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The year in LGBT national news
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 8385 times since Tue Jan 1, 2019
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This year is bound to be big, with events like the commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots happening. However, 2018 had its major and unique events as well:

—Skate expectations: Figure skater Adam Rippon became the first openly gay U.S. athlete to qualify for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea—and the first to win a medal, as he won a bronze in the team competition. Gus Kenworthy was another gay athlete who qualified, and he finished 12th in slopestyle.

—Arrested development: Two men were arrested on murder charges in the deaths of two women who were in a relationship and two children in their upstate Troy, New York, apartment. However, Justin Mann and James White remain in jail awaiting trial.

—Trans deaths: At least 26 transgender people were fatally shot or killed by other violent means in 2018 across the country—and the vast majority were people of color. Among the victims were Viccky Gutierrez, Celine Walker, Diamond Stephens and Chicago's Ciara Minaj Carter Frazier, Sasha Wall, Dejanay Stanton, Sasha Garden and Tydi Dansbury.

—Shifty: President Donald Trump fired all of the members the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS without explanation. Chicago-based Lambda Legal attorney Scott Schoettes, who had previously resigned from the council along with several other members, had tweeted that the remaining members of the council had been let go.

—Rocking the vote: Hundreds of LGBTQ candidates ran for office across the nation during the Nov. 6 midterm elections—and many made history, including the first openly gay governor in Colorado ( Jared Polis ), the first openly bisexual member of the U.S. Senate ( Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema ) and the first lesbian Native American congresswoman in Kansas ( Sharice Davids ).

—Remembering Matthew: Twenty years after gay Wyoming student Matthew Shepard's murder marked a watershed moment regarding LGBT rights, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History received a donation of papers and personal objects from Judy and Dennis Shepard, the parents of Matthew. Shepard died due to severe injuries he sustained during a vicious attack in October 1998 in Laramie, Wyoming.

—Movie kind of love: Nominations for the 90th Academy Awards were announced early on Jan. 23—and LGBT-themed film Call Me By Your Name was among those entries earning Academy Award nominations. Also, a history-making development occurred when out screenwriter/director Dee Rees became the first African-American woman ever to be nominated for Writing ( Adapted Screenplay ), for the movie Mudbound.

—Spacey case: Following an accusation by actor Anthony Rapp, dozens of men came forward to level sexual-harassment claims against actor Kevin Spacey, who was removed from his hit Netflix series House of Cards and the movie All the Money in the World. In December, he broke his silence with a bizarre video in which he channeled his "Cards" character, Frank Underwood—one day after a sexual-assault indictment was filed against him.

—Settle down: A Wisconsin school district paid $800,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit that transgender former student Ash Whitaker brought. Whitaker filed the suit in July 2016, alleging that Tremper High School banned him from using the boys' bathroom and monitored his use of bathrooms.

—Pioneer dies: Dr. Mathilde Krim, a pioneer in the battle against HIV/AIDS, passed away Jan. 15 at age 91. In 1983, Krim founded the AIDS Medical Foundation ( AMF ), the first private organization dedicated to AIDS research.

—Comic passes away: Bob Smith—the first openly gay comedian to appear on the Tonight Show—died after a long struggle with ALS. He was 57.

—Filing: Immigration Equality and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP filed two lawsuits against the U.S. State Department for refusing to recognize the valid marriages of same-sex binational couples and disenfranchising their children by denying their rightful citizenship at birth.

—Grim statistics: The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs ( NCAVP ) 2017 Report on LGBTQ Hate Violence Homicides reported the highest number of homicides in the 20 years NCAVP has been recording this data. According to the report, released Jan. 22, 52 LGBTQ people in the U.S. were murdered in hate-related homicides last year—a shocking 86-percent increase from 2016.

—Biden its time: The Biden Foundation announced the formation of two advisory councils that will support its work to end violence against women and advance LGBTQ equality. Advisory council members are respected leaders, experts and advocates said to be at the forefront of their fields.

—An issue with therapy: An estimated 20,000 LGBT youth ages 13 to 17 will undergo conversion therapy from a licensed healthcare professional before the age of 18, according to a new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. ( The institute later indicated in a separate study that 1,000 LGBT youth ages 13 to 17 will be protected from conversion therapy by a licensed professional in the five U.S. states that banned the practice in 2018: Washington, Hawaii, Maryland, Delaware and New Hampshire. ) Conversion therapy reached a boiling point in 2018, thanks in part to Hollywood, which rolled out two films ( The Miseducation of Cameron Post; Boy Erased ) dealing with the subject.

