Basically the bar is flat on the ground, perhaps even slightly submerged in the soil...it's a gimmie.
In my links you'll see the official White House blog, I visit every day and check in on what the Obama administration is up to, reading policy and watching videos.
The brief time that Obama has been in charge has already shown sweeping changes, this is a very different administration to the last one but I think that the sheer weight of change is being underestimated. Three things have happened of late that have rejuvenated and re-reminded me of what a changed White House this is; with attitudes that have the power to pervade deep into American society; perhaps even repairing the damage of the last eight years.
27th June: Obama and his wife had an AIDS test in order to encourage all to do so, bearing in mind that one in five Americans with AIDS don't know they have it and to see their leader doing so (not for the first time, he did something similar in 2006 in Kenya) may help to remove some of the stigma and sends a global message. Can you see any previous President doing this?
29th June: the anniversary of Stonewall is celebrated on the White House website, what sea change is this? From an administration that was openly hostile towards the LGBT community to one that marks the anniversary of a seminal event in their civil rights movement.
30th June: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host the White House's first LGBT event, with remarks that acknowledge how far America has come but outlines the vast array of work that still needs to be done. Clearly under Obama's watch, Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender people will not be burning in hell...
What a welcome change this is to the hate and horror of Bush.
Then, this morning, my very good friend Wendy turned me on to this great piece of journalism by Johann Hari.
Johann Hari provides context to Stonewall, and how it stands as a pivotal moment in the LGBT movement. He also reminds us that homosexuality is a naturally occurring phenomenon and part of the great tapestry of nature:
...about 2 to 5 per cent of human beings prefer to have sex with their own gender. It occurs at the heart of nature: only last week, Professors Nathan Bailey and Marlene Zuk, of the University of California, concluded in a study: "The variety and ubiquity of same-sex sexual behaviour in animals is impressive – many thousands of instances of same-sex courtship, pair bonding and copulation have been observed in a wide range of species, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, molluscs and nematodes."His piece reminds us of how far we have come in the West, although acknowledges that gay teenagers are still six times more likely to commit suicide than their straight counterparts. In other parts of the world he flags that India are on the brink of de-criminalising homosexuality and that China had it's first Gay Pride march.
Johann Hari then outs those parts of the globe that are still in the dark ages when it comes to the human rights of LGBT people: the Muslim world and the Caribbean.
The fact that the Muslim world is a bastion of vile homophobia is of little surprise, the book that guides that faith is twisted and turned (sometimes with plenty of assistance from the book itself) so that homosexuality is punished by jailing, torture and death sentences. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad even denies there are any gay people in Iran, but is happy to have them executed in public squares when some crop up.
The fact that the Caribbean is also a hunting ground for LGBT slaughter is perhaps not so surprising, it is a culture infested with the macho and phallocentric and thus is actually quite flimsy and weak, paper thin ideas of strength and masculinity that run rampant in many parts of Africa also (see my piece here on the raping and killing of lesbians in South Africa); so that 'men' (and I use the word very loosely) feel threatened and challenged by lesbians who are not enthralled by the penis and by gay men who are equated as women and thus lesser than man.
Irony is perhaps not the best word for the sexual violence that these gay men have to endure at the hands of the 'straight' men. Is is clear that these 'straight' men, emasculated and impotent due to unemployment, life style choices and a lack of purpose; can only confirm their own stupid existence through sexual terrorism.
It is clear, as Johann Hari points out, that these communities need our support in defining their human rights as LGBT people; just show me where to sign to beat back these vulgar bigots...