Too Much Eye Contact: Maybe This Is Why the Government Shut Down!

Photograph by Jeff Fusco

Photograph by Jeff Fusco

So yesterday John Boehner and President Obama sat down for a face-to-face chat, and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAPPENED. Throughout the country, journalists lamented: How can this be? Isn’t a good old-fashioned tête-à-tête the best recipe for resolution in a standoff? Shouldn’t two reasonable men of wildly divergent opinions sitting eyeball to eyeball be able to work out a compromise?

Uh, no. The results of new research at Germany’s University of Freiburg show just the opposite, in startling contrast to the advice I’ve been giving my kids from the day they were born. (You know: Firm handshake, look the other person in the eye … ) Note to said kids: If you’re in search of compromise, look ’em in the mouth instead.

Read more »

The World’s First Transgender Bird?

We’ve heard of same-sex couplings in the animal kingdom, but not transgender birds. Researchers in New Zealand think they may have discovered the first one, however. Known as a bellbird, this little fine feathered friend (about the size of a sparrow) has the DNA of a female, but behaves like a male and exhibits a mix of each sex’s plumage and behavior.

Researchers told the Dominion Post News that the color balance could be due to a shock or incomplete molting process. The bird also tends to behave like males who move “deliberately” to defend food. It also sounds like both a male and female bellbird, with loud calls that are female-sounding, but in a loud pattern most closely associated with males.

The Maori name for the bird is “korimako,” though the researchers are calling this one a “butch bellbird.” It’s the first species that researchers have ever discovered showing a distinct gender mix.

“There’s something we can’t pin down,” conservationist Erin Jeneway told the paper. “We haven’t seen anything like this before.”

DADT: One Year Later

Photo by Think Stock

It’s been a year since President Obama repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), making way for openly gay and lesbian servicemen and women to serve in the U.S. military. The first academic study has recently been released by the Palm Center, indicating that despite initial claims, there has been no negative impact on military readiness, recruitment or even morale. Co-authors of the study, whose publication coincides with the anniversary of DADT repeal, include professors at the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy and U.S. Marine Corps War College.

“Even in those units that included openly LGB service members,” the report says, “and that consequently should have been the most likely to experience a drop in cohesion as a result of repeal, cohesion did not decline after the new policy of open service was put into place. In fact, greater openness and honesty resulting from repeal seem to have promoted increased understanding, respect and acceptance.”

Read more »

SURVEY: Sex is the Question

Photo by Think Stock

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) want to know even more about men who have sex with men. Whether you’re gay, bi or questioning, a new online survey has been launched – the largest of its kind – asking questions that will help researchers seeking new ways to fight HIV, AIDS and other STDs, and to better understand men’s sexual health.

It’s called Sex is the Question. It’s private. It only takes a few minutes to answer. And it even makes a donation to the It Gets Better campaign.

The survey also provides feedback. Once it’s completed, you’ll be able to compare answers with others, and you’ll even receive educational material to help inform you about sexual health – completely anonymously.

Gay and bisexual men account for more than half of all new HIV infections in the U.S. alone, according to the CDC.

What are you waiting for?

Click here to take the survey.

Gay? Straight? It’s All in the Eyes

Photo by Think Stock

Is it the way he walks? The way she talks? Probably not. But researchers at Cornell University are saying that one way to study sexual orientation is in the eyes. The study, published in Live Science, suggests that pupil dilation can indicate someone’s level of arousal depending on which gender they’re eyeing up.

The study finds that gay men who are attracted to other men experience a dilation of pupils when looking at erotic images of the same sex (while straight men responded to women and bisexuals responded to both). The same goes for women, though these results were a bit more complex as straight women in the study tended to dilate to images of both sexes even when they felt feelings of arousal for men.

“So if a man says he’s straight, his eyes are dilating towards women,” the lead researcher Ritch Savin-Williams tells Live Science. “And the opposite with gay men, their eyes are dilating to men.”

The researchers also believe this is an especially accurate testing method compared to monitoring someone’s, well, nether regions, as less people are willing to become subjects if it means having probes and other devices attached below the belt. But studying the eyes, says the researchers, opens up a whole new world to the very old question of whether “gaydar” even exists.

Have we just been looking in the wrong place for too long?

