LGBT Weekly 2016-05-02T00:30:24Z Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Nothing is as important as your health]]> 2016-04-29T14:57:26Z 2016-05-02T00:30:24Z iStock_000087260771_The Art of WellnessYou need to be alive if you want to go to work, get married, take your dog to the groomer, or play on your bowling team. That seems like a common sense thing to say and it is. However, into my office walked “Excuse #217” yesterday and common sense never came with him. Let’s call him E217 for the sake of this article.

E217 came to me because he is 150 pounds overweight and wants a change. He was so excited about losing all the fat and had images of what he’d look like all those many pounds lighter. He just couldn’t fathom how he’d find the time to accomplish the daunting task.

I mentioned that he could get up early and train with me. His retort was that he rises early each day for conference calls with the London office. Apparently Nigel is unforgiving with absenteeism for these half hour sessions. E217 then heads off for his day at work and therefore a post-conference call workout session appears futile.

My next suggestion involved a lunch hour workout routine. E217 slapped the handcuffs upon this idea almost as suddenly as it was spoken by me. He eloquently explained the numerous client lunches that he hosted during the midday hours. He informed me that he had landed many important contracts through this means and wasn’t likely to walk away from this lucrative lunch hour routine.

I scratched my head and suggestions #1 and #2 from my list. With limited fanfare but enthusiasm I presented my third option of training in the evenings. E217 was quick to point out his enrollment status as a part-time student in the MPA program at the state university. Two classes and six credit hours equate to four weeknights of sitting through soporific lectures on statistics and global economics.

E217 headed me off at the pass with my next proposals for working out. He stated his desire to be with his significant other on Saturdays for meaningful leisure time. He wanted some time to be with the love of his life. Sundays were identified as belonging to studying for those business courses and Sunday evenings were scheduled as sacred time for the bowling team. E217 was a seven year veteran of the “Alley Cats” and wasn’t eager to relinquish this social tradition.

I was forced into the corner and came out clawing! E217 had told me at the outset he wanted candor and a harsh reality of getting the workout training done. I did my best to honor his request.

I gave E217 a brochure for the local funeral home and urged him to make an appointment for pre-planning. I told him that he very likely would not be around to finish his schooling or to continue adding contracts at work or to roll a 220 at the lanes on Sunday evenings.

Nothing else matters if you aren’t around to be here for it. Nothing is as important as your health. It is the foundation for everything. It is that simple but yet I will get Excuse #218 in my office later this week and he will have the same song and dance. Do yourself a favor and use common sense. Without YOU the rest just doesn’t mean a thing!

This wellness article is brought to you by that guy who wishes you all a happy day. This daily festive guy is Ron Blake and you can send your quotidian tidings to him at

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[The Advocate: ‘Why Black Pride Matters’]]> 2016-04-29T14:30:22Z 2016-05-01T19:30:57Z Advocate June July 2016LOS ANGELESFor its June/July 2016 cover story, The Advocate’s Les Fabian Brathwaite explores the intricate intersection of race and LGBT identity and how a community within a community uses their collective voices through celebration to create a support system, awareness, and acceptance.  The Advocate’s cover story, “Black Pride: A Celebration,” takes a closer look at Black Pride festivals and how these events foster a collective voice of power for communities that face even greater amounts of racism, homophobia, transphobia, and/or sexism.

From the “black is beautiful” movement in the 1960s to New York’s Stonewall riots where young street kids, many of them black and Latino, fought to be seen, heard, and respected; Black Pride and Gay Pride have been evolving in this country on a similar trajectory.  Black Pride and LGBT Pride developed from the rejection of that which America’s dominant culture has said is right, is beautiful, and is normal.  Yet, for a queer person of color, the two prides can seem at odds. Black Pride celebrations started as a way to reconcile these two identities, providing a safe space for queer people of color to build community and find a sense of self.

“Black Prides allow people of color the chance to celebrate our culture and orientation without explanation,” says LaToya Hankins, of North Carolina’s Shades of Pride.  Black Pride celebrations are not meant to divide or further ghettoize the LGBT community.  Leaders and organizers of Black Prides around the country understand the gravity of being a minority within a minority community and the issues that surround this identity. “There is no question that everyone within the LGBT movement deserves to celebrate and gather for Pride festivities,” says Gabby Santos, who coordinates Albany’s Black and Latino Gay Pride. “But as LGBT people of color, we face some particularly difficult issues that require tailored Black Pride activities. We face myths of negative stereotypes, such as, we are more violent than others. We face realities such as racism within programs and the criminal system that leave people of color with fewer options, great obstacles to participate, and fewer protections. These myths and realities are painful. LGBT people of color who experience them need support from their peers who understand the impact.”

Even with Black Pride festivals increasing popularity (there are 33 domestic and seven international celebrations with hundreds of thousands attendees), the one problem that these Black Pride organizations face, as opposed to mainstream Prides, is gathering sponsorships.  “Mainstream Pride is no longer about ‘affirming and increasing visibility for LGBT people’ yet more about leveraging the visibility of companies wanting access to the community for brand endorsement,” says Philadelphia Black Pride’s D. D’Ontace Keyes.   While brands are eager to tap into the LGBT market, corporate America is a bit more hesitant when it comes to queer people of color.

The black queer identity has a unique perspective and a unique voice but also a unique set of problems. As this identity has evolved, so have the needs of the community.  For years, marriage equality has been the cause célèbre of the LGBT public consciousness, but queer people of color face a myriad of other obstacles, from disparities in income and access to health care to racism within the LGBT community and racism as the great national pastime, not to mention higher rates of homelessness, unemployment, incarceration, and HIV infection. These factors not only disproportionately affect queer people of color but also take an unfair toll on the next generation.  Black Pride addresses these needs because mainstream Pride either does not, cannot, or will not. Thus, what began as a concept has grown into a movement to save bodies, educate minds, and uplift the spirits of a marginalized population that is tired of being marginalized.

Read The Advocate’s full June/July cover story at:

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[New documentary film explores the challenges faced by LGBT entertainers]]> 2016-04-29T14:47:44Z 2016-05-01T14:30:29Z

In an age where you can turn on primetime television or your favorite Netflix or Hulu series and see shows with more diversity than ever, that include more characters of color and LGBT people, the reality of performing artists who work in, or are climbing the ladder of the showbiz industry is a lot different, with various challenges that make the experience confined, difficult and more challenging. This statement is evidenced by the growing tension around the lack of opportunities that exist in Hollywood and the growing tension over black and minority films not being acknowledged at awards shows, like the Oscars. The conversation about diversity in media and entertainment is reaching a boiling point.

A Tough Act To Follow is a documentary film that follows some of the experiences of Sampson McCormick, (Sampson), a touring, black, LGBT stand­up comic and writer, who navigates the already difficult business, as well as many of the added hurdles and setbacks with lots of humor, a few tears, heartfelt honesty and admirable determination. Through humor as well as serious inquiry, it focuses on the homophobia, sexism and sometimes racism and other challenges that affect the level of visibility of diversity in comedy houses, television, on stages and opportunities for minority artists in the entertainment business. The film will be playing at film festivals around the country starting in the Spring and Summer of 2016, and eventually make its way to Netflix. The film, is produced by Sampson and Todd Clark (Emmy Award Winning Producer, The DC Place) and features a notable television, film and stage stars that include Sinbad (A Different World, Houseguest), Luenell (Borat, American Hustle), Darryl Stephens (Noah’s Arc, Boy Culture), Adele Givens (Def Comedy Jam, Queens of Comedy), and a soundtrack provided by LGBT hip hop artists Bry’Nt, Kaoz, Tim’m West, Nhojj and folk singer Toshi Reagon.

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Commentary: North Carolina HB 2 –The ghost of Jesse Helms]]> 2016-04-29T15:13:20Z 2016-05-01T00:30:50Z Jesse Helms

Jesse Helms

Contributor Note: July 19, 1994, Sen. Jesse Helms, in a fiery speech recorded by C-SPAN and The Congressional Record, moved to fire Mr. Patterson from his US government job for “promoting the gay agenda” in the federal workplace.

Gov. Pat McCrory responded to the call of North Carolinians when he signed HB 2 into law. He also responded to the ghost of North Carolina’s long serving GOP US Sen. Jesse Helms.

I identify as a Republican. I am a paid life member of the Republican Party. I wholeheartedly believe in employment and legal protections for LGBT people as I have seen the economic misery in the lives of LGBT friends and families.

While working as an agricultural diplomat in the Clinton administration I supported the administration’s federal workplace initiative to fight discrimination against my LGBT colleagues. This work became a part of my employment.  The position description is a part of the Congressional Record for July 19, 1994.

When Sen. Helms read the position description and learned of my work to promote workplace diversity in the federal government, he considered my work prohibited political activity. Using government resources to fight employment discrimination against LGBT workers amounted to waste of government resources to Sen. Helms and he moved to fire me to stop the waste.

Helms became so outraged he called me a “pervert” in The Congressional Record and the Q-word and F-word on the campaign trail. It was a tough time for me and I learned firsthand of the misery my LGBT colleagues experienced and, sadly, continue to experience.

HB 2, a long and complex bill, contains a provision that requires people in North Carolina to use public restrooms corresponding to their sex at birth rather than gender identity. This transphobic bill has drawn national and international outrage by corporate, government and political sources.

As a Republican I was proud GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump and John Kasich stepped forward to reject the politics behind HB 2. I also applaud those North Carolina Republicans who have rejected the bill.

My deeply held Christian faith tells me everyone needs to work to support themselves, their families and their churches. Likewise, my deeply held political faith in the Republican Party tells me people should be free to work for the same reasons. Workplace discrimination forces people to lives of personal misery and economic dependency on poorly managed government programs.

Americans are free to choose where to work and for whom. Employers and employees need to be freed from the politics of workplace stigma due to a person’s sexuality.

After 20 years, I bare no grudge toward Sen. Jesse Helms. I wish him peace. He and I, though in the same political party and from the Deep South, did not see eye to eye on LGBT rights. His views on LGBT people were based on the prevailing views of his time that we were all sick criminals and LGBT groups made little or no effort to help him alter his views. As a result, he saw no reason to change with his times and his political legacy suffers in this regard.

In his 1994 speech in The Congressional Record, Sen. Helms said “we are at the crossroads of twisted values” in our Nation. In 2016 North Carolina is at a political and economic crossroads. I believe Sen. Helms would want the state’s economy to continue to grow and for North Carolinians to prosper.  To do that HB 2 should be repealed.

Contributor Jim Patterson is a writer and speaker based in California and Washington DC.

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Gay men of color celebrate 10 years of fun in the sun at Blatino Oasis, Palm Springs May 5-8]]> 2016-04-29T14:29:13Z 2016-04-30T19:30:54Z Blatino Oasis--PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – California’s largest gay and bisexual men of color vacation getaway is counting down to its 10th anniversary celebration in Palm Springs May 5-8.

Blatino Oasis is the first event to successfully bring gay men of color to the city of Palm Springs on an annual basis, and is now the largest annual event targeting gay men of color in the state of California, attracting thousands of attendees from all over the country and around the world. Event Producer Joe Hawkins, expressed his feelings about reaching a decade in the desert; “I have to say that I am overwhelmed by the fact that an event made up primarily of African American and Latino men, and that started just before the recession hit back in 2007, in a place like Palm Springs (where there is no large gay community of color), would have survived the downturn, but it did!” And how!
Blatino Oasis presenting sponsors this year are ‘Get Tested Coachella Valley’ and the gay hook-up app, Jack’d. “We’re excited to have Jack’d and Get Tested Coachella Valley joining us again as Presenting Sponsors,” said event founder and producer, Joe Hawkins. “We support Get Tested’s goal of making testing free and available to everyone in the community.” The Blatino Oasis event boasts having helped to test the most gay men of color in Coachella Valley history.

“Joe Hawkins has done an incredible job creating Blatino Oasis and producing the event for 10 years,” said Susan Unger, Project Director for Get Tested Coachella Valley. “We applaud him, we look forward to the event, and we appreciate this opportunity to reach this audience with valuable education and testing.” People who plan to attend the event should also know that Get Tested, Coachella Valley, will be at the entry to most of the Blatino Oasis events offering free entry to those who test, for a limited number of attendees, so be on the lookout for the van.
Other event sponsors include Desert Outlook Magazine, The Desert AIDS Project, CCBC Men’s Resort, Thugmart, Riverside University Health System, WET Lubricants, The City of Palm Springs and Cathedral City to name a few.

The four day event (May 5-8), features a free Cinco De Mayo arrival party on Thursday, May 5, 9pm-2pm, at Toucans and on Friday, May 6, a free “Welcome Reception” at the Hyatt Regency Palm Springs from 4pm-7pm. Friday night from 9pm-2am, Rap Icon ‘Foxy Brown,’ will headline the kick-off party at the Copa Room. On Saturday, May 7, there will be a Mardi Gras Erotic Pool Party at CCBC in Cathedral city hosted by Rodney Chester (Noah’s Arc), from 2pm-7pm. Saturday night will feature “gay-lebrities” Pablo Hernandez and ‘Fly Young Red’ performing at Chill Bar-Scorpion Room, and hosted by Reality star Milan Christopher of VH’1’s “Love & Hip Hop Hollywood”. The event will wrap with a Sunday, white apparel awards brunch at Bonta Restaurant in Cathedral City from 11am-2:30pm and a closing pool party at CCBC Resort. CCBC will also be host to after-hours events from 1:30am-6:30am each night including an afterhours foam party after the Friday night Copa event.

The two night-time dance events and pool parties will feature world class deejays to include Dj Chris Johnson (LA), Dj Ben (West Hollywood), Dj 6PAC (San Francisco) and Dj Konrad Parker (West Hollywood), spinning Hip Hop, R&B, Top 40, House, Latin Pop, Reggae, Reggaeton and top 40.

For more event details, hotels, and to purchase event passes, visit

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[NC Senate President Berger doubles down on anti-LGBT HB2]]> 2016-04-29T14:01:46Z 2016-04-30T14:00:34Z Further compounding the HB2 economic catastrophe that North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Pat Moore inflicted on the state when they rammed the HB 2 legislation through in less than a day, they are now doubling down on their refusal to listen to the business community. While CEOs and business leaders have spoken with one voice over the past six weeks, calling on North Carolina leaders to repeal HB2, Sen. Berger has sent a letter to corporate leaders defending his discriminatory HB2 law.

The letter, sent just before the state legislature returned to session, inherently acknowledges what an economic disaster HB2 has been for the state as companies look to protect their employees and consumers from discrimination and harm. It also contains the worst of the lies and misinformation Senator Berger has been peddling over the last six weeks.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has taken the liberty of redlining Senator Berger’s letter with the truth and publishing it here.

Chad Griffin, HRC president said, “Sen. Berger is defending the indefensible. He knows HB2 is an unmitigated disaster that strikes at the basic rights and dignity of North Carolinians. In the face of so many business voices denouncing the bill and calling for its full repeal, Senator Berger is desperately digging in even further.  He is  lying about local laws and recycling dangerous myths about transgender people that have been soundly rejected by both the business community and fair-minded North Carolinians.”

Matt Hirschy, director of advancement, Equality NC, said, “It is disheartening to see Sen. Berger use the same misinformation that has dominated so much of the debate leading to the passing of the discriminatory House Bill 2. He appears to think that these executives, companies and their collective attorneys don’t fully understand the intention or focus of the bill when in fact they are very aware and worried. Furthermore, Senator Berger claims that ‘one of those narratives misstates the impact of the law’, yet he is quick to dismiss the countless people coming out against HB2 who are negatively affected by the bill. We urge the Senator to meet with the transgender North Carolinians who now fear for their safety and meet with the mothers whose children are being bullied at school because of this harmful law. We implore the Senator to really listen to his constituents, not just the ones that he is counting on at the polls in November.”

HRC have outlined below some major points to consider regarding claims in Berger’s letter and other communications from proponents of HB2:

  • Berger Claim: Charlotte’s ordinance mandated gender-neutral bathrooms FALSE   Charlotte joined 18 states and more than 100 cities — including Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, Louisville, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Dallas, and nearly every other major city in the country – by passing a non-discrimination ordinance. Nothing in the ordinance required a bathroom to be gender-neutral. Gov. McCrory’s repeated assertions that HB2 is about keeping men out of women’s restrooms is simply a lie.  Transgender women are women, and should have access to women’s restrooms.

