Following, Folau’s posts a number of other sports players came out in support of the national player. Rugby fans booed English player Billy Vunipola after he ‘like’ Folau’s post. He also took to social media to say ‘Man was made for woman to pro create that was the goal no?’
But Ta’avo reaffirmed his support for the community and wore the rainbow laces again. The Chiefs collectively wore the laces after Folau’s first homophobic post last year.
Ta’avo was one of many players to affirm their love for the LGBTI community following Folau’s comments.
Another All Black player, TJ Perenara, used Twitter to pledge his support.
‘You are loved. You are valued. You are enough. You are worthy. You are deserving. I got you,’ Perenara wrote on Twitter.
I don’t even know what to say.
You are loved
You are valued
You are enough
You are worthy
You are deserving
I got you
Two lesbians engaged to be married have said they are the victims of ongoing abuse and discrimination.
Known only as GB, 27, and LS, 21, the pair said they have no respite from ongoing taunts about their sexuality. They even face from some of their friends in group chats they belong to.
The pair study psychology and cultural mediation (the study using data to analyse the cultural difference between people) respectively. They are students at the University of Padua in the northern Italian region of Veneto. Both women live on campus in the Copernicus Residence.
‘When they came to tell us that our displays of affection were too noice, we laughed, then it degenerated and we realized that this was an attack on us, because we are lesbians,’ the pair told media.
The women spoke at a press conference marking the launch of Padua Pride on 1 June. The pair were chosen because this year’s Pride theme will focus on women and feminism.
Organisers plan to link ‘traditional’ LGBTI issues to feminist issues such as overcoming discrimination and the fight against gender stereotypes. They also acknowledged the need to ‘ join forces because the continuous attacks on civil rights affects
both women and the LGBTI community’.
‘Certainly this year’s Pride has a strong feminine and feminist declination,’ said Padua Pride spokesperson, Mattia Galdiolo.
‘We cannot fail to realize that the attacks we receive as LGBTI communities are of the same matrix, if not of the same origin,
as those received by women.
‘Therefore, it will certainly be a LGBTI Pride but also a feminist one, who will know how to respond clearly to those who want to limit their rights but also to those who promote intolerance, hatred and fear of differences.’
Instead she took to Twitter to announce the passing of her mother.
‘I can only write very simple sentences,’ Letissier wrote on Twitter.
‘I lost my mother on Tuesday night.
‘I came home to go through this ordeal with my loved ones- I won’t be able to sing this Saturday. I kiss you.’
Je n’arrive qu’à écrire des phrases très simples. J’ai perdu ma mère dans la nuit de mardi. Je suis rentrée pour traverser cette épreuve avec mes proches – je ne pourrai pas chanter ce samedi. Je vous embrasse.
The cause of death is not known or if her mother’s death was unexpected.
Letissier also cancelled a performance alongside Blood Orange in Santa Barbara, California.
Christine and the Queens
Christine and the Queens shot to fame in 2014 with her debut album Chaleur humaine. Multiple media outlets including, The Guardian, The Independent and Mojo, naming it the album of the year. She released her second album, Chris, last year to critical acclaim. The Guardian named it album of the year, while Time Magazine called the first single, Girlfriend, song of the year.
The singer has often explored gender in her music, often subverting gender expectations in her videos and performances.
A 29-year-old LGBTI journalist has been murdered while reporting on ‘dissident republican activity’ in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.
A masked gunman allegedly shot Lyra McKee to death while she covered riots in Londonderry – also known as Derry – on Thursday (18 April).
Police said a group known as the New IRA ‘are likely to be the ones behind this’.
Cell phone footage shows a masked gunman crouching down and opening fire with a handgun at about 11pm. McKee was wounded as she stood by a police SUV according to police.
‘A single gunman fired shots in a residential area of the city and as a result wounded Ms McKee. Officers quickly administered first aid before transporting her in the back of a landrover to hospital,’ said Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton.
