Sexuality - Gay/Bi/Trans Newsbytes

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5:49
President Obama repeals "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

The First Evidence of Recognized Same-Sex Relationships is 4,500 Years Old


Today, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that the Constitution guarantees the right to marriage, and ordered that same-sex marriages be recognized in all 50 states in the country.

This is a first in U.S. history—but far from a first in the history of the world. In fact, one of the oldest objects documenting a same-sex relationship is one of the tablets that tells the story of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest written stories in the world. As William N. Eskridge, Jr., writes in the Virginia Law Review:

The epic describes the relationship between Gilgamesh, the great powerful ruler of Uruk, and Enkidu, a male created by the gods to divert Gilgamesh from wreaking havoc in the world. Gilgamesh and Enkidu become comrades, friends, and probably lovers before Enkidu dies at the hands of the fates.

Even before the time that some of the oldest versions or Gilgamesh (which, like the Bible, coalesced into one text over time) were being written down, in Egypt, two men were buried together in a tomb where bas-reliefs showed two men touching, embracing—in some sort of committed romantic relationship.

In his dissent to the Supreme Court's decision, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that marriage is "a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs," so that across civilizations, marriage has "referred to only one relationship: the union of a man and a woman."

But the world is a varied place, and over the millennia of human existence, marriage has meant more than that.

In Kenya, it's traditional in the Nandi tribe for women to marry women. In northeastern Brazil, some women would take on the roles of men and marry other women. Eskridge describes evidence that marriage between men was practiced during the Yuan and Ming dynasties in China, from the 13th to 17th centuries. Among Chukchi people, living in Siberian, male religious leaders would sometimes marry other men: "The marriage is performed with the usual rites, and I must say that it forms a quite solid union, which often lasts till the death of one of the parties," one Russian writer reported. And in America, before Europeans settled here, people across the Plains and the Southwest would cross gender boundaries and marry people of their own sex.

These are just a few examples of how civilizations around the world have been open, at times throughout history, to recognizing romantic relationships besides the ones between men and women.
Source: http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-first-evidence-of-recognized-same-sex-relationships-is-4-500-years-old?utm_source=zergnet.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=zergnet_590852

The economy of equality: How same-sex marriage would boost the economy


So far the Supreme Court has more or less stayed out of the issue, but pressure is building for the high court to make a decision. If SCOTUS does decide to give same-sex marriage the okay it could be a big deal for the economy.

Weddings are a $51 billion dollar industry. The wedding business employs nearly 800,000 jobs. The national average of a wedding day is over $25,000. A new report, from Nerd Wallet, is claiming that adding same sex marriage to all 50 states would add a couple billion dollars to the economy.
Source: www.aol.com/article/2014/11/21/the-economy-of-equality-how-same-sex-marriage-would-boost-the-c/20997495/?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl2%7Csec3_lnk4%26pLid%3D568952

Dallas Airport Fight Caught On Video As Crowd Takes Down Angry, Ranting Homophobe


7:24

An angry man was caught on video last week attacking a fellow passenger at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, apparently because he thought the man was gay. But then, a group of bystanders, including a man in a cowboy hat, quickly took action to bring the man down, according to the video.

Before the fight, the man in the cowboy hat tries to intervene.

"What are you upset about?" he asks.

"Queers is what I'm upset about!" the homophobic man shouts, gesturing wildly at a traveler wearing a pink shirt. "This faggot right here."

Then, as shown in the video, he kicks and hits the traveler in the pink shirt as the crowd springs into action.

Once the ranting man is pinned down, airport police take over.

At one point, the suspect smiles and laughs while he lies on the ground as the officers cuff him. At another, he apparently tries to explain himself.

"Let me tell you the reason why I did it: Because this is America, that's why," he tells the two black officers, adding something that sounds like "the same reason you get to live and breathe and walk black."

He also repeatedly threatens the traveler in the pink shirt, even as he's being cuffed.

DFW confirmed the arrest but offered no details to the Dallas Morning News. WFAA said it was unable to obtain a police report in which the man is identified.

"That guy was crazy, absolutely crazy," says the person who recorded the video and identified himself as Andrew Kennedy, "just in case this goes viral."

Then Kennedy asks his brother, Neal Kennedy, to weigh in on what they saw.

