Gay couples ‘are better at communicating’

By V King Macdona

Recent studies indicate that same-sex couples have greater levels of satisfaction in their relationships than their heterosexual counterparts due to better communication.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studied couples of the same sex and opposite sexes and discovered that, contrary to the beliefs of some, the relationships are very similar.

These findings will help bridge the gap between society’s generalised views regarding the longevity and strength of gay partnerships, researchers believe.

Glenn Roisman, researcher and author of the study by the University of Illinois, told The Desert Sun: “If one is basing one’s world view that same-sex couples are fundamentally different than opposite-sex pairs as being of an inferior quality, one is mistaken.”

In a three-year study of civil unions taking place in Vermont, Esther Rothblum, a professor of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University, discovered that same-sex couples resolved conflict better than opposite-sex couples in committed relationships.

“Compared with heterosexual married participants, both types of same-sex couples reported greater relationship quality, compatibility and intimacy and lower levels of conflict,” the study reported. Those in same-sex relationships were found to balance out the responsibilities of both partners in their work and home life.

It was also found that conflict resolution skills are of utmost importance in a long-lasting relationship, and without the gender difference of an opposite-sex couple, a gay couple’s ability to resolve their disagreements may be greater. The tendency to dismiss conflicts due to fundamental differences between the sexes is not an issue, so gay couples may be able to tackle their fallings-out in a more practical way.

Nick Warner, an experienced counsellor and clinical psychologist based in Palm Springs, said: “In a gay relationship, they tend to look at each other’s differences as something interesting that they want to understand more.

“Guys tend to dismiss what they disagree with. In a same-sex relationship, there wouldn’t be as much of that of course because you can’t dismiss someone because of their gender difference.”

Same-sex partners could be construed as having an advantage over straight couples, in that their shared gender gives them a greater understanding of each other. But whether a relationship is same or opposite-sex, according to researchers, the idea of embracing each other’s differences which is the key to success.

Rothblum summed up the findings, saying: “I think the take-home message for heterosexual couples is to try and understand the gender culture of your spouse.”

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Senator Lightbourne Opens Debate on Sexual Offences Bill in Senate

Debate on the Sexual Offences Act 2009 began in the Senate Friday(May 22), with Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, making the opening contribution.

The Bill, passed in the House of Representatives on March 31, seeks to amalgamate the various laws relating to incest and other sexual offences, and includes provision for a Sex Offender Registry and a Sex Offenders Register to be established as a means of monitoring sex offenders.

It will also repeal the Incest (Punishment) Act and several provisions of the Offences Against the Person Act.

Minister Lightbourne noted that in 1995, the Offences Against the Person (Amendment) Bill, which sought to make amendments to the law relating to rape and other sexual offences, and the Incest (Punishment) (Amendment) Bill, seeking to make amendments to the law relating to incest, were tabled in Parliament and submitted to a Joint Select Committee for consideration and report.

She said that there were matters on which the Joint Select Committee failed to reach agreement.

“In those circumstances, the Bills fell off the Order Paper on the prorogation of Parliament and remained in abeyance until they were re-tabled in Parliament in 2006,” Minister Lightbourne said.

She also explained that new Joint Select Committees were named in 2006 and 2007, to consider and report on the re-tabled Bills, with the intention of arriving at a consensus on the areas of controversy.

“In light of the various changes which the Committee was minded to recommend, it decided that, instead of the enactment into law of the amending Bills with the agreed amendments to them, a new Act, the Sexual Offences Act, should be enacted,” she explained.

In explaining the changes which the Sexual Offences Act will make, in relation to the various aspects of the law relating to rape, incest and other sexual offences and related matters, Senator Lightbourne noted that the offence of marital rape, which was previously exempt, will be statutorily established.

She noted further that the Incest (Punishment) Act will be repealed and incest offences between persons closely related by blood will be established, in replacement of those under the repealed Act.

Provisions will also be included in the Bill to deal with certain acts done by an adult for a sexual purpose in relation to a child under 16 years of age.

