Online Only – LGBT Weekly Thu, 26 May 2016 21:12:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Athlete Ally offers recommendations to NCAA’s new anti-discrimination requirement Thu, 26 May 2016 21:12:40 +0000

NEW YORK, NY  – Today Athlete Ally presented to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Board of Governors a series of adoptable recommendations to ensure the safety of LGBT coaches, fans and staff at all NCAA events. While praising the NCAA’s recent new anti-discrimination procedures for choosing championship sites, Athlete Ally, along with more than 40 other non-profit organizations, offered guidance on what would constitute an “inclusive environment.”

The NCAA’s new anti-discrimination requirement was announced on its website on April 27, 2016. It states that a site wishing to host any NCAA event must “provide an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination, plus safeguards the dignity of everyone involved in the event.” The new anti-discrimination procedures and stronger statement of commitment to the LGBT community was in direct response to recent anti-LGBT laws adopted in some cities and states.

In support of the NCAA’s efforts to develop new criteria for their new site evaluation process, Athlete Ally’s Director of Policy Ashland Johnson created a five-page memorandum. The memorandum outlined recommendations in three sets of categories: inclusion under the law, inclusion at facilities and events and inclusion in outreach and vendors.

Hudson Taylor, Executive Director and Founder of Athlete Ally, believes the recommendations issued are common-sense steps. “We are very excited to present these recommendations to the NCAA and pleased to have so many outstanding organizations standing with us. If adopted, sites in cities and states with anti-LGBT laws, will most likely find themselves on the outside looking in. There is no place in sports for discrimination and we want to make sure those who do discriminate aren’t awarded the honor of hosting an NCAA event.”

Explaining the importance of the recommendations, Johnson stated, “It’s powerful when organizations publish official comments of support to the LGBT sports community, but it’s important they back up words with action. The NCAA has shown time and again it wants what’s best for the student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans. Adopting inclusion standards that adhere to these recommendations would show tremendous leadership.”

Highlights from the sign-on letter and a list of all organizations who support the recommendations can be found at


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Match releases new study on LGBTQ single population Wed, 25 May 2016 19:16:51 +0000

MatchDALLAS — Match, the world’s largest relationship company, today debuted LGBTQ in America, the largest nationally-representative study of American singles who identify as LGBTQ. Conducted by Research Now in association with evolutionary biologist and gender studies professor, Dr. Justin R. Garcia of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, the data reveals new social commentary into the evolving attitudes, behaviors and challenges of the LGBTQ single population.

“Today’s society is full of rich gender and sexual diversity, however relatively little is known about the dating experiences of LGBTQ people,” says Match Scientific Advisor Dr. Justin Garcia. “Nearly half of the LGBTQ population in America identifies as single, and a vast majority of these singles, some 80 percent, are seeking a committed relationship. By expanding our annual Singles in America study to include more people of diverse identities, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans, we are beginning to address these knowledge gaps to better understand singles today.”

The study surveys a representative sample of over 1,000 LGBTQ singles between the ages of 18 to 70+ across the United States, who are not currently in a committed relationship. Key takeaways include:

Everyone has a personal story of realizing their sexual orientation and coming to terms with who they are

Age of Self-Described Realization:

  • Gay Men 25% realized they were gay when they were less than 10 years old, 50% by 13 years old, and 75% by 18 years old.
  • Lesbian women – 25% realized by 12 years old, 50% at 15 years old, and 75% by 20/21 years old.
  • Transgender men (FtM) – 50% realized their gender didn’t match their bodies before their 13th birthday and 75% by the age of 16.
  • Transgender women (MtF) – 50% realized they were transgender before their 13th birthday and 75% of people realized before age 20.

Time in the closet: 25% of LGBTQ singles came out the same year they say they “realized” their sexual orientation or gender identity. Of those who realized before adulthood (defined as age 18), they went an average of 7 years before telling someone they identified as LGBTQ.  Additionally, of those who realized during adulthood, it took an average of 2.9 years to come out.

Who is most comfortable coming out? Those assigned male at birth waited the longest before telling someone, with an average of 1.6 years longer compared to biologically born females. Transgender women took an extra 2.1 years before telling someone than a gay or bisexual man, and transgender men waited the shortest amount of time without telling someone.

Born this way: Gay, lesbian, and bisexual singles overwhelmingly believe that sexual orientation is biologically based, with two thirds (64%) believing it is completely determined by biology and 28% believing it is a combination of biology and experience. Only 7.5% of LGB singles believe sexual orientation is determined by experience alone.

In a long-sought victory for the gay rights movement, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.  How important is marriage equality to same-sex couples and does this affect their desire to expand their family?

Love & Marriage: 63% of gay and lesbian singles have always wanted to get married, while 25% say they never wanted to marry.

Supreme Court Decision Effects: 17% of LGBTQ singles may be changing their mind about marriage based on the U.S. Supreme Court decision on marriage equality, while 61% claim the decision had no effect on their attitude toward marriage.

Family Support: 74% of LGBTQ singles say their family will support their marriage (26% will not).

Building a Family: Having children is important to 48% of younger LGBTQ singles, with lesbian women being the most likely to want kids (52%), and gay men being the least likely to want kids (36%).

The dating habits of America’s LGBTQ communities

Dating Online: 56% of LGBTQ singles have dated someone they met online, with transgender singles dating the most online (65%).  Additionally, 46% of singles met their date last year though a dating app.

Who pays? LGBTQ singles say whoever initiated the date should pay (62%) or they play it safe and always split the bill (44%).

Transgender Dating: 47% of LGBTQ singles are open to dating someone who is transgender, while 44% say they would not consider dating them.

  • Additionally, 61% of transgender singles tell their prospect about their trans identity before the first date, 15% do so on the first date, and 12% by the third date.

Nice to meet you: When it comes to first date physical expectations, 57% of LGBTQ singles expect a kiss, while 25% expect a full make out. Only 9% expect sexual intercourse (16% gay men and 2% of lesbian women).  However, 30% expect nothing physical at all.

Sexting: 50% of LGBTQ singles have sent a sexually explicit photo of themselves, with bisexual women and gay men sending the most (64% and 56%, respectively).  Lesbian women have sent the least (22%).

What’s Your Number? The typical gay man has had 30 lifetime sexual partners and lesbian women have had 12 sexual partners.

  • Regionally, gay men in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Riverside have the highest average number of sexual partners, while gay men in Boston have had the least.

PrEP: 4% of gay men report using PrEP (HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis), 8% are considering it, and 1% have used it in the past.  Those gay men who identify as being “out” are more likely to use PrEP.

While some avoid labels based on factors like body type and relative masculinity and femininity, LGBTQ communities have many sub-cultures with specific identity categories and social conventions

LGBTQ Community? Of all groups surveyed, bisexual women are most likely to believe that the LGBTQ community is open and supportive (62% more likely to believe this than the rest), while bisexual men are the least likely to feel like the community is open and supportive.

Gay Men: 57% of gay men do not see themselves as belonging to a category or group, while 19% of gay men identify as Bears, 16% as Daddies, and 8% as Jocks.

  • Who goes on the most first dates? Jocks average: 5.13; Daddies average: 3.74; Bears average: 3.68.
  • Daddies are 140% less likely to want children and much more likely to date someone younger and lower income. They are also 115% more likely to expect sex on a first date.
  • Jocks have the most sex in a year with an average of 42 times, followed by Daddies at an average of 30 times.
  • Jocks are much more likely (126%) to be OK with their partners having sex with other people as long as they are told about it, and they are 263% more likely to have had an open relationship than non-jocks.

Lesbian Women: 59% of lesbian women do not see themselves as belonging to a category or group.

  • 11% of lesbian women identify as butch and 8% as lipstick.
  • Lipstick lesbians are 222% more likely to have had a date in the year than non-lipstick lesbians.

For more detailed study findings on LGBTQ singles, visit and follow the social conversation at #SinglesinAmerica.

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Queer TV network celebrates a very ‘Sherry’ Pride month (VIDEO) Wed, 25 May 2016 18:59:59 +0000

Queer TV network gaySVTVworld celebrates Pride month with even more LGBT content including three brand new original series.  Beginning in June, gaySVTVworld will premiere Trade2Trade, its sexy new talk show featuring men stripped down to the bare-essentials. Also on the summer slate is Empty Your Sack, Queen, a “woman”-on-the-street series and  Poop Up Videos, an insider’s look at the making of some of Sherry Vine’s classic music parodies.   “Pride is my favorite time of the year,” explains gaySVTVworld’s Sherry Vine. “It’s a time to let our wigs down and reflect on how far we have come and celebrate where we are now and the good times ahead!”

“We’re doing this Pride in Sherry-ific style,” proclaims Josh Rosenzweig, the network’s co-founder. “We’re mixing comedy, music, a bit of gay history and whole lotta sexiness.”

In addition to the new programs, gaySVTVworld’s current leading talk show, Sherry and The Greek, will focus on gay history and coming out topics throughout the month and welcome LGBTQ and straight allies including popular YouTube stars DailyLondons and HERCfitness.  Then, on Sunday June 26, Sherry and Chris (the Greek) will broadcast their show from New York Pride, bringing all the highlights of America’s biggest gay festival to homes around the world.

  • Trade2Tradestars Kalle Westerling and his partner in crime, Monet Xchange, as they sit down and dish with go-go boys, male burlesque performers and porn stars who all have more to reveal than their hot bods. Directed by David Serrano, each episode will feature an in-depth interview and a field trip where the guest will teach Kalle and Monet something about their life: a routine, a pole dance or even how to deep throat! Guests for season one include porn star/designer Boomer Banks, Burlesque performer/Cocky Boys exclusive Chris Harder, and go-go boy/personal fitness instructor Geronimo.
  • Empty Your Sack, Queenstars Sherry Vine as she corners nightlife celebrities from around the world and asks the questions on everyone’s minds. How many dresses can Bob The Drag Queen fit into a gym bag? What does Wendy Ho have in that Canal St Louis Vuitton pocketbook? Why does Maci Sumcox only need a clutch? New shows air every Saturday beginning June 4th.  

  • Poop Up Videos
features filthy music parodies by Sherry Vine and her longtime collaborator, music video director Francis Legge (a contestant on Master Chef Season 5). Francis and Sherry have made for over 100 music video parodies. Here they offer some behind-the-scenes stories, silly memories, secrets and tons of laughs. Videos include parodies of “Firework”, “Hello”, “Born This Way”, and “Let’s Have A Kiki”. 
 New shows air every Friday beginning June 3rd

Sherry Vine’s hilarious video parodies have made her a YouTube sensation, being viewed over 15,000,000 times!  She has appeared on the off-Broadway stage, in numerous films including Stonewall and Wigstock and has starred in two seasons of Here TV’s variety show, She’s Living For This.

She launched gaySVTVworld with Here TV executive Josh Rosenzweig as a platform to showcase original programming from top queer talent.  The current slate of programs are Sherry and the Greek, Know Your gAy-B-Cs, The Anita & Gina Marie Show, Throwback Thursdays with Pickles and Behind The Drag Curtain.

Josh Rosenzweig served as SVP of Here TV for ten years where he produced over two hundred hours of television programming including She’s Living For This and Heart of Broadway: An Inside Look at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. He was also the host of the hit TV talk show Just Josh. Rosenzweig has directed many music videos, award-winning films and over forty productions for the theater.  He has been nominated for two Daytime Emmy Awards.

gaySVTVworld is free at

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Equality California endorses three LGBT candidates for local races Wed, 25 May 2016 18:48:37 +0000

LOS ANGELES— Equality California announced Tuesday the endorsements of three LGBT candidates for local races across California.

“While our endorsed candidates may be running for office for the first time, they are all experienced advocates for civil rights and social justice and leaders in their own communities,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California.  “Having LGBT representation in local government is a key part of advancing LGBT civil rights and maintaining protections already won.”

The candidates are:

Georgette Gomez

Georgette Gomez

Georgette Gomez for San Diego City Council District 9 – Georgette Gomez would be the first openly LGBT Latina elected to the San Diego City Council.  She would bring skill, experience and a passionate voice advocating not only for LGBT people, but for women, youth, seniors and affordable housing.  Gomez herself has helped elect pro-LGBT candidates to office as political director for San Diego Democrats for Equality, and she led several “get out the vote” efforts in the fight to defeat Proposition 8.

Eric Gray for Long Beach City Council District 2 – Eric Gray was instrumental in establishing the Long Beach Transgender Forum, as well as in establishing Harvey Milk Park.  He is a longtime member of the Human Rights Campaign and the Long Beach Lambda Democratic Club.  He would be a strong advocate on the city council for the LGBT community, including homeless youth and LGBT small business owners.  If elected, Gray plans to work to continue the growth of the Broadway Corridor, which has the highest concentration of LGBT-owned businesses in the city.

Rene Spring for Morgan Hill City Council – Rene Spring is director of program management for Cadence Design Systems and serves as a board member and current president of the Morgan Hill Community Foundation.  He is also a member of the South County Democratic Club.  If elected to the city council, he would be a voice for the full inclusion of LGBT people in the civic life of Morgan Hill and would ensure that LGBT equality and diversity are reflected in municipal departments.

The Equality California Political Action Committee endorses viable candidates who have a proven track record of supporting equal rights and legal protections for LGBT Californians and who are committed to advancing these goals in their capacity as elected officials.

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Rainbow Fashion Week to take over New York City for the third consecutive year Wed, 25 May 2016 18:39:51 +0000

RFW2NEW YORK, NY – Rainbow Fashion Week (RFW) is returning to New York City – one of the four fashion capitals in the world – for the third consecutive year kicking off Manhattan’s official pre-Pride events with “Eight Days of Queer Fashion Shows,” June 17-24.

According to the word on the street green is the color du jour! This year, founder and Executive Producer E. Jaguar Beckford (Jag) is taking RFW’s love affair with its social responsibility platform to the next level. The savvy entrepreneur decided to do something revolutionary and announced she will be hosting the first-ever Carbon Neutral Fashion Week.

Conceptualized in June 2013 by Jag, Rainbow Fashion Week was introduced to New York City and the United States as the First Inaugural 8 Days of Queer Pride Fashion Shows with a social responsibility message.

Endorsed by Mayor Bill DeBlasio as “An Official New York City Pre- Pride Fashion Event,” RFW not only brings fashion at its finest, but also displays the skills of out and proud LGBT fashion industry insiders.  Every aspect of the production – from the hair & make up artist, celebrity stylist, designer, choreographer, and set designer- RFW brings you the “Art of Fashion in Not Your Average Fashion Shows.”

LGBT fashionistas are slated to serve up a dazzling platter of colors, patterns, prints and styles throughout the weeks event; setting the tone for the Fall/Autumn looks.

The glam squad who will be sending their latest collections down the runway includes: celebrity couturiers Andre Soriano (Style Network’s fashion competition series “Styled to Rock,” produced by Rihanna), Dwight Eubanks (Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta), and Jag’s own label, JagandCo.

Other Designers include: Karen Gravano, Milan Chris Gordy, Jimmy Crystal, Coogi, Ashley Stewart, Barron Wise, Robert Negrin and Egypt Ukele.

Featuring also brands from Lainy Gold, Trans is Beautiful Clothing, The Mannequin Project, Pretty Boi Couture, Kesuave Clothing, Sinister Apple, Stud Fit Nation, These Pink Lips, GorinBrothers, Tickle Me Pink, Thuy Custom Clothing, Pretty in Pink, Intimate Grind Identity and The Glamour Queenz to name a few.

