The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ( HUD ) issued a final rule requiring equal treatment of transgender people in federally funded emergency shelters. The rule provides that transgender individuals must be housed based on their gender identity. In a statement, National Center for Lesbian Rights Policy Director Julianna Gonen, Esq., said, "This new rule ensures that no transgender person will be denied shelter simply because of who they are and that transgender women, in particular, will no longer be forced to choose between being housed with men or going without shelter. This is a huge step forward for the transgender community and will empower transgender individuals who need shelter to stand up for their rights."
Equality Florida announced more than $9.5 million have been raised for the victims of Orlando's Pulse Nightclub shootings largely through a record-setting GoFundMe campaign that drew more than 120,000 donors from more than 120 countries, according to a press release. Equality Florida has prepared all donations collected to be combined with OneOrlando, and distribution began Sept 27. Additionally, Equality Florida announced the launch of a new campaign called "Honor Them With Action," to keep the second promise made in the aftermath of Pulse, which is to uproot the anti-LGBT hatred that inevitably leads to discrimination and violence.
A survivor of the Orlando Pulse mass shooting has died at a party three months after the hate attack, PinkNews reported. Chris Brodman, 34, was recently found unresponsive by paramedics at a friend's house. Friends of the deceased have posted that they are "heartbroken" about his death as his boyfriend wrote on Facebook that he is collecting funds for Brodman's funeral.
Immigration Equality and the Brooklyn Community Pride Center will launch the LGBTQ New Americans Project, featuring audio and video oral histories of LGBTQ immigrants living in Brooklyn and throughout New York City, a press release stated. Topics and themes include experiences in their country of origin, family life, career, love, sexuality, gender identity, race, the immigration experience and much more. The interviews are at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLL436i31gYDE2ULrJEg-zNzRjNx4-mcl4.
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts was cheered when she rejected a GOP "compromise" to repeal North Carolina's House Bill 2, On Top Magazine reported. Gov. Pat McCrory and GOP leaders offered to consider repeal of the law if Charlotte ditched its LGBT-protections ordinance. Republicans called a one-day special session in March to approve HB2 after the Charlotte City Council approved its ordinance, which prohibits discrimination against the LGBT community.
Retired transgender Navy SEAL Kristin Beck has claimed the TSA humiliated her as she was bound for Kansas City to give a speech to federal employees about gender sensitivity, CNN reported. According to Beck, agents debated her gender and, eventually, had a woman agent pat "him" down, although Beck said she clearly identified herself as female. A TSA spokesman said the agency has reached out to Beck to make things right.
A Brooklyn judge swiftly convicted Mayer Herskovic of second-degree assault, first-degree unlawful imprisonment, and menacing in a 2013 attack in Williamsburg that left a gay Black man blind in one eye, Gay City News reported. Herskovic was part of a group roughly 20 men, some of whom belonged to a neighborhood patrol organized by the Satmar community, involved in the attack on Taj Patterson. The Satmar are part of the Hasidic sect of Orthodox Judaism.
A federal court ordered the Highland Local School District in Ohio to allow an 11-year-old transgender girl to use school restrooms that correspond to her gender identity and to otherwise to treat her like all other female students, a National Center for Lesbian Rights press release noted. In a 43-page order, Judge Algenon L. Marbley of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio ruled that federal guidelines interpreting sex-discrimination laws to require that transgender students be allowed to access restrooms according to their gender identity were entitled to deference and barred the school district from requiring the student to use a separate restroom from her peers.
A federal lawsuit says a transgender inmate was raped by a male cellmate after being locked up last year in New Orleans' new jaila $150-million facility that the local sheriff said would be a major factor in ending the violence that resulted in federal court oversight, Fox News reported. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, says the transgender woman's sex is male "but she chooses to live as a female." She was arrested last September at age 19 for failing to appear in court on a misdemeanor disturbing the peace charge. Later that month, she was among inmates transferred to the newly opened Orleans Justice Center.
Craig Jungwirth, who threatened a Labor Day weekend Orlando-style massacre at gay bars in Wilton Manors, Florida, was indicted in federal court, Towleroad noted, citing ABC10. Jungwirth, 50, has been charged with the interstate transmission of a threatening communication. Jungwirth faces up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
Rumors that the website AfterEllen would shut down as of Sept. 23, after 14 years of existence, are apparently not true. A post from TotallyHer Media General Manager Emrah Kovacoglu stated on the website, in part, "Unfortunately, ... efforts did not result in increased audience or enough advertiser support to justify continuing to invest at the same levels. Therefore, we decided we could not keep Trish Bendix on as the full time editor-in-chief." Previously, Bendix posted on a Tumblr entry entitled "Eulogy for the Living," in part, "Evolve [Media, which purchased AfterEllen two years ago] has decided to keep the site and its archives alive for now, with a promise of periodically publishing freelance pieces in the future," noting that Evolve ( who are composed of "mainly white heterosexual men" ) gave AfterEllen two years to become profitable. *See text below this article.
