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National roundup: Stephen Colbert, '30 Days of HIV,' drag-queen death
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-05-30

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Visiting Stephen Colbert's The Late Show, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow was asked if President Donald Trump's overseas trip was an opportunity to calm things down at home, and maybe his being too tired to tweet might be a "positive thing for him," Deadline noted. Maddow dismissed that idea, noting Washington Post reported, as Trump's plane took off, that there is a significant person of interest in the FBI probe who currently is working actively in the White House as a senior advisor.

Speaking of Colbert, the FCC will not take action against him for his controversial comments about President Donald Trump, Time noted. "Consistent with standard operating procedure, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau has reviewed the complaints and the material that was the subject of these complaints," the FCC said in a statement sent to Variety. "The Bureau has concluded that there was nothing actionable under the FCC's rules." In the opening monologue for his May 1 episode of the The Late Show, Colbert said "The only thing [Trump's] mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin's c—k holster." The word was bleeped out and Colbert's mouth was blurred.

The Black AIDS Institute has launched a national, digital community campaign, "30 Days of HIV," that will conclude on National HIV Testing Day ( NHTD ), June 27, according to a press release. The three core elements of the campaign are: an online national community calendar to promote HIV and health-related events serving Black communities; "In the Life," an Instagram storytelling series featuring images of Black GBTQ and same-gender-loving men that are often erased from the media; and daily actions to mobilize Black communities and those who serve them to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. See BlackAIDS.org .

A Florida woman who in March admitted her role in the death of a popular Atlanta drag queen is heading to federal prison, AJC.com reported. Deanna Roberts illegally injected four people with silicone not intended for use on humans and that the Food and Drug Administration had not okayed. One of those people, 45-year-old Lateasha Shuntel ( real name: Lateasha Hall ), died at her Georgia home on Nov. 18, 2015. Roberts, 47, received an 11-year and three-month sentence to be served in federal prison.

Organizers of Pittsburgh Pride have made some people angry by choosing to rename their celebration after a corporate sponsor that has had anti-LGBT political views in the past, SDGLN.com reported. The Delta Foundation has organized Pittsburgh Pride for nearly a decade; this year, the celebration will undergo a name change from Pittsburgh Pride Parade to EQT Equality March. Equitable Gas ( EQT ) has come under fire not only for its past views and actions, but for its fracking practices. Pittsburgh Pride will take place June 11.

Tim Cook and Silicon Valley are once again speaking out against anti-LGBT laws, Advocate.com reported. The out Apple CEO and 13 other tech leaders, including Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and the head of Google, sent a letter to Texas lawmakers warning them against passing a so-called bathroom bill, according to the Dallas News. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick recently called for a special session devoted solely to passing his anti-transgender law; it would ban transgender people from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity, among other forms of discrimination in locker rooms and more.

Equality NC and the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) responded to the NBA's decision to bring back the All-Star Game to Charlotte in 2019, a press release noted. Equality NC Interim Executive Director Matt Hirschy said, "As we move forward with the NBA All-Star Game returning to Charlotte, LGBTQ people must be invited to the discussions between the NBA, the city of Charlotte and NCGA leadership to provide input and feedback on how to best protect LGBTQ people." HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof said, "North Carolina's discriminatory law prohibits the city of Charlotte from implementing non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ residents and visitors attending the All-Star Game. Nothing has changed that fact."

Rowan Feldhaus—an Augusta, Georgia, man who fought to legally change his name to match his gender identity recently—died at age 25 after complications from surgery, AJC.com noted. Feldhaus had a hysterectomy, WRDW-TV reported, and a few days later went into septic shock and lost oxygen to his brain. Feldhaus was initially denied a request for a name change in July 2016, but the Georgia Court of Appeals in January unanimously overruled the state court judge's ruling.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) launched a nationwide "summer of action" that will feature more than 250 grassroots events from coast to coast, a press release noted. The theme of these events is "Unite. Resist. Enlist." HRC staff and thousands of volunteers will be fanning out to lead more than 250 local events in more than 46 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. They aim to register thousands of new voters; host grassroots advocacy trainings; and increase visibility and outreach at LGBTQ Pride parades, equality marches, festivals and other events.

GLAAD responded after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said during a U.S. House Appropriations subcommittee hearing "that states should have the option to decide whether schools that receive federal dollars can intentionally discriminate against LGBTQ students," a press release noted. "By turning a blind eye to LGBTQ students who experience discrimination in school, Secretary DeVos has once again proven why she was the wrong choice to lead our nation's education system," said GLAAD President/CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. "DeVos once claimed she was an LGBTQ ally, but has now supported back to back policies that would erase LGBTQ students from classrooms. If she wants to be known as more than an anti-LGBTQ activist the time is now to reverse course."