This fashion endeavor doesn’t just stop there!

RFW fills in another important gap, as there are no other fixed events representing the LGBTQ community in any of the major fashion capitals. Because the goal of RFW is not only to support the business of queer style, but also to foster a social responsibility; each fashion installment becomes a platform for activism and the promotion of sustainability – providing awareness to the following causes: global water crisis, anti-bullying, anti-domestic violence, body positivity, marriage equality, trans-justice, LGBT youth homelessness, among other major issues still facing the LGBTQ community.

After attending a summit at the Hudson Institute, which addressed the destruction of the Himalayan glaciers and speaking with Sharon Kahn of Water Keeper Alliance, Jag re-wrote RFW’s mission statement to make it a global pledge to educate new designers of the responsibilities they bare when ordering, utilizing and disposing textiles, to consider bio safe vendors and consider several “re-purposing ideals.”

To that end, RFW’s goals are to reduce their electric energy consumption by 1/3 through the use of solar powered generators and panels, urge the City of New York to mandate dog waste composting through its Rainbow Pets event; recycle, re-purpose and re-use clothing through its Dumpster Divers event – ultimately, becoming the “first carbon-neutral fashion week” of its kind.  Focused on the endeavor to create a morally accountable fashion week, Jag and RFW are committed to work closely with strategic partners and industry leaders such as Viridian, Blue Water, Gem Pawnbrokers, CERES and Earth Justice to help educate the event’s audiences about new ways to reduce our carbon foot prints.

This third edition of Rainbow Fashion Week will officially kick off Friday, June 17th; launching with the “Top New Media Moguls Black Tie Affair” celebrating 50 outstanding achievers: in the LGBT community for their efforts in media, community, fashion and beauty.

Eight days of exceptional queer fashion shows, with daily themed runways: Top New Media Moguls, Drag’Stars and Trans-Justice, Rainbow Pets, Queer Kids, PhotoViews, Rainbow Tots, Trans’’ition, Urban Knights, Inside The Celebrity Closet and Body Dysmorphia, Hair du Soleil and Kids Who Tech (where FIT meets MIT in a fashion clothing Hackathon for solar energy wearables).

Stay tuned to see what’s on deck for Rainbow Fashion Week in NYC.



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SDGMC ask Padres to reinstate fired DJ Tue, 24 May 2016 22:38:43 +0000


The San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus (SDGMC) released a statement today applauding the Padres for their response to the controversy that occurred over the weekend. They also asked the Padres to reinstate the DJ who was fired over the incident.

The SDGMC statement follows:

As a community outreach organization dedicated to bringing positive change to the world through music, we applaud the San Diego Padres organization and its chief executive Mike Dee for its ongoing efforts to make something good come out of unfortunate recent events. We have met with Mr. Dee and he has agreed to meet with and work closely with the LGBT community to bring our communities together with constructive, positive change.

We also would like to publicly accept the sincere apology of DJ ARTFORM and recognize his support for the LGBT community and equality for all people. We do not wish to see him lose his job with the San Diego Padres and kindly ask the Padres to reinstate him. Everyone deserves a second chance.

We have been overwhelmed by the positive support from people around the world and would like to thank Mayor Kevin Faulconer, City Councilman Todd Gloria and many other community leaders for helping us turn this into something positive for the City of San Diego.

DJ ARTFORM had posted an apology on Facebook takingfull responsibility for the incident:

My deepest apologies and sincere regret toward the entire San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus & the LGBT community for the incident that occurred during the National Anthem. It was a very unfortunate mistake but it was just that, an error. I in no way, shape or form directed any type of hate, bad intent or discrimination towards the Chorus or anyone involved. The incident was not a representation of myself,San Diego & it’s amazing Baseball fans.I have felt the consequences of my mistake as my dream job has dissolved before my eyes which does not take away that I am extremely sorry for the horrible mistake that occurred. I have family members & friends that are a part of the LGBT community & I have always been a supporter of Equal Human Rights, so it pains me greatly to see that I am being accused of acting intentionally. As a former high school and college baseball player, I understand the importance of ensuring equality for all in sports and am appalled by some of the negative, homophobic comments made by fans related to the National Anthem incident. I have reached out to LGBT leaders in San Diego and am currently in discussion regarding a meeting with the Chorus and LGBT leaders personally in order to be as constructive as possible about the error. I’ve let down my City, my family & everyone who had faith in me. Once again,I’m truly sorry for this entire ordeal. “DJ ARTFORM”

Earlier DJ ARTFORM had appeared on The Mighty 1090 am telling Scott and BR, “One of the worst nights of my life, and everybody else involved unfortunately. I failed to upload the correct anthem for the gay men’s choir and I went to the first thing I had which was from the prerecording from the night before and unfortunately obviously that was a solo female artist for the anthem and it didn’t fit to the programming of the day.”




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A new ‘Dawn’ for trans cinema (VIDEO) Tue, 24 May 2016 21:04:30 +0000

DAWN – TRAILER_HD from Jake Graf on Vimeo.

Following on the heels of its sold out world premiere screening at BFI Flare, Dawn, the latest film from trans wunderkind Jake Graf, has been selected into the world’s largest and oldest LGBT film festival – Frameline. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, boasts an annual attendance of 60,000 to 80,000.

Starring Nicole Gibson and Harry Rundle, Dawn is an exquisitely filmed study in human connection, and breaks new ground in the representation of trans lives on screen.

Synopsis: As dawn creeps across London, two lost outcasts meet in the darkness, more afraid of themselves than each other. The sun begins to rise, and the veil of night is lifted, forcing the pair to look at themselves and face the harsh reality of life’s tribulations. And yet, in the promise of a new day, an unexpected revelation shows that it takes more than the eyes to see inside a soul.

“Seeing audience reaction to Dawn so far has been truly humbling, and screening anywhere is a buzz, but I am absolutely over the moon to be returning to Frameline,’said Jake Graf. “It is easily one of my favorite international festivals, and a huge honor to be screening with them in their 40th year. Dawn was a real labor of love, but taking it to San Francisco will doubtless give the whole team a huge boost, and spur us on to tell more important queer stories that will hopefully change lives.”

Dawn has now screened both locally and internationally at four festivals in the last two months, with dozens more lined up. It’s going to be another good year for trans cinema.

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A Wider Bridge to bring Jerusalem dance group c.a.t.a.m.o.n. to the US for unique cultural experience Tue, 24 May 2016 20:52:41 +0000
c.a.t.a.m.o.n. dance group

c.a.t.a.m.o.n. dance group

SAN FRANCISCO – A Wider Bridge, the LGBTQ advocacy group building connections between the Israeli and North American LGBTQ communities, announced the U.S. tour of c.a.t.a.m.o.n., the innovative dance group that is part of a new and pluralistic cultural revival in Jerusalem.

“Something profound is happening in Jerusalem, and c.a.t.a.m.o.n. is a key part of the city’s cultural renaissance. The movement is fueled by a new generation of Jerusalemites, many from the city’s LGBTQ community, who are seeking change through the medium of art,” said Arthur Slepian, executive director of Wider Bridge.  “Through arts and culture that challenge the boundaries of religion, race, gender, and sexuality, these young artists are cultivating a new and hopeful environment of pluralism, diversity and understanding in a city that has seen much tension and division.”

A Wider Bridge is presenting c.a.t.a.m.o.n.’s North American tour as they introduce Urfa, a performance that brings Middle Eastern culture to the forefront and captivates audiences with its exuberance, humor and sensuality. The dance group is founded and choreographed by Elad Schechter and seeks to take modern dance out of performance halls and into the streets, creating a meeting point between art and everyday life in open urban public spaces.  Each performance showcases c.a.t.a.m.o.n.’s unique performance style that breaks down cultural boundaries and creates a new spirit of understanding through art.

The c.a.t.a.m.o.n. tour continues A Wider Bridge’s tradition of sharing cultural experiences to build meaningful relationships between the Israeli and North American LGBTQ communities.  Through this cultural exchange, A Wider Bridge and c.a.t.a.m.o.n. bring together communities with art and stories of the human experience.

The upcoming tour premieres on June 3 in Brooklyn, NY.  The c.a.t.a.m.o.n. tour then moves to the following cities:

  • June 3 & 4, Brooklyn, NY (together with Chez Bushwick)
  • June 11, San Diego, CA (presented by the Leichtag Foundation)
  • June 13, Los Angeles, CA
  • June 15, San Francisco, CA
  • June 18, Chicago, IL
  • June 21, Washington DC

This tour of c.a.t.a.m.o.n. is also being made possible by support from Chez Bushwick, The Leichtag Foundation, the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Noemi Masliah and Associates.

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Anti-transgender flyer distributed by KKK in Alabama neighborhood Tue, 24 May 2016 20:29:02 +0000

Anti-transgender flyers being circulated in a Dothan, Ala., neighborhood appear to have been distributed by the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan as a recruiting tool.

The Dothan Police Department notified the FBI, as the flyer’s message could promote hate crimes against the transgender community. “What you’re dealing with is potentially implications of a hate crime or promoting a hate crime, so we notified the FBI,” Dothan Police Chief Steve Parrish said.

Acording to a report in the Dothan Eagle, the flyer calls transgender people an “abomination” according to the King James Bible. The flyer also quotes Deuteronomy 22:5, “A woman shall not wear that pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment. For all that do are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.”

The flyer also suggests transgender people are jeopardizing the safety of women and children as they use restrooms across the nation.

“This crude and vile message from a notorious hate group does not represent Alabama values,” said HRC Alabama State Manager Eva Walton Kendrick. “Transgender people continue to be one of our most vulnerable and marginalized groups, and want nothing more than to live without fear and discrimination. Elected officials promoting anti-LGBT legislation need to take note of how their actions feed extremists, further compromising the safety of transgender people they were elected to serve and protect.”

Kendrick continued, “We urge all Alabamians to stand up and make clear that these messages of hatred have no place in our society. We are so much stronger when we work together to make sure that Alabama is a state that welcomes everyone.”

This year, an unprecedented 44 anti-transgender bills have been introduced in 17 states. North Carolina has the terrible distinction of becoming the first state in the country to enact a law attacking transgender students; similar proposals were rejected across the country this year, including one in Oxford, Ala., that was quickly rescinded after national outcry. Despite claims to the contrary by anti-LGBT activists who have preyed on misinformation and ignorance, extending equal protections to transgender community is not a threat to public safety. This fear-mongering puts transgender people at an increased risk of violence by fostering hate and misunderstanding.

]]> 0 ScholarShare offers matching promotion to celebrate National 529 Day Mon, 23 May 2016 19:28:25 +0000

ScholarShareSACRAMENTO – In celebration of National 529 Day, ScholarShare, California’s 529 college savings plan, will offer a one-day only “You Start It, We Match It” promotion to help families jump-start their college savings efforts.

Families who open a new ScholarShare 529 college savings account on Wednesday, May 25 will receive a matching deposit of $50 from ScholarShare. The program is the highest performing 529 college savings plan in the country based on an analysis of its one-year investment performance by

“As college tuition continues to rise, and higher education becomes increasingly tied to future economic success, it is critical that families start thinking about college financing early in a child’s life,” said State Treasurer John Chiang, chair of the ScholarShare Investment Board. “By opening and contributing to a ScholarShare 529 account, families are creating a pathway for their children to afford a college degree without having to over-rely on burdensome student loans.”

Nearly a thousand families started saving for college by opening a ScholarShare account during last year’s first matching promotion for National 529 Day.

National 529 Day is a push by various states to raise awareness about the importance of saving for college.

To be eligible for the “You Start It, We Match It” promotion, families will need to open a new ScholarShare account with at least $50 – to be contributed and invested at the time the new account is opened – and sign up for ongoing automatic contributions of $25 or more per month.

The matching deposit of $50 will be made to the eligible ScholarShare account on or before 11:59 p.m. PST on January 30, 2017. There is a limit of one matching deposit per new ScholarShare account opened for a new beneficiary. Visit for complete terms and conditions.

ScholarShare offers a diverse set of investment options to fit a family’s priorities and college savings goals. The plan provides tax-deferred growth and withdrawals are free from federal and California state taxes when the funds are used to pay for qualified higher education expenses, such as tuition and fees, books, computer equipment, or certain room and board costs. Any U.S. citizen with a valid Social Security number or taxpayer identification number can open a new account, for as little as $25. ScholarShare has no annual account maintenance fee, no income limitations, and offers a maximum account contribution limit of $475,000. Through ScholarShare’s “Give a Gift” option, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends can open a new account as a gift or make a contribution to an existing one.

About the ScholarShare 529 College Savings Plan:

To sign up for an account or for more information about the plan, visit For information about the ScholarShare Investment Board (SIB), visit Like ScholarShare on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter at @ScholarShare529.

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June is GLBT Book Month; nation’s libraries stand firm in support of GLBT literature Mon, 23 May 2016 19:19:47 +0000

GLBT Book MonthCHICAGO — In a year when Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) communities are facing divisive “religious freedom” and “bathroom privacy” legislation, libraries are working against legislating discrimination by fostering acceptance through the power of books.

The American Library Association (ALA), and hundreds of libraries will celebrate June 2016 as GLBT Book Month™, a nationwide celebration of the authors and books that reflect the GLBT experience.

The celebration is consistent with ALA’s commitment to diversity, inclusiveness, and mutual respect for all human beings, as well as recognizing the significant contributions of GLBT authors, with the Stonewall Book Awards, the first and longest-enduring award for GLBT literature, as well as its Office for Intellectual Freedom’s response to the threat of censorship.

“We are pleased to continue our celebration of GLBT Book Month,” said ALA President Sari Feldman. “Libraries play a vital role in connecting people with information and resources, and librarians serve a critical need by making the works of authors and publishers of GLBT books available to the public. It is important that these voices be heard, and libraries not only provide a safe space for consumers of GLBT fiction and non-fiction, but a safe place on the shelves for authors serving a critical need in our society.”

In 2015, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office of Intellectual Freedom recorded 275 challenges to books, with the list including books with GLBT content.

They included “I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, a picture book based on the life of a transgender girl that faced a number of challenges, among them a proposed reading of the book in Wisconsin that led to threats of a federal lawsuit.

“Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic,” by Alison Bechdel, which received the 2007 Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Stonewall Book Award, was challenged as recommended reading for incoming freshmen at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, because some students objected to the novel’s “depictions of lesbian sexuality, arguing that the book is borderline pornographic and they shouldn’t have been asked to read it.” It was also challenged at the College of Charleston, prompting state lawmakers to threaten defunding the summer reading program. Both the college and the University of Utah stood by the book, which relates the story of a lesbian coming to terms with her own sexuality and discovering that her distant father is gay.

Challenges involving GLBT books have even been accompanied by anti-gay slurs, such as when Wasilla, Alaska’s public library transferred its entire young adult non-fiction to the adult stacks in response to a complaint about James Dawson’s sex education book, “This Book Is Gay.” A number of Wasilla residents attacked the book at a city council meeting, accompanying their attacks with such remarks as “they didn’t want ‘gay books’ or books about gay people in the library at all.” During debates on the issue, the library director was called a pedophile.

“Libraries are about everyone,” said ALA Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) Chair Peter Coyl.  “We can create a welcoming environment for all by having a diverse collection of materials of varying viewpoints.  It is important for our users to be able to find books that match their lives and their experiences.  GLBT Book Month is not just about celebrating authors and writers who are GLBT, but about showcasing to our community that GLBT customers and families are welcomed and wanted in the Library.”

