The Shmooze

Can Soy Products Turn You Gay?

By Maya Shwayder

Getty Images

An ultra-Orthodox sect has banned its Yeshiva students from eating soy products on the basis that the levels of estrogen found in soy beans could turn the men gay, the Haredi World newspaper reported on Tuesday.

School officials are concerned that eating anything containing soy, even just one a week, “can cause unwanted arousal,” and “accelerate sexual maturity.”

While soy beans are known to be a high-level source of phytoestrogen, and consuming huge quantities of soy can have “feminizing effects” on some men’s bodies, eating soy products has not been proven to turn people change people’s sexual preferences.

The Gur Hasidic dynasty, which originated in Poland, is known for having some of the most extreme restrictions on sexual practices in the Jewish world. For example Haredi media outlets reported in August that Gur Rabbi Avraham Binyamin Zilberberg had prohibited physical contact between men, such as shaking hands, for fear that such intimacy might “awaken the evil inclination” and “cause him to have thoughts of misbehavior,” Ma’ariv reported at the time.

Leaders of the group could not be reached for comment and it was not immediately clear where the yeshiva is located.

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Zachary Quinto Talks 'Star Trek,' Spock And Coming Out

By Reuters

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Zachary Quinto

LOS ANGELES - Actor Zachary Quinto has transitioned swiftly from a television villain into an unlikely action film star in J.J Abrams’ rebooted “Star Trek” franchise, playing the series’ most recognizable half-Vulcan, Spock.

The 35-year-old actor, who gained fame as super-villain Sylar in sci-fi television series “Heroes,” will reprise his role as the pointy-eared first officer of the starship Enterprise in “Star Trek Into Darkness,” which will be released in theaters on Friday.

The actor spoke about the challenges of playing Spock and why he chose to go public about being gay.

Q: “Star Trek Into Darkness” has more action, set pieces and destinations than the 2009 reboot. Is that right?

A: You’re right. It’s a larger scale version of the “Star Trek” story. The first one was about re-conceiving people’s perceptions of “Star Trek,” and trying to infuse it with new energy. The self-contained and more intimate nature of that film made sense. Now, people are more familiar with us as these characters so this movie builds on that and expands on it.

Q: What is Spock struggling with in this film?

A: I think he’s learning how to be accountable and responsible to the people he loves and cares about. He is learning to embody and live the qualities of what it means to be a friend and what it means to be responsible to other people emotionally, because that’s not the place from which he leads. He needs to learn how to integrate that part of himself and honor the feelings he has for the people he loves.

Q: What do you learn from Spock on a personal level?

A: I have an inherent understanding to his nature, which is one of duality - the head versus the heart. That is certainly something I can relate to. As someone who has been considered pretty intellectual and wordy, I also have a deep well of emotional life. I understand what it means to be in constant relationship to both of those aspects of myself.

Q: Which of Spock’s qualities do you aspire for yourself?

A: The equanimity with which he deals with every situation in front of him, and the thoughtfulness and care he gives to measure his reactions. Sometimes I can be a little extreme in my reaction to something. I respect his reservedness and pensive consideration, which is an aspect of me but outweighed by my instinctual or impulsive reactions to things sometimes.

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James Franco's Naughty Birthday Cake

By Anne Cohen

James Franco turned 35 on April 19, but the actor saved his birthday bash for a trip to Miami, where he received the HBO Latin America Ally Award for his “unwavering support for the LGBT community” at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

Sitting poolside on Tuesday, the actor tweeted a picture of his S and M-themed birthday cake — complete with a strap-on, a ball gag, a leather whip, and more — a nod to his film “Interior. Leather Bar.” a re-imagining of the deleted footage from the 1980 gay-themed film “Cruising.”

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Stern Weighs in on Obama Marriage Stance

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Radio host Howard Stern is telling President Obama to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. While so many other celebrities have been praising the president for publicly stating earlier this week that he is personally in favor of same-sex marriage, Stern is criticizing him for not going far enough.

“I wish the president actually had gone further. I wish he said he was going to back some legislation on the national level,” Stern told reporters at a press conference about his new gig as an “America’s Got Talent” judge. However, the shock jock did admit that he did appreciate the president’s “evolving” views on marriage equality. “Okay, this is a good first step,” he said. “It’s a baby step.”

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Jewish Paper Stands Up to Anti-Gay Bullies

By Michael Kaminer

The Jewish Press, a Brooklyn-based weekly tabloid with a strong religious focus, is standing its ground after its advertisers were “threatened” by unnamed groups who objected to a recent op-ed by a gay ex-Hasid.

