Saturday, May 31, 2014

2014 FRENCH OPEN: Aggie, Petra and Ana Upset, Murray 7-7 in 5th Set

Day 7 of the 2014 French Open is complete but the third round is not! On the women's side the final 16 is set, with some surprising omissions, such as Agnieska Radwanska[3], Petra Kvitova[5] and Ana Ivanovic[11]. That leaves the top seed in the tournament is Simona Halep[4] and only half of the top 10 seeds left standing. The match of the day was 2009 Champion Svetlana Kuznetsova's win over Kvitova 6-7(3) 6-1 9-7 despite being down a break three times in the deciding set. 2012 Champion Maria Sharapova[7] is now the highest seed in her draw and she faces the bitch she owns 13-2  Samantha Stosur for a place in the quarterfinals. The Russian seems destined for a 3rd consecutive final in Paris.

On the men's side Andy Murray is stuck at 7-all in the 5th against Philipp Kohlschreiber after blowing a 3-0 4th set lead and failing to close out the match. The winner of that match will face the winner of Richard Gasquet-Fernando Verdasco, which was suspended with the Spaniard up 2 sets and even at 2-all in the 3rd. The men's draw looks on course for a men's final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic although the two both have tough tests in David Ferrer for Rafa and Jo-Wilfried Tsona and Milos Raonic for Nole.

MadProfessah Endorsements for June 3, 2014 Primary Election

Finally, the moment you have been waiting for!  Here are MadProfessah's positions on how I will be voting in the June 3 2014 Statewide Primary Election, compared with endorsements from other organizations like the Los Angeles Times,  California Democratic Party, East Area Progressive Democrats and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party. For more information about judicial candidates, check out the LA County Bar Association.

Statewide Measures        MadProf   LA TIMES DEMOCRATS
Prop. 41 (Homeless Vets)  Yes       Yes      Yes
Prop. 41 (Open Meetings)  Yes       Yes      Yes

Statewide Races          MadProf  LA TIMES DEMOCRATS
Governor                 Brown*   Brown*     Brown*
Lieutenant Governor      Newsom*  Newsom*    Newsom*
Attorney General         Harris*  Harris*    Harris*
Secretary of State       Padilla  Peterson   NONE
Treasurer                Chiang   Chiang     Chiang
Controller               Perez    Swearingen NONE
Insurance Commissioner   Jones*   Jones*     Jones*   
Supt. of Public Inst.    Torlakson* Tuck      Torlakson*
Bd. of Equalization, #1  NONE       ---      Parker    
Bd. of Equalization, #2  Ma         ---      Ma
Bd. of Equalization, #3  NONE       ---      Horton*
Bd. of Equalization, #4  NONE       ---      NONE

LA County Races          MadProf  LA TIMES   DEMOCRATS
Assessor                 Prang    Morris     Prang
Sheriff                  Hellmold McDonnell  NONE
Supervisor, District 1   Solis    Solis      Solis
Supervisor, District 3   Kuehl    Duran      Kuehl
Judicial Races           MadProf    LA TIMES  DEMOCRATS
Superior Ct, Office 22   Matsumoto  Matsumoto   Matsumoto
Superior Ct, Office 48   NONE       Calderon    NONE
Superior Ct, Office 54   Losnick    Losnick   Losnick
Superior Ct, Office 61   Lewis      Lewis      Lewis
Superior Ct, Office 72   NONE       NONE       NONE
Superior Ct, Office 76   Kim        Estrada     Kim
Superior Ct, Office 82   NONE       NONE        NONE
Superior Ct, Office 87   Stein      Stein       Stein
Superior Ct, Office 90   NONE       NONE         NONE
Superior Ct, Office 97   Armstead   Armstead     NONE
Superior Ct, Office 107  Castro     Castro       Castro
Superior Ct, Office 113  NONE       Wiese        NONE
Superior Ct, Office 117  NONE       Pierce*      NONE
Superior Ct, Office 138  NONE       Armstrong    NONE
Superior Ct, Office 157  Mednick    Cooper       NONE

Candidates* with an asterisk are incumbents. Openly LGBT candidates are in italics.

Friday, May 30, 2014

POLL: Americans Closely Divided On Homosexuality's Origin

Gallup has a recent poll (May 8-11, 2014) on attitudes of Americans towards certain social issues and the question of the origin of homosexuality continues to be a tight affair, with 42% saying it is innate and 37% saying it is environmental. The question's answer has important public policy implications because people who believe homosexuality is innate are vastly more likely to support LGBT equality. Since 1973, the question of whether homosexuality is a mental illness has been a settled one.
The contention on this question of a person's sexual orientation possibly reflects a lack of input from the scientific community, which historically has not shied away from offering its opinion on lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) issues and questions. The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its manual of mental disorders in 1973, giving credence to the nascent gay rights movement at the time. 
U.S. public opinion about gays has changed drastically in recent decades on the issues of marriage equalityand LGBT acceptance as a whole, possibly related to the fact that three in four Americans say they have a friend, relative, or coworker who has told them that he or she is gay. Though being gay as the result of genetics or other factors before birth has become a considerably more mainstream belief and is now mentioned by a plurality of Americans, it is still one held by slightly less than half of the U.S. population. This disagreement seems likely to continue as long as the scientific community remains agnostic about the question.
 What do you think? Why are Americans still divided on this question when they have clearly made up their mind in support of marriage equality and LGBT equality overall?

