Marc Naimark's writing and interviews _____________________________________________________

Can France’s oversized trains help the government push back against EU pro-competition measures?

Posted in France by marcnaimark on 2014/05/25

blogterFrom HERE!

Allen, Texas’s brand-new multi-million dollar high school stadium may be unsafe for public occupancy, but it’s not alone as a very expensive cock-up. France is known for its high-speed TGV network, the sleek red Thalys trains heading to northern Europe, the Eurostar to London. Lesser known are the workhorse trains of the Transport express régional (TER) service that primarily carry commuters and students in villages and small cities off the mainlines. They have gained a bit more notoriety this week in France, when Le Canard enchaîné, the weekly satirical newspaper that carries out the best overall investigative journalism in the country, has just reported that the 2000 new trains purchased by French national railway operator SNCF are too fat.

The regional trains are operated by the SNCF, the French national railway operator, on behalf of 20 of the country’s regional governments, and run on the lines owned by Réseau ferré de France (RFF), the network owner.

Prior to the SNCF fobbing off the loss-making regional service onto the regions beginning in the 1990s, service quality and number of users had been in steady decline. The SNCF far preferred its shiny intercity and TGV services, and their shiny profits, to the poky trains (the metal-sided models formerly common on these lines were known as the “petit gris” or “gray snails”) that continue to this day to provide vital service to rural France, at least on the lines where the SNCF hasn’t ditched them in favor of more economical bus service. Starting in 1995, the SNCF began signing contracts with regional governments determined to turn things around. The regional governments were motivated both by the principle of offering citizens the public service of affordable public transportation, and the need for a social and economic investment that allows students to travel to high school and universities, workers to get to their jobs, citizens to access public services like hospitals and courts, and consumers to come to the cities to shop. (more…)


The best way to end discriminatory blood donation bans is to stop AIDS. Duh.

Posted in Uncategorized by marcnaimark on 2014/05/22

blogyoungaidsFrom HERE!

In his recent article on changes to South African blood donor policy, Mark Joseph Stern condemns the government’s previous ban on donations from men who have had sex with men (MSM) within the last six months, as well as its revised policy that focuses instead on the gender- and sexual orientation-neutral obligation for any donor to have not had a new partner within the last six months.

Far from “slut shaming”, that seems to me pretty good policy. Stern wants to rely solely on advanced testing methods, ones that may or may not be available or affordable in the South African medical system. AIDS in South Africa is far from being a “gay disease”, and it makes sense to recognize that women may be infected (although many are infected by their husbands, and would not be affected by these new guidelines). And he ignores that this policy is far more enlightened that that of many other progressive countries. Stern notes that the United States applies a lifetime ban on MSM donors. America’s progressive neighbor to the north only rescinded its lifetime ban last year, and still applies a five-year deferral. Here in Europe, fairly progressive countries like France, Germany, and the Netherlands impose a lifetime ban.

These blanket bans have been rightly criticized. Testing has improved, and donor screening based on actual behaviors of potential donors, gay or straight, man or woman, would be fairer, less discriminatory, and increase the number of donors. Current bans have resulted not only in the loss of perfectly good donors (I, for example, used to give blood, but had to stop the day I had sex with a man), but in boycotts based on the discriminatory nature of the bans.

But I still think that the best way for gay men to call for an end to these discriminatory bans would be to stop the spread of AIDS among gay men. Here in France, the number of new cases of HIV is stable, but the share of gay men among these cases is rising. The same is true in the United States. This may be due to better detection thanks to rapid tests that have allowed more effective outreach for screening programs. Whatever the reason for these high numbers, the fact remains that mass screening, early treatment, safer sex, and where appropriate, pre-exposure prophylaxis, could put an end to this epidemic. And that would be the strongest argument by far for an end to discriminatory bans.


Pride House Glasgow / Where should gays do sport?

Posted in Pride House, sport, Uncategorized, web by marcnaimark on 2014/05/22

blogphgFrom the Pride House Glasgow (LEAP Sports) blog:


Where should gays do sport? A silly question with an obvious answer: wherever they want, safely, and enjoyably.

