Thursday, December 30, 2010

New website launched: the Rainbow Duo

My girlfriend and I have been working on our own comic for a while called Rainbow Duo - the adventures of 2 gay stick figures in love.

I'd already posted two of the comics on here (Buying tropical fruit and Lost in Corn), but I am proud to announce that they now have their own website!


The comics are loosely based on our own experiences, so if you want to know more about the silly, clumsy and embarrassing stuff we get up to, make sure to check it out.

Go to the Rainbow Duo and follow their/our adventures.

So far there's only 3 comics there, but we're looking forward to creating many more in the coming week and months.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Being Happy

I remember that when I was younger, and everyone was busy making lists of everything they wanted out of life, what they wanted to have and to achieve, I always used to say I just wanted to be happy.

For me, the most important thing one ought to want, and hope for in life, is to enjoy it, to be content, to feel happy. I was never quite sure how to achieve it, or what exactly it would entail, I just new I really wanted it.

Over the years, as I grew from teenager into young adult, and then later exchanging my twenties for my thirties, my life and who I was and what I wanted, fell more and more into place. There were many times when I felt content, thought life was good and felt happy. At least that was what I thought at the time.

To be honest, it's only in the last few years that I have felt truly happy. My thirties have been wonderful in that respect. Since I left my twenties behind, I not only know what I want and who I really am, but I am also totally at ease with that. For the most part, I love me just for me, flaws and all. 


The biggest contribution to my happiness though, happened almost a year and a half ago. That's when I met my current girlfriend. I always thought I was quite happy being single, that I didn't need anyone, that I was quite content with my life. How wrong I was.

I didn't notice what I was missing until I met Heidi. It felt like I had been incomplete my entire life, and now I am finally whole. Everything feels better and brighter with her in my life. I feel like I could do anything or nothing at all, and it will all be ok.

I used to hate it when people went on and on about how happy they were, how much they loved their partner and how everything was great. These days I am just like them, and I am loving every minute of it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

LGBT reading challenge 2011

I love to read and have been an avid reader ever since I mastered it when I was little. As a child I read everything I could get my hands on, and probably went through most of our local library's fiction selection.

The speed at which I read these days isn't what it used to be when I was younger, but I still go through a number of books a month. I'm pleased to say that by now I've collected quite an impressive book collection and I'm even more pleased I still have over 30 books sitting here that still need reading.

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Sometimes it helps to have an extra incentive to read, especially if the incentive is also a lot of fun. I came across the LGBT reading challenge 2011 on Book after book, of which I immediately thought that's something I want to participate in!

What's it all about? Well, according to the website:

Why this challenge? LGBT literature is so rich and varied and worth talking more about. That’s why I am hosting this challenge: to keep learning and sharing reading experiences. And, why not, to do my own tiny bit for a more accepting world – one book at a time!

The details of the challenge

  • The challenge will run from January, 1st 2011 to December, 31st 2011.
  • Because I’m also completing another challenge, I’m not setting a goal. You can decide how many books you want to read during the year. Obviously: the more you read, the more prize draws you’ll be able to enter! See the section “Resources” below for some suggestions.
  • What qualifies as LGBT reading? I will accept reviews of books whose author is LBGT, whose topic is LGBT and/or whose characters (even minor ones) are LGBT. Fiction and non-fiction titles are equally accepted.
  • The challenge is open to bloggers and non bloggers alike.
  • There will be monthly prizes for participants.

If you also want to participate, go here to get all the details.

In sum, it means I will make myself read a number of LGBT books the coming year, that I will then posts reviews of.

I'm not sure yet how many I will read, and I have learned from posting an exact figure, as I usually then to overestimate myself. A lot. But let's say I will try to read and review an LGBT themed book at least once a month.

I'm looking forward to lots of reading and review writing in 2011!

Studying LesBians: Offences by lesbian teens are seen as more offensive

Studying LesBians is a monthly column that discusses recent, and not so recent, research involving lesBians. This time I'll look into a study about the relation between sexual orientation and punishment.

This month an article was published in the academic journal Pediatrics entitled Criminal-Justice and school sanctions against non-heterosexual youth: a national longitudinal study. The article describes a study involving 15,700 American teenagers, who were followed for 7 years, and had many aspects of their lives studied.

The main things Kathryn Himmelstein and Hannah Bruckner looked at were sexual orientation and a number of sanctions by schools and the criminal-justice system.

Their main findings were that non-straight teenagers were 40% more likely to be punished in some way by schools, as well as by the police and the courts. Even more striking is that in general, non-straight teenagers were found to be much less likely involved in any serious misbehaviour.

More specifically, this involved things like being expelled from school, getting stopped by the police, but also more serious sanctions like juvenile arrest; juvenile conviction; adult arrest; and adult conviction.

In the article itself it's summarized as follows:

Nonheterosexual youth suffer disproportionate educational and criminal-justice punishments that are not explained by greater engagement in illegal or transgressive behaviours.

These results are rather shocking. Even more shocking, or perhaps it's not that surprising, these results especially applied to lesbians. In other words, the simple fact of being a lesbian as a teen can get you expelled, or even put in jail. Before we discuss the implications of this, let's look at the study more closely.

During the 1994-1995 school year, a little over 20,000 kids in grades 7 through 12 were interviewed extensively about their lives. This interview was followed up in 1996 and again during the 2000-2001 school year, when the kids from the first wave were between 18 and 26 years old.

They still managed to keep 15,700 of the original respondents, which is quite impressive. Even more impressive is they managed to collect so much data from such a large sample of teenagers.

Everything about the study and how it was conducted seems ok, and I couldn't find any big flaws or other reasons for these results to be inaccurate.

This longitudinal health study looked into many aspects of the kids' lives, but in this article only sexual orientation and sanctions by school and the justice system were assessed.

Categorizations into straight and non-straight were made based on answers about 3 aspects of sexual orientation: same-sex attraction, same-sex experiences and identification with labels of sexual orientation.

