A federal judge in Brazil is under fire for approving gay “conversion therapy, ” across the nation.
Waldema de Carvalho overturned a 1999 Federal Council of Psychology decision that banned the largely discredited practice, ruling last week in favor of an evangelical Christian psychologist whose license had been revoked after she offered treatments claiming to “cure” gay people.
“This decision is a big regression to the progressive conquests that the LBGT community had in recent decades,” David Miranda, one of the country’s few openly gay politicians told the Guardian. “Like various countries in the world, Brazil is suffering a conservative wave.”
Rozangela Justino, brought the case after her license was revoked in 2016 for offering “conversion therapy.” She had previously called homosexuality a “disease,” and said she felt “directed by God to help people who are homosexual.”
“There is no way to cure what is not a disease,” said Rogério Giannini, a psychologist based in São Paulo and president of the council.
“It is not a serious, academic debate, it is a debate connected to religious or conservative positions,” he said, adding the council would contest the decision legally.
Singers and celebrities expressed their ire at the decision on social media.
“The sick ones are those who believe in this grand absurdity,” singer Ivete Sangalo wrote in an Instagram post commenting on the ruling.
“That’s what happens in my country. People dying, hungry, the government killing the country with corruption, no education, no hospitals, no opportunities … and the authorities are wasting their time to announce that homosexuality is a sickness,” Brazilian pop star Anitta, posted.
Last week, a Brazilian gay art exhibit was cancelled after right-wing and religious protests.
É Brasilzão, a gente tentando ser forte, ser otimista, com inúmeras pendências que caberiam a uma administração decente resolver, e aí me resolvem dizer que homosexualidade é doença. Doentes são aqueles que acreditam nesse grande absurdo. Pessoas, pensem sobre o que é esse equívoco , absorvam a coragem e a luta dos homossexuais e apliquem às suas mofadas e inertes vidas. Tentem que vcs talvez possam ser felizes tb #respeito
A post shared by Veveta (@ivetesangalo) on Sep 18, 2017 at 6:59pm PDT
This weekend’s Orlando Pride proved a safe, beautiful, and bittersweet event. Looking at the vibrant, resilient lives on display, especially seeing the survivors of the Pulse nightmare and victims’ famlies, has me feeling hopeful — and relieved.
That’s partly because I had a nightmare that there was a shooting at Orlando Pride. More than 49 people were killed this time. I ran for cover, then tried to chase down the gunman. As I approached, he was beheaded and we were all safe. When I looked again, though, he had suddenly come back to life.
As nightmares go, it was frightening on its own. Even worse, I knew the shooting would happen.
In each subconscious scene before the Pride parade, I found myself in an everyday, group setting: brunch at a café, riding in an elevator, chatting in the office break room. I was surrounded by friendly faces talking trivialities while I thought about the impending attack. Yet I said nothing.
I don’t want to interrupt, my dream self thought.
So I stood there with lifesaving information, very aware that what I knew was infinitely more important than any conversation. When I woke up, it wasn’t the mass murder that terrified me most. It was my own silence.
I’ve wanted to write something about the shooting since it happened. But filming L.A. Pride the same day for The Advocate and covering the aftermath full-time left me little room to delve into how I felt. Even so, I made time to hear from my queer friends in Orlando, my hometown. Some called me in tears because their parents were oblivious to their suffering. Some of their parents were actively expressing homophobic views to them just days after the massacre.
I have an Orlando friend with an angelic voice who sang in a Catholic choir there. Three hours after the murders at Pulse, she was in church for rehearsal. The group leader asked if anyone had something they wanted to pray about, and she requested that they pray for the victims. Then she added, “It’s kind of strange because I don’t know how the church feels about gay people.” Her choir leader said, “We love them … I just wouldn’t throw a parade for them.”
Ain’t that the truth.
We can “love” gay people, send thoughts and prayers after they’ve been murdered, but still vote for someone whose hateful rhetoric inspired more than 200 incidents of harassment in the first 72 hours after he was elected — and who never visited Pulse, even when within miles for a campaign rally.
The other nightmare I have yet to speak about is the election. I’ve been silent on social media, and I’ve yet to discuss the election with my Christian mother, who voted for him, in Orlando.
Ironically, she texted me an image that said “The phrase ‘do not be afraid’ is written in the Bible 365 times. That’s a daily reminder from God to live every day being fearless.”
She’s right. We do need reminders to be fearless.
Especially now that hate crimes have spiked, suicide hotlines are ringing off the hook, and for the first time since the Pulse shooting in June, I’ve driven home from work in tears. I’ll need 1,460 reminders to be fearless now, Mom. That’s how many days we’ll have President Trump.
With this election, we know something bad is going to happen. It’s already started. He may not have personally punched a gay person or shouted the n word at students or told children they will be deported because they speak Spanish, but people are invoking his name to do all that and more. A symbol of hatred is more dangerous than any single person or president. It wasn’t just a vile person who won last Tuesday; permission for vile behavior won.
Because I’m white, cisgender, straight-passing, and live in Los Angeles, I can only imagine the anguish felt now by people of color, trans folks, and immigrants living in a red state. But because I am queer, I feel a blanket of impending oppression not-so-slowly settling over my community.
Welcome to the new constant, clausterphobic anxiety that can’t be released because “it” hasn’t happened yet. And we don’t yet know what “it” will be, though we’re sure it’s coming.
When I think about talking to my mom or about what I should say to anyone about Trump, I’m reminded of my Orlando choir friend. She came out to her religious, conservative parents the day after Pulse. She thought about the families of the Pulse victims having to find out their child was gay and that their child was dead at the same moment. She thought, That could have been me. She was two blocks away that night.
My friend so easily could have reacted in fear and gone deeper into the closet. But instead she marched up to her parents’ home and broke the silence. She reacted to that tragedy with love.
I want to react to our new national nightmare with love too. Nearly one week later, I still don’t know how. The most radical thing I can do now, for starters, is break my silence and talk to my Trump-supporting mother. I don’t know what to say, but I have hope that one day we’ll find the spirit of this weekend’s Orlando Pride, and we’ll have stories to share about how we found love out of tragedy.
When an anarchist shows up at your protest and hijacks it for their own cause, which is, obviously, anarchy, then you tell them to cut those shenanigans out. This isn’t their rally. This is a rally for…
And here’s where we ought to supply an answer. Because protests have to be for something.
Otherwise, we end up with the scene last week in Portland, Ore., where a gang of anarchists smashed windows as the petty right wing pointed and said, See, this is who they really are.
No, who we really are is the GoFundMe page raising money to fix everything the anarchists broke. In much the same way, when Donald Trump is gone in four or eight years, it will be us left to reassemble a country shattered by chaos.
We can stop Trump from breaking so much of what we hold dear if we first seriously contemplate what we want, in the context of all the terrible that is about to happen. With Republicans poised to take control of all three arms of legislating — the House, Senate, and presidency — we must access the full power and pessimism of our imaginations to foresee what’s about to unravel. Let’s transport ourselves to some day in 2017 when we are complaining that those pesky Republicans didn’t give anyone time to debate privatization of Medicare. They just did it. We will all wake up one morning and discover it’s the day Medicare died.
That’s how it happened in North Carolina. Gov. Pat McCrory called a special session of the legislature, and in the span of a single day, the state passed a repeal of antidiscrimination ordinances that had protected LGBT people. There was no warning. It’s a reminder that the time to protest is now, before our rights are undone.
Don’t listen to those asking that we give Trump a chance; it’s only a chance to destroy. It doesn’t matter that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, not to them. What matters is how fast the wonks can race through the aisles of some GOP backroom and grab as many old policies from the shelves and then sprint them toward the new president’s desk.
In the minds of Republicans, it doesn’t matter that they lack a mandate; they expect to hold on to power forever if only they can pass all their harebrained ideas and finally prove how awesome they are. They realize these policies are unpopular. But they can feel it in their bones, that if you just get a taste of health care savings accounts, you’re going to like them so much better than actual health care.
Did Donald Trump campaign on privatizing Medicare? No, but Paul Ryan did. He always does. Ryan prefers the term “entitlement reform,” because everyone is against a sense of entitlement until they realize he means Social Security and Medicare.