The National LGBTQ Task Force, in a press release, described the killing by Tulsa Police of an unarmed Black man, Terence Crutcher, as an "outrageous act of police violence." Rev. Rodney McKenzie, director of the Academy for Leadership and Action for the Task Force, said, "There is clearly a double standard in American policing. For example, we can all welcome the arrest of the alleged New York City bomber within hours. But why is the proven killer of Terence Crutcherand the police who have killed so many unarmed black peoplestill walking free? All of this is deeply painful and traumatizing for millions of people."
Equality California has withdrawn endorsements from six state assemblymembers following their "no" votes or abstentions on a bill that would require religious colleges and universities to disclose policies that discriminate against LGBT people, a press release noted. Assemblymembers Joaquin Arambula ( D-Fresno ), Jacqui Irwin ( D-Thousand Oaks ) and Rudy Salas ( D-Bakersfield ) voted against SB 1146 while Assemblymembers Cheryl Brown ( D-San Bernardino ), Patty Lopez ( D-San Fernando ) and Adrin Nazarian ( D-Sherman Oaks ) abstained. ( In the California Legislature, abstentions have the same effect as "no" votes. )
Funders for LGBTQ Issues has awarded 11 grants totaling $528,000 to Southern LGBTQ funds and funding collaboratives, a press release stated. This is the first round of grants from the Out in the South Fund. Some of the recipients include JustFundKY ( $49,000 ), OUT Miami Foundation ( $30,000 ) and the Appalachian Community Fund's GLBTQ Initiative ( $50,000 ).
The Johnson Family Foundation ( JFF ) has awarded CenterLink, the Community of LGBT Centers, a new grant dedicated to capacity-building projects that are designed to expand the variety, quality and accessibility of mental-health services offered at LGBT community centers, a press release stated. This grant is a continuation of a pilot project originally started in 2010. A total of $150,000 will be awarded to centers, with grants ranging from $10,000-$25,000.
A former administrator of a roughly $40,000-per-year New York City private school for gifted children filed a lawsuit last week claiming his contract was not renewed because he is gay, The Huffington Post noted. However, people connected to the Speyer Legacy School say it is an LGBT-inclusive environment and the administrator's sexual orientation had nothing to do with his departure. If Alan Cohen's allegations prove true, the discrimination would be a "clear violation" of New York City and New York State Human Rights Laws, said Samuel Bagenstos, a law professor at the University of Michigan.
A gay-for-pay porn star has spent 10 months in custody after being accused of brutally stabbing his wealthy lover to death, Gay Star News noted. Mario Romo, who started his career at Sean Cody as "Francisco" in 2010, is indicted on multiple charges following the murder of Texas retiree Jake Clyde Merendino. The 52-year-old had named 25-year-old Romolegal name David Enrique Mezaas his heir before the killing.
In New Jersey, a gay former Cape May police officer settled his discrimination suit against the city for $369,000, NJ.com reported. Steve Pascal said fellow officers and members of the public subjected him to "the most vile" anti-gay slurs. He was eventually fired in 2013, allegedly for failing to follow proper procedure when responding to a minor car accident.
In Washington, D.C., a local security company decided to change its policy and hire transgender employees, WUSA9.com reported. Washington Field Protective Services made the change after a recent incident in D.C. in which a transgender woman said she was forcefully pushed out of a Giant supermarket woman's restroom. Deputy Chief Isaiah Reeves said there are five trainees in total.
Corporate pilot John King is the new chairman of Wyoming Equality, which has 300 members, as previous chairman Jeran Artery is stepping down after six years, the Casper Star Tribune noted. As many as 11,600 Wyomingites are LGBTQ, and one of King's goals as the new chairman is to persuade many of those people to join Wyoming Equality, he said.
Fran's Place, among the oldest gay bars in Massachusetts, closed Sept. 26, Eater Boston reported. The bar's general manager, Robert Muise, who worked at Fran's Place for 34 years, told NECN that the bar has long been a gathering place for the LGBTQ community. The business has been in owner Jay Collins' family since the 1920s, when it opened as a tavern at another location before moving to the current location as Lighthouse Cafe in the 1940s and ultimately Fran's Place in the '70s, ItemLive reported.
Eulogy for the Living
Over the last 10 years, I've published a lot of very personal things on AfterEllen. I've written things people didn't agree with. I've written reviews of work created by peers that they didn't necessarily love. I've written about being married and then not. I've published interviews that were painful to get through and worse to relive during the transcribing and writing process. But nothing has been as difficult as what I've had to write today.
After 14 years, AfterEllen as we know it will be effectively shutting down as of Friday.
