This idea that men are not allowed to show vulnerability


"This idea that men are not allowed to show vulnerability, be soft, intimate, etc. is toxic for everyone, including the men who try to uphold it and suppress their emotions – which results in unhealthy expressions of uncontrollable anger. Homophobia and misogyny can be expressions of toxic masculinity."

~ By Lou Constant-Desportes, AfroPunk Editor-in-Chief

From the UN: UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour addressed participants at The Economist "Pride and Prejudice" three-city event. In his speech he noted recent setbacks in global LGBT rights and emphasized that a false-narrative is being spread that LGBT rights are “alien values” and part of a “Western agenda”. He also urged the private sector to leverage its power and show that it doesn’t tolerate discrimination:

“As a general principle, I am in favor of companies standing up to that, because if they don’t, nobody else can.” 

UNAIDS hosted an event with UN Globe, UN Plus and Swiss group Pride@Work for an event featuring guest speaker Cynthia Weber, Professor of International Relations at Sussex University. Professor Weber discussed how artificial intelligence and technology can generate new opportunities, but warned that it also poses risks to the LGBTI community where privacy can be vitally important.  

More From the UN

HIV, Health, and WellnessPapua New Guinea published its first comprehensive survey on key populations, including trans people, sex workers, and gay men and other men who have sex with men. The survey, which showed that these groups often do not seek health care or get tested for HIV, will be used to create better HIV prevention and treatment services and policies. 

In the Philippines, major community-based organizations joined forces for “This is Me: Brave and Free”, a free and confidential HIV testing day held in 10 places around the country. Event organizers hoped the event would help empower youth, trans women, and gay and other men who have sex with men to “take action” in managing their sexual health.

From Kenya, The Kenyan Star published an op-ed from a health sector worker reflecting on the recent floods in Kilifi that have left many thousands homeless. Some flood victims were laughed at for requesting condoms as part of the government relief effort. However, the op-ed argued the request showed how successful AIDS prevention efforts have been and  “applaud[ed] Kilifi residents for being brave enough to appreciate the important role of condoms in HIV and STI prevention”.

From the UK, STOPAIDS published a new Factsheet that highlights the intersectional forms of discrimination, abuse, and violence that impact LGBTI individuals' ability to access health care and other human rights. The Factsheet provides case studies and examples of best practices from different organizations.

MD Magazine hosted a video panel of doctors discussing the latest therapies to prevent HIV, including new types of PrEP. In the US, the PrEP drug Truvada has been approved for use among teenagers. Although some doctors had already been prescribing PrEP for young people, the new approvals will make it easier to access and obtain insurance coverage.  Meanwhile, a review of 17 research studies suggests that as more people begin to trust PrEP, they are using condoms less and are worrying less about other sexually transmitted infections. The study authors emphasize that a direct correlation between the rise in syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia cannot be attributed to PrEP use; however, it could be a contributing factor. 

A new study suggests that guidelines may need to be adjusted on when and how to prescribe PrEP to new patients. If a person begins PreP during the window of time in which HIV tests can appear negative because a person has not yet developed antibodies, the PrEP drug can obscure follow-up tests and cause false-negatives. 

Guidelines for Hepatitis C for pregnant women, people who inject drugs, and gay men and other men who have sex with men have been updated.

In South Africa, researchers found that despite stigma and discrimination against gay men and other men who have sex with men in general health settings, health services specifically designed for those men have successful outcomes and that men seen in these specialty programs do well on antiretroviral regimens. Researchers called on an expansion to these specialized services. 

In Bhutan, a new study found that many healthcare providers are uncomfortablediscussing sexuality with patients and have poor understanding of issues impacting transgender people and gay men and other men who have sex with men. Those with less understanding also demonstrated more homophobia and fears of HIV contamination. Public health consultant Dechen Wangmo urged for more sexual education and sexual health awareness, with better training on HIV and male sexual health.

From the US, a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry reported that legislation that permits denial of services to same-sex couples because of religious or moral beliefs harms the mental health of sexual minority adults.  Researchers used statistical analysis comparing states that have implemented discriminatory laws with demographically similar states without those laws and found that discriminatory laws were associated with a 46% increase in the proportion of lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults experiencing mental distress.

A new study published in AIDS Research and Treatment evaluated the long-term impact of AIDS activism on individuals involved with the group ACT UP/New York during its peak years (1987 to 1992). Researchers found that 28 years later, participants see their activism as the “peak experience of their lives” and “dramatically contributed to positive growth”, even as participants expressed higher rates of PTSD and depression. 

