Friday, November 21, 2014

Travel: Gay Men's Puerto Vallerta Writing Retreat Planned for 2015


Whether you’re a beginning writer working on your first novel, a seasoned poet polishing your collection, or just finally getting that short story out that you’ve been feeling you need to write, the GBQ (Gay, Bisexual, Questioning) Men's Writing Retreat will give you the time, space, and inspiration to get on it. Read this Huff Post article about why you need a writing retreat.

The facilitator, Scott Gibson, holds Masters degrees in Writing and Poetics and Education. He has studied with Voice and Sound coach Paul Oertel, gaining knowledge of how to uncover the voice from within. He has utilized his skills as a teacher of writing with students of all ages to “get the creative juices flowing” with honesty, pride, and passion. Scott edited Blood & Tears: Poems for Matthew Shepard in 1999 and has recently publish a long poem entitled Sticked, Stoned & Bottled and his first novel Seeking MO.
 

The group will stay at a private villa in the Zona Romantica area of Puerto Vallarta Mexico, directly “above” some of the best restaurants, bars, and beaches in the city. The villa is beautiful, with large bedrooms, a pool, rooftop deck, and a great staff that will keep you relaxed and focused on your writing. 

The best writing results come on retreats that leave plenty of time for relaxing so there will hold “workshopping” sessions in the morning and then you will be released to write for the remainder of the day. Gibson will also offer optional evening mini-lessons and meditation instruction.

Michael Sam on Coming Out, His Dark Childhood, and Making Headlines

“If I had it my way, I never would have done it the way I did, never would have told it the way I did,” Michael Sam tells GQ’s Andrew Corsello of his decision to come out prior to the NFL draft. “But the recruiters knew, and reporters knew, and they talked to each other, and it got out. If I didn’t have the year I did, nobody would have cared. But I have no regrets. Some people can argue that I had the potential to go higher in the draft. But I think everything happens for a reason. It looks good to see me in the position I’m in now, because I can show the world how good I am and rise up the ranks. I’m at the bottom now. I can rise up, show I’m a football player. Not anything else. Just a football player.”
 
Sam tells Corsello about his difficult childhood. “Only a handful of people really know how I was raised. Certain family members weren’t…there. They were ghosts. My brothers were the ones who were there. Most of the time, that was scary. I tried to stay away as much as possible.” Despite leaving the house at dawn and returning after dark, he still got beat up frequently. “We called the cops on my brothers so many times I can’t even count. Not only for hurting me. They’d abuse my sisters. Verbally abuse my mom. My brothers were evil people. I don’t have a relationship with them now. They’ve both written me letters from prison. For them to dare to call themselves my brothers—I can’t live with that.”
 
“I needed football—it was just something to do, an excuse to not be at home,” Sam explains. “When I played in junior high and high school, it was a hobby. I was just trying to get away from something. That was the only reason I did it.” A love for the game developed eventually. “Being with the guys on the team at Hitchcock was my real family. Mizzou was my real family. I loved it. Football was a sense of home. A home I never had.”
 
In response to the horrific NFL headlines being made off the field, Sam talks about distractions. “I’ll say this: I want to become a distraction! And what I mean is: by making big plays and doing good stuff on the field. Although nobody would print that, because that’s not a story. Gotta keep bringing up the locker-room situation because he’s gay.”
 
Sam covers GQ’s annual Men of the Year issue, honoring the biggest superstars who have undeniably left their mark in 2014. He graces the cover along with Chris Pratt, Dave Chappelle, Ansel Elgort, Shailene Woodley, and Steve Carell. The December issue of GQ is available on newsstands now in New York and Los Angeles and nationally November 25.

