Friday, August 2, 2019

One Colorado: What Colorado's conversion therapy ban means to me.


By Silas Musick, he/him/his

Today, Colorado's historic ban on conversion therapy goes into effect. This makes us the 18th state to ban the harmful practice, and is an important step towards allowing LGBTQ Coloradans to live out their fullest lives.

As someone who testified in support of this bill, it has profound personal meaning to me. For the past few years, I have shared my story publicly. While it has often been difficult to open the most raw parts of myself, if my story helps just one struggling LGBTQ person, then it will be worth it.

When I came out as gay I was ridiculed, hushed, shamed, and pushed into silence. The months and years that followed my coming out were the darkest days of my life. I don’t wish that on anyone, especially youth who are seeking acceptance and belonging. Hours of conversion therapy to change who I am proved to be deeply damaging, and in 2010, following a long, dark depression, I nearly took my own life. Sadly, my story is not an isolated example and so many have actually lost their lives in this fight.

When Colorado's ban on conversion therapy was passed, I felt heartened and inspired. Colorado has risen to become a leader in LGBTQ equality, and I am so proud of us for banning this harmful, discredited practice. I believe in a society where we all live in our personal power and are celebrated rather than berated for our differences.

Despite this landmark legislation, we have a long way to go. One Colorado has been a central force in securing protections like the ban on conversion therapy, and they couldn't do it without your support. Whether it's $10, $50, or $100 each month - every dollar is invested in ensuring a more fair and just Colorado for all. Let's celebrate today, and get back to work on Monday.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

POND - The Boys Are Killing Me

 

POND have today shared details of their upcoming Autumn tour of the United States. Beginning with a performance on September 21st in Brooklyn at Warsaw, the tour goes on to hit venues in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and San Francisco before culminating in a show at the Fonda Theater in Los Angeles on September 29th.

The prolific force from Perth released their 8th studio album, Tasmania - featuring "Daisy," "Sixteen Days" and "Burnt Out Star" - back in March on Interscope Records. Today, the band are sharing the video for "The Boys Are Killing Me," which was filmed on a Super 8 camera by Jay Watson while they were on tour through Sweden, U.K. and France.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

MAP: LGBT People with Disabilities

Last week marked the 29th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a landmark civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability in nearly every area of life, from work to housing and public accommodations and education. The ADA also ensures that people living with HIV aren’t discriminated against.

New research shows that LGBT people are more likely to have a disability than the general population. For example, in a survey of more than 26,000 transgender people, 39% reported having a disability. And one in three lesbians and one in three bisexual women report having a disability in a population-based survey in Washington.

As the country reflects on what work remains for the full inclusion of people with disabilities in America, the Movement Advancement Project, in partnership with the Center for American Progress’s Disability Justice Initiative and LGBT Research and Communications Project, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and the National LGBTQ Task Force, released a short summary of what we know about LGBT people with disabilities.



Despite the passage of the ADA more than a generation ago, people with disabilities experience high rates of unemployment and job discrimination, still face challenges in daily life ranging from inaccessible services and facilities, and face barriers to competent and thorough health care. For LGBT people with disabilities, there are added challenges. For example, LGBTQ people with disabilities are more likely to receive unemployment than their nondisabled LGBT peers – and LGBT people in general have higher rates of unemployment than non-LGBT people. A quarter of LGBTQ students reported being bullied or harassed at school because of a disability.

GQ- The End of Straight: A Transition Story

“I had waited and deflected and denied and waited more; I had held out until my chances of continuing to survive were zero,” writes Gabriel Mac in the August issue of GQ. In a personal essay, the author and three-time National Magazine Award finalist, details the road to his transition at age 37 and its aftermath.

Mac details his career as a journalist, his two heteronormative marriages, and the destructive actions and thoughts he grappled with prior to his transition. As someone who relied heavily on their looks in the past, he contemplates society’s current relationship with the transgender community—more than half of average American adults don’t believe in trans people, according to a Pew Research Center study.