—Launch: The Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project ( BLMP )— a first-of-its-kind program housed at Transgender Law Center ( TLC ) and made possible by a 2017 Open Society Foundations Soros Justice Fellowship—launched with an accompanying 20-minute documentary and opportunities for community members to get involved.

—Anti-trans decision: The U.S. Department of Education confirmed Feb. 12 that it will no longer investigate civil-rights complaints from transgender students who are barred from school bathrooms that match their gender identity. Transgender students said this development will subject them to bullying.

—Family ties: The Human Rights Campaign Foundation released a report detailing the results of its nationwide survey of LGBTQ people that reveals an urgent need for inclusive employer-paid family and medical leave. It came on the 25th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, a federal law guaranteeing certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year.

—Dismissed: A federal judge rejected a 14-count lawsuit against Grindr, finding that the gay hookup app was not liable for the malicious harassment wrought by an ex-boyfriend's fake profile.

—Graham crumbles: The Rev. Billy Graham—an author, presidential advisor ( who met every president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama ) and famed evangelist who became known as "America's Pastor"—died at his North Carolina home on Feb. 21 at age 99. Graham was known for his televised "crusades," which filled stadiums—but he was also known for being anti-LGBT ( although not as overtly homophobic as son Franklin ).

—Art-felt: The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery announced that former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama had picked the Black artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively, to paint their official portraits—with Wiley being openly queer.

—Oh, baby: A 30-year-old transgender woman has become the first officially recorded to breast-feed her baby. An experimental three-and-a-half-month treatment regimen that included hormones, a nausea drug and breast stimulation enabled the woman to produce milk.

—Behind bars: In Texas, Chancler Encalade, 20, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for assaulting a man because of the victim's sexual orientation. Encalade admitted he, Nigel Garrett and another co-defendant used Grindr to arrange to meet the victim at the victim's home, where he was assaulted.

—Ad news: The Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, OutServe-SLDN, American Military Partner Association and Gender Justice League published a full-page USA Today ad featuring leading military, national security and bipartisan officials who felt the Trump administration's ban on transgender troops is wrong and hurts military readiness.

—We are family: The longest-running study on any LGBTQ-parent families, the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study ( NLLFS ), released results showing that young adults with lesbian parents are as mentally healthy as their peers.

—Mississippi turning: Leaders in Starkville, Mississippi, voted to permit a gay-pride parade, reversing a previous denial and moving to defuse a lawsuit alleging discrimination and free-speech violations. Also, the Clarksdale Board of Commissioners passed city-wide non-discrimination protections that include sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, public accommodations and employment—making it only the third city in the state to do so.

—Nixon defeated: Emmy-winning Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon threw her hat in the ring for governor against Andrew Cuomo in September's Democratic primary—but came up short in the election.

—Activist passes: Donna Red Wing passed away April 16 after a battle with lung cancer. Red Wing served as executive director of One Iowa during 2012-16, expanding the organization's work into new arenas after the battle for marriage equality ended.

—Farrow path: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ronan Farrow officially came out as gay at a Point Foundation event.

—Black is beautiful: Out Magazine named African-American transgender woman Raquel Willis as its newest executive editor, while The Advocate named African-American LGBT journalist Zach Stafford as its most recent editor-in-chief.

—Fatal protest: Well-known Lambda Legal attorney David Buckel, 60, was found dead in a public park in Brooklyn, New York, having apparently taken his own life in protest over the use of fossil fuels.

—Bushes pass: Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara Bush died several months apart in 2018—after being married for 73 years. The couple were not known as the strongest LGBT allies, but did attend the wedding of longtime lesbian friends Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen in 2013,

—Sad Joy: The Daily Beast suspended future columns from Joy Reid due to the fallout over anti-gay comments she made on an old blog a decade ago. Reid apologized, adding she thought her account had been hacked—although cybersecurity experts couldn't prove her claim.

—Cosby convicted: In Pennsylvania, a jury found Bill Cosby, 80, guilty of three counts of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, an out lesbian, in 1994. He was sentenced to three to 10 years behind bars.

—Monae, Monae: "Being a queer Black woman in America, someone who has been in relationships with both men and women—I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker," singer/actress Janelle Monae told Rolling Stone's Brittany Spanos for the magazine's May cover story.

