Nigeria: Nigeria is the most homophobic country in the world, according to a 2013 poll, which found 97 percent of citizens think society should not accept homosexuality. The laws reflect that: Same-sex couples face up to 14 years in prison and even public displays of same-sex affection are illegal.
Uganda: The spotlight has been focused on Kampala recently for its anti-LGBT policies. A law passed this week makes homosexuality punishable by up to life in prison, gay rights activists have been murdered, and gay citizens are widely discriminated against.
Zimbabwe: President Robert Mugabe has made a crusade out of homophobia – with widespread public approval. Last year, Mugabe threatened to behead gay Zimbabweans and described them as “filth.”
Saudi Arabia: Basing its law, it says, on a strict interpretation of Islamic law, the current Saudi regime has made gay sex punishable by death by the lash. But according to some reports from inside the Kingdom, that doesn’t mean homosexuality isn’t common.
India: Thought of as a highly tolerant society, it came as a surprise earlier this year when the country’s highest court reinstated a colonial-era law criminalizing gay sex. But the decision has been met with protests and the court’s decision is being challenged.
Honduras: There have been a spate of anti-LGBT hate crimes here in recent years. More than 80 LGBT people have been killed in anti-LGBT hate crimes since 2009 and LGBT-rights activist say they are shunned by their families and communities.
Jamaica: Sex between men is illegal, hate crimes are alarmingly common and the government seems reluctant to protect gays from violence. Senegal One of the most anti-gay countries in the world, according to a 2013 Pew poll, which found 96 percent of Senegalese think society should not accept homosexuality, only surpassed by Nigeria at 97 percent. Gay sex is illegal and discrimination is commonplace.
Afghanistan: It may no longer be under the rule of the Taliban (at least in much of the country), but harsh views toward homosexuality still remain. It’s still news when an Afghan comes out as gay, even from Toronto. Yet its male homosexual culture is widespread but rarely commented on.
Iran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s last president, famously told Americans: “We don’t have homosexuals in our country like you do.” His successor, Hassan Rouhani, elected last June, hasn’t made gay rights – or anti-gay legislation – a priority, but it’s already on the books. Homosexuality is illegal in Iran and can even be punishable by death in certain cases.
Lithuania: The Baltic state’s parliament is considering a law similar to Russia’s notorious anti-gay anti-propaganda law. And while homosexuality isn’t illegal, it has many opponents. Last year’s second-ever gay pride parade was interrupted by homophobic protesters.
Sudan: Homosexuality is punishable by death and even attempts at arranging a homosexual act can lead to a prison sentence. The good news is that there have been stirrings in recent years of a pro-LGBT rights movement.
The United States: We have undoubtedly made great strides in LGBT rights in recent years, from same-sex marriage to equality in the military. But Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina and several other states have laws on the books that resemble Russia’s anti-gay propaganda laws. And anti-LGBT hate crimes remain frighteningly common, especially against transgender people.
Photo: Gay rights activists hold placards during a protest against a verdict by the Supreme Court in New Delhi December 15, 2013. (Photo credit: Adnan Abid/Reuters)
"Growing up straight in a dominantly homophobic and homosexual sport was hard for me and for them," he adds. "I remember my family defending my sexuality before I even understood what sexuality meant."
"I remember being constantly asked, ‘Oh, you’re a figure skater now? So you’re gay?’"
At 12, Larcom went to live and train as a pairs skater in Tampa, Fla. Despite being thousands of miles from home, he encountered the same stereotypes. Once, a girlfriend, a fellow skater, dumped him because her friends teased her about dating a male figure skater. Hockey players called him “fag,” “gay,” “homo” and “queer.”
"I’d be holding my skating partner’s hand [while practicing on the ice], and I’d want to go faster and stronger to prove I could beat them," Larcom says about the hockey players. "I thought, You’re playing with sticks, but I have this girl who I can lift and throw. You try to look like you’re Goliath." MORE | Timeline
Pulitzer Prize–eligible magazine The National Enquirer broke an old but interesting story this week about Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. The ultra-wholesome image cultivated by Clark and his producers was unsurprisingly the result of behind-the-scenes pruning, as Clark would frequently conduct “witch hunts” to “purge gays from the ranks.”
After taking over Bandstand from original host Bob Horn, who had been locked up for drunk driving (and had also recently been acquitted for statutory rape), Clark built the show into a platform for himself as a host, as well as a way to introduce rock and roll to the suburbs through the medium of television. Clark has been credited with inventing modern youth culture, but also of being a cold and calculating media gangster who was backed into selling his payola shares during an investigation by the United States government in 1960.
Many of the show’s male dancers were apparently gay, but had to remain extremely secretive about it lest they be ferreted out by producers and forced to resign. Tyrannical policies like these were extremely typical for the ’50s and early ’60s, and their acceptance was so widespread that gay dancers did not even want to risk talking about it until now.
Former Bandstand regulars Frank Brancaccio and Eddie Kelly talked to the Enquirer about what really went on behind the scenes at the show. Both Brancaccio and Kelly refer to themselves as loners and misfits, who say that being on Bandstand gave them a place to feel comfortable being themselves. Well, as much themselves as Clark would allow.
Although it was hush-hush, both men estimate that a lot of the male Bandstand dancers were gay, and that the homophobic straight guys they knew were well aware of this and would hurl slurs at them as they walked around public parts of town.
Kelly, now in his seventies, talks about how producers tried to bust gay dancers at popular cruising spots: “Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square was known as a meeting place for homosexuals. If you were seen in the square, you couldn’t go on Bandstand. So most of us really stayed away.”
The rest of the story: Dick Clark and American Bandstand’s Behind-the-Scenes Anti-Gay History
Out and proud hip-hop artist Le1f tells us what he thinks of World Star Hip Hop’s recent grammatically-challenged headline, “This Is What Happens When Rappers Start Admitting Their Gay? Hip-Hop Artist Le1f—Wut.”