A new study presented at the European Society of Endocrinology from researchers in Belgium suggested that brain scans of some transgender adolescents showed activity more in line with their gender identity than the sex they were assigned at birth. The presentation has made headlines around the world but many caution that seeking “proof” of being transgender could cause harm to individuals and encourage conversion therapy programs

More HIV, Health, and Wellness

From the World of Politics:  Canada announced it has joined the Global Equality Fund, a program to provide emergency assistance to LGBTQ persons under threat of violence. Argentina, Australia, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Uruguay, and the US, as well as international corporations are also supporters of the fund. 

In Moldova, the embassies of Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US co-signed a statement expressing support to LGBTI Moldovans and urging the government to allow peaceful demonstrations. The statement came ahead of the anniversary of a rally last year where LGBTI participants were attacked and had to be evacuated. Only two days after the letter was published, police increased their protection and fended off those trying to attack peaceful LGBTI demonstrators.

The Indonesian government working group tasked with amending the Criminal Code announced that it will propose amending the code to ban "indecent sex". For many months, Indonesia had considered specifically criminalizing same-sex intimacy. However, chairperson of the working committee, Enny Nurbaningsih, said that they "did not want the proposed [law] to give a discriminatory impression". 

In Ghana, the National Coalition for Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values announced it will present to Parliament a new draft bill to criminalize homosexuality. The coalition leader told media that the bill, titled "Comprehensive Solution Based Legislative Framework for Dealing with the Lesbianism Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Phenomenon", will be based on "scientific and empirical research" and will provide "solutions on how to best help homosexuals and at the same time prosecute them".

The Philippines Senate passed a new bill to reform the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998. The new bill promises better policies for key populations, increased education, and to “enhance” anti-discrimination. The Human Rights Watch praised the bill for its rights-based approach, but noted that it failed to include specific provisions to promote condom use. 

In Australia, the governments of Victoria and New South Wales are updating laws to allow married people to legally change their gender without being forced to divorcetheir partners. The states and territories of Australia were given 12 months to update their legislation so that it is in line with marriage equality. The federal government made same-sex marriage legal in December following a national postal vote. Activists note that some states still required forced sterilization before a gender change. 

In Chile, the government of President Sebastián Piñera confirmed it would uphold pledges made to advance human rights begun by former President Michelle Bachelet, including the promotion of marriage equality, adoption by same-sex couples, and other anti-discrimination policies.  The agreements were the result of a petition brought by the Movement for Integration and Homosexual Freedom (Movilh) before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights.

In Pakistan, at least 13 transgender people are running for election, including two for positions in the National Assembly. The candidates will be supported by the newly formed “All Pakistan Transgender Election Network”.  In Mexico, 17 cisgender men were disqualified for running for office because they were pretending to be trans women in order to meet a gender quota for the election.

Poland’s only openly gay politician, Robert Biedron, continues to be a front-runner for Poland’s presidency with polls for the 2020 election placing him in third place. In Turkey, openly gay activist and HIV+ person Hasan Atik is running for office where he hopes to continue educating and fighting for LGBT and PLHIV rights:

“I will voice our strongest wish to live a life based on equal citizenship, not positive discrimination.”

In Ontario, Canada, LGBT organization Fierté Simcoe Pride is encouraging LGBT communities to get more involved in the upcoming provincial elections. To that end, they sent all candidates a survey on specific LGBT issues. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Trudeau was awarded the Egale Leadership Award for his work fighting for LGBTQI2S (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, two-spirit) people.

In Germany, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke at a ceremony commemorating gay people persecuted by the Nazis. During his speech he acknowledged that after the war gay people continued to be persecuted through Paragraph 175 of the Criminal Code which led to the conviction of around 140,000 men. Paragraph 175 was only abolished in 1994 and Steinmeier asked for forgiveness for "for all the suffering and injustice and for the long silence that followed". 

More from the World of Politics

The Politics of Union: In Bermuda, the Domestic Partnership Act 2018 went into effect. The act prohibits same-sex marriage, though couples married before the act came into force will remain recognized as married. Moving forward, same-sex couples will only be allowed to register as domestic partners, despite the Supreme Court of Bermuda ruling in 2017 that barring same-sex couples from the institution of marriage is discriminatory. 

