NATIONAL Trans Health Equity Act, financial report, male model dies, book news
by Andrew Davis

The Courage to Be Truly Free: Coco's Blueprint for Self Revival

In Maryland, both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly passed The Trans Health Equity Act, which would require state Medicaid to cover gender-affirming care and procedures for transgender patients, The Baltimore Banner reported. The bill is still awaiting final passage. It would then go to Democratic Gov. Wes Moore, who is expected to sign it into law. The statute would take effect Jan. 1, 2024. Some gender-affirming care is currently covered by Maryland Medicaid; the dozen uncovered procedures range from invasive surgeries and voice therapy to laser hair removal.

The Movement Advancement Project (MAP) released "The LGBTQI+ Economic and Financial (LEAF) Survey: Understanding the Financial Lives of LGBTQI+ People in the United States," per a press release. The report shines new light on the financial experiences and issues faced by LGBTQI+ people in the U.S. and fills in critical gaps left by many federal and financial industry surveys that fail to include LGBTQI+ demographics. For example, many LGBTQI+ people reported losing the ability to rely financially on their families after coming out. The report is at Website Link Here .

Model Jeff Thomas, 35, was found dead in Miami after allegedly dying by suicide—and he was reportedly in a relationship with Peter Thiel, the gay tech billionaire and conservative donor, Insider noted. The Intercept's D.C. Bureau Chief Ryan Grim reported that Thomas spoke to him about being "kept" by Thiel, who has been married to another man since 2017. The Intercept also stated that Thomas claimed that he tried to convince Thiel not to support anti-gay politicians like Blake Masters, who he spent millions trying to get elected.

The group ACT UP marked its 36th-anniversary action on March 27 by protesting Simon & Schuster for, as the organization stated on Facebook, "publishing a book that promotes AIDS denialism and pseudoscience." On March 28, a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster launched a book that purports to reveal "the flaws in all HIV testing" and how "the AIDS establishment has led us into a biomedical disaster through incompetence, fraud, and deceit." In addition, an alliance of more than 30 organizations and 70 public-health advocates urged the publisher to stop the distribution of research/mathematician Rebecca V. Culshaw's The Real AIDS Epidemic: How the Tragic HIV Mistake Threatens Us All, according to Salon. The book also challenges the reporting in journalist Randy Shilts' 1987 book And the Band Played On, which chronicles the emergence and spread of HIV/AIDS.

The ChangeMakers—a group of Youth Leaders at The Alliance LGBTQ for Youth (a Miami-based non-profit organization dedicated to empowering LGBTQ youth, their families, and communities)—and creative agency BBH USA are striking back against Florida's anti-LGBTQ+ legislation with the launch of a new children's book, The Courage to Be Truly Free: Coco's Blueprint for Self Revival, per a press release. According to the release, "The book carries a message of hope and resilience, teaching lessons of self-discovery for children everywhere." The book is available on Amazon, as a Kindle ebook or a paperback for purchase, with all proceeds going to The Alliance for LGBTQ Youth.

A group of Colorado Catholics stealthily spent millions of dollars to buy mobile app tracking data that identified priests who used gay dating and hookup apps—and then shared the findings with bishops around the country, The Washington Post reported. The effort was the work of the Denver nonprofit Catholic Laity and Clergy for Renewal, whose trustees are philanthropists Mark Bauman, John Martin and Tim Reichert. The group's president, Jayd Henricks, posted a first-person piece on the site First Things, saying that the group has done other research, in addition to the analysis of dating and hookup apps. Some of the men who are part of the Renewal project were also reportedly involved in the July 2021 outing of prominent priest Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill.

In Maryland, the St. Mary's County sheriff's office charged a 29-year-old D.C. man with the March 24 shooting death of 18-year-old transgender woman Tasiyah Woodland outside a bar in Mechanicsville, The Washington Blade reported. The earlier announcement said investigators did not believe Woodland had been targeted for the murder because of her gender identity; however, Woodland's family members disputed that claim. Authorities identified D.C. resident Darryl Carlton Parks Jr. as a suspect in the case; he's been charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, firearm use/felony-violent crime, two counts of reckless endangerment from a car and illegal possession of a regulated firearm.

Republican Hawaii state Rep. Elijah Pierick received blowback for comments he made on a social-media post about Pride flags displayed at a school, Hawaii News Now reported. While visiting Ewa Makai Middle School, Pietrick questioned if having such flags was appropriate. One response to Pietrick's question involved the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement announcing Pierick had been disinvited from participating in the Prince Kuhio Parade in Kapolei. Also, Hawaii state Sen. Kurt Fevella said on Facebook, "Yes, we have freedom of speech, but we don't have freedom of hate."

