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By Steven Jiang, CNN

Beijing (CNN)Taiwan has lashed out at China's state media for attempting to take credit for the island's historic decision to legalize same-sex marriage.
On Friday, Taiwan's legislators passed a bill making same-sex marriage a reality, the first place in Asia to give LGBT couples many of the same rights as their heterosexual peers.
LGBT activists were overjoyed at the news, but some of the most unlikely praise came from the Chinese Communist Party's mouthpiece.
"Local lawmakers in Taiwan, China, have legalized same-sex marriage in a first for Asia," tweeted the People's Daily newspaper on Friday, along with a rainbow color-infused animated image that says "love is love" underneath.
"Wrong!" Joseph Wu, Taiwan's foreign minister, shot back on his department's official Twitter account Sunday. "The bill was passed by our national parliament and will be signed by the president soon. Democratic Taiwan is a country in itself and has nothing to do with authoritarian China."
"(People's Daily) is a commie brainwasher and it sucks."
Taiwan and China are separated by fewer than 130 kilometers (81 miles) at their closest point. For seven decades, the two have maintained an uneasy truce following their split at the end of a bloody civil war in 1949.
Unification is a long-term aim for China's ruling Communist Party, which regards self-governed Taiwan -- an island of 23 million people -- as a renegade province.
The historic vote in Taiwan came almost two years after the island's Constitutional Court ruled existing laws -- which defined marriage as between a man and a woman -- to be unconstitutional.
Despite sharply divided public opinions, Taiwan's legislators passed the law only a week before a court-set deadline to enact marriage equality laws. It will go into effect on May 24.
As thousands of people in Taipei took to the streets to celebrate the outcome, Beijing's propaganda authorities appeared to see an opportunity to stake a claim on China's sovereignty over Taiwan and to highlight China's supposed LGBT-friendliness.
The news from Taiwan was among trending topics Friday on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter. It has remained a widely discussed story, generating largely positive comments, despite the Chinese government's growing censorship on all LGBT-related subjects on social media.
Global Times, a state-run tabloid known for its nationalistic rhetoric, posted a video Saturday showcasing gay social life in Beijing. The three-minute clip features interviews with local advocates as well as foreigners praising the Chinese capital's inclusive culture, complete with footage of drag queen performances.
Homosexuality is not illegal in China and the authorities in 2001 removed it from the official list of mental disorders. But activists and experts agree that prejudices and discrimination persist, as well as periodic government crackdowns.
Since he came to power in late 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping has increasingly stressed the Communist Party's absolute control over all aspects of society, resulting in a push for more rigid moral codes and even less room for LGBT visibility and advocacy.
In March, nearly all LGBT content was scrubbed from "Bohemian Rhapsody," the award-winning biopic of British rock band Queen, for the Chinese audience. Deleted scenes range from two men kissing to the word "gay."
Last November, an author of same-sex erotic fiction was sent to jail for ten years. In 2016, Chinese censors banned the portrayal of "abnormal sexual behavior" in TV and online shows,including gay and lesbian relationships.
Still, some Chinese activists want to focus on the positive impact of Taiwan's legalization of same-sex marriage may have on the mainland. 
    "It offers us a lot of hope," Xiaogang Wei, a leading LGBT rights activist who heads the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute, told CNN on Friday.
    "The Chinese government has pointed to cultural tradition as a reason for same-sex marriage being unsuitable in China. But the decision in Taiwan, which shares a cultural tradition with us, proves that Chinese culture can be open, diverse and progressive."
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    Maine is consistently ranked as one of the least religious states in America, and I’ve always been grateful for that. Which is weird, because I come from a fairly religious family. We’re Episcopalian, and growing up, I went to church every Sunday, until I went off to college and could sleep in on the weekends (sorry, Mom). And I went to Catholic school for 13 years.

    So why am I grateful that Maine isn’t very religious? Because I’m bisexual. I’ve liked women since I was 11 years old (as for men, I’ve been interested in them only since I was 23, but that’s another story). Maine’s lack of fervent religiosity and those weird Jesus billboards have helped keep the amount of homophobia I’ve personally experienced low. I’ve dealt with some, of course. It’s impossible to grow up LGBTQ in America without accruing some psychological scars. I’m just lucky to only have a few of them. And I’m incredibly lucky that none of them came from my family or our church.

    I’ve been thinking about this because Franklin Graham is coming to Maine. Specifically, the Cumberland County Fairgrounds, on May 19 (the day this column is published), in the evening. He’s the evangelical pastor with a net worth in the tens of millions of dollars (not sure how he squares that one with Jesus saying, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven”), who says that “homosexuality” is “something to be repentant of.”
    Does that mean I only have to be half as repentant of bisexuality?
    There are definitely things I’ve done that I need to be repentant of. Being attracted to women isn’t one of them.

    I don’t know where I stand on the issues of life after death, big cosmic beings, etc., etc. (the fun existential questions of religion), but I do know a few things about Jesus, having spent a childhood reading about him flipping tables, turning water into wine and healing the sick. I am 100 percent sure that if he had a cellphone, he would use a lot of emojis while texting. (I cannot prove this – I just have a strong feeling that it is true, which I believe is the very definition of “faith.”) And I think he would care a lot more about what I’m doing to help the homeless and the hungry and the suffering than about who I swipe right on Tinder for. 

    There are people all over the country – and, unfortunately, even in Maine – who think that there is something wrong with being queer. I don’t care about that when it comes to myself.  Their opinions don’t matter to me. It’s the kids I worry about. It just kills me to think that in the crowds who will surely flock to see Graham perform will be parents of queer kids; that they will think something is wrong with their children if they are anything other than solidly and traditionally heterosexual. It pisses me off to know that there are kids out there who are receiving something other than unconditional love and acceptance from their parents. It’s what I’ve always gotten from mine and it’s what every child deserves.

    For the record: If God made you gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or generally amorphously queer, and your parents have a problem with that, then I will be your parent now. Do your homework, clean your room, bedtime is 9:30.

