Happy, anxious, anxious, happy

General Gayety

by Leslie Robinson  Contributing Writer  lesarobinson@gmail.com
Published: March 3, 2012 in General Gayety

The LGBT news in my part of the world has been good lately. Stunningly good. The governor of Washington mastered her qualms, the legislature mustered the votes and soon misters will be marrying misters in the Pacific Northwest.

This process has been so speedy and gratifying that I’ve been in a happy place for all of 2012.

Anyone who knows me knows that couldn’t last.

Recent LGBT news from around the world has plucked me from my happy place and plunked me down on an anxious acre. Listen, if it weren’t for that continuing glow from local news, I’d be on an irate island.

Start with the fact that the “Kill the Gays” bill has resurfaced in Uganda. Oh, this time the death penalty has been dropped, according to the bill’s daddy, MP David Bahati. Now anyone convicted of “aggravated homosexuality” — which last time around included any HIV-positive gay person who has sex — will merely get life in prison.

Such a relief.

Openly lesbian Pepe Julian Onziema of Sexual Minorities Uganda told the BBC that in the few days since Bahati reintroduced his bill, anti-gay harassment increased. In other words, Bahati got a lightning-quick return on his investment. A hate dividend.

“What I’m worried about most is not even the police coming to arrest me, it’s my neighbor attacking me — it’s the [taxi] refusing to take me to a destination. I’ll be killed before I reached my destination,” said Onziema.

Suddenly, I’m filled with warmth for North American cab drivers.

The prime minister and cabinet don’t support Bahati’s bill, having gotten an international earful about it in the past, but the legislation will receive an airing. “The facilitation of this debate should not be confused for the government’s support for this bill,” read an official statement.

Will the government manage to quash the bill? Will there be some hideous compromise? How many more LGBT Ugandans will suffer at the hands of their neighbors? I have room if you want to join me on my anxious acre. I’m generous that way.

Now to another part of the world that currently calls for hand wringing. St. Petersburg, the second-largest city in Russia and considered the nation’s most sophisticated metropolis, moves ever closer to bumpkin status.

The city legislature advanced a measure banning “gay promotion.” Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported the bill puts the kibosh on any gay Pride events. Authorities can levy fines up to $16,700 for “public activities promoting homosexuality (sodomy and lesbianism), bisexualism and transgender identity.”

That whole legalizing homosexuality thing that happened in Russia in 1993 seems to have passed a lot of Russians by. Rather like democracy.

The St. Petersburg legislature gave the second of three required approvals to this terrible measure and the third reading is imminent. The bill first went before the legislature in November; between then and now the fines grew 10 times higher. Just how much does vodka cost these days?

Not all the appalling LGBT news comes from abroad, of course. Ask 20-year-old Brandon White, who was beaten outside a neighborhood store in Atlanta by gang members hurling anti-gay slurs and shouting that his kind wasn’t wanted in the area.

Their kind tends to be not so popular either.

White didn’t plan to report the assault until he heard a video of it had been posted and gone viral. “By them going ahead and putting it on the internet, I feel that they wanted the attention,” said White, according to The Huffington Post. “They wanted to make themselves look like they were brave or strong, but in my opinion, I’m the brave one.”

A powerful sentiment. Powerful enough to fling me back to my happy place. Or, at least, within spitting distance. : :

info: lesarobinson@gmail.com . generalgayety.com