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NATIONAL Trans students, HIV+ men released, LGBTQ judge, centers, Joe Biden
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-04-20

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North Carolina's transgender students are worried that their privacy and safety are being put at risk as schools switch to teaching students online during the coronavirus pandemic, The Herald reported. North Carolina's public schools use a version of the PowerSchool student information system that lists the student's legal name and gender instead of the preferred name and gender identity. LGBTQ-rights advocates say the PowerSchool data is now being used for online learning programs, resulting in some transgender students being outed to their classmates without their consent.

Four gay, HIV-positive men were released from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ( ICE ) custody in Arizona and Louisiana, according to a NewNowNext.com item that cites nonprofit organization Immigration Equality. The group released a video on April 10 announcing the news that its clients had been freed from detention: three that week and one the week before. Last month, Immigration Equality filed a federal complaint against ICE for "grossly negligent medical care and grave risk to their lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic." The four men ICE released are among the six the group named as complainants.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Pierce County Superior Court Judge G. Helen Whitener to the state supreme court, Q13Fox.com reported. According to a tweet from Inslee, "Originally from Trinidad, Judge Whitener was the first immigrant-born judge on the Pierce Co. Superior Court and the first black openly LGBTQ judge in WA." Whitener has served on the superior court since being appointed by Inslee in 2015, and previously served as a judge on the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals.

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers is bringing attention to its 250+ community center members, who provide vital information, education, and social and health services to almost 40,000 people each week, or more than 1.9 million people annually, a media release noted. A letter signed by more than 120 LGBTQ+ community centers was sent to House and Senate leaders April 15, asking them to include nonprofits who serve the LGBTQ+ population in future relief packages. Just a few of the signees include Chicago's Center on Halsted, Diversity Richmond, Gay City: Seattle's LGBTQ Center, JASMYN, Hetrick-Martin Institute, William Way Community Center, Pridelines, the Atlanta Pride Committee and the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center.

A virtual LGBTQ fundraiser for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will take place April 23, On Top Magazine noted. The event will feature Broadway diva Kristin Chenoweth, out actor Billy Porter ( FX's Pose ), out singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge, and out tennis legend Billie Jean King. Hosting the fundraiser are John Gile and Jeff Valenson, who were bundlers for Pete Buttigieg's presidential campaign.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin ( D-Wisconsin )—the first out lesbian elected to the U.S. Senate—threw her support behind Joe Biden in a video declaring the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has been a reliable progressive voice, The Washington Blade reported. Recognizing Wisconsin, which Trump narrowly won in 2016, will be a battleground state, Baldwin asked for help in her state to make sure Biden wins in 2020.

Although a majority of U.S. residents continue to believe small-business owners should not be allowed to use their religious beliefs in order to refuse service to gay and lesbian customers, a PRRI survey has found there has been a weakening in such sentiment over the last three years, The Bay Area Reporter rpeorted. The nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization found that 56 percent last year opposed allowing a small business owner in their state to refuse products or services to gay or lesbian people if providing them would violate their religious beliefs—a 5-percent drop from 2016.

Lambda Legal filed a motion with the U.S. District Court to confirm that its March 5, 2018 ruling, which ordered Idaho state officials to allow transgender people born in Idaho to correct the gender markers on their birth certificates to match their gender identity, bars enforcement of the recent bill signed into law by Gov. Brad Little that reinstates a ban against such corrections by transgender people, an organizational press release stated. Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Kara Ingelhart added: "It is incredible that Idaho, in the midst of a health pandemic, would push through this discriminatory law that jeopardizes the health and well-being of transgender people and clearly and explicitly violates a court order. Essential identity documents should accurately reflect who you are. The court recognized that two years ago, and we ask only that it confirm what it already said."

Sierrah Foxx—an Orlando transgender woman/drag queen whose real name was Allysia Williams—was found dead at her home April 2 after complications from cirrhosis of the liver and kidney failure, The Orlando Sentinel noted. Williams, 48, began to decline after a final performance at Parliament House in February and was in the hospital as the coronavirus pandemic reached central Florida; after being quarantined for about two weeks, Williams was released from the hospital after testing negative for COVID-19. In an April 2 post on Instagram to her 1.1 million followers, RuPaul's Drag Race alum Detox said she was Williams' number-one fan and friend.

A Texas gay couple passed within hours of each other after contracting the novel coronavirus COVID-19, as both men died in the hospital a few rooms away from each other, LGBTQ Nation reported. Tony Brooks Tsai, a city councilor in the San Antonio area, and Phillip Tsai Brooks, a hair-salon owner, lived with Phillip's mother; she is also infected and quarantined at home.

Another gay man who likely caught coronavirus at the Winter Party last month has passed away due to complications from the disease, according to LGBTQ Nation. Thom Carr, 67, started to feel sick March 23, about two weeks after the end of the large LGBTQ circuit party in Miami; he was hospitalized and both he and partner J. Michael Heider tested positive for the virus. Almost 40 people who attended the circuit dance party are known to have caught the virus, and dozens more may have been infected but didn't get tested or make the results public.

In California, the Sacramento region's first apartment project aimed at housing low-income members of the LGBTQ community has final funding and is expected to begin construction in October, The Sacramento Bee reported. Lavender Courtyard will include 49 one-bedroom and four two-bedroom apartments; it represents an effort to create safe living for people who are at least 62 years old and who have been under financial stress. Nearly half the units, 24 of the 53, will be reserved for people who will be moving in from living on the streets or living in homeless shelters, regardless of sexual orientation.

Fair and Equal Michigan—a group spearheading a ballot drive to add LGBT anti-discrimination protections to Michigan's civil-rights law—is moving to collect voter signatures online because of the coronavirus pandemic, WNDU.com noted. The group said the electronic petition campaign is believed to be the first in state history, and that the strategy behind it is legal. People who want to sign can go to a website with a two-factor authentication system and enter their driver's license or state ID card number to be cross-checked against the voter file.

A Utah lesbian said she was the victim of a "corrective rape" when a man sexual assaulted her in an anti-gay hate crime, LGBTQ Nation reported. The victim told Salt Lake City police that she was visiting a straight woman friend; when the woman went to bed, her husband, Adam Quinn Atwood, started sitting "closer and closer" to her. She said she wanted to leave, but she said that Atwood convinced her to go to a convenience store with him to buy beer. When they got back to the house, he attacked her. Police told the Salt Lake Tribune there is evidence to corroborate her story.

Abercombie & Fitch has cut ties with a gay plus-size model after racist comments were unearthed on his social media, Metro Weekly noted. The comments by Michael McCauley—who has appeared in adverts for Target and Sling—included calling Black Lives Matter "extremists" and making fun of the Academy Awards' lack of diversity. McCauley was hired to be part of Abercrombie & Fitch's "Face Your Fierce" campaign, which featured prominent LGBTQ figures including U.S. Women's Soccer star Megan Rapinoe, NFL player Ryan Russell and model Laith Ashley. McCauley later apologized via tweet and video.

In Dayton, Ohio, the restaurant MJ's on Jefferson plans to reopen for the first time since closing due to the coronavirus pandemic, serving cocktails, wine, beer and food curbside, Dayton.com noted. "The queens will run food to the parking lot for pick up," co-owner Jerid Martel said. Favorites from the bar's kitchen are slated to be sold from 6-10 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.

The National LGBTQ Task Force announced the appointment of Cathy Renna, a longtime LGBTQ activist and communications consultant, to the position of interim communications director, a press release noted. Renna is a veteran in the communications industry, and the Principal of Target Cue, a premiere LGBTQ focused communications firm. Renna lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with her partner, Karen.

LGBT Detroit announced the launch of LGBT Detroit Mobilization—a new 501( c )( 4 ) nonprofit organization aimed at endorsing candidates that support protections and rights for individuals regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, PrideSource.com reported. LGBT Detroit Mobilization, with support from the For Our Future Action Fund and the Voter Movement Project, plans to organize the political interests of LGBT individuals and allies in Detroit.

On another Detroit-related note, Motor City Pride 2020 ( originally slated for June 6-7 in Hart Plaza ) has been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns, according to PrideSource.com . Planning is continuing, with cautious optimism, for a festival to be held later in the summer. This decision was based on reviewing CDC reports and guidance for public events, along with initial comments from Governor Whitmer on the reopening of the state's economy.

National non-profit organization Affirmation LGBTQ Mormons Family and Friends began its first Hawaii chapter in the Laie community, due to a need voiced by Brigham Young University—Hawaii ( BYUH ) students and faculty, Ke Alaka'i reported. Four self-described "out and proud" BYUH students and one faculty member make up the newly formed presidency of Affirmation Hawaii chapter. Affirmation was formed initially in the late 1970s in Utah, says its website, and there is a chapter in Provo, Utah.

After nearly a month of mandated self-isolation, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an advisory council to help plan the state's economic revival whose members include Disney chief Bob Iger, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Apple CEO Tim Cook, Deadline reported. Former Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer will co-chair the effort with Newsom's chief of staff Ann O'Leary, a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton. Along with Schwarzenegger, the group also includes three other former California governors: Jerry Brown, who served from 1976-83 and again from 2011-19; Gray Davis ( 1999-2003 ) and Pete Wilson ( 1991-99 ).

South Carolina Democrat Jaime Harrison outraised GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham in the first quarter of 2020, CNN.com noted. Harrison's campaign brought in a total of $7.2 million in the first three months of 2020, while Graham brought in nearly $5.6 million. Harrison, a former chairman of the state Democratic Party, won early support from prominent party leaders, including former Vice President Joe Biden.

Former U.S. Tennis Association President Katrina Adams posted on social media that she had tested positive for coronavirus and is now doing her part to donate her plasma to save others, Tennis.com noted. "I was lucky. I was infected early in March, before the NY numbers skyrocketed and panic arose," she wrote. "I had minor symptoms, body aches and an undetected fever that broke during the night. I tested positive and didn't really suffer." Adams has been supportive of the decisions to suspend and cancel tour play until July 13, and possibly later.

Blake's Hard Cider, the Midwest's largest craft cidery, is offering craft cider fans the convenience of purchasing ciders online and shipped directly to their home anywhere nationwide, Baker City Herald noted. The new online shipping coincides with BHC's Rainbow Seeker ( a pineapple semi-sweet cider ), which is being released for the third time this April. Blake's has partnered again with the nonprofit the LGBT National Hotline; funds raised from Rainbow Seeker merchandise sales will support its mission. See BlakesHardCider.com/delivery .


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