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NATIONAL Election news, AsylumConnect, Pride business items, 'Bears'
by Windy City Times staff
2021-06-06

This article shared 929 times since Sun Jun 6, 2021
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In Pennsylvania, in a race between contenders in the Democratic primary for Erie County executive, Tyler Titus—a trans person who currently serves as Erie School Board president—was declared the winner, according to The Washington Blade. Titus defeated Erie County Councilman Carl Anderson in a four-way primary and will move on to face Republican Brenton Davis in the general election, the Erie Time-News reported. If Titus, who identifies as trans non-binary, win the general election in November, they will become the first out trans person in the country to be elected a county executive, and one of the first out trans people to ever serve in an elected executive position.

Atlanta City Council member Antonio Brown—who's running to become the city's first LGBTQ mayor—had his SUV stolen and was dragged several feet along a street, ProjectQ.us reported. A group of four young men—who Brown told a 911 operator appeared to be 14 years old and younger—jumped in his 2016 Mercedes 450 GLE as he stood a few feet away. Brown identified himself as a city council member three times during his nearly two-minute conversation with a 911 operator. It took the police 40 minutes to arrive, according to the incident report.

AsylumConnect announced Shalawn James as its new executive director, according to a press release. Co-founded by a gay asylum seeker and trans American at the University of Pennsylvania, AsylumConnect is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing the world's first web and mobile resource platform designed for LGBTQ+ people fleeing persecution. Previously, James (who started at AsylumConnect on May 24) was the acting executive director of the Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania.

Beauty brand Morphe recently teamed with The Trevor Project, creating a limited-edition collection called Live With Love, out.com noted. All of the collection's proceeds go to help the organization's suicide prevention and crisis intervention services for LGBTQ+ youth—a group more likely to self-harm and experience bullying than their straight and cisgender counterparts. Also, the company brought in Broadway and music-fashion star Todrick Hall, who said, "I've been a fan of Morphe for years. I feel like more than ever people want to be motivated and want to be uplifted. They want to be reminded how beautiful they are."

The goat-milk bodycare brand Beekman 1802—headed by couple Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Dr. Brent Ridge—has come out with its own Pride items, according to a press item. They created a limited-edition skin-care set that's filled with travel-sized versions of its Clinically Kind skin care and a few rainbow Goatie pin. All of the profits will be donated to the Ali Forney Center to support homeless LGBTQ+ youth.

Laverne Cox and SodaStream are teaming this year to celebrate Pride, according to a press release. The leading sparkling water maker joined forces with Cox, a prominent trans advocate, to create an animated film entitled Rainbow Story. To accompany the campaign, SodaStream is launching a Rainbow Story limited edition sparkling water maker kit; see SodaStream.com . The video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okPwcLiG-i4.

Campus Pride announced activities and events in celebration of Pride Month 2021 and a new corporate partnership with PINK by Victoria's Secret, according to a press release. The partnership includes a $100,000 contribution to Campus Pride, and Campus Pride messaging in its customer-facing communications and window displays in stores across the country. Some of the Pride Month events include the Lavender Graduation, Juneteenth (with Black queer and trans activists), a Stonewall Riots anniversary event and the Give OUT Day Virtual Pride Celebration. See CampusPride.org .

Target, for the first time this year, will offer its Pride month collection at all of its stores, StarTribune.com reported. The Pride merchandise spectrum also is broader than in years past, including new home items such as colorful tableware and pillows. It's the 10th year Target has offered exclusive Pride products at its stores. This year's collection includes more than 150 products in apparel and pet items created by company designers in partnership with the Minneapolis retailer's Pride+ Business Council and other employee resource groups.

GLAAD, with assistance from singer Taylor Swift, announced its new "Summer of Equality" campaign to urge the passage of the Equality Act and secure comprehensive protections against discrimination for every LGBTQ American in critically important areas areas of life, according to a press release. GLAAD's campaign allows every American to sign a petition in support of the passage of The Equality Act that will be sent to each signatory's U.S. senators. (See donate.glaad.org/site/Advocacy; Swift tweeted, in part, "I proudly join GLAAD in their #summerofequality and add my voice to those who support The Equality Act. Happy Pride Month!"

