A Quick Primer On International Gay Marriage

What Countries Allow Gay Marriage?

Same-sex marriage was first legalized in the Netherlands in 2001. In only sixteen years following, a lot of countries have followed suit. Belgium followed suit in 2003. It was another two years before Canada and Spain legalized same-sex marriage. As society and various government start to place more value on family status and LGBT rights, we have seen a rapid ascent to progress, and opened the conversation across nations in a ripple effect.

By 2009, Norway, Sweden, and South Africa had also follow in the steps of progress. 2010 made huge strides, seeing three countries legalize the practice: Portugal, Iceland, and Argentina. 2012 brought legal same-sex marriage to Denmark, and Brazil, France and New Zealand joined only a year later. During this decade, the United States had been having heated debates about legalizing same-sex marriage. Many states had legalized the practice, only to have marriages dissolved by propositions or ignored by the federal government. Finally, in 2015 the United States joined in legalizing gay marriage. Luxembourg and Ireland also legalized the practice, despite Ireland’s heavily conservative laws. Since 2015, three more countries have also legalized same-sex marriage. Finland, Germany, and Colombia all now recognize gay and lesbian couples.

What Does The Future Hold?

In only seventeen years, twenty countries have legalized gay marriage! Malta and Taiwan may well be legalizing gay marriage in the foreseeable future as well. In fact, Taiwan is set to legally recognize same-sex couples before May of 2019. The conversations continuing to happen around the globe are creating a better environment for gay and lesbian people by increasing acceptance and visibility. Marriage is not only important for social conventions, but it bears significant religious and cultural ties. Gay and lesbian people being included in their community traditions is important towards creating egalitarian societies. Furthermore, gay and lesbian married couples can adopt, benefit from tax breaks, and otherwise enjoy the perks of everyday society like anybody else.
It looks like the conversation will not slow down anytime soon. It’s important to note how quickly steam picked up once the Netherlands legalized gay marriage. All it takes is a single action for a butterfly effect to occur. There is something truly amazing how all it takes is one person to come forward and do the right thing, for other people to work up the courage, or to even start to recognize the plight of the oppressed to begin with. Hopefully, the coming years will bring yet more positive change.

The Most Important LGBTQ Legislation

While human rights legislation with regards to LGBTQ discrimination seems to be moving in the right direction, there is one glaring violation that seems to simply have been swept under the carpet. While same sex marriages have been legalized and the criminal aspect removed from legislation, discrimination in the work place is still a huge issue that needs to be addressed.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act which calls for abolishing discrimination related to sexual orientation in the work place was first defeated by a 7-3 vote by the House Rules Committee. Even though the Act has since been passed by Senate, it still has not been implemented.

This means that employers can still terminate employment due to sexual orientation in 29 states in the United States. In another 19 states, termination of employment can be legally implemented due to sexual identity.

But it isn’t just termination that is the problem with LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace. LGBTQ employees often receive lower compensation for their work, are overlooked for promotions and have no legal standing with regards to harassment or mistreatment in the workplace. The figures for reported cases rise for African American LGBTQ groups as well as for those who are transgender.

Countless human rights and other organizations have been working for a number of years to create the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and it is disheartening that although it has been passed, so little has been done to implement the legislation.

Over and above this, there is still no federal protection for rights discrimination against LGBTQ persons in the workplace. The LGBTQ community simply has no recourse when it comes to infringement of their human rights in the same way heterosexual people do in the workplace.

However, on the plus side, 22 states have already passed laws that make any form of discrimination in the workplace due to sexual orientation illegal. This is a big step in the right direction but much work still needs to be done.

In order for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to finally be implemented, it is important for as many citizens of the United States to show their support for equal rights in the workplace. Trump’s executive order revoking elements of the previous president’s order to ban discrimination due to sexual orientation in the workplace has set matters back even further.

In fact, the order has affected legislation even in states where discrimination due to sexual orientation has been made illegal since it revokes the need for federal and other organizations to comply with the previous order.

