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Entries in Homosexual (5)

Thursday
Jul052012

Gay Dads Sue; Health Club Reverses Stand on Memberships

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After a lawsuit was filed against the Roanoke Athletic Club by a same-sex couple for offering them a "family membership" then revoking it, the club today changed its policy.

Will Trinkle, 54, and his partner Juan Granados, 40, filed a lawsuit against the club on June 27 for breach of contract and were seeking to have their family membership reinstated.

The Virginia couple, who have been together for eight years and have a 2-year-old son Oliver, said the club had discriminated against them because they are gay.

But today, the RAC posted a new policy on its Facebook page: "A household consists of a primary member and up to one additional household member that permanently lives in the household, and any of their dependent children under the age of 22 who also reside in the household on a permanent basis ...Club dues will not change; dues for the Household Membership will be the same as the Family Membership it is replacing."

"It is really defined on Facebook," an RAC club spokesman told ABC News when asked if they now offer discounted memberships to gay families. "That is definitely what it says -- for public knowledge."

The athletic club is owned by Carilion Clinic, one of the region's largest medical providers. They have a company-wide nondiscrimination policy that bans bias on the basis of sexual orientation.

Eric Earnhart, spokesman for the parent company, Carilion Fitness, told ABC today said, "We have not yet received lawsuit information and can't comment on litigation."

Trinkle, a real estate agent, and Grenados, a marketing director, alleged in their lawsuit that they had been mistreated because they were same-sex parents.

"Actually it was like someone punched us in the stomach," Trinkle told ABC. "It's from a place we couldn't imagine that there would be this kind of discrimination and this kind of attack. We have come a long way but this shows we still have a long way to go."

ABC News was unable to reach the couple or their lawyer John P. Fishwick Jr., to find out if they would now drop the lawsuit.

At the time, they had been told they could not have a family membership because the club defined family as "husband, wife and their children ages 21 and younger living at home."

Without the family rate of $112 a month, each of the partners would have had to pay $69 for a total of $138 and their 2-year-old child would be included, according to the club.

The couple said their initial acceptance, then rejection, was the basis for the lawsuit and they are seeking enforcement and compensation under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.

Trinkle said he had recently moved his offices and decided to join the club so he could use the RAC on lunch breaks and his son Oliver could swim in the pool.

On May 15, Trinkle applied for membership at RAC and was encouraged to sign up for the "family" option. The couple filled out the application truthfully, including listing the "member name" and "spouse name" and Oliver Trinkle Granados as their "dependent child."

"There was no ambiguity," he said.

The initiation fee was $50 and the first month's membership was $112, he said. Both were posted to his credit card.

The couple began to use the facilities, but on May 23 Trinkle got a call from the director of operations that the club had made a "really big mistake," and they did not meet the definition of family, the lawsuit alleges.

"We tried to resolve this with Carilion's leadership," said Trinkle. "We were not only told that they were sticking with their decision to kick us out, but because of us, they were 'tightening policies' so no families like us would ever 'get as far' as we had."

The lawsuit alleges that the RAC manager in reviewing their application thought that Granados was "Juanita" and not "Juan."

A petition on Change.org has called on the owners of the club to allow same-sex families to get memberships. So far it has 40,000 signatures.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul032012

My Three Daddies: California Eyes Multiple Parenting Law

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- California, the battleground state for the arguments for and against same-sex marriage, is now considering an unconventional law that would allow children to be legally granted more than two parents.

The bill -- SB1476 -- would apply equally to men and women, and to homosexual or heterosexual relationships. Proposed by State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, it has passed the Senate and awaits an Assembly vote.

Leno cites the evolving American family, which includes surrogacy arrangements, same-sex marriages and reproductive techniques that involve multiple individuals.

"The bill brings California into the 21st century, recognizing that there are more than 'Ozzie and Harriet' families today," Leno told the Sacramento Bee, which first reported the story.

"We are not touching the definition of a parent under the current law," said Leno. "When a judge recognizes that a child is likely to find his or her way into foster care and if there is an existing parent who qualifies as a legal parent, why not have the law when it is required to protect the well-being of the child?"

Parents would have to qualify under all legal standards and agree on custody, visitation and child support before a judge could divide up responsibilities.

Several other states, including Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maine and the District of Columbia, recognize more than two parents.

"Most children have at most two parents, but some children have more than two people in their lives who have been a child's parent in every way," says Leno in his fact sheet on the bill. "For example, a child raised from birth by a biological mother and a non-biological father may also have a relationship with his or her biological father.

"In such a situation, the child may consider both adults in the home to be parents, as well as his or her biological father. In such a case, it may be in the child's best interests to have a legally protected relationship with all three of the parental figures in his or her life."

Glenn T. Stanton, director of Global Family Formation Studies for the conservative group Focus on the Family, argues that the bill appears to advocate for children's rights, but in reality gives adults legal protection to create "radical families."

"We hear all this celebratory talk about 'new families,' but there is no sociological, psychological or medical data showing any of these new family forms have served to the elevate the general physical, mental, educational or developmental well-being of children in any meaningful way," said Stanton. "That job is best done for children by their own mother and father," he said.