CELEBRITY FRIDAY: Time Magazine Has Laverne Cox On Cover "Transgender Tipping Point"

Time magazine has one of the stars of Nertflix's Orange is the New Black, Laverne Cox, a transgender actress, on the cover of this week's issue with the headline "The Transgender tipping Point"!

You bettah work!

Hat/tip to Joe Jervis

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Houston City Council Passes LGBT Equal Rights Ordinance 11-6

Good news from the nation's fourth largest city, Houston, Texas! After a prolonged fight, the Houston City Council did the right thing, and passed HERO, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which prohibits discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity, by a vote of 11-6. Houston's Mayor, Annise Parker, is openly gay and she signed the measure so that it goes into effect immediately. Parker is currently in her 3rd term as Mayor.

Houston was the only major city in America without a non-discrimination ordinance. Violators face fines between $500-$5000.

Hat/tip to Joe Jervis

QUEER QUOTE: Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Announces Support For Marriage Equality

Big news out of Pennsylvania! Last week the state became the 19th to become a marriage equality state when the Governor decided not to appeal a federal judge's ruling striking down the Keystone State's ban on marriage equality.

Republican Congressman Charlie Dent told the Washington Post he now supports marriage equality:
"Life is too short to have the force of government stand in the way of two adults whose pursuit of happiness includes marriage.[...]"As a Republican, I value equality, personal freedom and a more limited role for government in our lives. I believe this philosophy should apply to the issue of marriage as well."
Congressman  Dent is one of the very few Republican federal officeholders who have publicly announced their support for marriage equality. The others are: U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-IL) and Congressman Mark Hanna (R-NY).

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Changes Name To Los Angeles LGBT Center

The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center is one of the largest gay and lesbian organization in the world by budget. News comes today that it is planning a $25 million expansion and is changing its name to the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Longtime CEO Lorri Jean sent the following message to supporters announcing the change:
I want you to be among the first to hear some exciting news. As of today, the Center has changed its name to Los Angeles LGBT Center, a name which more accurately reflects the diversity of people we have always served. With this new name comes the new logo that you see on your screen. Every element of this logo is unique in color and shape—like the people we serve—but when they come together, they form a circle of community. 
But our new name and logo are only part of the news I want to share with you. 
Today the Center is launching a $25-million campaign to help fund an expansion that will more than double the number of our beds for homeless LGBT youth, provide more than 100 units of affordable housing for low-income seniors and young adults, create a new senior center, and much more.
When finished, the new building will form a unique campus with our arts, educational and cultural facility—The Village at Ed Gould Plaza—that's directly across the street from it and span more than one city block in Hollywood. It will also become the Center's new headquarters, facilitating a major expansion of health and medical services at our current headquarters (McDonald/Wright building). You can read more about the campaign and the new campus in the current issue of Vanguard. 
Demand for the Center's services has grown enormously over the last several years. Today we welcome more than 42,000 client visits each month! This increased demand has strained our facilities and programs beyond capacity, especially in our programs for youth and seniors. Our beds for homeless youth are always full and demand for the services of our Youth Center on Highland are at an all-time high. And the number of clients in our Senior Services department has tripled in the past three years! 
The Center has always risen to the occasion for our community—relentlessly finding ways to build the health and strength of LGBT people when few others had the interest or the ability to do so. Now that the demand for services and housing for LGBT seniors and youth is acute, it's time for us to step up again. 
I'm enormously grateful to the many donors who have already invested in this exciting new effort and I'm thrilled to let you know that we have already raised a record $18.5 million in pledges! This includes the largest gift ever given by a living person to an LGBT organization. Philanthropist Anita May Rosenstein has pledged $6.5 million, which will be made by the Anita May Rosenstein, Wilbur May and Anita & Arnold Rosenstein Family Foundations. 
The early success of the campaign is also attributable to six other pledges of seven-figure gifts, including a $2 million pledge by Ariadne Getty and the Fuserna Foundation and $1 million pledges by David J. Bailey and Ron B. Shalowitz; Jacinto Hernandez & Charles Callahan; Barry McCabe; Loren S. Ostrow & Brian Newkirk; William & Cindy Shopoff. 
We've still got millions more to raise and lots of work ahead, but with the continued support of the community, I know we'll be as successful with this campaign as we were with the last two capital campaigns that created the McDonald/Wright building and The Village at Ed Gould Plaza.
This is exciting news! I have been a longtime supporter of the Center and will continue to be so!

