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LGBTQ State Equality Index Ratings

During a year when state legislators have introduced a record 315 bills attacking our LGBTQ community particularly our transgender youth, the 9th annual State Equality Index (SEI) has been released by HRC & the Equality Federation Institute. JoDee Winterhof, Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President of Policy & Political Affairs stated, “The 2022 State Equality Index outlines how states across the country fought back against yet another record year of anti-LGBTQ+ legislative attacks. In the face of these attacks, legislators & advocates fought back, with fewer than 10% of the anti-LGBTQ+ discriminatory bills introduced passing into law. These bills are terrible public policy & we are also deeply cognizant of how every harmful anti-LGBTQ+ bill that is signed into law has a devastating impact on the lives & well-being of LGBTQ+ people, particularly children. The legislative assault & hateful rhetoric towards our community has also led to more stigma, discrimination & ultimately, suicide & deadly violence – particularly against the transgender community. As we continue our fight for LGBTQ+ equality, this report underscores that equality is the winning side of this issue.” Fran Hutchins, Executive Director of the Equality Federation Institute concluded, “As the 2022 State Equality Index shows, last year saw a continuation of the recent dramatic explosion of legislation targeting transgender people, especially transgender youth, exploiting myths & misunderstandings about what it means to be transgender. Despite the increasing number of bills filed nationwide, advocates & activists on the ground were able to beat back the majority of this legislation. We know the mere introduction & discussion of these bills further fuels anti-LGBTQ+ stigma nationwide, resulting in violence against our community. It’s more important than ever to focus our attention on protecting LGBTQ+ people in the states, where the work is hard, but the impact is great.” 

Florida Proposes New Firearm Carry Bill

Florida House Speaker Paul Renner has announced the filing of HB 543 a bill that will remove training & permitting requirements for concealed carry of firearms in the state. The move comes nearly 7 years after 49 mostly LGBTQ people of color were murdered in the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando & just a few weeks before the 5th anniversary of the murder of 17 people at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland with firearm-related injuries being the #1 cause of death for American children. Brandon Wolf, Equality Florida Press Secretary & Pulse Nightclub Survivor stated, "Let's be clear-eyed: the filing of permitless carry in Florida is an endorsement of violent hate & an insult to those who have had loved ones stolen in America's gun violence epidemic. LGBTQ Floridians know all too well that this country's obsession with easy access to deadly weapons can take discrimination & bigotry & make it lethal. Gun violence is not abstract or hypothetical -- it is stealing our loved ones. Instead of stripping away commonsense safety precautions like background checks & proficiency training, the legislature should be focused on ways to keep Floridians safe. If passed, permitless carry will cost lives." Since the attack at Pulse Nightclub Equality Florida publicly pledged to support common sense gun safety reforms with a demonstrated record of reducing gun deaths. In 2021 marking 5 years since the tragedy Equality Florida joined Everytown For Gun Safety, the Human Rights Campaign & the Equality Federation in producing the Remembering & Honoring Pulse report a comprehensive overview of the impacts of gun violence on LGBTQ people in America. 

Gender Affirming Care Ban In Utah

It looks bleak for minors from receiving gender-affirming surgeries in Utah as the Utah Senate approved a bill Friday that would bar & place an indefinite moratorium on their access to puberty blockers & hormone therapy. Governor Spencer Cox who vetoed a restriction on transgender student athletes last year said he has no plans to veto this new bill. Marina Lowe, Policy Director for Equality Utah stated, “This is essentially a ban on access to medical care for transgender youth. Everywhere where one has been passed, there is litigation because it’s the government stepping in between parents & children & their doctors.” Last week the House committee was packed with hundreds of people who rallied on the steps of the Utah Capitol in support of Utah’s transgender youth. Several teens who identified as trans spoke to the committee urging lawmakers to not restrict their access to treatments that they say saved them from suicide. Troy Williams, Executive Director of Equality Utah added, “We just want parents of transgender children to know that we see you. We are so grateful for the love & compassion that you have for your children & thank you for loving them. We will continue to fight for your family as well.” Sue Robbins, Equality Utah’s Transgender Advisory Council concluded, “We’ll never be done fighting for transgender kids. You deserve everything. We will fix this.” In the past year there have been over 149 bills targeting our transgender & non-binary community with a record 17 bills attacking transgender & non-binary children passed into law. 

