Friday, March 23, 2018

ACLU Colorado: The most blatant attack on LGBTQ rights Colorado has seen in years

A group of Colorado legislators recently introduced one of the most blatantly anti-LGBTQ bills our state has seen in years and one of the most harmful attacks on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people that we have ever seen.

This so-called "Live and Let Live Act" (HB 1206) goes as far, if not farther, than the infamous Amendment 2 in 1992 that resulted in Colorado getting a reputation as the "Hate State."

The House Judiciary Committee will hear HB 1206 on Tuesday, March 27. Contact the committee and urge them to reject this extreme attempt to take our state backwards on LGBTQ rights.

HB 1206 would roll back protections for LGBTQ Coloradans and their families in nearly every facet of their lives. For example, it would:

• Allow a business to fire an LGBTQ employee just because of who they are.

• Allow LGBTQ people to be excluded from homeless shelters, housing, family emergency services, and more.

• Invite employers to discriminate against transgender people by adopting exclusionary dress codes and policies with respect to bathroom or locker room facilities.

• Allow businesses open to the public to discriminate against same-sex couples seeking commercial services for weddings that those businesses provide to other couples in Colorado.

•Allow government officials to pick and choose who to serve, by denying marriage licenses or other services to same-sex couples.

•Allow mental health providers, even school counselors, to refuse care to LGBTQ Coloradans.

• Allow healthcare providers to deny necessary care to transgender Coloradans.

This bill would do harm to even the most vulnerable children in our state, by promoting discrimination in the areas of foster care and adoption. Even if a same-sex couple or LGBTQ person offers a healthy, stable, and happy family to a child in the foster care system, an agency could turn them away and deny that child a home simply because the agency objects to the family, regardless of the child’s best interests.

This bill doesn’t reflect Colorado values. It’s a mean-spirited attempt to add hate and discrimination to our laws, and the legislature should reject it.

Contact the House Judiciary Committee today. Urge them to vote NO on HB 1206.- via ACLU Colorado

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Stonewall Fitness: Denver LGBTQ+ Weightlifting Club

The Denver LGBTQ+ Weightlifting Club strives to help empower people by building confidence, self esteem and community support through developing skills and training for competitive Powerlifting and Olympic Lifting.

Every week they get together to learn and practice how to lift properly, maximizing safety through good form and loads appropriate for each persons' own fitness and experience. The lifts we practice are based on 2 disciplines, Powerlifting (Bench Press, Squat, Deadlift) and Olympic Lifting (Clean and Jerk, Snatch).

The group is open to all. No experience necessary with all instruction and coaching provided by Coach Dirk. Practices are every Sunday at 10am at Gym Uptown on 1900 Grant St. $15 Drop In. Join them on Facebook for up to date announcements, events and competitions.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Sissy That Bot: RuPaul's Drag Race Facebook Messenger Bot

It’s time to Spill the T! In advance of the Season 10 premiere of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” TONIGHT at 8/7c on VH1, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” wants to deliver a fan-first experience that will make all Drag Race viewers say, “yas gawd!”

“Sissy That Bot,” a Facebook messenger chat bot, available now, will enable all 2 million+ Facebook fans to check out and interact with:

· The Drag-O-Pedia, a complete database of information on ALL seasons of Drag Race and All Stars

· A random GIF generator from seasons past

· Queen Roulette, which will provide fun facts about fan-favorite Queens

· Bot exclusive social videos, quizzes, contests and polls

The biggest fans can also werk to find hidden easter eggs on the bot! The bot will constantly be updated, so the most gag-worthy moments from Season 10 will live on in “Sissy That Bot” herstory.

Don’t forgot to tune in tonight and consecutive Thursday nights at 8/7c on VH1 for new episodes of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” followed by “RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked” at 9:30/8:30c.

National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund: Make sure you’re on record

By Meghan Maury, Policy Director, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund

Imagine going to your doctor’s office for your annual check-up and before you even get into the exam room, you’re asked to leave. Your doctor will no longer accept you as a patient.


Because you’re gay. Or transgender. Or even a woman.

You search online for another doctor, but, in your local community, no healthcare professional will take you as a patient.

