Gently stroking her baby son Dylan’s cheek, Sarah Gaffney-Lang feels herself brimming with the pride and emotion as she knows he’s a true fighter.
“Like mother, like son” most people would say after hearing the astonishing story of this 32-year-old who has been through a rollercoaster few years – diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour after having brain surgery awake.
Before going through chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Gaffney-Lang had her eggs frozen as she knew the treatment was likely to leave her infertile. But she and husband Matt, who live in Manchester, were overjoyed and surprised when she became pregnant naturally only months after her treatment ended.
Baby Dylan had a rocky start to life as he needed lifesaving treatment for pneumothorax and an infection and was incubated and covered in wires while hooked to machines. But like his mother, Dylan has proved to be strong in the face of adversity and the three of them are now enjoying life as a family. Sarah Gaffney-Lang It was after a day out at York Races in August 2016 with her then boyfriend, now husband Matt Lang and some friends, that Gaffney-Lang’s ordeal began. “We got back to the hotel in the early hours and I went to bed and had this huge seizure in my sleep.” Gaffney-Lang told HuffPost UK. “I wasn’t aware of anything. The first thing I remember is coming round in the hotel room with paramedics and hotel staff surrounding me.
“I felt very disorientated and confused. It was terrifying for Matt. He said I was going blue and couldn’t breathe and was having convulsions.”
Gaffney-Lang was taken to York General Hospital. As it was her first seizure, doctors didn’t do any tests but kept her under observation. They said it might have been caused by being up late and tired, or blood sugars. She was advised to see her own GP who reassured her that, at her age and health, it was unlikely to be anything serious and referred her to Salford Royal Hospital. But when a neurologist sent her for an MRI scan, it came back showing a brain tumour.
“It was a real shock,” said Gaffney-Lang.
“But it was a bigger shock for Matt, my family and my friends. I just went into survival mode and knew I had to deal with it.” Sarah Gaffney-Lang Gaffney-Lang had to have an “awake” craniotomy – with the aim of removing 95% of the tumour during surgery. “They knew the tumour was near the motor cortex on the right side so it controlled movement on the left side of my body,” she explained. “They wanted me awake during the surgery as they put an electric current through parts of the tumour to see if my body reacted. If my leg or my arm flicked out, they knew they couldn’t remove that part of the tumour.
“Every time they stimulated the tumour, I reacted strongly to it so it became clear it was in a place which was very vital.”
The surgery was scheduled to last six hours but ended up taking double that as surgeons tried everything: “The worst part was when they drilled into my head to make a second opening. I was fully awake and the noise was incredibly loud. At one stage, I asked the neuropsychologist if I could hold her hand for some comfort. I just wanted to get up from the table and get out of there.”
Despite their best attempts, doctors decided to abandon surgery and Gaffney-Lang was told they had been unable to remove the tumour as it would have left her permanently paralysed. Immediately after the surgery, she realised she had a “severe left-side weakness”.
“I couldn’t control my arm or feel my leg,” she recalls. ”At first I relied on a wheelchair, then a Zimmer frame and after that, walking sticks as I have been left with weakness on my left side.” Sarah Gaffney-Lang Gaffney-Lang was diagnosed with a grade two diffuse astrocytoma glioma in her frontal lobe, which controls cognitive skills and movement in the left side of the body. She spent her 30th birthday in hospital and although she knew her tumour was inoperable and unlikely to respond well to treatment, she was determined to keep positive.
And she admits that wearing make-up and nice clothes “every day without fail” into radiotherapy helped give her a real lift.
“You cannot control the situation, but you can control how you deal with it. I have always been into my clothes and love my bright red lippy,” she explained to HuffPost UK. “I just found it was something I was in control of and it made me feel better and look better. I even wore make-up when I was in hospital.”
She even ‘styled up’ her walking sticks and made them into fashion items by buying them in different colours and styles such as gold and leopard print. “It is about making it part of your personality and trying to look on the bright side,” she said.
Sarah and Matt have been together since she was 18 and he was 21 and they were already engaged at the time of her diagnosis, with plans to get married in Spain in autumn 2017. But they decided to bring their wedding forward and keep it a secret when they got hitched at Manchester Registry Office on 4 March 2017. “My diagnosis and treatment had made Matt and I realise that what we both really wanted was to be married to each other; it wasn’t about the party.
“It was just the two of us and it was really special and emotional.” Sarah Gaffney-Lang Gaffney-Lang wore a wig on her wedding day – but in hindsight she wishes she hadn’t as, after that, she embraced her baldness.
“At the time, wearing a wig felt like the right thing to do as I was newly bald and hadn’t really got used to it,” she said. “But I found wigs uncomfortable – especially in hospitals which are already hot. I ended up being proud of my baldness and feel it is a shame women going through the same thing feel they have to conform and cover their hair loss.