FDA Proposes Blood Donation Changes

The FDA has proposed changes to blood donation policies. The new guidelines would focus on sexual behaviors by any prospective donor regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The FDA is expected to adopt the proposal after a 60-day public comment period. Sarah Kate Ellis, President & CEO of GLAAD stated, “These changes are 40-plus years in the making & are a tremendous leap forward toward elevating science over stigma. GLAAD & leading medical experts have long been advocating for guidelines that see & treat LGBTQ people the same as any other person, including as potential donors who want to help others. The announcement will ease historic discrimination against LGBTQ Americans, help alleviate the national blood shortage & opens the door for all eligible LGBTQ people to give blood & save lives. The U.S. moves closer to joining the growing list of countries that already welcome blood donations from gay & bi men without restrictions. LGBTQ leaders will continue to advocate until the FDA enacts those science-based, safe & stigma-free guidelines.” Jose Abrigo Lambda Legal HIV Project Director concluded, “It should be noted however, that much more work needs to be done to follow the science…We must be conscious to not further stigmatize these safe sex practices & uplift individuals taking precautions. With the national blood shortage, everyone should be given equal opportunity to help their neighbors & save lives. Unfortunately, these proposed measures don’t fully achieve that. We applaud the CDC for taking these welcome first steps & look forward to working with them to improve this proposed regulation & to continue to destigmatize & equalize blood donations." 

Pope Decriminalizing Gay Relationships

Pope Francis has called out for worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality which makes him the first Pope to ever take such a stance. Pope Francis stated, “Being homosexual is not a crime. It’s a human condition. It’s not a crime. Yes, but it’s a sin. Fine, but first let’s distinguish between a sin & a crime. It’s also a sin to lack charity with one another.” Before this tumbles down a new rabbit hole let’s reflect a bit. Though there has been great progress on our LGBTQ issues in this country & around the world the hatred of our LGBTQ community continues & one of the main reasons is that LGBTQ relationships still remain a sin in religious institutions. Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President & CEO stated, “Pope Francis denounced laws in nearly 70 countries that criminalize LGBTQ people & called on the Roman Catholic Church to take an active role in repealing those laws. His historic statement should send a message to world leaders & millions of Catholics around the world: LGBTQ people deserve to live in a world without violence & condemnation & more kindness & understanding…Today’s statements from Pope Francis are a game changer in the fight to decriminalize LGBTQ people & also illustrate the work that needs to be done with religious leaders to finally show that being LGBTQ is not a sin.” Marianne Duddy-Burke, DignityUSA’s Executive Director concluded, “It is critical that the church’s bishops immediately end any support they have given to laws that make being gay or same-sex relationships illegal. We also call on Catholics in our own country & around the world to support equality & non-violence for their LGBTQIA+ neighbors.” 

Arkansas Restrictive Drag Bill Advances

The Arkansas Senate has advanced Senate Bill 43 an anti-LGBTQ bill that restricts drag performances. The bill would classify drag performances as “adult-oriented businesses'' & ban them from taking place on public property as well as other locations where children & teenagers are present. The bill passed 29-6 & will now be sent to the Arkansas House for consideration. Eric Reece, Human Rights Campaign Arkansas State Director stated, “Many drag performances – such as Drag Queen story hours at schools & libraries – are age appropriate for children & can teach important lessons like acceptance & openness. This is just another example of radical politicians in Arkansas spreading propaganda & creating more stigma, discrimination & ultimately violence against transgender & non-binary people just to rile up extreme members of their base, the only voting bloc they are moving on these issues. The Human Rights Campaign strongly opposes Senate Bill 43 & urges the lawmakers behind them to stop attacking our community & instead focus on real issues impacting Arkansans.” This is all part of a large-scale attack on our LGBTQ community & an attempt to put LGBTQ people particularly transgender & non-binary people back in the closet & labeled as dangerous. Politicians in state houses across the country have introduced a record 315 discriminatory anti-LGBTQ bills in the past year including bills aimed to prevent transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity & bills to prevent transgender & non-binary youth from receiving life-saving, medically-necessary gender-affirming healthcare. This is all happening as nearly 1 in 5 of any type of hate crime is now motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias. 

