Philadelphia's Ada Belloa pioneering LGBTQ+ activist and longtime laboratory chemist for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the University of Pennsylvaniadied March 31 of pneumonia and COVID-19 at Chestnut Hill Hospital at age 89, per The Philadelphia Inquirer. Born in Havana, Cuba, Bello fled an oppressive government when she was 25. She arrived in the United States in 1958, earned a degree in chemistry at LSU, and worked as a laboratory researcher for Penn and the FDA from 1962 through her retirement about two decades ago. Also, she co-founded the Philadelphia chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, the Homophile Action League and the LGBT Elder Initiative.
Award-winning trans author, comic book writer, tarot expert and activist Rachel Pollack has died at 77, LGBTQ Nation noted. Pollack transitioned in the early 1970s, when she was in her 20s. She published seven novels and four collections of short stories and created what is widely recognized to be the first transgender superhero character during her run writing Doom Patrol for DC Comics' Vertigo imprint from 1993 to 1995."DC is deeply saddened by the passing of Rachel Pollack," the comics company tweeted.
In Alabama, Huntsville City Schools agreed to implement policy and training changes designed to better protect LGBTQ+ students from sex-based harassment, according to Alabama Public Radio. The development came after the family of Nigel Shelbya Black, openly gay 15-year-old who died by suicide in April 2019 after experiencing anti-gay harassment and race discrimination while attending Alabama's Huntsville High Schoolreached a settlement with the Huntsville City Board of Education. National Black Justice Coalition Executive Director Dr. David J. Johns said in a press release, "While we are pleased to see Huntsville City Schools taking steps to ensure that their schools are safe and affirming places for all students, including LGBTQ+ youth, it remains a small consolation amid the tragic loss of Nigel Shelby's life, and underscores the urgent need to create safe spaces for LGBTQ+/Same-Gender Loving (SGL) students in all schools."
A coalition of 14 transgender and non-binary legislators sent a letter to President Joe Biden to voice their collective concern about the administration's proposed changes to Title IX, The Hill reported. "Twenty states have now passed sports bans, often targeting a mere handful of trans athletes in their respective states," the letter reads. "While we understand the administration may have been attempting to provide legal protections & clarity, in actuality these proposed rule changes will simply provide those who seek to deny us our right a roadmap for how to do so." Signees included Vermont state Rep. Taylor Small, Minnesota state Rep. Leigh Finke and Montana state Rep. Zooey Zephyr, among others.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) was among the many groups condemning Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, after he ordered a hold on the 20-year approval of the widely used abortion drug mifepristone. In a press release, NCLR Federal Policy Director Julianna S. Gonen said, "This unprecedented action to stay the FDA's approval of a safe and effective medication is alarming not only for its potential to decimate access to abortion care but for its broader implications. … It is an appalling rejection of science and public health, and we hope that it will be swiftly reversed on appeal." However, later that day (April 7), according to CNN, U.S. District Judge Thomas Owen Ricewho sits in Spokane, Washingtonordered the federal government to keep the drug available in the 17 states, plus the District of Columbia.
On a related note, on April 10, senior executives of more than 250 pharmaceutical and biotech companies issued a condemnation of Kacsmaryk's ruling and they called for the decision to be reversed, per The New York Times. "The decision ignores decades of scientific evidence and legal precedent," said the letter, which was signed by leaders of some of the industry's most prominent companies, including Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla and Biogen President Alisha Alaimo.
Republican North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum signed two anti-transgender athlete bans into law, effectively prohibiting trans girls and women from joining female sports teams in K-12 and college, per Gay City News. Lawmakers in the House and Senate passed the bills with veto-proof majorities this year. If Burgum had vetoed the bills or refused to sign them, the bills probably would've still become law. However, President Joe Biden's administration has proposed a rulewhich still faces a lengthy approval processto forbid outright bans on transgender athletes.
A three-judge panel of the Chicago-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the Brownsburg (Indiana) Community School Corporation did not violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it told a music teacher at the district's high school that refusing to comply with the district's policy regarding names and pronouns for trans students could result in him quitting or being let go, per Gay City News. The teacher, John M. Kluge, protested the policy on religious grounds when it was first announced. Title VII makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of his religion, and requires employers to "reasonably accommodate" an employee's religious beliefs and practices.
In New York, activists gathered in front of Uganda House, the permanent mission of Uganda to the United Nations, to stand in solidarity with LGBTQ+ Ugandans and condemn the East African country's parliament for passing a law that makes even identifying as LGBTQ+ illegal, Gay City News reported. Among the speakers was Transgender Equality Uganda founder Beyonce Karungi, who talked about the dangers facing Black trans women in Uganda. President Yoweri Museveni has not yet signed the bill, but he has been outspoken about his opposition to LGBTQ+ rights.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) commended Maryland Gov. Wes Moore for signing into law SB 460, also known as the Trans Health Equity Act. In a press release, HRC State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley said, "LGBTQ+ people across the country continue to be in a state of emergency as lawmakers without an ounce of medical training are carrying out an all out assault on this critical care. It's why we're grateful and relieved that pro-equality lawmakers in Maryland are instead working to remove unnecessary barriers to care and other health disparities that have long-plagued our community. We thank Governor Moore for sending a message to extremist politicians in other states that LGBTQ+ people aren't going anywhere and deserve to exist without fear, shame, and stigma."
A pair of conservative Ohio Supreme Court justices, in hearing a case involving a transgender woman's request to change the sex marker on her birth certificate, wondered if the state's highest court had the ability to hear the case at all, Bloomsberg Law reported. Justices R. Patrick DeWine and Patrick F. Fischer, during oral arguments, repeatedly asked attorney Chad M. Eggspuehler of Tucker Ellis LLP whether client Hailey Adelaide's case presented a controversy on which it could rule. Adelaide's case centers on a state law that says those who want to correct their birth certificate must apply with the probate court in the county where they are born.
In North Carolina, the Judiciary Committee passed a bill that seeks to restrict the use of community identification cards, WFAE reported. The cards, issued by nonprofit groups, have become an increasingly important resource in North Carolina's immigrant communities and among people who lack access to an alternative form of ID. The legislation takes aim at the FaithAction Community ID program. Endy Mendez, FaithAction's education manager, said, "We're also tapping into the sectors of families at risk of or suffering homelessness, domestic violence survivors, human trafficking as well, and members from the LGBTQ [community]. We have done ID drives with the transgender community where we list their name in a preferred name. So, we give them that option." The FaithAction ID program is now established in 14 North Carolina cities as well as spots in South Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Iowa, Ohio and Oregon.
Equality Florida issued a travel advisory, warning of the risks posed to the health, safety and freedom of those considering short or long term travel, or relocation to the state. In a press release, Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith said, "As an organization that has spent decades working to improve Florida's reputation as a welcoming and inclusive place to live work and visit, it is with great sadness that we must respond to those asking if it is safe to travel to Florida or remain in the state as the laws strip away basic rights and freedoms." The move comes in response to a wave of safety inquiries Equality Florida has received following the passage of what the organization said are anti-LGBTQ+ laws, including restricting access to reproductive health care, repealing gun-safety laws, and attacking public education by banning books and censoring curriculum. The full advisory is at https://eqfl.org/florida-travel-advisory.
In a committee hearing on the trans restroom-ban measure known as the "Safety in Private Spaces Act," (HB 1521), Republican Florida state Rep. Webster Barnaby called transgender Floridians who traveled from across the state to testify "demons," "imps" and "mutants," according to an Equality Florida press release. The organization commented, "Parents and children, many of whom traveled hours to share their stories, had to listen to GOP State Representative Barnaby slander the transgender community from the dais. And Republican leadership in the room refused to put a stop to it. This hideous bigotry has always been at the root of the wave of anti-LGBTQ hysteria sweeping our state." Minutes after Republicans advanced the bathroom bill, Barnaby apologized for his comments, Politico noted.
The late drag artists Heklina and Darcelle XV will be inducted onto the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor at the Stonewall Inn in New York City in June, The Bay Area Reporter noted. Heklina, the drag persona of Stefan Grygelko, was found dead in London on April 3, according to her friend Peaches Christ; they were in the British city to perform "Mommie Queerest." Darcelle XV, the drag persona of Walter Cole, was the world's oldest living drag queen when she passed at age 92.
The sentencing in D.C. Superior Court for a man who pled guilty to the Jan. 6, 2019, murder of gay corporate manager Vongell Lugo has been postponed from April 14 to Aug. 4 at the request of the attorney representing defendant Collin J. Potter, per The Washington Blade. Potter, who was 26 at the time of the murder, allegedly stabbed Lugo at least 45 times in the head, neck and torso with a kitchen knife in Lugo's D.C. apartment. Potter pled guilty to second-degree murder as part of a plea-bargain deal offered by prosecutors in which a first-degree murder charge and multiple other charges were dropped.