“Medicare has got some serious issues because of Obamacare,” Ryan told Fox News last week, without citing any evidence. “So those things are part of our plan to replace Obamacare.”
In fact, Obamacare has nothing to do with Medicare, except extending its solvency with the efficiency it created. But if we know anything for sure about President Trump, it’s that he paid someone to write The Art of the Deal. He doesn’t care about any law so deeply that he’d save it from the deal-making table.
Speaker Ryan claims to detest Trump’s Muslim ban, for example. So if Trump getting to “temporarily” — also known as “indefinitely” — bar people from entering the country based on their religion can be accomplished only by selling out our seniors, then he’ll do it.
So maybe when an anarchist picks up a brick, you grab his arm and say, no, that isn’t going to help us win support for Medicare.
I’m just using Medicare as a placeholder. But feel free to go even grander, with something more conceptual, like peace.
All that worry about Trump having control of the nuclear arsenal ought to still exist even after he’s won. Actually, shouldn’t we be more worried?
But I doubt we’ll go straight from a manageable state of constant war (which we are in now) directly to nuclear bombs dropping. There would need to be a ramp-up. Use your imagination to see how Trump will get caught in escalating aggression toward Iran or at first Yemen, under the guise of fighting ISIS and terrorists. It’s not too soon to rev up those peace protests, instead of waiting until Trump sends your friends and family overseas. By then, Trump will start calling protests un-American and unsupportive of the troops. And it will be too late.
The voters in Trumpland don’t see any of this coming. And because some, I assume, are good people, they didn’t expect the more than 200 episodes of hate attacks that the Southern Poverty Law Center reported in the first 72 hours after Trump won, either.
All they’ve heard is that America is going to be great, truly great, and then they’ve interpreted that into their own lives however best it fits. Maybe they’ve got a new car. Maybe they’ve made a down payment on a house. The possibilities are endless. But they didn’t fully contemplate their son or daughter being sent to fight a new enemy or their grandma losing her Medicare.
We already know they weren’t too bothered by the prospect of minorities losing their civil rights. That didn’t factor in. It didn’t matter how loudly minorities warned that Trump is a racist xenophobe who uses sexism to wield his power. Really, we couldn’t have made it any more clear.
So, don’t go around protesting “Not My President” all the time, because the Trump voters already know that. They picked their president, and they’re quite proud of themselves.
Protest for all the things you want to keep. Call on Republicans to drop the bricks they’re ready to rip through our safety net and our civil rights. Be in favor, be involved, and do it before we find ourselves watching the vandals run wild.
Conservatives think we’re all wasting our time with these protests. The knee-jerk reaction from those who are so galled by the live video of dissent in the streets is to claim it’s all meaningless, that Trump will be president no matter how many people show up in however many cities.
They don’t get it. They wonder, why would anyone protest unless it’s to remove someone from office? Maybe that’s how they protest. But it’s not how civil rights were won or voting rights or funding for AIDS research.
A mantra is finally emerging the longer the protests go on. With every night of resistance, the message is honed. “Show me what community looks like!” chanted the leader at a massive rally this weekend in Los Angeles. Hundreds answered, “This is what community looks like!”
And then, “The people — united — will never be defeated!”
Hannah Hart got drunk in 2011 and tried to make grilled cheese in a parody cooking tutorial to cheer up a friend across the country. She posted it on YouTube and within 48 hours, the video went viral. “My Drunk Kitchen” was born.
Hart continued getting drunk and making videos, quickly gaining popularity on YouTube with her puns and boozy banter. After Anderson Cooper came out, Hart shared her own coming out story in a raw, uncut video on YouTube. Since then, she’s become a rising queer role model for LGBT youth.
I was one of those kids. Now an intern with The Advocate, I had the opportunity to interview my icon. Icould hardly keep my cool. There were lots of laughs, smiles, and one dream come true. To get started, I asked Hart some of your everyday warm up questions like, “Do you sleep with your socks on?”
After we got the brain warmed up, we dove into the hard-hitting questions about getting older, feeling comfortable in your own skin, and being a queer icon for LGBT youth.
To wrap things up, we played a friendly game of would-you-rather…
To see more of Hannah Hart’s videos, go to www.youtube.com/harto and catch her with the rest of the Holy Trinity — Grace Helbig and Mamrie Hart — in their new movie Dirty 30. It’s now available on DVD exclusively at Target and in Digital HD on iTunes. Hart’s new book Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded is available online and in stores everywhere.
Just as enthusiasm for boycotting Uber had begun to fall off the collective radar, the ride service came under new scrutiny after a former employee published a blog post excoriating the company as having a hostile work environment that fostered a culture of harassment that affected its female employees. Last month #DeleteUber began to trend on social media in response to the company taking advantage of Donald Trump’s travel ban when it dropped surge pricing and sent drivers to John F. Kennedy International Airport to drop and pick up passengers amid a strike by New York City taxi drivers. In addition to former Uber engineer Susan Fowler publishing the blog post alleging the company has a misogynist culture, The New York Times released an exposé that could do further damage to the tarnished Uber brand. Uber, in scramble mode, began emailing customers who were attempting to delete the app asking them to reconsider because the company is “deeply hurting,” according to CNN Tech.
The company first felt the pinch of a boycott when it broke the strike line over the last weekend in January when thousands protested Trump’s travel ban. Ride-share customers leaped to Uber’s competitor Lyft in droves, especially since that company donated $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union in the wake of the ban.
Running damage control, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick later announced that the company would set up a fund to help its drivers who were affected by the travel ban. He also resigned from Trump’s advisory board.
The backlash against Uber had appeared to die down following Kalanick’s moves, but Fowler’s blog post, which has gone viral, which detailed her year at the company bouncing from team to team after having been sexually harassed early in her employment by her team leader, put Uber back in the news.
“After the first couple of weeks of training, I chose to join the team that worked on my area of expertise, and this is where things started getting weird,” Fowler wrote/ “On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn’t. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn’t help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR.”
Despite her screenshots of their conversation, Uber’s human resources department protected the manager for being a “top performer,” Fowler alleged in her post.
Stories like Fowler’s are not outside the norm, however, according to The New York Times’ report. Uber, valued at approximately $70 billion, fosters a toxic environment based on a meritocracy that has employees stepping on each other to reach the top, the paper reports.
For its piece on Uber, the Times interviewed 30 employees, and reviewed chat logs and emails to uncover some of the most unsavory behavior at the company, including reports of a company manager touching a female employee’s breasts while at a work function in Vegas, and one of the company’s directors using a homophobic slur toward an employee during a meeting.
Following the latest exodus from the company in the form of deleting the app, Kalanick launched an internal investigation into Fowler’s harassment claims. He also issued a statement condemning the actions should they prove to be true.
“What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in,” Kalanick wrote. “We seek to make Uber a just workplace for everyone, and there can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber — and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is O.K. will be fired.”
Uber board member Arianna Huffington and former Attorney General Eric J. Holder were called on to help with the investigation. In a tweet, Huffington mentioned an “all-hands” meeting Kalanick held but did not go into the content of the meeting. The Times wrote, however, that during that meeting employees shared concerns about the culture of harassment as Fowler described it — some of them were shocked that such behavior had taken place, while others related personally to the harassment.
Kalanick was praised by some for taking swift action in response to Fowler’s accusations.
“What I can promise you is that I will get better every day,” Kalanick said, assuming some responsibility for fostering a culture in which things got out of hand. “I can tell you that I am authentically and fully dedicated to getting to the bottom of this.”
Despite Kalanick’s appearing contrite, Fowler’s allegations depicted a fairly open culture of harassment in an aggressive environment in which human resources appeared complicit.
“When I reported the situation, I was told by both HR and upper management that even though this was clearly sexual harassment and he was propositioning me, it was this man’s first offense and that they wouldn’t feel comfortable giving him anything other than a warning and a stern talking-to,” Fowler wrote. Later, she discovered that other women had reported the same man to human resources long before she joined the company, she alleged in her post.
Eve Ensler has a dream.
The feminist writer of The Vagina Monologues outlined competing visions for America and the world at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s An Evening with Women. There, she challenged audience members to fight against the dream of destruction and for the dream of imagination, freedom, and inclusion.
