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Brittney Griner Finally Free (AUDIO)

WNBA star Brittney Griner has finally been released from Russian detention & is on her way back to the United States. Moscow swapped the athlete for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout commuting his 25-year prison sentence. Griner had been in Russian custody since her arrest at an airport near Moscow in February. Kierra Johnson, National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director stated, “From day one, our hearts have been with Brittney Griner, her wife Cherelle, her family & countless fans. So many raised their voices to call for her return, a movement to #freeBG that included the WNBA, the LGBTQ community around the world & millions of fans & others. Number 42 has been hanging on my wall as a daily reminder of the violence & discrimination Black people, LGBTQ folks & women regularly endure in this country & around the world. After being held for months in a Russian prison on drug charges, we are overjoyed & relieved she has been released today in a one-for-one prisoner swap for international arms dealer Viktor Bout. We thank President Biden & all those who relentlessly negotiated & advocated for her release & return to her family. Now her jersey will be a celebration & reminder of the resilience of our people & the power of our community. We advocate for the swift return of every American being held against their will as political pawns of governments that have wrongfully detained them, especially Paul Whelan. No one should have to endure what these families have & we must continue to fight for their freedom.” Last March I talked to Aron Solomon chief legal analyst at Esquire Digital about Griner’s detainment in Russia. LISTEN

Mexico LGBTQ Inclusion Commitment

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF) launched its 6th annual survey evaluating LGBTQ workplace inclusion within major Mexican businesses & multinationals. This year 252 employers have earned top ratings in the 2023 HRC report & total participants have increased to 298 from last year’s total of 262 reflecting a growing commitment in Mexico to creating LGBTQ inclusive policies & practices in their workplaces. RaShawn Hawkins, Director of the HRC Foundation’s Workplace Equality Program stated, “Inclusive workplaces increase engagement & productivity, lift up disadvantaged communities & help a business’s bottom line. Everyone wins - LGBTQ+ people, our co-workers & customers - when employers work to advance policies & practices focused on LGBTQ-inclusion & belonging. It’s the right business decision & it’s the right thing to do. HRC celebrates this year’s honorees for showing the way forward & we’re grateful to our implementing partners on the ground in Mexico for their collaboration & commitment to this work.” Fernando Velázquez, HRCF Equidad MX Implementing Partner added, “This year’s results are truly inspiring. The growing number of businesses committed to promoting LGBTQ+-inclusive policies & practices in Mexico indicates that more & more corporate leaders understand & value the equity & benefits of inclusive workplaces. We continue to see growth—32% of this year’s participants are Mexican companies.” Francisco Robledo, HRCF Equidad MX Implementing Partner concluded, “This year reflects the first major evolution of the program’s criteria & we were pleased with the progress. Corporate respondents were asked questions about their commitment to LGBTQ+ diversity & inclusion education & training, an area in which is a great opportunity for growth.” 

Supreme Court LGBTQ Equality Agenda

The radical right Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in 303 Creative, LLC v. Elenis on Monday December 5th a case which takes to task Colorado's ban on businesses & other places of public accommodation discriminating against our LGBTQ community. The case is reminiscent of the homophobic  arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights which resulted in a narrow 2018 Supreme Court decision & the same right wing law firm Alliance Defending Freedom is again attempting to overturn Colorado's anti-discrimination law. Like the Colorado baker a Christian graphic designer who creates custom wedding websites for her clients is refusing to create websites celebrating gay & lesbian marriages. Andy Thayer, co-founder of the LGBTQ Gay Liberation Network stated, "Now that anti-LGBTQ forces have packed the court's majority with the judges they want, they're taking a second bite at the apple. With no hint of irony, they're recycling the same arguments used a generation ago to try to stop equal access to public accommodations by Blacks." Roger Fraser LGBTQ Gay Liberation Network concluded, "While the 'Straights Only' case doesn't directly target racial & religious groups' equal access to public accommodations, it isn't hard to see that the attack on LGBTQ rights in this respect puts everyone's rights at risk. It's part of a broad spectrum attack, escalating with last June's dismantling of Roe v. Wade, that jeopardizes the gains that generations of civil rights activists fought & in some cases died for." So here we go again while we wait for Biden to sign into law the Respect of Marriage Act.