“I found it empowering and it was also very low maintenance – all I had to do is wash and go! I was quicker at getting ready which my husband was pleased about and it definitely saved me money on hairdressing!” Sarah Gaffney-Lang In January 2017, before starting radiotherapy and chemotherapy, Gaffney-Lang had her eggs frozen as she knew the treatment could jeopardise her dreams of motherhood. However, she only had time for one round of egg freezing before beginning treatment.
Her treatment ended in March 2018 and the couple were delighted when she got pregnant naturally just three months later. “Right from the start, Dylan was an amazing miracle baby!” says Gaffney-Lang.
However, it wasn’t the easiest of pregnancies. “I was anxious about whether my body would be able to sustain a life after all the gruelling treatment I’d had,” she says. Gaffney-Lang had numerous heavy bleeds resulting in 10 emergency scans and a hospital stay. “With every bleed, I panicked. Despite scans confirming a heartbeat and growing baby, I was worried throughout.” Anna Hardy https://annahardy.co.uk Dylan was born on 8 March this year by planned C-Section weighing 7lbs 5oz. Soon after, Gaffney-Lang became aware his breathing didn’t seem right. He was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit. The baby had suffered two collapsed lungs and was put in an incubator as he needed lifesaving treatment for pneumothorax and an infection.
“Seeing him was heartbreaking.” she remembers. “Covered in wires, he looked so tiny and fragile and we were so worried he wouldn’t make it. “Matt was incredible. We were both so upset but he managed to keep calm and supported me so much. He managed to keep abreast of all the treatment Dylan was having and understood what all the bleeping machines were monitoring.” Sarah Gaffney-Lang Happily, Baby Dylan made a remarkable recovery and was allowed home a few weeks later and is now five-months-old and thriving. Gaffney-Lang has also had good news on her own health as MRI scans both during and since her pregnancy have revealed her tumour remains stable.
She now has a blog, Upper Story Club, in which she shares her experiences as well as the tales of other women with brain tumours, and says the support she from charities including Brain Tumour Research and Trekstock (which helps young adults in their 20s and 30s affected by cancer) has been amazing.
“It has definitely been an emotional rollercoaster but it has made me realise how precious life is. I just live my life as normal and don’t spend very much time worrying about the brain tumour,” she says. “Dylan has proved to be such a fighter and we are so proud of him. It’s hard to believe that just one year after completing 18 months of treatment, we are a family. You just have to stay positive and keep hoping.” Sarah Gaffney-Lang
Amnesty International “All we want is for our rights to be protected, equal to other people,” Mohamed, a 27-year-old Rohingya man, told me as we sat in a crowded shelter in Kutupalong Camp in southeast Bangladesh.
Kutupalong is the world’s largest refugee camp, home to more than 600,000 Rohingya who fled ethnic cleansing in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in August 2017. Mohamed has lived in refugee camps for his entire life. He was born in Bangladesh in 1992, soon after his parents fled an earlier wave of persecution in Myanmar. But at the age of 27, Mohamed is not recognised as a citizen in Myanmar and has no official refugee status in Bangladesh. That means he is confined to the area around Cox’s Bazar, a city near the border with Myanmar where close to one million Rohingya refugees now shelter in sprawling, overcrowded camps. When Mohamed tries to travel further afield, whether it’s in search of work or healthcare, he is turned back at military checkpoints.
Let’s be clear: Mohamed cannot return to Myanmar any time soon. The situation in Rakhine State has not improved, and there has been no accountability for the appalling human rights violations which erupted in August 2017. More than 100,000 Rohingya are forced to live in squalid internally displaced persons camps. They are not recognized as citizens of Myanmar and have very few rights in the country. Mohamed told me that the Rohingya “all dream of going back” but said that that unless major changes happen in Myanmar, “we would just be chased away again.” Other refugees I spoke to echoed this sentiment.
Responding to the arrival of 700,000 Rohingya refugees in only a few months was an enormous challenge for Bangladesh. Refugees are effusive in their gratitude to the Bangladeshi government and the local population for allowing them to stay, aware that many other countries are less generous. But two years on, people are still living under emergency response measures which do not allow them to rebuild their lives in dignity. For example, the Bangladesh government places restrictions on the materials people can use to build shelters. This means refugees are living in makeshift shelters which offer no protection from monsoon floods or soaring temperatures.
It’s high time for the Bangladesh government to transition from the emergency response phase and focus on finding more sustainable solutions. To do this, it will need the support of the international community, and the input of the refugee population.
Access to education for Rohingya children and youth is one of the most pressing human rights concerns. More than 50% of refugees in the camps are under 18-years-old, but the Bangladeshi government has refused to authorise schools with recognised curricula in the camps – believing education would dissuade refugees from returning to Myanmar. In January, the government barred refugees from attending local schools outside the camps as well. Mohamed was forced to stop attending a nearby technical school, where he was pursuing a computer course.