This was measured with questions like: Have you ever had a romantic attraction to a male/female? and sexual identification was measured with a Kinsey type scale. This appears like a more extensive way of assessing sexual orientation in teens than is often the case.

An interesting side-note is that for many teenagers sexual orientation and same-sex attraction isn't a very stable thing yet, with big differences between behaviour and identification, not only over time but also within a wave. For example, 28% of the teens who reported same-sex behaviour identified completely as straight.

In the total sample, 17.1% of female respondents reported same-sex attraction, 6.2% reported same-sex relationships, and 14.5% self-identified as other than 100% heterosexual. These numbers were a little higher than for boys, but boys tend to be more extreme (straight or gay), whereas girls are more fluid in their sexuality.

The researchers also assessed what kind of misbehaviour the teenagers had engaged in, ranging from minor misbehaviour (running away from home, lying to parents), moderate misbehaviour (stealing, selling drugs, driving a car without owner's permission) and violent behaviour. This behaviour was controlled for in the study, as well as age, gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic status.

It was then assessed what the relationship was between being straight or not and 6 different outcomes: expelled from school; stopped by police; arrested before the age of 18; convicted (or pled guilty) in juvenile court; arrested after turning 18; and convicted (or pled guilty) in adult court.

Results showed teens who indicated being attracted to or having experiences with the same-sex were more likely to be sanctioned by school or police. Interestingly, when it comes to identifications, only girls who identified as non-straight were more likely to be sanctioned (it made no difference for boys).

In other words, regardless of misbehaviour, ethnicity, etc., non-straight youth were more likely to be expelled from school, being stopped by the police and even ended up in court more than straight teens. This was especially the case for identifying as non-straight and being attracted to the same sex, and not so much for same-sex romantic or sexual behaviour.

Again, this was mainly a problem for girls, who were much more likely to be expelled from school, stopped by the police or even arrested and convicted than their straight counter parts. What's up with that?

The article offers a number of possible explanations. Most of these suggestions can be summed up as due to homophobia: getting punished for deviant behaviour or for being different.

Other explanations do not seem very plausible: they focus on same-sex behaviour explanations even though it's identification and attraction that is related to sanctions. They also wonder if it's due to self-measures of identification, as if sexual orientation could ever be assessed by anyone but the person themselves.

I am surprised not more or better possible explanations for these findings were given. I especially think it's surprising that nothing is said about the fact that being sanctioned is mainly a problem for non-straight girls. Surely, there's plenty of plausible reasons for this.

For example, AfterEllen mentioned that it's well known that lesbians who do not conform to traditional feminine roles and behaviour often are seen as aggressive and uncooperative.

In addition, Autostraddle talks about how "the juvenile-justice system also has a history of policing female sexuality, and a history of being antagonistic towards girls with 'aggressive' or 'masculine' gender presentations."

These are very plausible explanations for the results found in this study, and they also explain why they are mainly found for girls. It seems like it is not so much a case of homophobia (although I am sure that plays a role as well), but the fact that too many people (with power) do not like when girls aren't behaving like stereotypical pretty, silly, dumb girls.

Could it really be that sad? It would be a really interesting follow up study. Let's have a closer look at all girls who get into trouble with the law or at school and those who do not, and see if it's girly behaviour that explains a big part of it. I wouldn't be surprised it this were the case.

I would also love to see studies like these for Western European teenagers. Do we find the same results or not at all? In most Western European countries, we seem to be a little less concerned with traditional female behaviour, so perhaps we wouldn't find the same thing. Or perhaps we are just as homophobic over here?

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What do you think of these study results? Do you think the explanations are plausible? Do you find it worrying? Do you think in Europe we would find similar results? Let us know in the comments.

This post was first published on eurout.

 

Monday, December 20, 2010

New blogs

I just wanted to let everyone know I've been busy with two new blogs lately.

The first one is called Young and Innocent (?), on which I write blog posts through the eyes of my fictional kid self. This means I re-write childhood memories and experiences, from the perspective of a child. To make it a little more exciting, I twist the truth a little bit or even add something completely fictional.

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So far I've only written two entries, but I think it's a lot of fun to do. It especially makes a nice change from all the other stuff I usually write about. And I'm not just talking about lesbianism.

My second blog is just a photo blog entitled Pics Pics Pics, on which I share some of my favourite photos I have taken over the years. I might even add some photos I haven't taken myself, or that I have found somewhere online in the future. Not quite sure yet, but so far it's fun to have a place where I can put photos on display, besides on my own laptop.

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So if you like looking at photos and/or enjoy reading about (mainly) childhood traumas, be sure to check out my new blogs.

Also, keep reading this one as I'm planning to update it a lot more often in the next few weeks. Let's hope this is one New year's resolution I'll be able to keep.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Leaving eurOut

When I joined eurOut as a writer in September of 2008, it was one of my most exciting experiences ever.

For the past year I had been writing this blog, as well as for various informational sites (Oh the joys of writing about things like The best way to clean your DVD player!). I was enjoying writing immensely and I had been dreaming of ways to write for other blogs and websites I liked to read.

In those days I was a huge fan of AfterEllen, and I read their website every single day, loving all the content, the Vlogs, the "coolness of being gay", which was sort of new to me. Besides a great pass time, AfterEllen also really helped me embrace my lesbianism completely.

The greatest thing I could imagine was writing for AfterEllen myself. I thought this was something way out of reach, until I was asked to write for eurOut. It wasn't exactly the same, but it was the next best thing and, thus, I was really excited.

After a few months of just writing for eurOut, I also became the entertainment editor. That first year of starting the website and making it work, was an amazing and exciting time. Most of the time I was living and breathing eurOut and lesbian entertainment, and loving every second of it.

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It's not easy taking a picture of oneself in the mirror

Sandra, Maxime and I spent every day emailing back and forth about the website, about the latest European lesBian news we either got excited or outraged about, or just about daily personal stuff as well. We tried to write as much as we could, as well as we could, and as fast as we could.