But behind the question is an on-going debate among LGBT athletes and advocates: What is the purpose of LGBT sport? Isn’t it a ‘ghetto’? Shouldn’t the priority be to make mainstream sport more inclusive? It’s a question we often need to answer at the Federation of Gay Games. We often are asked: ‘Gays can compete in the Olympics, so why do you need ‘Gay Games’?’ Beyond the ignorance of the situation of LGBT people around the world, ranging from homophobic discrimination in even the most enlightened countries to violence and legal persecution in far too many other parts of the world, this question demonstrates a real lack of understanding about the Olympics and sport in general. It’s a question we thought would disappear after the publicity given to the issue during the 2014 Winter Olympics, but it’s a bit of a zombie, refusing to die, even in the face of clear example of Olympics where LGBT athletes are forced to remain silent about their orientation.

Our answer is usually something like: ‘The best gay athletes already compete in the Olympics; the Gay Games aren’t the ‘gay Olympics’, despite many journalists’ shortcut explanations; the Gay Games are for everyone, while the Olympics are for a tiny elite’. (more…)

Homomicro / Le rapport de SOS Homophobie et La réaction des Etats-Unis

Posted in audio, France, Homomicro by marcnaimark on 2014/05/19

bloghomomicroAudio here

Podcast #9-35

Brahim est avec Akila, Marc Naimark, Eric G, Eric B, Fabien, Florent et Pierre.

Invité : Bruno Wiel

Au sommaire :

  • La journée mondiale contre l’homophobie et la transphobie : Témoignage de Bruno Wiel
  • Le rapport de SOS Homophobie et La réaction des Etats-Unis.
  • La GPA éthique et non éthique
  • Conchita Wurst
  • Le journal Remaides de l’association Aides
  • Exposition Au Bonheur du Jour dirigée par Nicole Canet : Beauté Sicilienne / Is homophobia really on the rise in France?

Posted in France,, web by marcnaimark on 2014/05/15


Yesterday, Outward noted the rising expressions of homophobia in France. The post is based on a report in the Local about the 2013 annual report from SOS Homophobie, a homophobia hotline and LGBTQ defense organization.

I have the greatest respect for SOS Homophobie. They work closely with FSGL, the French LGBTQ sports federation, on actions against homophobia in sport. Their hotline and their reports are precious tools for supporting victims of homophobia and for targeting areas of action. But given the lack of official statistics from the government (France, like many European countries, has an aversion to collecting data about minorities, since the last time this was done in the country, a lot of Jews ended up in death camps), we can only note the limits of this report, which is based on calls to the SOS Homophobie hotline.

The cases are striking to Americans because of the widely held fallacy that France is a tolerant society. This is not entirely the case. Religious diversity is tolerated as long as minorities remain quiet. “Laïcité,” the French version of secularism, favors Catholicism and is often used as a cudgel against the Muslim (and in some cases the Jewish) minority.

(more…) / Michael Sam’s televised kiss reveals the double standard between public and private

Posted in, sport, web by marcnaimark on 2014/05/12


In February, Michael Sam made history by becoming the first NFL draft prospect to come out.

On Saturday, he again made history by being drafted by the St. Louis Rams, by kissing his boyfriend in celebration, and by having that kiss broadcast on ESPN. Despite ESPN choosing to edit out the kiss in later broadcasts, this image has become an Internet phenomenon and represents real change in TV coverage of out athletes. It’s an interesting contrast with NBC’s deafening silence about openly gay diver Matthew Mitcham’s sexual orientation at the Beijing Olympics. (Mitcham had come out to bring attention to the discriminatory treatment given to the partners of straight and gay athletes on the Australian Olympic team, making his partner’s presence poolside more newsworthy than most of NBC’s up-close-and-personal fluff.)

The reactions to Sam’s joining the NFL, and in particular to the kiss, are varied. We’ll ignore the many, many positive, even ecstatic, reactions (including mine and Barack Obama’s). What do the negative reactions teach us?


Community chess: Is ICANN changing the rules for the “.gay” top level domain?