Tickets are on sale for Bears in Lauderdale—South Florida's first-ever international celebration of the bear community—that will take place Sept. 1-6 in Fort Lauderdale, a press release noted. With more than a dozen themed events at bars and venues, including a dance party on Fort Lauderdale Beach featuring recording superstar Deborah Cox and well-known DJ Dan DeLeon, the week-long event is expected to attract hundreds of bears and their admirers. See WMEG.org/bears for more information.

This year's Trans Pride L.A. (TPLA) will be streamed live for the second consecutive year, expanded from two to three days, on June 17—19, a press release noted. TPLA is one of the nation's oldest and largest celebrations of the vibrant Trans, Gender Non-Conforming, Intersex, Non-Binary (TGI/ENBY+) community with virtual workshops, panel discussions, Trans Pride Community Gallery, the VarieTy Show, and a Big Queer Convo with special guest ACLU Deputy Director for Transgender Justice Chase Strangio. The full schedule of Trans Pride L.A. is at lalgbtcenter.org/transpride.

In Ohio, gay middle-school student Tristen Torrez was attacked and choked with the Pride flag he wore to school by a homophobic fellow student, according to out.com . Torrez told local CBS affiliate WTOL 11 that while he expected some rude comments when he wore the Pride flag to classes at Defiance Middle School in Defiance, he never thought he would be the victim of a violent attack by one of his peers. The attack left Torrez, 14, with a headache, bruised collar bone and a scraped ankle.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) issued a release noting the organization's sadness over the death of Poe Black, a 21-year-old transgender man who was killed in Niland, California, in an area called Slab City, in early May. According to some reports, Black—who was stabbed to death—identified as "mixed Indigenous," and may also have been two-spirit and non-binary. Black's death is at least the 28th death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2021; HRC recorded 44 deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2020, more than in any year since the organization began tracking this violence in 2013.

Biographical publisher Marquis Who's Who (MWW) announced the honorees for its June Maker's List, featuring figures from the LGBTQ+ community as catalysts for change in recognition of Pride Month, a press release noted. Just some of the people included are Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David, CNN personality Don Lemon, tennis icon Billie Jean King, actor George Takei, National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Imani Rupert-Gordon, transgender actress Laverne Cox, White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, actor Neil Patrick Harris, drag icon RuPaul, Apple CEO Tim Cook and rapper Lil Was X.

Stony Brook Medicine is gearing up to administer the first LGBTQ+ community health needs assessment survey on Long Island, according to a press release. The LGBTQ+ Community Health Needs Assessment Survey is a landmark study seeking vital data that will aim to shape the future of LGBTQ+ healthcare in Nassau and Suffolk counties. It represents the collaborative efforts of Stony Brook Medicine, in partnership with more than 20 Long Island-based organizations and community leaders who, combined, reach all sectors of the LGBTQ+ community through advocacy programming and services.

Chick-fil-A's billionaire owner Dan Cathy is still funding anti-LGBTQ+ efforts despite multiple pledges to stop and is reportedly one of the people behind one of "the most sophisticated dark money operations" ever seen, out.com noted. That "dark money operation," run through the charitable National Christian Foundation, is one of the main barriers to the Equality Act passing, according to a new report from The Daily Beast, and is also funded by people like former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the owners of Hobby Lobby. The bill has stalled in the U.S. Senate after President Biden had promised to pass the Equality Act in his first 100 days in office.

During an LGBTQ+ Pride panel with the Paley Center for Media, former NBA player Jason Collins talked about what's surprised him most since he came out in 2013, and the number-one thing is the lack of gay male athletes, according to Yahoo! Sports. Collins then credited women—especially the WNBA—for taking the torch from him and living their lives as out and proud athletes. He added, "And we can look to arguably the most powerful sports couple with Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird—just incredible human beings and what they're showing the world."