More from the Politics of Union

Let the Courts Decide: The Hong Kong Court of Appeal overturned the landmark decision to give the same spousal benefits to employees in same-sex marriages as those given to opposite-sex marriages. Hong Kong does not recognize same-sex marriage, and the original case was brought forward by a couple married in New Zealand. The appeals judges ruled that the government has a "legitimate aim" to protect traditional marriage and that granting spousal benefits would open the door to other benefits.

The High Court of Botswana was scheduled to hear arguments to end the laws that criminalize same-sex intimacy. However, Legabibo, the group challenging the laws, said that the case has not been given a judge and they do not know when the case will proceed.

A South African pastor was found guilty of contempt of court and violating the terms of a 2014 ruling from the Equality Court in Cape Town which banned him from making anti-gay comments. He faces a fine and up to 30 days in prison.

South Africa’s Equality Court is also preparing to hear a case brought forward by a transgender woman being held in an all-male prison against the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and the National Commissioner for Correctional Services. The court will determine if her treatment is in violation of the Equality Act. 

In the Netherlands, the Limburg District Court of Roermond ruled that official documents, including birth certificates, should allow citizens to legally identify as neither male nor female if they prefer.

In Chile, the Supreme Court has ruled that trans people can change their name and gender on state registries without a sex-change operation. 

In the US, several different transgender rights cases are making their way through the courts. The District Court in Virginia found in favor of trans student Gavin Grimmwho sued his school board in 2015 for sex discrimination when the school barred him from using the boys' restroom. Last year the Supreme Court agreed to hear Grimm’s case but in March they reversed that decision and the case went back to Virginia.

In Pennsylvania, a judge in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal ruled in favor of trans rights and against the plaintiffs who were cisgender students who claimed their right to privacy was violated by allowing trans students to use the bathroom. In Oregon, a group called Parents for Privacy are suing to prevent trans kids from using the bathroom, despite no complaints from any students from the local schools. And in Montana, the Family Foundation is petitioning to have residents vote on a new initiative that would bar trans people from using public facilities appropriate to their gender identity. 

The US courts are also preparing to hear many upcoming cases on anti-discrimination laws impacting LGBT people, including the ability to fire trans employees, refusal of services to same-sex couples, refusal of hospitals to perform hysterectomies on trans people, and refusal to allow same-sex couples to adopt or foster children as reported by Associated Press. 

More from the Courts

In the Name of Religion: South Africa’s former Dean of St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, Rowan Smith, passed away following a long hospitalization from a broken hip. Smith, who came out as gay while serving as Dean, was an anti-apartheid activist and supporter of both HIV community and LGBTI rights. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and his wife remembered him as “among the gentlest, kindest, most open-hearted and loving human beings whom we had the good fortune to call our friend and colleague”.

Media around the world reverberated with the news that Pope Francis spoke with Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean survivor of clerical sex abuse, about Cruz’s sexuality during a private meeting. Cruz claims he admitted to being gay and that the Pope responded: 

“You have to be happy with who you are. God made you this way and loves you this way, and the pope loves you this way.”

While many praised the Pope’s comments other’s were frustrated that his comments could not be spoken publicly and the Vatican refused to confirm them. A day later the Pope met privately with Italian bishops and, as confirmed by Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, he told the bishops to carefully vet and reject any applicants to the priesthood they suspect to be homosexual. 

In South Korea, the Ecumenical Consultation on Gender and Sexuality was hosted by the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK). Participating mainline Protestant churches from Asia, Europe, and North America developed “Choosing Life: Creating Communities of Welcome”, a document outlining concrete steps for Korean churches to address discrimination faced by LGBT people in Korea.  During the conference, Rev. Lizette Tapia-Raquel of Union Theological Seminary-Philippines challenged participants to think of the meaning of the word “inclusion”:

“Are we saying that as a Church, we can really exclude anyone? It is not us as a Church but is God who welcomes us all. Maybe we should change our language and stop talking about inclusion but start talking about welcoming, as God welcomes.”

More in the Name of Religion

Winds of Change: A new Gallup poll reports that the number of US population identifying as LGBT has risen to its highest levels ever. The greatest increases were shown among the youngest surveyed (between 18 - 38 years old) and among Hispanic and Asian ethnicities.
US activist and HIV educator Chandi Moore talked about how young people are embracing more diversity in sexuality and gender, but warns that they are “so lackadaisical when it comes to anything around STIs and HIV” and that education on HIV prevention must be reinvigorated.  