2014 FRENCH OPEN: Serena-Venus Meeting Avoided When Both Lose!

Quelle Horreur! Serena Williams (defending champion) and Venus Williams were scheduled to play their 25th WTA Tour match in the 3rd round of the 2014 French Open but instead both lost their second round matches. The two last played last year in Charleston and Serena won and leads their head-to-head 14-10.

The most puzzling result today was Serena's 2-6 2-6 lost to Gabine Muguruza, the hard-hitting 20-year-old from Spain. The World #1 hit a measly eight winners in the entire match and lost in a little over an hour, being broken 5 times in a row. The total of 4 games won is Serena's lowest in 288 grand slam matches she has played!

Serena stepped on the court as her sister was down 3-5 in the 3rd set and that may have affected her state of mind in the beginning of the match. But Venus eventually lost 6-2 3-6 4-6 to a talented 19-year-old from Slovakia named Anna Schmiedlova.

Serena also lost a curious match earlier this year to Alize Cornet in straight sets one round before the two sisters would have met in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Open, which Venus ended up winning.

The two have lost on the same day before: 4th Round Wimbledon 2011 and 3rd Round of the 2008 French Open.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

2014 FRENCH OPEN: Li Na Loses 1st Round, Dimitrov Also Upset

For the first time in Grand Slam history the male and female winners of the first Grand Slam tournament of the year have both lost in the 1st round of the second Grand Slam tournament, the French Open.

Li Na lost to hometown player Kristina "Kiki" Mladenovic a 7-5 3-6 6-1.  The 2-time major champion and World #2 was considered a favorite to win the title if defending champion Serena Williams falters.

Another surprising loss today was Grigor Dimitrov losing to Ivo Karlovic 6-4 7-5 7-6(4).
Andy Murray and Gael Monfils won 4-set matches. Othe MadProfessah faves that survived the first round were Ana Ivanovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Fernando Verdasco.

MOVIE REVIEW: Hot Guys With Guns

I happened to hear about a 1-week screening of Doug Spearman's directorial debut feature film Hot Guys With Guns and was happy that I could catch it in theaters before it is available on video-on-demand from Wolfe Video.

One tag line for the film is "Lethal Weapon if Mel Gibson and Danny Glover were ex boy-friends" and another is "It's Chinatown meets Boystown!" The films stars Brian McArdle as Patrick "Pip" Armstrong and Marc Anthony Samuel as Danny Lohman. Danny and Pip are ex-boyfriends who find themselves embroiled in a curious investigation when Pip is robbed after his attendance at an exclusive Hollywood sex party. Danny is an actor who is taking a night class on becoming a Private Investigator at a local Junior College so together the two try to discover the secrets behind who is victimizing guys who attend certain A-list sex parties. Danny's teacher Jimmy helps the two in the finer points of holding and shooting a gun and as the plot thickens dead body and hooded assailants appear, making it clear that someone has a secret they do not want to be revealed.

The movie is definitely campy and some of the acting is hit or miss. For an unabashedly gay take on the "Nick and Nora" genre of detective films Hot Guys With Guns is definitely a better movie than you would expect  it to be and less serious a film than it thinks it is.

There are definitely hot guys, with scantily clad twinks, hotties and studs galore as our heroes go "undercover" at one of the sex parties to get to the bottom (sic) of what's been going on and find out a lot more about Hollywood's underbelly that appears to be ripped from today's headlines.

The strengths of the movie are its production values (the soundtrack and songs by Mervyn Warren are excellent), the direction (the film is well-paced and even though the story is as thin as an extra-sensitive condom it does not drag) and the performance by Alan Blumenfeld as Jimmy Peppicelli, the PI who teaches Danny's night class in private investigation.

The primary weakness in the film is in the casting. The actors are fine in their roles (for the most part, with some notable exceptions who I shall refrain from mentioning) but I never really believed in the alleged sexual tension between Danny and Pip as ex-boyfriends. One reason is that although both actors are attractive, in my opinion neither of them is really "leading man attractive" in a compelling way. The member of the cast for whom that is true is Darryl Stephens, who was previously the leading man of Noah's Arc. Here Stephens is cast against type as a villain which he sorta pulls off but I think the film would have worked better with him as Danny and any number of very cute white boys who can act and look good in a tank top and speedo as Pip. I understand others may not feel the same way and casting is a mysterious process.

Overall, the film works on its own as a light entertainment, much better than your average niche gay genre film, and that is a significant achievement, really. See it for yourself!

Title: Hot Guys With Guns.
Director: Doug Spearman.
Running Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.
MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Release Date: June 27, 2013.
Viewing Date: April 4, 2014.

Writing: C+.
Acting: B-.
Visuals: B+.
Impact: B.

Overall Grade: B/B- (3.167/4.0).

Monday, May 26, 2014

2014 FRENCH OPEN: Nole,Rafa,Raja,Serena,Masha,Venus Win 1st Round

The first round of the clay court major tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris has begun . All of the players I am interested in (defending champion Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal) all advanced to the 2nd round without dropping a  set.

Sadly, Kei Nishikori lost all three sets to Martin Klizan and Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka was stunned by Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in 4 sets, ending with a 4th set bagel.

