Friday, August 28, 2015

The Knocks - Collect My Love

The Lower East Side's finest dance music exports The Knocks have released a brand new music video for "Collect My Love" featuring "GLEE" star Alex Newell.

St. Petersburg wins bid for IGLTA’s 2017 Annual Global Convention

For the first time, a city on Florida’s Gulf Coast will host the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association’s Annual Global Convention, the premier educational and networking event for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender tourism industry. St. Petersburg, Florida, home to the largest Pride event in the state and a longtime supporter of LGBT tourism, was selected by IGLTA’s board of directors for the 34th edition of the conference, 3-6 May 2017.

“Not only does St. Pete have a charming downtown and incredible beaches, it also boasts major attractions like the Dali Museum and has been actively engaged in the LGBT market,” says IGLTA Board Chair Dan Melesurgo. “Our goal as a travel association is to showcase the host destination in conjunction with the conference, so we look forward to expanding the global audience for St. Pete. We know our attendees are going to fall in love with it, if they’re not already fans.”

IGLTA’s conference will take place at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club, a historic downtown luxury property that overlooks Tampa Bay. The property is part of Marriott’s collection; the brand recently signed on as one of the association’s global partners. Downtown St. Petersburg also is home to a thriving LGBT community, drawing an estimated 250,000 people this year for the Pride Parade along Central Avenue.

“As home to one of the largest Pride events in America, St. Petersburg/Clearwater has long been a welcoming destination for the LGBT traveler,” says David Downing, Executive Director Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater. “We’re honored to be the host city for IGLTA’s 2017 Annual Global Convention, and we look forward to showing off our gorgeous white sand beaches, world-class cultural scene and unique Gulf Coast vibe.”

For more information on the 2017 host city, see visitstpeteclearwater.com.

Telling Trans Stories In THIS IS ME | Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst of Transparent

Today, the Emmy-nominated co-creators and producers of This Is Me (Outstanding Short-Format Nonfiction Programming) Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst sat down with YouTube content creator Raymond BraunZackary and Rhys talk with Raymond about how working as consultants and producers on the Emmy nominated show Transparent  inspired this documentary series that explores lives of several gender nonconforming people.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Transgender Law Center condemns Rentboy.com raid, reiterates call to decriminalize sex work

Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security suddenly raided the offices of Rentboy.com, which has been operating in public view for 18 years, and arrested several staff on charges of racketeering and promoting prostitution. This bust comes at a time when human rights advocates globally are uniting around a call to decriminalize sex work and at a time when the United States has the largest prison population in the world, with people of color, particularly Black people, representing a vastly disproportionate percentage of the incarcerated.

With this raid, the U.S. federal government is not only jeopardizing countless people’s lives and only source of livelihood, but sending a clear and troubling message that the country is less invested in addressing systemic issues of racial, economic, and anti-LGBT injustice than in further criminalizing the individuals most marginalized by those systems.

Last week, Transgender Law Center and four other U.S.-based LGBT advocacy organizations issued a statement in support of Amnesty International’s call to decriminalize sex work. Yesterday’s action by the federal government is a clear demonstration of why LGBT organizations and people must be invested in this work to protect the human rights of sex workers. Laws criminalizing sexual exchange impede sex workers’ ability to negotiate condom use and other boundaries, and force many to work in hidden or remote places where they are more vulnerable to violence. Actions like the government’s raid contribute to the unjust and unacceptable systems and society we have today, from the disproportionate incarceration of Black transgender and gender non-conforming people to the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color.

Transgender Law Center is reaching out to global advocates to see how we can best be helpful in this situation.

Hard Decisions: Drag Queens, Dress-up, Alien Invasions, Tinfoil Hats, and More

The highly-anticipated gay-themed, choose-your-own-adventure movie "Hard Decisions" is coming to YouTube in the Fall of 2015.

"Hard Decisions" follows Brandon and his friends as they decide what to do with their afternoon. Will they go out to a restaurant or order Thai food delivery? Will they play video games or play dress-up? Will Brandon break up with his boyfriend Jeff or will they stay together? The viewer navigates through a labyrinth of decisions to reach 11 possible endings. Each decision leads the viewer to another YouTube segment to continue the story. The viewer can then go back and see what might have happened if Brandon made decisions differently.

Brandon is also HIV positive, though writer/director Eli Rarey doesn’t make that the focus of the story. “I wanted to make a movie that has a main character who is HIV positive, but it isn’t about him having HIV, it’s just one of the things about him. Because no one I know who is HIV-positive is living their lives like an after school special. So this movie is about drag queen rivalries and couples therapy and aliens invading the planet, and Brandon just happens to be HIV positive,” Rarey says in the Kickstarter promo video.