Utah lawmakers hope a new, unique law cuts down on increasingly troubling forms of cyberharassment by giving authorities the ability to send online bullies to jail for a year, The Deseret News reported. The advocacy group The Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault said the measure might have helped a gay Utah State University student ( who had not officially come out ) who was afraid to come forward in 2013 to report being sexually assaulted after someone started posting his photo and phone number on Craigslist. Those critical of the Utah law contend it could apply to innocuous, normal online behavior, such as somebody criticizing his neighbor's choice of house paint on Facebook.

A waiter in a New York City's pan-Asian restaurant and club Buddakan claims he was fired for being HIV-positive, Plus noted, citing The New York Post. Jack Mountford, 27, was diagnosed in 2010, and when he started working at the restaurant in 2013 he notified the general manager, who was more than accommodating. But all that changed in 2015 when the restaurant received a scathing review, prompting a shift in management. New manager Brandon Wergeles allegedly said at one point, "Don't you think I should be made aware of a health condition that could be detrimental to your job performance?"

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit granted en banc review in Zarda v. Altitude Express, the case of a New York skydiving instructor who was fired from his job because he was gay, a Lambda Legal press release noted. The order means the full court will hear the employment-discrimination appeal on behalf of Donald Zarda's estate. At stake in the case—in which Lambda Legal has filed a friend-of-the-court brief and later substantially contributed to the Zarda rehearing en banc petition—is if Title VII protects gay and lesbian people because anti-gay discrimination is a form of sex discrimination.

Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey—who resigned in 2004 after admitting to a same-sex affair—talked at the TEDxAsburyPark conference about his sexuality and his own prejudices, APP.com reported. McGreevey, 59, of Jersey City, said he first felt shame over his homosexuality while on an overnight camping trip with the Boy Scouts at the age of 12. As for his resignation, McGreevey said, "I didn't come out willingly, I came out at the end of a lawsuit." At the time, McGreevey had been threatened with sexual-harassment litigation from Golan Cipel, an Israeli national whom McGreevey had briefly appointed as his homeland security adviser.

In Louisiana, a conversation purported to involve a Gonzales Police officer and another man on the gay dating app Grindr is under investigation for racist language, WBRZ.com reported. The officer reportedly discussed his dissatisfaction with an African-American graduating from LSU, writing, "You need to be at southern [sic] with the rest of them." Chief Sherman Jackson told WBRZ Chief Investigator Chris Nakamoto if the allegations are true, they won't be tolerated.

Former professional tennis player Brian Vahaly has come out publicly as gay, UK Attitude noted. The former ATP top 100 player—who reached a career high ranking of No. 64 in 2003 before injuries led to his eventul retirement form the sport in 2007—spoke publicly about his sexuality for the first time in Sports Illustrated's Beyond the Baseline podcast. The 37-year-old revealed that he is now married and is the father to 10-month old twin boys, which he and his husband had through a surrogate. The news makes Vahaly just the second male tennis player, past or present, to come out publicly as gay, joining Paraguay' player Francisco Rodriguez, who came out in retirement in 2008.

The National LGBTQ Task Force announced that Alexa Elizabeth Rodriguez, Ben de Guzman, Eliot Sutler, Rodney McKenzie Jr. and Terrance Laney will be host committee co-chairs for the 2018 Creating Change Conference, a press release noted. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the organizing and skills building conference is the nation's largest gathering of LGBTQA individuals. The conference is set to take place Jan. 24-28, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

New York City's Gay Men's Health Crisis ( GMHC ) has opened the Carl Jacobs Mental Health Clinic, a press release noted. The new mental health clinic will be open to New York adults of all sexual orientations, gender identities and income levels, regardless of whether one is HIV-positive or -negative. It will serve patients covered by Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance, and its services will also be available to the uninsured on a sliding-fee scale.

A prom for LGBTQ students was held for the first time in Logan, Utah, to provide an event for students who might not have felt comfortable attending traditional proms at their high schools, The Salt Lake Tribune noted. Cache Youth Resource Center hosted the LGBTQ prom May 13, and about 70 people attended.

New York City sculptor Alex Gardega—upset over the Fearless Girl statue being placed across from Wall Street's Charging Bull—has decided to retaliate with a work of his own, The New York Post noted. Gardega created a statue of a small dog, titled Pissing Pug, and his pooch takes direct aim at Fearless Girl's left leg. Bull sculptor Di Modica is no fan of Fearless Girl, either, having said that placing the statue of the child opposite his bull unfairly implicates his creation.


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