The only education facilities available in the camps are “Child Friendly Spaces”, which cater to younger children with very basic classes and activities. Several teens told Amnesty International that they felt they were watching their futures disappear.
Meanwhile, concerns continue to mount about what may come next. The Bangladeshi government has proposed relocating at least 100,000 refugees to Basan Char, a previously uninhabited low-lying island in the monsoon-prone Bay of Bengal which has no infrastructure and takes three hours to reach by boat. And on 6 August, the government announced plans to return 3,450 Rohingya to Myanmar, causing widespread panic. It is unclear whether this will go ahead. The Bangladesh and Myanmar governments have made similar announcements in the past, then backed down when it became clear that no refugees were willing to return.
But what is clear is that multilateral efforts to pursue justice, accountability and meaningful reforms in Myanmar are stalling. None of the proposals currently on the table take the human rights of the Rohingya into account; they don’t even consider what the Rohingya themselves want.
Taken together, these factors leave many in the camps feeling trapped and despondent. As Mohamed put it, “Our lives are not moving forward in these camps, which feel like a prison.”
The Rohingya people have been systematically denied their human rights for generations. Now that many are, temporarily at least, safe from the killing and attacks which they fled, it’s high time their needs as human beings were taken seriously. The Bangladeshi government and international community need to work together to ensure the Rohingya can live fulfilling, dignified lives where they have access to the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
Alex Neve is secretary general for Amnesty International Canada. Rohingya Refugees May Have Faded From The Headlines, But Their Struggles Have Not
In Cox’s Bazar, I Saw The Positive Difference A Meaningful Engagement With Local Communities Can Have
Family Of Drowned Somali Refugee Accuse Police Of Racism
Courtney Act interrupts our interview – less than a minute in – in fits of laughter, because she’s just spotted her new neighbour out of the window. The neighbour, she says, “bears an uncanny resemblance to Ann Widdicombe”.
“And I’m walking around in my underwear!” she cackles down the phone. “I’ve just dived behind the curtain!”
The RuPaul’s Drag Race star is every bit as vivacious as you’d expect, so it comes as a surprise when, in the next breath, she reveals she once spent 10 days not making a peep at a silent Vipassana meditation retreat.
“It was seriously the most horrible and hard thing I’ve ever done, but also the most amazing,” she says.
The drag queen, whose real name is Shane Jenek (Courtney Act is Jenek’s stage name) escaped to the retreat when “it all hit the fan” in 2008, following heartbreak, then a skiing accident.
“I was in a wheelchair with a broken leg, I had no ability to work and make money, I was staying at a friend’s place and everything was miserable. Then I decided to just go and try it,” she says.
Without the distractions of a phone, television or even a book, Act says staying silent for 10 days was easier than expected, but meditating for 11 hours each day was “the hardest but most rewarding thing” she’s ever done.
“I arrived thinking: ‘How can you learn anything from sitting still and meditating? How can you grow from that?’” she says. “But it was so fascinating the sense of peace that I came back with, and the tool of meditation that I was then able to implement into my everyday life.” The retreat – which Act is quick to point out wasn’t “bougie at all” and worked on a pay-what-you-can system – is still paying dividends. More than a decade later, she starts most mornings with a 30-minute meditation in bed, focussing on her breath and the present moment.
“It’s amazing what a difference it makes to how much I feel in control of life,” she says, noting that it also makes “little things” like the washing up feel easier.
“It’s not like everything is perfect of all of sudden, but there are tiny little incremental things that feel easier, and when lots of little things add up, it really sums up to something greater than its parts.”
Act attributes meditation with helping her to cope with life in the Celebrity Big Brother house last year, revealing that the multiple clips of her sitting on her bed in an eye mask actually captured her meditating. The habit enables her to exhibit patience, she says – a trait that no doubt contributed to her winning the series. Those who watched the show will remember Act calmly and eloquently answering her housemates’ questions about gender and sexuality, such as the evening she explained the difference between being a drag queen and being transgender.
“It’s so easy to be polarised and yell from different sides of the room about certain subjects, but I think it’s so much better to walk into the middle and have a conversation to drive change forward,” she says.
Act, who identifies as pansexual, says meditation also enabled her to cope with living alongside fellow CBB contestant Ann Widdecombe, who consistently voted against gay rights as a Conservative minister and shadow Home Secretary, including voting to maintain a ban on the “promotion of homosexuality” in schools and opposing same-sex marriage.
“It’s very easy to not be patient, especially when it’s not just people’s ideas, but you’re living with someone like Ann and her voting record over the course of 23 years,” Act says. “It can be very easy to feel anger towards that injustice, but I think meditating helped me keep my patience. I tried to make my reaction the best it could be, rather than just reacting and flying off the handle.” Act was bullied as a teen and called “feminine names” intended as an insult, she says, but meditation has helped her to reframe her past trauma, by reminding her to focus on the present.