NCLR Statement on Federal Raid of Rentboy.com

On Tuesday, Federal agents arrested Rentboy.com CEO Jeffrey Hurant and six of the company’s employees on prostitution charges. The agents also seized their homes, bank accounts, and $1.4 million.

Statement from National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Kate Kendell:
“Like Amnesty International, the World Health Organization, and other medical and human rights organizations, NCLR strongly opposes criminal prosecution of sex work by adults. Experience and evidence have shown that criminalization serves only to make those who are vulnerable to harms associated with sex work even more vulnerable. The criminal charges against Rentboy.com by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice are misguided and a terrible waste of resources. We are especially concerned about the negative impact on LGBT individuals who have been driven to sex work after being rejected by their families and experiencing other types of discrimination. NCLR strongly recommends that the federal government adopt a strategy aimed at providing essential supports – education, jobs, housing – to LGBT youth and adults who have been marginalized by these serious harms.”

Dogs, hiking and beer at Wag `n Trail

Dogs, hiking and craft beer. If you’re like most Coloradans, you’re a sucker for all three. Lucky for you, the Dumb Friends League is hosting an event that combines them into one quintessentially Colorado event—all while helping homeless pets.

The Dumb Friends League Wag `n Trail will take place on Saturday, Sept. 19, from 8 a.m. to noon at Glendale Farm Open Space (located near I-25 and Surrey Ridge) in Douglas County, just south of Denver. The event is a fundraiser to benefit the homeless pets at the League’s south location, the Buddy Center, in Castle Rock.

Wag `n Trail starts with a leisurely 1.6-mile hike at your own pace through scenic rolling hills and features dozens of vendors, demonstrations, a new beer garden with brews from locally-owned Grist Brewing Co., food trucks, music, adoptable dogs and fun for both two- and four-legged participants. Fido can also enjoy the five-acre, off-leash dog park located near the trailhead.

“This is one of our favorite events of the year,” said Matt Levien, Buddy Center director. “It not only helps support the Buddy Center and the services we provide to the pets and people of Douglas County, but it’s also a fun opportunity to get outdoors, bring Coloradans and their dogs together and contribute to a wonderful cause.”

Registration is free, but attendees are encouraged to fundraise to receive additional event perks. Participants who raise at least $75 will receive an official Wag `n Trail event T-shirt, GoodTimes ice cream (for you and your pooch), and a commemorative family photo to take home. All the money raised at Wag `n Trail helps the Dumb Friends League provide shelter, medical care, behavior training, foster care and other services to homeless pets at the Buddy Center.

As the only animal shelter serving Douglas County, the Buddy Center plays a vital role in reuniting owners with lost pets and finding loving homes for thousands of cats, dogs and small pets each year.

Tune in: Dr. Drew "Transgender in America" Tonight

Tonight HLN will present "Transgender in America", a special event with Dr. Drew examining issues facing the transgender community. With a studio audience comprised entirely transgender people, things get emotional as Dr. Drew about their lives, loves and discrimination.
 

Dr. Drew will focus on race in the trans community, with guests Bamby Salcedo, a trans woman who is president of the TransLatina coalition, and trans comedian D’Lo. The show will also feature people from different ethnic backgrounds, including a Native American (Navajo) trans woman, an Indian woman who could have faced death if she remained in her country, and a Japanese American trans man.

Public Official’s Personal Religious Opinion No Excuse To Refuse Service To Same-Sex Couples

Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, responded to the news that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has denied a request from Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis of Kentucky to issue a stay on a lower court’s ruling that orders her to immediately resume issuing marriage licenses – including to same-sex couples – regardless of her religious objections to marriage equality. U.S. District Judge David Bunning had temporarily stayed his order directing her to do so while Davis appealed his decision to the Sixth Circuit.

“Public servants have a responsibility to serve the entire public, including LGBT people,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. “Freedom of religion is important, and Ms. Davis has the fundamental right to believe what she likes, but as a public servant she does not have the right to pick and choose which laws she will follow or which services she will provide. If Ms. Davis feels as though she cannot fulfill her responsibilities, she should resign her public position.”

Davis is represented by the vehemently anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel.

Ninth Annual Denver Arts Week Will Showcase The Mile High City's Creative Community

For the ninth straight year, Denver Arts Week will be a celebration of the city’s deeply-rooted arts scene. The event, running from November 6-14, 2015, is presented by VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau; and it will highlight more than 300 events at Denver’s vast collection of galleries, museums, performing arts centers and neighborhoods – many of which are free or deeply discounted.

Denver Arts Week kicks off with a free Know Your Arts First Friday event, an evening of art walks with dozens of art galleries open late, offering live music, art demonstrations and a chance to interact with local artists. The week continues with several more annual favorite events – Night at the Museums, during which many of the city’s top museums stay open until 10 p.m. for free, and Denver’s On Stage, a series of deals and discounts on performing arts around Denver. Partners include Denver Film Festival, the Denver Art Museum and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

“Every year, Denver Arts Week showcases and celebrates Denver’s extensive arts scene,” says Jayne Buck, vice president of tourism at VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau. “For our visitors and residents, it is a perfect opportunity to experience the city’s cultural significance through visual arts, performing arts, film and history and to understand its significance in the larger art community.”