Provincetown’s 25th Holly Folly Festival

The annual LGBTQ holiday themed Holly Folly Festival takes place from December 2nd to the 4th in Provincetown, MA. Since 1997 Holly Folly has been an opportunity to gather & celebrate the Oh So Gay season in Ptown & today our LGBTQ community travels from around the globe to enjoy the festival. There are special performances, art, fine dining & holiday shopping experiences from fabulous shops, pop-up markets, boutiques & galleries that line Commercial Street. During the day check out the Holiday Market at Canteen that has quickly become a holiday tradition starting Friday December 2nd from 11A to 5P at 225 Commercial Street. Then the gayest holiday show returns to Town Hall when the Crown & Anchor presents an all-star line-up that includes some of your favorite Provincetown talents to kick off the season on Friday December 2nd at 8:30P. The infamous Jingle Bell Run + Brunch takes place on Saturday December 3rd from 1A to 1P. The course starts at Fanizzi’s for coffee & a run through Provincetown to the Lobster Pot Tree with as little clothing as you dare for this frosty fun-run. Then warm-up for the annual ugly holiday sweater tradition returning to Harbor Lounge on Saturday afternoon at 5P. Also don’t miss Paige Turner’s ‘Drag Me to Christmas’ as this oversized Barbie wants a lot this Christmas & isn’t taking no for an answer. ‘Tis the season to be greedy, so come be a misfit, get your stocking stuffed & celebrate the true meaning of Christmas—Paige Turner style featuring over-the-top parodies & holiday classics like Mariah Carey, Bing Crosby, parodies as well as original holiday songs written for Miss Turner on Sunday December 4th at Post Office Cafe & Cabaret. 

BGMC Holiday Concerts Return (AUDIO)

This week I talked with Sarah Shoffner the new Executive Director of the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus (BGMC) about their upcoming holiday concert series entitled “Joyful & Triumphant & Gay.” Founded in 1982 this fabulous 200+ voice ensemble is presenting their first live holiday concert since 2019. Performances under BGMC Music Director Reuben Reynolds are December 4th at 3P at Mechanics Hall in Worcester & evening performances December 9th, 16th, 17th & 18 at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall in Boston, MA. The title of the show is a tribute to Dean X. Johnson the accompanist & assistant director of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus (NYCGMC) who died of AIDS in 1998 at age 42. Johnson composed “Joyful & Triumphant!” with fellow NYCGMC member Jeff Baron at the height of the AIDS crisis in 1992. “Joyful & Triumphant & Gay” opens with the traditional French carol “Sing We Now of Christmas” & features classics like Bruckner’s “Ave Maria” & “Locus iste” alongside modern holiday fare that includes Cyndi Lauper’s “Christmas Conga”, “A Place Called Home” from “A Christmas Carol: The Musical” & Kylie Minogue’s “Christmas Isn’t Christmas ’Til You Get Here.” The concert will also feature two pieces by American composer Jacob J. Narverud including “Sisi Ni Moja” which means we are one in Swahili & a performance of the powerful “Ukrainian Bell Carol” as a reminder of the horrible human costs of war & our capacity for joy despite them. The chorus will also debut a new suite by BGMC Principal Accompanist & Assistant Music Director Chad Weirick which draws on classic carols & Christmas music to reflect his experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. I talked to Sarah about what she hopes to accomplish with BGMC & her spin on our LGBTQ issues. LISTEN  

