Sunday, January 08, 2017

News and Pop Culture Round-Up

Cabinet Exit Memos Reflect 8 Years of LGBTQ Progress in the Obama Administration

The White House published cabinet exit memos from almost 30 different agencies and government organizations in the Obama Administration. President Obama’s legacy of progress for the LGBTQ community is unmatched in history. He signed the only signature pieces of LGBTQ-inclusive legislation to be passed by Congress. The Obama administration also made a record number of appointments of LGBTQ judges and ambassadors — part of 250 LGBTQ appointments to full-time and advisory positions in the federal government. Additionally, the administration has also proactively instituted many far-reaching administrative and regulatory policy changes that have dramatically improved the lives of LGBTQ people in all 50 states and around the world. The United States Mission to the United Nations and the Department of Justice’s memos feature sections devoted exclusively to the progress they have made for the LGBTQ community. In addition to those two exit memos, almost half of the agencies included references work and accomplishments related to the LGBTQ community. READ MORE

WWE Superstar Darren Young: ‘It’s My Job To Be That Gay Superhero’
WWE Wrestling superstar Darren Young seemed non-chalant when he came out publicly as a gay man during a chance airport encounter with TMZ cameras during the summer of 2013. The 35-year-old revealed his sexuality to a TMZ photographer after he was asked if a gay wrestler could be successful. Laughing, he had said: ‘Absolutely, absolutely! Look at me. I’m a WWE Superstar, and to be honest with you I’m gay. And I’m happy, very happy.’ Since coming out, Young has participated in the NOH8 campaign against homophobia and last year he spoke out against the WWE for its three-day tour of the United Arab Emirates, where gay sex is illegal. Young takes his position as a role model seriously. ‘My job as a WWE superstar is to beat people up in the rung but I also have a job to send positive vibes and I do that by going to different schools and talking about bullying,’ he says. Read More

Man Who Lost Gay Pride Arrest Lawsuit Died By Suicide
Will X. Walters, 35, a man who lost a lawsuit against San Diego police who arrested him for nudity during a gay pride festival has died by suicide. The case is under investigation by the medical examiner. Walters' attorney, Chris Morris, says he hadn't heard from his client since the Dec. 13 verdict. Walters was arrested in 2011 during a gay pride event at Balboa Park for wearing a leather gladiator outfit that didn't fully cover his buttocks. Walters sued police for anti-gay discrimination but a federal jury ruled against him. His legal team has said Walters racked up roughly $1 million in legal costs.

Supernatural Drama "Shadowhunters" Features One of The Most Intriguing New Queer Characters on Television

Freeform’s new supernatural drama Shadowhunters premiered in January, 2016, and features bisexual warlock Magnus Bane (Harry Shum, Jr.) as one of the central characters. Magnus, as the centuries-old High Warlock of Brooklyn, begins working alongside his current love interest Alec Lightwood (a half-angel, half-human shadowhunter) to recover a relic that in the hands of the villain Valentine will send the shadow world into chaos and war. During the series’ first season, Magnus low-key affirmations of his sexuality and references to his past relationships have made it clear that he is bisexual without his sexuality being his sole defining characteristic or story. It is rare enough for a television series to include a well-written and nuanced bisexual male character, and it is even more rare for that character to be one of the leads. Hopefully, characters like Magnus (and Daryl (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) who came out early this year) will lead the way for increased and improved representation. Shadowhunters returned January 2, 2017 and the season will build the new relationship between Alec and Magnus.

Floor and Decor Says It No Longer Employs Associate Accused of Using Anti-Gay Slur
James Shawlin of Denver said on Friday that he had been “verbally assaulted” by a store employee at the Highlands Ranch branch of Floor and Decor, the flooring store. The company says that the employee in question “is no longer employed” by the Atlanta-based company, and Shawlin says he’s satisfied with the company’s response. Shawlin posted that the employee, who hasn’t been named, referred to him as “a faggot” who “voted for Hillary” and that a customer joined in the ridicule. In an interview with 9News, Shawlin said that he had been having trouble with some defective products. The slur came after Shawlin told an employee that he and his husband were frequent customers, as 9News reported. “And [the employee] goes, ‘Oh, that explains it now. The faggot that voted for Hillary,’” Shawlin told 9News. A nearby customer also made derogatory anti-gay comments, as Shawlin told the news station.

1980s Myths Around HIV Still ‘Deeply Entrenched’
World AIDS Day survey by Terrence Higgins Trust reveals 30% of gay and bisexual men believe you can get HIV from sharing a toothbrush - and 1 in 10 think it’s passed on through kissing. The charity has warned that public perceptions are still mirroring those seen in the 1980s, despite the medical progress that has been made in the fight against HIV over the last three decades. Meanwhile one in ten gay and bisexual men surveyed believed HIV can be transmitted by kissing. All of these are medically inaccurate; the virus does not survive outside the body and cannot be passed on through saliva or skin-to-skin contact. The survey also revealed public perceptions do not reflect how far HIV treatment itself has come in the past 30 years. Effective treatment works by reducing the amount of the virus in the blood to undetectable levels, meaning it can’t be passed on at all, and people can expect to live as long as anyone else. However, only 29% of the gay and bisexual men surveyed were aware that people on effective HIV treatment can have children without passing on the virus, and only 61% believe that people with HIV can live into old age. Less than half (45%) of gay and bisexual men surveyed were aware that people with HIV can have sex without passing on the virus, if they are on effective treatment. READ MORE

Openly Gay Singer Ari Gold Offers Advice To Aspiring Performers Who Are Just Starting Out In The Music Business
“I would probably give the same advice I have always given. Things haven't changed as much as people like to think—and I started before the advent of social media. But I always used to say that you just have to put the work out there and get out there as much as you can. Do I think it's important to be out? Sure it is. But would I tell someone I think they should be or need to be? No, I would not. It really all depends on what's important to you. For some artists, being gay is not central to their work and if someone wants to give them money or hard-found opportunity, who am I to judge them if all they wanna do is sing and perform? For me, my being gay and being the kind of artist I didn't have growing up was just as important as my need to sing and be on stage. It was not a choice for me—it was a calling. I couldn't imagine having the kind of obstacles I had and surviving them if I wasn't so passionate as I am about the cause. With that said, there does seem to be more of a market for it, more ways to get your work out there, and we do continue to need more LGBT voices and stories. So if our freedom and equality means something to your soul, go for it. We need you.”