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  WINDY CITY TIMES

NATIONAL Kansas guv, PFLAG leadership, activist dies, gay chorus
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-01-23

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GLAAD hailed Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly for issuing an executive order that adds "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" as a protected class under state law, reinstating an executive order once issued by former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in 2007, a press release noted. "Today shows all of us once again that elections matter," said GLAAD President/CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. "The decade-long reversal of rights for LGBTQ people in Kansas has ended, and LGBTQ state employees can rest assured once again that they will be treated fairly and equally under the law."

PFLAG National—the nation's first and largest organization for LGBTQ+ people, their families and allies—announced that Brian Bond will join the organization as its new executive director, effective Feb. 1, according to a press release. Bond, a Missouri native with a degree in public administration from Missouri State University, is a former Obama administration official. Several pro-LGBT groups and individuals praised the hiring of Bond; for example, National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling said, "Throughout his career, Brian has served as an invaluable partner in the fight for transgender equality, as well as a dear friend for nearly two decades. Brian has the vision and devotion to lead PFLAG and the millions of families it serves."

Diane Olson—one of the first lesbian plaintiffs, along with partner Robin Tyler, to file what became the successful lawsuit that helped bring marriage equality to California—has died at 65, The Los Angeles Blade reported. Their lives were not all politics, however; Olson joined Tyler's early 5-Star International Tour Company for lesbians and for 20 years they travelled around the world. Olson came to the fore during the battle for marriage equality, reminding the media that she was the granddaughter of Gov. Culbert Levy Olson, the first elected Democratic governor of California, who ran on a platform promoting "separation of church and state."

The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus announced plans to open a national center devoted to LGBTQ arts and culture, KQED.org reported. The 42-year-old nonprofit purchased the $9.6 million, four-story building at 170 Valencia St. from the Baha'i Faith with the help of a $5-million donation from one of its own members, Terrence Chan. Plans for the new 23,000-square-foot hub include recording, rehearsal, performance, meeting and other facilities for local, regional and national LGBTQ groups.

NYC Pride—the official host of WorldPride 2019 and Stonewall 50—has announced details about NYC Pride's WorldPride Closing Ceremony, which will take place Sunday, June 30 in NYC's Times Square, a press release noted. One of the artists slated to perform is Grammy-Award winning singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge. "Over 4 million people will descend upon New York City for the largest LGBTQIA+ gathering in our history," said Chris Frederick, NYC Pride's managing director. The official lineup for the ceremony will be announced in February.

New Orleans school board member Leslie Ellison withdrew from consideration for the board presidency amid a flurry of criticism over her record of resistance to protections for LGBT students—but that didn't stop a torrent of vehement criticism that nearly led to her losing her current post as the board's vice president, ABC News reported. Ellison remained the board's vice president—elected in an unexpectedly narrow four-to-three vote after close to two dozen speakers, including gay and transgender students and adults, voiced their displeasure.

INTO—the online LGBTQ magazine owned and operated by gay dating app Grindr—terminated its editorial staff, effectively ending the digital outlet's 17-month run, NBC News noted. "The company will be refocusing its efforts on video and as such, the editorial and social teams were let go this morning," a joint statement from several INTO employees said. "We feel that INTO's closure is a tremendous loss for LGBTQ media, journalism, and the world." Grindr's dismissal of INTO's editorial staff happened just six weeks after the site published a story about Grindr President Scott Chen's controversial comments about same-sex marriage.

Second Lady Karen Pence has recently started a new job at Immanuel Christian School—a northern Virginia private school that requires faculty to pledge not to engage in "homosexual" activity and refuses entry to students who even condone same-sex relations, The Daily Beast noted. For her new job teaching art twice a week, Pence would have also been required to pledge not to violate the "unique roles of male and female," according to the school's employment application. GLAAD condemned Pence in a statement, with President/CEO Sarah Kate Ellis saying, in part, "Often the arts are a safe haven for these students, and let's be honest—we wouldn't have some of the world's most profound and impactful art if it weren't for LGBTQ people. As an art teacher, I suspect she is aware of that." The Trevor Project has sent 100 copies of John Oliver's pro-gay bunny book, A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, to the school, NewNowNext.com noted.

Democratic presidential hopeful Rep. Tulsi Gabbard issued a video apology to the LGBTQ community after a CNN report revealing that in the early 2000s she had touted working for her father's anti-gay organization, CNN.com reported. "In my past, I said and believed things that were wrong, and worse, they were very hurtful to people in the LGBTQ community and to their loved ones," said Gabbard. In 2002, she told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, "Working with my father, Mike Gabbard, and others to pass a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage, I learned that real leaders are willing to make personal sacrifices for the common good."

