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Showing Your Colors – Four Examples

(Blogmensgo, gay blog of May 19, 2019) Four different actions that seem to have nothing to do with each other at first, but are all aimed at improving the perception of homosexuality and combating homophobia: The American news magazine Time and the French sports journal L'Équipe Magazine want to show more queer couples on the front page, the Canadian government is issuing coins to commemorate the decriminalization of homosexuality, and Transport for London (TfL) will no longer allow ads from countries where homosexuality is suppressed.

Which of these four initiatives is the bravest? Which one will have the greatest impact on people? And which one will ultimately have the most positive impact on the LGBT community?

The chapters at a glance:

Pete Buttigieg and his husband on the cover of Time Magazine

Time Magazine, edition of March 13, 2019, features a possible First Family on the title of its American (but not its international) edition: A couple that could perhaps take the place of Donald Trump and his wife after the upcoming presidential elections.

Pete and Chasten Buttigieg

The US presidency in the limelight, with Pete Buttigieg (right) and his husband Chasten on the cover page. ©Time

On the cover you can see a male couple arm in arm, namely the politician Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten Buttigieg (né Glezman). Currently, Buttigieg is “only” a mayor running as a presidential candidate. The American weekly is causing a double sensation: firstly by putting a Democratic Party primary candidate on the front page even though he still has win over nineteen other candidates, and secondly by photographing Pete and Chasten as a couple, just like Donald and Melania and their White House predecessors, Barack and Michelle, George Jr. and Laura, Bill and Hillary, George Sr. and Barbara.

For the first time since the 2013 issue on gay marriage, a gay couple appears on the cover of Time. The weekly could just as well have picked a better known democratic candidate couple.

The mayor of South Bend is of course not only present on the front page of the magazine, but the article “The Mayor” goes over seven pages inside the magazine. Apart from many rather irrelevant lines, Buttigiegs’ very positive attitude towards homophobes is remarkable: according to him, homophobes are often potential homophiles, which is why he does not strongly condemn their attitude. Experience has shown him that an initial negative reaction can change over time into a much more positive, even militantly positive attitude.

In this change, gaining knowledge and information about homosexuality and homosexuals is at the forefront, and that is exactly what Pete Buttigiegs brings to the cover of Time: More knowledge, and therefore potentially more empathy for LGBT people than rejection.

It can be assumed that Pete Buttigieg deliberately uses a word from Barack Obama’s parlance: audacity. We will see if the candidate’s bold attitude will eventually bring him to the White House.

L’Équipe talks about homophobia in sport and clearly opposes it

The French sports newspaper L'Équipe hat hasn’t just put a gay sports couple on the front page of its May 4, 2019 issue: The two men kiss each other on the mouth while playing water polo. The photo made big waves and flooded social networks with comments that were sometimes enthusiastic and sometimes hateful, but rarely indifferent.

Two water polo players kissing on the front cover of  <em>L'Équipe</em>

A kiss between team mates… ©lequipe.fr

L'Équipe not only devotes the front page to the topic, but also prints an 88-page article on the perception of homosexuality and homophobia in sports. This publication comes at the same time as a television documentary film, which is coauthored by gay footballer Yoann Lemaire. “Several French world champions and Noël Le Graët, President of the FFF, refused to comment,” regrets the sports magazine.

The article starts with a detailed part about Justin Fashanu, the only “great” professional footballer who has revealed his homosexuality during his career. Even his US colleague Robbie Rogers withdrew immediately after the revelation of his homosexuality.

Several athletes, such as shot-putter Laurence Manfredi, talk about their homosexuality, their coming out and the reactions of family, friends, other athletes and fans. L'Équipe also deals in detail with the homophobia that prevails in stadiums in general and in football stadiums in particular, whether in France, England, Brazil or Mexico. Amateur sport, especially football, is not forgotten either. Unfortunately, there are no comments by referees from the various sports, which would have been very important.

