Internet Reviews I
'Warning: Gospel Preaching Ahead!'
The opening page of this site takes Bible quotations and adds a twisted, self-serving analysis in order to 'prove' that homosexuality is 'wrong'. If you can get past this 'sodomites are wicked and sinners before the Lord' rhetoric, you can trawl through the following: an FAQ (where they answer questions such as 'Why do you thank God for AIDS?', 'Why do you preach hate?' and 'What about lesbians' the reply being, 'Lesbians are just female fags'); The Picketing Ministry, who protest at AIDS funerals, 'fag churches' and places such as the 'land of the damned, ante-room to Hell, where filthy fags & dykes suck each others' body fluids dry and sin reigns supreme'; a chat room (I didn't dare go in); a thoroughly offensive 'tribute' to Matthew Sherpard. Also, copies of fliers; self serving news; lists of 'fag companies' (so you know who to buy from); photos (ugh, trust me: spare yourself); and 'Fag Facts' did you know that '17% of fags eat and / or rub the feces of their partners on themselves' or that 'Fags commit more than 33% of all reported child molestations in the United States'? No, I didn't either... You can even download a sound file which claims 'Fags Are Brute Beasts'.
There isn't one, but '...if anything, everyone knows about it because it's notorious, and it shows up how ridiculous the "logical" conclusion of bible-based homophobia is,' said my friend.
The mere fact that this site is 'dedicated to preaching the Gospel truth about the soul-damning, nation-destroying notion that "It is OK to be gay."' Hits Counter read 1,566,274 on my visit, although said friend told me she had emailed Phelps to point out that the number 'are not votes of endorsement: most of them will be from the morbidly curious.' His reply? A bunch of Bible quotes...
'[Telling the] gay and lesbian community about what it really means to be gay and believe in God.'
Critical interpretations of the relationship between the Bible, Church and gays; a store, where you can buy 30+ books, videos and CDs via Amazon.com; links to like-minded sites sorted by denomination; 'Phelps Watch' (a list of his Baptist church members are planning protests); three message board forums promoting intelligent discussion on issues of gay Christianity); the proverbial guest book ('I would like to say your site is a better alternative GHF and it is the true epidemy of Christian love'); and links to LG news providers.
A perfect foil for Phelp's GodHatesFags.com they even managed to obtain his web domain in 1999 for 72 hours.
A little small, but then it is pretty focused on challenging arch-homophobe Fred Phelps. If you want to buy gay paraphernalia or find out when and where to wave a placard in America, this site is definitely for you. Oh, there isn't a 'God Loves Fags' t-shirt available either < sob >
'We believe the Bible's teaching is plain.'
Loads to download in PDF format: Baroness Young's statement on the age of consent, a 3.9MB annual report, publications on anal intercourse, religious freedom, the case for keeping (and extending) Section 28; snippets from other publications (written and audio versions) on genetics, 'Christian use of the Internet', the disintegration of the family, protests over an indoor sex market etc., and your chance to get out a credit card and order them; press releases and transcripts of 'education lectures'.
Um... it loads quickly.
Not sure if this is a downside, but a few of the links to download were broken. No eye candy content, no stickability.
Also clicked on...
godhatesamerica.com Phelps tries to convince the world it's all a gay conspiracy, and...
www.galha.freeserve.co.uk/galha.htm 'a voice for the many non-religious in the lesbian and gay community'
www.chick.com/catalog/tractlist.asp the real thing, and...
home.flash.net/~twinkle/psycho/DARK/chick/ the parody
Gay Search Engines
Type 'gay search engine' in and it will probably link you to lawn mowers, but I digress. Anyone who has ever typed 'gay' into a web search engine will understand the frustration of scrolling through page after page of triple X links. To save your clicker finger, some bright sparks have put dedicated engines on the web which cut out out all the pics of Teen Twinks and Hot Studs.
An extensively crossreferenced search engine with a simple layout and a rating system also help you to narrow the range of your quest. You can trawl through an A Z of listings [from Accommodation to Yugoslavia via Fetishes, Male Art and Religion or delve into the sub sections [everything from shaving and boating to literature and activism]. Multifarious is the word. Basically, if you can't find it here, I can only imagine that it must be a extremely specific and personally singular request. You can submit your own URL and suggest others, which are vetted by the site's Webmaster. Amazingly quick to load despite a frankly pathetic connection rate not a JPEG or pop up advert in sight save the logo. Smooth navigation, reaping fruitful references within 3 clicks.
'The Gay Yahoo!' apparently but, as you can appreciate, not quite as large. Logically divided into sections such as Arts, Classifieds, Health, Sports and Travel plus a 'General Interest' annex which is reserved for all those miscellany from a dry cleaning company, online soaps 'Fags In Space' and 'Gay Daze' to the Armchair Activist. Seemingly very few broken links.
In addition to the usual sections Community, Business, HIV, Youth etc there's a news section with further links to related articles, which open in a new browser window. Drop down lists provide a second way to ferret out site matches, and cross references for every match can lead your eye to yet more places. Only one dual downside: an annoying pop up when you surf to any page offering that all important Merchandise, and the site does feature a number of animated ads, albeit small ones.