‘Tragically she died from her injuries. At this stage we believe her murder was carried out by a violent dissident republican.’
Hamilton appealed for witnesses to share information with police.
Assistant Chief Constable for District Policing Mark Hamilton | Photo: PSNI
Not long before her murder, McKee tweeted a photo of the riots with the caption ‘Derry tonight. Absolute madness’.
A journalist has been killed covering riots in Derry. Her name was Lyra McKee. She was 29. She recently signed a two-book deal with Faber, who called her a “rising star of investigative journalism”. This is her last tweet, sent from the scene of the unrest. pic.twitter.com/0gk1Fa7Du0
McKee lived in Belfast where she edited media trade publication, Mediagazer. Forbes named her on its 30 under 30 in media list in 2016.
She had published a non-fiction novella about The Troubles in Northern Ireland called Angels with Blue Faces. Publishing house Faber & Faber had also given her a two-book deal, of which the first book The Lost Boys was due for release next year.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) described McKee as ‘one of the most promising journalists’ in Northern Ireland.
Hundreds of people have paid tribute to Mckee, including British Prime Minister Theresa May who said she ‘died doing her job with great courage’.
In Memory Of | Lyra McKee | TEDxStormontWomen - YouTube
Police reported an increased in ‘dissident republican activity’. Officer carried out a raid at Londonderry’s Creggan estate on Thursday night looking for weapons.
Law enforcement thought the estate to be a hotspot for the New IRA and police worried about violence breaking out to mark the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.
Police blamed the New IRA for McKee’s murder and a for bomb attack at the Derry City Courthouse last year.
Violence against journalists on the increase
McKee’s has become the 7th journalist murdered while doing their job in 2019 and the first in the UK. This comes off the back that 2018 was one of the deadliest ever for journalists according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Before her death McKee was actually due to speak at a World Press Freedom Day event for Amnesty International.
‘Lyra was a great young journalist, whose commitment to truth was absolute and whose laughter could light up a room,’ said Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director of Amnesty International.
‘The bitter irony was that Lyra was due to speak at an Amnesty International event at the Queen’s Film Theatre in Belfast on 4 May about the dangers of reporting violent conflicts.’
Corrigan went on to say ‘journalists put themselves on the frontline in the battle for truth every single day’.
‘Every day, it becomes more dangerous for reporters to do their job on behalf of us all,’ he said.
‘Lyra McKee was one of those courageous seekers after truth, with a life ahead of her and so much to give.’
‘I felt like I was asking on behalf of a lot of people’
Describing the interaction to GSN, Stephen said: ‘It brings back goosebumps. There was no dry eye in the room at that moment.’
He furthermore added: ‘I felt like I was asking on behalf of a lot of people. To hear him say those words in his position, and those words being heard by a lot of his followers and devotees – that stuff’s huge.’
He continued: ‘The half of me was on the back foot because, I guarantee you, if they’d towed a certain line – I would have been respectful; after all you’re in his house, the Vatican – but I wouldn’t have sat there and taken it. I’d have walked out. Said “It’s not for me.”‘
Stephen is one of eight celebrities appearing in the series, alongside public figures such as Birds of a Feather’s Lesley Joseph and gameshow host Les Dennis.
The stars have been shown following in the footsteps of religious pilgrims as they walk part of the ancient Via Francigena route, a 2,000km pathway from Canterbury, England to Rome, reflecting on spirituality along the way.
Asked if his perception of the Pope’s comments have changed at all over the intervening months, Stephen answered: ‘No. Because the more I see of this current Pope, the more progressive in certain areas he does appear to be. I didn’t expect him to say what he said. I thought he was going to tow a line I’d heard other people say along the pilgrimage. “Who am I to judge?” “Only god can judge.” Blah blah blah. He was a lot more candid.’
He furthermore added: ‘To be honest, I didn’t think they’d release the footage – it was all under the control of the Vatican. They filmed everything. The BBC wasn’t allowed to have their cameras in or anything. They could’ve edited or said “We won’t give it to you.”’
