On Jan. 3, the American Dialect Society held its 30th annual “Word of the Year” vote, which this year also included a vote for “Word of the Decade.”
By Senthorun Raj, Keele University
Millions of people will take to the streets around the world in the coming weeks to celebrate “Pride”. Those who find themselves doused in glitter or wrapped in rainbow flags may think this is merely an annual summer party of sexual and gender diversity. But, the last weekend in June anchors Prides around the world for a reason: it marks a queer uprising that took place at New York City’s Stonewall Inn in 1969. Stonewall’s 50th anniversary is a moment to reflect on the riot that helped to globalise what many now call the “gay rights movement”. In the early hours of June 28 1969, the New York Police Department raided the Stonewall Inn in an attempt to permanently close a bar that was violating licensing regulations.
By Chad Painter, University of Dayton
The Stonewall riots were a six-night series of protests that began in the early morning of June 28, 1969, and centered around the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City. Four days earlier, on June 24, 1969, the police, led by Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine, raided the Stonewall Inn and began arresting bar employees and confiscating liquor. But when Pine led a second raid on the 28th, patrons fought back. Approximately 150 people fled, regrouped on the street and stormed the bar, trapping the police inside. The protesters began throwing bricks, bottles and garbage, and attempted to set the bar on fire.
Lisa McClain, Boise State University
Pope Francis has spoken openly about homosexuality. In a recent interview, the pope said that homosexual tendencies “are not a sin.” And a few years ago, in comments made during an in-flight interview, he said,
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
However, the pope has also discouraged homosexual men from entering the priesthood. He categorically stated in another interview that for one with homosexual tendencies, the “ministry or the consecrated life is not his place.”
Many gay priests, when interviewed by The New York Times, characterized themselves as being in a “cage” as a result of the church’s policies on homosexuality. As a scholar specializing in the history of the Catholic Church and gender studies, I can attest that 1,000 years ago, gay priests were not so restricted. In earlier centuries, the Catholic Church paid little attention to homosexual activity among priests or laypeople.
Taylor Petrey, Kalamazoo College
Top leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have reversed a policy that prevented minor children of same-sex married couples from joining the church and participating in its sacred rituals since 2015. Many conservative churches oppose same-sex relationships and have done so with increased intensity since the second half of the 20th century. In the case of Latter-day Saints, the reasons for opposing same-sex marriage are based in their theology of a “real family,” as willed by God. However, as a scholar of gender and sexuality in Mormonism, I argue that the 2015 decision to bar children of same-sex parents from the church was tied to the conservative fight against same-sex marriage that was finding an increasing acceptance at the time in courts and elsewhere. Mormon theology
Mormon theology is based on a divine heterosexual archetype that sets the pattern for all intimate human relationships.
By Andrew Novak, George Mason University
Botswana’s High Court is considering a challenge to the provisions of the penal code criminalising consensual same-sex relations in the country. It will hand down its judgment in June. The challenge raises similar legal issues as the one pending at the Kenya High Court, which is due for a decision in May. Same sex relations are outlawed under Botswana’s penal code. These prohibitive sections were inherited from the colonial penal code of Bechuanaland, as Botswana was then known.
By Francis X. Shen, University of Minnesota
The robots are here. Are the “sexbots” close behind? From the Drudge Report to The New York Times, sex robots are rapidly becoming a part of the national conversation about the future of sex and relationships. Behind the headlines, a number of companies are currently developing robots designed to provide humans with companionship and sexual pleasure – with a few already on the market. Unlike sex toys and dolls, which are typically sold in off-the-radar shops and hidden in closets, sexbots may become mainstream.
By Thurka Sangaramoorthy, University of Maryland
Sophia Harrison, 51, is a single mother of two, with an extended family to support. She has lived with epilepsy her entire life; she suffers from hypertension; and she is a breast cancer survivor. Yet more challenging than any of these was learning she was HIV-positive. “I was crying for at least six months,” she said of learning she was HIV positive 10 years ago. “It hurt me real bad.”
Harrison’s story is far from unusual.
By Thurka Sangaramoorthy, University of Maryland
The face of HIV in the United States has long been white gay men, even though the epidemic has had a devastating and disproportionate impact on African-American communities. This is especially true among women; 60 percent of newly diagnosed cases of HIV in women in 2017 were African-American. Yet, African-American women’s voices are notoriously absent from the national discourse on HIV. Largely invisible to a fractured health care system, these women are often breadwinners and matriarchs whose families count on them for support and care. Treatments to help people who are HIV-positive manage their illness and survive into older age have improved greatly, yet the unique health needs of African-American women living and aging with HIV – estimated at about 140,000 – are often ignored.
From the late 1920s until his death in 1955, George Platt Lynes was one of the world’s most successful commercial and fine art photographers. His work was included in one of the first exhibitions to showcase photography at the Museum of Modern Art in 1932, and he showed at the extremely popular Julien Levy Gallery in New York City. His photographs for Vogue and Bazaar, his shots of dancers at the School of American Ballet and his portraits of some of the most important creative figures of his era were lauded for their innovative use of lighting, props and posing. But in his view, his most important works were his nude photographs of men. Yet during Lynes’ life, few even knew of their existence.