It was such a pleasure seeing my articles in print, having people not only read it, but also enjoy it, making lesbian European news available to everyone and also showing them how much is out there and how cool it is to be gay. We were getting bigger, better and more popular and I was loving it. I thought I'd be doing it forever, or at least for a very long time to come.

But things change. When you have been doing the same thing for a while, it starts to become less exciting, and you have to think of new ways to keep it interesting. At least, that's how it works for me. I managed to do that for a while, because with a website like eurOut, there's many different things you can do, different topics to cover etc. etc.

As much as I loved the writing, and have always loved writing and will probably enjoy writing forever, the other stuff started to be less fun. You have to realize I have always combined my work for eurOut with a fulltime job as an assistant professor at university, and half way through my eurOut time I also started a serious relationship.

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eurOut meet up with eurOut staff and band Greymatter (I'm on the right)

Needless to say, it wasn't always easy to combine a busy work and private life with eurOut. I didn't mind so much at the beginning, but after 2 years of editing recaps in between grading papers, and having to write an entertainment news column every single Friday night/Saturday morning, you get a little tired of it.

I think one can only live and breath lesbian entertainment news for so long, without getting totally sick of it. I'm not at that point yet, but lately it has been less exciting, and I felt I should stop and pursue other things, before I really stop enjoying it.

I'm not giving up eurOut completely though, as I will still continue to write two of my columns. I also won't turn my back on lesbian content. As I said, I love writing and I am looking forward to lots of new and exciting blogs and articles I will be creating. I'm also very excited at the prospect of being able to sleep in again on Saturday mornings.

Being part of the eurOut team was one of the coolest things I've ever done and I will always think back of it fondly.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Studying LesBians: LGBT research that wastes time and money showing the sky is blue (with a rainbow in it)

Studying LesBians is a monthly column about recent and not so recent research on lesBians and the LGBT community. This column about obvious research being done and getting media attention was published on eurOut back in July, but I forgot to post it here as well.

This month several LGBT related studies were reported in the media that had such obvious results you have to wonder why people think this is news worthy and why the research was funded to look into these things in the first place.

Before I get into describing the studies in question, I want to stress I welcome any person or institution spending time and money researching things to do with the LGBT community. But just as with any type of research, an awful lot of time and money seems to be wasted on showing the obvious.

Let me illustrate this with 3 LGBT related studies that made headlines the last few weeks:

Same-sex relationships improve self-esteem and lower internalized homophobia in gay and lesbian teens

Yesterday Pink News and several other online LGBT media outlets reported about a new study that showed that queer teens who are in a homosexual relationship feel better about themselves and about being gay than those that are single. In other words, if you are in high school and you discover you are into girls, you feel a lot better when you have a cute girlfriend than when you are all alone. Can I get a collective Duh?

Now I haven't had the chance to read the entire research report, but from what I gathered they did do a fairly extensive long term study into the link between romantic relationships and well being of straight and gay teens. Still, the results they come out with and are used as headlines in LGBT media are so obvious it makes me wonder who actually thinks this is news.

Then again, at least this is a topic worthy of mentioning. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the next headline:

Gay men are thinner than heterosexuals, but lesbians are heavier

There have been many studies in the last few years looking into determinants of lifestyle and health behaviours, the results of one of those studies was published a few weeks ago. They looked at many different health behaviours, mental states, as well as stuff like weight. Although the study had some interesting findings about some health related behaviours like smoking and drinking, all the media seemed to focus on was weight.

The study showed that on average gay men were less likely to be overweight than straight men and lesbians were more likely to be overweight than straight women. Can I get another Duh? Everyone knows that (I am totally generalising here) straight women and gay men are much more obsessed with their appearance (and their weight) than the rest of us and thus are less likely to be overweight.

Gay adults are more likely to spend a lot of time online than heterosexuals

A few times now I have seen this headline, and it continues to amaze me that people find this newsworthy. Yes, as a "minority group" we spend more time online because it's one of the best ways to get in touch with our community either indirectly by reading about news and events or directly by meeting people. Still, yet another research group thought it was worth examining.

So what do you think of the research examples I just shared with you? Do you agree this kind of research is a waste of time and money or do you think it's important to look into these issues? Or perhaps you can think of some other examples of pointless research. Let us know in the comments.

Read previous Studying LesBians columns here.

Video of the week: Everybody loves a lesbian

Have you heard of Mongrels? It's BBC 3's first urban, multi-species, adult puppet comedy. Yes, you read that correctly, adult puppet comedy. The series was created by Adam Miller and written by Jon Brown and Daniel Peak.

In one of their scenes, a pigeon called Kali learns all about the joys of lesbianism from Cassandra the crow. The greatest part about this scene is the song they perform, entitled Everybody loves a lesbian.

I thought it was rather hilarious, I especially love the beginning where Cassandra tells Kali "You'd make an excellent lesbian!" The lyrics of the song aren't very pc, but who cares, as it's just a fun tune.

It's like lesbian Sesame street for adults. Or something. What do you think? Did you enjoy Everybody loves a lesbian or not at all?

This post was first published on eurout.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lists Are Hot: 10 songs by European lesBians

Lists are hot is a monthly column for those that love lists as much as I do. This month it's all about music.

After many months of movies, TV and web series related Lists are hot columns, I thought it was time to devote one to music again. I have selected for you 10 songs by European lesBians that I thought you might like. These are not supposed to be the best songs and they also do not represent all of my favourites (for that I refer you to my very first Lists are hot column), but they are a selection of songs from 2010 and a number from previous years, all by queer female singers from Europe.

 

1. Skunk Anansie – Secretly (UK, 1999)

I have always been a big Skunk Anansie fan, as well as of Skins' solo stuff. I love the way their music sounds, especially when heard live. They usually also have songs with good lyrics and interesting accompanying music videos. Secretly is one of my favourite songs, that captures all the reasons why I am a fan. The music video features two boys kissing, which not surprisingly, was censored by a few TV stations when it came out.

