Tuesday, April 30, 2019

'The Boys in the Band' nominated for The Tony Awards

The Tony Awards nominees have been announced, and The Boys in the Band has been nominated in the category of Best Revival of a Play. Besides, the actor Robin de Jesús has been nominated as Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play.

This play is about a group of gay men gather in a NYC apartment for a friend's birthday party. After the drinks are poured and the music turned up, the evening slowly exposes the fault lines beneath their friendships and the self, inflicted heartache that threatens their solidarity. 

A true theatrical game—changer, Mart Crowley's landmark 1968 play helped spark a revolution by putting gay men's lives onstage, unapologetically and without judgment, in a world that was not yet willing to fully accept them. 

The cast included Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesús, Brian Hutchison, Michael Benjamin Washington and Tuc Watkins, and was directed by Tony Award winner Joe Mantello. 

Good luck guys!!!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Valedictorian at Mormon University comes out in graduation speech

A valedictorian at a Mormon college used their graduation ceremony speech as an opportunity to come out.

Matty Easton attended his graduation ceremony at Brigham Young University in Provo (Utah) and declared he was proud to be gay during an inspirational speech.

Easton, who studied Political Science, shared a video of the speech on YouTube, where it has already racked up over 30,000 views in just a couple of days.

“I stand before my family, friends, and graduating class today to say that I am proud to be a gay son of God,” he said to applause and cheering from the crowd.

“I am not broken. I am loved and important in the plan of our great creator. Each of us are. Four years ago, it would have been impossible for me to imagine that I would come out to my entire college. It is a phenomenal feeling.”


Friday, April 26, 2019

A great step forwards for LGBT inclusion in England's schools

We can celebrate a great step forwards for LGBT inclusion in England’s schools. The regulations for teaching Relationships Education and Relationships and Sex Education in England’s primary and secondary schools have passed safely through the House of Lords.  

These new regulations mark a significant and welcome change to how pupils are taught about LGBT relationships and identities. It’s life-changing legislation that will give LGBT pupils the tools to make informed decisions about their relationships and their futures.  

From September 2020 all secondary schools will be required to teach pupils about sexual orientation and gender identity, and all primary schools will be required to teach about different families, which can include LGBT families.  

This teaching is hugely important. In primary schools, teaching about LGBT families ensures that children from LGBT families see themselves reflected in what they learn. 

It also helps all young people grow up knowing that there’s absolutely nothing wrong or unusual about being LGBT, helping to tackle the anti-LGBT bullying that remains widespread in our schools. 

Through building on this work at secondary level, schools can help all young people, including LGBT young people, make informed decisions, have healthy relationships and grow up feeling proud of who they are.  

The passing of this guidance is a landmark moment for LGBT equality in England’s schools that really deserves to be celebrated. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Prince Harry shows his support for transgender children

Prince Harry has offered his support to Mermaids, a UK-based charity which supports trans children and their families.

The Duke of Sussex, who has previously described the charity as “amazing,” invited Mermaids to join the Royal Foundation’s work on mental health.

Formed in 1995 as a support group, Mermaids works to raise awareness about gender issues amongst professionals and the general public, campaigning for the recognition of gender dysphoria in young people. It also lobbies for improvements in professional services.

Nearly half of all individuals who identify as transgender experience depression or anxiety issues while more than four in every five transgender school children have self-harmed.

The Mermaids CEO told that trans people are facing the “same headlines” as the gay community did 20 or 30 years ago, when Harry’s mother Diana, Princess of Wales, worked to transform public perception about HIV/AIDS.

“I think it’s always really important to young people to see that people with the authority and credibility that Prince Harry has are supporting them and are listening and acknowledging the fact that they exist,” she said.

Prince Harry has recently made young people a key focus of his work and spoke at a recent roundtable meeting, where he reportedly said: “They are on the front line of mental health work in the UK.”


My friend/sibling came out as trans

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Gay kisses to protest discrimination in Colombia

LGBT Colombians hold a 'besatón', or kiss-a-thon, to protest discrimination at a shopping mall in Bogota.

Dozens of couples kissed at the same time in the midst of a supportive crowd, in protest of an incident that happened at the mall a couple days earlier.

