Gay USA News & Reports 2011 Jan-Mar

New book 2007: Gay Travels in the Muslim World, Edited by Michael Luongo (ch. 10 by GlobalGayz owner Richard Ammon)
See books reviews: Gay City News and Philadelphia Gay News

1 Gay or Straight, Youths Aren’t So Different 1/11

2 Congress gets 4th openly gay member 1/11

3 ‘Lead With Love’ Guidance Video for Parents of Gay Youth 1/11

4 For Gay Arabs, a Place to Dance, and Break Down Walls 1/11

5 LGBT Stories: Deaf, Gay, Bullied, and Fighting Back 1/11

6 America’s first gay museum opens in San Francisco 1/11

7 Gay African-Americans march in South LA’s Kingdom Day Parade 1/11

8 Gay MN teen reportedly commits suicide, friends blame bullying 1/11

9 ‘Glee’s Chris Colfer & Darren Criss Do ‘Entertainment Weekly’ Mag 1/11

9a Gays Seeking Asylum in U.S. Encounter a New Hurdle 1/11

10 Illinois Gov signs historic bill legalizing civil unions 1/11

11 Marine Commandant James Amos Reverses Course On DADT Repeal 1/11

12 Gay Ugandan’s murder blamed on American evangelicals 2/11

13 Jamaica’s gays finding refuge by applying for U.S. asylum 2/11

13a Eight Years After Lawrence, Sodomy Laws Are Alive and Kicking 2/11

14 Hawaii Approves Gay Unions Bill; Neil Abercrombie To Sign 2/11

15 Obama shifts stance on gay marriage 2/11

15a Queer (In)justice 2/11

15b Texas school bans all clubs to prevent gay-straight alliance 3/11

16 US: Mississippi Policies Fuel HIV Epidemic 3/11

16a US Accepts UN Recommendations on LGBT Rights at Home 3/11

17 Suicide: Dead From Gunshot After Suffering Anti-Gay Bullying 3/11

18 Study Undercuts View of College as a Place of Same-Sex Experimentation 3/11

18a Author tells tale of gay, black Southern men 3/11

19 States hold onto laws defining gay ‘conduct’ illegal 3/11

19a Beyond Bullying: Race, Poverty and LGBT Rights 3/11

20 US gay and lesbian military group launches magazine 3/11

21 Webinar to Focus on Supporting LGBT Community 3/11

22 The health of aging lesbian, gay and bisexual adults in California 3/11

January 3, 2011 – The New York Times

Gay or Straight, Youths Aren’t So Different

by Jane E. Brody
This fall, when an 18-year-old Rutgers student killed himself after a live video showing him having intimate relations with another young man was transmitted on the Internet, public attention once again focused on the risk of suicide among gay teenagers.
That risk is hard to measure, in part because so much research has focused on clinical populations — people who sought help or acted out because they were troubled, had attempted suicide or professed suicidal tendencies. That tends to skew the results, suggesting that gay teenagers on average are more prone to suicide and mental illness than they really are.

The good news is that recent research finds more similarities than differences among gay and straight adolescents. For example, studies in Salt Lake City by Lisa Diamond, an associate professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah, found that young gays had as many friends and were just as popular and socially connected as other teenagers. The composition of their friendships is somewhat different, she noted. Gay teenagers tend to go out of their way to befriend youths of other races or those who are stigmatized for their looks.

But for gay and straight teenagers alike, Dr. Diamond said in an interview, the chief source of stress is the same: “anxiety about being alone as an adult, about finding the kind of partner they want.”

Finding a Balance
Studies do suggest that severe emotional distress is somewhat more common among gay teenagers than straight ones. But Dr. Diamond and other experts say the effects of bullying and discrimination are often overplayed in the news media. “I’m concerned about the message being given to gay youth by adults who say they are destined to be depressed, abuse drugs or perhaps commit suicide,” Ritch C. Savin-Williams, a professor of developmental psychology who is director of Cornell’s Sex and Gender Lab, said at a recent news briefing. “I believe the message may create more suicides, more depression and more substance abuse. I worry about suicide contagion. About 10 to 15 percent are fragile gay kids, and they’re susceptible to messages of gay-youth suicide.”

In an interview, Dr. Savin-Williams said: “We hear only the negative aspects from research. We don’t hear about normal gay teens. It’s hard to get studies published when researchers don’t find differences. A large number of studies found no group differences between gay and straight youth, but these have not been published.”

In his book “The New Gay Teenager” (Harvard University Press, 2005), Dr. Savin-Williams noted that it is much easier to get grants to study clinical problems and treatment; only recently have the lives of gay teenagers in the general nonclinical population begun to be studied by developmental psychologists. These later studies find that straight youths are just as much at risk of being bullied if they exhibit atypical behavior, he said. Bullies react to nonconformity, and they pick up on people’s weaknesses. “Bullying is less about sexuality than about gender nonconformity,” Dr. Savin-Williams said. “There are straight youth who are gender-atypical and they suffer as much as gay kids. But whether there’s a direct link between bullying and suicide among gay teens has not been shown.”

Rather, recent studies show that the risk factors for suicide are identical for gay and straight youth. These, Dr. Savin-Williams said, include “prior mental illness, depression, bipolar disorder, dysfunctional families, breakups in relationships, suicide in the family and access to means.” Still, there are also clear signs of continued stress on gay teenagers. A national study of more than 15,000 middle and high school students published last month in Pediatrics found that gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers were more likely to be harshly punished by schools and courts than their straight peers.

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Janary 05, 2011 – The Washington Blade

Congress gets 4th openly gay member

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) was sworn in Wednesday, becoming the fourth openly gay member of the 112th Congress and only the seventh out gay person to serve in the House. He joins gay Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who were reelected in November.

“I am thrilled to be the next congressman from Rhode Island’s First District and so grateful to the members of the LGBT community who supported my campaign,” Cicilline said on election night. “I look forward to going to Washington and fighting for the issues important to all of us — creating good jobs, protecting Social Security, working to fight global climate change and, of course, fighting for full equality for our community.”

The former Providence mayor succeeds Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who retired. He ran in a Democratic stronghold and was a powerhouse fundraiser. According to Federal Election Commission reports, Cicilline raked in nearly $1.7 million over the course of his campaign. Cicilline earned the endorsement of many national LGBT organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. “This is an historic day for LGBT Americans, and another step toward a government that truly reflects our country’s diversity,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund.

Michael Cole, an HRC spokesperson, said on election night that he was “thrilled” that Cicilline will join the 112th Congress. “No doubt he will carry on the record of retiring Rep. Patrick Kennedy in ensuring Rhode Island’s first district is represented by an effective congressman in promoting equality for all people,” Cole said.

Cicilline defeated John Loughlin, a Rhode Island State Assembly member, who was accused by some of using gay-baiting tactics late in the campaign. Loughlin ran ads emphasizing that he’s a husband and a father — possibly a reference to the fact that Cicilline is gay and single — and defended “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during a debate. Cicilline was the only one of three prominent openly gay congressional candidates to emerge victorious in a tough night for Democrats. Steve Pougnet, who’s gay and mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., lost his bid to unseat six-term incumbent Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.). And Ed Potosnak, a schoolteacher and former staffer for Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), lost his bid to unseat Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), a one-term incumbent.

January 8, 2011 – Lead With Love

‘Lead With Love’ Guidance Video for Parents of Gay Youth

David M. Huebner, an assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Utah, has just produced an informational video, ‘Lead With Love,’ that gives parents concrete examples of how to respond when their children come out to them.
It can be viewed free here

‘Lead With Love’ is a 35-minute documentary created to provide comfort, information, and guidance for parents who have recently learned that their son or daughter is lesbian, gay, or bisexual. The film follows four families as they share their honest reactions to hearing that their child is gay, including the intense emotions, fears, and questions that it raised. Interviews with psychologists, teachers, and clergy provide factual answers to parents’ most commonly asked questions, as well as concrete guidance to help parents keep their children healthy and safe during this challenging time.

If you are a parent of a lesbian, gay, or bisexual child, we applaud your courage in looking for resources to help support your family. This film was made for you. If you are someone else who cares about these issues, we hope that you will enjoy this entertaining and informational film, and share it with others. Thank you for your interest.

January 13, 2011 – The New York Times

For Gay Arabs, a Place to Dance, and Break Down Walls

by Chadwick Moore
Joshua Bright for The New York Times The Habibi dance party at Club Rush in Manhattan in November.

Around midnight, upstairs in a small club on Avenue of the Americas, the pitch-black dance floor resounded with the rapid stomps and warbling, high-energy cries of the dabke, an Arab folk dance performed at weddings and other celebrations. When the strobe lights flashed, they revealed a sea of raised hands. A man in the crowd removed his kaffiyeh, the traditional headdress worn by some Arab and Kurdish men, and whipped it around in the air. “I can understand so many conversations going on right now,” a Fashion Institute of Technology student shouted over the music, coiling his wrists and shaking his hips to the belly-dance beat. “But you wouldn’t want me to translate. It’s all dirty. Dirty Arabic.”

This was a recent Saturday night at Habibi, a floating monthly dance party of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Arabs in New York. In a city that seems to offer activities for every conceivable gay subculture — one 700-entry directory lists support groups for, among others, gay vegans, pilots and sailing enthusiasts, along with 62 religion-based groups — Habibi is perhaps the only opportunity in New York for gay people of Middle Eastern descent to interact openly in an organized setting. “In New York there’s nowhere I can come to and cry, so to speak,” said Amir, 27, a registered nurse from Saudi Arabia who lives in Brooklyn and has been coming to the party for six years. “Habibi is a welcoming community.”

