The Mormon Church still doesn’t accept same-sex couples – even if it no longer bars their children

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.

Botswana joins list of African countries reviewing gay rights

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.

Sex robots are here, but laws aren’t keeping up with the ethical and privacy issues they raise

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.

Stories of African-American women aging with HIV: ‘My life wasn’t what I hoped it to be’

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.

African-American women with HIV often overlooked, under-supported

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.

The forgotten legacy of gay photographer George Platt Lynes

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.

How body ideals shape the health of gay men

Phillip Joy, Dalhousie University and Matthew Numer, Dalhousie University

Gay men currently receive little research attention when it comes to health issues such as eating disorders and other body image concerns. Yet expectations are high for gay men, as the western ideal masculine body is muscular and fat free. Evidence also indicates that there are unique concerns for LGBTQ people relating to nutrition and obesity, and that tailored programs can improve overall health outcomes for gay men. Our research shows that social demands placed upon gay men to eat healthily and achieve a perfect body are linked to anxiety and depression and have serious mental health consequences. And that health researchers and practitioners need to challenge beauty standards among diverse groups of men through conversations, connections and support.

Judge strikes down ACA putting law in legal peril — again

Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News

The future of the Affordable Care Act is threatened — again — this time by a ruling Friday from a federal district court judge in Texas. Judge Reed C. O’Connor struck down the law, siding with a group of 18 Republican state attorneys general and two GOP governors who brought the case. O’Connor said the tax bill passed by Congress last December effectively rendered the entire health law unconstitutional. That tax measure eliminated the penalty for not having insurance. An earlier Supreme Court decision upheld the ACA based on the view that the penalty was a tax and thus the law was valid because it relied on appropriate power allowed Congress under the Constitution.

Sexual subcultures are collateral damage in Tumblr’s ban on adult content

Zahra Zsuzsanna Stardust, UNSW

The social networking and microblogging site Tumblr announced on Monday that from December 17 it will no longer host adult content on its platform. The Washington Post reported that the policy “removes one of the last major refuges for pornography on social media”. But the move will affect more than just porn. Over time, Tumblr has become a haven for fanfiction writers, artists, sex workers, kinksters and independent porn producers who have built subcultural community networks by sharing and discussing their user-generated content. Tumblr’s definition of what constitutes permissible adult content fails to recognize the value of this kind of work.