    The phenomenon of spiritual leaders using Scripture as a bludgeon and trading moral authority for access to power isn’t new. Hypocrisy, self-enrichment, bargains with politicians: I know a Pharisee when I see one.

    Franklin Graham’s tour brochures say he is praying for “the lost.” Presumably, I would be considered one of the lost, on account of all the gay stuff  – not to mention the birth control, and living with a man out of wedlock, and taking the Lord’s name in vain (usually when I stub my toe). But I’m not lost.
    I know exactly where I am, and where I am in Maine. As a fan of freedom of speech, and freedom of religion, and freedom of the press (really, of the Constitution in general – I keep a copy in my purse), I know that Franklin Graham has every right to come to my state and preach his poison. But I also have every right to show up with a posterboard sign to make a counterpoint.
    No hate. No fear. There’s nothing wrong with being queer.

    By Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. 
    She can be contacted at:
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    The number of people dying by suicide in the U.S. has been rising, and a new study shows that the suicide rate among young teenage girls has been increasing faster than it has for boys of the same age.
    Boys are still more likely to take their own lives. But the study published Friday in JAMA Network Open finds that girls are steadily narrowing that gap.
    Researchers examined more than 85,000 youth suicides that occurred between 1975 and 2016. Donna Ruch, a researcher at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, who worked on the study, tells NPR that a major shift occurred after 2007.
    Researchers found the increase was highest for girls ages 10 to 14, rising by nearly 13% since 2007. While for boys of the same age, it rose by 7%.
    "That's where we saw the most significant narrowing of the gender gap," Ruch says. 
    There was also evidence of racial and ethnic disparities in the study. The differences in suicide rates between boys and girls were greatest among non-Hispanic black youth.
    The study did not explore why more girls are killing themselves.
    A combination of different factors influence the risk of suicide, including family history, local epidemics of suicide, barriers to accessing mental health care and feelings of hopelessness or isolation.
    Among people in the U.S. ages 10 to 19, suicide has become a leading cause of death.
    Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, tells NPR that while multiple factors are likely driving the increase, social media might be playing a major role. 
    That's because she says the vast majority of children and adolescents are spending a lot of time plugged into their devices. And while social media can make them feel more connected to people in their lives, Moutier says, recent studies show it can hurt their mental health.
    "Heavy screen time, night-time utilization [of social media on devices] that affects sleep, people who have anxiety, depression or psychological vulnerabilities may have a more negative experience," Moutier says.
    And some recent studies show that girls may be more vulnerable to the dark side of social media, says Joan Luby, a psychiatrist at Washington University School of Medicine who wrote a commentary that accompanied the new study.
    "Girls are more often ... cyberbullied [than boys] on social media. They tend to have much more negative psychological effects to that cyberbullying," she tells NPR. 
    Social media has also changed how kids interact with one another, she says, noting that adolescents aren't having as many in-person interactions, which are vital to protecting against mental health issues. 
    Luby says she wasn't surprised by the study's findings, especially after a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that suicide rates for girls ages 10 to 14 tripled between 1999 to 2014.
    She stresses the need to learn more about what's driving the trend.
    "If we had data like this that pertained to a medical illness," Luby says, "we would be seeing very, very rapid action from public health sectors."
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    Taiwan's parliament has become the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage following a vote on Friday.

    Parliament was given a two-year deadline and was required to pass the changes by 24 May.
    Lawmakers debated three different bills to legalize same-sex unions and the government's bill, the most progressive of the three, was passed. 
    Image copyright







     Image captionGay rights activists bearing umbrellas and rainbow flags erupted in joy as the ruling was announced
    Hundreds of gay rights supporters gathered in the rain outside the parliament building in the capital, Taipei, to await the landmark ruling. 
    There were shouts of joy and some tearful embraces as the result was announced. 
    However, conservative opponents were angered by the vote. 
    What does the bill entail?
    The two other bills, submitted by conservative lawmakers, refer to partnerships as "same-sex family relationships" or "same-sex unions" rather than "marriages". 
    But the government's bill, also the only one to offer limited adoption rights, was passed by 66 to 27 votes - backed by lawmakers from the majority Democratic Progressive Party. 
    It will take effect after Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen passes it into law. 
    Several same-sex activists had said ahead of the vote that this was the only version they would accept.
    Image copyrighEPAImage captionHundreds of gay and lesbian couples have already applied to register for legal union
    "I'm very surprised - but also very happy. It's a very important moment in my life," Jennifer Lu, chief co-ordinator of rights group Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan, told the BBC. 
    "However, it's still not full marriage rights; we still need to fight for co-adoption rights, and we are not sure about foreigner and Taiwanese marriage, and also gender equality education.
    "It's a very important moment, but we are going to keep on fighting. We are Taiwanese and we want this important value for our country, for our future," she added. 
    "For me the outcome today is not 100 percent perfect, but it's still pretty good for the gay community as it provides legal definition," said Elias Tseng, a gay pastor who spoke to the AFP news agency outside parliament.
    Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai posted a picture of a rainbow on Facebook accompanied by the caption "Congratulations!! Everyone deserves happiness!"
    How did we get here?
    In 2017, Taiwan's constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry.
    It said then that the island had two years to make necessary changes to the law.
    But this was met with a public backlash, which pressured the government into holding a series of referendums.
    The referendum results showed that a majority of voters in Taiwan rejected legalising same-sex marriage, saying that the definition of marriage was the union of a man and woman.
    Image copyright        