We all thought that this kind of discrimination ended years ago. But, if the Trump administration and its notoriously bigoted departments get their way, it could become your reality.

Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed a rule that would allow healthcare providers to insert a giant religious and moral exemption into all of their healthcare programs.

In other words, healthcare professionals could deny care to LGBTQ people. All under the guise of “religious or moral” rights.

We can fight this rule. We just have to get enough people to tell HHS that the law is hurtful, discriminatory, and just plain wrong. Add your name and story to the comments here.

There are only a few more days left for comments. So please hurry!

Help us stop this “license to discriminate” in healthcare. Let HHS know that no one should be denied care for being who they are.

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Forced Anal Examinations for Gay Men are Stopped in Kenya

Today, a Court of Appeals in Kenya, led by a 5 judge bench, ruled that forced anal examinations are contrary to the law. Forced anal examinations have largely been used to “prove” whether or not a man is homosexual in countries where homosexuality is criminalized. This practice has been decried by organizations across the globe as dehumanizing and as amounting to torture, not to mention being discredited by the scientific community as holding no value as proof.

The case came to the courts after two suspected gay men were arrested in 2015 and forced to undergo both anal examinations and HIV tests, in order to determine if they had engaged in consensual intercourse.

The men were represented by the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) in Kenya, a leading LGBTIQ organization providing pro bono legal services to many in the community.

In a press release disseminated by NGLHRC, Njeri Gateru, Head of Legal Affairs, said,
“We are thankful that the Appeal Court has put Kenyan citizens’ rights first. With this ruling, the judges are saying that we all deserve to be treated with dignity and afforded our basic rights, as enshrined in the Kenyan Constitution.”

Currently, under Kenya’s Penal Code, same-sex behavior is criminalized, with a penalty of up to 14 years in prison. Currently, Kenya’s High Court is considering a case that could decriminalize homosexuality, the next court hearing will be on April 26th.

While this is good news for Kenya, other countries continue to implement this practice. With ongoing and increasing crackdowns on LGBTIQ people, reportedly both Egyptian and Tanzanian authorities have forced alleged gay men to undergo anal exams.

Jessica Stern, Executive Director, OutRight Action International, comments on the ruling,
“Forced anal examinations amount to torture, and no one should ever be exposed to such a degrading and dehumanizing experience. The Kenyan Courts ruled in favor of international law and in favor of human dignity. Other countries should follow suit and put an end to this discredited practice.”

Are You Gay With Something To Say? Bloggers Wanted For Denver's Best Gay Blog!

Are you a new or experienced writer or blogger? Do you want to be? Or maybe you're just some gay guy with something to say? Well, what better forum for you than MileHighGayGuy?

MileHighGayGuy is looking for regular and guest bloggers to write about local news and events, do music and movie reviews, or write opinion or feature pieces from a gay perspective.

These are unpaid positions but offer the opportunity to be published in Colorado's Best Gay Blog (2010, 2011, 2012 OUTstanding Awards, Denver 2012 #WebAwards), expand your audience and gain valuable experience. There's also swag available in the form of free movie and concert tickets, music, books and other cool stuff.

If interested, shoot an email over to Drew Wilson at And if you've got column or story ideas to pitch, this is the place to do it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

PFAW: More Anti-LGBTQ Talk from Ben Carson Points to HUD’s Disregard for Marginalized Communities

When questioned about a decision to remove HUD training materials involving equal access for transgender homeless people during a congressional committee hearing yesterday, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson expressed concerns about transgender people in homeless shelters, saying that some people were made uncomfortable by their presence.

In response to this news, People For the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker issued the following statement:

"Ben Carson’s comments about people being made uncomfortable by transgender people is more evidence of the discriminatory stance against the LGBTQ community and marginalized communities from Trump administration HUD officials. This is a disturbing move away from the department’s original purpose to administer fair housing and help the homeless.

“Carson’s remarks about housing for transgender people, along with efforts to hide discriminatory policy changes from the public and to remove anti-discrimination language from HUD’s website, paint a very disturbing picture of this agency’s priorities under the Trump administration.

"This is why PFAW filed suit against HUD concerning its removal of important material helping LGBTQ homeless people from HUD’s website and why PFAW’s Right Wing Watch filed FOIA requests for information concerning efforts to write LGBTQ people out of federal agency programs and activities.

