Pakistani LGBT community dares to dream after India ruling

Pakistani LGBT community dares to dream after India ruling

A supporter of India’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community takes part in a pride parade in Chennai. Photo: AFP The Supreme Court of India’s historic verdict to decriminalize gay sex earlier this month was met with celebration among the the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community of neighboring Pakistan.

However, the Pakistani LGBT community must continue to live with Section 377, the 157-year-old British colonial era law criminalizing homosexual sex that lives on in the Pakistan Penal Code.

Unlike their Indian counterparts, the Pakistani LGBT community has long faced stiffer opposition to their very existence. This is because of the prevalence of Sharia law in the shape of Hudood Ordinances which were added to the Penal Code under the Islamist dictator Zia-ul-Haq in 1977.

Under Hudood laws the punishment for homosexual sex is stoning until death. This is why almost all LGBT members keep their sexuality a secret and usually connect with other homosexuals through the Internet, where most use pseudonyms to hide their identities.

In interviews with Asia Times, LGBT members expressed jubilation over the Indian Supreme Court verdict, saying that the decision allows the local movement to “dare to dream”.

“I know we’re still ages away from having our existence recognized, let alone being accepted as who we are, but decisions like the Indian Supreme Court decriminalizing homosexuality or the US Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage across the country gives us hope,” says Ayesha, a communications professional who has been living with her female partner in Lahore for the past five years.

“Ironically, it is easier for us to live together than a heterosexual unmarried couple, but the fact that our love isn’t recognized as such hurts us. But moves like the one in India allow us to dare to dream that one day hopefully Pakistan will legalize same-sex marriages as well.”

Pakistan’s resistance against homosexuality is not just domestic. The state has opposed all moves at the United Nations to recognize LGBT rights.

In 2003, Pakistan was among the five Muslim countries that derailed the United Nations bid to take up its first ever resolution on homosexual rights. In 2008, a 57-state bloc that included the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation members opposed the resolution again.

In 2011, when the first ever resolution for LGBT rights was passed 23-19, Pakistan was among those that voted ‘No’. The state also voted against LGBT rights in 2015.

“These resolutions asked for recognizing the basic rights of the LGBT, and not to legalize same-sex marriage for instance,” notes Asim, a professor at a top university, who has only come out as gay in front of a few trusted friends.

“Pakistan’s vote against the UN resolutions basically is a refusal to recognize LGBTs as human beings. That in turn is because so many among the population hold such venomous views against us,” he adds.

A 2013 Pew survey revealed that 87% of Pakistanis want harsh punishments for homosexuality. LGBT activists maintain that the prevalence of such sentiments, fuelled by the spread of Islamism, means that it would take a considerable amount of time for the local community to overcome the radical inertia.

“We’re decades away from such developments owing to the rising radicalization. We don’t even have an established LGBT movement. We don’t campaign openly and actively against Section 377, we [have to focus on] human rights abuses,” says Salman, a Karachi-based journalist and activist.

Salman adds that the Pakistani LGBT movement was established with the help of their Indian counterparts. “I’ve seen Indian activists and their sacrifices. The movement behind 377 was decades old. The most beautiful thing about it was that it was led by the community and [supported by] allies.”

Activists maintain that fissures within the LGBT community are further damaging their cause. These have become more prominent after a landmark transgender rights bill was passed in May this year. Despite it, discussion of homosexuality remains taboo.

“We have veteran trans activists like Almas Bobby coming on TV criticizing us and saying that gays are using their movement to come forward. Unfortunately, there are elements within the trans movement who oppose gay rights,” Salman maintains.

However, there are prominent activists urging the LGBT community to stick together and derive strength from one another. Among these is Aradhiya Khan who maintains that the transgender rights law should be a springboard for gays and lesbians in Pakistan.

“We should remain at peace with ourselves and not let others get to us. We can’t discriminate against people within our LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer/questioning and intersex) circles, just because of age, color, race, class or religion. We can’t impose restrictions and shun those who we think don’t belong with our groups,” she said while talking to Asia Times.

