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LeVar Burton Leads Banned Books Week

LeVar Burton reading advocate, writer & actor will lead this year’s Banned Books Week that takes place October 1st to 7th. Burton is the first actor to serve as honorary chair of Banned Books Week's annual weeklong event that highlights the value of free & open access to information & brings together the entire book community as religious extremists continue attempts to censor library materials. Burton stated, “Books bring us together. They teach us about the world & each other. The ability to read & access books is a fundamental right & a necessity for life-long success. But books are under attack. They’re being removed from libraries & schools. Shelves have been emptied because of a small number of people & their misguided efforts toward censorship. Public advocacy campaigns like Banned Books Week are essential to helping people understand the scope of book censorship & what they can do to fight it. I’m honored to lead Banned Books Week 2023.” Saturday October 7th will mark “Let Freedom Read Day” a call to action about the urgent need to defend the right to read & to support the community of readers, library staff, educators, authors, publishers & booksellers. From calling decision-makers to checking out or buying banned books to writing letters everyone is encouraged to do at least one thing to defend the right to read & to speak on behalf of those who ensure access to information. Founded in 1982 Banned Books Week has drawn attention to the attempts to remove books & other materials from libraries, schools & bookstores. For More Info… 


UK LGBTQ Conversion Therapy Ban

Disappointing news out of the UK. The government has run out of time to publish draft legislation to ban LGBTQ conversion therapy. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is refusing to say if a ban is still planned so it looks like 5 years of promises have fallen to the wayside. My LGBTQ activist friend & colleague Peter Tatchell stated, "More than five years ago, the Conservative government promised to ban conversion therapy. Since then, it has been reiterated several times but we've had nothing but dither & delay. Earlier this year, draft legislation was pledged by the summer. That target has long passed. Now the government has run out of legislative time. A ban is dead in the water. We've been conned & betrayed." In the USA 27 states have now banned conversion therapy to protect our LGBTQ youth from this deadly practice, whether by legislation, regulations or executive actions. Conversion therapy has been rejected as unnecessary, ineffective & harmful by every major medical & mental health organization in the USA including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association & the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to The Trevor Project 15% those who had reported being subjected to the practice were more than twice the rate of attempting suicide in the past year. We certainly hope that the UK reconsiders the seriousness of this harmful practice & pass the much-needed legislation. For decades Peter Tatchell has unselfishly fought for educating, advocating & lobbying for the elimination of exclusion & discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, race, gender, disability, religion, belief, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, economic, social, cultural or refugee status. Check out his fabulous documentary “Hating Peter Tatchell” on Netflix. Watch Trailer  

NYC Pride Family Movie Night Returns

NYC Pride announced the return of LGBTQ family friendly film events co-presented by Rooftop Cinema Club (RCC). Audiences are invited to bid a fond farewell to the summer by taking in Disney’s The Little Mermaid (2023) on Saturday September 23rd at 4:15P & to warmly welcome spooky season with Coraline on Saturday October 14th at 2:30P. Sandra Pérez NYC Pride Executive Director stated, “As a parent myself, I’m excited to invite our NYC Pride community & their families to sit back, relax & enjoy family-friendly entertainment in a safe space where all LGBTQIA+ identities are respected & celebrated. Whether you’re a parent who identifies or raising a child that identifies as LGBTQIA+, there is no greater joy & comfort than knowing when & where you can safely spend time together, as a family, without fear of discrimination or harassment.” Gerry Cottle, Rooftop Cinema Club Founder & CEO concluded, “Following our June 2023 partnership with NYC Pride for a screening of the iconic camp musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show, we’re overjoyed to share our lovely space with NYC’s LGBTQIA+ families. Above all, we are proud to provide a fun & safe event for LGBTQIA+ families & the entire community.” NYC Pride members can enjoy 25% off their cost of admission to these screenings by booking their tickets using code NYCPRIDEFAM at checkout. Both of the 2023 NYC Pride Family Movie Night events will take place at Rooftop Cinema Club Midtown located at 60 West 37th Street in NYC featuring stunning skyline views as its backdrop. Please be advised that seating for each film is strictly limited to 108 attendees. 

Global LGBTQ Pride Org Gains UN Status

InterPride has been granted consultative status at the United Nations through the Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC). After a process that lasted more than 5 years this is vital & extraordinary recognition of the importance of Prides worldwide. Hadi Damien & Natalie Thompson, Co-Presidents of InterPride stated, “InterPride now further elevates the realities of LGBTQI+ Pride Organizers in UN institutions. The process has been long & challenging. We are thankful for the individuals within InterPride who have generously supported this work that makes us one of the few LGBTQI+ organizations with the access to speak and participate at the UN.” Richard Brethour-Bell, InterPride’s Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion & Accessibility added, “Each day at InterPride, we stand up for LGBTQI+ people & their right to live & safely gather in spaces free from violence & discrimination. Now, we can support our members in their fight to gather, change hearts & minds & build a world where LGBTQI+ people are free & equal through the hard-fought-for ability to uplift voices at the United Nations. I am excited for what we can do together.” J. Andrew Baker, UN Advocacy Coordinator at InterPride concluded, “In the face of growing & coordinated anti-rights actions against LGBTI people in countries worldwide, it is vital that InterPride brings the voices of Pride organizers & members organizations into United Nations spaces. I am honored to have led the process for InterPride to gain consultative status that allows our movements to document human rights violations against LGBTI people & advocate for the safety & protection of LGBTQI+ people when they gather in protest & celebration.” 