Posted in internet,, web by marcnaimark on 2014/05/07

blogslatedotgayExpanded version of an article appearing on here:

If all goes to plan, comments will close today in the final stage of the Community Priority Evaluation” (CPE) for the “.gay” generic Top Level Domain (gTLD). This domain is just one of the many new domains being created by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The land rush for this first batch of new domain names is coming to a close, with some of the new gTLDs already in service. The “.gay” domain is taking much longer, due to the complex process itself and delays from ICANN, in particular with regard to the puzzling yet pertinent evaluation of whether or not there is “gay” community, and who can claim to represent it.

As I wrote last year, the whole gTLD scheme is contested by many, in particular by brand owners who will be obliged to shell out on new URLs just to protect their existing investment in internet real estate.

The new gTLDs may remind interested parties of Lex Luthor’s attempts to cash in on cheap land (if Christopher Reeve is your Superman, that would be beachfront property in the Arizona desert, while if you’re more of a Brandon Routh fan, if there is such a thing, it’s more like an entirely new continent in the Atlantic), and between various fees from applicants and more fees from anyone filing an objection, the non-profit ICANN will be churning a lot of cash (an estimated USD 92m just from application fees). (more…) / In the fight over .gay and .lgbt, the cyberpowers that be are redefining our community

Posted in internet,, web by marcnaimark on 2014/05/07


If all goes according to plan, on Wednesday May 7, comments will close in the final stage of the Community Priority Evaluation for the .gay generic top level domain, known to cyberpolicy wonks everywhere as a gTLD, one of the many new domains being created by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. The land rush for this first batch of new domain names is coming to a close, with some of the new gTLDs already in service. The .gay domain is taking much longer to assign, due to the complex process and delays from ICANN, in particular with regard to the puzzling yet pertinent evaluation of whether there is gay community, and who can claim to represent it.

As I wrote last year, many people are unhappy with the whole gTLD system, especially brand owners who will be obliged to shell out for new URLs just to protect their existing investment in Internet real estate. Between fees from applicants and more fees from anyone filing an objection, ICANN, a nonprofit, will be churning a lot of cash—perhaps as much as $92 million from application fees alone.


Homomicro / Sport et homosexualité

Posted in audio, France, Homomicro, sport by marcnaimark on 2014/05/05

bloghomomicroAudio here

Podcast #9-34

Brahim est avec Eric Garnier & Eric Brulin
Intervention : Florent

Invités : Bénédicte Mathieu de Yagg & Marc Naimark, Vice Président de la Fédération des Gay Games

Au sommaire :

  • Sport et homosexualité
  • Gay Games
  • Paris 2018
  • Gerontophilia de Bruce LaBruce vu par Eric Garnier
  • La sortie en DVD de Ligne d’eau de Tomasz Wasilewski
  • Le livre Le Meilleur Coiffeur de Harare écrit par Tendai Huchu

Outsports / Sterling, Alves and the comparisons between racism and homophobia in sports

Posted in Outsports, sport by marcnaimark on 2014/05/03

blogosracismFrom Outsports:

I was having a Skype call with my friend Doug when he said: What if instead of talking about blacks, Donald Sterling had talked about gays? I was puzzled that such a question would even occur to him. While the model “remove gay and replace with black” is extraordinarily pertinent for issues such as marriage equality, I didn’t see how it would work here. The historical bogeyman of the black man threatening the virginal white woman that seems to underlie Sterling’s worldview regarding his girlfriend Vanessa Stiviano just won’t work with a gay man: quite the opposite, in fact. There is no-one as sexually non-threatening to a woman as a gay man.

But the exercise is still interesting: racism is perhaps the biggest social taboo in America. It took one use of “nigger” to make Cliven Bundy radioactive. Had he spoken of gays, would he have suffered the same fate? And had Donald Sterling warned his girlfriend not to bring Lance Bass to a Clippers game, would the reaction of America have been anywhere near as strong or as speedy?

I’m going to say: No way. On Slate itself you’ll find a respected long-time contributor who claims that it can be legitimate to discriminate against gays and lesbians if the discrimination is based on sincerely held religious beliefs. If he felt the same about African Americans, he would never dare say so today, despite the fact that until not so long ago, many Americans had a sincerely held religious belief that miscegenation was contrary to God’s law, and were prompt to use that belief to justify their racism. (more…)