"We saw a very troubled man," Neal Kennedy says. "We hope that he was under the influence of some kind of substance -- because if he wasn't and that's his true personality then he's going to have a very long road in front of him."
Source: www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/26/dallas-airport-fight_n_6051654.html

Protection Clause Does Guarantee Same-Sex Marriage' In All States


President Barack Obama seems to have changed his tune on gay marriage, telling The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin he believes same-sex couples in all 50 states should be allowed to marry under the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

Obama first publicly backed gay marriage in May 2012, but noted he thought the issue should be left to the states. Speaking with Toobin for the Oct. 27 issue of The New Yorker, Obama said the best Supreme Court decision since he took office was the recent rejection of gay marriage appeals from five states, a move the president said is "a consequential and powerful signal of the changes that have taken place in society and that the law is having to catch up."

While Obama said the high court "was not quite ready" to "indicate an equal-protection right across the board," he personally believes same-sex marriage is protected under that clause. From The New Yorker:

Obama opposed marriage equality until May of 2012. He told me that he now believes the Constitution requires all states to allow same-sex marriage, an argument that his Administration has not yet made before the Supreme Court. “Ultimately, I think the Equal Protection Clause does guarantee same-sex marriage in all fifty states,” he said. “But, as you know, courts have always been strategic. There have been times where the stars were aligned and the Court, like a thunderbolt, issues a ruling like Brown v. Board of Education, but that’s pretty rare. And, given the direction of society, for the Court to have allowed the process to play out the way it has may make the shift less controversial and more lasting.

“The bulk of my nominees, twenty years ago or even ten years ago, would have been considered very much centrists, well within the mainstream of American jurisprudence, not particularly fire-breathing or ideologically driven,” Obama went on. “So the fact that now Democratic appointees and Republican appointees tend to vote differently on issues really has more to do with the shift in the Republican Party and in the nature of Republican-appointed jurists ... Democrats haven’t moved from where they were.”

The federal government has extended federal benefits to same-sex married couples in states where gay marriage has been legalized, most recently giving benefits to those in the five states where the gay marriage appeals were rejected.
Source: www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/20/obama-gay-marriage_n_6014116.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl1%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D548925

Vatican document challenges Church to change attitude to gays or our editors headline: The Roman Catholic Church confirms that it's okay to be human


In a dramatic shift in tone, a Vatican document said on Monday that homosexuals had "gifts and qualities to offer" and asked if Catholicism could accept gays and recognize positive aspects of same-sex couples.

The document, prepared after a week of discussions at an assembly of 200 bishops on the family, said the Church should challenge itself to find "a fraternal space" for homosexuals without compromising Catholic doctrine on family and matrimony.

While the text did not signal any change in the Church's condemnation of homosexual acts or gay marriage, it used less judgmental and more compassionate language than that seen in Vatican statements prior to the 2013 election of Pope Francis.

"Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a further space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home," said the document, known by its Latin name "relatio".

"Are our communities capable of proving that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?" it asked.

John Thavis, Vatican expert and author of the bestselling 2013 book "The Vatican Diaries", called the report "an earthquake" in the Church's attitude towards gays.

"The document clearly reflects Pope Francis' desire to adopt a more merciful pastoral approach on marriage and family issues," he said.

London-based QUEST, one of the oldest Catholic gay rights groups, said in a statement that parts of the synod document "represent a breakthrough in that they acknowledge that such unions have an intrinsic goodness and constitute a valuable contribution to wider society and the common good."

The Vatican document will be the basis for discussion for the second and final week of the bishops' assembly, known as a synod. It will also serve for further reflection among Catholics around the world ahead of another, definitive synod next year.

A number of participants at the closed-door gathering have said the Church should tone down its condemnatory language when referring to gay couples and avoid phrases such as "intrinsically disordered" when speaking of homosexuals.

That was the phrase used by former Pope Benedict in a document written before his election, when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and head of the Vatican's doctrinal department.

EDUCATIONAL CHALLENGE

The language and tone of Monday's document, read to the assembly in the presence of Pope Francis, appeared to show that the advocates of a more merciful tone toward homosexuals and Catholics in so-called "irregular situations" had prevailed.

It said that the 1.2 billion-member Church should see the development of its position on homosexuals as "an important educational challenge" for the global institution.

While the Church continued to affirm that gay unions "cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman", it should recognize that there could be positive aspects to relationships in same-sex couples.

"Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners," the document said.

Pope Francis has said the Church must be more compassionate with homosexuals, saying last year: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge."