“So many reactions in our lives are based on what happened to us when we were younger,” she muses.
The day before our interview, for example, a “big muscly, straight man” at her gym said “thanks darling” as she was leaving.
“Five years ago I would have taken that as an attack. But yesterday, a) because of the way I am now and b) because of his intent, I took it as a compliment,” she explains.
“There was no damage there for me to react to anymore. Before I would have been reacting to past conditioning where I’ve been teased or bullied, but with meditation, it inserts itself in between memories and the present moment, to almost give yourself a bit of space.
“You’re not automatically and unconsciously reacting to past conditions, you’re able to have a moment of breath and view the situation more objectively.”
Lightning hit a tree on the course at the East Lake Golf Club Four people have been injured after two lightning strikes at the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta.
Play was suspended at 4.17pm local time because of thunderstorms in the area and at 4.45pm there were two lightning strikes close to the 15th green at East Lake Golf Club.
"A tree was hit and debris from that strike injured four people," a PGA Tour statement said.
The statement added the injuries "do not appear to be life-threatening".
The PGA Tour said emergency medical technicians "tended to those fans and two others immediately and transported them from the property via ambulance for further medical attention".
The third round was suspended with play to resume on Sunday at 8am local time (13:00 BST).
American Justin Thomas was leading by one shot from Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and world number one Brooks Koepka when play was suspended. Tour Championship leaderboard
The new Troubadour in White City is designed to be taken down and rebuilt elsewhere if necessary Some will be permanent – others may survive for just a couple of years. Either way, London’s in the middle of a theatre construction boom. So why is it happening? And doesn’t London have enough theatres already?
People come from around the world to enjoy theatre in London. But there are other cities with far more theatre buildings.
The authoritative Theatres Trust reckons there are currently 263 theatres in London. It’s about the same number as Tokyo, whereas Paris has around 350. New York tops the list with well over 400.
Producers believe more tickets could be sold in London. But first they need more places to originate shows in and to transfer existing shows to. It’s hard (and very expensive) to rent a West End theatre to bring in a hit – whether from a non-commercial London theatre or from Manchester or Paris. Dino Fetscher and Daisy Boulton in Torch Song which is the Turbine’s opening play Partly that’s what lies behind the boom in London theatre construction.
But there’s another factor. Property developers with a commercial interest in London’s rapidly changing skyline find theatre useful. It attracts punters to areas being promoted as desirable new places to shop or eat or even buy a home.
Tristan Baker is co-founder of Troubadour Theatres which has opened two big new theatre spaces in London. One’s on part of the former BBC site at White City and the other’s at the old Fountain Studios in Wembley.
In both cases there are two auditoriums with up to 2000 seats. Each area is undergoing extensive redevelopment and eventually the theatres are planned to come down.
"But the buildings are 97% recyclable," Baker points out. "They’re built to a high spec and they have great facilities for professionals and for the public. But whether it’s after 18 months or five years we can move the building elsewhere. That’s what happened at King’s Cross where all this started."
Troubadour’s production arm Runaway staged live versions of The Railway Children at Waterloo Station and then at King’s Cross, including a full-size steam train. That led to building new theatres at King’s Cross for the David Bowie musical Lazarus, to house the Donmar’s Shakespeare productions and for the Lin-Manuel Miranda show In the Heights. An artist impression of how the Boulevard Theatre will be "It proved we could build large, comfortable theatres which are far more than pop-ups but probably aren’t going to be permanent. They cost less for producers to rent than a top West End venue.
"We were approached by the developers Quintain who asked if we could do something similar at their huge regeneration site at Wembley Park. And another mega-developer Stanhope had similar ideas for White City."
Baker says Troubadour now has its eye on other sites to build theatres. "I won’t say where but it’s not just a London thing. There are sites around the UK where developers see theatre as a real place-maker, boosting a place’s profile.
"Transport is always crucial: our two current sites in London have great links to rail and the Tube. But outside London there might be places where people would be happy to drive for half an hour or even more to get there.
"But what counts is content. In London most people don’t ask themselves what’s on at the Gielgud Theatre: they want to know where the good shows are. So what we say is build it and they will come." Other theatre openings announced for London include: New Nimax theatre near Tottenham Court Road station (expected to open 2021)
The former Ashcroft Theatre in Croydon reopens shortly as the Ashcroft Playhouse
An additional home for Sadlers Wells in Stratford, east London due to open in 2022
Nicholas Hytner, who opened the Bridge Theatre in 2017, plans another new theatre near Kings Cross
Just behind the Gielgud stands the formerly sleazy alleyway Walker’s Court, long home to the Raymond Revuebar. But Soho is changing and from October the new 165-seat Boulevard Theatre is set to continue the area’s progress up-market.
