Monday, 27 February 2012

Event: Bodies of Law / Law and the Body

Regular readers, especially postgraduate students may be interested in this forthcoming event.

Bodies of Law / Law and the Body
An interdisciplinary conference for postgraduate and early-career academics in the area of law, gender and sexuality
Friday 30 March 2012 School of Law, University of Westminster, London, UK

 Law mediates various power structures and is interwoven with numerous other knowledges that participate in the construction, normalization and regulation of bodies, such as medicine, social media, religion and the nation-state. Numerous feminist legal scholars have commented on law’s intimate relationship to, for example, medical discourses, arguing that the shape of legal power has changed to more regulatory and disciplinary forms. Inevitably law’s relationship to bodies/states of embodiment alters as it takes on these increasingly pervasive roles. One might conclude that the notion of a space where the law will not intervene is a liberal fantasy, out of step with the reality of law’s operations. How, then, should law be evaluated and/or harnessed?

Our interdisciplinary one-day workshop aims to cover these and other issues pertaining to law and the body.

Event Details
Draft Programme and further information 

Venue: Room CLG.09, New Cavendish Site, 115 New Cavendish St, University of Westminster 

Registration and Fees Conference fees - £15 Includes lunch and refreshments

To register please click link and follow on screen payment instructions Registration closes 20/03/12. Places are limited. For further information, please see our website at or contact Nikki Godden at

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Irish 'Romeo & Juliet' Law

The Irish Independent carried a fascinating story this week in which a case re-asserted that teenage boys can continue to be prosecuted for underage sex in Ireland while teen girls are exempt.

The Independent states that: He was charged with having underage sex with the girl under the Sexual Offences Act 2006. Section five of this act states that a girl under the age of 17 will not be guilty of an offence by reason only of her engaging in an act of sexual intercourse. When he took a challenge to his prosecution in the High Court, he claimed he was being discriminated against on grounds of gender. His lawyers argued that his constitutional and European Convention rights had been breached. The High Court dismissed the challenge. Upholding that decision yesterday, the Supreme Court also awarded the costs of taking the case against the State and the DPP. The court unanimously ruled the law was constitutional, because lawmakers could take account of the danger of pregnancy for teenage girls in such cases.

Read the full story here.

Condom Battles and Orwellian Truth

John Manuel-Andriote is the latest to weigh in on the LA condom law battle.  He uses his article on the Huffington post website to address the issue of depictions of bareback sex in m/m films. he notes: In a 2005 meeting in San Francisco, sponsored by the city's Gay Men's Community Initiative, a group of 70 men discussed sex, including porn videos. They spoke frankly. "Twink barebacking is reprehensible, using kids, paying them to risk their lives," said Titan Media vice president Keith Webb of the growing number of porn movies depicting unprotected anal intercourse. Such films "fetishize internal ejaculation," he said.

'Several of the men pointed to Treasure Island Media's 2004 title Dawson's 20-Load Weekend as an example of irresponsible gay filmmaking for its celebration of what most rational people would deem suicidal behavior. The company's website boasts of a worldwide demand for the movie, tantalizing buyers to pony up $49 with promises of forbidden scenes of a "fresh young man" who "goes from being a barebacking newcomer to a true Power Cumdump as he takes on man after man after man."

'Treasure Island cameraman Nick Stevens defended the movie in the forum. "Our movies are for models to have sex the way they want," he said. "Why should we not film that?"'

OK, so a forum including market competitors to TIM objected to their films.  Err, well they would wouldn't they?  It's also interesting to see that TIM did engage in this debate back in 2005 and the market has meant ever more companies have re-focused to bareback production since.  This all seems to support Stevens and his assertion that it's the way folks - not just models actually - want to have sex, and the kind of sex they wish to bear witness to.

Manual-Andriote uses his piece to assert that 'safe sex is hot sex' (if you need telling something is hot, and you tried it not realising it was hot, it wasn't) and argues that 'endangering other men's lives for the sake of a fantasy has no place in the life of a truly proud gay man or in his erotic entertainment.'