Senate Passes Marriage Equality Act

The U.S. Senate has passed the Respect for Marriage Act with a bipartisan vote of 61-36. We want to thank U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Rob Portman (R-OH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) Thom Tillis (R-NC) & Feinstein (D-CA) for their leadership & support of the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA). Senator Tammy Baldwin stated, "Millions of same-sex & interracial couples made this moment possible by living openly as their authentic selves, changing the hearts & minds of people around them. This legislation will protect the hard-fought progress we’ve made on marriage equality & I look forward to the Respect for Marriage Act becoming the law of the land." President Biden concluded, “With today’s bipartisan Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, the United States is on the brink of reaffirming a fundamental truth: love is love, & Americans should have the right to marry the person they love. For millions of Americans, this legislation will safeguard the rights & protections to which LGBTQI+ & interracial couples & their children are entitled. It will also ensure that, for generations to follow, LGBTQI+ youth will grow up knowing that they, too, can lead full, happy lives & build families of their own. Importantly, the Senate’s passage of the Respect for Marriage Act is a bipartisan achievement. I’m grateful to the determined Members of Congress especially Senators Baldwin, Collins, Portman, Sinema, Tillis & Feinstein whose leadership has underscored that Republicans & Democrats together support the essential right of LGBTQI+ & interracial couples to marry. I look forward to welcoming them at the White House after the House passes this legislation & sends it to my desk, where I will promptly & proudly sign it into law." WATCH HISTORIC VIDEO   

World AIDS Day National Observance

In San Francisco the National AIDS Memorial will commemorate World AIDS Day with two powerful events on November 30th & December 1st as the community comes together to remember & celebrate those lost to HIV/AIDS & all who are surviving & thriving today. The programming will focus on “Changing the Pattern for a Future without AIDS.” During the events Cleve Jones founder of the AIDS Memorial Quilt & advocate for health, social & LGBTQ rights will be honored with the National AIDS Memorial Lifetime of Commitment Award. The annual tradition of gathering in the Grove on the eve of World AIDS Day for the National AIDS Memorial’s annual Light in the Grove Gala returns for an evening of light, art, friends & remembrance, immersed in nature on November 30th from 6P to 9:30P. Light in the Grove is attended by over 600 guests who will experience a moving candlelight reflection at the Circle of Friends & then walk through the spectacularly illuminated Redwood Grove featuring artistic performances to a warmly lit event Gala tent. Formal program begins at 7:15P with Cleve Jones being honored. Tickets are still available for this private event with all proceeds supporting the programs of the National AIDS Memorial. Then on Thursday December 1st from 11A to 2P the National AIDS Memorial annual World AIDS Day National Observance will bring together the community for dialogue, fellowship & remembrance at the National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park. A few years ago I talked to Cleve Jones in this exclusive audio byte about how AIDS has affected our LGBTQ community.  LISTEN 

Truth About The Kids Online Safety Act

On Monday November 28th dozens of human rights & LGBTQ organizations will be submitting a letter to Majority Leader Schumer, Chairwoman Cantwell & Ranking Member Wicker formally opposing the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA). The letter will explain why this misleading & misrepresented piece of legislation is so dangerous for our LGBTQ community & our country. The Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) will not make kids safer online but instead give enforcement power to attorney generals across the country empowering bad actors like Texas’s Ken Paxton to target any website for having “harmful” content including any & all LGBTQ+ content. This also includes removing info on abortion, sexual wellness, anything mentioning sexuality & resources on dealing healthily with any of the “harmful” content mentioned in the text of the bill. There has been coverage suggesting that Congressional leaders plan to include KOSA in the must-pass omnibus spending bill but not much coverage of the significant concerns with this legislation & opposition from LGBTQ & human rights groups. The list of orgs signing on to oppose this legislation includes the ACLU, GLAAD, Fight for the Future, EFF, Public Knowledge, GLSEN, American Library Association, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Human Trafficking Prevention Project, Ranking Digital Rights, the Tor Project, Wikimedia Foundation & New America’s Open Technology Institute & it's also signed by numerous state & local LGBTQ organizations particularly from states where legislators & attorneys general have attacked LGBTQ rights including Equality Texas, Equality Utah, Trans Ohio, Georgia Equality, OutNebraska, Louisiana Trans Advocates & more. Please call your Senators now to oppose this disastrous bill. 