The same name was used in the 1970s and 80s for a theatre on nearly the same site. But Rachel Edwards, the new theatre’s artistic director, says the impressive new building will be hugely more ambitious both technically and artistically. It’s part of a major upgrade to the area costing some £40m.
The opening show is the London premiere of the musical Ghost Quartet. Edwards says she knew at once that the venue would be perfect for small-scale musicals – but she’s also looking forward to programming one off late-night gigs and comedy events. The theatre takes its name from the nearby former Battersea power station "I think when you open a new venue like this in the middle of Soho you’re dealing inevitably with a whole variety of audiences. We have a great new bar and a restaurant to tempt people in: I think increasingly people want the theatre building to be an event in itself."
Russell Potter of the architects Soda was commissioned to bring the new theatre to life. "There’s an architectural revolve which means the whole theatre floor can switch within minutes between seven different configurations. And the balcony also spins separately.
"That’s great for productions. But financially too you need to be able to use the theatre in different ways. Maybe it’s a conference in the morning then the main show in the evening and a cabaret event late-night. It’s not really something London has had in such a great location.
"Soho’s the most vibrant area London has and one of its strengths is it can surprise you. So one of our ambitions was that the Boulevard should do the same thing: when you come in you won’t know what the set-up will look like.
Edwards says some West End venues can offer a poor experience. "It can be about sitting in a slightly uncomfortable seat and paying £8 for a glass of warm Chardonnay. But I think as new venues open the ticket-buyers inevitably are going to expect more from their evening."
Paul Taylor-Mills has just opened the 200-seat Turbine Theatre, part of another huge new development in London on the old Battersea Power Station site. The area’s transformation is remarkable: there’s even a new pier to get visitors into central London by boat in 15 minutes. Eventually there’ll be a new extension of the Northern line too. The Ashcroft playhouse will be within the Fairfield Halls "We called it the Turbine partly because we’re by the old power station. But also as artistic director I want it to be a home for generating new ideas and for existing plays done in exciting new ways. We’re starting off reviving Harvey Fierstein’s gay classic Torch Song. We’ve got a great director in Drew McOnie and a cast which includes Matthew Needham and Dino Fetscher.’
Taylor-Mills was approached by developers to discuss a theatre operation suited to an area of up-market bars and restaurants. "It’s part of what a new quarter of London needs. Obviously they’re delighted to have an extra 200 customers each evening looking to eat and drink. And it gives us the chance to create an important venue from scratch in a location full of character.
"We’re being supported by one of the great West End producers, Bill Kenwright, and we’d love a West End transfer in our first year.
"Look at the role theatre played in the King’s Cross development, which I was involved with doing In the Heights. That was only 2015 and people were saying audiences wouldn’t go to this weird area behind a railway station. Now it’s buzzing every night.
"Around London, in the traditional theatre district and beyond, things are changing. Things like the Turbine are only the beginning."
Several US airports have already installed 3D scanning equipment All major UK airports must introduce 3D baggage screening equipment before the end of 2022, the government says.
Ministers say the technology will boost security, speed up pre-boarding checks, and could end the restrictions on travelling with liquids and laptops.
The equipment, similar to CT scanners used in hospitals, is already being installed at London’s Heathrow Airport.
It provides a clearer picture of a bag’s contents, which staff can zoom in to and rotate for inspection. Could your face be your passport?
Could space-age scanner cut airport queues?
Currently, passengers taking liquid in their cabin baggage are restricted to containers holding no more than 100ml, which must be shown to security staff in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag of about 20cm (8in) x 20cm.
The limits have been in place since November 2006. Their introduction ended a ban on liquids in the cabin imposed three months earlier, when British police said they had foiled a plot to blow up as many as 10 planes using explosives hidden in drinks bottles.
Announcing the new plans, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the scanners would cut down on "hassle" for travellers and improve security.
"By making journeys through UK airports easier than ever, this new equipment will help boost the vital role our airports play in securing the UK’s position as a global hub for trade, tourism and investment," he added. Heathrow has revealed it is spending £50m in order to roll out the technology over the next few years. It is the first UK airport to install the equipment, which it has been trialling since 2017.
The airport’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said it would make travel "less disruptive", adding that the scanners were able to see what liquid was contained in luggage.
The scanners are set to be rolled out to other UK airports over the next few years.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said the new equipment means "no more pulling out your socks and your underwear, and having to separate your liquids and and take your laptops out".
He added that aviation companies would be paying for the changes, rather than the taxpayer.
The technology is already being used by US airports, including Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson and Chicago’s O’Hare.
izusek via Getty Images Britain’s 13-year ban on liquids and laptops from cabin luggage is set to finally end under plans unveiled by Boris Johnson for pioneering new airport screening equipment.