Iconic TV Host Ana Maria Polo Joins HRC’s Americans for Marriage Equality Campaign

Today the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, released two web videos featuring Ana Maria Polo, host of the renowned Telemundo show “Caso Cerrado,” for the organization’s Americans for Marriage Equality campaign. In the videos – one in English and one in Spanish – Dr. Polo speaks out in support of the right for committed gay and lesbian couples to marry nationwide, asking, “What right do we have to interfere with love?” Polo will also discuss her participation in the campaign and her support for marriage equality today on Telemundo’s “Al Rojo Vivo” with host, Carmen Dominicci.

Thanks to her legendary charisma, passion and objectivity, Ana Maria Polo is recognized as one of Hispanic television’s most prestigious personalities within the United States and abroad. Polo hosts the renowned Telemundo show “Caso Cerrado”, the first Spanish language program nominated for a Daytime Entertainment Emmy® Award.

In 2011 Polo was honored with the Mickey Leland Humanitarian Achievement Award, which honors individuals and organizations affiliated with the communications industry that demonstrate a humanitarian commitment. Later that year she was named the first Hispanic ambassador for Stand Up To Cancer, joining an esteemed list of national and international celebrity supporters of the initiative, which raises awareness and funds for collaborative cancer research. As a breast cancer survivor, Polo has become a fighting role model for many women, and works with different organizations that fight to find a cure to this disease. Her commitment to the Hispanic community has also prompted her involvement with other issues important to her, including the fight for human rights and against discrimination.

This is the thirteenth video release for the re-launch of HRC’s Americans for Marriage Equality Video campaign, and the first set released in both English and Spanish. Previous releases include videos from Kathryn Hahn, Padma Lakshmi, Pauley Perrette, Jeff Perry, Kevin McHale, Kristin Chenoweth, Anthony Bourdain, Colbie Caillat, Tony Hawk, Susan Sarandon and Demi Lovato.

A Quinnipiac Polling Institute poll released last year showed 63% of Hispanic voters support same-sex marriage. Nationally, Gallup puts support for marriage equality at 55 percent – an astonishing 15 points increase from just 5 years ago – with other polls showing support at even higher margins. And support for same-sex marriage rights continues to grow in virtually every demographic group. According to ABC News / Washington Post, 77 percent of adults under age 30 favor marriage equality. 40 percent of Republicans – an all-time high and jump of 16 points in under two years – now support marriage for gay and lesbian couples, while the number of Catholics supporting marriage has grown to 62 percent, according to The New York Times. These numbers continue to grow, with no indication that support will slow down.

Same-sex couples can legally marry in 35 states and the District of Columbia, while 15 states still have constitutional amendments in effect restricting marriage to the union of one man and one woman. Court challenges to those marriage bans have been filed in every state where they remain on the books, and polling continues to show Americans moving inexorably in the direction of supporting equality for same-sex couples nationwide.

Free Music Friday: Henry Fong & J-Trick vs. Beastie Boys - Fight For Your Right to Scream (Brass Knuckles Bootleg)

Ahead of their homecoming show at Mansion Nightclub in Miami tomorrow night, Brass Knuckles cooked up this special bootleg for their set, and have decided to give it out to their fans as a thank you for all of their continued support.  Blending the big room stylings of Henry Fong and J-Trick's "Scream" with the rock/rap fire of the Beastie Boys' classic "Fight For Your Right," this bootleg perfectly exemplifies Brass Knuckles' fusion of hard electro dance beats and rock 'n' roll ferocity. 

Click here to download for free!

