October, 2015 / Author:

217-08-news-briefs

A feather for each spirit

WINNIPEG, Manitoba – GLBT people will now and forever have a role to play at Western Canada’s largest aboriginal festival. At this year’s 10th anniversary gathering, two eagle feathers were placed on the ceremonial Eagle Staff in honour of the role that two- spirit people hold in indigenous society.

The ceremony took place at the annual Manito Ahbee festival, which is an annual gathering of leaders, artists, dancers and teachers. It was a welcome nod to the past, when many of the pre-colonial tribes of North America believed that individuals who exhibited signs of homosexuality had two spirits, both male and female.

These people were considered to be holy, and often became respected teachers in the tribe. Lisa Meeches, executive director of the festival, says that two-spirit people remain an important part of indigenous culture.

“Having a feather placed on the Eagle Staff is a great honour, and it’s a great responsibility for those who care for and keep the staff,” she says. At the sacred ceremony, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde held the Eagle Staff while Sky Bridges, the two-spirit chief operating officer for television station APTN, tied the two feathers on. “We’re going back to a place and a teaching that has been lost in our culture,” says Meeches. “This is a recognition that two spirit people have teachings to give, and will always have an honoured place at this festival.”

 


Throwing stones

HOLLYWOOD, California – Despite taking to Facebook this summer to defend his new film about the Stonewall riots, gay Hollywood filmmaker Roland Emmerich continues to feel the heat. After the release of the film’s trailer, GLBT critics called for a boycott, charging that the movie Stonewall did not adequately represent the role that drag queens and women of colour played in the riots.

In his own defence, Emmerich admitted that he made the lead character a handsome white male in order to secure financing, but that women and drag queens were indeed represented in the film.

This fall, the criticism morphed, but continued nonetheless. Critics say the film is not so much a case of bad history as it is bad filmmaking. After viewing the entire motion picture, a reviewer for gossip website Gawker wrote, “There aren’t enough bricks in the world to throw at Roland Emmerich’s appalling Stonewall,” and lifestyle magazine Vanity Fair suggested to readers that “Stonewall is terribly offensive, and offensively terrible.”

Emmerich does have his supporters, however. Suggesting that the Gawker and Vanity Fair reviews were bordering on hysterics, American GLBT magazine The Advocate printed an editorial encouraging gay and lesbian readers to see the film. “Roland Emmerich’s new drama about LGBT rights isn’t a great film,” wrote columnist Daniel Reynolds. “But it’s a good movie.”

 


School daze

GLOUCESTER COUNTY, Virginia -This fall, millions of young people around the world be-gan their annual trek back to school.

For one young man in Virginia, however, the year will be filled with a number of challenges, including trying to figure out where to go to the bathroom.

In August, a U.S. federal court judge ruled that a transgender high school student won’t be allowed to use the boys’ bathroom he’d already been using for months.

During the last school year, 16-year-old Gavin Grimm received permission from his principal to use the boys’ bathroom, and was doing so without incident until the school board stepped in with a new policy that denied the Grade 10 student access to a gender-appropriate restroom.

The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Virginia quickly took the matter to a federal judge, alleging that the school board violated the student’s civil rights by enacting a transphobic restroom policy.

Just as kids were settling into a new school year, the judge ruled the policy did not violate Chapter 9 of the U.S. Constitution, the chapter that deals with discrimination.

 


–Caedmon Malowany has been an openly gay news reporter, news anchor and news director in rural Manitoba, and currently works as a communications specialist for the provincial government.

 

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