  • Berger Claim: Charlotte’s ordinance raised serious safety concerns FALSE  This is a tired and entirely unfounded trope that opponents of equality have trotted out in jurisdictions across the country. Tens of millions of people in this country are covered by laws that prohibit discrimination in places of public accommodation on the basis of gender identity without problems. Law enforcement officials have spoken out against bills like HB2.  Asserting that gender identity non-discrimination protections pose dangers is offensive. Transgender people should not and must not be conflated with sexual predators. Men who are sexual predators will not have increased access to restrooms — if they identify as men they’ll still be required to use the men’s room.  Characterizing this law as a way to enable or protect sexual predators is ludicrous. Sexual predators engage in behavior that is, was, and always will be illegal — and this law doesn’t change that.

  • Berger Claim: HB2 allows reasonable North Carolinians to solve complicated issues without government interference FALSE  HB2 is the very definition of government interference. Charlotte spent two years considering and vetting an ordinance; candidates ran for re-election on the promise of passing such an ordinance, and were voted into office by voters who wanted them to pass such an ordinance. They passed an ordinance similar to laws in 18 states.  Sen. Berger and Gov. McCrory responded by hastily convening a special session in which the General Assembly took almost no testimony, considered the matter for less than 10 hours it was approved, and signed by the governor that same day.

  • Berger Claim: This law allows North Carolina businesses to adopt whatever workplace and accommodation policies they may choose PARTLY FALSE The Charlotte ordinance is primarily about places of public accommodation. Workplace policies were only implicated if an employer had or wanted to have a contract with the city of Charlotte. Invoking workplace policies is a red herring, Many businesses already have their own policies prohibiting discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and the EEOC has determined that employers covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act have similar non-discrimination obligations under federal law.  Some businesses that were covered by the ordinance in Charlotte are now free to discriminate in public accommodations if they so choose.  However, HB2 now forces private businesses leasing property owned by the state, state agency, city, or other public agency — including the airports, convention centers, office space or otherwise – to discriminate in the provision of restroom facilities. Schools are also now required to discriminate against transgender students in the provision of facilities — a situation unprecedented in the country.

  • Berger Claim: Much of the opposition to House Bill 2 has rested on a false premise: namely, that a decision not expanding current law beyond protections existing in federal law and a majority of statements is an endorsement of discrimination ABSOLUTELY FALSE  It continues to be clear that Sen. Berger, Gov. McCrory and Speaker Moore either don’t understand what this law does or are intentionally lying about it.  HB2 does not restore the status quo. That is a lie.  It is the first bill in American history to force transgender people to use a bathroom inconsistent with their gender identity. It is an unprecedented effort to write anti-transgender discrimination into law. HB2 is motivated by anti-LGBT animus, particularly toward transgender people.  Writing anti-transgender discrimination into the law is an endorsement of discrimination. HB2 also embraces discrimination by removing from state law the cause of action for people who have experienced discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin and sex.  HB2 is simply an endorsement of discrimination in every sense.

Gov. McCrory and state lawmakers are under increasingly intense pressure to repeal HB2. More than 180 leading CEOs and business leaders are urging Gov. McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal the deeply discriminatory law that’s bad for business and bad for North Carolina. Mayors and governors across the country are banning travel to the state, musicians are cancelling concerts, and the New York Times editorial board called North Carolina a “pioneer in bigotry.” The NBA has threatened next year’s All-Star Game in Charlotte, NASCAR has spoken about its opposition publicly, and the NCAA has said it won’t schedule events – including the Final Four – in cities that don’t have fully-inclusive non-discrimination laws. Major film studios and corporations, from PayPal to Deutsche Bank, have stopped investments in the state because of the new law. The United Kingdom’s Foreign Office has even warned its LGBT citizens of the risks of traveling to North Carolina.

HRC and Equality NC continue to call for the full repeal of HB2, a blatantly discriminatory law targeting transgender people, and denying municipalities supporting LGBT equality from extending non-discrimination protections to all of their residents.

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Congresswoman Suzan DelBene calls for judiciary hearing on Equality Act]]> 2016-04-29T01:26:58Z 2016-04-29T16:45:22Z  Suzan DelBene

Suzan DelBene

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) Thursday joined more than 100 colleagues in calling on House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA-06) to hold a hearing on the Equality Act (H.R. 3185), a comprehensive bill that aims to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans.

“In too many states, people who are LGBT can still be fired, denied credit and evicted from their home simply based on who they are and who they love,” DelBene said. “What’s worse, our nation is seeing a proliferation of state laws legalizing discrimination under the guise of ‘religious freedom.’ The House Judiciary Committee, which I serve on, should take up the Equality Act without delay to make clear that LGBT Americans deserve full equality under our laws. We can’t stop fighting until all Americans have equal rights and protections.”

DelBene is an original cosponsor of the Equality Act, which would provide explicit, consistent civil rights protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in credit, education, employment, federal funding, housing, jury service and public accommodations.

Mississippi and North Carolina recently enacted laws to permit discrimination against LGBT individuals, underscoring the need for a comprehensive prohibition on discrimination.

Last year, DelBene introduced a resolution (H.Res. 549) to designate June 26, as “LGBT Equality Day,” to honor the anniversary of LGBT milestones and highlight how much work remains to be done

Full text of the letter led by Rep. David Cicilline (R.I.-01), follows:

Dear Chairman Goodlatte:

We write as cosponsors of H.R. 3185, the Equality Act, to request that you hold a hearing on this legislation in the House Judiciary Committee.  As you may know, this bipartisan legislation has the support of 175 Members of the House, and would ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals are protected under the law.

While many states have adopted numerous LGBT civil rights laws, there is currently no uniform federal standard that protects all LGBT Americans from discrimination.  The current patchwork of LGBT state laws has not only created an enormous amount of confusion and uncertainty, but it has impacted the safety and lives of LGBT Americans.  Under the current system, LGBT Americans are forced to choose where to live and work based on the legal protections available in a particular jurisdiction.

The Equality Act amends existing federal statutes to provide explicit, consistent protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of credit, education, employment, federal funding, housing, jury service, and public accommodations. By amending existing code, we extend the exact same protections to LGBT people, no more and no less, than exist for the protected classes of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

All Americans deserve equal protection under the law. We request that as the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to which this legislation has been referred, you recognize the vital importance of this issue by holding a hearing on the Equality Act, to be followed by the opportunity for passage by the Judiciary Committee and ultimately, by the House of Representatives.

We look forward to working with you on moving this historic legislation.


Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[HRC and advocates across nation host readings of ‘I Am Jazz’ to support transgender youth]]> 2016-04-29T01:07:31Z 2016-04-29T16:30:29Z Jazz

Jazz Jennings

WASHINGTON — Thursday, parents, teachers and youth advocates across the nation stood up to efforts targeting transgender people, including a law recently passed in North Carolina, by holding more than 50 readings of “I Am Jazz,” a book by transgender teen and Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation Youth  Ambassador Jazz Jennings.

The nationwide action involving more than 3,500 people in two dozen states was inspired by the residents of tiny Mount Horeb, WI., who unequivocally rebuked bigotry and censorship last year, showing up in numbers exceeding 600 at a public reading of “I Am Jazz.” The reading was organized by a caring parent after legal threats by an anti-LGBT hate group forced a local school to cancel plans to support a transgender student by reading the book in class.

Days later, the Mount Horeb school board adopted inclusive measures fully accommodating transgender students. Said one board member: “We will not be intimidated, and we will teach tolerance and will be accepting to everyone.”

The national reading effort was sponsored by HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools program, the National Education Association (NEA) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC). It united in action youth advocates across the country — including the mother of the Mt. Horeb transgender student; Jazz and her mom; and the book’s co-author Jessica Herthel — who are hosting readings of “I Am Jazz” in dozens of schools, churches, bookstores, homes, and community centers across the country. U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-CA, a member of the Transgender Equality Task Force, will read the book from the floor of the U.S. House.

“Mount Horeb parents and school leaders acted with courage and showed that love, indeed, conquers hate,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC Senior Vice President for Programs, Research and Training. “Today, in dozens of communities across the country, people are standing up and supporting the full humanity of transgender children and youth by lifting up the values of respect, compassion and love. They know that there never has been a more important time to step up and speak up, helping all of our children thrive, and become better human beings for a better tomorrow.”

In a video (above) created for the first HRC-sponsored “I Am Jazz” national reading earlier this year, Jazz, a Youth Ambassador for the HRC Foundation, the educational arm of America’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, thanks the caring people reading her book. Growing up transgender, she says, can be challenging, and kids–all kids–need the support, compassion and kindness of their parents, schools and friends.

HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools is the nation’s premier resource for LGBT-inclusive professional development tools, lessons and resources that help elementary schools across the nation embrace family diversity, prevent bias-based bullying and gender stereotyping, and support transgender and gender-expansive students. HRC’s Welcoming Schools has created this guide to help organizers of “I Am Jazz” reading events build more affirming and supportive spaces for transgender and gender-expansive youth across the country.

The story of Mount Horeb and its support for the young student and her family was featured

during the HRC Foundation’s annual Time to THRIVE conference in February, when the Foundation announced this second national day of action of “I Am Jazz” readings.

Follow “I Am Jazz” day of action events on Twitter at #ClosetheBookonHate and #LoveConquersHate.

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[ACA condemns passage of Tennessee’s Hate Bill 1840]]> 2016-04-29T01:38:37Z 2016-04-29T15:45:35Z ACAWASHINGTON, D.C.—Thursday, Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee followed in the footsteps of North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory and Mississippi’s Governor Phil Bryant to become the latest to sign into law discriminatory “religious freedom” legislation targeting the LGBTQ community. Tennessee’s HB 1840/SB 1556 permits counselors to deny services and refer clients based on the provider’s “strongly held beliefs” and makes Tennessee the only state in the country to invalidate the American Counseling Association’s (ACA) Code of Ethics.
Not only will the vague language of this legislation open a Pandora’s box of discrimination toward Tennesseans, but it also has the potential to
jeopardize the state’s federal healthcare funding and severely damage Tennessee’s bottom line as businesses and consumers react to the state’s entrance into the contentious national debate surrounding LGBTQ rights and religious freedom legislation.
Said Art Terrazas, the Director of Government Relations at the American Counseling Association, “We are extremely disappointed that Governor Haslam has ignored the lessons learned in North Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi and has elected to sign this dangerous bill into law. Plain and simple, this bill codifies discrimination. It not only disproportionately affects LGBTQ Tennesseans seeking counseling, but will also have unintended consequences that will reach Tennesseans in all walks of life—whether it’s a veteran suffering from PTSD, a woman suffering from spousal abuse, or a business owner simply trying to attract out of state clients. Despite this setback, the American Counseling Association remains committed to fighting legislation like this across the country and to ensuring that counselors who improperly or unethically refuse services to clients in need continue to be held accountable.”
Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[HRC to honor Actress Kathryn Hahn with ‘Ally for Equality’ Award at Atlanta Gala Dinner]]> 2016-04-29T14:12:34Z 2016-04-29T14:12:32Z  Kathryn Hahn in Transparent

Kathryn Hahn in Transparent

ATLANTA, Ga. – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced that it will honor actress Kathryn Hahn with the “Ally for Equality” Award at the 29th Annual HRC Atlanta Gala Dinner & Auction this Saturday, April 30, 2016. HRC also announced that critically-acclaimed pop singer and songwriter Wrabel will perform at the event that raises critical funds in the fight for full LGBT equality.

“Kathryn Hahn is an incredibly gifted actress who uses her talent and her platform to raise awareness of the unique challenges LGBT people face in their daily lives,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Kathryn’s commitment to advancing equality for all LGBT people is why we are thrilled to welcome her to this year’s Atlanta Gala and honor her with the HRC Ally for Equality Award.”

The hilarious Hahn stars as Raquel Fein in the hit Amazon series, Transparent. She has also starred in Afternoon Delight, for which she earned a ‘Breakthrough Actor’ nomination for the 2013 Gotham Independent Film Awards. She is known for her roles in movies including Step-Brothers, Our Idiot Brother, Wanderlust, Tomorrowland, and Bad Moms, as well as the hit TV shows Crossing Jordan, Girls, Parks and Recreation, and more.

HRC’s Ally for Equality award recognizes the outstanding efforts of those who dedicate time, energy, spirit and wholehearted commitment to better the lives of LGBT people. This award is given to allies outside the LGBT community who stand up on behalf of equality for all Americans. Hahn has consistently used her voice to raise awareness of the challenges LGBT face and the fight for full LGBT equality, including in the successful fight for marriage equality. In thevideo released by HRC in 2014, Hahn – a mother of two – discusses her inability to explain to her children “why two people in love can’t get married or have access to the protections and rights of a legal marriage.”

HRC also announced that critically-acclaimed pop singer and songwriter Wrabel will perform at the event. When Wrabel’s first single “Sideways” was featured on iTunes, it was downloaded nearly half a million times and Nylon magazine said the song was, “stocked with the soulfulness of a Sia or Sam Smith, and a melodic pop DNA that throws back to icons like Paul Simon.” He has performed on various global platforms including Good Morning America, VH1’s Fashion Rocks and at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami alongside Dutch DJ Afrojack, who remixed Wrabel’s hit song “Ten Feet Tall.” Wrabel has written songs for Phillip Phillips, Adam Lambert, Will Young and Prince Royce and is consistently called upon by top producers in the music industry. BuzzFeed News named Wrabel’s “I Want You” as number 10 on it’s list of “The 30 Most Criminally Underrated Pop Songs Of 2015.”

The 29th Annual HRC Atlanta Gala Dinner & Auction has grown to be one of HRC’s largest annual dinners. This year’s theme, “Beyond Marriage, All Rights for All People,” takes its shape from the celebration of the recent success of marriage equality while focusing on HRC’s continued fight for full LGBT equality. Tickets and more information are available

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[NCAA says future Final Four host cities must have LGBT inclusive non-discrimination laws]]> 2016-04-28T20:38:22Z 2016-04-28T20:38:22Z

The NCAA has announced that it will not host any future events – from Final Four championships to education conferences – in cities without LGBT inclusive non-discrimination laws.

In the announcement the NCAA said, “The board’s decision reaffirms the NCAA commitment to operate championships and events that promote an inclusive atmosphere in which student-athletes participate, coaches and administrators lead and fans engage.

“The Association considers the promotion of inclusiveness in race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity as a vital element to protecting the well-being of student-athletes, promoting diversity in hiring practices and creating a culture of fairness.

“Historically, the Association  has used the opportunity to host its events as a means to make clear its values. The Association now prohibits championships events with predetermined sites in states where governments display the Confederate battle flag, and prohibits NCAA members from hosting championships events if their school nicknames use Native American imagery that is considered abusive and offensive.

“The new requirement integrates appropriate protections against discrimination into the championships bidding process. Board members feel the measure will provide assurance that anyone associated with an NCAA championship event – whether they are working, playing or cheering – will be treated with fairness and respect.”

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) issued the following statement in response to the announcement, “The NCAA has sent a very clear message that unfair and unjust discrimination against LGBT people will not be tolerated by the association, and we hope lawmakers are listening. In order for cities to even qualify to host these major sporting events, they must now have commonsense, LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination protections. We commend the NCAA Board of Governors for taking this critically important stand in favor of fairness and equality.”

This announcement could have major implications for the state of North Carolina, which according to the News & Observer has hosted NCAA events 17 times in the past two decades. North Carolina Gov. McCrory and state lawmakers have been coming under increasingly intense pressure to repeal a radical and discriminatory law – HB 2 – passed in a hurried, single-day session. HB 2 eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by North Carolina cities in the future. It eliminates the existing cause of action that allowed people protected by state law from discrimination, including on the bases of race, religion, national origin, and sex. The legislation also forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity and compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in publicly-owned buildings.