“There is no principled reason why HUD should undermine the LGBTQ community’s equal access to safe, secure, and fair housing. That agenda stands in stark contrast to the reason this agency was created.”

The news comes weeks after People For the American Way filed suit against HUD and the Justice Department to force the agencies to release documents about reported actions they have taken to remove materials concerning LGBTQ people from their websites. It is also just two weeks after PFAW’s Right Wing Watch filed a FOIA request to make public a copy of the leaked HUD memo showing that the agency plans to remove anti-discrimination language from its mission statement.

Raise Your Voice: Religious Liberty is Not a License to Discriminate

By Louise Melling,
ACLU Deputy Legal Director

Religious liberty is not a license to discriminate and harm. Yet Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services wants to let health care providers use their religious beliefs to justify turning away patients in need. This is a betrayal of the department’s own mission, and it could have disastrous consequences – particularly for women and LGBT patients.
The department is taking public comments on this proposed rule – which means they must consider and respond to our opinions. We have a short window to mount overwhelming opposition to this rule and stop it from taking effect.
Raise your voice loud and clear: Leave a public comment and tell Health and Human Services not to put religion over medical standards.
This proposed rule, if it were adopted, could have serious repercussions for patients seeking treatment like abortions, HIV treatment, or gender-confirming surgery to which some people – like extremist Vice President Mike Pence – might object. Here are just some of the ways the proposed rule could hurt patients:

  • Pregnant women experiencing miscarriages or other serious pregnancy complications could be refused abortion care even when the woman’s life is at risk, and even when the fetus has no chance of survival.
  • Health providers could discriminate against transgender patients seeking medically necessary care.
  • Hospital staff could refuse to sign in patients seeking abortions, to assist patients in any way before getting sterilizations, or even provide any information about medical conditions and treatment options.

Submit a public comment now and we’ll deliver it to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Department of Health and Human Services should be protecting our health, not proposing rules that could hurt the health and lives of women, trans people, LGB people, people living with HIV, and others seeking critical care.

We’ve already taken legal action for patients hurt by similar discriminatory policies – and if this rule goes into effect, then we’ll see the Trump administration in court. But let’s get to work now to stop this license to discriminate in its tracks.

