Thursday, December 14, 2017

ICYMI: News and Pop Culture Round-Up

Posted by Shane Smith, Editor, Stonewall Gazette

Building LGBTQ Political Power Across the Nation 
Election Night 2017 was a historic one for the LGBTQ community. Candidates across the country campaigned hard, talked to voters, raised funds, and spread their message. Their diligent work paid off. Forty LGBTQ candidates won their races. And now, more than ever, it is crucial that LGBTQ leaders have a seat at the table when critical decisions affecting our rights are made. However, in the time of Trump and its accompanying surge of homophobia, transphobia, and white supremacy, these advancements are under threat.

The Federal Communications Commission Killed Net Neutrality
Net neutrality is dead — at least for now. In a 3-2 vote today, the Federal Communications Commission approved a measure to remove the tough net neutrality rules it put in place just two years ago. Those rules prevented internet providers from blocking and throttling traffic and offering paid fast lanes. They also classified internet providers as Title II common carriers in order to give the measure strong legal backing.

Today’s vote undoes all of that. It removes the Title II designation, preventing the FCC from putting tough net neutrality rules in place even if it wanted to. And, it turns out, the Republicans now in charge of the FCC really don’t want to. The new rules largely don’t prevent internet providers from doing anything. They can block, throttle, and prioritize content if they wish to. The only real rule is that they have to publicly state that they’re going to do it.

Opponents of net neutrality argue that the rules were never needed in the first place, because the internet has been doing just fine. “The internet wasn't broken in 2015. We were not living in some digital dystopia,” said commission chairman, Ajit Pai.

UK Issues Posthumous Pardons for Thousands of Men Convicted of Homosexual Offence
Thousands of men convicted of offences that once criminalized homosexuality but are no longer on the statute book have been posthumously pardoned under a new law.

South Africa's Equality Court Process Questioned in 'Pigeons vs Anti-Gay Hate Speech Case'
An LGBT hate speech case in the Equality Court in Johannesburg has become bogged down in details about the safety of pigeons, leading activists to question the efficacy of the system.

HIV Advocate, Charlie Tredway, Winner of Mr Gay New Zealand 2017
An Auckland man that is living with HIV and devotes his life to HIV advocacy and community awareness has won the 2017 Mr Gay New Zealand Title. Tredway, 33, works with the New Zealand AIDS Foundation as a Community Engagement Officer.

15th Century Mystery of Two Male Black Death Victims Found Buried Together, Hand in Hand
The skeletons of two men who were buried apparently hand in hand during an outbreak of the Black Death have been excavated from a plague burial ground in London. The men, believed to have been in their 40s, were buried in the early 15th century in a carefully dug double grave, in identical positions, with heads turned towards the right and the left hand of one man apparently clasping the right hand of the other.

Five HIV Patients 'Virus-Free' With No Need for Daily Drugs in Early Vaccine Trials
A new vaccine-based treatment for HIV has succeeded in suppressing the virus in five patients, raising hopes further research could help prevent AIDS without the need for daily drugs. Researchers combined two innovative HIV vaccines with a drug usually used to treat cancer in the trial, conducted over three years.

The 10 Most Influential Gay Male Journalists And Role Models
Amid the sea of bad news and negativity there’s always a bright light somewhere. With the media under constant attack, I think it’s important to recognize the gay journalists who are good at their jobs, and report the news in a civil and straightforward way. They serve the public interest with integrity. They’re honest and factual and tell the truth, and they’re outstanding representatives of the LGBT community,

Five Reasons Why LGBTQ Entrepreneurs Are Joining Forces
Entrepreneurship and risk are a package deal, and launching a company as an LGBTQ person places yet another set of challenges on an already uncertain endeavor. A question such as, “Is my product-market fit secure enough to raise venture capital?” gives way to something more haunting: “Could my sexual orientation or gender identity limit how much funding I get from investors?” As a result, a young LGBTQ person might forego their innovative startup idea for a more secure job at a company that accepts, or even celebrates, their identity.

TOP 10 Cities With The Highest HIV Rates
People have become infected with HIV from all over the USA. It’s more prevalent in some cities compared to others. And it’s not where you think. Take a look at these cities.

Congrats! Matt Rood Crowned Mr Gay Europe 2017
Matt Rood was crowned Mr Gay Europe at Stockholm Pride. Tore Aasheim, the MGE president, said: “Matt Rood is one of the most dedicated and hardworking gay activist that I have had the honour to get to know through Mr Gay Europe. With his big heart, his kind attitude but also strong devotion, and with a project that shows that he really put his money where his mouth is.”

Global LGBTQ Rights Score an 'F'
Research gives most countries in the world a failing grade in LGBTQ rights, reflecting widespread persecution of sexual minorities. Only one country in 10 actively protects the human rights of sexual minorities. The extremes are stunning. In 2017, 23 countries have legalized same-sex marriage, yet 71 countries still criminalize same-sex acts.

New Report Details Attack on LGBT Rights in USA
“Freedom of religion is a core American value, but religious freedom doesn't give anyone the right to discriminate, to harm, or to impose their religion on others. This is a coordinated effort to say that, as long as you have a religious objection, you shouldn't have to follow the law when it comes to hiring and firing employees, discrimination protections for customers and clients, providing health care, administering government services and issuing documentation, serving children and families in child welfare agencies, and the list just goes on.”

LGBT Businesses Contribute $1.7 Trillion to the American Economy 
LGBT businesses contribute more than $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy and have created more than 33,000 jobs. The report serves as a reminder of the enormous and growing role LGBT entrepreneurs and business owners have in the United States.

Homeless Queer Youth Are Lured Into Abusive & Exploitative Relationships
For the LGBT community, marriage equality is a huge win and further establishes that we are worthy of the same rights as everyone else. Working at Camden Area Health Education Center with LGBT youth, primarily YMSM (young men who have sex with men) of color, I witness them struggle to cope with abusive partners daily. The thing I hear over and over is: “I want to leave him, but I have nowhere else to go.” It is disheartening to know that these young people have to endure life-threatening situations just to have a place to sleep at night.

Openly Gay WWE Superstar Darren Young: ‘It’s My Job To Be That Gay Superhero’
Since coming out, Darren 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.

Melania Trump Doesn't Deserve Your Sympathy
Melania Trump is no passive victim. Recently a 2011 interview with Melania on the Joy Behar Show went viral on Twitter. In the interview, Melania defends her husband’s adamant commitment to the birther conspiracy born of the Tea Party—his belief that President Obama is not an American citizen, that he was born in Kenya and that his Hawaii-issued birth certificate was, in fact, a forgery. “Do you want to see President Obama’s birth certificate or not?” Melania asks Behar. “I’ve seen it,” Behar responds. “It’s not a birth certificate,” Melania says as she shakes her head. Here, Melania recites her husband’s conspiratorial and fictitious claims, ones Donald Trump repeated for five years until, in September 2016, he “conceded” that they were untrue. Melania Trump is hardly a stand-in for American women, she is neither a victim nor is she lacking agency. Rather she’s an active participant working to construct Donald Trump’s narrative, readily available to put a gauzy domestic veil on his racism and misogyny.

Soccer Player and Model Comes Out as Gay Hoping to Inspire Others
Former professional soccer player Adam McCabe has recently come out of the closet. “As a gay athlete your natural instinct is to hide this from your teammates, fans, and coaches. The language that is used during practice, in the locker room, and on the pitch is extremely masculine and at times vulgar. I have heard teammates use homophobic language both in the soccer realm and in daily life. It causes you to really pay attention to your surroundings and debate every action as a closeted athlete.”

Openly Gay Rower Gavan Hennigan Smashes Irish Record for Atlantic Crossing
Gavan Hennigan, 35, crossed from La Gomera in the Canaries in 49 days, 11 hours and 37 minutes. Hennigan looked well but thin after having to put in a tremendous effort in the final weeks. He was excited to see the crowd which had gathered on the Caribbean island. Upon arrival, Hennigan raised the Irish tricolour to salute the large crowd gathered to watch him complete the race. “I’m so proud to have done this. Not many Irish have attempted a solo row across the Atlantic and I feel I’ve done it in style,” said an exhausted Hennigan.

LGBTQ Characters On TV Reach a Record High, Still Mostly White and Male
GLAAD’s latest TV study found that LGBTQ characters will have a record high visibility this season, but that the majority of those characters are white and male. The “Where We Are On Tv” report counted LGBTQ characters across broadcast, cable, and streaming platforms for the 2017-18 season, and while broader representation has improved, there’s not much diversity within that progression. Among original streaming programs, for instance, GLAAD’s report found that 77% of the LGBTQ characters were white, “all three platforms tracked—broadcast, cable, and streaming originals—were lacking in LGBTQ characters of color.” On primetime broadcasts, women accounted for 43% of regular LGBTQ characters. So in generally-good-but-still-not-there-yet news.

Same-Sex Marriage Becomes Legal in Slovenia
Same-sex marriage has officially become legal in Slovenia. LGBT activists have praised the move, but state there is more work to be done. While the law gives couples the same rights as heterosexual ones, it still bans them from jointly adopting children. Lana Gobec for the Legebitra LGBT rights group, said: “This is a big step forward. But we will continue to strive for complete equality of heterosexual and same-sex couples.”

Marketing Companies in India Are Discovering Gay Rights and Feminism
India has one of the youngest populations in the world, with 40% under the age of 20. The urban Indian mindset has evolved along with the country’s economy, influenced by global trends and greater awareness. Over the past decade, once-taboo topics such as menstruation, dating, same-sex relationships, and more have begun to be openly discussed, a sea change from the time when sanitary napkin ads were considered objectionable. Take, for instance, homosexuality, which is still a crime under Indian law. The past few years have seen a number of campaigns attempting to normalise it on screen. It began in 2013 with watch brand Fast Track’s “Come out of the Closet” spot, which featured two women straightening their clothes as they emerged together from a hot pink closet.

Help Brock McGillis 'Change the World'
Brock McGillis, the first openly gay male ex-pro hockey player, has begun raising funds for his 'Change the World' project. "I am taking my mission to change the world one step further. I am currently working on a new self-funded project. This new project will help educate on LGBTQ issues, history and subculture in a new, fun and engaging way from my current platform."

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