Equality Virginia and the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ), in a joint press release, commended the Virginia state Senate for passing legislation that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, while calling on the House of Delegates to prioritize these bills this session. The two bills that passed the Senate, SB 1009 and SB 998, would add these protections for LGBTQ Virginians in housing and public employment, respectively. "For the fourth year in a row, the Virginia Senate has passed these crucial protections for LGBTQ Virginians with bipartisan support," said Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish. "LGBTQ people should be able to work and live free from discrimination."

In the aftermath of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema ( D-Ariz. ) being sworn in as the first openly bisexual U.S. senator, a member of the Republican National Committee ( RNC ) took to Facebook to express consternation over the "dumb ass people" in his own state who elected her, The Washington Blade noted. Bruce Ash—who has represented Arizona on the RNC since 2007 and is one of the RNC's most senior members—made the comments in a public post on Facebook in response to Vice President Mike Pence swearing in the new senator, criticizing Sinema for her appearance during the event. Elliot Imse, a spokesperson for the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, said Ash's Facebook comments are similar to words used by President Trump and said the Republican Party should consider removing Ash from his position.

Tyrone Carr was named interim director of Ohio University's LGBT Center, according to ThePostAthens.com . Carr has worked at the university since 1991 and has advanced the university's diversity and inclusion efforts throughout his past 28 years.

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has named the recipients of its fall 2018 grants, Art News noted. In this round of awards, $3.65 million were given to 42 nonprofit arts organizations for exhibitions, publications and visual-arts programming. A few of the recipients include New York's Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, Cincinnati's Contemporary Arts Center, Philadelphia's Ars Nova Workshop, Los Angeles' The Mistake Room and New York's African Film Festival.

A petition drive to win support to paint the Walt Whitman Bridge the colors of the pride flag has been launched on social media, NJ.com noted. The petition was posted on Change.org with a goal of tallying 1,000 signatures. The two-mile bridge connects Gloucester City, just south of Camden, New Jersey, with Philadelphia, and was opened in 1957. The 200th anniversary of poet Walt Whitman's birthday is May 31 of this year.

In a new Vice Sports documentary, NBA player Reggie Bullock discusses losing his transgender sister to violence, Broadly.vice.com noted. His older sister, Mia Henderson, a transgender woman, was stabbed to death in Baltimore in July 2014. In 2015, a man named Shawn Oliver was charged in Henderson's murder, but was later acquitted on all counts. Today, Bullock is an ally to LGBT people, and has appeared at events like NYC Pride, the GLAAD Media Awards and the NBA Voices event for LGBT Youth and Allies.

Christian conservatives ( including the group One Million Moms ) are outraged at that the cover of Parents magazine this month will feature a gay couple and their children, LGBTQ Nation noted. Fitness expert Shaun T. Fitness, his husband Scott Blokker and their twins are on the cover of Parents magazine; the publication is also running a feature piece about their many attempts to have kids through surrogates. They are the first same-sex parents featured on the cover of a magazine that has been around for almost a century.

Rep. Bruce Borders ( R )—an Indiana state lawmaker known for his Elvis Presley impersonation—has introduced a bill targeting transgender students for discrimination, ThinkProgress.org noted. House Bill 1525 mirrors "bathroom bills" that have been proposed in various states in recent years. If passed, it would dictate that students in Indiana's public and charter schools could only use restrooms that match their "biological sex," and would bar transgender students from participating in any athletic programs in accordance with their gender identity.

In a Twitter thread that started with a nasty back-and-forth between Fox News' Tomi Lahren and adult-film actress Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti about Trump serving fast food to athletes at the White House, Daniels confirmed that she is bisexual while also shutting down a slut-shamer, Advocate.com noted. At one point, as a Twitter user posted, "Hard to believe any women would want to lick your privates. Disgusting," Daniels responded, "And yet...here I am getting more pu—y than I know what to do with. #winning."

More than 120,000 visitors are expected at the 42nd annual Pride Fort Lauderdale festival, taking place Feb. 21-24 in Greater Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a press release noted. The carnival-themed festival will include the first parade ever held along iconic Fort Lauderdale Beach on Saturday, Feb. 23. One of the grand marshals will be Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, a transgender activist who was in the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village during the historic 1969 police raid that sparked the modern LGBT+-rights movement.

Chef/restaurateur Jose Andres announced that his nonprofit initiative, #ChefsForFeds, will soon expand from the emergency kitchen that began feeding furloughed federal employees in downtown D.C. to a nationwide initiative meant to support more of the 800,000 people going without a paycheck during the partial government shutdown, Eater DC noted. According to a Washington Post analysis, nearly a quarter of affected workers are based in D.C., Maryland, or Virginia. There are affected federal employees in all 50 states, with large swaths in Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, South Dakota, West Virginia and Idaho.


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