Black Guys Use Condoms More Than White Guys

Photo by Think Stock

We hear a lot about higher-than-average HIV infection rates among black males these days. But a new study by San Francisco State University finds that black men are actually using condoms more often than their white male peers. Here’s what the researchers have to say:

Black gay men, who face the highest risk of HIV infection, rarely discuss using protection, but tend to use it by default (it was “just understood”) regardless of either partner’s status. White couples, on the other hand, tended not to use condoms, often evaluating the risk of infection based on the health and viral load of the HIV-positive partner.

In cases where couples broke from their agreement and didn’t use protection, black couples tended to get tested and revert back to using condoms, while white couples persisted in not using them.

The study evaluated men in relationships – including black, white and interracial couples.

“Research has shown that some of the fastest growing HIV cases in the U.S. are among men in couple relationships and among black men. However, we studied black men with black partners and found that they are practicing safe sex,” says Colleen Hoff, professor of sexuality studies at SF State. “This suggests that being in a relationship isn’t a risk factor for black men. We need to keep searching for other factors that may explain the high incidence of HIV among this demographic.”

The findings, which were recently presented at the International AIDS Conference in Washington D.C., seem to buck plenty of closely held assumptions.

“We found that black and white gay men process the information they receive about HIV in different ways, and for black men using condoms is the default choice,” says SF State researcher Chad Campbell. “The black gay men we surveyed were aware of the high rates of HIV among their demographic and were taking steps to ensure they don’t become another statistic.”

Get Smart: Five Gay Poets

School may be out for the summer, but Questia, an online research tool, is celebration LGBT history month with a crash course in gay and lesbian poetry. In honor of Pride, the online library has compiled interesting facts about five of the most researched poets on their site. Good news is you don’t have to be a student to enjoy the works – Questia’s opened its lavender library for free for the month of June.

Read all about these top five:

Allen Ginsberg: A self-proclaimed “novelist in the making,” Ginsberg wrote about taboo topics and homosexuality as a leading figure in the Beat Generation. Over the years, he vigorously opposed sexual repression and was an early proponent of freedom for gay people, expressing himself and his beliefs openly within his poetry. We look forward to a new movie about Ginsberg’s early years – Kill Your Darlings – starring Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliff (out 2013). James Franco also channeled the Beat poet in Howl.

Check it out:

W.H. Auden: Considered to be one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, Auden penned nearly 400 poems throughout his lifetime. To avoid persecution in Nazi Germany for being gay, Auden married the daughter of a fellow writer, but later met poet Chester Kallman who would become his lifelong companion.

Read more »

What’s In an LGBT Community Center?

Courtesy of William Way

Despite the slow economic recovery, 179 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community centers nationwide manage to provide vital resources to 1.7 million people annually. This is according to a new report released this week by CenterLink, a national coalition of LGBT Community Centers, and the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), a national think tank conducting research on behalf of LGBT communities.

Philadelphia’s own William Way LGBT Community Center, which participated in the national survey, is among those community centers that have seen growth – both financially and through its programs – over the past several years. As one of the only LGBT community centers in the United States that privately owns its facility (with approximately 29,000 square feet of usable space), the William Way offers an assortment of activities and support services to the more than 5,000 LGBT individuals and straight-allies who participate in monthly programs.

The William Way is also among the only centers in the country that are open 365 days a year. The center’s also open 68 hours a week and offers among the largest number of service hours among LGBT centers nationally. That’s something to be proud of, Philly.

Read more »

The Realities of Transgender Aging

Thanks to Sage (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), transgender men and women have a new guidebook on what to anticipate as they get older. Improving the Lives of Transgender Older Adults: Recommendations for Policy and Practice not only takes on the current state of transgender aging, but also anticipates the challenges that older adults will face in their lifetimes – including disparities in health and healthcare access, employment and housing.

“Transgender individuals face many challenges associated with aging, including declining health, diminished income and the loss of friends and family. Yet they also face additional challenges such as discrimination and hostility when accessing the services meant to support older adults,” says Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE. “Now, with this report, policymakers and aging service providers will gain a clear picture of the current state of transgender aging, and a roadmap of what they can do to improve policies and practices to ensure that transgender older adults age successfully.”

Is Gaydar Real?

Gay or straight? (courtesy of University of Washington)

You know that feeling you get when you meet someone and pretty much know without a doubt that he or she is batting for the lavender team? Scientists at the University of Washington think they may have found proof that gaydar really does exist – at least among college students.

A new study suggests that first impressions really do play a big part in the way people are perceived romantically and by potential employers. The study, published in PLoS One, asked students at the university to take a look at pictures of men and woman from all walks of life – and to guess his or her sexuality simply by looking at the photos for a few seconds.

The results?

Read more »

« Older Posts