“For the Pakistan LGBTQI community this is high time to be who you are and resist the forces that are out there to stand against your love and your feelings,” she added.

Some names have been changed to protect the individuals.

Man charged with hate crime after knocking two gay men unconscious in Brooklyn

Man charged with hate crime after knocking two gay men unconscious in Brooklyn

New York Police have arrested a man accused of knocking two gay men unconscious in a homophobic attack that took place in Brooklyn on Sunday (September 23).

Authorities have charged the suspect, 25-year-old Brandon McNamara, with assault as a hate crime, two counts of assault, aggravated harassment as a hate crime and harassment as a hate crime in the first and second degrees, according to the New York Post.

McNamara, a consultant with the accounting firm Ernst and Young (EY) from Queens, surrendered himself to the police station around 8am on Wednesday. He gave no statement to the police and has no previous criminal record, CBS New York reported . A police car is parked at a crime scene where three people were shot on June 10, 2015 in the Gowanus area of the Brooklyn Borough of New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty) Police released an image of the suspect after the attack left a 34-year-old with a fractured shoulder and a 29-year-old with a fractured finger. According to investigators, McNamara first approached the two men making anti-gay comments and then attacked them, punching the 34-year-old and throwing the 29-year-old against a tree. The two victims received treatment in hospital for their injuries.

The attack took place in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn on Metropolitan Avenue, a street crowded with bars and eateries, including the nearby Metropolitan gay bar.

NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot F. Shea credited cooperation with the community as he shared news of the arrest on Twitter on Wednesday. “In partnership with the community, an arrest has been made in the 9-23-18 Hate Crime assault in Brooklyn in which a gay couple was brutally attacked,” he wrote.

A video uploaded by New York news station PIX11 reporter Henry Rosoff shows the suspect exiting the police station, being led away in handcuffs, giving no answer to journalists’ questions. Brandon McNamara, 25, accused of attacking a gay couple in Williamsburg. Silent as he was walked out of NYPD 7th Precinct pic.twitter.com/rl1kR7fyL6 — Henry Rosoff (@HenryRosoff) September 26, 2018 McNamara has been suspended from his job pending the active investigation. “The alleged conduct is abhorrent to all EY stands for including our culture of diversity and inclusion,” an EY spokesperson said in a statement to NBC News.

Hate crimes in the US against LGBT+ people have been on the increase in the past few years, according to FBI data . 17 percent of all hate crime victims in 2016 were targeted because of their sexual orientation.

Producer and director Ryan Murphy dedicated his recent Emmy win for Netflix’s limited series The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story to victims of LGBT+ hate crime.

In his acceptance speech for the Best Limited Series or TV Movie Award , Murphy said: “One of out of every four LGBTQ people in this country will be the victim of a hate crime. We dedicate this award to them, to awareness, to stricter hate crime laws, and mostly, this is for the memory of Jeff and David and Gianni and for all of those taken too soon.”

Christian homeless shelter sues for right to bans trans women

Christian homeless shelter sues for right to bans trans women

The Downtown Soup Kitchen at the Hope Center. (Downtown Soup Kitchen Hope Center/Facebook) A Christian-run homeless shelter in Alaska has filed a religious freedom lawsuit, which would allow it to deny providing refuge to trans people.

The Downtown Soup Kitchen Hope Center in Anchorage has lodged the case after a trans woman made a discrimination complaint, and claims the trans women could make the women-only shelter unsafe.

According to the lawsuit, trans woman Jessie Doe was first refused a space in the women’s shelter, which opened in 2015, because she “smelled strongly of alcohol” and the centre does “not accept individuals who were inebriated.” The women’s shelter opened in 2015. (Downtown Soup Kitchen Hope Center/Facebook) Doe then returned to the shelter the next day but was not allowed in because, the lawsuit reads, she “had not stayed the previous evening which is required by Shelter policy and because Doe sought entry at a time when the shelter was not accepting new guests.”

The shelter is being represented by the anti-LGBT+ Christian firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which also represented Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who was backed in a Supreme Court ruling in June after he refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

The lawsuit is challenging city of Anchorage, the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission and its executive director.