In its nomadic nine-year history, Habibi, which rests only during the holy month of Ramadan, has inhabited straight and gay clubs and hookah bars all over Manhattan — Flamingo, Boom, the China Club, Club Duvet, Moomia — and outlived many of them. Lately, Habibi has made its home at Club Rush in Chelsea. Its downstairs neighbor there is one of the city’s few “twink” parties; the word describes particularly boyish-looking men. Throughout the night, shy, lithe, silken-haired young men trickled upstairs to ogle the mob of Arab men dancing to Middle Eastern pop, spun by the party’s founder, a practicing Muslim named Abraham.

Habibi, the Arabic word for “my beloved”, is a sort of stepchild of a more serious-minded group called the Gay and Lesbian Arab Society. Abraham, a former accountant in his 40s with a shaved head, steady gaze and smoky accent, was one of the society’s co-founders. Through the 1990s, the group met at the LGBT Center in the West Village. “It got big, which is not always a good thing, because you have all nationalities of the Middle East,” said Abraham, who is of Syrian and Palestinian descent, grew up in Kuwait and now lives in Astoria, Queens. Like others interviewed for this article, he spoke on the condition that his last name not be used.

“The Egyptians want to hang out with the Egyptians, the Moroccans want to hang out with the Moroccans, et cetera,” he said. “This is always a problem you have with Arabs.” The cookies-and-tea meetings, Abraham said, “got a little boring.” The first Habibi party, in early 2002, was a fund-raiser for the society, held in an Italian restaurant on the Lower East Side. “I thought what was natural was to do something fun, have people dance, have fun,” Abraham said. Though the Gay and Lesbian Arab Society tended toward balkanization, Abraham said: “Habibi blends everybody. It breaks down as many walls as possible. You have everyone in the same room dancing.”

The society’s ranks, meanwhile, continued to thin. By the end, only a handful of people would show up for meetings. “I think around 2004, it was the Internet that really did it,” said Nadeem, an Iraqi Christian who served as the society’s president from 2000 to 2004, when it stopped meeting — though its Web site remains active. “There wasn’t a need to go to meetings; people could just meet up online. Habibi is so successful, one, because it’s a business and Abraham really treats it like one, and two, the idea of a party entices people more.”

Gay Muslims, at least as much as adherents of other faiths, face hurdles reconciling their religion with their sexuality. At the city’s biggest mosque and one of its more progressive, the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, the imam, Mohammad Shamsi Ali, laid out what amounted to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. “Homosexuality is grouped with adultery, fornication, all of them very severe sins, but you don’t need to talk about it,” Mr. Ali said. “It is between you and the creator.” He said gays and lesbians were welcome at his mosque, even to bring their partners. “But we don’t need to know about their sex lives,” he said.

As the only game in town, Habibi, which has attracted as many as 300 guests, brings together Arabs of all social stripes — at once a blessing and a source of its own brand of discrimination. “In Dubai, everyone is bisexual,” a 22-year-old Columbia University accounting student said at the party in November. “But it’s such a different scene there.” Calling Habibi “kind of trashy compared to what most Arabs, at least in Dubai, are used to,” he said: “I mean, there are street vendors here.” Nodding in the direction of a man standing in the shadows nearby, the student said: “You can spot the ones who sell kebabs on the street. It’s not difficult.”

In the D.J.’s booth, Abraham kept the hits coming — mainly from Egypt and Lebanon, but also some South Asian and Indian pop. “Anything with a belly dance beat,” he said. “Keeping people on the dance floor is a natural high for me.” The dancers included plenty of non-Arab men, many of whom Abraham said were regulars. “Hummus queens,” a 24-year-old grocery clerk from Queens named Hilal joked at one of the parties. “That’s what you call white guys who go for Arabs.”

Some of the guests yearned for something more than just a good time. “There’s a lot of post-9/11 baggage that people want to deal with,” Hilal said during another party. “But the only option they have is to go out to a club and dance?” Still, Hilal, wearing a “Hummus Is Yummus” T-shirt and a Mohawk haircut, took his place on the dance floor, too.

And around 1 a.m., three female belly dancers took to the stage, dressed in pink sequined burqas. The crowd tightly gathered around the dancers and cheered as the women, piece by piece, stripped their burqas to a crooning love song. The next Habibi is this Sunday, Jan. 16 at La Pomme, 37 West 26th Street in Chelsea. More information is available from Habibi e-mail address or the party’s Web site; its Myspace page or its Facebook page. There is a $10 admission charge.

January 13, 2011 – Towleroad

LGBT Stories: Deaf, Gay, Bullied, and Fighting Back

by Nathan Manske
Guestblogger Nathan Manske and Marquise Lee are halfway though a 3 month trip around the United States collecting stories for their I’m From Driftwood site. We’re finally ready to start catching up with some of the stories collected over the first half of the trip along with some of the insight into what they’re seeing now. Anyone can submit their own story via IFD.

We met Ace at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. When he first started sharing his story, Ace started mentioning several things in life that were stacked against him. What I thought was going to be a downer of a story turned into an empowering message to gay youth that shows what can happen if you take control of a situation and stand up for yourself.

Watch, After The Jump

13 January 2011 – PinkNews

America’s first gay museum opens in San Francisco

by Staff Writer
The first gay museum in America opened yesterday in San Francisco. The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender History Museum occupies a 1,600ft space in the Castro district. Artefacts include sex toys, manuscripts and some of gay rights activist Harvey Milk’s belongings. The museum is only the second globally, as there is a gay museum in Berlin, Germany.

Organisers have a five-year lease on the empty shop-front and hope to sustain the museum through donations and volunteering. Paul Boneberg, executive director of the GLBT Historical Society, said: “The GLBT History Museum is in the heart of the Castro, a neighborhood visited not only by locals, but also by tens of thousands of tourists every year who come in search of queer culture.

“At our museum, they’ll discover treasures from our archives that reflect fascinating stories spanning nearly a century of GLBT life. We have gone all out to create a museum as rich, diverse and surprising as the GLBT community itself. Whether they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or straight, visitors are sure to be moved, enlightened and entertained.”

January 17, 2011 – Southern California Public Radio

Gay African-Americans march in South LA’s Kingdom Day Parade

by Molly Peterson – KPCC
Thousands of people lined Martin Luther King Boulevard in South Los Angeles to pay tribute to the fallen civil rights leader. It’s the 26th annual Kingdom Day Parade – and the first parade for Long Beach resident Chante Craig. Craig walked as part of a group declaring themselves "black, gay and here to stay."
She says Dr. King’s words are inspiring to gay blacks seeking tolerance and love.

"Unfortunately, though we live in California, it’s a very liberal state but we still have some very conservative views – especially in the black community with churches being such a stronghold in the community. It tends to allow homophobia to spread across the community – and so this is one of our ways to come out and bring some positive exposure to the community and show them what other things we’re doing as well."

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, county and state leaders and marching bands from South L.A. high schools took part in the event. A party continues at the parade route’s end in Leimert Park. If you attended any MLK events, we’d like to share your photos. Please send them to us and they could be posted on our website. Please be sure to include a brief description for a caption and a credit for who took the photo.

January 18, 2011 – The Minnesota Independent

Gay Minnesota teen reportedly commits suicide, friends blame bullying

by Andy Birkey
Updated: Eighteen-year old Lance Lundsten died on Saturday as a result of a suicide attempt, according to KSAX-TV. Lundsten’s friends say he was gay and that he was bullied at Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Minn. Within hours, his death has prompted the formation of an anti-bullying group in the school district. Sen. Al Franken, who is the author of anti-bullying legislation in the U.S. Senate, extended his condolences to Lundsten’s family and friends on Monday evening. KSAX reports that emergency responders took Lundsten to Douglas County Hospital where he died.

“Bullying is a huge issue, particularly with the youth in our country now,” Shari Maloney, facilitator of the Diversity Resource Action Alliance, told KSAX. “I think because we’re in central Minnesota, and we aren’t as diverse as some of the larger Metropolitan areas are, someone who is different maybe draws more attention and it’s not always positive.”

A Facebook group, Jefferson Anti-Bully Coalition, was organized over the weekend in response to the reports that bullying may have led to Lundsten’s death. “The school’s staff isn’t protecting us, it’s up to the students to help each other,” wrote a student who founded the group. Franken told KSAX that LGBT students need more protection in schools. “My heart goes out to Lance’s family, and friends and loved ones. It’s a tragic event, not only for them, but for the school, and the Alexandria community and really for all of us,” Franken said. “LGBT kids really do need [more] protection,” Franken said. “They’re two or three times more likely than straight kids to get bullied. Nine in ten LGBT students said they’ve been bullied or harassed, and almost two-thirds say they don’t feel safe in school.”

Jefferson High School does not have anti-bullying policies that include sexual orientation or gender identity, only for “race, sex, religion, ethnic background, physical or mental handicaps.” Update: According to KARE 11, Lundsten’s father disputes the account given to KSAX. And the Alexandria Echo Press notes: According to preliminary autopsy results that were shared with the family, he died from cardiac edema, a condition caused by an enlarged heart. There was no evidence that drugs or alcohol played any role in the death, according to a family member interviewed by the newspaper. The family was told that it would be six to eight weeks before complete toxicology results are determined.