The conversation in full
Stephen is heard saying to Pope Francis: ‘I lost my mother and three months ago, I buried my twin sister, who were both very religious. Me coming on this pilgrimage, being nonreligious, I was looking for answers and faith. But as a gay man, I don’t feel accepted.’
Pope Francis replies: ‘Giving more importance to the adjective than the noun – this is not good. We are all human beings and have dignity. It does not matter who you are, or how you live your life, you do not lose your dignity. There are people that prefer to select or discard people, because of the adjective. These people don’t have a human heart.’
‘I feel myself among brothers and sisters, and I have not asked any of you what your faith or belief is, because you have a basic faith in humanity. For those of you who are believers, please pray for me. For those of you who do not believe, could you wish me a good journey so I do not let anyone down.’
The Pope then embraces Stephen, who looks visibly moved and whispers ‘thank you.’
Stephen, who is currently touring Australia with his stand up show, first spoke publicly about being gay on stage at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2007.
Why do so many of us who live in cities feel lonely?
It’s a clichéd concept, really: being surrounded by people and yet feeling distant. Huge tower blocks filled with other human beings and no one makes eye-contact, no one says hello. The only touch you feel is the angry weight of another person on the tube.
Because it’s not just the big, complex feelings of emotional fulfillment or finding your soul mate that’s lacking. It’s the very fundamentals of existing as a human being. Touching another person. Looking into another’s eyes. Hugging each other.
In London, one of the biggest and loneliest cities on Earth, there’s one small club tackling this problem for gay and bisexual men.
(I visited as part of Digital Pride, the theme of this year’s being. The event, run by Gay Star News, is dedicated to making sure everyone across the globe can be a part of a Pride, whoever they are and wherever they live in the world. For this year’s event, running from 29 April to 5 May 2019, we are focusing on tackling loneliness and isolation. Find out more.)
Discovering someone’s touch
Miguel Chavez, 43, started the Gay Cuddle Club to reconnect the city’s disaffected men to the concept of intimacy.
It’s a two-hour long session of meditation and controlled touching, including cuddling and massages. For many who attend the sessions, it’s the first time they’ve felt a friendly touch in years.
Meeting Miguel, originally from Mexico, for the first time in an attic space five minutes from Tottenham Court Road, he told me: ‘Being a gay man, I noticed the lack of connections I had. We gay men are the worst enemies to one another. We are sometimes not so nice to each other and we don’t connect to each other.
Miguel Chaves, the founder of the Gay Cuddle Club | Photo: Miguel Chaves
‘Then add in applications like Grindr where what is important is how big your cock is, or whether you’re a top or bottom, rather than the connections.
‘I started this as a space where we can connect differently – where it doesn’t matter if you’re a top, or bottom, or masc or skinny.’
It’s tempting to raise your eyebrows and dismiss the Gay Cuddle Club as a pretense for an orgy. In fact, in the beginning some people did – but this is not the environment Miguel wanted to create.
‘When I first started, people genuinely thought it would be an orgy. I had one person take his penis out and start wanking.
‘In the beginning [of the club], I turned the lights off to make it more intimate, but then things started to happen. With intimacy, people think it has to come with sex. Because all the time you have intimacy, you have sex.’
Like many single gay men in London, loneliness is not a foreign concept to me. Friends start to fall into relationships and your friendship is no longer as all encompassing to them as it is to you.
I can meet any man within throwing distance of my flat interested in sex with just a few taps on my phone. But that kind of touch only makes me feel further apart from the world. I can get as much out of playing a video game as a Grindr fuck.
So the idea intrigued me. I needed to see for myself if what Miguel promised is possible – to separate the intimate from the sexual, to have genuine connections with other people without the phallic sword of Damocles hanging over us.
Inside the Gay Cuddle Club
Walking into a room where people expect to touch you and be touched by you is a weird thing. I arrived after the beginning meditation session and felt the weight of two dozen eyes fall on me at once. I walked into the dimly lit attic room and began the exercises.