2. Sharron Levy – What do you want from me (UK, 2010)

Sharron Levy is an upcoming British singer, who eurOut had the pleasure to interview at the Gay Games this summer. Levy is not only a great singer, she also has a nice and diverse music taste. The latter especially comes through in the wide range of covers she performs. A great example is her acoustic rendition of Adam Lambert's What Do You Want From Me? I definitely prefer this version over Lambert's.

3. Elektra – I don't do boys (Iceland, 2010)

The song I Don't Do Boys by Icelandic all-girl band Elektra is a nice pop song and quite catchy, but what it's really about is the video. Be warned, this video is NSFW and features the girls of Elektra showing us they don't do boys by making out with girls. A lot. I can't quite decide whether it's cool or just a bit much. In any case, this song (and especially the video) was pretty popular this year, and in case you missed all the fuss, you can now watch it again.

4. Billie Myers – Kiss the rain (UK, 1997)

It's been 13 years since Kiss The Rain by Billie Myers was first released, but it still remains a very popular tune. I guess it's true that good songs are timeless. Kiss The Rain is one of the songs I currently have on my iPod, and I still enjoy listening to it as much as I did when it first came out. Of course, Myers has released many other great songs since then, but I guess Kiss The Rain will always remain my favourite.

5. K's Choice – Come live the life (Belgium, 2010)

I've always been a fan of K's Choice, as well as of Sarah Bettens' solo stuff, so I was really excited when I heard K's Choice had reformed and released a new album. Come Live The Life was the first single from their latest album, and it's is a nice, catchy song with some powerful lyrics. Not only that, but the video accompanying it is the cutest video I have seen in a long time.

6. Nina Ramsby – Desire to be free (Sweden, 2009)

Nina Ramsby is a Swedish musician with quite a diverse repertoire. Last year, one of her songs I wanna run was used for the great advertisement for the event about heteronormality for Stockholm Pride. This was followed by the release of a totally different song: Ramsby collaborated with Embee, who’s a famous Scandinavian producer, and sang the vocals of the dance track Desire to be free.

7. Wallis Bird – To my bones (Ireland, 2009)

To My Bones is the fun and upbeat song from Irish singer/songwriter Wallis Bird, who we told you about a while back. To sum up, she's young, she's Irish and she's a great singer. To My Bones is a single from Bird's debut album New Boots, which is available in most European countries in both record stores as well as from iTunes. You can find out more about her on her website.

8. Laura Steel – Feedback (UK, 2010,)

Feedback is the latest single and music video from British singer Laura Steel. We already alerted you to this upcoming singer on eurOut, including in Ley's article Dinner with a dozen British queer women. Steel's music is the kind of dancy pop stuff that tends to give me a headache, so not surprisingly, I'm not very impressed by the music qualities of Feedback. But perhaps you disagree with me?

9. More than les - Statement (Germany, 2010)

More Than Les are a new German all-female band that released their first song and video entitled Statement this summer. The song is rather catchy, although not really my cup of tea. What I think is very cool about this video is that everything about it is SO gay. More Than Les are a band of lesbians who sing about what it's like to be a lesbian. If we have to believe their lyrics, this apparently means everybody is dating/sleeping with everyone else.

10. Alex Parks – Maybe that's what it takes (UK, 2003)

For my final pick, I wanted to take you back to the early 2000's when upcoming singer Alex Parks blew everyone away when she appeared on UK talent show Fame Academy (a show like Idols and X Factor, only fun and with talented singers). The first song Parks released was Maybe That's What It Takes from the 2003 album Introduction.

 

What do you think of these songs? Are some of your favourites on this list or are they missing?

This post was first published on eurout.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Studying LesBians: Does having lesbian parents make you bisexual or just more open-minded?

Studying Lesbians is a monthly column discussing recent (and not so recent) research involving lesbians. This time we look into another interesting study that had its results taken a little out of context.

A study was published in the December issue of the Archives of Sexual Behaviour journal that looked into the sexual behaviour and identity of 17 year-olds raised by lesbian parents. The data were part of the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study, which is the most extensive long term study into American lesbian mothers and their children. 

The journal in question publishes all kinds of research revolving around sexual identity, experiences and disorders and makes for quite an interesting read if you are interested in that sort of thing. The study I want to discuss is no exception.

Photo credit: NLFS.org/Photographer: Gigi Kaeser

78 adolescents (39 boys and 39 girls) who were raised by lesbian parents were followed for a period of time and were asked a whole range of questions about their sex life, including sexual experiences, sexual identity etc. etc.

They were also asked about other aspects like sexual abuse, to which none answered affirmatively. This led to quite some news coverage about there being no abuse at all in lesbian households.

Of course, 78 participants is way too small a sample to make any kind of general claims about the entire population of kids growing up with two mommies. Those reporting about research findings tend to ignore that part and just go for the juicy headlines.

Still, not that much research has been done on sexual orientation and experiences of kids growing up with two mothers, so it is interesting and important to look at the results.

When asked to indicate their sexual orientation on the Kinsey scale (a scale that measures sexual orientation ranging from totally straight to totally gay, with bisexual being somewhere in the middle), 5.4 % of 17 year-old boys identified as gay and 2.7 % identified as bisexual. In stark contrast, none of the girls identified as gay, but no less than 18.9 % identified as bisexual.

This is not only a big difference compared to boys of the same age raised by lesbians, but also much higher than what you typically find in girls of the same age raised by straight parents.

In addition, it was also found that girls raised by lesbians (regardless of sexual orientation) were much more likely to have had same-sex experiences than girls raised by straight parents. They were also older when they first engaged in girl-boy experiences than girls raised by straight parents.

Photo credit: NLFS.org/Photographer: Gigi Kaeser

Should we be surprised by this? I think it is only logical that if you are raised by lesbians and all your life you have seen two women loving each other, and presumably been around to a lot more lesbians and/or homosexuals, the threshold to have experiences with a woman yourself or to question your sexual identity is much lower.

