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Faith Virtual Town Hall For Equality

There will be an important virtual Town Hall event entitled “An Evening of Faith for Equality” presented by the National LGBTQ Task Force on Thursday September 23rd from 6:30P to 7:45P EST via Zoom. Guest speakers will included Bishop Yvette Flunder, Cedric Harmon, Beth Lemsky & Alex McNeil & hosted by Barbara Satin, Faith Work Director The Task Force who stated, “I hope you will join us on Thursday, September 23rd 6:30-7:45 PM ET for Faith for Equality with guest speakers Bishop Yvette Flunder, Cedric Harmon, Beth Lemsky, and Alex McNeil! Faith for Equality is a chance for us to uplift the voices of faith leaders in support of federal nondiscrimination protections. Protections that will safeguard LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination. Join us as we talk with faith leaders about civil and human rights & how people of faith & faith leaders can stand with LGBTQ+ people. Our collective voices will bring us closer to a country that has federal nondiscrimination protections for ALL.” With so many people hiding behind their religious convictions as reasons for opposing our LGBTQ community & the legislation that would provide for our safety & support many of these same people of faith are silent when it comes to supporting efforts for racial, voting & economic equity. Faith for Equality is a chance for us to uplift the voices of faith leaders in support of comprehensive federal legislation that will protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination. This is a free online event but you must register. For More Info & RSVP…

LISTEN:  Leslie Cohen Talks Memoir “The Audacity Of A Kiss”

New Survey Addressing LGBTQ Women


The National LGBTQ+ Women’s Community Survey recently launched a community based research & organizing effort to learn from the experiences of women who partner with other women & gather groundbreaking data. Garnering 5,200 respondents to date this unique effort is led by veteran queer, lesbian, bi, trans, nonbinary, researchers & activists. The survey is designed to discover all we know & do not know about the life experience of LGBTQ women who partner with women. Their goal is to reach 20,000 participants for the study by December 15th 2021. Dr. Jaime M. Grant, Survey Research Director stated, “Existing research about LGBTQ+ women excludes so many of us because it's often centered in sexual behavior rather than identity. We wanted people to see the full scope of our community -- all of us who did, have or do identify as women & or have partnered with women. Hence, our study has deep, community-centered questions about identity, so that we can see people in all their nuances. We want to be able to report on what’s happening in the collective as well as point out specific vulnerabilities.” Urvashi Vaid, The Vaid Group added, “Queer women’s lives are so varied & plural. We want to invite all women who have partnered with other women to share their experience of family, work, life, identity, gender, race, community, discrimination & resilience & much more. Our goal is to bring forward real life experience to inform policy change, service delivery & action to support LGBTQ+ women.” The survey is distributed online & available in English & Spanish & is for anyone who has identified as an LGBTQ woman who partners with women at any point in their lives. All data gathered is completely anonymous & confidential. For More Info… 

LISTEN:  Leslie Cohen Talks Memoir “The Audacity Of A Kiss”

Diversity Honors 6th Annual Gala Event

The globally renowned Diversity Honors celebration that benefits the Harvey Milk Foundation & The Pride Center at Equality Park that’s hosted by Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida will return on Saturday October 9th to recognize those who are transforming lives by living authentically & advancing inclusiveness. This year’s significant event will coincide with LGBTQ History Month & will honor stage & screen acting legend & philanthropist Julie Newmar (Catwoman, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar) with the DMK Harvey Milk Foundation ICON Award. Also social influencer Brian Christopher will be honored with the Harvey Milk Foundation Visibility Medal, Lithuanian filmmaker Romas Zabarauskas will receive the Harvey Milk Foundation LGBTQ Champion Award & Visit Lauderdale will be honored with The Pride Center at Equality Park Alan Schubert Award. Receiving the prestigious Diversity Honors awards are trail-blazing transgender activist Gina Duncan, attorney & activist Shenika “Nik” Harris, Executive Director for Legal Aid Service of Broward County Anthony J. Karrat & entrepreneur Linda Rae. Miriam Richter, a director of the Harvey Milk Foundation stated, “Diversity Honors was founded on one of Harvey Milk’s basic principles, namely, that we must encourage and celebrate visibility & authenticity so the world can know us and accept us. This is our goal in honoring local people & institutions as well as from all over the globe.” The celebratory evening will start with mandatory COVID-19 rapid testing at 4P & include a U.S. theatrical premiere of Director Romas Zabarauskas’ film, Advokatas (The Lawyer) at 5P followed by a Q&A with the director. The special event will be emceed by Jacey Birch, WPLG news anchor with awards presented by Stuart Milk as the co-founder and board president of the Harvey Milk Foundation. Virtual streaming tickets are also available. For More Info & Tix…