Game of Thrones (S4E07) : "Mockingbird"

Episode 7 of Season 4 of Game of Thrones is titled "Mockingbird." The mockingbird is the self-designed sigil of House Baelish, which was created by Lord Petyr Baelish (more commonly known as Littlefinger) when he was granted his lordship by the Lannisters for selling out Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark in Season 1 (the adaptation of the first book, titled The Game of Thrones). We have spent a fair amount of this season learning more about how influential Littlefinger is to the plot of the entire Song of Ice  and Fire and things go to a whole other level in S4E07.

S4E07 has a couple of really important conversations in it. I think the theme of the episode can be reduced to how we can come to hate the people we are closest to (either family or erstwhile lovers).
We see this theme played out in three significant ways, among the Lannisters, the Cleganes and the Tullys.

For example, we discover the depth of the hatred Cersei had had for her brother Tyrion (by hearing the story through an external observer in Oberyn just makes that much clearer and chilling). She was telling everyone far and wide that the new Lannister child was a hideous monster, and torturing him as a baby! We know the Lannister family is messed up but we also find out about the Clegane family drama when Sandor Clegane (The Hound) reveals exactly why he is so scared of fire and how his face was horribly scarred by his brother Gregor Clegane (The Mountain) and that their father never punished Gregor for his near murderous actions and lied about what happened. The third sibling rivalry that has clearly turned to hate is the rivalry between Lysa Arryn nee Tully and her sister Catelyn Stark nee Tully. We learned in the previous episode (S4E06) just how much Lysa was jealous of her sister but in this episode we learn that Lysa hates her sister so much that she also hates her sister's daughter Sansa and physically threatens her with death after seeing her man kissing her niece.

This last example leads to the key moment in the episode comes when we get a graphic depiction of how love can turn to hate when Littlefinger rescues Sansa from the dangerous clutches of his newlywed wife and dispatches Lysa with an unceremonial shove through the Moon Door, leading to a fatal fall.

There were many highlights of this episode, and here is a brief list:
  • I Love You, Bro! One of the key highlights of this episode was the demonstration of brotherly love between Tyrion and Jaime, as well as the fraternal respect between Tyrion and Bronn. In both cases, though, Tyrion basically is somewhat untroubled by the fact that he is asking the other person to potentially sacrifice their life by being his champion in the Trial by Combat against the Fearsome Mountain, Ser Gregor Clegane.
  • The Queen's Prerogative. Finally, Deanerys let Daario Naharis do "what he does best" and got her groove on with the comely swordsman. The audience got to enjoy both the satisfied and amused look on the Queen's face and a tight booty shot as Daario dropped trou.
  • You can be my 'champion' any time. Pedro Pascal is absolutely nailing his performance as Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne. According to interviews about the production of season 4 the scene between Peter Dinklage and himself in Tyrion's cell where Oberyn offers to be Tyrion's champion was the first one he shot, which is astonishing. The chemistry between the two actors is absolutely electrifying.
  • More Hot Pie, Anyone? Another fun section of the episode for longtime fans of the show was the reappearance of "Hot Pie," the former traveling companion of Arya Stark, at the Inn where Brienne and Podrick happen to stop in on their way to find Sansa Stark (since everyone in civilized society assumes Arya is dead already). Hot Pie is much more interested in being warm and comfortable (and particular in having access to warm food and comfortable lodging) than he is in who sits on the Iron Throne. He demonstrates this with an epic monologue on the importance of gravy in kidney pie, and by the end of the scene reveals that he saw Arya Stark alive after leaving King's Landing.
Nothing is perfect; even this classic episode had some  flaws.  The only one I think worth mentioning is:
  • Gore Mountain. The sickening sounds and sight of the Mountain disemboweling some unfortunate prisoners as Cersei sauntered over to admire him and his handiwork was truly nauseating, but revealed just how single-minded and unsqueamish the female Lannister is about achieving her goals, especially the one in which her little brother ends up dead.

Grade: 9/10 (A-).
Overall,  S4E07 was one of the more cerebral episodes of the series, where we in the audience got to hear and see a lot of the motivations of the characters and plot points were set up that will come to fruition in the last three episodes as the Season ends with a bang (as usual).

EYE CANDY: Kwesi Keller

Kwesi Keller is a bodybuilder, fitness model and nutrition specialist. According to an interview at, Kwesi was born in 1985 so he is under 30-years old and while he is 5-foot-11" his weight ranges from 220-250 pounds (depending on whether he is competing in bodybuilding competitions). Kwesi has his own company, Prestige Nutrition and Fitness.

He is active on social media, with presences on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I'm hoping that we can start seeing more of Kwesi's work with professional photographers. As you can see, he has what it takes!

