America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo review a hero at the Golden Gate

One Filipino migrants struggle to live her American dream after two years in a prison camp induces for a blazingly fearless debut novel

While serving as a medic in the revolutionary New People’s Army in the 1980 s, Geronima, called Hero for short, is captured by the Filipino military. After two years in a prison camp she weighs less than 90 lb and cannot bear to be touched. Hero’s mutilated thumbs and cigarette-burn scars are not easy to hide but she maintains her emotional meanders to herself after joining her uncle’s family in California at the beginning of America Is Not the Heart .

Hero guards another secret too: she favor daughters. In this blazingly fearless debut fiction, Elaine Castillo renders a faggot hero with a history of suffering on a par with tragic Jude from Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life ( 2015 ). She also probes the same disconcerting topic: can such a profoundly traumatic past ever actually be redeemed by love?

Much of the fiction is set at the start of 1990 s. Heaving with digressive sub-stories, untranslated dialect and jarring gearshifts in style, at first America Is Not the Heart somewhat resembles the hyperactive maximalist fiction that reached its zenith with David Foster Wallace during that decade.

In a startling opening riff in the second person, we gratify nurse Paz as she makes the leap from the Philippines to the San Francisco Bay Area in the hope of a better life( and so paving the route for new spouse Pol, and eventually his niece Hero, to follow on family visas ). For a Filipino generation who spent their lives” dreaming of America, singing its lyrics” the hardships of settling in their adoptive country are powerfully voiced here:” As for loving America or not loving America, these aren’t your problems, either. Your term for love is survival. Everything else is a story that isn’t about you .”

The American dream offers a salvation myth, which lures seekers to a country where a surgeon like Pol can become a” poorly paid security guard at a computer chip company “. Frequently harking back to the privilege of the clan in the Philippines, we feel girded for a panoramic household saga about the disillusionment of the Filipino-American diaspora.

After resolving on Hero, however, the novel observes its feet, all the better for planting them on modest ground. Hero’s new life in America is confined to cleaning Paz’s house and ferrying her daughter Roni to school until she satisfies a beguiling makeup artist named Rosalyn. Swapping exuberances for manga comics and British indie rock leads in time to red-hot sex crashes in vehicles and kitchens.

Hero’s circle slowly expands. Despite her broken thumbs, she can manage work in a eatery thanks to some dextrous adaptations, but it remains to be seen whether she can open her damaged heart to the besotted Rosalyn. Flashbacks to her stint in the guerrilla insurgency leave us in no doubt about why this is so excruciating for Hero. The novel is a possibility set in an unpicturesque part of the Bay Area- and Hero takes her sweet time to even visit the” glamorous red-bridged seaside city” to the north- but Castillo infuses their fragile fag romance with a luminous naturalism.

At a period when the US president is making ominous swipes against” chain migration”, the hugely talented Castillo provides a nuanced and persuasive take from the other side. America, to many disenchanted settlers, may not be the heart, but it sometimes provides a more hospitable corner where someone like Hero can begin to regain her own:” It was only that a small, small door inside of her had been left ajar , not thrown open, and things started to emerge, sluggish and night-blind .”

America Is Not the Heart is at its most moving when tracking the smaller, arduous steps by which consolidation actually happens, whether social, culture or emotional. It seems that some dreamings, albeit the ones not outsized enough to be blazoned in neon, can come true in America after all.

* America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo is published by Atlantic( PS14. 99 ). To order a transcript for PS12. 74 go toguardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p& p over PS10, online orders merely. Phone orders min p& p of PS1. 99

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Rita Ora apologises after LGBT criticism of her song Girls

After the way is criticised for its tone-deaf portraying of same-sex relationships, Ora says sorry for the style she expressed herself

Rita Ora has apologised after her new song Girls, featuring all-star guests Cardi B, Charli XCX and Bebe Rexha, was criticised for a “tone-deaf” approach to same-sex relationships.