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[House Armed Services Committee votes to strip away LGBT non-discrimination protections]]> 2016-04-28T19:26:00Z 2016-04-28T19:26:00Z WASHINGTON – Today the House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment during the markup of the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Sponsored by anti-LGBT Representative Steve Russell (R-OK), the amendment would dismantle President Obama’s executive order prohibiting discrimination in federal contracting based on sexual orientation or gender identity, under the guise of religious liberty.

“Rep. Russell’s harmful amendment would strip away existing protections for LGBT workers by undermining President Obama’s executive order on LGBT non-discrimination protections in federal contracting,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “Evidently some House Republicans want to emulate their state legislative colleagues in undermining legal protections for LGBT Americans. House Republican Leadership must get this language out of the bill.”

The Russell amendment was approved by a vote of 33-29 early this morning. It would allow sweeping, taxpayer-funded discrimination in an attempt to promote anti-LGBT religious-based discrimination in the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. With far-reaching intended and unintended consequences, the vague amendment could even undermine existing nondiscrimination provisions that protect workers, and perhaps even beneficiaries, against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more.

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Front Runners & Walkers San Diego announce date of their PRIDE 5k Run and Walk]]> 2016-04-28T19:14:36Z 2016-04-28T19:14:33Z Front RunnersFront Runners & Walkers San Diego today announced the date of their annual PRIDE 5k Run and Walk.  This event will be held  Saturday, July 16 with a start time of 9:30 a.m.  This is a 5k race and walk held on a USAT&F Sanctioned and Certified course sponsored by Front Runners & Walkers San Diego. The run is a great event that and held as a San Diego Pride kick-off event along the parade route in Hillcrest.

With the recent tragedy of young LGBT teens being driven to suicide, suffering physical and psychological bullying at school and trying to cope with rejection by family, friends and even their churches, we have selected The San Diego Center’s Youth Housing Project as this year’s beneficiary. This program is a vital safety net giving teens a safe place to live and an opportunity to get the education and skills needed to lead productive and fulfilling lives.  A portion of the proceeds will also be donated to San Diego Pride Community Grants.

Please help Front Runners & Walkers San Diego in their efforts in reaching out to the community and helping them make this a huge success for Pride and for the deserving LGBT young people whose lives you will be enhancing and rebuilding and whose hearts you will be restoring.

For more information about the 2016 PRIDE 5K Run and Walk, please contact Enrique Fonseca at 619.857.8719 or visit

LGBT Weekly <![CDATA[Laying down our ideas about Jesus]]> 2016-04-28T18:51:30Z 2016-04-28T18:51:30Z


As a progressive Christian, I believe there are many names for God and many ways to a loving God; this article reflects one of those ways. Take from here what works for you. Celebrate life with joy and peace!

As we follow the stories of Jesus in the gospels, we see that he had somewhat of a flare for drama. I mean, feeding 5,000 people with three little loaves of bread and two fish? And turning water into wine; performing all sorts of miracles, and what about walking on the water!

As we look at the story of Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem, it had a bit of street theater in it. It was an event that took some planning – and it certainly made an impact – one that is celebrated to this day.

So, let’s take a closer look at this story. Jesus is traveling with his disciples, on his way toward Jerusalem, when he stops and gives very specific instructions to two of his disciples. They are to go into a village and get a donkey for Jesus.

Now, if we were there, we might have had a different response to this request. “A donkey? You want a little ‘ole donkey? You know, I think we can find something much better Jesus.” But we are told that the disciples did just as Jesus asked, went into the village, found a donkey, explained to the owners, who apparently were right there as the disciples were stealing their donkey, they explained to the owners why they needed it. And voila! Mission accomplished.

I’m sure there was some more dialogue that happened here, but things got worked out, and the disciples returned to Jesus with the donkey. Now, Jesus didn’t want there to be any confusion, whatsoever, about the message that he was going to be bringing when he arrived in Jerusalem. Riding on a donkey was a way of showing that he was not like a typical triumphant Roman king. This was a message of peace.

As Jesus approaches Jerusalem, people are waving palm branches and throwing their cloaks down and spreading them over the road. This is a common image we have in our minds when we think about Palm Sunday – the palm branches, the cloaks being thrown on the road, the cries of Hosanna, which literally translated from Hebrew means “I beg you to save.” Or, “please deliver us!”

I wonder, does it mean the same thing for us today that it did for the people there in the crowds on that day when Jesus entered?

Of course, we can never know what was going on in the hearts and minds of each person there in the crowds, but I can imagine that for many, when they cried out Hosanna, they were asking to be saved from the Roman Empire at the time. These were political cries, political hopes in a Messiah who would come and defeat the Romans who controlled Jerusalem.

The act of throwing one’s cloak down on the ground was a sign of homage and submission – of laying one’s self down in hopes that the coming King would be able to bring deliverance.

One theologian, Rev. A.W. Cleaveland says, “… that when we see Jesus entering in on the donkey, when we lay down our cloaks … I think what we’re really doing is laying down what we think about who Jesus is, and we’re laying down our ideas about Jesus.” Maybe that’s what some people in the crowd were doing that day.

Maybe it’s something we’re still called to do today. It’s no secret that people disagree. We all have different ideas of who this person Jesus was and is and what it is that he cares about, and what type of life he is calling us to. It’s so easy for us to become sidetracked by our own ideas of God, isn’t it?

And it’s scary how easy it is for us to let our vision of God become so narrow that we don’t allow ourselves to realize that God is so much bigger and grander than we could ever imagine.

And so, as we have heard this story again, some of us may find ourselves in the crowd yelling and cheering and waving our palm branches as Jesus enters into Jerusalem. We may be so excited that our moment of liberation has finally come!

We feel the excitement build, and we see Jesus and our hearts beat even faster, but when the donkey approaches, our grasp tightens around our cloaks, and we don’t want to let go. We don’t want to lay our cloaks down before Jesus. We don’t want to let go of what we think about Jesus, about what we hope to be true.

And as we look into his eyes, those piercing eyes full of love and understanding, we feel a sense of peace, even in the midst of the storm, we feel a wave of unconditional love wash over our wounded spirits bringing healing and hope and wholeness, and somehow we find ourselves loosening the grip, releasing our cloak, letting go.

And as is often the case with Jesus, when he enters Jerusalem that day, he came and turned everything upside down. “The first will be last. The last will be first. The meek will inherit the earth. You have to lose your life to find it …” Jesus didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death.

I am sure those who were welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem could never have guessed this was going to happen. And yet, we are told that they were laying their cloaks down; wouldn’t it be good if we were able to do the same and open ourselves to all that God wants to fulfill in our lives.

LGBT Weekly <![CDATA[What our anti-transgender antagonists want]]> 2016-04-28T18:48:57Z 2016-04-28T18:48:57Z A person’s sex (male or female) is an immutable biological reality. In the vast majority of people (including those who later identify as ‘transgender’), it is unambiguously identifiable at birth. There is no rational or compassionate reason to affirm a distorted psychological self-concept that one’s ‘gender identity’ is different from one’s biological sex.

“Neither lawmakers nor counselors, pastors, teachers, nor medical professionals should participate in or reinforce the transgender movement’s lies about sexuality – nor should they be required by the government to support such distortion.”

Those are the executive summary’s closing words of the Family Research Council (FRC) report Understanding and Responding to the Transgender Movement.

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is an ally in this endeavor. The ADF emailed school districts nationwide to push a model policy denying equal access for transgender students in December 2014. That policy, if implemented, would prohibit transgender students from using school facilities that correspond with their gender identity. In October 2015, the ADF promulgated their “Student Physical Privacy Policy,” which ostensively advocated the same kind of policy for school facilities. Then in multiple states and local jurisdictions, the ADF packaged a version of the model policy as model legislation which they call the “Student Physical Privacy Act.”

And in North Carolina, we have HB 2, where transgender people are legally relegated to the bathrooms of their birth certificates.

On one level, this is about segregation. In schools with these ADF model policies, the option for transgender students is to use restrooms, such as a single stall nurse’s office restroom, where they’re segregated from others of their gender, or not use any restroom at all. And as for locker rooms … well, if there is no private locker room, there is really nowhere where a transgender student can change or shower. The Student Physical Privacy Policy (model policy) states in part:

1. Notwithstanding any other Board Policy, every public school restroom, locker room, and shower room accessible by multiple persons at the same time shall be designated for use by male persons only or female persons only.

2. In all public schools in this District, restrooms, locker rooms, and showers that are designated for one sex shall be used only by members of that sex; and, no person shall enter a restroom, locker room, or shower that is designated for one sex unless he or she is a member of that sex.

The model policy’s definition of sex reads: “‘Sex’ means an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth. An individual’s original birth certificate may be relied upon as definitive evidence of the individual’s sex.”

HB 2 did this to every government building in North Carolina.

This goes beyond transgender segregation. The anti-transgender antagonists in this circle perceive the transgender body as an existential threat, and the erasure of transgender people is the only solution. Transgender people must be cured, converted, closeted or killed for gender identity – just as lesbians, gays and bisexuals must be for their sexual orientation. Or, maybe just commit suicide instead. Whatever else, LGBT people must never be accommodated.

In FRC Senior Vice-President Rob Schwarzwalder’s op-ed Bruce Jenner: Christianity and Transgenderism Debate, he wrote of Caitlyn Jenner’s transition stating “… we should also remember that Mr. Jenner does not need celebratory photo-shoots. He needs compassion and counsel, as do all who wrestle with confusion over their sexual identity – compassion and counsel that lead them to embrace being the men or women God made them to be.”

This is what the FRC’s, ADF’s, ally organizations, ally politicians and socially conservative Christian message is to trans people: “compassionate” segregation to contain you, with no further help for you but “compassionate” cures, conversion, the closet or death. And, that’s because they believe the transgender movement lies about gender identities.

Are you concerned yet?

LGBT Weekly <![CDATA[Affordability in San Diego: Are these two mutually exclusive?]]> 2016-04-28T18:31:56Z 2016-04-28T18:31:56Z

Life is grand in San Diego. The sun is shining, winds are balmy and comforts are many. But can people with modest incomes afford to live here? Ever a challenge, we turn our attention this week to efforts to create affordable housing and opportunities for folks less fortunate than average.

The city’s programs are based on the establishment of what is called “Area Median Income” or AMI. Once the base median income is established, programs become available based on what percentage of that median the subject’s income represents. These medians are higher than one might expect: the San Diego AMI for 2 persons is $60,400, which means that if the qualification ceiling was 60 percent AMI, a couple with an income of $37,680 would qualify.

Now that we know the criteria, let’s look at some of the programs that are available to qualified applicants. There are currently six housing developments that may have units for sale. One example is Bella Rosa, a 42-unit condominium built in 2003 on Camino de la Rosa. Units are designated by AMI, with 12 permitting purchase at 60 percent or below, 15 at 70 or below and 15 at 80 or below. Another, Renaissance, located in popular North Park, is composed of 14 attached town homes with garages, and five are restricted at 100 percent or below AMI and nine at 110 percent. Of course, though affordability may be inherent, availability is not, and these units may rarely come on the market.

Other programs offered through the San Diego Housing and Redevelopment Agency assist residents in renovating their existing homes, in affording rental assistance, and providing assistance for first-time home buyers.

The latter offering provides financing up to $75,000 for first timers. The loans, called second trust deed loans, are on 30 year terms, have 0 percent interest and require no payments for the first five years. They enable buyers with limited funds for down payments to get started and to enter the marketplace. Eligibility is also tied to AMIs, but is rather liberal, allowing persons to qualify earning 120 percent or less of that figure. Another program called Home in the Heights is available to purchasers in the City Heights area and offers loans up to $30,000 that are forgivable over a 20 year period.

For qualified applicants who own homes but need funds to renovate them, the Housing Enhancement Loan Program offers funds to do so, which funds can be forgiven over a 10 year period. This program benefits both the homeowner and the neighborhood to eliminate blighted areas and eyesore properties. It is one of the ways affordability and aid can benefit residents in all income categories.

For individuals requiring rental assistance who are at 60 percent or less of AMI, “Section 8” provisions offer supplemental rent payments to Landlords. Families under this program pay about 30 percent of their total household income for rent. Public housing units are also available, but the need for both of these programs exceeds availability, and waiting lists are maintained.

These are some of the ways the city of San Diego is assisting in the creation and support of a diverse population. There is more needed, but these programs are a good start and help many deserving people in need.

LGBT Weekly <![CDATA[Will candidate Trump end the filibuster?]]> 2016-04-28T18:29:30Z 2016-04-28T18:29:30Z

Harry Reid

The filibuster, a Senate rule requiring 60 votes to begin and end debate, is already on life support. The 2016 election could put the final nails in its coffin.

In 2013, Sen. Harry Reid ended the supermajority requirement on judicial nominees (except for the Supreme Court), using a maneuver so controversial it was dubbed the “nuclear option.” Republicans suggested that if they took control of the Senate, they would bring the rule back. They haven’t, and they won’t, because they will want the chance to stack the courts under a Republican president. More likely is that the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees will disappear the next time the Senate and White House are controlled by the same party, particularly given Republican refusal to give Justice Merrick Garland a hearing.

Despite the push and pull over judicial nominations, relatively little has been said about filibustering legislation. The reason is simple: the Senate filibuster has rarely been the final barrier to passing laws. Democrats controlled the House and Senate from 2007-2009 when President Bush, not the filibuster, thwarted their efforts. When Democrats took the White House in 2008, they were stymied by moderates in their own party and President Obama’s commitment to bipartisanship, despite briefly having 60 votes. From 2010-2014, Senate Democrats knew progressive bills would die in the House, and since 2014, Senate Republicans have known they would be vetoed by President Obama.

In short, the legislative filibuster only really matters when one party controls the House, the White House, and between 50 and 59 votes in the Senate. That line-up seems increasingly likely in 2017, with businessman Donald Trump and Secretary Hillary Clinton largely cementing their parties’ nominations on Tuesday.

From the outset, changing demographics have given Democrats a fair chance of winning the White House in November, despite the historic difficulty in holding it for three terms. A favorable map of Senate elections gives them a reasonable chance of winning the four seats they need to take control of the Senate, but almost no hope of winning the 14 seats they need to reach 60. No one believed the Republican House majority could be in jeopardy – until Trump burst on the scene.

Loathed by leaders of the Republican Party, 60 percent of registered voters view Trump unfavorably. Despite her own high negatives (54 percent), Clinton bests Trump by 9 points in general election polls. That’s better than President Obama’s margin in 2008, when Democrats added 21 seats to their 2006 majority (they need 30 seats to retake control).

Relying on April polls is dangerous, but if they prove accurate, the Democrats could win the House, the Senate, and the White House. If that happens, be prepared to say hello to a progressive agenda and goodbye to the filibuster.

LGBT Weekly <![CDATA[Finally, a truly comprehensive film on Robert Mapplethorpe]]> 2016-04-28T18:27:02Z 2016-04-28T18:27:02Z

Robert Mapplethorpe

In April of 1990, the Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center opened its doors to Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment, a retrospective of the famed photographer who just recently died from AIDS. I was 15 and had grown up in the Queen City, as it was called, and Dennis Barrie, the director of the CAC, and his family lived across the street. I babysat the kids, and my parents were close with the Barries. I had seen photocopies of the pictures in the exhibit at dinner one night. I grew up in a very liberal home, but these raised my eyebrows, partly because I knew I was gay and partly because some of the grainy, poorly reproduced pictures on the Barries’ dining room table depicted the kind of gay that scared me as a closeted teenager in the conservative Midwest at the height of AIDS.

When the exhibit was supposed to be shown at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., early that year, conservative Christians raised such a ruckus that the show was cancelled. Mapplethorpe was most famous to the general public for his iconic photographs of flowers and his sublimely printed portraits of celebrities. But he also took numerous pictures that some would call erotica and others would call pornography and Sen. Jesse Helms would call “morally reprehensible trash.” They included some relatively tame (by current standards) images of men showing affection while naked as well as some very explicit images of fisting, sounding and other sadomasochistic acts. Despite the content, the images are perfectly lit and composed, but people like Helms didn’t care (and probably didn’t understand). It’s obvious how vile they were: “Look at the pictures!” he said on the Senate floor railing against the National Endowment for the Arts for giving grants to him and other objectionable artists like Andres Serrano.

