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Court Tosses Out Prostitution Conviction For Trans Woman Who Was Just Walking Down The Street

An Arizona appeals court has vacated a conviction against a transgender woman who was profiled for sex work, creating new hope that she might receive justice.
Monica Jones, a transgender woman of color, has been a vocal critic of Phoenix’s sex work diversion program, Project ROSE, because of the way it sweeps many vulnerable young women into the criminal justice system. The women are picked up off the street — without actually being arrested — and they are forced to either complete a Catholic Charities-run diversion program or they are then put under arrest. One of the reasons for its poor success rate is because any individual who has previously been arrested for sex work is ineligible for the program, thus many more women are arrested than actually “saved” from sex work. Because Phoenix’s law loosely interprets many behaviors as “intent to commit or solicit an act of prostitution,” many individuals are swept up who are not even engaging in sex work. That’s exactly what happened to Jones.

Appreciating Beauty Doesn’t Have a Gender

Image credit: Julie Tarney

When the curtain lowered after Act I of the Mariinsky Ballet’s Swan Lake at Brooklyn Academy of Music Wednesday night, I couldn’t help but remember Harry’s first experience seeing that magical ballet at the age of four.

Ha…

Everything You Need To Know About The Oscar-Nominated Short Films

A lot of people haven’t seen the Best Picture nominees this year, so we can assume that possibly no one — maybe not even Academy members themselves — has seen the short films. But there’s still time!
Starting Jan. 30, the recognized titles will play in over 350 venues across the U.S. and Canada. Check out the full list and head to the theater, or just wait for them to be on VOD in February (because, let’s be real, you’re not getting off your couch):Live Action”Aya”
“Aya” tells the story of two strangers who meet at an airport when a man mistakes a woman for his chauffeur, and she is so intrigued she goes along with it. Basically, Mihal Brezis and Oded Binnun’s short is the closest thing to a rom-com we could expect to be nominated for an Oscar this year: a serendipitous meet-cute, except understated and with subtitles. AYA – Short Film – Official trailer from Oded Binnun עודד בן נון on Vimeo.”Boogaloo and Graham”
In 1978 Belfast, a father gives his sons, Jamesy and Malachy, two chicks, Boogaloo and Graham. They become vegetarians, make plans to start a chicken farm and just generally grow obsessed to their pets (in part, through a montage set to “Why Do Fools Fall In Love?”), before having to grapple with the way their family is about to change. Boogaloo and Graham Trailer from Out of Orbit on Vimeo.”Butter Lamp” (“La lampe au beurre de yak”)
A photographer and his assistant photograph Tiebetan nomads against an unexpected mix of backgrounds (from The Great Wall to Disney World) for a mesmerizing look at cultural dissonance. The Butter Lamp (Trailer) from Mostra Ecofalante on Vimeo.”Parvaneh”
“Parvanah” follows an Afghan immigrant as she travels to Zurich and explores an unlikely friendship. PARVANEH – Trailer from hiddenframe on Vimeo.”The Phone Call”
In this 21-minute short, a shy telephone operator works a help line and receives a call that changes the way she sees the world. The foreboding tone combined with English accents of Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent may leave you wishing it was a “Black Mirror” episode. Although, “The Phone Call” is much more sentimental than anything going on in Charlie Brooker’s head. The Phone Call Trailer from Lizzy Graham on Vimeo.Animated”A Single Life”
A two-minute look at the phases of life that could easily work as the opener for the next Pixar film. A SINGLE LIFE – TRAILER from Job, Joris & Marieke on Vimeo.”Feast”
With “Feast,” “Paperman” head of animation Patrick Osborne takes on a simple yet touching premise: a man’s life as told through the meals he shares with his dog.”Me and My Moulton”
Remember “Arthur”? There are no anthropomorphic aardvarks in “Me and My Moulton.” The similarities ring true in the deadpan educational vibes with which director Torill Kove walks through a Norwegian girl’s life, as she grows up and learns to appreciate her family despite their shortcomings. Me and My Moulton – Official Trailer – English version from Mikrofilm AS on Vimeo.”The Bigger Picture”
In “The Bigger Picture” an eerie mix of stop motion and life-sized painting is used to depict the dark comedy that is caring for an elderly mother. The Bigger Picture Trailer from daisy jacobs on Vimeo.”The Dam Keeper”
Somehow, the beautiful animation in Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi’s short makes the unfamiliar story of “The Dam Keeper” — a precocious pig tasked with keeping “the darkness” away — feel like your most beloved childhood storybook come to life.Documentary”Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1″
“Crisis Hotline” takes on the trauma of veterans through the lens of the crisis hotline’s trained responders. Sort of like if “The Waiting Room” went with a different American inadequacy, and took on the veteran care in place of the health-care crisis.”Joanna”
This 40-minute film is a gorgeous look at a mother’s final moments with her son as she faces an untreatable illness. There is no in-depth explanation of what Joanna is dealing with. No heavy confessional interviews. Just glimpses at a parent-child bond, cherished as it ought to be (but often isn’t) sans extenuating circumstances. “Joanna” is as heartwarming as it is poetic. And director Aneta Kopacz refuses to wallow, reflecting the beauty in Joanna’s story with as much intensity as its inherent sadness. JOANNA TRAILER ENG from Wajda Studio on Vimeo.”Our Curse”
“Our Curse” functions as a personal statement from director Tomasz Sliwinski and his wife. Over 40 minutes, the two grapple with the reality of the fact that their son was born with Ondine’s Curse (congenital central hypoventilation syndrome or CCHS), a disease which will likely leave him dependent on a ventilator for the remainder of his life. “I forget I have a child,” she says one night, looking hollowed-out over a glass of wine, during one of the many confessionals throughout the film. Here we have a raw form of parental anguish, disturbing if only because of how rarely it is seen outside of closed doors. NASZA KLĄTWA / OUR CURSE (trailer) from Tomasz Śliwiński on Vimeo.”The Reaper”
In “The Reaper,” a longtime slaughterhouse worker (hence the subtle title) faces his own relationship with death in light of his gruesome surroundings. “The animals just came in and stared at me,” he says, recounting a dream against a montage of bloodied cow bodies and steel. “They said, ‘It’s your turn.'” La Parka / The Reaper trailer from CCCMexico on Vimeo.”White Earth”
“White Earth” could have easily folded out into a feature-length film, though it benefitted from zooming in where it did. This documentary depicts the families of the (mostly) men who uproot their lives to work on the oil rigs in North Dakota. Director J. Christian Jensen spends almost no time with the men themselves, opting for an unflinching look at what life looks like for the people closest to them instead.

