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  WINDY CITY TIMES

NATIONAL Victory Institute, activists pass on, Mikayla Miller, Nina West
by Windy City Times staff
2021-05-23

This article shared 606 times since Sun May 23, 2021
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On May 2, The Victory Institute inducted 21 leaders to its newly formed LGBTQ Victory Hall of Fame, according to PrideSource.com . Twenty members were inducted as part of the founding class while U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin was inducted as a Lifetime Achievement honoree. A few of the founding class members included former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Roberta Achtenberg; Simone Bell, the first out Black lesbian elected to a U.S. state legislature; Harvey Milk, the first out LGBTQ person elected in California; former Houston Mayor Annise Parker; and former Iceland Prime Minister Johanna Siguroardottir, the first out LGBTQ person in the world elected head of government.

Patrick O'Connell—the founder of Visual AIDS, the organization that used art to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic and also supported artists living with HIV—recently died of AIDS-related causes at age 67, Instinct Magazine noted. According to Visual AIDS, O'Connell was instrumental in coordinating and distributing our early AIDS activist projects, such as Day Without Art, Night Without Light and the Red Ribbon. People who want to share memories of O'Connell can email written contributions and images to emcgowan@visualaids.org .

Austin Head—an activist in the LGBTQ community and local progressive politics in Phoenix—died unexpectedly in April at his home in Hollywood, California at age 37, the Arizona Republic reported. Head was a strong advocate for those in the HIV and the LGBTQ communities. In 2012, a few months after being attacked by two men, Head announced he was running for the District 4 seat on the Phoenix City Council; the attack inspired him to enter politics, though he did not end up working in politics. The cause of Head's death is unknown.

The death of Black queer teen Mikayla Miller was ruled a suicide by authorities—but her mother and LGBTQ advocates are saying that that doesn't make sense and that police haven't showed much interest in investigating her death, LGBTQ Nation reported. On April 18, Miller's mother, Calvina Strothers, called the police when a jogger found the teen dead a mile away from home with a belt around her neck that was bound to a tree. This was just a day after Miller was jumped by five white classmates—including one with whom she once had a romantic relationship.

For the second year, Lane Bryant will celebrate positivity, inclusivity and love with the help of celebrity (and Columbus-local) drag queen Nina West, a press release stated. The first video in a Pride-filled series starring West has debuted on the brand's digital-media channels. Through the six-video series that will drop throughout Pride month, Lane Bryant and West will empower everyone to create their lane in their own way, while encouraging all to love out loud and "Say it with Pride." West will also take part in an IGTV live Q&A, viewable on Lane Bryant's Instagram channel on National Say Something Nice Day (June 1).

Bucknell University condemned the acts of male students who attempted to break into an LGBTQ house, USA Today noted. "We write to acknowledge and condemn a horrific incident that occurred last night at Tower House—the Fran's House affinity residence and center of student life for our LGBTQ student community—and to state our unequivocal support for all LGBTQ Bucknellians," a statement read. The incident involved multiple men approaching a home that formerly housed the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity until the group was removed two years ago.

A measure approved by Penn State University's faculty senate and slated to be implemented, would remove gendered and binary terms like "freshman" and "upperclassman" from Penn State course and program descriptions, the Los Angeles Blade reported. Once the measure is policy and implemented it will include all written materials, including recruiting information, admissions materials, internal documents and school websites.

The Alabama legislature concluded its regular session for 2021 without advancing Senate Bill 10, which would have criminalized health care for transgender youth, according to a joint press release from Lambda Legal, the ACLU and ACLU of Alabama. "While the Alabama Legislature avoided passing this poorly designed bill, and we should all celebrate this victory for transgender people, for human rights, and for the state of Alabama, we know that this is not the last attack we will see on the transgender community. We cannot become complacent," said Kaitlin Welborn, staff attorney for the ACLU of Alabama. "But no matter what lawmakers in Alabama try, transgender people belong and we will always fight to make sure their rights are protected, the same as everyone else's."

A federal district court judge denied the State of West Virginia's request to dismiss a lawsuit by Lambda Legal, Nichols Kaster and The Employment Law Center that challenges West Virginia's ban on gender-confirming care in the state's Medicaid and state employee health plans, a Lambda Legal press release noted. The ruling, by Judge Robert Chambers of the District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, ensures that Lambda Legal's lawsuit filed on behalf of Christopher Fain, Zachary Martell, and Brian McNemar against the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency will proceed on the merits.