Ensler defined the former as the so-called “American dream, corrupted and perpetuated by Ronald Reagan who I hold responsible for the death of America.” This dream, said the feminist, is defined by “violent capitalism of striving individualism, competitive ‘take what is mine’ at the expense of others, ‘amass as much fortune as you can’ to the detriment of many.”
This dream, said Ensler, “is responsible for soul murder, a massive opioid addiction, and innocent black men and women gunned down by the police. It is responsible for more loneliness, and wars, and hatred, and hierarchies, and poverty, and homophobia, and transphobia… That dream rapes the earth and women’s bodies, and builds walls, and allows for sustained and unexamined racism, orders bans, and grabs pussies.”
“That dream fracks and fucks and pillages and exploits and plunders. That is not my dream,” she said.
Ensler described another dream of how to live that, in recent years, had been gaining ground in hearts and minds, a vision that included greater freedoms for LGBT people, people of color, women, and other vulnerable communities, which paved the way for victories like marriage equality: “We were truly deeply evolving, beginning to claim sacred ground, beginning to come together, beginning to make a world of inclusion and care and celebration.”
“That’s why the scared and broken ones and mainly white men have gone insane. That’s why they have come back with a vengeance,” she said.
“That’s why they moved so fast to annihilate the rules and the Constitution and the discourse and the press and the arts and the very fabric of our existence,” she continued. “That’s why they have begun to fire anyone and everyone who questions and investigates their destruction of our dream, that’s why they’ve employed a strongman, a daddy savior, a decisive madman, a maniac, a fear-carrying tyrant to protect and annihilate.”
At the Hollywood Palladium Saturday, Ensler delivered a call-to-arms to the crowd of “gender-fluid, nonconforming, beautiful, gay, evolving beyond identity, new identity, women, trans women, bi women, hot women, lesbian, pussy-loving, breast-sucking men and women, nongender, intersex … brave gender warriors,” whom she called “the freedom fighters.”
“The liberation of gender is the liberation of binaries and binaries keep hierarchies in place. You free the binary, you throw open the door.”
“Free the binary and you end the war, the fight, the pain, the self-hatred, the loneliness. Free the binary, you free the body. Free the body, you free the imagination. And imagination is the main antidote we have to their virus, the mystical dream that is in the process of being imagined by us all.”
“Are we ready to love each other and the earth so deep…. That our love becomes not only the Resistance – because that’s not enough —it becomes the fluid architecture of the new world?”
Lorri L. Jean, the CEO of the LGBT Center — the L.A. LGBT community’s largest provider of health, housing, and human services — turned fear on its head later in the evening, when she reminded those present of all the battles already fought and victories gained — from the AIDS crisis to same-sex marriage to the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
“Fighting for justice and winning is what we know how to do,” she said to the cheering audience. “We must remember that not only are we on the right side of history. But that we are fierce and resilient and inspired. We must use that power to ensure that we do more than simply weather the story. We must be the storm!”
Watch Ensler’s speech below.
Bill Maher has caused a storm of controversy for saying the n word.
The late-night host of HBO’s Real Time uttered the racial epithet during a conversation Friday with Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska.
Sasse had invited Maher to visit his state. “You’re welcome. We’d love to have you work in the fields with us,” he said.
“Work in the fields?” Maher replied. “Senator, I’m a house n***er.”
The remark, which was not bleeped our during broadcast or the following rebroadcast, incited gasps and also scattered applause among his audience members. “No, it’s a joke,” Maher assured them.
But social-media users, among them gay Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson, were quick to condemn the language and call for the show’s cancellation.
— deray mckesson (@deray) June 3, 2017
After the backlash, HBO released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter calling Maher’s words “inexcusable.”
“Bill Maher’s comment last night was completely inexcusable and tasteless,” the HBO statement said. “We are removing his deeply offensive comment from any subsequent airings of the show.”
Maher is no stranger to controversy or offensive language. He invited the gay alt-right troll Milo Yiannopoulos on his show in February, when he thought it was appropriate to call him a “fag” on air.
“Stop taking the bait, liberals,” Maher said, regarding Yiannopoulos’ tactics of inciting racism and transphobia during his controversial college tour. “The fact that they all freaked out about this little impish British fag.”
Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch’s record is “fundamentally at odds with the notion that LGBT people are entitled to equality, liberty, justice and dignity under the law,” Lambda Legal wrote, along with 18 other LGBT groups, in a letter addressed to Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chair and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, reports BuzzFeed News.
The judiciary committee will begin confirmation hearings Monday. The letter asked senators to consider that Gorsuch’s appointment would pose a “grave threat” to LGBT people and those living with HIV. “We wish to call to your attention the following aspects of Judge Gorsuch’s record and philosophy that are of particular concern to our organizations and our constituents, and that raise crucial questions of grave consequence to LGBT people, everyone living with HIV, and anyone who cares about these communities,” the letter read.
Among the groups that signed the letter alongside Lambda Legal are the Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Transgender Equality, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, and Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network.
They said Gorsuch’s reputation as an “originalist” shows he is not likely to fight for the rights of LGBT people as a Supreme Court justice. An originalist philosophy “treats the Constitution as frozen in time, meaning that, unless the Constitution has been amended to explicitly protect certain rights, individuals have no more rights today than they did in 1789,” the letter stated.
It referenced landmark cases on intimacy and marriage, such as Lawrence v. Texas, Windsor v. U.S., and Obergefell v. Hodges, and said that if Gorsuch had been on the high court when those cases were heard, he would likely have been on the anti-LGBT side. “Based on his extensive record, there can be no doubt that, had he been on the Court, Judge Gorsuch would have rejected each of these basic rights,” wrote the LGBT groups.
In the past Gorsuch has publicly stated his disapproval of people going to the courts to settle civil rights cases. The letter referenced an op-ed Gorsuch wrote in 2005, saying, “American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom … as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage” to other civil rights issues.
The letter called Gorsuch’s views “even more extreme and outside the mainstream” than those of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who he would replace. In 2015 Gorsuch signed on to an opinion that stated that a transgender woman in prison did not suffer irreparable harm after her hormone therapy was interrupted. In 2009 he signed onto an opinion that rejected the right of a transgender woman to use the bathroom that corresponded to her gender identity because it caused “discomfort-based complaints of other students.”
On Sunday afternoon, a visitor to the Casa Ruby LGBT Community Center in Washington, D.C., physically attacked a worker, threw a brick through a window, and let loose a string of verbal assaults.
“I’ll kill your motherfucking ass. Ya’ll tranny motherfuckers think somebody won’t fuck y’all up,” the man screamed, according to a police report of the incident.
Two weeks earlier, a different man entered the same facility, made sexual advances toward LGBT youth, and then punched a hole in the wall. He was arrested, but returned the following week to repeat the crime, reports DCist.
The Casa Ruby center is far from alone in being the target of attacks. Last week at least one armed person shot 13 pellets at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in Tulsa, Okla., reports the Tulsa World. Hours later, a man entered the facility and began yelling expletives at the staff, telling them, “I wish you would all die.”
“We’re getting reports like this from all over the country,” said Toby Jenkins, the center’s executive director. “Gay community centers being vandalized; welcoming churches being vandalized; gay businesses being vandalized. Now it’s happened in Tulsa.”
Two days earlier, a pair of men in Asbury Park, N.J., shattered the glass door of Garden State Equality, the state’s largest LGBT organization. Christian Fuscarino, the group’s executive director, said the building was no random target — the broken glass was meant to send a message of terror to the LGBT community in New Jersey and beyond.
“This kind of incident shows that hate knows no boundaries. It is not restricted by geography, even in a state as historically progressive as ours,” he told the Asbury Park Press.
Since the presidential election, hate crimes have spiked, confirms the Southern Poverty Law Center. This uptick includes an increase in attacks on LGBT centers, mosques, and Jewish cemeteries, which as symbols of their respective communities, have become targets in a divisive political clime.
“The truth is there’s been a lot of groups of people victimized since the election [in November], especially the LGBT community,” Heidi Beirich, a director of SPLC, told Vocativ.
Last month, Vocativ counted at least five reported attacks on LGBT centers, including a smashed window at Equality Florida in Orlando and transphobic slurs scrawled on the side of the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Three occurred after the Trump administration rolled back education guidelines protecting transgender students.
“We see the same pattern,” Beirich said. “Trump will attack a group of people and then we see incidents of hate crimes afterward.”
