Laphonza Butlerthe first Black LGBTQ+ U.S. senator, who was appointed by California Gov. Gavin Newsomwon't run for election next year, The Advocate reported. "Butler said that she intended to be 'the loudest, proudest champion of California' in the 383 days remaining in her term in office, but that she had realized 'this is not the greatest use of my voice,'" The New York Times noted. Butler added, "I believe leaders should have real clarity about why they're in office and what they want to do with the power they hold." Newsom appointed her to serve the remainder of Dianne Feinstein's term after Feinstein's death on Sept. 29.
At the 2023 Human Rights Campaign (HRC) National Dinner in mid-October, President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden both delivered remarks, per a White House press release. In part, the first lady said, "Across the country, in places like Texas and Florida and Alabama, LGBTQ individuals don't have the freedom to be honest with their family or embrace their gender identity at work. … So, while we celebrate this beautiful community tonight, let's also remember how lucky we are and harden our resolve to advocate for those who are not." The president said, "At this pivotal moment in our history, Jill and I have come here tonight to say thank you for your courage, thank you for your hope, and thank you for your pride. Thank you for defending equal rights and dignity of all people, despite intense opposition and hate-fueled rhetoric, even violence, to try to keep you from moving."
Former PFLAG National President Nancy McDonald has passed away at age 87, per a press release. According to the Tulsa Historical Society & Museum website, McDonald founded the Tulsa Chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) after her daughter came out as lesbian in 1987. Nancy later served the organization regionally and nationally, including being national president from 1996 to 1998. A PFLAG release stated, "As the first organization to name lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people together in its mission, PFLAG, under Nancy's leadership, ensured that every LGBTQ+ person and loved one would find inclusive support, education and advocacy."
Black transgender woman A'nee Roberson, 30, died in D.C. after an assault left her in the street where she was struck by a passing vehicle, The Advocate reported. She is at least the 20th transgender or gender-nonconforming person to die by violence so far this year. Police did not indicate if Roberson's killing was a hate crime or related to her trans identity.
The ex of Sherlyn Marjoriea Latina transgender woman and popular drag performer who was killed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in Septemberhas been charged with her murder, The Advocate noted, citing The Albuquerque Journal. Police arrested Jose Mendoza-Espinoza on Oct. 11; he is charged with murder and tampering with evidence."Mendoza-Espinoza allegedly told detectives he killed Marjorie after she tried to extort him for money and tell his wife about the affair, according to court records," the Journal reported. "There was no corroborating evidence backing up the extortion claims provided in court records."
D.C. police are investigating the unexplained death of a 30-year-old Black transgender woman, Skylar Harrison Reeves, whose partially naked body was found on a park bench in a secluded section of Marvin Gaye Park on Oct. 2, The Washington Blade reported. A police spokesperson told the Blade detectives from the department's natural death squad are investigating the case. However, Rhonda Hailes, Reeves' aunt, told the Blade that a homicide detective came to her house in Capitol Heights, Maryland, where Skylar was living, to inform her that her niece was found deceased in a D.C. park with her belongings missing; also, the dress she was wearing was pulled up over her head, with her breasts exposed.
In California, prosecutors will not seek hate-crime charges against the man who allegedly yelled an anti-gay slur before shooting LGBTQ+-rights advocate Daniel Landeros to death last month, The Advocate noted. Landeros was celebrating his birthday with a walk through the park with a friend when Fredi Rivera allegedly approached the pair and uttered "a homosexual derogatory slang," the friend later told investigators, local NBC affiliate KGET reported. Landeros followed the man and hurled an insult of his own while the friend waited on a park bench; moments later, the friend reported hearing a single gunshot and seeing the vehicle pull away.
Democratic Maryland Del. Joe Vogel, who happens to be openly gay, revealed recurrent vandalism marked by anti-Semitic graffiti at his apartment complex in Montgomery County, a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., per The Advocate. Vogel shared images on X, formerly Twitter, featuring four swastikas on the restroom door in the lobby of his residence. Vogel told CBS affiliate WUSA, "It's really unsettling to witness this hate in my own apartment building, in my own community, the place I regard as home."
Florida state Rep. Joe Hardingwho authored that state's "Don't Say Gay" lawwas sentenced to four months in federal prison and two years of probation, The Advocate reported. U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor sentenced Harding nearly seven months after the Republican politician pled guilty to charges of wire fraud, money laundering and lying to investigators. Prosecutors say he obtained $150,000 in COVID pandemic-related loans from the Small Business Administration for companies that no longer ran, and applied some of the money directly toward credit-card debt or transferred it into personal accounts.
Also in Florida, the transgender restroom ban will now be enforced in private schools as well following a decision by Gov. Ron DeSantis, The Advocate noted. The Florida Department of Education approved a new rule imposing regulations on bathrooms and changing facilities at private post-secondary educational institutions. The move requires private schools to follow the same regulations as public schools under a law DeSantis signed earlier this year. The rule calls for schools to provide a single unisex bathroom; however, critics say that's not enough.