Update: KSAX-TV reports that Douglas County Medical Examiner Dr. Mark Spanbauer now says that while Lundsten’s heart was “slightly enlarged” the swelling “was a secondary finding.” He’s awaiting toxicology results and the completion of the autopsy before determining the cause of death.

January 20, 2011 – TV.Com

‘Glee’s Chris Colfer & Darren Criss Do ‘Entertainment Weekly’ Magazine

Without question gay visibility has gone up considerably on US television in the past 10 years and nowhere is that fact more apparent than on the extremely gay-friendly song and dance teen series…

Without question gay visibility has gone up considerably on US television in the past 10 years and nowhere is that fact more apparent than on the extremely gay-friendly song and dance teen series Glee on Fox. Glee’s main gay characters, Kurt and Blaine (played by actors Chris Colfer and Darren Criss), are featured on the cover and in the pages of this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly magazine as the coverboys for the magazine’s report titled Gay Teens on TV.

EW graciously shares a large portion of this fantastic coverstory with us here at Pink is the new Blog, which you can read below:

When Rickie Vasquez came out to his family on a 1994 episode of My So- Called Life, he ended up bruised, bloodied, and living in an abandoned warehouse full of homeless teens, afraid to tell even his closest friends why his uncle had kicked him out of the house just before Christmas. He didn’t even utter the word "gay" on screen until the season finale, which became the show’s final episode—and that was only to console a girl he’d rejected.

No wonder Rickie felt the need to keep his sexual orientation painfully tucked away—he was completely alone when it came to gay teens on television. He was the first on a primetime network show, and he’d be the only one for another five lonely years. In fact, there would be just a handful more in the next 10 years. "It was cathartic in some ways and painful in others," says the man who played him, Wilson Cruz, now 37, whose real life inspired many of Rickie’s story lines. "The biggest part was the acknowledgment of our existence and our pain, which we hadn’t seen at all on television before that."

If only Rickie could see Glee’s Kurt Hummel now. The breakout character (played by Chris Colfer) on TV’s most buzzed-about network show has won an Emmy nomination, a Golden Globe, and viewers’ hearts with an at times poignant, but often, well, gleeful depiction of a modern gay teen. It took Kurt only four episodes to say the words "I’m gay" to his dad, to which his father shrugged and said, "If that’s who you are, there’s nothing I can do about it. And I love you just as much." He sealed it with a hug, and a new kind of gay hero was born: one who’s loved as much for his boa wearing as he is for fending off bullies and forming a touching stepbrotherly bond with his former crush.

Read article

January 28, 2011 – The New York Times

Gays Seeking Asylum in U.S. Encounter a New Hurdle

by Dan Bilefsky
Romulo Castro considered attending his asylum interview in Rosedale, Queens, dressed as Fidela Castro, a towering drag queen in six-inch stilettos, a bright green poodle skirt and a mane of strawberry blond hair. In the end, Mr. Castro, 34, opted for what he described as understatement: pink eye shadow, a bright pink V-neck shirt and intermittent outbursts of tears.
After years of trying to conceal his sexual orientation back home in Brazil (where Fidela never made an appearance), Mr. Castro had been advised by his immigration lawyer that flaunting it was now his best weapon against deportation.

“I was persecuted for being fruity, a boy-girl, a fatso, a faggot — I felt like a monster,” said Mr. Castro, who reported being raped by an uncle at age 12, sexually abused by two police officers, and hounded and beaten by his peers before fleeing to the United States in 2000. “Here, being gay was my salvation. So I knew I had to put on the performance of my life.”

Amid international outcry over news of the Czech Republic’s testing the veracity of claims of purportedly gay asylum seekers by attaching genital cuffs to monitor their arousal while they watched pornography, some gay refugees and their advocates in New York are complaining that they can be penalized for not outwardly expressing their sexuality. While asylum-seekers and rights groups here expressed relief that use of the so-called erotic lie detector is impossible to imagine in the United States, some lamented in recent interviews that here too, homosexuals seeking asylum may risk being dismissed as not being gay enough.

The very notion of “gay enough,” of course, or proving one’s sexuality through appearance, dress and demeanor, can be offensive — and increasingly androgynous fashions and the social trend known as metrosexuality have blurred identities in many people’s minds. “Judges and immigration officials are adding a new hurdle in gay asylum cases that an applicant’s homosexuality must be socially visible,” said Lori Adams, a lawyer at Human Rights First, a nonprofit group, who advises people seeking asylum based on sexuality. “The rationale is that if you don’t look obviously gay, you can go home and hide your sexuality and don’t need to be worried about being persecuted.”

Jhuan Marrero, 18, who was born in Venezuela but has lived — illegally — in New York since he was 4, said the immigration officer at his asylum interview last week challenged him about his macho demeanor. “I was brought up by my parents to walk and talk like a man,” said Mr. Marrero, who volunteers at the Queens Pride House, a gay and lesbian center in Jackson Heights. The officer said: ‘You’re not a transsexual. You don’t look gay. How are you at risk?’ I insisted that if I was sent back to Venezuela, I would speak out about being gay and suffer the consequences.”

Victoria Neilson, legal director of the New York-based Immigration Equality, which provides assistance to asylum seekers, recalled the case of a 21-year-old lesbian who had been threatened with gang rape in her native Albania to cure her of her sexual orientation, but was initially denied asylum, Ms. Neilson said, because she was young, attractive and single, apparently not conforming to the officer’s stereotype of a lesbian. (A judge later granted her asylum, Ms. Neilson said.)

Chris Rhatigan, a spokeswoman for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, said each case is examined individually, both for evidence of sexual orientation and the conditions of the country of origin. While she declined to comment specifically on the examples cited by Mr. Marrero and Ms. Neilson, Ms. Rhatigan said such behavior by immigration officers would not be condoned. “We don’t say that someone is insufficiently gay or homosexual, whatever that would mean, or that he or she could be saved by hiding his or her homosexuality,” Ms. Rhatigan said. “Sexual preference is an immutable characteristic. It is something an individual can’t or shouldn’t change.”

Citizenship and Immigration Services received 38,000 asylum applications between October 2009 and September 2010, but the agency does not track how many cite being gay or lesbian as a reason. People may qualify for asylum if they can demonstrate past persecution or a well-founded fear of future persecution based on membership in a particular social group; in 1994, the scope of the law was expanded to specifically include homosexuals.

Illegal immigrants seeking asylum are interviewed by immigration officers, who can either approve their applications or refer them to an immigration judge. Gay applicants must marshal evidence of their sexual orientation and their risk of persecution, like affidavits from same-sex partners or police and medical reports of abuse. But legal experts said that the burden of proof can be difficult for people from places like Saudi Arabia or Iran where homosexuality is punishable by death and it can be dangerous to be openly gay or report an anti-gay hate crime — or from Western countries that are believed to be sexually tolerant.

Read article

Gay Asylum Seekers

To the Editor:
Re “Gays Seeking Asylum in U.S. Encounter a New Hurdle” (news article, Jan. 29):

While we appreciate your coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender asylum seekers, the article is not consistent with our experience in several ways. Each year, Immigration Equality and Human Rights First provide legal representation to hundreds of asylum seekers, and our legal team and pro bono lawyers win safe haven for most of these individuals.

In our experience, however, it is exceedingly rare for asylum seekers — whose families and home countries often stigmatize gay and transgender people — to present themselves falsely as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender to immigration officials. We have not seen an emerging trend of straight individuals claiming to be gay for immigration purposes.

Indeed, asylum seekers undergo rigorous evaluation by immigration officials to ensure that their claims are authentic. Nor have we seen a “new hurdle” for L.G.B.T. asylum seekers having to prove that they are “socially visible.” While there have been a few cases where adjudicators have demonstrated a bias in L.G.B.T. cases, we have found that most United States officials do their jobs, and verify claims made in asylum applications while respecting an individual’s identity as an L.G.B.T. person.

Until L.G.B.T. rights are respected around the world, asylum remains a lifeline for those fleeing persecution.

Victoria Neilson
Lori Adams
New York, Feb. 1, 2011

January 31, 2011 – The Los Angeles Times

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signs historic bill legalizing civil unions for gay, lesbian couples.

by Tammy Webber Associated Press
Chicago (AP) — Gov. Pat Quinn, saying it was a "day of history," signed historic legislation Monday legalizing civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, making Illinois one of about a dozen states that extend significant legal protections to same-sex couples. About 1,000 people crowded into the Chicago Cultural Center to watch Quinn, a Democrat, sign the measure that supporters call a matter of basic fairness and opponents decry as a threat to the sanctity of traditional marriage.

"We believe in civil rights and we believe in civil unions," Quinn said before signing the bill. "Illinois is taking an historic step forward in embracing fairness and extending basic dignity to all couples in our state," John Knight, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Project of the ACLU of Illinois, said in a written statement issued hours before the bill-signing.

The law, which takes effect June 1, gives gay and lesbian couples official recognition from the state and many of the rights that accompany traditional marriage, including the power to decide medical treatment for an ailing partner and the right to inherit a partner’s property. Five states already allow civil unions or their equivalent, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Five other states and Washington, D.C., let gay couples marry outright, as do some countries, including Canada, South Africa and the Netherlands. Illinois law will continue to limit marriage to one man and one woman, and civil unions still are not recognized by the federal government.