Corey Robert Welch, 18, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for committing a hate crime and first-degree assault—but with 11 years of the sentence suspended and credit for the 15 months he's already served behind bars, he will only serve about three years in jail, LGBTQ Nation reported. Co-defendant Martin Potomac Gieser received six months for a second-degree assault conviction, meaning the duo will serve under five years combined. Frederick County Assistant State Attorney Laura Corbett Wilt told the court that Welch began harassing the victim based solely on his assumption that the victim was gay. Defense attorney Mary Drawbaugh argued to Judge Theresa M. Adams that Welch was "under the throes of addiction" at the time and regrets his actions.

Researchers are recruiting up to 300 gay and bisexual men in the Orlando area for an historic study that could finally end what critics say is an "outdated" federal policy banning them from donating blood, the Orlando Sentinel noted. OneBlood, one of the nation's largest blood providers, said it is joining the American Red Cross and fellow nonprofit Vitalant in a pilot study funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The work will examine if individual blood-donor questionnaires can accurately detect people most likely to be HIV-positive instead of precluding an entire category of the population.

In Nebraska, members of the Lincoln City Council made history in electing James Michael Bowers as chair of the council—the first out LGBTQ person to serve in the position, according to a Victory Fund press release. Earlier this month, out LGBTQ candidates Sandra Washington and Tom Beckius were the top two vote-getters in a race for three open council seats. Washington, who was appointed to a council position in 2019, became the first out Black lesbian elected in Nebraska with her win. When Beckius is sworn in, three of the seven councilmembers will be LGBTQ—a significant number, given Bowers was the first out Lincoln councilmember ever when elected in 2019. Currently, Nebraska has just nine out LGBTQ elected officials in the entire state.

A trans woman pled guilty to two indictments of robbery and received two consecutive 15-year prison sentences for robbing two banks in Alabama and Mississippi in 2019 to pay for plastic surgery, LGBTQ Nation noted. Iconic Facce—who held a prior conviction for robbing a bank prior to her transition in 2009—showed signs of undergoing recent cosmetic surgery on her face, which included noticeable swelling of her lips, at the time of the Mississippi bank robbery. Mere days after the robbery, Facce flew to Mexico from Huntsville, Alabama and underwent further surgery there. She returned to the States and was arrested on arrival in Houston on March 30, 2019.

A D.C. man arrested in August 2020 for allegedly threatening to kill a gay man outside the victim's apartment and who was released while awaiting trial was arrested again two weeks ago for allegedly threatening to kill another man in an unrelated incident, The Washington Blade reported. D.C. Superior Court records show that Jalal Malki was charged May 4, 2021 with unlawful entry, simple assault, threats to kidnap and injure a person and attempted possession of a prohibited weapon against the owner of a vacant house. (Documents state that Malki was allegedly staying at the house without permission as a squatter.) Superior Court records show that Malki had been arrested three times between 2011 and 2015 in cases unrelated to the 2021 and 2020 cases for allegedly also making threats of violence against people.

On May 19, a press release announced that the former residence of Black lesbian playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, underscoring her American arts and culture contributions, Black Enterprise noted. Hansberry's former residence—337 Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village—was first successfully nominated to the New York State Register of Historic Places by the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project in March, in collaboration with the New York State Historic Preservation Office. The historic site was officially listed to the National Register in April.

In Pennsylvania, a landmark establishment for members of the Lehigh Valley's LGBTQ community is closing—but that doesn't mean the memories, stories and memorabilia related to it will be lost, Saucon Source reported. Thanks to the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center's "Stonewall Memories Project," the iconic Allentown bar and nightclub's 50-year legacy will continue. The Stonewall first opened in 1972; the building it's in will soon close, but details about when the club will close haven't been made public.

Stoli Vodka and The Harvey Milk Foundation are continuing their partnership with the launch of the limited stock Stoli Harvey Milk Global Collector's Edition Bottle, featuring art from Paraguayan artist Oz Montania, a press release noted. "The Harvey Milk Foundation is excited to see our long term partnership with Stoli Vodka go global this year," said Miriam Richter, Harvey Milk Foundation education director and counsel. "The 2021 HMF/Stoli collaboration is a message to people all over the globe that visibility is vital and that hope can not be silenced, not just LGBTQ+ people, but for ALL people."

LEGO announced a new LGBTQ+-themed "Everyone Is Awesome" set of its famed plastic building blocks, out.com noted. The 346-piece set features 11 multi-colored figurines standing on a flowing buildable rainbow platform. The special set was designed by the Danish toymaker to celebrate diversity and inclusivity in celebration of Pride month. The set goes on sale June 1 and retails for $34.99.