The final statement is crucial in explaining the gulf between the barebackers/reckless risk takers and 'condom Nazis'/community safety activists for it pre-supposes that the films represent 'fantasy' which clearly they do in many respects but perhaps the most authentic element of the film is the bareback sex, the visible ceremonial display of semen strewn bodies and buttocks.  Yes, a film like Dawson's 20-Load Weekend seeks to place on barebacker on a  pedestal - a champion among deviants, but bareback - and TIM - more generally offer up bareback as a depiction of true desire.  If condoms represented true desire, they would arguably be embraced.

If the pro-condom lobby want to succeed in shifting attitudes they must recognise that the safety/fun equation has to shift.  Men used condoms when the risk/harm element outweighed the fun aspect.  In the modern world of HIV/AIDS treatment, that equation was re-calibrated and so too were the condom habits of men.  Draconian laws can not, and will not therefore succeed in truly removing bareback sex.  It will merely serve as an Orwellian attempt to define contemporary condom truth.

Read his full article here.

Cruising in Manchester: Operation Limehouse

The excellent Lesbian and Gay Foundation website features a news item for gay men' in Manchester - particularly those men who use the Rochdale Canal towpath for cruising.  The Canal runs through the City and the Gay Village (as the name 'Canal Street' might suggest) and has a long history of cruising and an often uneasy policing history.

This story is striking for not saying 'stop cruising' (which previous press releases from GMP have suggested) but rather focusing upon the issue of safety.  For me, this is a commendable shift in emphasis but even this story reflects the uneasy line that the Police find themselves walking when it comes to policing cruising locations.

The news item begins with context, noting that: 'The Canal’ has long been a popular cruising ground but city centre regeneration schemes have caused an increase in complaints about ‘public decency’ due to the fact that many people live and work in the area.'

So we begin with a  reminder of the price of gentrification.  As the Canal Street area has become redeveloped, new apartments, businesses and even a school move in.  This means that people might witness homosexuals or men engaging in acts regarded as 'homosexual'.  It's a gay space, in which gay visibility must conform to certain - sometimes regarded as heterosexist - norms.  Cruising become defined as an act of historical desperation.  An affront to our new liberal assimulationist society.  The absolute failure to assert a "we were here first" or "this is a queer space"  philosophy within Canal Street continues to result in a high cultural  and - as we increasingly see - legal price.

The story then goes into a pretty hardline section, revealing the purpose of Operation Limehouse:  PC Sam Tennant of the Village Neighbourhood policing team based at Bootle Street, Manchester says:

"Over the last few months, officers from Operation Limehouse - which has been established to help address an increase in reports of Anti-Social Behaviour along the Rochdale Canal tow-path - have spoken with many people at Piccadilly Basin Undercroft, providing them with crime prevention advice and have found the vast majority of people are willing to discuss matters with Police.

"However, there has been a persistent minority that seems determined to continue with illegal activity in the area.

"In the early hours of Saturday 18th February 2012, two arrests were made where one of accused was detained under suspicion of offences of Possession of a Controlled Substance, Assault Police, Section 47 Assault and Outraging Public Decency. The other male was arrested under suspicion of Outraging Public Decency.

"Whilst the first male has subsequently been charged for the aforementioned offences, the second admitted his actions at the scene and as a result was de-arrested, receiving a Caution for his behaviour. 

"Operation Limehouse will continue and Police (in uniform and plain clothes) will continue to engage with the public in this location and anyone found to be taking part in illegal activity will be liable for arrest."

So, in order to protect you, we will arrest you is the faintly barmy policing reality that affects men as part of this operation.  The Police have clearly tried softly softly, and men - shock horror - continue to want to have sex in these dangerous locations despite the risks that are presented to them.  At the same time, people are complaining - although the Police don't provide figures - about the men cruising the towpath.