Opponents argue the law could increase the cost of doing business in Illinois, while Quinn has said it will make the state more hospitable to businesses and convention planners. The legislation, sent to Quinn in December, passed 61-52 in the Illinois House and 32-24 in the Senate. Some hope civil unions are a step toward full marriage for gay and lesbian couples, although sponsors of the civil union bill have said they don’t plan to push for legalizing same-sex marriages, which have limited support in the Legislature.

But some conservative groups said the new law is a stepping stone toward legalized same-sex marriage. "Marriage was not created by man or governments," David E. Smith, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, said Monday. "It is an institution created by God. Governments merely recognize its nature and importance Cardinal Francis George and other Catholic leaders also vigorously fought passage of the law. The measure doesn’t require churches to recognize civil unions or perform any kind of ceremony, but critics fear it will lead to other requirements, such as including same-sex couples in adoption programs run by religious groups or granting benefits to employees’ partners.

January 31, 2011 – OnTop Magazine

Marine Commandant James Amos Reverses Course On DADT Repeal

by Carlos Santoscoy
Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos has recorded a video urging service members to “respect the rights” of gay troops as the military prepares to implement repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the 17-year-old law that bans gay and bisexual troops from serving openly. In the two-minute-fifty-six-second video, Amos appears alongside Sergeant Major Carlton W. Kent, the commander’s senior enlisted adviser. Amos tells his troops that “we will step out smartly to faithfully implement this new law.”

“As we implement repeal, I want leaders at all levels to reemphasize the importance of maintaining dignity and respect for one another throughout our force. We are marines. We care for one another and respect the rights of all who wear this uniform. We will continue to demonstrate to the American people that discipline and fidelity, which have been the hallmarks of the United States Marine Corps for more than 235 years, will continue well into the future,” Amos says.

Previously, the nation’s top Marine Corps officer had testified before Congress against repeal and in an interview with the military’s Stars and Stripes he said he could not endorse repeal of the law because the distraction might endanger the lives of Marines in combat. “Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines lives,” he said. “That’s the currency of this fight.”

“I take that very, very seriously,” Amos added. “I don’t want to lose any Marines to that distraction. I don’t want to have any Marines that I’m visiting at Bethesda [National Naval Medical Center, in Maryland] with no legs be the results of any type of distraction.”

The military said on Friday that its plan for implementing repeal would stress respect and professionalism.

February 01, 2011 – Mshale

Gay Ugandan’s murder blamed on American evangelicals

Although the murder of Ugandan gay rights advocate David Kato and the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, AZ, occurred 9,000 miles apart, there are many who believe that American hate speech is to blame for both crimes. In Uganda, Kato ‘s death is being called tthe direct result of the hateful words of American evangelicals who have publicly fought against homosexuality and homosexual rights.

The American conservatives accused of making inflammatory remarks in the months leading up to the Tucson massacre seem to have successfully rebuffed the allegation that they bear any responsibility for that crime. They’ve been helped by the mass media, which has focused heavily on the mental illness of shooter Jared Loughner. But the Americans accused of fueling the homophobia that many are blaming for Kato’s brutal murder—he was bludgeoned to death with a hammer— will have a much harder time convincing the world that they have nothing to do with his death.

Over the last few years, homophobia has soared hroughout Africa but especially in Uganda, where a controversial 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill proposed the death penalty for some homosexuals. The evidence suggests that American evangelicals were involved in the drafting of the bill. In March 2009, an American evangelist named Scott Lively led an anti-gay conference in Kampala. A few days later, David Bahati, a lawmaker and a close friend of Lively, introduced the bill in Parliament.

Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian priest who went undercover to the “viciously homophobic” conference to conduct research on the rise of homophobia in Africa, quoted one Ugandan attendee: “Dr. Scott told us about Brazil where, 10 years ago, homosexuality was unheard of. Today, it is the capital. There are people that have been against homosexuality that are having to leave because of the pressure and the threats that they are putting on them. That is how serious it is.”

To solidify their lies, evangelicals took advantage of Ugandans’ devotion to Christianity. They knew that Africa’s nearly 500 million Christians practice their religion with more zeal than the foreigners who introduced it to them. Such people are more likely to act on anything that supposedly comes from the Bible. This is evident in the words of another man whom Rev. Kaoma quoted after Lively’s speech: “The man of God told us about…a movement behind the promotion of homosexuality. … I got to know that there is a force behind homosexuality, which we need to tackle with force. He also told us that these people who are behind this…evil, they have all resources that they need…to spread this evil. We need to stand firm to fight homosexuality.”

It is true that for decades there have been laws in the Uganda forbidding homosexuality. But like many laws in African countries, these were never enforced. And as the existence of those laws obviously suggests, Ugandans have known all along that some of their fellow citizens are gay. It wasn’t until American evangelicals began flocking to the East African country that Ugandans began to see homosexuality as something new and evil. Human rights activists and governments from around the world pressured Uganda to shelf the anti-homosexuality bill, albeit temporarily. But the damage was already done. Politicians, journalists and other Ugandans became increasingly intolerant of people they had lived with peacefully for decades. Outing gays became the fashionable thing to do. A little-known tabloid called Rolling Stone gained international notoriety for publishing the front page headline "100 PICTURES OF UGANDA’S TOP HOMOS LEAK." Kato’s photo was among them.

“Hang them,” the paper urged.

Lively and other evangelicals vehemently deny that they have a hand in igniting homophobia in Uganda. They point to some media reports quoting Ugandan police saying that Kato’s death might have been a robbery gone awry. But it isn’t hard to find stories in the same media about the corruption and incompetence of the same police. The irony is that as Ugandans were getting ready to “stand firm to fight homosexuality,” Lively was moving from California to Massachusetts— a state where gay marriage is legal—to open a coffee shop. If it turns out that Kato was murdered because of his sexuality, nothing will wash his blood off Lively’s hands— not even fair-trade coffee from Uganda.

February 11, 2011 – The Washington Post

Jamaica’s gays finding refuge by applying for U.S. asylum

by Shankar Vedantam, Washington Post Staff Writer
From the time he was in grade school in his native Jamaica, Andrae Bent was the target of taunts and attacks.
A classmate once stabbed him near his eye with a pencil for being effeminate. Another time, a man pulled a knife on him and asked if he was "one of them," Bent said, meaning homosexual. Fearing for his life, Bent denied his homosexuality. "I was called faggot, gay, batty man, chichi man," he said. "This would be from classmates, from people on the streets when I was walking home. Wherever I went in Jamaica, it was a nightmare."

Five months ago, Bent, now 24, won asylum in the United States on the grounds that he had credible fear of persecution as a gay man if he were to go back to Jamaica. He joined what has become a small wave of gay Jamaicans fleeing homophobia in the Caribbean nation. Despite its image as a laid-back island paradise for American tourists, Jamaica still criminalizes sodomy and has long been regarded by human rights activists as virulently anti-gay.

The federal government doesn’t track how many people are granted asylum on the basis of homophobia or what countries they are from. But of the 92 gays and lesbians who won asylum in 2010 with the help of Immigration Equality, an immigrant gay-rights group, 28 were from Jamaica – meaning that nearly a third were from a single country ranked 138th in world population.

Advocacy groups say they also regularly see asylum seekers from other English-speaking Caribbean countries, such as Barbados and St. Lucia. "The Caribbean is the part of the world where we see the highest number of cases," said Victoria Neilson, legal director at Immigration Equality, which estimates that it handles about half of all successful asylum cases brought on behalf of gay and lesbian foreigners. Part of the reason, she said, is that those seeking asylum have to be in the United States when they apply, a formidable hurdle for people from more distant countries such as Uganda. Homophobia in Uganda is so virulent that the parliament is considering a bill to execute gays and a prominent gay activist was slain two weeks ago.

But while many Americans are aware of homophobia in Africa, fewer are aware of the issue in the Caribbean, Neilsen said. "There is a great deal of violence, and in many Caribbean countries there are laws on the books that criminalize consensual sodomy, which makes it difficult for people to report violence to the police."
‘Hated to death’
Jamaica in particular, she said, "is one of the most violently homophobic countries that exist in the western hemisphere."

That Jamaican government sharply disputes that characterization. "I don’t believe we are more homophobic than anywhere else," said Cheryl Gordon, deputy chief of mission at the Jamaican embassy in Washington. "I believe we are more tolerant than anywhere else."

"We go after crimes committed against people irrespective of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political leaning, as long as people report there has been some crime against them," she said. But Jamaica’s most prominent national gay-rights group, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays, has a Kingston office that is unmarked – for fear of attack. Gays find their way to the group by word of mouth, said Dane Lewis, its executive director.

In 2004, Human Rights Watch issued a seminal report, "Hated to Death," about homophobia in Jamaica, where many people blame gay men for the country’s AIDS epidemic. The report detailed numerous examples of assault and violence against gays, and widespread discrimination in the medical and criminal justice systems. After the country’s most prominent gay rights activist, Brian Williamson, was stabbed to death in 1994, the report said, a delighted crowd gathered outside the victim’s home and people called out, "Batty man [homosexual] he get killed!" "Let’s get them one at a time," and "boom bye bye!" a line from a popular song that celebrated the killing of gays.

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February 16, 2011 – The Bilerico Project

Eight Years After Lawrence, Sodomy Laws Are Alive and Kicking

by: Guest Blogger
Editors’ note: Alexis Agathocleous is a staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights and is co-litigating Doe v. Jindal.