PayPal Endorses Landmark Equality Act As Corporate Support for Critical LGBT Non-Discrimination Legislation Grows

Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, hailed PayPal for becoming the latest company to announce public support for the newly-introduced Equality Act, a landmark federal bill that would guarantee explicit, permanent protections for LGBT people from discrimination in many of the most important aspects of their lives.

In a statement on its website highlighting its long-time support for domestic partnership benefits, PayPal said, “On an even more fundamental level, we believe everyone deserves to live without fear of discrimination or retaliation for simply being who they are. The provisions in the Equality Act that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity will bring us another important step closer to the day when these rights are fully enjoyed by all.”

Currently, 31 states across the country lack fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections for LGBT Americans.

“PayPal has shown how clearly it understands that inclusion leads to innovation and productivity,” said JoDee Winterhof, Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs. “In just a few short weeks since the Equality Act was introduced, there has been a drumbeat of companies saying they support the Equality Act because they recognize that equality is good for business and that the time has come for full federal equality.”

PayPal joins a number of leading American corporations, including Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, the Dow Chemical Company, Facebook, General Electric, General Mills, Google, HP, IBM, Intel, Levi Strauss & Co, Microsoft, Nike, Oracle, Orbitz, and Symantec Corporation in support of federal LGBT non-discrimination protections.

The Equality Act provides basic protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, access to public spaces, housing, education, jury service, credit and federal funding. HRC polling in March showed that nearly two-thirds of LGBT Americans have experienced discrimination in their personal lives, and that nearly half have experienced discrimination in the workplace. That same polling also showed strong, bipartisan support for a federal non-discrimination law. To learn more about The Equality Act, please visit www.hrc.org/EqualityForward.

Colorado Community Theatre Coalition Sets the Stage for Weekend of Performances and Education

The Colorado Community Theatre Coalition will raise the curtain for theatre companies, actors, and fans from across the State of Colorado during the 27th annual Colorado Theatre Festival. From September 11-13, the Festival will come alive with performances from five state-wide community theatres, six professional workshops, acting competitions, and nightlife networking, or "wetworking," in downtown Denver with fellow theatre lovers and experts from around Colorado. Ranked as one of the best community theatre festivals in the country, the Colorado Theatre Festival takes the spotlight at the Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education, 1101 13th Street, Denver, across the street from the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

“We are excited to host the Colorado Theatre Festival in vibrant downtown Denver and provide an environment for creativity in the performing arts to spark, grow, and flourish,” said Shane Delavan, President of the Board of Directors of the Colorado Community Theatre Coalition. “We are pleased to offer a festival experience that will appeal to both theatre practitioners and theatre lovers. This year’s festival is tailored to meet the needs of the busy Denver metro area theatre community with a weekend-only format along with shows and theatre-oriented workshops that deliver a lot of punch in a short period of time. We truly have an experience for virtually every type of theatre enthusiast.”

Highlights of this year's Festival include several captivating, 60-minute performances from coalition companies. Companies who present their performances at the festival have had a higher rate of success during their scheduled runs. In addition, participants can look forward to six stimulating workshops, some taught by faculty of the Denver Center Education Division. A sample of workshops include “Movement for Actors: Viewpoints” taught by Allison Watrous; “Play to Win” taught by Peter Hughes; and “Character Development through Improvisation” taught by Jessica Austgen. The festival is one of the most unique opportunities for theatre practitioners across the spectrum--actors, producers, directors, production staff, etc.--to grow their skills and knowledge through educational workshops and direct critiques from their performances.

"The talent and the professionalism of all these companies inspires me to broaden my horizons,” said one participant of last year’s festival. “I learned more in three days by watching others perform than I would have in ten years on my own.”

Monday, August 24, 2015

On HBO’s Last Week Tonight: GOP Candidates Duck on the Equality Act

Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, called on the Republican candidates running for president to tell the American public where they stand on the Equality Act, a landmark federal non-discrimination bill that would finally extend key civil rights protections to LGBT Americans. HBO’s Last Week Tonight reported last night that the entire field of Republican candidates for President refused to answer a simple yes or no question about whether they would support such a bill. The segment also noted that Gov. Bobby Jindal and Gov. John Kasich both weakened non-discrimination protections for LGBT people during their tenure.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton announced her support for the Equality Act after its introduction in July, and Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley and Lincoln Chafee told Last Week Tonight that they would support a federal nondiscrimination bill.