Look at the Pictures is the subtitle of Fenton Bailey’s and Randy Barbato’s nearly perfect documentary about Mapplethorpe that is available at HBOGO and premiered last month. Its release coincides with a massive retrospective of his work showing at both the Getty and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I was honestly shocked that such a film hadn’t already been made, considering how iconic Mapplethorpe was as an artist, a celebrity and a lightning rod. It was worth waiting for Bailey and Barbato, who also made Party Monster, The Eyes of Tammy Fay and Inside Deep Throat.

Mapplethorpe’s aged mother, his sister and his younger brother give extensive, insightful and not always flattering interviews about the artist’s almost pathological ambition, his perfectionism and hunger for fame. Interviews with some of his most famous models – from Ken Moody and Robert Sherman to Brooke Shields – describe his studio methods and idiosyncrasies. Various members of the 1970s and 1980s New York avant garde – from Debbie Harry to Fran Lebowitz – talk about his extensive, often strategic socializing. (Oddly, Patti Smith, who was Mapplethorpe’s best friend and lover in the early 1970s, is nowhere to be seen; a producer said that she “didn’t make that impossible” to be included.)

Bailey and Barbato’s access to interviewees and to Mapplethorpe’s entire archive (now housed at the Getty Center in Los Angeles) allowed them to make a truly comprehensive film, but their skill as interviewers, editors and historians is what makes Look at the Pictures not just deeply informative but also entertaining and moving. Despite Mapplethorpe’s careerism and narcissism, he was an immensely sensitive artist who pulled out incredible emotion from perfectly sculpted lights, darks, bodies and shapes. His photos of flowers were as sublime as his arguably most famous photo, that of a massive uncut black penis hanging out of a polyester suit.

I was particularly fascinated by that image as a teenager, more than all of the images I was also fascinated with. The photos awakened a great deal inside me, artistically, intellectually and sexually. I wrote a letter to the Cincinnati Enquirer arguing in favor of the exhibit after Dennis Barrie was indicted on obscenity charges for bringing the show to the city. I received seven death threats, including one that said “Drop dead! Go to hell! The devil could use you to shovel shit!” Barrie was acquitted. I became a writer, a critic and an AIDS researcher.

Robert Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures

Directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato

Featuring Robert Mapplethorpe, Fran Lebowitz and Debbie Harry

On HBOGO (free month trial available at

LGBT Weekly <![CDATA[Meet Henry Gamble: Gay, Christian and about to have one hell of a 17th birthday party!]]> 2016-04-28T18:23:15Z 2016-04-28T18:19:45Z

Photos: Wolfe Video

Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party is a picture, above all else, about conversions: religious, moral, sexual and familial. Henry, our handsome, young protagonist, is about to spend his 17th birthday with his friends, both religious and secular, his parents and their church friends – the “adults” – at a pool party of his parent’s making. The various cast members’ perturbations either conclude successfully by the end of the picture or they don’t and, for some, the consequences are devastating.

This is Stephen Cone’s ninth effort and another of his meditations on religion and sexuality. Like Henry, Stephen grew up struggling with his sexuality while carrying the albatross of his Southern Baptist minister father’s religiosity around his neck. (The Chicago-based Cone grew up in South Carolina, the prong on the buckle of the Bible Belt.) His film wrestles with a theme that, despite its nagging persistence in the LGBTQ community, is explored not nearly as much as it should be in queer cinema. (Check out Sigourney Weaver in Prayers for Bobby.)

Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party was released in 2015 but is just now being released by Wolfe Video for multiplatform viewing and will be available May 3. San Diego LGBT Weekly caught up with actor Cole Doman (Henry Gamble) and writer-director Stephen Cole to further explore the various tensions that pit the spirit against the flesh.

San Diego LGBT Weekly: Henry is quite cruel to Logan, his closeted young friend, at least at the beginning of the picture. In one of his earliest interactions with him, when they are grabbing hors d’oeuvres, Logan intentionally brushes his arm against his and he commands him to “Stop.” Where does that cruelty come from?

Cole Doman: Being told “stop” is way kinder than the emotional and physical abuse Logan has probably experienced from his other peers. In the beginning of the film, Henry is uncomfortable being alone with Logan because of what people might assume. He acts out of fear – both of what people might think of him but also what he might discover in himself.

A lot of your part comes in reactions, to other people’s behaviors, your growing self-awareness of your sexuality. What or who did you draw on in your own life to help inform your performance?

Grace Melon (left), Daniel Kyri (center) and Melanie Neilan (right)

CD: As a young gay man, especially one living among a community that deems homosexuality as sinful, there is a pressure to be silent. Growing up different than the other boys my age, I saw myself as an “other,” which can be really lonely in those pivotal years of young adulthood. You feel like your voice isn’t as important. Henry, by nature, is an observer – more so than I am. By taking on that role, it makes the process of identifying sexuality difficult when he rarely reflects back on himself. At his party, everything is being flashed before his eyes among such a dynamic, diverse group that he starts to see these bare-skinned bodies in a new light. Henry finally discovers the deepest truth of his attraction.

In what ways are you or are you not religious?

CD: I was raised in a large, Irish-Catholic family in Philadelphia. Faith was a big part of my childhood between Sunday mass and Catholic school. After I left Catholic school by my own volition, my relationship with my faith started becoming less important to me. My religious upbringing molded my moral code of what I see as right and wrong, good and bad. I’m currently not a practicing Christian, and wouldn’t identify as one.

Mia Hulen (left) and Cole Doman (right)

What’s your favorite attribute of Henry’s? Your least? Why? What scene in your mind best crystallizes Henry’s internal conflicts?

CD: My favorite thing about Henry is his openness. He is able to take in what people say to him and truly understand their perspective. I take things in and immediately attach a judgement to it. I don’t mean a judgement in a derogatory way, but I’m much quicker to form an opinion about something than Henry. To a degree, I envy that in him. My least favorite attribute of Henry’s is probably his dependence on other people to make decisions for him – he is a bit of a pushover. It’s definitely a contributing factor as to why he is experiencing his attraction to men so late in his young adulthood. The scene that best crystalizes Henry’s internal conflict is most likely the scene with Christine and Heather, when Christine tells him that she’s gay. For the first time, Henry hears about other boys being sexual together in such a candid way. It totally throws him off.

Boys in The Band has a similar premise, in this case a group of gay men gathering one evening on the cusp of a revolution, warts and all. Do you see any parallels?

Cole Doman

Stephen Cone: I’ve never read or seen Boys in the Band, actually, but of course have heard of it. I didn’t really have any theatrical references for this film, despite my own background as a stage actor, but I did have a few cinematic references, some of which take place over the course of an evening, like John Huston’s The Dead. Arnaud Desplechin’s A Christmas Tale and Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married were also on my mind.

I read somewhere that you have no formal film training. Is that true? If so, how did you go about learning your craft? Who are some of your influences?

SC: That’s true; I’ve never taken a filmmaking class. I was an actor in college, but a lifelong lover of film and always knew I’d eventually make movies. I have basically learned by doing, making more or less one movie per year, either a short or a feature, for the past decade or so. They aren’t all good, not even close. I had to get a few out of my system before I started to really know what I was doing.

Cole Doman (left) and Joe Keery (right)

What scene in your mind best crystallizes Henry’s internal conflict?

SC: This might be an easy answer, but I’d say the opening scene, wherein he finds himself in an ideal place with a sexually incompatible person.

Let’s talk about Elizabeth Laidlaw whose performance was off the charts! Where did you find her?

SC: She’s been a force in Chicago theater for many, many years! This town is packed with astonishing stage performers like her and Francis Guinan, who plays Larry and was a founding member of Steppenwolf, alongside Gary Sinise, John Malkovich and the whole gang. Anyway, my casting directors Mickie Paskal and Jennifer Rudnicke brought in a lot of wonderful actresses for the role of Kat, but Elizabeth got the gig. I’m so proud of that performance; she’s dazzling, isn’t she?

Are there any disadvantages/challenges to being both the writer and director? If so, what and how do you resolve them?

SC: I enjoy doing both, it’s my comfort zone and I find it really exhilarating, but I do suppose the primary disadvantage is the lack of anyone to blame but myself if something doesn’t work. There’s nothing really to resolve there, I just have to keep growing and hope that I’ll keep getting better.

(P.S. Keep an eye on Elizabeth Laidlaw’s Kat Gamble who anchors the film in one of 2015’s most sublime performances.)

LGBT Weekly <![CDATA[A friendly neighborhood pub]]> 2016-04-28T18:18:54Z 2016-04-28T18:18:54Z

Shepherds Pie

Step through the doors of The Ritual Tavern and you’re transported to a friendly neighborhood pub from another time and place. The hunter green walls, subdued floral print drapes and dark woods glossed with the patina of age imbue the intimate low-ceilinged space with a distinct “Ye Olde” vibe. “Pierce”, wearing a tight T-shirt and tighter jeans, was waiting at the massive bar when I arrived one recent balmy evening. He was anxious to tell me about his new job.

Allison greeted us with a warm smile and presented the menu. The Ritual Tavern features a judicious well-curated selection of craft beers on tap as well as an extensive list of specialty and limited edition bottled brews – some of which are priced at $60 a pop. In short, nirvana for the beer connoisseur.

Pierce beat me to the punch and ordered the Mother Earth Primordial Double India Pale Ale ($6.50), so I chose a pint of Thorn Street North Park Pale Ale ($6). The India Pale Ale, served in a Tulip glass, is a full-bodied coppery-amber pour with a rich creamy head. A big bold beverage (9.5 percent alcohol by volume) with lots of citrus on the nose, a deep malty aspect on the tongue with notes of caramel and toffee, and a tart lingering finish. Sultry and satisfying. The Pale Ale (5.3 percent ABV) is a lacy light-bodied pale flaxen pour with pine on the nose, hints of citrus and apricot on the tongue, and a crisp grapefruit finish. Delightful and drinkable.

We discussed Pierce’s tech support responsibilities as we enjoyed our appetizers – Mussels in White Wine ($15) for him and the Baja Crab Pub Cakes ($12.50) for me. The generous portion of steamed bivalve mollusks are served in a rich buttery broth redolent with white wine and fresh herbs. You’ll want to sop up every drop with the crunchy toasted ciabatta. The cakes, packed with crab meat, roasted red peppers, shallots, parmesan cheese and herbs, are fried to a crispy golden brown and served atop colorful lightly dressed cabbage slaw. A drizzle of fiery Sriracha remoulade completes the presentation.

The dinner menu reflects the gastropub’s worldly influences. Entrée selections range from Shepherd’s Pie (“Our signature dish,” Allison assured us) to Creole Seafood Gumbo to Chicken Primavera. There are several vegan and vegetarian choices, too. Pierce raved about the Brazen Sandwich ($14) and I savored the Chocolate Stout Braised Beef Brisket ($22). A mound of tender slow-cooked pork shoulder slathered in a mild smoky BBQ sauce, served on an airy toasted pretzel roll, is topped by apple-tinged slaw and tangy bleu cheese crumbles. A side order of hot-from-the-fryer house cut fries tossed in minced garlic, grated parmesan and chopped parsley, completes the plate. A generous portion of succulent chocolate-kissed brisket is served atop a large mashed potato and bacon croquette, with braised organic spinach and a ladle of pan-drippings gravy. Delicious and filling, but a little too salty for my taste.

Did I mention The Ritual Tavern has been a Dining Out For Life participant for the past five years? They are donating 25 percent of sales to benefit the San Diego LGBT Community Center’s numerous HIV/AIDS services and programs, and Chef Tom Maki hinted at a sumptuous special selection for the event.

The Ritual Tavern is open seven days a week and offers a weekend brunch, too. Hours vary. Eat this, hungry readers. You’ll be glad you did.

The Ritual Tavern

4095 30th Street

Open at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday -Thursday

Open at noon Friday; 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday brunch


LGBT Weekly <![CDATA[Game of Thrones]]> 2016-04-28T18:13:20Z 2016-04-28T18:13:17Z dvr this

HBO, Sunday, 9pm

Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones

Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones

Last year’s season finale of the sword and sorcery epic series Game of Thrones ended with the seeming death of one of the show’s three main characters. People drop dead left and right on that show, but fans all assumed that at least noble warrior Jon Snow (Kit Harrington), Machiavellian-with-a-heart Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), and divinely inspired, dragon mom Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) would make it through to the end. But then Jon Snow was stabbed by his lieutenants in the snow after he had allowed their mortal enemies, the bedraggled Wildlings, through the gates built to keep them out. Fans freaked out and then realized he was probably not dead, or not completely dead anyway. Few season premieres have been so hyped, and much of it has to do with the show no longer being based on George R. R. Martin’s novels, so no one knows what’s going to happen. Still the most expensive show ever made, it is also one of the most complex, interesting, and satisfying.

LGBT Weekly <![CDATA[The Revenant]]> 2016-04-28T18:05:34Z 2016-04-28T18:05:31Z dvd of the week

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant

The Revenant, a ruthless and bombastic tale of revenge in the cold western American frontier, is focused on a man battling nature, with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Hugh Glass trying to survive alone while severely wounded in the cold, snowy mountains; he dreams and hallucinates memories of his dead Pawnee wife and their son. He is trying to find Tom Hardy’s searing, deliciously evil John Fitzgerald, a motor-mouth sociopath who, among other wretched acts, had abandoned Glass to die after the rest of their hunting party had (rather bizarrely) left Fitzgerald to care for him. Meanwhile, a band of Arikara Indians is hunting down the white men who kidnapped their chief’s daughter. The violence, whether inflicted by men, bears, and nature, is maybe excessive, but is definitely totalizing. Alejandro Iñárritu and his genius cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki both won Oscars, as they did with last year’s Best Picture winner Birdman. The Revenant is epic, taciturn, and classic in both its visuals and themes, and its brutality is only surpassed by its beauty. DiCaprio finally won his Oscar partly for suffering so much for the role, but mostly for embodying a mythical American individuality, determination, and masculinity that may be aging but is still beloved by the kind of people who are Academy members.

LGBT Weekly <![CDATA[Atkinson needs to stand up for gay marriage!]]> 2016-04-28T17:19:20Z 2016-04-28T17:19:20Z

Jacquie Atkinson

When asked at the San Diego Republican Party Central Committee if she supported the GOP state party platform that states that marriage is between a man and a woman Republican Congressional candidate Jacquie Atkinson stated that as a state delegate she did support the party platform. Other times she has been asked about marriage equality she has stated that she thought it should be a state issue.

Will the real Jacquie Atkinson please stand up! An out lesbian who is married to another lesbian, many in the LGBT community are outraged that Atkinson is always dodging the marriage equality issue. Her main opponent has stated that marriage is between a man and a woman and seems very proud of this stand and Atkinson never challenges her opponent on this issue and remains silent.

Atkinson, who always lets the world know how proud she is to be a Marine, seems not to be proud to be a member of the LGBT community. In this same Republican primary two years ago Carl DeMaio launched his campaign with an advertisement proudly acknowledging his five year relationship with gay businessman Johnathan Hale and almost won the election. I predict that Atkinson will lose the primary and that in November Congressman Scott Peters, who supports gay marriage and LGBT civil rights, will be easily re-elected.

Jan Goldsmith supports Ted Cruz

City attorney Jan Goldsmith has not only endorsed the most homophobic presidential candidate enthusiastically but introduced him at a right wing rally for Ted Cruz in San Diego! And this past Sunday’s Union Tribune editorial was titled “Troubling mess at city attorney’s office”.

And now Goldsmith has decided to waste more taxpayers’ money and appeal the recent Ninth Circuit Court’s unanimous decision in support of openly gay Will Walters.

As for Mr. Goldsmith’s recent letter responding to my column about him. Ever heard of the expression, “Methinks thou dost protest too much?” Almost every LGBT leader I have talked to agrees that they have never seen Jan Goldsmith at any LGBT event. Yes, Jan Goldsmith and his new “BFF” Ted Cruz are very much the same except Cruz has his own hair.