“It would not only be dangerous and against common sense, but it would violate the Hope Center’s sincerely held religious beliefs to admit biological men into its shelter and allow them to sleep side by side and disrobe next to women, some of whom have been assaulted by men and fear for their safety,” the lawsuit states. Downtown Soup Kitchen has been running for more than 30 years. (Downtown Soup Kitchen Hope Center/Facebook) The Downtown Soup Kitchen, a non-profit organisation, has been running for more than 30 years.

It provides services including shelter, food and showers to homeless people.

David Dinielli, deputy legal director for civil rights organisation Southern Poverty Law Center, told local news station KTUU: “What they are doing is trying to use their own purported religious beliefs to impose them on others and kick LGBT people out from spaces, from schools, from bakeries and apparently in now in Anchorage, also from shelters.

“In our most vulnerable moments they think that their right to hate should trump our right to live. This is not the Alaska way. This is not the Anchorage way.”

The lawsuit was quietly filed on August 16. According to KTUU, Anchorage will respond to the lawsuit later in September. No evidence trans women make women-only spaces less safe

Studies do not support the claim that trans women could cause safeguarding issues for female-only spaces.

What it’s like being a drag queen with Down’s Syndrome

What it’s like being a drag queen with Down’s Syndrome

Otto describes life as a drag performer as being very similar to that of a superhero—”By day I am a man, and by night I am a drag queen.”

Otto has been touring the UK as drag persona, Horrora Shebang, with a collective called Drag Syndrome.

Drag Syndrome is paving the way for more inclusivity in the drag scene and recently took their troop of queens to perform at London’s Sink the Pink festival.

Otto told PinkNews that it’s good to have Down’s Syndrome as a drag queen as it helps to open people’s minds.

“It’s really exciting,” he added, while having his make-up done by Drag Dreams’ James Adisai at the PinkNews shoot, in which he revealed more details about his experience with Drag Syndrome. Q. What is it like to be on tour as a drag performer?

A. “I like all the gay clubs,” he said. “My favourite thing about drag is meeting old faces and new faces, and all the drag artists.

“I also like doing lots of make-up and the clothes as well. I like performing drag because I like being on stage – I’m a bit feisty, I’m a bit of a fight talker.

“I’ve got my own fabulous life and I like to explore new stuff.”

Q. How would you describe your persona?

A. “Horrora Shebang is very powerful, she is really drag, darling. She likes a bit of Barbie.”

“She’s sexy, sassy and a bit hilarious.” Horrora Shebang (Drag Syndrome) Q. What do your fans say?

A. “Well done, Otto, what an amazing actor and amazing performer, you could get your own award.”

Q. Do you get any negative comments?

A. “Who’s that twat over there? Who’s that stupid Downsy?”

Q. What do you say to the haters?

“F*** you all, I’m an important actor and you lot are just low down little f***ers.” Otto in drag (PinkNews) Q. What is Horrora Shebang’s top tips for being a fabulous drag queen?

A. “Don’t be scared, don’t be nervous. If you get too much nervous, you could lose your lines.

“You need to focus, you need to be comfortable and you need stage presence.”

Who is Alex Landi? Grey’s Anatomy’s hot new gay doctor Nico Kim

Who is Alex Landi? Grey’s Anatomy’s hot new gay doctor Nico Kim

Alex Landi (Instagram) Grey’s Anatomy is introducing a hot new gay doctor in Season 15.

The new season of the Shonda Rhimes’ medical drama will feature its first ever gay romance between two men, with the addition of Alex Landi to the cast.

Landi will play Dr Nico Kim , who will be introduced during Grey’s ‘ Season 15 premiere. Kim is the first openly gay doctor to be featured on the show.

According to cast members, Kim could possibly get involved with one of the interns at Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital.

Talking to PopSugar, Giacomo Gianniotti, who plays Dr Andrew DeLuca, hinted at a power dynamic between Kim and his character. Doctor Kim will see you now

The show has featured queer female surgeons, but never a queer male surgeon. (ABC) “He catches the eye of one of the interns, and it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out,” said James Pickens Jr, who plays Dr Richard Webber.