One Night Only Benefit Cabaret Event

The Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation (REAF) is presenting a special One Night Only Benefit Cabaret featuring cast members from the touring cast of the Tony Award-winning show AIN’T TOO PROUD in “Love’s in Need of Love, Today” with special guest Paula West. This fabulous event takes place Monday November 28th at 7:30P at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater in San Francisco. Kenneth Henderson, Executive Director of the Richmond/Ermet AID Foundation stated, “People think the AIDS epidemic is over & we don't need to pay attention to it anymore. Events like One Night Only Benefit Cabaret serve not only to raise funds for local AIDS services but to remind people that there's still a need for funding them. More people are living with HIV & AIDS than ever before in history.” Kick Off the Holidays with Cast Members from the Broadway Touring Cast of "AIN'T TOO PROUD" in REAF's First "One Night Only" Benefit Cabaret in two years after the Covid pandemic shut this series down. The Tony Award-winning show "AIN'T TOO PROUD" originated in the Bay Area at Berkeley Rep & has been a smash hit around the USA. Based on the story of The Temptations, this electrifying show showcases some of Motown's best music. Joining the cast of this great show will be San Francisco jazz icon Paula West. Tickets are on sale now for this fun & fabulous show so don't want to miss. This is a vaccinated-only event & proof of vaccination will be required to enter. COVID is still spreading & they ask audience members to remain masked when not actively eating or drinking. 

TCM Presents “Boys Don’t Cry" (AUDIO)

This week I talked with filmmaker Kimberly Peirce about her award-winning film “Boys Don’t Cry” that’s featured on the 2nd season of Turner Classic Movies series “Reframed” on Saturday November 26th at 10:15P. “Reframed” addresses famous/classic films that may have been controversial when they were released due to their themes like homophobia, misogyny, racism etc. The series airing throughout November is also taking a look at pioneering LGBTQ films from an historical perspective. Each film is shown along with a discussion from film experts about these issues. Peirce will be co-hosting the show with Ben Mankiewicz who will engage in a conversation about how this 1999 breakthrough film raised awareness to the lives of our transgender community & the discrimination they faced that unfortunately continues today. “Boys Don't Cry” directed by Kimberly & co-written by Peirce & Andy Bienen was inducted into the Library of Congress as a National Treasure in 2020. The film is a dramatization of the real-life story of Brandon Teena played by actress Hilary Swank who won a Best Actress Oscar for her performance. The story is about a trans man who attempts to find love in Nebraska but falls victim to a brutal hate crime perpetrated by two male acquaintances. The film co-stars Chloë Sevigny who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress as Teena's girlfriend Lana Tisdel. The conversation concludes with Mankiewicz & Peirce on Sunday November 27th at 10P when they present the 2005 LGBTQ award winning film “Brokeback Mountain”. I talked to Kimberly about what she hopes to accomplish with her work & her spin on our LGBTQ issues. LISTEN  

LGBTQ Leaders React To Club Q Attack

Saturday night at Club Q in Colorado Springs five members of our LGBTQ community were murdered & 18 more were wounded. Our hearts are broken for the lives that were lost, those they leave behind & our entire LGBTQ community having once again to be confronted by another senseless hate crime. Mardi Moore, Executive Director of Out Boulder County in Colorado stated, “While we are no stranger to violence, each time this happens it sends devastating ripples throughout our entire community. We grieve together when one of our LGBTQ siblings is taken from us by violence. We fear for our own safety & the safety of those we know & love. We are angry when anyone is killed because of who we are or who we love, & we lament that political attacks on our community embolden hate & make us all less safe. We rage because this happens far too often & the toll that hatred & violence takes on our community is far too high. Out Boulder County remains committed to improving the lives of LGBTQ people while they are living, fighting like hell to keep them alive & grieving for those we lose.” Dr. David J. Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition concluded, "When ignorance is weaponized to become hate, people suffer. When hate-filled people are without communities that love & support their ability to celebrate diversity, embrace democracy & prioritize mental wellness, they can cause harm—to themselves & others. People die when hateful people have access to guns & live in communities & a country that prioritizes people over weapons of mass destruction. We’ve seen this before & sadly, it will continue to happen until we collectively do better.” We stand in solidarity for the victims of this terrible shooting & their loved ones.