The song’s lyrics reference Ora’s bisexuality, saying,” I’m 50 -5 0 and I’m never going to hide it ,” before going to get a chorus that rebuffs a man’s advances, read:” Red wine, I simply want to kiss daughters .” A line from Cardi B reads:” I could be your lipstick just for one night .”

Pop star Hayley Kiyoko wrote on Twitter that Girls did” more harm than good for the LGBTQ+ community. A anthem like this just gas the male gaze while marginalising the idea of women loving females … I don’t need to drink wine to kiss daughters; I’ve loved women my entire life .” She added that the sung” belittles and negates the very pure impressions of an entire community “.

R& B singer Kehlani, who recently defined herself as queer on Twitter, wrote that” there were many awkward slurs, quotes … I never presumed it was for men lol just think certain quotes weren’t progressive .” DJ Kittens wrote:” This song is literally about was intended to hehe kiss daughters when you’re drinking and smoking weed … It’s harmful when LGBT women are fetishised and no relationships are ever taken seriously .”

Ora has now responded to the criticism, saying she was ” sorry[ if] how I carried myself in the song has hurt anyone. I would never intentionally cause harm to other LBGTQ+ people or anyone .” She said the song” was written to represent my truth and is an accurate account of a very real and honest experience in my life. I have had romantic relationships with women and men throughout my life and this is my personal journey .”

She had previously said the song was inspired in part by Katy Perry’s similarly-minded I Kissed a Girl, though Perry herself lately admitted that some lyrics in the ballad were outdated, telling:” It has a couple of stereotypes in it .”

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Ontario issues first non-binary birth certificate after human rights claim

Joshua Ferguson celebrates victory for the trans community almost a year after petitioning Canadas biggest province for a new document

Canada’s largest province has issued its first non-binary birth certification, marking the culmination of a successful human rights assert against Ontario.

Joshua Ferguson had waited nearly a year after petitioning the provincial government for a new birth certification in order change the document from male to non-binary, as Ferguson identifies as neither male nor female. Instead, the film-maker uses the pronoun “they”.

” It’s a victory for me. It’s a victory for the trans community ,” Ferguson told reporters on Monday.

Born in Ontario but now residing in Vancouver, Ferguson had travelled to Toronto to apply for the new birth certificate, which they said would better reflect their identity. Ferguson’s successful application follows a move by the transgender activist Gemma Hickey, whose non-binary birth certificate in Newfoundland and Labrador last year marked a first for Canada.

Ontario now provides several options for gender on birth certificates. In Ferguson’s case, gender is denoted by an “X”, but petitioners can also have their gender removed wholly from the official document.

Ontario issued its first gender-neutral driving licenses and health identification cards last year. The federal government has said it will shortly devote Canadians the options to choice a third gender option when applying for a passport, a deviation from the standard “male” or “female” options.

In 2017, California passed legislation to allow non-binary as an option for birth certificates, a law to go into consequence in 2018.

” I feel a sense of relief because I know that this policy will save lives ,” said Ferguson. A examine released last year presented a significant number of trans youth in western Canada had contemplated suicide.

” I felt hope in my heart for the time when all of us are valued and respected as human beings ,” Ferguson wrote in the caption of a photograph posted to social media.” It’s what truly matters .”

” This result pleases me greatly ,” said Susan Gapka, a veteran trans activist in Toronto. While indicators of skin and eye colour have been disposed, told Gapka, gender identity has until recently remained fairly rigid on government documents.

” We now have an ever-expanding and ever broadening understanding gender categories. Joshua’s outcome should be seen as a success .”

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China’s Weibo reverses ban on ‘homosexual’ content after outcry

Microblogging sites move to create harmonious surrounding prompted protests under the hashtag #Iamgay

One of China’s largest social media sites, Sina Weibo, has reversed a ban on online content “related to homosexuality” after outcry from the country’s internet users.

On Friday, Sina Weibo said that for the next three months it would be removing comics and videos” with pornographic implications, promoting bloody violence, or related to homosexuality “. The internet company said the initiative was in an effort to” create a sunny and harmonious community surrounding” and comply with the country’s cybersecurity laws.