Rhode Island

After speaking at Bill Beck’s “Celebration of Life” ceremony last Friday, I took a “redeye” to Rhode Island where I presented awards to former Congressman Barney Frank, current Congressman David Sicilian (who is the author of the Equality Act in Congress) and State Representative Joseph McNamara. I also spoke at a Hillary Clinton rally and met the youngest elected state official in the nation, Rhode Island State Treasurer Seth Magaziner. I just love Rhode Island. It is a beautiful state with a very well organized LGBT community. My host was the state chair of the LGBT committee of the Democratic Party, Anthony DeRose who is planning to run for state office soon. I got a great VIP tour of the state capital and met Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea (first Latina elected to state office).

Did you know that Rhode Island is the home of the first Jewish temple in the USA? I stopped by the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul and it is one of the most beautiful Catholic cathedrals in North America. And of course I sampled the state’s outstanding seafood!

LGBT Weekly <![CDATA[An important work of history that’s worth a read]]> 2016-04-28T17:16:21Z 2016-04-28T17:15:13Z

You know your own mind.

After thinking things through, you have your opinions and while you’re willing to listen to what others say, you’re also willing to defend what you believe in. And, as in the new book The Firebrand and the First Lady by Patricia Bell-Scott, your friends don’t necessarily have to agree with you.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s Camp Tera, nestled near New York’s Hudson River, was initially meant to be a temporary, leg-up place for Depression-era women who were destitute and totally without resources. Though she was young, educated, and married, Pauli Murray was there because of ill health.

Recovery-time aside, Murray’s tenure at Camp Tera was beneficial: a friend had told her that Roosevelt answered all correspondence, and Murray took that to heart. In 1938, a few years after she was kicked out of Camp Tera for “disrespecting the first lady,” she wrote a protest letter to Roosevelt, requesting intercession in FDR’s stance on anti-lynching laws. Activism was Murray’s passion and the answer she got wasn’t what she’d wanted but it did, as promised, come from Roosevelt.

Murray was born in 1910, the feisty granddaughter of a mulatto slave whose stories of injustice she grew up hearing. Murray lost her mother when she was just three; a few years later, her father was institutionalized, then murdered; and her brother was lobotomized. She, herself, had health problems and was often severely underweight; during one of her hospitalizations, she finally admitted that she was attracted to women, which was then considered to be a mental health issue.

It took awhile for Murray to tell Roosevelt all that. Before she did, and because of that first protest note, the two corresponded for years in letters that offered guidance, outrage and rebuttal. The women didn’t always agree, but they always seemed to attempt to understand one another’s take on issues. Murray supported Roosevelt in her widowhood. Roosevelt encouraged Murray in her activism.

It was a support that Murray imagined she felt long after Mrs. Roosevelt’s death.

I would not, under the broadest of terms, call The Firebrand and the First Lady a pleasure read.

That’s not to say that this book isn’t a pleasure – it’s just not something you’d pick up to relax with. Author Patricia Bell-Scott goes deep into the politics and work of both Roosevelt and Murray (more the latter than the former) and that can be very dry. It’s informative – Bell-Scott tells a story that’s been largely hidden for decades, about a woman who left her mark on social issues in many ways – but it’s far from lively. Adding more details of Murray’s personal life might’ve helped; that’s what I was hungriest for, but didn’t get enough of.

I think this is an important work of history and definitely worth reading but you’ll want to be in the mood for it, particularly if you usually like lots of energy in your stories. If you’re a scholar or historian reading The Firebrand and the First Lady, though, the pace is something you probably won’t mind.

The Firebrand and the First Lady

by Patricia Bell-Scott

© 2016 Alfred A. Knopf

$30 / $39 Canada

480 pages

LGBT Weekly <![CDATA[A call from the IRS]]> 2016-04-28T17:10:36Z 2016-04-28T17:10:36Z


Nothing is more upsetting than receiving a letter with an IRS return address. Nothing except perhaps receiving a phone call from them claiming that a subpoena was about to be delivered if one did not call the following number to discuss an immediate tax payment. This is the call I got at 7:45 yesterday. Again at 10:30 with the added, “This is your final warning.” Obviously an untruth because at 6:30 this morning I got message number one again. Might there be something wrong here? Of course! It is a scam.

Seniors are a favorite target for this fraud and it is going around San Diego like a forest fire. The IRS says in the last few years victims have shelled out over $25 million to these crooks. What to do? First of all, hang up at once. Do not call their number (not even to give them a piece of your mind). It is easy to know it is a fake because the IRS does not phone about taxes without first sending you a bill in the mail. If you do get a bill, beware; it might still be a hoax with a cleverly made fake letterhead.

In either case, the IRS never demands immediate payment. If you really do owe taxes or think you might, simply call the IRS and check. Their number is 800-829-1040. You may also want to report the call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 800-366-4484 or use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page.

Many people who have been suckered are too embarrassed to report their gullibility to the authorities. However, we should at least tell our friends about receiving the phone call or fake letter and warn them to be on guard. Naturally, there is no need to mention falling for the scheme.

Sex ed 101: Lesbian porn

If the topic doesn’t grab you, you picked up the wrong magazine, are not my usual readers, support Cruz or have one foot in Shady Pines. Now and then my topics have been a bit spicy, some might say naughty, but none have resulted in a deluge of complaints, so I’ll take this opportunity to report on a recent evening of enlightenment at a lesbian couple’s home where I’d gone for dinner.

The subject of film erotica came up and as I have now and then viewed favorites from my tiny collection of male art films, I casually mentioned I’d never seen a lesbian film. Amazed at this deficit in my education, they instantly and gleefully proceeded to remedy the situation.

They chose a gem from their collection which they deemed suitable as instructional material and sat me down for a viewing – with commentary.

Well! I must say I had no idea! I had wondered, but had no idea! The various positions, techniques and toys were a revelation. Some of the playthings, suitable for the enjoyment of either persuasion, I had seen in films from my own stockpile. Others I remembered from visits to local adult emporiums, but their purpose had been a mystery until now. Greatly enlightened to be sure, yet I confess some scenes, delightful to my commentators, had no effect on me. If the other team’s activities interest you from an educational standpoint, I suggest starting with what’s termed the vanilla variety.

Diversity in sexual tastes is met with specific scenarios for both gay and lesbian audiences so I advise skipping the fetish genres. The sights and sounds therein might produce fits, heart attacks, seizures or swoons. Not judging; just saying.

LGBT Weekly <![CDATA[Drunk driver gets 14 years for killing Oscar Melero, injuring three others]]> 2016-04-28T17:07:13Z 2016-04-28T17:07:13Z The drunk driver who killed hair stylist Oscar Melero was sentenced April 20 to 14 years in state prison after he pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Charles Rogers ordered Abraham Granados Beltran, 25, to pay $13,400 in restitution for funeral expenses and gave him credit for 488 days in jail.

Melero, 52, worked at Indigo Salon & Spa in Hillcrest. A co-owner, several co-workers and his partner also spoke at the sentencing.

“The world is a lesser place since his passing. He strikes me as an exceptionally bright light,” said Rogers. “What a terrible loss.”

“If I could switch places (between) Mr. Melero and Mr. Beltran, with all due respect to Mr. Beltran, I would do it in a heartbeat,” said Rogers.

Melero was killed Feb. 15, 2015 while he was waiting in his car to participate in the California 10/20 run on Interstate 5 near Del Mar. Beltran, of San Juan Capistrano, struck Melero’s car at approximately 75 mph around 7 a.m. after partying and getting no sleep the night before, said prosecutor Cally Bright.

Beltran apologized for his actions. He also pleaded guilty to injuring three other people in the wreck. His attorney, Alma Cruz, said his guilty pleas resulted in “sparing everyone a trial.”

“I think redemption is beyond no person – a personal journey you must make,” said Rogers to Beltran.

A second-degree murder charge was added to the charges last May, but was dropped Feb. 26 when Beltran pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter. Beltran didn’t have a valid driver’s license at the time because it was revoked due to several drunk driving convictions in Orange County in 2011 and 2012.

Rogers fined him $720, but ordered the restitution be paid first.

LGBT Weekly <![CDATA[Skyy Fisher fires trial attorney, sentencing delayed]]> 2016-04-28T17:03:56Z 2016-04-28T17:03:56Z

Skyy Fisher

A former Compton school board member who was convicted of a sex crime on a straight man got a new attorney Monday and sentencing was delayed until June 17.

Skyy De’Anthony Fisher, 32, fired his trial attorney and a deputy public defender was appointed by San Diego Superior Court Judge Runston Maino. Fisher was found guilty Jan. 28 of oral copulation on a sleeping straight man in his San Diego hotel room in 2014 after jurors deliberated only 45 minutes before finding him guilty in a three day trial.

The new attorney may want to file a motion for a new trial, but both the motion and sentencing would be heard June 13. Fisher could get a maximum eight year term in state prison.

The 25-year-old victim, who was referred to as Steve in court, testified he woke up April 4, 2014, and found Fisher orally copulating him. Steve testified Fisher quickly returned to his bed and denied giving him a blow job.

Steve called 911, and agreed to undergo a sexual assault exam. Fisher’s DNA from saliva was confirmed and was evidence at the trial. Fisher says he is straight also.

Fisher remains in the George Bailey Detention Facility without bail. He had been free on $100,000 bond, but Maino remanded him into jail after the verdict.

Fisher, a Democrat, was the youngest man at age 28 to be elected to the Compton Unified Board of Education in 2011, but was defeated for re-election Nov. 3, 2015 when he received 4.4 percent of the vote while this trial was pending.

LGBT Weekly <![CDATA[Kevin Melton: Ready to take on Todd Gloria in District 78]]> 2016-04-28T17:01:16Z 2016-04-28T17:01:16Z

Kevin Melton

California Assembly District 78 is one of the most diverse districts in the state. This essentially coastal district stretches all the way from Solana Beach to the Mexican border. When the district hits the 8 it expands east taking in Old Town, North and South Park, Hillcrest and Kensington and up to College. Currently held by the ever popular Toni Atkins, who is timed out in 2016, the district is being contested by two candidates – San Diego Councilman Todd Gloria and Republican Kevin Melton. Gloria has been endorsed by Atkins and is clearly the favorite over Melton who ran unsuccessfully for the same seat in 2014.

Melton is a native of the Los Angeles area who ran for Los Angeles City Council in 2003 and again in 2007. Melton moved to San Diego in 2008 living in Pt. Loma and now currently downtown. He recently worked on the campaign finance committee to elect Kevin Faulconer as mayor.

He is involved in his 40+ year family real estate investment business in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas.

San Diego LGBT Weekly talked with Kevin Melton to understand his motivation for running for District 78 and how he thinks he is going to overturn LGBT favorite Gloria.

San Diego LGBT Weekly: Kevin, you have chosen a pretty tough race. In 2014, in the same district, you polled 11.6 percent of the vote in the primary. Your opponent Todd Gloria has been endorsed by Toni Atkins, and as a former San Diego City Council president and current councilmember has big name recognition. How are you going to do this?

Kevin Melton: My opponent only has name recognition in San Diego. He is now dealing with four other cities with their own mayor and council. If you go out of the immediate area I have found most residents do not even know who he is. As far as council president he was ousted by his own Democratic Party, which should give you some idea about his performance. He has been endorsed by Toni Atkins who bullied Marty Block – need I say anything else. I have the endorsement of the Log Cabin Republicans and the San Diego Republican Party and a host of high profile elected officials from all the five cities in my district. Also note this district has 70k Republicans, 80k Democrats and 75k Independents. The Independents will decide this race and they are fiscally conservative and socially moderate – that’s why I will win.

You state that you are running for the California State Assembly because “… it is time to bring honesty and integrity to Sacramento.” Specifically who and what are you referring in that statement?

I am talking about transparency. I am referring to all political people in Sacramento.

I am talking about when we send our hard-earned tax money to Sacramento for a specific task. That money should be used for that specific task to be carried out and not diverted to something else. If it’s to go to the classrooms for books – buy books, not pave a road.

One of your platforms is lowering taxes for both individuals and businesses. California’s debt is nearly $400 billion, so why would you propose tax cuts at this time?

When I refer to tax cuts I am talking about temporary taxes that get caught in the system and are never rescinded. For example Proposition 30 has an October expiration date and now there is a push to extend it.

District 78 is very diverse. How will you be an assemblymember for all the people?

I am an African American gentlemen; I know diversity. I have lived in South Central L.A., Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes, Point Loma and downtown San Diego. If anyone understands diversity it’s me. I know the needs of all these communities because I have lived it. The 78th Assembly District has all of these types of communities.

The Republican platform on LGBT rights is not a good one, as can be seen in the Republican presidential race. Why should a member of the LGBT community vote for you?

This is California; this is not the rest of the nation. We have a very diverse population and I believe in the rights of all people.

If elected, you have pledged to give $50,000 of your salary for use in classrooms in the district. Can you elaborate on that pledge?

There is no hidden meaning in this pledge. I will seek out the schools in my district, find out their needs and donate my own money to help. I believe in putting my money where my mouth is.

Finally, in a few words why should District 78 voters vote for you?

I say what I do, and I do what I say.

LGBT Weekly <![CDATA[SDHDF and PFLAG to honor local students who have overcome challenges and achieved academic excellence]]> 2016-04-28T17:08:08Z 2016-04-28T16:58:45Z

Back row, left to right: Hillary Flocke, Ian Morton, Arturo Soriano, Georgia Kenney, Dan Ferbal, Crystal Knight, Jordon Daniels, Drew Liam Jack, Vinnie Pompei, Terrie Vorono. Front row, left to right: Kimberly Martinez, Andria Montgomery, Mariel Hoac, Trevor Hill, Brayan Astorga, Francine Oca

Friday, May 13 San Diego’s LGBTQ community will honor nine local students poised to make a difference in our community at the 2016 Launching Leaders PFLAG Scholarship Awards Luncheon. Recipients represent a broad range of age and experiences and were chosen through a competitive selection process.

The Launching Leaders PFLAG Scholarships program recognizes the importance of higher education for members of the LGBTQ community. Even in 2016, LGBTQ high school students experience verbal slurs and harassment at a rate of up to 84 percent, creating a significant barrier to the desire to continue their education after graduating. While college and university campuses are making improvements to the LGBTQ climate, any assistance our community can give to bridge that step from high school to college is extremely significant.

The individual scholarships have their own specific focus. For instance, the Rob Benzon Memorial Scholarships highlight individuals who have overcome personal hardships to continue their education, the Mary Wagner Memorial Scholarship focuses on those who intend to enter the field of education, while the Richard Geyser Memorial Ethics Scholarship challenges prospective recipients to take on a current ethical problem and propose how they would address this issue.

In 2015, San Diego Human Dignity Foundation (SDHDF) partnered with PFLAG San Diego to create “Launching Leaders” as an event that would both highlight scholarship recipients and raise funds for a sustainable scholarship fund. “Our foundation’s commitment to the LGBTQ community must include the cultivation of future leaders,” explains John Brown, executive director, SDHDF.

The review process was managed by PFLAG Scholarship Chair Hillary Flocke. The panel included Donna Bowersox, Sherry Cohen-Richards, Tinesia Conwright, Drew Jack, Mark McClean, and Jason Schreiber. Each member reviewed the applications, letters of recommendation and essays from each candidate, to assess their choices for each scholarship.

“Through the essays of our applicants, we are reminded of the need to proactively support LGBTQ scholars,” says Jack, the former board president of SDHDF. “Some applicants have experienced barriers to their education such as homelessness, incarceration, HIV-infection, parental abandonment and bullying. However all candidates have chosen to incorporate these experiences into a place of strength.”

“The challenge to achieve academic excellence is a big one for young people, but to achieve academic excellence while living openly as LGBTQ is simply remarkable,” says Eugene La Pietra, founder of the La Pietra Foundation, which is the presenting sponsor of the luncheon.

Tickets for the May 13 luncheon are available at

LGBT Weekly <![CDATA[The City: Top to Bottom]]> 2016-04-28T18:37:52Z 2016-04-28T16:32:33Z

Dan Soder

thursday, april 28

Dan Soder

Dan is a New York based actor, writer, and stand-up comedian. He has appeared on Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, The Half Hour, Conan, and Opie and Anthony. He had a leading role in the feature-length indie film It Had To Be You opposite Cristin Milioti.

