Category Archives: LGBT

asa council decides on gender categories

Remember how the ASA was trying to decide how to expand its gender categories? Since then, the ASA Committee on the Status of LGBT Persons in Sociology has been holding conversations, doing research on how other organizations do it, and thinking through what schema will best capture the sociological categories that are meaningful to people. They came up with the following proposal, which ASA Council voted on and passed at their meeting this week:

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what should asa’s gender categories be?

Cross-posted on Social (In)queery.

The ASA is trying to respond to a request from its members to expand the options for gender on its membership form. Right now, the choices are female, male, and prefer not to answer. There is no category that acknowledges transgender members at all, but creating a new category scheme is not as easy as it might seem. For example transsexual people and transgender people have not always appreciated being lumped into the same category. Some people reject gender categories altogether and might prefer a “none” or some other less alienating gender-non-specific category.

These gender categories are important for a number of reasons. First, by having exclusive gender schemes, the ASA is not acknowledging its trans members. Second, it is a missed opportunity to collect data on the size of the trans membership in the ASA. Third, gender categories are communicative; they tell members who may not be aware that transgender sociologists work among their ranks. Finally, it is important to get the gender categories right because they are teaching sociologists what the “appropriate” categories to use are, setting an important example for us as we design survey questions , courses, departments, etc.

The ASA staff have brought the matter to the Committee on the Status of LGBT Persons in Sociology, but there wasn’t consensus there. They propose (and are planning to implement), the following scheme: Continue reading

mary mcintosh

Mary McIntosh, author of “The Homosexual Role,” among other things, has passed away. This piece is of course one of the foundational works of a sociology of sexuality. It always struck me as such a brave work, as it applies general sociological concepts to a topic that, at the time, was so strikingly marginalized and “owned” so completely by psychology. Of course, it wasn’t written independently of a fledgling lesbian and gay movement; Mary McIntosh was a feminist and an lesbian activist. Still, it is a piece that reminds me of how powerful sociological concepts can be in re-imagining what we think we know.

Here is an excerpt from Ken Plummer’s memorial:

Mary was a serious intellectual and a passionate activist. A strong, caring, quiet presence – she also had a very strong sense of fun and always ready for a dance and a laugh.  I missed her greatly when she left Essex; the department could never be quite the same for me. And now she leaves a gaping hole in the world. But she will be loved in remembrance.

I won’t get a chance to meet her, but she certainly has left her mark on me.

same-sex marriage support increases in all age groups

This story in the NY times is a pleasant read among all the bad news in the digital papers these days. It shows that recent data reveal an interesting trend–support for same-sex marriage among all age cohorts:

[Between 2009 and 2012], according to Pew, support among baby boomers (ages 48 to 66) has grown to 41 percent from 32 percent; among seniors (over age 67) to 33 percent from 23 percent; among Generation X (ages 32 to 47) to 51 percent from 41 percent; and among millennials (ages 18 to 31) to 64 percent from 51 percent.

As Shamus and others have remarked, this is a very dramatic shift, which is very unusual for public opinion. Cohort turnover, rather than changed minds, explains most changes in opinion over time, but this issue is different.

I have done some work that shows a similar trend in attitudes toward homosexuality–attitudes changing in all age cohorts, in addition to generational turnover–and the story today reminds me of that time I was just fiddling around with those World Values Survey data. This was way back in time when the blogosphere was young: 2005. I didn’t really trust myself to do data analysis, and I checked in with Jeremy Freese to get some help with how to interpret the data. He asked me the million-dollar question (which I still have, thanks to gmail): Continue reading

the witch hunt and inquisition meme

Per Smith first alerted us to the emergence of a new meme in the debate over Mark Regnerus’s article: the “witch hunt and inquisition” meme, apparently first posted by George Yancey and roundly debunked before Yancey moved on to other pursuits. Christian Smith also advanced the claim, first in a set of vitriolic emails sent to various scholars and now in a breathless j’accuse in the Chronicle charging that the only reason for the critiques was sociology’s “progressive orthodoxy.”

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bad science not about same-sex parenting

There’s lots to say about the recent article by Mark Regnerus on outcomes of adults who remember a parent having had a same-sex relationship and the other articles and commentaries surrounding it in the journal, and much has already been said. The bottom line is that this is bad science, it is not about same-sex or gay parenting, and strong but circumstantial evidence suggests its main reason for being is to provide ammunition to right-wing activists against LGBT rights. In this (long!) post I offer my evaluation of the scientific merit of the paper as well as the politics surrounding the papers’ funding, publication, spin, and evaluation.

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nc’s awful amendment one

It appears that, despite lots of work and fundraising by the forces of good and reason, my (adopted) state will allow its redneck-goober id to prevail over its progressive-sophisticated superego tomorrow. This despite the fact that the amendment’s sponsor said:

he wanted a more narrowly worded amendment but was “overruled” by “national experts” he identified as the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal advocacy group.

…and the state’s most respected polling firm demonstrated that people who actually understand the amendment oppose it by a greater margin than the state as a whole supports it. The state’s big-business community has come out against the amendment, and the Republican speaker of the state house has said he expects the amendment to be repealed within 20 years, acknowledging that anti-gay bigotry will no longer be a mobilizing issue once another generation of young people are in the electorate.