She said that the Bill upheld the view that the term ‘sexual intercourse’ should maintain the traditional meaning of the penetration of the female sexual organ by the male sexual organ and that the offence of rape should continue to be a gender specific offence, that is, one which can only be committed by a male against a female person.

The Bill, however, creates a new offence, that of grievous sexual assault, involving mainly various non-consensual gender neutral sexual acts, which can be performed by persons of either sex against persons of either sex and which will carry the same maximum penalty as the offence of rape.

Additionally, the offences now known as the carnal knowledge offences will be replaced by the offence of sexual grooming of a child.

Outweekly’s (Jamaica) Flag Raising Press Release

OUTWEEKLY RAISES FLAG TO MARK INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA

Kingston – MAY 17, 2009.

OUTWEEKLY joins with other groups on International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) to make a statement that there is much work to be done to improve the quality of life for LGBT people internationally and as well here in Jamaica. As part of its celebration of IDAHO, OUTWEEKLY raised a Rainbow Flag in the capital city of Kingston as it is the world’s most recognized symbol of LGBT diversity. The six colours represent various facets of LGBT communities: red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for art, and violet for spirituality.
OUTWEEKLY recognises the need for an end to homophobia in Jamaica because our brothers and sisters continue to be attacked and injured, forced from their communities and even murdered for being themselves. We recognise and urge the government to take a stand to curb the drivers of Homophobia. The Church and the Dancehall, with its often violent and anti-gay lyrics, have and continue to play their part in instigating violence and creating a negative image of the gay community. We believe strongly that the church in particular should concern itself with preaching love and not hate.
Jamaican Dancehall artists continue to produce and perform music that incites violence against homosexuals and this is somehow accepted. This type of contemporary music is very influential and has helped to shape the ignorance and callous nature in people, causing them to behave violently towards homosexuals. let us come together to end homophobia in Jamaica, together we stand divided we fall.International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) is celebrated May 17.
Kenneth Davis,
Chairman

Gay men in Jamaica must lead two separate lives

Lisa Biagiotti is reporting on HIV/AIDS, sexuality and young gay men in Jamaica. Her interest in the subject began when she met Alex Brown* 18 months ago. The story below is his — of a gay Jamaican who received asylum in the U.S. because he was persecuted on the basis of his sexuality. Though Alex is free from persecution, he still wrestles with issues of secrecy and religion, and his family in Jamaica still doesn’t know he’s gay.

A gay Jamaican man shares his story, but conceals his identity for fear of attacks. Photo: Lisa Biagiotti

It’s no secret that homophobia crosses class lines in Jamaica. From the inner cities to elite high schools, homosexuality is not accepted in Jamaican society. Pastors preach against the sin of homosexuality from the pulpit and dancehall lyrics glamorize gay killings.
Mob violence and attacks against gays have earned Jamaica the mark as one of the most intolerant nations for homosexuals. And the act of sodomy is still illegal, holding a 12-year prison sentence of hard labor.

Hurling stones in Jamaica
Alex Brown knew he had to leave Jamaica after back-to-back anti-gay attacks at work and home. On a Saturday evening in August 2002, two young men knocked on Alex’s cottage door in Kingston, shouting, “We know you’re a battyman (gay man — batty means buttocks) and you better pay us.”
“I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about, I’m not a battyman. No, I’m not,” he cried. The 6-foot-3-inch Alex shut the front door, cowered beneath a window of his one-room hut and watched five men hurl stones at his home, shattering windows and alarming neighbors.
“Are you going to come pick up my dead body?” Alex pleaded to the female police dispatcher. Alex feared he would end up like his gay uncle, who was beaten to death in downtown Kingston in the late 1990s.