“It is hard,” Mac says of his new life. “It has also never been easier. Every time I have to say ‘trans’ and don’t have to explain what it means, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for everyone who went before me.” Despite the tumultuous road towards transitioning, he’s proud that the concept of ‘straightness’ as a default is diminishing. It saved his life. “As my chest surgery healed and my testosterone levels rose, I began to feel, finally, like a real person. For the first time in my life”

PFLAG National Honors Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III (MA-4) at Moving Equality Forward Reception

PFLAG National—the first and largest organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people, their parents and families, and allies—proudly honored Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (MA-4) at their inaugural Moving Equality Forward reception on Wednesday evening, July 24th.

Rep. Kennedy, who serves the Fourth District of Massachusetts for a fourth term, is the Vice Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and Chair of that caucus’s Transgender Equality Task Force—and a long-time ally to the LGBTQ+ community. He has led Congressional efforts to strengthen protections for transgender students and oppose attacks on transgender servicemembers in the military, including passage of a House Resolution to support open service for them and future troops.

“Rep. Kennedy is the kind of ally PFLAG talks about—he listens, he learns, he supports—and now he leads,” said Kathy Godwin, president of the PFLAG National Board of Directors. “Allies really can make a meaningful difference, and Rep. Kennedy is proof that it’s not just allies who have kids and family members who are LGBTQ+, but also the allies who can talk to people who don’t think they know anyone who is LGBTQ+. We really cannot thank Rep. Kennedy enough for his gracious and active support, as well as his leadership with the Equality Caucus; PFLAGers everywhere will keep supporting him on this work.”

Rep. Kennedy spoke about the importance of parents—and PFLAG—in the fight for equality. “[This is] a time when we cannot, should not...accept anything less than the value of equal justice...The one singular thing I am certain of...is a parent's love for their child. It does not break down on race, creed, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, anything. It is a common value...that allows you to relate to somebody else, no matter the stretch of difference between [you]. ...It's awfully hard for any member of any political party to reject [a parent’s love]. [PFLAG] does that [work] every single day. And it is...a critical piece to the strategy which is going to make us successful to make good on that promise [of equal justice].”

The intimate reception, held in Washington, D.C. at the home of John Weinfurter, also included remarks from honored guests Senator Tammy Baldin (WI), Representative Mark Takano (CA-41), and Representative Sharice Davids (KS-3).

Rep. Davids, the first openly gay woman of color in Congress, is a Native American Cogresswoman from Kansas and Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus; she spoke warmly about Rep. Kennedy. “[He] is somebody that has been helpful for me on a number of different levels, as an ally and a mentor...I recognize the long history of amazing work that he's been doing and I have had the chance to participate in some of the panels he's put together to acknowledge and recognize and try to figure out ways that we can be supportive of kids of trans experience and of other LGBTQ folks.”

Rep. Takano is the first openly gay person of color elected to Congress and serves as Chairman of the Vererans Affairs Committee and Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. Rep. Takano similarly spoke with admiration about Kennedy—and PFLAG. “Joe Kennedy is a classmate of mine. He's become such...an amazing ally. As a young [gay] teenager, you kind of feel like you are in a tiny minority. And...we're really kind of vulnerable if we don't have allies who embrace us and support us—and especially parents. ...PFLAG, you are such an important part [of this]. Parents are such an important part of LGBT people being able to...emerge and grow. And become stronger...with PFLAG, it’s an organization that is about empowering and affirming... That's a very special thing.”

Sen. Tammy Baldwin—who co-founded the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus as Co-Chair with Rep. Barney Frank (Ret., MA-4) in 2008—echoed Chairman Takano’s sentiments about PFLAG.

I remember … at Pride marches that this PFLAG contingency was the one that everyone cheered the most. And in some cases it was because these allies, these loved ones were standing up for their children, their siblings, their friends, and perhaps you came from a family where that didn't happen. And I would see the joy...people with tears flowing down their cheeks, and thinking you know, I wish that would be my family. ...But to now have a full-fledged advocacy organization that recognizes it is, yes, still about the support of that intimate one-on-one or small-group setting, but also about the advocacy for changes of policy, changes of law, changes of hearts, changes of minds on a more massive scale.”