Landi is relatively new to Hollywood, with his onscreen credits dating back to just 2016. Grey’s is the Italian-Korean actor’s big break.

“Very grateful. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible. Watch me take on the role of Dr. Nico Kim for the season 15 premiere on Sept 27th 8pm on ABC,” he wrote on his Instagram account.

Before dipping his toes into acting, Landi wanted to be a professional tennis player. After seeing a Broadway performance of The Lion King , he became passionate with acting.

He trained at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York, a prestigious school attended by the likes of Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Alec Baldwin, Uma Thurman and Sienna Miller. He also travelled to China to train in martial arts. Grey’s Anatomy’s queer history

Callie and Arizona’s relationship was a landmark moment in TV history (ABC) Of course, Grey’s has explored queer relationships before. It’s hard to forget Dr Callie Torres’ journey to understanding her bisexuality and meeting fellow surgeon Arizona Robbins. But Nico Kim will be the first gay surgeon to appear on the show.

This season has been dubbed the “season of love” by cast members, and Dr Kim will definitely be enjoying some action himself.

Grey’s Anatomy Season 15 premieres on September 27.

Russell Tovey defends Jack Whitehall as gay Disney character: ‘Just let him act’

Russell Tovey defends Jack Whitehall as gay Disney character: ‘Just let him act’

Russell Tovey has backed Jack Whitehall being cast as Disney’s first gay character. (John Phillips/Getty Images) Russell Tovey has defended the casting of Jack Whitehall as Disney’s first gay character, saying: “Just let him act.”

Whitehall received a mixed reaction from the LGBT+ community when he was cast as Disney’s first ever gay character in upcoming movie Jungle Cruise in August.

Now, openly gay Tovey, who is currently starring in two plays at the West End’s Harold Pinter Theatre, has weighed in on the debate in a new interview with The Telegraph , backing Whitehall.

“If you’re an actor, you’re an actor,” Tovey told the paper. “The whole thing with Jack playing a gay character… I’m like, just let him act. It’s like me saying I could never play a straight character because I am not going to know a straight person’s thoughts.

“I’ve always been out, and happy with the range of characters I’ve been offered. I’ve had the most amazing opportunities.”

Other actors, including Idris Elba , have defended Whitehall for playing the role.

Speaking to Time Out London about the dispute, he said: “Artistic licence is artistic licence. If an actor has the attributes to do something, they should be able to do it. They’re acting. Actor Jack Whitehall. (Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for BFI) “You don’t necessarily have to be gay to play a gay character. Though you do have to be black to play a black character.”

Recent polling also found that despite concerns within the community, the public at large doesn’t object to Whitehall’s casting.

A YouGov poll in the UK looked into the debate, asking: “A heterosexual actor has been cast as the first major gay character in a Disney film. Which of the following statements comes closest to your view?” The polling found that 70 percent of people believe “it is acceptable for a heterosexual actor to be cast in this part,” while just 12 percent believe “a gay actor should have been cast in this part.” Idris Elba recently supported Whitehall in his role. (Stuart C. Wilson/Getty) 18 percent answered “don’t know,” possibly inflated because the question did not provide for people who don’t think the part is acceptable.

Jungle Cruise , which is based on Florida’s Disneyland ride of the same name, stars Dwayne Johnson as a boat captain taking two siblings on a mission into the jungle to find a magic tree. It will also star Emily Blunt.

According to reports, Whitehall is set to play the brother of Blunt’s character, who is a “hugely effete, very camp and very funny” figure that “makes clear he has no interest in women.”

The comedian said: “I’m so honoured to be part of this epic adventure.

“Filming is underway and I am having the time of my life with my amazing co stars.

“It’s so cool to be part of something of this scale and also as possibly one of the biggest Disney nerds on the planet so exciting to be working on a project with this much history.”

If true, it will be Disney’s first foray into LGBT+ characters in film, having relaxed its long-standing policy that prevented LGBT+ content.

Several shows on the Disney Channel have had LGBT+ characters since the abrupt change in 2014 , but it has taken longer for Disney’s film output to show any signs of becoming LGBT+ inclusive.

