Oasis plans

Since we're officially at the half-way point of the year, I figured I should catch everyone up on the state of things with Oasis.

As we haven't really moved the needle on traffic, and no plans have emerged to continue the site in some new direction with increased traffic, the site will shut down on November 30. As for why that specific date, Oasis launched on December 1, 1995, so that will put it at exactly 19 years.

As for what happens between now and then, here is what I am looking into:

Should you be on the pill?

Since this site has had HIV scares and HIV+ members in the past, I did want to bring people's attention to this drug I hadn't heard of before. Truvada is a pill you take daily which gives you some protection against getting infected with HIV.

It is still controversial, not because of its effectiveness or minimal side effects, but because it has the untrue stigma of encouraging risky behavior. But on a site with a younger readership, we've all seen by now that risky behavior happens anyway, so it would be better to be prepared for it, whether that is a broken condom or a lack of a condom not preventing the sexual activity.

It is being stigmatized in a way that no one would think to do to someone taking birth control every day.

If you are younger and sexually active, you should know there are new measures to keep you even more healthy that are likely covered by your (or your parents's) insurance.

Here is an article (with many additional links, as well as an entire linked follow-up thread) on Andrew Sullivan's site.

Oasis update...

OK, just wanted to get something up on the main page again, but so far we don't really seem to have a plan on how to get more people on the site.

I think I'm going to move up the deadline and, barring any burst in activity/membership, we'll probably shut the site down on December 1, 2014 (aka 361 days from now).

That will get us to 19 years in business. 20 sounded like a nice round number, but I can't see us doing two more years at this pace.

Geography Club: They Turned my Book Into a Movie!

By Brent Hartinger, author of Geography Club

They’ve turned my 2003 gay teen novel Geography Club into a movie. It’ll be released in select theaters and on video-on-demand everywhere on November 15th, 2013, and people have already started asking me how it all happened and what I’ve learned from the whole experience.

What did I learn?

The story starts when I graduated from college and decided to try to make a career writing novels and screenplays. It was the early 90s, and one of my first books was a young adult novel about a gay teen named Russel Middlebrook and his misfit friends. It was an extremely personal topic for me, because I had been a gay teenager, and I had also co-founded one of the United States’ very first gay teen support groups, in 1990.

For ten years, I (and later my agent, Jennifer DeChiara) tried to sell the book to publishers. A lot of editors wanted to buy it, but ultimately I heard the same thing over and over again: “I really like this, but the accountants at my publishing house tell me there’s no market for a book about gay teenagers.”

Kids React to Marriage Equality

I enjoyed this video a lot, it speaks well to the direction we're heading in... although it is interesting to see someone 6 who knows being gay is wrong, so that message gets out there early.

Oasis: Next Steps?

This isn't an announcement, just the start of a discussion. No decisions have been made and everything can change yet.

But the gist is that I'm thinking of shutting Oasis down on Dec. 1, 2015, exactly 20 years from when I started it. For the skimmers, that is in two years, not two months from now.

It is nearly impossible to chart how the world for LGBT youth has changed in that time, but my feeling is that those changes have sort of removed the need for a site like Oasis.

The Book of Matt: Book Review

By Jeff Walsh

It is hard to minimize the impact that the brutal death of Matthew Shepard had on the gay community in 1998. Even this site was flooded with a constant stream of poetry and other submissions in the days after his death, totally unsolicited, so much that we had to add a separate page to that month’s website as a special tribute to Matthew.

A few months later, I interviewed Alex Trout, one of Matthew’s best friends in Laramie, and that following June, got to hang out with Alex for a night of drinking and cruising in the Castro, as he and Matthew’s other friend, Walt Boulden, were honored as grand marshals in the San Francisco gay pride parade.

I’d really never given any further thought to Matthew Shepard since then, except for when his name came up in 2009 when federal hate crimes statute finally added LGBT protections with the Matthew Shepard Act. The most common touch point I’ve had to this 15-year-old case is that I often see my friend Garrin Benfield perform live in NYC, and his sets often include “What You're Hiding,” which has a chorus that ends, “Matthew, you lived your final hours, with the butt of a gun smashing in your brain.”

The case seemed simple and the justice swift. Matthew was the frail, baby-faced guy out in cowboy country of Laramie, Wyoming, who made a sexual advance on two guys, and they killed him for it. The lack of complexity was what made the case so perfect, and how everyone could easily put themselves in Matthew’s shoes, and imagine that simple gesture turning tragic.

In The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard, journalist Stephen Jimenez reveals how little of the narrative we’ve all come to know is accurate, as he spent more than a decade slowly peeling away protected layers until the real picture emerged.

New Book Challenges Matthew Shepard Story

This is a pretty game-changing book, given Matthew Shepard's name became synonymous with hate crimes back in the 90s. When this originally happened, Oasis had to add a special section that month, just to gather all of the poetry and content related to people's feelings and reactions to his murder. Definitely have to check out this book...

Interview courtesy of Andrew Sullivan at: http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2013/09/11/reexamining-the-murder-of-matthew-shepard/

Troye Sivan, aka Young Wolverine, comes out

Troye Sivan, 18, came out of the closet on YouTube today in a funny, charming, heartfelt, articulate way to his 465,000 subscribers. He played the young Hugh Jackman in X Men Origins: Wolverine, and is now part of the Spud movie franchise. Check it out!

Ari Southiphong: An Update

When I interviewed Andy South in 2010, the cute Asian designer was a contestant on Project Runway. Since that time, we have kept in touch on Facebook and I have been aware for a while now that Andy had since transitioned and was now living and being as amazing as ever, only now she was Ariyaphon Southiphong, or Ari for short.