    Image captionSame-sex marriage supporters cried after hearing the result of the referendum
    As a result, Taiwan said it would not alter its existing definition of marriage in civil law, and instead would enact a special law for same-sex marriage. 
    What reaction has there been? 
    Many took to social media in celebration, seeing the result as a win for marriage equality.
    "What a tremendous victory for LGBT rights!" said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
    "Taiwan's action today should sound a clarion call, kicking off a larger movement across Asia to ensure equality for LGBT people."
    Earlier on Friday, Ms Tsai said in a tweet that the island had taken "a big step towards true equality" with the vote.
    Skip Twitter post by @iingwen
    End of Twitter post by @iingwen
    Meanwhile, Tseng Hsien-ying, from the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, told AFP news agency the vote had "trampled on Taiwanese people's expectations that a marriage and a family is formed by a man and a woman, a husband and a wife".
    Others expressed opposition on social media. 
    "This is the death of democracy. Seven million people voted against same-sex marriage in the referendum and their votes meant nothing. 
    "Is same-sex marriage that important and urgent?", Liu Yan wrote on Facebook. 
    How does this compare to other countries in the region? 
    Taiwan has been a leader for gay rights in Asia, hosting an annual gay pride parade in Taipei attended by LGBT groups from all over the continent. 
    The law was also celebrated by many LGBT people in the region. Paul Ng, from Singapore, told the BBC he and his friends saw it as "an occasion to celebrate, even though we're not Taiwanese. It's a success for us, for all gay people."
    "For Singaporeans, this is especially important because our government likes to go on and on about preserving 'Asian' values… so this sends a very important message to other developed nations in Asia."
    Wong Ka Ying, an LGBT artist in Hong Kong, said that Taiwan's decision would help raise awareness, although she doubted it would make an impact in "more conservative" places like Hong Kong or mainland China.
    •  Vietnam decriminalized gay marriage celebrations in 2015, but stopped short of granting full legal recognition for same-sex unions.
    While same-sex marriage is still illegal in China, homosexuality was decriminalized in the country in 1997, and officially removed from its list of mental illnesses three years later. 
    Elsewhere in Asia, laws are changing to reflect more tolerant attitudes towards LGBT groups. 
    However, the approach differs in other Asian countries. 
    In April, Brunei announced strict new Islamic laws that made anal sex and adultery offences punishable by stoning to death, but it says it will not enforce the death penalty for gay sex.
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    I. Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man
    ON THE FIRST PAGE of the final book in the Dave Brandstetter mystery series, A Country of Old Men (1991), Joseph Hansen’s eponymous, openly gay detective finds a stranger at his door. His visitor is an old man with
    a white moustache and goatee. His tweed jacket looked new, but it wouldn’t button over his big belly. He wore a red-striped cotton shirt, new blue denims, crepe-soled shoes, and one of those shapeless canvas hats sold in drugstores, cheap, so that if you lost it on a trip you wouldn’t mind too much.
    The stranger at Brandstetter’s door, a mystery writer named Jack Helmers, is none other than Joseph Hansen himself. The initials are the giveaway, but if you’d ever met Joe Hansen in the flesh, you’d have recognized him immediately in the description, down to the tweed coat and striped shirt combo of which the author was so fond.
    It’s an oddly meta-moment in a fairly conservative genre and for a writer as traditional as Joseph Hansen. What follows is odder still. Hansen’s introduction of Helmers into the narrative is completely unrelated to the murder mystery. Its sole purpose seems to be to give Hansen an opportunity to do an autobiographical summing up — a portrait of the artist as an old man.
    Ostensibly, Helmers has turned up at Brandstetter’s doorstep to report a death: his own. Apparently, a rumor has circulated that Helmers is dead. He comes seeking Brandstetter’s advice because he and Brandstetter were high school friends in Pasadena 50 years earlier. Brandstetter is now a world-famous detective and Helmers a renowned mystery writer. Brandstetter quickly solves the mystery by reminding Helmers that signed copies of his work would be more valuable if he were dead. “Some collector couldn’t make up his mind to shuck out a hundred dollars for a signed copy of your first novel, so the bookseller used the clincher — told him you were dead.”
    Helmers readily agrees with this explanation. On his way out, he tells the detective that he’s finally “written that big novel I always wanted to, fifty years ago,” about their high school years. He complains, however, that “[n]obody will publish it.” Over the course of the novel, other ancient classmates appear at Brandstetter’s doorstep begging him to dissuade Helmers from publishing his opus and embarrassing them with their high school hijinks. This clumsily injected subplot gives Hansen a reason to bring Helmers back and, through him, to take his own leave as a mystery writer in his 12th and final Brandstetter novel.
    Through Helmers, Hansen sums up his literary achievements. As Brandstetter recalls, Helmers’s boyhood ambition was “to be the best writer America ever saw.” But, as the years passed and the unpublished novels and stories piled up, “it looked more and more certain to Dave than Helmers was one of life’s losers.” Then, in his 40s, Helmers finds success — not, as he’d hoped, as the author of the Great American Novel but (as Brandstetter observes rather dismissively) as a writer of “detective novels.” Abandoning Brandstetter’s voice, Hansen remarks that the mysteries “were literate, reviewers found something elegant about them, and slowly they built him a readership.” This is a modest assessment — more rueful than self-congratulatory — of a series that Hansen’s Los Angeles Times obituary would call “groundbreaking.” The 68-year-old writer, who had set his sights on being America’s greatest writer, takes stock of his accomplishment and finds it wanting.
    The self-disclosure doesn’t end there. Helmers is not only facing professional setbacks but also a profound personal loss. The death of his wife of 50 years has set him adrift in the world. Katherine had always been his sturdiest support and dearest companion. Hansen describes the toll her death has taken on Helmers, including the decay of their home, which has fallen into Dickensian squalor after her death:
    The house smelled of cats. The floor was stacked with dusty newspapers. […] Magazines catalogues, books, videotapes, records filled the chairs and sofa, avalanches of unopened mail. Cobwebs connected handsome but dusty hand-thrown pots on the mantelpiece. The empty trays of TV dinners make a crooked stack on the television set. […] Katherine would have been more than upset to see the place. She would have wept.
    Most of Hansen’s readers knew that, like his sleuth, he was gay (a word he despised, preferring “homosexual”). It would have come as a surprise to them, then, that this passage was autobiographical. Joe Hansen was a homosexual, yes, but he was married for 51 years to Jane Bancroft, a lesbian artist, and together they had a child.
    Hansen never fully recovered from Jane’s death. The precise and ghastly description of Helmers’s house was a snapshot of the home Hansen had lived in until he was forced to move out after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. One might wonder why he chose to eulogize his marriage to Jane in heterosexual drag. This may have been because Hansen was ever sensitive to the seeming strangeness of a marriage between two gay people that wasn’t a cover for the homosexuality of either. In a rare comment about his private life, he told Out magazine, “Here was this remarkable person who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. […] So something was right about it, however bizarre it may seem to the rest of the world.” He never spoke publicly at all about his child — and, significantly, Helmers and his wife are childless.