In addition to providing materials, libraries are also a safe space for GLBT students. A study published in the Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults examined how school librarians created bully-free zones and collected GLBT and anti-bullying materials, collaborating with guidance counselors and teachers and suggesting particular books for students.

Originally established in the early 1990s by The Publishing Triangle as National Lesbian and Gay Book Month, this occasion is an opportunity for book lovers and libraries with the very best in GLBT literature.

GLBT Book Month™ is an initiative of the American Library Association, and is coordinated through its Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table.

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Padres fire contractor responsible for Gay Men’s Chorus fiasco Mon, 23 May 2016 18:32:43 +0000

The San Diego Padres have fired the contractor who was at the center of the National Anthem blunder Saturday at Petco Park when The San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus were supposed to sing. They also said that they had taken disciplinary action against the employee who was responsible for the incident.

The Sunday night statement from the Padres read,

“After a thorough examination of the events that occurred during last night’s National Anthem we have concluded our internal investigation and have found no evidence of malicious intent on the part of any individuals involved.

Based both on the unintentional mistake that was made, as well as the failure to immediately intervene and correct the situation by those who had oversight, we have terminated our relationship with the third-party contractor who was responsible for the error, and taken disciplinary action against our employee who was responsible for the game production on Saturday.

We once again sincerely apologize to members of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, their families and those who came out to support their pride night performance. The Padres organization is proud of our longstanding commitment to inclusion – within both our sport and our community.

We deeply regret that a mistake on our part has called this into question, but accept full responsibility.”

Sunday night Billy Bean, the former out Padres player who is now the MLB’s ambassador of inclusion released a statement that read:

“This past Saturday night, it was very unfortunate that there was a technical error during the National Anthem at Petco Park. However, I want to convey that my former team, the San Diego Padres, has supported our inclusion message at MLB without hesitation, even before my return to baseball in 2014. They have led by example by inviting me, numerous times, to speak with their players and employees. I have also worked very closely with their owner, Ron Fowler, and team CEO Mike Dee, and I can assure you that they have made every effort to include the LGBT community and champion equality in MLB for each and every one of us. I’m so proud of the Padres organization for hosting an LGBT Pride event during the season, and I would hope that our community recognizes that error and intent are not related.”

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‘Out at the Park’ becomes ‘Nightmare at Petco Park’ Mon, 23 May 2016 00:58:13 +0000

SAN DIEGO — Last night’s annual ‘Out at the Park’ event turned into ‘Nightmare at Petco Park’ as the San Diego Gay Man’s Chorus took to the field to sing the National Anthem.

Instead of their voices, fans of the Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers heard a recorded voice of a woman singing the anthem, and when the group stepped off the field at the end of the song it was to taunts such as, “You sing like a girl,” according to a statement on the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus Facebook page.

Within hours the Padres had apologized on Twitter calling the incident a “mistake in the control room.” However, the Gay Men’s Chorus were not happy stating, “No attempt was made to stop the recording and start over. No announcement of apology was made to the singers or their friends and families in the stands. No attempt to correct the situation occurred other than to force the 100 men to stand in the spotlight of center field for the song’s duration and then be escorted off the field to the heckles of baseball fans shouting homophobic taunts.”

According to the Gay Men’s Chorus, “This incident followed several days of troubling comments and behavior within the San Diego Padres organization. “Three days before the game, San Diego Padres representatives aggressively sought to prevent singers from performing the National Anthem unless they purchased a ticket to the game — even if they did not plan to stay for the game — which was not part of any previous discussion or written or verbal agreement and would have cost the small, community-based non-profit thousands of dollars. The demand eventually was rescinded on Friday following repeated complaints made by SDGMC and San Diego Pride to San Diego Padres management.”

The Gay Men’s Chorus are demanding a full investigation and are calling on the Padres to determine if someone or some people intentionally engaged in anti-gay discrimination or a hate crime. The Chorus is also calling on the City of San Diego City Attorney’s Office and the City of San Diego Human Relations Commission to independently investigate the incident.

San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus singer Dan England posted on Facebook, “I was just shocked someone didn’t stop the recording! Then there was no announcement saying sorry!  We just a stood there like fools, and then we were escorted off and out of the park. Definitely embarrassing.”

“We were just excited to be at a game and let the audience see us and hear us and let us know that we’re sports fans too, and we’re normal guys,” said RC Haus, artistic director for the Chorus. “And then a woman sings over us, and it was mortifying.”

“I really want to believe that it was an error,” said Bob Lehman, executive director of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus. “But the first thought was, did they do this on purpose?”

“I don’t want to live in a city where the LGBT community thinks the Padres hate them,” Lehman continued. “Even if it’s perception, it’s got to be fixed.”

The incident gained national and even international traction in media outlets ranging from the New York Daily News and USA Today, to the British publication The Daily Mail, reported the Union-Tribune.  People on both sides of the issue weighed in on Twitter, arguing whether the incident was offensive or the reaction to it overblown. The Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus posted a musical video in support of their San Diego counterparts.

Video courtesy of Taylor Forsyth.

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Israeli transgender teen to compete in Beauty Pageant of the South Mon, 23 May 2016 00:30:36 +0000
Romy in a photoshoot for Beauty Pageant of the South

Romy in a photoshoot for Beauty Pageant of the South

A Wider Bridge, the LGBTQ advocacy group building connections between the Israeli and North American LGBTQ communities, recently published the story of Romy Abergel, an Israeli transgender teenager who, against all odds, will compete in this year’s Beauty Pageant of the South.

In the article, “I’d Rather Live One Day as A Girl – And Then Die”, A Wider Bridge covers the interview with Romy and her mother, Ilanit, in which they discuss the resistance they have experienced along 14-year-old Romy’s transition and how in the end, a mother’s unconditional love transcends all.

With permission the interview is published below:

14 year old Romy Abergel from Ashdod was born by the name Yanir. At the age of six she already knew that she was born in the wrong body. “All my life I was forced to wear boys’ clothes,” she says in an interview on Israel’s Channel 10. “I felt like I was dressing up as something.”

“Since the first grade I was always mocked, cursed and beat,” Romy says. “They used to call me a fag, a transvestite. At the beginning I absorbed it all by myself, I didn’t have enough confidence to tell someone. I tried to repress it, to forget all about it, but every morning when I woke up for school it repeated itself.”

Ilanit, Romy’s mother, says she knew something was off, noticing Romy’s feminine behavior. “At the beginning I thought it was just a phase,” Ilanit tells Channel 10. “I even tried to move her to a religious school, hoping that this would scare her to change, but this must have been my worst mistake, letting her go there.”

The major breaking point was in the adolescent years, when the masculine body development started, and Romy says she nearly left the house, didn’t go to school and barely ate.

In the 7th grade, Romy came out to her mother. “I was angry, and I kept it to myself,” says Ilanit. “I didn’t really share my frustrations with others. One day I was sitting in bed, it was a Friday night, and Romy came in and started to cry and fall to the ground as if someone had died. She scratched herself with her fingernails like she wanted to commit suicide. She said she would rather live one day as a girl and then die, than to live with this body. She said that she couldn’t stand her appearance anymore. I was shocked and I began to blame myself. I saw that my kid was falling into a depression. At that moment I broke down.”

From that point on Ilanit was totally committed to helping her daughter. The two turned to doctors to allow Romy hormone therapy. At 13, the Ministry of Health approved the hormonal therapy for Romy, unprecedented in Israel, where the hormone therapies are allowed only at age 16.

“You don’t abandon your child,” the mother concludes, “and it doesn’t matter what their identity is, or what their orientation is. A child is a child, it’s from your own body, it’s your own blood.”

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The Amazon Trail: Emily Dickinson’s desk Sun, 22 May 2016 19:00:38 +0000

How do gay writers celebrate the end of a book, a poem, a story? I don’t know about Sarah Orne Jewett, Langston Hughes, Willa Cather or Allen Ginsberg, but after that brief moment of relief, before the serious editorial worrying begins, after my sweetheart takes me for a long walk on the beach and a romantic dinner with a view, I clean my desk.

OK, I don’t clean it that night. Or the next day. It might take a month. Or two. I like to get a few short stories written between books, so the purging comes in fits and starts. But definitely before I begin the next book.

This time, after four years of concentrated writing and nine years of research on my new book, Rainbow Gap (due out in December), I’m still struggling with the logistics of making the desk optimally functional. For inspiration, I went on line.

I found a photo of Emily Dickinson’s desk. In an old issue of Amherst Magazine, Dickinson’s niece is quoted: Emily’s “only writing desk… a table, 18-inches square, with a drawer deep enough to take in her ink bottle, paper and pen. It was placed in the corner by the window facing west.” Eighteen inches square? No wonder she wrote such short poems. Didn’t she need space for her drafts? Her little red toy tractor? An index card file? Her thermometer/barometer? Oh—I guess that would be me.

I do the household filing and a while back that situation got out of hand. Our filing consists of shoving the right piece of paper into the right folder—eventually. I never expected the pile would climb to such heights. As a stopgap measure I plopped a cardboard inbox on the desk.

There were complications.

Bolo In Desk Drawer


Our cat’s personal physician suggested some time ago that we provide stimulation with kibble “hunts.” It soon emerged that Bolo’s most stimulating place to hunt was my desk. Kibble could be found inside the overflowing inbox, under the escaped bills, behind the paperweights and hand thrown pots of pens, and inside irresistibly tiny boxes and mini-crates filled with small hand tools, pretty rocks, batteries, a penknife, outdated newspaper clippings—the ephemera of the writers’ trade.

The kitty dumped the contents of the inbox between the desk and the adjacent four-drawer file cabinet so often I placed a wicker trash can there and labeled it Inbox.

“There was a secret compartment in Henry James’ desk,” according to the brilliant biographer Leon Edel. He wrote that, when explored, no secret stash was discovered. I would have found something to put in that compartment, you betcha.

Louisa May Alcott’s “… father built her a half-moon desk between two windows and a bookcase to hold her favorite books.” That sounds a bit roomier than Emily’s. I wouldn’t want a desktop computer on it, though, cutting out the window view. I’ve learned to place my desk to one side of the window, so I can watch birds at feeders we’ve hung right outside. As a matter of fact, I just spotted my first Chestnut-backed Chickadee of the season. I’ll bet Louisa May was as distracted by the view as I am.

Langston Hughes was more disciplined. His very small manual typewriter and metal gooseneck lamp were on a desk that faced a wall. To use a typewriter, a sturdy desk was necessary. Hughes’ desk also held a large telephone, his cigarettes and matches. Neat, and a far cry from Emily Dickinson’s writing table.

Although Willa Cather is sometimes pictured with a substantial desk—perhaps after she moved to Greenwich Village—one of her writing desks was a “secretary.” I have my Nana’s secretary. Spindly legs, a flip down writing surface that rests on the open drawer for support. Some cubbies inside. A narrow shelf low to the floor. I never penned a word there.

Sarah Orne Jewett wrote at an elaborate secretary, more of a hutch with glass display case above, ample drawers below, and a hinged writing flap. I could no more write on a secretary than I could build a skyscraper on a placemat. Nana’s is in our kitchen storing address books and gewgaws.

A 1986 photograph Dave Breithaupt took of Allen Ginsberg’s desk, in his bedroom on East 12th in New York, shows neatly arranged stacks of paper, a lamp with a bare bulb, a pen. It looks as if Ginsberg tamed his desktop and would have known where to find exactly which page of “Howl” he was looking for. Of course, he had at least four, maybe six, drawers that hid who knows what.

James Baldwin’s desk was gloriously outrageous. Large, a photograph shows it covered edge to edge with paper and more paper and a great big electronic typewriter. My desk except for the machine.

Because writers no longer need desks. A desk makes a great surface for stapling and organizing. Its drawers are indispensable. I write seated in a small recliner, but it seems an apt celebratory ritual and homage to the queer writers before me to give my desk periodic respectful attention.

Lee Lynch wrote the classic novels The Swashbuckler and Toothpick House. Her newest book is An American Queer: The Amazon Trail, which is a Lammy finalist. Most recently she was made namesake and first recipient of the Golden Crown Literary Society Lee Lynch Classic Award for her novel The Swashbuckler. She is also a recipient of the James Duggins Mid-Career Award in Writing, and many more honors.Books by Lee Lynch are available at women’s and gay bookstores and at

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23 civil rights groups voice support for transgender Title IX guidance from DoJ and DoE Sun, 22 May 2016 14:00:31 +0000

23 civil rights groups have signed a letter in support of the recently released Title IX guidance from the Departments of Education and Justice.

The letter, which was signed by groups like GLSEN, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens, MALDEF, HRC and many more, says “This guidance follows in the greatest of our American traditions of protection from discrimination and the advancement of justice… This guidance will provide much-needed clarity to school leaders on how to create safe and affirming learning environments for transgender students, and we commend the administration for clarifying these important civil rights protections under Title IX.  Even more importantly, it will make clear to students and their families that transgender students are entitled to safe and supportive learning environments where they can focus on the work of learning and preparing for adulthood without fear of harassment, exclusion or discrimination based on who they are.”

The letter and a full list of its signers is below.

Dear Secretary King and Attorney General Lynch,

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the 22 undersigned organizations, we write in strong support of the joint guidance issued by the Departments of Education and Justice on May 13, 2016, regarding the responsibility of schools, districts and states to protect transgender and gender non-conforming students from discrimination.  The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States.  This guidance follows in the greatest of our American traditions of protection from discrimination and the advancement of justice.  As a coalition representing African American, Latino, Asian American, LGBTQ and Native American people, women, immigrants, people with disabilities, people of faith, working families, and low-income people, we know both that there are transgender people within and across all of our communities who contribute significantly to our society and that an attack on the civil and human rights of some is an attack on the civil and human rights of all.

For the past several years, the U.S. Department of Education has made clear that discrimination against transgender students constitutes discrimination based on sex under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX). That position has been reiterated in guidance pertaining to sexual violence released in April 2014, guidance pertaining to single-sex education released in December 2014, and a settlement agreement reached with Township High School District 211 in Palatine, Illinois in 2015.

Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that Title IX does, indeed, protect the rights of transgender students, and the U.S. Department of Justice cited violations of Title IX in a legal challenge to a law in North Carolina that restricts access to restrooms and locker rooms in schools based on sex assigned at birth rather than gender identity.  We have applauded the Obama administration’s work in the past to ensure that transgender students, who are often among the most vulnerable in student populations, are protected from discrimination under Title IX. Today, we celebrate the recent release of guidance clarifying those protections.

As this issue has become more prominent, school leaders across the nation have looked for resources to best serve their transgender student populations. The new guidance offers much in that regard. The guidance makes clear to schools, school districts, and states across the nation how to maintain compliance with Title IX when working with transgender students. It unequivocally states that schools must provide unfettered access to restrooms and locker rooms for transgender students consistent with their gender identity, and it provides clarity on athletics, single-sex classes, single-sex schools, fraternities and sororities, housing and overnight accommodations, and other sex-specific activities and rules. The guidance also makes clear that schools must provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment, use names and pronouns consistent with a student’s gender identity, and respect students’ privacy.

This guidance will provide much-needed clarity to school leaders on how to create safe and affirming learning environments for transgender students, and we commend the administration for clarifying these important civil rights protections under Title IX.  Even more importantly, it will make clear to students and their families that transgender students are entitled to safe and supportive learning environments where they can focus on the work of learning and preparing for adulthood without fear of harassment, exclusion or discrimination based on who they are.