In response, Weibo users posted photos with their partners, comments, and rainbow emojis, accompanied by the hashtags #iamgay and #iamgaynotapervert.

A woman in Shanghai wrote in a post that received more than 55,000 likes:” I am the mother of a gay son. My son and I love our country. No matter where we go we tell others aloud and proudly that we are from China … But today … I suddenly[ find] that in this strong country, Sina Weibo is discriminating against and attacking this sex minority .”

Many quoted China’s constitution and laws about the protection of minorities. One internet user referred to article 38 of China’s constitution which maintains that the” personal dignity” of Chinese citizens is “inviolable” and that insult directed against citizens is prohibited.

Others pointed out homosexuality was decriminalised in 1997 and in 2001 removed from the government’s list of mental disorders.

Following the deluge of remarks Sina Weibo said on Monday that its campaign will no longer include lesbian content and would only focus on checking pornographic and violent material.” Thank you everyone for the discussion and your suggestions ,” it said in a statement on its microblog account.

Much of China’s LGBT community has been forced underground. Merely 15% said they had told their parents, and merely 5% had come out publicly, according to a 2016 survey from the UN. Gay conversion therapy is still used in some public hospitals and private clinics.

The online backlash to Sina Weibo’s policy is an indicator of growing acceptance and confidence of China’s gay community, according to Lu Pin, an activist and founder of the Feminist Voices blog. Vibrant lesbian communities exist in cities such as Shanghai, where rights groups have organised cruises for family members to come out to one another. Industries have been targeting the so-called pink economy of the LGBT community.

” China’s gay community continues to push through obstacles. The growth around the world in support for gay rights has also given the Chinese strength” Lu said.

China’s online space has come under increasingly tighter control. In January, authorities ordered Sina Weibo to shut several portals, as part of the government’s efforts to eliminate “vulgar” or “harmful” online content. State media said last year 128,000 websites were closed for such content.

Weibo censors began deleting posts and blocking searches related to the ban over the weekend. But Weibo users persisted. One wrote,” You don’t allow me to speak, so you think I will simply shut up? You delete my post, and you think I won’t post another? Every day you delete, we will start again .”

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Gus Kenworthy’s kiss with boyfriend on NBC greeted with acclaim

The British-born American freestyle skier failed to add to his silver from Sochi, but a historic kiss with his boyfriend on primetime network TV may have made an even bigger impact back home

India’s highest court to review colonial-era law criminalising gay sex

Supreme court to re-examine legislation activists say is used to blackmail LGBTI Indians and block HIV and Aids initiatives

India may be on trackfor a major victory for lesbian rights after the supreme court agreed to re-examine a colonial-era statute outlawing sex between men.

The court said on Monday that it would refer the question of the validity of section 377 of the Indian penal code to a larger bench for its further consideration before October.

Section 377, modelled on a 16 th-century British statute, bans” carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, female or animal”, and is punishable by life imprisonment.

About 1,347 occurrences were registered in 2015, most in regards to alleged sex offences against children.

The supreme court observed in 2013 that fewer than 200 people had been convicted of lesbian acts under the legislation, but activists claim it is regularly used to blackmail and intimidate LBGTI Indian, and stymie HIV/ Aids prevention efforts.

Harish Iyer, an activist, said he was ” cautiously optimistic” that the court would scrap the 150 -year-old law. Another LBGTI advocate, Aditya Bondyopadhyay, said the court had already signalled an intention to hear challenges to segment 377,” but at the least now we know when it is going to happen, we have a date “.

A three-judge bench of the court was responding to a occurrence lodged by homosexual activists arguing that the ban had set them at constant danger of apprehend.” A section of people or individuals who exercise their choice should never remain in a state of anxiety ,” the justices said.

” Choice can’t be allowed to cross boundaries of law, but confines of law can’t trampling or curtail the inherent right embedded in an individual under article 21 of[ the] constitution .”