Michaela Kennedy Cuomo, the youngest daughter of Kerry Kennedy and embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, celebrated Pride Month with a message to everyone on "the whole spectrum of sexualities" as she opened up about her bisexuality and shared support for other members of the LGBTQ community, Yahoo! reported. On Instagram, Michaela, 23, posted two smiling photos of herself wearing a baseball cap that reads "gay for you." In part, she wrote, "To those who are contending with the compulsive heterosexuality our society force feeds us and innate attraction beyond cis [heterosexual] folks, please know that you are not alone." She encouraged LGBTQ allies to be vocal in their support "by speaking up against homophobia and by actively reaching out to the members of your community who's sexual expression may be isolating."

Rufus Gifford—one of seven openly gay ambassadors during the Obama administration before becoming an early supporter of President Biden in the 2020 campaign—officially obtained the nod for the position as State Department chief of protocol, The Washington Blade reported. A White House announcement on presidential nominations listed Gifford as one of three new picks for upcoming roles in the Biden administration; each of the nominations is subject to Senate confirmation, including Gifford's. While in the Obama administration, Gifford was the U.S. ambassador to Denmark.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman hung an LGBTQ Pride flag on the balcony of his state Capitol office—but it was removed after flying for just a few hours, ABC News reported. State employees took down the flag in cooperation with a provision backed by state Republicans last year that bans flags that aren't approved by lawmakers from flying at the Capitol. The provision prohibits flying any flag other than the U.S. flag, Pennsylvania's state flag or a flag honoring missing U.S. soldiers.

In a press release, Henderson Equality Center and Equality Nevada applauded Nevada state Sen. Roberta Lange and all of the co-sponsors for passing SB 194—a landmark state bill that will allow the state's teachers to include racial and sexual minorities, among others, in their history material. According to OpenStates.org, there were four Democratic and two Republican co-sponsors, including Lange. The American Independent stated that the measure will have students educated on the history and contributions of Native American people, people with disabilities, people of a diverse set of racial and ethnic backgrounds, LGBTQ individuals, people of all kinds of socioeconomic statuses, and immigrants and refugees. The bill will now be sent to Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak to sign.

LGBTQ-inclusive sex education is not available for most students—especially for LGBTQ youth who are Black, Indigenous or other people of color, according to a recent report from national sexual and reproductive health advocacy organizations, U.S. News & World Report noted. More than 24% of LGBTQ students had never had any sex education in schools, according to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network Research Institute's National School Climate Survey. And of students who had received sex education in schools, only about 8.2% said it was LGBTQ-inclusive.

Former St. Joseph's University employee Noel Koenke settled her anti-bias case against the school, Philadelphia Gay News reported. Koenke worked at St. Joseph's for about seven years. However, "hateful" pressure from supervisors to stay in the closet ruined her career, caused her to attempt suicide and resulted in the dissolution of her same-sex marriage. She resigned her position in November 2017, according to court papers. The settlement's terms are private.

The Walt Disney Company may be gearing up for its traditional celebration of Pride month, but a longtime executive has hit the company with a lawsuit of discrimination based on sexual orientation, Deadline reported. The named defendants are the Walt Disney Company, ABC Signature Studios, Inc., and Riverside Television Services LLC. "Plaintiff has direct and repeated complaints to HR about the discrimination he has endured while employed by Defendants and, concomitantly, the related failures to promote him and to pay him at the same level as other department heads," read the complaint filed in LA Superior Court on the first day of LGBTQ+ Pride month by attorneys for Joel Hopkins. Still at Disney, Hopkins is seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages and various lawsuit costs.

The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to Alaska Airlines telling the airline to stop enforcing a uniform policy that requires flight attendants to conform to a set of "male" and "female" dress and grooming standards, a press release stated. The letter was sent on behalf of Justin Wetherell, a non-binary flight attendant and flight-attendant instructor based in Seattle. The letter alleges that Alaska Airlines' uniform policy violates Washington state law, which explicitly prohibits discrimination based on gender identity, appearance, behavior, or expression and violates state and federal prohibitions against sex discrimination.

In Virginia, a Loudoun County teacher who was suspended over his comments against transgender students has filed a lawsuit, The Washington Blade reported. The anti-LGBTQ Alliance Defending Freedom, on June 1, filed a lawsuit in Loudoun County Circuit Court on behalf of Tanner Cross. Cross, a physical education teacher at Leesburg Elementary School, during a May 25 school board meeting said he would not use a student's preferred pronouns to refer to them.