Call For Book Bans In Massachusetts

Let’s be perfectly clear about censorship in our school libraries. Book bans are taking place across the country specifically aimed to remove books that are by & about LGBTQ people, communities of color & other marginalized groups & Massachusetts is no exception. There has been a rise in calls by a vocal minority in the Commonwealth for schools to remove library books from their shelves. The ACLU & GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) have sent a letter urging Massachusetts public school districts to protect students’ legal rights by rejecting censorship in school libraries. Carol Rose, Executive Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts sated, “Across the country, there is a coordinated attack on students’ right to learn. Book bans in school & public libraries—places that are central to our abilities to explore ideas, encounter new perspectives & learn to think for ourselves—are misguided attempts to try to suppress that right. We applaud the communities that have resisted such attempts in Massachusetts & call on schools to protect all children’s access to an equal & safe education.” Mary L. Bonauto, Senior Director of Civil Rights & Legal Strategies at GLAD concluded, “We are witnessing an organized, targeted campaign across the country to ban books centered on people of color & LGBTQ+ people & it is students who are being harmed. Parents & school officials in many communities have come together to resist these censorship efforts because they understand access to a diversity of books & ideas is fundamental to growth & learning. Our laws protect students’ rights to access books in which they can both see themselves & their families reflected and can engage with different perspectives and different people in the world around them & our communities are all better off for it.” 

Music Triumphs Homophobia (AUDIO)

This week I talked with Craig Coogan about his new documentary "Music Triumphs Homophobia" that’s available on Amazon Prime Video. The film chronicles the impact of the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus (BGMC) as they perform for audiences in New England & around the world. Using archival material, news footage and interviews “Music Triumphs Homophobia” documents how a small Boston-based chorus became global cultural ambassadors educating people about LGBTQ lives & encouraging acceptance & respect for our LGBTQ community. Written & directed by multiple award-winning filmmakers Michael Willer & Coogan the film is scored with original compositions by Chad Weirick BGMC’s Principal Accompanist & Assistant Music Director & features choral cover performances of songs by Katy Perry, Janet Jackson, Andrea Day, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Stephen Schwartz & Benji Pasek. Since 1982 BGMC has created musical experiences to inspire change, build community & celebrate difference. It’s a mission that has brought BGMC to some unlikely venues including a Congregational Church in rural Vermont, Worcester’s College of Holy Cross, Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate, conservative Catholic-dominated Poland, a kibbutz by the Dead Sea, a university parking lot in Istanbul & the shores of South Africa. In South Africa the city of George welcomed BGMC for a free community concert but it was marred when George Mayor Melvin Naik took to the airwaves to lambaste BGMC & the city’s support for its LGBTQ residents. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa responded by inviting BGMC to join him for the country’s annual Youth Day march where he personally greeted each member of the chorus & publicly welcomed them to South Africa. I talked to Coogan about what he hopes to accomplish with "Music Triumphs Homophobia" & his spin on our LGBTQ issues. LISTEN  

In Recognition Of Roe v Wade’s Fiftieth

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade access for abortion & gender-affirming healthcare has become beyond concerning in many states that have implemented abortion bans & also passed or proposed bans or other restrictions on gender-affirming care. Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President & CEO stated, “The vast majority of Americans agree: the freedom to make private healthcare decisions is an essential human right. Abortion is healthcare, gender-affirming care is lifesaving & both kinds of care are inextricably linked to everyone’s right to privacy, safety, & dignity free from intrusive, extremist agendas. Voters sent an unmistakable message that the freedom to control our own bodies must be protected. Every lawmaker should be working to expand protections & access to care. Every LGBTQ person must be free to be themselves, make their own healthcare decisions & live a life they love.” Bridget Todd UltraViolet Communications Director concluded, “On the first anniversary since Roe v. Wade was overturned, millions of people are engaged in the fight for abortion freedom & gender justice like never before–as we face ever more growing threats from the GOP to our rights & futures. The radical right is sowing violence & division against our communities, using the same dangerous playbook they used to overturn Roe to rollback the progress made to protect & expand transgender rights & all our rights & safety.…Abortion care & gender-affirming health care save lives. We will continue to work together with our partners in the LGBTQ+ movement to stand up for the inclusive, gender justice future we need, deserve & will see come to fruition.” Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on January 22, 1973.

