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National roundup: Trevor Project, HRC situation, Rentboy CEO
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-08-08

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The Trevor Project—the nation's largest LGBTQ youth crisis-intervention and suicide-prevention organization—reported a dramatic spike in calls, text messages and online chats overall ( most specifically from transgender youth ) following President Trump's tweet regarding transgender military service members and the announcement of the "bathroom bill" in the Texas legislature, a press release noted. Within 24 hours after Trump's tweet regarding transgender military service members, contacts from transgender individuals spiked to 17.5 percent of all contacts. Those who need to call are asked to dial 866-488-7386.

Labor leaders and progressive activists are taking the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) to task for being one of two major civil-rights organizations to refuse to support African-American workers in Mississippi trying to organize at a Nissan plant, Gay City News reported. Seventeen members of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights were asked to sign on to a letter to Nissan North America citing the National Labor Relations Board's finding that, among other things, Nissan has "threatened its employees with termination because of their union activities." Only HRC and the National Urban League declined to sign on to the letter that was signed by the NAACP, the National Organization for Women, Unidos USA, the National Council of Churches and Asian Americans Advancing Justice, among others.

In a related story, the Human Rights Campaign released several new videos as part of the #LoveYourNeighbor campaign, a storytelling project focused on sharing the experiences of LGBTQ people and allies across the South—particularly in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi, a press release noted. HRC has permanent campaigns in these three states as part of its Project One America campaign, which started in 2014. HRC will release additional videos as part of this campaign through this year and into 2018, focusing on the experiences of LGBTQ Southerners.

The former chief executive of Rentboy.com—who ran what prosecutors called the largest U.S. online male-escort service before pleading guilty to promoting prostitution—was sentenced to six months in prison, The Huffington Post reported. Jeffrey Hurant, 52, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie in Brooklyn to undergo a mental-health treatment program and pay a $7,500 fine. Federal guidelines had recommended 15 to 21 months of imprisonment; U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie said she believed that Hurant started Rentboy.com with good intentions, and that she had considered some positive work he had done for the LGBT community.'''

The legal journey of a Virginia transgender teen took a step back Aug. 2 when a federal appeals court said it would not immediately take up his fight to use the boys' bathroom. Attorneys for Gavin Grimm—whose case was earlier put off by the Supreme Court—had hoped to have his challenge to the Gloucester County School Board heard by a federal appeals court before his graduation in June. Because Grimm no longer is a high school student, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has now said that a lower court must sort out whether Grimm still has enough of an affiliation to his alma mater to pursue the case.

Lambda Legal plans to sue President Donald Trump if a reported transgender military ban policy is enacted, a press release noted. According to the Washington Blade, the policy, called, "A Guidance Policy for Open Transgender Service Phase Out," would remove openly transgender enlisted personnel from the military by not allowing them to reenlist and would terminate transgender officers who are up for promotion. Sasha Buchert—a staff attorney at Lambda Legal and a transgender military veteran—said, in part, "Lambda Legal has a long history of fighting for LGBT service members, and, teaming up with OutServe-SLDN, we're more than ready to fight like hell again. See you in court, President Trump."

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled that the Justice Department must search for and release historical records pertaining to a "purge" of gay and lesbian federal employees by the Federal Bureau of Investigation ( FBI ) under J. Edgar Hoover, NBC News reported. The documents are related to President Dwight Eisenhower's Executive Order 10450, which some felt gave the heads of federal agencies the power to investigate and dismiss government workers if they were seen as national security risks. The lawsuit's plaintiff, along with LGBT historians, however, claim the actual purpose of the program was to allow the Hoover-led FBI legal authority to fire thousands of gay and lesbian employees across the federal government.

GLAAD announced the launch of its Campus Ambassador Program for the 2017-2018 academic year, a press release noted. GLAAD's Campus Ambassador Program engages young LGBTQ advocates that contribute to GLAAD's mission of amplifying and celebrating a wide range of voices from the LGBTQ community by producing media content relevant to the lived experiences of queer youth. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, with an early decision deadline of Sept. 8; to apply online and learn more, visit GLAAD.org/campus.

Jenny Durkan bested 20 other candidates to become the first lesbian in Seattle history to win a mayoral primary, and positioning herself to become the first openly lesbian mayor of the city, a Victory Fund press release noted. With a general election win in November, Jenny would become just one of two openly lesbian mayors currently representing major U.S. cities. Jackie Biskupski is the mayor of Salt Lake City.

