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WORLD Trans honoree, Sophie dies, famous Africans come out, Leo Varadkar
by Windy City Times staff
2021-01-31

This article shared 815 times since Sun Jan 31, 2021
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In India, the list of Padma awards recipients this year included a transgender individual from Karnataka who has, over the past many decades, practiced and single-handedly popularized rural folk arts, according to NDTV. For Manjamma Jogathi, the Padma Shri came after decades of social and financial struggle. Now in her early 60s, Jogati, began to identify as a woman in her teens. Amid all her hardship—poverty, social exclusion and even rape—Jogati mastered, among other art forms, sonnets in praise of various female deities. The Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian honors of India; they're announced annually on the eve of Republic Day.

Transgender Grammy-nominated Scottish disc jockey, producer and recording artist Sophie has died at age 34 following an accident in Athens, NBC Chicago reported. "Tragically, our beautiful Sophie passed away this morning after a terrible accident," a statement from the UK label Transgressive said. "True to her spirituality, she had climbed up to watch the full moon and accidentally slipped and fell." Sophie, who was born in Glasgow, began releasing music in 2013 and was best known in the early part of her career for being one of the writers of Madonna's 2015 single "Bitch, I'm Madonna."

Social-media model and content creator Bolu Okupe came out to support other LGBTQ people and to thwart homophobic hate-mongering—including the words and actions of his own father, according to Instinct Magazine. Okupe is the son of a former Nigerian presidential advisor named Dr. Doyin Okupe. The younger Okupe released an Instagram photo of himself holding up a Pride flag while wearing Pride colored shorts and no shirt, captioning the post, "Yes I'm Gay AF." However, his father responded, "He knows that as a Christian and a witness for Christ (an evangelist) I am vehemently opposed to homosexuality as it runs contrary to the avowed precepts of my Christian faith. For me, I look beyond the surface or the physical. Here I see a major spiritual challenge ahead but I know as my God liveth, this whole saga will end up in Praise to the Almighty Jehova who I serve day and night."

Controversial Nollywood (Nigeria Hollywood) actor Uche Maduagwu came out as "proudly gay" in a Instagram post, out.com noted. The Lagos State University-educated actor—best known off-screen for trolling fellow artists and other public figures—also had some words for his fellow Nigerians. "Appreciate others and #share only love we need to respect people's choices not to judge them," the actor/influencer shared, adding, "so let's practice [Jesus] kind of love."

Former Ireland Prime Minister Leo Varadkar opened up about his coming out—and his infamous meeting with then-Vice President Mike Pence on his 2019 diplomatic visit to the United States, LGBTQ Nation noted. Varadkar recalled partner Matthew Barrett's excitement to come along as to shove their relationship in the notoriously anti-LGBTQ politician's face, and the "mixed reaction" his visit got in the public eye. "From some of the gay community in America it was, 'Well done for confronting Vice President Pence with the reality of modern relationships.' But then other Americans were very critical of us, saying we should boycott this person," Varadkar said on the Irish docuseries All Walks of Life.

The young man found guilty of bludgeoning a 15-year-old to death by a court in the United Kingdom was sentenced to life in prison, out.com noted. Matthew Mason, 19, was ordered to serve a minimum of 28 years for the brutal slaying of Alex Rodda. According to the Manchester Evening News, the judge delivered a scathing rebuke of Mason, calling him a predator who groomed his underaged victim and then murdered him when the boy threatened to expose their relationship.

On Jan. 26, LGBTQ-rights activists and human-rights defenders in Uganda marked the 10th Annual Kuchu Remembrance Day in memory of David Kato Kisule and others lost due to homophobia and transphobia, according to 76Crimes.com . The day also was an occasion for members of Uganda's LGBTQ+ communities to make a renewed commitment to rely on each other for strength. Kato was brutally murdered on Jan. 26, 2011, at his home near Kampala. Each year since then, members of Uganda's LGBTQ+ communities, known as "kuchus," have remembered lost friends and colleagues on that day.

UK personality Abigail Thorn—the creative force behind Philosophy Tube, a YouTube channel that discusses philosophy through a socio-political framework—has come out as transgender, XtraMagazine.com reported. Philosophy Tube currently has more than 828,000 subscribers on YouTube, 194,600 followers on Twitter and a dedicated subreddit with 10,800 members. Thorn's newfound visibility comes at a precipitous time in the United Kingdom: Anti-trans media is on the rise, including Harry Potter author's J.K. Rowling's ongoing antagonistic relationship with the trans community.

In Taiwan, the Judicial Yuan approved draft revisions to a law that would grant recognition to all international same-sex marriages—except for those involving a partner from China—and said it will send them to the legislature for review, FocusTaiwan.tw reported. The changes would apply to Article 46 of the Act Governing the Choice of Law in Civil Matters Involving Foreign Elements, which states that "the formation of a marriage is governed by the national law of each party." The Judicial Yuan said the changes would not apply to couples involving a partner from China, which is subject to separate laws governing Taiwan-China relations.