From India, reporter Kai Schultz interviewed gay and trans people across the country about how criminalization of gay sex has impacted their lives and about their efforts to challenge the law.

From Lebanon, Saeed Kamali Dehghan talked to people at Helem, the first community center for LGBTQI+ people in the Arab world. Helem began as an underground movement and has since expanded to provide resources and support to the community including a sexual health clinic called Marsa.  In Sweden, the city of Malmö is pitching itself as the “alternative city” and the “heart of queer life” for the region with friendly “melting pot” of communities. 

China Parents, Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) announced it is working with the China Social Assistance Foundation (CSAF) to organize the country’s first foundation to help LGBT groups fundraise and “free themselves from the influence of foreign funding”.

Writing for Slate, Alex Myers discussed the evolving language of the trans community and the history of its labels. UK magazine The Gay UK asked readers when the word “queer” is an acceptable label. And writing for Star Observer, Jesse Jone wrote on the importance of allowing people to embrace the labels that best fit themselves.

AfroPunk Editor-in-Chief Lou Constant-Deportes reflected on toxic masculinity and the hateful reactions he has encountered towards male intimacy with other men. US activist Adam Eli wrote about how idealizing and privileging certain types of bodiesover others can be dangerous: 

“The queer community is not at fault for existing within a culture that attempts to condition who and what we are sexually attracted to. However, we are certainly responsible for upholding those standards of beauty by placing certain bodies on pedestals.”

More from Winds of Change

Fear and Loathing: Researchers Sonia Corrêa, David Paternotte, and Roman Kuhar explored "transnational anti-gender campaigns" across Europe and Latin America. As they describe, these "spectacular mobilizations" have made unlikely alliances that share a common enemy and use similar strategies and language to oppose LGBTI rights.

From Russia, the Transgender Legal Defense Project released the new report "Transgender people and Russian society" based on interviews and surveys of nearly 800 people. To combat discrimination and violence faced at home and in public the researchers conclude that more education and awareness raising material and events must be created that target specific groups, including employers, health professionals, law enforcement, and teachers. 

Australian organization the AIDS Council of NSW (ACON) released a new report on historical hate crimes against gay men and trans women. The report reveals a "wave of violence"  between the 1970s and the 1990s. ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill notes that:

“By exploring the past, we hope to deepen our understanding of these events, which will help us improve current responses to LGBT hate crimes, enhance the criminal justice system and further develop violence prevention strategies.”

From Iran, reporters Mehdi Fattahi and Nassar Karimi looked at the complicated relationship for trans people in the Islamic Republic where, 30 years ago, Shiite leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a decree calling for respect of trans people. However, as they report, Iranians are highly conservative and verbal and physical abuse is common both publicly and privately.  

From Egypt, reporter Jane Arraf spoke to Ahmen Alaa, one of the over 100 people imprisoned after a rainbow flag was held up at a rock concert. Alaa described the violence he and his family suffered and what led him to seek asylum in Canada.  

From Guyana, Ashley Binetti of the Human Rights Institute reflected on the “cycle of violence, discrimination, and abuse that permeates all aspects of life” for LGBT people in the country.

UK charity Pride in Football told media that it had turned over to police numerous threats of violence it has received that suggest that any LGBT person who attends the World Cup in Russia will be “found” and attacked. Despite threats, campaign leader Joe White said he plans to carry a Pride flag to the event—officials have promised exemptions from Russia’s Anti-Gay Propaganda during the games—because he wants to show that “LGBT football fans do exist and, just as much as any fan, we’re a valid part of the game”. 

More from Fear and Loathing

On the March: In Australia, the Department of Home Affairs suggested that refugees are pretending to be LGBTI to seek asylum. In Russia, LGBT organization Stimul spoke to the Daily Beast about helping people escape Central Asian countries that are rounding up gay men. In the US, a transgender asylum-seeker originating from Honduras died while in custody of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Activists are urging the release of all trans people in ICE detention. 

The summer Pride season began rolling out across the world with Fiji hosting its first ever Pride parade after multiple previous attempts were canceled. South Korea held its first drag parade in Seoul. Guyana also held its first Pride parade kicked off by parliamentarian Priya Manickchand calling for President David Granger to hold "serious conversations" with the LGBT community.