In 2003, the LGBT community rejoiced after the US Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Lawrence v. Texas, but in Louisiana, sodomy laws are still alive and kicking in 2011. Lawrence struck down a Texas sodomy law and held that sexual intimacy at home is constitutionally protected under due process and privacy principles. Coming seventeen years after Bowers v. Hardwick, the Supreme Court’s seething antigay decision that upheld a Georgia sodomy law, Lawrence felt like a sea change. Laws actually criminalizing the community, many people assumed, were a relic of the past. And accordingly, the LGBT rights movement shifted gears: litigation, lobbying, advocacy, and resources in the years since Lawrence have overwhelmingly focused on civil institutions such as marriage and visibility in the mainstream media. In short, the mainstream LGBT community stopped talking about criminal justice.

But as a federal civil rights lawsuit filed this week in Louisiana illustrates, this may have been hasty. Louisiana’s own archaic sodomy law is having a devastating effect on hundreds of people – principally low income women of color, including transgender women. The promise of Lawrence, it would seem, has not been fulfilled at the margins of the LGBT community. In Louisiana, people accused of soliciting sex for money can be criminally charged in two ways: either under the state’s generic prostitution statute or under the solicitation provision of the 206-year-old Crime Against Nature statute, which for two centuries outlawed all oral and anal sex.

If you’re convicted of prostitution (which encompasses oral, vaginal, and anal sex), you’ve got a misdemeanor on your record. But if it’s alleged that you offered oral or anal (but not vaginal) sex for a fee, police and prosecutors can choose to charge you under the Crime Against Nature statute. And if they do and you’re convicted, then you are forced to register as a sex offender. Multiple convictions get you registered for the rest of your life. In other words, sex commonly associated with LGBT people is still being singled out by Louisiana for harsher criminal punishment through this antiquated and discriminatory law. And to be clear: just offering someone a blow job for money gets you labeled as a registered sex offender.

Most of the Crime Against Nature statute was unambiguously rendered unconstitutional by Lawrence. But because Lawrence only directly addressed private, noncommercial sex, the solicitation provision of Louisiana’s Crime Against Nature statute has so far been upheld by the state courts. Lawrence, the Louisiana Supreme Court said, has nothing to do with how badly the state treats people who agree to engage in sodomy for money.

Doe v. Jindal, the federal lawsuit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) along with civil rights lawyer Andrea Ritchie and the Loyola Law School clinic, takes issue with that position. The lawsuit doesn’t argue that Louisiana can’t criminalize sex work. But it does challenge the fact that a Crime Against Nature by Solicitation conviction brands you as a sex offender simply because it involves oral or anal, rather than vaginal, sex. That irrational distinction, the lawsuit contends, violates basic constitutional equal protection principles and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Every other offense that requires sex offender registration in Louisiana involves violence, lack of consent, or a child. There’s no force or lack of consent or children involved here. There’s just no public safety rationale that could justify the distinction the state has drawn. All that animates this law is a long history of moral disapproval of non-procreative sex acts and blatant homophobia. And as such, the entire LGBT community should be outraged about what’s happening in Louisiana.

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February 17, 2011 – On Top Magazine

Hawaii Senate Approves Gay Unions Bill; Neil Abercrombie To Sign

by On Top Magazine Staff
The Hawaii Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that offers gay and lesbian couples benefits and responsibilities nearly identical to those of marriage, Reuters reported. Senators approved the civil unions legislation, which cleared the House on Friday, with an 18 to 5 vote, sending the bill to Governor Neil Abercrombie for his signature.

Abercrombie has previously pledged to sign the bill into law. “I have always believed that civil unions respect our diversity, protect people’s privacy, and reinforce our core values of equality and aloha,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. “For me this bill represents equal rights for all the people of Hawaii.”

Lawmakers approved a nearly identical bill last year, but then-Governor Linda Lingle, a Republican, vetoed the measure after much public hand-wringing on the issue. Gay activists praised the measure. “I have a great sense of pride for the Legislature that was able to see the big picture of equality for Hawaii,” said Tara O’Neill, president of Pride Alliance.

Hawaii becomes the third state to offer the union behind New Jersey and Illinois, whose governor signed a similar measure into law last month. A similar bill has been introduced in Colorado.

February 24, 2011 – The Washington Post

Obama shifts stance on gay marriage

by Charles Babington, AP
Washington — One way for President Barack Obama to win the future, it seems, is to have his administration stop defending a federal law that bans recognition of same-sex marriage. Opinion polls show a steady rise in Americans’ embrace of gay rights, and young voters solidly back positions their grandparents opposed, including gay marriage. "Anybody under the age of 40 doesn’t care, or actively supports it," said Steve Elmendorf, a longtime Democratic staffer and lobbyist.

The administration said Wednesday it no longer would defend the constitutionality of the 1996 federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. Attorney General Eric Holder cited recent shifts in legal thought, not public opinion, in explaining the decision. "Much of the legal landscape has changed in the 15 years since Congress passed" the Defense of Marriage Act, Holder said. He noted that the Supreme Court has ruled that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are unconstitutional and that Congress has repealed the military’s "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy, which barred service by openly gay men and women.

Five or so years ago, Obama’s decision might have touched off fierce Republican criticisms. But reaction Wednesday was comparatively sparse and muted from mainstream GOP groups and individuals. Most of the Republicans weighing a presidential bid were silent, as was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. One exception was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, an evangelical minister who is considering a second try for the presidency.

"I think it was an absolutely boneheaded political move, and I think it was a boneheaded policy move," Huckabee said in an interview. He said Obama seems to say, "I don’t answer to the voters." At least 30 states have held referendums on the issue, Huckabee said, and "without exception, when the voters decide, they always decide to affirm marriage" between a man and woman.

Thirty states have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. Same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia. The 1996 law prevents the federal government from recognizing gay marriages and allows states to deny recognition of same-sex unions performed elsewhere. Over the years, Obama has criticized the federal law without fully supporting gay marriage. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that Obama was still "grappling" with his view on the matter but had always personally opposed the Defense of Marriage Act as "unnecessary and unfair."

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February 25, 2011 – AlterNet

Queer Injustice: The Widespread Sexual Abuse LGBT People Face in Prison

While sexual violence is part of the daily prison experience for many inmates, LGBT people are disproportionately targeted by staff and prisoners.

Most Influential Progressive 2011… The following is an excerpt from Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States, edited by Joey L. Mogul, Andrea J. Ritchie, and Kay Whitlock (Beacon Press, 2011).

Sexual Violence
Since sexual violence is one of the principal weapons of policing and punishing perceived sexual deviance and gender nonconformity on the outside, it may come as no surprise that it’s wielded to even greater effect in the highly controlled and violent environment of modern prisons. Roderick Johnson’s case and similarly horrifying experiences of countless other incarcerated queers illustrate the ways in which sexual violence allows prison authorities to control the queered prison environment as a whole.

Studies indicate that as many as one in four female prisoners and one in five male prisoners are subjected to some form of sexual violence at the hands of prison staff and other prisoners. Numbers vary depending on the methodology used in a study or survey, and many victims do not report instances of sexual violence they endure be- cause they fear retaliation, stigmatization, and isolation. Others fail to report assaults because they have become inured to it after years of abuse and forced sexual encounters. Consequently, reported instances of sexual violence represent only the tip of the iceberg. The most recent surveys completed by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) extrapolated that 60,500 incarcerated adults or 4.5 percent of the prison population were sexually abused in 2007 alone, while 3,220 or 12 percent of youth incarcerated in juvenile detention centers were sexually violated by a staff member (10.3 percent) or another youth within the first twelve months of their admission.

While sexual violence is, in many respects, part of the daily prison experience for many inmates–whether they are victims, perpetrators, or forced observers—LGBT people are disproportionately targeted by staff and prisoners. It is now generally accepted by prison officials, experts, sociologists, and prison advocates that prisoners and detainees who are, or perceived to be, gay, transgender, or gender nonconforming are more likely to be sexually assaulted, coerced, and harassed than their heterosexual and gender-conforming counterparts. One study of six male prisons in California in 2007 found that 67 percent of the respondents who identified as LGBT reported having been sexually assaulted by another inmate during their imprisonment, a rate that was fifteen times higher than the rest of the prison population.

The first national survey of violence in the penal system, conducted by the BJS in 2003, found that sexual orientation was the single greatest determinant of sexual abuse in prisons, with 18.5 percent of homosexual inmates reporting they were sexually assaulted, compared to 2.7 percent of heterosexual prisoners. Additionally, it appears that rape victims of all sexualities are subsequently framed as gay and thereby become targets for further violence. According to Bryson Martel, imprisoned in an Arkansas prison for a narcotics-related offense, “You get labeled as a faggot if you get raped. If it gets out and then people know you have been raped, that opens the door for a lot of other predators. Anywhere I was, everybody looked at me like I was a target.”

Sexual violence is often used as a tool by staff and prisoners to enforce gender roles and conformity. A male prisoner’s rank in the hierarchical world of prisons is measured by traits stereotypically associated with masculinity, including physical strength and physique, ability to commit acts of violence and self-defense, and the nature of the offense that led to incarceration. As in larger society, masculinity is privileged while traits stereotypically associated with femininity, synonymous with weakness, are devalued. According to Donaldson, “The prison subculture fuses sexual and social roles and assigns prisoners accordingly . . . in my experience confinement institutions are the most sexist (as well as racist) environment in the country, bar none.”

3 March 2011 – PinkNews

Texas school bans all clubs to prevent gay-straight alliance being formed

by Steve Brewer
A school in Texas has banned all extra-curricular clubs in a move to block a student’s request to form a Gay-Straight Alliance that would bring together straight and LGBT students. The group would provide support and promote understanding between students. In a 2009 survey by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Network, 1 in 9 American LGBT students reported experiencing harassment at school, proving a need for GSAs in schools to help combat bullying and prejudice. The principal of Flour Bluff High School, James Crenshaw, denied the request to found the GSA by student Nikki Peet, 17, in November, despite her fulfilling all the requirements to start a student club.

With no other reasons left to prevent the GSA from forming, Flour Bluff has now banned all extra-curricular clubs, asking existing clubs to meet off campus for the time being. The Flour Bluff Independent School District has backed the decision of the high school. “I am shocked and disappointed that my school district would rather punish students by eliminating extracurricular clubs than allow the formation of a club whose entire purpose is to promote tolerance,” said Ms Peet. “It’s going to bring a lot of hate and animosity to the school because now people are going to be like [sic], the people who are for the GSA, they’re the ones who stopped the other clubs. So we’re kind of being blamed for it.”

Activists say the decision is in contravention of the federal Equal Access Act 1984, which requires schools to offer fair opportunities for students to form their own extra-curricular groups without discrimination, which the school has done until now. Christine Sun, senior counsel with the national American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) LGBT and AIDS Project said: “Officials from Flour Bluff School District deny they are subject to federal law, but in fact, they are held to the same standard as other schools and must treat extra-curricular groups equally, regardless of their students’ religion, political affiliation or sexual orientation.”

Superintendent of the Flour Bluff Independent School District, Dr Julie Carbajal claims the school is exempt from the Equal Access Act 1984 thanks to a district approved policy forbidding student clubs meeting on campus if they are not tied to the curriculum.

March 9, 2011 – Human Rights Watch

US: Mississippi Policies Fuel HIV Epidemic
– State’s Approaches Impede Access to Information, Prevention, Treatment

(Jackson) – Thousands of Mississippians are at risk for HIV, and many who are infected are denied lifesaving measures and treatment because of counterproductive state laws and policies, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Mississippi has resisted effective approaches to HIV prevention and treatment and instead supported policies that promote stigma and discrimination, fueling one of the nation’s highest AIDS rates, Human Rights Watch said.

The 59-page report, "Rights at Risk: State Response to HIV in Mississippi," documents the harmful impact of Mississippi’s policies on state residents, including people living with HIV and those at high risk of contracting it. Mississippi refuses to provide complete, accurate information about HIV prevention to students and threatens criminal penalties for failing to disclose one’s HIV status to sexual partners. At the same time, Mississippi provides little or no funding for HIV prevention, housing, transportation, or prescription drug programs for people living with HIV, and the state fails to take full advantage of federal subsidies to bolster these programs. In Mississippi, half of people testing positive for the virus are not receiving treatment, a rate comparable to that in Botswana, Ethiopia, and Rwanda.

"Many people living with HIV in Mississippi can’t get to clinics, can’t afford treatment, and can’t keep a roof over their heads, while young people can’t get essential information about how to protect themselves," said Megan McLemore, senior health researcher at Human Rights Watch. "These are public health failures that threaten fundamental rights to life and health of all Mississippians."

Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 65 people in Mississippi for the report, including people living with HIV and AIDS, AIDS service organizations, and public officials throughout the state. In Mississippi, the highest rates of HIV exposure are among men who have sex with men, while heterosexual women are the second-largest group affected by the disease. Young people in Mississippi are becoming infected with HIV at increasingly high rates, and racial disparities in HIV and AIDS infections are dramatic. African-Americans constitute 37 percent of the population but 76 percent of new cases of HIV.

"HIV is taking a devastating toll on African-American communities in Mississippi," McLemore said.

One husband and wife interviewed by Human Rights Watch are both HIV-positive. He is in a wheelchair, debilitated from AIDS, and they live in constant fear of eviction as their limited income is barely sufficient to pay the rent. Despite evidence that housing is critical to the ability of individuals with HIV to maintain their health, and the state’s own estimate that 3,500 people with HIV will have unmet housing needs in the next five years, Mississippi provides no funds for housing for people living with HIV and AIDS.

"We survive by the grace of God but not much else," Sheila R. (a pseudonym), told Human Rights Watch about their daily struggle to meet basic needs.

Mississippi is among the poorest of all US states, which entitles it to substantial federal funds that could support HIV/AIDS housing and health care services. Yet it has consistently failed to take full advantage of these funds. The state recently sued to block national health care reform legislation that would expand Medicaid eligibility for many people living with HIV, with the cost borne primarily by the federal government. According to the report, Mississippi’s unwillingness to accept federal support for its residents with HIV contributes to death rates from AIDS that are far higher than the national average.

Mississippi also clings to failed approaches to sex and HIV education, Human Rights Watch said. Mississippi has some of the nation’s highest rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, sexually transmitted diseases that can significantly increase an individual’s risk of becoming infected with HIV. Yet the state legislature has repeatedly refused to approve programs that provide complete, accurate information about HIV and pregnancy prevention, insisting on ineffective abstinence-only curricula in the public schools. The result, Human Rights Watch said, is the denial of potentially life-saving information to adolescents, putting them at unnecessary risk of HIV infection.

Mississippi‘s laws and policies contribute to the extreme stigma associated with HIV, which for many people is more frightening than the disease itself, Human Rights Watch said. One woman told Human Rights Watch that she threw out her AIDS medications when staying with relatives for fear that they would discover her HIV status.

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March 10, 2011 – Global Equality Today

United States Accepts UN Recommendations for Improving LGBT Rights at Home

Today the US State Department released its response to the recommendations made by the United Nations Human Rights Council on the human rights record of the United States. Of the 228 recommendations made by countries around the world to the United States, three of the recommendations (86, 112, and 116) relate to LGBT rights. The United States officially accepted all three LGBT recommendations today.

The Council for Global Equality and Human Rights Campaign have engaged with the Universal Periodic Review process to ensure inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the review of the United States’ human rights record, and are pleased that the United States today has officially and formally accepted these recommendations. (read the NGO submitted report here)

Since this was the first time that the United States has been reviewed by this relatively new UN process, it is also the first time that our nation publicly committed to the world community the intention to do more to combat violence and discrimination against LGBT American citizens. HRC and the Council for Global Equality intend to continue their work to ensure these recommendations are fully implemented by our government.

March 2011 – Queerty

Suicide: Nick Kelo, 13, Dead From Gunshot After Suffering Anti-Gay Bullying For Joining Band

Nicholas Kelo, a student in Akron, Ohio, shot himself dead on Feb. 23 at the age of 13. His mother suspects Nick may have gone for a gun because he was bullied after classmates began suspecting he was gay before he joined band. Update: See below.

The harassment began when Nick Kelo decided not to continue playing football after moving from middle to high school, the Beacon Journal reports. He took band instead. And that, says his mother Jacqueline, is what started the gossip about her son; his peers thought (wrongly, she says) that he must be gay if her prefers the sax. "After that, it [the bullying] spiraled out of control."

One such incident allegedly happened on a school bus following a football game, explained the mother of another Rittman teenager who said her son is also a victim of bullying. During the incident, Nick allegedly became the victim of an older student who was ”glicking” — forcibly spitting on him. Jacqueline Kelo knew something was bothering her son when he came home, but the eighth-grader refused to share the details — telling her that he would handle it himself. The parents became aware of it only after their son’s death. Jacqueline Kelo said it didn’t surprise her that her son kept his pain to himself. Nick viewed himself as his mother’s protector. ”He was the man of the house,” the single mother said.

Jacqueline says she went to the school twice since the start of the school year to register complaints about her son being bullied. Other parents report similar stories. But Jacqueline sounds forgiving when it comes to the school’s inadequate response.

When told about the complaints expressed by the Kelos and others about the issue, Rittman High School Principal Brett Lanz quickly noted that he was saddened by Nick’s death. ”I feel like . . .everything [bullying issues and other concerns] that is brought to my attention I deal with or respond in some way,” Lanz said. ”As a school administrator . . .you ask the same questions that everybody else asks — Are we doing enough? How more do we support students? The school becomes a filter for a lot of things these days.”

The Kelos praised Superintendent Jon Ritchie for stepping up following their son’s death. ”I honestly don’t think he knew that it was this bad,” Jacqueline Kelo said.

To help the school system, which has an anti-bullying program at the elementary level and has added counselors in some buildings, a fund has been established in Nick’s name to help with character education in the district. In addition, Ritchie said an anti-bullying program will be added to the curriculum in sixth through 12th grade. ”We are going to teach them about compassion and empathy and how to be sensitive to other people’s needs,” Ritchie said. ”I think if we reach the time in our schools and in our society where people generally care about other people, the bullying issue could disappear. ‘The people who are kind and respectful and really truly care about their neighbors, their community members, their friends generally try to do what’s right and try to be there for people. ‘We need to teach our young adults and children to care and be more compassionate about their fellow students. If we can create that kind of environment in the Rittman schools and in the Rittman community — I know this much — it will be a much better place to live and raise a family.”

A self-inflicted gunshot, from a gun kept in safe in the Kelo home, ended Nick’s life. What is unclear from the story, however, is whether he removed the gun to take his own life, or whether he was planning to use it in some way to protect himself from bullies Nick was transported to the hospital by helicopter, and nine of his organs were collected for transplant to those in need. Nick, who had a second-degree black belt in tae kwon do and held a red-black belt in kumdo, and was an avid inventor ("a waffle fork to remove hot food from a toaster and an incinerator trash can"), also had a 152 IQ.