The Real Learning Channel: A Straight Spouse Of A Gay Husband Speaks Out

As the hype around the TLC show My Husband’s Not Gay begins to wane, I find it a shame that there has been little attention paid to the perspectives of straight women who have experienced being in a mixed-orientation marriage, where one spouse is gay and the other is straight. Most of the opinion pieces written about the show are by lesbian and gay individuals, religious writers and people trolling the Internet. Straight spouses who find themselves in mixed-orientation marriages generally do not end up on a reality show standing by their lesbian or gay partners. The reality is too complex, hurtful and shrouded in embarrassment.
This embarrassment is also felt by the lesbian or gay spouse and is not to be diminished. The straight spouse, however, experiences these things from a different angle, and it is important to not overshadow his or her journey.
There are two things that are frustrating regarding mixed-orientation marriages. The biggest issue is how religious and archaic thinking exacerbates the problem of lesbian and gay people entering into “traditional” marriages. Secondly, straight women and men who have been blindsided by a spouse coming out experience shame and embarrassment, so much so that they often do not receive the help and support that they need from others, who remain unaware of how common this crisis is and how hurtful it can be. Straight spouses are often considered naïve, victims or even stupid. So it is not surprising that people who need support and empathy are too afraid to reach out during one of the most difficult times in their lives.
TLC used to be known as The Learning Channel. If they truly wanted to live up to their legacy, here are the things that they would help viewers learn about mixed-orientation marriages.1. Finding out your spouse is lesbian or gay is one of the most painful experiences any straight spouse can go through. Many people who have experienced a spouse coming out of the closet hear the following from well-meaning comrades: “Well, at least you aren’t being cheated on with another woman. I mean, who can compete with that?” This is not accurate. When a man comes out to a straight wife who never saw it coming, she often cannot grasp the possibility that her husband might be truly gay. “Doesn’t that make him bisexual?” is one of the many questions that might enter her mind. Think about it: Anyone whose spouse has been lying to them doubts their own sexiness and lovability and wonders what they could have done differently, but when a spouse comes out as gay, the entire marriage is called into question. There is an intense need to try to understand everything that the couple has ever been through, to figure out if it was even real or not. An affair with someone of the same sex is better? It isn’t quite that simple. 2. A straight spouse can try to stay married with the knowledge that their spouse is lesbian or gay, but they will always live with an enormous amount of distrust and suspicion. Many couples do try to stay together. While it is difficult to understand, some of the reasons include the number of years they have been married, a desire to stick it out for their children, a desire to work through it with the possibility of having an open marriage, or pressure from perceived religious or societal beliefs. Ultimately, true intimacy is what a marriage needs to survive and thrive. But how can there ever be true intimacy if one spouse is attracted to people of the same sex and the other has to try to figure out how to deal with that? How can they trust that their partner won’t seek intimacy outside the marriage? For example, on the show on TLC, everything seems great for one of the couples until the husband, who is “same-sex-attracted,” announces that he is going on a camping trip. His wife’s face betrays her suspicions, and she has to talk herself into trusting him, even though he has cheated on her before in their own home. She wants to keep her heterosexual marriage and family together so badly that she is willing to justify and overlook egregious things. Many straight spouses who have experienced mixed-orientation marriages have done so as well. People in mixed-orientation marriages can and do stay together, but suspicion and hurt are always lurking around the corner. This is not trust. This is not intimacy.3. Conservative religious views, including archaic ideas coming from society, keep many gay men and women from living honest, fulfilling lives. Instead, they pull other people into their world because they want to change, desperately. They get married. They have kids. They take positions of leadership in their churches and in civil society through politics. They wax eloquent about how fulfilling their lives are — when all the while they are hiding, lying to themselves and others. Eventually, under extreme pressure, they often explode and ruin everything around them. Worse yet, there is shame and embarrassment, which can cause couples to not be transparent enough to receive the very help they need. Religion and archaic societal ideas are the very things that exacerbate an already difficult situation.