Friday, July 26, 2019

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 drew@milehighgayguy.com. And if you've got column or story ideas to pitch, this is the place to do it.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Court Approves Settlement in North Carolina H.B. 2 Replacement Case; Ensuring Transgender People Cannot Be Banned From Facilities Based on their Gender

The State of North Carolina cannot use H.B. 142, the law that replaced H.B. 2, to prevent transgender individuals from using public restrooms and other facilities in state government buildings that match their gender under an agreement approved today by a federal court.

U.S. Judge Thomas Schroeder signed a consent decree order that was jointly submitted by Governor Roy Cooper and civil rights groups representing LGBTQ North Carolinians in the three-year legal challenge to North Carolina’s notorious 2016 anti-LGBTQ law, House Bill 2, and the 2017 anti-LGBTQ law that replaced it, House Bill 142. The North Carolina General Assembly, which intervened in the lawsuit, opposed the consent decree.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal represent six LGBTQ North Carolinians in the lawsuit.

“After so many years of managing the anxiety of H.B.2 and fighting so hard, I am relieved that we finally have a court order to protect transgender people from being punished under these laws.” said Joaquin CarcaƱo, the lead plaintiff in the case. “This is a tremendous victory but not a complete one. While I am glad that Governor Cooper agreed to this settlement, it remains devastating to know that local protections for LGBTQ people are still banned under state law while so many members of our community continue to face violence, harassment, and discrimination simply because of who we are. The fight for full justice will continue.”

“Using facilities that match one’s gender identity is a basic necessity for full participation in society, and this order’s confirmation that transgender people can do so is an important victory. Being able to safely navigate everyday life when you set foot outside your home is not a luxury. It is a basic foundation for being treated and accepted as co-equal members of society, like everyone else,” said Tara Borelli, Lambda Legal Counsel.

“We are thrilled to obtain some clarity and relief for transgender North Carolinians who have been suffering under H.B. 2 and H.B. 142 for years. While this part of the court fight may be ending, so much urgent work remains as long as people who are LGBTQ are denied basic protections from violence and discrimination simply because of who they are,” said Irena Como, Acting Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “The shameful stain of House Bill 2 and the pain and harm it caused to so many people will always be part of North Carolina’s history. LGBTQ North Carolinians still lack comprehensive, statewide nondiscrimination protections while on the job, patronizing a business open to the public, or simply going about their daily lives.”

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Styling Hollywood with Jason Bolden and Adair Curtis to Debut on Netflix August 30


Styling Hollywood is an upcoming Netflix series following celebrity stylist Jason Bolden and his interior designer husband Adair Curtis as they run their lifestyle company JSN STUDIO while balancing marriage and life’s ups and downs. With their talented crew of colorful employees, watch as they curate "Black Girl Magic" for some of Hollywood’s biggest stars including Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, Eve, and Ava DuVernay (just to name a few).

Whoopi Goldberg to attend DragCon NYC for an exclusive conversation with RuPaul

The latest DragConNY news is that Whoopi Goldberg is slated for an exclusive 1:1 conversation with RuPaul as part of a series of “RuTalks”. Whoopi announced the news this morning via Instagram

Fashion icon and designer Diane Von Furstenberg was also previously announced.

ICYMI: Barry Manilow on GMA

 
In case you missed it ... check out Barry Manilow live on GMA this morning!

Travel: Tropical Heat in Key West

The subtropical island of Key West, internationally known as a top LGBTQ destination, is to welcome visitors to a long weekend of all-male adult activities Wednesday through Sunday, Aug. 14-18, during the annual Tropical Heat celebrations.

The roster of revelry includes pool parties, brunch with local female impersonators, sizzling dance parties and adult-themed gatherings held at the island’s LGBTQ resorts, guesthouses and entertainment venues.