    Through his Helmers mouthpiece, Hansen also rails at the publishing industry. Helmers is upset because no one will publish the autobiographical novel he mentions to Brandstetter. In real life, Hansen had written two such novels by 1991, when A Country of Old Men was published, and he had found no takers for either. Both would eventually be published by Dutton: Living Upstairs in 1993 and Jack of Hearts in 1995 (Living Upstairs would win a Lambda Literary Award for best gay fiction). He had already written the third installment in what was to have been a 12-novel bildungsroman, but Dutton passed, as did everyone else. So, while Helmers’s bitterness may have been premature, it foreshadowed Hansen’s real distress at the rejection in his old age of the series of novels designed to be his masterpiece — his last chance to be the Great American Novelist. But he had always felt underappreciated. As his obituary in theGuardian noted, “although he was an admired writer, he felt that the success due to him had not quite materialised.”
    Unlike the typical bitching of most writers, there was considerable justice in Hansen’s complaint. He never achieved the commercial success of, say, his contemporary Tony Hillerman, though he was a better and braver writer. The problem was that Hansen’s detective was a faggot and many straight readers would simply not read a book about one of those people no matter how good the reviews were. Hansen understood this, but it still embittered him. He can hardly be blamed for that.
    On the other hand, Joseph Hansen mattered in a way that Tony Hillerman and the other noir writers of his generation did not. For some of his readers — the gay ones — Hansen provided more than a few hours of entertainment. We read his books as if our lives depended on them.
    II. Fadeout
    In the summer of 1977, a 22-year-old gay man picks up a paperback detective novel called Fadeout, published seven years earlier, by a writer named Joseph Hansen. He was given the book by an older gay friend, with a cryptic smile and the words, “I think you’ll like this.” Now, sitting in his sweltering Sacramento apartment, he opens the book.
    In Fadeout, a man named Fox Olson drives off a bridge in a storm, his car plunging into the river below. Olson has a life insurance policy with Medallion Insurance. But Olson’s body has not been recovered, and without proof of death, Medallion will not pay the claim. The company dispatches Dave Brandstetter, its best death claims investigator, to determine whether Olson is really dead.
    The book begins with Brandstetter on the bridge that was the site of Olson’s apparently fatal accident.
    Fog shrouded the canyon, a box canyon above a California ranch town called Pima. It rained. Not hard but steady and gray and dismal. Shaggy pines loomed through the mists like threats. […] Down in the arroyo water pounded, ugly, angry and deep.
    Brandstetter is carrying what seems to be a near-suicidal burden of grief. He drives across the bridge “with sweating hands. […] Why so careful? Wasn’t death all he’d wanted for the past six weeks? His mouth tightened. That was finished. He’d made up his mind to live now. Hadn’t he?” A few pages later, he reveals the source of his grief: “Bright and fierce, he pictured again Rod’s face, clay-white, fear in the eyes, as he’d seen it when he found him in the glaring bathroom that first night of the horrible months that had ended in his death from intestinal cancer.”
    The young reader’s pulse jumps: Rod?
    Brandstetter is grieving the loss of his male lover of 20 years. In chapter six, we get the whole story in flashback. Brandstetter, recently discharged from the army at the end of World War II, enters a furniture shop on Western Avenue in Los Angeles to buy a bed. He sees, across the crowded room (as it were), a young salesman, short and dark, with a dazzling smile. “‘I want you,’ Dave thought and wondered if he’d said it aloud because the boy looked at him then, over the heads of a lot of other people. Straight at him. And there was recognition in the eyes, curious opaque eyes, like bright stones in a stream bed.” The young salesman, Rod Fleming, sells Brandstetter a ridiculous white wicker bed, which he ends up sharing with Brandstetter until his cruel, painful death six weeks before the action in Fadeout begins.
    Hansen actually finished writing the book in 1967, but because it involved homosexuality, he didn’t find a publisher until 1970. Why? Because in 1970, Brandstetter’s relationship with Rod Fleming would have exposed them to prosecution in the 49 states — excluding only Illinois — that criminalized gay sex between consenting adults; because in 1970, the American Psychiatric Association still listed homosexuality as a mental illness in its diagnostic handbook. Any publisher who put out a novel featuring a homosexual protagonist could have been assailed as promoting criminal conduct or mental deviance; the book might even have been banned. This is especially true since Brandstetter was presented neither as a criminal nor as mentally ill, but as a hero, at a time when most novels featuring homosexuals — e.g., Gore Vidal’s The City and the Pillar (1948), John Rechy’s City of Night (1963) — tended to treat them, at best, as troubled and rootless men or, at worst, as pathological.
    Moreover, Fadeout did more than introduce readers to an openly gay sleuth; it tells what can only be called a gay story. Olson, as it turns out, was not killed in the car crash; rather, he staged the accident so he could run off with his boyhood lover, Doug Sawyer. Sawyer has just returned to Los Angeles from France, where he had lived since the end of World War II. Their reunion is cut short when Olson is murdered and suspicion falls on Sawyer. It’s up to Brandstetter to clear him. In the course of his investigation, he and Sawyer begin a relationship that will carry through the next three books. All of this is presented unsensationally, as if men loving men was the most natural thing in the world. 
    Fadeout was a big risk for its publisher, Harper & Row, but it paid off. The book was a critical success and sold well enough to launch Hansen on his career as a writer after 20 years in the literary wilderness. Soon, he would be garnering the kind of reviews for which most writers would kill the family dog. The Los Angeles Times: “[T]he most exciting and effective writer of the classic California private eye novel working today”; The New Yorker: “[A]n excellent craftsman, a compelling writer”; The New York Times: “Hansen knows how to tell a tough, unsentimental, fast-moving story in an exceptionally urbane style”; National Review (!): “After Ross McDonald, what? The smart money is now on Joseph Hansen.”
    Clearly, many critics and readers thought Fadeout was more than a novelty act. They were right. Hansen deserved the accolades the reviewers heaped upon him. He is a superlative writer, possessed of a singularly clear, vivid, often poetic style that gives the reader an almost physical pleasure. Some examples: “A disbelieving smile dug lines around her face. She had television teeth” (The Man Everybody Was Afraid of, 1978); “In a wheelchair rode an old party in a tattered picture hat. Across blanketed knees lay a rifle” (Gravedigger, 1982); “The waterwheel was twice a man’s height, wider than a man’s two stretched arms. […] Moss bearded the paddles, which dipped as they rose. The sounds were good. Wooden stutter like children running down a hall at the end of school. Grudging axle thud like the heartbeat of a strong old man” (Death Claims, 1973).
    Hansen’s Southern California is a clash of the bucolic and the suburban, a lost Eden where the ghostly scent of plowed-over orange groves haunts the raw streets of ticky-tacky housing tracts. His descriptions of this landscape are as precise and skillful as a master painter. “The shopping center was a cry of light against the hulking darkness of the hills. Its signs were crisply lettered sheets of milky plastic, its shopfronts naked glass, the interiors ice-white fluorescent. Brave but lonely” (Death Claims).
    He has a crisp way with dialogue, too, often borrowed from the Chandler playbook of well-placed wisecracks — as when Brandstetter orders a fancy beer in a redneck bar and the lady bartender snaps back, “Dear God. Where do you think you are honey, on board of the Concorde? […] We got three kinds of beer — West’s, and West’s light, and West’s the expensive one” (The Boy Who Was Buried This Morning, 1990). Characterization is also deftly managed, particularly when it’s clear Hansen likes the person. One his more appealing figures is a cross-dresser named Randy Van who turns up in Skinflick (1979). Nowadays, we would recognize Randy as transgender, albeit without surgical modification, but the word was not in popular usage when the book appeared. Still, Hansen’s take on her is remarkably sympathetic. At one point, Randy says, about a beautiful woman: “God to have a body like that.” Brandstetter replies, “What’s supposed to be wrong with the one you’ve got?” Randy says, “It came from the wrong outfitter.” Hansen describes Randy studying the same woman’s “pert breasts,” “[w]ith thoughtful sadness.” And when Randy is forced to dress up as a boy, he complains, “I feel ridiculous in these clothes.”