Know Your Colorado Farmer

Colorado is a bountiful agricultural destination where travelers connect with the land, learn about their food, and get their hands dirty on the farm. Colorado ranks fourth in the nation for Agritourism, with 864 farms and ranches opening their doors to offer visitors overnight stays, educational classes, dining, and hands-on ranch work programs. The farmer has become the educator, the hostess, the provider, the historian, the tour guide, and even the brewer or winemaker.
Here are some agritourism offerings all set to bring travelers up-close and personal with the farmers while creating memorable experiences of Colorado:
AG CLASSES: Many farms open their doors to educational and whole-learning workshops. Sustainable Settings offers biodynamic agricultural programs as well as composting, beekeeping, soap-making, cultured vegetable fermentation, and kids sustainability workshops. Three Leaf Farm offer herbal medicine-making workshops including salves and tinctures, along with crafts and arts. Mountain Goat Lodge offers cheese-making—a hands-on guide to varieties such as feta, chevre, fresh mozzarella or paneer as well as goat husbandry.  Lyons Farmette offers spring gardening, flower-growing, vermicomposting through to more artisan subjects like calligraphy and knitting or cocktails with bitters. Cure Organic Farm offers a range of fiber art classes including farm-fresh botanical dyeing.   
SHOP THE FARMER’S MARKET: Colorado is home to 156 farmer’s markets, and readers of USA Today and 10Best recently named the Boulder Farmers Market the “Best Farmers’ Market in the U.S.” Grab some fresh goodies and take a seat next to the babbling Boulder Creek or on the shady lawn and enjoy. All products at the Larimer County Farmers' Market in Fort Collins market are grown, produced or made by the local vendors themselves. Pick up authentic Polish dumplings from Baba and Pop’s Handmade Pierogi or all-natural mustache wax from Colorado Beard Co. The sprawling Vail Farmers' Market has more than 135 tents and a pleasing county-fair flair. Vendors include Alpenrose, offering delicious Belgian-style pastries and desserts. Southeastern Colorado’s high elevations, along with hot summer days and cool evenings, facilitate a flawless environment for meaty, zesty Pueblo chilies to thrive. Pick up a batch or two to roast at the El Pueblo Farmers Market, along with other super-fresh goods.
CHEFS-TURNED-FARMERS: Taking farm-to-table to the next level, these culinary masters have also become stewards of the land. Chef Alex Seidel of Fruition, Mercantile Dining & Provision in Denver operates Fruition Farms in Larkspur, a sheep farm which provides rich milk for three distinct kinds of cheeses that are used in Seidel’s restaurants and available at specialty retail shops. A partnership between Chef Bradford Heap and Full Circle Farms’ owner Dave Asbury led to the Soul Patch in Longmont, a 15-acre experimental plot for growing lettuce, vegetables, and specialty crops, which feature on the menus at Colterra in Niwot; SALT the Bistro and Wild Standard in Boulder. Eric Skokan of Bramble & Hare and Black Cat in Boulder is raising pigs, sheep, and chickens on the 130-acre Black Cat Farm outside of Boulder, and a huge variety of produce is used both in the restaurants’ kitchens and sold at the Boulder Farmers’ Market. Black Cat Farm is the first certified biodynamic farm-to-table operation in the nation. At The Home Ranch in Clark, chef Clyde Nelson had dreamed of having a farm at this dude ranch, and the results of his vision, now overseen by Jonathon Gillespie, include on-site organic gardens, a greenhouse and, ranch-raised livestock. Mike Gillespie grew up on The Living Farm outside of Paonia, which has been in his family for generations and allows him to pair his culinary training with the freshest ingredients possible.
STAY AT THE FARM: Colorado farms and ranches are opening their doors to travelers looking for genuine experiences that can include a range of non-required activities from cheese-making to picking dinner’s veggies, butchery classes to group picnics and shoeing horses to just a (delicious!) bed-and-breakfast stay. Zapata Ranch, A Nature Conservancy Preserve  sits on 103,000 acres in southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley, combining gourmet cuisine, nature hikes, yoga sessions and guided fly-fishing excursions with the slightly less glamorous — but most enlightening— activities of moving grass-fed cattle, monitoring bison-herd health, mending fences, irrigating farmland and learning about land conservation. Visit during special themed weeks focused on photography, horsemanship, painting, and butchering. Badger Creek Ranch is a working cattle and guest ranch, offering guests a glimpse into an "old fashioned" lifestyle that is becoming recognized as a new way of creating sustainability, moving cattle through pasture rotations timed to create impact on the land that mimics the patterns and impact the herds of bison would have had in the past. Mesa Winds Farm & Winery invites guests to wake up to the sight of dewy peaches, apples, grapes, and cherries glistening in the sun at the Mesa Wind Farm & Winery in Hotchkiss. There’s a chance to pitch in around the farm by prepping peaches for pressing into wine, helping with the grape harvest, weeding and raking, or pruning in the orchards, or picking and sorting tree fruit. Colorado Cattle Company is located at Carr Ranch, a 10,000-acre working ranch in New Raymer, where visitors learn the rancher’s life, helping with any cattle work or learning new horseman and roping skills at “cowboy school”. 