Legislating what marriage means in our secular world, keeping lesbian and gay people from having the same rights as everyone else, and preaching that being gay is a choice and a sin encourages people to be dishonest. It manipulates people into hiding this part of themselves by getting married to straight people, having children with them, and living a charade that will blow up in their faces — and in the faces of those they don’t want to hurt.4. Until conservative religious people face the truth about what their beliefs do to people who are lesbian or gay and married to a straight spouse, there will be very little change in religious communities. The expression “Love the sinner but hate the sin” is not in the Bible. It is a philosophy that was devised by St. Augustine and has been taken out of context for entirely too long. St. Augustine was referring to his own sin, but today people use it to refer to the “sins” of others. Gandhi had this to say about the idea: “‘Hate the sin and not the sinner’ is a precept which, though easy enough to understand, is rarely practiced, and that is why the poison of hatred spreads in the world.” As any critical thinker can see, this expression is not only unbiblical; it actually makes Gandhi a soothsayer. When we look at the “sins” of others and try to dictate what people can think and whom they can love, hatred abounds. It ultimately contributes to people entering into mixed-orientation marriages without the straight spouse knowing it.
Until a religious conservative experiences a child or a spouse coming out of the closet, the degree to which this belief hurts people — and even contributes to suicide — cannot be fully understood. People who claim to know how to “fix” something that isn’t broken, and haven’t walked in those shoes, have no business trying to lecture, counsel or legislate on these issues, unless they truly try to understand the situation. It’s impossible to “pray away the gay.” By definition, unconditional love does not place burdens on people, though that is exactly what happens when a conservative religious person deems an individual a “sinner” who needs to change.5. A relationship can go one of two ways after a spouse comes out as lesbian or gay: It can remain tenuous and bitter, or it can be beautiful. With a lot of time, work and compromise, a couple (especially one with children) can have a blended family without being married. Amicable divorce is possible. While it takes two people for it work, change is attainable and can turn tragedy into something wonderfully unique. Some people cannot move forward, especially if one of the spouses is unable to do what it takes because of selfishness or bitterness. This kind of thing is very sad, because it could have been avoided completely if our society and our religious leanings weren’t so guilt- and pressure-oriented regarding lesbian and gay people. If lesbian and gay people are able to live openly and honestly, a lot of heartache can be avoided. Mixed-orientation marriages can be a thing of the past if views on lesbian and gay people would evolve even more.
For people who are in this situation with kids, it can be a blessing. That may seem strange to hear, but ultimately, if it weren’t for the marriage, the gift of being a parent would not have been experienced. This can be the silver lining that actually helps people choose the beautiful path of amicable divorce and living as a blended family.
Unfortunately, there is no how-to book for mixed-orientation marriages. One of the toughest things about experiencing this path is that every situation and relationship is unique. No one has cornered the market on how to survive a mixed-orientation marriage, so the best way to make it through something like this is to rely on the wisdom of others who have gone through it. If people are to receive the support they need, dialogue is important, and knowledge of the experience is necessary, even for those who have never been touched by it. Being aware of all sides of the mixed-orientation marriage — from the gay spouse to the straight spouse to their families — is the best way to have empathy for others. If unconditional love is the goal, starting with understanding is a great place to begin. Find Emily’s blog, SameSides: Your Spouse Is Gay. What Now?, to receive encouragement and find resources available to you, the straight spouse in a mixed-orientation marriage. Also visit the Straight Spouse Network, another excellent resource.