Tag Archives: male

NJ men sue for sexual harassment

Three New Jersey men are suing their former employer and supervisor in federal court for alleged same-sex sexual harassment.

The complaint names Dirk DeHooge, Adam Klimas and Jeffrey Coates as the plaintiffs and general manager James Rebiesz and Causeway Automotive in Ocean County, N.J., as defendants. The suit alleges a civil rights violation in employment and seeks damages.

The plaintiffs allege that at work they were subjected to sexually explicit and offensive comments made by Rebiesz, and also unwanted touching and other “unwanted, uninvited, zealous” advances.

The complaint says that Rebiesz’ actions and comments created a hostile work environment and that Causeway Automotive, as an employer, did nothing to correct the situation, giving “Rebiesz free reign to sexually prey upon his male subordinates.”

Specifically, the complaint alleges, among other incidents, that Rebiesz told DeHooge he would advance more quickly if he “put on (his) kneepads” and asked the employee whether the beard he’d grown on his chin was a “dick target.”

Klimas alleged that Rebiesz gave him a bisexual-themed porn tape, asked him about masturbation habits, wanted to know if he ever “69ed another man” and gave him a cock ring.

Klimas filed a formal sexual harassment complaint within the company. The response was to require Klimas to confront his boss, a meeting at which Klimas suffered a mental breakdown and Rebiesz allegedly dismissed the allegations against him as “homophobic.”

Coates alleges that Rebiesz gave him a dildo-making kit, offered him $1,000 to strip at a private party, commented on his physique and inquired about his anatomical parts.

All three of the plaintiffs quit their jobs at the dealership.

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N.C. Democratic Party boss resigns after harassment claims

The executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party resigned this month amid increasing frustrations among party activists over high turnover at the party headquarters and harassment allegations.

Jay Parmley, who became the top administrator last year after holding a similar post in South Carolina, submitted a resignation letter in which he vehemently denied harassing any party worker.

Party leaders raised concerns after emails began circulating in the media that mentioned the allegations. The party has been guarded in directly addressing the substance of the allegations, but conservative media outlets have reported that a young man who worked for the party alleged sexual harassment and a 29-year-old woman who worked for the party claimed she was Parmley’s girlfriend and he transmitted HIV.

In his resignation letter, Parmley wrote, “Let me be clear: I have never harassed any employee at any time at the (state party) or in any other job.”

He said the more than 1,000 people who have worked with him over the years “know this kind of behavior would be unconscionable to me.”

The dustup following the emails led party activists to call for the resignations of Parmley and party chairman David Parker.

In accepting Parmley’s resignation, Parker echoed Parmley’s view that the allegations were becoming a political distraction, particularly in an election year. Parker didn’t resign.

A Statesville, N.C., attorney who said he’s successfully prosecuted harassment and discrimination cases, Parker said it’s his legal opinion “that there have not been grounds for termination for cause of Jay Parmley.”

“In this political world of rushing to judgment and the presumption of guilt, however, my legal and personal opinion has been outweighed by this having become a political distraction and issue,” Parker wrote.

North Carolina plays a significant role in the 2012 election:

• A ballot measure on May 8 will determine whether the state becomes the last in the South to add an anti-gay marriage amendment to its constitution or the first to refuse such a measure.

• The Democratic National Convention will take place in Charlotte in early September.

• On election day in November, North Carolina is likely to become a battleground for the presidential vote.

Parmley, in his letter, said, “I refuse to be a distraction.”

Democratic officials had been speaking privately for weeks about why personnel changes occurred at the state party offices in downtown Raleigh.

A series of email messages raised the level of discomfort among party activists, who pleaded for more information from the party in the interest of full disclosure. After a conservative-leaning website posted the emails, Parker released a terse statement.

“Over the last several months, several employees left their employment with the NCDP for business or professional reasons unrelated to their job performance, by mutual agreement of the parties involved,” Parker said.

Parker said he couldn’t comment on any specific allegations on the advice of counsel but added, “There have never been any complaints or allegations concerning Jay Parmley before or since the matter.”

Hayes McNeill, a member of the state party’s executive committee, said Parker needs to take a hard look at whether he can continue as chairman because of how the situation has been handled. Transparency is needed from party leaders, he said.

“You have to realize the offense is not the problem,” said McNeill. He added, “There was a deficiency in supervision, management that allowed this thing to blossom out.”

State Rep. Bill Faison, D-Orange, a gubernatorial candidate who lost to Parker in the race for state party chairman in early 2011, suggested Parker should follow Parmley’s lead “on behalf of the 2.7 million Democrats in N.C. so that we can get on with the primary election without further distraction.”

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Ex-Catholic nun becomes priest, defies ban

A former Catholic nun defied the Church’s ban on women become priests and went through an ordination ceremony, joining a push to crack open the all-male clergy.

A female bishop from Minnesota led the April 15 ordination ceremony for 71-year-old Maria Thornton McClain at Friedens United Church of Christ on the south side of Indianapolis.