Holidaymakers and other air travellers will benefit from 3D cabin baggage technology that will be required for all UK airports by December 2022, No.10 revealed.
Under the changes, future passengers are expected to be able to keep liquids like bottles of water and electrical equipment in their cabin baggage while it is screened.
The rule requiring all liquids to be put in transparent plastic bags, with none allowed more than 100ml, was introduced in 2006 soon after the transatlantic ‘liquid bomb plot’ was foiled.
UK security officials discovered suspects had planned to disguise explosive liquid ingredients in soft drinks bottles, in a scheme to blow up transatlantic jets travelling from Heathrow to North America.
Heathrow has already announced its own plans to end the ban through the introduction of £50m scanners, but Johnson said that the move would be rolled out across the whole of the UK.
“We are home to the largest aviation network in Europe, with millions of people passing through our airports every year for work, holidays and family visits.
“We’re set to streamline those trips with the rollout of this ground-breaking technology – cutting down hassle for travellers and improving security measures.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps added: “The new screening equipment will improve security and make the experience smoother and less stressful for passengers. It could also mean an end to passengers having to use plastic bags or rationing what they take away with them.
Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality and Chair of the Tourism Alliance said: “The new technology being rolled out should make for a smoother, more enjoyable passenger experience and will bolster the UK’s international reputation as traveller-friendly.
“Having passed through security more quickly, and with less hassle, passengers will be able to relax and begin to enjoy their holiday sooner.”
This fall, the Supreme Court will be looking at a trio of cases concerning the protection Federal employment discrimination law provides to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons. An amicus curiae brief signed by 80 philosophers, in support of the employees in the cases, has just been filed. The amicus brief was co-authored by philosopher Robin Dembroff (Yale) and law professor Issa Kohler-Hausmann (Yale), and concerns the Supreme Court’s review of Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia , and Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda (both cases concern whether federal laws banning employment discrimination protect gay and lesbian employees), and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC (on whether Title VII’s protections apply to transgender employees). Some background on these cases can be found here .
The following is the “summary of argument” section of the 50 page document:
1. The concept of “sex” is inextricably tied to the categories of same-sex attraction and gender nonconformity. Both categories are partially defined by sex and cannot logically be applied to any individual without reference to that individual’s sex. It is simply not possible to identify an individual as being attracted to the same sex without knowing or presuming that person’s sex. Likewise, it is not possible to identify someone as gender nonconforming (including being transgender) without reference to that person’s known or presumed sex and the associated social meanings. It follows that discrimination on the basis of same-sex attraction or gender nonconformity is inherently discrimination “because of sex.”
2. It is conceptually incorrect to state that discrimination against persons who are same-sex attracted or gender nonconforming is “sex-neutral.” If an employer decides to terminate an employee on the basis of same-sex sexual attraction (i.e., a particular sexual orientation) or gender nonconformity (e.g., being transgender), the employer must first presume the employee’s specific sex, and then account for the social meanings, expectations, and stereotypes specific to the employee’s particular presumed sex category. But for the concept of sex, the judgment that an employee violated one of the expectations and stereotypes specific to their sex would be impossible.
3. Title VII prohibits discrimination not simply based on the categories “man” and “woman,” but because of sex. The philosophical underpinnings of antidiscrimination laws represent a societal commitment to alter socially restrictive categories such that they no longer serve as the basis for denying equal treatment or limiting freedoms based on sex. To permit discrimination against individuals who fall into categories that are partially defined by sex would violate the fundamental rationale behind antidiscrimination laws. Moreover, it would require this Court to define “sex” in a way that is illogically constrained and harmful to groups that have historically been the targets of discrimination.
You can read the entire brief here . The oral arguments for the case will be heard on October 8th, 2019.
Each week, Outsports stops the clock for an instant reply of the week that was. It’s our way of memorializing the glorious victories, the ignominious defeats, and the players and personalities who made them, lived them or just couldn’t avoid them.
If you’d like to read more about each entry, just click the link!
We realize our roster may differ from yours, and we welcome your comments, contributions and critiques. We read them all! Details on how to reach us are below, after our look at the week’s winners and losers. Winners: Anya Battaglino and Madison Packer
Anya Battaglino and Madison Packer of the NWHL got married last weekend in Newport, Rhode Island, and we have the awesome photos. A Coors Field employee cited stadium policy against ‘not appropriate’ PDA when she spotted a lesbian couple ‘casually’ kissing. Their tweets got them an apology and free tickets. Winners: Alec Smith, Katie McCabe and Nathan Matthews
Loser: Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive pro s1mple called Twitch “a joke” in response to his one week suspension for using harassing and homophobic language. Winner: Straight couple who met playing gay flag football
We particularly enjoyed a story in The Washington Blade Sports Issue profiling the budding relationship between Amanda Livingstone and Jorge Membreño, two straight allies who fell in love through their participation in the D.C. Gay Flag Football League. Loser: Leah “GIlty” Hayes
The trans Street Fighter pro received a ‘global prohibition’ in response to allegations of sexual assault from multiple women dating back to 2015.