We appreciate your most recent effort to ensure all students in this country have access to warm, welcoming, responsive and rigorous schools where they can be prepared for college and career without fear of discrimination.



The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights


Human Rights Campaign

American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity

American Association of University Women (AAUW)

American Civil Liberties Union

American Federation of Teachers

Anti-Defamation League

Association of University Centers on Disabilities

Children’s Defense Fund


Education Law Center-PA

Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

League of United Latin American Citizens



National Center for Transgender Equality

National Council of Jewish Women

National Disability Rights Network

National Education Association

National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty

National Women’s Law Center


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Women’s Museum of California to host Wine and Music Festival at Liberty Station, June 24 Sun, 22 May 2016 00:30:00 +0000

wmSAN DIEGO – Celebrate the first weekend of summer at the 9th annual Wine and Music Festival hosted by the Women’s Museum of California Friday, June 24 from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the North Promenade Lawn at NTC Liberty Station in Point Loma, San Diego.

Guests will enjoy summer sips, culinary delights and rockin’ performances by several live bands, playing groovy tunes and classic rhythms all night long. This year’s tasting options include special selections from San Diego’s favorite spots, including small plates from Solare Lounge and Banyan Kitchen, artisanal chocolate from Chi Chocolate and sweet delights from Addison’s Candies. Participants can pair their delicious eats with fine wines and craft brews from Barefoot Cellars, Ballast Point Brewery, and more!

WMFest musical line-up:

  • San Diego Women’s Chorus (SDWC) is a lesbian-identified, feminist sisterhood of musicians that welcomes members and volunteers from the vastly diverse LGBTQ and straight-ally communities. They will be opening the show with a powerful original performance.
  • Marissa Grace is a 13-year-old singer, songwriter and YouTube sensation from La Mesa, California. She is a local-celebrity, whose dream is to make a difference through positive and relevant music.
  • Ruby Clouds is a So Cal band from Los Angeles whose dreamy sounds have serenaded audiences in the U.S. and Mexico for years.
  • KodaSounds is an original rock band from San Diego, California. This group is all about instrument-driven music and creative vocal melodies.
  • Marcela Mendez is the lead singer of San Diego based pop-rock cover band HoneyRock. Her acoustic music has been turning ears for several years with her soaring vocals and spicy personality.

WMFest is the museum’s only annual fundraiser. “It supports the cost of educational programming and original exhibits. By attending this event, you make our programs possible,” said Women’s Museum President Hannah Cohen.

Tickets are available for $35 and include a seat in the concert area and six tastings from local wineries. VIP Tickets are also available for $75 and include a seat at a VIP table near the stage, two bottles of wine per table and an invitation to the VIP happy hour hosted by Councilmember Lorie Zapf and Barbara Bry at 5:00 p.m.

To attend or participate as a sponsor or vendor, please go here  or call 619-233-7963. You can follow the Women’s Museum of California on Twitter and Instagram @WMofC, become a fan at and interact with us at #WMFest.



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Commentary: Conversion lies Sat, 21 May 2016 19:30:56 +0000
Laila Ibrahim

Laila Ibrahim

But I’m a Cheerleader was my introduction to conversion therapy.  It’s a ridiculous comedy that satirizes the movement to “cure” people with same-sex attractions.  I thought it was an extreme exaggeration, and it left me believing conversion therapy is a joke.  Now I know that there is nothing funny about it. Conversion therapy destroys lives: emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  It’s an industry based on a lie that profits off of people’s deepest held convictions and their deepest held hopes for their children.

Before I learned more about conversion therapy I believed it was something that was done to teens and young adults by their parents.  In my mind, the teens were the victims of ignorant and bigoted parents. As a Unitarian Universalist, a faith tradition that embraced LGBT equality for decades, I had a smug sense of superiority towards those parents.

I hadn’t considered the emotional and spiritual damage that was being done to parents by their very own churches, the institution they rely on for moral leadership. Since then I’ve learned:

-Many of the leaders of the conversion therapy movement were and are LGBT people pretending they had been cured because they were so desperate for that to be true.

-In some religions parents are being told by their ministers–trusted authorities in their lives–that it’s their fault their children have same-sex attractions.

-Many of the teens go to conversion therapy voluntarily, desperately believing in and praying for a cure.

The faulty premise of conversion therapy can be summarized:  The LGBT person has an insecure attachment with their same-gender parents; the LGBT person has been sexually abused; and the LGBT person has a weak spiritual connection to Jesus and God. Prior to  my research, I couldn’t understand how a parent could possibly send their child to conversion therapy, but now I see that the faulty premise of conversion therapy preyed on parental insecurities.  The parents feel guilty.  They are being told it’s their fault. They’re being promised a cure, so they invest in the snake oil being promised by their religion.

And the pay-off?  Salvation. Who wouldn’t invest time and money for their child’s eternal well-being?

Smug superiority is not a good look for anyone, but most especially for someone who aspires to plant seeds of love and justice in the world.  I’ve learned this lesson many times in my life.  When I look deeply at people I disagree with, I most often find a shared human impulse.  The parents who desperately want their children to be straight are scared for their kids.  That I can relate to.

I remind myself that my liberal parents had a less than stellar reaction to my coming out.  They tried.  Really they did. But as I look back at the time so long ago I realize they were afraid for me.  They didn’t believe I would have a good life if I partnered with a woman.  They were sure I’d have to live in secrecy or face rejection by society. Their fear was reasonable at the time. They couldn’t know that I would get married, have children, and be respected in the world.

I’ve watched many documentaries about Conversion Therapy.  One of the most heartbreaking interviews was with a mother whose child had succeeded in committing suicide. The despair in her eyes as she spoke about the choices she made that had added to her child’s depression haunts me to this day.  I’m grateful to her for sharing her painful story. I pray that it, and so many other stories, will help parents to move past fear for and rejection of their LGBT children to a place of acceptance and support, secure in the knowledge that God’s love is that big.

Laila Ibrahim is the critically acclaimed author of Yellow Crocus and Living Right, available now on Amazon and all major booksellers. Connect with Laila Ibrahim on Facebook, and at


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HRC, Equality NC and NCTE urge Charlotte leaders to reject any deal rolling back protections Sat, 21 May 2016 14:00:39 +0000

WASHINGTON – Friday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Equality North Carolina and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) sent a letter to Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and the seven City Council members who voted to advance city-wide LGBT non-discrimination protections on February 22, 2016. The letter comes amid reports of a possible deal on HB2 that could potentially involve repealing the city’s non-discrimination ordinance. The Councilmembers who voted in favor of these crucial protections were: Julie Eiselt, James Mitchell, Al Austin, Patsy Kinsey, John Autry,  LaWana Mayfield and Vi Lyles.

HB2 has overturned municipal protections for LGBT people at the local level, barred transgender people from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity in all publicly-owned property, and gutted the ability of people who have been discriminated against — including on the basis of race, religion, and sex — to sue in state court.

In the letter, HRC President Chad Griffin, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling, and Equality North Carolina Executive Director Chris Sgro urge the mayor and city councilmembers not to compromise on this issue and remind them that nothing short of full repeal of HB2 is acceptable. They are leaders on the right side of history.

The letter follows:

Dear Councilmembers,

We respectfully write to you on behalf of Equality North Carolina, the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Human Rights Campaign’s millions of members and supporters, who continue to admire your courage and resilience in the fight to repeal HB2.

Four months ago, you boldly passed protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens — critical nondiscrimination protections that already exist in 18 states and more than 100 other cities across the country. In fact, Charlotte was one of only a handful of major cities without these protections. Despite facing threats from Governor Pat McCrory and lawmakers in Raleigh, you voted to make the Queen City a more just, more equal place. With your votes, you forced our fellow Americans to address the rampant inequality that LGBT Americans — particularly transgender Americans continue to face every day.

You know all too well the backlash that has ensued. Our opponents mobilized as we knew

they would and rammed through the hateful HB2 in less than a day, with none of the discussion or deliberation in which you thoughtfully engaged. With more than 200 business leaders, major entertainers, and the NCAA and NBA unifying against HB2, including cancelling plans to move to or perform in the city, times have been undoubtedly difficult in Charlotte and across North Carolina. But make no mistake, your votes on February 22 did not cause this. The reckless actions of state leaders, elected to protect all citizens, did. They are the ones who jeopardized and continue to jeopardize the state’s economic opportunities.

The road ahead may be long, and the challenges today may feel insurmountable, but we write today to urge you to stay the course. Backing down in the face of hate isn’t right and it won’t work. Too many people — in North Carolina and across this country — have already suffered at the hands of Governor McCrory, Senator Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore. Not at your hands. But cutting a deal with the likes of lawmakers — or a Chamber that didn’t support Charlotte’s non-discrimination ordinance in the first place — would be foolish and dangerous. They have no desire to take even a single step to ensure LGBT people retain the protections every single American so rightfully deserves.

You must not waiver in your commitment, pin your hopes on a costly and long court battle, or undermine the very values you all fought protect. You are lawmakers. In passing the ordinance, you were doing your job. We urge you to resist retreating, to resist putting what’s easy over what’s right. A deal that calls for a repeal of the ordinance  would only tarnish the legacy of your city which you have worked so hard to strengthen.

This moment in which we find ourselves is quickly defining the type of nation we are destined to be. Today, you are standing on the right side of history. As Councilmember Al Austin said the night you passed the ordinance, “Are we a city that panders to fear and hate to those who wish to perpetuate fear and injustice? I say to you, ‘Not on my watch.’” That was true then, and remains true now. We cannot ‘compromise’ on equality and the world is watching.


Chris Sgro, Executive Director, Equality North Carolina
Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality
Chad Griffin, President, Human Rights Campaign

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TIME cover – ‘Battle of the Bathroom’ Fri, 20 May 2016 18:05:17 +0000

Time BathroomThis week, Time examines the debate over the use of public bathrooms by transgender Americans. Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer reports why the Obama administration took action on this issue, its rich history in the context of civil rights and how it may impact the political landscape at the local, state and federal level.

Scherer writes: “In a divided country, the social battle lines have been drawn once again in our most private of public places. State legislatures have been besieged, and school committees have split. Pastors have become politicized in the pulpit, and the gay-rights lobby has abandoned its past hesitancy to embrace the transgender cause. Courtrooms are filling with legal motions that are certain to end up at the Supreme Court. The fight—­political and legal, personal and ­collective—is just getting going…. Like all great political battles, this one is distinguished by the decision on both sides to commit loudly and completely, to elevate the issue and to force it on the American public…. The 2016 battle over bathrooms is, after all, about far more than public ­facilities—it’s about gender roles, social change, federalism, physical danger, political polarization and, most strikingly, a breakdown in the ability of anyone in this country to speak across our divides, or appeal to common humanity.”

Judy Chiasson, of the Los Angeles Unified School district, which allowed transgender students to use the bathrooms they identify with since 2005, tells Time: “I have never had misconduct by a transgender student. A lot of fears people expressed, we have never realized those, we have never seen them. We’ve been doing this for 11 years. It works.”

Gavin Grimm, who was labeled a girl at birth, but identifies as a boy,tells Time: “I don’t know of many people who would endure the humiliation and ostracization of changing your name and changing your gender presentation and asking people to refer to you with pronouns and mannerisms of the opposite sex just so they could go into a restroom and ogle men or women.”

Pastor Irvin “Jack” Cunningham, leader of the 750-active-­member Bible World Church, tells Time: “I have a 5-year-old granddaughter, I have a 35-year-old daughter. I just simply don’t want anybody that is male going in the restroom with my family. We just no longer have the luxury of sitting back and doing nothing.”

Scherer concludes: “Never mind the fights to come. That sentiment alone is a sign of how much our nation has already changed.”

The May 30 issue of Time goes on sale today.

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Oklahoma lawmakers introduce measure attacking transgender youth Fri, 20 May 2016 17:44:37 +0000
Oklahoma State Capitol

Oklahoma State Capitol

A new anti-transgender bill has been introduced in the Oklahoma State Legislature. The proposal would force schools to make accommodations for students who purport to have religious objections to sharing a sex-segregated space with transgender students. Going a step further, the legislation also strangely states that allowing students with religious objections to use a single-user facility is not an acceptable accommodation.

“To be clear, transgender young people are the ones being targeted. Legislators should be working to find solutions that ensure that they are safe and treated equally by their school, not stigmatized by the people elected to protect them,” said HRC Communications Director Jay Brown. “Like so many of the anti-transgender bills we’re seeing, this is a solution in search of a problem that does not exist. School districts across this country have had policies in place for more than a decade with no safety problems at all. This does nothing more than demean transgender students and undermine their dignity. If passed, Governor Fallin must veto this bill, which gambles with the lives and safety of young people.”

“In a time when our state is facing an unprecedented economic crisis, our lawmakers should be focused on righting the ship rather than stigmatizing transgender youth,” said Troy Stevenson, executive director of Freedom Oklahoma. “Using school children to distract from the legislative quagmire should outrage the senses of every fair-minded Oklahoman. Freedom Oklahoma is calling on legislators to abandon this legislation before it adds hundreds of millions of dollars to the already $1.3 billion budget shortfall, and if they don’t, we will see them in court.”

Despite claims to the contrary by anti-LGBT activists who have preyed on misinformation and ignorance, states with laws protecting transgender people’s access to public accommodations, including restrooms that accord with their gender identity, have seen no increase in public safety incidents. Cities and states throughout the country have rejected similar attacks on the transgender community. South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed legislation that limited restroom use for transgender children in public schools earlier this year, and the sponsor of a similar bill in Tennessee recently pulled the legislation from consideration. Additionally, after immense backlash, the City Council of Oxford, Ala. rescinded an anti-transgender ordinance that imposed jail time and a fine on violators of the law.

Targeting transgender youth in this way is especially dangerous. One academic study this year found that restricting restrooms for transgender teens correlates with a high suicide rate. Similarly, another study this year found that transgender youth who are allowed to express their gender identity have good mental health outcomes.

Further, bills justified by this type of rhetoric are simply incorrect on the facts. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books allowing transgender people non-discrimination protections in access to public accommodations and the ability to use the restroom that matches their gender identity, and more than 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies have adopted similar policies. Multiple fact checkers have found that there have been no recorded examples of public safety incidents stemming from these policies.

Oklahoma’s proposed  law is also a violation of the Civil Rights Act. Last week, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education issued guidance for school districts to ensure transgender students are treated with dignity in public and federally-funded schools, including having equal access to restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. While this guidance is consistent with previous guidelines and enforcement by the Departments, the treatment of transgender students has become a national issue following the recent passage of the discriminatory HB2 law in North Carolina. Among its shameful provisions, HB2 prohibits public school students from using restrooms and other school facilities consistent with their gender identity.

For several years, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice have been interpreting and enforcing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sex stereotyping as unlawful sex discrimination. Additionally the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit recently upheld the Department of Education’s assertion that the nation’s civil rights laws protect transgender students from discrimination, including in the provision of bathrooms. There is no doubt that this bill is a blatant violation of Title IX and would not withstand a challenge in court.