LISTEN:  Leslie Cohen Talks Memoir “The Audacity Of A Kiss”

Tribute Celebration Gala Goes Virtual

The Tribute Celebration a fabulous & inspiring evening honoring the achievements of community members & leaders in the fight to end HIV & will be presented virtually on September 18th live from San Francisco. This is an opportunity to tune in from the comfort of your own home with a virtual cocktail reception beginning at 7P PST. This year’s honorees are Google with the Corporate Pillar Award for their response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the HIV epidemic. Google has demonstrated a deep commitment to the Bay Area community with their unmatched support & advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community pushing the needle closer to achieving health justice. The Cleve Jones Leadership Award will go to Mayor London Breed for her decisive leadership during unprecedented times is a demonstration of her commitment to health justice. Breed’s ongoing support for ending both the AIDS epidemic & San Francisco’s opioid crisis has set the gold standard for leading with integrity. Tribute Celebration Co-chairs this year are Philip Hodges & Megan Minkiewicz. Co-hosting the event will be Juanita MORE! who over the past three decades has blitzed San Francisco with high glamour, drag irreverence, danceable beats, culinary delectables, civil rights activism & a philanthropic heart that has illuminated the entire city. Inspiring those around her to make a positive difference in their lives & in their communities doing it all with a timeless elegance & an innovative spirit. Joining Juanita will be Katya Smirnoff Skyy who has enthralled Bay Area audiences with her unique blend of opera, pop & booze. The countess spends her evenings crooning & drinking her way through the finer theaters, bars & bathhouses of America. All proceeds from Tribute Celebration directly support San Francisco AIDS Foundation. For Info & Tix…

LISTEN:  Leslie Cohen Talks Memoir “The Audacity Of A Kiss”

Ten Years After “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Modern Military Association of America is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” with celebrations on September 20th both in person & virtually. This is an opportunity to join servicemembers, veterans, their families & special guests from around the world to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) & to support the continuous fight for full inclusion for transgender & intersex servicemembers. Thanks to the repeal of DADT over the past decade lesbian, gay & bisexual service members have served openly & proudly in the Armed Forces without fear of being dismissed because of who they are or whom they love. The free virtual event takes place on Monday September 20th from 7P to 8P. Celebrate virtually with the leaders who led the fight for repeal in 2010. You’ll hear extraordinary stories from service members of all branches & learn more about the fight for the codification of transgender military service & the effort to lift the ban on service for intersex individuals & folks living with HIV. Keynote Speaker will include: Honorable Patrick J. Murphy, U.S. Representative — PA (fmr.), C. Dixon Osburn, Co-founder of Servicemember Legal Defense Network, Bree Fram, Space Force Lieutenant Colonel Bree Fram & President of SPARTA & Jennifer Dane, Air Force veteran & CEO of the Modern Military Association of America with additional speakers to be announced. Presenting sponsors are USAA, Comcast NBCUniversal & the Cerner Corporation. There will also be a number of in person events taking place in Washington DC on September 20th. For More Info...

LISTEN:  Leslie Cohen Talks Memoir “The Audacity Of A Kiss”

Memoir 'The Audacity Of A Kiss' (AUDIO)

This week I talked with Leslie Cohen about her new must-read memoir “The Audacity of a Kiss: Love, Art & Liberation” published by Rutgers University Press. This is an important read that tells the historic love story of a gay woman who broke through the oppressive roles expected for women in the 1950’s & 1960’s & came out on top in the 1970’s. Not only for women but remember in the 1950’s being LGBTQ was illegal & listed as an illness by the DSM (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). It was not until 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) finally removed the diagnosis of “homosexuality” from the second edition of its DSM. It was at this time that Cohen with three of her friends Michelle Florea, Linda Goldfarb & Barbara Russo created New York City’s first upscale women’s club Sahara that showcased women in art, politics & music. From May of 1976 to December of 1979 on Manhattan’s fashionable Upper East Side Sahara was the first club fronted by lesbian women instead of being controlled by Mafia Bosses. Creating a safe space for women attracted many celebrities and luminaries of the era including Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Pat Benatar, Ntozake Shange, Rita Mae Brown, Adrienne Rich, Patti Smith, Bella Abzug, Jane Fonda to name a few who performed & held special events at Sahara. This led to Leslie & her partner Beth Suskin becoming the models in 1979 for the iconic sculpture “Gay Liberation” in Greenwich Village that commemorates the Stonewall Riots & was declared a national monument by President Obama in 2016. I talked to Leslie about how Sahara changed the course of her life & her spin on our LGBTQ civil rights. LISTEN  