Florida Adds New “Don’t Say Gay” Rules

Adding to the Florida State Board of Education horrendous & dangerous “Don’t Say LGBTQ” law they have voted to adopt 2 new vague rules. These rules threaten to remove the professional licenses of teachers who fail to notify families if the services a student receives change or if they require additional monitoring of their wellbeing. Though the simple knowledge of a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity doesn’t constitute a change in services or require additional monitoring, a student’s LGBTQ identity doesn’t automatically raise concerns about their mental, emotional or physical health or well-being. In that way these rules do not compel teachers to take any new action when a student discloses information about their identity. Jon Harris Maurer, Equality Florida Public Policy Director stated, “It's clear that the DeSantis Administration continues to weaponize state agency rules with one goal in mind: sow fear & uncertainty around how best to care for and respect LGBTQ Floridians. In this case, the State Board of Education’s rules are designed to create confusion about how best to address the needs of LGBTQ youth. However, these rules do not require teachers to out students against their will & do not compel educators to be less inclusive or welcoming of all students. Florida school districts have followed comparable policies for years that have allowed LGBTQ youth to continue building relationships & sharing information about their identity with those they trust. LGBTQ students, like all students, deserve to be protected from harm & treated with respect. Education professionals are tasked with continuing to provide safe, affirming environments for all young people in their care.” These new rules continue a series of politically motivated anti-LGBTQ attacks from the DeSantis Administration & Florida state agencies. 

Brittney Griner In Female Force Comics

TidalWave Comics has announced the addition of a comic book focusing on Brittney Griner to its popular “Female Force” series. Publisher Darren G. Davis stated, “This story is about an athlete who overcame obstacles to become a significant player in the WNBA - not about politics. We started working on this story about four years ago to diversify the line, as we've featured several male athletes in past issues. Her development as an athlete & her struggle with coming to terms with being a gay, black woman, first at a religious college & then in the national spotlight, are the focus of this issue. Since we have 24-pages to tell the story, we used that focus to inform what should be included & what we'd have to leave out. For example, as her story developed, we thought we should add two pages about her arrest in Russia. However, as the artist finished the interiors, a deal was struck with Russian authorities, so we rewrote those two pages to ensure our information was accurate. She has an amazing personal story & we wanted to tell more stories about women in sports. She just happened to be the first. We have plans for women in soccer (football) & more.” "Female Force: Brittney Griner" is written by Michael Frizell with art by Martin Gimenez  & will be available digitally & in print on multiple platforms such as Amazon in softcover & hardcover later this week. “Female Force” previous titles have included Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, Gloria Steinem, Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey & more. Last March I talked to legal analyst Aron Solomon about Griner’s detainment in Russia. LISTEN:  

Martin Luther King Day 40 Years Later

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Day as a federal holiday in 2023 remains bittersweet as we still haven’t been able to pass the Freedom to Vote Act & the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Kierra Johnson, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund Executive Director stated, “The right to vote is a baseline. It is an essential part to exercise our power & participate in our democracy. When LGBTQ+ Americans, People of Color & other marginalized populations vote in high numbers, elections are greatly impacted & it can make the difference in local, state & federal elections. The fear of losing power & the threat of losing an elected seat is not justification for our leaders to carve out LGBTQ+ folks, People of Color, women, poor people & so many other already marginalized groups from the political process.” Then of course though we were able to pass The Respect of Marriage Act before the shift in United States House of Representatives passing The Equality Act remains up in the air. For years before her death in 2006 Coretta Scott King always said that Martin Luther King would have supported LGBTQ Equality stating, “I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian & gay people & I should stick to the issue of racial justice… But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King, Jr., said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’ … I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brotherhood & sisterhood for lesbian & gay people.”