    But Randy Van is one of the few queer characters who gets consistently sympathetic treatment from Hansen. For, although Brandstetter himself, as an out gay man, was a revolutionary figure in crime fiction, he was also virtually without a community and so cast a fairly jaundiced eye on most of his fellow homosexuals.
    III. The Old Guard
    One of Hansen’s lesser known works is A Few Doors West of Hope (1998), a brief biography of Don Slater, an activist in the pre-Stonewall “homophile” movement. Working out of an office on Los Angeles’s Skid Row, Slater published ONE, the first gay periodical to be sold openly in the United States. In the mid-1950s, the magazine engaged in a long legal battle over the Postmaster General’s attempts to suppress it as obscene. That fight culminated in a one-page Supreme Court decision in which, as Hansen writes in Hope, the court concluded that “ONE magazine was not in fact obscene, but was an exercise of American free speech.”
    Beginning in the early 1960s, Hansen became one of the most prolific writers for Slater’s magazine — which, for reasons of internal bickering in the movement, became the magazine Tangents. Tangents was a serious periodical dedicated, according to Slater’s oddly euphemistic mission statement, to “promot[ing] among the general public an interest in, and understanding of, the problems of variation.” Hansen authored such articles as “Suicide and the Homosexual,” which sought to disprove the canard that gays were more likely to commit suicide than straights. His association with the magazine continued until 1969, when it began to die a slow death. The end was hastened, Hansen writes, by the appearance of The Advocate, which he describes as
    a smudged bi-weekly tabloid for gays, with a thick, pink-paper advertising section that peddled sex, classified and unclassified. And while readers probably skipped the wretchedly written and predictable articles, they loved those pandering ads, with their blurred muscle-boy photos, and phone number come-ons. Circulation boomed.
    Relevant to his later career as a crime fiction writer are two points. First, Hansen was genuinely and courageously a gay activist when such activism was massively risky. Second, his political consciousness was formed by the homophile movement, the old guard that preceded Stonewall. After Stonewall, a mutual antagonism developed between the newly emergent gay liberation movement and many of the older homophile activists. The gay libbers, heirs to the hippies and inspired by the black power and antiwar movements, rejected the conservatism of the homophiles, while the homophiles were appalled by what they considered the gay libbers’ exhibitionism and militancy.
    Hansen identified with the old guard. This is nowhere more apparent than in the fourth Brandstetter novel, The Man Everybody Was Afraid of. In that book, Brandstetter’s work takes him to the coastal California town of La Caleta (possibly Santa Barbara), to investigate the murder of the local right-wing chief of police. Charged with the murder is Cliff Kerlee, a Los Angeles gay activist who had recently relocated to La Caleta. Kerlee had had a highly publicized run-in with the chief before his death over Kerlee’s campaign to force the sheriff to hire gay officers.
    Here’s Hansen’s description of the demonstration Kerlee staged at La Caleta’s City Hall: “A lot of the lads had muscles, but they minced. There appeared to be chatting and laughter. At a guess, high-pitched. Someone pirouetted. A shriek would have gone with that.” Later, Brandstetter is talking about Kerlee with a man named Richard T. Nowell, a veteran of the homophile movement who has retired to La Caleta. Nowell describes how he spent years in “our mousy little office with our mousy little magazine, minding our business, getting things done,” when, “all of a sudden, here came the clowns.”
    The television people went mad. Naturally. I mean, anyone making a total ass of himself is bound to raise ratings. And everybody always knew homosexuals were a bunch of overgrown little girls painting their faces and getting themselves up in mommy’s best organdie. What more could the media ask for? Never a five-minute serious discussion. But screaming queens? Ha ha! Isn’t it killing?
    This contempt for the younger generation of gay men is threaded through Hansen’s novels, in ways that would have been condemned as homophobic if expressed by a straight writer. A particularly offensive example appears in Early Graves, Hansen’s 1987 “AIDS novel,” in which a serial killer is stalking and killing men who are dying from the disease. Every one of the victims is depicted as indulging in sleazy, promiscuous sex, and their murderer, it’s revealed, is himself an HIV-positive gay man seeking revenge on those who may have infected him.
    Hansen also appears to have been incapable of imagining a gay relationship between equals. Brandstetter has three gay friends who are recurring characters in the books. Each of them is an older, wealthy, white man living with a much younger, financially dependent partner. The younger men are described mostly in terms of their physical attractiveness — they might as well be rent boys.
    This troubling dynamic also characterizes Brandstetter’s own final relationship. Following the end of his affair with Doug Sawyer, Brandstetter becomes involved with Cecil Harris, a young African American more than 20 years Brandstetter’s junior. Hansen’s treatment of Cecil verges on the fetishistic; he is unfailingly introduced as “the young black” with whom Brandstetter “shares his bed.” More than once, Hansen sets a scene in darkness, where all Brandstetter can see of Cecil are his teeth and the whites of his eyes, a disturbingly cartoonish racist image. Cecil is also often depicted as weepy and over-emotional, while Brandstetter is cool, stoic, and in control. Although Hansen clearly intends the relationship between the two men to be loving and intimate, it often comes across more like that of a white sugar daddy and his kept, brown-skinned boy.
    Hansen’s obituary in the Guardian quotes him as saying that while he admired Ross Macdonald’s private eye Lew Archer, “it bothered me that his detective never had any personal life, and he never changed. My joke was to take the true hard-boiled character in an American fiction tradition and make him homosexual. He was going to be a nice man, a good man, and he was going to do his job well.” If, by giving him a personal life, Hansen meant that Brandstetter has friends and lovers, then he succeeded. What he did not give Brandstetter was an inner life.
    Of course, the private eye’s psychological opacity is part of the hard-boiled tradition. Neither Philip Marlowe nor Mike Hammer were navel-gazers; they were men of action, not men of reflection. But, truthfully, what was there for them to reflect upon? They, and other classic noir PIs, were standard, early-20th-century, straight, white American men. If they lived on the fringes of respectable society, it was as a matter of temperament and choice. But Brandstetter is queer. His outsider status is imposed on him by a society that has pathologized and criminalized a basic aspect of his humanity. One would expect him to have some thoughts about this — to reflect upon his decision to live openly as a homosexual in a hostile society and to talk about the internal and external resistances he was forced to confront and overcome in order to do so.
    But, no. Dave Brandstetter never engages in this internal monologue. He is simply presented in the first book, Fadeout, as an open and unconflicted homosexual. Moreover, Hansen confers upon Brandstetter great wealth, movie star looks, and fame. There is, then, never the possibility that Brandstetter’s homosexuality will be anything more than a minor inconvenience. Fundamentally, Brandstetter is a fantasy figure created by Hansen out of his own very different experience of being gay in the world. (One senses Hansen’s very real anguish that his years in the literary wilderness had permanently marked him, as Brandstetter says of Helmers, as “one of life’s..
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     Manah from Heaven. Don't know how it got into my bank Accounts"



