A New York appeals court ruled that falsely accusing someone of being gay is no longer considered defamation per se, NBC News reported. Defamation is a false statement that damages someone's reputation. "It meant that it was so shameful and such a disgrace that it was just assumed that obviously your reputation has been injured and you don't have to prove that element" of damages, LGBT Bar Association of New York Executive Director Eric Lesh told NBC News. In late December, however, the Supreme Court of the State of New York's Second Department overturned that decades-old precedent. Such a false claim can still be considered defamatorybut plaintiffs will have to prove that they've been damaged by it.
Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks will host the primetime Celebrating America special that will culminate the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 20, Deadline reported. The show will also feature performances from Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, Ant Clemons and longtime Democratic supporter Jon Bon Jovi; a later article stated that Kerry Washington, Bruce Springsteen, Eva Longoria and John Legend have been added as well. The special will be carried by ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC and CNN; additionally, the show will be seen on Amazon Prime Video, Microsoft Bing, NewsNOW from Fox, and AT&T DIRECTV and U-verse as well as the Presidential Inaugural Committee' social-media feeds.
Lady Gaga is set to sing the national anthem at the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20, Deadline reported. Gaga was previously on the campaign trail with Biden, appearing alongside the then-candidate in western Pennsylvania a day before the U.S. presidential election. Also on the roster is Jennifer Lopez for a "musical performance," details of which were not disclosed.
SFBayTimes.com ran a feature on LGBTQ photographer William "Bill" F. Wilson, who has documented the career of President-elect Joe Biden since 1973. "I don't know where I will be on Jan. 20 at 12 pm Eastern time, but I know what I'll be doing," Wilson told the Bay Times. "I will be watching as Joseph R. Biden, Jr., is being sworn in as our 46th President of the United States. I have no doubt that there will be tears of joy streaming down my cheeks."
A new study showed a rise in familiarity and favorable opinion of PrEP, medicine that can be taken to prevent contracting HIV, among men at risk in the LGBTQ+ community, out.com reported. The study from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) presented mixed results, though, with less than one in 10 eligible men consistently taking the drug, sold under the names Truvada and Descovy. Of the over 366,000 potential participants, only 2,882 met the eligibility criteria for the study and agreed to participate; however, only 1,345 of those actually completed the multi-year survey. The article, in the peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE, is at journals.plos.org/plosone/article .
A top Trump economic adviser who's also a member of the LGBTQ community was among those who resigned the day after the assault at the U.S. Capitol incited by President Trump, the Washington Blade reported. Tyler Beck Goodspeed, who's gay and was appointed by Trump in July to serve as acting chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, left his post. Trump supporters, including Log Cabin Republicans' media arm Outspoken, had touted Goodspeed, a Harvard graduate, prior to the presidential election as a top LGBTQ appointee in the Trump administration.
An 18-year-old lesbian who said she has been kicked out of her home outed her Trump-loving family members who participated in a violent altercation in D.C. at the MAGA riots at the Capitol, LGBTQ Nation reported. "Hi this is the liberal lesbian of the family who has been kicked out multiple times for her views and for going to BLM protests to care what happens to me," wrote Helena Duke in a tweet, who then proceeded to give her family members' names in response to photos of the protest.
David J. Johns, executive director of the LGBTQ group National Black Justice Coalition, responded to news of outgoing President Donald Trump's second impeachment. Johns said, "We celebrate the recent vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to impeach President Trump, for the second time, and hope that the U.S. Senate finds the courage to support a conviction, which will ensure he is never allowed to run for the presidency again. … From not releasing tax returns so the American people could see what improper financial connections might exist, to using executive powers to gut civil-rights protections and destroy longstanding programs for refugees seeking asylum, to trying to overturn the most recent election results, Trump has failed to honor the office that he has occupied."
Out gay U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island)the lead sponsor of a resolution to impeach Trump that was introduced in the House of Representativeshas received death threats, LGBTQ Nation reported. "You poked the fucking bear this time, you little bitch," said one of the messages played on CNN. "You poked the bear. You understand what I'm saying?" In a New York Times op-ed, Cicilline said that he's sticking to the resolution because "failing to act would set an irresponsibly dangerous precedent for future presidents who are about to leave office."