The Church teaches that while homosexual tendencies are not sinful, homosexual acts are. Elizabeth Saint-Guily, spokeswoman for David and Jonathan, a gay Christian association in France, said the group had received news of the synod document "with joy," even though not all of the group's expectations had not been met. "The fact that we are even on the agenda is amazing ...," she said.
Source: www.aol.com/article/2014/10/13/vatican-document-challenges-church-to-change-attitude-to-gays/20977155/?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl1%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D544776

Oops. Not so fast. The haters have spoken. Vatican alters draft report translation about gays


The Vatican is watering down a ground-breaking overture to gays - but only if they speak English.

After a draft report by bishops debating family issues came under criticism from many conservative English-speaking bishops, the Vatican released a new English translation on Thursday.

A section initially entitled "Welcoming homosexuals" is now "Providing for homosexual persons," and the tone of the text is significantly colder.

The initial English version - released Monday along with the original - accurately reflected the Italian version in both letter and spirit, and contained a remarkable tone of acceptance to gays. The other translations were similarly faithful to the Italian and didn't deviate in tone.

Conservatives were outraged, and the English was changed.

The first English version asked if the church was capable of "welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities." The new version asks if the church is "capable of providing for these people, guaranteeing ... them ... a place of fellowship in our communities."

The first version said homosexual unions can often constitute a "precious support in the life of the partners." The new one says gay unions often constitute "valuable support in the life of these persons."

Other changes were made in other sections of the text, but without significantly altering the meaning or tone.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said English-speaking bishops had requested the changes on the grounds that the first translation was hasty and error-ridden.

When Lombardi was shown how significantly the meaning had changed, he pledged to investigate and didn't rule out a third version.

Lombardi stressed that the original Italian remains the official text, and noted that the draft is being revised top-to-bottom for a final report which will go to a vote among bishops on Saturday.

If two-thirds approve it, the report will form the basis of discussions in dioceses around the world before another meeting of bishops next year, and ultimately a teaching document by Pope Francis.

Based on the complaints to the original text and the number of amendments proposed Thursday, the drafting committee appointed by the pope has its work cut out for it if it wants to get a two-thirds majority.

The Vatican released summaries of the amendments from the 10 working groups that have been negotiating all week. They are near-unanimous in insisting that church doctrine on family life be more fully asserted and explained - that marriage is between a man and woman, open to children - and that faithful Catholic families should be held up as models and encouraged rather than focus on family problems and "irregular" unions.

The English-speaking working groups were among the most critical. The one headed by Cardinal Wilfred Fox Napier of South Africa complained about the translation of the draft report and used the new "providing for" homosexuals language of the revised English translation, suggesting that he or someone in his group might have requested the change.

On Thursday, Francis added Napier, as well as an Australian bishop, to the drafting committee that will compose the final document. It was widely noticed that Francis' initial appointees were largely progressives whom he named after conservatives were elected to head the working groups proposing the amendments.

African bishops, who are among the most conservative on family issues, were not included in his initial picks.
Source: www.aol.com/article/2014/10/16/vatican-alters-draft-report-translation-about-gays/20979501/?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl1%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D547104

U.S. soccer star Robbie Rogers announces he's gay, walks away from sport


U.S. national team midfielder Robbie Rogers, currently a free agent, stunned American soccer on Friday with a blog post entitled "The Next Chapter" that revealed that he is gay and "stepping away" from the game at only 25 years of age.

"Things are never what they seem. My whole life I have felt different, different from my peers, even different from my family," Rogers began. He then went on to detail the "internal damage" caused by the weight of carrying a close-held secret and the conflict he felt trying to come to terms with his own identity and his relationship with his family and with God.

"Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught differently," he wrote. "I always thought I could hide this secret. Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined."

But Rogers discovered that he was hiding too much of himself for too long.

"Now is my time to step away," he concluded. "It's time to discover myself away from football. It's 1 a.m. in London as I write this, and I could not be happier with my decision. Life is so full of amazing things. I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest. Honesty is a bitch but makes life so simple and clear.

"My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended."

Rogers was born in Southern California, attended the University of Maryland and represented the U.S. at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

He spent part of a season at Dutch club Heerenveen after leaving school and then returned to the U.S. to play for the Columbus Crew, where he had five productive years. A mobile midfielder with good attacking instincts, he won an MLS Cup in 2008, two Supporters Shield titles and a spot on the 2008 MLS Best 11.

He left MLS for England's Leeds United last winter but struggled with injuries (a concussion and then an ankle) and was sent on loan to third-tier Stevenage in August. Last month, his Leeds contract was canceled by mutual consent.