10 Things You Should Know About Concerned Women For America

Concerned Women For America (CWA) claims to be the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization bringing supposedly “biblical principles” into all levels of public policy. Espousing an un-American brand of anti-equality viewpoints, that many people of faith consider “unbiblical,” they have fabricated a “defense of family” position as one of their top concerns.  But when you strip away the ridiculous rhetoric, all you’re left with is a bare-boned fight against LGBT equality. Take a look at 10 things you should know about CWA:
  1. CWA opposed renewing the Violence Against Women Act because it “creates new protections for homosexuals,” despite also claiming that LGBT couples were twice as likely to experience domestic violence. Unsurprisingly, they also opposed hate crimes legislation.
  2. CWA does NOT want you celebrating equality. In fact, they attacked Hallmark for selling greeting cards celebrating same-sex couples’ weddings.
  3. CWA was designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
  4. When President Obama condemned Uganda’s draconian legislation criminalizing LGBT people, CWA accused the President of practicing “cultural imperialism,” saying “Obama of all people should realize how offensive his position on homosexuality is to devout Muslims.”
  5. CWA lobbied against anti-bullying legislation because one of its aims was promoting acceptance of LGBT people, just another way CWA thinks the “pansexual agenda” is being promoted in schools.
  6. Even though CWA opposed non-discrimination legislation, it’s not because they don’t think discrimination exists. They just think that it’s cultural conservatives who are being discriminated against.
  7. CWA said Ellen DeGeneres “guides her housewife fans” into rebellion against “God’s divine and explicit natural order,” and also claimed feminism had been “taken over by lesbians.”
  8. CWA opposed the hugely successful repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" because allowing gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members to serve openly and honestly was "radical San Francisco style experimentation."
  9. CWA said that same-sex foster parents were using children like “guinea pigs” and have fought against LGBT partners receiving custody of their children. They even said Mary Cheney’s decision to have a baby with her partner “injured the child” and was “unconscionable.”
  10. CWA thinks protecting transgender employees and students from discrimination and respecting their gender identity opens the door to “predators and pedophiles” and endangers women and children.

Things to do in Denver When You're Gay: Downtown Denver Announces Winter in the City Events

Experience the magic of Downtown Denver through Winter in the City. When making your plans this holiday season, don't miss these signature holiday events and activities. 

See 'em all after the jump.

GQ's Jim Nelson Nominates Pope Francis Holy Man of the Year

In his editor’s letter in GQ’s annual Men of the Year issue, editor-in-chief Jim Nelson nominates Pope Francis as ‘Holy Man of the Year’ alongside Chris Pratt, Dave Chappelle and Michael Sam, who all received various nods for their accomplishments in 2014. 

“He’s kind, humane, engaged, not like that last grump who walked off the job,” writes Nelson of Pope Francis. “Did you know he tweets? He tweets! If you need a break from all the snark in the world, follow his feed.” But, writes Nelson, “The real reason I’m declaring Him our Holy Man of the Year is that he’s trying to push the Catholic Church into the twenty-first century, where it doesn’t seem to want to live, trying to open its creaky leaden doors to the realities of the world. And here’s the doctrinal shocker: Francis doesn’t think divorced people, or couples shacking up together, or gays and lesbians are evil.”

The Arvada Center 35th Annual Holiday Craft and Gift Fair is just around the corner!

The Arvada Center has a long-standing history of great holiday shopping events, and this year is no exception. 
The 35th Annual Holiday Craft and Gift Fair is a handmade, handcrafted highly anticipated event with over 150 vendors representing a wide array of one-of-a-kind gift items.   
Everything from ceramic art, fiber crafts including clothing, scarves, purses and mittens, glassworks, wood crafts, hand milled soaps, scents, lotions, and specialty food items including homemade  jams and jellies, toffee and chocolates will be available at affordable prices.  All artisans go through a jury process and have been selected based on the creative style and authentic wares.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Cats' Returns to PBS' Great Performances Tonight

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats, the second longest-running Broadway musical (only surpassed by Lloyd Webber's own "The Phantom of the Opera"), and fourth longest-running West End musical, returns in high definition and digital sound to Great Performances where it had its 1998 world television premiere. The special encore presentation will air Friday, November 21 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings) as part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival.