The police were stationed two blocks away, but it took more than an hour for them to arrive. They rounded up the men at a corner store. When the men accused Alex of making a pass at them, an officer turned to Alex and said, “If we find out you’re a battyman, we’ll come over there and lock you up.”
“The police don’t protect gay people in Jamaica,” Alex said. He feared reporting other anti-gay incidents where he was punched in the face, threatened to be run over by a car, or robbed at gunpoint at Portmore Plaza. “I could not go back to the same police station that threatened to lock me up because I’m gay.”
In 2002, Alex left his 9-year-old son, the offspring of the only opposite-sex encounter he has had, and his job of 13 years as a wharf warehouse supervisor. With a fellow gay Jamaican, he headed to London to complete his bachelor’s and earn a master’s degree in business administration.
“I had to move from one place to the next,” Alex said. “I was accused of being gay. I learned my lesson.”
When he couldn’t pay his tuition bills, he was forced to return to Jamaica in June 2006. The anti-gay sentiment seemed more hostile. Alex’s best friend Emil and ex-lover Robert had been murdered earlier that year. Six months of further harassment ensued and Alex decided to board a plane to the U.S.

In 1994, former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno expanded asylum law to include immigrants who could prove government persecution based on sexual preference. Asylum applications must be filed within one year of entry into the U.S. Immigrants must prove persecution in their home country on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group — gay asylum cases fall under this category.
While gay asylees make up a small percentage of the 12,000 total asylum cases per year, the severe situation in Jamaica against homosexuals proved grounds for asylum.
Immigration Equality, a national U.S. organization that works to end immigration discrimination, handles about 100 gay asylum cases a year. They are seeing a steady stream of applications from Jamaicans, which make up about 20 percent of their caseload. Their stories always seem similar.

Living a double life, again
Gay Jamaicans abroad still face challenges in reconciling two parts of themselves — being gay and being Jamaican. Despite the freedom from persecution that asylum offers, they are frequently drawn into communities of other Jamaican immigrants, including the very same people that persecuted them. They find themselves see-sawing between gay isolation and keeping up appearances for the Jamaican community at home and abroad.
“You live a double live,” Alex said. “Sometimes living two or three lives; that’s how it is.”
After spending a year on a cot in a New York homeless shelter, where he shared a room with two other men, Alex now has his own subsidized apartment in the Bronx. He received his Greencard and is working on his nursing certificate.

But even with asylum and a new start, some Jamaican roots cannot be forgotten completely. So, he hasn’t told anyone about his asylum — not his 13-year-old son, his family in Jamaica or his church communities.
“When you’re gay, you’re isolated,” Alex said. “Once you interact, it opens up a gate for your own downfall.”
– Lisa Biagiotti
*Alex Brown’s name has been changed to protect his identity.
Stay tuned for Worldfocus’ signature stories on HIV/AIDS and gay stigma in Jamaica.

International Day Against Homophobia, calls for country to embrace value of tolerance

Kingston — May 17, 2009
The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-sexuals and Gays joins other human rights organisations across the world in marking the International Day Against Homophobia on May 17, 2009. The theme for the day this year is “Homosexuality knows no borders”. In Jamaica, both the day and its theme are particularly relevant, given the popular local sentiment that homosexuality is unJamaican. It is this feeling, promoted by religious leaders, justified by some in media and exploited by politicians that generally feeds antigay attacks and makes it difficult for gays and lesbians in Jamaica to lead lives where their civil and human rights are respected and protected.

J-FLAG remains constant in its view that Jamaica will not become a better society until it creates a safer and more wholesome environment in which all its citizens, including lesbians and gays, can live peaceably. As members of a socially outcast group, lesbians and gays, particularly those who reside in innercity communities, where violence and hardship are normal features of daily life, must go to extremes to survive. Many hide in unfulfilling heterosexual relationships, with partners whom they cannot love the way they should; others distance themselves from families to be spared from the judgment of those they love; still others attempt to escape the ostracism through suicide or flight to foreign lands. This state of affairs needs urgent attention as part of the greater social transformation that the country seeks and so badly deserves.