But Leno argues that a new law would address more than just same-sex families, including one in which a man raises a nonbiological child with a woman, but the child also has a relationship with the biological father.

A lesbian couple, for example, might also want to include a male friend who provided sperm for the conception of their child as a legal parent.

Leno maintains that it is in the best interest of a child to designate multiple parents to provide financial support, health insurance and other state benefits.

Not to do so can have "disastrous emotional, psychological, and financial consequences for the child," according to Leno.

Such a law might serve not only same-sex families, but adoptive ones as well, where there may be a relationship with a biological parent.

However, Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, said situations where the law might be applicable are "pretty limited."

"Most people don't aim for this and don't need it," he said. "It's an arrangement that's created for specific circumstances -- but I don't see a big trend here."

"People in the adoption world get very concerned about a law like this," said Pertman. "One of the concerns they have about open adoptions is co-parenting and it simply is not. There are circumstances where there is a real need and individual cases where it serves the needs of the child. That should be the focus, to have a law that permits the child to get what he or she needs."

And some legal experts in California question the impact of such a law on an array of issues like tax deductions and wrongful death suits.

Leno acknowledges that the law might be applied in "rare circumstances" and only when it is required "for the best interests of the child."

"Some of the hyperbolic corners of the opposition are suggesting there could be four, six or eight parents," he said. "But I think that it will not be used when a child has too many parents, but when there are too few."

The bill was co-sponsored by the University of San Diego School of Law's Children's Advocacy Institute and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul082011

Gray and Gay: Coming Out in Middle Age

Trinette Reed/Photodisc(WASHINGTON) -- Growing up in the Iowa farm belt, Dr. Loren Olson always thought of himself as "heterosexual, with a little quirk."

He wondered why he had to work so hard at masculinity and attributed his feelings of being a "man-imposter" to the death of his father in a tractor accident when he was 3.

Olson went on to have a satisfying 18-year marriage and two daughters but, inside, he always knew something wasn't quite right. He describes "always editing my behavior and thoughts." But long after many men acknowledge their sexual orientation, he came out after the age of 40.

In his new book, Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight, Olson, now 68 and semi-retired psychiatrist, examines the lives of closeted gay men, many of whom have sex with other men but deny they are homosexual.

A 2006 study that was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine revealed that 10 percent of men who called themselves heterosexual have had sex with men, many of them married.

Olson's book weaves memoir with an online survey of 132 men who have sex with men. In seeking responses, he intentionally didn't use the word, "gay." He provides insight into their mindset and sexual habits: They avoid the intimacy of kissing and anal sex in their relationships.

"My sexual attraction, behavior and sex identity are all in alignment," Olson said. "Many men struggle to line these three things up in a way that gives them peace and comfort."

Olson also noted a real "disconnect" between the older and younger generation of gay men.

"There are a lot of really out and proud gay young men, but they don't know we exist or they don't really sense that we are authentically gay," Olson said. "They think we should have figured it out or are intentionally hiding and don't have the guts to come forward as they did."

The average age at which gay men come out has fallen steadily in four decades, according to a 2010 survey by the British LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender] group Stonewall. In the 60-plus group of those who had already come out, the average age was 37. For men and women in their 30s, the average age was 21 but it was 17 for the 18 to 24 age group.

Gays, lesbians or bisexuals who reveal their sexual orientation typically boost their self-esteem and experience less anger and depression, according to a 2011 University of Rochester study.

But men who come out in middle age face other barriers: financial insecurity, social isolation and being childless or estranged from their families, according to Judy Evans, a spokeswoman for the group Service and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE).

"These older Americans came of age at a time when being gay was labeled a psychiatric disorder and there was overt discrimination," Evans said. "They are really not used to living lives so openly as the younger generation."

When Olson came out, "I felt over the hill as a gay man, clueless about what gay meant and suddenly alone," he writes.

Many men don't ever come out, in part because of the idea that "being gay is associated with being weak and powerless," he said. "Somehow we think we got away from that, but we still haven't. Part of it for my generation is giving up the privilege of being a man."

Olson said he decided to tell his story because it wasn't unique. "I felt I needed to share some of my own secrets to make my story authentic...I needed to say, 'I know where you are; I have been there.'"

Olson said there is no universal path to coming out, but his advice to those in the closet is: "The loss is far less than imagined and the gain is far more."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun202011

Halfway Out: Why Many Stay Closeted in the Workplace

Medioimages/Photodisc(ROCHESTER, N.Y.) -- In a study released Monday from the University of Rochester researchers found that 69 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals surveyed are still closeted in some sphere of their life, whether with families, colleagues, or their religious community.

Research repeatedly shows that, in general, coming out is a good thing from a mental health standpoint: people report higher self-esteem, lower rates of anxiety and depression and closer interpersonal relationships.

What Monday's study shows, however, is that this psychological boost varies greatly depending on the environment one comes out to -- when an individual came out in a judgmental environment, there was almost no improvement to emotional well-being, researchers found; in a supportive environment, huge improvements.