Advertise With Denver's Best Gay Blog - MileHighGayGuy

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Iceage - Against The Moon

Refusing to exhaust any momentum gained from the release of their dauntless album, Plowing Into The Field Of LoveIceage have shared a new video directed by Martin Masai Andersen and Kim Thue for the unsettlingly, beautiful track, "Against The Moon." The noir-instilled narrative muddles the line between affirmation and repentance in the same fashion as Elias Bender R√łnnenfelt's lyrical proclamations of disregard for consequence - "Whatever I do/ I don't repent/ I keep pissing against the moon." The video stars revered German actor Dan van Husen, known for appearing in a variety of classic films, including Fellini's Casanova and Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre, and German actress Missa Blue and Welsh model Louis Backhouse in supporting roles.

HRC Condemns Passage of Draconian Anti-LGBT Law In The Gambia

Today the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, condemns the decision by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to sign into law horrific new legislation that could lead to life in prison for some LGBT people in The Gambia. HRC also calls on the Obama Administration to conduct a full diplomatic review of the United States’ relationship with The Gambia.

According to a new Associated Press report, Jammeh actually signed the bill into law on October 9, although “no government officials have yet publicly notified the country of the new law.” According to multiple news reports, earlier this year The Gambia’s National Assembly passed the legislation that includes nearly identical language to Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, and the bill has since awaited the signature of Jammeh, who has a deeply troubling record on LGBT rights.

“These draconian laws have no place in the 21st century, and the United States must send a clear message that the Gambian government cannot trample on the rights of its LGBT citizens,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “We call on the Obama Administration to conduct a full diplomatic review of the United States’ relationship with The Gambia.”

Earlier this year, the Obama Administration conducted such a review of Uganda following the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act in February, and imposed a series of concrete actions that held the Ugandan government and leaders in it accountable for it. Uganda’s law was ruled unconstitutional in August based on a procedural technicality.

In 2008, Jammeh promised "stricter laws than Iran" against LGBT people, and said he would "cut off the head" of LGBT people living in the country. Earlier this year, he said that “we will fight these vermins called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively.”

"By signing this law, President Jammeh rides a wave of anti-LGBT laws enacted in Africa. He has been one of the most violently vocal opponents of LGBT people—promoting stigmatization, describes them them as ‘vermin’ and even calling for their death," said HRC Global Director Ty Cobb. "But it's very important to note that this is a global problem, not an African one.”

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Panel of Experts Talk About Being Transgender in America On ‘Larry King Now’

A panel, featuring Glee’s Alex Newell, GLAAD’s Nick Adams and AOL’s “True Trans” host Laura Jane Grace sat down with Larry King on the Emmy nominated series “Larry King Now” to discuss what needs to be done to ensure a better quality of life for the transgender community.

The ‘Against Me’ singer, Laura Jane Grace, told Larry the term 'trans' is her descriptor of choice – “I think it sounds cool.” She also explained to Larry that she’s realized that being transgender is only part of who she is -- “it’s a really small detail when it comes down to it.”

GLADD’s Nick Adams talked about how laws against transgender people are still pervasive, including in the workplace and military, “There are many Western countries that allow trans people to serve, there’s no reason why they can’t serve here as well.” Larry also asked our panel about the ban on transgender people in the military and Laura Jane Grace shares a story from her new show on AOL, “True Trans”. (Clip below)

The panelists reacted to New York Magazine’s cover story by telling Larry that the headline ‘sensationalizes’ a story about the country’s highest paid CEO. Adams went on to explain that the focus on transgender people's’ physical attributes in many news media reports is objectifying and often takes away from the larger issues. While Orange Is The New Black, Transparent, and Glee have made strides, GLAAD’s Nick Adams told Larry that too often trans characters are not shown in a positive light. 


The episode is now LIVE on Ora.tv and Hulu.com (episodes premiere daily 5pm EST)

Human Rights Campaign Honors Transgender Day of Remembrance 2014

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, joins in today’s commemoration of Transgender Day of Remembrance. The 16th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance is a solemn tribute to those who have lost their lives to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice and also raises awareness of the constant threat of brutality faced by the transgender community. HRC Steering Committees and Project One America staff in almost 35 cities around the country, are partnering with local organizations on community events. Additionally, in the lead-up to November 20th, HRC has presented a blog series featuring a few of the many powerful voices of the transgender community.