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‘Bathroom Bills’ divide America Fri, 20 May 2016 17:31:19 +0000

NEW YORK — The news in recent months has been filled with coverage of new laws being proposed and/or passed in many American states in an attempt to preserve religious rights or individuals’ safety at the possible expense of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights. When asked about their familiarity with some of these laws, most Americans proved to be “in the know” about three out of the four laws tested:

  • Three quarters of Americans (76%) are familiar with “Bathroom Bills” – laws that require individuals to use the bathroom that corresponds to their sex at birth;
  • Six in ten (60%) are familiar with laws allowing businesses to refuse service to LGBT persons because of religious objections;
  • Over half (55%) are familiar with new state laws that repeal, or overturn, local/city LGBT anti-discrimination laws and ban cities from passing similar laws in the future; and,
  • Three in ten (30%) are familiar with “Therapist Bills” – laws that allow therapists and counselors with “sincerely held beliefs” to turn away LGBT patients.

Though they may seem to be a localized issue for the moment, roughly equal proportions of adults across all regions in the country are aware of these laws some states are proposing/passing.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 1,424 general population U.S. adults surveyed online between May 11 and 13, 2016. Complete results of this study can be found here.

Pro or con?
Americans are about evenly split in their support of “Bathroom Bills,” with 49% supporting and 51% opposing. For each of the other laws tested, however, clear majorities are in opposition.

Though there is no consensus on support for the Bathroom Bills, over three fifths of Americans agree on one possible solution: 62% feel all public buildings should be required to offer a single-user or gender-nonspecific bathroom.

Protest familiarity
With so many conflicting opinions out there, many are rising in protest against laws like “Bathroom Bills” and “Therapist Bills.” Six in ten Americans (60%) are familiar with the recent movement of musicians and comedians canceling concerts in states with these laws, while around four in ten each are familiar with:

  • Film and television studios pulling current and/or future projects out of states with these laws (44%);
  • Corporations moving their headquarters and/or offices out of states with these laws (42%); and,
  • Sporting associations planning to disallow states with these laws from hosting major games (42%).

In addition, about one in three adults (32%) are aware of the hashtags being used on social media to voice discontent with these laws, such as #RepealHB2, #NoHateInMyState, and #WeAreNotThis.

Protest effectiveness
The survey reveals that nearly six in ten Americans (57%) believes companies taking their business out of these states will be effective in making a difference, while less than four in ten (38%) have the same confidence in the various hashtags on social media.

But just because only about half of Americans (51%) believe musicians and comedians canceling concerts will be effective in helping prevent or overturn these laws, doesn’t mean Americans don’t support the effort:

  • Six in ten (60%) support musicians who advocate for the LGBT community;
  • Half (50%) agree that if an artist whose concert they wanted to attend cancelled the show in protest of laws like the “Bathroom Bills,” they would try to attend in another venue instead; and,
  • Over seven in ten said they would be more or equally as likely to support artists (73%), listen to their music (75%), buy their albums (73%), and attend their concerts (72%).

“We’re seeing that artists who advocate for the LGBT community have majority support from the American public,” says Matt Yazge, Director of Brand Partnerships at Nielsen Music. “LGBT music fans – and, just as importantly, their allies — are willing to reward these artists for their active support of the LGBT community.”

To see other recent Harris Polls, visit

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 11 and 13, 2016 among 1,424 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

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Republicans block Maloney amendment protecting LGBT people from discrimination Thu, 19 May 2016 18:49:19 +0000

WASHINGTON – Following House passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (FY17 NDAA) – which included a provision to overturn basic workplace protections for LGBT Americans – Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) introduced an amendment to the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2017 (MilCon-VA) to prevent taxpayer dollars from going to Military and Veterans Affairs contractors that discriminate against employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“In the past day, House Republicans have gone out of their way to rig votes and block bills that prevent discrimination against LGBT people. They snatched discrimination from the jaws of equality. When they break their our own rules to make sure taxpayer dollars can go to folks who discriminate, they showed who they truly are – bigots and cowards,” said Rep. Maloney.

Last night, Rep. Maloney introduced a measure on the House Floor to remove language in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 (NDAA) that would overturn basic workplace protections for LGBT Americans. This measure, or Motion to Recommit, comes after Republicans inserted a last minute amendment into the NDAA from Rep. Steve Russell (OK) which would overturn President Obama’s executive order protecting LGBT federal contractors from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Last night, the House passed a bill that explicitly allows blatant discrimination against LGBT people – it’s anti-gay, and anti-American, plain and simple,” said Rep. Maloney (D-NY), co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. “The amendment I offered today seeks to right that wrong and ensure that no taxpayer dollars go to federal contractors that discriminate against people based solely on who they are or who they love. As I said last night, this is about whether we stand for equal rights or we rationalize discrimination.”

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Levi’s and Harvey Milk Foundation launch Pride 2016 collection Thu, 19 May 2016 18:22:38 +0000

Levis_Harvey MilkThe Levi’s brand has announced its global Pride Collection for 2016 in partnership with the Harvey Milk Foundation. A long-standing ally to the LGBTQ community, the Levi’s brand will commemorate the election and legacy of Harvey Milk through a range of gender-neutral product with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Harvey Milk Foundation.

As a non-profit organization, the Harvey Milk Foundation works tirelessly across the globe to spread Harvey Milk’s vision: a world where all individuals, without exception, are afforded the same, equal human rights. The Levi’s brand is proud and honored to support the Harvey Milk Foundation in its ongoing global work. The Levi’s x Harvey Milk Foundation Pride 2016 collection is the physical representation of Levi’s belief in equality for all people while continuing the legacy of one outspoken, courageous and pioneering individual, whose inspiring example will never be forgotten.

The limited edition collection commemorates the legacy of Harvey Milk with a series of distinct design details on iconic Levi’s products including:

  • Trucker jacket emblazoned with Harvey Milk’s historic “Hope will never be silent” quote and pride embellishments
  • Stonewashed shorts with rainbow embroidered watch pocket and Harvey Milk patches
  • Levi’s Rainbow tab on jacket and shorts – a true flag of pride on iconic Levi’s essentials
  • Exclusive ringer tee and tank with Harvey Milk bottle graphic and Levi’s Pride timeline
  • Evergreen pride tee and 5-panel hat, both with the Levi’s rainbow batwing
  • Navy paisley print bandana with Levi’s rainbow batwing embroidery
  • The entire collection is gender neutral

The Levi’s x Harvey Milk Foundation Pride 2016 Collection will be available in the Americas on and select Levi’s retail locations beginning May 18. The collection will also launch in Europe on select Levi’s ecommerce sites and at select retail locations June 1.


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Statewide awareness campaign highlights need for CalFresh in San Diego County Thu, 19 May 2016 18:06:17 +0000
CalFreshSAN DIEGO – An estimated 33 percent of San Diego County’s food-insecure households are eligible for, but not enrolled in, CalFresh, an effective anti-hunger program that supplements a household’s food budget. San Diego Hunger Coalition, an organization working to ensure that no one in San Diego County has to go to bed hungry, welcomes the statewide CalFresh Awareness Month campaign to bring attention to the need for increased CalFresh enrollment in San Diego County.
CalFresh is the most effective, wide reaching strategy available for bringing food to the plates of people struggling with hunger, according to the Hunger Coalition. On average, households in San Diego County that receive CalFresh benefits are enrolled for just under two years before achieving food security.
“CalFresh is our strongest antidote to hunger,” says San Diego Hunger Coalition Executive Director Anahid Brakke. “It offers families fallen on tough times the food they need to lift themselves out of poverty and achieve self-sufficiency.”
To improve access to CalFresh, San Diego Hunger Coalition runs the CalFresh Task Force, a group of over 50 organizations working together to improve enrollment systems. Countywide enrollment rates have increased in recent years thanks to accomplishments such as:
  • A separate County phone line specifically for community-based organizations that help people apply for benefits like CalFresh.
  • Upgraded technology including video conferencing that allows many people to enroll in CalFresh without stepping foot in a County office.
  • Same day service that helps homeless individuals complete applications in four hours instead of up to four weeks.
Unfortunately, says Brakke, lack of awareness, misinformation, remaining complications in the application process and social stigma still prevent thousands of eligible families struggling with hunger from successfully enrolling in CalFresh. While San Diego County’s enrollment rates have improved significantly in the past fifteen years, the 67 percent eligible enrollment rate falls far behind the 80-90 percent enrollment rates in areas like Detroit and New York City.
“CalFresh Awareness Month is an opportunity to learn and help dispel the myths that keep eligible families from getting help,” says San Diego Hunger Coalition CalFresh Outreach Director Amanda Shultz. “With open discussion this month, we can help more people access the food they need to lead active, healthy lives.”
To learn more about CalFresh, follow San Diego Hunger Coalition on Twitter and Facebook throughout the May and visit
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Equality California endorses Kamala Harris for U.S. Senate Thu, 19 May 2016 17:54:29 +0000
Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris

LOS ANGELES— Equality California has endorsed California Attorney General Kamala Harris for U.S. Senate in 2016.

“Among the candidates running for U.S. Senate this year, we were fortunate to choose from two strong LGBT allies, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California.  “However, Harris has an outstanding, two-decade-long record of using each office in which she has served to advance LGBT equality in significant ways.  Her longstanding commitment to and greater focus on LGBT civil rights makes her the clear choice.”

Harris first demonstrated her strong support of the LGBT community in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, where she established a special LGBT hate crimes unit and led efforts to abolish gay and transgender “panic defenses” in criminal trials.  She was a vocal supporter and defender in court of bans on so-called “gay conversion therapy” and was on hand at San Francisco City Hall to marry same-sex couples during the brief window they could wed in 2004. As attorney general, she refused to defend Proposition 8 in court and refused to certify the “Sodomite Suppression Act,” an initiative that sought to legalize the killing of gay men, for the ballot. She is a vocal supporter of Equality California-sponsored Assembly Bill (AB) 1887, banning state-funded travel by California state employees to jurisdictions with laws in place which discriminate against LGBT people and AB 1888, ending Cal Grant funding for colleges and universities seeking faith-based waivers to federal anti-discrimination policies, as well as other Equality California-sponsored legislation.  In the U.S. Senate, she has pledged to support the federal Equality Act, as well as a nationwide ban on gay and transgender panic defenses.

The Equality California Political Action Committee endorses viable candidates who have a proven track record of supporting equal rights and legal protections for LGBT Californians and who are committed to advancing these goals in their capacity as elected officials.

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LGBT film festival seeking screenwriters, filmmakers and content creators Thu, 19 May 2016 17:35:40 +0000

URFFNEW YORK — The Urban Rainbow Film Festival is seeking works from screenwriters, filmmakers and web-content creators from the LGBT(Q)I(A) community to be featured at an event sponsored by Final Draft, Inc and It is a live and online film festival to be hosted at New York City, from July 27-31.

Deadlines for Submissions are 05/30/16, with an extended deadline of 06/30/16.

“We are glad to announce that we are soon to come up with the debut season of our film festival dedicated to the lesbian, gay, transsexual, bisexual, questioning, intersexual and All Our Ally People of Color-it’s going to be a great glamorous, edgy and uber festival where anything can happen. To make our event successful, we are looking for great films, screenplays and web series from the LGBT(Q)I(A) screenwriters, filmmakers and web-content creators out there”, stated a leading spokesperson from Urban Rainbow.

URFF is an endeavor by N. Mabasa-Mathope who is a New York and Los Angeles based director, screenwriter and producer. He is also the leader for Urbanworld Film Festival Production Team sponsored by BET and HBO–apart from being the lead of HBO sponsored Pan African Film Festival Production Crew.

The new festival is aimed to celebrate stories and images that mirror lives of diversified LGBT(Q)I(A) people. It stands as a gender-inclusive multi-ethnic platform for short and feature-length films ranging from documentaries, narratives, animated films to web content about, of interest and by the LGBT(Q)I(A) community.

“Held over 5 days, our festival would be pulling in more than 5,000 attendees from our community, added to traditional attendees, stellar names from the entertainment industry and major donors. It’s going to be a huge affair no doubt and we promise you a grand exposure for your works before a massive enlightened and educated audience,” added the spokesperson.

For more information regarding the festival or to submit your work, please visit

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More global than ever: IDAHOT 2016 heard around the world! Wed, 18 May 2016 19:14:17 +0000

As the final lights of day set on May 17, it is time to look back on what this hugely exciting edition of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) brought us.

One of the major features this year is the huge visibility of politicians and officials during the Day.

Never have so many heads of States, Ministers, MPs and elected officials supported the day through announcing actions, meeting activists, making declarations, flying the rainbow flag or lighting official buildings in Rainbow colors. In Mexico, President Pena Nieto met with LGBT advocates and announced his plans towards legalising same-sex marriage; in Canada, PM Justin Trudeau announced measures towards full equality for Transgender people. US President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are among the many US officials who made statements. In the UK, PM Cameron delivered a speech for IDAHOT. In Chile, President Bachelet lit the Presidential Building in Rainbow Colors. London’s new major Sadiq Khan raised the Rainbow Flag over City Hall. Brisbane’s city bridge lit up in Rainbow colors too, while regional authorities pledged their support for Same-Sex Marriage. And these are just some amongst many actions that took place.

japanEmbassies around the world have raised the rainbow flag to show support to local activists, and have supported countless local actions. The USA, the UK and the Netherlands have been at the forefront of this.

International institutions have also been hugely engaged. In Europe, all EU institutions and the Council of Europe have engaged in various ways, mainly through the now traditional “IDAHO Forum” which brings EU stakeholders together to discuss cooperation and regional politics. This year the Forum was hosted by the Danish government and opened by Crown Princess Mary.

???The United Nations have also been particularly visible. Like each year, many UN agencies have made special IDAHOT declarations reaffirming their commitment to fight against discrimination based on sexuality and gender orientation or expression. UNESCO brought together Ministers and civil society representatives from across the world for a two-day IDAHOT conference on combatting violence against LGBT schoolchildren and students.

And the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a groundbreaking “Why we fight” video already seen by almost half a million people.


Other public institutions at local levels have also massively marked the Day, with municipalities, schools, police forces, fire brigades, hospitals, being particularly visible.

The IDAHOT is definitely becoming a favorite moment of action for institutions to show their support!

Companies and corporations have also been highly visible. For the first time, Google mentioned IDAHOT on the home page of their search engine, drawing the attention of millions of people! Many other companies mobilised, from internal staff events all the way to huge partnerships with LGBT organisations.

But the Day belongs foremost, of course, to activists. All over the world they have shown their creativity once more, with bicycle (P)rides, Flashmobs, beauty pageants, human flags, kiss-ins, concerts, vigils and prayers, and many more, including a ‘Tango against homophobia and transphobia”, in Argentina of course!

The global focus issue of IDAHOT 2016, Mental Health and Well Being, was part of many of these events (see the special report here)

twitter australia

Three countries, Bhutan, Brunei and Vanuatu saw their IDAHOT action for the first time, bringing the total number of countries where IDAHOT actions have been registered to an amazing 132, which is probably the best proof that sexual and gender diversities know no borders!

But this year specifically, we saw the “fault-line” deepening between places where activism is increasing and those where it is repression that is on the rise.

In the republic of Georgia, where right wing fundamentalists had thwarted IDAHOT mobilisation by organising on this day a “World Congress of Families”, activists who staged a non-violent silent protest action were arrested by authorities (and have fortunately been released since then). Several IDAHOT events had to be cancelled under pressure and this year about 15% of IDAHOT initiatives were not announced in advance for fear of triggering hostility. This is much more than in previous years, which clearly signals that opposition to sexual and gender diversity is getting fiercer everywhere.


Nevertheless, activists by and large managed to stage their actions. In Jordan or Brunei, community events happened peacefully and successfully; in Russia, rainbow colored balloons flew over Saint Petersburg rooftops; activists in Ukraine shot a wonderful video; actions took place in China, Tunisia and, via online campaigns, even in Egypt, Sudan and other places where activists face huge social and police pressure.

