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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



NATIONAL Election results, campus items, Puerto Rican icons, healthcare suit
by Andrew Davis

This article shared 2203 times since Fri Nov 10, 2023
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Historic developments took place during the Nov. 7 elections that happened in some states. LGBTQ+ Victory Fund candidate Rue Landau won an at-large seat on the Philadelphia City Council—making her the first out LGBTQ+ candidate to win election to the council, the organization noted. Until Nov. 7, Philadelphia was the last major city to have never elected an out councilmember. Also, several members of the LGBTQ+ community (newcomers and incumbents) scored victories in Virginia, including Danica Roem, state Sen. Adam Ebbin, Rozia Henson and Marcia Price, among others. Regarding Roem, she is now the first out trans state senator ever elected in the South.

Virginia also had an Election Day win that involved Allison Spillman—a progressive mother of an LGBTQ+ child—beating the daughter of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in a school-board race, The Advocate noted, citing The Daily Progress. Spillman defeated Meg Bryce 62% to 38% for an open at-large seat on the Albemarle County School Board. Some voters were worried that Bryce would impose far-right policies—such as banning books and quashing LGBTQ+ content—and would try to divert funding to private schools and homeschooling.

New Jersey elected its first LGBTQ+ woman state legislator, The Advocate noted. Luanne Peterpaul, an out lesbian, won election to the state Assembly from the 11th District. She and fellow Democrat Margie Donlon beat two Republican incumbents, Marilyn Piperno and Kim Eulner, who had won by narrow margins in 2021.

Also, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear—an ally of the LGBTQ+ community—was re-elected to a second term in Kentucky, a red state. According to WLWT, Beshear bested Republican (and former law-firm colleague) Daniel Cameron 52.5% to 47.5%. Speaking to a group of his supporters, Beshear listed several goals of his next term, including pay raises for educators, universal pre-K for every Kentucky child, and creating new jobs and industries for state workers. On the campaign trail, Cameron—who would have been the nation's first Black Republican to be elected governor—reaffirmed his support for the state's current anti-abortion law.

In addition, Ohio voters added the right to access abortion care to the state's constitution. According to NBC News, it was another major political victory for abortion-rights advocates since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in 2022. The passage of the Issue 1 ballot measure inserts language in the state constitution guaranteeing every person in Ohio the right "to one's own reproductive medical treatment, including but not limited to abortion," and barring the state from "burdening, penalizing or prohibiting" those rights. However, it also says that abortion will remain banned after the point a doctor judges a fetus would most likely survive birth, with exceptions to protect the woman's life or health.

Patty Sheeehan, Florida's first out elected official, won a seventh term on the Orlando City Council—and had drag performer Darcel Stevens perform at her victory celebration, The Advocate noted. She won 64.3% of the vote, beating challengers Katie Koch and Randy Ross. Sheehan said this win felt especially sweet because of the negative attacks on her record, saying, "They tried to use my sexuality. It was a lot of nonsense."

Four campus ministries, including one led by an Episcopal priest, have stepped up their outreach to LGBTQ+ students at the University of Houston since Aug. 31, when the public college closed its LGBTQ Resource Center to comply with a new state law, according to Episcopal News Service. The law—adopted by Texas' majority-Republican Legislature and signed in June by GOP Gov. Greg Abbott—bans public universities from operating departments or facilities that promote programs of diversity, equity and inclusion. The university closed both its LGBTQ Resource Center and its Center for Diversity and Inclusion, creating a Center for Student Advocacy and Community instead.

In Indiana, drag queens performed at the University of Notre Dame's DeBartolo Performing Arts Center amid protesters and counterprotesters, according to the Observer—a student-run, triweekly print and online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's and Holy Cross. Pamela Wojcik—the chair of the department of film, television and theater and who is teaching an elective course called "Drag on Screen"—described the show, presented after a symposium on drag bans, as the "culmination" of her course.

The University of Pittsburgh pressed charges against at least three pro-LGBTQ+ protesters and held conduct hearings for eight students who disrupted a public Board of Trustees meeting in September, Public Source revealed. Most of the protesters—some unaffiliated with the school—were members and supporters of the on-campus group Trans Action Building. The group formally emerged in May, following a semester that saw "anti-trans" speaker events on campus spark outrage and concern among LGBTQ+ students.

An NBC News item looked at eight groundbreaking queer icons from Puerto Rico. The article, entitled "Before Bad Bunny: Eight trailblazing queer icons from Puerto Rico," looks at people such as Ricky Martin (who himself called Bad Bunny "an icon for the Latin queer community"), activist Rosalina "Talin" Ramos, the late astrologer Walter Mercado, justices/wives Maite Oronoz Rodríguez and Gina Mendez-Miro, boxer Orlando Cruz, the late trans activist Christina Hayworth and activist Pedro Julio Serrano.