We believe that the defence of antigay discourse as an integral facet of the Jamaican national character is part of the malaise that bedevils our society. Indeed, it is our view that there can be little social progress in Jamaica if the country fails to embrace the tried and proven values of tolerance and sensitivity to difference on which other societies have advanced. For this reason, social actors and opinion leaders must become more conscious that their justification of antigay attitudes and behaviours is not the defence of Jamaican culture but the buttressing of cultural values that constrain the rights of some Jamaicans to act and to be.

J-FLAG hopes for the day that there will no longer be the need to mark an International Day Against Homophobia. For this to happen in Jamaica, the country must begin to see its gay and lesbian citizens and residents as having the same basic civil and human rights as heterosexuals. It therefore is critical that political, academic, religious and business leaders repudiate the civil framework that treats rights and freedoms in an exclusionary manner. Together, we must work for the protection of the rights and freedoms of all citizens and residents as the ultimate feature of our national identity. This protection lies not in the defence of a religious definition of the Jamaican but in the establishment of a modern and truly democratic society. We reiterate our oft-expressed view that as a secular society, Jamaica’s social and political framework remains, to the detriment of its gay and other citizens, overdetermined by religion.
~30~

Jason McFarlane
Programmes Manager
Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays – J-FLAG
Tel: (876)978-8988
Fax: (876) 978-7876
Website: http://www.jflag.org/
Blog: http://jflag.blogspot.com/
email: admin@jflag.org

When Arrested and taken to a Police Station you have the right to:

a. Make a phone call: to a lawyer or relative or anyone

b. Ask to see a lawyer immediately: if you don’t have the money ask for a Duty Council

c. A Duty Council is a lawyer provided by the state

d. Talk to a lawyer before you talk to the police

e. Tell your lawyer if anyone hits you and identify who did so by name and number

f. Give no explanations excuses or stories: you can make your defense later in court based on what you and your lawyer decided

g. Ask the sub officer in charge of the station to grant bail once you are charged with an offence

h. Ask to be taken before a justice of The Peace immediately if the sub officer refuses you bail

i. Demand to be brought before a Resident Magistrate and have your lawyer ask the judge for bail

j. Ask that any property taken from you be listed and sealed in your presence

Cases of Assault:
An assault is an apprehension that someone is about to hit you The following may apply:

1) Call 119 or go to the station or the police arrives depending on the severity of the injuries

2) The report must be about the incident as it happened, once the report is admitted as evidence it becomes the basis for the trial

3) Critical evidence must be gathered as to the injuries received which may include a Doctor’s report of the injuries.

4) The description must be clearly stated; describing injuries directly and identifying them clearly, show the doctor the injuries clearly upon the visit it must be able to stand up under cross examination in court.

5) Misguided evidence threatens the credibility of the witness during a trial; avoid the questioning of the witnesses credibility, the tribunal of fact must be able to rely on the witness’s word in presenting evidence

6) The court is guided by credible evidence on which it will make it’s finding of facts

7) Bolster the credibility of a case by a report from an independent disinterested party.

In Appreciation: Bea Arthur

by NM
(May 13th, 1922—April 25th, 2009)

In the final season of The Golden Girls, it is revealed that Rose’s (Betty White) husband Charlie may have slept with Blanche (Rue McClanahan). The news horrifies Rose but Blanche produces records that keep track of her ‘social’ activities to ease any fears. Rose then asks her if she didn’t sleep with all the men why is it that the books are labelled B.E.D. Blanche replies that it stands for her initials—Blanche Elizabeth Devereaux. Dorothy (Bea Arthur) who has been watching this interplay then quips a deadpan yet classic line, ‘your initials spell B.E.D?’ and gives the audience a kind of half-winking look and you can’t help but erupting with laughter.

Bea Arthur was to elicit such smart and tart-tongued dialogue over the thirty-eight years she spent doing comedy. The Golden Girls series itself was not the start of her immense relevance as a comedienne but rather a continuance. Her deep voice and imposing height had prevented her from landing the classical feminine roles on and off Broadway but were the very tools that landed her fame on television, a medium she was initially skeptical of.

