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National roundup: Lesbian ex-mayor, Spelman College, DJ fatally shot
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-09-13

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Lesbian ex-Houston Mayor Annise Parker responded when conservative political pundit Ann Coulter tweeted, "I don't believe Hurricane Harvey is God's punishment for Houston electing a lesbian mayor. But that is more credible than 'climate change," LGBTQ Nation noted. Parker responded, "Darn it, I thought no one knew I had a super power over weather." Users showed their support of Parker, with one person posting, "After you're done with controlling the weather - wouldn't mind if you used your powers to teach Ann Coulter compassion. Houston loves you!"

The LGBT organization the National Black Justice Coalition ( NBJC ) released a statement in support and admiration of Spelman College's new institutional policy to admit transgender women. In part, the statement read, "By celebrating the diversity of womanhood through policy change, Spelman is leading efforts to provide a holistic education that centers the experiences of all Black women." Bennett College is the only other HBCU ( historically Black college/university ) exclusively for women that has implemented policy to admit transgender women.

San Francisco DJ, artist and activist Bubbles ( real name: Anthony Torres ) was killed this past weekend after being shot outside a Tenderloin strip club, Out.com reported. Bubbles was a community figure who, according to their lawyer, was a transgender activist. Bubbles' attorney, Jim Reilly, called the murder a hate crime. "The details are still coming out. … For a transgender activist to be gunned down on [his] own street shouldn't stand and won't stand," Reilly said to the San Francisco Examiner.

Rutgers University is starting the fall semester by breaking down another societal barrier—employing the first openly gay dean in the more-than-250-year history of the University, The Daily Targum reported. Newly appointed Dean of Rutgers School of Public Health Perry Halkitis said his sexual orientation does not affect his position, but it does offer him a unique opportunity to set an example for other people in marginalized groups. Halkitis is working on writing a new book, Out in Time, which will examine the socioemotional and experiences of gay men coming out across the generations.

A pill that protects against HIV can be safely used by young men who have sex with men, according to a new study, Reuters reported. In a diverse group of teen boys at high risk for HIV infection, pre-exposure prophylaxis ( PrEP ) in the form of a pill that combines the drugs emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate was well-tolerated, researchers found. Some scientists hope the new data will be submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) and will encourage the agency to approve the pill for use by younger people. The pill is currently approved for HIV prevention in adults.

Civil-rights leaders met with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer ( D-New York ) and other members of the Democratic caucus to discuss post-Charlottesville efforts to combat hate and protect civil rights, according to a press release from the organizations. The groups participating in the meeting convened at the request of Schumer, and included The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Anti-Defamation League; Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Human Rights Campaign; MALDEF; Muslim Advocates; NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Among the topics discussed were the rise of domestic hate groups and white nationalist extremism; and the increase in hate incidents and domestic terrorism around the United States fueled by racism and religious intolerance.

Charlottesville, Viginia's LGBTQ Pride party is just a few weeks away—but organizers have hit a bump in the road after a Pennsylvania hat printing company declined to print merchandise with its "political or controversial" message, The Washington Blade reported. In a statement published on Cville Pride's website, the group said its usual work acquiring merchandise to sell at their event—T-shirts and hats—was interrupted when the local company they work with was denied part of their order from Red Star Merchandise's supplier, Hanover, Pennsylvania-based Legacy Athletics. Legacy emailed that the company does not " either support or do not support the organization making the request" but "in light of recent events in Charlottesville as well as the fact Gay Pride events are political activism, we respectfully decline this order."

Sen. Bernie Sanders ( I-Vermont ) brushed off Hillary Clinton's criticism of him in her new book about the 2016 presidential election, saying he's not interested in playing the blame game, The Hill reported. "My response is that right now it's appropriate to look forward and not backward," Sanders said. "I'm working overtime now to see we overturn Trump's decision on DACA, pass a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and next week I'll be offering a Medicare-for-all single-payer system." In her new book, What Happened—due out later this month—Clinton casts blame on Sanders for inflicting "lasting damage" on her campaign during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, which she believes helped Trump win.

In a related matter, Hillary Clinton said her career "as an active politician" is over, according to Deadline. "I am done with being a candidate," the former Democratic presidential nominee told Jane Pauley on CBS Sunday Morning. But I am not done with politics because I literally believe that our country's future is at stake," Clinton added.

Trump administration lawyers joined sides with a Colorado baker and urged the Supreme Court to rule that he has the right to refuse to provide a wedding cake to celebrate the marriage of two men, the Los Angeles Times reported. Acting Solicitor Gen. Jeffrey B. Wall filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that the cake maker's rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion should prevail over a Colorado civil-rights law that forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation. The case began five years ago, when two men who were planning to marry went to Masterpiece Cakeshop in a Denver suburb to ask about a wedding cake for their reception; shop owner Jack Phillips refused to make a cake, citing his religion.

Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin issued a statement in reaction to the proposed amendment by U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand ( D-New York ) and Susan Collins ( R-Maine ) to prevent President Trump from reinstating the military's transgender ban. In part, Belkin's statement read, "Congress would enhance military readiness by preventing President Trump from reinstating the transgender ban. Legislative action now would prevent uncertainty and disruption following from a ban and save money that would be wasted recruiting and training replacements."

GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign called on Stanford University and media outlets to expose what they called "dangerous and flawed research that could cause harm to LGBTQ people around the world," according to a press release. A professor affiliated with Stanford University has published a research study that resulted in several media outlets wrongfully suggesting that artificial intelligence can be used to detect sexual orientation. "Technology cannot identify someone's sexual orientation. What their technology can recognize is a pattern that found a small subset of out white gay and lesbian people on dating sites who look similar. Those two findings should not be conflated," said Jim Halloran, GLAAD's chief digital officer.