Ohio resident Aimenn D. Penny, of Alliance, pled guilty to violating the Church Arson Prevention Act and using fire and explosives to commit a felony on March 25 when he tried to burn down the Community Church of Chesterfield, The Advocate reported. Penny admitted he firebombed the church using homemade Molotov cocktails because he was upset by the church hosting two upcoming drag events and supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
The National LGBTQ Task Force was among the pro-LGBTQ+ groups criticizing the selection of U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson as the new speaker. In a press release, Policy Director Allen Morris said, "I would be hard-pressed to think of a worse member to be elected speaker of the house, not simply for LGBTQ communities, but for the American people. Many of my family members have resided in the 4th Congressional district of Louisiana for decades so I know from personal experience his track record on civil rights and minority issues is clear and stark as our community continues to find itself under attack."
San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Michael Sachs temporarily stopped a California school district from implementing a policy requiring teachers and staff to inform parents about a student's gender identity, The Advocate noted. Sachs found Chino Valley Unified School District's new policy outing trans students discriminated on the basis of the student's sexual identity. Last month, California Superior Court Judge Thomas Garza issued a temporary restraining order regarding the policy until further review by the courts.
Before the Oct. 24 Alabama runoff election, LGBTQ+ Victory Fund strongly condemned what it called "an illegal and transphobic piece of literature" distributed to voters in Alabama House District 55 against Victory Fund-endorsed candidate Sylvia Swayne. In a press release, Vice President of Political Programs Sean Maloy said, "The illegal literature distributed to voters against trans candidate Sylvia Swayne is hateful. And with no disclaimer information or paid for by included on the piece, it's clear these transphobes would rather resort to shady politicking and low blows than an honest debate about issues." Swayne was the first out trans person to run for state office in Alabama and would have been the first out trans person elected in the state's history; however, she lost her race against Travis Hendrix.
South Carolina church leader Pastor Mark Burnsa supporter of former U.S. President Donald Trumprecently announced the creation of his own Christian military academy, citing plans to combat LGBTQ+ "teachings," Newsweek noted. In a statement to the news outlet, Burns said, "I believe it is the obligation for the Body of Christ to protect our children from such liberal unbiblical ideologies, which is why I've founded the Burns Military Christian Academy."
More than 200 Texas Christian University (TCU) faculty membersprompted by threats of violence against a faculty member teaching an LGBTQ+ classsigned a letter in support of the school's LGBTQ+ community and LGBTQ+-studies program, The Dallas Voice reported. TCU's faculty approved the course, according to the letter; however, right-wing threats materialized and escalatedto the point where TCU police called the professor and told him to leave campus. TCU has a history of silence and of silencing the LGBTQ community, including the cancellation of a drag-queen story hour in 2019.
Pope Francis met with the co-founder and other representatives of the U.S. pro-LGBTQ+ Catholic group New Ways Ministryan event the group called "a moment once unimaginable," per The Advocate. The pope hosted Sister Jeannine Gramick (who founded New Ways in 1977 with the late Father Robert Nugent) and New Ways staffers Matthew Myers, Francis DeBernardo and Robert Shine for 50 minutes, according to a press release from the organization. Gramick later stated, "The meeting was very emotional for me. From the day he was elected, I have loved and admired Pope Francis because of his humility, his love for the poor and for those shunned by society."
Following news that the children's book publisher Scholastic will allow schools hosting book fairs to include or exclude a segregated section of titles that deal with race, gender and sexuality, National Black Justice Coalition Executive Director Dr. David Johns issued a statement. In part, Johns said, "Censorship is anti-democratic and undermines one's freedom to learn. We condemn Scholastic for its decision to segregate books on race, gender, and sexuality at book fairs in a disappointing effort to appease a loud minority using politics to attack children and public schools to turn out voters using ignorance, fear, and hate. … Scholastic must recognize that it is possible to stand against certain states' harmful, divisive policies without capitulating to them."
U.S. District Judge Daniel Domenico blocked Colorado from excluding Darren Patterson Christian Academy from its taxpayer-funded universal preschool program due to the school's anti-LGBTQ+ stance over restrooms and pronouns, Reuters reported. "Exclusion of a preschool is inherently anti-universal, and denying participation based on one's protected beliefs or speech is not equitable," Domenico wrote. The school had objected to the Colorado Department of Early Childhood's non-discrimination requirements, which bar schools from discriminating on the basis of religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, among other statuses.
In Missouri, St. Louis Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer agreed to step away from a gender-affirmation case because lawyers for the plaintiffs asked for him to be replaced, The Advocate noted, citing the AP. Although complying with the request that he leave the case, Ohmer criticized the move as "gamesmanship." Families, healthcare providers and organizations are suing to overturn a Missouri law, signed by Republican Gov. Mike Parson in June, that bans hormone treatment, puberty blockers and gender-confirmation surgeries for the purpose of gender transition for people under 18. However, the law lets cisgender minors who have disorders of gender development or other conditions employ these treatments.
