The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals plans to meet as a full court to consider a pair of trans-rights cases from West Virginia and North Carolina, NBC News reported. The Richmond-based appeals court said it will decide if North Carolina's state health-insurance plan can ban coverage for treatments commonly sought by trans people, including gender-reassignment surgery and hormone therapy. The appeals court said it also would hear a similar case from West Virginia involving the state's Medicaid program.
Brittney Griner made a surprise appearance at Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network's Women's Empowerment Luncheon at the Sheraton in New York, Page Six noted. "I want to continue to fight to bring home every American detained overseas. That means everything to me," Griner (attending the event with wife Cherelle) told the crowd. UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield delivered the keynote address, thanking Sharpton for the "critical work that you and this organization did to bring Brittney home."
On April 19, iconic British singer Elton John urged U.S. senators not to ease up on the fight against HIV/AIDS, as Congress faces a September deadline for reauthorizing the multi-billion-dollar U.S. program to fight the disease, Reuters reported. "There is no better symbol of American greatness than PEPFAR, and you should all be very proud of your extraordinary efforts," John, whose own foundation has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to fight AIDS, told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on reauthorizing the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) via videolink. Congress must reauthorize PEPFAR for another five years before Sept. 30.
Atlanta-based law firm Morris, Manning & Martin has launched a new LGBTQ+ business practice groupand the company's leaders say it's the first of its kind in the Southeast and only the second in the nation, according to law.com . The group will "offer culturally conscious legal services to LGBTQ+ businesses and Fortune 500 companies," according to a news release. "Morris, Manning & Martin wanted to be the first Southeastern law firm in the business practice dedicated to providing LGBTQ+ businesses services," said practice co-chair Charles Hicks. "It's the right thing to do, and it makes good business sense." Doug Selph is the other co-chair.
The director and subjects of the film Kokomo City expressed shock over the death of Rasheeda Williamsone of the trans women featured in the award-winning documentary and who reportedly was shot to death in Atlanta, per Deadline. Williams, 35, was a performing artist who went under the stage name Koko Da Doll. Kokomo City shows the struggle of Koko and other Black trans women in Atlanta and New York to move beyond a life of sex work.
Attorney and marijuana/LGBTQ+-rights advocate Norm Kentwho co-founded South Florida Gay News (SFGN)died at 73 on April 13 from pancreatic cancer, The Washington Blade reported. In his final interview on March 28, Kent told SFGN he was diagnosed in October 2021. "That day, I said, 'Let's fly to Atlanta and go to a Dodgers game. If they're telling me I have cancer, we're going to a baseball game.'" Fort Lauderdale attorney Russell Cormican, Kent's law partner for nearly 25 years, said, "The most important thing looking at Norm's legacy is that he reminds us how important it is to stand up for what you believe inno matter how unpopular it might be or what types of repercussions or blowback you might get from peopleif you know what you're doing is the right thing."
The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) issued a press release mourning the death of Ashley Burton, a 37-year-old Black transgender woman. She died from a gunshot wound in an apartment complex in Atlanta on April 11. "I am deeply saddened to hear about the death of Ashley Burton, yet another trans sister we have lost to violence," said Director of Public Policy and Programs Victoria Kirby York. "I agree with Ashley's cousinwe are tired of the murders of trans women being pushed under the rug. They deserve justice, and their family, friends and loved ones deserve closure." The NBJC Stolen Lives list of trans and non-binary individuals lost to violence and hate is at nbjc.org/stolen-lives/ .
Michael Dennenywho was a freelance editor/consultant who lived in NYChas passed away at age 80, Publishers Weekly noted. The University of Chicago Press website noted that Denneny was a longtime book and magazine editor who played a major role in promoting openly gay writers from the mid-1970s onward. In 1976, he co-founded Christopher Street Magazine, one of the first gay literary magazines. Among the books he helped publish were Randy Shilts' And the Band Played On as well as Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls.
Social-media platform Twitter had prohibited the targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender people since 2018but that rule is apparently gone, according to NBC News. Archives captured by the Wayback Machine showed the previous version still existed April 7, the day Twitter announced it had updated its abuse and harassment policy to redefine "targeted harassment." However, by the next day, the line had disappeared. GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement, "This is unacceptable in any climate, and doubly unacceptable when you look at the barrage of disinformation and hate about trans people from right wing media personalities, politicians, and the extremists they bolster."
In North Carolina, transgender girls would be barred from joining female sports teams in middle school, high school and college under legislation passed by the Republican-controlled House, ABC News noted. The House approved legislation 73-39, with three Democrats voting along. At least 20 other states have imposed similar limits on trans athletes at the K-12 or collegiate level.
Disney publicized its first LGBTQ+ event at Disneyland shortly after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a press conference that he could build a state prison next to Orlando's Walt Disney World Resort, Business Insider reported. Disney tweeted that "Disneyland After Dark: Pride Nite" would be coming to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, during Pride Month. The move was seemingly the latest development in a public feud between Disney and DeSantis that began in early 2022, when Disney said it would work to repeal Florida's Parental Rights in Education Act (the "Don't Say Gay" law).
Speaking of the "Don't Say Gay" law, former Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan criticized DeSantis over that statute, per The Washington Blade. Hogan y told CNN's State of the Union the law is an "absurd" form of legislation. Hogan said he was "concerned" with DeSantis' use of freedom of speech, arguing how it was a double-standard perspective on a constitutional right that equally protected all parts of the political spectrum.
Juno Dawson's This Book Is Gay was removed from the shelves at Northwest Junior High and other Iowa City Community School District libraries following a Twitter blast aimed at the Coralville school that administrators believe was linked to a pair of bomb threats, the Iowa City Press-Citizen noted. The Libs of TikTok Twitter account, which has 2 million followers and is known for its anti-LGBTQ stance, denounced the school for having the book, which it said promotes "gay sex and encouraged the use of sex apps." The school had to be evacuated on consecutive days while police searched it; no explosive devices were found.
NYC authorities are investigating the death of the 23-year-old trans model Thomas Blackwellwho was known as "Tommy Playboy" and whose body was found on subway tracksaccording to WWD. The model, who sported a face tattoo of a Chinese symbol, was said to have worked for fashion designers Shayne Oliver and Telfar Clemens. On Instagram, @TommyPlayboy described themself as "Misunderstood Misfit. Model. Movement Artist. Youth Advocate." Blackwell was said to have danced in Thalía's music video "La Luz" and aspired to model for Balenciaga.
In New Jersey, LGBTQ+ business owners can move a step closer to receiving unique certification after an online application portal launched, according to NorthJersey.com . The state Department of the Treasury is now accepting registrations for the certification, which aims to provide more economic opportunities for LGBTQ+ business owners. To qualify, businesses must be solely owned by an LGBTQ+ person, or at least 51% of owners in partnerships, joint ventures and corporations must identify as LGBTQ+. In addition, LGBTQ+-owned businesses may receive different certification through the New Jersey Pride Chamber of Commerce.
A study published in the journal LGBT Health revealed that gay, lesbian and bisexual youths are at far greater risk of sleep problems than their straight counterparts, per NBC News. Researchers found that 35.1% of those who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual reported trouble falling or staying asleep in the previous two weeks, compared to 13.5% of straight-identifying adolescents. Lead author Jason M. Nagataan assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Franciscorecommended that teenagers establish consistent sleep schedules, make sure their sleeping environments are comfortable, and limit their exposure to electronic devices and social media before bed.
In California, gay Santa Clara City Councilmember Anthony Becker was arraigned after being indicted by the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury, per The Bay Area Reporter. Becker is charged with perjury and faces a misdemeanor count after he allegedly lied about leaking a grand-jury report to the San Francisco 49ers last year that detailed a supposedly unethical relationship between the team and the city council, ESPN noted. The 49ers play in Levi's Stadium in the city of Santa Clara, about 35 miles south of San Francisco; Santa Clara County is broadly considered home to Silicon Valley. If convicted of perjury, Becker faces a maximum sentence of four years in county jail.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) criticized North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum for signing HB 1254, making North Dakota the 14nth state to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth via statute. In a press release, HRC State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley said, in part, "North Dakota lawmakers have shown nothing but hostility for transgender folks this legislative session, but denying children the ability to get the care they need to be and stay healthy is simply cruel. The governor's decision to support this discriminatory legislation will have a devastating impact on families and children in this state."
More than 170,000 people attended the annual Miami Beach Pride parade that took place on the city's Ocean Drive, per The Washington Blade. The parade took place against the backdrop of several anti-LGBTQ+ measures that have been passed in the state, including expansion of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' "Don't Say Gay" law. Miami Pride events actually took place March 31-April 16 and featured talent such as Sandra Bernhard, Todrick Hall, DJ Tony Moran, Shangela, Jonathan Bennett and Jaymes Vaughan, DJ Dan Slater and more.
Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang responded to U.S Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) introducing H.R. 2640, the Border Security and Enforcement Act of 2023which would make it much harder for immigrants to seek asylum in the US and reinstate previous provisions enforced during the Trump Administration. In a press release, Hoang said, in part, "Undocumented LGBTQ+ people and those seeking asylum face tremendous negative effects on their social well-being for being members of two marginalized groups. … [Rep.] McClintock's bill seeks only to further stigmatize immigrant communities, a population already vulnerable to harassment and discrimination, and he should be ashamed for contributing to anti-immigrant narratives."
In Arizona, dancers of all ages wearing traditional Native dress and rhythmically moving to the beat of hide drums at South Mountain Community College participated at the third annual Two Spirit Powwow, per the Arizona Republic. The Phoenix Indian Center joined with pro-LGBTQ+ group PFLAG to host the powwow with the aim of honoring Native LGBTQ and Two-Spirit people as well as Indigenous teachings of acceptance and respect.
San Diego County settled with transgender woman Kristina Frost, who was beaten by a fellow inmate after being placed in a cell with three men at a men's prison in 2020, The Advocate reported. Admitting no guilt or liability in the case, the county agreed to pay $275,000 for the incident that took place on Nov. 20, 2020, at the Central Jail in downtown San Diego. County policy says inmates "should be taken to a facility that coincides with the arrestee's gender identity," and lists the specific jails for trans and non-binary people.
In California, an ex-employee of the Mountain View-based tax-software giant Intuit claimed he was illegally fired for Instagram posts attacking drag queen events for children, SFGate reported. Brian Gilton, 37, said was fired by the tech company in the days after he posted two screeds blasting children attending "drag shows." Gilton, described in his lawsuit as "a passionate 37-year old white male," alleged he was terminated from his position "because of his participation in political activity, including political speech" and that Intuit violated California labor laws as a result.
Equality South Dakota is offering scholarships to pro-LGBTQ+ student campaigners, Dakota Free Press noted. The Lawrence Novotny Scholarship Essay Competition poses the question "In the wake of Anti-2SLGBTQ+ legislation that has swept America in the past couple of years, why should we be able to talk about these issues in an educational context?" Also, Equality South Dakota's Audacity Award is a scholarship for 2SLGBTQ+ and allied students who have been engaging in community service and/or activism work that seeks to better the lives of 2SLGBTQ+ people in South Dakota. One high school senior will be awarded a cash scholarship of $250 and one currently enrolled student (college, university, technical school, trade, school in South Dakota) will receive a cash scholarship of $500 in each category. Applications are due June 3; see dakotafreepress.com/2023/04/06/equality-south-dakota-offers-scholarships-to-lgbtq-campaigners/ .
The Human Rights Campaign's Welcoming Schools program released its second annual report detailing the growing impact of its work amidst the widespread attacks taking place across the country, a press release noted. HRC President Kelley Robinson said, "Thanks to the Welcoming Schools team, who have been working on the ground in local communities supporting LGBTQ+ inclusion in schools, we've reached a record number of students this year600,000with the tools to ensure that every kid can chase their dreams and find acceptance for who they are in the classroom." The report is at reports.hrc.org/welcoming-schools-annual-report-fy23.
In Colorado, a gallery at the Northglenn Recreation Centeran 88,000-square-foot multi-purpose facilityis showcasing artwork by local Chicano and Latino LGBTQ+ artists, 9News noted. The exhibit, titled "Amor Es Amor" ("Love Is Love"), will run through June 9.
Taking a stand against anti-drag bills and LGBTQ+ extremism and to support artistic expression and advocacy, Palm Springs Pride organizers announced the 2023 Pride Week theme is "Drag Now. Drag Forever," per a press release. And to highlight legislation and physical violence targeting members of the LGBTQ+ community, Greater Palm Springs Pride declared Palm Springs a "Drag Sanctuary City" to honor and celebrate freedom of expression of all forms. A traditional slate of Pride events to celebrate the power and resiliency of the LGBTQ+ community is scheduled for the 37th annual LGBTQ+ celebration on Nov. 3-5.
Marking 70 years as the oldest active LGBTQ+ organization in the country, ONE Archives Foundation announced the launch of Circathe first queer-histories festival in the country, according to a press release. Circa is slated to feature programs and events held across Los Angeles County during LGBTQ+ History Month in October. A call for program proposals is now open; submissions will be accepted via ONEArchives.org/circa through Monday, May 8.
Embattled gay Rep. George Santos (R-New York) introduced a bill to limit federal vaccine requirements that could prevent the military from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine againand he named it after rapper Nicki Minaj, per LGBTQ Nation. H.R. 2631the Medical Information Nuanced Accountability Judgement (MINAJ) Actwould ban the government from requiring anyone to get "a vaccine that has not been authorized for marketing for at least ten years unless a public health emergency is declared." The bill's name is a reference to Minaj's tweets about how the COVID-19 vaccine supposedly made her cousin's friend's testicles swell; the rapper was widely mocked for her claim.
Conservative trans figure Caitlyn Jenner said she feels the "indoctrination" of the country's youth has led to an "oversaturation" of the transgender community, according to Newsweek. In an interview with right-wing media outlet Breitbart, Jennerwho ran as a Republican in a special election for California governor in 2021 and lostplaced the blame for the so-called "indoctrination" of youth on Democrats. Jenner recently launched Fairness First, a PAC supposedly designed to strengthen parental rights, particularly in the classroom and in youth sports.
Fox News agreed to settle the $1.6-billion defamation lawsuit filed against the network over its broadcast of lies related to the 2020 presidential election, USA Today reported. The network and Dominion Voting Systems agreed to a $787.5-million settlement just as attorneys were set to outline their case to jurors ahead of trial testimony.
Logan Barnharta former romance-novel cover model and bodybuilderwas sentenced to three years in prison for dragging a police officer down the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building on his face into a crowd of Jan. 6 rioters, according to Instinct Magazine. Last September, he pleaded guilty to assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon. Barnhart will also face an additional 36 months of supervised release after his prison sentence, plus $2,000 restitution and $3,688 fine.