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance ( NQAPIA ) delivered 971 postcards from LGBT Asian-Americans, South Asians, Southeast Asians, Pacific Islanders ( APIs ) and allies from across the country, urging President Trump preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ( DACA ) program, a press release noted. The release added, "169,000 APIs are eligible for DACA. There is an estimated 267,000 undocumented immigrants who are LGBT, of which a disproportionate share is API. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, about 16,000 people from South Korea, the Philippines, India and Pakistan have benefitted from DACA."

North Carolina pastor Robert Wright Lee IV—a direct descendant of Confederate general Robert E. Lee—has had to deal with some of his parishioners at Bethany United Church of Christ didn't like him speaking out against racism, LGBTQ Nation reported. "My presence at the church as a descendent of Robert E. Lee and an outspoken opponent of White Supremacy had already attracted attention, but with my appearance on MTV the media's focus on my church reached an all time high," Lee ( who has since resigned ) wrote in a statement published on the Auburn Theological Seminary website. "A faction of church members were concerned about my speech and that I lifted up Black Lives Matter movement, the Women's March, and Heather Heyer as examples of racial justice work."

In Missouri, U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler—who led the fight against allowing transgender individuals in the military that culminated with President Donald Trump's directive banning those individuals from serving openly—could face a transgender woman in the next election, The Columbia Tribune reported. Jenna Marie Bourgeois, of Lebanon, has organized a committee to raise money for the race. She said that sexual orientation and gender identity won't be the main issues of her bid for the Democratic nomination in August 2018, but said only someone who understands gender-identity issues can effectively fight Hartzler.

Atlanta police ordered several LGBT bars and restaurants popular with gay patrons to close early as they were filled with people celebrating Black Gay Pride, ProjectQ.us reported. Blake's, Ten, G's and 10th & Piedmont were shut down about 12:30 a.m.—some two hours ahead of closing time—as Atlanta police showed up in force. That's where hundreds of Black Gay Pride participants were enjoying nightlife options after the day-long Pure Heat Community Festival in Piedmont Park. Some bar patrons and owners said racism factored in the closings; however, Carlos Campos, the public affairs director for Atlanta police, said there was "a communication failure."

In Indianapolis, Butler University football player Xavier Colvin has come out as gay, according to IndyStar.com . Colvin, 20, is a redshirt sophomore who is majoring is marketing. His coming-out was first reported by Outsports, a sports website that focuses on LGBT issues. His father is Rosevelt Colvin, 40, a linebacker who played in the NFL from 1999-2008; the father won two Super Bowl rings as a member of the New England Patriots.

On Tuesday, Nov. 7, the Elton John AIDS Foundation ( EJAF ) will host its annual New York Fall Gala at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, a press release noted. This year's gala commemorates the foundation's 25th year and honors founder Sir Elton John. President Bill Clinton, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Sharon Stone, and others will pay tribute to John's achievements. Aretha Franklin will be the special musical guest, along with performances by violinist Joshua Bell and Broadway's The Lion King, featuring Heather Headley. Neil Patrick Harris will host the event.

GLAAD recently released background information on Mercedes Schlapp, a former Fox News contributor and former President George W. Bush spokesperson who is expected to join President Trump's press office, according to a press release. Among other things, the release read, "Schlapp once pushed false statistics on FOX News about alleged opposition to President Obama's school guidance protecting transgender students, advocated for so-called "religious exemptions" that could harm LGBTQ Americans, and attacked protesters for speaking out against Vice President Mike Pence's anti-LGBTQ record." More about Schlapp is at https://www.glaad.org/trump.

A GoFundMe page created for gay porn actor Tyler Sky says the young performer died in New York on Aug. 27 at age 26, SouthFloridaGayNews.com noted. The news came from gay porn news site Str8UpGayPorn, which shared the GoFundMe Page for Sky, whose real name was Hunter Freeman. Sky allegedly suffered a cardiac arrest and did not recover; the GoFundMePage is asking for donations to help his family pay for a memorial service and cremation.

The so-called "pharma bro," Martin Shkreli, is seeking to procure a lock of Hillary Clinton's hair, stating he would reward the person who could grant his wish "if the sequence matches," Newsweek noted. The controversial former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals—who was found guilty of securities fraud in August—said he would offer money to anyone who can get some of Clinton's hair while she is on her book tour, in what could be viewed as assault if anyone attempts to do so. Shkreli initially hit headlines in 2015, when he famously raised the price of an AIDS drug by 5,500 percent, from $13.50 a tablet to $750.

Here Publishing—which produces LGBT publications such as The Advocate, Out, Pride, Plus and Out Traveler—announced that it has been acquired by L.A.-based investment firm Oreva Capital, according to NewNowNext.com . Led by CEO Adam Levin, the firm also recently purchased High Times magazine, and is now hoping to expand the online business of Here Publishing, which will be rebranded as Pride Media Inc. The CEO said Here Publishing's leaders have taken an equity stake and will remain in their current roles "for the foreseeable future."

Rodrigo Alves, aka the "Human Ken Doll," apparently has a new obsession, according to Queerty: food. "I have been suffering from anxiety lately which lead me to gain nearly over 40 pounds in weight and all my outfits are feeling really tight," he said in a TV interview. He now has to lose weight the old-fashioned way—without surgery—as he said too many invasive lipo procedures makes another one risky. Alves said he's spent close to half a million dollars on nearly 50 plastic surgeries in an attempt to alter his appearance.


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