Gender Is A Social Construct

Gender is a social construct. The world is always changing, but human beings haven’t changed nearly as much as some people think. There is ample evidence to indicate that societies have had huge changes in things such as morality and community.

Recently, there’s been a huge push against the Victorian era morality that managed to take firm root in European culture and spread across the ocean to the United States. Specifically, there’s been an increasing desire to have so-called “alternative” sexualities and identities. This has led to many people insisting that there are only two genders, male and female.

But is that really true?

The Difference Between Gender And Sex

The first thing to understand is that many people use “gender” when what they mean is “sex”. That is, “male” and “female” are genders, whereas “penis and testes” and “vagina and ovaries” are sex.

What this means in practical terms is that gender is not the same thing as sex. Gender is nothing more than a set of cultural expectations placed upon a person due to some factor. Currently, many people feel the deciding factor is whether a person has a penis or a vagina, and thus insist that only two genders exist.

However, this is quite clearly circular logic. The argument can be summarized as “because there are two genders, there are two genders”. This argument also fails to comment on intersex people (those born with both “male” and “female” genitalia) and androgynous people (those born without fully-formed primary and secondary sexual characteristics).

Given the fact that there are clearly physical sexual characteristics not covered by “male” or “female”, the idea that there are only two genders can be easily proven wrong.

How Many Genders Exist?

The question here of how many genders there really are is that it depends on how many genders a culture wants.

The Navajo culture, as an example, refers to “two-spirit” people. That is people who are not male or female, but contain the spirit of both.

Meanwhile, the Lakota tribe have the “winkte”, people who are born male but assume the traditional roles of the women of the tribe and thus are considered to be no longer men.

There are even signs of transgender people in ancient Egypt, though only by implication. While many archeologists will simply claim that the burial priests accidentally used male burial rituals for females, many others point out that death and burial were so important to ancient Egyptian culture that claiming they would have made such a mistake is ridiculous.

So at the end of the day, the answer is “how many genders does a culture want to have?” There simply isn’t a set number of genders, even though there are only certain combinations of primary and secondary sexual characteristics that appear.

What Does It Mean To Be Sapiosexual?

If you are the type of person that is more drawn to someone’s bookshelf than their body, then you might be a sapiosexual. Sapiosexuals are attracted to intelligence first and they get easily turned off by people who are not as smart or smarter than they are.

When you are a sapiosexual, you get turned on by intelligence. You enjoy witty banter with your dates and you love to have long and deep conversations. The smarter the person, the more attraction you feel. If you meet someone new who looks attractive, but you find that they can barely carry a conversation and don’t know any of the artists or writers you are talking about, your attraction tends to fade on the spot and even turn to revulsion.

A person who is physically unattractive can become more and more attractive if they have a good mind and people often become more attractive the longer that you know them for. If the person is interesting, you find that they become more and more attractive as you get to know their mind.

You are also likely to be more interested in talking than sex. If you are having an amazing conversation, you would often rather keep it going than have sex. When you are ready to have sex, the sex is often much hotter because you have an amazing mental connection with your partner. Sapiosexuals have fantastic sex when the time comes.

Sapiosexuals tend to be less materialistic and they value what people know rather than what they have. The person you are attracted to could be poor, but you don’t care because they are very smart. One of the downsides of being a sapiosexual is that it can be hard to find people who are as smart as you are and you are also likely to be more picky than the average person which can lead to problems finding the right person.

Sapiosexuals have high standards and they don’t want to settle for people who are not as intelligent. You might end up with relationships that don’t last a long as you would like because you could have the tendency to break up with people once they start to exhibit mental weakness. Once you find the right person, your relationship is likely to be more solid and last longer since the basis of the relationship is mental.

The Difference Between Transgender And Transexual

It’s important to start looking into the differences between transgender and transsexual.

This article is going to point to the difference, so it’s easier to define what each encompasses.

Transgender

Socially constructed genders such as men and women can often leave those who are “transgender” in a conflict.

The premise of being transgender is to work past those socially constructed definitions of gender identity. In this case, the person doesn’t have to pursue a sex change or any form of social transition. In general, there is no “diagnosis” to make unless it is a form of gender dysphoria.