Esteban Carrillo and Nicolas Tellez were the victims of this act of discrimination they were also present in the protest.

The two gay men, who say they were merely hugging and holding hands, were harassed by another customer who claimed they were fondling each other in front of children.

The men called police to protect themselves from harassment, but the cops fined them for indecent exposure instead.

And so the protestors gathered, wielding rainbow flags and chanting in favor of gay rights. And, of course, kissing.

“Kissing someone is no crime,” Esteban said. “All we want is for there to be less divisions in this society, and no discrimination against people over their sexual preferences.”

Colombia has more protections for its LGBT citizens than many South American countries, but the stigma in the public eye is still very real.

Esteban and Nicolas, the young couple harassed and fined for being gay

Monday, April 22, 2019

Court lift ban on LGBT Pride in Turkey's capital

LGBT Pride events can now be held in Ankara, the capital city of Turkey, as a court has lifted a ban that previously prohibited such celebrations.

The ban, which was imposed in November 2017 using legislation brought in by the state of emergency that was imposed following the July 2016 coup attempt, had been the subject of an appeal by the Turkish LGBT rights group Kaos GL.

Although an initial appeal to the court was rejected in November 2018, on Friday it was announced that an appeal had been successful.

“We can say that the court has accepted our arguments that we have advocated since the day when the ban has declared," said Kaos GL's lawyer, Hayriye Kara, in a statement. "Instead of banning fundamental rights and freedoms to protect social peace, they said that the group that is vulnerable to any attack should be protected. It can be said that the court ruled that the state must protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of LGBTI+s”.

Although homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, homophobic attitudes persist, and in recent years Istanbul and Ankara have used emergency powers to ban the annual Gay Pride and Trans Pride marches in the cities.

Activists have persisted with attempting to hold the annual marches in Ankara and Istanbul, where it had been regularly held since 2003, but have faced mass arrests, beatings and tear gas from the police.

Recently, Mansur Yavas of opposition Republican People's Party was elected mayor of Ankara metropolitan municipality, on March 31 local elections in Turkey, in front of Erdogan's conservative candidate. 

Maybe things are changing in Turkey...

The last attempts to celebrate Pride in Ankara
were brutally disbanded by the police

Ankara is more beautiful with colors

Friday, April 19, 2019

China's largest e-commerce site removes LGBT products

China’s largest e-commerce site, Taobao, began removing LGBT-themed items from online stores this week.

Taobao, owned by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, told vendors selling products such as rainbow clothing and accessories that ‘erotic, violent and vulgar content’ was not allowed. 

The company prohibited items described as ‘LGBT’, ‘Les’ and ‘Gay’. They claimed her products contained ‘obscenity, pornography, violence or political sensitivity’.

This week, China’s largest social media, Sina Weibo, also removed LGBT content. A page dedicated named ‘Les’ and dedicated to lesbian users disappeared on Sunday. It had 143,000 members and 540 million engagements. A lesbian group, meanwhile, is no longer accepting new members.

It comes almost exactly a year since Weibo first cracked down on LGBT content. It said any ‘content that violates correct marriage and family ethics’ should be removed.

Homosexuality has been legal in China since 1997, but LGBT people lack legal recognition and are not afforded basic rights.

Another step back in China. Until when?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

California National Guard to defy Trump's transgender military ban

Trump’s policy banning transgender soldiers from joining the military has finally gone into effect, but the California National Guard is pushing back.

Anyone who has already transitioned or is in the process of doing so, will no longer be able to enlist, unless they are willing to serve as their birth gender. Similarly, anyone currently enlisted who is diagnosed with gender dysphoria in the future will only be allowed to serve as their birth gender.

The ban’s implementation would mean the discharge of an estimated 13,700 transgender service members, the largest single layoff of trans people in history. And it would come despite testimony from service chiefs that they had seen no discipline, morale or unit readiness problems with transgender troops serving openly in the military.

But Major General Matthew Beevers, who is one of the highest ranking officers of the California National Guard, has indicated that officials in charge there are interested in pursuing the exceptions and waivers that may be available to continue to allow transgender people to join up. “Anybody who is willing and able to serve state and nation should have the opportunity to serve,” he said.

