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NATIONAL Lesbian bishop, iconic activist dies, military lawsuit, drag legend passes
2020-03-31

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Rev. Bonnie Perry was recently ordained as the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan—beconing the first woman and openly gay person to hold the position, ClickOnDetroit.com noted. "Jesus said almost nothing about homosexuality," Perry said. "And don't ever let anyone mistakenly say you can't do this because of who you are. It means the world to me. And what I'm going to do is honor that responsibility and be the best bishop that I can possibly be," Perry said. She spent the last 27 years leading Chicago's All Saints Congregation.

The Reverend Joseph Lowery, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, died March 27 at age 98, NPR noted. Known affectionately as the "Dean" of the civil rights movement, Lowery was a part of pivotal moments in the nation's history—from early civil rights struggles to the inauguration of the country's first Black president. Vanita Gupta—president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights—said in a statement, "He was an unapologetic advocate who did not stand on ceremony and never allowed the presence of the powerful stop him from dispensing bitter truths. Even as our own movement shied away from full-throated advocacy for LGBTQ rights, Rev. Lowery was out front pushing for everyone's rights and humanity."

In South Carolina, the Greenville County Council, in a seven-to-five decision, voted to approve a measure that effectively put aside a previous council's stance taken against gay people during a politically charged climate surrounding the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Greenville News reported. It was a compromise that more turned away from history than affirmatively establish any new county position on the subject—putting to sleep any non-binding resolutions after four years, which includes the 1996 statement.

Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, refused the Trump administration's request to remove the Modern Military Association of America ( MMMA ) from a lawsuit challenging discrimination against HIV-positive service members—meaning a greater number of troops will be protected from discharge now and that all service members with HIV will be protected if the suit succeeds, Advocate.com noted. The MMMA is a plaintiff in what originated as two suits, one challenging the discharge of Air Force members and the other of people serving in the Army.

Drag legend Nashom Wooden died of COVID-19 in NYC, Paper Magazine noted. Wooden was born in Brooklyn and started doing drag in 1989. His alter ego, Mona Foot, became a superstar, known for squeezing his muscle-bound physique into sexy dresses and lip synching to songs like "I'm Every Woman." Mona's signature Wonder Woman number always brought the house down at Wigstock, the long-running seminal yearly drag festival hosted by Lady Bunny.

Kious Kelly—a 48-year-old gay man who was nurse manager at Mount Sinai West in Manhattan—became the first nurse known to die during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic that is ravaging New York City, LGBTQ Nation reported. Kelly's colleagues and family are condemning the hospital, alleging that he lacked proper protective equipment ( PPE ) despite working directly with nurses and patients exposed to the virus. Photos posted on social media showed nurses wearing black plastic trash bags to try to protect themselves. Kelly's family and friends have set up a fundraiser ( at www.gofundme.com/f/covid19-nurse-hero-kious-kelly ) to pay for funeral expenses and to transport his body back to Michigan after the pandemic ends.

NHL team The Pittsburgh Penguins had to cancel their Pride Night game on March 24 because of COVID-19—but that didn't stop the team from celebrating LGBTQ people, DKPittsburghSports.com noted. The Penguins announced their plans for a Pride Night in November with the intentions of "focusing on the LGBTQ community as the Penguins and other NHL teams promote safety and inclusion for all who participate in the sport—athletes, coaches and fans," and with player sporting rainbow-colored sticks. However, what the team did was light the PPG Paints Arena signage in rainbow colors to celebrate. Pride Night was part of the Penguins' "Hockey is for Everyone" initiative this season.

The Fenway Institute of Fenway Health released a policy brief outlining the ways in which people living with HIV and LGBTQIA+ individuals are likely to be affected by COVID-19 and the factors that may put them at elevated risk for infection, a press release noted. According to Fenway Health, people with chronic health conditions, including HIV/AIDS, may be at elevated risk of serious complications from COVID-19. The brief is at https://fenwayhealth.org/fenway-health-policy-brief-outlines-impact-of-covid-19-on-people-living-with-hiv-and-lgbtqia-people.

The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund has prepared a free online guide, available in both English and Spanish, for transgender and non-binary individuals attempting to navigate life during the coronavirus pandemic. "A Know Your Rights Guide for Transgender People Navigating COVID-19," which contains information that was accurate as of March 22, explores both trans-specific and equity concerns. See transgenderlegal.org/media/uploads/doc_800.pdf and transgenderlegal.org/media/uploads/doc_801.pdf ( Spanish ).

A historic meeting of the global United Methodist Church—one in which its future position on LGBT clergy and marriage was expected to be determined—has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, The StarTribune reported. The Minneapolis Convention Center was going to be the epicenter of the debate, with up to 7,000 visitors from across the world expected to arrive starting in late April for the 2020 United Methodist General Conference.