The American Comedy Company, 818B Sixth Ave. in San Diego, 8 p.m., tickets $16, 619-795-3858,

Jahja Ling

friday, april 29

Jahja Ling Conducts Mahler

Performed without intermission and led by Music Director Jahja Ling, Gustav Mahler’s Sixth Symphony (Tragic) is his purest sustained expression of the joy and sublime beauty that a human life may offer, even if in the face of inevitable and sometimes inescapably cruel death.

Copley Symphony Hall, 750 B Street in San Diego, 8 p.m., tickets from $20, 619-235-0804,

Way Downriver

saturday, april 30

Way Downriver

A flood of Biblical proportions on the mighty Mississippi provides the dramatic backdrop to this gripping, edge-of-your seat adventure. Adapted from the William Faulkner short story, Old Man, Way Downriver reveals an unlikely pair of souls who are bound together by the forces of nature, and who struggle to overcome their fears and prejudice in order to survive their harrowing experiences.

North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive in Solana Beach, 2 and 8 p.m., tickets from $43, 858-481-1055,

Constellations | PHOTO: JIM COX

sunday, may 1


Physicist Marianne meets beekeeper Roland at a party. They hit it off … or perhaps they don’t. One of them is married … or maybe they’re both single. Nick Payne’s Constellations takes this chance encounter between two lost souls and opens the door to the infinite possibilities of their relationship. Breathlessly navigating through the spellbinding and romantic journey of being in love, Constellations looks at how the tiniest change in the details of our lives can lead us on completely different paths. Contains strong language.

Sheryl & Harvey White Theatre, The Old Globe Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park, 2 and 7 p.m., tickets from $66, 619-234-5623,

Fossil Mysteries

monday, may 2

Fossil Mysteries

From dinosaurs to mastodons, discover the rich fossil history of our region. In this major exhibition, created by the Museum, ponder a mystery, examine the strong fossil evidence from the Museum’s collection, and use scientific tools to discover answers. Traveling through a 75-million-year timeline, from the age of dinosaurs to the Ice Ages, experience an unfolding of the prehistory of Southern California and Baja California, Mexico.

San Diego Natural History Museum, 1788 El Prado in Balboa Park, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., adult admission $19, 619-232-3821,

Gin Wigmore

tuesday, may 3

Gin Wigmore – Willing To Die Tour

Gin Wigmore is a New Zealand singer-songwriter. Featuring on the Smashproof single “Brother” in 2009, Wigmore went on to release her debut album Holy Smoke, in 2009, and her second, Gravel & Wine, in 2011. Her third album, Blood to Bone, was released June 26, 2015. She is known for her high and raspy voice.

House of Blues San Diego, 1055 Fifth Ave in San Diego, 7 p.m., tickets $16, 619-299-2583,

Laddie John Dill

wednesday, may 4

Laddie John Dill: Light Sentences And Light Traps

A central figure in the California Light and Space movement, Laddie John Dill has been using a combination of weighty and incandescent elemental materials to construct luminous sculptures, formalistic wall pieces, and site-specific installations since the 1960s. This split-gallery survey combines artwork from Dill’s argon and mercury gas Light Sentences series, a Light Plains sand and light creation, and several new aircraft aluminum wall pieces in the Light Traps series.

Oceanside Museum of Art, 704 Pier View Way in Oceanside, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., admission $8, 760-435-3720,

LGBT Weekly <![CDATA[Fight AIDS! Dine out!]]> 2016-04-28T07:16:34Z 2016-04-28T07:05:24Z

Photo: Big Mike

Dining Out For Life® San Diego celebrates 10-year milestone April 28

There was a time when fighting AIDS meant claiming the streets in civil disobedience and getting arrested. The heady turbulent winds blowing through the ’80s were filled with enraged voices chanting “Fight AIDS! ACT UP!” People were battling for their lives and believe me, police batons hurt – they leave a nasty bruise and make breathing painful for weeks afterwards.

Gratefully, the circumstances of HIV/AIDS have changed dramatically during the ensuing years. Today, fighting HIV/AIDS is as easy as picking up a fork, or raising a glass of wine. Today, the mantra is “Fight AIDS! Dine out!”, and you’re cordially invited to join the fight Thursday, April 28.

I recently spoke with Ian Johnson, the San Diego LGBT Community Center’s director of events, about Dining Out For Life. Here’s what he had to say.

Photo: Cali Griebel

Lance Ryder: Congratulations on Dining Out For Life’s (DOFL) 10th anniversary. How has the event changed over the years?

Ian Johnson: Thank you. It’s exciting! DOFL San Diego has grown tremendously from its inception in 2007. The inaugural year had 31 participating locations and now that has more than doubled with close to 70 locations participating in 2016. Restaurants, bars, coffee houses and ice cream parlors have all joined this year in an effort to prevent HIV and to provide services for those living with HIV/AIDS. We’ve also seen an increase over the years in the number of businesses willing to go above and beyond the 25 percent (of sales) level of donating, which is really incredible.

And, most importantly, we continue to see more and more people dining out, sometimes making a full day of it and dining out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Without the enthusiastic community support this event has enjoyed since it began, we wouldn’t be celebrating this 10-year milestone. We’re very grateful for the support from everyone involved in making DOFL such a successful community event.

What is new this year?

Photo: Cali Griebel

This year, we’ve added a new element to our event called “Tipping Out.” In celebration of the 10th annual DOFL, the event will donate 15 percent of its net proceeds to the San Diego HIV Funding Collaborative. Community members this year will also be able to drive down the street and spot red balloons in front of restaurants/bars that are DOFL locations. This has been made possible thanks to our Balloon Brigade Volunteers.

DOFL is a nationwide event. Do the funds raised locally stay in the community?

Funds raised by DOFL San Diego stay in our community. DOFL happens in almost 60 different cities, but all are produced by different local HIV/AIDS service organizations as a way to benefit those communities. Since its inception, DOFL has raised over $4.23 million for local HIV/AIDS organizations.

What specific programs benefit from DOFL?

Photo: Cali Griebel

There are many! Perhaps most importantly, we have recently expanded our #BeTheGeneration ( HIV testing to six days a week at The San Diego LGBT Community Center as result of community support.

How has DOFL changed lives in San Diego?

In addition to raising much-needed funds for HIV services and prevention efforts, I think an important aspect of the event is it helps break down the stigma regarding HIV. It gives all participants a chance to visibly show support for people living with HIV and that they are committed to supporting efforts to help end this disease. It also gives a chance to provide important HIV education in a positive and engaging way.

What do you want our readers to know about DOFL?

This is truly a win-win-win event for our community. Not only can people raise funds for vital HIV services and programs, but they send a message of support for those impacted by HIV. Our supportive and generous restaurant/bar partners benefit by the increased business. And our community benefits when we all get to participate in a meaningful way for an important cause.

The City of San Diego is once again proclaiming April 28 as the “Dining Out For Life San Diego Day”. It’s such an amazing day to be out and about – there’s an exciting energy from all the diners, restaurant staff and the amazing ambassadors. I really look forward to the day just so I can move around town seeing so many familiar and new faces out for the same reason – to make a difference. Everyone is in such a great mood. Obviously, I really love this event!

A dozen local businesses have been a part of Dining Out For Life® San Diego since the beginning. They are: Baja Betty’s, Crest Cafe*, DiMillie’s Italian Restaurant, Martinis Above Fourth*, Pecs Bar, Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant, Redwing Bar and Grill, The Mission* and Urban Mo’s. Several “newcomers” include many yummy restaurants I’ve previously reviewed, including: Hillcrest Brewing Company, Fig Tree Cafe, Buona Forchetta, Brazen BBQ and Big Front Door.

I wanted to obtain a participating restauranteur’s perspective and spoke with Big Front Door’s owner Sheep Riley. We were sitting outside on a warm sunshiny day when I asked him why he does it; why he participates in DOFL. He gave me a look of incredulousness. “You’re kidding,” he said. “I’m serious,” I replied. “We do it to support the [San Diego LGBT Community] Center,” he said. “The Center is a valuable asset for the community, and we do everything we can to support their efforts.”

Do your part to make a difference. Lift your fork or raise your glass to fight HIV/AIDS and fund life-changing programs. You’ll be glad you did.

Find locations and make reservations here:

* Indicates 50% of sales donated for HIV/AIDS services and prevention efforts.

LGBT Weekly <![CDATA[Political loose cannons]]> 2016-04-28T16:54:50Z 2016-04-28T02:05:59Z comp

I have rejected the idea that Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders are similar in any way, but now I know that I have been wrong. Both Sanders and Trump are political loose cannons. Their respective campaigns have a common theme; I will harm my own party in my pursuit of the presidency.

At first, I really believed that Sanders would run an historically clean campaign. And to Sanders’ credit, for most of the election season he has kept his word. But as he realizes that the fun is over and that Clinton will be the nominee, Sanders has become more like your crotchety uncle. The uncle that all the children avoid at barbecues because he is always in a bad mood or simply hates kids. I get that Bernie does not want to relinquish his campaign, who would? You are getting the constant adulation of tens of thousands of voters on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis.

Bernie has done a lot for the Democratic Party by exciting the youth vote. As he would say with “huge” turnout across the nation. Democrats truly owe Sanders a debt of gratitude. But now Sanders has said that Clinton needs to earn the support of those that support him. Really? Sanders is not going to simply support Clinton because he lost to her? That is what makes Sanders and Trump the same; Sanders does not care that he may be hobbling Clinton in the general election. That’s not being a Democrat. Democrats rally around their nominee because the alternative is not acceptable. Bernie, if you are a Democrat then you know it is time to put down your flag, support Clinton, and implore your followers to do the same.

And then there’s Trump. We all know that Trump is the ultimate narcissist, when he stands in front of a crowd and says “I’m really attractive,” that is true narcissism. Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. Sound familiar?

Trump’s narcissism trumps everything, pun intended. Trump does not care about how his words may hurt his “adopted” Republican Party in the general election. Forget about party unity, Trump wakes up every day, looks in the mirror and thinks “today it is all about me.”

Sanders won’t quit because it is all about him. Trump won’t tone down his rhetoric because it is about him. In the end, isn’t the result the same? Hobbling one’s own party because you are a freewheeling loose cannon. May be fun for the cannon but not so much for the party.

Stampp Corbin


San Diego LGBT Weekly

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[After the murder of LGBT journalist and friend in Bangladesh, National Press Club urges justice]]> 2016-04-27T21:33:41Z 2016-04-27T21:33:41Z WASHINGTON — National Press Club leaders expressed outrage Tuesday about the murder of two people, including a journalist, in Bangladesh.

Xulhaz Mannan, editor of Roopbaan, an LGBT magazine, and Tanay Mojumdar, a friend of Mannan’s, were hacked to death in Mannan’s apartment in the capital, Dhaka, on April 25, according to news reports. Ansar al-Islam, an Al Queda affiliated Islamist organization has taken responsibility for the attack, according to CNN.

Mannan was also a USAID worker and a prominent leader of the LGBT community of Bangladesh, where homosexuality is illegal. His murder is only the latest in a slew of brazen attacks on journalists, academics and human rights activists in the country.

“The brutal murders of journalists, academics and human rights activists in Bangladesh over the past year are deeply distressing,” said NPC President Thomas Burr. “The Bangladeshi government has a duty to protect journalists, to bring their murderers to justice and to ensure the right to free speech.”

“Mannan’s murder is not just an attack on another human being but an attack on free speech in one of the largest democracies in the world,” said Burr.

The National Press Club is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists. Through its Press Freedom Committee, the club promotes freedom of expression and transparency.

The National Press Club Journalism Institute is the club’s non-profit affiliate. It is committed to advancing journalistic practice by equipping professionals with the skills and competence to innovate, leveraging emerging trends, recognizing leaders and innovators, and mentoring the next generation of journalism and communications professionals.

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Blachford-Cooper Fund at the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation donates $75,000 to The Old Globe]]> 2016-04-27T21:25:26Z 2016-04-27T21:25:23Z Check--SAN DIEGO The Old Globe received a $75,000 donation from the Blachford-Cooper Fund at the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation. The Old Globe, located in Balboa Park, is one of the country’s leading professional regional theaters and has stood as San Diego’s flagship arts institution for more than 80 years.
“The Old Globe’s annual budget is approximately $22 million, but only a portion of the organization’s expenses are covered by ticket revenue, so donations from the public are vitally important to keep the mission of the Old Globe alive,” said Peter J. Cooper, the vice chair of arts engagement at The Old Globe and funder of the Blachford-Cooper Fund at SDHDF.
“The Board, staff, artists, and audiences of The Old Globe are grateful to the Blachford-Cooper fund for their generosity,” said Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director Barry Edelstein. “This wonderful gift will help sustain the Globe’s year-round artistic operations. Norman and Peter are great friends to this institution and also to the arts in San Diego more generally. Their philanthropy makes a difference and sets an example for others to follow. We congratulate them and thank them for this gift.”
The Blachford-Cooper Fund is one of 16 Donor Advised Funds that are managed by the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation. Establishing a Donor Advised Fund allows individuals to make a gift to the SDHDF and remain actively involved in suggesting uses for the financial gifts, targeting the issues they care about the most. Donor Advised Funds allow philanthropic people to take an active role in grantmaking to organizations, with SDHDF handling all investment and administrative details. Learn more about establishing a Donor Advised Fund with SDHDF here:
“We are so proud and pleased to present The Old Globe with this donation,” said John Brown, Executive Director, San Diego Human Dignity Foundation. “We are honored that Norman Blachford and Peter Cooper have chosen to include us as a partner in their active giving through their fund.”
Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[GLAAD and The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation release new HIV and AIDS PSA (VIDEO)]]> 2016-04-27T21:15:58Z 2016-04-27T21:15:58Z

NEW YORK, NY GLAAD today announced the release of a Public Service Announcement (PSA) in partnership with The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF). The PSA, produced by award-winning Martian Entertainment and airing exclusively on national LGBT cable channel Logo, was created to inspire, inform, and reignite the passion needed to beat the HIV and AIDS epidemic once and for all. This is the second PSA launched as part of an ongoing partnership following GLAAD’s release of a resource guide for journalists covering HIV and AIDS and a PSA starring a wide variety of celebrities.

“GLAAD was founded in order to combat the sensationalized media coverage surrounding the HIV and AIDS crisis in the 80s, and we have been committed to this cause ever since,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President & CEO. “This campaign will help bring more awareness HIV and AIDS and remind everyone that we have the power to end this epidemic in our lifetime.”

The PSA harnesses the power and emotion of Elizabeth Taylor’s speech at the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert and includes participation from Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Lane, Tituss Burgess, and Daniel Franzese. The four point out that even 20 years after that historic speech an estimated 1 in 5 gay men in major U.S. cities are living with HIV, and that today, we have the tools to make HIV history. The PSA will air on Logo beginning on Thursday, April 28th and will also be available on GLAAD’s YouTube channel.

“HIV infection rates are up 133% in last decade among young gay men,” Joel Goldman, Managing Director of The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation noted. “It’s troubling that 1 in 3 gay men have never had an HIV test. We must find new ways of raising awareness in order to reach this community and inform them of the tools available to prevent new infections. We are so fortunate to have the support from Logo as well as our incredible partners at GLAAD on this PSA campaign.”

In 1985, GLAAD was founded in response to the New York Post’s grossly defamatory coverage of the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Three decades later, GLAAD’s legacy of fighting injustice in the media for the LGBT community has reshaped our culture and created historic levels of acceptance.

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Oxford, Ala. City Council unanimously approves anti-transgender ordinance]]> 2016-04-27T18:31:51Z 2016-04-27T18:31:51Z MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Today, the Oxford, Ala. City Council unanimously approved an anti-transgender ordinance that prevents transgender residents and visitors from using public restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity, and imposes a $500 fine or six months in jail on violators. This anti-transgender law is unprecedented in its establishment of criminal penalties for violations of the law, and raises a myriad of privacy and legal concerns, including questions about how the law will be enforced. There is no clarity on whether all people in Oxford will be expected to produce birth certificates when using public facilities or, if not, how law enforcement officials will obtain evidence.