Colorado LGBTQ Community Murdered

As we come together as a community for Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) at least 5 people were murdered & 18 injured in a shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs late last night. Authorities report that the suspect is in custody. This horrific shooting is reflective of the 2016 attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando when a gunman killed 49 people & wounded at least 53 & adds to Colorado being the site of some of the most heinous mass shootings in US history including Columbine High School in 1999 & the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora. We have 2 years to get some substantial gun legislation passed in this country to hinder these senseless killing. As we honor Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) today & this week we remember the transgender & nonbinary lives taken this year by anti-transgender hatred & bigotry. With each life taken our community loses so much. In 2022 at least 32 transgender & nonbinary people have been killed & there were probably more because too often these stories go unreported or misreported. This is a national epidemic especially for our Black & Latinx trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by these fatal acts of violence & no surprise Florida remains the epicenter. As DeSantis ramps up his unrelenting transphobia in state agencies he’s weaponizing for his own political gain by putting the lives of transgender people at risk passing the Transgender Youth Sports Ban & Don’t Say LGBTQ laws to eliminating life-saving healthcare for over 9,000 transgender Floridians on Medicaid & trying to restrict gender-affirming care for trans youth. Now is the time we all need to speak out & act against homophobia, transphobia, racism & hatred of all kinds. 

Feminist Icons On Iran Women’s Revolt

Women’s Media Center Co-Founders Gloria Steinem & Jane Fonda addressed the Women’s Revolution in Iran at the organization’s Women’s Media Awards. Jane Fonda stated, “The Women's Media Center feels it crucial to emphasize our solidarity with the Women's Revolution in Iran. This is not only because to date more than 300 protestors have been killed & 14,000 arrested--including 63 journalists. This revolution is exploding all over Iran—the likes of which have never been seen in the entire region. It was triggered by the death on September 16th of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Jina Amini, three days after she was detained by the so-called ‘morality police’ for an alleged violation of the country’s harsh strictures on women’s clothing. Within days, protests burst out across the country in spontaneous grief, rage & defiance by women burning their head scarves, cutting their hair & chanting, ‘Women. Life. Freedom….” Gloria Steinem, WMC Co-Founder concluded, “The United States imposed sanctions on senior officials from Iran’s intelligence & law enforcement branches, condemning what Secretary of State Tony Blinken called ‘Mahsa’s tragic & brutal death.’ But that is nowhere near enough. We want more action. We want more sanctions. The Women’s Media Center calls on women everywhere to move in solidarity with Iranian women & with this Women’s Revolution & with the men supporting these women…Women & girls, our sisters, are trapped in their country with no voice out to the world. We can offer them that voice. Iranian women need to know that we are with them & with the Global Women’s Movement, which won't be stopped...” 