“The time has come for full federal equality. We all deserve to know whether the candidates support the Equality Act, or whether they want to continue to live in a country where in 31 states, LGBT people are at risk for being denied a job or denied service at a business because of who they are, or who they love,” said JoDee Winterhof, Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs for the Human Rights Campaign. “The Equality Act is a simple idea, that everyone should have a fair chance to earn a living, provide for their families, and live their lives without fear of discrimination, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Our simple question deserves a simple yes or no answer. So we are asking the Republican presidential candidates: do you support the Equality Act or not?”

31 states across the country lack fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections for LGBT Americans – including many states that the 2016 candidates call home. Among the states that currently lack fully-inclusive LGBT non-discrimination protections are Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.

In July, GQR’s Democracy Corps Survey found that 59 percent of likely 2016 voters are less likely to support a candidate for president who opposes non-discrimination protections for LGBT people – including 61 percent of Independent voters who say they are less likely to support a candidate who opposes these protections, and 54 percent of blue collar voters. The same survey also found bipartisan support for federal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. Support included nearly two-thirds of Republicans, and 90 percent of Democrats.

HRC polling in March showed that nearly two-thirds of LGBT Americans have experienced discrimination in their personal lives, and that nearly half of those who have experienced discrimination reported having experienced discrimination in the workplace.

For more on the background of the 2016 candidates, visit http://www.hrc.org/2016RepublicanFacts/. More on the Equality Act can be found at HRC.org/EqualityForward

Wave Racer - Flash Drive

Sydney, Australia producer Wave Racer has released a colorful new video for "Flash Drive" feat. B▲by, the title track and first single to his forthcoming EP set to drop on October 24th via Future Classic. The video was directed by Anny Wang and Tim Söderström, two 3D artists from Sweden that recently joined forces to work on a wide spectrum within the 3D and digital art worlds respectively. The animated imagery featuring cartoony, bright and artificial characteristics nails a particular style reminiscent of 90's era arcade game aesthetic delivering a crisp, futuristic take on it. Here is the approach to the visuals as described by it's creators:

The Flash Drive EP will be Wavey's first original and cohesive release since last February. He is also embarking on the Flash Drive USA Tour 2015 kicking off at Electric Zoo on Friday September 4th in New York City and coming to Denver on September 12.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Ellen Page Serves Ted Cruz “Equality on a Stick” at Iowa State Fair for Defending LGBT Discrimination

Today, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz found himself on the defensive in Iowa after his speech on the Des Moines Register Soap Box after taking questions from actress Ellen Page, who came out in 2014 at HRC’s Time to Thrive conference. Page has since become an activist and role model for LGBT youth, and also stars in “Freeheld” with Julianne Moore, an upcoming film that documents the struggle of real life lesbian couple Laurel Hester and Stacie Andree to overcome discrimination.

In the exchange, Cruz, claimed that business owners were facing discrimination by being asked to serve all customers – including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender customers – equally. Contrary to his claims, HRC’s polling of self-identified LGBT Americans found that nearly two-thirds of LGBT people have experienced discrimination. Watch the exchange here.

Ted Cruz also bizarrely claimed that the abuses against LGBT people around the world are going unnoticed while suggesting that activists like Page made too big a deal of challenges in the U.S. In fact, the U.N. Security Council is scheduled to convene to discuss ISIS's horrific violence against LGBT people in a special session this Monday, and the Human Rights Campaign is one of several organizations that proudly works to stem hate and advance LGBT equality around the world.

“Ted Cruz showed today that he is living in another era where he thinks it’s acceptable to treat LGBT people differently and allow businesses to refuse service to someone just because of who they are, or who they love,” said JoDee Winterhof, Senior Vice President of Policy of Political Affairs. “Today Ted Cruz was served an important reminder that in a country like ours that values the free market economy, businesses should serve all law-abiding customers who can afford to pay equally, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

Last month, the Human Rights Campaign commissioned polling by GQR’s Democracy Corps that showed that a majority of 2016 likely voters oppose using religion as an excuse to discriminate. HRC’s July survey found that a 56 percent majority believe small business owners should not be allowed to refuse service to someone because they are gay or lesbian, even if it violates their religious beliefs. Nearly half (46 percent), strongly oppose giving small businesses the right to discriminate, including 55 percent of white millennials.

Previously, HRC’s polling showed after the right to discriminate debate in Indiana that Hoosiers believe businesses should serve all customers equally, even businesses that cite so-called “religious freedom,” when denying services to LGBT couples.

In the Senate, Ted Cruz voted against bills that would have created explicit, permanent federal protections against discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the workplace and education. View more on his record at http://www.hrc.org/2016RepublicanFacts/ted-cruz

Ironically, Cruz made his comments at the state fair in Iowa, which became the fourth state in the country to achieve marriage equality in 2009 and which is home to some of the most LGBT friendly municipalities in the nation according to HRC's Municipal Equality Index (MEI).