Three transgender youths, their parents and a doctor in Tennessee have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block the state's ban on certain transition-related healthcare for minors, per NBC News. If the court decides to hear the case, it would be the first time it has considered a restriction on puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery for minors. Tennessee is one of 22 states where such bans have become law.

A study from real-estate data company Clever used 14 criteria to rank the most and least LGBTQ+-friendly cities in the country, The Advocate noted. The 10 least-friendly spots included Kansas City, Missouri (at #10); St. Louis; Tampa, Florida; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Dallas; Miami; Birmingham, Alabama; Jacksonville, Florida; Houston: and, topping them all, Memphis, Tennessee. The 15 friendliest cities are at

Outside the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, elected leaders and other officials held a news conference announcing the formation of the Lakeshore LGBTQ Cultural District, per The Bay Area Reporter. Later that evening, the Oakland City Council unanimously approved the resolution establishing the district, which encompasses parts of the Lakeshore and Grand neighborhoods. There are about a dozen businesses in the district that are LGBTQ+-owned, officials noted.

Prominent LGBTQ+ activist and AIDS services pioneer Susan Cowell died in Rochester, New York, at age 71 after a long illness, The Advocate noted, citing The Democrat and Chronicle newspaper. Among Cowell's accomplishments was organizing a 1978 rally against a visit by Anita Bryant during her anti-gay crusade. Also, Cowell was campaign manager for Tim Mains in his successful run for Rochester City Council in 1985, in which he became the first openly gay elected official in New York state. In addition, Cowell (who's survived by wife Marta Maletze) was named Monroe County AIDS coordinator in 1988; she continued to be active with LGBTQ+ community groups, including the Empire State Pride Agenda.

Lancaster LGBTQ+ communities have experienced deep loss this past year, according to Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents. Three young trans teens—River Paige Olmstead (age 17), Theadora "Thea" Cassidy (18) and Brayden Snyder (15)—died by by suicide over the past year, including two in September and October.

Kendrell Lavar Lyles was slated to be sentenced to 48 years in prison after pleading guilty to the murder of Black transgender woman Muhlaysia Booker in Dallas in 2019, according to The Advocate. Booker, 23, was fatally shot in May 2019. Her death came a month after a mob attacked her over a minor traffic accident at an apartment complex; a video showed that she was beaten and kicked by men shouting misogynist and anti-gay slurs, and one man pointed a gun at her.

In Alabama, Smiths Station Mayor F.L. "Bubba" Copeland—who was also pastor of First Baptist Church in Phenix City—died by suicide after their involuntary outing as a transgender woman when a local conservative news blog posted photos of them embracing their secret gender identity, The Advocate noted. Alabama news blog 1819 News had reported that Copeland had been engaging in explicit online activities, allegedly posting pornography, memes and photos of themself in women's clothing online under the name "Brittini Blaire Summerlin."

The Gay Officers Action League (GOAL) urged the NYPD to take swift action after a viral video shared on Instagram Oct. 26 that appeared to show an officer using an anti-gay slur, Gay City News reported. In the video, posted by the Instagram user @skymilezz, an officer sitting in a police vehicle at a red light speaks into a loudspeaker, saying, "suck my d*ck, f****t." "We expect the results of that investigation to lead to appropriate disciplinary action in line with the NYPD's professional standards," a GOAL statement read. An NYPD spokesperson said the matter "is under internal review."

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul issued a proclamation declaring November as Transgender Awareness Month, Gay City News noted. "Transgender Awareness Month is not only a month to celebrate the invaluable contributions that transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary communities have made to our state, but also a time to confront the misconceptions that breed discrimination and violence against transgender people," Hochul stated. Earlier this year, the Hochul administration announced $1 million in new funding for suicide prevention programs to support trans, gender non-conforming and non-binary youth in New York.

On CNBC, Target CEO Brian Cornell suggested that the backlash the retail giant dealt with in May over its Pride displays was the first time some team members claimed it was "not safe" at work, per The New York Post. "We've seen the impact of COVID leading up to the pandemic, some of the violence that took place after George Floyd's murder. But I would tell you what I saw back in May is the first time since I've been in this job where I had store team members saying it's not safe to come to work," Cornell said. Target unveiled its annual Pride Month displays in May and faced scrutiny after customers found "tuck-friendly" women's swimsuits for trans people as well as items for children and infants. After images went viral, Target stores quickly removed Pride displays and placed them in less conspicuous areas. Some people, like California Gov. Gavin Newsom, criticized Target's move, according to SFGate.

Nearly half of Grindr's staff left the dating-app company after being told in August that they needed to return to the office. However, the company is looking at those departures as an opportunity—a chance to remold itself, per the Los Angeles Business Journal. Among these new hires, Grindr is specifically selecting AI experts to set the company up for the future. Grindr announced that all employees need to be in-office two days a week, and departments were assigned specific "hub" cities to report to, including Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, New York and D.C. Arison said that employees were given the choice to comply with the policy or depart the company with a "generous" severance package.