Here are the facts: Evolve Media purchased AfterEllen from Viacom two years ago. They gave us two fiscal years to become their LGBT property and profit in that space, and they found we are not as profitable as moms and fashion. And, yes, "they" are mainly white heterosexual men, which is important to note because not only is this the story for us, but for a lot of other propertieslarge-scale media outlets, lesbian bars out-priced by neighborhoods they helped establish, housing in queer meccas like Portland that is being turned into condos and AirBNBs.
At the very same time, queer women and culture is being celebrated on the Emmys, in the legalization of both mothers being included on their newborn's birth certificate, and our namesake, Ellen DeGeneres, being one of the most well-known, well-liked and undeniably profitable television and lifestyle personalities of our generation.
Somewhere, there's a disconnect. AfterEllen is just one of the homes lesbian, bisexual and queer women will have lost in the last decade. It was a refuge, a community, a virtual church for so many. I'm not sure that some people outside of us can really ever understand that.
Evolve has decided to keep the site and its archives alive for now, with a promise of periodically publishing freelance pieces in the future. I am not sure what that will look like, as Friday is also my last day, after 10 years of contributing writing and eventually coming on to work full time as a blog editor, then managing editor, and, for the last two years, as Editor in Chief. I feel so grateful and so, so lucky to have been a representative for lesbian and bi women for a decade. I often joke that I'm the one asking "the lesbian questions" in a room full of journalists or reporters or critics that aren't looking for the answers that I am, that we as a community deserve. And even though mainstream visibility has grown and larger publications have verticals now where they focus some of their attentions on LGBTs, AfterEllen was still the one place completely dedicated to queer women in media, entertainment, pop culture and our depictions therein. We are frequently cited, linked to, asked for comment and utilized as a resource for those who find us to be the only place that has, for so long, been the authority on ourselves.
I've had such incredible mentors and colleagues at AfterEllen since the beginning. Sarah Warn, the creator of this site who saw a need and met it and inspired thousands of women to feel like they deserve property visibility and representation, and should demand it. Karman Kregloe, who worked tirelessly after Sarah left to ensure the mission of the site remained despite the changes in the media landscape and shifts of LGBT issues and acceptance in the world at large. I am indebted to them both for their establishing of somewhere that I know I'm nowhere near alone in feeling was a safe space, long before I even began contributing to the site. Working for a year with Dana Piccoli as Staff Editor was also a dream and the site was made better by her contributions.
Since 2002, AfterEllen has published the work of queer luminaries and tastemakers like Kate McKinnon, Jane Lynch, Jack Halberstam, Linda Villarosa, Angela Robinson, Ariel Schrag, Nicole Georges, Lux Alptraum, Liz Feldman and Jenni Olson. We've interviewed everyone from community figures to A-list stars, writers, directors, producers, actors, novelists, poets, activists, doctors, scientists, professors, creators, artists, gurus of all kinds who had something to say about lesbian culture. AfterEllen gave them the place not just to say it, but to have a conversation directly with the readers; the community.
I'm overcome with loss, but not just for me, for my community. For every single woman who has ever come up to me, tweeted us, sent us an email or a Facebook message or written a blog post about how much AfterEllen has meant to them at some point in their life, I am grieving this with you. We had so much ahead of usmore than ever beforeand I'm sorry there won't be an opportunity for us to do that work together.
I want to thank the writers for every second of themselves they've poured into not only the time and space it takes to write about things so inherently personal, but the passion they've done it with. I encourage any single one of you who have any capacity to hire them to do so. I will vouch for any of their talents while quietly mourning the fact I am no longer able to work alongside them.
To the readers: You have been faithful, challenging, enlightening, accepting, educational, entertaining and at times forgiving. You have been the best readership an editor could dream of and any other site would be lucky to have you.
So what now? I can only hope that Evolve will continue to keep the site alive for the AE archives as promised for as long as the internet exists. There are so many stories that only exist on our site that could never be replicated elsewhere; the hard work and voices of so many queer women. As for me, I've been working on a novel for the past three years I'm hoping to find a publisher for as well as non-fiction book that is very closely related to the kinds of things you'd find on AfterEllen. I've also started to dip my toe into television writing and will continue my advocacy for LGBTs and women, no matter where I end up next.
I will miss waking up every day to provide you with the Morning Brew, and editing the work of brilliant writers who never lacked in ideas and opinions and enthusiasm. I will miss the daily discussions about topics and issues so vital to our existence. I will miss being synonymous with a site that has been so much of my free time and personal life for almost 10 years because now I'm going to find out what I am without it, and you will, too.
The last thing I will leave you with is that we need to support one another, because support from anywhere else is not guaranteed. Support queer women, women of color, trans womengive other deserving women your money, your eyeballs, your attention. Donate to their Kickstarters, visit their websites, advertise in their pages, buy their albums, go see their films in theaters, purchase their novels, frequent their businesses.
Queer women are worthy. We are worthy.
I am sorry they would not let me post this on AfterEllen and hope that everyone who needs to find this explanation will.
Yours in solidarity,