Kelly Love, a spokesperson for the White House, told the Washington Blade that President Trump denounced these attacks.
“President Trump condemns hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms, including attacks against the LGBT community,” Love said.
However, activists worry that anti-LGBT legislation and directives, such as the rumored “religious freedom” executive order, will exacerbate these crimes. JoDee Winterhof, the senior vice president for policy and political affairs for the Human Rights Campaign, said Trump must be more vocal in condemning such hatred, and become the ally he promised to be on the campaign trail.
“Many LGBTQ Americans are scared right now — they’re scared of their rights being taken away, scared for their families, and scared that they may no longer be protected in the country they live in,” Winterhof said.
“The president has done little to calm those nerves. He owes it to the LGBTQ community to not only disavow these acts of hate, but also to restore protections for transgender kids and totally rule out his license to discriminate executive order.”
Mississippi’s draconian “license to discriminate” law, allowing widespread discrimination against LGBT people and others, is now in effect, thanks to a federal appeals court ruling.
A lower court last year issued an injunction preventing the law from taking effect, but today a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit lifted it, saying those who sued to block the law lacked the standing to do so, reports The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss. The Fifth Circuit did not rule on the merits of the law.
House Bill 1523, signed into law by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant last year, allows businesses, individuals, and religiously affiliated organizations to deny service to LGBT people, single mothers, and others who somehow offend an individual’s “sincerely held religious belief.” It also directly targets transgender residents, effectively claiming that one’s sex assigned at birth is immutable, and will be the only gender recognized by the state.
Titled the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, it states that the government cannot penalize an individual, organization, or business for acting according to the following “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions”: that “marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman”; that “sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage”; and that “male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.” While the legislation was being considered, there were numerous protests at the Mississippi capitol and throughout the state.
A suit brought by the Campaign for Southern Equality against the law had been consolidated with another brought by Mississippi civil rights attorney Robert McDuff and the Mississippi Center for Justice, joined by Lambda Legal, both on behalf of LGBT Mississippians and their allies. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ruled in those cases to block the law as unconstitutional, just before it was set to go into effect last July. Those organizations said they plan to appeal the Fifth Circuit ruling, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which has filed a separate suit, will continue to pursue it.
The Campaign for Southern Equality will ask for the full Fifth Circuit to review the panel’s ruling; if the court agrees to such a review, the law will continue to be blocked, according to the group.
“This decision is not only deeply upsetting for the rights of LGBT individuals living in Mississippi, but also for the protection of religious liberty in our country,” said Roberta Kaplan, lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the Campaign for Southern Equality suit, in a press release. “Our clients have already suffered enough. The state communicated a message loudly and clearly with the passage of HB 1523: only certain anti-LGBT beliefs will get the protection and endorsement of the state. Under the logic of this opinion, it would be constitutional for the state of Mississippi to pass a law establishing Southern Baptist as the official state religion. We plan to seek an en banc review of the decision by the Fifth Circuit.”
ACLU of Mississippi executive director Jennifer Riley Collins issued this statement: “We are ready to move forward with our case filed on behalf of ACLU members Nykolas Alford and Stephen Thomas, who are planning to marry in Mississippi in the near future. That case was put on hold until the court of appeals ruled. We will continue to proceed on behalf of Nykolas and Stephen to protect them, and other same-sex couples from this harmful and discriminatory law.”
Added Rob Hill, Mississippi state director for the Human Rights Campaign: “We are deeply disappointed that the actions taken today by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals clear the path for the anti-LGBTQ law HB 1523 to take effect in Mississippi. This law — now the most discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ state law in the country — was rooted in hate, it targets the LGBTQ communit,y and it is a deliberate attempt to undermine marriage equality and the dignity of LGBTQ Mississippians who lawmakers have sworn to serve and protect. We will continue to fight tooth and nail against HB 1523 until it no longer threatens our community.”
The release of new body camera footage from police officers responding to the Pulse shooting prompted ABC News to air a special report Wednesday, but some survivors of the attack say use of such graphic footage felt exploitative and re-traumatizing.
“For those survivors and victims’ families, it opens up a severe wound in their hearts and mind,” Orlando Torres, who made it out of Pulse alive last year, told The Advocate.
ABC News touted the use of footage in a news release promoting a special edition of Nightline titled “Inside The Pulse Nightclub Terror.” The entire half-hour show focused on the shooting. It included several minutes of the body camera footage, some of the most graphic and up-close images of the shooting made available thus far.
“The worst mass shooting in U.S. history makes this a newsworthy event,” said an ABC News spokesperson in a statement to The Advocate, which is not distributing the footage. “This particular report focuses on the first responders. None of the wounded or dead are seen in the video and great attention was paid to be sensitive to all involved.”
While the footage obtained blocked out any images of deceased victims, it includes the almost constant sound of gunfire from within the club and shows officers charging into the structure while survivors still huddle under furniture before being urged away from the scene. It also includes footage of the firefight where gunman Omar Mateen was killed by police. Some of the final footage used in the special includes officers walking through the club in search of survivors while cell phones laying in pools of blood chime unanswered.
Several media outlets made a records request for the footage, a request granted this week. Different outlets handled the content differently. The Orlando Sentinel published a selection of the video and posted it online, and managing editor John Cutter published a letter explaining the decision. “We knew some readers would object. It’s a sentiment we’ve heard from the first days after Pulse — that we were covering this in too much detail and exploiting the victims’ memories and causing pain to the community. And we take those feelings seriously. But we also hear from people who still have questions about what happened inside Pulse that night. And this week’s videos — of which we published only a small fraction — go a long way toward addressing those questions.”
ABC published additional footage online before its prime-time broadcast. Parts of the footage also were included in a broadcast of World News Tonight With David Muir and this morning on Good Morning America as well as on several streaming platforms.
Christopher Hansen, who escaped the Pulse attack shortly after shooting began and stayed to help victims, says he did seek out the body cam footage online after hearing about its release. Much of it shocked him, including a part where he could be seen corralled by police into a safe parking lot with other survivors. “At the time, I didn’t even realize I was in that parking lot,” he said. “It’s so quick and so fast, and seeing myself running … it’s no wonder I feel the way I do.”
But while he needed to see the footage himself, Hansen disagreed with ABC’s decision to broadcast the images. “I don’t think you should be putting that on prime-time television and have it be a TV show,” he said. “It’s as if this is an entertaining thing to watch. It’s cruel.”
Torres ended up seeing much of the footage on World News Tonight and said many in Orlando were upset to see the content aired or shared on social media. He also questioned the timing of the report. “I believe that it’s too early for this to be aired, when it’s coming very close for the first year memorial,” he said. “Many are still having a hard time to accept and believe what transpired on June 12.”
The City of Orlando and Orange County, Fla., remain in the midst of planning for a day of remembrance on the 12th, including multiple vigils at the club.
But not everyone connected to Pulse greeted the footage with anger. Christine Leinonen, whose son Christopher “Drew” Leinonen died in the attack, says she wants to see as much original material about the shooting as possible. “I know so little about the attack from authorities,” she said. “And I don’t believe a lot of what I heard from them. Unless it’s corroborated.” She would like to know more about shots fired by police officers when they entered the club. Her son was shot two sets of times, five times in his torso and four times in his back. She’d like an explanation why.
She’s been bothered by the narrative of cops acting purely as heroes and wants the body cam footage publicized. “They went in like cowboys,” she said.
The Nightline report ultimately did lean heavily on police accounts of the event, including interviews with officers. None of the footage broadcast by ABC included information about officers shooting victims, but reporter Brian Ross did question police, including Chief John Mina, about the decision to blow a wall of the club while hostages remained inside. Mina said it was the right call, and officers acknowledged the decision as a calculated risk.
The broadcast also included 911 calls from people inside the club, including shooter Omar Mateen, who called police and swore allegiance to the Islamic State.
Eerily, the special also relied heavily on a survivor account from Jacqui Sevilla, whose father is a firefighter, about her escape from the club. It’s unclear when the interview with Sevilla took place; Sevilla died in a car crash Memorial Day weekend, which Nightline anchor Dan Harris noted at the end of the broadcast.