Nonbinary Florida teacher AV Vary claims to have lost their job from an online-only public school for using a gender-neutral title, Mx., according to WFLA, citing a report from the Orlando Sentinel. Vary provided a letter to the Sentinel in which Florida Virtual School (FLVS) said only Ms., Mrs. and Miss were acceptable. "As a Florida public school, FLVS is obligated to follow Florida laws and regulations pertaining to public education," a district spokesperson said in a statement to WFLA. "This includes laws such as section 1000.071(3) of the Florida Statutes pertaining to the use of Personal Titles and Pronouns within Florida's public school system."

Also in Florida, Fort Lauderdale has named a member of the LGBTQ+ community as its newest police chief, per Out South Florida. William "Bill" Schultz has more than 23 years experience in law enforcement and has led innovations in the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis—who's also part of the LGBTQ+ community—said he looks forward to working with Schultz and improving the department.

Equality Florida Action, Inc. launched a TV ad showing "the disastrous impacts on Florida as Governor DeSantis pursues his agenda of censorship and government overreach," per a press release. Equality Florida Action, Inc. placed a five-figure ad buy for "#DeSantisFailedUs," which features DeSantis "as a destructive force whose obsession with waging culture wars has led to book bans and emboldened racism, censorship of history, and anti-LGBTQ attacks — all while ignoring critical problems Floridians face on a daily basis, including lack of affordable housing, skyrocketing insurance, and a catastrophic teacher shortage with nearly 7,000 vacancies in the state."

Also related to DeSantis, his administration has appealed a decision of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that favored restaurant chain Hamburger Mary's in its suit against his anti-lewdness law to the U.S. Supreme Court, per The Bay Area Reporter. The language of the bill—aimed at "the lewd exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts"—was thought to be aimed at public drag shows.

In San Francisco, the Castro Merchants Association criticized the recent Lesbians Who Tech & Allies Summit, voting at its monthly membership meeting to ask the organization not to shut down Castro Street for any future event, per The Bay Area Reporter. Business owners expressed frustration with the event, which occurred Oct. 16-20 and was put on by Lesbians Who Tech. The conference led to street closures on the 400 and 500 blocks of Castro Street, between Market and 19th streets. Concerns included the impact to deliveries of businesses and trash collection, among other things.

Oregon resident Matthew Lehigh—who pleaded guilty in connection with LGBTQ+ hate crimes, including trying to hit people with a car in Idaho last year—was sentenced to 37 months in prison, NBC News noted. Lehigh's prison sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release and restitution, according to the U.S. Justice Department. Lehigh previously pleaded guilty to two felony charges of violating the Hate Crimes Prevention Act as part of a plea agreement. Last October, he punched and threatened a transgender librarian in Boise, Idaho, before trying to run over a library security guard with his vehicle.

A Grindr date led to an apparent stabbing in a Tulsa, Oklahoma parking lot, according to Fox 23 News. Police said a 16-year-old suspect is in custody and will be arrested for assault and battery with a deadly weapon. Authorities also said the victim's face, neck and chest were slashed.

Members of Philadelphia's queer community are preparing for the World Cup's arrival to the city in 2026, per The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Philadelphia Falcons—an LGBTQ+ soccer club that has been operating since 1989—announced that it will be creating a guide of safe spaces for queer people to enjoy the World Cup in two years. Organizers say the guide will help to create a refuge from homophobia—and to create a space filled with joy.

In Missouri, the Columbia City Council discussed multiple items in a recent meeting, including public comment for Columbia to pass a sanctuary-city ordinance for its LGBTQ+ citizens, KRCG reported. Mel Tully—the chair of the state chapter of Young Democratic Socialists of America—presented an ordinance preventing the city from penalizing or prosecuting someone for seeking gender-affirming care. The ordinance addresses many bills introduced by the Missouri Legislature on LGBTQ+ issues.

U.S. House Democrats, aided by some Republicans, killed a move to censure Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib for her criticism of Israel over its response to the deadly Hamas terror attack, ABC News reported. Shortly afterward—because the motion to table Tlaib's resolution was successful—House Democrats pulled a resolution to censure Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who had proposed the Tlaib censure.

Queer|Art—New York City's home for the creative and professional development of LGBTQ+ artists—announced that Golden is the winner of the fourth annual Illuminations Grant for Black Trans Women Visual Artists, per a media release. The Brooklyn-based visual artist (a gender nonconforming artist who was raised in Hampton, Virginia) will receive a $10,000 cash grant, professional development support and individual studio visits with members of the judges panel to support their practice. Golden was selected from a pool of 51 applicants.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Trent Shepherd and Montanna Mercer have opened Mother's Lounge—a bar that's meant to serve the entire LGBTQ+ community, The Reveille reported. The lack of places with a mix of LGBTQ+ people "got me thinking, if we feel that way, we can't begin to imagine how trans, nonbinary, and other parts of the queer community in Baton Rouge feel," Shepherd said. Mother's Lounge is open every day but Monday, with drag performances every Friday and karaoke on Sundays.

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