“We intend to exercise every available avenue inside the policy and out, to ensure transgendered people who want to serve the California National Guard are afforded the opportunity to serve,” he added.

“It’s unconscionable in my mind that we would fundamentally discriminate against a certain class of people based on their gender identity. That should be the absolute least of our worries,” Beevers concluded.

Major General Beevers

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya: A timeline

On April 1, 2017, Novaya Gazeta published the first material about the abduction, torture and murder of LGBT people in Chechnya. In 3 years, with the support of an enormous number of supporters, the Russian LGBT Network has:
  • Evacuated over 150 people from the region.
  • Made it possible for people in Chechnya who have been persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity to leave Russia.
  • Prepared two reports (in July 2017 and March 2018) and a huge number of analytical and informative material about the persecution of LGBT people in the North Caucuses.
  • Filed numerous appeals to Russian law enforcement agencies.
Thanks to the work of the Russian LGBT Network, the international community has recognized the mass persecution of LGBT people organized by the Chechen authorities. In the past three years, a huge number of governments, along with international, intergovernmental and human rights organizations, have made statements about the need to conduct a thorough investigation into what is taking place in Chechnya.

At the end of December 2018, Austrian Professor of International Law, Wolfgang Benedek, presented a report that was prepared as part of the Moscow Mechanism of the OSCE. He wrote: “The evidence clearly shows that the allegations of very serious human rights violations in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation have been found confirmed. This concerns in particular allegations of harassment and persecution, arbitrary or unlawful arrests or detentions, torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions.”

Russia continues to deny both the existence and mass persecution of homosexual, bisexual and transgender people in the Chechen Republic. The Russian LGBT Network will do everything possible to ensure that the violence is stopped and the perpetrators punished.

Despite the alarming reports of anti-LGBT violence in Chechnya, Trump's Administration did not join several countries in signing a joint letter to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council calling for an investigation into the ongoing LGBT crisis in Chechnya.

The most significant dates concerning the persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya are listed here.

Kadyrov, Chechnya president, has the support of Putin

Sunday, April 14, 2019

A gay Democratic candidate should concern Trump the most

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend (Indiana), has become an unlikely rising star in the 2020 Democratic presidential field. 

In just a matter of a month, this 37-year-old - who would be the youngest and the first openly gay US president, has transformed himself from long-shot to legitimate contender for the White House.

Speaking to an audience gathered to see him in Manchester, New Hampshire, he admits that his campaign has had a "really good few weeks". And he added: "I'm mindful that this is a marathon but we're certainly thrilled with the way our message has been resonating."

A month ago, the mayor was a political afterthought in a Democratic field that seems to be expanding by the day. That was before a well-received nationally televised town hall appearance that caught the attention of political commentators and a public that was, perhaps, in search of a fresh face.

Obama campaign veteran David Axelrod raved that Buttigieg in his television appearance was "crisp, thoughtful and relatable".

Seth Mandel of the Washington Examiner said he is "calm, sane, and funny in a sea of performative-anger posers, and we should be able to appreciate that regardless of politics".

Andrew Sullivan of New York Magazine said he might be the best possible Democratic matchup against Donald Trump. "In style, generation, demeanour, and background, Buttigieg is a near-perfect way to put a drop shadow behind all of Trump's grandiosity, age, temperament, and privilege," he wrote.

Also former Ohio Gov. John Kasich told CNN's Chris Cuomo which Democratic presidential candidate he thinks poses the greatest challenge to Donald Trump in 2020.

Recently, a new public opinion survey in the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House indicates that onetime longshot Pete Buttigieg is now in third place among the multitude of contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Very interesting, isn't it?

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Trump's transgender military ban comes into force

Three years after the Obama Administration told transgender individuals they could serve openly and have access to gender-affirming medical and psychological care, the Trump Administration has reversed course. 

On July 26, 2017, Trump announced his plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, at the White House. On April 12, the Pentagon began to implement a controversial new policy that critics say is essentially a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for trans service members.