According to studies, transgendered individuals tend to choose between surgery or simple abstinence.

It’s important to note here that this has nothing to do with sexual orientation. A transgendered individual can be straight, gay, bisexual, or any other orientation. These individuals tend to experience signs of depression and anxiety due to their gender identity.

Transsexual

Moving onto the next term, transsexual is different to transgender.

With transexual, the premise is an individual who does not identify with their gender and has an underlying desire to change their gender/sex through operations. In general, most individual who refer to themselves as transsexual will opt for surgery (if possible).

With transsexuals, the emphasis is on a physical problem more than a mental one according to those who are in this situation. It can be difficult for these situations because societal pressure can get in the way of what’s going on in their lives. These individuals can face depression and/or anxiety depending on their setting.

Some experts like to categorize this as being gender dysphoria, but that is disputed by transsexuals.

Transsexual people can be of any sexual orientation including straight, bisexual, gay, and any other form of orientation. This doesn’t play a part in their desire to align with the opposite sex than what they were born into.

This information is pertinent while going through the multiple definitions in the hopes of understanding transgender vs. transsexual. This is a unique conversation and one that is hard to decipher for those who are unaware. This read should have helped shed light on the differences between both sets of individuals and what they go through on a daily basis.

This understanding can help remove or reduce societal pressure on those who are in this position and wish to speak out about who they are and what they represent.

What Does Genderqueer Mean?

 

With so many new definitions that try to explain gender and sexuality, it can start to get confusing trying to keep up with them all. One of the terms that gets thrown around a lot lately is “genderqueer.” If you are genderqueer you don’t identify with male or female traits, or you identify with a combination of traits. There is no line between masculine and feminine and some genderqueer people are androgynous.

Genderqueer people express their identity in many different ways. The genders can overlap, be fluid, or there might be no gender. Some people identify as being pangender, trigender, or bigender, or even having no gender at all. Some people don’t even name their gender.

Genderqueer is a catch-all term for any type of gender that doesn’t conform to the norms of society. Gender often comes down to more than being a man or a woman. People can identify with different genders during different periods of their lives. It isn’t necessary to be a certain gender and expressing yourself through your gender is a way to be who you really are.

Some people feel that they have to act a certain gender when they don’t really feel that way at all. They might feel predominately female one day and more male another day. There are many ways to express gender and the genderqueer term gives people a place to put what they are feeling when it falls outside of the norms.

Gender norms are so pervasive in society and it feels good to have a place to put what you are feeling. More attention is coming to transgender people and people are starting to understand more about people who don’t fit the male or female stereotype. With social issues becoming more and more up front and center, it might be time for a conversation about what it means to be genderqueer.

Sexuality doesn’t mean you have to be one thing or another and being genderqueer shows people that there are multiple genders that can be fluid and always changing. People don’t always fit neatly into stereotypical behavior. Not everyone falls into a neat gender norm.

Everybody is different and we all have a unique way to express our identities. If you are genderqueer you don’t have to label yourself as just male or female. You can embody the spectrum of what it means to be a person.

Famous Gay Athletes To Know

Being gay is something that wasn’t socially acceptable and is still frowned upon by people around the world.

While considerable changes have been made to legislation and education, it’s important to know some of the most famous gay individuals. Here are athletes who have come out about their sexual orientation and have been activists for the LGBTQ community.

1) Jason Collins

He was the trailblazer when it came to gay athletes in the four major North American sports.

Before him, not a single professional athlete in the MLB, NBA, NHL, or NFL had decided to come out about his sexual orientation. With Jason Collins, this hurdle was removed, and he was openly declared as being gay. He felt it was time to set the trend and make sure players who were “in the closet” could get out and play without fear.

He had hoped someone else did it before him, but when the time came, he felt it was time to put the word out about his sexual orientation.

2) Martina Navratilova (Tennis)

She is well-regarded as being one of the finest women tennis players to have graced the planet.