In the meantime, though, the rest of us are left ashamed of our state.

gay men can play hockey

Has it really been four years since we pondered the number of closeted lesbians and gay men in sports? Where does the time go? In that post, I made the rather obvious claim that many sports, especially those with large audiences like baseball, football, and hockey, are particularly unwelcoming to gay men. I am not aware of any out gay men among the active players at the professional levels of any of these sports, but a handful have come out after they retired. When are professional sports, bastions of traditional masculinity, ever going to catch up with the changing attitudes toward homosexuality in U.S. and Canadian society? Perhaps the first steps are underway. Continue reading

if harry hay could see them now

In the news today, trouble in gay softball leagues: what to do with all the straights who want to play, too. Leagues have limits, either everyone who plays must be gay, or there might be a 2-hetero limit on each team. The question becomes how to tell who has too many straights. The blurry and fluid boundaries of sexuality that scholars have been loving to talk and write about for decades comes into stark relief as the shortstop married to a woman says he is bisexual, or the best slugger in the league claims to be both straight and gay. Continue reading

telling both sides vs. fact checking

On our local public radio station this afternoon, state capital reporter Laura Leslie had this to say about the National Organization for Marriage‘s rally in Raleigh today:

NOM president Brian Brown… says heterosexuals are losing their civil rights.

That was the final sentence in the story. The complete story is here.

UPDATE: There’s a much more detailed, nuanced, and interesting description on the reporter’s blog here. My concerns apply only to the radio story, certainly not the attendant blog entry!

I understand that there is pressure to frame all disagreements in terms of rights violations. But I seriously doubt if Mr. Brown can cite a single actual civil right that is threatened for heterosexuals as a class. Sadly, Leslie did not press him to name one of these rights or, more broadly, to explain or document his claim. Thus we are left with a classic of American journalism: tell both sides of the story, even if one side’s claim is indefensible:

Joe said the earth is round. Jane said it’s actually flat and cut out in the shape of a lovely floral arrangement. This is Mike Smith reporting from Raleigh.

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same-sex marriage and the courts

I am, of course, thoroughly delighted with the California federal court’s decision overturning Prop. 8 as unconstitutional under the due process and equal protection clauses, doubly so because the judge, Vaughn Walker, is a card-carrying conservative. I am also thoroughly delighted with the Massachusetts federal court’s ruling the DOMA is unconstitutional on grounds of states’ rights. However, I am a bit confused at what seems to be a contradiction between the two rulings. The Massachusetts case seems to claim that DOMA infringes on states’ rights to define marriage for themselves–that is, that federal law should not determine how states may define and regulate marriage. The California case, on the other hand, argues that the state’s decision on how to define and regulate marriage is wrong and violates federal law. Now, I thoroughly admit that IANAL and so there is likely a way that these two decisions can…er…cohabit. Thoughts?

UPDATE: I’m reading through the California decision instead of working on a pressing deadline…. it makes for great reading! There’s quite a bit that is essentially about how best to gauge the reliability of social science, and much of it picks specifically on David Blankenhorn, to wit:

24. Blankenhorn identified several manifestations of deinstitutionalization: out-of-wedlock childbearing, rising divorce rates, the rise of non-marital cohabitation, increasing use of assistive reproductive technologies and marriage for same-sex couples. Tr 2774:20-2775:23. To the extent Blankenhorn believes that same-sex marriage is both a cause and a symptom of deinstitutionalization, his opinion is tautological. Moreover, no credible evidence supports Blankenhorn’s conclusion that same-sex marriage could lead to the other manifestations of deinstitutionalization.

and:

Blankenhorn’s book, The Future of Marriage, DIX0956, lists numerous consequences of permitting same-sex couples to marry, some of which are the manifestations of deinstitutionalization listed above. Blankenhorn explained that the list of consequences arose from a group thought experiment in which an idea was written down if someone suggested it. Tr 2844:1- 12; DIX0956 at 202.

don’t ask, don’t tell

Is this the moment when we end the policy preventing lesbians and gay men from serving openly in the U.S. military? The recent statement by the chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff makes it seem like we are on the precipice of change. He framed the change in terms of when, not if, it will happen. To think about whether this policy change is possible in the current political climate, it is important to remember why this move didn’t work in 1992. Continue reading

science as a vocation v2.0

Princeton postdoc Amin Ghaziani writes of his decision to have his undergraduate class, “Queer Theory and Politics,” demonstrate against the National Organization for Marriage and then reflect upon and analyze the demonstration for class. The writeups–in the CBSM Newsletter and in Gay and Lesbian Studies–are thoughtful, informed, and thorough. Together they demonstrate that this exercise was both far more student-led, and far more nuanced, than simply requiring students to participate in a “partisan” demonstration. Ghaziani went far out of his way to insure that each individual student was on board and that the demonstration would be interpreted in terms of class material. Continue reading

one scoop of my book, with tina topping, please!

The ASA conference will be an extravaganza of awesome, what with the blog party, the blog baseball game, and the fabulous sociology people everywhere. But wait! There is even more still. For those particularly hard-core conference-goers, who will stretch their visit to San Francisco well beyond the bounds of the conference dates, please consider attending the following event:

religiousrightcoverHow the Religious Right Shaped Lesbian and Gay Activism

by Tina Fetner
A Different Light bookstore
489 Castro St., San Francisco (near Market)
Wednesday, August 12 at 7:30pm

I hope to see you there!

the gay agenda

You have never, ever seen anything like this in an American president’s agenda. It is, by a mile, the most far-reaching statement of support for lesbian and gay rights this country has ever seen. Sure, it doesn’t include marriage, but it includes everything else, like federal discrimination protections for transgender people, along with lesbians and gay men: Continue reading

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