Now you don’t see it… …now you do!

Contrary to earlier reports, the Pink Paper turned out to have only folded for, well, three weeks. Millivres Prowler, the publisher of Gay Times and Diva, bought the ailing freesheet and started issuing it as a fortnightly title. Millivres Prowler state that they are, “committed to the Pink Paper in the long term. We believe that the lesbian and gay community [ahem?!] needs proper journalism… we don’t believe the mainstream press can or will do our job for us.” (Pink Paper, 5th November 2004) It is also currently running a consultation on how they can improve the imprint before a relaunch in the New Year, so now would be a good time to make some more ‘bi visibility’ noises at them and their new publishers.

Clause 28 USA

Some of the major discussion of bisexuality this autumn has surrounded two upcoming films in which the dread ‘b’ word has been openly used, at least in the pre-release hype: Alexander, Oliver Stone’s epic biopic of the ancient Greek/Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great; and Kinsey, epic biopic of the 1940s sexologist Alfred Kinsey. Both films have already attracted controversy in the US, with Alexander in particular receiving consistently harsh reviews, many of which have focused upon the main character’s sexuality: the New York Post labelling it ‘Alexander the Gay’, with other comments including ‘Queer Eye for the Macedonian Guy’. To be fair, other reviews have also commented on the film’s stodginess, bad plot and poor dialogue, but as the Independent (28th November) pointed out, “a film about a global warrior with dyed blond hair and waxed legs was never going to conquer an America fresh out of a presidential election in which gay rights became a major issue”. Particularly when a group of Greek lawyers threatened to sue the film’s makers over the portrayal of Alexander as a married man in a relationship with his best friend (they subsequently backed down) and US Christians stated that the films will ‘help Satan enter your mind’. This becomes very apparent when considering US reactions to Kinsey, which portrays not only conservative responses to Kinsey’s groundbreaking research during the 1940s and ‘50s, but also the life of the man himself, including his struggles with his own sexuality. The US Christian Right has also targeted the film, and recently several television channels have pulled advertising slots for it, alongside other campaigns for sexual health and liberal, ‘gay friendly’, churches. Continuing in this theme, the post election Bush government is now drafting a bill that would “ban the use of state funds to purchase any books or other materials that ‘promote homosexuality’”. Sound at all familiar to anyone?
(Alexander screens in UK cinemas from January 7th; Kinsey opens March 4th)

Equal as partners?

While US liberals and sexuality rights groups wring their hands and bemoan the (by now obvious) use of same-sex marriage as a potent campaigning tool and scare tactic by the Republican Party, over in the UK, something rather different has happened. The Civil Partnerships Bill was finally passed by Parliament on 17th November. This means that same-sex couples can gain formal recognition of their (monogamous) relationships through signing a ‘civil register’. Despite the Pink Paper’s breathless front cover claim that ‘All You Need is Love: “Gay Marriage” Is Here!’, civil partnership is not, in fact, a full equivalent to opposite sex marriage (the clue might be in the name?). Interestingly, this was reflected in the range of responses to the passing of the Bill from various campaigning organisations: while Stonewall happily patted itself on the back for its successful ‘Equal as Partners’ campaign, the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association criticised the move to an “oddly segregated” system, and the Queer Youth Alliance rightly pointed out that the new system does continue to deny fully equal rights to same sex couples (Rainbow Network, 18th November).

Civil partnership will grant some rights and recognitions to same sex couples which were previously completely inaccessible – however, this major change in our civil rights was barely covered by the mainstream media. In part, this was due to the Bill’s passing being squashed right into the very last evening of Parliamentary time, with the foxhunting ban taking up the rest of the time, and press coverage with it. However, the passing was also ‘buried’ in with that of the highly controversial Civil Contingencies Bill, suggesting that the Government were perfectly happy to keep civil partnership as low profile as possible. However, responses in much of the gay press have reflected that of mainstream campaign groups – one of straightforward acceptance of the Government’s line that civil partnership will ‘grant equality’ to same sex couples. This was largely combined with the anticipatory ringing of cash registers, as ‘gay wedding planners’ organised the UK’s first Gay Wedding Show and placed large ads asking readers, “So, has he proposed yet?”.