Respect Of Marriage Protections For All

Now that the U.S. Senate has voted 62-37 for cloture on the Respect for Marriage Act, H.R. 8404 will to move forward to the Senate floor. Kelley Robinson HRC Incoming President stated, “The devastating United States Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was a clear reminder that we are just one Supreme Court decision away from losing too many of our hard fought for rights. In the concurring opinion, Justice Thomas made the outrageous suggestion that Lawrence v. Texas & Obergefell v. Hodges should be next to be challenged. It is clear there is an urgent, dire need to ensure, once & for all, that the days of debate around marriage equality are over. The will of the people is on our side.” Sarah Kate Ellis GLAAD President & CEO concluded, "Any Senator who votes against this bill is casting a vote that harms LGBTQ Americans & is out of touch with a bipartisan supermajority of Americans who support the freedom to marry. Since the first legal marriages for same-gender couples took place in 2004, marriage equality has improved the lives of countless LGBTQ people & their families. As extremist politicians push anti-LGBTQ playbooks on the state level & right-wing U.S. Supreme Court justices overturn other legal precedent, the bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act is an opportunity for our leaders to come together to send a message of equal treatment for everyone. All married couples, including same-gender & interracial couples, are worthy of dignity, respect & equal protection under the law.” Let’s get this done & pass Respect for Marriage Act.

New Guide "Pickleball Is Life" (AUDIO)

This week I talked with author Erin McHugh about her new must-read book “Pickleball Is Life: The Complete Guide to Feeding Your Obsession” just in time for the holiday season. Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America. It’s easy to learn but impossible to master making it the sports craze that’s sweeping the nation. Nearly 5 million people nationwide have picked up their paddles & taken to the court. In her new book McHugh highlights the rules & the fun of the game in a fabulous handbook format published by HarperCollins & delightfully illustrated by Jackie Besteman. “Pickleball Is Life” is the first book of its kind celebrating the wild & wonderful world of pickleball taking the readers on a journey from the sport’s quirky origins to its modern-day cult following. Erin shares a vast pickleball history & knowledge including etiquette tips, a DIY court, obscure rules & pointers for good-natured trash talk. Along the way with its visual graphs & illustrations you’ll be inspired to get on board to the current trend that has embraced everyone of all ages & attracted a huge celebrity following. Erin also includes interviews with members of the three founding families from Bainbridge Island, Washington who are still very much involved in the sport & its growth. People of all athletic abilities & backgrounds have fallen in love with pickleball but it’s also an excellent way to exercise, interact & socialize with others something we’re all craving now more than ever. In this exclusive audio chat I talked to Erin about her inspiration for writing her new book & her spin on our LGBTQ issues. LISTEN  

Wicked Queer Documentary Film Fest

Wicked Queer, Boston’s LGBTQ Film Festival is presenting their first ever documentary mini fall fest WQ Docs that kicks off Friday November 18th & runs until Monday November 21st. Opening night documentary will be “Esther Newton Made Me Gay” by filmmaker Jean Carlomusto on November 18th at 7P at the Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Avenue in Boston, MA. Newton has spent six decades writing about & forging queer communities. "Esther Newton Made Me Gay" is a rare look at queer history & gender studies through a living lesbian icon encompassing amazing archival footage peppered with Esther’s other passion of dog training poodles. Then on Saturday November 19th WQ Docs presents "Uýra: The Rising Forest" at 12P also at the Museum of Fine Arts. Uýrais a trans-indigenous artist travels through the Amazon forest on a journey of self-discovery using performance art & ancestral messages to teach indigenous youth & confront structural racism & transphobia in Brazil. Next is "A Run for More" with director Ray Whitehouse & producer Andre Perez on November 19th at 3P at the Museum of Fine Arts. The film is about Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe a transgender woman in Texas expected to encounter resistance to her campaign for city council. Then on Sunday November 20th is "Casa Susanna" about the straitlaced 1950s & 60s, cross-dressing men & transgender women found temporary refuge, community & joy gathering at a house in the Catskills at the Museum of Fine Arts at 2P. Then "Nelly & Nadine" on November 20th at 5P at Brattle Theatre in Cambridge & closing WQ Docs Film Festival will be "The Radical" on November 21st at 7P at the Brattle. 