Under the new policy, currently serving transgender individuals who have already received a diagnosis of gender dysphoria may continue to serve in their preferred gender, receive hormone treatments and undergo gender-affirming surgery. But after April 12, anyone with gender dysphoria who is taking hormones or has already undergone a gender transition will not be allowed to enlist. Further, any currently serving troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria after this date will have to serve in their sex as assigned at birth and will be barred from taking hormones or getting gender-affirming surgery.

Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bipartisan resolution condemning Trump’s transgender military ban. A bipartisan majority join leading medical associations, national security experts and former military officials in opposing this dangerous and discriminatory policy. 

While Trump’s policy restricting transgender military service started, there are still four lawsuits pending against the policy, and all four cases are proceeding.


Friday, April 12, 2019

Arizona repeals homophobic education law

The Arizona House and Senate voted to advance Senate Bill 1346, which amends an existing 30-year-old law regarding AIDS instruction by repealing homophobic provisions, including that no course study may present “homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style.”

Gov. Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.) swiftly signed the bipartisan bill after the Senate’s vote, calling it a “common sense solution.”

The 1991 law, which also prohibited HIV and AIDS instruction that “suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex,” was challenged in a lawsuit filed last month on behalf of LGBT advocacy group Equality Arizona.

The suit alleged the law discriminated against LGBT youth and “communicates to teachers and students that there is something so undesirable, shameful, or controversial about homosexuality that any positive portrayals of LGBT people or same-sex relationships must be explicitly barred.”

After nearly three decades of this law placing stigma on LGBT community, the repeal sends a signal to every student, teacher, and family in Arizona that they are welcome in schools.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Crowned the second Mr Gay Japan

The Japanese LGBT community celebrated the crowning of the second Mr Gay Japan at an intimate event in the heart of Harajuku. The winer was 21-year-old Tiger Shigetake, from Tokyo.

But what made this event particularly significant was the activism and strength of individuals to make a change in a country where LGBT people live a relatively closeted life.

Although it’s safe to be LGBT, there is a lack of visibility in Japanese society so most remain hidden. This is largely due to a lack of positive representation in mainstream media.

Television and press depict LGBT characters as a point of humor or comedy. Things are changing, but rarely will you see LGBT individuals or couples celebrated amongst mainstream television and the media.

It’s just one of the many reasons why events like Mr Gay Japan are so important to create visibility.

The community’s current agenda focuses on pushing for marriage equality in Japan. A cause close to the heart of last year’s Mr Gay Japan, Shogo Kemmoku. To the surprise of the audience, Shogo got down on one knee and proposed to his boyfriend Geoff. 

This moment highlighted the imminent need for marriage equality and recognition of same-sex marriage in Japan and throughout Asia.

It's time Japan!

Last year's winner made a heartwarming 
marriage proposal to his boyfriend 

Monday, April 8, 2019

Biggest Kenya's refugee camp will host Pride again

Organizers of the first Pride parade in a refugee camp will defiantly return despite violence after the inaugural event. Mbazira Moses and his organization, Refugee Flag Kenya, put together the 2018 Pride at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.

Kakuma is one of the world’s biggest refugee camps and has a sizeable population that identifies as LGBT. Many of the LGBT people come from Uganda where gay sex is illegal.

Last year’s Pride festival went off with a hitch and proved a great success. But organizers then received death threats and violence afterwards. "If you don’t leave the camp we are going to kill you one by one and we mean it", a note to LGBT people in the camp read.

But Refugee Flag Kenya is not intimidated and plans to make the 2019 Pride event bigger than last year. Mbazira decided to engage local LGBT groups and businesses in nearby Nairobi.

‘This time our plan is to involve the Kenyan community and activists in our pride event so that it creates strong solidarity, togetherness and awareness as an LGBT community,’ Mbazira said.

Along with a Pride parade, the Kakuma Pride will host a trans party as the marquee event. The trans party will happen at a gay club in Nairobi. During the party a Mr and Miss Pride will be crowned and will also feature a beauty pageant.

The second Kakuma Pride will run on 27 June with organizers crowdfunding to cover the costs of running the event.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

More companies boycott Brunei over anti-gay laws

A British TV awards show and a Swiss-owned travel agency have joined a growing boycott of businesses owned by the kingdom of Brunei, after the country implemented new laws making gay sex and adultery punishable by stoning to death.