A surreal sensation sets in upon arriving at the Watergate Hotel in the nation’s capital. Timing is everything, as the old saw goes, and that couldn’t be more apt, as I’m arriving when the Russia-Trump campaign scandal has gone into overdrive, and the news media are awash in Trump-Nixon comparisons.
I check in and head to the decadent lounge, and what should appear on the TV but the building itself — the instantly recognizable design of architect Luigi Moretti. The Watergate Complex has haunted the American political psyche since 1972, when a botched break-in by Republican operatives led to several investigations, even more messy cover-ups, and the beginnings of the impeachment process for President Nixon, who would resign upon understanding the inevitable end of his time in office.
Part of the beauty of staying in such a fancy hotel is the sense of humor the management clearly has about its own landmark status: coasters in the bar and restaurant read “NO NEED TO BREAK IN” and “I AM NOT A CROOK,” while complimentary pens read “I STOLE THIS FROM THE WATERGATE HOTEL” (I read that as an invitation, so I stole more than a few). These items are what I have come to refer to as Impeachment Kitsch. The Watergate has a retro postcard that’s free to guests too, but alas, no Nixon ones (the staff should really get on that). The Kingbird restaurant serves up a Watergate Mahattan — described as “ramazotti amaro rinsed American oak barrel, angel’s envy bourbon carpano antica vermouth, cherry cocktail rested a minimum of 30 days.”
“You won’t forget it,” the waiter promises. Unlike the ex-president, he isn’t lying; it delivers.
Made up of equal parts political news junkie and film fanatic, I’m in sensory overload at the Watergate. The building’s design details are unmistakable, and I’ve seen All the President’s Men more times than I can count. If there is one thing that’s striking about the entire complex, it’s how absolutely massive it is. It’s made up of five buildings over a 10-acre lot. There’s the hotel (where the break-in artists — known as “the plumbers” — actually stayed), two office complexes, and several co-op apartments, which seem to be occupied primarily by ornery senior citizens. There’s a mini-mall below, which features a convenience store and an art gallery/shop. Despite the fact that I don’t have a car, I venture into the notorious parking lot — just to say I’ve been there, and to see if I can find my own Deep Throat (but no such luck).
Figuring out what to venture to in Washington, D.C., is close to impossible, made daunting by the sheer number of fascinating monuments, museums, and points of interest that are within city limits. Fun fact: All of the tours and museums are free of charge, a tradition set up to ensure the public had access to the nation’s capital — a welcome surprise in a country so hooked on capitalism. I chose to take a tour of Congress, given that, as branches of government go, it’s looking better than the White House (though that isn’t saying much). I follow that up by a jaunt to the Lincoln Memorial. But I confess: The fact that I’m staying at the Watergate still feels like the biggest bragging right I’m getting out of this trip.
The hotel’s swankier-than-swank decor and extras don’t hurt. The hotel saw renewed investment in 2013, when Euro Capital Properties announced a $200 million refurbishing, one that would strive to celebrate the original vision of architect Moretti. The Next Whisky Bar features a wall of perfectly matching liquor bottles. And the Top of the Gate has just opened, a rooftop bar that features a 360-degree view of the entire city. This is how to experience D.C. LGBT tourists will also enjoy proximity to Nellie’s Sports Bar and the lively bar-club Town.
I return to Watergate to dig in to dinner. Given the Kingbird’s reviews, I’m eagerly anticipating a pretty amazing meal. I notice that the TVs seem only to be showing MSNBC or CNN, with nary a Fox News anchor in sight. It strikes me that America’s stark political divisions will manifest themselves even in a visitor’s choice of hotels in Washington: Republicans will almost certainly choose a hotel bearing the president’s name; Democrats, I suspect, would want to bunk in the Watergate, soothed by the idea that impeachment and/or resignation is still a distinct possibility.
A middle-aged woman from L.A. directs me to her favorite items on the menu, insisting I order a soft-shell crab appetizer (good thing I listened to her). I ask her why she stays at the Watergate and if it feels strange staying at a flashback to one of the shakiest moments in the country’s political history.
“I remember when my parents explained Nixon’s resignation to me,” she recalls. “It was such a shock — like a trauma. Now I feel like we’re all longing for the impeachment of Trump, like it would be an uplifting thing. It’s like we’re all caught up in a nostalgia for impeachment.”
It was a telling moment — and a strange one, seeing as I never expected to hear someone describe the crashing and burning of Nixon’s presidency as something to take solace in. The Watergate is one of the most comfortable, cushy hotels I’ve ever stayed in, and here were Americans taking comfort in the nostalgic glow of a decades-old scandal, the fallout of which some argue we are destined to repeat.
MATTHEW HAYS is a Montreal-based journalist and author whose articles have appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times, Vice, The Daily Beast, and, yes, The Washington Post. He teaches courses in film studies and journalism at Concordia University and Marianopolis College.
This year marks my fifth time riding in AIDS/LifeCycle, the annual seven-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money and awareness in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Much has changed since I embarked on the first ALC ride in 2002 — cultural changes for the LGBT community, the medical advances for those living with HIV or AIDS, and changes for me personally.
This year, I’m excited to serve as co-captain for Team Bank of America Merrill Lynch, one of the ride’s largest corporate teams. This year, we have officially surpassed the $1 million fundraising goal originally set when our team formed in 2014. There is an amazing amount of community, passion, and inspiration among our 40-person team of riders and roadies from across the country that reflects everything that is powerful and special about the ride.
As we recruited colleagues for this year’s ride, we asked about their motivation. Their reasons varied. Some spoke about the allure of physical challenge. Others simply want to give back to the community. And then a Las Vegas teammate shared a deeply personal, raw, and emotional response that struck me so hard I lost it.
This is what he said:
“I didn’t grow up with Will Grace, you see. I came to age with Philadelphia. Gay and HIV/AIDS were synonymous for a very long time. AIDS took my brother in the ’80s. And by ‘took,’ I don’t mean he died of AIDS. No, he took his life before it had the chance to take his. All of his friends in New York City were dying around him, and he thought of himself as one of the damned. It was too much to bear, so one day he said, ‘Enough! I live in a world where it’s insidious for me to love.’ His goodbye note said it was the only solution.”
After hearing his testimonial, I went home that night and watched a documentary about AIDS in the ’80s. I recalled my own worst fears living through that time period and coming out as a gay man. I remember being in high school, struggling with my identity and tuning in to the evening news on a regular basis to see reports about gay men dying from a terrible disease that nobody knew anything about and that the government wasn’t trying to find a cure for.
The LGBT community was fearless in speaking out, through the likes of ACT UP, and fighting for our government to take action, find a cure, and provide health care. However, like so many others probably were, I was secretly crumbling on the inside. Is this my destiny? Will I get AIDS? Am I going to die because I’m gay?
The fight against AIDS has come so far, but there remains so much more to do. This is why I ride.
I ride because I don’t want anyone to ask themselves the questions that haunted my teenage self. I ride because no one should ever know the pain of losing a brother, father, mother, or sister to AIDS. I ride because the generations before and after us deserve to grow old and live a long life.
My Bank of America Merrill Lynch teammates will collectively ride the 545 miles through California to progress toward finding a cure for HIV and AIDS and create a more compassionate society. But I also wanted to close by sharing some of their individual, powerful reasons that fuel them:
I ride because I was there when an AIDS diagnosis was an immediate death sentence.
I ride because AIDS still kills.
I ride because I saw how ugly the stigma was surrounding HIV and AIDS.
I ride because I witnessed a generation before me overtaken by suicide, death, hopelessness, and despair.
I ride because I haven’t lost my hope. We will, one day, eradicate AIDS.
I ride because people close to me are living with HIV and AIDS.
I ride because history repeats itself and I refuse to sit back while people with HIV and AIDS have to fight for health care they deserve.
I ride for those who are unable to ride.
I ride so, someday, we won’t have to.
I ride for a future free of HIV and AIDS.
I ride because intention without action is useless.
I ride lest we forget.
I ride because I care.
And because we ride, we are saving lives and doing what we will do to end AIDS.
MICHAEL FERRARA is a global banking and markets executive with Bank of America, based in Los Angeles.