That story, by a young man named Chaim Levin, revealed “bullying, silencing, and torment for being gay in the frum community”, forced therapy sessions aimed at changing his sexual orientation – and pressure in his Orthodox milieu that nearly led Levin to suicide.

In an op-ed this week headlined “The Jewish Press Won’t Be Silenced,” the paper’s editorial board thanked “our advertisers who have notified us that they plan to continue with us despite the threatening letters and that they won’t give into threats either, particularly when an article like this one may very well have saved a Jewish life.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: LGBT, Gay, Change.org, Chaim Levin, Bullying, TruthWinsOut

JDL Compares Gay People to Nazis

By Michael Kaminer

Extremism makes strange bedfellows. The Jewish Defense League is trying to rally Toronto Jews to protest against the city’s Pride parade committee by comparing gay people… to Nazis.

Ironically — as the Forward reported in January — a right-wing fanatic named Scott Lively had floated the notion that Nazis were “a homosexual, pagan cult” in a widely discredited book.

This time around, Toronto lesbian/gay newspaper Xtra reports, the JDL is using the comparison to lure Toronto Jews to a demonstration at Pride Toronto’s offices. JDL’s Facebook invitation asserts, in part, that “during the Nazi era, many high-ranking Nazis were gay,” Xtra reports.

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Caught on Camera: Galliano Proclaims 'I Love Hitler'

By Nathan Burstein

So much for that defamation suit.

Fashion designer John Galliano is now in even deeper trouble after being arrested last week in Paris for an anti-Semitic tirade. (Anti-Semitic speech is illegal in France). England’s Sun newspaper posted video of the rant online today, with the clip immediately going viral, and contradicting Galliano’s denials last week about the incident.

Galliano, who initially threatened a defamation suit against his victims, will now have to explain footage that shows him proclaiming, “I love Hitler” and telling his targets, not unhappily, that if history had worked out differently, “People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers would all be f—ing gassed.”

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Gays Were Behind the Nazi Party and Other Strange Allegations

By Michael Kaminer

Gay people were behind the rise of the Nazi party during World War II. And now, they’re trying to suppress a book about their role.

If you believe the right-wing web site World Net Daily, this isn’t wingnut fiction, but historical fact. And independent-media site AlterNet is reporting that World Net Daily is not only continuing to sell “The Pink Swastika” — a widely discredited book promoting the gay-Nazi “theory” — but is capitalizing on recent controversy “by claiming that the gay community is trying to silence the book’s ‘findings.’”

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Winona Ryder Knew Mel Gibson was Anti-Semitic Long Before We Did

By Dana Shay Ipri

Winona Ryder, the 90s star who can be seen starring alongside Natalie Portman in the newly released film “Black Swan,” is sharing some not-so-warm Mel Gibson memories. Turns out, Gibson’s racist tirades, which have come into the spotlight in the past few years, actually date back over a decade.

Ryder, 39, whose career was dampened due to a little shoplifting scandal, is now back on the acting scene, and she’s talking about the past. US Magazine reports that in an interview with GQ Magazine, Ryder discusses how 15 years ago, “at one of those big Hollywood parties,” Gibson had a few too many drinks and was acting out. She explains, “I was with my friend, who’s gay. [Gibson] made a really horrible gay joke. And somehow it came up that I was Jewish. He said something about ‘oven dodgers,’ but I didn’t get it.”

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Gay Orthodox Jews Say 'It Gets Better'

By Karen Granit

Check out this video, the latest in the “It Gets Better” installments against anti-gay bullying. This one, a collaboration between JQYouth and the The Gay and Lesbian Yeshiva Day School Alumni Association, features gay Orthodox Jews discussing their experiences growing up and telling how life ultimately gets better.

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Chicago LGBT Synagogue Was Alleged Target of Explosive Packages

By Michael Kaminer

Rabbi Michael Zedek of Emmanuel Congregation teaches a Torah class.

A gay and lesbian synagogue in Chicago was a target of explosive-laden packages from Yemen intercepted by authorities over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal has reported. Or Chadash, a 100-member congregation whose web site identifies it as “the Chicagoland synagogue serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual Jews, their families, friends and loved ones,” is housed within the Reform temple Emanuel Congregation on the shores of Lake Michigan. A children’s day school also shares the space.

“We’re rather puzzled at how a little congregation like ours would get on the radar as a target for somebody,” Rabbi Larry Edwards told the Journal. “I’m hoping for more information.”

