A New York City law student has been missing for weeksand his brother said his last known location was The Q, a gay bar in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, NBC News reported. Jordan Taylor, 29, a first-year law student at the City University of New York, was reported missing by his family in early January. According to NBC New York, however, police found two clues miles apart, in a different borough from where Taylor was last seen alive; his wallet was found near the Goldman Sachs Building in Battery Park City, while his phone was found more than three miles away in Hell's Kitchen. The Q is the same club where John Umberger met two men and was drugged, robbed and left for dead while visiting NYC.
The Utah Senate passed a bill that aims to crack down on the ability of doctors to prescribe hormone therapy for trans minors, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Senate Bill 16proposed by state Sen. Mike Kennedy, would also enact an outright ban on body-altering surgeries for trans youth. The bill now moves to the Utah House, where freshman state Rep. Katy Hall, R-Ogden, will shepherd the proposal. In 2021, Kennedy (himself a physician) wrote a letter published in The Salt Lake Tribune that pushed back against COVID restrictions and vaccinations.
The Atlanta Pride Committee (APC) announced its 2022-2023 Community Reinvestment Grant (CRG) recipients, The Georgia Voice noted. Some of the recipients included AID Atlanta, Compassionate Atlanta, Out Front Theatre Company, Trans Housing Atlanta Inc. and The I Am Human Foundation. The CRG supports organizations doing critical work to benefit members of the LGBTQ community in the Southeast.
In Orlando, police are calling the shooting of windows at a gay bar as a hate-motivated attack, The Advocate noted. District Dive, located in Orlando's Milk District, posted a security video to its Facebook page of a man shooting out windows in the Southern Nights complex; the complex is home to several queer establishments, including District Dive, Southern Craft and the Southern Nights nightclub. The worst attack victimizing the LGBTQ+ community in U.S. history occurred in the Florida community in 2016, when a gunman killed 49 at the Pulse nightclub shooting before being killed by authorities.
Connecticut authorities made an arrest in the case of a man experiencing homelessness who was beaten to death because his attacker thought he was gay, The Advocate reported. Video of the incident allegedly shows Daniel Engeldrum, 49, being viciously beaten about the head and trying to flee his attacker before he was lifted and thrown headfirst off an elevated wheelchair ramp. Elijah Humphrey, 32, was arraigned in Bridgeport Superior Court on charges of first-degree manslaughter and intimidation due to bias after he allegedly admitted to the fatal beating. The case was continued until Jan. 31.
Patrisse Cullors, one of the queer co-founders of Black Lives Matter, expressed outrage over the death of her cousin, who died after being tasered by LAPD officers, The Independent reported. Washington DC high-school teacher Keenan Anderson, 31, suffered a cardiac arrest and later died in hospital after he was held down and repeatedly tasered following a traffic accident on Jan. 3. "Nobody deserves to die in fear, panicking and scared for their life. My cousin was scared for his life," Cullors told The Guardian.
In Idaho, Matthew Alan Lehigh stands accused of a hate crime after allegedly driving his car at two people in Boise on Oct. 12, 2022, in an attempt to cause bodily harm to the two people because of their sexual orientation, The Advocate noted. Lehigh allegedly admitted to police he had committed multiple crimes against the LGBTQ+ community in Boise, including burning Pride flags and vandalism to The Community Center, an LGBTQ+ safe space. A conviction for the charges against Lehigh under federal law carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
A neo-Nazi who was accused of the murder of gay Jewish teenager Blaze Bernstein is standing trialfive years after Bernstein's death, according to PinkNews. University of Pennsylvania student Bernstein, 19, was stabbed to death in California in January 2018 in what was described as a hate crime. Samuel Woodwardthe last person to see Bernstein before his deathwas arrested soon after the murder, with DNA evidence at the scene reportedly linking him to the crime; Woodward pled not guilty in November 2018. It was discovered that Woodward's phone contained more than 100 examples of homophobic and antisemitic content at the time of the killing, as well as materials related to neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen.
Florida Democrats introduced a bill to outlaw the so-called gay and trans panic defenses in criminal cases in the state, The Advocate noted. The Gay and Transgender Panic Legal Defenses Prohibition Act would prevent defendants "from using a nonviolent sexual advance or specified perceptions or beliefs about another individual as a defense to a criminal offense, to excuse or justify the conduct of an individual who commits a criminal offense, or to mitigate the severity of a criminal offense," the proposed law states. The American Bar Association has urged states to take legislative action to end such defenses since 2013.
In San Francisco, one of the Castro's oldest and beloved bars, Harvey's, suddenly closed its doors, for good, Yahoo! noted. "This is our last day being open," a message on the board in front of Harvey's read on Jan. 22. "What is next? We don't know, but we know we will miss all of you," according to Hoodline. Harvey's opened in 1974 as the Elephant Walk; it was renamed Harvey's in 1988 in honor of assassinated openly gay Supervisor Harvey Milk.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced that it will honor Oscar-winning actress Ariana DeBose with the HRC Visibility Award and artist Kehinde Wiley with the HRC National Equality Award at the 2023 Greater New York Dinner, per a press release. The dinner will take place at the New York Marriott Marquis on Saturday, Feb. 4. Emmy-winning and Tony-nominated actor Colman Domingo will present the award to DeBose.
The North Dakota House advanced H.B. 1133, an anti-LGBTQ+ bill that restricts drag performances. According to InForum, the governmental body voted 79-13 to advance House Bill 1333, which would prohibit "adult-oriented performances" in the presence of minors and on public property. In a statement, Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said, "These legislators are clearly failing to understand that a drag performance at a bar for adults is very different from a drag-story hour for families in an age-appropriate environment meant to foster creative validation and acceptance. We urge members of the North Dakota Senate to focus on the real issues impacting North Dakotans by opposing this nakedly political attack on the LGBTQ+ community."
Tennessee health officials say they will reject federal funding for groups that provide services to residents living with HIV, NBC News noted. The Tennessee Department of Health told certain nonprofit organizations that provide these services that the state would turn down the federal funding as of June, relying only on state funds afterward. According to Yahoo! News, health officials tried to kick Planned Parenthood out of a grant program for HIV testing and treatment before deciding to refuse the federal funds altogether.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected therapist Brian Tingley's request for the court to reconsider its previous decision upholding the State of Washington's law protecting minors from conversion therapy by licensed health professionals, according to a National Center for Lesbian Rights press release. "The Ninth Circuit has affirmed that states can require licensed mental health providers to comply with ethical and professional standards prohibiting the use of unnecessary, ineffective, and harmful treatments on their minor patients," said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter (he/him). "These are common sense protections that unfortunately are necessary to prevent unethical therapists from defrauding parents and causing severe harm to LGBTQ youth." The court's decision is at https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2023/01/23/21-35815.pdf.
Pope Francis made headlines when he told the Associated Press on Jan. 24 that "being homosexual is not a crime," although he also described being gay as sinful, Gay City News noted. The pontiff called on Catholic bishops to recognize the dignity of all people, even as he conceded that some bishops still support laws criminalizing homosexuality. The comments drew praise from national and local LGBTQ+ Catholic groups. "Since the Vatican led the opposition to a 2010 United Nations proposal to decriminalize homosexuality DignityUSA has repeatedly challenged our church leaders to reverse this stance," said DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke.
The Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) and Campus Pride released a new report about the life, school and health experiences of LGBTQ+ people in Tennessee, per a CSE press item. The report's release came just a few days into the 2023 legislative session in the Tennessee legislature, where a series of anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been filed. Among other things, 70% of survey respondents rated their mental health as either "poor" or "fair," 58% of respondents reported experiencing suicidal thoughts within the past year, and 16% of respondents attempted suicide within the past year. See https://southernequality.org/comingofagesurvey/#TN.
Two West Virginia bills aim to isolate minors from obscene performances and materialswhich, the bills define, in part, as anything that includes exposure to or performances by transgender people, NBC News reported. The bills, introduced by Republican state Sen. Michael Azinger, has one part that defines "indecent displays of a sexually explicit nature," in part, as "any transvestite and/or transgender exposure, performances or display to any minor." No other group of people or specific type of performance is included. Fairness West Virginia Executive Director Andrew Schneider compared the bills to Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law.
For the fifth time, actor Jussie Smollett's attorneys are asking for more time to file a brief with the Illinois appellate court that is reviewing the actor's 2021 conviction for faking a hate crime, the Chicago Sun-Times noted. The attorneys said their brief is ready for the judges' review, but they are waiting on a ruling from the court over whether they can submit a longer filing than is typically allowed (50 pages). Smollett only served six days in the Cook County Jail before he was released on his own recognizance pending appeal; he will be required to go back and serve the rest of his time if his conviction is not overturned.
LGBTQ Victory Fundthe only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ+ leaders to public officeendorsed Philadelphia Bar Association Director of Law and Policy Rue Landau for Philadelphia City Council, a press release noted. If elected, Landau would be the first openly LGBTQ+ person ever elected to the Philadelphia City Council. Philadelphia is the only major U.S. city to have never elected an out LGBTQ+ person to city council.
Fifteen years after the opening of Hollywood's Triangle Square Apartmentsthe nation's largest LGBTQ+-affirming affordable housing complex for seniorsthe Los Angeles LGBT Center has spearheaded a historic partnership with April Housing to transfer the building's ownership to the Center, a press release announced. "Senior Services is one of the brightest jewels in the Center's crown, and April Housing has made that jewel shine even brighter by agreeing to sell us this historic building that houses our elders," said Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Joe Hollendoner. "This sale is going to greatly improve the Center's ability to help our clients and to further prove to Los Angeles, the LGBTQ+ community, and the nation that we must stop leaving our elders behind."
Columbia University will be led by a woman for the first time in its 268-year history, CNBC reported. Since 2007, Nemat "Minouche" Shafik has served at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), first as director before being promoted to president and vice chancellor in 2017. As president, Shafik will have the responsibility of upholding the university's commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion: Columbia boasts having the first Black advocacy group on a multi-racial campus in the United States, the first gay-rights advocacy group on any college campus and the fourth largest international student population of any U.S. university. Columbia joins schools like Harvard, Dartmouth and George Washington University, which have all elected their first woman presidents to start later this year.
After Texas native Curtis Kimberlin Jr. tweeted that a Dallas-area Airbnb host denied his booking request, the online marketplace has launched an investigation to confirm suspected discrimination, MySanAntonio.com reported. Hosts on the platform may not decline guests because of sexual orientation or gender identity. The San Francisco-based company has a nondiscrimination policy in which violations will lead to an investigation and appropriate action.
Miss Gay D.C. Tatiyanna Voche' was crowned the winner of the 2023 Miss Gay America pageant in Little Rock, Arkansas on Jan. 20, defeating 43 other contestants, The Washington Blade noted. Female illusion artists from across the United States vied for the crown in a four-night competition filled with drag entertainment.
The Indiana town of Loogootee previously rejected Pride displaysbut, this year, it will host its first Pride festival, The Herald-Times reported. Among the performers at the event will be Wayden Wagoner, who lived in Loogootee but left for an arts high school in Michigan after dealing with abuse and isolation because of their sexuality. Even though Pride displays were taken down in 2022, the Loogootee city council also approved a pride event, scheduled for June 10, 2023. Tim and Tracy Brown-Salsman were among those who spearheaded efforts for the LGBTQ+ event.
Embattled U.S. Congressman George Santos recently got into an online war of words with drag figure Trixie Mattel, according to Out. "I have now been enshrined in late-night TV history with all these impersonations but they are all TERRIBLE so far," Santos recently tweeted, with Mattel responding, "Maybe the source material was weak." Then Santos posted, "Clearly, you know all about weak acting skills," with Mattel stating, "I'm not an actor! I was young and had fun at a festival!"mirroring Santos' own statements that he was a drag queen.
And speaking of Santos, he changed his 2022 campaign filings by specifying that a $500,000 loan he made to the campaign didn't come from his personal funds, CNBC noted. About $150,000 in loans is still marked as having come from his personal funds. A separate filing shows a new $125,000 loan that came from Santos in October, but was not from his personal funds. When he first ran for Congress in 2020, Santos claimed on a campaign finance form that he was making $55,000 a year; last year's campaign filings indicated that he made millions of dollars in 2021.
Twitter CEO/owner Elon Musk joined the anti-gay voices on Twitter cheering on the NHL player who sat out a warmup because he'd have to don the Philadelphia Flyers' Pride colors, the Los Angeles Blade noted. Flyers' defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to wear the jersey, citing religious beliefs. "The pendulum has swung a bit too far," tweeted Musk.