Ryder Cup 2018: European underdogs out to tame US superstars at Le Golf National

Ryder Cup 2018: European underdogs out to tame US superstars at Le Golf National

Europe are looking to regain the Ryder Cup on home soil after 17-11 defeat by the US in 2016 You look at the comparative strengths of the two teams here on this sun-kissed south-west corner of Paris for the Ryder Cup and you see a clear underdog story. The US has the superstars, the young guns, the majors and the money. Europe has the outside chance.

But the Ryder Cup is always an underdog story. The Ryder Cup seldom follows easy logic. It transforms some into champions and turns others weak-kneed. It draws in so much hype and then usually surpasses it.

And so statistics which should cause palpitations for the hosts can be turned on their head. The American team has 31 majors between them to Europe’s eight, but the man who has by far the most, Tiger Woods, has been part of only one victory in seven appearances.

The US has six of the last eight major winners in its line-up, but in only two of the last eight Ryder Cups has the team with the most major winners emerged victorious.

Jim Furyk’s team contains 11 of the top 20 players in the world rankings; Thomas Bjorn’s Europe has just six. Yet in 2004 Europe had only one player in the world top 10, and humiliated Hal Sutton’s men by nine points in their own backyard. In 2002 the US had five of the world’s top 10 and still lost at the Belfry.

In the warm autumnal days at Le Golf National this week, Bjorn has been taking comfort and more from these contradictory precedents.

These last few hours before the competition begins are strange ones. It is part Christmas Eve and part purgatory, a wait that can feel endless for one of the finest days in the sporting year.

Just as the hyper-colour and birdsong of the Masters calls in the start of the northern hemisphere spring, so the Ryder Cup always seems to draw the last of the summer heat into autumn: clear dewy mornings giving way to pale blue skies and golden leaves.

Speculation fills the warm air, because there is little else to do but speculate. The Ryder Cup crams so much drama into its three days that it sucks the life out of those that precede it. You walk the course and you wait. You watch the practice groups going out and you guess.

It is 25 years since the US last won away from home. Their last three visits to Europe have brought a mutiny (Gleneagles), a soaking (Celtic Manor) and a mangling (the K Club). Recent results Year Venue Result 2016 Hazeltine, Minnesota US won 17-11 2014 Gleneagles, Scotland Europe won 16½-11½ 2012 Medinah, Illinois Europe won 14½-13½ 2010 Celtic Manor, Wales Europe won 14½-13½ 2008 Valhalla, Kentucky US won 16½-11½ 2006 K Club, Ireland Europe won 18½-9½ Furyk will believe his men can put that sorry record right both because he has pairings this time around that feel natural and look dangerous: the tried and tested Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, the near-neighbours Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler; the youth and experience of Bryson DeChambeau and Tiger Woods, the twin bombers of Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka.

It may be harder for Bjorn. Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson are his old reliables, but Stenson’s form is not the given it once was. Jon Rahm is unlikely to form a Spanish dream-team with Sergio Garcia because the two are not close; more likely is that Rahm is paired with his fellow Arizona State alumnus Paul Casey. Do you put Open winner and Tiger tamer Francesco Molinari with Rory McIlroy, or do you throw in the heartbeat of Ian Poulter?

Even without Woods’ extraordinary come-back win at the Tour Championship in Atlanta last weekend, this was an American team that looked as strong as any since the iteration of 1981, when only one player, Bruce Lietzke, was not a major winner. What will concern the home support is that some of the cracks that have traditionally weakened seemingly impregnable US teams are not yet visible this time around.

There are friendships, most noticeably between the young firebrands Spieth, Thomas and Fowler. There is buy-in from those who previously have been left cold by the competition, Woods and Watson. There is a captain who has seen both sides of the Cup and is unlikely to crack under the strain as poor old Tom Watson did four years ago.

There is a familiarity too with the course that was not evident on the only previous occasion the Ryder Cup has come to mainland Europe, at Valderrama in 1997. Spieth, Watson, Phil Mickelson and Tony Finau all played Le Golf National this summer; Thomas tested himself on its undulations during the French Open, Koepka earlier in his career.