A record 70+ MiLB teams have hosted Pride Nights this season, and thanks to You Can Play, the Staten Island Yankees will play theirs wearing jerseys featuring rainbow pinstripes. Loser: The Maui high school volleyball coach who said a trans student athlete posed an “elevated level of risk” to other girls
A Hawaii high school girls volleyball team now has a transgender girl on its roster, and so far, her only obstacle appears to be one bigoted coach, who refused to give his name to the newspaper reporting on her debut last week. Winner: Out NASCAR team member Ryan Hines
Ryan Hines never thought he could be gay and work in NASCAR. He said reading Outsports helped him realize “I could be myself and still do what I love.” Losers: Everyone still speculating about Odell Beckham, Jr.
The circular speculation that Odell Beckham, Jr. of the Cleveland Browns is gay does no one any good and is, at this point, desperately unfair to OBJ. Winners (but not officially): Scotland’s non-binary and gender neutral runners
Letting non-binary and gender-neutral runners compete is a great start for Scotland’s Great Run, but organizers will not allow them to win prizes or claim official rankings. Losers: Radio listeners of Alex Reimer
A mainstay at WEEI for the last few years, Alex Reimer will now be walking the halls of the Massacusetts State House as we moves from radio to politics. Winners: SonicFox and LGBTQ charities
Dominique “SonicFox” McLean’s 48 to 72 hour Twitch stream, which started on August 23, will benefit at least three LGBTQ charities.
That’s all for this week! We’ll bring you a fresh list of winners and losers next Saturday. Got a name we missed, or want to challenge our choices? Comment here or on Facebook or Instagram, tweet at us , message us via any social media, or just plain email us at email@example.com Thanks!
Time & Again. Filmed in Cardiff and starring Dame Sian Phillips I watched a beautiful love story this week called Time & Again. Filmed in Cardiff and starring Dame Sian Phillips, it was just half an hour long.
But those 30 minutes attempted to make up for years and years of this kind of love being invisible on Welsh screens.
Not only did it show what women know to be perfectly normal but popular culture still recoils from – the fact that even when we’re old we feel passion – it portrayed emotional and physical love between two octogenarian women.
Its writer, producer and director Rachel Dax believes this is a first. I certainly can’t think of any other positive representation of an elderly lesbian relationship in film or television drama. Which, when you come to think of it, is a startling state of affairs in the 21st century.
And to get this story made Rachel had to do it without any backing from a studio or broadcaster. Shot in two and a half days on a miniscule budget which she scraped together herself, it is an astonishing achievement given those restrictions.
The involvement of Dame Sian – who also helped bring veteran actress Brigit Forsyth to the project – was transformative. Once the Welsh acting icon had seen Rachel’s script she immediately wanted to do the film. Dame Sian Phillips (Image: PA) The story was partly inspired by older gay people fearing prejudice in care homes. We see Dame Sian’s character Eleanor being reunited with Isabelle (Brigit Forsyth) who arrives in the same care home 60 years after their relationship was torn apart by family opposition.
Isabelle had complied with her parents’ wishes and entered a loveless marriage while Eleanor remained true to her sexuality, going on to live the life she wanted, but sacrificed her bond with her mother and father who never spoke to her again.
These brutal choices reflect the reality many lesbians of this generation would have faced, as Rachel told the BBC:
“I think the main thing is families would be ashamed,” she said.
“It was very much like forced marriage. They were told ‘if you don’t marry, we’re disowning you’. Lots of lesbians went to London.”
But Time & Again is anything but grim and, without too many spoiler alerts, an uplifting denouement awaits. Actress Brigit Forsyth (Image: PA) “It’s not all doom and gloom and shows in your old age you can heal,” Rachel explains, adding: “I think older women in general tend to be treated like they don’t have any sexuality. I think it is important for lesbian visibility. Not all, but a lot of LGBT films with older characters are more male-focused.”
Time & Again is being shown at Barry Pride on September 19th and will also have screenings at the Cardiff International Film Festival in October but it deserves a pan-Wales platform. Let’s hope BBC Wales, who hosted the screening in the build up to this weekend’s Pride Cymru event, can broadcast it.
If these kind of fictional stories deserve the biggest possible audience the same goes for Wales’ factual LGBT history which has remained in the shadows until very recently.
The first book exploring the experiences of notable Welsh lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through the centuries was only published last year.