The news cycle has been fast and furious since Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey over a week ago, and frustration with those who continue to support Trump under any circumstance is becoming more and more evident, as illustrated by Anderson Cooper’s recent remark. During an interview with conservative pundit and ardent Trump apologist, Jeffrey Lord, Anderson Cooper 360 host Cooper interjected with a statement that some of his viewers may have been thinking. Yet he’s since apologized for the sentiment, according to The Washington Post.
Lord, who refused to cop to Cooper about whether or not he thought it was “smart” for Trump to have allegedly called Comey a “nut job” in a meeting with Russian officials, towed the line for Trump to the point where Cooper lost his cool and said that if Trump “took a dump on his desk” Lord would continue to defend his actions.
Twitter blew up both in favor of and against Cooper’s remark, and the CNN host has since sincerely apologized for conjuring that particular image of Trump. On Twitter Cooper wrote that he regretted his “crude sentence” and he later apologized on air for being “unprofessional.”
Lord, a CNN analyst, sparred with Cooper Friday over recent revelations about Trump that have led to the appointment of a special prosecutor, Robert Mueller (who served as FBI director for 12 years) to investigate the extent of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. Defending Trump’s decision to tell Russian officials that he fired the FBI director whom he called a “nut job,” Lord told Cooper, “He’s the president of the United States. He can say what he wants.”
After more back and forth during which Lord continued to stand by his man, an exasperated Cooper finally said, “If he took a dump on his desk, you would defend it.” The AC 360 host followed that up with a backhanded compliment.
“I don’t know what he would do that you would not defend,” Cooper said. “You’re a loyal guy. I think that speaks well of you.”
Shortly after the exchange, Cooper tweeted, “I regret the crude sentence I spoke earlier tonight and followed it up by apologizing on air. It was unprofessional. I am genuinely sorry.”
The week prior, Cooper let out an eye roll at Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway during a discussion of the Comey firing. Of course, the eye roll went viral.
Watch Cooper’s exchange with Lord below.
Desperate for a “win,” House Republicans banded together to pass the much-derided American Health Care Act, which would repeal and replace Obamacare.
The bill squeaked through, with a 217-213 vote; no Democrats voted for the bill. What’s exceptional about the passage was that it happened without updated numbers from the Congressional Budget Office, which would tabulate the cost of the bill and how many people will gain or lose insurance as a result of it. The CBO analyzed the bill before several amendments were added, though; it found 24 million people would lose their insurance as a result of the previous version of the American Health Care Act.
The legislation now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it’s believed that it will be further modified. Aside from likely reducing Medicaid payments, the bill would allow states to opt out of Obamacare mandates that required coverage for mental health, maternity care, and prescription drugs. States will also be allowed to decide if insurers can deny coverage to those with preexisting conditions. Planned Parenthood, which provides health services to millions of women and transgender people, will see all its Medicaid funding stripped.
By gutting the Medicaid expansion and other benefits, the proposal could complicate PrEP access and promotion in the states that adopted the Medicaid expansion. If passed, the new bill will begin to eliminate money for the Medicad expansion in 2020, potentially blocking new applicants and access to critical medication.
Most health groups and LGBT organizations saw the passage as another Republican assault on low-income people and minorities.
“The U.S. House rammed through a destructive and dangerous bill that could strip away health insurance from millions of Americans, including many in the LGBTQ community,” GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis said in a press release.
“Healthcare is a human right, and no one should be denied access to care because of a preexisting condition or because a program like Planned Parenthood does not fit the ideology of one political party,” she added. “Now more than ever, it’s time to buckle down and keep fighting to protect the healthcare that the LGBTQ community deserves.”
Stephen Colbert has said he regretted his choice of words in a joke that some — mainly supporters of Donald Trump — called “homophobic,” but he doesn’t regret the overall Monday night monologue that took Trump to task.
In the monologue, which saw Colbert deliver a scathing critique of Trump’s first 100 days in office and the president’s rude treatment of CBS journalist John Dickerson, the Late Show host made a joke about oral sex between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying to Trump, “The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s cock holster.” The word “cock” was bleeped on television.
Tuesday and Wednesday, many Trump partisans used the hashtag #FireColbert in angry tweets that denounced the joke as homophobic. A few LGBT people and allies joined in the campaign, but many more of them co-opted the hashtag to express continued support for Colbert, himself a reliable ally, and say he is “on fire.”
Colbert addressed the matter on Wednesday night’s show. “Now, folks, if you saw my monologue Monday, you know that I was a little upset with Donald Trump for insulting a friend of mine,” he said, after exulting in still being the program’s host. “So, at the end of that monologue, I had a few choice insults for the president in return. I don’t regret that.”
“While I would do it again, I would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be,” he added. “I’m not going to repeat the phrase. But I just want to say, for the record, life is short, and anyone who expresses their love in their own way is to me an American hero. I think we can all agree on that.”
Watch The Washington Post’s annotated video below.
This season Saturday Night Live provided a weekly outlet for the madness that occurred up through the election and in its aftermath. And now that it’s on hiatus for the summer, its absence isn’t only tough on the viewing public. Kate McKinnon, who had a stellar year portraying Hillary Clinton, Kellyanne Conway, and most recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is having an especially difficult time without the outlet to weigh in on politics, she told Seth Meyers on his show just hours after Sessions testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding Russia’s interference with the 2016 election.
Of course, Meyers seized the opportunity to ask McKinnon to interpret the testimony as Sessions, whose actual testimony relied heavily on the “I can not recall” trope.
Happy for the opportunity to channel the events, McKinnon screwed up her mouth into Sessions’ weird tiny v-shaped mouth or “turtle mouth” as she explained it to Meyers, and began to deliver a series of one-liners based on Sessions’ testimony.
Skewering the AG’s inability to remember how many times he’d met the Russian ambassador McKinnon said, “…And Sergey Kislyak, I only met him two times. Okay, three times… But the third, the third time was in a men’s restroom and we was just talking about what a trial it is to get soap out of those electric soap dispensers.”
When questioned about why he failed to take any action when former FBI Director James Comey expressed concern about one-on-one conversations with Donald Trump, Sessions essentially told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Comey could handle himself. But McKinnon’s version of events was much more entertaining.
“As for Jim Comey, he asked me to keep Trump out of his way, and said I didn’t respond,” McKinnon said. “But the truth is, I didn’t hear him. Now, this guy’s about 6’8” and I had heard a sound above my head. I thought it was a cicada.”
Watch McKinnon take on Sessions below.
A woman who survived the attack at Pulse almost a year ago died Monday in a head-on collision in the Orlando area.
The death of Jahqui Sevilla is less than two weeks before the Orlando community comes together for a day of remembrance on June 12 honoring victims and survivors of the attack. Sevilla is the second survivor of the massacre to die for unrelated reasons afterward.
Sevilla, 20, died in a crash after losing control of her Mitsubishi Lancer, crossing the median of State Road 417, and crashing head-on into a Dodge Durango, according to Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Kim Montes. Soroya Matias-Roth, a 53-year-old woman driving the Durango, also died in the crash. Three other people in Matias-Roth’s vehicle sustained non-life-threatening injuries, according to a report from the Florida Highway Patrol.
Montes says alcohol was found in Sevilla’s vehicle, despite the fact the driver was too young to legally drink. Police await toxicology reports but suspect the crash was alcohol-related. Officials determined Sevilla was at fault in the crash.
Many of those in the Orlando community connected to the Pulse shooting mourned Sevilla on social media. “My heart is so broken with the loss of such a beautiful, pure soul,” Pulse owner Barbara Poma wrote on Facebook. “You are so loved, and I was blessed to have gotten the chance to be in your life.”
Pulse Orlando also posted about Sevilla: “Our hearts are heavier today but we will never forget that beautiful soul and how it lifted us in times of need. We are thinking of all of her loved ones during this difficult time.”
Sevilla had been at Pulse along with several other teammates with the Orlando Anarchy Women’s Football Team. Cory Connell, boyfriend to one of the members of the team, was killed in the attack. The Anarchy posted remembrances of Sevilla on Facebook following her death.
Sevilla’s online profile indicated she was a student at Orlando Medical Institute and worked at Universal Studios’ Cabana Bay Beach Resort. She originally hailed from Memphis, Tennessee.