Rogers played 18 times for the senior U.S. national team. He was one of the final cuts from the 2010 World Cup squad and scored two international goals, including the first goal of coach Jurgen Klinsmann's tenure in a 1-1 draw with Mexico in 2011.
Source: aol.sportingnews.com/soccer/story/2013-02-15/us-soccer-star-robbie-rogers-announces-hes-gay-walk-away-from-sport?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-sb-bb%7Cdl29%7Csec3_lnk1%26pLid%3D271263

Nashville Worker Wes Breedwell Allegedly Fired For Wearing 'Same-Sex Marriage' T-Shirt


On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President Barack Obama began his second term by declaring a commitment to gay rights -- the first time such an idea had been uttered from an inauguration podium. That same day, a seven-year employee of a Christian-owned Nashville music venue was fired, allegedly for "non-Christian" behavior on social media, and wearing a T-shirt that announced his support for gay marriage.

Wes Breedwell took to Twitter on Monday, announcing that he'd been fired from Rocketown. "Social media is what did it," he wrote, and then sent along a snap of him in a T-shirt for the band Hostage Calm, with the slogan, "I Support Same-Sex Marriage" on the back.

When Hostage Calm's Chris "Cmar" Martin got wind that a fan had suffered for his support, he gave him a call. In a statement released on the punk band's website and Facebook page, Martin said that Breedwell told him about years of discrimination, in which the music club denied him raises and promotions because of his beliefs.

Finally he was fired, Martin wrote, for "wearing this shirt commemorating equality" and "non-Christian activity on social media pages."

The band also emailed AltPress a photo that appeared to be a document given to Breedwell on his firing. "You cannot wear a shirt to work on an office day or a show day supporting same sex marriage," it states. "It is imperative that our beliefs are not personal or presented @ work that contradict the mission."

Under federal law, and in most states, including Tennessee, it is not illegal to fire someone for being gay, or supporting gay marriage. But it is illegal to discriminate against an employee for his or her religious beliefs.

The venue's founder, Michael W. Smith, denied that Breedwell was fired for speaking out in support of same-sex marriage. "Rocketown does not comment on personnel issues," Smith's publicist wrote in a statement obtained by The Tennessean newspaper, "but, generally speaking, an employee would not be fired for expressing opinions on marriage."

More: 5 Industries Still Hostile To Gay Workers

The statement goes on to emphasize that Rocketown, which also serves as a community center, is accepting of youth of all backgrounds, including "sexual orientations." Rocketown did not respond to AOL Jobs' request for comment.

But while Cmar, who had played Rocketown several times, said that he thought it was "a positive force in the Nashville community," Breedwell's story has changed his mind. "A youth center and music venue cannot be a positive force in the community if it degrades and belittles the value of some of our people based on sexual orientation or gender identity," he said. "That is the force that tears communities apart, not enriches them."

On Tuesday, Hostage Calm called on its fans to wear the "I Support Same-Sex Marriage" shirt in solidarity.

Source: jobs.aol.com/articles/2013/01/22/wes-breedwell-same-sex-shirt-rocketown/?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl11%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D260106

5 Industries Still Hostile To Gay Workers


When Anderson Cooper announced on Monday that he was in fact a gay man, and proud of it, he was showered with supportive tweets. But the CNN anchor didn't exactly out himself in the most hostile industry. There are plenty of openly gay and lesbian cable stars, from political commentator Rachel Maddow and talk-show host Suze Orman to CNN newscaster Don Lemon.

Other sectors aren't so accepting, have few openly gay employees, and are frequently mired in discrimination suits. This isn't just bad news for gay workers, but their employers too. Closeted employees are 73 percent more likely to say they'll leave their company in the next three years, according to a 2011 study by The Center for Work-Life Policy. Almost half of college-educated professionals aren't open about their sexual orientation at work, and only a third of closeted employees said they were satisfied with their careers, compared to two-thirds of their openly gay co-workers.

Still, there have been leaps of progress over the past 15 years. Until last September, gay men and women couldn't openly serve in the military by law. And last month, gay troops sipped champagne with their commander-in-chief at the Pentagon's first gay pride reception. But there are a handful of industries that lag behind the rest. Reporting suggests these five are among the worst offenders:

Professional Sports

Earlier this week, U.S. Olympic soccer star Megan Rapinoe came out publicly as gay (she was already out to her family and teammates). In doing so, she joined a crowded club. There are plenty of openly lesbian sportswomen, but distinctly less openly gay male athletes, especially in the biggest money-making sports, football, basketball and baseball.

