Sunday, 30 December 2012

Bishop Gene Robinson is about to retire

The Right Reverend Gene Robinson, 9th bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire in the US Episcopal Church, was the first priest in an openly gay relationship to be ordained a bishop in a major Christian denomination. Although he was elected by the House of Bishops, with 62 in favour, 43 opposed and 2 abstaining, Robinson received hate mail and had to wear a bullet proof vest at his consecration ceremony on 2 November 2003. The ceremony was held in the presence of Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and six co-consecrating bishops. 48 bishops in all attended the ceremony.

Bishop Robinson is set to officially retire on 5th January 2013, bringing an end to the career that helped break homophobic barriers within the Anglican church in the US. As he prepares for the next step in his life, Robinson says he's in awe of the rapid progress his religion has made in the nine years since he first became bishop.

Reported on Towleroad:

For more information about the Bishop:

UPDATE - 31 December 2012
Bishop Robinson reflects on his tenure in New Hampshire

Unsurprisingly, he was not the first bishop to love another man, though he was the first openly gay man to be elected as a bishop.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Ryan Grant Long's History of Gay Love

I found this through one of my Facebook 'likes' ( The link below takes you to the first of a series of pages on a calendar he created for his Master of Fine Arts thesis.

He gives his reasons for choosing the format on the first page and there are 15 images drawn from various periods and places. Some of the comments at the foot of the page are interesting, but I like the style and would say that the piece generates discussion of things that often get ignored - like 'if the concept of the "homosexual" comes from the late 19th century, were the men in the Sacred Band of Thebes homosexual or not?'

One of the interesting things about LGBT history, for me, is the use of language - and the ways in which that language changes and evolves over time.

Monday, 24 December 2012

A Seasonal Message...

With thanks to Polari Magazine

A Fantabulosa Reading from the Polari Bible
David Benson, with the spirit of Kenneth Williams upon him, reads from the Polari Bible of how the fairy Gabriel foretold the birth of the saviour, Josie Crystal.
Written by David Benson, Copyright © Polari Magazine

Previous posts about Polari: - There's a link to the Polari Bible at the foot of this post.

Sadly, I've never found readings for Hanukkah, Diwali, the Winter Solstice, Yule.... Hey ho.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

First openly gay judge to be appointed Chancellor of the UK's High Court

Lord Justice Terrence Etherton, the first senior judge to be in a civil partnership, has been appointed as Chancellor of the High Court, or head of the Chancery Division. The post is one of the most senior judicial roles in England and Wales.

He was called to the bar in 1974,  becoming a Queen's Counsel in 1990. He was appointed a High Court Judge on 11 January 2001 and assigned to the Chancery Division, receiving the customary knighthood. In August 2006, he was appointed Chairman of the Law Commission, the statutory independent body created to keep the law under review and to recommend reform where needed.

On 29 September 2008, he took the post of Lord Justice of Appeal and received the customary appointment to the Privy Council. On 20 December 2012, it was announced he had been appointed Chancellor of the High Court with effect from 11 January 2013.

For more information on Sir Terence:

Monday, 10 December 2012

Speaking LGBT Chinese

Traditional terms for homosexuality in Chinese included "the passion of the cut sleeve" and "the bitten peach". An example of the latter term appears in a 6th century poem by Liu Xiaozhuo:

     She dawdles, not daring to move closer,
     Afraid he might compare her with leftover peach.

There are many tales of the passion of male nobles for each other, which at the time was considered a time-honoured tradition. This pattern continued through succeeding dynasties, with times of greater and lesser tolerance. The relationships were often structured along age lines, though that does not seem to have been a requirement, as it was with the Greek and Japanese traditions.

In more recent times the historical and literary records are more complete, showing male love in other circles, such as among the scholars and among the common people.

In the province of Fujian especially, boy marriages were common. The older man would pay a bride price to the parents and take the boy to live with him for a number of years, until he was old enough to marry.

The tradition of male love survived until the early years of this century, when it succumbed to the general Westernisation of culture and morals. Presently, male love is frowned upon both in Communist China as well as in Taiwan and is considered a western import, and against traditional Chinese morals.

The characters top left mean "the passion of the cut sleeve" [duànxiù zhī pǐ]. Those above on the right mean "the bitten peach" [fēntáo].

It seems that the fear of new uses of established words to describe same sex desire is not restricted to English speakers. The compilers of the most recent edition of the Contemporary Chinese Dictionary have left out the gay usage of the Mandarin word ‘tongzhi’ (characters to the left). Used among Communists to mean ‘comrade’ but literally meaning "same will" or "same purpose", it has lately been adopted by Chinese gay people as a positive way to refer to each other. One of the dictionary compilers said that they did not want to encourage using the word in this way: ‘We know homosexuals call each other “tongzhi” but a normative dictionary won't include that meaning, no matter how the term has been informally used. We don't want to advocate or bring attention to such things.’

Other related items:
2400 Years of Homosexuality in China - thanks to Polari Magazine
Tu Er Shen, the god & safeguarder of homosexual affections

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Jewel Box Revue

In 1939, a time when gay people were 'a threat to society', two lovers, Danny Brown and Doc Benner, created and produced America's first racially inclusive traveling revue of female impersonators. It was staffed almost entirely by gay men and one gay woman and was known as the Jewel Box Revue. In many ways, it was America's first gay community.

More detail in an article at The Huffington Post:

Other sources: - with broken image links

Monday, 3 December 2012

Christine Jorgensen

Sixty years ago this past weekend, Christine Jorgensen became one of the first people to be widely known to have undergone gender reassignment surgery.

The Christine Jorgensen site: - the site's introduction page has a clip of a press conference from when Christine returned to the US after her surgery in Denmark.

Other sources:

Earlier cases:
The earliest know male to female transition, including surgery, was that of Lili Elbe

The first female to male trans person to under phalloplasty was Dr Michael Dillon

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Today is World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day, observed on 1 December every year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection.

For the history of World AIDS Day:

What everyone should know about HIV:
An NAT (National AIDS Trust) website.

The GMFA (Gay Men Fighting AIDS) website is here:

The THT (Terrence Higgins trust) website: