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  WINDY CITY TIMES

NATIONAL Lesbian bar closes, COVID survey, trans lawsuit, Andy Towle
by Windy City Times staff
2021-03-07

This article shared 960 times since Sun Mar 7, 2021
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The Toasted Walnut—a lesbian bar in Philadelphia's Gayborhood that was refuge to queer women for the past five years—will close for good, according to an Eater Philly item that cited Billy Penn. The bar had been hibernating since November, but with additional financial pressure, it will no longer be able to reopen. As of the beginning of 2021, there were an estimated 15 lesbian bars left in the entire country.

In Colorado, Out Boulder County completed what may be the nation's first survey of COVID-19 vaccine reluctance among LGBTQ people, with 272 respondents, a press release noted. The survey offers a look into the attitudes of a community that has often gone unseen in public health efforts because information about sexual orientation and gender identity is rarely collected in federal, state or local health data. The survey was conducted for Out Boulder County by research psychologist, Kaylin Gray, Ph.D. between Dec. 17—Jan. 7. Full survey results are available here: http://bit.ly/covidlgbtqsurvey.

A transgender woman filed a lawsuit against staff at the Michigan Department of Corrections where she was imprisoned, claiming she was raped after staff forced her to share a cell with a convicted rapist and murderer, out.com noted, citing The Detroit News. The inmate identified as Jane Doe was supposed to be housed with other inmates experiencing gender dysphoria at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility, in Jackson—but staff allegedly ignored the directive and her pleas for help. The suit claims staff "acted with deliberate indifference by knowingly and recklessly disregarding the excessive risk to Plaintiff's health and safety, of which they were aware, resulting in Plaintiff's sexual assault."

Andy Towle has left Towleroad, the LGBTQ news site he created 18 years ago. On the website, he said, in part, "It's been a thrilling experience, and a lot of hard, rewarding work. Towleroad is one of the few independently published LGBTQ news sites left. … There's no one reason I've decided it's time for a change. When you do something for nearly two decades you start to wonder if there's anything else for you out there. And when there's a global pandemic and you're stuck in isolation for a year obsessively absorbing the actions of a fascist in charge of the country you start pondering those 'life' questions even more." His future plans are currently unclear, although painting may be a part of them. Business partner Michael Goff will continue to run Towleroad.

As the U.S. Senate passed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, former Auburn football coach and current U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama), attempted to add an anti-trans amendment to the COVID-19 relief bill on Feb. 6, Yahoo! News reported. However, the amendment was narrowly rejected, 50-49 (along party lines). If passed, the amendment would have prohibited funding to educational institutions that allowed trans women to compete in women's athletics.

Bethany Christian Services, a large Evangelical national social services agency that is a major provider of foster care and adoption services, announced a change of its nationwide policy in an email to staff members on March 1, Gay City News reported. Bethany will no longer automatically refer same-sex couples seeking their services to other agencies—but will now provide the services directly to married same-sex couples. The Supreme Court is considering if Catholic Social Services (CSS) can get a religious exemption from a Philadelphia policy stipulating that foster-care agencies with city contracts must adhere to LGBTQ nondiscrimination requirements.

A gay man from Guatemala who the Trump administration forced to pursue his asylum case in Mexico is scheduled to enter the United States on April 30, The Washington Blade reported. In June 2019, Estuardo Cifuentes asked for asylum because of the anti-gay persecution he suffered in his country of origin.

In New Jersey, a rally to denounce violence against women and the verbal abuse of the Trenton council president devolved into people yelling homophobic slurs and other epithets, out.com noted. According to a report in The Trentonian, the Feb. 26 rally was called in part to protest past statements by councilman Jerell Blakely against council president Kathy McBride, but Divine Allah of the New Black Panther Party also used the event to call Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora a "white boy" and a "little f*gg*t" for previous disputes between the mayor and councilwoman Robin Vaughn. Gusciora, who is gay, posted a two-minute video of the rally to Twitter, noting it was just "another day in Trenton."

Houston became the first city in Texas to commit to forming a database of LGBTQ enterprise-certified businesses for city contractors to use to ensure diversity among subcontractor and vendor participation in projects such as infrastructure improvements, ABC13.com reported. Prior to Mayor Sylvester Turner signing an executive order requiring the measure on March 4, contractors vying to work on city projects only had to meet goals of hiring a certain percentage of minority and women-owned businesses among their subcontractors and vendors; there were no requirements to include certified LGBTQ enterprises.

Campus Pride is celebrating its 20th anniversary as a national organization dedicated to building future leaders and creating safer, more inclusive communities for LGBTQ people and our allies at colleges and universities, a press release announced. Throughout 2021, Campus Pride will expand its programmatic offerings and will launch new initiatives to further engage youth communities and deepen its impact on campuses across the country, including Campus Pride Career Connect (mentoring), Social Justice Mini-Grants for Student Leaders, the Campus Pride Map, and the Campus Pride Alumni & Campus Spotlight Series.

Streaming platform Twitch—from Twitch Interactive, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc.—backtracked on a new policy to change its spelling of "women" after criticism from transgender communities, the BBC reported. The company had said it would use the term "womxn" in order to be more gender-neutral in its language, as part of its celebration of Women's History Month. However, LGBT communities online called the change transphobic because it suggested trans women were not women.

The Montana Senate passed anti-transgender bill SB 280, which would severely restrict the ability of transgender Montanans to correct the gender marker on their birth certificate; and anti-LGBTQ Senate Bill 215, which could allow anyone who claims a religious exemption the right to discriminate against LGBTQ Montanans and visitors, a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) press release stated. The bills now head to the House for consideration. HRC Associate Regional Campaign Director Cooper Reed said, "These bills are not addressing any real problem, and they're not being requested by constituents. Rather, this effort is being driven by national far-right organizations attempting to score political points by sowing fear and hate."

GLAAD announced plans for its newest initiative: the GLAAD Social Media Safety Index, a press release stated. The first-of-its-kind report will rate social-media platforms on how safe they are for LGBTQ users and provide recommendations for policy and product updates. The inaugural Index will launch in the spring, and is supported by Craig Newmark Philanthropies and the Gill Foundation.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is engaged to First Gentleman Marlon Reis, the Colorado Sun reported. Reis recounted to the publication that, initially, it didn't seem like the best time for Polis to propose, as Reis was battling the coronavirus and was getting ready to go to the hospital. "It was the absolute perfect time," Reis said. "I said to him, 'I couldn't breathe before. Now I really can't breathe.'" The couple—who have been together for 17 years—kept their Dec. 6 engagement mostly private.

Bisexual U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) is facing backlash for voting "no" on the Raise the Wage Act of 2021, KOLD.com reported. Sinema was one of seven Democrats and one Independent who rejected the amendment, which U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) strongly supported. In part, Sinema said in a statement, "Senators in both parties have shown support for raising the federal minimum wage and the Senate should hold an open debate and amendment process on raising the minimum wage, separate from the COVID-focused reconciliation bill."

In Texas, Harris County deputies charged a former convict with capital murder in the death of a man they said he targeted for robbery using the gay dating app Grindr, Click2Houston.com reported. The suspect has a history of violence, having served two years in prison for choking a family member in 2018. Deputies said he opened an account on Grindr to find people to rob—and eventually targeted Victor Najera Betanzos, who the suspect robbed and strangled.

A Kennesaw, Georgia, church was kicked out of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)—the largest Protestant denomination in the country—for accepting LGBTQ members into its congregation, Blue Mountain Eagle noted. A Southern Baptist Convention spokesman confirmed that, acting on a recommendation from the SBC Credentials Committee, the SBC Executive Committee voted to disfellowship Towne View Baptist Church. St. Matthews Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, was also disallowed, according to news reports.

Republican U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn is facing allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct by several women who say he put them in uncomfortable situations when he was a college student, with the former classmates telling CNN how the rising star of the conservative right would use "fun" drives as a way to make unwanted advances on them. Allegations of sexual misconduct by Cawthorn, who at age 25 is the youngest member of Congress, have followed him since he launched his run for North Carolina's 11th Congressional District. The women alleging misconduct against the congressman are former classmates of his at Patrick Henry College, in Virginia.