Pride At Work released general information about the virus and information about what unions are doing in response to COVID-19 as well as LGBTQ-specific resources and actions people can take to ensure all working individuals get the help they need in this crisis. The organization's update is at https://www.prideatwork.org/update-on-covid-19-pride-at-work.

Kaiser Permanente pledged $1 million toward efforts to prevent and treat COVID-19 cases among the nation's homeless population, Modern Healthcare reported. The Oakland, California-based health system on Monday partnered with the advocacy group National Health Care for the Homeless Council to fund at least four housing activist groups in California, Seattle and Portland. "We must do our part to care for our members as well as our most vulnerable populations," said Dr. Bechara Choucair, chief health officer with Kaiser Permanente ( and former Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner ), in a statement.

Michigan State Rep. Isaac Robinson died at the age of 44, WZZM13.com reported. Robinson was a Democrat representative who served Michigan's 4th House District, which includes Hamtramck and a central portion of Detroit. A report from Crain's Detroit said Robinson died from a suspected COVID-19 infection; his mother, former Rep. Mary Rose Robinson, told WXYZ that he went to the hospital Sunday morning because he was having trouble breathing.

The board of directors of the Capital Pride Alliance ( CPA ) voted to postpone the annual June events, including the Pride Parade and Festival, in addition to the previously announced postponements of Capital Trans Pride and API Pride, a press release noted. Also, events produced by partnering Pride organizations, Youth Pride, Silver Pride, DC Latinx Pride and DC Black Pride will be similarly postponed or cancelled. New dates for these events, if applicable, will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Trump administration's Bible study teacher claimed coronavirus may be God's punishment for LGBTQ people, LGBTQ Nation noted. In a study guide posted to his blog, Ralph Drollinger lays out the case that the U.S. is being punished by God for homosexuality, environmentalism—and other things conservatives generally don't like.

SAGE—the world's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older people—announced that the Older Americans Act reauthorization was signed into law, with provisions that will help ensure that LGBT elders get the services and support they need to remain independent, Yahoo! Finance noted. The reauthorization will require that state and local departments of aging ( state units on aging and area agencies on aging ) be held accountable for undertaking outreach to LGBT older people who need services in their communities. It will also hold them responsible for engaging in both data collection and reporting—on the needs of LGBT older people and whether they are meeting those needs.

A Tennessee lesbian couple is suing Knox County and a physical education teacher, alleging he used sports to promote his anti-gay religious beliefs, NewNowNext.com noted. The unnamed married couple have a son who attends West Valley Middle School in Knoxville, where Chuck Comer is a P.E. and wellness instructor, local NBC affiliate WBIR reports. Comer allegedly forced the young boy to attend regular anti-gay sermons before he could participate in a basketball program.

Embattled former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum is dealing with a new scandal, as nude photos of him at a crime scene leaked online, Queerty noted. The photos—leaked on both Instagram and in the British newspaper The Daily Mail—show a Miami Beach hotel room stocked with bags of white powder ( reportedly cocaine or crystal meth ) and prescription pills. A person acquainted with Gillum who was allegedly a male prostitute overdosed at the scene March 13, resulting in authorities being called. Following the incident, Gillum checked into rehab for alcohol and depression but denied using any crystal meth.

Beginning March 31, PFLAG invited allies, family, and friends of transgender kids to join an uplifting social media campaign called #TransKids #SoFierce ( pflag.org/transkidssofierce/ ). #TransKids #SoFierce is a grassroots social-media campaign that encourages families and allies to build up trans kids by sharing positive support while holding lawmakers accountable for anti-trans bills. To participate, people can share a fun story, choreograph a dance, and share a photo montage or favorite #fierce playlists that show why you think #TransKids #SoFierce. Encourage others to join you, too! The campaign is on Instagram, Snapchat, Amino, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok.

NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists announced that applications are now being accepted for several scholarships and student opportunities, a media release noted. The deadline to apply for the Kay Longcope Scholarship, Leroy F. Aarons Scholarship, Facebook Journalism Project Scholarships, and Steve Mason Sports Media Scholarship, as well as the CONNECT: Student Journalism Training Project, is May 29. Contact awards@nlgja.org with any questions, and see NLGJA.org .

Student activists pushing for the University of Texas at Austin to fire professors found to have committed sexual misconduct and publicly disclose their disciplinary records celebrated a victory when university President Greg Fenves agreed to make termination a default punishment for such behavior, Inside Higher Ed reported. There will be some exceptions to the policy; for example, a faculty or staff member who engaged in sexual misconduct would be allowed to remain employed if the victim of their actions expressed that they do not want to "ruin this person's life."

Nikki Haley—formerly the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and governor of South Carolina—resigned from Boeing's board of directors because she opposes the aircraft giant's request for a $60-billion government bailout, USA Today noted. "Ambassador Haley informed the Company that, as a matter of philosophical principle, she does not believe that the Company should seek support from the Federal Government, and therefore decided to resign from the board," Boeing said in the filing.


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