The National LGBTQ Task Force announced that registration for the 36th Creating Change Conferencetaking place in New Orleans on Jan. 17-21, 2024is now open, per a press release. Raquel Willisan award-winning activist, author and media strategist dedicated to Black transgender liberationwill host from the plenary stage and participate across the conference. Applications are available for limited income registration ($195) or waived registration ($0). Visit www.thetaskforce.org/creating-change/ .
City and State Pennsylvania ran an article entitled "The Pennsylvania Forty Under 40," spotlighting rising stars across the state. LGBTQIA+ individuals on the list included private client-services attorney Brian Balduzzi, Norris Strategies Principal Ted Bordelon, attorney Zachary Brecheisen, Penn Community Bank's Michael Kirschman, attorney Michael Komo and Turner Construction's Patriece Thompson. The full list is at www.cityandstatepa.com/power-lists/2023/10/pennsylvania-forty-under-40/391418/ .
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed an executive order banning the use of terms like "pregnant person" and "chestfeeding" in state government documents, Axios reported. The terms are to be replaced with "pregnant woman" and "breastfeeding." The order mandates that terms "shall be replaced with accurate, female-affirming alternatives." Gender-neutral terms like "firefighter" are not impacted by the changes.
GLAAD is calling for submissions for the 35th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. All materials must be submitted via GLAAD's new official submissions portal by no later than 6 p.m. PT on Friday, Dec. 1. All submitters will be required to create an account with the portal (at glaad.org/mediaawards/35/submissions&; in order to submit. As in previous years, the GLAAD Media Awards ceremonies will be held in both Los Angeles and New York City. GLAAD's 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards ceremony was streamed exclusively on Hulu.
B. Pagels-Minor (they/them) and La Keisha Landrum Pierre have launched the Black Wealth Forum. On its website, it's stated, "In an effort to curate this unique wealth moment in black history, we believe that by nurturing the moment and ensuring the wealth that we have is being built and nurtured for future generations, we will be the group granting access versus requesting it." After being let go from Netflix, Pagels-Minor expanded a consulting practice they had to ultimately be what they believe to be the first Black transgender venture investor, per Axios.
Ohio resident Brandon Moore avoided jail time when he pled guilty to threatening LGBTQ+ students at Fairmont High School, which had recently crowned two nonbinary students (Dai-sean Conley and Rosie Green) as prom royalty, The Advocate noted, citing the Dayton Daily News. Moore pleaded guilty to a single count of phone threats/harassment in Kettering Municipal Court and was sentenced to three months house arrest and three years of supervised release.
In Kentucky, the University of Louisville marked LGBTQ+ History Month as well as its Pride Month, according to UofL News. Events included the Inaugural Black Queer Theory Symposium, which ran Oct. 18-20. Slated guests included Marlon Bailey, a professor from Washington University in St. Louis; Northwestern University School of Communication Dean E. Patrick Johnson; and Love Thy Belly LLC. Also, Yolotl Libre founder Laura Minero was this year's Pride Month Keynote speaker and there was an LGBTQ+-Affirming Healthcare Series.
The Advocate published a list of 29 queer-owned bookstores to know and support. A few include Common Ground Books, in Tallahassee, Florida; Philly AIDS Thrift at Giovanni's Room (the oldest continuously operating queer bookstore in the country), in Philadelphia; Black Garnet Books, in St. Paul, Minnesota; Kona Bay Books, in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii; and BookWoman, in Austin, Texas. The full list is at https://www.advocate.com/books/queer-owned-bookstores#rebelltitem27.
Tagg Magazineone of only two U.S. print publications for queer womenis going fully digital. A press release read, "After almost 11 years of offering both digital and print content, Tagg's leadership enacts this transition to ensure that the magazine keeps pace with technological advancements and its readership. By closing the print arm of the magazine, Tagg's staff will be able to turn their full attention to engaging with readers where they spend the most time todayonline."
Former U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) said on CNN that former President Donald Trump is the "single most dangerous threat" the country facesand did not rule out a 2024 presidential bid, USA Today noted. "If he is, all of the things he attempted to do, but was stopped from doing by responsible people around him at the Department of Justice, at the White House counsel's office, all of those things he will do," Cheney said. "There will be no guardrails." Cheney has said she wouldn't run for president if she thought it would help Trump return to the White House.
A jury found Google guilty of sexual discrimination and awarded female Google Cloud executive Ulku Rowe $1.1 million, The Verge noted, citing Bloomberg Law. Rowe's lawsuit alleged that the company paid less-experienced male cohorts more and that it later denied her promotions in retaliation for her complaints. The jury reportedly found Google guilty of the latter but not the former.
Michigan State University (MSU) showed Adolf Hitler's image as part of a pregame quiz on video boards before playing second-ranked Michigan on Oct. 21, and later apologized for the inappropriate content provided by an outside source, the AP noted. "MSU is aware that inappropriate content by a third-party source was displayed on the videoboard prior to the start of tonight's football game," Michigan State spokesman Matt Larson said. "We are deeply sorry for the content that was displayed, as this is not representative of our institutional values. MSU will not be using the third-party source going forward and will implement stronger screening and approval procedures for all videoboard content in the future." Michigan routed Michigan State 49-0.