MEET YOUR FARMER: Sometimes there’s a chance to meet the face behind the produce. Many Colorado farmers are innovative leaders in their fields, often with a fascinating background story. Garden Sweet Farm, located in North Fort Collins, is a small sustainable farm that is a staple in the local food scene overseen by Amy Kafka, the "Strawberry Queen" who is known for her delectable berries, and Ryan Wilson who is passionate about maintaining a healthy farm ecosystem.  Together they are known for their high quality, pesticide-free, fresh produce. Mark Guttridge operates Ollin Farms which is a family-run sustainable farm. Their goal is to produce top quality farm products with minimum impact on the surrounding environment. Their bio-nutrient farming model is founded on getting the right nutrients, in the right proportions into an active, living soil. Former biochemist, now lavender farmer, Dr. Cindy Jones formulated Colorado Aromatics Skin Care Line for the outdoor lifestyle. As a biochemist and herbalist, she had a good handle on the physiology of skin and what it needed as well as what herbs could contribute to the needs of the skin. Fred Dorenkamp is a former pro-rodeo rider, and together with his wife, Norma, they welcome guests at Arena Dust Tours, in search of a rural getaway to stay in their home in Lamar. Aside from bird watching, wildlife viewing, and chuck-wagon dinners, guests are offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to see prairie chickens. Having established strong relationships with private landowners who host the chickens, the Dorenkamps offer Lesser Prairie Chicken Tours every April.  
TAKE A TOUR, PICK A PUMPKIN: There are many ways to visit the many farms that are eager to teach people about agriculture during the fall season. Learn the differences between conventional and organic farming on a stroll through Aloha Organic Fruit peach orchards, see how water is brought to the trees from the Colorado River and shop the farm store. Make a day of it driving through the southwest region and hit up all the U-pick farms in Mesa Verde Country. Stock up on apples, herbs, pumpkins, corn, and squash or consider stopping by a quirky alpaca farm. Meet the farm’s chickens, ducks and two cute pigs named Bacon Bits and Pancetta at Berry Patch Farms, Brighton. The harvest season beings plenty of opportunities for farm fun. Pumpkin picking, hayrides, mazes and other activities make for the perfect fall day. More than just a maze, Fritzler’s Corn Maize in Greeley, delights with a mini-rollercoaster ride, pillow jump, duck races, pumpkin canons, go-carts and a haunted maze at night. Colon Orchards in Cañon City has not one but two corn mazes, along with hayrides and pumpkin picking in the heart of the Arkansas River Valley. 
SMALL TOWN FOOD FESTIVALS: Many Colorado communities have summer festivals dedicated to the crops that have been increasing the profile of the state’s farm-to-table restaurants. Paonia Cherry Days piles the festivities high with a 5k run, “Cherry Days’ Got Talent” contest coal-shoveling and wood-splitting contents, July Fourth parade and much more. The corn from Olathe is often described as melt-in-your-mouth tender and the Olathe Sweet Corn Festival celebrates just that. A slathering of butter would only compromise what Colorado’s sun and soil have already perfected. Find out what makes people speak so rapturously about it at the festival’s sweet-corn-eating contest. The Telluride Mushroom Festival is scheduled for a time when mushroom growth is at its peak, hundreds of mycophiles descend on Telluride to soak up technical mushroom science, embark on mushroom-hunting excursions, taste the fruits of the hunt at a cook-off and more. Greeley’s annual Potato Day celebration goes beyond feasting on the versatile spud with living history activities like blacksmithing and adobe brick making, swing dancers, live music and appearances by the Potato King and Queen. The Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival is a great chance to taste of pride of Pueblo: a special, intensely flavorful variety of green chile. Served smoking on a stick, chopped and tucked into a quesadilla or sprinkled in salsa, it’s the star of this show.
FIELD DINING: Farmers are teaming-up with local chefs to serve seasonal menus in the farm itself, which also provides a truly memorial and atmospheric setting. Meadow Lark Farm rotate locations throughout Boulder County all summer-long using each host farm to serve up ingredients at the evening’s dinner table. A Grazing Life brings local farmers together with live entertainment for a unique field-dining experience in Black Forest. There are Sunday brunches, and family tour picnic days as well as sell-out dinner series from spring to fall. James Ranch in Durango opens the barn doors every Thursday during the summer to host Band and Burger night, using ingredients sourced from the ranch. Picnic blankets are recommended, guests can sit back and enjoy local music while taking in view of the 400-acre ranch.  
DRINK AT THE FARM: It’s not hard to find a good local libation across Colorado, with more craft brewers and distillers connecting with in-state farmers for their ingredients. Or, it’s the farmers themselves doing the brewing or winemaking.  Big B’s Delicious Orchards have become leaders of Colorado’s Western Slopes cider industry and the farm features a tasting room. Jack Rabbit Hill Farm is a 70-acre certified organic farm in the North Fork Valley which produces a full range of wines, craft spirits—including the award-winning CapRock gin, plus single orchard ciders and perries. Marble Distilling Company offer guided tours (via helicopter!) to meet the third generation of Nieslanik ranchers who grow white wheat, rye and triticale (a naturally-occurring wheat-rye hybrid) for Marble’s spirits. Whiskey Sisters Supply of Burlington, a farm founded in 1912 as a homestead, is now overseen by the next generation of the family which is working directly to supply heritage grains to Colorado’s craft beverage industry, including Laws Whisky and Leopold Bros. 