To some extent, I'm reminded of Lord Denning in Miller v Jackson which involved people who lived in houses adjacent to a  cricket club complaining about cricket balls inadvertently landing in the neighbouring properties.  You might think - as Lord Denning did - that if you buy a property next to a cricket club that it's reasonable to expect the occasional sound of leather on willow and cricket ball on conservatory window.  Similarly, if one chooses to buy an apartment in a gay village, overlooking a cruising site used for over a hundred years for men to engage in sexual encounters, that the occasional moment of erotic naughtiness is likely to be witnessed.  However, just as Denning found himself expressing a dissenting view, so too do I in our current sexual paradigm.

The news story goes on to suggest that if you really must ignore us and continue having sex, please don't let anyone see you - as that's the key bit legally.  A bit more on this and the question of safety would have been welcomed.

Operation Limehouse is once again a reminder - for I am struck by how many people need reminding and for whom this comes as a surprise - that policing resources continue to be deployed in the policing of men engaging in consensual sex in long-established ephemeral public sex cultural locations.  Moreover, Limehouse reminds us of the competing agenda relating to safety, nuisance and equality that the Police must seek to navigate.

Read the full story here.

Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?

This is the name of a new book from Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore which will be available in the UK alter in the year.  I managed to get a copy sent over from the States last myth but other than a quick skim, I've not yet managed to read it properly.  However, it's already got many academics and folks interested in sexuality chatting about the ideas in this radical collection.  SF Weekly carries an interview with Sycamore in which she talks about her ideas and this new edited collection.

You can check it out here.

Obscenity Podcast: It's Obscene!

I should have known about this resource sooner but discovered it via the brilliant Melon Farmers website earlier today.  Last month, NorthPod Law produced a podcast exploring the implications of the Peacock case for the law and obscenity.  They assembled an excellent team of Alex Dymock, Myles Jackman and David Allen Green.  Check out the podcast below.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Did someone mention marriage?

Unless you've been living in a cave, you can't have missed the various same-sex marriage stories in recent days.  I continue to be snowed under with other projects, and lacking something terribly original to say, I've left it to others to provide a commentary.

That said, if you are looking for a great site to see the latest on the important US decision relating to the Perry case - and the legacy of proposition 8, I continue to recommend the Prop 8 Trial Tracker website run by the Courage Campaign.  Check it out here.   For what it's worth, I'm not sure we've yet heard the end of the Perry case.  More broadly, states in the US continue to grapple with the question of same-sex marriage, all of which is putting fuel in the furnace of right-wing GOP Presidential hopeful, Rick Santorum.

Closer to home, Stonewall published their draft marriage bill.  It's actually been incredibly well put together and seems ready for enacting as is.  In fact, I'd be amazed if parliamentary draughtsmen could do much better.  Stonewall address one of my questions about what would happen to Civil Partnerships.

Clearly under the the Stonewall bill, Civil Partnerships would continue to exist.  What is unclear - and what might be addressed in a Government bill - is the question of whether civil partnerships will still be available - and if so whether they will remain restricted to same-sex partners.  They could - and I would suggest should - extend Civil Partnerships to different-sex couples and allow both to operate.  We could yet have some of the most progressive partnership laws in the world, although clearly further reform would be ideal.  Stonewall are pushing for the marriage bill to be included in the next parliamentary session and I have a hunch that they'll get what they want.

Check out the excellent Stonewall bill in full here.

The Sex(y) Boy and Treasure Island Media

The controversial TIM poster
If you consider yourself the most controversial bareback porn company in the world, how to stay in the news?  How do you remain 'controversial'?  In practical terms this arguably means being ever more outrageous, more shocking and more scandalous.  A remorseless engine of filth and depravity.  Yet, rather like Jaws: The Revenge, there comes a point when things just don't work anymore.  It's a sequel too far.

I'm not sure we're there with Treasure Island Media (TIM) yet - they are a loved brand which continues to operate in the counter-cultural space of bareback sex - but the pressure is undoubtedly there to keep being controversial.

Yet, any such pressure could be ephemeral or indeed, misguided.  As long as legislators and judges keep seeking to use law as a tool to limit, and potentially criminalise bareback sex, TIM will be able to claim the role as counter-cultural icons.  Given the widespread practising of bareback sex within same-sex encounters, they are also able to be 'popular' counter-cultural icons.  A double win.