Her skill alone made her famous, but her stature grew as she came out as a gay athlete. Martina Navratilova is heralded for the work she has done on the court and continues to help others who are in her position. She came out during the 1981 season and played a lengthy career before retiring.

3) Sheryl Swoopes

She’s one of the most famous basketball players of all time. In fact, she is called the female version of Michael Jordan when it came to her talent level.

Sherly Swoopes came out in 2005 and had a period where she was married to a man in the 90s. She has a son named Michael Jordan (named after her favorite NBA player) from the marriage.

She has supported the gay community and helped spread the word over the past decade. You can check out a video of some of her best highlights below.

4) David Denson (MLB)

David Denson is the first openly gay athlete in the MLB.

While he is a retired baseball player at the age of 22 due to pursuing other dreams, he has gone on to become a recognized professional in the gay community. He was able to break the barrier that was in place and spent time in the Brewer’s farm system working on his craft as a baseball player.

5 Celebrities You’d Never Guess Were Gay or Bisexual

Despite all the revolutions the world has seen in our perspectives on sexualities, the news that a celebrity has openly announced being gay or bisexual can still come as quite a surprise. The LGBT community has done much to de-stigmatize sexual diversity but it can still be difficult to face your family and friends and even more so the entire globe.

So, here’s a toast to all those brave fellows in the lime light who have stepped forth and been counted with their LGBT community.

1. Michelle Rodriguez

The star of Fast and Furious series came out as an open bisexual a few years ago, in an important interview with the Entertainment Weekly periodical. According to Michele, she has experience on both sides of the sexuality street and basically does what she pleases. “I’m just too curious to not try what I can and want! Guys are intriguing, but then again, so are girls!”

2. Rupert Everett

Rupert Everett has entertained us with classy humor and a distinguished presence in films such as “Shrek”, “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and many others. For many years, Rupert struggled with his desire to be open about his sexual inclination and the concerns over the reception he would get from friends and family, more’s the pity. He has advised other gay actors to keep their sexuality to themselves as straight men get better roles.

3. Alan Cumming

The star of “X-Men” and “The Good Wife” was very clean about his orientation when he discussed the matter on the Larry King Now show. According to Alan Cumming his sexual curiosity has led him to both male and female relations. “I actually had a boyfriend before I was married, but I’ve always felt kind of bisexual.”

4. Jillian Michaels

The coach on the popular TV show” The Greatest Loser”, Jillian Michaels, surprised many people when she spoke about her sexual inclination during an exclusive interview with ‘Lady’s Home Journal”. She alluded to her love life as a healthy aspect of her lifestyle, much like her choice of diet. “I believe that a relationship should be healthy. As long as there’s love it is all right. Just like healthy eating, as long as the nutrition is wholesome and beneficial, it’s good eating.”

5. Clive Davis

He may be 80 years old, but the musical magnate that brought Whitney Houston to fame has recently been open about his sexuality in his latest production “A Soundtrack to My Life”

What is Third Gender?

In modern society through many parts of the world, there has risen up a movement regarding people of intermediate gender identity and their advocates. Where many parts of the world identify (or attempt to identify) a stark, black and white contrast between male and female with no gray area to speak of, there are those in the world who identify with neither of these markers. Some call themselves hermaphrodites, some transsexual, some are simply gender fluid. In other parts of the world, they identify as hijra or kothi in parts of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. They also go by fa’afafine in American Samoa or Balkan “sworn virgins.” Whatever name they apply to themselves, it is obvious they do not identify as the clear-cut male or female archetypes that society might wish to appropriate on them. As an umbrella term, many refer to themselves (and others may also refer to them) as third gender.

But, what exactly is third gender, exactly?  It’s easy enough to lump all non-standard individuals into a group according to sexual orientation or gender identity and apply the term “third gender” or “other” to them. However, is that seriously all there is to it? Is it simply just a matter of individuals going against social conventions of male and female roles in society and rebelling against the classically assigned roles that basic biology generally bestows upon them?