The European team is heavy with rookies. There are five of them, including several who could walk the streets of Paris safe from public recognition: Thorbjorn Olesen, Tyrrell Hatton, Alex Noren.

But then Noren has won on this course before, and another of the rookies, Tommy Fleetwood, feels nothing like a rookie at all. And the leading points scorer for Europe last time around was debutant Thomas Pieters, with four points from a possible five in an otherwise one-sided defeat at Hazeltine.

Bjorn will trust in those paradoxes of old. He also understands how important momentum will be. He watched on as a vice-captain two years ago as the US took a stranglehold they would never lose with a 4-0 lead at lunchtime on the Friday; he was vice-captain again in 2012 when the fourball pairings of Garcia and Luke Donald and then McIlroy and Poulter nicked the last two points on the Saturday evening at Medinah to make it 6-10 going into Sunday’s singles rather than 4-12, and set up the miracle to follow.

And so you favour the US to retain their trophy, even as you understand the case for another unlikely European triumph. The only guarantee is that it will not disappoint.

McIlroy against Reed last time out touched heights that strokeplay can only occasionally match. Garcia’s scrap behind them with Mickelson may have been even better. The waiting is bearable because it is always worthwhile.

Hair: The musical that ‘changed theatre forever’

Hair: The musical that 'changed theatre forever'

The show made a huge impact on the previously staid world of West End musicals On 27 September 1968 the curtain fell on centuries of theatre censorship. Hours later, a cast of long-haired young actors took to the stage in a show depicting drug-taking, anti-war protests and shocking nudity. London’s West End was never the same again.

Hair was a musical that placed the 1960s counterculture on stage. It thrust bisexuality, interracial relationships and the rejection of monogamy in front of audiences who had previously been "protected" from such taboo subjects.

In a theatre first, one scene featured the cast appearing from behind a sheet, fully naked and chanting the words "beads, flowers, freedom, and happiness".

Despite lasting just seconds, it was considered scandalous and resulted in many audience members walking out of the Shaftesbury Theatre, dinner jackets in hand. The show broke more new ground by employing a predominantly young cast From top to bottom: Actors Peter Straker, Paul Nicholas, Annabel Leventon and Oliver Tobias during rehearsals Prior to the autumn of 1968, any reference to homosexuality, bisexuality and nude performances would have been considered too outrageous to be shown on a British stage.

Even something as seemingly harmless as a reference to Walt Whitman’s poetry collection, Leaves of Grass, in John Osborne’s play Personal Enemy, was banned because it was seen as a codified reference to homosexuality.

But as the Lord Chamberlain’s powers of censorship – which dated back to 1737 – came to an end, the cast of Hair began preparing for its opening night.

The risqué show, written by out-of-work actors Gerome Ragni and James Rado, had already proven a hit in New York the year before.

A young David Bowie auditioned for a part – four times in total – but was never invited to join the London cast (he later attended a performance but reportedly came away "unimpressed"). Although the opening was planned for 29 July, Hair actually opened on 27 September after waiting for the Lord Chamberlain’s stage censorship rules to be revoked. The middle poster was issued for the first production on 27 September, and the third advertised the musical’s fourth year at Shaftesbury Theatre The musical told the story of the "tribe", a group of politically active hippies living a bohemian existence in New York City.

Its main protagonist Claude, played by 23-year-old Paul Nicholas, lived a life characterised by the pursuit of love, peace and sexual revolution – but faced a battle with his family who wanted him to fight in Vietnam.

The hippies’ long hair – and the title of the show – was a symbol of their defiance.

"You would have had to have your hair cut when going into the military and therefore the name Hair is highly symbolic," says Geoffrey Marsh, director of the V&A’s Department of Theatre and Performance.

Nicholas, who along with Elaine Page and Oliver Tobias subsequently became a household name, still remembers the outrage the nude scene provoked. The play made stars out of ‘kids off the street’: Oliver Tobias, Annabel Leventon and Paul Nicholas "Fifty years ago there was no nudity in commercial theatre – so it was a big change," he said.