REAF's "One Night Only" Benefit Cabaret

The Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation (REAF) is presenting a special One Night Only Benefit Cabaret featuring the cast members of "Mean Girls". These mean girls are anything but mean & this not to be missed show will raise funds for REAF & Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The "One Night Only Benefit Cabaret" takes place Monday February 13th at 7:30P at Marines' Memorial Theater in San Francisco, CA. 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.” While you won't hear the music from the "Mean Girls" touring show you can expect to hear some other fabulous songs sprinkled with a dash of comedy & since this event is day before Valentine's Day what better way to treat your sweetie, that a night of music & fun. Founded in 1994, REAF provides aid for HIV programs, hunger programs & programs for homeless & underserved youth & families. They also provide a limited number of individual Small Emergency Grants. REAF's "One Night Only" Benefit Cabaret is a vaccinated only event & vaccination cards will be checked at the door & they also ask audience members to remain masked when not actively eating or drinking. Tickets are now on sale for this fun & fabulous show. 

A Victor Victoria Valentine’s Day Event

Marc Huestis & the Palm Springs Cultural Center are presenting a unique Victor/Victoria Valentine with a loving tribute to Academy Award® Nominee Lesley Ann Warren on February 14th from 7P to 10P at the Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs, CA. The evening of romance includes a live interview with the fabulous Lesley Ann Warren conducted by the legendary Bruce Vilanch. Warren will discuss her remarkable career from her breakout performance in 1965's “Cinderella” to her Oscar nominated portrayal of dumb blonde Norma Cassady in Blake Edwards' 1982 gender bender “Victor/Victoria”. Marc Huestis stated, "After 25 years at the legendary Castro Theatre in San Francisco , producing over 50 celeb-rations, I am so excited to expand my operation to Palm Springs & The Cultural Center. I moved here in the middle of Covid & after a few years of solitude, this will be my big coming out party here. And what better day than Valentines Day with one of my favorite guests Lesley Ann Warren & my fave host the one & only Bruce Vilanch!" Also featured in this glittering gala will be a clip valentine of Ms. Warren’s TV & screen gems & a tribute performance by "le Jazz Hot" Ethylina Canne. This not-to-be-missed event will be capped by a free screening of “Victor/Victoria”. So get your tickets while they last with early bird specials of $5 off general seating & VIP preferred seating  until January 16th. (After January 16th ticket will run $30 general seating & $45 preferred VIP seating.)

South Carolinians Against LGBTQ Hate

As the 2023 South Carolina legislative session begins advocates for LGBTQ people in the state are ready to defend their community at the statehouse. More than a dozen bills have been introduced in that state attacking LGBTQ people including 3 anti-Transgender Health Bills, 3 anti-LGBTQ Youth Policy Bills & a broad anti-Transgender Erasure Bill. Domenico Ruggerio, SC United for Justice & Equality coalition & Executive Director for We Are Family stated, “It’s clear that anti-LGBTQ+ forces once again have their eyes set on South Carolina & it’s painful to read this new slate of cruel legislation that would make life harder for transgender youth & all LGBTQ+ students. These bills show how lawmakers are attempting to interfere with private medical care (including for adults), censor curriculum & make school staffers agents of the state by forcing them to ‘out’ LGBTQ+ students. Our community will fight harder than ever against these hostile & extreme attacks & instead set our sights on a future where all South Carolinians can thrive.” SC United for Justice & Equality envisions a South Carolina where everyone can thrive, with a focus on the lives & legal equality of LGBTQ people. In 2022 the South Carolina legislative session passed 2 hateful anti-LGBTQ bills restricting school sports participation for transgender students & a broad anti-LGBTQ “license to discriminate” in healthcare settings that were signed by Gov. Henry McMaster. I talked to human rights activist Amberlyn Boiter last year about the South Carolina House bills, what action needs to happen to make this country safe for our transgender community & her spin on our LGBTQ issues. LISTEN  

Dale Dickey Talks A Love Song (AUDIO)

