parents etc, the Guardian piece does note that the school is located 'in an area with a substantial south Asian population, many children's views are shaped by the religious beliefs of their parents.'  This raises questions about the course schools are on in tackling homophobia and the potential challenge that may well come at some point from groups arguing that their religious freedom is being infringed.  A long culture war continues to stretch before us.

Read the full Guardian piece here.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Help Wanted: The Strange Decline of the English Cottage

I really hope that some blog readers can help out with this film project.  I did an interview with them last year as one of the 'experts' but they also want to document individual stories of cottaging.  They are an enlightened bunch and worth helping out if you can.  It's so important that we document these public sex narratives.

Here's the shout-out from them:

The Strange Decline of the English Cottage (working title) is a documentary currently being made about history and decline of cottaging in the UK. We are currently looking for people to help us by contributing their real life stories of cottaging experiences so that we can record them using voice actors and then use them to weave the story of cottaging.

We are interested in hearing from everyone who has a story they would like to share whether it is amusing or perhaps more cautionary. A lot of people have had bad experiences involving the police or queer bashers and it is important that we record these experiences for posterity.

We are also very interested in hearing from married men who cottage or used to cottage. We would like to record your experiences of cottaging rituals, practises and practises, using or responding to graffiti as well as why you cottaged and the small details that stick in your memory.

If you are interested in finding out more or you have a story you would like to share, please email Graham at

Here's their Tumblr account relating to the project.
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