Hat/tip to Another Guy Blog

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Taking Subway To Westside Getting More Likely In Los Angeles

Check out this picture of the proposed extensions to the purple and exposition lines which will mean that in the near future one can take the Metro to places that people will actually want to go.
Officials from Metro and the Federal Transit Administration signed a pair of agreements this morning in Washington D.C. for a $1.25-billion federal grant and a $856-million federally-backed loan to build the first phase of the Purple Line Extension subway under Wilshire Boulevard. We’ll post video of this morning’s event later. 
The agreements clear the way for construction activities to begin later this year on the 3.9-mile addition to the Purple Line, which currently terminates at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue. The first phase of the project will extend the line to the intersection of Wilshire and La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Three new stations will be included in the first phase: at Wilshire and La Brea Avenue, Wilshire and Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire and La Cienega. 
The first phase of the project is scheduled for completion in 2023 with a project budget of $2.821 billion. The Metro Board of Directors is scheduled this summer to select a contractor to build the first phase. The subway is one of 12 transit projects funded in part by the Measure R half-cent sales tax increase approved by more than two million voters in Los Angeles County in 2008 (the measure passed with 67.93 percent approval).
This is very exciting news! Kudos to Mayor Eric Garcetti with moving forward with this. The next 3rd District County Supervisor will also be involved in making sure this project happens.

Hat/tip to L.A. Observed

SATURDAY POLITICS: Will L.A. Have An Openly Gay County Supervisor?

Hmmm! The plot thickens in the low-profile but incredibly important Democratic primary election for Los Angeles County Supervisor on June 3rd. The L.A. County Supervisor is one of the most powerful elected positions in the country, with each of the 5 Supervisors representing roughly 2 million Angelenos, more than several U.S. Senators. There are two Districts up for election this year, District 1 where Gloria Molina is being termed out and is likely to be replaced by former Congresswoman (and Obama Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis) and District 3 where 8 candidates are vying for the top two slots, with two openly gay candidates are serious contenders. MadProfessah has already endorsed Sheila Kuehl. Kuehl announced her intentions to run for this seat years ago and has had a historic political career as the first openly LGBT member of the Assembly and the Senate. Kuehl has also won the endorsement of the Los Angeles County Democratic Club and the East Area Progressive Democrats.

Last Sunday the Los Angeles Times picked John Duran over Kuehl in its endorsement for the 3rd District, possibly upending the race.
Kuehl, to be sure, has a strong record in those areas as well, and her knowledge of and experience in state government would be of great benefit to the county, which gets much of its funding and many of its programming guidelines from Sacramento. Of the two, though, Duran gets the nod because he is also the one most likely to lead the county toward new and better ways of thinking about and doing its business.
The primary election is less than two weeks away. Voting has been going on  by mail for at least two weeks already. Thanks to a stupid ballot initiative that passed in June 2012, California now has a "Top 2 jungle primary" which means that regardless of party, only the Top 2 candidates will be on the November ballot after surviving the primary. I have my absentee ballot and will be giving my endorsements next weekend.

It would be incredibly exciting if the top two candidates are openly gay, but most likely Bobby Shriver and either Kuehl or Duran will make the cutoff. If both LGBT candidates do make the run-off there will be an internal lesbians versus gays fight like we have not seen since the 2012 battle between Torie Osborne (Kuehl's former lover and longtime ally) and Betsy Butler (Duran's straight best friend who has served on the board of Equality California). In fact some say that Duran's entry into the Supervisor race is basically payback for some of the chicanery that occurred in the bitter fight in 2012 for the 50th Assembly District (where both their candidates lost and Richard Bloom ended up winning the seat).

Hopefully this time an LGBT candidate will emerge victorious, instead of bloodied and defeated.

Friday, May 23, 2014

CELEBRITY FRIDAY: Zakhele Mbhele, South Africa's 1st Openly Gay Elected MP Sworn In

Zakhele Mbhele made history yesterday on May 22, Harvey Milk Day, when he was sworn in as the first elected openly gay, Member of Parliament in South Africa. Mbhele, 29, is believed to be the first openly gay elected Member of Parliament anywhere in Africa!

The Washington Post reports:

Today, Zakhele Mbhele, a member of the opposition Democratic Alliance, was sworn in to the South African National Assembly. He is the 203rd openly gay member of parliament worldwide  since Coos Huijsen became the first, in the Netherlands, in 1976. The symbolism is made more vivid by the fact that Mbhele is the first openly gay black African to be elected on a continent where laws designed to invalidate gay people have destroyed countless lives.  
There is an unsettling polarity in the state of gay rights around the world today. The march toward gay rights in much of the developed world has sped up to a dizzying pace. More and more countries have introduced same-sex marriage and other equality laws. Today, well over 700 million people live in places where gay marriage is legal; over 120 million of those are in the United States.
You can congratulate Mbhele yourself via his Twitter account yourself. Hopefully, he will only be the first of many out LGBT politicians on the African continent.

Hat/tip to GLAAD Link

WATCH: Trailer for Christopher Nolan's Interstellar Revealed

I thought I had posted the trailer for Interstellar, the new Christopher Nolan movie already but I guess I forgot. It went live last exactly a week ago and has more than 7 million views so far. Check it out!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

POLL: National Suport for Marriage Equality Now At 55%

The most recent Gallup poll indicates that support for marriage equality among the American people is at an all-time high of 55% nationwide. That is up 1 percentage point from last year's previous high water mark of 54%.