In 1971, her friend and All in the Family producer Norman Lear asked her to guest-star in an episode as Maude Findlay, Edith Bunker’s (Jean Stapleton) cousin. Lear wanted the character to be the direct opposite of Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor), hence modern, feminist and loud in intent. Arthur, who was near fifty at the time—an age where most careers have already peaked, proved to be a smash and the following year landed her a series of her own simply called Maude.

The rest, as they say, is history but the success of the show is deserving of real analysis and not just clichés. Maude was the first real outspoken female lead character on American television. She was several-times divorced, spoke back to her husband and the intimacy of the conversations was at times shocking. Of course, Lear’s savvy as a producer was to mimic the wider popular culture and foment subtle change through the writing and his characters. Arthur fleshed out Maude as a real woman, not the stereo-types that dominated the screen in the 1950s. Maude was not the model housewife nor always had dinner waiting for Walter (Bill Macy) and would often threaten him with the catch-phrase, ‘God’ll getcha for that, Walter’. Through Maude, Arthur connected to an audience of people, mostly older women and feminists who felt due representation of their issues had finally captured real interest. It’s most definitive moment though came when Maude had television’s first abortion (November 1972), a mere two months before the landmark Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision. Arthur, in subsequent interviews, exclaimed surprise at the heated reaction of the letters she received from fans for and against the decision. It showed though that television didn’t operate in a vacuum but helped to foment a conversation among individuals. Through it all the show was a hit in the ratings and she won an Emmy for her lead performance in 1977. Watching the episodes on YouTube, one senses that Arthur was being led unwillingly into the type of celebrity that the stage hadn’t prepared her for. She hadn’t expected to have a real impact on lives but more so the reverse; drawing inspiration from the lives of others to help shape her character. Never one to overstay her welcome, Arthur left Maude in 1978 after six years, thus ending the series. She hoped to get back on stage and never expected to do another series again.

All that changed in 1985 when NBC had an idea for a series with four older women living together in Miami and the role of Dorothy Zbornak was being floated around as a ‘Bea Arthur type’. The role proved to be a pivotal one; the character being the lynchpin for everyone else. Dorothy was level-headed, harsh yet fair and good in a crisis. Her daughter-mother relationship with Sophia (the late Estelle Getty) is among the most revered in television still and her dealings with her ex-husband Stan (the late Herb Edelman) garnered many guffaws. Dorothy’s relationships with these two characters are so realistically portrayed that it allowed the series to defy the odds of success. I doubt now that the show, or Maude for that matter, could thrive in the Neilson ratings without Arthur’s presence being able to command a slight awe yet grasp on comedic timing. Her one-liners are priceless: telling Rose that her daughter moves faster than Marcus Allen after sleeping with her son (Michael) after knowing him for one day. Intimating that Blanche had landed on her back more than the American Gladiators. Telling the girls how Stan surprised her with a wedding ring in a wine glass and it turned up three days later…on the Home Shopping Network when Rose’s naiveté presses the issue. The caustic wit with which these lines are delivered and her serious expressions remain the true legacy of her work and she was honoured with another Emmy in 1988. As in the case of Maude, she left the show feeling it had explored all its avenues and couldn’t possibly top itself.

The influence of The Golden Girls is palpable enough, from the several American spin-off shows and global affiliates it spawned. It remains in syndication long after it ended and shows like Sex in the City and Desperate Housewives wouldn’t have been possible without the success of The Golden Girls and the topics discussed. The fan base of the show has expanded to more than just women over fifty but also purists of good comedic writing and gay men in particular, for whom Bea Arthur is an icon. One can see the clear correlation between Dorothy and a character such as Miranda (SITC) and Lynette (DH).

Thirty-eight years after introducing a smart, feminist type to television audiences, Bea Arthur leaves the stage knowing that her legacy has secured the continuity of such strong-willed female characters. Bea Arthur died of cancer-related illness and was eighty-six (86) years old.