"But looking back, the ‘shocking’ nude scene which was widely spoke about wasn’t even that bad – it was nicely done. It wasn’t salacious or anything like that.

"But some people walked out of the theatre, you know, in disgust."

Annabel Leventon played Sheila in the original cast on the London stage.

"On the first night, and it never happened anywhere else in the world – as far as I know – the cast of Hair went out into the auditorium," she told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour . Annabel Leventon at the Shaftesbury Avenue Theatre "We danced in the aisles, sat on the audiences’ laps, frightened them, and at the very end of the show we all ran out singing Let the Sun Shine In and went back on stage and the whole audience followed us [back on stage].

"That’s when we realised the show made a greater change in Britain than anywhere else.

"Hair really shocked and changed the world of theatre forever."

Hair continued to strike a chord with audiences for the next five years.

This was despite opening to decidedly mixed reviews. WA Darlington, of the Daily Telegraph, had insisted he "tried hard" but found the evening "a complete bore".

However, the predominantly middle-aged white male critics were not the show’s intended audience and it went on to run for 1,997 performances until 1973.

Simon Sladen, of the V&A Museum, said the show soon had an impact on the rest of the West End.

Once censorship was revoked, some playwrights and producers would "binge" on things that had previously been forbidden. Not long after Hair’s West End debut, The Woodstock Music and Art Fair – the most famous of the 1960s rock festivals – began "The youth movement could finally come alive in the theatre – full of energy and vitality," he said.

"Hair was like a festival on the stage – an anarchic explosion of all things anti-establishment."

Nicholas, who met his future wife Linzi while working on the show, agrees.

"Everyone wanted to do a nude scene, or have the cast swear on stage," he said.

"It’s as if they were getting it out of their system because we’d been suppressed for so long."

Graduated driving licences: ‘The crash was down to inexperience’

Graduated driving licences: 'The crash was down to inexperience'

Caitlin Huddleston and Skye Mitchell were both 18 when they died Aidan Huddleston was lying in bed on a Friday evening when he got a call telling him his girlfriend Skye and his sister Caitlin were dead.

"I kind of realised in that moment in time, my future that I’d had with Skye, and my sister’s future, had just been completely removed – and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it," he tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

Skye Mitchell had been driving her friends Caitlin Huddleston and Ellis Marr to a restaurant near Millom in Cumbria, where they lived in July last year.

The road was new to Skye, who had only passed her test four months earlier.

She was travelling fast, but within the speed limit. It was wet.

As she turned a corner, she lost control of her car, and hit a van. Aidan was at home when he found out Skye had been killed "I’d just got home from work, was lying in bed, falling asleep actually," says Aidan.

"Then the light of my phone lit up, and I noticed I had numerous messages and missed calls."

Aidan, 24, found out that night that his girlfriend and his sister had died at the scene. They were both 18.

Ellis, who was in the back seat, and the 51-year-old driver of the van were both airlifted to hospital.

Ellis stayed in hospital for five months. The van driver is still there , 14 months after the crash. ‘It was all down to inexperience’

Caitlin, Ellis and Skye had been friends since primary school "We do not blame Skye whatsoever for what happened," says Aidan.

"There was nothing she could have done I believe on that night. It was all down to inexperience."

That’s the reason Skye and Caitlin’s families are calling for graduated driving licences (GDLs).

A GDL means that there would be restrictions for new drivers – for example a night curfew and a limit on the number of passengers they can carry.

Those restrictions could last one or two years and then be lifted as drivers gain more experience. Aidan says that "this whole situation wouldn’t have occurred" if GDLs were already in place. "It would prevent injuries to people and it would stop families having to go through what mine and Skye’s family has gone through," he says.

An RAC Foundation report from earlier this year estimated that 281 fewer people a year would be killed or seriously injured if GDL was introduced across England, Wales and Scotland.

Northern Ireland, which already has some limits on new drivers, including a 45mph speed limit for the first year, plans to introduce the GDL in 2020.