With just a little support, solidarity and sometimes protection, sexual and gender minorities can truly unleash their fantastic transformation power. Not just to access their own fundamental basic human rights but, as increasing support from straight allies shows, for the benefit of everyone in more inclusive, happy, diverse and respectful societies.

More events are still lined up, as the IDAHOT has now firmly become in many places at least a whole week of action.

As an instrument for a better future, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia truly deserves everybody’s engagement!​

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OUT Magazine announces 2016 Hit List Wed, 18 May 2016 18:57:28 +0000

OUT Hit ListToday, published its annual Hit List, formerly known as the Hot List, for 2016 containing the summer’s hottest names and projects slated for this year.  Each year, OUT magazine curates its Hit List containing the most influential names across music, fashion, and entertainment that are currently shaping our culture today.  Check out this year’s Hit List below:

  • Tegan & Sara – the sister duo has left moody alt-rock behind for greener pastures: mainstream pop. Forging a career that transgresses the boundaries of alternative rock and dives into infectious pop is new ground for the dynamic duo.  The sisters talk to OUT about their relationship and new upcoming album, Love You to Death, out June 3rd.
  • Nyle DiMarco – the America’s Next Top Model winner and current Dancing With the Stars contestant, recently launched the ASL App. and founded the Nyle DiMarco Foundation to improve the lives of deaf people through promoting bilingual education.  The professional model talks to OUT about life after winning the last season of ANTM.
  • Rufus Wainwrightwith a new album drawing on Shakespeare’s sonnets and a revival of his acclaimed Judy Garland songbook show at Carnegie Hall, the pioneering musician looms large this summer -but he’s more interested in the long view.
  • Imogen Poots – the British actress talks about her intriguing role on Showtime’s hit series Roadies and an upcoming project with Andy Samberg, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  • Bindle & Keep – founded by Daniel Friedman and Rae Tutera, the Brooklyn based company specializes in suiting up their trans clients with the latest fashionable threads that make them feel comfortable and in-style
  • Cameron Espositoone of comedy’s most notable female comedians talks about what it’s like for a new generation of comics that can begin their careers talking about being out as well as her recent debut in mainstream film and television.
  • Huw Collinsthe 28-year-old breakout actor talks to OUT about his role on the hit series Pretty Little Liars and how the series helped launch his career
  • DarkMatter – the trans South Asian performers Alok Vaid-Menon and Janani Balasubramanian from New York City tell the bitter truth. The trans performance artists talk to OUT about their work, which they describe as a “collage,” and what it’s like to perform sold-out shows at in New York.
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Reps. Joe Kennedy III and Bobby Scott introduce ‘Do No Harm Act’ to clarify RFRA Wed, 18 May 2016 18:42:15 +0000
Joe Kennedy III and Bobby Scott

Joe Kennedy III and Bobby Scott

WASHINGTON – Today, Representatives Joe Kennedy III and Bobby Scott introduced the “Do No Harm Act.” The Act clarifies that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is intended to protect religious freedom without allowing the infliction of harm on other people.

The Do No Harm Act would amend RFRA and restore the original intent of the legislation by specifically exempting areas of law where RFRA has been used as a disingenuous bypass for federal regulation. These include well-settled areas of law designed to protect our most vulnerable populations including child labor and abuse, equal employment and non-discrimination, health care, federal contracts and grants, and government services.

When passed into law over two decades ago, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, was supported by a broad coalition of support including many in the civil rights community. Designed to protect minority religious groups’ Constitutional right to free exercise, RFRA was welcomed as an important shield from the tyranny of majority rule.

Despite this focused, straightforward intent, individuals and even businesses have distorted RFRA’s protections into a blank check to discriminate or to impose their religious beliefs on others.  These claims have not only undermined the original power of RFRA to protect minority groups, but have also threatened the basic underpinnings of religious liberty and America’s commitment to a pluralistic society. The Do No Harm Act will guarantee the intended, sensible balance of religious liberties, government protections, and individual rights.

“The right of Americans to freely and fully express our faith is sacred in this country,” said Congressman Joe Kennedy III. “But in order to guarantee that liberty for every citizen, our system must ensure that my religious freedom does not infringe on yours or do you harm. While not its original intent, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has become a vehicle for those seeking to impose their beliefs on others or claim that the tenants of their faith justify discrimination. The Do No Harm Act will restore the balance between our right to religious freedom and our promise of equal protection under law.”

“When Congress passed RFRA in 1993, the goal was to protect religious freedom for minority groups by requiring the government to demonstrate a compelling interest and to use a policy that was the least restrictive means,” said Congressman Bobby Scott.“Since then, the law has been misconstrued as allowing the sincerely-held religious beliefs of one person to trump the civil rights of others. Civil rights are a compelling government interest, and we cannot allow so-called ‘religious freedom,’ ‘religious liberty’ or ‘faith-based initiatives’ to invalidate the very laws designed to correct the generations of injustices inflicted on minorities. The Do No Harm Act restores the original intent of RFRA.

“Religious freedom is a core American value — and religious freedom claims should never be used as a guise for unfair and unjust treatment that undercut other people’s fundamental rights,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “We commend Representatives Kennedy and Scott for introducing this critically important legislation that will preserve the core protections of the federal RFRA, while ensuring that it cannot be used to violate essential non-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.”


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Historic confirmation as Eric Fanning becomes first openly-gay secretary of the U.S. Army Wed, 18 May 2016 18:17:16 +0000
Eric Fanning

Eric Fanning

The Senate has confirmed Eric Fanning to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Army. Fanning is the first openly-gay leader of a U.S. military service, and is now the highest-ranking, Senate-confirmed openly-LGBT appointed official.

Fanning was nominated by President Barack Obama in September, and the nomination was reported by the Senate Armed Services Committee in March. Until today, Fanning’s nomination had been blocked by Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) over his unrelated concern regarding potential transfer of Guantanamo detainees.

“Secretary-Designate Fanning’s historic confirmation demonstrates that in America, we value hard work, talent and dedication,” said Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, who is co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus. “The capacity in which any individual can faithfully serve our country should not be limited.”

“Eric Fanning’s historic confirmation today as Secretary of the U.S. Army is a demonstration of the continued progress towards fairness and equality in our nation’s armed forces,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Eric Fanning has spent his career serving this nation with tireless dedication, skill and ability, and as secretary he will bring that same commitment to the men and women of the U.S. Army.”

Fanning’s nomination comes just five years after the historic end of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) law that prohibited qualified LGB Americans from serving in the U.S. armed forces. His confirmation comes as the military is preparing to move forward to lift the ban on transgender service in the military.

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NCIA to host the third annual Cannabis Business Summit in Oakland: June 20-22 Wed, 18 May 2016 18:05:23 +0000

NCIA--OAKLAND, Calif.- The National Cannabis Industry Association, the only national trade association representing the businesses of the legal marijuana industry, will hold its third annual national conference, the Cannabis Business Summit and Expo, in Oakland, Calif. June 20-22, 2016, at the Marriott City Center.

California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom will deliver the policy keynote address Tuesday, June 21. Newsom, who is running for Governor of California in 2018, is a key supporter for marijuana reform and legalization and a high-profile advocate for the benefits of embracing a legitimate cannabis industry.

Numi Organic Tea CEO and co-founder Ahmed Rahim will deliver the business keynote on June 21, sharing insights into his company’s embrace of the “triple bottom line” approach, best practices in moving toward organics and fair trade, and the importance and benefits of connecting with the local community.

This year the Cannabis Business Summit moves to California from Denver, bringing business owners, entrepreneurs, investors, and policy influencers to the largest legal marijuana market in the U.S. This move comes at a crucial time in history, with California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) ballot initiative expected to be certified for November voting, and the campaign fully underway.

The Cannabis Business Summit is also drawing global attention, with attendees representing Canada, China, Japan, Australia, Colombia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, and Sweden.

The Cannabis Business Summit is not only positioned for business owners and operators across multiple verticals in the cannabis industry, but acts as a valuable introduction to a new frontier for outside industries looking to expand into a new space. The Summit offers a meeting ground for investors and entrepreneurs to connect with legitimate buyers and sellers already established in the market, as well as with the brightest minds behind promising start-ups.

Several topic-oriented tracks will give attendees the opportunity to focus on their areas of expertise. Tracks offered include: The Fine Print: Money, Law, and Your Business; Cultivation and Processing; Running Your Cannabusiness; Policy and Reform; Medical Applications of Cannabis; and Leading Edge: Emerging Topics in the Cannabis Industry. Featured educational sessions will highlight some of the industry’s most influential pioneers and innovators.

More Conference Highlights:

  • Educational facility tours and hands-on workshops
  • Sold-out expo floor
  • Multiple networking opportunities with worldwide industry leaders
  • Arcview’s Investor Forum (June 18-20)

More information about the Cannabis Business Summit, including a full list of speakers and a detailed agenda, can be found at

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House LGBT Caucus, Rep. Maloney Launch #WeAreWithYou video campaign Wed, 18 May 2016 17:47:58 +0000

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the introduction of over two dozen bills to curb LGBT rights at the state and federal level, and in observation of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus released a video campaign, led by Co-Chair Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), to show support for the LGBT community.  Featuring over 25 members of the LGBT Congressional Equality Caucus, Rep. Maloney released a video titled “We’re With You,” which is aimed at showing solidarity and support for LGBT equality at a time when many federal, state and local leaders are advancing blatantly discriminatory policy proposals.  These proposals have far-reaching consequences beyond simply legalizing discrimination, including reinforcing feelings of isolation and desperation among already targeted populations.  One suicide helpline for trans people has reported that call volume has doubled since the passage of HB 2 in North Carolina.  The video aims to combat this trend and echoes this year’s IDAHOT theme of mental health and wellness.

“Discrimination has no place in the law, and these attempts to legalize hate are shameful. These laws tell LGBT people that who they are or who they love makes them less valuable as human beings – and that’s just wrong,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), a Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.  “I started this campaign because, from North Carolina to Missouri, I want LGBT Americans to know that they are not alone. So I am asking my colleagues in Congress and folks across the country to join me and tell our LGBT brothers and sisters, ‘we’ve got your back, and we’re going to keep fighting for you until we win.’”

Twenty four Members of Congress joined Rep. Maloney in the video, including Lois Capps (D-CA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Ted Deutsch (D-FL), Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-AZ),  Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Scott Peters (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Jared Polis (D-CO), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky  (D-IL), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL).

Watch the video above.

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Sir Elton John: North Carolina governor’s ignorance of trans identity Tue, 17 May 2016 17:36:09 +0000

Singer Elton John speaks during a benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in New YorkToday, Sir Elton John released an op-ed in The Hill on behalf of the Elton John AIDS Foundation discussing his outrage over North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s support for House Bill 2.

John not only criticized the discriminatory bill itself but also the the millions in taxpayer dollars Gov. McCrory is wasting to defend it. Calling out McCrory’s ignorance on transgender issues John wrote, “This brand of ignorance deliberately shuts out the perspective of an already marginalized community. It’s dangerous, and it goes beyond bathrooms. As the father of two children, I would hope their world is free of discriminatory, hateful legislation like North Carolina’s.

“Forcing transgender people to use the bathroom of a gender with which they don’t identify isn’t just inconvenient or impractical,” John continued. “For many, especially young students still grappling with their transition, it can be traumatic, and at worst, unsafe.

“The failure of McCrory and other lawmakers to see this is a failure of compassion, a failure to recognize the difficult and frequently unwelcoming world transgender people must navigate every day, stigmatized by the fear and ignorance of others.”

Underlining the importance of the need to meet transgender activists John compared the situation in South Dakota where Gov. Dennis Daugaard took a different turn after he met with transgender activists,

“Just a few weeks before McCrory signed his discriminatory bill, similar legislation in South Dakota took a very different turn. Gov.  who also admitted he’d never met a trans person, had a change of heart about a discriminatory bill he’d originally supported. Why? He agreed to meet with transgender activists. He credited those meetings with giving him a new perspective. “I heard their personal stories,” he said, “and I saw things through their eyes in that sense.”

John’s concern for the transgender community in North Carolina is deeply rooted in his work leading the Elton John AIDS Foundation and his familiarity with the impact stigma and ignorance has on the HIV/AIDS community and the individuals most at risk of contracting HIV, which largely includes the LBGT and low income communities.

Read Sir Elton John’s complete op-ed here.




Mr. John’s concern for the transgender community in North Carolina is deeply rooted in his work leading the Elton John AIDS Foundation and his familiarity with the impact stigma and ignorance has on the HIV/AIDS community and the individuals most at risk of contracting HIV, which largely includes the LBGT and low income communities.

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Logo launches ‘Global Ally’ campaign and largest survey on LGBTI people around the world Tue, 17 May 2016 17:14:37 +0000

Global AllyNEW YORK, NY – Today, on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Logo, the leading entertainment brand inspired by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, launched the Global Ally multiplatform storytelling project and released initial findings from the inaugural ILGA-RIWI 2016 Global Attitudes Survey on LGBTI People in partnership with Logo, the largest survey of attitudes toward LGBTI people around the world. The survey of nearly 100,000 individuals in 65 countries including Brazil, China, Congo, Egypt, France, Iraq, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, and the United States, conducted by global survey technology company RIWI Corp. and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), found that acceptance of the LGBTI community is growing both in the United States and around the world, but there is a long road ahead for equality.

Logo Launches Year-Long “Global Ally” International Storytelling Project

The launch of Logo’s Global Ally project coincides with The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), an annual day when LGBTI activists in more than 130 countries mobilize to draw attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTI people. Logo partnered with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and OutRight Action International on Global Ally, a year-long multiplatform storytelling project which will feature video interviews with dozens of international LGBTI activists, hosted on Global Ally provides Logo’s audience with inside looks into the lives of international LGBTI people and features ways to send direct messages of solidarity and support to activists around the world.

Global Ally videos will be presented by advocates Geena Rocero and Omar Sharif Jr. and will spotlight issues including censorship, criminalization, discrimination and transgender equality. The first video debuted last night at the United Nations during OutRight’s Celebration of Courage event. Additional videos will be released throughout the year.

On, allies can share videos of activists sharing their personal stories and send individual messages of solidarity to activists featured in the videos. The messages of support will be posted on and activists will be able to personally respond on the site. will also feature news about international LGBTI issues from

“Stories of LGBTI people in the media have the power to create real change, but in too many countries today, LGBTI people cannot turn on the TV, open a newspaper or go online and see themselves represented,” said Rich Ferraro, Senior Director of Communications & Public Affairs at Logo. “Global Ally is a platform for international LGBTI people to share their own stories as well as a way for our audience to amplify them and send a message that we stand in solidarity.”

Results of ILGA-RIWI 2016 Global Attitudes Survey on LGBTI People in partnership with Logo

As part of Global Ally, Logo also released the first round of results from the ILGA-RIWI 2016 Global Attitudes Survey on LGBTI People. RIWI Corp. polled nearly 100,000 respondents from 65 countries on their attitudes toward LGBTI people and issues. The survey fielding used RIWI Corp.’s patented Random Domain Intercept Technology™, which targets random Web users around the world, including remote locations, who are surfing online through an anonymous opt-in survey. RIWI Corp. has conducted similar global surveys for the World Bank, Freedom House, and the International Association of Prosecutors.

