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May 09, 2006

Land of Pink Linc

How can I not adore my home state? On the very same day Peter and crew filed petitions for a destined-to-fail advisory referendum on the November ballot to recommend a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed an executive order extending benefits to state employees with same-sex partners.

Meanwhile, the Republican candidate for governor, Judy Barr Topinka, stated, "Don't even look at me. I support civil unions." I highly recommend this website "outlining" her views. Hilarious.

Equality Illinois, apparently finding itself with way too much time on their hands because of all this bipartisan tolerance, cheered on a pointless hissy fit after a local urban magazine known for its irreverent tone offered a contest seeking the most outrageous pictures from this year's Pride Parade.

What about the most inspiring (gay student groups) or the most heartwarming or affirming (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays or various religious institutions). Why does the media continue to try to titillate the population at large with what is "outrageous" in our community?

When reached for comment, organizers replied, "This guy's been to a pride parade before, right?" They then vowed to win the contest themselves, wandering off in a flurry of whispers about sequins and rhinestones.

April 14, 2006

A Matter of Interpretation? - *Updated

Underwear I'll need to recruit reader opinions on this one. Boozhy is criticizing the AIDS Foundation of Chicago for their current ad campaign, based on fashionable and trendy images. Juan questions:

. . .when will WHAT go out of style?  AIDS?  We have some words for ya' AFC, AIDS isn't a trend nor a fashion statement.  It's an epidemic. I thought we had decided collectively to stop glamorizing the virus?

I, however, had a different take. By trends, I thought the campaign was clearly targeting behavior. In the first pic, there is a man presenting his bare back. Bare-backing is obviously the major cause of HIV infection. The second picture depicts an African-American male under a shadowed hood. I took this as a criticism of what is known as sex "on the down low." Keith Boykin and others have spoken out at length on this issue, and it's had quite a bit of media attention of late, including Oprah.

However, I'm mystified by the third image of the woman in heels. There is no obvious message or behavior I can associate with it. Juan insists I'm looking too deeply at all the images, that they simply refer to AIDS itself as a trend, and there's nothing more to it - especially given the description by the AFC.

I think there's more going on here, but I can't account for the third picture. I plan on calling the AFC to ask when their office reopens in the morning. Reader opinions?

Update - I just got off the phone with a very knowledgable, very nice miss from the development department at the AFC. In a nutshell, Juan is right and I am wrong. The readings I laid out above are entirely incidental to the images produced for the campaign. The pictures are intended to create a jarring disconnect between what is being presented (shallow, high-gloss fashion) and the tragedy of AIDS. Furthermore, the models depicted are from different demographics and have had their faces obscured in order to emphasize that HIV and AIDS affects everyone, regardless of identity.

The campaign is actually from two years ago and is currently being touched up for redistribution for clinics, educational materials, etc. The AFC is eager to know what you think of this campaign, and would very much appreciate your feedback.

April 06, 2006

Probably Tasteless, Totally Accurate

While Illinois continues to struggle over the implosion of our state hate crimes commission in the face of Islamic anti-semitism, the Anti-Defamation League released its quarterly report documenting a sharp rise in Jew hatred within the Chicagoland area.

Jews are often the canaries in the coal mine of tolerance, and any increase in attacks or rhetoric against them is worthy of concern. However, note the last item in the list offered by the Sun-Times as part of recorded anti-Jewish sentiment:

*A customer at a UPS store in Chicago telling the store manager, "You're acting like Nazis in here," on March 14.

Look, I'm as hyper-aware of anti-semitism as a Gentile can possibly get, but even I'm not sure the people who work in UPS stores aren't Nazis. The last time I attempted to mail work papers in bulk through them, they weighed, re-weighed, and inspected the packages with an exactitude generally reserved for Columbian drug lords. I always harbored an idle curiosity about the stack of sandpaper on the local store's counter until I realized it was being saved for the reach around after the shipments disappeared into the flaming abyss that is their Louisville hub.

Sorry, ADL. I'm with the customer on this one.

April 02, 2006

Play Ball

Scottp Tonight, the White Sox return to Comiskey Park for their first game since winning the World Series after 88 years.

Baseball season has begun, and with it 162 opportunities to stare at future husband Scott Podsednik for hours at a time. (His wife? I have people working on it. That playmate is going down).

If I vanish mysteriously, chances are I'll be camped out in the bleachers for the next few months.

Tonight's game is airing nationally at 8 PM EST on ESPN2. Interested parties should visually stalk left field.

Update - He is hotter than ever: