San Francisco police are seeking the public's help finding a gay man who went missing, seemingly without a trace, The Bay Area Reporter noted. The mother of Christopher J. Woitel, 50, last heard from him Jan. 9. Woitel has lived in San Francisco since his 1988 graduation from high school in Oak Park, Illinois; he is a white male, 5' 10", 200 pounds, and with brown hair and brown eyes. An investigation did lead "to the profession of a homeless man living in a tent encampment in Emeryville who said Woitel was murdered, [and] his body deposited in the Bay at the end of Mariposa Street," a news release stated. However, the investigator added that "it is clear [the homeless man] suffers from mental illness and as such could be delusional." Anyone with information regarding the investigation is asked to call the police's 24-hour tip line at 415-575-4444, or send a text to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD.
A trans Black man who is a San Francisco Fire Department paramedic is suing the city, alleging he has been discriminated against on the basis of his race and gender identity, harassed and retaliated against, according to The Bay Area Reporter. Ronnie Jones has worked for the SFFD since 2006; he came out as transgender in 2015. A copy of the civil complaint, which was filed in San Francisco Superior Court on Feb. 5, contains six counts: two of discrimination on the basis of race and gender identity, respectively; two counts of unlawful retaliation for opposing discrimination on those bases, a count of workplace harassment in violation of California's Fair Employment and Housing Act; and a count of failure to prevent discrimination and harassment in violation of that act. Jones' attorney, Angela Alioto, is also representing gay firefighter Keith Baraka in his suit against the city.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that President Joe Biden "stands by" his campaign pledge to sign the Equality Act to expand the ban on anti-LGBTQ discrimination under the law within 100 daysalthough she indicated Congress has to take initial steps with the legislation, The Washington Blade reported. With Biden making four crises of the economy, coronavirus, climate and racial inequity his top priorities, as well as the forthcoming impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, fears had persisted in the LGBTQ community Biden wouldn't be able to fulfill his campaign pledge on the Equality Act. Additionally, 10 Republican votes would be needed for the 60 votes to end a filibuster on the legislation in the Senate.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom director George C. Wolfe is teaming with Oscar-winning writer Dustin Lance Black to make a new film for Netflix: Rustin, about civil-rights activist Bayard Rustin, out.com reported. A statement from Netflix says the movie "tells the story of charismatic, gay, civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, who overcame an onslaught of obstacles, and altered the course of American history by organizing the 1963 March on Washington." Rustin is one of the biggest figures of the civil-rights movement, working closely with Martin Luther King, Jr. and helping to organize the 1963 March on Washington, where King gave his famous "I have a dream" speech.
Ricky Martin will be the national spokesperson for a foundation that is building a memorial and museum to honor the 49 victims who died at a shooting inside a gay Florida nightclub in Orlando, NBC News reported. The music star and humanitarian is partnering with nonprofit onePulse Foundation, created to honor the legacy of those killed after the 2016 shooting inside the Pulse nightclub. Martin and the foundation are launching a fundraising campaign to raise $49 million. Martin will make public service announcements promoting tolerance, foundation officials said.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently said that more federal aid is needed to help airlines avoid massive furloughs as the industry continues to reel from the pandemicbut wouldn't say if the Biden administration had committed to negotiating for its inclusion in a $1.9-trillion COVID relief plan, Politico noted. "Look: That's part of the conversation going on in the administration and with Congress over a package that has many different elements," he said on ABC's This Week. "But I can tell you, this ask from the aviation sector is being taken very seriously." Federal payroll support for airlines is set to expire at the end of next monthand airlines such as American and United already have warned they will have to furlough tens of thousands of employees without further federal assistance.
Buttigieg has also said that officials are considering a requirement that passengers provide a negative COVID-19 test ahead of domestic flights, The Hill noted. "What I can tell you is it's going to be guided by data, by science, by medicine and by the input of the people who are actually gonna have to carry this out," he said on Axios on HBO. "But here's the thing: The safer we can make air travel in terms of perception as well as reality, the more people are gonna be ready to get back in the air."
And also speaking of Buttigieg, openly gay Arizona state Rep. Arlando Teller is joining him to to become the nation's deputy assistant secretary of tribal affairs, according to out.com . "I am honored and excited to work for the Biden Administration and the USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg," Teller announced on Facebook last week. "Representation matters."
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) issued a press release noting the death of Alexus Braxton, also known as Kimmy Icon Braxtona 45-year-old Black transgender woman who was killed in Miami, Florida on Feb. 4. Her death is at least the sixth violent death of a transgender person in 2021. Tatiana Braxton, Alexus' mother, said, "Twenty-two years later and Black trans women's lives are still not VALUED. In 1999, I witnessed my best friend get murdered in the streets of Miami. Sadly, since her murder, I've lost many more friends due to senseless violence. Here we are in 2021it's my daughter, Kimmy. There's one thing that remains the same: law enforcement, state officials and local politicians have no sense of urgency to address this growing epidemic. Please help us!"
By a vote of 34-9, the Republican-controlled Mississippi state Senate passed a bill that seeks to ban transgender athletes from competing in girls' or women's sports at state schools and universities, The Hill reported. The bill now heads to the House, where Republicans also hold the majority. President Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office banning discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation in school sports, the workplace and other settings; Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) criticized the order.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley expressed her disapproval that President Joe Biden took steps last month to protect transgender students from discrimination, LGBTQ Nation reported. In an op-ed for the conservative magazine National Review, the former governor of South Carolina called transgender girls "biological boys" and said that conservatives are "not bigots" for opposing equal rights for transgender students.
The San Francisco Planning Department is recommending landmark status for the house where famed lesbian couple Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin lived throughout most of their 54 years together, according to The Bay Area Reporter. It would be the first LGBTQ historic site in the city located in a solely residential neighborhood, and the first focused solely on lesbian history. At its Feb. 17 meeting, the city's Historic Preservation Commission will vote on landmarking the home.
A Florida man who kept a journal about hating people because of their sexual orientation allegedly cut the power to the home of a gay couple and attacked one of them, according to Metro Weekly. Damiek Jones, 31, of Orlando, is accused of stabbing the victim in the legs with a chisel multiple times because of a personal dispute. The victim told police Jones used to live with him and believed he was attacking him because of a dispute over a washer and dryer.
A pair of Iowa bills would bar schools from teaching gender identity unless parents consent beforehand, and would force any instruction mentioning gender identity or gender dysphoria to also include instruction about the negative effects of gender dysphoria, transitioning and gender-affirming care, Metro Weekly reported. Senate File 167 would prohibit teachers in school from teaching or acknowledging the concept of gender identitythat a person's identity may differ from the sex they were assigned at birtheven in health or science class, without obtaining express permission from a child's parents. Under House File 236, if a school district offers curricula that provide information relating to gender identity, teachers must include educational materials and references speaking to the discomfort of gender dysphoria, among other things.
GLAAD celebrated the LGBTQ-inclusive ads aired during Super Bowl LV (which had Tampa Bay beating Kansas City 31-9), according to a press release. At least four LGBTQ-inclusive ads from M&M's, Michelob ULTRA, Logitech and Paramount+ aired during the broadcast on CBS; celebrities in the commercials included Lil Nas X, Dan Levy, Billie Jean King and RuPaul. Last year, a record-breaking 11 LGBTQ-inclusive ads from Amazon Alexa, Budweiser, Doritos, HGTV, Microsoft, Olay, Pop Tarts, Sabra, Tide, TurboTax, and Under Armour aired during Super Bowl LIV.
Marcellus Wiley, an ex-NFL athlete and current host on the FOX Sports 1 channel, believes that "it's time to create a separate transgender category" for trans people who wish to play athletics, LGBTQ Nation noted. "As a father of 3 daughters & the husband to a former collegiate athlete, this hits home in a special way," he wrote. "It's time to create a separate transgender category in competition!" In response to Wiley's tweet, former NFL offensive lineman Cory Porter refused to support "an extra category," simply saying "men and women."
A self-described "ex-lesbian" who kidnapped her daughter and went to Nicaragua almost 12 years ago in order to avoid having custody granted to her former partnerturned herself into U.S. authorities, Metro Weekly reported. Lisa Millera self-described "ex-lesbian" who became "born again" following her separation from former civil-union partner Janet Jenkinsbecame involved in a high-profile child custody dispute that grabbed headlines in the United States in 2003-09. On Jan. 18, 2021, Miller and her daughter, Isabella Ruth Miller-Jenkins, now 18, turned themselves into the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua.
A lawsuit filed in a New York court alleges that Swiss fashion designer Philipp Plein openly discriminated against LGBTQ+ people and wrongfully terminated a high-level employee simply because he was gay and living with HIV, out.com noted. Amro Alsoleibithe former employee who is now suing the American arm of the Plein brand, Philipp Plein Americasspent more than a year as a regional manager for Plein stores in the New York City area. According to Alsoleibi's complaint, Plein also directly instructed company managers not to hire queer people.
More than 120 Republicans met over Zoom to discuss the possibility of forming a center-right third party, according to a Business Insider item that cited Reuters. The party would focus on "principled conservatism" and other ideals that the group believes were dismissed by former President Donald Trump. Those on the call included former elected officials and people that served in presidential administrations, including under Trump, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, sources told Reuters.
Roger Severinoa former Trump appointee at the Dept. of Health and Human Services who targeted LGBTQ Americans in his religious crusade as head of the Office of Civil Rightsis suing the Biden administration for firing him from his appointment by the former president to an obscure but powerful federal government agency known as ACUS, RVAMag.com noted. He is refusing to resign, despite being a political appointee. "President Biden's attempt to remove me contrary to law exposes his lofty promises of healing and uniting all Americans as nothing more than cynical manipulation," Severino told Newsweek.
In Ohio, Jerry Mallicoatco-founder and board chair of Rainbow Elder Care of Greater Daytonhas died, Dayton Daily News reported. Mallicoat founded Rainbow Elder Care in 2013 after watching the documentary Gen Silence and reflecting on his experience caring for his aging parents.
Progressive congressional candidate Mckayla Wilkes announced that, for the second time, she will challenge one of the most powerful Democrats in the House of Representatives, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, for his seat representing Maryland's 5th Districtand she also came out as bisexual during the announcement, LGBTQ Nation reported. "It's essential for me personally to be able to live 100% in my truth," she said. "But I also hope to have a broader conversation around heteronormativity." In the 2020 primary, now-81-year-old Hoyerwho is serving his 20th term in Congressbeat Wilkes with 64.4% of the vote, compared to her 26.7%.
Pride Houston made several announcements about its 2021 celebration, OutSmart Magazine noted. The organization revealed three possible themes for the 2021 celebration and 12 grand marshal nominees during a Facebook Live event led by Executive Director Lo Roberts. This year's proposed themes are "#GameOver," which signifies that "the time is up" for anti-LGBTQ intolerance; "Pride Unbound," a manifestation of the hope for progress; and "Diversecity: Together We Rise," a celebration of the city's diversity and a reminder of the theme for Pride Houston's 2020 celebration, which was scaled back due to COVID-19 restrictions. Voting for the finalists is now underway, and winners will be announced during a kickoff event in May.
To commemorate Black History Month, Black-owned media companies Rolling Out and BlackBookStore.com, in collaboration with publishing giant Penguin Random House, have launched a historic content partnership called #AmplifyBlackStories, a press release announced. Company representatives said the initiative's mission is to introduce more stories written by Black authors to a diverse group of readers. To join the virtual programming for #AmplifyBlackStories, visit www.rollingout.com and follow Rolling Out on social-media channels. Books can be purchased at www.blackbookstore.com .
LGBTQ+ students at the University of Michigan have a new outlet for self-expression, thanks to a new student-run publication called The Michigan Gayly, according to Concentrate. Launched in November 2020, The Michigan Gayly covers LGBTQ+-related current events, politics, culture, and entertainment, both on campus and around the globe.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental attorney, had his Instagram account shut down for sharing debunked claims about COVID-19 vaccines, Yahoo! News reported. The nephew of late President John F. Kennedy has also spoken out against COVID-19 vaccines on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, which are still active. Kennedy claims the vaccines cause severe allergic reactions and are linked to several deaths, including that of baseball star Hank Aaron; Aaron died last month after suffering a massive stroke.
A death certificate confirmed that legendary television host Larry King died of sepsis, Page Six noted. King, 87, who died last month in Los Angeles, was also suffering from end-stage renal disease or kidney failure and acute hypoxic respiratory failure, according to the certificate that People magazine obtained. King was admitted to the hospital in early January with symptoms related to COVID-19.
Indiana's Valparaiso University announced that it is dropping the team name Crusaders, the school mascot and all logos associated with the term that it said has been embraced by hate groups, ESPN.com noted. The decision comes after a decades-long debate that had intensified recently because groups such as the Ku Klux Klan began using the symbols and words.
Hustler founder Larry Flynt has died at 78, Deadline noted. Flynt made his fortune with Hustler magazine and associated businesses, but he made a name for himself by challenging cultural norms. Injured by an assailant's bullet in 1978, he also became known for his gold wheelchairs. In 1988, Flynt won a the landmark US Supreme Court case, Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, after having been sued by Rev. Jerry Falwell for an ad parody that had appeared in Hustler. In 1996, Columbia Pictures released The People vs. Larry Flynt with Woody Harrelson in the title role; Harrelson earned an Academy Award nomination.