Three Singapore campaigners launched an appeal against a court's decision to uphold a law banning sex between men—the latest effort to overturn the colonial-era legislation, france24.com reported. A holdover from British rule of the city-state, the law is rarely enforced; however, activists say it still clashes with the affluent country's increasingly modern and vibrant culture. Others, however, argue that Singapore remains conservative at heart and is not ready for change, while officials also believe most would not be in favour of repealing the legislation.

Also in Singapore, a school allegedly threatened a transgender girl with expulsion unless she cut her hair and wore a boy's uniform, according to out.com . The 18-year-old-student, identified as Ashlee, made the claims in a Reddit post, and she also revealed her school, the Millenia Institute, informed her doctor he needed to consult with the ministry of education and follow said ministry's instructions regarding her treatment—even though she already has the full consent of her parents. While the school later denied the charges, LGBTQ+ groups in Singapore signed a letter supporting Ashlee and provided details of her ordeal.

Two men were publicly caned in Indonesia for violating local religious laws forbidding same-sex sexual relations, out.com reported. The men, aged 27 and 29, received 77 lashes each in front of dozens of onlookers at Banda Aceh's Tamansari Park in the deeply conservative Aceh province. Aceh is the only province in the country where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by religious courts.

The Norwegian Data Protection Authority announced that the gay dating app Grindr would be fined 100 million Norwegian kroenr (approximately $11.6 million) for illegally selling users' personal private information to third-party advertisers, out.com noted. The fine represents an estimated 10 percent of the company's European revenue, and an estimated third of its net profits. The proposed fine is large because of the seriousness of the violations. Sexual orientation is given extra protections under the European Union's 2018 General Data Protection Regulation, and cannot be provided to third parties without the users' consent.

In Canada, right-wing politician Derek Sloan was voted out of his party for a series of actions that officials found contrary to their party's conservative values, LGBTQ Nation reported. That ostensibly includes accepting donations from white supremacists and attempting to protect so-called "conversion therapy." Sloan, an elected Member of Parliament (MP) from Eastern Ontario, was ousted from the Conservative Party of Canada by a majority secret ballot. Global News reported that the decision to oust Sloan was in part due to "pressure" that has come on party leader Erin O'Toole to reject extremism "in the aftermath of riots in the U.S. led by extreme right-wing supporters of now-former U.S. president Donald Trump."

Chilean vlogger/musician Vesta Lugg has come out as bisexual, out.com noted, citing Gay Times. On Instagram, Lugg said, "I think sexuality is fluid. And perhaps more as a child, from the information I had, I assumed that as I was always with men, therefore I was straight." She also acknowledged her privilege to be able to talk openly about the subject, stating she was lucky to be able to "say that I want to love who I want to love and deconstruct what I thought I had to be because of what they told me it meant to be a woman."

A travel company based in South Africa is organizing what it believes will be the continent's first exclusive LGBTQ cruise —but it won't happen until 2022, GayCities.com noted. Organized by AfriGay Travel, the three-night cruise will launch on March 11, 2022. It will set sail from Durban in South Africa and travel to Portuguese Island in neighboring Mozambique. The so-called "The Virgin Voy-Age" will take place aboard the MSC Musica, which has approximately 1,268 passenger cabins and can accommodate 2,550 passengers. The cruise is slated to feature parties, drag shows and local celebrities, including TV presenter Sade Giliberti, singer Martin Bester, DJ Bujy Bikwa, Lebo Molax and performers Boys in Heels.

Virgil Abloh unveiled his sixth menswear collection for Louis Vuitton, The New York Post noted. His fall 2021 outing was a poetic mashup of moments woven throughout a 70-look collection full of messaging. For example, as presented via the short film "Peculiar Contrast, Perfect Light," the futuristic Businessman 2.0 collection featured a pair of 3-D coats—one bearing the Chicago skyline (where Abloh hails from) and the other adorned with Parisian tourist hot spots, including the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame.

A French judge cleared film director Luc Besson of further charges regarding allegations of rape brought by actress Sand Van Roy, Deadline reported. In February 2019, French prosecutors dropped their initial probe of Van Roy's sexual assault claims against the much-accused Besson. Van Roy alleged in 2018 she had been raped multiple times by Besson—director of Valerian, Nikita, Leon and The Fifth Element.

Rita Ora was allegedly so desperate for a 30th birthday party amid London's lockdown in November that she paid 5,000 pounds (or about $6,800 U.S.) to restaurant Casa Cruz for "drinks and nibbles," according to a Page Six item that cited The UK Sun. Casa Cruz's Scottie Bhattarai reportedly told police only seven guests were expected to arrive—but by 9 p.m. local time, almost 20 people showed up, including model Cara Delevingne and her sister, Poppy. His statement also noted that guests, including Ora, supplied their own alcohol and that entourage security wanted no footage of the event, so he shut off the cameras.


This article shared 815 times since Sun Jan 31, 2021
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