Data from other countries which have GDLs, such as the US and New Zealand , seems to suggest it lowers the number of people killed or seriously injured by young drivers. ‘It shouldn’t disadvantage young people’

Trudy Harrison was driving nearby on the night of the crash Trudy Harrison is the Conservative MP for the area where Caitlin and Skye were from. She was driving near her office in Bootle on the night of the crash and was diverted as a result.

"I later learned that Skye and Caitlin were involved because my daughters came rushing downstairs to tell me about it," she tells Newsbeat.

"These young girls were very much part of our community."

And although Trudy Harrison agrees "something needs to be done" to protect young drivers, she’s "not in favour of all aspects of the graduated driving licence".

"I represent a very rural area in West Cumbria, and I’m very concerned that whatever is brought in should not disadvantage young people economically, in an area where we just cannot rely upon public transport."

Some examples she gives are of young parents with their children in the car or people who work outside of normal hours.

She would like to see better tuition for learner drivers, cheaper insurance on safer cars – and even suggests virtual reality technology as a way to help hazard perception. ‘This isn’t a punishment’

The crash happened on the A595 near Bootle The coroner who carried out the inquest the deaths of Skye and Caitlin has also called for GDLs to be brought into the whole of the UK.

"This isn’t a punishment on young drivers," says Aidan.

"This whole graduated driving licence is here to help save lives."

He does say that if the GDL was in place when he was a new driver "it would be more difficult socialising with friends, but still not impossible".

But he wouldn’t trade the lives that would be saved "for a bit of a laugh with my friends".

Road safety charity Brake supports GDLs.

"The government must act now to put an end to this daily tragedy and introduce graduated driver licensing, a safety measure which is proven to work and reduce young driver crashes," Joshua Harris, Brake’s director of campaigns, said in a statement.

The Department for Transport says it has decided to use the introduction of GDLs in Northern Ireland as a pilot to gather evidence on the potential for GDL across the rest of Great Britain. ‘You’ve got to keep going’

Caitlin, Aidan and their sister Hannah More than a year on from the crash, Aidan says: "It certainly doesn’t get easier, you just cope with it better.

"Some days you wake up and you don’t want to do anything, but you’ve got to keep going."

"We truly were in love with each other," he says about Skye.

"It would only ever get easier again if they were back here."

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Homophobic article gets Japanese magazine suspended indefinitely

Homophobic article gets Japanese magazine suspended indefinitely

Pretoria to host a spectacular Cirque du Soleil inspired Pride parade People celebrating Pride in Tokyo | Photo: Facebook/Tokyo Rainbow Pride A homophobic article — and several follow-up articles — has led to the indefinite suspension of a Japanese magazine.

Shinchosha Publishing Co. announced Tuesday night (25 September) that it is essentially folding one of its magazines, Shincho 45. Its October issue will be its last.

Founded in 1985, its problem stem from an article published in their August issue by Mio Sugita. Sugita is a junior lawmaker in the ruling political party, the Liberal Democratic Party.

Shinchosha Publishing President Takanobu Sato said Sugita’s article had ‘outrageous prejudice’ and a ‘lack of understanding’ towards LGBTI people.

Sugita’s article described LGBTI people as ‘unproductive’ when it comes to childbirth. Due to this reason, she argued taxpayer money shouldn’t support same-sex couples.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke out about Sugita, saying she needs to be ‘more mindful of her words’. He also said the article hurt because he is childless.

Regardless, he did not call for her to step down. Then it got worse

In its issue this month, Shinco 45 made matters worse.

They published seven new articles defending Sugita’s original piece with a series called, ‘What’s so Wrong About the Mio Sugita Article?’

Conservative commentator Eitaro Ogawa wrote one of the contributing articles. In his piece, he compared the LGBT community to ‘SMAG’, a term he made up himself, which stands for: sadist, masochist, ass fetish, and groper.

Ogawa further argued that if people have a right to protect individuals in the LGBT community, ‘shouldn’t our society also protect the rights of gropers (who) can’t resist the urge to grope once they have caught a whiff of a female’s smell on a crowed train?’

Some places, like a bookstore in Wakayama Prefecture, are temporarily halting all sales of Shinchosha titles in protest.

H/t: Japan Times More from Gay Star News