Speaking of which, LGBTQ women running for office win their elections at a significantly higher rate than LGBTQ men, according to a new Victory Institute analysis of Victory Fund election data with more than 1,160 LGBTQ candidates. Over the past decade, Victory Fund-endorsed LGBTQ women won their races 70.3 percent of the time, compared to 60.9 percent for Victory Fund-endorsed LGBTQ men. The full analysis is at https://victoryinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/VictoryInstitute_GenderAnalysisAttachment_080117.pdf.

A 22-year-old Florida man was shot and killed outside a restaurant in downtown Lake Worth for standing up to homophobia, The Huffington Post reported. Witnesses told police that Juan Javier Cruz was killed for defending his gay friends from a gun-wielding man who said he hated gay people and spoke of his desire to "kill [them] like rats." Witnesses said the man—identified as 48-year-old Honduran national Nelson Hernandez Mena—pulled out a handgun and began shooting; Cruz stepped forward to defend his friends, and was shot and killed.

Former U.S. Navy surgeon Dr. Christine McGinn—once nominated as flight surgeon of the year—recently spoke out against President Donald Trump's announced ban on transgender service members on CNN, according to LGBTQ Nation. McGinn, who is also transgender, said she will perform free gender-confirmation surgery for any military member who has already scheduled the procedure with her office.

LGBTQ sports publication Outsports recently had its press credentials denied for the first time in its 17-year history while trying to cover Christian Day at the St. Louis Cardinals' ballpark, according to LGBTQ Nation. Reporter Erik Hall said he attempted to get credentials first through Outsports, and then through SB Nation, the publication's parent company; he was unsuccessful both times. He said St. Louis Communications Coordinator Chris Tunno wrote him, "Major League Baseball and its member clubs do not credential web/blog sites…Major League Baseball and its member clubs credential only those media wishing to cover teams and their players, where a theme night would not fall under that category."

A former NYPD detective who attended demonstrations and LGBTQ events when he was with the police department has sued a Long Island organization, claiming that it defamed him on a website and Twitter account, Gay City News noted. Tom Verni, who is openly gay and a 22-year veteran of the NYPD, spent his last years with the department working in the Community Affairs unit where he was the LGBTQ community liaison. "On or about July 8, 2016, certain websites and blogs were created which falsely depicted Mr. Verni as a 'child molestor' [sic] and 'pedophile,' among other things," reads the suit, which names the LGBT Network, its chief executive, and two former employees as defendants.

A gay retiree who moved with his husband to the tiny western Oklahoma town of Hitchcock alleged in a federal lawsuit that he was routinely harassed by townspeople and ignored by law enforcement until his home was burned to the ground, according to a NewsWest9.com item. Randy Gamel claimed that he was targeted because he is gay and because he and his partner brought their Black child into the nearly all-white town. Others—including a sheriff's official named in the lawsuit—said it was Gamel's behavior, not homophobia and racism, that led to problems.

Lambda Legal announced it has reached a settlement with the Pine-Richland School District in Pennsylvania, forcing the district to end a policy that prevented transgender students from using the bathroom that matches who they are, a press release noted. The settlement also requires the suburban Pittsburgh school district to include gender identity in its nondiscrimination policies and practices, and to adopt policies that respect transgender students' gender identity with respect to student records, names, pronouns and restrooms, among other aspects.

Actress Taraji P. Henson will be honored at the Black AIDS Institute's Heroes in the Struggle Gala and Award Celebration, a press release noted. Vocal on such varied topics as equal pay for women, police brutality and animal cruelty, Henson recently unveiled her line of fuchsia lipsticks as part of cosmetic giant MAC's Viva Glam campaign, which has raised money for HIV/AIDS awareness since 1994. The event will take place Sept. 16 at the Darryl F. Zanuck Theater at 20th Century Fox Studios in Los Angeles.

PFLAG Policy Director Diego Sanchez, trans-rights advocate Gavin Grimm and transgender Boy Scout Joey Maldonado ( along with mother Kristie ) are slated to speak at the 16th annual Gender Odyssey, taking place Aug. 23-27 in Seattle, according to a press release. Gender Odyssey Seattle is an international conference focused on the needs and interests of transgender and gender-diverse people, their loved ones, and professionals who serve them. Approximately 1,500 people are expected; see GenderOdyssey.org/seattle.