SAGE To Congress Pass The Equality Act


SAGE the world’s largest & oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ elders will spend this week taking action urging Congress to pass the Equality Act. Now through September 17th LGBTQ elders & allies will use their voice to demand change asking their senators to vote yes on the Equality Act in support of LGBTQ elders across the country. The Equality Act would update current federal nondiscrimination laws to explicitly protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in key areas of life. This legislation is especially vital for older LGBTQ people who rely on services such as home-delivered meals, senior centers & ride-share services to get to the doctor. Without these protections our LGBTQ elders in 28 states across the country can legally be denied these services. Michael Adams SAGE CEO stated, “After facing a lifetime of discrimination & spending decades at the forefront of the LGBTQ+ movement, our community’s elders are long overdue for comprehensive protection under federal law. This legislation is vital for ensuring that all older LGBTQ+ people can access the services & supports they need as they age, regardless of what state they live in. Throughout SAGE’s LGBTQ+ Elder Week of Action, advocates across the country will speak out in support of this critical legislation, reminding Congress that they must act now. LGBTQ+ elders have waited long enough.” By passing the Equality Act Congress has the opportunity to ensure the more than 2.7 million LGBTQ people who are 50 years or older in the United States can age with health, dignity & respect. For More Info… 

 

Maria Sjödin New OutRight Appointment

OutRight Action International Board of Directors welcome Deputy Executive Officer Maria Sjödin as the org’s new acting Executive Director as longtime Executive Director Jessica Stern joins the Biden Administration as U.S. Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons at the State Department. Maria has over 20 years of experience advocating for LGBTQ equality serving as Executive Director of RSFL, Sweden’s largest LGBTIQ organization from 2005 to 2014. While in this position Maria established RFSL's international program & played a key role in ensuring that the human rights of LGBTQ people become ingrained in the Swedish government's agenda for development and foreign affairs. Maria also advocated for marriage equality & the abolishment of forced sterilization of trans people as a requirement for legal gender recognition outlawed in 2013. Jenny Pizer, Senior Counsel at Lambda Legal & OutRight Board Co-Chair stated, “Maria is the perfect person to steer OutRight during this time of transition. As Deputy Executive Director, Maria co-created many of OutRight’s greatest successes, while also leading the organization’s development & communications work through a period of extraordinary revenue growth & media visibility. We are extremely fortunate to have in Maria a world-renowned LGBTIQ human rights expert, a skillful manager & a deeply trusted face of the organization as our Acting Executive Director.” For over 30 years OutRight has served as a global LGBTQ rights organization with staff around the world. Its COVID LGBTIQ Emergency Fund has now released $3.2 million in grants to 310 LGBTIQ organizations on the frontlines in 102 countries around the world. Its annual conference OutSummit will take place virtually December 8th to 10th. For More Info…

Honoring 9-11 20 Years Later (VIDEO)

There are many untold stories of LGBTQ people who were involved or died on that infamous day in 2001. Here are a few we chose to tell twenty years later. Tom Ryan was a retired New York City firefighter who upon hearing of the attacks on World Trade Center called his firehouse & rushed to the scene. At the time Tom was the only openly gay firefighter in the FDNY. Father Mychal Judge was the gay Catholic priest who was killed by debris from the collapsing World Trade Center as he was caring for victims. Father Judge, 68, was a chaplain at the New York Fire Department & was known in the New York LGBTQ community for his work with AIDS outreach. His funeral Mass held at St. Francis of Assisi Church where he resided brought over 2,000 people. Tom Ryan was a pallbearer at Father Mychal Judge’s funeral. In the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan next door to the now closed St. Vincent’s hospital the LGBTQ Community Center offered immediate assistance to survivors & later counseling services for those grieving. More than 30 LGBTQ organizations held a memorial for victims of the World Trade Center attacks at the Center. In 2002 I produced & directed this music video tribute dedicated to those who perished on September 11th 2001. Michael Feinstein performs Leonard Bernstein & Stephen Sondheim's "Somewhere" from "West Side Story" with Keith Lockhart & the Boston Pops. Twenty Years Later... Let's Take a Moment to Reflect & Remember....