In California, supporters of the LGBTQIA community and its allies gathered around Fresno City Hall for the first day of Pride Month for a Rainbow Lawn event, YourCentralValley.com noted. A change in policy led to a heated debate between Fresno city council members about free speech, and who gets to decide what flags are allowed to fly in front of city hall. Previously, Fresno's city manager would decide which flags are allowed to fly in front of City Hall, but council members decided they would instead decide which flags are allowed.

Law enforcement in Anchorage, Alaska asked the public to help identify a man caught on camera defacing the Alaska Jewish Museum and the popular Anchorage gay bar Mad Myrna's with Nazi symbols, according to Towleroad. Rabbi Yosef Greenberg, president of the museum's board of directors, labeled the offender a coward. "Jewish people have 4,000 years' experience of persecution," said Greenberg. "He is dealing with the wrong people. … We are not the people that fear."

In Montana, the Great Falls LGBTQ Center is hosting its very first public Pride weekend, KHQ.com noted. The group told Montana Right Now it's focusing on making events more accessible to families, sharing the message of equality through activities like cycling, church service and live music. Celebrations will take place June 11-13.

New York City graphic designer and LGBTQ publicist Andy Reynolds has released an "I Was Born This Way Collection" of T-shirts, mugs, bags and more, according to a press release. The "I Was Born This Way" baby was originally designed by Reynolds as cover art for the re-release of the 1976 gay disco anthem "I Was Born This Way," by Carl Bean. Products available include a T-shirt, tank top, muscle T, hoodie, sweatshirt (all in many colors), plus a mug, tote bag, large tote/beach bag, backpack, laptop case, throw pillow (all in white) and soon, phone case. See https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheTeeService.

The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance will hold a national LGBTQ+ First-Time Home Buyer Seminar on June 16 at 7 p.m. ET, a press release noted. This is believed to be the first such program ever offered specifically for the LGBTQ+ community. This is the first public-facing program offered by The Alliance, a 501(c)6 non-profit with more than 1,200 members that launched in October. People can register at https://realestatealliance.org/event/first-time-home-buyers-course/.

President Joe Biden issued a proclamation on Memorial Day to remember the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, calling on Americans to work to eradicate systemic racism and pledging to further racial justice, Politico reported. On May 31-June 1, 1921, white rioters ravaged the wealthy Black neighborhood of Greenwood, a hub of Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurship known as "Black Wall Street," in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The riot killed hundreds of Black people and left Greenwood reeling. No Black people who survived the massacre or their relatives have been given compensation in return.

A Texas high school valedictorian went viral for ditching her approved graduation speech to instead denounce the state's anti-abortion bill that was signed into law last month, The Hill reported. Paxton Smith, the valedictorian at Lake Highlands High School, had planned to deliver a speech about television and the media that was approved by school administrators. When she was called to the podium at her school's graduation ceremony, however, she said it "feels wrong" to speak about anything else other than the state's "heartbeat bill." While the law makes an exception for medical emergencies, it does not exempt pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

The blog page that former President Donald Trump launched less than one month ago, after his team suggested he'd be launching a major new social platform, has been permanently shut down, CNN.com noted. Jason Miller, a senior aide to Trump, told CNBC that the page "will not be returning." The blog, called "From the Desk of Donald J. Trump," was launched May 4 and came months after the former President had been banned from Facebook and Twitter.

In other Trump-related news, Facebook announced it may allow former his Facebook and Instagram accounts to be reinstated in January 2023, CNBC.com noted. At that time, the social media company will reevaluate whether the risk to public safety of allowing Trump back onto its services has receded. Facebook suspended Trump's accounts following the Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.

Texas Republicans' push to enact a slew of new voting restrictions was stopped—at least for now—by Democrats who walked off the state House floor, leaving majority Republicans without the quorum they needed to approve the bill in the final hours before a midnight deadline, CNN.com reported. Their move effectively killed Senate Bill 7 for this year's legislative session. But it could soon be revived: Republican Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted that he is adding "election integrity" to a list of topics lawmakers will address in a special session he plans to call.


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