Gay-dating app Jack'd has added a "blurring feature" to protect its U.S. users from hate crimes, Advocate.com noted. The tool blurs the exact location of a user so that others using the app cannot pinpoint his whereabouts—although they can tell if he is nearby. It has previously been employed in antigay nations where this information could place queer people in danger.

A Care2 petition is demanding iHeartRadio drop its show The Breakfast Club after a guest and the show's hosts laughed about killing trans women, according to a press release. Fourteen Black trans women have been murdered this year. The petition has gathered almost 10,000 signatures. Comedian Lil' Duval first called trans women "boys," and then said a trans woman would die if it turned out he slept with one. The petition is at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/726/307/299/.

Hollis Bulleit has been called the "First Lady of Bourbon," but the daughter of Bulleit Bourbon founder Tom Bulleit is now accusing her family and the brand of serious homophobia, a Queerty item noted. In a lengthy Facebook post attached to a photo of her and her partner ( above ), she details her experience over the last decade of being excluded from the family—and its business—because of who she loves. In January of this year, she says she was squeezed out of the company altogether.

Bryn Mawr College, a women's school in Pennsylvania, nabbed first place on the Princeton Review's list of most LGBTQ-friendly schools in the company's book The 382 Best Colleges, Newsweek reported. It was followed by the College of the Atlantic, a roughly 350-person institution in Bar Harbor, Maine; and Emerson College, located in Boston. Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina; and Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, rounded out the top five.

GLSEN will honor restaurateur/philanthropist Bruce Bozzi with the Champion Award at the 2017 GLSEN Respect Awards, a press release noted. The gala will be held on Friday, Oct. 20, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles. Past Los Angeles honorees include: Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake; Julia Roberts and Danny Moder; Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg; Bob Greenblatt; Matt Bomer & Simon Halls; Shonda Rhimes; and Kate Hudson.

Miami Beach drag queen Elaine Lancaster has received countless criticisms from the LGBT community for being a supporter of President Donald Trump—and she didn't have a response following Trump's tweet that transgender people would be banned from serving in the military, SouthFloridaGayNews.com reported. "I really don't know what to say," said Lancaster. "I have to process it. I think he should expand freedoms and equality instead of restricting them. If transgender people want to serve in the military, they should be allowed to."

Lambda Literary announced a grant of $30,000 from the Amazon Literary Partnership for a eighth year in a row—a continuation of Amazon.com's support for the Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices, an organizational press release noted. This year's retreat was slated to take place Aug. 5-12 on the campus of Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. This year's main faculty included Garth Greenwell, Diana Cage, Phillip Howze, Malinda Lo and TC Tolbert.

Adult-movie star Blake Mitchell recently discovered that now-former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci was following him on Twitter, the Los Angeles Blade reported. "I posted the screenshot that showed that he was following me," Mitchell, who identifies as bisexual, said. Mitchell, who says he decided not to return Anthony Scaramucci's Twitter follow, rates himself above average in terms of his interest in national politics. In addition to a porn career, Mitchell is also a full-time university student in San Diego, where he studies business.

Pro-baseball player outfielder Matt Joyce ( of the Oakland A's ) apologized Aug. 5 for directing an anti-gay slur at a fan late in an Aug. 4 game against the Angels in Anaheim; however, MLB ( Major League Baseball ) still suspended Joyce two games without pay for the incident, The Sporting News reported. Moreover, MLB Communications indicated on social media that "the salary lost during Joyce's 2-game suspension will be contributed by the @Athletics to @PFLAG." Joyce sent out a series of tweets Saturday apologizing for his behavior, saying the incident is "not reflective" of who he is as a person.

Martin Shkreli was convicted of three of eight counts of securities fraud on Aug. 4, bringing to an end a five-week trial that focused on his actions running two hedge funds and a pharmaceutical company before he became infamous for ratcheting up the price of an AIDS drug, The Washington Post reported. He faces up to 20 years in prison, though legal experts say he is likely to get much less. Shkreli burst onto the national scene last year after raising the price of a vital drug used by AIDS patients by 5,000 percent and then publicly lamenting that he didn't raise it more.

Linda Tripp-Rousch doesn't care who plays her in Linda and Monica, and has no intention of seeing the Amazon Studios movie about the White House intern and the colleague who secretly recorded their phone conversations, Page Six noted. Tripp-Rousch hasn't spoken to Monica Lewinsky in many years but bears her no ill will, saying, "I hope [the producers] do her justice, because she's a lovely, intelligent girl—just lacking a moral compass."


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