In the introduction to Forbidden Lives – LGBT Stories from Wales (Seren Books), author Norena Shopland outlines the challenges researching such a work presents. After all, the mainstream historical narrative we have all grown up with in Wales is resolutely male, heterosexual and British.
So Norena’s mission was to “read between the lines” to uncover hidden lives, as she explains: “Once outside the famous names such as Ivor Novello, the Ladies of Llangollen and more modern people such as Sarah Waters and Gareth Thomas things became harder. Trying to find the everyday lives of people became an exercise in ‘bit picking’ from other works. For much of what had existed had been shattered. For example, Frances Power Cobbe destroyed both her and her partner Mary Lloyd’s letters and diaries. Nothing they did was illegal, women were not affected by a ban in law the way that men were, but society did not approve and so the material was destroyed.
"Consequently, we are left to pick around in the letters and diaries of others to piece together stories about LGBT people in history. Over the years I have done much picking at bits and pieces and this book represents that. This is the first work highlighting real lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and events in and from Wales.”
A second pioneering work will arrive on the shelves this October. A Little Gay History of Wales (University of Wales Press) by Dr Daryl Leeworthy tells a big story. The historian who was brought up in Pontypridd draws on a rich array of archival sources and oral testimony to examine the experience of ordinary Welsh LGBT men and women from the Middle Ages to the present day. Gentleman Jack, featuring Suranne Jones as Anne Lister, and Sophie Rundle as Ann Walker, on the BBC, portrayed a historical lesbian relationship (Image: BBC) It’s the narrative of poets who wrote about same-sex love and translators who worked to create a language to describe it; activists who campaigned for equality and politicians who created the legislation providing it; teenagers ringing advice lines for guidance on coming out and revellers in the pioneering bars and clubs on a Friday and Saturday night. It is also a study of prejudice and of intolerance, of emigration and isolation, of HIV/AIDS and Section 28.
And for its author, it’s also a deeply personal project: “My childhood and adolescence coincided almost exactly with the implementation and enforcement of Section 28,” Daryl explains.
“Introduced in 1988 when I was a toddler, it was abolished in 2003 when I was in my final year of Sixth Form. Its legacy was still palpable when I went up to Oxford in the autumn of 2004. Talking to friends and former teachers in more recent times, it is clear just how fundamentally the legislation marked – and continues to mark – those of us who went to school during the period of its existence. To be blunt: this is a book that should have been written a long time ago.
“In other words, I wrote the Little History because I felt it should exist and that the longer such a book didn’t exist, the poorer we are here in Wales intellectually and culturally. Call it my revenge on Section 28!
“But it’s also a book that is very much about the ordinary men and women who we might now describe as LGBT, and I’ve tried to reflect the diversity of the community as far as possible, too. So the Muslim sailors who landed in Cardiff and had sex with local men; or the woman (Daphne Higuera) from Caerphilly who established Wales’s first ever gay women’s support group in the early 1970s; or Tim Foskett, a student from London studying at Cardiff, who helped to create the first pride march in the city in 1985; or the two ladies – Jamie and Eileen, active Christians – who ran Lan Farm in Pontypridd as an LGBT hostel in the late-1980s and early 1990s.
“I wanted to move away from LGBT history as being about the great and the good – the Ladies of Llangollen, Viscount Tredegar, Ivor Novello, Rhys Davies, even (heaven forbid) Edward II, etc – and make it about the rest of us. When those pioneers marched through Cardiff in 1985 they shouted ‘we are everywhere’, but what does that mean if our histories only talk about the people whose lives are far more easily documented?
“I also wanted a book that could form the basis of a better understanding of heritage and the ways in which gay, or gay-friendly, spaces existed in far more places than we often realise.
"Even now I’m learning about new ones. If you look in the columns of the pink press of the 1970s, for instance, they tell you that Gay News was sold in the Salisbury Hotel in Ferndale, that Merthyr had Britain’s most boring gay scene (but by implication, it had one), and that there was even a branch of the Gay Liberation Front in Aberdare. I hesitate to call this hidden history: those who needed to know, did know. But for today’s generation of young people, or tomorrow’s, knowing that someone else from your community was LGBT is both powerful and comforting.
“Like all minorities it is important to know that you are not alone, that your experience is not unique. That’s the value of this type of history – of the history of us – it means we don’t always have to start over.” Pride Cymru was taking place in Cardiff today (Image: Matthew Horwood) Cardiff is hosting Pride Cymru this weekend – Wales’s biggest celebration of equality and diversity.
Around 50,000 people are enjoying a mile-long parade and entertainment, music and comedy in support of our LGBT+ community.
It is an event that shows modern, inclusive Wales at it best but we also need to take Pride in the LGBT heritage and history of our nation – whether its expressed in the drama of Time & Again or through the pioneering research of Norena Shopland and Dr Daryl Leeworthy.