As we head into the award season make sure you catch the fabulous independent film “A Love Song” staring Dale Dickey. It’s now streaming on Paramount+, Showtime & Hulu after premiering at Sundance in 2022 & distributed by Bleecker Street & Stage 6 Films. It’s a gorgeous film rated as one of the ten best in cinematography for 2022 shot by Alfonso Herrera Salcedo & written, directed, produced & co-edited by Max Walker-Silverman in his feature directorial debut. “A Love Song” is about two childhood sweethearts Faye (Dale Dickey) & Lito (Wes Studi) now both widowed who share a night by a lake in the mountains. Reuniting after 40 years the pair share childhood memories make small talk & shelter together from loneliness. The film also features Michelle Wilson (Jan) & Benja K. Thomas (Marie) as a lesbian couple contemplating marriage. Love Song is Dickey’s first leading role in a feature film. Dale is a superbly talented veteran character actor of film, television & the theater with over 60 film credits. Her career spans decades including recent recurring roles on the TNT comedy-drama series “Claws”, appearing in the Netflix miniseries “Unbelievable”, we loved her recurring role in the Amazon series “A League of Their Own” & appearing in such films as “Hell or High Water”, “Leave No Trace”, “Bloodline” & “Flag Day”. Last summer at the Provincetown International Film Festival where she was being honored with the Excellence in Acting Award I talked to Dale about “A Love Song” & as a fierce LGBTQ ally her spin on our issues. LISTEN or DOWNLOAD

Tennessee LGBT Bill Is Unconstitutional

A bit of good news to kick off 2023. A U.S. District Court has entered a final order prohibiting enforcement of Tennessee HB 1182 a law passed in 2021 requiring businesses to post a demeaning notice if they permit LGBT patrons to use the same restrooms as other patrons. The order states that the law “is unconstitutional & may not be enforced.” Mike Curb, Founder & Chairman of Curb Records & President of the Mike Curb Foundation stated, “Our foundation has been dedicated to inclusion & nondiscrimination including for LGBT people, from day one. HB 1182 was an attempt by the government to force me & other businesses in the state to abandon our values & put up a 'not welcome' sign to employees & customers. I’m relieved to know that state officials have agreed that the constitution does not permit such a mandate & that this final order means HB 1182 cannot be enforced. The people of Tennessee do not want such harmful anti-LGBT & anti-business legislation & such a law should never have been passed & signed into law.” The order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Tennessee, Nashville Division is the result of an agreement with the Defendants including the Tennessee Governor & other state & Nashville officials to resolve the federal challenge to HB 1182 brought by independent record label Curb Records & the Mike Curb Foundation. The challenge asserted that HB 1182 promoted a hostile climate for LGBT people in the state & denied them equal access to businesses open to the public & to employment & educational opportunities.

Revisiting "A Secret I Can’t Tell" (AUDIO)

This week I talked to Emmy-winning filmmaker & fierce LGBTQ ally Joe Gantz about his new book “A Secret I Can’t Tell” available on Carpenter Hill Publishing. Originally published in 1983 the nonfiction book records American gay & lesbian headed household family life during the heyday of the homophobic Moral Majority. In republishing the book Gantz revisits the families 40 years later with new interviews & a new foreword by Scott Gatz founder & CEO of Q.Digital providing an unparalleled look at how far we’ve come & underscores how easily we could return to a dark past. In 1977 Florida a county ordinance was passed which banned discrimination in housing, employment & public accommodation based on sexual orientation. After Anita Bryant’s successful campaign which demonized gays & lesbians the law was overturned & it launched a wave of repeals of civil rights for gays & lesbians across the country. Though in 2020 the United States Supreme Court finally ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ employees from discrimination based on sex, our LGBTQ community is still dealing with over 300 discriminatory bills this year alone including Florida’s recent “Don’t Say Gay/Trans” law that has made 2022 the worst year ever for legislative attacks on LGBTQ people. The updated book also revisits some of the children who are now adults in their 50s with children of their own as well as addressing the closet both the parents & their kids had to endured & how this has affected their lives. I talked to Joe about his inspiration for republishing “A Secret I Can’t Tell” and his spin on our LGBTQ issues. LISTEN  