How many of us wouldn't have come out much sooner if only we had known about and/or had been made more comfortable about our feelings towards girls?

I also don't think that the 18.9 % of girls who now identify as bisexual will still say the same in ten years time. I'm not saying you cannot be sure about your orientation at 17, but it's probably more likely that a number of these girls are simply more open-minded towards same-sex experiences, but will still end up being heterosexual, whereas a number of them will realise they are gay.

It could also mean that a much larger number of women are bisexual than is always assumed, but because of upbringing and experiences the same-sex loving part is never fully developed and being around lesbians is activating it (I don't mean to imply that bisexuality is something like being a Cylon that can be triggered without your control).

A more anti-lesbian standpoint would be to say that lesbian mothers are making their daughters bisexual. But then again, if that were the case we would expect lesbian mothers to make their daughters lesbians as well, and to also have more of an influence on boys.

But before we try to explain these results, let's not forget that 18.9% of 39 girls is only 7 girls. Seven girls saying they are bisexual is very very little.

Photo credit: NLFS.org/Photographer: Gigi Kaeser

I would love to see more studies like these, and I would especially be curious to see what has come of these girls and boys 10 years from now. Will they still be more queer or will they be more comparable to kids raised by straight parents?

What do you think of this study? Do you think parents' sexual orientation influences those of the kids? Are girls with lesbian parents more likely to be bisexual or just more open-minded?

This post was first published on eurout.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Snow, snow, snow

Last night I was telling my girlfriend I'd seen a few snowflakes, but it didn't look like there was going to be much snow. She replied I'd probably wake up to the entire city being covered in snow. I told her to take it back, but to no avail, because this is what I woke up to:

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I took these pictures from my front window. I can't believe there's already snow, it's only November! Last year my girlfriend and I wished for a white Christmas and we ended up with 4 (!) months of snow. Let's hope it won't get that bad again this year.

Don't get me wrong, I love some snow to walk around in and to look at all the prettiness, but when you're regularly travelling cross country, this weather is a nuisance to say the least.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lists Are Hot: 10 LesBian Web Series

Lists Are Hot is a monthly column for all those who love lists. This time I want to share with you 10 lesBian web series I think you should check out.

Ten years ago it was pretty hard to find lesBian content in anything but movies. These days, however, lesbians seem to be everywhere! To be fair, lesbian characters and storylines on television are still rather scarce, but luckily there's an entire internet universe out there that is filled with gay.

One of the greatest creations of the last few years has to be the web series. When they first came out I was so excited about them, I watched them all the time and pretty much any web series I could get my hands on. I am a little more picky these days, but I still like to check out any web series involving lesBians.

The good thing about web series is that they are relatively easy and cheap to make. However, because it's pretty much a hobby or side project for most people working on them, it can take a while for new episodes to show up.

Some of the lesbian web series I am about to list might be familiar to you, and some might be new discoveries. As there are not that many lesbian web series out there yet, this is not a top 10 of the best, but just 10 web series you should check out. They are in no particular order, but feel free to let me know which one you think is the best.

 

10. B.J. Fletcher: Private Eye (Canada)

B.J. Fletcher: Private Eye was created by Regan Latimer and revolves around B.J. Fletcher, a very clumsy, stubborn, unprofessional, yet very loveable PI and her sidekick, best friend George. Together they solve crimes the best way they can, and try to balance this with their love lives. As with any crime solving team that spends a lot of time together, soon enough they start to realize who they really want is each other.

Watch the trailer of the show here.

I am a big fan of crime shows and good humour, and I am definitely enjoying B.J. Fletcher: Private Eye on both counts. So far there have been two seasons of the web series and it looks like there is much more to come. We'll let you know when there's more news about a release date for Season 3.

 

9. Anyone But Me (US)

Anyone But Me is the web series by Susan Miller (the L word, Thirtysomething) and Tina Cesa Ward about “A new generation seeking love and belonging in the post 9/11 age."

It tells the story of 16 year old Vivian who moves from the big city to the suburbs, leaving behind all that was familiar; her school, her friends and her girlfriend Aster. Being a teenager and figuring out who you are is hard enough, let alone having to do it while trying to fit into a completely new environment, yet at the same time holding on to those old connections.

Vivian and Aster are the cutest lesbian couple ever. Not only that, but even the "non-gay" parts of the series are worth watching. The web series has a great storyline and good actors. So far there's two whole seasons for you to enjoy, but they are currently busy creating Season 3, which should be ready in the Spring of 2011.

 

8. Emma Stahl (Germany)

Upcoming German web series Emma Stahl is something you don't want to miss. The web series is produced by Sandra Uredat and is about a bad ass female special agent, who loves adventure and beautiful women. Or as the official press release summarizes:

“Emma Stahl is a special agent for the fictional European police unit EuForce. This elite team fights organized crime in Europe. When normal police action does not go anywhere, Emma Stahl is called. Her bosses tolerate her unorthodox methods grudgingly as long as they lead to success.

Emma Stahl is addicted to adventure and beautiful women. A sometimes fatal weakness.”

Now doesn’t that get you excited? I am a huge fan of crime shows, films, books, you name it, as long as it has strong, interesting, hot leading women. Therefore, I cannot wait for this web series to start airing.

So far, we have to make do with just a trailer, but we'll keep you posted on when you can expect the entire web series.

 

7. Chica Busca Chica (Spain)

Germany is not the only European country with lesbian web series, Spain even has more than one. Unfortunately, none of them have made any new episodes since 2007. However, just because they are a little dated, doesn't mean they are not worth checking out.

Chica Busca Chica is a 16 episodes series about the lives and loves of a group of lesbians that can best be described as a Spanish version of the L word, and I mean that in the best possible way. This web series is really well done and you would not be surprised if it would turn up on your television.