    WASHINGTON —

     President Trump earned over $400 million in 2018 while serving as President of the United States, according to a financial disclosure form revealed Thursday.

    The money poured in from a wide range of real estate and golf properties scattered around the world. Here are some of Trump’s sources of income in 2018:

    $76 million from his Trump National Doral golf resort in Florida
    $41 million from his Trump International Hotel in Washington DC, right down the road from the White House.
    $23 million from his Trump Turnberry golf course in Scotland
    $11 million from Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles
    $13 million from his Trump National Golf Club in Virginia near Washington DC
    At least $4 million in restaurant income in New York

    The lengthy form published Thursday also includes such miscellaneous entries as $8.5 million from operating ice skating rinks in New York City, and at least $5,000 in royalties for his “Select by Trump” coffee brand. Trump reported earning between zero and $201 in royalties last year on his 2007 book, “Think Big and Kick Ass.” 

    Bloomberg News tabulated the total of all the income streams listed at $421.3 million, marking a decline from the $452.6 million Trump reported last year. Trump’s debt also ticked upward, to $315 million from $311 million the year before.

    Richer than any American president before him, Trump has stirred controversy for continuing to earn vast sums while running the country. Trump’s hotel in D.C. has been an especially contentious issue because of its popularity among foreign diplomats and lobbyists.

    House Democrats have launched investigations into his finances and subpoenaed his tax returns, while trying to figure out whether he may be financially compromised by any deep-pocketed foreign interests.

    And they’ve filed a lawsuit alleging that Trump’s private business activities run afoul of the Constitution’s ban on receiving gifts or payments from foreign governments, a term referred to as the “emoluments clause.”

    Last month, a judge in Washington ruled that suit could proceed. 


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    Migrants cross the Bravo River at the border between Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas, on May 7, 2019.Jose Luis Gonzalez / Reuters file





    By Associated Press
     HOUSTON — A Guatemalan official says a 2½-year-old migrant child has died after crossing the border, becoming the fourth minor known to have died after being detained by the Border Patrol since December.
    Tekandi Paniagua, the consul for Guatemala in Del Rio, Texas, said Wednesday that the boy had entered the United States with his parent at El Paso, Texas, in early April. Paniagua said the boy had a high fever and difficulty breathing, and authorities took him to a children's hospital where he was diagnosed with pneumonia.
    The boy remained hospitalized for about a month before dying Tuesday. The Washington Post first reported his death. 
    (Pregnant Chicago woman found dead; baby found alive but in grave condition)  
    Advocates have long questioned the Border Patrol's ability to care for the thousands of parents and children in its custody. The agency says it's overwhelmed by the surge of migrant families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
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     "She didn’t like death, and she couldn’t be with her animals if they had to be put down," her manager and close friend Bob Bashara told People, noting that Day battled to accept death.