While recognizing the recent victories in Oregon and Pennsylvania, Gallup notes that there is still a majority against marriage equality among those who live in the Southern U.S.:
An important region on the radar of gay marriage advocates is the South, where a condensed cluster of bans on same-sex marriage exists. All southern states have constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, from Louisiana in 2004 through North Carolina in 2012, though bans have been challenged in Arkansas and Kentucky. The South (48%) is the only region where same-sex marriage support falls below the 50% mark. Support is highest in the East, where two-thirds (67%) of residents support gay marriage. 
For proponents of marriage equality, years of playing offense have finally paid off as this movement has reached a tipping point in recent years -- both legally and in the court of public opinion. The latest gains are in Pennsylvania and Oregon, with court challenges in Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia likely to be determined soon. Having spent years trying to influence state lawmakers to take action, gay marriage supporters' game strategy has officially pivoted to challenging state bans in court. One key question in the legal battle is the constitutionality of voter-approved state bans. 
Younger Americans are more supportive of same-sex marriage, and this will likely continue to drive overall support at the gradual pace it has increased over recent years. While the map of gay marriage is regionally diverse, it is not so in the South, where traditional marriage advocates still hold a majority of support. Public opinion in southern states will be a barometer to observe, as the bulk of future legal battles will play out there in the months and years to come.
Hat/tip to Joe.My.God 

BOOK REVIEW: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

This book was recommended by one of my friends whom I would classify as a hopeless romantic. It is a YA book, i.e. written for "young adults" or teens. It is also a heartwarming story about a beautiful friendship between two teenage boys, one gay and one straight. The book has won numerous awards and is a quick, enjoyable read, even if you don't usually read "that kind of stuff."

Here's the blurb from the book cover:
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.
I strongly recommend this book to everyone who would be interested in reading a well-written, realistic story about the lives of two Latino teenaged boys. I don't want to say anything more about the story or the characters' fates because one main pleasure of this book is the sense of wonder as the story unfolds.

Read this book!

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz.
Paperback: 359 pages.
 Simon & Schuster.
Published: February 21, 2012.
Read: September 2013.

OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.67/4.0).

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

PA Ruling Not Appealed; 44% Of Americans Live In Marriage Equality States

Wow! Republican Governor Tom Corbett announced today that he would not be appealing yesterday's decision striking down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage, thus confirming the Keystone state's status as the 19th marriage equality state in the Union; Now 44% of Americans live in state with marriage equality. Another 17% live in jurisdiction where the marriage law has been invalidated but the decision is on hold pending a higher court resolution.

Happy Birthday to me, indeed!

Happy Birthday To Me!

Today is my birthday so I am posting another picture of my latest crush, Raciel Castro!

GODLESS WEDNESDAY: Americans Exaggerate Their Church Attendance

The New York Times reported on a recent study which demonstrates a gap between how religious Americans say they are when surveyed by a person as opposed to how often they say they attend church when answering the same questions online.

A summary of the findings of the report are:
  • On the telephone survey, 36 percent of Americans report attending religious services weekly or more, compared to 31 percent on the online survey.
  • Compared to 30 percent of telephone respondents, 43 percent of online survey respondents say they attend religious services seldom or never.
  • When interviewed by telephone, fewer than 3-in-10 (29 percent) white mainline Protestants report that they seldom or never attend religious services, compared to 45 percent of white mainline Protestants who took the self-administered online survey.
  • Catholics are less than half as likely to report seldom or never attending religious services when responding on the telephone versus online (15 percent vs. 33 percent).
  • Nine percent of white evangelical Protestants report they seldom or never attend religious services when speaking with an interviewer by phone, compared to 17 percent who report the same in a self-administered online survey.
  • Only 14 percent of black Protestants report seldom or never attending on a telephone survey, compared to nearly one-quarter (24 percent) on the online survey.
  • Surprisingly, the social desirability effects are strong among the religiously unaffiliated. While 73 percent say they seldom or never attend religious services in a telephone survey, that number jumps nearly 20 percentage points to 91 percent on an online survey.
  • The study also found significant differences between younger and older Americans, as well as among different regions of the country, in the degree to which they inflate religious participation.
Interesting, eh?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

19 And Counting! Federal Judge Strikes Down Pennsylvania Ban On Marriage Equality

For the second time in two days, a federal judge has brought marriage equality to a blue state. Yesterday, openly gay federal judge (nominated by President Barack Obama in 2013) Michael McShane ruled that Oregon's marriage laws were unconstitutionally prohibiting same-sex marriage. Today federal judge John E. Jones II (nominated by George W. Bush in 2002) struck down Pennsylvania's state ban on marriage equality. The attorney general of Pennsylvania refused to defend her state's statutory ban on same-sex marriage. Pennsylvania does not have an LGBT non-discrimination law or a constitutional ban on recognizing or invalidating same-sex marriages.

