A tough Wyoming cowboy who just happens to like blouses
Sissy Goodwin isn’t gay; he’s been married for 45 years and has two adult children. As a young man, he was a rodeo cowboy who rode bulls bareback, a free spirit who never shied away from a fistfight. The former aircraft mechanic loves to drink beer, play golf, throw steaks on the grill.
What sets him apart, he says, is what he calls gender independence: He just likes to do most things in a dress.
A resilient guy living it out in Wyoming, a state he refers to as “the Mississippi of the West” for its disposition toward him, Goodwin has been beaten, arrested and glared at for years - but he continues his defiant dressing habits to this day.
Read more from reporter John M. Glionna in a Column One feature.
Photos: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times
Pope Francis extends a hand to women, gay priests
In an unusually open and lengthy discussion with reporters during his return to the Vatican after a trip to Brazil, Pope Francis stepped back from the Catholic Church’s typically clear-cut stances on gay priests and the role of women in the church.
“If a person is gay, seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis said. “They should not be marginalized.”
Under Francis’ predecessor, gay men were banned from the priesthood. As for women becoming priests, Francis remained adamant that “the door is closed,” though he did concede that women should be greater administrative roles within the church.
Read more on Francis’ remarks over at World Now.
Photos: Osservatore Romano / EPA, Luca Zennaro / AFP/Getty Images
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Opposition to gay marriage reemerges in California
Supporters of Prop. 8, which was recently stuck down by the Supreme Court in a landmark decision, have put forth their latest tactic against gay marriage.
ProtectMarriage, which sponsored Prop. 8, issued a request that clerks not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples to the state’s Supreme Court.
Despite their persistence, ProtectMarriage’s chances of making any change appear slim:
Legal experts predicted the California court would reject the challenge. Lawyers for the gay couples who fought Proposition 8 in federal court said they anticipated such an action and were prepared to respond to it. They said a state court may not interfere with a federal court’s decision.
Read more on the latest challenge to gay marriage over at L.A. Now.
Photos: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images
The Supreme Court has announced that it will rule for the first time on same-sex marriage by deciding the constitutionality of California’s Prop. 8, the voter initiative that limited marriage to a man and a woman.
Artist mourns loss of her work on African lesbians: Burglars stole hard drives that held an archive of five years’ worth of images celebrating the community.
It was a most unusual burglary. Thieves got in through the bathroom window and walked past the flat-screen TV, DVD player, expensive camera and a couple of brand-new cellphones. Instead, they took 20 external hard drives and some digital camera memory cards.
It didn’t make sense to Zanele Muholi, an art photographer and activist, the victim of the April theft.
Something cold shifted inside her. Could this be another hate crime against lesbians?
The stolen hard drives, all hidden in different locations around her apartment, were the archive of five years of Muholi’s extraordinary work photographing marginalized lesbians in many African countries.
Photo: South African photographer Zanele Muholi’s portraits of Thobeka Mavundla, left, and Vuyelwa Makubetse are among the works featured at the Documenta festival in Kassel, Germany. Credit: Zanele Muholi
Transgender kids get help navigating a difficult path: Amber is one of an increasing number who are getting specialized care. The 12-year-old takes puberty-blocking drugs and hopes to have gender reassignment surgery at 16.
Amber, who is tall with ruddy cheeks and smooth skin, grew her hair and decorated her room with Hello Kitty wall decals, beaded pink curtains and a pink ballerina blanket. She started playing with makeup.
Jamie found the change and giving up his expectations for a father-son relationship difficult. But he saw that Amber was much more confident and happy. “As uncomfortable as it is for a father to see his son dressing as a girl, I knew we were heading in the right direction,” he said.
A monthly support group helped Michelle and Jamie. The parents talked about their feelings and traded information about schools, doctors and medications. “Being in the group has reinforced our thought process and the choices we are being forced to make,” Michelle said.