    There will be no funeral or memorial services held for Doris Day. There also will be no grave marker for the legendary Hollywood star who died Monday of pneumonia at age 97. These are the wishes stated in her will.
    "She didn’t like death, and she couldn’t be with her animals if they had to be put down," her manager and close friend Bob Bashara told People, noting that Day battled to accept death.
       "I’d say we need to provide for her dogs [after she died], and she’d say, 'I don’t want to think about it' and she said, 'Well, you just take care of them,'" Bashara said. "She had several when her will was written, and she wanted to be sure they were taken care of. She didn’t like to talk about the dogs dying." 
    A committed animal lover, Day encouraged those wanting to remember her to instead donate to the Doris Day Animal Foundation, according to the charity organization's website.  
    The foundation came into being in the 1970s and was the basis upon which Day fought against animal testing. She went on to successfully implement spaying and neutering education and outreach programs across the U.S. while providing support to various other small animal rescue organizations nationwide, with a strong focus on senior pets. 

    In the wake of her death, the charity organization said it would continue the work that Day so tirelessly gave to animal welfare. Meanwhile, Bashara explained that Day’s estate will be donated to charity, as stated in her will.
    “The ultimate thing for it is to keep the foundation going," he told People.
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    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Months before evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr.’s game-changing presidential endorsement of Donald Trump in 2016, Falwell asked Trump fixer Michael Cohen for a personal favor, Cohen said in a recorded conversation reviewed by Reuters.  Falwell, president of Liberty University, one of the world’s largest Christian universities, said someone had come into possession of what Cohen described as racy “personal” photographs — the sort that would typically be kept “between husband and wife,” Cohen said in the taped conversation. 
    According to a source familiar with Cohen’s thinking, the person who possessed the photos destroyed them after Cohen intervened on the Falwells’ behalf. 
    The Falwells, through a lawyer, declined to comment for this article.   
    Cohen, who began a three-year prison sentence this week for federal campaign violations and lying to Congress, recounted his involvement in the matter in a recording made surreptitiously by comedian Tom Arnold on March 25. Portions of the recording — in which Cohen appeared to disavow parts of his guilty plea — were first reported April 24 by The Wall Street Journal. 
    The Falwells enlisted Cohen’s help in 2015, according to the source familiar with Cohen’s thinking, the year Trump announced his presidential candidacy. At the time, Cohen was Trump’s confidant and personal lawyer, and he worked for the Trump Organization. 
    The Falwells wanted to keep “a bunch of photographs, personal photographs” from becoming public, Cohen told Arnold. “I actually have one of the photos,” he said, without going into specifics. “It’s terrible.” 
    Cohen would later prove successful in another matter involving Falwell, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Cohen helped persuade Falwell to issue his endorsement of Trump’s presidential candidacy at a critical moment, they said: just before the Iowa caucuses. Falwell subsequently barnstormed with Trump and vouched for the candidate’s Christian virtues.  Reuters has no evidence that Falwell’s endorsement of Trump was related to Cohen’s involvement in the photo matter. The source familiar with Cohen’s thinking insisted the endorsement and the help with the photographs were separate issues. 
    Cohen’s connection to the Falwells sheds light on the formidable alliance between Trump and a man who, through his university, is one of the most influential evangelical figures in America. Falwell’s backing helped galvanize evangelicals and persuaded many Christians concerned about Trump’s past behavior to embrace him as a repentant sinner. 
    Falwell’s support for Trump has not wavered throughout the New York celebrity-politician’s own tribulations, including the Access Hollywood recording of Trump talking about grabbing women’s genitals and payoffs made by Cohen to hide Trump’s extramarital affairs. This past weekend, Falwell tweeted that “Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term” to make up for the two years of the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. 
    BLOCKBUSTER ENDORSEMENT 
    Falwell’s endorsement of Trump, however, did surprise some students and staff at Liberty University, the school in Lynchburg, Virginia, founded by Falwell’s father, Jerry. It was at Liberty where fellow Republican presidential candidate and major Trump rival Ted Cruz had chosen to launch his campaign the previous year. Cruz’s father was an evangelical preacher, much like Falwell’s father; Trump has been married three times and divorced twice. For years, prior to running for president, Trump boasted of his sexual exploits and supported a host of social positions, such as abortion rights, that run counter to beliefs espoused by Falwell. 
    Although Falwell declined interview requests for this story, he has said repeatedly that he endorsed Trump because Trump was the strongest candidate, had significant experience running a business, and had the right vision for the country. 
    The connection between Trump and Falwell goes back years. In 2012, Trump gave the convocation at Liberty University. One link between Trump and the couple appears to have been Cohen, a now-disbarred New York lawyer who formed a close bond with the Falwells. 
    During the campaign, Cohen worked closely with Liberty University to help promote Trump’s candidacy. It was around that time that Cohen heard from the Falwells about the photographs, said the source familiar with Cohen’s thinking. 
    The Falwells told Cohen that someone had obtained photographs that were embarrassing to them, and was demanding money, the source said. Reuters was unable to determine who made the demand. The source said Cohen flew to Florida and soon met with an attorney for the person with the photographs. Cohen spoke with the attorney, telling the lawyer that his client was committing a crime, and that law enforcement authorities would be called if the demands didn’t stop, the source said. 
    The matter was soon resolved, the source said, and the lawyer told Cohen that all of the photographs were destroyed. 