In the case of Whitewood v. Wolf the judge concluded that
Based on the foregoing, we hold that Pennsylvania’s Marriage Laws violate both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Because these laws are unconstitutional, weshall enter an order permanently enjoining their enforcement. By virtue of this ruling, same-sex couples who seek to marry in Pennsylvania may do so, and already married same-sex couples will be recognized as such in theCommonwealth.  
The issue we resolve today is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are madedeeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibitionconstitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would  still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully disregarded notion of "separate but equal." [citations omitted] In the sixty years since Brown was decided "separate" has faded into history, and only "equal" remains. Similarly, in future generations the term same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage. 
We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them to the ash heap of history.
Since no stay was issued and it is unlikely (but possible) that the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals will issue a stay in the near future, Pennsylvania becomes the 19th marriage equality state!

Tennis Tuesday: Francis Tiafoe Wins 2014 Easter Bowl, Seeded #1 In Roland Garros Boys

Francis Tiafoe, followed up his December 2013 win of the Orange Bowl Under-18s (the most prestigious junior championship in the world) at age 15 with a win of the under-18 Easter Bowl (the equivalent of the U.S. junior championships) last month as the #1 seed.

The media is starting to pay more attention, as this lengthy Washington Post article reveals:
In a sporting narrative as improbable as that of Venus and Serena Williams, Tiafoe, the son of immigrants from the West African nation of Sierra Leone, has emerged as the nation’s most buzzed about tennis prodigy. 
In December, the Prince George’s County-born teen became the youngest player to win the Orange Bowl, the most prestigious international title for 18-and-under boys, achieving the feat at 15 — more quickly than even Federer, John McEnroe or Bjorn Borg managed. And when the French Open juniors tournament gets under way in Paris on June 1, Tiafoe (pronounced Tee-AH-foe) will be the top-seeded boy. 
In a country yearning for a home grown men’s tennis star, this puts Tiafoe under immense pressure to deliver on his promise, to justify the countless hours he has devoted to mastering the game and the hundreds of thousands of dollars that tennis center benefactors have invested in his young career. 
Or, as he puts it: “It’s not like everything was given to me. I had to really work hard for it and earn it.” But, he adds, “I’m very thankful for what I have. I don’t want to let anyone down.” 
In many ways, this broad-shouldered, 6-foot-1-inch phenom with eight-pack abs is still a boy. Tiafoe doesn’t yet drive, has a 9 p.m. bedtime and shaved for the first time in January. But he possesses a missile of a forehand, a full complement of shots and tactical savvy beyond his years.
6-foot-1 at age 16? Things are looking good for American tennis, maybe Francis will pick up the baton handed to him by Venus and Serena!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Oregon Becomes 18th Marriage Equality State!

As widely expected, openly gay federal judge Michael McShane today issued the 13th federal ruling since last year's Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor deciding in favor of marriage equality. The judge's 26 page decision in Geiger v. Kitzhaber was issued promptly at noon after an emergency stay in the proceedings filed by the National Organization for Marriage was denied by the 9th U.S. Circuit.

The Washington Blade reports:
Neither the timing nor the outcome of the case was a surprise. On Friday, McShane had announced he would make his decision in the litigation on Monday at noon Pacific Time (3 pm local time). In fact, Oregon United for Marriage had planned media coverage for the ruling and same-sex couples marrying afterward over the weekend without knowing the decision.  
McShane also rules against the state ban on same-sex marriage after not a single party would defend the law in court. It’s the first time ever that no party defended a ban on same-sex marriage during the course of a lawsuit seeking marriage equality.  
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced in February the law was indefensible, as did attorneys for Multnomah County, who were also named as a defendant in the lawsuit and had pledged to hand out licenses to same-sex couples as soon as law was struck down. 
Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage, Measure 38, is a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2004 by a 57-43 margin. But public opinion on marriage equality in Oregon is just about reversed since that time. Last year, Public Policy Polling found that 54 percent of Oregon residents would vote to legalize same-sex marriage at the ballot. 
Marriages should begin shortly in Oregon, although typically a 3-day waiting period is required after getting a marriage license, it can be waived in extenuating circumstances.

The judge's ruling means that an expensive ballot measure campaign to overturn measure 36 will not be unnecessary.

Congratulations to Oregon to joining the rest of the West Coast in Marriage Equality!

