SF Gears Up, Boy Scouts Man Up and Gay Haters: The Phantom Will Mess You Up

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The City by the Bay makes diversity history again, the Scouts have not only joined the current century, but are now leading the way, and a superhero defends Pride!

Our Homo Planet

San Francisco is to the LGBTQ community as Krypton is to Superman. It’s our home planet, Ground Zero for all that gay culture has come to represent since the movement began in earnest after Stonewall in 1969.

The locus of the kinky Folsom and even kinkier Dore Alley festivals know and embrace that legacy. How can you tell? Well, San Francisco will soon is designate part of its South of Market neighborhood as its “Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District.”

According to The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the dedication is part of a larger agenda “to preserve neighborhoods at risk of disappearing under rising rents.”

It’s a particular section of the South of Market neighborhood tha’s become a hub of gay and kink bars. Folsom Street Fair, which draws thousands of participants to the city yearly, is also held within its confines.

Comic Book character The Phantom

Takin’ it to the Streets: The Phantom won’t see a Pride parade disrupted by haters.

In an age where spaces are disappearing and men meet on apps rather than face-to-face, it’s a welcome step, says Bob Goldfarb, who supported the resolution as chairman of a community group. In an interview with the Associated Press, he called the designation “an opportunity for us to revitalize the area,” and added what so many urbanites already know:

“We’re in this period of immense transition and transformation,” said Goldfarb, “and many communities in San Francisco are recognizing their unique cultural histories are being lost so we’re working to preserve it while we can.”

Phantom Menace

Call them Polar Opposites. Comic book fans and the general populace are divided over a superhero who defends Pride marchers by cracking heads and wielding a rainbow flag the way Thor tosses around his hammer.

The confrontation takes place in the Swedish edition of Fantomen, which features “the Ghost Who Walks,” a centuries old hero who’s thought to be immortal because the costume and the character’s abilities have been passed from father to son for generations. Oddly enough, the Phantom is generally set in Africa (and Billy Zane played him more than 20 years ago in a Hollywood adaptation). The strip was also a long-running series in newspapers across America.

The controversial new comic was authored by Polish writer Philip Madden. Inside, the Phantom attends a Warsaw Poland Pride event and sees marchers come under attack by a throng of jackbooted homophobes, who are illustrated in Nazi-esque uniforms and brandishing Polish flags.

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The Phantom shows up to the rescue, slashing at them with a rainbow flag, to a word balloon that says, “I have to act quickly before blood flows on the streets!”

The panels are said to have been inspired by actual anti-gay activity among Polish right-wing nationalists and has already been repudiated by Polish broadcaster Telewizja Republika, who claimed such imagery only perpetuates the stereotype that Poles are intolerant.

The comic’s editor, Mikael Sol, pushed back in an interview with the Swedish-language outlet Expressen: “I thought it was a nice symbol, with the colorful flag, which stands for tolerance, against the colourless gray dressed villain who stands for intolerance.”

He added, “I understand clearly that the cover is controversial, but sometimes you have to feel comfortable and stand safe in your choice.”

Badge of Courage

Earlier today, the Boy Scouts of America announced that it would be changing a 108-year tradition. Beginning next February, the program will become known simply as Scouts BSA — an organization that welcomes both boys and girls into the fold.

According to Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh, numerous alternatives were weighed during the protracted but “incredibly fun” deliberations before a new name was settled upon.

Surbaugh explained, “We wanted to land on something that evokes the past but also conveys the inclusive nature of the program going forward,” he said. “We’re trying to find the right way to say we’re here for both young men and young women.”

For the record, Scouts BSA’s parent organization will remain the Boy Scouts of America, and its program for 7- to 10-year-olds — the Cub Scouts will remain unchanged.

It’s another huge step for the organization which prohibited all “known or avowed homosexuals” from joining until January 2014. Likewise, there was a ban on adults who were out and open from positions of leadership — which was tossed a year later in July 2015.

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Last modified: February 14, 2019