Veteran San Francisco LGBTQ activist Ken Jones died at age 70, according to Queerty. He had been diagnosed with bladder cancer in September. His death was announced by his good friend, Cleve Jones, via Facebook. Jones' life was dramatized in the miniseries When We Rise in 2017, which explored the work of LGBTQ activists in the 1970s/80s and beyond. He was played by the actors Jonathan Majors (as a young man) and Michael K. Williams.
Ned Price, who had served in the Obama years in a senior communications role for the White House National Security Council, has been tapped for the role of State Department spokesperson, The Washington Blade reported. Pricewho would be the first openly gay person to serve in the roleobtained the position as the Biden transition team announced a slew of foreign policy appointments, many of whom served in the Obama administration.
Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck announced HIV decriminalization was among their organization's legislative priorities during the 2021 legislative session that began last week, according to The Washington Blade. "Virginia is one of 37 states with outdated laws targeting and punishing people based on their HIV-positive status," they said. Senate Bill 1138, the proposed HIV-decriminalization law, is one of eight bills for which Equality Virginia and state legislative sponsors are encouraging public support for; others include an LGBTQ panic-defense ban, second-parent adoption protections and an effort to amend the state constitution to affirm marriage equality.
Three North Carolina municipalitiesHillsborough, Carrboro and Chapel Hilldiscussed and passed ordinances to expand more anti-discrimination protections to LGBT citizens. ABC11.com noted that Hillsborough passed its ordinance, CBS17.com noted that Carrboro unanimously agreed to do the same, and NewsObserver.com noted that Chapel Hill's council also unanimously passed the ordinance.) Gay-rights groups said the ordinances are the first approved since the General Assembly's 3 1/2-year pause on such rules expired Dec. 1, 2020, an IslandPacket.com item noted. The moratorium emerged from a compromise between Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican lawmakers to do away with the state's 2016 trans-related "bathroom bill."
This year is already off to a sad start for the trans community, as a transgender woman in Chicago and a transgender man in Puerto Rico were shot and killed, out.com reported. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Tyianna "Davarea" Alexander, 29, a Black transgender woman, was shot in the head while walking with a friend in the city's Gresham neighborhood. In Puerto Rico, the bullet-riddled body of Latinx transgender man Samuel Edmund Damian was left in the middle of a dimly lit highwaywhere it was run over by an unsuspecting driver, according to a report in the Spanish-language Primera Hora.
On a related note, media-advocacy organization GLAADin solidarity with the LGBTQ advocacy group Puerto Rico Para Tod@scalled on media and law enforcement to investigate recent murders of transgender people in Puerto Rico. Samuel Edmund Damian Valentín's death is the seventh killing of a trans person in Puerto Rico in the span of one year, and Puerto Rico Para Tod@s has declared "a state of emergency for gender violence and hate crimes'' on the island. The victims so far include Valentín, Michelle Ramos Vargas, Alexa Negron Luciano, Serena Angelique Velazquez Ramos, Layla Pelaez Sanchez, Yampi Mendez Arocho and Peneope Díaz Ramirez.
The Associated General Contractors of California (AGC) and AGC Construction Education Foundation launched a landmark new partnership with BuildOUT California, the world's first industry association dedicated to the sustainable growth of LGBTQ+-owned and -certified businesses, a PR Newswire item announced. This partnership will focus on providing relevant, customized training opportunities to prepare LGBTQ+ businesses to effectively compete, bid and perform on significant construction projects. AGC and BuildOUT California also will work together to leverage and raise necessary funding to develop, pilot and grow programs related to all identified partnership outcomes and objectives.
Aramarkthe largest U.S.-based food service companylaunched Chef Spotlight, a program that celebrates the diverse culinary talent within the company and spotlights the chefs who have had an impact on the organization and its guests, Business Wire noted. These tastemakers will be honored by having their recipes, and the stories that inspired them, shared in the locations Aramark serves. Aramark's employee resource groups include Aramark Impacto (Hispanic/Latino), Aramark Pride (LGBTQ+), Leaders and Employees of African Descent (LEAD), Aramark Empower (Women) and Aramark Rising Sun (Indigenous), among others.
The world's largest public two-spirit/LGBTQAI Native American powwow will commemorate its 10th anniversary with virtual events Feb. 2-6, a press release noted. The Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS) Powwow will be held virtually this year with a week-long celebration of events that includes daily panels and workshops, and culminates in our first-ever virtual powwow on Saturday, Feb 6. This powwow features several hours of ceremonial honor dances, contest dances and a drum contest. All are welcome to attend; visit www.baaits.org/powwow to get updated links, and www.baaits.org/donate to make voluntary donations.