McClain said she was a nun for 15 years before leaving her order and has been married to her husband for 31 years. She said she has been a devoted Catholic, but believed the ban on female priests needed to be challenged.

“Some people call me courageous,” McClain told WTHR-TV. “I don’t see myself as courageous. I just feel I’m doing what I’ve been called to do.”

McClain joins more than 100 women around the world ordained in the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement.

Pope Benedict XVI this month denounced such movements, saying that he had no authority whatsoever to allow women priests since an all-male priesthood was an “irrevocable” Church teaching.

Greg Otolski, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, said the Catholic Church traces the all-male clergy to Jesus Christ.

“He only chose 12 apostles, all men,” Otolski said. “He did not choose women, and that’s an unalterable part of the faith, a tradition the Church has held and carried on for 2,000 years.”

McClain received a standing ovation and warm hugs from many of the couple hundred people who attended the Sunday ceremony, The Indianapolis Star reported.

Maria Regina Nicolosi of Red Wing, Minn., presided as bishop during the two-hour ordination ceremony for McClain and four female deacons.

“You heard God’s call, and you responded,” she told McClain. “The knowledge of how to respond has evolved over time. The essence of Jesus’ commandment is to love.”

Since McClain cannot lead Masses in a Catholic church, she said she plans to find other places to hold services and that she’ll target those who feel alienated from the Church, including gays and lesbians, divorced Catholics and those who believe like she does on subjects such as the ordination of women.

“I choose to disobey and break this unjust law and to change the Church,” McClain said. “It’s an honor to help people in the state of Indiana and anyone who has been marginalized to reclaim their right to develop their spiritual life and to follow God.”

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Nepal gay lawmaker asks Facebook for third gender

A prominent lawmaker and gay rights activist in Nepal says he has asked Facebook to include a third option for people who do not identify themselves as male or female.

Sunilbabu Pant said he has written to Facebook founders Mark Zuckerberg and Chris Hughes asking an option as “third gender” or “others” when signing up because people who do not identify as male or female continue to be sidelined by Facebook’s options.

He wrote to the Facebook founders, “As you allow users to identify only as male or female, many in the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) community feel as if they are hidden on the site, unable to identify as their true selves.”

Pant said he has not received any response from Facebook but was hopeful.

Pant, who has a personal page on Facebook, is the only openly gay parliament member in Nepal and has been campaigning for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the Himalayan nation.

Hughes, who is gay, has left Facebook and recently purchased The New Republic. He was the driver of Barack Obama’s social media campaign in the 2008 election.

London subway campaign addresses male rape

An attention-getting ad campaign encouraging survivors of male rape to come forward debuted this week in London subway stations.

SurvivorsUK’s public service announcements say “Real Men Get Raped” and show a nail piercing a rugby ball.

The posters went up in 140 locations and will remain in place during the Six Nations rugby tournament, according to a report in the New York Daily News.

Spokesman Michael May said, “We’ve chosen to use an alpha male sport in our advertising to challenge assumptions about the type of men who get raped. It’s just as likely to be a rugby player as a librarian, a suited city banker as a hooded gang member. And we hope that by challenging our innate assumptions about the identity of male victims, we can make it even fractionally easier for a male rape victim to ask for help.”

In London, one man every hour is the victim of a sexual crime, according to SurvivorsUK.

But at most, 11 percent of male victims report the attacks, the website malehealth.co.uk reported.

“Males are taught from a very early age that they should be ‘strong’ and ‘in-charge,’” Kim Etherington, a professor at the University of Bristol, was quoted as saying in the Daily News. “To be successfully masculine is to be sexually potent, competitive with other males in sexual matters, and dominant with sexual interactions. Being raped challenges and negates all these preconceptions.”

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Researcher says Mona Lisa was da Vinci’s male lover

The head of Italy’s National Historic Commission says the Mona Lisa was actually a male lover of artist Leonardo da Vinci.

Researcher Silvano Vicenti said at a press conference in Rome on Feb. 2 that the Mona Lisa’s real name was Gian Giacomo Caprotti, a young male who became da Vinci’s apprentice at age 10 and worked for the artist for 20 years.

Vincenti says Caprotti is featured in several of da Vinci’s works, including paintings of John the Baptist and Angel Incarnate. Those likenesses bear striking similarities to the Mona Lisa’s face, Vincenti said.

“Salai was a favorite model for Leonardo,” Vincenti said.”He certainly inserted characteristics of Salai in the Mona Lisa. …. Salai was very handsome and probably Leonardo’s lover.”

Some critics responded that Vincenti’s theory is groundless.

The true identity of the Mona Lisa long has been a subject of debate among art historians. Some have contended that the painting is a portrait of a local merchant’s wife, while others have maintained that the famous painting is a disguised self-portrait of the artist.

Pope says condoms OK for male hookers

 Speaking to a German journalist whose book was excerpted in a Vatican newspaper Nov. 20, Pope Benedict XVI said the use of condoms may be acceptable in some cases to prevent the transmission of AIDS, possibly foreshadowing a shift in the Roman Catholic Church’s stance on the issue.

