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NATIONAL Black History Month, anti-trans bills, Penn. politician, HIV measure
by Windy City Times staff
2021-02-07

This article shared 814 times since Sun Feb 7, 2021
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In honor of Black History Month, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) announced its acquisition of the Ubuntu Biography Project, a press release noted. The Ubuntu Biography Project, created by Stephen A. Maglott, celebrates the legacies and achievements of Black LGBTQ+/SGL people. Throughout February, NBJC's digital media platforms will highlight the leadership of Black LGBTQ+/SGL women, femmes and female-identified people who influence politics, art, medicine and more; some of the figures include activist Rev. Pauli Murray, incoming White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Emmy-winning actress Niecy Nash. The Ubuntu Biography Project can be viewed at BeenHere.org .

To commemorate Black History Month, Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David issued a statement. In part, it read, "The deadly police shootings of Black people and the increasing number of Black transgender women being violently killed in the United States, in contrast with the pro-Trump insurrection, make something clear that we Black, queer people have long known: an inclusive, equitable, multi-racial democracy is not guaranteed, but must be fought for. During this Black History Month, I invite us all to work across movements to innovate strategies that will help make sure that we remain united in the fight for full equality. And it all starts with empathy."

At least 20 states are currently considering at least 31 bills that would attack the rights of transgender people—mostly youths, LGBTQ Nation reported. On Feb. 4, Georgia Rep. Philip Singleton (R) filed a bill that makes the state the 17th in the nation to consider a bill that would ban transgender girls and women from competing in school sports as their gender. Arizona, Connecticut, Iowa, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas are all considering bills that would ban transgender girls and women from school sports this year; some of the bills ban transgender boys and men from competing as their gender as well.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman—a tattooed 6-foot-8 Democrat considering a run for Senate next year—is in the midst of a situation involving marijuana and LGBTQ rights, NBC News noted. Fetterman hung the pro-legalization green leaf and LGBTQ rights flags from the balcony of his office; however, Republicans, who control the legislature, quietly tucked a provision to ban unauthorized flags on Capitol grounds into an omnibus budget bill that passed late last year. After the governor, Tom Wolf—a Democrat who is elected separately from the lieutenant governor—signed it into law (in order to avoid a government shutdown), state employees removed the flags from Fetterman's balcony and left them folded in his office. Fetterman quickly replaced the flags in defiance of the law, adding that he'll continue to do so if they're taken down again until the state legalizes marijuana and outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill on Jan. 27 that would decriminalize HIV transmission in the state, The Washington Blade reported. Senate Bill 1138—introduced by state Sens. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) and Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond)—would repeal sections of the Virginia Code that impose penalties, including incarceration, upon anyone who transmits HIV through sex or another means. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Virginia is currently one of 37 states with laws that criminalize HIV exposure.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) issued a release mourning the loss of Black trans woman Dominique Jackson. Jackson, 30, was found dead inside her car Jan. 25, 2021; she crashed her car into a utility pole after being shot in Jackson, Mississippi. NBJC Monica Roberts Fellow Sage Dolan-Sandrino said, in part, "Although I never met Dominique, I am sure she was exactly who I needed when I was young and transitioning—a light source, an example of who I could become, proof that there was a future for me. Trans women have fought for EVERYONE throughout history, yet we are still being murdered by the same people who we liberated."

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation (S.2253/A.654) repealing portions of a law known as the "Walking While Trans" ban, according to a press release. The release stated that the ban—originally passed in 1976 with the intent to prohibit loitering for the purpose of prostitution—led to arbitrary and discriminatory policing of transgender women. "COVID exposed low tide in America and the 'walking while trans' policy is one example of the ugly undercurrents of injustices that transgender New Yorkers—especially those of color—face simply for walking down the street," Cuomo said. "For too long trans people have been unfairly targeted and disproportionately policed for innocent, lawful conduct based solely on their appearance."

A controversial study on transgender people's neurology at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) has been suspended due to ethical concerns that the participants could face harm from the study itself, LGBTQ Nation noted. Dr. Jamie Feusner, the principal investigator, has paused the National Institute of Health-backed study to get more input from transgender people and "understand their concerns more deeply and have a dialogue about the study's objectives." The study—according to reports of people who participated in focus groups to help researchers construct it—was supposed to be about the effects of gender dysphoria on a person's brain.