Not just cuddling at the Gay Cuddle Club – you also become familiar with the feel of someone’s body | Photo: Tom Capon
The session began with us walking – in any direction – through the room, a soothing playlist singing unobtrusively in the background. Bodies weaved through each other. No one touched at this point. People only looked. I could feel the embarrassment crawling up my spine as one thought pounded through my head with every footstep: ‘Why am I here?’
Then Miguel asked us to stop and close our eyes. He told us to find the center of the room, and stop when we touch bodies.
A pause, followed by a few apprehensive steps. Miguel’s calm voice guided us through each step, deep and ethereal. It was hypnotizing. A mass of humans formed in the center, bodies leaning on each other, arms squeezed in. The heat from all these men radiated out as the sound of mismatched breathing brushed across my ears. He asked us to start touching each other.
With my eyes closed and the room dark, my skin lit up with the touch of another human being. The bodies were so tightly packed it was impossible to tell which fingers slid across my biceps, squeezed my shoulders or grazed against my hip.
My mind became hyper-focused on the sensation. I reacted in the way you’d expect in that situation. But the calming voice of Miguel lorded over all. Eventually we separated, then told to come together again – sometimes just two of us, sometimes four at a time.
The meaning of the touch began to change after so much of it. The electricity faded, replaced by something soothing. It washed over my fears and caressed something in the back of my mind.
I ended up in a pair. I followed the instructions, feeling the smooth crevasses and hard hills of his hands. His hands ran through the forest on my arms. Chavez’ voice told us to move closer and so we did – until our bodies, front-to-front, pressed against each other.
We embraced. He rested on me then I rested on he and I gave the best cuddle my body and soul could manage. When we untangled we stared deep in each other’s eyes, saying our thanks. I cried.
Why did I cry? I hug my mum. I hug my friends every time we meet. Why did this one embrace have such a profound effect on me?
For some of it, it’s a cultural aspect. The world is becoming less intimate by the day. Our phones contain the power to bring us together but instead they separate us, to the point where people flinch away from one-to-one conversations, let alone physical contact.
London is the epitome of this attitude. Just think about the atmosphere on the tube.
‘I think because it’s a big city with a lack of communication. The city of London is very big and very fast,’ Miguel said.
‘You go to buy a coffee, you can’t even talk to the person serving you the coffee.’
Many people felt the same. When we gathered outside, I spoke to the other cuddlers. Many of them were here for the same reason. People in the LGBTI community felt trapped in a world that rejected their touch.
‘They’ll suck your dick and bum you, but they won’t talk to you,’ Sean, one of the cuddlers, said about the gay scene in the city.
One person from India – who I have chosen not to name for privacy reasons – believed the seeming repulsion against contact was racism. He told me: ‘I thought it was to do with my skin color – but it was just a cultural thing.’
The Gay Cuddle Club breaks through this sensibility. It’s not that intimacy and sexuality are separate; they are eternally entwined, existing on a spectrum. We need both, just not always in their extremes.
As we begin to raise these screens up as barriers between us; as extended working hours mean we’re trapped for most of the day in an environment that forbids intimacy; as we turn sex into a game and friendship as a side hustle; the Gay Cuddle Club offers an opportunity to embrace something our bodies and souls crave.
Only by entering this oasis of sensual touching do I now realize how thirsty I am – how thirsty we all are. It shows the most obvious and difficult thing to enact: we are the solution to our loneliness problem.
What is Digital Pride?
Digital Pride is the online movement, by Gay Star News, so you can take part in Pride whoever and wherever you are. Even if you are from a country where being LGBTI is criminalized or leaves you in danger – it’s a Pride festival you can be a part of.
In 2019, Digital Pride is tackling loneliness and isolation with articles and videos connecting LGBTI people. Join us by reaching out to someone who needs it. The festival takes place on Gay Star News from 29 April to 5 May 2019. Find out more.