"The climate is much different for men," Rapinoe told USA Today. "That stigma is only going to be broken when people come out and see that there is a positive response."

Wade Davis chipped away at the stigma last month, when he became the fourth former NFL player to come out of the closet. No NFL player has ever admitted to being gay while still playing the game. "The NFL has a reputation," retired lineman Roy Simmons told The New York Times in 2002, "and it's not even a verbal thing -- it's just kind of known. You are gladiators; you are male; you kick butt."

"You can be a wife-beater, do drugs, get in a car wreck, and the team will take care of you," said Butch Woolfolk, a former running back who played with Simmons. "But if you're gay, it's like the military: Don't ask, don't tell."

The Boy Scouts (See update)

In April, the Boy Scouts of America told Jennifer Tyrrell that she would no longer be needed as a troop leader, or a member at all. She would no longer take her scouts to a soup kitchen or help them collect canned food. She would no longer teach them the values of compassion, citizenship and respect. She didn't meet the Boy Scouts' "high standards," they said. She was raising her four children with another woman.

The Boy Scouts of America's policy against openly gay leaders and youths has attracted a lot of attention in the past few months. Tyrrell's Change.org petition garnered over 300,000 signatures. Both President Obama and presumptive nominee Mitt Romney have urged the 3.7 million-strong organization to change its ways. Even actor Chuck Norris chimed in, chastising the president for his "pro-gay Boy Scouts of America" agenda.

And the Boy Scouts doesn't plan to budge. "While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members," it said in a statement, "we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA."

Financial Services

Industries that are hit frequently by sex discrimination lawsuits often aren't the best places for gay men and women either. Manly-macho cultures tend to work that way. And there are few cultures as manly-macho as Wall Street.

In the mid-1990s, trader Walter Shubert tried to hide his identity. "I was going through the motions and as unhappy as you could possibly be," he told High Brow magazine. "My spirit had died." When he finally came out to his sister, she put him in touch with a therapist. "I'm the only gay man on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange," Shubert told him.

Of course, that wasn't true. Joe Daniel, a vice president at Dresdner Bank, actually sued his employer for $75 million in 1998 after he came out -- and was fired in a "company-wide downsize" in which he reputedly was the only victim. The outcome of the suit is confidential, but its ripples spread outward, slowly making the financial world more aware and welcome of the gay men and women in its midst. But it still hasn't totally reformed from what it was in the '90s, when "there was no way to build a career on the trading floor as an openly gay man," as Shubert put it. "It was a locker-room environment. [Gay] jokes were rampant."

Hollywood

Appeal is the greatest asset of a leading man or lady, and the bigger it is, the higher the box office. That's why the movie-making machinery is still a little nervous about casting an openly gay person in a major role. Big chunks of America might boycott the film, and teen girls might be less likely to buy posters of the hunky star if they know that he doesn't have a thing for girls at all.

"There are no openly gay stars in Hollywood, so someone is telling them to shut up," Ian McKellen told Popeater. "In Hollywood," film industry "spin doc" Howard Bragman told LA Weekly, "most publicists keep their clients in the closet. And I'm the guy people tend to come to when they want to come out of the closet."

Bragman helped "Bewitched" star Dick Sargent come out, as well as "Party of Five" actor Mitchell Anderson. But there are still no A-listers on the level of a Will Smith or Brad Pitt willing to take the plunge. Although rumors, of course, are rampant. And lore has it that such cinema icons as Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, had surreptitious same-sex liaisons

The Police

In the 1960s, police would regularly raid gay bars, arrest the patrons, and out them publicly in local papers. Given this history, it's little surprise that many police forces across the country remain hostile to sexual minorities.

In March 2010, three officers sued a North Carolina police department, claiming that it had a pervasively homophobic work environment presided over by a chief who retaliated against those who spoke out. "There's just a culture of permissiveness," said plaintiff Darin DeFreece. "If somebody has an anti-gay ideology, they can and will say things that are really offensive, and they are never called on it."

In June 2011, Andrew Johnson, who worked at a women's correctional institute in Chino, Calif., was denied a request to march in the annual L.A. Pride Parade in West Hollywood. He was told that it would bring "discredit" to the department, he claimed. But once noted lawyer Gloria Allred took up his cause, the department quickly relented.

And as recently as this past March, an officer with the St. Cloud, Minn., police department received a $73,000 settlement after he claimed that he was discriminated against when he asked to work a booth at the local gay pride festival.