Tennis champion Martina Navratilova called for a special provision to be made for elite sports after U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order designed to allow equal transgender participation in school sports, Reuters reported. Navratilova, who won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, said she supported moves toward equality but that the physical advantages for trans women competitors who had gone through male puberty were "pretty obvious." Sharon McGowan, chief strategy officer of Lambda Legal, said Navratilova should not view trans women's participation in women's sport as a danger.

Gilead Sciences, Inc.and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced that the biopharmaceutical company will provide a $3.2 million grant over two years to support communities disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic in the United States, particularly communities of color, an HRC press release noted. Gilead will directly fund the efforts of the HRC Foundation aimed at ending the HIV epidemic, as well as fund the organization's Transgender Justice Initiative. According to HRC, stigma, homophobia and transphobia, racism, and lack of access to appropriate healthcare services are barriers to comprehensive HIV prevention and care; this particularly impacts the 1 in 4 Latino gay and bisexual cisgender men and 1 in 2 Black gay and bisexual cisgender men who will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime.

Florida Democrat and one-time gubernatorial candidate (and out bisexual) Andrew Gillum talked about his scandalous situation with Travis Dyson with GQ—but Dyson also provided his version of events, out.com noted. Of the March 2020 situation that resulted in authorities finding Gillum drugged and naked in a hotel room with Dyson, Gillum said, "He offers me something to drink. … Because I didn't take a drug test until two or three days later, I don't know if there was something in my drink. But all I know is, I'm knocked out. I don't have any clothes on. I have no idea why. And I'm there with like five, six police officers." Dyson said that the pair first began to speak on Grindr, a week or two prior and had met up "multiple times for paid sexual encounters." According to him, Gillum took G and passed out, likely as it mixed with the alcohol in Gillum's system. Dyson said he has been impacted by the scandal as well having broken off his engagement, withdrawn from nursing school and turned to OnlyFans for income.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) made a lengthy statement on Facebook and Twitter, complaining in response to Joe Biden's executive order that explicitly protects people from discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Reeves claimed that this development harms his daughters, and is part of an effort by "politicians [who] are pushing children into transgenderism."

A private Christian school in Oklahoma allegedly expelled a second grader and severed ties with her family after she told a female classmate that she had a crush on her, NBC News noted. The student's mom, Delanie Shelton, told NBC News that she received a call Jan. 21 from the Rejoice Christian School telling her that she had to pick up her 8-year-old daughter, Chloe, after an "incident on the playground." Officials from Rejoice Christian School did not respond to requests for comment regarding Chloe's expulsion. However, on Jan. 28, Pepin released a statement saying, "Due to privacy and other factors, it is the school's policy to refrain from public comments regarding any particular student or family."

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said during an Instagram Live broadcast that she is a survivor of sexual assault, CNN.com reported. Ocasio-Cortez made the statement—which appeared to be one of the first times she has spoken in public about being a survivor—in contextualizing her trauma in the wake of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. She said those in Congress who are telling her "to move on," or even apologize, following the violent insurrection at the Capitol were using "the same tactics of abusers."

Actress/comedian Kathy Griffin said she turned a conservative mommy influencer's videos of herself at the MAGA riots to the FBI after the influencer tried to come for her, LGBTQ Nation noted. Danielle McCarty—who goes by "Muscle Mommy Fit" and "Fit Patriot Mom" online—called out Griffin on Jan. 9 for tweeting an image with a plastic severed head that looked like Donald Trump and the words "Just resign now. You lost. Its over." Just after the MAGA riots on Jan. 6 and as Democrats started Trump's second impeachment, Griffin retweeted the image. "The despicable Kathy Griffin is at it again," responded; however, Griffin retweeted a screenshot of McCarty's tweet with the message: "Oh, you shouldn't have tagged me. You were there on Jan 6. You pulled your video, but I found it. Looks like you're a domestic terrorist and now we all know it, @musclemommyfit."

The influential anti-Donald Trump group Lincoln Project denounced one of its co-founders after multiple reports that, over several years, he sexually harassed young men looking to break into politics, ABC News reported. The Lincoln Project called co-founder John Weaver, 61, "a predator, a liar, and an abuser" following reports that he repeatedly sent unsolicited and sexually charged messages online to young men, often while suggesting he could help them get work in politics. Weaver—a strategist who advised the late Republican Sen. John McCain and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich in their unsuccessful runs for the White House—acknowledged in a statement to the web site Axios that he had sent "inappropriate" messages he "viewed as consensual, mutual conversations at the time."