Article 21 of the Indian constitution says:” No person shall be deprived of their own lives or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law .”

The ban on lesbian sex was overturned by the Delhi high court in 2009, but reinstated by the supreme court four years later in a judgment that described widespread disapproval, including from the UN.

The law was thought to be vulnerable to legal challenge since a landmark decision in September, which recognised that article 21 assured a privacy rights. Several supreme court judges noted that sexual orientation fell under the privacy umbrella.

Anand Grover, a senior lawyer who argued the example that initially overturned the law, said the latest challenge had” no choice but to succeeded “.

Bondyopadhyay said it was clear the court had been increasingly bothered by its earlier decision upholding the ban and was looking for an opportunity to correct it.

” There has been so much criticism of the judgment, and mobilisation on the ground and adoption levels have gone up by a lot,[ despite] the conservative forces in the ruling party ,” he said.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata party is seen as generally hostile to gay rights, while Congress, India’s main opposition party, placed the overturning of segment 377 in its most recent election manifesto.

But with the exception of one MP, Shashi Tharoor, the party was unwilling to burn political capital on such issues, Bondyopadhyay said.

India remains a conservative society, but the visibility of LBGTI Indians has grown in the two decades since the first gay pride parade attracted a few dozen marchers in Kolkata in 1999.

LBGTI scenes quietly thrive across the country, though some gay dating apps still flash with warns that users may be perpetrating criminal acts punishable by a life sentence.

A comprehensive survey of young Indians by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies last year detected 61% regarded homosexual “acts” as wrong. Respondents aged 15 -1 7 were most accept, while contrary to trends elsewhere, young Indian in villages were more accepting( 29%) than their equivalents in big cities( 21% ).

Prominent Hindu spiritual guru such as the retail and yoga tycoon Baba Ramdev are vocal foes of homosexuality, but Iyer said the majority religion in India had no official injunction against it.

Some intellectuals have argued that Hindu scriptures and epics repeatedly reference, though do not necessarily endorse, same-sex intercourse, and comfortably accommodate the idea of people transitioning gender.

” I guess respect for homosexuality is part of Indian culture and homophobia is a western import ,” Iyer said.” I am fighting for the right to be Indian, to love everyone .”

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Gorgeous creatures of NYC Downlow captured in 3D in pictures

Artist Kate Bones combines film and digital technology to generate vibrant gif portraits like these from Glastonburys gay nightclub

Kate Bones shoots her subjects on a hacked 1980 s 3D cinema camera and brings them alive as animated gifs. These portraits taken earlier this year at Glastonbury’s NYC Downlow, the festival’s gay nightclub, dedicate a close-up view of performers usually merely photographed on stage.

A warehouse-warming party for the new London home of the cult club’s creators, Block9, will be held on 9-10 December at the Silver Building. The event will also raise money for LGBT frontline charities All Out and Kaleidoscope Trust as well as the Disasters Emergency Committee’s east Africa appeal.

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Carley Hague
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Jonny Woo
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Jordi Hulshof
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Ginger Johnson
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Lucy Fizz
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Fred Sausage
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Mykki Blanco
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Ellis D

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Billie Jean King: Be ahead of your time thats what you have to do

The tennis champs lifelong fight for equality and freedom is celebrated in a new cinema about the Battle of the Sexes. She talks about not being comfy in her own scalp until she was 51, and why millennials give her hope

In 1955, when she was 12 years old, Billie Jean King says she had an epiphany.” I was daydreaming about my little tiny universe of tennis, and I thought to myself:’ Everybody’s wearing white shoes, white socks, white clothes, playing with white balls, everybody who plays is white. Where is everybody else ?'” she recollects.” That was the moment I decided to fight for equality and freedom and equal rights and opportunities for everyone. Everyone. Not merely daughters. Everyone .”

