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World news: Aeromexico ad, Tom of Finland, OutGames poetry contest
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-02-01

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An ad from Mexican airline Aeromexico shows takes aim at physical and ideological barriers, NewNowNext.com noted. The narrated spot was produced by the company in May 2016 when President Donald Trump first announced his plan to build a wall along the Mexico-United States border and has since resurfaced in the wake of this weekend's immigrant and refugee travel ban. "I've seen borders built by hate, for speaking a different language, for men kissing men, or simply because someone didn't want anything to do with someone next door," the narrator says. At the end of the ad, an Aeromexico plane flies in the sky, scaling physical manifestations of prejudice.

Dome Karukoski's Tom of Finland—a biopic about Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen ( 1920-91 ), a pioneering figure in late 20th-century gay culture—was received with a rowdy ovation on opening night at the 40th Goteborg Film Festival in Sweden, Variety noted. Tom of Finland chronicles the life of Laaksonen ( played by Pekka Strang ), a pioneering artist whose work allowed him and many gays around the world to overcome homophobia and break free from oppression. The movie sheds light on Laaksonen's conservative upbringing and depicts his life before he became a world-known artist.

World OutGames Miami 2017—a multi-sport, human-rights and cultural event held May 27-June 4—invites poetry enthusiasts to submit their favorite poem for a chance to be chosen to read it aloud during a special event at The Betsy Hotel, a press release noted. The cultural event, a collaboration between World OutGames Miami and the Favorite Poem Project, will feature a special appearance by the 39th poet laureate of the United States ( 1997-2000 ) and the project's founder, Robert Pinsky. Poetry submissions must be received by 11:59 p.m. on April 13; visit Outgames.org or FavoritePoem.org .

In China, Jason and Da Chuan not only came out on broadcast livestream on 163.com, a news site, to their families—but they also admitted they are in a relationship with each other, according to a Yibada.com item that cited Global Times. More than 1.1 million Chinese viewers watched the online confession of Jason and Da Chuan to their parents on Lunar New Year. A lot of the viewers congratulated the couple.

In reaction to Nikki Haley's confirmation as the United States ambassador to the United Nations, OutRight examined her responses to questions during her Senate confirmation hearing and questions for the record about protecting LGBTI rights internationally, a press release stated. Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, said in part, "I am reassured that Governor Haley condemned discrimination on any basis. ... At the same time, I can't help but notice that Governor Haley didn't say the words lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex. This is important. At the United Nations, diplomats fight tooth and nail over every word because each one influences international law, public policies, and government budgets."

The Restaurant Association of South Africa says it's shocked by the Lake Restaurant's policy that refuses entry to same-sex couples on Thursdays, Eyewitness News reported. Two reporters booked and paid for "date night," but were denied entry on the basis that it contravened policy. The regulating body's chief executive officer, Wendy Alberts, said the group will investigate the matter; the South African Human Rights Commission is also investigating.

Church of England bishops have rejected the idea of changing its opposition to same-sex marriage, The Independent reported. The House of Bishops said there is "little support for changing the Church of England's teaching on marriage" that it is between one man and one woman. A new report, following two years of internal discussion, does however say the church needs to adopt a "fresh tone and culture of welcome and support." The Rt. Rev Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, said at a press conference that the church should not "adapt its doctrine to the fashions of any particular time."

Trans Action Pakistan hosted a transgender-focused party that was believed to be the first public event of its kind in the country, Reuters reported. At a party in Peshawar, the guests' saris twirled as they danced to the music and fed each other pieces of cake, but there were armed police guarding the door, as trans individuals run the risk of violence in the conservative Muslim country. Trans Action Pakistan is a campaign group that estimates there are at least 500,000 transgender people in the country of 190 million.

Also, in Pakistan, transgender activist/model Kami Sid is set to star in a short film entitled Rani, which will tackle social taboos associated to transgender men and women, Geo.tv noted. She was 22 when she finally came to terms with her identity. "You know your mother is your mother. She will love you no matter what. But people said ugly things," she said.

Authorities in the Ivory Coast refused to explain why two gay men were arrested and jailed in a country that does not criminalize same-sex acts, The Guardian reported. Yann, 31, and Abdoul, 19, are openly gay but deny any romantic relationship. They were arrested in October in Sassandra, a village in southwestern Ivory Coast, apparently for "public indecency." They have since been released.

In Australia, men using gay hook-up apps and forums are being blackmailed by a group of three or four people in Canberra, ABC.net .au noted. The ABC understands the perpetrators earn users' trust online but when they meet in person they threaten to expose them if they did not pay them money. The AIDS Action Council received two separate reports from victims recently, but fear there may be more who are too embarrassed to come forward.

The Grace Bible Church set Twitter ablaze after Ghana-born Bishop Dag Heward-Mills made homophobic comments during a sermon, according to The Huffington Post. Users took to Twitter under the hashtag #GraceBibleChurch after local celebrity Somizi Mhlongo posted a video online that he stormed out of the church following Heward-Mills comments. Mhlongo later said, "This is who I am. I am a gay man. Get it straight into your skull. My soul is alright with my God. Let me deal with my God and my soul. Don't tell me."

Legendary Oscar-winning director Pedro Almodovar has been named president of the jury at this year's Cannes Film Festival, Variety noted. Almodovar, who succeeds George Miller as Cannes jury president, attended Cannes last year with Julieta, which wold-premiered in competition. The festival runs May 17-28; the official selection and members of the jury will be announced in mid-April.

French-Polish director Roman Polanski has pulled out of the presidency of France's Cesar Awards, the country's equivalent to the Oscars, amid widespread protests, Variety confirmed. The protests across France was sparked by a local feminist organization, Osez le Feminisme, that claimed that appointing the filmmaker as president was "an insult to rape and sexual-assault victims" and called for a boycott of the Cesar; the group collected approximately 60,000 signatures to have Polanski pulled out of the event. After days of outcry, Polanski's lawyer told the Associated Press that his client had renounced to be the president of the Cesar, a honorary role that involved an opening speech.


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