Sevilla’s passing comes as Orlando and the Pulse community in particular prepare for a Day of Remembrance. Three vigils are scheduled at Pulse on June 12, a year after gunman Omar Mateen opened fire in a mass shooting before being killed by police. Besides the gunman, 49 others were killed and 68 were injured. A vigil was scheduled scheduled at 2:02 a.m. on June 12 this year to mark the moment the shooting began a year prior. It will be open only to survivors and family members of those killed in the attack. Two other vigils will be held later in the day.
Sevilla became the second person to survive the shooting only to die later for unrelated reasons. Chris Brodman, a 34-year man who was able to flee the club after the shooting began, died three months later at a party in Tampa. Brodman had a Pulse logo tattooed on his chest to remember victims of the attack. An autopsy later showed Brodman died of a rare brain aneurism, according to The Orlando Sentinel. Brodman’s death frequently gets acknowledged in Orlando references to the fallen as “49+1.”
Dozens of gay and bi men have been imprisoned, tortured, and even killed in the Russian province of Chechnya. While our own president has yet to speak out about the atrocities, people all over the world have called for action; specifically for Chechnya to end the terror and for other countries to provide refuge to the gay community there.
Human Rights First has compiled a video of international response to Chechnya, which features music from Melissa Etheridge. “Activists are underscoring the importance of international efforts to relocate the victims of these abuses, who continue to be persecuted throughout Russia,” Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord said in a statement. “As a country founded as a refuge to the persecuted, the United States must be part of efforts to provide safe haven to the victims of these horrific attacks.”
As the White House hunkers down in the midst of the expanding Russia scandal, press briefings are becoming less frequent and the once-daily sightings of press secretary Sean Spicer a thing of the past. When Rosie Gray, a reporter for The Atlantic, asked Trump adviser/despised Breitbart cofounder Steve Bannon why Spicer is no longer hosting daily briefings, she received this response:
“Sean got fatter.”
Well, isn’t that rich. Whether Bannon is speaking for himself or the president wasn’t clear, but many weren’t amused.
The White House using fat shaming to justify increased opacity. 2017. https://t.co/pWqupoAOXu
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) June 20, 2017
While Donald Trump himself is known to regularly denigrate the appearance of women (e.g., Rosie O’Donnell, former Miss Venezuela Alicia Machado), he’s also highly critical of how his male staffers present themselves. Trump reportedly did not approve of Spicer’s appearance during his first press briefing, and his look was sharpened after the president’s critiques.
Spicer did appear for Tuesday’s press briefing, and while he wasn’t asked about Bannon’s remark, he was questioned about his future with the communications department:
“It’s no secret we have had a couple vacancies, including our communications director who has been gone for a while. We have been seeking input from individuals as far as ideas they have. We have been meeting with potential people who may be of service to this administration. I don’t think that should come as a surprise. But we are always looking for ways to do a better job of articulating the president’s message and his agenda.”
A new gay bar in Vermont has changed its name after the old one caused a community wide conversation about transphobia.
The bar, announced earlier this year in Winooski, was called “Mister Sister.” Although the bar’s owner said his business is trans-inclusive, the name became the topic of a town hall meeting at the local LGBT center.
The bar’s owner announced a name change this week when he said it became clear that the name “Mister Sister” was bringing out transphobia from others.
“A trans woman wrote me a kind letter and explained that the problem here is much bigger than myself or the name of the bar,” wrote Craig McGaughan on the bar’s Facebook page. “She sent me link to many messages from folks claiming to support MS using public forums to create hate toward the trans community. I am a trans ally and when faced with the fact that this issue has created a platform for trans people to be blatantly abused, I had to act.”
The Pride Center also reported that it had observed a “resurgence of violently transphobic sentiments.”
“I’m outraged that anyone has attacked the trans community under the guise of supporting me or the bar,” wrote McGaughan.
Two board members resigned from The Pride Center when it did not immediately condemn the bar’s original name, instead calling for the town hall and further discussion. The former board members called the name “hate speech,” reports the Burlington Free Press. The newspaper said some supporters of the bar saw the name as an inclusive term from the history of the LGBT movement.
Instead of getting further locked into two warring sides, McGaughan said a change was needed.
“I realize now that I mistakenly listened to the fight rather than the pain,” he wrote on Facebook. “I apologize to anyone that feels personally affected by the actions of myself or the bar. I’m choosing to forgive and would ask for forgiveness in return.”
The Pride Center’s executive director, Susan Hartman, told WFFF the community welcomes the name change. She said some considered the old name “an innocent funny little phrase” but “many people have been harmed deeply by it, and that was a message we needed to hear.”
Abounding Prosperity, a Dallas LGBT center that primarily serves black gay and bi men and transgender women, was damaged Friday morning in a fire that investigators say was the work of an arsonist.
A back office at Abounding Prosperity’s building was gutted, and there was heavy smoke damage to rest of the structure, Dallas TV station WFAA reports.
Dallas-Fire Rescue officials said the fire appears to have been intentionally set. The arsonist apparently broke through the center’s back gates and used an accelerant to start the fire. Witnesses said they saw a man driving erratically away from the site about 6 a.m. Friday. Police and fire authorities are still searching for suspects.
The center, which operates out of a renovated home, provides counseling, medical, and STD prevention services to an estimated 2,000 people each year and seeks to address health, social, and economic disparities affecting queer black men. Its services are on hold while the staff deals with the fire damage
One of its clients, Marcus Simpson, has been relying on Abounding Prosperity since he was a teenager. Whoever committed the arson is “a monster,” he told WFAA. “I mean, to see them do something like this in a small community that’s trying to help build the community, it’s sad.”
Although authorities are unsure of the arsonist’s motives, Abounding Prosperity CEO Kirk Myers told the station he believes the perpetrator wanted to intimidate the people the center serves. “You know where my mind immediately goes is that the political climate in the world we’re living in today is creating an atmosphere where this sort of activity could be acceptable in someone’s mind,” Myers said. Before the incident, the center had not received any specific threats, he said.
Kevin Carnell is more than just an Instagram star (with nearly 80,000 followers). The 25-year old is also an activist — seen biking at the 2015 and 2016 AIDS/LifeCycle wearing only a small, tight Speedo and a smile. Carnell ended up raising $10,000 for people with HIV while on the ride. Expect him again next year too. But don’t let his sexy snaps fool you. Carnell wasn’t always so confident.
After dealing with low self-esteem and poor body image all his life, Carnell finally came out five years ago, explaining to The Advocate that he wanted to find a way to love himself and embrace who he was without the sexual attention of others.
“I would sleep with [guys], using my body with the hopes of being desired and kept — only to be tossed aside for the next best thing. It wasn’t the best decision, but it was something that I needed to learn.”
He goes on to say that his fitness journey came about by making a promise to himself that he’s worth more.
“If I wanted to be happy with how I viewed myself, I needed to set a goal and start from within,” he admits. “[Fitness] shaped how I saw myself, without the input or advice from others. When I see myself every morning, I only have one person to answer to, one person to compare myself to, and one person to impress. It was never about having the perfect body. It was about having the perfect mind-set for how I viewed my body.”
He says he looks back at “old photos of myself and I’m so happy to see my journey … I’m happiest knowing I was able to chisel the way I viewed myself and value the importance of my self-worth, aside from sexual attention. I don’t have a goal weight, goal bench press max, etc. I push myself to the limits I am comfortable with and go off of how I feel. Our bodies and our time on this earth are temporary, so I’m looking to make the most of it.”
You’re not alone in needing a break from the news. That’s the message in the latest Orbitz ad, released today and starring one of the most adored news breaks on the internet: Randy Rainbow.
The Advocate has been a fan of Mr. Rainbow at least since 2016, when we wrote that “Political Provocateur Randy Rainbow Is the Best Thing About the Election.” In his new ad, the out comedian sings an original song, joined by the likes of Bianca Del Rio and Margaret Cho. Watch the very LGBT-inclusive travel ad, “Come See the Great Big World,” in the video below.
The head of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, who is also the woman who organized the meeting between campus sexual assault survivors and advocates and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Candice Jackson, apologized Thursday to survivors for borderline rape denial comments she previously made, according to Politico. But she fell short of apologizing for also inviting men’s rights groups that include rape denialists to speak with DeVos regarding Title IX guidance for students, families, and institutions on the topic of sexual assault.