Indiana Trans Sports Ban Challenged

Eight transgender women athletes filed a friend of the court brief with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Indiana challenging Indiana’s transgender sports ban, House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1041. The athletes who vary in age, sport, geography & level of competition include well-known athletes Hailey Davidson & Kayla Ward. All speak to the profound personal, social & emotional strength they have gained through sports. David Brown, Legal Director for the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund stated, “Virtually every athletic regulatory body including the NCAA, World Athletics & the International Olympic Committee has had policies in place for years that allow for transgender people to participate fairly. All athletes benefit from inclusive & supportive policies that incentivize the development of critical life skills. What we are seeing with this law & similar laws across the country is yet another attempt to politicize trans lives & fearmonger to win elections, with absolutely no regard for reality or the devastating impacts these laws have on transgender young people.” The amicus curiae brief was filed in the lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana on behalf of A.M. a 10 -year-old girl who plays on her school’s all-girls softball team. HEA 1041 would deny A.M. the ability to play with her team because she is a transgender girl. According to the complaint filed in the lawsuit playing softball has helped A.M. to more fully experience her life as a girl. Not allowing her to do so would be a painful, constant reminder that she is not accepted by the world as the girl that she is. 

U.S. Senate Wins Pro-Equality Majority

What a pleasure after months of ranting loud mouth obnoxious MAGA extremist candidates the Dems have delivered a pro-equality majority who will be returning to the U.S. Senate in 2023. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada was re-elected as well as Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona last night resulting in a pro-equality majority. The runoff race in Georgia between incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock & Herschel Walker on December 6th in Georgia will either expand the majority or have no impact on control of the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris stepping in to break any ties. Sarah Kate Ellis, President & CEO of GLAAD stated, “With the results of House control still undetermined, LGBTQ people & other marginalized communities can rest a little easier knowing that a pro-equality majority is projected to return to the U.S. Senate. This is especially critical for the next 2 years in order to ensure that pro-equality judicial nominees continue to be confirmed along with basic protections being passed for LGBTQ people, abortion rights & voting rights. It’s clear that Americans are ready to turn the page on extremism & candidates who campaign on taking rights away. We must thank young people — large numbers of whom are LGBTQ — women & voters of color for defying the odds of history.” So Far in the Biden administration the Senate has confirmed a record number of federal judges with the vast majority 76% are women & included are the first out lesbians appointed & confirmed to the federal bench & the first Black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. So we now have 2 years to set the course for a progressive narrative that reflects who “We The People” actually are. Let's get this done. 

"Love Is All You Need?" Virtual Event

The nonprofit onePULSE Foundation that was established following the June 12th 2016 tragedy to honor & preserve the legacy of those killed & to create a sanctuary of hope will present a free virtual screening & panel discussion of the short film "Love Is All You Need?" on Wednesday November 16th from 7P to 8:30P EST. The concept of the film follows the life of an ordinary heterosexual girl who is bullied in a world where everyone is LGBTQ. This breakthrough controversial film written & directed by K. Rocco-Shields not only reverses the meaning of the terms but also addresses the social & cultural prejudices that emerge with hate & bullying. There will be a Q&A following the screening with panelists including the filmmaker K. Rocco-Shields, Heather Wilkie, MA, LMHC, Zebra Coalition, Felipe Sousa-Lazaballet, Hope CommUNITY Center & Leah Hornik, college student. The event is part of onePULSE’s Conversation Starters which is a component of a broader Conversation Series sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co., CITY Furniture, Orlando Utilities Commission & Northrop Grumman. When asked what her personal commitment is to LGBTQ civil rights Shields stated, “My personal commitment to LGBTQ civil rights is through the power of cinema; we can make a difference & impact the world. I give this lecture at different universities around the United States about how to use media for social change. In short basically we can track media, television, film, as a springboard to represent minority cultures & bring them to public awareness. I talked to Shields in 2014 about her short film & her spin on our LGBTQ issues in this exclusive audio interview. LISTEN  