TV Choice magazine announced on Twitter that the annual TV Choice Awards would no longer take place at London's Dorchester Hotel, which operates under the Dorchester Collection brand, a luxury chain owned by the Sultan of Brunei.

London-based newspaper the Financial Times also said in a story on its website that it would cancel a planned event at the Dorchester Hotel and would not use any other Dorchester Collection hotels.

Deutsche Bank announced in a statement that its employees would no longer use Dorchester hotels on company business. "The new laws introduced by Brunei breach the most basic human rights, and we believe it is our duty as a firm to take action against them," the investment's chief risk officer Stuart Lewis said.

STA Travel, which focuses on travel for students and young people, wrote on Twitter that it would no longer sell flights on Brunei's national carrier, Royal Brunei Airlines, "in protest at recent changes to the law in Brunei." Customers who have already bought flights on Royal Brunei Airlines will be refunded if they no longer wish to fly with them, STA Travel said. 

Brunei, a tiny country on the island of Borneo, first nnounced the brutal new anti-LGBT laws in 2014, and they came into effect on April 3.

Celebrities including actor George Clooney, comedian Ellen DeGeneres, musician Elton John and tennis star Billie Jean King have called for a boycott of nine hotels owned by the country, which also include Hotel Bel-Air and the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, Principe di Savoia in Milan and Le Meurice in Paris.

Clooney said: "Every single time we stay at, or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery." 

We have to stop this new atrocity against LGBT people!!!

DeGeneres wrote on Instagram: "We need to do something now. 
Raise your voices now. Spread the word. Rise up."

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Chicago elects first African-American female and openly gay woman as mayor

Chicago just became the largest United States city to elect a black woman and openly gay person as mayor in a history-making vote.

Lori Lightfoot, a lawyer and the former president of the Chicago police board, defeated Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Tuesday to become the next mayor of the Windy City. She will succeed Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s two-term mayor and former chief of staff to President Barack Obama.

Lightfoot, 56, has held appointed positions related to police oversight and accountability in Chicago under Mayor Emanuel and former Mayor Richard Daley. She also previously served as assistant US attorney and, most recently, as a senior equity partner at Mayer Brown LLP. 

During the race, Lightfoot outpaced Preckwinkle with endorsements and gained the backing of the media, the business community, and candidates who did not make it to the runoff. Meanwhile, the Chicago Teachers Union endorsed Preckwinkle. So did Chance the Rapper and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), among others.

Lightfoot’s primary proposals include increasing access to affordable housing, creating an office of public safety to reduce crime and reform policing, and pushing through a real estate transfer tax to help combat homelessness. She also backs abolishing US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

That Lightfoot is a gay black woman leading the third-largest city in America is of huge significance, and she is aware of it. “I hope my presence in this race serves as an important reminder of the progress we’ve made in equality and inclusion,” Lightfoot told in February.

The challenges ahead aside, Lightfoot’s victory is a historic moment to celebrate.


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

150 pride organisations condemn anti-transgender bigotry in joint statement

More than 150 pride organisations from across the world have condemned anti-transgender bigotry in a powerful joint statement released for Trans Day of Visibility.

In the joint statement, which was published on the European Pride Organisers Association website and is titled #PrideWithTheT, they say they are disgusted and appalled by the visceral hatred and intolerance being targeted at the trans community.

The statement reads: “Fifty years ago, brave trans people stood up to police brutality, political indifference, and widespread hate. They stood alongside their lesbian, gay and bisexual friends and comrades, and said that enough was enough.

Half a century on, and as the current custodians of the Pride movement that sprang from this uprising, we acknowledge our roots and stand on the shoulders of those brave pioneers. We are disgusted and appalled by the visceral hatred and intolerance being targeted at the trans community.

Our Pride organisations are founded on a basis of respect, and we demand that all who come to Pride share our commitment to the equality and human rights of everyone in the LGBTI community.

Those who oppose equality and respect for any section of our community are as unwelcome at Pride as those who oppose equality and respect for every section of our community. We say again that enough is enough. We are proud to be part of this great movement, and we affirm that our Prides stand firmly With The T."