Hamilton: 2,700 Denver Students and Teachers Will Attend Performance at The Buell Theatre

The innovative educational program that debuted at HAMILTON on Broadway will continue in Denver (Denver Center for the Performing Arts) on Wednesday, March 21 when 2,700 students and teachers from 38  Denver area high schools attend the matinee performance of the musical at The Buell Theatre. 

The March 21 all-student matinee performance in Denver will provide more than 2,700 Denver area high school students the opportunity to experience the musical HAMILTON after having spent several weeks in their classrooms studying American history through a special integrated curriculum about Alexander Hamilton and the nation’s Founding Fathers. 

In addition to seeing a performance of HAMILTON, students will participate in a Q&A with members of the HAMILTON cast.  As well, students representing various schools in attendance will perform an original work they created based on their classroom studies – songs, rap, poetry, scenes, monologues – on The Buell Theatre stage in front of their peers.  

The Hamilton Education Program is one of several history education programs at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Its president, James G. Basker -- who devised the education program in New York in tandem with HAMILTON creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, producer Jeffrey Seller, The Rockefeller Foundation and the NYC Department of Education -- adds, “This project is transformative. HAMILTON has struck a chord with our nation’s students because it embodies what great history education is all about: bringing the past to life, and fostering connections with the exceptional individuals and moments that have made us who we are. This program empowers students to reclaim their own narrative and empowers teachers to bridge classroom learning with the stage.”

HAMILTON producer Jeffrey Seller, who was instrumental in developing the HAMILTON Education Program, says about the program in Denver, “Our goal is to ensure that students have a shot to see HAMILTON and use its words, music and staging to further their understanding and enjoyment of American History, music and drama. We’ve had the pleasure of expanding the education program outside of New York in Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities around the country.”

Dr. Rajiv Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation said “After the initial success of the partnership in New York City we could not throw away our shot to ensure students across the United States had the opportunity to witness living breathing history. We look forward to seeing the creativity and engagement this program continues to spur.” ‘

Google has worked with the HAMILTON producers to make tickets for this educational partnership available thanks to funding from their philanthropic arm,

"Google is proud to work with Hamilton Education Program and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to bring Hamilton to thousands of students in the Denver community. The play shares a critical piece of American history and it's especially important for high school students to be engaged in civic learning and have a deep understanding of our country's past so they can make informed decisions about its future," says Gerardo Interiano, Head of External Affairs for Colorado. 

Schools participating in the March 21 program include:

  • Alameda International High School
  • Arapahoe Ridge High School
  • Atlas Preparatory School
  • Bruce Randolph High School
  • Denver School of Science and Technology Green Valley Ranch High School
  • Denver South High School
  • DSST: College View High School
  • Early College Academy
  • Emily Griffith High School
  • Global Leadership Academy
  • Harrison High School
  • High Tech Early College
  • John F. Kennedy High School
  • Justice High School
  • KIPP Denver Collegiate High School
  • KIPP Northeast Denver Leadership Academy
  • Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy
  • Legacy Options High School
  • Manual High School
  • Mapleton Early College High School
  • Moffat School (K-12)
  • Monte Vista High School
  • Noel Community Arts School
  • North High School
  • Northglenn High School
  • Overland High School
  • RiseUp Community School
  • Sheridan High School
  • Sierra High School
  • Strive Prep RISE
  • STRIVE Prepatory Schools - Excel Campus
  • The New America School Thornton
  • Vantage Point High School
  • Venture Prep
  • West Early College
  • West Leadership Academy
  • York International

The Rockefeller Foundation provided an initial grant of $1.46 million that funded the educational partnership in New York City.  After the resounding success of the partnership in New York, The Rockefeller Foundation committed an additional $6 million to the effort to support the national expansion of the program.  The Rockefeller Foundation has a long history of supporting the arts and humanities, fueled by a belief that the cultivation of aesthetic sensibilities through literature, music and other fine arts is essential to the well-being of humanity.  The HAMILTON Education Program underscores the Foundation's commitment to nurturing the vitality of American cultural institutions and the role of the arts as a catalyst for social change.  