Transport for London bans ads from homophobic countries

Transport for London (TfL) has recently banned all advertising from 12 countries with very low human rights standards that more or less explicitly criminalize homosexuality, with six of these countries threatening gays and lesbians with the death penalty.

Sadiq Kahn #EveryLoveMatters

Sadiq Kahn. The Mayor of London is a Muslim and supports LGBT awareness campaigns, as here in 2018. ©Greater London Authority

In April 2019, the London Transport Authority first banned all poster campaigns from Brunei on its entire network after the Oil Sultanate had just announced a strict application of Sharia law (Islamic law), which provides for the stoning of adult women and homosexuals.

Eleven other countries follow, all with Muslim majorities, which are listed here in alphabetical order (in italics those where sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex are even punishable by death): Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The local transport company TfL based its advertising ban on a statement by the International Association of LGBTI People (Ilga). The 12 countries, their public or semi-public agencies, their media and any advertising agency they commission no longer have the right to advertise for these homophobic countries.

This proactive campaign, launched by ecologist Caroline Russell, was convincingly implemented by London Mayor Sadiq Khan (himself a Muslim) and then by TfL.

London Pride 2018

TfL not only supports the London Pride (here 2018), but is also clearly committed to its position. ©tfl.gov.uk

For contractual reasons, TfL may not currently rename the London cableway Emirates Air Line cable. After expiry of the contractual obligation, however, a change of name is quite possible.

Canada commemorates the decriminalization of homosexuality with a coin

Kanadische 1-Dollar-Gedenkmünze in Rollen zu 25 Stück

25 Dollars and a strong symbol. ©mint.ca

Égalité/Equality – this is the title under which the Royal Canadian Mint officially issued a 1-dollar coin on April 23, 2019 “in honour of the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada”. The “equality” dollar shows two dates: the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada (1969) and the issuance of this exceptional coin (2019). It shows a stylized image of two people kissing under a maple tree, the symbol of Canada.

Here the very successful video clip to this collector’s item on YouTube:

The "Equality" coin is not available separately but only as a roll of 25 coins for 54.95 Canadian dollars (36 euros), more than twice the face value. A special edition of 15,000 rolls of 25 coins each is available outside the usual trade channels, but only for residents of Canada or the United States.

The Royal Mint has also issued a second “Equality” coin, also in 15,000 copies and outside the usual trade channels. This 10-dollar coin (6.6 euros) was sold in a special box. The unit price of 49.95 Canadian dollars (33 euros) is explained by the very pure silver alloy, the fine color production and the numbering of each copy. Two kissing people (obviously two men) are also shown, framed by the words equality and égalité.

Joe Average

Joe Average, the artist who designed the Canadian LGBTQ commemorative coins. ©mint.ca

Designed by Joe Average (verso, “LGBTQ2” and gender fluid) and Susanna Blunt (obverse, Queen Elisabeth II), these coins represent “a special appreciation of diversity, freedom to love the person of choice and the path to integration”. The circulation is limited to three million copies.

In 1969, the Canadian Parliament decriminalized same-sex relationships between two consensual adults, while the legal age of majority was still 21 years. Joe Average lives as an artist in Vancouver and has been HIV positive since 1984. Presumably, he also designed the trailer for these special commemorative coins.

LGBT commemorative 10-dollar coin

A great gift for LGBT friends. ©mint.ca

The four topics at a glance

Each of these four initiatives has made headlines, but has also triggered controversy in the respective country – proof that homophobia remains omnipresent even after the legalization of gay marriage. Here is an overview of the topics in this article:

  1. Pete Buttigieg and his husband on the cover of Time Magazine
  2. L’Équipe talks about homophobia in sport and clearly opposes it
  3. Transport for London bans ads from homophobic countrie
  4. Canada commemorates the decriminalization of homosexuality with a coin

Which of these four initiatives is the bravest? That is certainly a matter of taste.

Which of these four initiatives will have the greatest and most lasting impact? It is difficult to predict – but all four are very meaningful.

Frank-S / MensGo

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