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Last year, the maker of the show was looking for funding to make a second season, but unfortunately not enough money has been raised so far. The web series is available on DVD though, but I think only for those in the United States.

 

6. Plan V (Argentina)

Another great web series in the Spanish language is Plan V, which comes from Argentina.

This 11 episode web series revolves around Ana, a 30 year old lesbian and her interesting love life. The main plotline, that is explored throughout the episodes, is that of Anna meeting a girl named Laura on the subway, who she falls madly in love with. Only it turns out Laura just happens to be dating Ana’s brother.

Plan V is actually quite a fun watch, despite the plotline. Interesting fact is that the actresses who play Laura and Ana are a couple in real life, and the reason they participated in the show is to increase visibility for Argentinian lesbians.

 

5. Out with Dad (Canada)

Another cool lesbian web series from Canada is Out with Dad, this web series is about a young girl who lives with her single father and is coming out of the closet. The series is written, directed and edited by Jason Leaver and so far 8 episodes are available online.

Like most series, they would love to come back for a second season, but are not sure yet whether they will have the time and/or money.

What I like about this web series, is not only the original outlook, but also that it is just really well made.

 

4. The Real girl's guide to everything else (US)

The real girl's guide to everything else was a nice surprise. I didn't know this one before writing this column and I didn't think I would like it. But I was wrong, it is actually pretty good.

So far there's a 6 episode first season (created by Carmen Elena Mitchell) about a Lebanese lesbian and political journalist who is trying to write a book about the Afghan women’s struggle for civil rights. However, she needs to write a real Cosmo kind of book for girls to make some money, and thus she goes to find out what this straight girl world is all about.

 

3. Girl/Girl scene (US)

Girl/Girl scene is a web series that came out this year, that follows the lives of four "unapologetically queer women" in Middle America. This doesn't mean the lesBians in this web series live average lives, as already in the pilot we are thrown in the middle of an Indie movie set. Read Garance's more detailed account of the pilot.

With only two episodes finished so far (they are working on more episodes as we speak), it is hard to get a good idea of the series, but I watched the first episode and that wasn't too bad. I didn't think it was great, but it has promise, so I am looking forward to more of their episodes.

You can watch the episodes for yourself here.

 

2. Heet Gras (the Netherlands)

There's a great new Dutch series entitled Heet Gras (Hot grass), which tells the story of two teenage girls on the same soccer team who end up falling in love with each other.

So far, only the pilot has seen the light of day, but this definitely makes me want to wait for more. Check out Anna's recap of the episode. The makers are hoping to be picked up by a TV station, so that the entire series can be made. Thus, technically this isn't really a web series as such, but they are planning to put the pilot online, which would make it a web series, I guess.

 

1. Seeking Simone (Canada)

Online dating is something many of us have experience with. You might not have met the love of your life that way (or maybe you have?), but it has probably made you some fun and embarrassing experiences richer. If you want to relive all the fun and horrors of online dating, check out Seeking Simone created by Renée Olbert and Rosemary Rowe.

Their tagline is “Online dating has never been so gay” and I couldn’t agree more. It's such fun to watch Simone go through one bad date after the other. Five episodes is nowhere near enough, so I am happy to tell you they are currently working on getting more episodes done.

Renee Olbert (who plays Simone) also recently made an It gets better video, which you can watch here.

 

So what do you think of this list? What are your favourite web series and which don't you like at all? Are any of the lesbian web series you watch missing? Let us know in the comments.

This post was first published on eurOut.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cartoon: Rainbow Duo - 2 - Buying exciting tropical fruit

This is the second in a series of cartoons created by my girlfriend and I. The Rainbow Duo shows the adventures of 2 gay stick figures in love, which is loosely inspired by our real life experiences.

In this cartoon you can see what happened when we/they decided we wanted to try some new types of fruit.



Check out the first cartoon here.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Studying LesBians: Fun with academia –The Dyke Diagnostic Manual

Studying Lesbians is a monthly column in which I look at recent and not so recent research involving lesbians. This month I want to talk about an article I saw in the Journal of Lesbian studies.

A few months back I told you about this awesome scientific journal, the Journal of Lesbian studies, in which real researchers and professors publish articles about lesbianism. As a researcher and a writer, getting paid to write about research on lesbians is about as cool as it gets.

I read the Journal of Lesbian studies regularly, trying to keep track of interesting research being conducted. While looking through some of the articles from the last few issues, I came across a piece entitled A new classification system for lesbians: the Dyke diagnostic manual. The title grabbed my attention and I was both intrigued and appalled.

From the title and the abstract it looked like someone had attempted to write a diagnostic manual especially aimed at lesbians. For the non psychologists among you, most psychologists and psychiatrists use the DSM manual, which describes the most common disorders, ranging from depression to Schizophrenia. The thought that lesbians have their own special set of disorders or need a new manual is kind of offensive.

When I actually started reading the article, I soon noticed that this wasn't a serious scientific paper, but simply author Dr. Michele J. Eliason, having some fun with lesbian stereotypes.

You don't see people in academia making fun of their profession often. In fact most people I've come across take their work way too seriously, so it was a nice surprise to find this article.

Reading through it, it did make me wonder just how accurate these lesbian stereotypes are. To me the list came across as a list of stereotypes I have read about a lot, but I never actually seen in real life.

It might me a generational thing or a cultural thing, but hardly any of these supposed disorders sound familiar, not when it comes to me or most lesbians I know.

Let me share a few "lesbian disorders" with you and please let me know if you feel they are accurate and/or you think they're funny to be considered lesbian disorders.

The supposed manual is divided into many parts, the first one is entitled lesbian fetishes. A fetish is getting sexually aroused by something that's not normally thought of as sexual.

For example, some people might have a fetish about feet or leather. Eliason suggests lesbian fetishes come in 4 categories: the femi-feline fetish, the dog park cruising zone, lesbian teddies and lesbian polyanimalry

The first two categories refer to lesbians who are too obsessed by their cats and dogs. I have heard so much about all lesbians loving cats and/or dogs, but in real life I have never really come across it.