The red-hot celebration’s kick-off party is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, at Island House Resort, 1129 Fleming St. A traditional festival favorite, the launch is to feature poolside drink specials, appetizers and prize giveaways.

Tropical Heat participants can make a big splash Thursday, Aug. 15, at a noontime pool party at the Equator Resort, 822 Fleming St. Thursday’s schedule also includes a 2 to 4 p.m. “Drunken Drag Brunch” at Mangoes, 700 Duval St., featuring a Cuban-style buffet, performances by drag queens and bottomless mimosas.

Thursday’s after-dark activities are to include parties at local LGBTQ venues.

Revelers can cool down Friday at the Bourbon St. Pub/New Orleans House, 724 Duval St., with a pool party slated for noon. The lively event typically offers an afternoon of spirited pool games, a DJ and live entertainment, food and frosty libations.

As the sun sets, evening festivities heat up with events including “The Big Game Party” at Alexander’s Guesthouse.

Saturday’s highlights include the Equator Resort’s 13th annual Toga Party at 7 p.m. An anticipated festival event each year, the gala features prizes for the best togas.

The high-spirited merriment continues Sunday with attractions including Key West’s famed Tea Dance at 4 p.m. at La Te Da.

Closing events are to include a late-night “Afterglow Party” at Saloon 1.


Tropical Heat VIP access passes are available for $99 per person. Alternatively, attendees can pay individual event admissions.

Kat Cunning - King of Shadow

 

Today, singer, songwriter and actor, KAT CUNNING released an official music video for the song “King of Shadow.”

Kat is featured in the Netflix break out young adult hit "Trinkets" where she plays Sabine and performs "King of Shadow" and "Birds" on the show. Since the show, and "King of Shadow," premiere in mid-June, Kat's streaming platforms have seen 7.8 million streams with "King of Shadow" garnering over 3 million streams.

Policy brief outlines the likely harm to LGBT people from a new health care regulation proposed by Trump Administration