BGMC Joins Healey Inaugural Ball

The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus (BGMC) announced that it will perform at the Inaugural Celebration of Governor-Elect Maura Healey at T.D. Garden on Thursday January 5th. Sarah Shoffner BGMC Executive Director stated, “We are honored to be performing at the inaugural celebration of Governor-Elect Maura Healey & participating in the Healey Administration’s first official event, which is setting a tone of inclusion for all members of the Commonwealth. As an organization that has been making history since 1982, we’re incredibly pleased to represent the LGBTQIA+ community at this historic event, which will mark the inauguration of the first elected female & openly lesbian governor in Massachusetts.” Grammy Award-winning artist Brandi Carlile who is headlining the inaugural celebration added, “I’m thrilled to be honoring two barrier-breaking women in Maura Healey & Kim Driscoll. As forces across this country try to sow division & anger, it fills me with hope to see women like them lead us forward with positivity & empathy. Their victories were decades in the making & we know there is more work ahead – but now is the time to pause & celebrate this historic moment.” Healey concluded, “I’ve been a fan of Brandi’s music for a long time & it is so special that she will be a part of our inauguration. Brandi’s music spans genres & explores themes of women’s empowerment, LGBTQ+ history & the joy of community. I can’t think of a more perfect musician to bring us together for this celebration.” The sold-out celebration entitled “Moving the Ball Forward” will also feature performances by Todd Angilly, Boston Arts Academy students, DJ Frenchy, Abilities Dance Company, Witch Pitch, OOMPA, SciTech & emceed by Eddie Palladio.

National Film Registry Adds LGBTQ Film

The Library of Congress’s National Film Registry has added the 1977 documentary “Word Is Out” among their latest honorees. Each year the Librarian of Congress names to the National Film Registry 25 motion pictures that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. The film was made by the Mariposa Group a young LGBTQ filmmakers led by Peter Adair & included Rob Epstein, Veronica Selver, Lucy Massie Phenix, Andrew Brown & Nancy (Anaya) Adair who was my college roommate. In 2010 I talked to Anaya about the 30th anniversary of the film who stated, “We wondered if it would be seen as just an historic document or whether it would still continue to help people & be relevant today. I think that it does both in a way. It’s a little bit dated in that the music is from the 1970’s, you know people’s clothing is a little different & so on but it is still extremely relevant. It makes people feel really good about themselves. As much as it would seem easier to come out of the closet in areas like Boston, the Bay Area & LA & so on, in small towns like the one I live in, it’s still very difficult for young people. We’re still completely inundated by heterosexual images. It’s not easy for gay & lesbians in rural areas to come out & feel good about themselves. No one has made a film like this with its scope, with its diversities, so it’s still a very powerful statement & I think it will always be, because we made it for gays. But I don’t think in the end that it’s only for gay people. Heterosexuals really love the film because it’s about self actualization, self love & empowerment. So it’s relevant for all people.” LISTEN  

LGBTQ Task Force Celebrates 50 Years

The National LGBTQ Task Force is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023 by honoring 5 decades of advancing freedom, justice & equality for our LGBTQ community. This milestone year will recognize & celebrate the Task Force’s rich history driving progress within the LGBTQ community from its early days lobbying the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality as a mental illness then advocating for AIDS funding to longstanding campaigns to Queer the Census, Queer the Vote, working for trans rights, fighting for reproductive justice & bringing an intersectional approach to the LGBTQ movement. Kierra Johnson, Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force stated, “We take an intersectional, proactive approach to our advocacy, underscoring our fundamental interconnectedness. The Task Force is everywhere because queer people are everywhere. As we look towards the next 50 years, we will evolve & expand our work to positively impact LGBTQ folks’ ability to thrive.” The Task Force 50th anniversary celebration kicks off with “The State of the Movement: Our Past. Our Present. Our Future” themed Creating Change Conference in San Francisco, California at the Hilton Hotel Union Square from Friday February 17th to Tuesday February 21st. The foremost political, leadership & skills-building conference for the LGBTQ social justice movement will include speakers Angelica Ross, activist X Gonzalez & more TBA. The National LGBTQ Task Force advances full freedom, justice & equality for LGBTQ people. They are building a future where everyone can be free to be their entire selves in every aspect of their lives. Stayed tuned for announcements of special events related to the 50th as they are confirmed & more. 
Hear Audio Chats w/ LGBTQ Leaders @OUTTAKE VOICES 

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LGBTQ State Equality Index Ratings

During a year when state legislators have introduced a record 315 bills attacking our LGBTQ community particularly our transgender youth, th...

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