Moreover, simply being there and being the celebrated stuff of masturbatory sessions across the globe is not, and has never been enough for TIM (NSFW).  I was therefore fascinated to see them seek to associate themselves with another taboo act in recent weeks.  The taboo of taboos.  The big daddy of controversy.  Yes, inter-generation sex.

Legally defined typically as paedophilia when involving children, inter-generational sex remains the social horror of our time.  To label someone as a paedophile is to pronounce them socially and potentially physically dead.  They are transformed into the ultimate evil within society.  Our understanding of paedophilia is increasingly nebulous, encompassing someone who accidentally downloads a paedophile image alongside another who rapes a child.  Whilst we can accept that someone might want to watch The Sopranos and not seek to become a mob boss, Weeds and become a (fairly useless) drug dealer with cute kids or Hung and seek to become a wooden (in every sense) male escort, or indeed, even if we aspire to any of these things, we won't actually do it; we can not contemplate even curiosity around the image of someone under 18 years old.  This is is despite English law finding is acceptable to sleep with someone aged above 16 (shag 'em, just don't take a picture).  It is indeed a curious socio-legal landscape.

The original Edelfelt painting
Yet, despite this, I've been struck by the way in which social media - notable Twitter most recently - has enabled those aged below 18 and indeed, below 16 to express their sexual desires, arrange hook-ups and document their sexual encounters.  Similarly, uncertainty and fears are sometimes expressed.  In short, human beings and their complex sexual awakenings are laid bare.

Into this fascinating cultural maelstrom enters TIM, apparently deliberately seeking to play with the issue of age.

At the start of the month, TIM uploaded a poster on their social media sites promoting a new film release entitled Return to Meat Rack (it's a sequel but hopefully better than Jaws IV).  It depicted two boys playing with boats on a lake or by the sea.  The young boys and the composition evokes innocence, a deliberate counter-point to the function of the poster - promoting a film about men fucking.  To date, the postings on Facebook have resulted in 76 comments from TIM followers and fans with a mix of reactions but many are negative, suggesting that TIM have gone 'too far'.

It's through these comments however that we learn (thanks to one culture vulture fan) that the picture is in fact from Albert Edelfelt and a quick Googling reveals the picture to be dated from around 1885, an oil on canvas production and entitled 'Boys playing on the beach' (LeikkiviƤ poikia rannalla).  Interestingly, there is a third boy in the original picture (see above) who is edited out of the TIM composition.

An earlier TIM poster depicting a 'child'
None of this is entirely new however. TIM previously published rejected posters from years gone by including one allegedly of a young (rather affluent looking) Paul Morris, aged 8 on a scooter (pictured right).  The slogan - which apparently deliberately evokes inter-generational behaviour - states 'A Better World One Boy at a Time'.  Boy is one of those words that can be taken to mean a male child but which is also used extensively - especially in 'gay' circles - to denote a young male - typically twinkish looking which is to say slim, smooth, well errr, boyish.  A twinkly boy is OK to lust after, whilst a real one isn't.

All of which are broad points I've made before but it is TIM utilising the idea of age and hidden desire as a marketing tool which is fascinating and new.

They apparently believe - and I think they are right - that just as homosexuality, then bareback sex were desires which have had complex social and legal relationships, so too is inter-generational sex.  Put simply, they think that gay men probably quite like boys more than we'd care to admit.  Such is the history of claims that homosexuals were out to 'take your children' that once again a silence is imposed for social and political reasons within the gay community - and the point I accept at the start of this paragraph will be toxic for many.

Jackson Taylor
Yet, leaving that aside, there is the less radical, but perhaps no less controversial idea that children can be sexual beings.  This is the revelation that social media already offers to anyone willing to see it, and raising difficult social and legal questions about consent and contemporary domesticity.