In this sense, even biology isn’t perfect. The various forms of third-gender individuals are hardly limited to those who defy traditional gender roles such as those who are transgendered or those who adhere to a sexual orientation that is anything other than heterosexual. Sometimes, the biology is self- or externally-imposed, such as with eunuchs or those undergoing transsexual procedures, sometimes it is biologically-imposed on the individual such as with hermaphrodites and androgynous individuals.

Unfortunately, such variability to one’s sexual orientation or gender identity is historically known to lead to discrimination, as it is with many other subjects. Even in the United States, third gender individuals face hardship to gain similar treatment in various arenas due simply to their inability or refusal to conform to the standard binary system of male or female. As recently as 2015, Dana Zzyym, a veteran of the United States Navy, was denied a passport due simply to the fact that they identified as neither male nor female. And it has been only recently as this year that states have legally recognized a non-binary, third gender recognition for identification cards. In other parts of the world, countries adhere to systems that include terminology such as “gender diverse” or the title “Mx.” specifically used in the United Kingdom. However, while progress is being made, many still resist the movement of non-binary/third gender identity. Transgender individuals are still continuously subjected to discrimination in job settings or even in the processes involved in jobs and housing. They are also frequently the victims of hate crimes, and are even known to avoid contacting the police in matters of this nature due to fear of being further harassed by the police themselves. There are even regions of the modern world who do not as of yet legally recognize third-gender individuals; Japan and the Philippines, parts of Africa, southern Mexico, Oman, and indigenous peoples of North America do recognize third-gender individuals in name, but do not have any evidence of legal incorporation into society.

What is a Hijra in South Asia

In a time when the social norms of gender identity and sexual orientation is being challenged at the highest levels of government and religion, regions in South Asia have already accommodated those whose gender identity might be considered a little more obscure by the Western world.

There exists in parts of South Asia, particularly in Nepal, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, people known as hijra. In the parts of society that accept and acknowledge them, this generally refers to a person – typically a man – who becomes transgendered later in life. They tend to renounce sexuality altogether, bearing both masculine and feminine qualities upon themselves. People of this “third gender” (which is now legally recognized in parts of the world listed above) are generally segregated from common society, whether by a will of their own or by being cut out forcefully. The term “hijra” itself is normally derogatory, particularly in the Urdu dialect of India, as it literally means “leaving one’s tribe.” Many hijra reside in all-hijra villages overseen by a guru, with several young males undergoing rites of initiation that include removal of the testicles, scrotum and even the penis itself.

Those that manage a life within general society tend to do so at the outermost margins and are normally regarded as one of the lowest castes. While it has been mentioned that many hijra renounce sexuality in total, it is interesting to note that many hijra usually eke out a living as sex workers and prostitutes, though others “earn” their keep through means of extortion, begging and performing at various ceremonies.

Only up until recently, hijra faced extreme discrimination from the rest of society with disproportionate health care, education and job and housing opportunities. They were known to suffer brutal, physical violence from crowds of people, and violence set upon them was rarely ever investigated by police due primarily to apathy. When India re-criminalized homosexual relations in 2013, attacks of physical, psychological and even sexual natures became more prevalent. Hijra and kothi, an entity separate from hijra who generally take a more receptive role in sexual relations (often, if not entirely, with heterosexual men) were particularly susceptible to attacks of this kind.

In early to mid-2014, legislation was finally passed in India that legally recognized hijra as a “third gender,” and thus awarded them proportionate opportunity for jobs and education, although they are also legally recognized as a “socially and economically backward” class who still linger on the fringes of society.

Although the progress is slow-going, recognition of basic human rights in the communities where hijra are most prominent is moving forward. India and Pakistan, in particular, have recognized hijra as a legal “third gender” and extended opportunities for growth through jobs and education, though there is still struggle for hijra to become more highly involved in government. While Pakistan first allowed a hijra to stand for election in 2013, other communities find it difficult to participate fully in the democratic processes of their regions. In order to vote in India, one must identify as either male or female – a task impossible to carry out for a hijra who identifies as neither in regard either to gender identity or sexual orientation. In this way, hijra still struggle to attain equal recognition as males or females in society, though it is difficult to argue against the progress that has been made thus far.