Today, The Fenway Institute of Fenway Health released a policy brief outlining the harm to LGBT people likely to result from a new health care regulation proposed by the Trump Administration last month. The public has until August 13, 2019 to offer comment on the proposed regulation, and the authors of the brief urge health care professionals and advocates to submit comment urging the Trump Administration to reconsider the proposal.
The policy brief, “New rule proposes removal of LGBT nondiscrimination provisions from Section 1557 and other health care regulations,” is available for download as a PDF here.
On June 14, 2019, the Trump Administration released a proposed regulation that would reverse the 2016 final rule implementing the nondiscrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That measure, known as the 2016 Section 1557 rule explicitly prohibits gender identity discrimination, including discrimination against intersex and non-binary people, in health care facilities and programs receiving federal funding. The rule also prohibits some forms of sexual orientation discrimination that take the form of sex stereotyping.
“Initial news reports about the proposed rule characterized it as anti-transgender,” said Fenway Institute Health Policy Fellow Katherine Laurila, author of the brief, titled “New rule proposes removal of LGBT nondiscrimination provisions from Section 1557 and other health care regulations.” “But the scope of the proposed regulation extends far beyond the gender identity and sex stereotyping provisions of the 2016 nondiscrimination provisions of Rule 1557.”
Included in the Trump Administration proposal are provisions that would revise several other important health care regulations that explicitly prohibit both sexual orientation and gender identity. If finalized, the proposed rule would remove explicit sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination provisions from:
  • Regulations governing the health insurance exchanges, including 34 federally facilitated exchanges and 17 state exchanges;
  • Regulations governing Qualified Health Plans;
  • Medicaid regulations, including language that explicitly prohibits sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in Medicaid enrollment and availability of services, and language highlighting the importance of access and cultural considerations that calls on states to care for LGBT patients and others in a culturally competent manner;
  • Regulations governing the access to services provided by the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.
“This proposed regulation would have far-reaching implications for the LGBT community, all of them negative,” said Carl Sciortino, Vice President of Government & Community Relations at Fenway Health. “If this rule is enacted, the Trump Administration will succeed in reversing much of the progress made in federal health policy over the past decade.”
Anti-LGBT discrimination in health care is widespread, correlates with poorer health and well-being for LGBT people, and makes LGBT people less likely to access health care. This exacerbates health disparities that LGBT people experience. Since 2011, the Joint Commission has required sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination policies in health care institutions that it accredits. The Joint Commission is a nonprofit organization that accredits hospitals and other health care organizations.
Other anti-LGBT policies enacted by the Trump administration that are harming the health and access to care of LGBT people include:
  • Dismissing Peace Corps volunteers and Air Force service members who tested positive for HIV, and refusing to provide pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention (PrEP) to at-risk Peace Corps volunteers;
  • Placing transgender inmates of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, especially transgender women, at much higher risk of rape by incarcerating them according to their biological sex at birth instead of their gender identity;
  • Prohibiting transgender people from serving in the U.S. military;
  • Removing sexual orientation and gender identity questions from federal surveys of older adults, people with disabilities, and victims of crime;
  • Filing a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that gender identity is outside of the scope of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex and national origin;”
  • Filing a brief in the Masterpiece Cake Shop case before the U.S. Supreme Court supporting discrimination against a gay male couple and stating that there is no compelling federal government interest in prohibiting anti-gay discrimination;
  • Attempting to repeal or weaken the ACA, which has cut the uninsured rate in half for LGBT people.
Other resources on the Trump Administration’s actions undermining the right of LGBT people to access health care and other services include:
A guide to the new proposed rules for health care providers by The Fenway Institute and the Center for American Progress: “Talking points for health care providers regarding LGBTQ nondiscrimination in health care
Since 1971, Fenway Health has been working to make life healthier for the people in our neighborhoods, the LGBT community, people living with HIV/AIDS and the broader population. The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health is an interdisciplinary center for research, training, education and policy development focusing on national and international health issues. Fenway’s Sidney Borum Jr. Health Center cares for youth and young adults ages 12 to 29, including those who are LGBT or just figuring things out; homeless; struggling with substance use; or living with HIV/AIDS. AIDS Action, Fenway’s public health division, works to reduce the number of HIV infections while supporting those already infected, and operates a needle exchange that serves as an entry point to healthcare services for active substance users.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Zero for Zeros: Microsoft to Re-Evaluate Political Contributions

The Zero for Zeros campaign issued the following statement today, after learning that Microsoft has suspended its political action committee contributions and is creating employee advisory councils.

“Microsoft is an iconic brand worldwide. Today, they have shown themselves to be strong enough to listen to stakeholders and begin reevaluating their PAC contributions,” stated Lane Hudson, Campaign Manager for Zero for Zeros. “Microsoft was the first company that engaged with Zero for Zeros in good faith. We discussed their concerns, they heard ours and their employees weighed in. We are thrilled that they have responded to our campaign. Their plan looks strong and may ultimately be a model for how other companies can ensure that politicians who undermine the values of a company and its employees do not receive the support of their corporate PACs. As Microsoft conducts its internal review process, we plan to continue our conversations with their leadership and request a permanent commitment not to support the worst of the worst anti-LGBT elected officials. For today, we are excited to say ‘thank you’ to Microsoft for taking this vital first step,” concluded Hudson.

You can view Microsoft’s statement here.

Two weeks ago the Zero for Zeros campaign launched to ask pro-LGBT companies that were supporting anti-LGBT politicians to stop their corporate pac contributions to those elected officials who scored a zero on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard. Ten Representatives and 19 Senators have been identified by the Zero for Zeros campaign as the worst of the worst anti-LGBT legislators. The Zero for Zeros campaign has reached out to dozens of CEOs, and is in active conversations with a number of companies. Microsoft is the first company to issue a public statement halting their current giving and pledging to reevaluate PAC spending going forward.