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Rabbi Larry Edwards, Or Chadash, Gay, Lesbian, Explosive, Emanuel Congregation, Chicago, Bomb, Bisexual, Transgender

Paladino’s Apology Sticks in Rabbi Levin’s Throat

By Allison Kaplan Sommer

New York gubernatorial hopeful Republican Carl. P. Paladino should be more relieved than distressed after Rabbi Yehuda Levin loudly, publicly — and colorfully — renounced his support for Paladino’s New York gubernatorial bid, telling the New York Times that the GOP nominee “folded like a cheap camera” in the face of backlash over remarks about gays. Paladino’s crime was apologizing for stating that children shouldn’t be “brainwashed” into believing homosexuality was “valid.”

“I was in the middle of eating a kosher pastrami sandwich,” Rabbi Levin said. “While I was eating it, they come running and they say, ‘Paladino became gay!’ I said, ‘What?’ And then they showed me the statement. I almost choked on the kosher salami.”

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Apologizing, Elena Kagan, Gay, Paladino, Yehuda Levin

Jews Dominate Forbes Rich List

By Karen Granit

Forbes.com

Forbes released its annual list of 400 richest Americans on Wednesday and Jews took 30 of the top 100 spots (thanks Gawker, for doing the demographic breakdown for us).

The price of admission onto the 29th Rich List was a staggering $1 billion, and, not surprisingly — as far as minorities go, at least — Jews took excelled. The breakdown, according to Gawker’s research, included one black woman (No. 130, Oprah Winfrey), three gay men (No. 54, David Geffen; No. 332, Barry Diller; and No. 365, Peter Thiel), four Indians, six (non-Indian) Asians, 34 women, and, of course, 30 Jews in the top 100 (see below). They must have stopped counting after the 100 mark.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Wednesday, Rich, Peter THiel, Oprah Winfrey, Indians, Gay, Gawker, Forbes, David Geffen, Barry DIller, Asian, 100

Conservative Machzor Makes Room for Gay Jews

By Michael Kaminer

“His/her death left me with a legacy of unhealed wounds, of anger and dismay.”

This emotional phrase describes a “parent who was hurtful.” Now it appears in a groundbreaking new High Holidays machzor whose prayers aim to include lesbian and gay Jews, for whom the words might carry even more of an emotional charge. The New York Times reported on the book last week.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Machzor, Lesbian, Julie Schonfeld, Jews, Gay, Avinu Malkeinu, Prayer, Yom Kippur

Jewish Cop Who Inadvertently Helped Advance Gay Rights Dies

By Michael Kaminer

A Jewish cop whose actions in 1969 helped advance rights for gay people in the U.S. — albeit inadvertently — has died at the age of 91.

Seymour Pine was the deputy police inspector who led the raid on the Greenwich Village gay bar the Stonewall Inn in 1969. As The New York Times wrote in today’s Pine obit, the moment — and the legendary riots that followed — “helped start the gay liberation movement.” Stonewall, gay historian David Carter told the Times, “is to the gay movement what the fall of the Bastille is to the unleashing of the French Revolution.”

Pine apologized repeatedly for his role in the raid. In a now-famous 2004 talk at the New York Historical Society, according to the Villager newspaper, “Pine admitted that the police of the era were biased against gays. “They certainly were prejudiced. There was no question about that,” he said. “But they had no idea about what gay people were about.”

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Gay, David Carter, Cop, Seymour Pine, Stonewall Inn

Gay Israeli Teen Kidnapped by Family

By Michael Kaminer

With all the buzz about how hot Tel Aviv’s become for gay travelers, we still get the occasional reminder that not everyone’s on board with circuit parties, muscle boys and beach cruising.

Take the family of a 19-year-old gay man living in Tel Aviv. Four people from his hometown of Tamra, an Arab enclave in Israel’s north, are accused of “kidnapping their homosexual relative and taking him on a 12-hour nightmare, all because of his sexual tendencies,” according to an article on Ynetnews.com.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Angel, Arab, Gay, Israel, Kidnapped, Miri Peled, PinkNews, Tamra

Gay Tourist Robbed, Left Naked at Israel Intersection

By Michael Kaminer

Criminals apparently got the memo that Tel Aviv’s now hot with gay tourists, as the Forward recently reported. According to JPost.com, a British traveler was lured into a robbery with promises of sex, then left stranded — and naked — at a Tel Aviv intersection by a male perp.

Though reports of the crime just surfaced yesterday, police say the alleged attack took place on April 4. The Briton got friendly with the suspected robber on one of Tel Aviv’s gay-friendly beaches. The victim drove with his new friend to a secluded spot under a bridge, where they started “engaging in sexual acts,” according to JPost. Then the alleged criminal, a Palestinian who lives in the West Bank, threatened the Brit, kicked him out of the car and sped off with his clothes and possessions.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Tel Aviv, Steele Luxury Travel, Perp, Palestinian, Naked, Forward, Gay, Israel, Dane Steele Green, Briton, British




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