Initial findings from the Global Attitudes Survey show that attitudes towards the LGBTI community have become more favorable over the past five years across the world, but reinforce that acceptance is far from a reality in dozens of countries around the world. Throughout the year, Logo’s Global Ally project will release additional regional research findings.

“We are witnessing a significant shift in consciousness away from the most egregious forms of discrimination at the global level, albeit with remarkable differences between the various regions. With the exception of Pakistan, Uganda, Nigeria and Ghana, even in countries known for laws criminalising same-sex sexual behaviour among consenting adults, less than 50% of the population supports those laws,” said Renato Sabbadini, Executive Director of ILGA. “We need, however, to increase support for activists and broaden the basis of our allies, if forward progress is to continue, especially in the domains of legislation and public education.”

Infographics are available to review and share at

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Bob the Drag Queen crowned America’s next drag superstar on the season finale of Logo’s ‘Rupaul’s Drag Race’ Tue, 17 May 2016 16:37:11 +0000
Bob the Drag Queen

Bob the Drag Queen

NEW YORK, NY – After a season filled with gag-worthy challenges, ferocious runway looks, and cutthroat competitors, Bob The Drag Queen has been crowned the winner of Logo’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 8. Sashaying away with the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar and a $100,000 prize, Bob The Drag Queen beat 11 of the nation’s fiercest queens including Miss Congeniality Winner, Cynthia Lee Fontaine. Last season’s winner, Violet Chachki, was on hand to crown her successor in front of a capacity crowd at LA’s Orpheum Theatre. 

“This season was the most competitive ever,” said RuPaul. “And still, all things considered, America’s Next Drag Superstar could only be Bob the Drag Queen. Her charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent is gigantic, and the world of entertainment has been blessed with a bright new star! Kim Chi and Naomi Smalls are so much more than runner-ups. They are gorgeous, talented queens who have captured the hearts and imaginations of the world and are destined for greatness.”
“Winning is a dream come true, and a great opportunity,” said Bob The Drag Queen. “With great drag comes great responsibility and I’m excited to get responsible.” 
A roster of celebrity guest judges helped narrow down the field throughout the season, including Gigi Hadid, Nicole Richie, Marc Jacobs, Chanel Iman, Ester Dean, Faith Evans, Debbie Harry, Todrick Hall, and Vivica A. Fox. 
Ratings for the much buzzed about season 8 are pacing 7% higher than the previous season.* On the digital front, the season 8 premiere was the most watched premiere episode in the history of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” with over 3 million streams, an increase of 65% over the prior season premiere episode. Additionally, the current season has the highest digital downloads in network history with transactions up +47% from the previous season.
RuPaul will be back to turn up the heat this summer with “RuPaul’s Drag Race: Season 8 RuVealed,” premiering Sunday, June 5 at 7pm ET/PT on Logo. The never-before-seen look into the unforgettable season is packed with fresh reads and behind-the-scenes gossip from Ru herself.  Fan-favorite queens will also return to Logo later this summer with a second season of “RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race,” where some of the most memorable contestants from Drag Race herstory will have another chance to serve up the talent and compete for a spot in the Drag Race Hall of Fame.  
After tonight’s coronation, Bob The Drag Queen appeared in a first of its kind ad for the new AXE ‘Find Your Magic’ point of view, which spotlights how individuality and personal style are what really make a guy attractive. Just like “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” ‘Find Your Magic’ challenges outdated notions of masculinity and sends a message that guys can be what they want, dress how they want, love who they want and live fiercely. 
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” is produced by World of Wonder Productions with Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell, Steven Corfe, Mandy Salangsang, Kate Fisher (Co-EP), and RuPaul Charles serving as Executive Producers. Chris McCarthy, Pamela Post and Tim Palazzola serve as Executive Producers for Logo.
For more information on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” go to
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Equality California sponsors Advocacy Day in the California capitol Tue, 17 May 2016 16:25:06 +0000

SACRAMENTO — Dozens of LGBT activists and allies fanned out across the California Capitol Monday, meeting with legislators in support of ten bills that form Equality California’s 2016 legislative package and priorities.  Each of the priority bills would significantly improve the lives of LGBT Californians in various ways and stand in direct contrast to laws in North Carolina, Mississippi and elsewhere that target LGBT people for discrimination.

“We are heartened to see so many faces eager and willing to create a more inclusive and fair society,” said Asm. Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), chair of the LGBT Legislative Caucus. “The LGBT community is often at the frontlines of progress and we, as members of the LGBT Caucus, rely on their input and support to continue effecting change here in California and across the country. Marriage equality was a huge victory for our community, but recent events remind us why LGBT advocacy is more important than ever. Our movement towards equality has been and will continue to be a grassroots effort. And these participants show us that we are in good hands.”

“As North Carolina, Mississippi and other states enact regressive laws that target the most basic freedoms of LGBT people, look what we are doing together in California,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur at a morning rally outside the Capitol.  “In this legislative session alone, the bills making their way through the legislature make it clear that our state is heading in a different direction.”

Two of the bills specifically address challenges facing the transgender community.  AB 1732, by Asm. Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), would require that existing single-stall restrooms be labeled as “all-gender”.  AB 1887, by Asm. Evan Low (D-Campbell), would ban state-funded travel by California state employees to jurisdictions with laws in place that discriminate against LGBT people.

AB 1888, also by Low, would deny Cal Grant funding to colleges and universities that seek a waiver on religious grounds for federal anti-discrimination protections.  SB 1146, by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach), would require those institutions to disclose that intent to discriminate to potential applicants.

Two other Equality California-sponsored bills save lives.  AB 2246, by Asm. Patrick O’Donnell, would require schools statewide to have a suicide prevention policy in place to get teachers the materials and support they need to identify at-risk students.  SB 1408, by Sen. Ben Allen, (D-Redondo Beach), would allow organ and tissue donations between HIV positive donors and HIV positive recipients.

LGBT Advocacy Day was co-sponsored by the California LGBT Legislative Caucus, Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network, National Center for Lesbian Rights and Lambda Legal.

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Robert De Niro, Mariah Carey honored at 27th annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York Mon, 16 May 2016 20:30:16 +0000

NEW YORK – GLAAD honored Robert De Niro, Mariah Carey and the best in film, television and journalism at the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Waldorf Astoria New York  Saturday. Jennifer Lawrence, Aziz Ansari, Connie Britton, Diane Sawyer, Caitlyn Jenner, Tamron Hall, Noah Galvin, Andrew Rannells, Andreja Pejić and Jason Biggs were among the special guests. Recording artists Alex Newell and Bebe Rexha, as well as the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Fun Home performed at the event hosted by Emmy Award-winning actress Laverne Cox. The 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards are presented by Delta Air Lines, Hilton, Ketel One Vodka, and Wells Fargo.

The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives. The GLAAD Media Awards also fund GLAAD’s work to amplify stories from the LGBT community and issues that build support for acceptance.

At the ceremony, Academy Award-winning actress and surprise guest Jennifer Lawrence presented Robert De Niro with GLAAD’s Excellence in Media Award, which is presented to media professionals who, through their work, have increased the visibility and understanding of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

In his acceptance speech, De Niro celebrated the Supreme Court’s landmark decision for marriage equality, while cautioning to “also remember oppressive laws like the ones in North Carolina that let us know the struggle continues and challenges us to be vigilant and aggressive in protecting all our rights.” De Niro continued, “Thank you for this honor, I’m proud to stand with you, I’m GLAAD.”

Also at the event, Lee Daniels presented Mariah Carey with the Ally Award, which is presented to a media figure who has consistently used their platform to support and advance LGBT equality and acceptance.

Accepting the award, Carey shared a special message for the LGBT community, saying, “Thank you for the unconditional love … I thank you, and I wish all of you love, peace, [and] harmony.”

Master of None co-creator and sta Aziz Ansari presented the award for Outstanding TV Journalism Segment to Anderson Cooper 360 for the segment “Interview with Jim Obergefell.” Accepting for the show was Jim Obergefell, the U.S. Supreme Court plaintiff featured in the piece.

Nashville star Connie Britton presented the award for Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine to 20/20 for “Bruce Jenner: The Interview.” Diane Sawyer, Caitlyn Jenner, and David Sloan, senior executive producer, accepted on behalf of the show.

Girls star Andrew Rannells and The Real O’Neals star Noah Galvin presented the award for Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage to Cosmopolitan. Laura Brounstein, special projects director, accepted on the magazine’s behalf.

GLAAD previously announced that it was acknowledging two web series, Beautiful As I Want To Be ( and This is Me (Amazon Instant Video), with Special Recognition Awards.

Jennifer Lawrence presented the Excellence in Media Award to Robert De Niro. Lee Daniels presented the Ally Award to Mariah Carey. Laverne Cox hosted the event. Bebe Rexha performed, as did actor and singer Alex Newell, and Fun Homes Kally Duling and Emily Skeggs. Guests included: Aziz Ansari (Master of None); journalist Diane Sawyer; Connie Britton (Nashville); Andrew Rannells (Girls); Noah Galvin (The Real O’Neals); Tamron Hall (Today); Caitlyn Jenner; out transgender supermodel Andreja Pejić; Diane Kruger (Fathers and Daughters); Lea DeLaria, Jackie Cruz, Laura Gómez, Diane Guerrero, Selenis Leyva, Alysia Reiner (Orange Is The New Black); Carrie Preston (The Good Wife); CNN contributor Margaret Hoover; The Daily Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon; supermodel Josephine Skriver; Jason Biggs, Jenny Mollen (Amateur Night); out WWE superstar Darren Young;  Alexandra Turshen, Eric Schaeffer (Boy Meets Girl); journalist Teresa Rodriguez (Aquí y Ahora); producer Darren Dean, Karren Karagulian (Tangerine); Apple Music & iTunes executive Bozoma Saint John; out country music artist Billy Gilman; out transgender advocate Daniella Carter; out writer and advocate Jacob Tobia; fashion designers Prabal Gurung, Brandon Maxwell, Shane Gabier, and Chris Peters; early transgender model Tracey Norman; actor and trans advocate Nicole Maines, her brother Jonas Maines, and their father Wayne Maines; and GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.

For more information visit

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President Obama teams up with Macklemore to highlight addiction (VIDEO) Mon, 16 May 2016 20:10:19 +0000

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In this week’s address, Grammy Award-winning artist Macklemore joined President Obama to discuss a disease that affects far too many Americans: addiction.

Macklemore opened up about his own experience, his life in recovery, and the loss of a friend who overdosed on prescription drugs at a young age – emphasizing that substance use disorder affects people from all walks of life. “I’m here with President Obama because I take this personally,” said Macklemore. “I abused prescription drugs and battled addiction.  If I hadn’t gotten the help I needed when I needed it, I might not be here today.  And I want to help others facing the same challenges I did.”

To underscore the importance of Macklemore’s story, the President noted that we can help those suffering in private by making the conversation public, and we should do everything we can to make treatment available to everyone who needs it.

“Drug overdoses now take more lives every year than traffic accidents,” Obama said. “Deaths from opioid overdoses have tripled since 2000.  A lot of the time, they’re from legal drugs prescribed by a doctor.  So addiction doesn’t always start in some dark alley – it often starts in a medicine cabinet.  In fact, a new study released this month found that 44 percent of Americans know someone who has been addicted to prescription pain killers.”

The President noted that while the House of Representatives passed several bills on opioids this week, without more funding to expand treatment, these bills will not be enough to provide Americans the help they need.

“I’ve asked Congress to expand access to recovery services, and to give first responders the tools they need to treat overdoses before it’s too late,” Obama said. “This week, the House passed several bills about opioids – but unless they also make actual investments in more treatment, it won’t get Americans the help they need.”

Macklemore added, “When you’re going through it, it’s hard to imagine there could be anything worse than addiction.  But shame and the stigma associated with the disease keeps too many people from seeking the help they need.  Addiction isn’t a personal choice or a personal failing.  And sometimes it takes more than a strong will to get better – it takes a strong community and accessible resources.”

President Obama rounded off the conversation by emphasizing there is hope,”The good news is, there’s hope, the president said. “When we talk about opioid abuse as the public health problem it is, more people will seek the help they need.  More people will find the strength to recover, just like Macklemore and millions of Americans have.  We’ll see fewer preventable deaths and fewer broken families.”

If you are looking for treatment in your area, call 1-800-662-HELP.

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Seaside Center for Spiritual Living joins CSL National in supporting LGBTQ advocacy stance Mon, 16 May 2016 19:34:30 +0000

ENCINITAS, Calif. — Prompted by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signing into law a bill allowing mental health professionals to deny service to prospective LGBTQ patients if it conflicts with their religious convictions, The Centers for Spiritual Living made the decision to cancel a contract with the Sheraton Hotel in Nashville, where it was scheduled to host the Sixth Annual Spiritual Living Convention in 2017.

The Encinitas-based Seaside Center for Spiritual Living is a member of Centers for Spiritual Living (CSL), a global community comprised of 400 spiritual communities, teaching chapters, study groups and other ministries in 30 countries, teaching a New Thought philosophy through the study and practice of Science of Mind, also known as Religious Science. The organization honors all spiritual paths and lifestyles.

“It just feels right to be part of a spiritual community that is willing to stand in solidarity against the legal discrimination of our brothers and sisters in other states.” said Rev. Christian Sorensen, Spiritual Leader at Encinitas-based, Seaside Center for Spiritual Living. “Seaside is an open and inclusive spiritual nexus embracing diversity. Ours is a non-judgmental spiritual community that welcomes the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and we’re committed to providing an atmosphere of unconditional love, acceptance and support through our LGBTQ ministry. We celebrate each individual’s perfect, unique expression with our oneness in God.”

The Centers for Spiritual Living headquarters spokespeople restated in multiple national interviews, that while it is not appropriate to hold a business convention in a state that openly discriminates against LGBTQ community, it is important that there is an exploration to continue the dialogue with their partnerships in Nashville.  Centers for Spiritual Living executives, including Spiritual Leader Dr. Kenn Gordon, are exploring the possibility of a Strategic Alliances event in Nashville that would bring together New Thought communities, LGBTQ advocacy groups, civic leaders, as well as divergent voices in order to engage in meaningful dialogue.

For more information on Seaside Center for Spiritual Living, go to

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Equality California and journalist Karen Ocamb team up for ‘EQCA POV’ Mon, 16 May 2016 18:20:40 +0000

LOS ANGELES — Equality California announced today that it has teamed up with veteran journalist Karen Ocamb, who will write a weekly column on LGBT news and politics, “EQCA POV”.  The column will appear each week on Equality California’s website and will be distributed on the organization’s social media platforms.

Karen Ocamb Photo: Facebook

Karen Ocamb
Photo: Facebook

“This year’s elections, both in California and federally, are of vital importance to the LGBT community – yet there are only a few news outlets that are offering regular, in-depth coverage of electoral, political and public policy issues affecting the LGBT community,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California.  “We are excited that Karen has chosen to work with us to provide regular and frequent LGBT journalistic content to supplement existing news outlets and better inform our members and our community as a whole. Karen is more than an asset to the LGBT community – she is one of the people who helps hold it together.”

Ocamb left a career as a producer at CBS News in 1984, but got back into journalism in 1988, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, to report full-time on challenges facing the LGBT and HIV/AIDS community. A longtime reporter for Southern California LGBT publications, she is considered one of the most respected LGBT journalists in the country.