Jackson, an attorney and a sexual assault survivor who, during the election, helped organize meetings between women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault and Donald Trump, an accused rapist and a man who admitted to grabbing women without consent, deeply offended survivors when she told The New York Times, “The accusations [of campus sexual assault] — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.'”
Jackson issued a written apology that said her statement “poorly characterized the conversations I’ve had with countless groups of advocates. What I said was flippant, and I am sorry.”
But her apology was not enough for survivors and advocates. “There’s no way to take it back, unfortunately,” Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women’s Law Center, told Politico. “It’s been put out there. The only thing they can do now is exercise the leadership and spending a lot of time rejecting the rape myths they propagated this week.”
While the meeting between survivors and DeVos reportedly last 15 minutes longer than scheduled, and each woman was afforded an opportunity to share her story, the fact remains that the Education secretary also carved out time to hear the stories of former students who’d been accused of rape who were accompanied by the men’s rights groups the National Coalition for Men and the Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), an unrepentant group of rape denialists that espouses the belief that rape is a hoax.
“It’s hard to share your story in any environment, but when you hear the sort of rape myths put out there from a department official, they still came and shared their stories,” Graves told Politico regarding the meeting. “The reason they’re willing to come here today is because they’re deeply worried we are going to roll back all the progress we’ve made.”
Orlando officials rallied this morning around the rainbow flag and remembered the 49 victims of the Pulse shooting that occurred this day last year.
As the Orlando Gay Chorus prepared to sing at a midday vigil at Pulse, which has been closed since the attack, a ceremony was held Monday morning in front of the Orange County Administration Center in downtown Orlando and marked the first Orlando United Day. There, a segment of the Sea-to-Sea Rainbow Flag, sewn by late flag maker Gilbert Baker and once draped across the entirety of Key West, Fla., was unfurled on the outside of the building.
“I can tell you candidly 10 years ago we would never be able to fly this flag or we would not be able to do it without a flood of outrage,” Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said.
The decision to fly the flag Monday incited one phone call of complaint in a community of 1.3 million, Jacobs said, and two protestors showed up to protest the government’s “complicity” in “scandal” by flying the flag, but the move widely was applauded in the Orlando area. Mark Ebonhoch, executive director of LoveIsLove Key West and the steward of the flag in recent years, lost his friend Eddie Sotomayor Jr. in the attack last year. He believed Baker would be honored to see the flag fly in Orlando, and noted Baker’s satisfaction last year when the flag flew days after the attack.
At a vigil midday, Florida U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said that while terrorists aim to damage American society, the attack last year, which ISIS claimed credit for, only served to make it stronger. “Isn’t it interesting that it had the opposite effect?” he said at the vigil. “It brought us together in unity and love.”
Those comments were echoed by U.S. Rep. Val Demings, a Democrat representing the Orlando area. “We will always be Orlando Strong,” she said. “Hate is not welcome and will never be.”
Since taking office in January, Donald Trump has proven time and time again with his Tweets that he’s a wiz at dissembling, deflecting, and projection. One of his frequent, seemingly favorite targets is Hillary Clinton, considering how much blame he’s laid at her feet in during his 140-character tantrums. But early Monday he trained his obsession with the Clinton family on daughter Chelsea Clinton, and she clapped right back with a cheerful yet searing response on Twitter.
News outlets and Twitter users began to call out the rather unusual precedent he set by allowing his daughter, Ivanka Trump, a woman who was not elected president and who lacks the experience and background, to sit in for him with world leaders during the G20 Summit, the BBC reports. Trump doubled down and not only refused to acknowledge that seating Ivanka between the British prime minister and the Chinese president while he left the room was problematic around issues of diplomacy, but he lashed out on Twitter and dragged Hillary and Chelsea Clinton into something that had nothing to do with them.
If Chelsea Clinton were asked to hold the seat for her mother,as her mother gave our country away, the Fake News would say CHELSEA FOR PRES!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2017
To back up his assertion that he’d done nothing wrong asking Ivanka to be privy to the conversations of world leaders while he purportedly met one-on-one with the Indonesian president, he pulled German Chancellor Angela Merkel into the conversation.
When I left Conference Room for short meetings with Japan and other countries, I asked Ivanka to hold seat. Very standard. Angela M agrees!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2017
But Chelsea Clinton, who enjoys a strong Twitter presence and who actually earned a Ph.D. in international relations from Oxford, was not about to allow Trump’s speculation about how her mother would have seated her at the G20 summit to stand. Not only did she call him out for his gross assertions in the nicest way possible, she also fired off a zinger that called him out for possibly doing damage to the country while Ivanka was handed the keys to the kingdom.
Good morning Mr. President. It would never have occurred to my mother or my father to ask me. Were you giving our country away? Hoping not. https://t.co/4ODjWZUp0c
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) July 10, 2017
Trump has not repsonded to Chelsea Clinton’s Tweet, but it’s still only Monday.
Activist Desiree Fairooz was convicted in May of disorderly and disruptive conduct and for acting unlawfully on Capitol grounds for laughing during Jeff Sessions’s Senate confirmation hearing for attorney general, but a judge in Washington, D.C,. threw out the conviction Friday and ordered a new trial, according to Buzzfeed News.
Fairooz, 61, was arrested January 10 for bursting out in laughter when Republican Sen. Richard Shelby remarked on Sessions’s “clear and well-documented” record of “treating all Americans equally under the law.”
Detailing the arrest that occurred during the Sessions hearing, Fairooz said she was with fellow activists Tighe Barry and Lenny Bianchi, who were also arrested and convicted. They had already been removed from the room by the time a rookie police officer attempted to force Fairooz from the premises, reports HuffPost. As officers hauled her out of the room she shouted, “Do not vote for Jeff Sessions,” which the foreperson of the jury that found her guilty said was the reason she was arrested. However, she would not have been forcibly removed from the room if she hadn’t been caught laughing.
Before Chief Judge Robert Morin vacated the conviction and granted a motion for a new trial Friday, Fairooz faced a possible sentence of up to one year in prison and a $2,000 fine.
Morin tossed out the conviction when prosecutors said in closing arguments that “laughter alone was enough to merit a conviction,” Fairooz’s attorney Samuel Bogash told Buzzfeed News.
“What [Morin] said was that the laughter alone was legally insufficient to convict someone of disorderly or disruptive behavior on Capitol grounds, or disrupting Congress,” Bogash said. “He doesn’t know whether they convicted her for a legally sufficient reason or a legally insufficient reason.”
An activist and mom from Arlington, Texas, Fairooz amped up her resistance with the women-led activist group Code Pink, formed in 2003 to oppose George W. Bush’s Iraq war, and has since protested with the group on countless occasions. She’s been arrested up to eight times for protesting previously (usually with the knowledge that her protest was actionable).
A status hearing for Fairooz has been scheduled for September 1, according to Buzzfeed News.
Two Democrats in Congress have introduced a bill that would allow same-sex couples married before the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down to file amended federal tax returns for additional years, possibly bringing many of them refunds.
After DOMA’s section 3, barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, same-sex couples could file joint federal tax returns for the first time. President Obama directed his administration to let married same-sex couples file amended returns for previous years to the extent allowed by law, which meant those who believe they would have received a refund if filing jointly in 2010, 2011, or 2012 could submit an amended one.
The Refund Equality Act, introduced today by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Richard Neal, would let couples file amended returns back to the date of their marriage. That would bring them access to an estimated $67 million in refunds, said the lawmakers, both from Massachusetts, which in 2004 became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.
“For nearly a decade, legally married same-sex couples had to file their taxes as single persons, often paying more taxes than they would owe if they could file as married,” Warren said in a press release. “This bill is a simple fix to allow same-sex couples to claim the tax refunds they earned but were denied because of who they love.”
“All legally married couples in this country deserve to be treated equally,” added Neal. “This bill would codify into law an important correction that would enable same-sex married couples to go back and claim the tax refunds and credits for which they qualify. The Supreme Court has ruled as such, and now it’s time for Congress to act and make sure all Americans are treated with the fairness and equality they deserve under the law.”
Thirty senators and 39 House members, almost all Democrats, are cosponsoring the legislation. Not all married same-sex couples would benefit from its passage — those in which both spouses have similar incomes would likely not receive a greater refund by filing jointly rather than separately, the Washington Blade notes. But others would see larger ones.