Ma Baoli was accustomed to secrets.
By day, he was a police officer in northern China with a wife and a knack for street chases. By night, he led a life as a gay man, furtively running a website for gay people across China at a time when many were viewed as criminals and deviants.
For 16 years, Mr. Ma kept his secret, worried that coming out would mean expulsion from the police force and estrangement from his family. Then in 2012, his superiors at a police department in Qinhuangdao, a coastal city in Hebei Province, uncovered his website and he resigned.
Tag Archives: Gender Equality
Ma Baoli was accustomed to secrets.
When the US supreme court ruled in favour of same-sex marriage last year, the White House welcomed it with rainbow-coloured lights and many people celebrated by adding a rainbow tint to their Facebook profile.For the authorities in Saudi Arabia, though, this was cause for alarm rather than celebration, alerting them to a previously unnoticed peril in their midst. The first casualty was the privately run Talaee Al-Noor school in Riyadh which happened to have a rooftop parapet painted with rainbow stripes. According to the kingdom’s religious police, the school was fined 100,000 riyals ($26,650) for displaying “the emblem of the homosexuals” on its building, one of its administrators was jailed and the offending parapet was swiftly repainted to match a blue rainbow-free sky.
Less than 24 hours after committing the worst mass shooting in US history, Omar Mateen’s narrative was crystallising along two contradictory but familiar lines. On the one hand, the man who murdered 49 people at Orlando LGBT club Pulse was seen as a typical radical Islamist terrorist – despite the secular American life he had apparently led, and the absence of any links to ISIS beyond his own declaration of “allegiance”. In parallel, and despite this ostensibly cancelling out the first narrative, Mateen was also stereotyped as a self-hating closet case
One day in June 2014, Dutee Chand was cooling down after a set of 200-meter sprints when she received a call from the director of the Athletics Federation of India, asking her to meet him in Delhi. Chand, then 18 and one of India’s fastest runners, was preparing for the coming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, her first big international event as an adult. Earlier that month, Chand won gold in both the 200-meter sprint and the 4-by-400-meter relay at the Asian Junior Athletics Championships in Taipei, Taiwan, so her hopes for Scotland were high.
Chand was raised in Gopalpur, a rural village in eastern India with only intermittent electricity. The family home was a small mud hut, with no running water or toilet. Her parents, weavers who earned less than $8 a week laboring on a government-issued loom, were illiterate. They had not imagined a different life for their seven children, but Chand had other ideas. Now, as she took the five-hour bus ride to Delhi from a training center in Punjab, she thought about her impending move to Bangalore for a new training program. She wondered if she would make friends, and how she’d manage there without her beloved coach, who had long been by her side, strategizing about how best to run each race and joking to help her relax whenever she was nervous. She thought little of the meeting in Delhi, because she assumed it was for a doping test.
At the Olympics, one question will hang over the female athletes: are you a real woman, whatever that is?
The suggestion that two transgender women were close to being selected for the British Olympic team was met with outrage earlier this month. LGBT advocates were upset that trans athletes would have to face any queries at all over their right to compete as women, while others insisted that only “biological females” should do so. We are assured that the inclusion of trans women in Olympic sports, which is now possible after a rule change, is unfair because they will have a “natural advantage” over other women. Detractors accuse trans athletes, in advance, of cheating. We’re all for transgender rights, many argue, but this is taking it a bit far. What if they win?
In the Palestinian social media, a fight is going on, which is being ignored by the West. There are two people in the foreground: Mohamed Asaf and Tamer Nafar. Asaf is a pop singer from Gaza, very popular not only among the Palestinians, but in the entire Arab world and even in some places in Europe. He is supported by Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian authorities; they proclaimed him the cultural Ambassador of Palestine. With a beautiful voice he sings soft love and patriotic songs in a pop style. Politically he is a unifying personality, since he is above political divisions, supporting only the freedom for Palestine. In March this year Asaf said in an interview, that in the name of “sustaining the tradition” he won’t allow his sister to sing in public. Tamer Nafar, a Palestinian rapper, who is the main actor of Udi Aloni’s film Junction 48 and also the co-screenwriter of the film, replied to Asaf in a touching open letter:
“If any other pop singer would have said: ‘In accordance with our tradition women can’t sing in public and I personally value this tradition, therefore I can’t let my sister sing,’ I would protest and confront him, but because it’s about Asaf, our Cinderella from Gaza, I am left feeling still angry, but above all, I’m sad.
Just like the Palestinians, who in support of Mohamed Asaf first gathered on the streets of Gaza and the West Bank, in the diaspora, refugee camps and inside the area, out of which they squeezed us in the year of 1948, I also call on Asaf to join us at these same streets to give incentive to the girl from Yemen, Gaza, Morocco, Jordania or Lid – to the girl, which dreams to sing, dance, write and compete on the Arab Talents. Because we are Palestinians, we have to fight against the Israeli apartheid and gender inequalities. I dream for us to walk with hand in hand, for a woman to hold a man by his hand in the fight against the walls that divide us. It’s not smart to march each by himself and simultaneously call for unity!
Do you want to talk about tradition? From personal experiences I can tell you, that I was an angry kid from the ghetto in Lide. I only calmed down after my mother sung to me. This is the tradition I want to conserve! Therefore, our dear Arab sisters, sing, as loud as you can, cross borders, so we will calm down. Freedom for everyone or for nobody!”
Somewhere in the middle of the night in a Central African rainforest, a chimpanzee gives birth. Soon after, as the sun rises, mother and newborn sit there, dazed, amid a coffee klatch of friends and relatives. Inevitably, at some point, virtually every member of the group will come over, pull the kid’s legs apart and sniff: Boy or girl?
It’s the most binary question in biology, producing an answer that is set in stone. But in reality the binary nature of gender isn’t all that binary after all. Biologists have long known about exceptions to the boring, staid notion that organisms are, and remain, either female or male. Now our culture is inching toward recognizing that the permanent, cleanly binary nature of gender is incorrect.
In the late 1990s, Eric Rudolph — raised Catholic and affiliated for a time with a Christian Identity sect — bombed abortion clinics and a gay bar, insisting they were venues of immorality and evil. Last July, an Orthodox Jewish Israeli attacked the marchers in the Jerusalem LGBT pride parade, stabbing six of them, and one of them, a teenager, died of her wounds; justifying his attacks by appealing to Talmudic punishments for homosexuality, he had just been released from a 10-year prison term for doing the same in 2005. Yesterday, a Christian pastor from Arizona, Steven Anderson, praised the slaughter of 49 people in an Orlando LGBT club on the ground that “homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts” and are “pedophiles.”
Stop Exploiting LGBT Issues to Demonize Islam and Justify Anti-Muslim Policies
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