My favourite dyke engine, next to something with plenty of horsepower, that is... Again, the usual [lesbian] sections Health, Home & Garden, Computers, Herstory and again with a similar visual style to Yahoo! and a million other search sites, with more diverse sectioning from Crones and Fat Dykes to Spirituality and Dykes with Disabilities. There's a more political flavour than with the gay male sites: lesbian.com even have a Mission Statement.
Do You Yahoo?
I recently spent a month fiddling with HTML to build a website on Yahoo!'s web hosting service, Geocities. Some of it dealt with BDSM issues, and there was a page about lesbian Daddies (both intended as educational sites, nothing more). The rest was a mix of personal photographs, links and nonsense. Just as I was loading the final of some twenty pages, I received an email from Yahoo! which simply stated: 'Your website has been deleted'. Once my eyeballs were back in their sockets and the 'Oh My God... No!' had stopped screaming through my head, I read on to discover that I had apparently 'contravened the policy on pornography and nudity'. One single page of my site had two pictures of lesbian wearing dildoes, and you could see half a naked butt sideways on. For this, they deleted an entire site, where the other pages had no pornographic content at all.
The following day, members of other Yahoo! groups I belong to started to post messages about a change of policy by Yahoo! I found out that it wasn't just my site that had bitten cyber dust: Yahoo! appeared to be systematically culling BDSM-related sites and email groups.
It seems that this is not the first time Yahoo! Geocities have erased websites. In February of this year, a number of Neo-Nazi pages were taken down, seemingly as a result of the petitioning of a Swiss group called Aktion Kinder des Holocaust (Children of the Holocaust Action), who were trying to stop German Neo-Nazi groups evading laws on the banning of racist propaganda by moving their web accounts 'offshore' to the USA. Yahoo! were taken to court in France and ordered to place a filter system to prevent French surfers from accessing sites: instead, Yahoo! simply took down those pages. They then filed a countersuit in California, claiming that French law has no jurisdiction over American company policy.
Less than a week after this announcement, Yahoo! UK & Ireland altered its Instant Messanger to block access to US-based adult chat rooms. The decision came 'after consultation with children's charities and Internet watchdog groups' such as ChildNet and the IWF (Internet Watch Foundation) and appeared to be in response to the 'growing number' of paedophiles using the Internet to set up child-porn rings.
Two months later, Yahoo! relaunched a refurbished online adult shopping store, having charged businesses over three times the going rate ($600, equivalent to £420) to list their goods. Immediately, industry analysts said the move might 'harm Yahoo's brand' as users 'may be offended'.
Complaints did follow. After an article mentioning the Adult and Erotica section on Yahoo! appeared in The Los Angeles Times, the company said it received 100,000 emails, many of which were at the behest of a coalition of anti-pornography groups led by the American Family Association based in Tupelo, Mississippi. The AFA has accused Yahoo! of breaching federal law by taking a percentage of each sale from porn merchants working with them, and accused Yahoo! of trafficking illegal child pornography through the Geocities web hosting service.
As a result, Yahoo! took the decision to remove a wide range of what was termed 'inappropriate material' from the home pages of its members. In addition, anyone using the Yahoo! search engine would find it more difficult to find listings for pornographic websites. In effect, this means UK surfers would no longer be able to search the US adult section of Yahoo! Clubs, as access to paedophile groups was too easy. In addition, Yahoo! will no longer enter into new contracts for adult-related banner advertisements on their network.
The AFA, headed by Donna Rice Hughes (you may remember her as the woman pictured with Gary Hart aboard his pleasure cruiser during that infamous Presidential election smear campaign) is said to be 'delighted' at Yahoo!'s move, but wishes the web portal giant would 'go further'.
The problem with the wholesale deletion of category listings from the search engine is that many LGBT groups will be affected. For example, the UK Yahoo! search engine will now no longer return a list of sites that include the word 'sex' (stupidly, groups in Sussex and Essex are now unavailable to those using the engine): while the category headings remain, there are no sites within them. While the terms and conditions you agree to before building a site are clear, the definitions of adult material and porn tend to vary. Sites can remain online until someone complains, or until a censor audits the site. Given that Yahoo! intend to rid themselves of any 'porn-related' matter it's no wonder many gay groups are worried: murmurs are being heard that AIDS-related sites educational sites that use pro-sex wording or graphics may also eventually be shut down. Unfortunately, there is no notice or chance to remove the 'offending' item: the site is there one minute and gone the next.
However, unlike with America OnLine, who have deleted a vast number of gay and lesbian BDSM homepages in AOL Hometown over the last year, Yahoo! users have not been silent. A petition, asking that Yahoo reinstate its Adult Club Warning disclaimer, is currently being forward via a vast number of email groups, which to date has over 14,500 signatures (mine, you'll not be surprised, among them). It makes the valid point that, by removing the warning and placing groups in regional categories, clubs and sites are unprotected from being deleted. And in a complete reversal of the original intention, it means that minors will be able to find these URLs until such time as they are taken down.
In spite of how Yahoo! users feel, the decision certainly did the share price no harm: stock rose 3.9% on the day the announcement was made. Yahoo! receives 56 million visits a month, with revenue of $590 billion and a one year sales growth of 189%: it now seems, however, that Yahoo! Inc. believes the religious right is more valueable than adult industries or, indeed, freedom of speech.
© Megan Radclyffe 2001
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