THE BLOG
09/26/2012 06:22 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Two Pink Elephants, One Room

This week's issue of Huffington ventures inside gay Republican organizations, spotlights America's mountain lion enthusiasts and goes deep into the creative, mischievous mind of China's famous dissident artist Ai Weiwei.

Lila Shapiro puts the spotlight on the small but robust gay contingent within the GOP, which includes a rivalry between the Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud. The stylistic differences between Log Cabin, which was founded in the 1970s, and the three-year-old GOProud were evident in their convention events: Log Cabin, with its white wine and crab cakes, and GOProud's male go-go dancers sporting skin-tight shirts reading "Freedom is Fabulous." As Lila shows, the debates within gay Republican circles are more nuanced than many observers might expect. And the results are not what you'd expect, either. For example, it's the more restrained Log Cabin members who are unsettled by Mitt Romney's stance on gay issues -- including his pledge to ban gay marriage -- and have so far refrained from endorsing him, while GOProud's co-founder Jimmy LaSalvia endorsed Romney by saying, "Gay people are living in the disastrous failed Obama economy too."

Meanwhile, Tom Zeller Jr. was tracking another debate -- this one over the eastward migration of mountain lions, which have traditionally roamed the American west but in the last decade have increasingly been spotted in the Midwest and even the Northeast. Tom introduces us to mountain lion enthusiasts like Bo Ottoman, one of a small but growing group of wildlife experts who claim that the "big cats" have returned after being driven west of the Mississippi by hunters nearly a century ago. And he draws attention to the divisions between believers like Ottoman and skeptics like biologist Paul Rego. "There are no mountain lions living in Connecticut," Rego flatly states. Finally, Tom explores the mystery of the "Milford cat," the mountain lion that traveled from South Dakota to Connecticut last summer and was killed by a passing car -- which has triggered theories that the big cats may soon roam the Northeast once again.

Ai Weiwei, the dissident Chinese artist, is more of a small cat guy. Over the years, he has taken in dozens of stray cats -- one more endearing marker of a man whose career has brought him up against the most unforgiving forces of the Chinese government. As Gazelle Emami writes, Ai was imprisoned last year, without immediate explanation, only later to be accused of tax evasion -- an experience Ai describes as "inhumane, dark, and so hopeless."

Gazelle's interview brings Ai's passion and fearlessness into sharp focus in time for his first major show in the U.S., at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. "With every dig he makes, his brand rises among the Western art elite, and sinks among the Chinese," Gazelle writes.

To read more, download our new weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, in the iTunes App store. This story appears in Issue 16, available Friday, September 28.