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National roundup: Apple, Native Son Awards, Pulse Nightclub
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2016-12-06

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Reuters noted that Apple Inc is expanding its support for the fight against AIDS through the ( RED ) charity founded by rock singer Bono, CEO Tim Cook said in an interview ahead of World AIDS Day. The company expanded its line of ( RED ) products and donate $1 for each transaction made using mobile payment Apple Pay in its physical and online stores, up to a total of $1 million. Bank of America will contribute up to that sum for Apple Pay transactions using its cards. "There's still way too many people dying of AIDS, still too many kids being born with HIV, and so we are continuing to press really hard," Cook said in the interview.

On Nov. 30, journalist and LGBT-rights activist Emil Wilbekin hosted the inaugural Native Son Awards honoring Tony Award-winning director and playwright, George C. Wolfe; journalist and CNN Tonight Host, Don Lemon; and Black Lives Matter Activist DeRay McKesson at The Cadillac House in New York City, a press release stated. The event—sponsored by Cadillac, Belvedere Red and HBO—was created by Wilbekin to honor the exemplary work of individuals changing the lives and landscape of the Black gay male experience. "Tonight, we are here to celebrate us," said Wilbekin. "You all are the brain trust that will fuel what Native Son can be as we move forward. We have to be comfortable with who we are.

The owner of the Orlando, Florida, nightclub where 49 people were killed in a mass shooting June 12 has decided not to sell the nightclub to the city, which had planned to convert the building into a memorial to the victims, ABC News reported. Pulse owner Barbara Poma in a statement said she "can't just walk away" from the nightclub. The city announced in November that it had a deal in place to buy the property for $2.25 million and turn it into a memorial.

Republican North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has conceded in his race for the governor's office. On Dec. 5, McCrory released a video congratulating Roy Cooper in his win. Democratic Attorney General Cooper lead incumbent McCrory by about 10,250 votes from 4.7 million cast. McCrory, who became the first sitting North Carolina governor to lose a re-election bid, signed several controversial measures, including House Bill 2 ( the so-called "restroom law" ). The statute limited LGBT rights and directed transgender people to use restrooms in schools and government buildings corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificates. The controversy led to companies, sports organizations and entertainers pulling their business from the state.

A shooting at a gay club in Upstate New York shook the LGBT community on Thanksgiving, according to NewYorkUpstate.com . CBS 6 reported a man was shot dead in the Rocks nightclub in Albany, New York. Another man and two women were also hurt when gunshots rang out around 2 a.m. with more than 200 people inside. Albany Police say they are investigating the "isolated incident" as a homicide, not a hate crime. This tragedy follows the Nov. 12 Crossgates Mall shooting, also in Albany, The Chronicle noted.

Lambda Legal plans to seek to join a federal-discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ( EEOC ) against a Texas nursing facility that fired an employee after he disclosed he was living with HIV, a press release stated. Lambda Legal represented the employee, Michael Janssen, a certified nursing assistant, in his original complaint filed with the EEOC against Granite Mesa Health Center in Marble Falls, Texas. The EEOC issued a probable cause determination in August, 2015.

CenterLink and The Johnson Family Foundation have announced that several LGBT community centers have each been awarded a $25,000 grant dedicated to increasing the variety and quality of mental health services they provide, according to a press release. They are the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community ( Washington, D.C. ), In Our Own Voices ( Albany, New York ), The Persad Center ( Pittsburgh ), SMYAL ( Washington, D.C. ), SunServe ( Wilton Manors, Florida ) and Time Out Youth ( Charlotte, North Carolina ).

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) released a statement on the revelation that Senator Jeff Sessions—President-elect Donald Trump's choice for U.S. attorney general—led a campaign to block an LGBTQ student group from holding a conference at a public university while he was Alabama attorney general. In part, HRC President Chad Griffin said, "As a senator, Sessions earned a perfect 0 on our Congressional Scorecard, and he voted against hate crimes protections, against open military service and against marriage rights. Now we learn he's attacked the rights of LGBTQ students. Nobody with such a clear record against equal rights for so many Americans should be entrusted with running the very system of justice designed to protect us all." HRC and nearly 150 civil- and human-rights organizations sent a letter to U.S. senators opposing the nomination of Sessions as U.S. attorney general, and detailing his record.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs ( NCAVP ) reported on the intimate-partner violence homicide of Dalia Elhefny Sabae, age 28, in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, which occurred Nov. 10. According to media reports, Sabae, a bisexual woman, was allegedly killed by her husband, Michael Cwiklinski, against whom she had sought orders of protection in the past. During the homicide, a responding police officer was also killed, and Cwiklinski committed suicide. Sabae was six months pregnant at the time she was killed.