LGBTQ Military Service Policy Challenge

Just in time for Veterans Day Lambda Legal has filed a legal challenge to the U.S. Military policy that prevents people living with HIV from enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces. The discriminatory policy requires that applicants for appointment & enlistment as well as individuals being inducted into military Services be screened for HIV & denied entry if they test positive. Kara Ingelhart, Senior Attorney at Lambda Legal stated, “The existing policy is out of step with science & unlawfully excludes people living with HIV from performing as members of the U.S. military. A positive HIV status alone has no effect on a person’s ability to safely serve. Because HIV disproportionately impacts LGBTQ+ people & people of color, this discriminatory policy is not only outdated, but is also a serious equity issue that has a significant impact on communities who already face countless systemic barriers to accessing full life in America. Striking this policy would help expand opportunities for over 1.2 million people in the U.S. living with HIV — 42% of which are Black & 21.7% are Latinx.” Lambda Legal & co-counsel Winston & Strawn LLP, Perkowski Legal, PC & Scott A. Schoettes, Esq. filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on behalf of three individual plaintiffs who have been denied enlistment based on their HIV status. Bryce Cooper of Winston & Strawn concluded, “The military ban on Americans living with HIV is yet another holdover from a long era of needless discrimination. The time has long passed for this senseless policy to end.” 

Maura Healey Shatters Lavender Ceiling

Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey has won the Massachusetts gubernatorial race. Healey stated, “Tonight, I’m honored to be the first woman & the first openly gay person ever elected Governor of Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, we strive to be a place of equality & opportunity for all – a place where you can be who you are & be proud of it. And let me promise you, we’re going to stay that way no matter what happens in the rest of the country. The people of Massachusetts have given us an historic opportunity tonight & a mandate to act. So here’s my plan: we’ll ignore the noise & focus every day on making a difference in their lives. From the start, our job will be to make our state more affordable so that people can come here, stay here & grow their businesses here. We’ll cut taxes, fix our roads & bridges & invest in education & job training. We’ll take on the climate crisis & create clean energy jobs. As long as I am governor, women will always have the freedom to control their own bodies & they will always have access to safe, legal abortion. Tonight, I have a message to all the little girls & boys I’ve met along the way whose smiles & joy reminded me, affirmed for me, what this is about & what we can be. I hope tonight shows you that you can be whatever you want to be. That heart & hard work can take you wherever you want to go. I want you to know that tonight, we made history. In Massachusetts we lift people up. We come together & we lead. Together, we will build a stronger Massachusetts for everyone…Now, let’s get to work.”

Florida Restricts Care For Trans Youth

The Florida Boards of Medicine & Osteopathy finalize their rules restricting lifesaving care for our transgender youth on Friday. This puts in place a freeze frame for trans youth already accessing gender-affirming medical care & effectively prohibit new care for trans youth under the age of 18 making Florida the first U.S. state to limit & partially ban such treatment through an administrative process. Similar measures in Alabama & Arkansas are currently blocked in court. Nikole Parker, Equality Florida Director of Transgender Equality stated, “With young lives on the line, another state agency has placed the political ambitions of Ron DeSantis over its duty to protect Floridians. These rules, as written, put transgender youth at higher risk of depression, anxiety & suicidality. Those are the facts purposely ignored by a Board of Medicine stacked with DeSantis political appointees who have put their toxic politics over people’s health & wellbeing. Transgender Floridians exist. We are part of this community. Gender-affirming care is lifesaving care & it is care that is supported by every major medical organization, an overwhelming majority of medical providers & should be left to young people, their families & their doctors. Not politicians. Shame on the Florida Boards of Medicine & Osteopathy for trading the suffering of transgender youth & their parents for cheap political points.” The National LGBTQ Task Force has joined forces with Equality Florida & Equality Texas to fight anti-LGBTQ extremism ahead of midterm elections including a new animated ad campaign. Recently I talked to Cathy Renna Communications Director for the National LGBTQ Task Force about what she hopes to accomplish with this ad campaign & her spin on our LGBTQ issues. LISTEN:  

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