Morris has a Flickr page (NSFW) where he uploads some wonderful images freely available to all those who pass through an age barrier.  What always makes these photos so engaging - at least for me - is the use of captioning.  This allow the viewer to be located in the moment and somehow lends greater power to the image.  Much as when we look at a photo we have taken or were present for, we add an inward dimension to the image - context and emotion  - so too, do these captions add something.  His latest model obsession  -and potentially hit - for the studio is a twenty year old man/boy called Jackson Taylor (pictured left).  Morris has uploaded several pictures of Jackson and he comments under one image: 'I said "I'm thinking of signing you on. What do you think?" He responded "If you get me fucked all the time, I'll sign the contract in blood." If you saw him at the next table in a restaurant you'd think he was the picture of innocence and naivete. But this boy is one of the most voracious sexual predators I've ever met. We signed the contract before he'd even put his clothes back on.'

In this and a number of other comments, Jackson is anchored as a sexual being of today. Seeing Jackson getting fucked in Manfuck Manifesto (see more here, possibly NSFW) viewers of TIM pornography are left in no doubt about that sexual status.  Yet, we also have Morris posting on his photos (under the Jackson image reproduced above) the following fascinating text: 'I asked "How old were you when you started fucking?" He said "I was four. I seduced the 12-year-old twins who lived next door." I responded "Precocious--if it's true." He looked at me like this and said "Believe it or not, but it's true." He's 19 and has an understanding of sex that's truly rare.'

So now Jackson is a sexual being since four, and moreover, a sexual predator since four.  There is no question that he is the abused, or the 'victim'.  Defining him as the predator, and Jackson using the term predator - to denote an encounter with older boys - locate him as the individual with power.

This photo on Morris' Flickr page was uploaded on February 12th but it wouldn't have been a total surprise to TIM fans who might have noticed this post (NSFW) on TIM's Island website (this evolved out of their blog) which appeared on February 8th.  It introduces us to Jackson and his story.  It states:
Born in rural Sicily a scant 19 years ago, JACKSON TAYLOR (born Giuseppe Bontade) began his career as a primo fuckisto at the tender age of four. “I knew what I wanted to do from very early on,” says Mr. TAYLOR. “Our neighbors in Sicily had a pair of twins—they were 12. They gave me my first experience, my prima apertura, my grand opening. The affair lasted nearly a year.” Forced to flee their native village by irate clergy and outraged villagers, Mr. TAYLOR’s family took their precocious son to America, land of the free and willing. “Once we reached the Land of Opportunity, it’s pretty much been a straight-up path to Treasure Island Media for me. Of course it’s been my lifelong dream.” When Mr. TAYLOR approached T.I.M., the welcome was warm. “I know genius when I fuck it,” quipped porn legend PAUL MORRIS. “This boy may be slight of stature, but his bunghole can take anything we give it.” When asked about future dreams, Mr. TAYLOR wrinkled his boyish nose, shrugged coquettishly and said, “I dunno… Donkeys and dogs, maybe! And I like cheerleading.” JACKSON seems to be on a mission to take every load in America. We’re not wasting any time helping him! Watch him getting plowed by Ethan Wolfe in his TIM premiere, MANFUCK MANIFESTO.
So, here we have the 12 year old twins again (yes, incest is subtly hinted at too) and then we move into a blurb that seems to have been written by someone who has spent too long watching bad daytime soaps.  It's hard not to raise an eyebrow or a chuckle at the 'forced to flee' section.  This does of course also serve to cast doubt over the whole story but true or otherwise, TIM are making use of it and as with so many things that TIM do, truth as a fixed permanent concept must be abandoned in favour of a postmodern framework.  In the final section of the Jackson blurb we move into the positioning of Jackson as boyish, with innocence deployed to denote youth.  A sex(y) boy clearly and, his media persona suggests, a slutty one at that.

TIM started 2011 with a determination to push HIV positive porn and that - to my surprise - didn't work out.  This year, they are not stating they re trying to push a new area of controversy but there can be little doubt that like the boys in the Edelfelt picture, they are dipping their toes in the water.  This is one to watch with implications well beyond the world of bareback porn.