In yet another sign of the heightened emotions stirred up by the most recent presidential campaign, a gay couple in St. Petersburg, Florida, says they received a harassing, unsigned note from an anonymous person who does not like their politics or their sexuality, Metro Weekly noted. John Gascot and his boyfriend, Ron Diana, received a note addressed to "Resident Dolts" and read: "Hey Dumbass—the election is over," before going on to disparage the couple's political beliefs. The couple believes the note was prompted by their decision to leave a "Clinton-Kaine" campaign sign on their front lawn.

Some Washington, D.C., residents who disagree with Vice President-Elect Mike Pence's positions on gay rights are making their values known to their new neighbor, CNN reported. Until he moves into the Naval Observatory after taking office, the vice president-elect is renting a $6,000-a-month home in Chevy Chase, Maryland. So some neighbors have put up rainbow flags since the Indiana governor moved in, to protest what they call his anti-gay policy positions.

A Kansas county judge has ruled a man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple is not the resulting child's father and does not have to pay child support, The Daily Caller noted. The Topeka man donated his sperm to Jennifer Schreiner and Angela Bauer in response to a Craigslist ad, for the price of $50 per semen donation. Schreiner had his baby girl in December 2009, but later split with her partner. Now she's trying to force the William Marotta to supplement the assistance she's getting from the state to raise the girl.

The Centers for Disease Control ( CDC ) released a new "Vital Signs" on HIV and injection drug use, a press release stated. The report includes A Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report ( MMWR ), "Trends in HIV Diagnoses, Risk Behaviors, and Prevention Among Persons Who Inject Drugs: United States," and a fact sheet, "HIV and Injection Drug Use: Syringe Services Programs for HIV Prevention." Data from 22 cities show that many PWID ( people who inject drugs ) share injection equipment, putting them at high risk for HIV and hepatitis B and C infection.

Three couples have asked an appeals court to revive their challenge to a North Carolina law allowing magistrates with religious objections to refuse to perform same-sex marriages, The News & Observer reported. The appeal filed with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond says a federal district court erred by dismissing their challenge in September. The lower court ruled at the time that the two gay couples and an interracial couple lacked standing to sue over the law that took effect in 2015.

In Pennsylvania, Shanique Sanders, a 23-year-old Black lesbian from Homestead, was found lying in the street in Pittsburgh, according to Autostraddle. She had at least one gunshot wound and was taken to UPMC Mercy, where she was pronounced dead. Police say they're looking for as many as five suspects who were seen fleeing the scene. PghLesbian reported that, in 2013, several studs were targets of assaults by men at a local bar.

An Indiana University nursing researcher has been awarded $1.1 million to study the ethical complexities of involving adolescents ages 14-17 at high risk for HIV in biomedical prevention trials, a press release noted. Amelia "Amy" Knopf, an assistant professor of nursing, received the award, which is supported by the national Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions. Knopf said the multisite study will explore key issues concerning the requirement that these teens obtain parental permission to participate in HIV prevention trials.

Pittsburgh may ban so-called conversion therapy, a discredited practice that aims to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person, TheIncline.com reported. Council President Bruce Kraus and Councilmember Dan Gilman introduced the legislation, which would apply only to people under the age of 18. After the presidential election, the issue has again "come into the forefront," Gilman said.

A western Pennsylvania school district has asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by three transgender students who are challenging what they see as a discriminatory bathroom policy, PennLive.com noted. On Dec. 1, a hearing took place concerning Lambda Legal's motion for preliminary injunction, which seeks to halt enforcement of the restroom policy while the lawsuit proceeds and to allow these students to use the restroom at school, according to a Lambda Legal press release. The district court was also slated to hear arguments on the school district's motion to dismiss the case.

After a weekend-long drug binge, 39-year-old playboy/Fiat heir Lapo Elkann was taken into custody for faking his own kidnapping, NewNowNext noted. He was allegedly holed up with a male escort in New York public housing, binging on alcohol and cocaine. When the money ran out, he reportedly called relatives and told them a woman was holding him hostage. The youngest grandson of Fiat CEO Gianni Agnelli, Elkann is known for his flamboyant fashion sense and issues with drug abuse.