—Controversy: Queer Pittsburgh residents were shocked after a local gay nightspot Brewer Bar scheduled ( and then canceled ) a drag night seemingly inviting people to celebrate the birthday of Adolf Hitler.

—Bad behavior: Although a report stated the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention ( CDC ) the agency had removed LGBT questions from a federal health survey ( the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System, or BRFSS ), it insisted no decision has been made to omit the module.

—Troop, there it is: There was a back-and-forth between the Trump administration and transgender military members, with ( most recently ) civil-rights organizations filing a suit saying the latest court rulings that blocked the Trump administration's restrictions on military service by transgender individuals should be allowed to stand.

—Barr none: The Roseanne reboot, television's most-watched show, was canceled in the wake of star Roseanne Barr's racist tweet regarding former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett. The ABC show The Conners ( sans Barr ) rose from her ashes.

—Not-so-sweet ruling: The Supreme Court ruled in June that the Colorado commission showed anti-religious bias when it sanctioned Colorado baker Jack Phillips for refusing to make the cake, voting seven to two that it violated Phillips' First Amendment rights. However, he's now back in court over a second LGBT-related allegation.

—Somber anniversary: Pride Fund to End Gun Violence—the country's only national LGBTQ political organization focused solely on gun violence prevention—recognized Pride Month by holding a series of events to raise a hand in the air for Pride and kneeling to remember victims of the Pulse Nightclub massacre.

—Springs' time: The Palm Springs City Council was recognized June 11 by the California Legislature LGBTQ Caucus in Sacramento for being the nation's first elected all-LGBTQ council.

—Playing ball: This year's NYC Pride Parade made history with the participation of the NFL and MLB in the LGBTQ march. The two leagues are registered for the parade alongside the NHL, NBA and WNBA.

—Windsor knot: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a proclamation recognizing June 20 as Edie Windsor Day, in honor of her birthday. She was the lead plaintiff for the U.S. Supreme Court case United States v. Windsor, which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and laid the foundation for the 2015 case Obergefell v. Hodges, which led to marriage equality throughout the country.

—Leitsch dies: Gay-rights icon Dick Leitsch, who led so-called "sip-in" protests during the 1960s, died in New York City on June 24.

—Rise of Sharon: In June, Sharon Brackett became the first trans woman to be elected to a public office in Maryland, besting 14 other candidates.

—Bi the way: A study in the LGBT Health Journal stated that bisexual men face a higher risk for heart disease than either straight or gay men. The study looked at a sample of 7,731 men, placing each in one of four categories: gay-identified men, bisexual-identified men, heterosexual-identified men who have sex with men and exclusively heterosexual men.

—Hunter dies: Tab Hunter—who rose to movie stardom in the 1950s thanks to his surfer-boy look ) and who, in his later years, came out of the closet as gay— died at 86. In his 2005 memoir, Tab Hunter Confidential, he revealed that he had remained a closeted gay man during his peak years in Hollywood. Hunter's memoir was adapted into an award-winning documentary in 2015.

—Speaking out: An LGBTQ town hall was part of the NAACP's 109th annual convention on July 14-18. Panelists included the H.U.G.S. Movement's Marsha R. Bonner; Center for Black Equity President/CEO and DNC LGBT Caucus Earl D. Fowlkes Jr.; National Black Justice Coalition Executive Director David J. Johns; National LGBTQ Task Force Deputy Executive Director Kierra Johnson; theologian/columnist the Rev. Irene Monroe; actress and TransTech Social Enterprises founder Angelica Ross; and model/actress Amiyah Scott.

—Aspirational: Politico reported that at least three Democratic mayors are mulling presidential campaigns—including openly gay South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Buttigieg later announced he's not running for re-election in South Bend, fueling further speculation.

—Faces in the crowd: The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children ( NCMEC ), along with the Cook County Sheriff's Office, released new facial reconstructions for two of John Wayne Gacy's six unknown victims. Gacy raped and murdered young boys and men between 1972 and 1978 in Cook County, Illinois. He was arrested in 1978 and was convicted of killing at least 33 young boys.

—Rachel resigns: Rachel B. Tiven resigned as CEO of Lambda Legal, saying she was leaving to work on the 2018 midterm elections.

—Letter or worse: More than 200 national, state, and local civil rights, religious and child-welfare organizations ( such as AIDS United, the NAACP and Lambda Legal ) joined the American Civil Liberties Union in a letter to members of Congress opposing legislation that would authorize discrimination in the child-welfare system.

