Gary L. Atkins is an award-winning journalist whose works include the critically acclaimed Gay Seattle: Stories of Exile and Belonging and his new book, Imagining Gay Paradise: Bali, Bangkok and Cyber-Singapore. He specializes in creative non-fiction journalism, fusing an easy-to-read narrative style powered by strong characters with questions about history, geography, communication, and social justice. Gay Seattle follows the 100-year-long saga through which gay men and women imagined their “coming home” – rather than just their “coming out” -- in the context of the Pacific Northwest’s famously wet landscape and roguish history. Similarly, Imagining Gay Paradise journeys through a century of imaginings of paradise and manhood by gay men in the tropical geography of Southeast Asia. The story stretches from the end of the colonial empires to the present world of cyberspace, ranging across the development of the aesthetic paradise of Bali in the 1920s and 1930s to the erotic paradise of Bangkok fostered from the 1960s onward, and to the cyber-paradise promoted since the 1990s in Singapore. Gay Seattle was published by the University of Washington Press in 2003 and received numerous accolades for its fusion of journalism and scholarship, including a Washington State Book Award and a national Jesuit Book Award. The University of Hong Kong Press is publishing the hardback edition of Imagining Gay Paradise and is joined by Silkworm Press of Thailand as co-publishers of the paperback edition. Imagining Gay Paradise is also being made available as an e-book.
Gary first became interested in writing about age six when his parents gave him a rubber-type printing press. He immediately started producing a newspaper for his local neighborhood in New Orleans. In high school, he initially thought he might become a historian or a biologist – two other strong interests – but eventually he realized that if he entered journalism, he could write about all three of his interests: current political and legal events, history, and nature. He graduated from Loyola University and then Stanford University, served an internship on the Washington Post and joined the Pulitzer-winning Riverside Press-Enterprise in California -- where he won numerous awards for his narrative and environmental reporting and writing. Seattle University hired him to teach in and chair its Communication Department and, in 2005, named him a full professor. He teaches courses in narrative journalism, communication justice, media and sexual/gender justice, and international communication in Asia.
Prejudice kills lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals …. not just quickly and violently as sometimes happens in bullying incidents and hate crimes but also, as it turns out, slowly and steadily.
In what appears to be the first study to look at the consequences of anti-LGBT prejudice for mortality, researchers have found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals who lived in communities with high levels of anti-gay prejudice have a shorter life expectancy of 12 years on average compared with their peers in the least prejudiced communities.
“The results of this study suggest a broadening of the consequences of prejudice to include premature death,” noted the study’s lead author, Mark Hatzenbuehler, PhD, assistant professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Read more at Science Daily News.
Two items landed in my news feeds this week, reminding me of that old business slogan, “Build a better mousetrap …. and the people will come.”
The first was from the Huffington Post about Chobani yogurt, an official sponsor of Team USA at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. As it happens, thousands of cups of Chobani yogurt are waiting to be shipped to Sochi to feed American athletes, but the Russians have been refusing to allow the shipment because of an ongoing dairy products spat with the United States.
LGBT activists in Cambodia, assisted by the United Nations and civil society organizations, are urging the government to pass legislation banning hate crimes and discrimination. What was billed as the first regional community dialogue dedicated to LGBT concerns was held in Phnom Penh January 20-21 and included more than 50 LGBT citizens discussing discriminations they have experienced. Read the story from the Phnom Penh Post.
“We are ordinary people too,” Nay Sitha, from the Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK), said. “Ordinary people that need access to jobs, education and healthcare; why should we be discriminated against for how we dress or who we love?”
Unfortunately, the routes to such positive legislation to secure equality for LGBTs can sometimes be labyrinthine. In Seattle, for example, the press for such laws began in the 1970s with quick successes in the city council, where laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in housing, public accommodations Continue reading Pressing for LGBT rights in Cambodia→
Nigeria’s government has launched what may be one of the most vicious campaigns against its LGBT citizens since Nazi Germany’s Holocaust. Mobs demand deaths by stoning; judges pride themselves for compassion by “mere” whippings and imprisonments. As the New York Times reports, a new Nigerian law does not just ban same-sex marriage but “goes significantly further, prescribing 10 Continue reading Nigeria’s vicious LGBT “sanitizing”→