The Sun and possible breaches of Editors’ Code

A worrying story emerges on the excellent blog run by writer and activist Jane Fae.  She highlights an intervention by Trans Media Watch and the Press Complaints Commission after the Sun, despite promising to mend its ways last week, appeared yesterday to commit or be in the process of committing several major breaches of the Editors' Code of Conduct over the story of a trans man reported to have had a baby. A reference back to the Leveson Inquiry is also being discussed.

Read her full post here.

Interestingly, the Sun have hit back at the claims with Managing Editor David Dinsmore, providing an interview to Jane for Pink News.  Well worth a read.

Professor Davina Cooper CIGS Annual Lecture 'Bringing back the bodies of the equality state'

Another event that readers may be interested in...

Professor Davina Cooper CIGS Annual Lecture 'Bringing back the bodies of the equality state'
21 March 2012 | Reception 16.30. Lecture at 17.00 | Seminar

Gender Studies Annual Lecture Title: Bringing back the bodies of the equality state, Professor Davina Cooper, Professor of Law and Political Theory at the University of Kent

Yorkshire Bank Lecture Theatre – Leeds University Business School 

Abstract: "Feminist work on bodies has tended to avoid the question of the embodied state. Yet, others continue to debate the body politic’s salience for understanding state-community relations and for understanding political sovereignty. In this lecture, I suggest the state’s relationship to bodies, particularly its own, is politically important since it affects how states are imagined, engaged with, and, ultimately, what they do. Focusing on the liberal state at one of its seemingly progressive contemporary junctures, this lecture explores the body work of national equality governance, drawing on a snap-shot moment of Britain in 2009-2010. Alongside the governmental body image institutional texts project, in which a set of discrete networked public bodies nestle in a wider economic and legal domain, I explore a more physical engagement with the state’s body, through the active citizenship of its public servants. Exploring active citizenship when it takes both overt and covert form, when it promotes dissent, and when it promotes a forceful, committed over-compliance, I consider what happens to the corporeal relationship between the state and its laboring public servants. Do state actors work through the body of the state or does the visibility accorded to transgressive public servants thwart state attempts to appropriate their labour and their bodies? Through these questions, and drawing on feminist body scholarship, the lecture considers the scope of active citizenship to advance a differently embodied state." Davina Cooper is a Professor of Law & Political Theory at the University of Kent (UK). Between 2004 and 2009, she was Director of the AHRC Research Centre for Law, Gender & Sexuality, and in the late 1980s was a local politician on the controversial London council, Haringey (on which this lecture also draws). Her publications include: Challenging Diversity: Rethinking Equality and the Value of Difference (2004); Governing out of Order: Space, Law & the Politics of Belonging (1998); Power in Struggle: Feminism, Sexuality and the State (1995); and Sexing the City: Lesbian and Gay Politics within the Activist State (1994). She is currently completing a book on the transformative conceptual practices of everyday utopias.

Location Details Yorkshire Bank Lecture Theatre – Leeds University Business School. For a map showing the location of the Leeds University Business school please click here . The building is number 19 on the key. For more information and to book a place at the event please contact Matthew Wilkinson, The Centre Co-ordinator

Thinking Through Time and History in Feminism

Readers may be interested in this forthcoming London event...

Registration is now open for the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research Colloquium Thinking Through Time and History in Feminism.

Find registration and payment details here

BISR Colloquium: Thinking Through Time and History in Feminism Friday 23rd March 9am-7.30pm. Birkbeck College, 30 Russell Sq, Room 101.
£20 Standard rate/£15 concessionary rate

Keynote Speakers: Rebecca Coleman (Sociology, Lancaster University) & Lynne Segal (Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck)

There has been an emergent call within the field of gender and feminist studies to consider themes that might be broadly situated under the umbrella term of “temporality”.Nostalgic and apocalyptic narratives of feminism abound in both popular culture and academic writing, with feminism’s death or out-datedness being the dominant narrative. Countering these narratives is crucially about unravelling the logic that makes them viable as well as interrupting their production. Explorations of alternative narratives have productively emerged from work in the field of collective and personal memory, new technologies as they impact feminist organising, and creative activism and archival practices. There is a continued political need to explore alternative mechanisms of telling feminist time, alternative relationships to be forged with the recent and historical past and alternative means for considering how feminism might forge a future for itself both in and out of the academy. This colloquium aims to provide the opportunity for an interdisciplinary, creative and exploratory approach to time and history in feminism.