Democratic Nebraska state Sen. Megan Hunt gave a scathing speech in which she told her Republican colleagues that she is done being polite with them since they're attacking her family—namely, her 12-year-old trans son, LGBTQ Nation noted. "My son is trans," Hunt said, vowing to filibuster every bill the legislature takes up until a trans medical ban proposed by a Republican is withdrawn. "And this bill, colleagues, is such an affront to me personally and would violate my rights to parent my child in Nebraska." L.B. 574 would ban doctors from providing gender-affirming care to transgender people under age 19.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors agreed to loosen restrictions on construction contractors in 30 states around the country, meaning the city will be free to seek bids for construction from companies that had been cut out because of the discriminatory laws enacted by their state's legislatures, according to Courthouse News. As San Francisco continues to deal with rising building costs at a time when housing is in critically short supply, city leaders have doubted the efficacy of Chapter 12X. Administrative Code Chapter 12X sought to unite blue states and cities while exerting economic pressure on red states like Texas and North Carolina, whose legislatures had enacted anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

The National AIDS Memorial, Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC) and Gilead Sciences took sections of the National AIDS Memorial Quilt to Memphis, Tennessee, per a press release. On March 29-April 1, the quilt was displayed at the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education. Memphis ranks eighth in the nation for new HIV cases per year among large cities in the United States, according to the Infectious Disease Society of America. The quilt honors Black and Brown lives lost to HIV/AIDS and has traveled to several states throughout the South as part of Change the Pattern, a national campaign to end HIV in Black, Brown and LGBTQ+ communities across the U.S. South.

Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said Twitter restricted her congressional account for seven days after she repeatedly tweeted about an event called the "Trans Day of Vengeance," LGBTQ Nation noted. Her tweet echoed her previous transphobic comments regarding unconfirmed statements regarding the suspected Nashville school shooter, Audrey Hale. Twitter reportedly removed Greene's tweets containing the event's promotional image.

Reflecting a move that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is attempting, Missouri legislators argued over a bill that would ban most LGBTQ+-related education subjects for all grades in the state's public schools, NBC News noted. Democratic state Rep. Ian Mackey, a former teacher who is gay, asked Republican sponsor state Rep. Ann Kelley if him "being gay in the classroom" and not hiding that from students would be limited under her bill. She then asked him, "Did you ever inform your students on your beliefs?" Mackey responded, "They did know I was gay. They would see my wedding ring and they would ask about it, and I would say I have a husband."

In Missouri, a ban on anti-LGBTQ+ conversion therapy failed to pass the Jackson County legislature by one vote, KCUR reported. Conversion therapy is the scientifically discredited practice (with groups including the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics denouncing it) that seeks to "convert" people to heterosexuality or traditional gender roles. Kansas City and Independence have also banned so-called conversion therapy, but Jackson County's ordinance also included a process for survivors to hold violators of the ban accountable. Legislator Jalen Anderson, one of the co-sponsors of the ordinance, called the vote "disgraceful."

Staten Island resident Aaron Richards—who physically assaulted two people in a homophobic fit of rage in Brooklyn last year—was sentenced to up to four years behind bars, Gay City News noted. Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice John Hecht sentenced Richards to a minimum of two years and a maximum of four years in prison after the defendant pled guilty to a charge of third-degree assault as a hate crime.

Republican North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson made more anti-LGBTQ+ comments during a sermon at Mooresville's Trinity Baptist Church, WSOC-TV reported. Near the end of his sermon, Robinson criticized the Pride flag and pastors who accept LGBTQ members. He said, in part, "Makes me sick every time I see it, when I pass a church that flies that rainbow flag, which is a direct spit in the face to God Almighty." In 2021, he said, "There's no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality—any of that filth."

Administrators at Wisconsin's Heyer Elementary School prevented a first-grade class from performing a Miley Cyrus/Dolly Parton duet promoting LGBTQ+ acceptance because the song "could be perceived as controversial," a PENNLive item noted. Students at the Waukesha school had prepared a rendition of "Rainbowland" for their spring concert, but school officials struck the song from the lineup. First-grade teacher Melissa Tempel said she chose the song because its message seemed universal and sweet, adding the "students were just devastated" by the cancellation.

Walter W. Cole Sr.—better known as legendary Portland drag queen Darcelle XV—died March 23 at age 92, The Oregonian reported. For more than 50 years, Cole entertained tourists and bachelorette parties at his Old Town nightclub, where the entertainer told bawdy jokes in elaborate makeup and beaded gowns while emceeing events. In 2016, Cole was recognized by Guinness World Records as the World's Oldest Drag Queen Performer.

Gregory A. Locke, a former New York City administrative law judge, made news lately for also having an OnlyFans account, per Out. "White collar professional by day... very unprofessional by night. Always amateur, always raw, always slutty," his OnlyFans profile, @ctrlzalt, reads. Locke was recently fired after he criticized anti-LGBTQ+ city council member Vickie Paladino on social media.

Los Angeles Chargers player Sebastian Joseph-Day said he was sexually assaulted by a male Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent at a California airport, The Hill reported. "I really just got sexually assaulted by TSA at @JohnWayneAir. After I asked the gentleman to please stop BC I'm uncomfortable and I feel that this part of the check is unnecessary [after he felt what was needed]," Joseph-Day tweeted. The athlete added that a TSA supervisor threatened to call the police on him if he didn't finish the search. The TSA said it's investigating the matter.

Mississippi anchor Barbie Bassett has been off the air for NBC affiliate WLBT since March 8, when her team discussed the rapper's addiction to his wine line, Deadline noted. (Her head shot was also missing from the station's website.) Bassett said, "Fo shizzle, my nizzle," when the idea of a Snoop collaboration with a newsroom journalist was raised. ("Nizzle" is slang for the N-word.) Bassett has previously caused controversy by referring to a Black reporter's "grandmammy" on air; she later apologized.

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