Update: Nick’s mother Jacqueline writes Queerty with an impassioned plea to remove our story.

As the mother of Nick, I am asking you to take this story down immediately. You have plagiarized the well written report by Kim in the Akron Beacon Journal, you misinterpreted facts and you have wrongly accused my son of being gay. I am outraged and horrified. As the daughter of a gay mother I know the struggles of the gay community well. I do not appreciate you using my son as a poster child for your cause, there are enough good honest gay people who need your help, my son was not one of them.

My son’s death was a tragic accident the resulted from his frustration of repeated bullying, yes, but it goes back years and is related more to his intellectual gifts and abilities. He was in no way suicidal or depressed. He was too smart for that. He was frustrated and angry and made an impulsive 13 year old error in judgment which led to a tragic accident due to the report from the lab that shows no gun powder residue on his hands. My son was not gay, your story is inaccurate and you are doing a huge disservice to both him, the children in this school who are bullied still today and the gay community.

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March 17, 2011 – The New York Times

Study Undercuts View of College as a Place of Same-Sex Experimentation

by Tamar Lewin
The popular stereotype of college campuses as a hive of same-sex experimentation for young women may be all wrong.
To the surprise of many researchers and sex experts, the National Survey on Family Growth found that women with bachelor’s degrees were actually less likely to have had a same-sex experience than those who did not finish high school. “It’s definitely a ‘huh’ situation, because it goes counter to popular perceptions,” said Kaaren Williamsen, director of Carleton College’s gender and sexuality center.

For years, sex researchers, campus women’s centers and the media have viewed college as a place where young women explore their sexuality, test boundaries, and, often, have their first — in some cases, only — lesbian relationship. That phenomenon gave rise to the term LUG (lesbian until graduation). In 2003, a New York magazine article, “Bi for Now,” suggested that women’s involvement in their college’s gay scene exposed them to a different culture, like junior year abroad in Gay World. But according to the new study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on 13,500 responses, almost 10 percent of women ages 22 to 44 with a bachelor’s degree said they had had a same-sex experience, compared with 15 percent of those with no high school diploma. Women with a high school diploma or some college, but no degree, fell in between.

Six percent of college-educated women reported oral sex with a same-sex partner, compared with 13 percent who did not complete high school. Anjani Chandra was the lead author of the report, based on data from 2006 through 2008. Although 13 percent of women over all reported same-sex sexual behavior only one percent identified themselves as gay, and another 4 percent as bisexual. To get accurate answers to intimate questions, the researchers asked those surveyed to enter their responses directly into a computer.

“It’s like a Rubik’s cube of sexuality, where you turn it a different way, and the factors don’t fit together,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “It may be that the commonly held wisdom was wrong, that people just liked to imagine women in college having sex together, or it may be that society has changed, and as more people come out publicly, in politics or on television, we are getting a clearer view of the breadth of sexuality.”

The findings are especially striking — and puzzling — since the previous round of the survey, in 2002, found no pattern of educational differences in women’s sexual behavior. Most of the change came from higher levels of same-sex behavior reported by the women without diplomas. “I always thought the LUG phenomenon was overblown, in the context of it being erotically titillating for young men,” said Barbara Risman, an officer of the Council on Contemporary Families and a University of Illinois at Chicago sociology professor. She added that the new findings may reflect class dynamics, with high school dropouts living in surroundings with few desirable and available male partners.

Amber Hollibaugh, interim executive director of Queers for Economic Justice, a New York-based advocacy group, said the results of the federal survey underscored how poor, minority and working-class lesbians had been overshadowed by the mainstream cultural image of lesbians as white professionals. “Working with a gay-rights group is now something you’d put on your résumé,” said Ms. Hollibaugh, who did not attend college. “Lesbians who aren’t college-educated professionals are pretty much invisible.”

Dan Savage, a gay sex columnist in Seattle, said the LUG phenomenon may be overrepresented in the national imagination because so many students sought attention for their sexual exploration: “A lot of them are out to prove something and want their effort to smash the patriarchy to be very visible,” he said.

Lisa Diamond, a professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah, said that with gay relationships so much more common throughout society, college campuses may have lost their status as the “privileged site” for women’s exposure to different kinds of sexuality. “Maybe our stereotypes are just behind the times,” Ms. Diamond said, adding that while lesbian and gay couples raising children were still assumed to be sophisticated white professionals, as in the movie, “The Kids Are All Right,” the latest parenting data showed that “holy-moly, it’s less likely to be upper-middle-class same-sex couples than ethnic minorities and working-class couples.”

Most headlines about the report, released earlier this month, focused on a finding that young people were waiting longer to have sex. Almost 29 percent of the females and 27 percent of the males, age 15 to 24, had had no sexual contact, an increase from 22 percent for both sexes in the 2002 survey. The gender gap on homosexuality remains substantial: Twice as many women as men reported same-sex behavior. Three percent of the women — and 5 percent of the least-educated women — said they were attracted equally to men and women, compared with one percent of the men. “A lot of data shows that women’s sexuality is more hetero-flexible, more influenced by what they see around them,” Professor Diamond said.

In the past, she said, a women with a single homosexual relationship would have been labeled gay, and urged to accept that identity. But now there is a growing sense that a lesbian relationship need not define a woman. “It’s becoming more acceptable, at least in some parts of society, to see your gender identity as fluid,” said Joan Westreich, a Manhattan therapist. “I see women whose first loves were women, who then meet and fall in love with a guy, and for whom it seems to be relatively conflict-free.”

March 20, 2011 – The Montgomery Advisor

Author tells tale of gay, black Southern men

by Rheta Grimsley Johnson
Colorado Springs, Colo. — Once you’ve recorded 558 pages’ worth of oral history on any subject, you become somewhat of an expert. You know your subject. Getting strangers to listen to that expertise, to open their minds enough to consider a different point of view — and perhaps to buy the book — that’s the real challenge. E. Patrick Johnson, 44, Chicago professor of performance studies but son of the South, sits alone on a stool on an auditorium stage with a pitcher of sweet iced tea, a choir robe and a microphone. In voices and accents as different as New Orleans is from Tupelo, Miss., he tells the stories of nine of his 63 subjects from his 2008 book called "Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South."

There’s Countess Vivian, a 93-year-old New Orleans man, World War II veteran, nurse and bon vivant. He never left his home during Hurricane Katrina, or any other time for long. He remembers the bars with no signs during Prohibition and the 1920s dance floors before jukeboxes: "They had pianos. Put a nickel in the piano and it’d play a tune and you could dance … And they would have maybe two, three little pieces of music, they have a drum and a horn or something like that, and you go back there and you’d dance like nobody’s business …"

And Johnson speaks in the lilting voice of Freddie, a Madison, Ga., native who now lives in Atlanta. The son of a domestic and a sawmill worker, Freddie calls himself "an unwanted child," and says it’s best to give up on "this sainted mother myth." "One of her favorite things to say was, ‘If it wasn’t for you, my life would be wonderful.’ So, hearing that as a kid, I think, was why … I started to have thoughts of suicide. Because just think of it. If you’re a little kid and your mother says, ‘If it wasn’t for you, my life would be wonderful,’ you’re going to think, ‘Well, I hate making her life awful.’ And you start thinking about not being here …"

As Johnson becomes nine different men without benefit of makeup or costume, you forget he’s only one, the author. His goal, he said, was "to lift the stories off the pages" and make flat words come alive. And he does. As desperate as his subjects and their voices, Johnson found common themes in 63 stories. The most obvious thing: None of them left the South, despite conventional wisdom that it’s the toughest place to exist as a gay black man. The book, Johnson said, debunks that myth. His subjects, in fact, were able to use their "Southernness" — politeness, religiosity, coded speech — to try to fit in, to become "legitimate" members of the greater community.

Or, as one man said, "Southerners often accepted (or forgave) almost any eccentricity so long as it posed no threat to the established order." That, of course, was also the rub. His one-man performance has been well-received, Johnson said. From Mobile to ultra-conservative Colorado Springs. He’s caught no flak, he claims. He’s preached to a lot of choirs, but that’s OK. Audience members take away different things. When E. Patrick Johnson dons the choir robe that’s been hanging there like a bit player and sings a booming hymn, only the narrowest mind would close and fail to hear.

Rheta Grimsley Johnson, who grew up in Montgomery, writes this syndicated column, which appears each Monday.

Links To find out more about Grimsley Johnson and her books.

March 27, 2011 – LGBTQ Nation

Texas, Kansas, Montana, Oklahoma: states hold onto laws defining gay ‘conduct’ illegal

By Darryl Morris
“Homosexual conduct” is still a crime in Texas — and at least three other states — eight years after the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down the state’s sodomy law, and invalidated similar laws across the country.
And yet lawmakers in Texas, Kansas and Montana, have either failed, or face opposition, in removing the unconstitutional laws from their state’s criminal code. Although the so-called sodomy laws cannot be enforced legally, civil rights advocates say they should be removed from the books because they create a climate favorable to discrimination, harassment, bullying, and hate crimes.

In Texas, State Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) has sponsored legislation to repeal the state’s sodomy law, which has been unenforceable since the 2003 Supreme Court decision. Her colleague, Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) has introduced an identical bill. “There is archaic language in our code that is used against our citizens today,” said Farrar.

The Austin American-Statesman reports:
“By leaving it on the books, you create the potential for abuse,” said Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project , which is representing two gay men who were kicked out of an El Paso restaurant in 2009 for kissing in public. In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas could not stop people of the same sex from engaging in sexual activity. Today, the Texas Penal Code still states that it is a Class C misdemeanor to engage in “deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex” — just after a line explaining that the law is unconstitutional.

Gay rights legislation is a tough sell for Texas lawmakers. In 2005, voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Center), said he would be hesitant to change the law, because it “better reflects the views of a lot of citizens” as it is. Republicans hold 101 of the 150 seats in the Texas House, a super-majority that allows them to easily control legislation.

In Kansas, the House Judiciary Committee was considering legislation last week designed to cleanup the state’s criminal code, when the panel’s top Republican and Democrat removed a provision that would have repealed the law that criminalizes gay sex.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports:
Thomas Witt, state chairman of the Kansas Equity Coalition, said the decision by Rep. Lance Kinzer (R-Olathe), and Rep. Jan Pauls (D-Hutchinson), to remove a provision repealing the law from a cleanup bill sent a harsh message to homosexual couples living in Kansas. He said House leadership should remove Kinzer as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and oust Pauls from her position as ranking Democrat on the panel. […]

“Representative Pauls’ endorsement of an unconstitutional statute that’s used to threaten and discriminate against law-abiding Kansas citizens is an outrage,” Witt said. “Jan Pauls was trusted to be a judge before becoming a state representative and should know better than to support unconstitutional laws,” said Jon Powell, chair of the Hutchinson chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition

Both lawmakers said the repeal seemed unnecessary since the law wasn’t being enforced. And as we reported earlier, a Montana legislative committee on March 18 killed a bill that would have decriminalized homosexual sex. The bill would have removed language from Montana Code which defines “deviate” sexual relations as sexual contact or sexual intercourse between two persons of the same sex.

Via The Montana Capitol Report:
This bill would remove the outdated language in our criminal code that makes homosexual acts a felony. This law has already been ruled unconstitutional by the Montana Supreme Court and similar laws have been ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. By all rational accounts, this bill should have been easy, since it only cleans up our criminal code to fit the current law. Unfortunately, all but one of the Republicans on this committee allowed their personal biases to overrule their respect for the rule of law and they voted to kill this bill.

During a hearing on the bill, GOP lawmakers equated homosexuality with bestiality and pedophilia. The Montana Supreme Court struck down that state’s sodomy law in 1997, six years before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The state of Oklahoma also has not yet repealed it’s homosexual conduct laws, and the state legislature has taken no action since the 2003 Supreme Court decision to remove the law from its criminal code.

March 28, 2011 – The Huffington Post

Beyond Bullying: Race, Poverty and LGBT Rights

by Darren Hutchinson
One of the most pernicious but least discussed stereotypes of LGBT persons portrays them as a highly privileged population. According to the legend, the average LGBT person is white, wealthy and highly educated.

Opponents of LGBT rights frequently point to these so-called privileges in order to advocate against progress on questions of sexual orientation and gender identity. For example, during the campaign to pass an amendment to the Colorado constitution that banned the implementation of laws protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination, the group Coloradans for Family Values circulated the film "Gay Rights/Special Rights." The video depicts gays and lesbians as white, upper-class and sexually debauched. The narrator questions the need for LGBT rights measures on the grounds that gays and lesbians have not suffered discrimination to the same extent as Blacks and Latinos.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia echoed this sentiment in his dissenting opinion in the case Romer v. Evans. In Romer, the Supreme Court invalidated the Colorado constitutional amendment because it denied gays and lesbians of Equal Protection. In protest, Justice Scalia argued that "those who engage in homosexual conduct tend to reside in disproportionate numbers in certain communities. . .have high disposable income. . .[and] possess political power much greater than their numbers, both locally and statewide." Accordingly, extending them civil rights protection would amount to "special rights."

The gay-as-wealthy stereotype is patently false. The notion of LGBT wealth often rests on statistical data that uses very skewed samples of "out" persons who make contributions to political organizations and who subscribe to LGBT-related periodicals. Using the stereotype as a way of comparing Blacks and LGBT persons is also bankrupt. Social groups can have different experiences, but they can each suffer from unjustifiable mistreatment. Furthermore, many Blacks are also LGBT individuals. Thus, the comparative approach falsely assumes a separability of the two groups.

Two Recent Reminders of the Intersection of Race, Poverty and LGBT Status
The intersection of race, poverty and LGBT status has very tangible effects. Several studies have indicated that LGBT persons of color are more vulnerable to hate crimes than whites. This is likely due to them lacking adequate safe spaces to express their identities openly. Also, poor LGBT people cannot afford to move to low-crime neighborhoods, thus, exacerbating their susceptibility to violence.

Despite their greater vulnerability to antigay violence, the national media typically does not make connections between race and homophobic violence. For example, Damian Furtch, a 26-year-old black gay male was recently severely beaten in New York City. His attackers called him a "faggot." Police have labeled the incident a hate crime. As of today, the only detailed news about this crime appears on another blog. Although the media has given antigay "bullying" massive amounts of attention in recent months, the type of street violence that disproportionately impacts poor LGBT persons of color remains virtually unexamined and uncriticized in the general media.

Carl Siciliano, the Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center, has written an "open letter" to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asking him not to slash state funding of emergency shelters for homeless youth in New York. The Ali Forney Center provides shelter to homeless LGBT youth in New York City. Most of these kids have been kicked out of their homes because they are LGBT. Most of them are also very poor and typically persons of color. These youths are statistically quite vulnerable to suicide and abuse. While the media has devoted a lot of attention on the issue of suicides among LGBT individuals, it has focused attention primarily upon suicides resulting from bullying — rather than examining the massive difficulties that poor LGBT youth face when their parents refuse to accept their identities.

Moving Forward
There are many reasons why poor LGBT persons of color are invisible in the media. The media rarely produces serious journalistic accounts of the personal effects of discrimination upon the most vulnerable persons in society. Also, homophobia within communities of color and racism within LGBT populations compounds the discrimination LGBT persons of color already face. Placing these issues on the forefront of social justice movements, however, is necessary for real progress to occur.

29 March 2011 – PinkNews

US gay and lesbian military group launches magazine

by Jessica Geen
The first magazine for gay and lesbian troops has been launched in the US. OutServe is currently available online, although publishers say the next issue will be in print. The magazine is published by the OutServe support network, which began last year to help serving gay and lesbian troops.
OutServe has around 2,900 members in more than 40 chapters.

The first edition of the magazine was put together with just four volunteers but editor J Mills said the next issue would be larger. Mr Mills, who is serving in the Air Force and asked for his first name to be kept secret, said he hoped the publication would eventually be available in military bases. He told ABC News: “The magazine really is a grassroots efforts by our own people to reach out and support our own. It just helps us get our message out and helps people to see that this is no big deal. Full implementation is right around the corner, and we think it’s a great thing to get this out sooner rather than later.”

March 29, 2011 – PR Newswire

Hospice Foundation of America Webinar to Focus on Supporting LGBT Community

Washington (PRNewswire) – The Hospice Foundation of America will present a live, online webinar focusing on "Supporting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community through Illness, Death and Grief" on Wednesday April 20 from 1pm – 2pm ET. This live webinar features Kimberly Acquaviva, PhD, MSW, of George Washington University, who will discuss the challenges faced by this community and how organizations can better serve older LGBT adults and their loved ones. Kenneth Doka, PhD, MDiv, will discuss the psychosocial issues that may occur as LGBT individuals and their loved ones face illness and death.

"Aging and death don’t discriminate. Whether someone is heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, everyone grows older," states Dr. Doka. "Yet during their lifetime, LGBT older adults have faced legal and societal barriers, and many older LGBT individuals may feel reluctant to seek and accept health care and social services." There are between 2 and 7 million older LGBT adults in the US. This webinar will look at some of the challenges that this community faces in accessing inclusive, compassionate health care at the end of life. The presenters will discuss how hospice providers and other organizations can examine their programs and policies to ensure inclusion of LGBT information and needs, and will also discuss how grief is often disenfranschised in this community.

Organizations can register for $75, which allows access to both the live webcast and an archived online program for one year past the live webinar, with free unlimited CEs (1 hour) available for a wide range of professions. Individuals may register for the live webinar for $25; 1 hour of CE credit is included for the registered individual. To learn more about this exciting educational offering, contact HFA at 800-854-3402 or go online. Hospice Foundation of America ( ) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help those who cope personally or professionally with terminal illness, death, and the process of grief and bereavement.

Contact: Lisa Veglahn, 800-854-3402

March 2011 – PubMed

The health of aging lesbian, gay and bisexual adults in California

by Wallace SP, Cochran SD, Durazo EM, Ford CL. – UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, UCLA School of Public Health and UCLA School of Public Affairs, Los Angeles, California 90024, USA.

Research on the health of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adults generally overlooks the chronic conditions that are the most common health concerns of older adults. This brief presents unique population-level data on aging LGB adults (ages 50-70) documenting that they have higher rates of several serious chronic physical and mental health conditions compared to similar heterosexual adults. Although access to care appears similar for aging LGB and heterosexual adults, aging LGB adults generally have higher levels of mental health services use and lesbian/bisexual women report greater delays in getting needed care. These data indicate a need for general health care and aging services to develop programs targeted to the specific needs of aging LGB adults, and for LGB-specific programs to increase attention to the chronic conditions that are common among all older adults.