“This ordinance is a shameful and vile attack on the rights and privacy of transgender people,” said HRC Alabama State Manager Eva Walton Kendrick. “Transgender people are our neighbors, our coworkers and our fellow churchgoers, and every Alabamian has the right to live their lives without fear of discrimination and prejudice. Throughout the country elected officials from both sides of the aisle, along with hundreds of business leaders and advocates throughout the country have resoundingly rejected these kinds of proposals, which only seek to demean and marginalize the transgender community.”

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 the appropriate bathroom have seen no increase in public safety incidents. In fact, a coalition of more than 250 sexual assault prevention organizations released a statement last week decrying policies like the one passed in Oxford last night.

Oxford is now the first city in the nation to enact such a law attacking the transgender community, even as similar proposals have been rejected at the state level across the country. South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed legislation that limited restroom use for transgender children in public schools earlier this year, and just last week, the sponsor of a similar bill in Tennessee announced plans to pull the legislation from consideration this legislative session.

With the passage of HB2, North Carolina became the first state to enact this type of legislation and is currently facing a federal court challenge and fierce backlash. Oxford’s ordinance is unprecedented in that it enumerates criminal penalties, including the potential for jail time, for violations. It also applies to bathrooms and locker rooms citywide, including in private businesses, which goes further than the similar provision in North Carolina’s law which applies to government buildings.

In 2014, HRC launched Project One America, an initiative geared towards advancing social, institutional and legal equality in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. HRC Alabama continues to work to advance equality for LGBT Alabamians who have no statewide protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; and legal state recognition for their relationships and families. Through HRC Alabama, we are working toward a future of fairness every day—changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Carly Rae Jepsen, Charli XCX and Krewella to headline LA Pride Music Festival]]> 2016-04-26T22:02:49Z 2016-04-26T22:02:46Z Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly Rae Jepsen

June 10-12 in West Hollywood, LA PRIDE Music Festival & Parade 2016 will set the stage for a fresh lineup that is as diverse as the massive festival crowds expected to attend. The now three-day ticketed music festival features a carefully crafted assortment of Electronic, Pop, Hip-Hop, R&B and Latin artists, all performing on one of four venue stages. This year’s all-inclusive lineup will be headlined by multi-platinum, GRAMMY ® nominated singer and songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen, international pop sensation Charli XCX, responsible for penning multi-platinum and GRAMMY ® nominated singles and multi-platinum selling sisters/vocalists/songwriters/DJs Krewella who will join over 50 artists scheduled to perform throughout the festival weekend.

This year will feature a variety of stages including the Delta Air Lines Main Stage, the Nissan Latin Music Stage powered by Club Papi, the Hip-Hop Music Stage powered by B.A.S.H., and a new Dance Music stage. The Delta Air Lines Main Stage will showcase everything from top 40 hit makers to emerging artists. Meanwhile, the Nissan Latin Music Stage will have a talent lineup ranging from Electronica to Banda including Diana Reyes, Maribel Gaurdia and Mariana Seoane.  This year’s Hip-Hop Music Stage is going all out featuring Grammy Award winning and Billboard chart-topping musical acts like Faith Evans, Da Brat, Trina & Big Freedia. Each stage highlights unique musical styles and the curated lineup celebrates a diverse collection of talent with mass appeal.

“This year we doubled down on talent and are excited to have such a strong lineup performing at the Music Festival,” said CSW President Chris Classen.  “Our Festival rivals other major music events around the country and offers a lineup you can’t find anywhere else among LGBTQ events, and at a fraction of the cost of other music festival tickets.”  “This year’s multiple stages, oversized art exhibits, experiential activations and pop-up bars and restaurants from notable hot spots in Los Angeles will certainly add to an already stellar festival experience,” added Jeff Consoletti, Producer, LA PRIDE Music Festival & Parade.

For full 2016 lineup details visit

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Trans woman settles human rights case with City of Hamilton]]> 2016-04-26T20:02:42Z 2016-04-26T20:02:42Z HAMILTON, Ont. – The City of Hamilton reached an agreement to settle a human rights application involving a trans woman who was denied access to the women’s washroom at the MacNab Bus Terminal in Hamilton by a City employee. The trans woman was provided access to the family washroom.

The City of Hamilton recognizes the right of trans people set out in Ontario’s Human Rights Code which includes the right to access facilities in accordance with their self-identified gender identity. The City is committed to communicating that a trans person will not be required to use a separate facility because of the preferences or negative attitudes of others.  The City is committed to providing accommodation options for washrooms and change rooms on an individualized basis.

As part of the resolution of the human rights application, the City of Hamilton has agreed to codify these principles into written policy, train its employees on the policy and post signage confirming its commitment to providing safe and accessible washroom/changeroom spaces for all. The City of Hamilton and its employees are committed to providing services and facilities to its citizens in a manner consistent with all legislative requirements, including the Human Rights Code of Ontario, as it applies to all grounds, including gender identity and gender expression.

“Taking legal action doesn’t make the pain go away, but I hope employees will be more aware and respectful in the future,” said the applicant, who was not named to protect her privacy.

Clara Matheson, the applicant’s lawyer from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre commented, “We were pleased to facilitate this agreement with the municipality.  Policies and procedures that serve to protect the rights of trans persons in accessing facilities lead the way to a more inclusive environment in which people can thrive.”

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Equality California announces 2016 legislative package]]> 2016-04-25T23:46:18Z 2016-04-26T18:00:03Z EQCA 1SACRAMENTO — Equality California Monday announced seven bills comprising its 2016 legislative package.

“Each of our sponsored bills advances a key portion of the mission we unveiled in 2014,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “Laws surrounding HIV transmission continue to stigmatize people living with HIV and must be modernized.  LGBT people are targets of discrimination both inside and outside of California. LGBT kids are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their non-LGBT peers. Transgender and gender non-conforming people face harassment and violence, often when just trying to use the restroom. These bills begin to address these disparities in LGBT health and wellbeing, and more.”

This year, Equality California is sponsoring the following bills:

AB 2246 – Suicide Prevention Policies in Schools

AB 2246, authored by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), would require schools to adopt policies to give teachers the tools necessary to identify and combat teen suicide. With studies showing that LGBT youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their non-LGBT peers, this bill is of particular importance to LGBT students. The bill is co-sponsored by Equality California and The Trevor Project.

SB 1408 – HIV Organ and Tissue Donation Equity

SB 1408, authored by Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), would allow for organ and tissue donation between HIV-positive donors and HIV-positive recipients, bringing state law in line with federal law under the HOPE Act. Permitting donated, HIV-positive organs and tissue to be used for transplantation in HIV-positive patients has the potential to save the lives of hundreds of HIV-positive patients each year, as well as shorten the waiting list for individuals awaiting transplants. SB 1408 is co-sponsored by Equality California, AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and Positive Women’s Network-USA.

AB 1887 – Prevent California-Funded Travel to States with A License to Discriminate

AB 1887, authored by Asm. Evan Low (D-Campbell), would prohibit state-funded or sponsored travel to a state that, after June 26, 2015, has enacted a law that voids or repeals existing state or local protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, or has enacted a law that authorizes or requires discrimination against same-sex couples or their families on those bases. AB 1887 is co-sponsored by Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

AB 1888 – Cal Grant Disinvestment in Discrimination

AB 1888, also authored by Asm. Low, would eliminate the use of Cal Grant funding at California academic institutions that seek waivers to allow them to discriminate against students or employees based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.  AB 1888 is co-sponsored by Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

AB 1732 – The Equal Restroom Access Act

AB 1732, authored by Asm. Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) would enact the most progressive statewide restroom access policy in the nation, requiring all single-occupancy restrooms in businesses, government buildings and places of public accommodation to be available to everyone. Restricting access to single-occupancy restrooms by gender creates problems of safety, fairness, and convenience for LGBT people and many others, including families and people with disabilities. Compliance with the bill is a matter of changing a sign on a restroom door. The bill is co-sponsored by Equality California, the Transgender Law Center and California NOW.

AB 1675 – Diversion Instead of Prosecution for Juvenile Victims

AB 1675, authored by Asm. Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), would ensure that minors who participate in acts of prostitution are treated as victims of sexual exploitation instead of as criminals.

Over the past few years, some lawmakers have attempted to pass draconian measures that would increase punishment for young people involved in acts of prostitution. However, criminalizing minors, many of whom engage in sex work simply to survive, continues a pattern of blaming the victim without looking at the heart of the issue. These laws disproportionately affect LGBT youth, many of whom have been forced from their homes due to lack of acceptance or even hostility from their own families and engage in sex work to survive. AB 1675 would provide the much-needed diversion and support this vulnerable population requires.  This bill is sponsored by Equality California.

SB 1005 – Modernizing Code Language to Reflect Marriage Equality

SB 1005, authored by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), amends various sections of California law to reflect the fact that marriage equality is now law in California, including replacing references to “husband” and “wife” with “spouse” and clarifying that “spouse” also applies to a domestic partner. This bill is sponsored by Equality California.

Equality California adopted a new mission in 2014 dedicated to achieving full equality and acceptance in California and beyond, reducing the glaring disparities in health and wellbeing that the LGBT community suffers in comparison with non-LGBT people, and creating a fair and just society for LGBT people and all the diverse communities of which we are a part. This expanded mission guides this year’s legislative package.

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas cancel NC tour dates over anti-LGBT law]]> 2016-04-25T23:41:50Z 2016-04-26T17:00:39Z Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato

Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato

Multi-platinum selling recording artist Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas have canceled their North Carolina tour dates over the state’s recently passed anti-LGBT law known as “HB2.” In a statement released to GLAAD, the pair condemned the law and voiced their support for equality and acceptance:

After much thought and deliberation, Nick and I have decided to cancel our shows in Raleigh and Charlotte. One of our goals for the Honda Civic Tour: Future Now has always been to create an atmosphere where every single attendee feels equal, included, and accepted for who they are.

North Carolina’s discriminatory HB2 law is extremely disappointing, and it takes away some of the LGBT community’s most basic rights and protections. But we will not allow this to stop us from continuing to make progress for equality and acceptance.

We know the cancelation of these shows is disappointing to our fans, but we trust that you will stand united with us against this hateful law.


Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s president & CEO stated, “Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas continue to be fearless advocates for LGBT equality and acceptance. By taking a firm stand against North Carolina’s discriminatory HB2 law, they’re sending a clear message to fans and lawmakers alike: hate should never be tolerated.”

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Cyndi Lauper adds second leg to Detour Tour; San Diego – Oct. 3]]> 2016-04-25T23:36:35Z 2016-04-26T16:30:21Z CyndiIconic performer and musical chameleon Cyndi Lauper has announced the second leg of her Detour Tour in support of her upcoming studio album Detour available May 6 on Sire Records. While the 19-city first leg will kick off May 9 at the “Mother Church of Country Music,” Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, the 16-city second leg will kick off September 10 at Austin’s ACL Live and traverse the West Coast before wrapping up Oct. 8 at the The Joint in Las Vegas. Tickets will be available to the public starting Friday, April 29 at

Cyndi Lauper’s celebrated musical journey takes an unexpected southern turn on Detour, her 11th studio album, which finds the Grammy®, Emmy® and Tony®-winning singer-songwriter putting her signature spin on a dozen classic country songs.

Detour showcases Lauper’s unmistakable voice on country classics from the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s and features guest appearances from county music stars Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, and Willie Nelson. Lauper recorded the album in Nashville alongside a band comprised of the city’s top session players.

 Detour Tour Dates

September 10                    ACL Live at Moody Theater                          Austin, TX

September 11                    Revention Music Center                                Houston, TX

September 13                    Civic Center Music Hall                                  Oklahoma City, OK

September 15                    Uptown Theatre                                             Kansas City, MO

September 18                    Paramount Theatre                                        Denver, CO

September 20                    The Depot                                                        Salt Lake City, UT

September 21                    Outlaw Field at the Idaho Botanical           Boise, ID

September 23                    Thunder Valley Casino Resort                      Lincoln, CA

September 24                    Agua Caliente Casino                                     Rancho Mirage, CA

September 27                    Vina Robles Amphitheatre                            Paso Robles, CA

September 28                    Arlington Theatre                                           Santa Barbara, CA

September 30                    The Mountain Winery                                    Saratoga, CA

October 3                       Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay      San Diego, CA

October 5                           Greek Theatre                                                 Los Angeles, CA

October 7                           Talking Stick Resort Ballroom                      Scottsdale, AZ

October 8                           The Joint                                                           Las Vegas, NV

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Hundreds of thousands call for repeal of North Carolina anti-LGBT law as legislature returns]]> 2016-04-25T19:19:48Z 2016-04-25T19:19:48Z RALEIGH, N.C. – Nearly 190,000 signatures demanding the repeal of North Carolina’s anti-LGBT House Bill 2 were delivered to the office of Gov. Pat McCrory today by a collection of civil rights, faith, business, and advocacy groups as the state legislature returns for the first time since it introduced and passed the law limiting legal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in a one-day special session on March 23. Thousands of people are expected to rally for the discriminatory law’s repeal outside the legislature throughout Monday.

Today’s petition delivery was coordinated by TurnOUT! NC, a joint project of the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU of North Carolina, the Campaign for Southern Equality, and Equality North Carolina, whose goal is to mobilize and empower LGBT and pro-equality North Carolinians against HB 2.

“For more than a month, Governor McCrory, Senator Berger, and Speaker Moore have sat idly by as HB 2 has cost North Carolina millions, badly damaged their state’s reputation, and inflicted irreparable harm on the people they were elected to serve,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “The catastrophe these leaders have created and the damage they have caused can only begin to be reversed by repealing HB 2 in its entirety and replacing it with commonsense non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. To do anything less would be to continue their streak of gross negligence. The time for leadership is now.”

“It’s time the legislature get to work repairing the damage it has caused with the passage of HB 2,” said Sarah Preston, acting executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, which is challenging the law in federal court along with the national ACLU and Lambda Legal on behalf of six LGBT North Carolinians. “HB 2 was a reckless attempt to malign and marginalize transgender people, and it is bringing immense harm to our state’s people, economy, and reputation. The General Assembly must work as expeditiously as possible to repeal this terrible law as it worked to pass it.”

“HB2 is a blatant, unconstitutional attack on the transgender community in North Carolina and we call for its immediate repeal. We must come together as a community to organize and support each other to make North Carolina safe for all of its citizens,” said Ivy Hill, LGBT Rights Toolkit Coordinator for the Campaign for Southern Equality.

“House Bill 2 is a deeply discriminatory bill that has put the most vulnerable people of our community at risk. This bill is a mess that Governor McCrory and NCGA leadership have made for us. In a special session – in just 12 hours – they passed a bill without ever meeting the people that are directly impacted by the law – transgender North Carolinians,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “Over the last month, Business leaders, entertainers, advocates and everyday North Carolinians have mobilized and called for the repeal of HB 2. Senator Berger, Speaker Moore, and Governor McCrory can no longer ignore the havoc the bill has wreaked on the state. The only way to restore North Carolina’s reputation is to repeal all of HB 2 and pass comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that protect all North Carolinians.”

Since Gov. McCrory signed HB 2, a host of high-profile Republicans, including Sen. Mark Kirk, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, have spoken out against HB 2 and similar bills.

More than 180 leading CEOs and business executives of major companies, including Apple, Bank of America, and Marriott International have called for HB 2’s repeal. The law has led Paypal to cancel a major expansion that would have brought more than 400 jobs to North Carolina, and Deutsche Bank to halt plans to add 250 jobs in the state. Major artists, including Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, and Pearl Jam, have cancelled performances in North Carolina as a result of HB 2, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on Thursday that the league will move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte if the law is not repealed.

In the federal court challenge, Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the ACLU of North Carolina argue that through HB 2, North Carolina sends a purposeful message that LGBT people are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the privacy, respect, and protections afforded others in the state. The complaint argues that HB 2 is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment by discriminating on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and invading the privacy of transgender people. The law also violates Title IX by discriminating against students and school employees on the basis of sex.