Photo: Amber was born a boy named Aaron. Last year, she started taking medication to keep her from going through puberty. “I can be who I am,” Amber said. “I can be a girl.” Credit: Arkasha Stevenson / Los Angeles Times
Artist pays homage to L.A.’s unseen workers: Ramiro Gomez’s cardboard cutouts of nannies, gardeners, valets and housekeepers have appeared, in silent tribute, around the wealthy districts of the city.
Most pieces last a day or two if Gomez is lucky. Once, a valet parker he planted outside a lot near the Sunset Strip made it four days.
Gomez writes his contact information on the back of each piece so people can tell him where the art ended up. So far, no one has reached out.
At first it was tough to let go. He’d stand by for a while to see people’s reactions, then take the cutout down and lug it back home.
But then Gomez realized it was not his place to keep public art out of view.
So he learned to walk away.
Photo: Ramiro Gomez attaches his painting of a nanny against a cyclone fence in West Hollywood Park. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times
Gay coach sues Charter Oak Unified, alleging wrongful termination: Charter Oak High in Covina fired Mitch Stein as assistant water polo coach after administrators saw Facebook and Myspace photos of him with drag queens and, separately, pretending to bite a corn dog. His wrongful termination suit accuses the school district of “animus toward gay and lesbian employees.”
According to Stein, other gay employees at Charter Oak Unified have also reached out. Stein said one had told him that he, Stein, had not been “the right type of gay” because he spoke openly about his fiance, Hugo, and never hid his sexual orientation. Another described the climate as toxic, Stein said.
Photo: Mitch Stein is flanked by his partner, Hugo Horta, and daughter Devynn. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
Great analysis and overview by Times staffesr Michael A. Memoli and Kathleen Hennessey:
Gay-rights activists have widely believed that the president privately supported same-sex marriages, but withheld a public declaration out of concerns about alienating independent voters in key swing states.
There is a movement among activists in the party to adopt a so-called “marriage equality” plank in the official platform this summer. Such language would mark the continuance of the party’s own evolution. In 2000, the Democratic platform stated simply that the party supported “the full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of the nation,” and “an equitable alignment of benefits.”
In 2004, in the face of an effort supported by the Bush campaign to put gay marriage bans to statewide referendums across the country, the Democratic platform stated that marriage “has been defined at the state level for 200 years, and we believe it should continue to be defined there.”
By 2008, the party vowed to “enact a comprehensive bipartisan employment non-discrimination act,” and opposed the Defense of Marriage Act “and all attempts to use this issue to divide us.”
OBAMA: I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.
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Vatican chastises nuns for questioning church: The Vatican has ordered an overhaul of the most important group of nuns in the United States after an investigation found what Roman Catholic Church officials called "radical feminist themes" that questioned official positions on homosexuality and the ordination of women.
Photo credit: Gregorio Borgia / Associated Press
The voluntary poll would come in response to a law that seeks to gauge the size of LGBT populations and whether they are being adequately served. But some question how the data would be used.
What do you think?
South Korean actor throws open closet door: After a brutal reaction to his coming out, Hong Seok-cheon decided to fight back. Slowly, especially from the young, he and other gays are gaining more acceptance.
Hong had played a character with a fuzzy sexual orientation in the since-canceled sitcom “Three Men, Three Women,” and in 2000 a talk-show host asked if he preferred men in real life. Hong took a deep breath and responded: Yes.
Cut! The producers halted taping and dropped the segment, worried about the danger to Hong’s career. He was soon contacted by a magazine that had heard about the studio episode. Hong consented to an interview and then told his manager and parents. His mother and father cried. Stone-faced, his manager said Hong was committing professional suicide.
Photo: Hong Seok-cheon, 41, is an out-of-the-closet gay man who has spoken about what it’s like to be a pariah in a conservative society where 77% of South Koreans in one poll said they believed that “homosexuality should be rejected.” Credit: Matt Douma / For The Times