At least not to the extend where lesbians actually think of their pets as their children. Do you know any pet obsessed lesbians?

The third category refers to being too obsessed by or having too big a collection of stuffed animals. The author illustrates this with the most unbelievable story ever, of lesbian friends of hers inviting her over to dinner where they had set the table for their teddy bears as well. Although if you're reading this and it sounds familiar, go for it. Teddy bears need to eat too!

The second part of the manual is called lesbian celebrity groupies, for which two examples are given: Rachel Maddow and the L word. I like both Rachel Maddow and the L word (ok at some point I started to love to hate the latter), but I can't see how one would become obsessed with either.

Do you find yourself becoming obsessed with lesbian celebrities or watching lesbian TV series over and over again?

We have now arrived at the third part of the manual, where things get a little weird, but also strangely familiar. This part is called lesbian ex-lover fusion syndrome. Eliason refers to the strange phenomena where lesbians turn their ex-girlfriends into their best friends.

It is always possible that after a relationship has been over for a while, you become friends with this person again. But to keep all your ex-girlfriends around as friends, or even have them as best friends, just feels wrong. Or am I being too judgmental?

Then there's a few other categories I don't really relate to, including lesbian mother superior, which is supposed to refer to someone in a group of lesbians who makes sure everyone follows "the rules".

This includes real creepy examples (wearing 100% cotton and never buying sex toys shaped like a penis) of the rules that applied to when the author came out in the 1980's.

I have never understood group behaviour or the need for rules or conformism. The way I see it, being a lesbian just means that you are into women. That's all. What do you think, am I right or do you have your own set of "lesbian rules" you live by?

The article then goes on about obsessions with things like going to brunch and partying, neither of which I think are specific lesbian things. The only familiar thing among the remaining lesbian disorders is the much talked about U-Haul syndrome. I don't think it's as prevalent as some people claim, but I do know of some lesbians who moved in with each other after just a few weeks.

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All in all, a fun article in a place where you don't really expect it, I just wish I could relate to the examples a little more. Do you feel the same or can you relate to the "lesbian disorders"? Do you think their should be more humour in academia? Let us know in the comments.

This post was first published on eurout.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cartoon: Rainbow Duo - 1 - Lost in Corn

This is the first in a series of cartoons created by my girlfriend and I. The Rainbow Duo shows the adventures of 2 gay stick figures in love, which is loosely inspired by our real life experiences.

In the first cartoon you can see what happened when we/they decided to go for a walk a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lists Are Hot: 11 Great lesBian movies you should watch

Lists Are Hot is a monthly column for all those that love lists. This month I want to share with you some of my favourite lesBian movies.

After talking about the worst lesBian movies last month, I thought I'd look on the positive side this time and tell you which lesBian movies I think are really great.

Over the years I have seen many, many lesBian movies and even though some might have been bad, boring or in other ways disappointing, some were actually really enjoyable to watch.

This is a very subjective list, so feel free to disagree. In no particular order, here are 11 lesBian movies (11, because I couldn't decide which one to leave out) I think you should watch:

11. Itty Bitty Titty Committee (US, 2007)

I really like Itty Bitty Titty Committee, because it's just a nice, fun lesbian movie. There's not nearly enough lesbian movies out there that are just fun. It has a great plot, likeable characters, great acting, a fun soundtrack and it stars lots of actors that I like (Carly Pope, Clea Duvall, Melanie Lynskey).

It tells the story of Anna, a young, shy girl who doesn’t really know what kind of excitement life has to offer. She comes into contact with a group of radical feminist women who run a little guerrilla group called Clits in Action (CIA).

They try to show everything that is wrong (read women unfriendly) with the world by sneaking around at night and defacing public and private property with spray painted messages against the established. It really changes her life in the way that you can only be changed when you are still young.

Even though the topic of the movie is rather serious and perhaps the message a little heavy handed, I thought IBTC was a fun watch. It is a great portrayal of what it must be like to be part of a movement like this.

 

10. All over me (US, 1997)

A movie that definitely cannot be described as light and fun is All over me. This teen movie from the 1990's shows the harsh and depressing reality of being a gay teen, including one gay boy actually getting killed.

What I love about this movie, is that amidst all that homophobia and hard life stuff, there's a beautiful, realistic love story. Or not even a love story, just two young girls realising they really like each other. Claude is madly in love with her straight, best friend Ellen, but throughout the movie she ends up falling for a girl who actually likes her back, Lucy (played by a much younger, very cute Leisha Hailey).

 

9. Heavenly creatures (New Zealand, 1994)

Heavenly Creatures tells the story of two teenage girls who live in a kind of fantasy world and have a very close friendship. Slowly this friendship evolves in something more.

Their parents aren't two pleased about their relationship, and in order to be able to stay together they decide to kill one of their mothers. It's kind of creepy, even more so if you realize this film is based on a true story.

The main characters are played by Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynsky, when they were still young and innocent looking, and the movie is directed by Peter Jackson (from Lord of the Rings). It's a really good movie that I recommend you check out, unless the murder part puts you off.

 

8. The Edge of Heaven (Auf der anderen Seite) (Germany, 2007)

My next pick is not a typical lesbian movie, but it does feature a prominent, but matter of fact, lesbian relationship. Auf der anderen Seite (the Edge of heaven) is about the differences between everyday life in Germany and Turkey. It tells the story of Nejat who after his father dies, goes to Turkey to search for Ayten, the daughter of his father’s prostitute girlfriend.

What he doesn’t know is that Ayten is a political activist who has already left Turkey and is currently in Germany. In Germany Ayten meets Lotte, a lovely German do-gooder, who after discovering Ayten has no money or a place to stay, offers her to move in with her and her mother. Lotte’s mother isn’t too pleased by this, and I cannot really blame her.