Organisers: Carly Guest and Sam McBean - contact them at

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

An invitation to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in Sunderland


Sunderland based readers may find this announcement from Northumbria Police of interest.  International readers might also find this an interesting example of the Police engaging with the LGBT community in the UK.

Please come and talk to us about your expectations of policing services. Please help us tackle homophobic and transgender crime.

What we are doing 
 We are staging a consultation event for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people.

Why we are doing it 
 We want to know:
• What do you think about Northumbria Police?
• Does our service meet the needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people?
• What we can do to improve our services to you?

When are we doing it? 
The event is on Monday March 5th at 18:00. It will be held at the Sunderland Pride Office, 226A Chester Road, Sunderland, SR4 7HR

How you can get involved? 
Please RSVP to or and you will receive a map and information about expenses.

 If you want to talk to someone about this event please call Ann or Jenny on 01661 868309 If you want to report something that has happened to you please call 101 for non-urgent issues and 999 for emergencies.

Enduring Love? Couple Relationships in the 21st Century

Reader might find the following project of interest.

Enduring Love? is an exciting new research project that is looking at how couples think about and experience their long-term relationships. Based at The Open University, the 2 year study will examine the emotional and practical ‘work’ that people do to keep their relationships going and the ways that social policies and popular culture shape what it means to be a couple. The project questionnaire will tell us about what relationships look like in the 21st century and the different factors that are associated with diverse relationship experiences. Have your say and let us know about your relationship! Visit the project website and complete the questionnaire:

Monday, 6 February 2012

Erotic Awards 2012

I've been meaning to post this for some weeks and I've not got around to it (bad, useless Chris).  Anyhow, the Erotic Awards have a spanking (as it were) new invigorated website.   You can read details of upcoming events which raise money for the excellent Outsiders Trust and also nominate people for the awards later this year (Michael Peacock of R v Peacock fame is a former winner) under a wide range of categories.

Check out the website here.

Lambert, the Sexual Homo

I don't think I've ever listened to Adam Lambert sing.  I've certainly never been one of those men who lust over the American Idol star but he is a global celebrity and successful musician.  He's also done much to clearly position himself as an out gay man.  No small thing in the American marketplace.

It was therefore interesting to read over the weekend that Lambert is soon to release his new album entitled 'Trespassing' in which he aims to create some controversy.  Given this is his second album, it's perhaps inevitable that he should seek to drum up some publicity and so he reveals that: “Cuckoo is about me acknowledging I’m insane and celebrating that fact. “And Shady is a sleazy, disco funk about cruising for sex, so it will be interesting to see how Middle America interprets that.”

Yes Adam, it will.  Quite what he means by cruising is interesting - is he talking coming over (if you pardon the phrase) all George Michael and producing a video with spinning urinals and restroom disco balls?  I suspect not.  Yet, even if he means cruising as a broad term - to merely denote behaviour that might be regarded as that of a sexual predator - it is an important step in positioning him not merely as a celebrity homosexual but as a celebrity homosexual who has sex with men.

We often forget about the whole sex business in the modern social and legal construction of the homosexual and so it will be interesting to see how 'middle America' react to the reminder/realisation that Lambert's homosexuality is not merely expressed by an excessive fondness of eye liner.

Check out the full story in that most illustrious of British organs *cough*, the Daily Star.

Law and Sexuality

I'm in my fifth year of teaching law and sexuality at Sunderland and although it's a subject that has become much more common at law schools over those years, there are a variety of different approaches taken - and I get the impression they are generally much more conservative, and typically much more feminist driven than my own course.