Reports of an extensive network of underground escape tunnels beneath former gay bars threaten to delay a major development project in San Francisco. However, tales about the tunnel system appear to be unfounded, CBS SF Bay Area reported. A property that sits in the heart of San Francisco on a major thoroughfare called Market Street is slated to be demolished—but local activists have asked the planning commission to stall the project, claiming they found evidence of historical significance to the LGBT community.

A Detroit mother is charged with child abuse accused of attacking her 15-year-old daughter, Fox2Detroit.com noted. Investigators say the girl was beaten because of her sexual orientation. The mother, Iyesha Porter, is accused of finding her daughter's sexual orientation intolerable and then beating her because of it. Porter, 34, has been charged with child abuse as well as assault and battery.

Philadelphia's Mazzoni Center received the largest one-time award in its history: $1.5 million for the purchase and renovation of a building where the organization will relocate and consolidate its offices, programs and services, BizJournals.com reported. The center—a healthcare provider specifically for the LGBT community—received the funds through the state's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, or RCAP. The new space will double the Mazzoni Center's capacity for medical visits and nearly double its counseling and behavioral health spaces, according to the center.

Also in Philadelphia, homeless youth will receive extra services thanks to a new city grant, The Philadelphia Gay News reported. The $700,000 in funding will allow the Office of Homeless Services to address the needs of those age 18-24, adding more beds, counseling services and employment for affected young people. The Attic Youth Center, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for LGBT youth and young adults, was one of five agencies—along with Covenant House PA, Pathways PA, Valley Youth House and Youth Service, Inc.—involved in the Coalition to End Youth Homelessness. The Office of Homeless Services formed the collaborative effort earlier this year.

A Georgia teen who was ostracized and physically attacked by family members after coming out as gay is now at the center of a Sundance Film Festival project for 2017, 11Alive.com reported. The project, titled Out of Exile: Daniel's Story, uses video and audio secretly recorded when Daniel Pierce was confronted by his family for being gay in 2014. A Georgia teen who was ostracized and physically attacked by family members after coming out as gay is now at the center of a Sundance Film Festival project for 2017. He said his father, grandparents, stepmother and her sister gathered at their home for what he describes as a "pray the gay away" intervention.

Paul Marcarelli, the spokesperson for Sprint and ex-spokesperson for Verizon ( "Can you hear me now?" ), just starred in a holiday ad alongside his husband, Ryan, South Florida Gay News reported. "I am super proud to share this spot I shot with my husband Ryan for Sprint's holiday promotion," Marcarelli wrote in an email. "This is the first time I am aware that the face of a major American brand has appeared in a national commercial with his husband." The "Tree Time" ad is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SG4xX8vR-Rk.

Before the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State football game on Dec. 3, some Oklahoma State fans used homophobia to demean two Sooners players, Outsports noted. This lovely banner was, according to OU Daily and Barstool Sports, hanging in the Oklahoma State student union, and it called Oklahoma Sooners runningback DeDe Westbrook and quarterback Baker Mayfield gay. The banner read, "DeDe Westbrook & Baker Mayfield BANG DUDES #OUHATEWEEK." Oklahoma defeated Oklahoma State 38-20 on Dec. 3 for the Big 12 championship.

The Association of LGBTQ Journalists announced that NLGJA President Jen Christensen is the recipient of the 2016 CNN Diversity Ovation Award, a press release noted. Christensen is a producer and video editor for CNN's health, medical and wellness unit, and is also a writer and producer for CNN.com . She has been a member of NLGJA since 1996 and has served as president since 2013.

A Denver gay bar is facing criticism for its controversial display of a bloodied Mexican immigrant scaling a wall emblazoned with the American flag, NewNowNext reported. Bar owners Steven Alix and Jorge Pesqueira responded to the criticism by saying the display went up without their permission while they were out of town. They added that they are currently investigating the matter and that they don't agree with the sentiment behind the display.

Digital-streaming service REVRY has announced a partnership with Queerty, the popular LGBT digital news and content site, a press release stated. Coinciding with the launch of Queerty's own browser-based video content service dubbed QueertyTV, REVRY's QueertyTV Channel will provide a broader platform for more people to access information about the topics and issues of interest to LGBTQ communities around the globe.

Speaking of gay bars, Portland's Styxx will be permanently closed as of New Year's Day—after 35 years of business, The Portland Press Herald noted. Bigger than a bar, with room for 300, Styxx is Portland's largest gay nightclub. Beginning as The Underground in 1981, the club became known for its dance deejays, massive dance floor, drag queens and campy stage shows.


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