LGBTQ 2023 Studio Responsibility Index

GLAAD has released its 11th annual Studio Responsibility Index which maps the quantity, quality & diversity of LGBTQ characters in film during the previous calendar year. Although this year’s report finds progress & growth in LGBTQ representation in film the current studio-prolonged strikes in Hollywood risk stalling any & all progress from remaining on track for further growth. Sarah Kate Ellis GLAAD President & CEO stated, “At a time when the LGBTQ community is under unprecedented cultural & political attacks, it is more important than ever to hold film studios accountable for how our community is represented on-screen. The LGBTQ characters & stories found in this year’s study would not exist without the work of talented writers, actors, directors & crew on all levels and GLAAD firmly stands in solidarity with the SAG-AFTRA & the Writer’s Guild of America WGA in their efforts & contributions to fair & accurate storytelling integral to the LGBTQ movement.” Fran Drescher SAG-AFTRA President concluded, “Right now there’s a very tiny but loud segment of our population that’s hard at work spreading hate & fear while attempting to squash all storytelling that showcases the full, beautiful reality of the human experience. Seeing diverse representation on screen is vital for empowering everyone to embrace their authentic selves. Sadly, the longer the AMPTP companies keep the entertainment industry shut down by refusing to come back to the bargaining table, the more risk there is for disrupting the progress that’s been made in terms of inclusive representation. Let’s make a deal & end this stalemate so we can continue sharing diverse stories & create a more hopeful, empathetic society for today’s young people.” 

National LGBTQ Task Force Gala Event

The National LGBTQ Task Force 27th annual Gala takes place on October 14th at the fabulous Grand Ballroom of the Miami Beach Convention Center. Celebrating 50 years of activism the Gala is the premier annual celebration of South Florida’s LGBTQ community & serves as a night for LGBTQ people & allies to unite as a community, honor heroes of the LGBTQ rights movement & support the work of advancing equality for all LGBTQ people & their families. This year actress, model & activist Dominique Jackson best known for her lead role as Electrabel Abundance Evangelista Wintour aka Elektra in the hit show Pose on FX will receive the 2023 National Leadership Award an honor awarded each year to an advocate who has helped further the Task Force’s mission to advance freedom, justice & full equality for all LGBTQ people. Michael Bath, The Task Force Events Director stated, “It is crucial that we let our community know that we stand with them wherever they live & that we are committed to ensuring that even the highest obstacles to equality are confronted & toppled. It is my hope that the Task Force, working in conjunction with state & local partners in Florida, will be able to effect real change in the state, making it a safe place for all LGBTQ people & their families to live.” The presenting sponsor for the 2023 Gala is St. John’s on the Lake United Methodist Church. Funds raised by this year’s Gala will fuel the organization’s work to advance the rights & security of LGBTQ people across the country with a significant portion of the proceeds donated to the South Florida community through the LGBTQ+ Equity Fund. 

Alabama Trans Healthcare Ban Dispute

Alabama families are challenging the state’s ban on medical care for their transgender children & have asked the full 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to review a panel ruling. Shannon Minter, Legal Director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights stated, “Our clients & other Alabama families have a right to protect their transgender children & ensure they get the support they need. The panel’s decision tramples on that right & conflicts with clearly established Supreme Court & 11th Circuit law. We hope the full court will review this case & prevent this devastating criminal ban from taking effect.” Scott McCoy, Deputy Legal Director for LGBTQ Rights & Special Litigation at Southern Poverty Law Center added, “Allowing SB 184 to take effect would serve no purpose other than preventing parents from obtaining the medical care their children need. Every federal district court that has heard the evidence presented has come to the same conclusion: the established medical treatments recommended for transgender adolescents are safe, effective & lifesaving for some youth & there is no legitimate reason to ban them.” Sarah Warbelow, Legal Director at Human Rights Campaign concluded, “Parents, not the government, are best situated to make medical decisions for their children. That understanding is deeply rooted in our common understanding & our legal foundations. Allowing this ban to take effect would be a shocking reversal of firmly established precedent & a jarring intrusion into private family decisions.” The Alabama law likely violates the federal Equal Protection Clause & also violates parents’ fundamental right to make medical decisions for their children. 

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LeVar Burton Leads Banned Books Week

LeVar Burton reading advocate, writer & actor will lead this year’s Banned Books Week that takes place October 1st to 7th. Burton is t...

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