—Freedom: The ACLU of Massachusetts has announced that 14 transgender asylum seekers who were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement ( ICE ) at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico were released.

—The old college try: Seth Owen—the openly gay valedictorian of his senior class at First Coast High School in Jacksonville, Florida—will be able to attend his choice of Georgetown University, thanks to a GoFundMe page and the university's choice to reduce his costs to zero. Owen, who was also on his school's swim team, had split with his Southern Baptist parents because of the family church's anti-gay views.

—Holding court: After a hearing that was contentious, to say the least, Trump appointee Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as the newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court. Several pro-LGBTQ groups criticized the confirmation.

—Survey says: In the wake of the Trump administration's decision not to allow Americans to identify as LGBT on the U.S. Census, two Democratic senators—Kamala Harris ( D-California ) and Tom Carper ( D-Delaware )—introduced legislation that would require those questions in major federal surveys.

—It's a first: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf established the nation's first statewide LGBTQ commission. Commissioners will serve two-year terms.

—McCain passes: U.S. Sen. John McCain—who was a naval bomber pilot, prisoner of war in Vietnam and presidential candidate—died Aug. 25 at age 81. McCain did not always back LGBTQ rights ( calling the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" a "sad day" ); however, he became more of an ally as his career progressed, doing things such as backing the confirmation of Eric Fanning, the gay man President Obama nominated to be secretary of the Army.

—Soul sister: Iconic singer Aretha Franklin— the long-reigning "Queen of Soul" who had countless hits ranging from "Respect" to "Freeway of Love" to "I Knew You Were Waiting" ( the latter with the late George Michael )—died Aug. 16 at age 76.

—Bullying: A school district in southern Oklahoma was forced to shut down for two days after parents used a Facebook group to threaten violence against a transgender seventh-grade student.

—Senior moment: California Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 2719, authored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin ( D-Thousand Oaks ) and co-sponsored by Equality California ( EQCA ) and SAGE. This new law adds sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression to the definition of elderly communities to be given priority consideration for programs and services administered through the California Department of Aging.

—Banding together: More than 50 major companies joined forces to stand up against the Trump administration's attack on transgender rights, following a leaked memo showing plans to undo protections by defining gender as an immutable characteristic defined by genitalia at birth. A few of the companies included HSBC, Deutsche Bank, IBM, Nike Inc., Apple, PepsiCo and Airbnb.

—It's criminal: Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was allegedly sexually abused when he was a child, his brother told CBS station WBZ-TV. Jonathan Hernandez also told the station that his father would beat him and his brother and that Aaron Hernandez was gay. The former NFL star, 27, committed suicide in a Massachusetts prison in 2017 while serving a life sentence for the 2013 murder of semi-pro linebacker Odin Lloyd.

—Guide me: Lambda Legal, interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth and Proskauer Rose LLP released the nation's first intersex-affirming hospital policy guide, offering concrete steps for medical providers to provide sensitive, non-discriminatory care to intersex patients, a press release stated. "Intersex" describes up to 1.7 percent of the population born with natural variations in chromosomes, hormones, or genitalia that transcend an outdated understanding of biological sex as a male/female binary.

—For the children: Planned Parenthood Federation of America launched the first set of videos in a new series for parents and caregivers on how to talk about topics related to bodies, sex and relationships in developmentally appropriate ways with preschool, elementary- and middle school-aged children.

—Baby love: Two married women—Ashleigh and Bliss Coulter—became the first couple to carry the same baby. Fertility specialists Dr. Kathy Doody and husband Dr. Kevin Doody at CARE Fertility in Bedford, Texas, tried in vitro fertilization ( IVF ) using effortless IVF, which skips most lab work.

—( Amazon ) prime time: Amazon founder/CEO Jeff Bezos reportedly donated $10,000 to a notorious anti-LGBTI politician. Bezos and wife Mackenzie donated a combined total of $10,800 to Republican Sen. Cory Gardner.

—Celebrate: Michelle Obama shared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show—and in her new memoir, Becoming—that she ( and daughter Malia ) tried to slip past the Secret Service to celebrate marriage equality with advocates.

—Commission by omission: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's speech honoring the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day quickly drew criticism—not for what he said, but for what he didn't say. In remarks at the White House, Pence did not mention the LGBT community—just as President Donald Trump did not mention it in his World AIDS Day proclamation the previous year.

This article shared 8385 times since Tue Jan 1, 2019
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