Thursday, March 23, 2017

Those Who Object To LeFou Are Fou!


Those Who Object to Le Fou Are Fou!
I took my kids, then 6 and 11, to see “Beauty and the Beast” on Broadway in 1994.  Terrence Mann played the beast.  It was a great musical with a good message.  I don’t remember any homosexual overtones, except that one of its creators Howard Ashman died of AIDS, the same year of the animated classic “Beauty and the Beast.”
Today, I went to the movie, No. 1 at the box office, and was looking for overtly gay themes that were thought to be scandalous enough to pull the film from a lineup at an Alabama theatre and shelved in Kuwait and Malaysia. Ultra-conservative religious organization such as the American Family Association) are criticizing the movie, reporting that it is “pushing a gay agenda.”
What gay agenda?  In the April issue of Attitude, director Bill Condon confirmed that LeFou is Disney’s first openly gay character.  LeFou, who has been to war with the narcissitic Gaston (whose name Le Fou can’t spell because LeFou admits he’s illiterate).  Riding side-by-side on horseback as Gaston’s sidekick, LeFou jokes that why would Gaston want to marry the town’s pretty girl, Belle, when Gaston can have him instead?  It’s a double-entendre that would go over most cisgender childrens’ heads.  LeFou is a loyal friend, if somewhat clingy, to despicable Gaston. He admires Gaston, but is it a crush?
Says Director Condon, “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston, (handsome and fearless,) and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He’s confused about what he wants.  It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings.”  If you want a gay stereotype in Beauty and the Beast, look at Stanley Tucci, who is turned into one of the three cross-dressers by the wardrobe in the castle. Condon's inclusion of a gay character may have also been a homage to Alan Menken's collaborative lyricist Howard Ashman.
LeFou’s sexual orientation is so subtle in the movie that it’s hardly worth getting upset about.  In the final scene of about a minute- and –a-half  the former beast, now returned to his princely status, is dancing with Belle in the ballroom with all the town’s people. During this time, LeFou (actor Josh Gad) kisses another man.
Big deal!  If children don’t know personally gay people, they must know of them through television, if nothing else.  The under -30 set seem to “get it,” according to Pew Research.  They are the ones who approve of gay marriage, gay relationships.  It’s the older generation and ultra-right who make a fuss when the arts try to reflect modern values, even if it is Disney!  Whose “fou,” French for crazy?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Conversion Therapy Busted With 20/20 Undercover Investigation

Last night, I watched with horror the testimony of gay boy named Lucas who ran away from a Restoration Youth Camp in Alabama.  His adoptive Christian parents from Naples, Florida sent him to an unlicensed pray-the-gay-away camp because they couldn’t deal with his homosexuality. Lucas ultimately ran away from the camp as he was beaten, put into solitary confinement.  He testified against the camp pastor who received twenty years for manslaughter after a town Police Chief Charles Kennedy stood up for Lucas and other children after he was handed notes written by the minors about the deplorable conditions that Kennedy later saw for himself.  As Lucas reported about Restoration, “at least in prison, you get three meals a day. They try to beat the gay out of you.  It’s spiritually abusive.”

Similarly, a lesbian, Sarah, was sent by her parents to The Heartlight Christian School in Longview, Texas. It’s a residential counseling program for teens who “struggle with a wide range of behavior and emotional issues.” Sarah’s T.V. celebrity cousin, Jeremy Jordan, started a GoFundMe page, seeking to get attorney fees to get Sarah out of Heartlight. She, too, didn’t want to be converted.

Pointless Exercise

Both these institutions were trying to use religion as a weapon.  You can’t convert LGBT children to heterosexuals.  You can’t “pray-the-gay” away.  No psychological treatment or spiritual counselling is effective in changing a person’s sexual orientation.

The American Psychiatric Association and The American Medical Association oppose reparative or conversion therapy.  In fact, they call the treatment unethical. Homosexuality is no longer regarded as a disease in the eyes of the psychiatric community. Yet, although the effects can be dire resulting in depression, guilt, and even suicide, the practice is only outlawed in six states (Oregon, Illinois, New York, Vermont, New Jersey, California) and the District of Columbia.  However, other states are considering laws against this disreputable practice.

It is uncanny that the day before the 20/20 show aired, March 10, reparative therapy’s founder, Joseph Nicolosi of the Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic, died at age 70. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

U.S. History's First

When Gavin Grimm’s ACLU lawyers argue his case, Gloucester County School Board vs. G.G.,  scheduled for March 28th, it will be the first major decision on whether transgender people are covered under sex discrimination law.  Grimm’s case is arguing that his high school’s policy violates Title IX of Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination.

The background of his case is this: School administrators in Virginia allowed Gavin to use the boys’ restroom for almost two months without consequence...until the school started receiving complaints from some parents and residents of Gloucester County school board. Gavin and his mother Deirdre notified administrators of his male gender identity at beginning of his sophomore year. ( He’s now a senior). Because of the backlash, the school board adopted the new policy on December 9, 2014, by a vote of 6-1.  Consequently, Gavin has been using a single-sex nurse’s bathroom that he finds humiliating. 

What The Supreme Court Justices Have To Decide

The most important question is whether or not the Department of Education had the ability to read transgenderism into Title IX law.  What do we mean by “sex?” has to be determined.  Since this is gender identification not birth gender, you are arguing an idea, not an apparent trait. 

Grimm’s case stands to influence transgender and all gender non-conforming people across the board.  The intersex (having both sex genitalia) community for the first time has filed a Supreme Court brief. Medical associations, unions, artists, doctors, lawyers, scientists, government employees and fifty-three major corporations such as Apple, IBM, EBay, Microsoft have filed Amicus or Friends-of-the-Court’s briefs.  Two hundred members of Congress, sixty current and former police chiefs and sheriffs, thirty U.S. cities, National Education Association, National Parent-Teacher Association of School Psychologists, the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the National LGBT Bar Association and the Constitutional Accountability Center and over one hundred transgender adults also signed.

Effect of President Trump’s Directive

Last week the Trump administration withdrew guidelines instructing school districts to let transgender students use bathrooms corresponding to their chosen gender (gender identity). Says Gavin “it definitely hurts to hear your government saying that you’re not deserving of protections that you should have as a transgender student.” It’s a discriminatory bathroom policy that segregates transgender students from their peers.
The Williams Institute, that conducts research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, reports that one in every 137 teens identify as transgender. They need, like Gavin, to be assured that they will be protected and feel safe in restrooms and locker rooms and not be harassed.