A couple of news stories in the US recently highlight how this is an area that continues to grow globally.  Rutgers Law School announced with great fanfare that they are running a class in which students are looking at LGBT rights.  Although the story emphasises it's a small class, it is another Law School grappling with the agenda of law and sexuality.

There's a great quote in the Rutgers press release when N.E.H. Hull, a  professor of law at the Rutgers School of Law–Camden who teaches the course says:  "It’s the civil rights issue of the 21st century and it plays into so many areas of law."  Absolutely.

Read the full story here.

Meanwhile, the University of Wisconsin-Madison reported that their Law School students headed down to New Orleans during their winter break to volunteer for a range of projects including one with AIDSLaw.  It's another example of Law Schools ensuring that their students are exposed to and engage with a broader socio-legal agenda that includes aspects of sexuality.  Brilliant stuff from the Law Schools and students concerned.

Cop and Preacher Latest 'Victims' in Public Sex War

Queerty reports on the latest set of public sex arrests in the USA.  This time, the focus is on Tampa Bay in Florida and included the arrest of a preacher and a retired cop.

Polk's Sherrif Department also put out a press release last week regarding the arrest of another 8 men in Florida.

On Friday, February 3, 2012, PCSO Vice detectives conducted an undercover operation at the Saddle Creek Park located on Morgan Combee Road between Lakeland and Winter Haven in response to complaints of lewd activity taking place there. During the operation, male undercover detectives made contact with various men in the park, six of whom asked the detectives to perform sex acts with them, and two of whom were trespassing. The two arrested for trespassing had been previously arrested at the park for lewd acts, and as a result were forbidden from being at the park.

Once again, names, dates of birth, and addressed were all published alongside information of how each man was arrested.  In most cases it is also indicated that they were married.  The accompanying quote from Sheriff Grady Judd in the press release offers some insight into the thinking of law enforcement agents:  “Let me be perfectly clear about this – we will not tolerate lewd behavior in our public parks or at any other place where people and their families go to relax and enjoy the outdoors. The fact that two of these men have already been trespassed from this area for the same behavior proves that they will not heed our warnings, and that they belong behind bars.”

HIV Disclosure and the Supreme Court of Canada

Wednesday of this week will see two important cases before the Supreme Court of Canada on the issue of HIV status disclosure.  Read some background on the cases here, and expect much more in the days and weeks ahead.  The two cases are:

Her Majesty the Queen v. Clato Lual Mabior 

Her Majesty the Queen v. D.C.

Prop 8 Trial Videos to Remain Sealed

Very interesting developments (or lack of developments) over in the States in the last few days concerning the Proposition 8 trial (or Perry trial).  The battle over releasing video footage from the trial continued with the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruling ensuring that videos made remain sealed - despite a judge who made the promise not to show the videos showing them as part of speaking engagements.   Read the full story here.

Benjamin Cohen: It Gets Better

Channel 4 correspondent and Pink news founder, Benjamin Cohen has produced a nice little video as part of the It Gets Better Project in which he talks about being gay and Jewish (not to be confused with the straight, rugby playing, anti-bullying campaigner and homo pin up  - Ben Cohen).

I know these videos have attracted some criticism from within the LGBTQ 'community' for simplifying things, for suggesting that things 'get better' when perhaps they don't but I think the message is an important one - and you can explain that things can remain complex but also that they do get better.  The message is simply one of hope, and heaven knows we all need that in our darkest moments.

Check out the lovely Benjamin below (and watch out for Krishnan bobbing around in the background):

Michael Peacock on Obscenity and R v Peacock

Anyone interested in the recent landmark obscenity case of R v Peacock should check out a splendid couple of videos of Michael peacock aka 'Sleazy Michael' talking about the case - with some rather wonderful props.  It's marvellously open and frank.

Michael Peacock talks about #ObscenityTrial - Part 1 from Absolut Queer on Vimeo.

Michael Peacock talks about #ObscenityTrial - Part 1 from Absolut Queer on Vimeo.

Michael Peacock talks about #ObscenityTrial - Part 2 from Absolut Queer on Vimeo.
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