In Michigan, an LGBTQ organization that has served Washtenaw County for more than 25 years is closing its community center by the end of this month, MLive.com reported. The Jim Toy Community in Ann Arbor will continue to operate virtually but is closing its space due to financial challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic. President Joe Schoch aims to reopen a physical center in the future, depending on the state of the virus and financial matters. The center launched a GoFundMe campaign to collect $30,000 to help keep the organization running; visit charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/jimtoycenter .
GLAAD is working with legal advocacy nonprofit Gender Justice, which filed suit on behalf of trans athlete JayCee Cooper against USA Powerlifting, claiming discrimination and demanding a fair standard for trans participation, a release stated. Cooper is asserting that USA Powerlifting violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act. A copy of the complaint is at https://www.genderjustice.us/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Cooper-v.-USAPL-Complaint-FINAL-PDF.pdf.
Stonewall vet and trans icon Miss Major Griffin-Gracy and partner Beck recently became parents, according to advocate.com . In an Instagram post, Griffin-Gracy announced the birth of her child saying, "we had a baby! Asaih Wittenstein Major was born on sat, 1/9/21 (rhymes with messiah)." It was only back in the summer of 2019 that the 50-year veteran of trans activism suffered a stroke and was hospitalized.
Four months after her death, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's legacy lives on in the new trailer for an upcoming documentary about her life, EW.com noted. Directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Freida Lee Mock (Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision), In Her Own Words follows Ginsburg's rise to the highest court in the United States, overcoming social and legal obstacles. Ruth: Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words premieres in virtual cinemas on Feb. 12, and hits VOD on March 9.
President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Samantha Power to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development, The Washington Blade reported. In part, Biden said that Powerwho was the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. during the Obama administration's second term"will be a powerful force for lifting up the vulnerable, ushering in a new era of human progress and development, and advancing American interests globally." Power, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author who also worked at the National Security Council during the Obama administration, championed LGBTQ rights during her ambassadorship.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has filed for bankruptcy protection and will seek to incorporate the nation's most politically influential gun-rights group in Texas instead of New York, Politico reported. The announcement came months after New York Attorney General Letitia James sued the organization over claims that top executives illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts for associates and other questionable expenditures. The gun-rights group has about 5 million members. Although headquartered in Virginia, the NRA was chartered as a nonprofit in New York in 1871 and is incorporated in the state.
Andrew Yang has made it official: He's running for mayor of New York City, CNN.com reported. "I moved to New York City 25 years ago. I came of age, fell in love, and became a father here. Seeing our City in so much pain breaks my heart," the former Democratic presidential candidate tweeted along with a two-minute video. Yang suspended his presidential campaign last February, and he spent time as a CNN contributor after leaving the campaign trail. At the time he ended that campaign, Yang had said he had no plans to run for mayor in New York.
Club Kids have resolved things after weeks of fighting with Michael Alig's mom, Elke Blair, over his remains, according to Page Six. Blair claimed the posse was trying to "bully" her not only about where her son's remains will end up, but also where she'll eventually be laid to rest herself. Alig successor Jason Chaos and longtime confidante Rachael Cain (the latter based in Chicago) said they will memorialize him "spiritually" after they lost the battle over the Club Kid Killer's remains. Aligwho led the Club Kid movement until he was jailed in 1996 for killing Andre "Angel" Melendezdied of a suspected overdose on Christmas Eve 2020.
A Cadbury ad featuring real-life couple Callum Sterling and Dale Moran (with them sharing a Cadbury Creme Egg from one's mouth to the other's) went viralbut there was pushback from people who thought the ad fetishized queer people, according to out.com . But Sterling pushed back. "So it's ok when an advert sexualizes a [woman,] a Caucasian [woman] THIRTY SEVEN years ago even, to benefit the male gaze and make others feel inadequate if they do not live up to this beauty standard," he responded in a caption of an Instagram post. "But it's not okay, in 2021, to have an advert of a multi-racial (strike one) gay couple (Strike two) on your screens for 10 seconds (Strike three) eating/kissing/sexualized (strike four)."