     
    Months later, in early 2016, Trump faced what seemed like an enormous challenge. The Iowa caucus was coming up, and Cohen — then deeply loyal to Trump — was concerned about how Trump would fare, the source said. Cohen felt Trump “was being slaughtered in that community,” and “didn’t want to see him embarrassed or, you know, without support,” said the source familiar with Cohen’s thinking. Cohen repeatedly reached out to Jerry Falwell, and pleaded with him to back Trump, the source said. 
    Soon after, according to this account, Falwell made his historic announcement. “I am proud to offer my endorsement of Donald J. Trump for President of the United States,” Falwell was quoted saying in a statement issued by the Trump campaign. “He is a successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again.” 
    Reporting by Aram Roston. Edited by Blake Morrison.
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    So Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and “fixer,” Michael Cohen has reported beginning his three-year prison sentence for a series of offenses, some of them done in service to Trump.

    In a press conference, apologized for his wrongs, and suggested that he had more to tell and that he looked forward to the day when he could reveal all he knows.

    Yes, we can look forward to another tell-all book on just how horrendous and corrupt Donald Trump is.

    In the meantime, he’s talking, and some of those tales told paint a vivid picture about the 2016 election. In one particular instance revealed on Tuesday, he’s talking about one of Trump’s most ardent supporters, Jerry Falwell, Jr, dean of Liberty University.

    Reuters dropped an exclusive on Tuesday, regarding an account given by Cohen to actor Tom Arnold as to how he helped “fix” a particularly sticky problem for Falwell and his wife, just months before the son of televangelist Jerry Falwell threw his public support behind then-candidate Trump.

    It wouldn’t be the first time Cohen has stepped in to help Falwell with a problem.

    Back in 2012, Falwell and his wife befriended a 21 year old pool boy at a luxury hotel in Miami, by the name of Giancarlo Granda.

    For some mystifying reason, the Falwells decided to loan this otherwise inexperienced young man $1.8 million to invest in a youth hostel, where he would serve as manager.

    He had no known business experience. He has no background in the hospitality industry, other than working as a pool attendant, but they were prepared to invest heavily, in order to help him in this venture.

    Not only that, but they were flying him around on private jets, bringing him out to be with them on the Liberty University campus.

    The odd story came to light because of a lawsuit, brought by two other investors in the Alton Hostel, Jesus Fernandez Sr. and Jesus Fernandez Jr.

    The Fernandez family feel they were pushed out of the deal, as the hostel is listed as owned by Granada (the pool boy), Falwell’s wife, Cindy Falwell, and their son, Jerry (Trey) Falwell, III.

    Granada was with the couple at a Liberty University convocation in 2012, and met Donald Trump and Michael Cohen at that event.

    Just what kind of help Cohen provided in that incident is not immediately clear, but there was some discussion.

    Tuesday’s news, however, is another level of “hhmmmm…”

    According to Reuters, several months before Jerry Falwell, Jr became the first major evangelical voice to throw his support behind Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race, Cohen was asked to bring his particularly greasy, mob lawyer tactics into play, on Falwell’s behalf.

    In a recorded conversation, reviewed by Reuters, Cohen revealed how he stepped in to stop something deeply embarrassing and personal from seeing the light of day.

    Falwell, president of Liberty University, one of the world’s largest Christian universities, said someone had come into possession of what Cohen described as racy “personal” photographs — the sort that would typically be kept “between husband and wife,” Cohen said in the taped conversation.

    According to a source familiar with Cohen’s thinking, the person who possessed the photos destroyed them after Cohen intervened on the Falwells’ behalf.

    Yikes!
    Why do I get the feeling that we’re not just talking simply boudoir photos?

    So this is where I recall some of the lessons learned from the sex counseling classes that were part of my Psychology major.

    Sex between a married, devoted couple is not a bad thing. It’s not to be treated as dirty or wrong. There should be no shame in enjoying each other, as a married couple, because that is what God intended for us.

    Touching, exploring, loving, and appreciating everything about our mates. Sex was not simply formed for the sake of procreation. Were that the case, it would be an instinctual process, just as it is for other animals. No one would derive pleasure from it.

    In fact, humans are the only living creatures that have sex for pleasure.

    As I have often said, however, sex was meant as a wedding gift, not a party favor.

    So if Jerry Falwell, Jr and his wife felt like taking some spicy images, during the course of their marital playtime, is it wrong?

    My first inclination is to say, no, not entirely.

    With that in mind, however, if it’s a case of images that somehow disrespect the marriage bed, or show some otherwise unhealthy appetites, it could be troubling.

    The husband is tasked with loving his wife as Christ loved the church, and part of that is protecting her from incidents like this.

    The next question should be: Who had those images and how did they gain access to them?

    That much we don’t know.

    The Falwells enlisted Cohen’s help in 2015, according to the source familiar with Cohen’s thinking, the year Trump announced his presidential candidacy. At the time, Cohen was Trump’s confidant and personal lawyer, and he worked for the Trump Organization.

    The Falwells wanted to keep “a bunch of photographs, personal photographs” from becoming public, Cohen told Arnold. “I actually have one of the photos,” he said, without going into specifics. “It’s terrible.”
    So the individual who had the images destroyed them, but Cohen is saying he’s retained one of them?

    And while there is no proof that this is the catalyst for Falwell’s subsequent endorsement of Trump, and his steadfast approval of Trump’s every move, it doesn’t seem particularly on the up-and-up.

    During the campaign, Cohen worked closely with Liberty University to help promote Trump’s candidacy. It was around that time that Cohen heard from the Falwells about the photographs, said the source familiar with Cohen’s thinking.

    The Falwells told Cohen that someone had obtained photographs that were embarrassing to them, and was demanding money, the source said. Reuters was unable to determine who made the demand. The source said Cohen flew to Florida and soon met with an attorney for the person with the photographs. Cohen spoke with the attorney, telling the lawyer that his client was committing a crime, and that law enforcement authorities would be called if the demands didn’t stop, the source said.
    That part is actually correct, so kudos to Cohen for managing some legit lawyering.

    With Cohen now behind bars for the next couple of years, we may not immediately get a follow-up to this story, but it’s unlikely to just go away.

    And he still has one of the images, so there’s that
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