Friday, February 10, 2017

News and Pop Culture Round-Up

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Milwaukee LGBT Center Has Been Vandalized Three Times!
For the third time in two months, an LGBT Center near the Riverwest neighborhood has been vandalized. Someone spray painted an offensive phrase on its building and coated the windows with graffiti this week. "We already cleaned up some paint yesterday. There was quite a bit more on the windows and that was pretty easy to get off. Now, we are cleaning up the paint on the building," said Gerald Coon, the president of Diverse & Resilient. "The words are shocking and disturbing but at the same time being in the LGBT community we understand people don't like us." Diverse & Resilient supports the LGBT community by offering various health and counseling programs.

Too Many LGBT Youth Depend on Abusive Relationships for a Home
For the LGBT community, marriage equality is a huge win and further establishes that we are worthy of the same rights as everyone else. However, in my own reality, marriage has not been on the top of my list of priorities. 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.

South Carolina Elects First Openly Gay Lawmaker and He's a Republican
South Carolina's first openly gay legislator hails from the unlikeliest of places: an ultra-conservative part of the state that is home to the Christian fundamentalist school Bob Jones University. Republican Rep. Jason Elliott, a 46-year-old divorce attorney, said his sexual orientation was not an issue in his campaign and is irrelevant to his job at the Statehouse, as his focus will be on improving education, increasing jobs and repairing the state's crumbling roads and bridges. He expects his votes to align with his GOP colleagues. "Every South Carolinian has equal rights, not special rights, and I believe each part of the constitution is equally important," he said. "In South Carolina, that means respecting other people's viewpoints and protecting religious freedom." Elliott ousted four-term GOP incumbent Rep. Wendy Nanney, a Bob Jones graduate and daughter of the university's longtime academic dean. Deeply Republican South Carolina is now the 43rd state to have an openly gay legislator.

NFL Issues Statement: 'Bathroom Bill Could Keep Future Super Bowls from Texas'
Texas' next trip to the Super Bowl may hit a roadblock in Austin, where conservative lawmakers are pushing a bill to ban transgender people from the public bathrooms they feel most comfortable using. A spokesman for the NFL expresses concern about SB6 a 'discriminatory' measure becoming law in Texas.

Cincinnati Is One of the Most Gay-friendly Cities in America: Report
The Queen City might be one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the United States, according to The Advocate’s annual “Queerest Cities in America” feature. The online publication, which focuses on political and social issues with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender readers in mind, ranked Cincinnati at No. 7 on its list of 25 gay-friendly cities -- making it “queerer” than Seattle, San Francisco and Miami, Florida. Cincinnati ranked highly because of its anti-discrimination ordinance, its gay and transgender pride events and the Cincinnati Opera’s adaptation of the historical novel "Fellow Travelers," which focuses on a romance between two men. The Advocate also pointed out that, while Ohio swung red during the 2016 presidential election, Hamilton County did not.

Emperor Hadrian (L) Antinous (R)
Hidden Gay British Histories Take Centre Stage 50 years After Decriminalization of Homosexuality
The 2,000-year-old relationship between the Roman emperor Hadrian and Antinous is to be explored as part of cultural events marking the 50th anniversary of one of the most important moments in gay British history. In July 1967 the Sexual Offences Act finally decriminalised private homosexual acts between men over 21 in England and Wales. It was a transformative moment, although it took until 1980 for the law to be changed in Scotland, and until 1982 in Northern Ireland. Galleries and museums across the country will celebrate the anniversary with a blizzard of exhibitions and events, with the British Museum putting on a display that shines light on the gay histories that are often overlooked or hidden in its vast collections – “a great unrecorded history”, as EM Forster put it.

Penny Cula-Reid (left) and Mia-Rae Clifford
First Openly Lesbian AFL Player Couple: "We're Proud, and Proud of Each Other"
Partners in life, rivals in Australian Football League, Penny Cula-Reid and Mia-Rae Clifford are the first elite league player couple to tell the world they are gay. Though still unable to marry legally in Australia, the pair, aged 29 and 30, are engaged and wear diamond rings to show it. And just as their love story becomes public today with football as a backdrop, it has the sport at its origin. Cula-Reid and Clifford first laid eyes on each other on a footy field. A humble patch of grass in St Kilda, Melbourne, called the Peanut Farm Reserve and home to many an amateur Aussie Rules game.

First Unitarian Building Officially Recognized for Role in Gay Rights Movement
The First Unitarian building in Denver’s Cheesman Park neighborhood became the first site in Colorado last night to be recognized for its importance in the history of the gay rights movement. In the 1950s, Denver’s First Unitarian opened its doors to one of the first gay rights groups in the United States, the Mattachine Society. In the ’70s and ’80s, the building at 1400 N. Lafayette St. was a de facto headquarters of the Gay Coalition of Denver. The LGBT group remains in Denver today as a nonprofit known as The Center. Denver City Council designated the nearly 115-year-old building a historic landmark. First Unitarian joins the ranks of the Henry Gerber House in Chicago, The Stonewall Inn in New York City and other buildings recognized at the local, state or national level for their importance in the history of LGBT rights.

'When We Rise' Wins Award at Palm Springs Film Fest
When We Rise was the winner of the Mercedes-Benz Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. When We Rise written by Dustin Lance Black and directed by Gus Van Sant is an upcoming ABC miniseries about the gay rights movement. The series will premiere on ABC on Monday, February 27, 2017 at 9 p.m.

COMMENTARY: Resistance Begins in Imagination
When we imagine the better world that will rise from the ashes of the Trump era, we undermine the power of the Trump gang. Resistance begins in imagination, or, as I’ve been saying, “Fight back… but fight forward, too.” I have to admit that this puts me in a bit of a bind, though. I’m as outraged as anyone by the news of the day, and I would love to focus on how we take action in the present to take back our country. But I also feel it’s absolutely critical to envision what comes after this crisis — to take back our future.