GLAAD announced that Grammy-winning country-music superstar Maren Morris will receive GLAAD's Excellence in Media Award at the 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York at the New York Hilton Midtown on Saturday, May 13, per a press release. In addition, Emmy-nominated TV personality, two-time New York Times best-selling author, comedian and podcast host Jonathan Van Ness (Queer Eye) will receive the Vito Russo Award. Special guests at the ceremony also include Joel Kim Booster (Fire Island), Jasmin Savoy Brown (Scream; Yellowjackets), Tamron Hall (Tamron Hall Show), Amrit Kapai and Nicholas Kouchoukos (Family Karma), L Morgan Lee (A Strange Loop), Raquel Willis (Logo's Trans Youth Town Hall), White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and others.
Also, GLAAD responded to the reinstatements of Rep. Justin Pearson and Rep. Justin Jones to the Tennessee legislature. In a press release, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said, "When We the People speak up as powerfully as those in Tennessee have, extremist lawmakers can't help but hear. From the youth who came out in force to demand gun safety reform, to Rep. Justin Pearson, Rep. Gloria Johnson, and Rep. Justin Jones using their platforms to lead for equality and action, to Franklin residents who showed up to support Franklin Pride, their words, advocacy, and bravery are not only inspiringthey're contagious."
Trans activist Chelsea Manning, artist Lyle Ashton Harris and writer/actor Julio Torres are the spring benefit chairs for "Sunday in the Park with BOFFO," taking place Sunday, April 16, at The Park Room at NYC's Park Lane Hotel, per a press release. Featuring performances by Lavender Light Gospel Choir, Viva Ruiz of Thank God for Abortion, and 2021 BOFFO Performance Festival artist z tye, along with live harp by Eric Doce and beats by dancer-turned-DJ Kilopatrah, "Sunday" celebrates the announcement of the new cohort of artists for BOFFO Residency and Performance Festival Fire Island.
After 14 years on Twitter, the SF LGBT Center is officially deactivating its account beginning May 1, according to an open letter. The notice added, "We've already been inactive on Twitter since Elon Musk acquired the social platform in October 2022 due to the spike in anti-LGBTQ+, anti-Black, and antisemitic tweets that ran rampant under the guise of his focus on bringing 'free speech' back to the platform." NPR also suspended its Twitter account, effective immediately, after the public radio broadcaster said the platform's "government-funded media" label on its account falsely implies NPR is not editorially independent of the U.S. government.
In San Francisco, SF Pride will keep its parade policy this year, per The Bay Area Reporter. A compromise was struck last year that allowed the city's police, sheriff and fire departments to march together, with command staff allowed in uniform but without weapons. Some adjacent officers were allowed weapons for security, but the largest group had to be out of uniform, in shirts with department logos.
Conservative activist Candace Owens said on her podcast that she doesn't think that JoJo Siwa is part of the LGBTQ+ community and is just seeking attentionand Siwa had a response, Out noted. "I haven't watched the video yet," Siwa said when retweeting the rant. "But if it has anything to do with your caption ["Is Jojo Siwa lying about being lesbian for attention?"], respectfully back the f*ck off." Siwa came out in January 2021 in a series of TikTok videos that hinted at her sexuality.
One of the nation's oldest gay barsthe White Horse Inn, in Oakland, Californiahas a new owner: industry veteran Patty Nishimura Dingle, according to Nosh. According to a recent press release, Dingle plans to honor the White Horse's history while "also recognizing that this is a moment in time where 'new' history is being created, including being a place for not just the LGBT community but the QIA+ folx, too, and their accomplices." The White Horse has been open since 1933.
CNN anchor Don Lemon seemingly attempted to backpedal after a hot mic caught him suggesting Jon Stewart "gets a lot of leeway" as a comedian following the ex-Daily Show host's tense exchange with Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, Yahoo! News noted. "He gets a lot of leeway with the comedian thing, though," Lemon said to colleagues just as the audio cut out from the Stewart video package. "Yeah, when I was saying comedian and television host, he's so much more than that," Lemon later said after realizing his previous words were aired. "I don't even know if you need to qualify Jon Stewart as that. But good interview there."
In a press release, Truth Wins Out (TWO) welcomed Freedom March founder Jeffrey McCall out of the closet. The Freedom March is an "ex-gay" program founded by McCall that holds rallies across the country urging LGBTQ+ people to repent and find religion. On Instagram and Facebook, McCall announced that they were leaving the "ex-gay" lifestyle and returning to their pre-ex-gay life as Scarlett. It remains unclear if McCall identifies as transgender, or if Scarlett is a drag alter ego. TWO, founded by Wayne Besen, aims to "educate the world on the harm caused by destructive "ex-gay" conversion programs, while fighting to eliminate anti-LGBTQ prejudice and discrimination," per its website.