Current Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, a Democrat, conceded the primary election to challenger Ed Gainey, who would become the city's first Black chief executive if he wins the general election in November, Politico reported. Peduto had been seeking a third term against three primary challengers but instead called to congratulate Gainey, a five-term state representative. Gainey had consistently campaigned about equality for Black and poor residents, and accused Peduto of failing to ensure equity in policing, housing and other areas. Recently, Peduto introduced legislation that would penalize anyone committing hateful criminal acts because of an individual or group's sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or disability, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Controversy is growing on Long Island over the removal of an LGBT flag displayed at a boardwalk, ABC7NY.com reported. LGBT Network President/CEO David Kilmnick held a rally calling for the resignations of Long Beach Police Commissioner Ronald Walsh and City Council President John Bendo after he said they demanded that a rainbow flag be taken down from outside Riptides, a popular local restaurant. The LGBT Network announced last year that it was moving Long Island Pride events out of Long Beach because of the alleged discrimination from city leadership.

Ashlyn Harris (professional soccer player for the U.S. Women's National Team and the Orlando Pride) and partner, fellow soccer superstar Ali Krieger have partnered with breast pump Willow and its Declaration of Independence Campaign, a press item noted. Harris stated on Instagram, "I want to lighten the load of another new mom whose journey may look a little different than mine. As members of the LGBTQ community in the public eye, Ali and I always try to push for representation, on and off the field— to show that people like us get happy endings too. … And although I'm not pumping or breastfeeding, I understand how little time all moms have on their hands, especially working moms in the absence of parental leave and equal pay." Other notable celebrity moms who have joined the campaign, including professional surfer Bethany Hamilton, singer-songwriter Teyana Taylor and comedian Laura Clery.

It turns out that when Pennsylvania state Rep. (and current lieutenant governor candidate) Brian Sims learned he was a perfect donor match for a gay man was dying of renal failure last year, he agreed to donate one of his kidneys, according to out.com . "My recipient Alan and his husband John were sitting having lunch," Sims tweeted of a chance encounter that recently occurred while he was walking to his office. "A perfectly normal, healthy, happy couple sitting in the sun enjoying each other's company. It was perfection!" Sims had initially kept the news secret. However, he initially revealed it last year after some Republican members of the Pennsylvania legislature tested positive for the virus but hid their status and came to work anyway without telling anyone.

Amazon announced it was shutting down a construction site in Windsor, Connecticut, after a seventh noose was discovered, The Hill reported. The most recent incident occurred almost a month after the first noose was found hanging from a steel beam on April 27, Windsor Police Capt. Andrew Power said in a statement.

Conservative commentator Candace Owens commented on the usage of pronouns after Demi Lovato announced they identify as non-binary, Newsweek reported. Hours after the pop singer said they "will officially be changing my pronouns to they/them moving forward," Owens published a tweet saying: "Announcing that your pronouns are they/them is just poor grammar. I don't care [about] your reasons—please stop trying to make low academic achievement a thing." Owens' tweet received mixed reactions, with some people posting funny gifs and others criticizing her.

CNN host Chris Cuomo participated in strategy conference calls with his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as the latter faced allegations of sexual harassment, with the sessions including members of the governor's staff, Deadline noted. A network spokesperson said, "Chris has not been involved in CNN's extensive coverage of the allegations against Gov. Cuomo—on air or behind the scenes. In part because, as he has said on his show, he could never be objective. But also because he often serves as a sounding board for his brother." The network did not indicate if Cuomo will face disciplinary action.

CNN dropped former Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum as a senior political commentator over remarks related to Native Americans, NBC News noted. At a Young America's Foundation event, Santorum argued there was "nothing here" before European settlers arrived. Santorum told host Chris Cuomo he "misspoke" and that his remarks were taken out of context, adding, "I was not trying to dismiss Native Americans."

The placement of a towering Marilyn Monroe statue in Palm Springs, California has sparked controversy, KABC.com reported. The 26-foot-tall sculpture, which was on show temporarily during 2012-14, captures the iconic scene from the movie The Seven Year Itch in which Monroe stands over a subway grate with a wind blowing up her flowing white dress. Although it was considered one of the hottest attractions downtown, part of the issue is that the statue will be placed with its back to the Palm Springs Art Museum.


This article shared 606 times since Sun May 23, 2021
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