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Archive for March 2009

Grindr – the first iPhone application for gay men

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We’ve seen a handful of dating applications that cater to the straight community, and today brings the launch of Grindr (iTunes Link), one of the first iPhone applications geared towards gay and bisexual men.

Grindr uses your iPhone GPS or iPod Touch Wi-Fi to connect you with guys in your area. It’s quick, anonymous, convenient, and discreet. You don’t need an account to use Grindr. Simply launch Grindr, upload an optional photo & profile details, and browse for men in your area who want to chat and meet. Whether he’s a hiking buddy, a hot date, or a casual contact, Grindr connects you with other guys.

“Grindr is the next generation of social networking—it’s about location, location, location,” says creator Joel Simkhai. “Men seeking men are technology and online dating trailblazers. We were the first to fill chat rooms on AOL, the earliest adopters of Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook. Grindr takes meeting people to the next level. If you want to hang out with a guy who’s right around the corner, Grindr is the app that makes it possible.”

While privacy is an issue for all location based social networks, it is of the utmost importance on gay networks. Without proper security measures, bigots could easily download such applications and use them to pinpoint targets for hateful slurs and potentially even violence. Grindr deals with these issues by obscuring a user’s absolute location by default.

And did we mention the best part? It’s free! Have you used Grindr?

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March 27, 2009 at 10:33 am

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Bachelorette parties at gay bars

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They’ve become a familiar sight : straight women holding bachelorette parties at gay bars. Who knew?

For years, some bar owners have tried to accommodate both groups, but that’s becoming increasingly difficult. With California’s vote last November in favor of the gay-marriage ban known as Proposition 8, some gays are saying that bachelorette parties at their bars are becoming more than a minor nuisance. They’re a constant reminder that gays don’t have equal marriage rights.

A sign on the front door of Cocktail, a gay bar on North Halsted Street, now reads “Bachelorette Parties Are Not Allowed.” Geno Zaharakis, owner of Cocktail, said the fact that gays aren’t allowed to get married makes the celebration of a woman’s upcoming wedding somewhat less than mutual in the bar. “The women are a hoot, and some can be just delightful,” Zaharakis said. “But because not everybody can get married, watching them celebrate, it’s such a slap in the face. Prop 8 just reopened the wound.” Cocktail stopped hosting bachelorette parties a couple of years ago when Zaharakis noticed his gay patrons weren’t just complaining about the women being minor irritants but about them “flaunting” their right to marry.

Art Johnston, the owner of the popular Halsted Street bar called Sidetrack, prefers not to hold bachelorette parties in his establishment. “As gay men who understand discrimination, none of us want to look like we don’t welcome folks,” Johnston said. “But it comes down to ignorant, bad behavior. … That’s the issue.”

For others, though, the issue is gay marriage, and women who are considering hosting these parties should think about that issue. Such a party may feel less like a celebration in the presence of men who feel they’re being discriminated against.

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March 24, 2009 at 8:15 am

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Saskatoon to host the province’s first summer camp for gay youth

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Saskatchewan has become the latest province to organize a camp where queer youth can come together to support one another and develop leadership skills. An organizing committee has been planning the first Saskatchewan Camp Fyrefly since last summer. Their first camp will be held August 20 to 23 in Saskatoon.

“A lot of the bigger centres have support networks in place,” said James McNinch, dean of education at the University of Regina, who is sponsoring the camp alongside the University of Saskatchewan. “But if you’re a gay kid in Shaunavon or Meadow Lake it might not be as easy. . . . It can be a tough environment.”

Camp Fyrefly first started in Alberta in 2004 when Dr André Grace and Kris Wells of the Institute for Sexual Minority Study and Services at the University of Alberta held their first camp. They bill it as a leadership retreat for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified, two-spirit, intersexed, queer, questioning and allied youth. It is designed to help youth develop the leadership skills and resilience necessary for them to become change agents in their schools, families, and communities.

The four-day leadership camp for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth aims to give around 40 participants, age 14 to 24, a stronger sense of identity. It will run Aug. 20-23 at the Queen’s House, a retreat centre located in Saskatoon.

McNinch said it will give young adults an improved sense of self-esteem and connect them with a strong support network.

“This is a traditional word,” he said, “but it’s a form of fellowship.”

He’s hoping camp co-ordinators are able to recruit students from rural centres, where there isn’t usually the support that teens might have access to in cities.

Herb McFaull, a co-chair of the camp, echoed McNinch’s comments. He said it’s an important environment for gay youth to experience when studies have shown staggering suicide and depression rates among the group.

“When you’re a minority group you’re always feeling some sense of isolation or persecution,” he said. “Setting this up in a facility where kids will be the only people there means they won’t have anyone looking sideways at them and will be able to build those bonds.”

The camp is especially relevant because teens are coming out at younger ages than before, said Anthony Santoro, 23, the camp’s co-ordinator. He came out when he was 14 — something he says wouldn’t have been possible without strong support from family and friends.

“All the support has allowed me to act in the queer community in a more positive way,” he said.

There are Saskatchewan-specific gay issues that McNinch said he hopes come to light as a result of the camp. Gay or “two-spirited” aboriginal youth face particular challenges, he said.

“There are a lot of aboriginal youth whose home reserve or inner-city neighbourhoods are highly homophobic,” he said. “That’s not easy.”

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March 10, 2009 at 10:27 am

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Microsoft banned lesbian from Xbox live

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Microsoft has banned a woman from its Xbox live service because she listed herself as a lesbian in her profile.

Consumerist magazine has reported that ‘Teresa’ got shedloads of abuse from other players and in the end the gay haters shopped her to the Vole. Microsoft took the liberated and enlightened view that it didn’t want anyone to mention sex. Ever.

Games were all about shooting and carving people up and not about thinking about two women pleasuring each other.

“Any use the text or comments that anyhow indicates the sexual orientation of the gamer, gay or straight, will result in a ban,” said the Vole.

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March 2, 2009 at 3:05 pm

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