In other news involving Cawthorn, Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara—a lesbian minister and county commissioner in North Carolina—announced her candidacy to replace him in next year's midterm elections, out.com reported. Beach-Ferrara is a familiar face in the local community both as an advocate for marriage equality and other LGBTQ+ rights in the region and also as a Buncombe County Commissioner.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was set to be the primary honoree at the LGBT Bar of New York's 2021 gala—but when news broke of allegations he sexually harassed a former aide, he was erased from the event, The New York Post noted. The LGBT Bar of New York initially sent an email announcing Cuomo as this year's "Community Vision Award Recipient," but when the event took place Feb. 25, Cuomo wasn't mentioned by the hosts once.

U.S. reps passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act—a police-reform bill that would ban chokeholds and eliminate qualified immunity for law enforcement—along party lines, NPR noted. The 220-212 vote came nine months after Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was killed by Minneapolis police officers. The measure would also ban no-knock warrants, mandate data collection on police encounters, prohibit racial and religious profiling and redirect funding to community-based policing programs.

In San Francisco, police arrested a naked man after a fire was allegedly set at a residence in the Castro neighborhood was arrested, the Bay Area Reporter noted. The suspect arrested by police was identified as Lucian Ruiz, who was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of resisting a police officer, delaying/obstructing an investigation, probation violation and arson-related charges.

In Utah, a group of LGBTQ+ students at Brigham Young University (BYU) lit up the school's famed 'Y' with rainbow colors, out.com noted. Students from the group Color the Campus said their one-hour action illuminating the letter in the foothills overlooking the university was part of a larger day-long effort to call for greater acceptance while also calling out church teachings and rules for student behavior on campus. Last year, BYU—the nation's largest religious institution—removed language specifically banning same-sex sexual relations between students from the school's student Honor Code, but later stated the practice was still incompatible with church doctrine and teachings.

Kelly Loeffler, who lost her temporary U.S. Senate seat to Rev. Raphael Warnock, is out as co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, a team in the WNBA—a league that Loeffler criticized publicly for supporting Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ Nation reported. The new ownership group includes Renee Montgomery—a pro-Black Lives Matter, former WNBA athlete who is out.

Amanda Gorman—the Harvard-educated woman who won wide acclaim with her inauguration poem—said she was tailed by a security guard on her walk home, NPR reported. Gorman, who lives in Los Angeles, wrote on Twitter that as she approached her building, the guard demanded to know if she lived there. "You look suspicious," he allegedly said. "I showed my keys & buzzed myself into my building. He left, no apology. This is the reality of black girls: One day you're called an icon, the next day, a threat."

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett penned her first majority opinion—writing a seven-to-two decision that will shield federal agencies from having to disclose certain materials under an exception to the Freedom of Information Act, CNN.com noted. The Sierra Club and other groups had brought the challenge, seeking more information about an Environmental Protection Agency 2014 rule concerning the operation of cooling water intake structures and whether they would hurt protected species.

Six Dr. Seuss books—including And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street as well as If I Ran the Zoo—will stop being published because of racist and insensitive imagery, NBC News reported. "These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong," Dr. Seuss Enterprises told The Associated Press in a statement that coincided with the late author and illustrator's birthday. The other books affected are McElligot's Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat's Quizzer.

Visibility Media announced the release of gaming app Ya Tu Sabes—a trivia-inspired exploration of popular Latinx culture from the creators of the award-winning Black culture-themed BLeBRiTY app, a press release noted. Developed by Grey's Anatomy actor Jesse Williams; conceptual artist Glenn Kaino; and former exec at Apple, Nike and NBA Latin America Arturo Nunez, Ya Tu Sabes features a fast growing range of diverse categories and regional themes. The app was created to celebrate the rich diverse culture among Hispanics in the United States, and is available for both iOS and Android.


This article shared 960 times since Sun Mar 7, 2021
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