Now, 62 years later, the most sensational moment of her long, boundary-smashing tennis career has been turned into a cinema. Directed by Little Miss Sunshine’s Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Battle of the Sexes tells of the run-up to that infamous high-stakes 1973 match between King( Emma Stone) and the showboating, self-confessed “male chauvinist pig” Bobby Riggs( Steve Carell ), in front of 30, 000 live spectators and a colossal Superbowl-sized TV audience. But those expecting a straightforward sports movie may be surprised by its intimacy, as it draws a parallel between the weight of having to prove the worth of all female athletes in that one match, and the distress of hiding a secret affair with her female hairdresser from both her husband Larry and the world.

When meeting King, it is obvious why she has been at the vanguard of so much change, having dedicated much of her life to the fight for equality. When the men’s tour refused to address women’s concerns over pay inequality, King violated away to be established a women’s tour, with each of the” Original Nine” players signing a symbolic$ 1 contract( it is a barnstorming moment in the film, although the timeline has been loosened somewhat to fit dramatic demands ). Shortly afterwards, she founded the Women’s Tennis Association. But when President Obama awarded her the Medal of Freedom in 2009, he praised” all the off-the-court stuff- what she did to broaden the reach of video games, to change how women athletes and women everywhere view themselves, and to give everyone, regardless of gender or sex orientation- including my two daughters- a chance to compete both on the court and in life .”

King
King with 55 -year-old Bobby Riggs ahead of the match. Photograph: Bettmann Archive

In person, she is a brilliant and invigorating livewire, hands knitted together, leaning in to answer questions long before they are finished. She practically triggers with exuberance. She has a boundless curiousity about what other people believe, and before the hour is up she has discovered how old I am, where I grew up and what it was like. She is adopting the word ” fag ” because young people tell her they opt it to “gay” (” although I still feel gay. You know why I like it? Because it’s happy, happy, happy “). She genuinely wants to know why: why did millennials not trust Hillary Clinton? Why did women, any women, vote for Donald Trump? She slaps her hands together joyfully when she hits on a phase she wants to emphasise, which is usually a life lesson about how people can be more kind to one another. At periods, chatting to her is like is available on a one-on-one TED Talk. Her positivity is utterly contagious.

The story of the Battle of the Sexes match is familiar, thanks to its place in the history of athletic and the many documentaries that have been made about it, but some of its more gruesomely misogynistic details are shocking for a modern audience , not least the complete refusal of the tennis establishment to take the idea of a professional women’s game severely. King is pleased that parts of the film will alarm a younger generation, for whom she has a great deal of respect.” I’m truly optimistic about millennials ,” she beams.” And the Gen Z, I don’t know what you call them here- the ones that are 18, 19 now .”

In 2014, King founded the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting equality in the workplace. She says that, based on research it has carried out,” this is the greatest generation on inclusion ever. And that gives me hope. We’ve done all kinds of studies and it holds true that young people don’t want to be in a workplace that doesn’t have inclusion. They’ll leave work and go to another company if it has better inclusion .” She starts to rap on the table, delivering a speech. Diversity is absolutely vital to her worldview.” I suppose the children that are younger are going to learn from millennials, and pick up on that, too, and I think this could probably save the world .”

She says this with such certainty that it feels mean-spirited to cast doubt on it, but I wonder if she still feels optimistic when the political establishment in the US and the UK feel so far away from that ethos.” But some of the person or persons in the establishment believes in inclusion, so you have to look at each person .” King is big on trying to see the best in everyone, although she admits that, in one respect, during the 2016 general elections, young people frustrated her- she feels they didn’t use the internet as a research tool.” These kids didn’t know one thing about Hillary. Not one thing. They only knew that Bernie was hollering’ revolution !’ and’ free education !’. I’m like: Truly? What’s his policy to pay for the free education?’ I don’t know.’ Well, you guys, it takes fund. All these things that you want, they take fund. You’ve got to be a little deeper in the weeds on this. Oh, my God ,” she says, exasperated.” I would have given anything to have this technology at my fingertips. I would have loved it as a young person. But, use it! They didn’t use it for the elections , not at all .”