This may explain why so many individuals choose to remain closeted in environments most likely to be judgmental -- work, church, or among certain family members.

"What we're seeing is that LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people are quite selective in where they come out. They're sensitive to some of the costs of coming out in an environment that may not be wholly supportive of their sexual orientation," says Richard Ryan, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester and co-author on the study.

"Coming out is a good thing, psychologically speaking, but what we're seeing is that the benefits are balanced out by stigma and non-acceptance in certain environments," says Ryan.

It all boils down to that personal decision of where it's worth it, he says.

Work may prove to be an especially large hurdle for LGBT individuals in the process of coming out. In the Rochester study, half of those surveyed were out among friends or family but not among colleagues or fellow students. In most cases, this was because the workplace was seen as a controlling, non-accepting environment.

"I know friends who wouldn't come out because they feared facing discrimination and a glass ceiling in terms of promotions. I know others who came out in their work place when it was not in the best interest of their career, but it was in the interest of their happiness. It's a choice everyone has to make for themselves," says Gregory Angelo, executive director of Liberty Education Forum, a gay rights think-tank.

But does staying in the closet at work do oneself a disservice? Does it do the gay community a disservice? This is a point of tension between the more radical gay activists and others in the LGBT community.

"There's two sides to coming out -- those who view it as a political statement and those who view it as a personal statement," says Angelo.  "I tend to lean towards it being a personal statement."

Most psychologists would agree with Angelo -- coming out strategically may be the healthiest thing for the individual, depending on their situation.

Rich Savin-Williams, director of the Sex & Gender Lab at Cornell University,  says that he advises his college-aged patients to consider being selective in the way they come out.

"There is a political agenda that some gay people would advocate that everyone must come out everywhere, but from a psychological perspective, treating real people who have to live real lives, I wouldn't say that's a bright thing to do. For college-aged kids, coming out to a conservative family may cut them off financially or the family might withdraw from them school. I've seen both of these things happen and clearly that wasn't the ideal way to come out," he says.

"I think it's smart to at least initially be careful in how we come out and then as we develop the support systems we need, we branch out and take more risks," Savin-Williams says.

The take-home message researchers at the University of Rochester offer? If the psychological benefits of coming out are directly proportional to how accepting the environment is, then we must work to make all environments supportive of sexual identity.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar302011

Mormon 'Gay Cure' Study Used Electric Shocks Against Homosexual Feelings

Pixland/Thinkstock(PROVO, Utah) -- John Cameron said he was a naive and devout Mormon who felt "out of sync" with the world when he volunteered to be part of a study of "electric aversion therapy" in 1976 at Utah's Brigham Young University.

Twice a week for six months, he jolted himself with painful shocks to the penis to rid himself of his attraction to men.

"I kept trying to fight it, praying and fasting and abstaining and being the best person I could," said Cameron, now a 59-year-old playwright and head of the acting program at the University of Iowa.

But his undercurrent of feelings put him in direct conflict with the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (LDS) and its principles.

"As teens we were taught that homosexuality was second only to murder in the eyes of God," he said. "I was very, very religious and the Mormon church was the center of my life," said Cameron, who had done missionary work in Guatemala and El Salvador.

The 1976 study at Brigham Young, "Effect of Visual Stimuli in Electric Aversion Therapy," was written by Max Ford McBride, then a graduate student in the psychology department.

"I thought he was my savior," said Cameron, who enrolled with 13 other willing subjects, all Mormons who thought they might be gay, for a three-to-six-month course of therapy.

A mercury-filled tube was placed around the base of the penis and the students were shown alternating slides of men and women in various stages of undress. When participants responded to images of men with an erection, the closed electric circuit was broken and they received three-second electrical shocks at 10-second intervals. Each session lasted an hour. Participants set their own pain levels. Cameron said his shame was so deep that he selected the highest level.

And those weren't the only attempted cures that were used in that era. Others allege they were given chemical compounds, which were administered through an IV and caused subjects to vomit when they were stimulated.

Psychologists confirm those harsh experiments were used in a variety of medical settings by scientists of all faiths.

Church officials say they no longer support aversion therapy, but a generation who grew up in the 1970s say they have been scarred for life because of well-intentioned attempts to change their sexual orientation.

Today, the church still steadfastly opposes homosexuality, as witnessed by the millions of dollars in support it gave to pass California's Proposition 8, which would amend the state's constitution to outlaw gay marriage.

Carri P. Jenkins, assistant to the president of BYU, confirmed that McBride did study the effects of aversion therapy in the 1970s. She said the experiment was an "outgrowth of the behaviorist movement," which believed that any behavior could be modified.

Jenkins said other universities at the time used similar techniques, and none of this type has taken place at BYU since then.

Today, therapies are all "mainline therapeutic approaches," according to Jenkins, and all faculty are expected to be licensed and programs accredited.

The university, which is owned by the Mormon Church, said its policy on homosexuality is in line with Mormon doctrine -- today's students are not disciplined unless they engage in sexual activity, and that includes heterosexual sex before marriage.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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