Anti-voter suppression advocate/onetime gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, Al-Jazeera reported. Some of the other candidates this year include former President Donald Trump, Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, the World Health Organization, Black Lives Matter, WikiLeaks and climate campaigner Greta Thunberg. The Nobel Committee will now prepare a short list of candidates and spend the summer reviewing nominations.

Kino Classics announced that Nationtime—the landmark documentary by William Greaves about the 1972 National Black Political Convention—is now available on Blu-ray and DVD, a press release noted. The film is also available digitally on major platforms, including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, FandangoNOW, and Kino Now. Nationtime is his vivid account of the 1972 National Black Political Convention held in Gary, Indiana—a historic event that gathered Black delegates from across the political spectrum, including Jesse Jackson, Dick Gregory, Coretta Scott King, Dr. Betty Shabazz, Richard Hatcher, Amiri Baraka, Charles Diggs, Isaac Hayes, Richard Roundtree and H. Carl McCall.

Freelance journalist Don Campion and colleagues are calling out CBS for discrimination, Instinct Magazine noted. On Jan. 26, Champion, who formerly worked for CBS, posted to Facebook his experiences with discrimination under the news media company. He posted, "Even before I started, my agent warned me, 'Be careful—you're gay, Black and a man. [Local news lieutenant] David [Friend] doesn't like any of those.' I still question how I got in the door at CBS 2 News—in the end, I think it was fate." ViacomCBS is currently in the midst of widespread allegations of mistreatment in several of its TV stations. CBS hired law firm Proskauer Rose to investigate conduct by CBS Television Stations President Peter Dunn and Friend, according to the Los Angeles Times.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito, a conservative, said he wasn't surprised by the backlash he received recently following a gloves-off speech in which he asserted coronavirus restrictions had created a "constitutional stress test" by placing unprecedented limits on individual freedom, USA Today reported. Speaking to a group of conservatives and libertarians days after the presidential election, Alito lamented what he called the "severe, extensive and prolonged" lockdown policies that he said amounted to a "constitutional stress test." To his critics, the speech was "nakedly partisan," prompting U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to state that justices aren't "supposed to be political hacks."

Despite so many LGBTQ bars closing across the country, a new one is opening—in Garden City, Idaho. According to BoiseDev.com, the bar Somewhere will fill a gap in the market left when Lucky Dog Tavern closed to make way for a new Boise police substation. The venue was formerly known as The Ranch Club, which opened in 1949 and operated under one family until 2002, according to the Idaho Statesman; it closed and changed ownership several times, including 2002, 2005, 2017, and 2019 and last year. The bar is featured in the 1982 Clint Eastwood film Bronco Billy, which filmed around the Boise area.

Speaking of gay bars, drag personality Trixie Mattel—who won RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars in 2018—is now the co-owner of one, out.com noted. Mattel told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that This Is It!, which opened in 1968, was the first gay bar she visited after turning 21. Mattel's new business partner and co-owner of the bar is George Schneider, who's been the owner for some time now. This Is It! is the oldest still-running gay bar in Wisconsin, and one of the oldest in the country.

Dr. Anthony Fauci—the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease who became the top U.S. medical official addressing the coronavirus pandemic—is getting the feature documentary treatment, Deadline reported. National Geographic Documentary Films said that Emmy winners John Hoffman and Janet Tobias will direct Fauci, which will offer a glimpse into the career and life of the public servant who has advised seven U.S. presidents beginning with the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s and through SARS, Ebola and, now, COVID-19. Fauci is the longest-serving public health leader in Washington, DC, and has testified before Congress more than any other single person in U.S. history.

A painting by Winston Churchill that is a piece of both political and Hollywood history is coming up for auction, ABC News noted. Christie's auction house said that the Moroccan landscape "Tower of the Koutoubia Mosque"—a gift from Churchill to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt—is being sold by Angelina Jolie next month with an estimated price of 1.5 million pounds to 2.5 million pounds ($2.1 million to $3.4 million). The painting was sold by Roosevelt's son after the president's death in 1945, and had several owners before Jolie and then-partner Brad Pitt bought it in 2011.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will step down later this year, turning over the helm to the company's top cloud executive Andy Jassy, CNBC reported. Bezos founded Amazon in 1994 and since then has morphed it from an online bookstore into a mega online retailer that sells and delivers all sorts of products all over the world. In January of last year, Amazon surpassed a $1 trillion market cap under Bezos' leadership. Bezos will become executive chair after stepping down.


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