"The national crisis of anti-trans violence in this country continues with brutal intensity, and it seems like every day we mourn another tragic loss,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, all Americans should feel responsible to help bring an end to this violence before it claims even one more innocent soul. The progress of equality has to reach everyone, and we are failing as a movement if we leave anyone behind."

Statistics on anti-transgender violence and harassment remain extremely alarming. A 2013 report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) report found that transgender people were 1.5 times more likely to face threats and intimidation compared to the broader LGBT community, and that 72% of anti-LGBT homicide victims were transgender women, significantly up from 53.8% in the previous year. Sixty-seven percent of the victims were transgender women of color. Furthermore, seventy-eight percent of transgender children in grades K-12 reported being harassed in school, 35 percent physically assaulted, and 12 percent sexually assaulted, according to a 2011 report from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBTQ Task Force.

The first Transgender Day of Remembrance was held in honor of Rita Hester, whose murder in 1998 led to the “Remembering Our Dead” web project, and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Since then, hundreds of cities around the country and the world, have hosted annual Transgender Day of Remembrance events in solidarity with transgender hate crime victims. For more resources, and a list of cities where HRC is participating in Transgender Day of Remembrance, please visit www.hrc.org/tdor. For a list of vigils and remembrances worldwide, visit www.transgenderdor.org.

Transgender Day Of Remembrance: A Time To Come Together

By Dr Rizi Timane


Every November 20, transgender individuals and their allies around the world commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance. But make no mistake: this is not a holiday, and the ceremonies we hold are certainly not celebrations. Rather, the Day of Remembrance is a solemn time when we can come together and reflect upon the battles we have fought and continue to fight and those individuals we have lost—the transgender and other gender nonconforming individuals who were innocent victims of violence because of who they were, because they had the audacity to live as their authentic selves.

I would like to say I’ve never experienced this extreme sort of prejudice before, but like most trans people, I have my stories. While thank God there have never been any attempts on my life, there have been people around me who thought I would be better off—or they would be better off—if I were dead. While I was a university student in London, another young person studying there passed away, and some of my fellow African students (I am from Nigeria) made a point of saying, loudly and closely enough that they knew I would hear, that it should have been me instead.

Besides the defeating personal implications of hearing such a thing, this incident continues to be a sad reminder to me of how deeply many people undervalue transgender lives and how at any moment, someone out there could hate us enough to kill us. That it could easily be our pictures shown at memorial services on the Transgender Day of Remembrance. However, this is part of what the day is for: to remind us that we all share this heavy burden—that we are not alone in our persecution and suffering.

Is this comforting? In some ways, yes; it’s always a comfort to know someone else feels as we do. But it’s also problematic. That we even have to have such a day is, in my opinion, shameful not for those of us who participate or those we remember but for society as a whole—for the culture of conformity and hatred that keeps us hidden within ourselves, afraid to come out for fear of rejection and outright violence. I don’t want a day of remembrance; I want a pride day, like the LGB community has, or no day at all because the murders of transgender individuals have ended in every nation around the world.

How can we make this happen? How can we eradicate the need for a Transgender Day of Remembrance? In general we need more allies, more compassion, more understanding, and more tolerance. We need more safe spaces in which we can raise our voices and share our stories. We need mandatory diversity training in schools and universities, police departments, hospitals, and businesses so everyone will be aware of and understand transgender individuals and issues. We need nationwide laws to ban discrimination based on gender identity and presentation. We need all this for our safety. Most of all, we simply need the deaths to stop. 


Rizi Xavier Timane is a transgender minister, an author, a recording artist, and an outspoken advocate for the LGBT community. In his memoir, An Unspoken Compromise,  he shares his journey to self-acceptance as a trans man of faith; he also writes for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance blog, is a sought-after public speaker on the intersection of religion and LGBT civil rights, and holds a master’s in social work and a PhD in Christian counseling.