The Obama administration is presently considering whether HB 2 makes the state ineligible for billions of dollars in federal aid for schools, highways, and housing. North Carolina receives more than $4.5 billion in federal funding for secondary and post-secondary schools, all of which remains at jeopardy given the state’s policy of systemically violating Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination, including discrimination against transgender students. On April 19, the federal appeals court that has jurisdiction over North Carolina ruled in a separate case that Title IX protects the rights of transgender students to use sex-segregated facilities, such as restrooms, that are consistent with their gender identity.

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Ted Cruz releases new transphobic ad (VIDEO)]]> 2016-04-25T18:56:46Z 2016-04-25T18:56:46Z

Ted Cruz has released a new campaign ad attacking transgender people. Released Thursday, Cruz’s ad highlights his support for North Carolina’s HB2, an anti-LGBT law that forces transgender North Carolinians to use restroom facilities in schools and on publicly-owned property inconsistent with their gender identity. HB2 also attacks minorities by blocking individuals from suing under state employment non-discrimination law on the basis of race, religion, national origin, and sex. Moreover, HB2 bars municipalities from enacting their own non-discrimination protections.

“Ted Cruz’s transphobic smear campaign peddles a dangerous brand of hate and ignorance,” said HRC Communications Director Jay Brown. “At a time when transgender women are at a disproportionately high risk for violence and assault, Ted Cruz’s reckless ad puts them at even greater risk. Moreover, what message does Ted Cruz think this sends to transgender youth across this country? We deserve a president who’ll fight to protect the rights and dignity of everyone — not a reckless, feckless politician who’ll do or say anything to score a point.”

Today, transgender Americans face an epidemic of bias-motivated violence — particularly transgender women of color. Cruz’s video exacerbates an environment where already four in 10 transgender young people report being bullied by their peers, according to an HRC youth survey.

Ted Cruz has made anti-transgender rhetoric an integral part of his bid for the White House. Just this week, his campaign threw a transgender teenager out of a campaign event. During a prior campaign stop in Iowa, he turned a simple question on education into a bigoted rant against the Obama Administration’s decision to support a transgender student, falsely accusing officials of forcing the school to “let a little boy take showers with junior high girls.” Previously, Cruz made equally offensive comments during an interview with conservative radio host Steven Crowder.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail, Cruz has decried efforts to lift the ban prohibiting transgender Americans from serving openly in the military, even though the American Medical Association approved a resolution earlier last year that said, there is “no medically valid reason to exclude transgender individuals from service in the U.S. military.”

H.B. 2 is opposed by more than 180 major businesses, entertainment and sports leaders, and a majority of North Carolinians. In fact, 61 percent say H.B. 2 has hurt the state’s image nationally and 61 percent also say the law has hurt the state’s ability to attract and retain business. A 64 percent majority of North Carolinians support LGBT nondiscrimination protections. Nationally, nearly 8 out of 10 Americans believe LGBT people are entitled to federal nondiscrimination protections.

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Mylan CEO Heather Bresch to be first-ever CEO to participate in upcoming Pittsburgh Pride Equality March]]> 2016-04-25T18:43:44Z 2016-04-25T18:43:42Z Heather Bresch

Heather Bresch

PITTSBURGH — The Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh announced Friday that Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, will be the first-ever CEO to participate in the Pittsburgh Pride Equality March on Sunday, June 12. The company also is sponsoring a new initiative called the Mylan Wellness Village that will offer free wellness exams related to sexually transmitted infections (STI) and HIV, and counseling on Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a medicine taken daily to help prevent HIV.

“We are proud to partner with Mylan, a company with Pittsburgh roots, in this year’s Pittsburgh Pride event. Heather’s participation as the first CEO to ever walk in the Equality March speaks volumes about Mylan’s commitment to fostering a culture that is inclusive and diverse,” said Gary Van Horn, President of the Delta Foundation. “We appreciate Mylan’s support and commitment to helping to make Pittsburgh’s LGBT community healthier.”

Mylan is dedicated to creating better health for a better world. The company’s commitment to expanding access to high quality medicine spans more than 50 years. It was founded in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia and has had a presence in the greater Pittsburgh area for the last 46 years. One of Mylan’s key priorities is stemming the tide of HIV/AIDS. The company is the world’s largest producer of antiretrovirals (ARV) and approximately 50% of people receiving treatment today for HIV/AIDS in the developing world depend on a Mylan product.

“I am honored and proud to be the first CEO to participate in the Pittsburgh Pride Equality March. Treating everyone with dignity and respect is of utmost importance to me and are values we instill and take very seriously at Mylan. We are driven by the belief that every person in this world matters and access to better health is a right, not a privilege,” said Bresch. “Throughout our history we have been tireless advocates for expanding access to high quality, affordable medicine. This is especially true in the area of HIV/AIDS. We look forward to debuting the Mylan Wellness Village at Pittsburgh Pride and offering support to people in our own backyard.”

The Mylan Wellness Village will be located on Liberty Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh. It will be open during Pride in the Street with Kesha on Saturday, June 11 (ticket is required) and during PrideFest on Sunday, June 12 (free event).

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[US Lacrosse, You Can Play announce partnership in support of LGBT athletes, fans]]> 2016-04-25T18:35:46Z 2016-04-25T18:35:43Z LacrosseDENVER, Colo. — The sport of lacrosse is going all-in to promote inclusion for all athletes and fans.  You Can Play and US Lacrosse, the national governing body of men’s and women’s lacrosse, are teaming up to promote ability and commitment to a team and sport without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.

US Lacrosse becomes the first national governing body to provide LGBT-specific inclusion messaging to its entire membership and teams.  The announcement comes a month after Major League Lacrosse announced a similar program meaning lacrosse is now represented at all levels of play – from youth to professional – in working for equality in sports.

The You Can Play Project strives to ensure the safety and inclusion of all in sports – including LGBT athletes, coaches and fans. You Can Play works to guarantee that athletes are given a fair opportunity to compete, judged only by what they contribute to the sport or their team’s success. You Can Play seeks to challenge the culture of locker rooms and spectator areas by focusing only on an athlete’s skills, work ethic and competitive spirit.

Initial platforms for collaboration between the two organizations will include the availability of You Can Play resources on the US Lacrosse web site,, and on-site visibility for the You Can Play project at selected US Lacrosse events. US Lacrosse will also utilize its regional chapters’ network to provide further support for You Can Play messaging.

“US Lacrosse is honored to partner with You Can Play and is dedicated to supporting a clear message of inclusion, equality, respect and safety for all athletes regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Melissa Coyne, director of games administration at US Lacrosse.  “We are committed to ensuring that all lacrosse participants are given a fair opportunity to compete and are celebrated for their athletic achievements on the field.”

US Lacrosse joins a number of other organizations that are also affiliated with You Can Play, including Major League Lacrosse, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Football League, and Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

“US Lacrosse is showing a real commitment to its athletes, their families and fans by recognizing the talents of LGBT athletes and building straight allies – all of whom love the sport of lacrosse,” said You Can Play co-founder Brian Kitts. “US Lacrosse’s stance as a national governing body ensures fairness across the entire sport.

“The commitment of both US Lacrosse and Major League Lacrosse ensures that one of the fastest growing sports in North America also will be one of the most committed to inclusion and fairness,” Kitts said.

US Lacrosse is committed to creating a safe sport culture and seeks to foster a lacrosse community that encourages understanding, appreciation and acceptance of all within its membership, volunteer base, and staff. US Lacrosse believes that broad representation adds significant value to the lacrosse experience of all, which is enhanced by embracing underrepresented and underserved communities.

“It is essential that the national governing bodies of sport not only support a message of inclusion and equality but that they take real actions and steps to provide a safe and healthy environment for all athletes,” Coyne said.

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Watch: Daniel Puder delivers powerful Ted Talk (VIDEO)]]> 2016-04-25T18:28:45Z 2016-04-25T18:28:45Z

In a recent Ted Talk Daniel Puder, an undefeated Mixed Martial Arts fighter and wrestler, talks about why it is important to seek significance above success. This short, powerful talk is part of Puder’s initiative to help youth and adults achieve significance

Puder gave up his career as a professional athlete to use his name to make a long term, positive impact in the world! He went from fighting professionally in the ring, to now fighting for our future generations through his 501(c)3 non-profit, My Life My Power, that he founded in 2010. As the executive director of MLMP, Puder speaks around the world and leads training seminars where he uses his evidence based mentoring curriculum as a platform to inspire and empower both youth and adults.

Watch his powerful Ted Talk above.

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Are you breaking up with me?]]> 2016-04-22T22:38:27Z 2016-04-25T00:30:24Z A homosexual couple having difficulties in relationship

How difficult can it be to maintain health and fitness during a divorce, breakup, or separation? Whatever word you call it, the situation can create havoc for even the best laid plans. Depression, anger, sadness, and a gaggle of other emotions can flood you and make you feel worthless and despondent. How you face the moment can determine the course your health will take.

It is good to bring your inner circle of friends and family together to guide your ship through these choppy waters. These BFF’s and family members can give you support and tell you all the right things to keep you going through your separation. They can put that positive spin on everything and assure you it will be fine. Get out the rolodex and reach out and touch someone.

Keep busy during the days, weeks, and months following your breakup with your significant other. Idle time gives you opportunity to dwell on what went wrong. This can then lead to overeating and a state of depression. Keep the calendar chocked full of events and appointments.

Don’t listen to sad songs or watch sad movies. You might as well be holding a gun in one hand and a bottle of pills in the other. You’re already traumatized enough! Listen to Jimmy Buffet or rent a Marx Brothers movie. You want to rise from that ash pile; not roll around in it!

Make efforts to talk in a civil tone to your (ex) partner who is also going through the same situation as you are. Be certain that you are able to keep it between the lines though. Don’t go into a conversation looking to rip the person’s head off! Take your time before calling or meeting this soon-to-be ex of yours. Get things out in the open so you both can begin moving your wagons down those respective trails again.

Get the emotions out of your system. Do not bottle up any feelings inside yourself. They will eventually come out and they will usually zap your health in the process. Write a poem, keep a diary, cry, scream on the top of a hill, hit a punching bag, or find another release. Once these emotions surface, you can begin the healing process.

Know this is not the end. Know you will fight to live another day. Know you have the power to control yourself and yourself only. Know that you are mortal and that mistakes do happen. Know that there is another beginning out there for you. Know that anything is possible and never give up believing in the impossible.

Know everything’s gonna be alright.

This wellness article is brought to you by that jammin’ guy of one love. That guy with three little birds is Ron Blake and you can get up, stand up with him at

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Actor Reid Ewing joins SAMHSA to highlight strategies for helping children and youth who experience mental disorders]]> 2016-04-27T21:20:49Z 2016-04-24T19:30:56Z childrens-mental-health-awareness-day-2016-web-banner-400x400Actor Reid Ewing will join the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to celebrate National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day  Thursday, May 5, at the Jack Morton Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

Best known for his role as Dylan on “Modern Family,” Ewing will serve as Awareness Day 2016 Honorary Chairperson. SAMHSA will present Ewing with a special recognition award for speaking out about his experiences with body dysmorphic disorder and mental health issues, and for encouraging young people in similar situations to seek help.

This year’s event“Finding Help. Finding Hope.”will explore how communities can increase access to behavioral health services and supports for children, youth, and young adults who experience mental or substance use disorders and their families.

The national event will feature a highly interactive format in which community leaders, youth and family leaders, law enforcement officials, and behavioral health professionals will discuss how communities can work together to overcome challenges to access behavioral health services. Communities, collaborating organizations, and individuals around the country will participate in Awareness Day Live! activities such as viewing the live webcast and interacting with the onstage discussion by sharing questions or insights via email, Twitter, or text.

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Commentary: Yes Hillary, it should be Warren]]> 2016-04-22T22:30:09Z 2016-04-24T14:00:43Z

Clinton WarrenAs the media now pivots to vice presidential candidates for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, she should take a page out of her husband’s playbook and buck conventional wisdom.

When Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton picked Tennessee Senator Al Gore as his running mate for the presidency, conventional political wisdom believed the choice of Gore was a mistake. Two Southerners just did not make sense. Everyone believed that Bill Clinton should have selected someone to broaden his appeal geographically, as well as to bring the party together; someone from Northeast or the West, heck even someone from the Plain states. Just not another Southerner. Hillary, your husband bucked conventional wisdom and so should you.

Picking Elizabeth Warren as your VP candidate will unite the Democratic Party. Warren represents all the Sanders supporters want; progressive views that take on Wall Street greed and address income inequality. Hillary, you can announce that Warren will be chartered with addressing income inequality and investigating how to create equity in the tax code.

The great thing is that you can have your cake and eat it too. Hillary, you would be bucking conventional wisdom by picking a female northeasterner like yourself, but also be embracing conventional wisdom by balancing the ticket with a progressive on the ticket that represents all that the Bernie Sanders campaign has achieved.

Your all-female ticket would be historic in itself. Just as the Clinton-Gore ticket was historic; the youngest ticket in history, two Southerners and two guys from the Ivy League. Clinton-Warren would be two women from the Northeast, one totally progressive, the other moderate, for who Republican moderate women would quietly enter the voting booth and pull the lever. A female ticket that would fundamentally change Washington.

I know brothers, and political rising stars, Joaquin and Julian Castro are on your short list for vice president. They have time to be chosen and to run. Hillary, pick Warren and give women the opportunity to say “we too are qualified” in the voting booth. You believe it and so does America.

This article was first published on HuffPost Politics Front Page

Steve Lee, Editor <![CDATA[Mariah Carey to be honored at 27th annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York]]> 2016-04-22T22:53:37Z 2016-04-24T00:30:50Z Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey

NEW YORK – GLAAD has announced that it will honor singer, songwriter, record producer and actress Mariah Carey at the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York at the Waldorf Astoria New York  May 14. Academy Award-nominated director Lee Daniels will present Carey with the award.

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 equality and acceptance.

Mariah Carey is a Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and producer with more than 200 million albums sold. Her numerous accolades include three Grammy Awards, 21 American Music Awards, Billboard’s “Artist of the Decade” Award, the World Music Award for “World’s Best Selling Female Artist of the Millennium,” and BMI’s “Icon Award” for her outstanding achievements in songwriting.

Carey will receive GLAAD’s Ally Award, which is presented to a media figure who has consistently used their platform to support and advance LGBT equality and acceptance. Previous GLAAD Media Awards honorees include Elizabeth Taylor, Patti LaBelle, Janet Jackson, Russell Simmons, Cher, and more.

Carey has long embraced her LGBT fanbase worldwide, consistently sending messages of support in media interviews and gracing the cover of OUT Magazine. She has participated in GLAAD’s annual anti-bullying campaign, Spirit Day, wearing purple to show her support for LGBT youth.

In addition to appearing in the LGBT-inclusive film Precious, the global superstar has tirelessly voiced her support for marriage equality. Carey has also spoken lovingly about the important role a gay couple played in her childhood, saying they were “my template for a great relationship.” During a concert in 2009, she brought a gay fan onstage to propose to his boyfriend.

A Congressional Award recipient, Carey has devoted her time to a range of philanthropic causes near to her heart, including Save the Music, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, World Hunger Relief, and the Elton John AIDS Foundation, among many others. A tremendous supporter of children’s charities, both domestic and international, she founded Camp Mariah in partnership with the Fresh Air Fund, a retreat for inner city children to explore career development.

This summer, Carey will kick off the second year of her headlining residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Her much anticipated docu-series, “Mariah’s World” will air on E! later this year and will feature an intimate look at the world-renowned icon, including her family, friends and inner circle who keep her at the top of her game. The show will air globally across E!’s 17 international channels reaching 153 countries in 24 languages.

“Through her music and outspoken support, Mariah Carey has inspired and empowered countless LGBT fans across the globe,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “She is a longtime ally and friend to the LGBT community who has worked tirelessly to move acceptance and inclusion forward.”

GLAAD previously announced that Robert De Niro will receive the Excellence in Media Award at the New York ceremony. Emmy Award-winning actress and producer Laverne Cox will host the event. Additional special guests for the GLAAD Media Awards in New York to be announced.