Obama Nominates Openly Gay Man To Be Ambassador To Vietnam

Clayton Bond and Ted Osius are an (interracial) gay power couple in U.S. diplomatic circles. Bond is the author of Djakarta Djournal: Adventures of a Diplomatic Spouse in Indonesia. The two were marred in Canada in 2006. President Obama nominated Osius this week to be the next Ambassador to Vietnam:
Ted Osius, Nominee for Ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Department of StateTed Osius, a career member of the Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, is an Associate Professor at the National War College, a position he has held since 2013.  He was a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies from 2012 to 2013.  Prior to that, Mr. Osius served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 2009 to 2012.  Before that, he was Political Minister-Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India from 2006 to 2009.  Mr. Osius also served as Deputy Director of the Office of Korean Affairs in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State from 2004 to 2006.  Prior to that, he was Regional Environment Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand from 2001 to 2004.  From 1998 to 2001, he was Senior Advisor on International Affairs in the Office of the Vice President at the White House.  He served as Political Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City and at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam from 1997 to 2001.  Other positions he has held include: Staff Aide and Political Officer at the United States Mission to the United Nations, Political and Management Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Vatican City, The Holy See, and Political and Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines.  From 1985 to 1987, he was a Legislative Correspondent in the Office of U.S. Senator Al Gore, Jr.  Mr. Osius received an A.B. from Harvard College and an M.S. from the School of Advanced International Studies at The Johns Hopkins University.
If confirmed by the Senate, Osius would join other openly gay men nominated by President Obama who are now ambassadors to Australia, Spain, Denmark and Dominican Republic.

Hat/tip to EDGE

EYE CANDY: Raciel Castro

Top two pictures by Luis Rafael, third by Rick Day

I think I have found my new crush object at Gorgeous Sexy Guys and his name is Raciel Castro! According to multiple sources (Facebook and Bellazon) he is 5'9" and 200 pounds and in 2012 he wss 20 years old. Apparently he is from Boise, Idaho and of Cuban descent. He has a Twitter account and Instagram.

Muy guapo, no?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

2014 NEBULA AWARDS: Ancillary Justice Wins Best Novel!

The 2013 Nebula awards were announced by the Science Fiction Writers of America yesterday and the winner for Best Novel is Ann Leckie's debut novel, Ancillary Justice, which was also nominated for a Hugo award and has already won the Arthur C. Clarke award for Best Novel and is nominated for the Locus award for best first novelAncillary Justice also co-won the British SF award this year as well.

Congratulations to Ms. Leckie, I am growing ever more curious about this book, although I have so far seen one negative review of the book, Hey, no one can please everyone! There are many, many more positive and glowing reviews of it, however.

I haven't read  Ancillary Justice, yet, but with my birthday coming up this week either someone will get it for me (I hope!) or I'll get it for myself!

2014 ROME: Djokovic-Nadal XLI Goes to Nole For 4th Win In A Row Over Rafa

Novak Djokovic continued his recent dominance over Rafael Nadal, improving his record in finals to 12-9 and narrowing their head-to-head to 19-22, by defeating the King of Clay in the 2014 Rome Open 4-6 6-3 6-3 in a little over 2 hours. The win was Djokovic's 4th in a row (2014 Miami Masters final, 2013 ATP World Tour championships final and 2013 Beijing Open final) over the World #1. The two rivals now have the record for the most matches played against each other on the men's tour. It was Djokovic's 44th tour title and 19th ATP Masters Series shield, 2 behind Roger Federer and Nadal's record 26. In fact, Djokovic has won 5 of the last 6 ATP Masters tournaments.

More importantly it was the 4th time Djokovic has beaten Nadal on clay (in 17 meetings on the surface) and could be a harbinger of what could happen in the Roland Garros final 3 weeks from today. I hope so!!!

2014 ROME: Serena Wins 60th WTA Title Over Errani

As I predicted, Serena Williams was able to win her 3rd title in Rome, her 60th career title overall by overwhelming Sara Errani of Italy 6-3 6-0. Serena was able to accomplish a rare feat for her, defending a clay court title, since she won this title last year over Vika Azarenka. Many people are remarking that the two times Serena has won the Rome title (2002 and 2013) are also the two times that she won the title in Paris. Will 2014 be the third time this happens?

2014 ROME: Finals are Djokovic-Nadal XVI and Serena-Errani

As I predicted yesterday, the men's final will feature the mouthwatering showdown between World #1 Rafael Nadal versus World #2 Novak Djokovic in their record 41st meeting on the ATP world tour. Nadal is in his record 9th Rome final and is shooting for his 8th Rome title while Djokovic is in his 5th Rome final and is hoping to win his 3rd Rome title. Nadal currently leads the head-to-head 22-18,  but Djokovic won their last meeting in the final of the 2014 Key Biscayne ATP Master series in straight sets and 2 other meetings since losing to Nadal in the 2013 US Open final. Overall, Djokovic leads 12-9 in finals, but Nadal leads 13-3 in clay court meetings. Djokovic got through a tough 3-hour match against Milos Raonic while Nadal destroyed Grigor Dimitrov playing in his first Master Series semifinal.

In the women's final, defending champion Serena Williams will face hometown favorite Sara Errani. Serena had a tough time getting past a spirited Ana Ivanovic  6-1 3-6 6-1. Errani did very well to win her second consecutive match against a Top 10 player, following  her tough 3-set dismissal of Li Na with a straight sets win over Jelena Jankovic to become the first Italian woman to reach the final of her hometown championships in over a generation.

MadProfessah's predictions: Djokovic and Serena.


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