Discrimination Against LGBTQ Workers

Until we pass the Equality Act our LGBTQ workforce continues to face job discrimination according to a new study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. This isn’t really surprising but it is still shocking that in 2021 the report found that 46% of LGBTQ workers reported receiving unfair treatment at some point in their careers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity including being passed over for a job, harassed at work, denied a promotion or raise, excluded from company events, denied additional hours or fired. Even more upsetting is that many reported being denied a job or laid off in the past 12 months because of their orientation or identity. Progress is slow in coming for our LGBTQ workforce though there has been some progress. In North Carolina a wrongfully terminated a gay substitute teacher who was fired by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte when he announced that he was getting married will go to trial. U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn said the Charlotte Catholic High School violated federal sex discrimination laws when it fired Lonnie Billard. Judge Cogburn stated, "Defendants cannot escape Title VII liability by recharacterizing Plaintiff's announcement of his engagement as "advocacy". If Plaintiff were a woman who posted on Facebook that she was getting married to her husband, Defendants would not have interpreted her announcement as "advocacy" for or against the Catholic Church. Plaintiff's engagement was only considered advocacy because of his sex." The Williams Institute study also reports there are approximately 8.1 million LGBTQ workers over the age of 16 in the U.S., almost half (3.9 million) of whom live in states without anti-discrimination laws protecting sexual orientation & gender identity.  Read Full Report…

NYC Anti-Violence Project Virtual Event

The NYC Anti-violence Project as part of AVP’s 40th anniversary is presenting “Courageous Conversations” that will address the impact of spiritual violence by some religious traditions towards our LGBTQ community. This will be a two-part live broadcast on September 23rd & 30th with community experts from AVP, Trinity Church Wall Street & their partners who will discuss spiritual violence against LGBTQ people, what can be done to address these wounds & how faith communities & anti-violence organizations can work together to stem this damaging rhetoric. Speakers will included; Rev. Liz Edmanis an Episcopal priest & political strategist, Rev. Kyndra Frazier an ordained Baptist clergywoman & licensed clinician, Rabbi Marisa Elana James Director of Social Justice Programming at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, J Mase III a Black Transgender queer poet & educator based in Seattle by way of Philly, Rev. Clint Schnekloth pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Lisa Stuart a 38 year old Christian trans woman who came to northwest Arkansas from south Mississippi ten years ago seeking a safe place to begin her transition, Darlene S. Torres, LMSW & the Director of Client Services at the New York City Anti-Violence Project & Rev. Matt Welsch who serves as Priest for Youth & Family at Trinity Church Wall Street. In 1980 the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) was born in the streets of Chelsea created by community activists in response to a series of brutal attacks against gay men. From the start they took to the streets, pushed back on the police & demanded safety & justice for our LGBTQ community at a time when few believed it was our right. For Info & Registration… 

 

Texas Launches A New War On Women

Now that The Supreme Court has refused to block the obscene new Texas Law SB8 prohibiting most abortions that took effect September 1st, our country must acknowledge that Texas has formally launched a war on women. With Trump successfully packing the Supreme Court with anti-choice judges including at least two known predators it’s time to stop the American assault on women’s right to control their own bodies. In the midst of a pandemic with the country suffering from hurricanes & fires Texas declared that women in their state won't be able to get an abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy which is before many women even know they're pregnant. Texas already had extreme abortion restrictions that make it difficult to access safe, legal abortion in their state but this law makes things even worse. It also encourages private citizens to sue abortion providers as well as anyone who helps a woman access an abortion in Texas with a $10,000 reward. Vice President Kamala Harris stated, “Last night, the Supreme Court threatened nearly 50 years of legal precedent, dealing a significant blow to Roe v. Wade & the right of women to make decisions about their own bodies. Without a hearing or due consideration, the majority of justices effectively allowed a bounty law to go into effect in Texas & an abortion ban after about six weeks of pregnancy even in cases of rape or incest. This decision is not the last word on Roe v. Wade & we will not stand by & allow our nation to go back to the days of back-alley abortions. We will not abide by cash incentives for virtual vigilantes & intimidation for patients. We will use every lever of our Administration to defend the right to safe & legal abortion & to strengthen that right.” To Save Roe v. Wade…

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Faith Virtual Town Hall For Equality

There will be an important virtual Town Hall event entitled “An Evening of Faith for Equality” presented by the National LGBTQ Task Force ...

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