Quickly a strong bond forms between Lotte and Ayten and the two of them embark on a relationship. Then Ayten is arrested and deported back to Turkey where she ends up in prison. Lotte decides to follow her to Turkey and try to get her released.

This is a really good quality movie that just happens to have a lesbian plotline. An added bonus if you will, as Auf der anderen Seite is a great and interesting movie even without the lesbian storyline. It’s not a light movie and it might make you want to shout at your screen a few times, but I promise it will not leave you indifferent.

 

7. Chutney Popcorn (US, 1999)

As much as I complain about the lesbian pregnancy storylines in movies, there is actually one movie on the subject I really like.

Chutney Popcorn tells the story about lesbian Reena, who's sister Rita can't have children and she then offers to have a baby for her. Of course her girlfriend isn't very happy about this, especially when the sister decides she no longer wants a baby.

To make the story a little more interesting, the Indian background of Reena and Rita plays a big part in this film, including specific traditions and lots of yummy food. It nicely shows that no matter what your family is like, we all want the same thing; for us and our loved ones to be happy.

What I like most about this movie is that it's just a really nice movie and even though the subject might seem a little far fetched, the relationships portrayed in the movie seem very realistic.

 

6. But I'm a Cheerleader (US, 1999)

This movie is a parody on so-called sexual reorientation camps and is probably not everyone's cup of tea. It is at times all a bit much, but I really like the idea behind it and, more importantly, I think the love story between Megan and Graham is very cute.

In But I"m a cheerleader, Megan gets send to a sexual reorientation camp by her friends and parents to be made "normal". Of course, the sexual reorientation camp is the gayest thing you have ever seen. Even if she wasn't convinced yet she's a lesbian, the cute Graham (played by Clea Duvall) soon makes her realise she's never going to be straight.

This movie was produced by Jamie Babbitt, who also worked on Itty Bitty Titty Committee.

 

5. If these walls could talk 2 (US, 2000)

If these walls could talk 2 consists of 3 different 30 minute stories about being a lesbian, each in a different time. The first is set in the fifties, the second in the seventies and the final part is set in the nineties.

It shows very nicely how far we've come, and also how lesbianism is something of all times, but each time has it's specific struggles and themes.

I have watched the DVD of If these walls could talk many times and I have to say I love all parts for different reasons. The first part is heart breaking, the second part is very hot and the third part paints a great pictures of a modern lesbian couple.

Here's a scene from the second part, starring Michelle Williams and Cloe Sevigny:

 

4. Unveiled (Fremde Haut) (Germany, 2005)

Unveiled is about an Iranian woman named Fariba who has to flee her country to avoid prosecution. Fariba tries to seek asylum in Germany, but she is denied residency. To avoid being send back to Iran and risk being killed for being a lesbian, she takes on the identity of an Iranian man from the refugee camp.

Now Fariba finds herself living as a man in a small town in Germany. She knows the only way she will be able to stay in the country long term is if she can arrange for some fake identity papers. Fake papers cost a lot of money and therefore she finds herself a job in a cabbage factory.

It is here where she meets Anne, a beautiful blonde German woman who catches her eye from day one. They get on famously and slowly fall for each other. Of course, it is only a matter of time until Anne will find out Fariba’s true identity.

Fremde Haut is about the harsh reality of life as a queer Iranian, as well as the hard life of asylum seekers in general. Yet at the same time, it is also a love story. It makes you think, about life and about how we as a society decide to treat other people. Bust most of all, it makes you realize that love is love no matter what form it takes.

 

3. Tipping the velvet (UK, 2002)

What can I say about Tipping the velvet that hasn't been said before? I discovered the adaptation of Sarah Waters' novel of the same name by accident one night on the BBC back in 2002. It was a very pleasant surprise.

Tipping the Velvet makes historic dramas fun, for me mainly because of the lesbian element. Tipping the velvet tells the interesting life story of Nan King, from Oyster girl to rent boy to theatre star. More importantly, it has some really hot sex scenes.

 

2. Imagine me and you (UK, 2005)

Imagine me and you tells the story of Rachel (played by Piper Perabo) who is about to marry her long term boyfriend Heck, whom she has always thought of as the love of her life. That’s when she meets Luce (played by the lovely Lena Heady) and everything changes.

Rachel and Luce immediately hit it off and become really good friends. Soon it becomes clear that their feelings for one another go much deeper than mere friendship.

Rachel starts to question her sexuality and soon she will have to make some tough choices between her familiar life with her husband and a chance of happiness with Luce.

What I love about this film, besides that it’s just a really good romantic comedy, is that it has a very prominent lesbian storyline, yet the storyline is treated as part of the movie and it’s not the entire movie. Moreover, I like that the subject of being gay isn’t treated as something awful or problematic.

 

1. Show me love (Fucking Amal) (Sweden, 1998)

My number one pick has to be Show me love, simply because it's such a cute teen love story. This Swedish film is about two seemingly different teenage girls who go to the same high school in a little town called Amal and end up falling in love with each other. Agnes is a shy girl with not many friends and a huge crush on Elin the most popular girl in school.

Elin gets dared into kissing Agnes, then runs off laughing, leaving Agnes both humiliated and heartbroken. In fact, in true dramatic lesbian teen fashion she decides things are so bad that she is going to kill herself.

She is all set with a set of razors in her hand and depressing music playing in the background, when Elin shows up again to apologize for kissing her.

Soon the girls realize that they quite like each other, but before they are ready to openly admit this to each other, themselves, and to the world, they have to overcome a few obstacles, including boys, family members and the nightmare that is called high school.

Fucking Amal is not just a love story, even though watching these girls figuring out they like each other is one of the cutest things I have ever seen. It’s a movie about finding out you are queer in high school, or perhaps it’s just a movie about what it’s like to be in high school: trying to fit in, trying to figure out who you are, and of course there is lots of self-created drama.

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So what do you think of my favourite lesBian movies? Do you like my choices or not at all? Which movies are missing from the list?

This post was first published on eurOut.