The pontiff said that in some cases, such as for male prostitutes, condom use could represent a first step in assuming moral responsibility “in the intention of reducing the risk of infection.”

AIDS advocates welcomed the Pope’s comments, although they cautioned that the remarks fell short of declaring condoms an acceptable method of disease prevention for all.

“This is a significant and positive step forward taken by the Vatican today,” the U.N.’s top AIDS official said. “This move recognizes that responsible sexual behavior and the use of condoms have important roles in HIV prevention.”

A UNAIDS spokesman in Geneva said that while over 80 percent of HIV infections are caused through sexual transmission, only 4 percent to 10 percent result from sex between men. There are no reliable statistics about how many infections might be prevented if male prostitutes routinely used condoms.

However, even the limited example cited by the pope was a step in the right direction, the spokesman said. “We are welcoming this as an opening up of discussion,” he told The Associated Press.

In Britain, where the Vatican’s opposition to condom use has come under particularly fierce criticism, relief over the Pope’s statement was tempered with caution over the relatively limited scope of his comments.

Gay activist Peter Tatchell, who helped coordinate the protests against Benedict when the latter visited Britain earlier this year, said the new papal policy on condoms amounted to a “volte-face.”

“He seems to be admitting, for the first time, that using condoms can be morally responsible if they help save lives,” Tatchell said in an e-mail. But he went on to slam the Vatican for a range of positions on a variety of moral issues.

“If the Pope can change his stance on condoms, why can’t he also modify the Vatican’s harsh, intolerant opposition to women’s rights, gay equality, fertility treatment and embryonic stem cell research?”

In South Africa, which has an estimated 5.7 million HIV-positive citizens – more than any other country – and 500,000 new infections each year, activists guardedly greeted the Pope’s message.

Caroline Nenguke of the Treatment Action Campaign, a Cape Town, South Africa-based advocacy group for people living with HIV, called the Pope’s words a “step in the right direction.”

But she said the message was unclear, and could lead to misinterpretation.

“It shows that only male prostitutes should use condoms and could make people in heterosexual relations think they are not allowed to (use) them,” she said. “The pope has a lot of followers – he’s an opinion leader and a world leader – and if he’s going to take on a message, especially a message of life and death, it has to be very clear.”

Church members in the Philippines, Southeast Asia’s largest Roman Catholic nation, praised the pontiff’s words even as their leaders rejected any suggestion that the Vatican was softening its line on contraceptives.

While the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on artificial contraception was not in question, Benedict’s stunning remarks could re-ignite debate on contraceptive use in places like the Philippines, where the issue has recently pitted the new president against the influential Catholic Church.

Philippines President Benigno Aquino III recently expressed support for the right to contraception. A church official has threatened to launch civil disobedience protests.

For those focused on battling the scourge of AIDS, however, the Pope’s message came as a welcome surprise.

Father Peter Makome, a Catholic priest in Zimbabwe, said he would spread the news.

“I’ve got brothers and sisters and friends who are suffering from HIV because they were not practicing safe sex,” said Makome, who works in the capital Harare’s Southerton Parish. “Now the message has come out that they can go ahead and do safe sex; it’s much better for everyone.”

Sex worker Constance Makoni from the nearby town of Mbare, said she was also pleased to hear the Pope’s message. She said she uses condoms to protect herself against HIV, even though it is against her beliefs.

“It is very good to learn that our church has now come out in the open to allow the use of condoms by its members to prevent the spread of AIDS,” she said. “I think Pope should have made these announcements a long time ago and it was going to be helpful among the church folks.”

But she said she would also like to see papal recognition of contraception.

“If they would also expand this to contraceptives as well, because it’s another form of family planning which is not being discussed,” she said.

In Liberia, some non-Catholic clergymen reacted strongly to the Pope’s statement. The West African nation is predominantly Christian, but Catholics are not the majority.

“I sharply disagree with the Pope,” said Rev. Venicious Reeves, a popular Pentecostal preacher in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia. “The Pope should instead encourage people he classifies as male prostitutes to get out of prostitution and live in morality.”

Baptist preacher Rev. Gardea Johnson asked: “If his concern is about male prostitutes, what about the female ones who are even more vulnerable?”

In the central Swiss city of Lucerne, where the majority of the population identifies itself as Roman Catholic, a church spokesman said the Pope’s remarks would come as a relief to many believers.

“We are happy that this discussion, which already existed in the church because several bishops have talked about it, has been picked up by the Pope,” said Florian Flohr.

Catholic churches in Lucerne raised eyebrows last month when they distributed some 3,000 condoms as part of an outreach program aimed at young people.

“We think what the Pope said confirms our view that if you want to talk about AIDS, you have to talk about condoms,” said Flohr.

He added that the pontiff’s words had been carefully chosen to avoid the impression that condoms could be seen as a panacea against AIDS, while at the same time deflecting long-standing criticism at the Vatican’s absolutist stance on condom use.

“I think many Catholics will be relieved,” said Flohr. “His past comments about condoms meant there couldn’t be a proper discussion about the subject. Now we can talk about human sexuality more openly.”