“I have covered Equality California since the late 1980s when it was the LIFE AIDS Lobby,” said Ocamb. “And I have known Rick Zbur since he ran for Congress in 1996. I am happy to team up with Rick and EQCA to produce timely news stories aimed at LGBT Californians during this critical election year.”

Read Ocamb’s first column here. The columns will run on the Equality California Web site through September.

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Commentary: A perverse pleasure of North Carolina’s stand on HB 2 Mon, 16 May 2016 00:30:52 +0000

Late GOP Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina, was fond of the word “pervert” when it came to LGBT people. He intended, of course, “pervert” as a noun not a verb.

To be clear, when Helms referred to me and my federal colleagues as a “bunch of perverts” he meant we were federal workers who practiced sexual perversion. He had in his mind a definition of “sexual perversion” and LGBT people practiced it, according to Jesse.

“Sexual perversion” is not at the heart of the North Carolina’s HB 2 controversy. Gender identity is at the heart of the matter. It will be a perverse pleasure though North Carolina in arguing against applicability of federal protections based on gender identity will likely establish that very applicability.

In a sense North Carolina is at “the crossroads of twisted values” Helms angrily spoke of 22 years ago when he used a Senate maneuver to fire me for “promoting the gay agenda” in the federal workplace. Jesse did not want gays in workplaces in the 1990s and in 2016 North Carolina does not want transgender people in restrooms.  Legal protections for all could be an outcome of North Carolina Dixie Pride and LGBT Pride.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, by filing a lawsuit against the US Department of Justice in defense of HB 2, a law he recently signed that, among other things, requires North Carolinians to use restrooms according to their birth sex rather than gender identity. McCrory claims “[t]here is no clear identification or definition of gender identity.”

Attorney General Loretta Lynch claims Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents states from restricting access to restrooms for transgender people. President Obama agrees to this interpretation but Gov. McCrory does not. A U.S. District Court judge in North Carolina will have to decide.

After that, I suspect McCrory will have his day at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. where transgender people have bathroom access. Following an expected court ruling solidly establishing gender identity in law, I predict a renewed effort for federal workplace protections for LGBT people. I would not bet on its success.

The McCrory move to sue the U.S. Department of Justice is bold and in the mean and vile spirit of Jesse Helms. It will be pleasurable for North Carolina to wage The War of the Bathrooms before the U.S. district court only to lose.

For some perverse reason, Southerners love to fight losing battles. As a verb “pervert” means “to misconstrue or misinterpret, especially deliberately; distort.” Perhaps the Southern love of defeat has perverted their thinking such that losing is winning.  Helms designated me a pervert 22 years ago in the pages of The Congressional Record. Still, this winning equals losing is too perverted for me to understand.

I suppose when federal courts rule against Gov. McCrory, the state of North Carolina will celebrate its defeat while the state’s LGBT community celebrates its victory. Perhaps in the celebration, perverts, perversion and Jesse Helms will fade into the past.

Longtime Washington diplomat Jim Patterson writes from California and Washington DC.

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Happy Birthday Frida! Sun, 15 May 2016 19:30:31 +0000

Frida_con_la_Iguana_Center_-_CopyJoin The LGBT Community Center Saturday, June 11 to celebrate the birthday of Frida Kahlo, commemorating the legendary life of one of the most influential Mexican painters of the mid-twentieth century while enjoying live music multiple art exhibits by local Latin@ artists and vendors, a Frida look-a-like contest, great food and Tequila! Proceeds from this event benefit Latin@ Services at The Center. Get your tickets today at

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You have it so easy… or not? Sun, 15 May 2016 14:00:00 +0000

Sticky yellow note papers with a list of new year's resolutions on the cork bulletin board

I hear it all the time … I wish I was more like you.  I wish I had the discipline and the genetics and the time and the metabolism and the body that you have. Wow! Maybe some strapping verdant genie will show up and grant you some freakin’ wishes and you’ll be on your gay way.  Or maybe you’ll just have to put a sock in your piehole, stop making excuses and start creating your own streak of good luck. I have your attention. That’s a good start. Get out the pad of paper and take some notes.

I know many people think that it is so easy for me to exercise because that is what I do every day. It is a habit, so it has to be easy. The majority of people would thus be wrong in that assessment of little old me. I have made it a routine and a priority in my life to engage in physical activity frequently. It requires schedule adjustments, sacrifices, and planning. It requires waking at 5 a.m. to run six miles. It requires sweating while lifting dumbbells. It requires that I exert energy and keep a commitment to good health. It certainly is not easy, but it can be very rewarding.

I know it is the mindset of some that I am able to exercise because I do not have the physical impairments that they have. This is another in a series of cop-outs for these folks pleading their cases in poppycock. You can always find a way to accommodate whatever condition or disability you have. There are people who have no legs that are able to run. There are people who have severe asthma that competitively swim. There are people who have AIDS that bicycle ten miles per day. You can do it if you dream it.

I know many people think that good ole God gave me the best darn set of genes this side of Pope Francis’ capacious bungalow in Vatican City. There are some Olympic marathoners out there but I am not one of them. That means that we have to do the best we can with what we have at the time we have it. That means now. Stop blaming your overactive thyroid for your three chins. Stop blaming your bequeathed low metabolism for your cottage cheese legs. Stop blaming your spare tires around the midsection on great-grandpa Grover’s family curse. Get out there and make the best of your genetic code.

I know many people will insist that it must be easier for me to exercise and stay in Chippendales shape since I do not have the four kids, the nagging significant other, the three hour commute, or the sixty hour workweek. We all have our cross to bear and I will spare you the horror of hearing mine. I struggle every day with adversity. There is always a way to make it work if you want to make it work.

Write down all your best excuses and then affix this compilation to your stainless steel refrigerator with that magnet from Guido’s Pizza Palace. Check this list each day and each time that you feel an urge to excuse yourself from exercise and good health. You can make life happen for you if you want. Close your eyes, click your heels and repeat after me: God helps those who help themselves.

This wellness article is brought to you by that guy who knows he’d make a swell alternative lifestyle President in 2032. That guy is Ron Blake and you can send campaign contributions to


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White House appoints first transgender woman to serve on President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-based Neighborhood Partnerships Sun, 15 May 2016 00:30:10 +0000
Barbara Satin

Barbara Satin

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The White House has announced that the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Barbara Satin has been appointed to serve on President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-based Neighborhood Partnerships. Satin is the first transgender woman to serve on this presidential body.

“I am both honored and humbled to be selected to serve on the President’s advisory council. Given the current political climate, I believe it’s important that a voice of faith representing the transgender and gender non-conforming community — as well as a person of my years, nearly 82 — be present and heard in these vital conversations,” said Satin, Assistant Faith Work Director, National LGBTQ Task Force.

In addition to working at the National LGBTQ Task Force, Satin has been heavily involved in the development of Spirit on Lake, a LGBTQ senior housing project in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The housing project — a 46-unit affordable rental facility — opened in September 2013. She also sits on the boards of a number of non-profits that serve LGBTQ people in the areas of philanthropy, training of senior care providers and HIV/AIDS services. As an active member of the United Church of Christ, she has served on the denomination’s Executive Council and was involved in the church’s 2003 decision to affirm the inclusion of transgender people in the full life and ministry of the United Church of Christ. Satin is a United States Air Force veteran.

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Short film on gendered bathrooms is timely reminder (VIDEO) Sat, 14 May 2016 19:30:30 +0000

Pink & Baby Blue 140108 from Catrin Hedström on Vimeo.

A film by Catrin Hedström, which played at the Slamdance Film Festival 2014 and Female Eye Film Festival 2014 is a very timely reminder to the gender neutral bathroom discussion happening right now in states across the country.

The film shows a transgender woman deciding between using the men’s restroom or the ladies’ restroom. Or rather, the men’s world or the women’s world.

Reviewing the film at the time, Adam Patterson of Film pulse wrote, “A comedic yet nightmarish look at the ultimate decision a transgender person must contend with- using the men’s or women’s restroom.  Although on the surface it seems like a simple decision, the bathrooms themselves represent the world in which the main character will be entering, neither of which look very appealing.  This is exactly the type of film one could want in a short.  It’s breezy, funny, and packs a punch.  It certainly doesn’t hurt that it looks great as well.”

Watch the movie above.

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Last October, the anti-LGBT hate group World Congress of Families (WCF) held its ninth international congress in Salt Lake City, a gathering that attracts thousands of anti-LGBT and anti-abortion speakers and activists from around the globe, reports the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The gathering traditionally functions as a key site of right-wing strategy development to curtail or roll back LGBT equality gains and restrict or deny women access to abortion and related healthcare, attracting religious and political leaders. Six months later, WCF will hold its tenth congress in Tbilisi, Georgia, beginning Sunday, a date close to the anniversary of a violent 2013 mob attack on an anti-homophobia rally in the city, which occurred on May 17 which is often commemorated as the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. Thousands of anti-LGBT protestors led by Orthodox priests broke through a police cordon and pursued gay rights supporters, injuring at least twenty-eight people.

This year’s theme for the congress is “Civilization at the Crossroads: The Natural Family as The Bulwark of Freedom and Human Values.”  The conference, the Web site claims, “will help the international pro-family movement to establish a beachhead in the region,” because one reason “sexual radicals” have targeted these countries, the site continues, “is to demonstrate their ability to overcome traditional cultures and compel people who cling to normative values to bend to their will.”

“The World Congress of Families focuses on bringing in the most notorious anti-LGBT activists from around the world, leaving terrible harm and discrimination in their wake,” said Ty Cobb, director of HRC Global. “Try as they might to hide behind so-called ‘pro-family’ rhetoric, the World Congress of Families is a hate group that convenes thousands of extremists from around the globe to strategize about how to make the world a more dangerous place for LGBT people.”

WCF works closely with extremists spreading anti-LGBT rhetoric and promoting laws and policies that criminalize not only LGBT people, but also those who speak out to support them. HRC’s report on the group, Exposed: The World Congress of Families, underscores the reality that WCF and many of its affiliates are laser-focused on promoting policies and rhetoric that put LGBT people and their families at incredible risk.

The conference speakers include Theresa Okafor, a notorious exporter of hate who has compared LGBT people to the terrorist group Boko Haram, and Brian Brown, president and co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a once-prominent anti-LGBT group. In 2011, Brown said, “When you knock over a core pillar of society like marriage, and then try to redefine Biblical views of marriage as bigotry, there will be consequences. Will one of the consequences be a serious push to normalize pedophilia?”

“WCF has honored a Nigerian activist who claims LGBT advocates conspire with terrorists with a “Woman of the Year” award, and lauded Vladimir Putin’s ‘morality,’”Cobb said. “The work of WCF supports positions and policies that harm LGBT people around the world. Their advocacy abroad incites hatred against LGBT people from Russia to Nigeria and beyond.”

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SDSU athletics to be spotlighted at Family Health Centers of San Diego’s Spirit of the Barrio Fri, 13 May 2016 18:00:20 +0000

SAN DIEGO — Friday, May 20 Family Health Centers of San Diego’s (FHCSD) Spirit of the Barrio luncheon will feature a panel of guests from our very own San Diego State University’s (SDSU) Athletic Department. The luncheon will take place at Logan Heights Family Health Center (1809 National Avenue, San Diego, CA 92113) from 11:30am to 1:00pm.

The dynamic panel features SDSU Athletic Director Jim Sterk, Head Football Coach Rocky Long and surprise Aztec guests. Ted Leitner, Sportscaster and San Diego Padres/SDSU Men’s Basketball and Football Radio Announcer, will serve as the emcee. The panel will discuss SDSU football while fielding other Aztec-related questions.

Additionally, this month’s Spirit of the Barrio will feature a Q&A session and raffle prizes from the SDSU Aztecs and other Southern California attractions.

Community members are invited to attend the luncheon! Tickets are $25 and still available for purchase at The luncheon will be live-tweeted and guests can join the conversation by using #SOTBAztecs.

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HHS implements new regulation to protect LGBT people from discrimination in healthcare Fri, 13 May 2016 17:46:54 +0000

WASHINGTON – The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights has implemented a regulation that provides explicit protections from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotyping, including for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, in healthcare and insurance under the provisions of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“Access to healthcare should never be denied because of your sexual orientation or gender identity,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “LGBT people have too often faced healthcare systems that provide inequitable and hostile treatment. This new and important regulation will address many of these disparities and is critical to help end discrimination against transgender and gender nonconforming people in healthcare and insurance. The Affordable Care Act has made a tremendous impact on the lives of millions of Americans, and this regulation makes clear that LGBT people and their unique needs are included in the protections it provides.”

HRC has repeatedly called on the Administration to implement these essential protections. In November of last year, HRC staff delivered 13,398 public comments from our members and supporters in response to the proposed rule change.

Discrimination has touched the lives of many LGBT people at all points in the healthcare system – from being unable to access insurance coverage, to outright refusals to provide care, to verbal and physical abuse at the hands of medical professionals.

This new regulation makes clear that transgender people must be treated consistent with their gender identity and cannot be denied care provided to anybody else, even when it’s transition-related care.  However, prohibitions on discrimination resulting from sex-stereotyping will provide significant protections for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. Any individual who has experienced discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the provision of health care or insurance should file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.

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NC Chamber of Commerce president: No repeal on HB2 Thu, 12 May 2016 18:13:40 +0000
Lew Ebert

Lew Ebert

The North Carolina Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Lew Ebert spoke out Wednesday about the state’s controversial new anti-discrimination law, House Bill 2.

In an interview with local TWC News, Ebert said that the Chamber doesn’t think that House Bill 2 will be repealed and that the chamber is suggesting ideas to bring HB2 in line with federal government.

Ebert says that he would like to see NC’s employment anti-discrimination law to be for word-for-word with the federal Civil Rights Act. He also says that the chamber wants workplace line of action back in state courts, specifically business court.

The Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC blasted Ebert’s comments calling his partial solutions unacceptable.

“Refusing to call for full repeal of HB2, the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce’s leadership has succumbed to pressure from anti-LGBT state lawmakers, and even worse, decided that LGBT North Carolinians don’t deserve nondiscrimination protections,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. “The state’s chamber should instead be listening to the overwhelming outcry from the business community who are demanding HB2 be repealed. The only acceptable solution to the deep damage inflicted on the state by Governor McCrory is to fully repeal HB2 and replace it with commonsense, nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.”

“It is clear that the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce is out of touch when 200 major CEOs have come out against HB2 — yet the Chamber’s leadership refuses to call for a repeal of HB2,” said Chris Sgro, Executive Director of Equality NC. “The NC Chamber of Commerce needs to reevaluate its commitments to economic, community, and workforce developments when it is clear that HB2 is bad for business, our community and the North Carolina economy. The NC Chamber of Commerce must take the situation at hand seriously and listen to the countless large and small businesses that have voiced their disagreement and have called for a repeal of HB2.”

In the fifty days since HB2 was signed into law, North Carolina has already lost more than a half billion dollars, or $10 million per day, in economic activity just from companies canceling or reconsidering plans to come to the state, and in cancelled conventions, concerts, and other lost tourism dollars. That doesn’t even include potential economic development that now just won’t happen in North Carolina because of McCrory’s radical law, or the potential catastrophic loss of federal funding for schools, roads, bridges, and other essential services. This is exactly why chambers like the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce have called for full repeal.

Gov. McCrory and state lawmakers are under increasingly intense pressure to repeal HB 2, including from the U.S. Department of Justice which has filed a lawsuit against North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, the state’s Department of Public Safety, and the University of North Carolina and Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina over HB2’s violations of federal civil rights law.

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