Pride House Founder to Receive IGLTA’s Pioneer Award

Pride House founder Dean Nelson will receive the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association’s Pioneer Award on 11 May at Voyage, the signature fundraising event for the IGLTA Foundation. Nelson, the CEO/Executive Producer of Whistler Pride & Ski Festival, created Pride House as a pavilion to celebrate diversity in sport and raise awareness of homophobia within sports at the Vancouver/Whistler 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

The Pioneer Award, part of the annual IGLTA Honors selected by the association’s board of directors, is given to an individual, business, or organization whose innovative spirit and actions have led the way in moving LGBTQ travel forward.

“There are many ways the tourism industry can help to create safe, welcoming spaces for LGBTQ people globally, and Pride House is a shining example of that,” said Juan Julià, IGLTA Board Chair. “We are excited to celebrate Dean Nelson, who developed a way to champion diversity through major international sports events such as the Olympic Games, an event that touches lives around the world.”

“Sports have long been recognized as a means to bring people together, however LGBTQ athletes have remained in the shadows, feeling compelled to hide their sexual orientation for safety reasons,” added John Tanzella, IGLTA President/CEO. “Pride House set out to change this, providing a way to celebrate these courageous athletes and paving the way for others to come out. I am so proud of Dean’s work to help LGBTQ athletes feel valued.”

Modeled after a traditional Olympic hospitality house, Pride House has continued forward, providing a safe space welcoming LGBTQ athletes, fans, and their allies during large-scale international sporting events. Nelson continues to be a part of the Pride House Advisory Group, which mentored the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games, Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Rio FIFA World Cup 2014, Toronto 2015 PanAm Games, Vancouver 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games, PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games and many more. He also is the co-founder of Mr. Gay World, an organization that incorporates sports, culture and human rights into public performances in an effort to raise awareness of homophobia.

"I am so honored to be recognized by my international peers at the 35th Annual IGLTA Global Convention with the Pioneer Award,” Nelson said. “Travel has always been a passion of mine. Having the ability to link sports and travel with raising awareness of gender and sexual diversity to make both travel and sports safer and more inclusive has always been a driving force for me. I have been very fortunate to have a wonderful team and community that believes in some of my ideas and together we have made a difference being felt around the planet."

For Canadian figure skater Eric Radford, the first openly gay male Winter Olympic champion, "Pride House is like going to a house party and seeing a familiar face.”

“You’re at the Olympics, in this more conservative country, and just knowing that there’s a Pride House there, this place that’s always going to be available where we can go and hang out, it creates an amazing energy, and that’s part of what the movement is,” he said. “I feel like Canadian values reflect equality and inclusion across the board for all people, despite their backgrounds, despite their race, despite their sexuality. It just makes sense that Canada would be the country to house Pride House.”

Last Call: LGBTQ Lives Are At Stake

This is your last call to join over 70,000 other people in telling the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that a person should never have to worry about being denied health care based on who they are. This isn't about politics. It's about saving lives. Under the new HHS rule, it’s not just doctors who would be allowed to discriminate against patients — nurses, receptionists, ambulance drivers, therapists, hospitals (and more) would be too.

Nearly 56% of LGBTQ people have experienced at least one instance of discrimination or patient profiling when attempting to access health care. Here are three cases currently in our court system:

1. A transgender teenager who was admitted to a hospital for suicidal thoughts and self-inflicted injuries was repeatedly misgendered and then discharged early by hospital staff. He later committed suicide.

2. In Michigan, an infant was turned away from a pediatrician’s office because she had same-sex parents.

3. A 53-year old man in need of a kidney transplant was denied coverage by his insurance company because of his HIV-positive status, putting his life at risk.

It is our responsibility to let the HHS know that giving health care professionals a #LicenseToDiscriminate could be a death sentence. They took an oath to #PutPatientsFirst. Submit your comment now.

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