We keep putting off doing an interview, and we'll resolve that soon enough, but a recent interview she did with PBS Hawaii, where she still lives, was too good not to share. Sadly, the video doesn't allow embedding, so you'll have to go to YouTube to watch it. It is in two parts, each at shortly under 30 minutes.

Part One: http://youtu.be/FvSgVAFuBlg

Part Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTwqSd56A5c

Her journey has been amazing, and I think she is a great spokesperson for the transgender, and LGBT, community, as well as an amazing person and designer.

Defense of Marriage Act, Prop 8 case ruled unconstitutional

The United States Supreme Court just ruled that section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Constitution. This decision, in the ACLU's lawsuit on behalf of Edie Windsor, marks a watershed moment in the movement for LGBT equality. It's a monumental victory for Edie Windsor, for married same-sex couples, and for the bedrock American value of equality.

The Court also restored the freedom to marry in California. Dismissing the appeal by the proponents of Prop 8 (the folks who put it on the ballot) for lack of standing, the Court effectively re-instated the trial court decision from August 2010, which struck Prop 8 down as violating the U.S. Constitution. We congratulate the Perry team on their incredible achievement – persuading the Court to allow California to become the 13th state (and the District of Columbia) to embrace marriage for everyone.

Much remains to be done to bring the freedom to marry to everyone in America. But the momentum behind the freedom to marry today is unprecedented – just seven months ago, there were only 6 states plus DC where same-sex couples could marry, and none of those marriages were respected by the federal government. Now we have more than double that number, and have federal recognition as well. We made that progress at the ballot box, in state legislatures, in the courts today, and in conversations around kitchen tables all across the country.

Above text from the ACLU website. More detail at http://www.aclu.org/blog/lgbt-rights/doma-unconstitutional-and-prop-8-goes-down-too

My apologies to people in more progressive countries who have to watch us flounder towards equality...

Ex-Gay Ministry Exodus International Closes, Apologizes

For 37 years, Exodus International has led the ridiculous, hurtful, shameful, reductive, and traumatic ex-gay movement that taught many teens that being gay was wrong, sinful, shameful and tried to help people "pray away the gay" and become straight as God intended.

It was always a group preying on people's combination of hope and self-hatred by holding out the fictional dream of a happy heterosexual future, and many young people especially were victimized by their clueless, well-meaning parents into these horrible torturous environments.

But this week, Exodus decided to close their doors for good and their current leader issued a lengthy, emotional apology that he wrote with the blood of 35+ years of gay teen suicides his group helped cause. Here's a brief excerpt:

"Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine."

I guess I'm against public stoning, and there's no such thing as a "culture war criminal," so I guess the only comfort is knowing less people will ever be presented with this quackery as a viable option. And an increased public awareness about the long-term harm this nonsense causes to the people it doesn't put on a path to suicide.

The Elephant of Surprise: Book Review

By Jeff Walsh

I have a friend and former teacher that I see whenever I go home to visit and, even without much warning, we'll end up sitting at a corner table at a casino bar, order some drinks, and settle in.

It's become pretty routine that we're going to catch up on things, have some deep conversation, and just enjoy each other's company for a few hours. And, no matter how long it's been since we last got together, the connections flood back and you realize the special bonds that people share.

When I got my review copy of Brent Hartinger's The Elephant of Surprise, I was a bit apprehensive. How long ago did I read the last book? How did it end? And, since this is the fourth book in the Geography Club series that began a decade ago, how did we get here?

I didn't need to worry. First of all, Hartinger does a quick summary at the beginning of the book. But as you start reading the names, and how the characters interact, it all starts coming back to you. Maybe not every plot point of all three books, but the bonds between the characters, the little quirky details, and the comfort of being on a journey with these friends again.

RIP Brandon Lacy Campos

Another new social media experience I had tonight is seeing a friend tagged in a lot of photos and such on my Facebook ticker, and when I finally clicking through to see what kind of trouble he was out getting himself into, I learned that all of the tags were, sadly, eulogies...

I knew William Brandon Lacy Campos from around when I first started Oasis in 1995, and he would submit columns every month in his early activist days in the mid-to-late 90s. We never became great friends then, but I always stayed aware of what he was up to.

When we were both in the Bay Area and later NYC, we made a lot of casual plans that fell through, as you do, finally seeing The Kinsey Sicks at the Highline a few months back. But with Facebook, we thrived. Every day, we traded torrents of bitchy over-the-top remarks. I'd say something culturally insensitive. He'd threaten to slap be back to slavery. I'd ask if I could pick what kind of plantation I wanted to own, and on and on.

The subtext was always playful, though, and I enjoyed being connected with him as often as we were through our conversations. I mean, why spend time making fun of people you don't care about?! So, our physical interactions were incredibly low, but after more than two decades of being aware of someone, there remains that connection.

Anthony Lee Medina: Interview

By Jeff Walsh

Anthony Lee Medina first caught my attention when he nearly fell on me during the Spring Awakening tour in San Francisco. I was seated onstage, and he took an impressive spill during 'Bitch of Living,' that only seemed to energize him more for the song.

I'm never quite sure what it is about seeing certain performers in a show, and you follow them after that show, but I've always kept up with Anthony (Facebook helps there).

Of course, since that time in 2008, I spent much of the time erroneously thinking Anthony was straight and not Oasis material, a notion that was quickly dispelled upon seeing his solo show, Anthony Lee Medina - About Me, after moving to NYC.

Now, Anthony is starting a new part of his career, as he raises the money to put out his first collection of songs, The Ladybug Articles, later this year. Most of the songs are inspired by his ongoing tumultuous relationship with a guy he is still in love with.

We met during the recent heatwave at Otarian, a vegetarian restaurant he turned me onto in the city, and we talked. A lot. Here's what we had to say:

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