In Antarctica, LGBTQ staff of the McMurdo Station discussed plans to hold the first ever Pride event on the continent. The upcoming event was marked with a photo taken in April, as the station will be in darkness from May to August. One of the participants, Evan Townsend, explained the picture and how important it is to have representation: 

“Just having an example of somebody who travels and can have those adventures would’ve been a great thing for me as a kid but even more so being able to see that there are queer people out there who are proud of their queerness and that in no way inhibits them from living these adventures.”

The Economist hosted its third annual “Pride and Prejudice”, a 24-hour event in Hong Kong, New York, and London to “challenge and push forward the global conversation” around LGBT diversity and inclusion. At the event, the Economist presented a new report on the changing environment for and attitudes towards corporate advocacy in support of LGBT rights across 87 countries. 

More from On the March 

School Days: The Welsh government is the latest to announce plans to improve sex and relationship education in school, including promises to make it LGBT inclusive. In the UK, openly gay teacher David Gray launched an initiative called LGBTed to encourage LGBT school leaders and educationalists to share their experiences. The launch coincided with the 30th anniversary of Section 28, the British law enacted in 1988 that prohibited local authorities and schools from “promoting” homosexuality and prevented local councils from funding lesbian and gay initiatives, even in the midst of the height of UK’s AIDS epidemic. 

In the US, an Oregon principal and an administrator were fired and a school fined $1000 after an investigation found evidence of systemic discrimination against LGBTQ students. Two students filed a complaint with the Oregon Department of Education with help from the ACLU that documented ongoing physical and verbal abuse from students, teachers, and administrators. 

More from School Days 

Business and Technology: The Human Rights Campaign Foundation partnered with IBM to launch a series of business workshops on LGBT inclusion in Colombia, Chile, Peru, Argentina, and Mexico. The series is sharing strategies and best practices to create more welcoming workplaces for LGBT employees. 

In India, 100 senior executives of multinational steel-making company Tata Steelgathered at the Mumbai headquarters to launch WINGS, a new Employee Resource Group for LGBTQ employees.

Along with marches and celebrations, Pride season brings with it plenty of merchandising. The UN Free & Equal Campaign, which has been touring to companies around the world urging them to join the UN Global LGBTI Standards of Conduct for Business, announced new partnerships with Gap Inc brands Athleta, Banana Republic, Gap, and Old Navy. Meanwhile, in the UK, clothing retailer Primark came under fire for its partnership with charity Stonewall and its Pride merchandise. Some activists questioned why the European brand was only donating to a UK organization, while others questioned the manufacturing of the merchandise in Turkey and Myanmar, where Pride events are banned and being gay is criminalized. 

More from Business and Tech

Sports and Culture: From Kerala, India, NDTV covered the celebration thrown by the Kerala Social Justice Department for the first known legally registered wedding of a trans couple. The groom's mother said:

"We are the mother and father, so we of course will support our son. She was born a daughter, but now is our son. But that's not how our relatives see this. It does get very tough. We also expect to be supported by our local mosque authorities to recognize this marriage in our community."

Using the film archive from Face of AIDS , Swedish Film maker Staffan Hildebrand is preparing a brand new documentary that will showcase AIDS activism across three decades and 50 countries.

Ellen DeGeneres and her wife Portia de Rossi met with Rwanda's President Paul Kagame to discuss the construction of the Ellen DeGeneres Campus that will be dedicated to the late Dian Fossey’s work in Rwanda.

From the US, Johnetta Elzie, leading Black Live Matter activist and co-founder of Campaign Zero—a campaign to stop police killings, publicly discussed her sexuality for the first time in a moving essay. From Japan, leading businesswoman and best-selling author Kazuyo Katsuma came out in an interview with Buzzfeed Japan and said she’s been living with LGBT activist Hiroko Masuhara. She stated: 

“After I met Hiroko, the ice in my heart melted, although it took a few years. I hope this interview article will cheer up someone and trigger a change.”

Finally, check out a preview of The Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra’s new original cantata “Bögtåget” (“The Fag Train”). Composer Fredrik Österling created the piece from the homophobic hate mail the orchestra received for performing music by LGBTI composers.

More from Sports and Culture


"This idea that men are not allowed to show vulnerability, be soft, intimate, etc. is toxic for everyone, including the men who try to uphold it and suppress their emotions – which results in unhealthy expressions of uncontrollable anger. Homophobia and misogyny can be expressions of toxic masculinity."

~ By Lou Constant-Desportes, AfroPunk Editor-in-Chief