Despite these lawsuits, many police forces are profoundly tolerant, with their own lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations. And while some may discourage members from participating in pride parades, some march en masse.
Source: jobs.aol.com/articles/2012/07/05/5-industries-still-hostile-to-gay-workers/

Bank Of America Fired Us For Being Gay, Lesbian Couple Claims


For four years, Shelly Flood says she was an excellent employee at a Maine branch of Bank of America. Her partner, Keri Flood, a cleaner at the bank, also received glowing reviews in the two years she worked there.

But when the bank discovered that they were lesbian partners, things changed "suddenly and dramatically from cordial to hostile," according to the couple's lawsuit, and they were fired within a week of each other. Now the couple is suing Bank of America and the New York-based cleaning company in U.S. District Court, alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In their lawsuit, the couple claims that Bank of America told Keri Flood's employer, ABM Janitorial Services-Northeast Inc., that she was in a relationship with Shelly in September 2010, reports the Bangor Daily News. Around that time, someone from the bank told her employer that she had assaulted a bank employee, which she flatly denies. They both assert their sexual orientation was to blame for their hostile treatment, and their employers' decisions to fire them.

In a statement, Bank of America said they were reviewing the complaint and that the company "is committed to maintaining a workplace free of discrimination and harassment, a workplace where differences -- in thought, style, culture, ethnicity and experience, including sexual orientation -- help to make us stronger as a company."

Bank of America used very similar language in response to a new survey by The Glass Hammer, which found that lesbian women considered the bank one of the most supportive places to work.

ABM echoed Bank of America's sentiment, and said that they found "no evidence that anything unlawful took place."

Maine is one of 20 states where it is illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or otherwise discriminate against someone for being gay. A recent report from the Center For American Progress, a liberal think tank, found that workplace discrimination costs businesses an average $64 billion annually, primarily through the turnover of employees. This may be partly why 87 percent of Fortune 500 companies had non-discrimination policies that included sexual orientation in 2010, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Bank of America is No. 9 on that list.

"Corporate America and the business community has really led the way in adopting these protections," says Ian Thompson, a legislative representative of the American Civil Liberties Union. "It's not just something they're doing altruisitcally. I think they see it as being in the best interest of their companies."

But many still oppose protections for gays and lesbians in the workplace. The Kansas House just passed a bill that would legalize anti-gay discrimination based on religious objections. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) recently spoke out on his "Don't Ask Don't Tell" approach to gays in the workplace in an interview with Think Progress.

"You have a private sector business here and they need freedom to operate," he said. "In the first place, I would think that unless someone makes their sexuality public, it's not anybody's business, so neither is it our business to tell an employer who to hire. He won't know who to discriminate against in the first place."

In the recent past, Bank of America has stood firmly on the side of gay rights. In May 2011, Bank of America's charitable foundation awarded a $25,000 grant to LIGALY, a group that fights bullying in schools against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Last September, the bank became embroiled in controversy after firing a longtime teambuilding coordinator, Frank Turek, shortly before he was scheduled to give a presentation on diversity. The bank had discovered that he had written a book against gay marriage. Turek had also made public statements such as, "You should not be for homosexuality if you are a rational reasonable person." Under pressure from customers and activists who accused the company of political and religious discrimination, Bank of America rehired Turek.

Last month, a Bank of America executive caused a stir with a video in which she outlined her opposition to the anti-gay marriage initiative on North Carolina's ballot. "We're in a war with other states across the country who would love to have the jobs that we have today," she said. "Amendment One has the potential to have a disastrous effect on our ability to attract talent and keep talent in the state of North Carolina."

A spokesman for the bank defended her right to make such a video in her "personal capacity."

The Floods, although they share a surname, are not married. Maine's gay marriage law saw the sunlight for a brief period in 2009, before it was knocked down by referendum. The state's domestic partnership law is still in effect.

According to The Glass Hammer survey, only 44 percent of lesbian lesbians were out to their boss or manager compared to 60 percent of gay men. And the Floods may offer up a reason why. They didn't face any discrimination on the job whatsoever, until their relationship got out.
Source: jobs.aol.com/articles/2012/04/05/lesbian-couple-sues-bank-of-america-for-discrimination/

Kansas House Republicans pass bill that OKs anti-gay discrimination


The Republican controlled Kansas state House on Wednesday evening passed a bill that would effectively legalize anti-gay discrimination based on religious objections.

In a party-line vote of 89-27, the House advanced legislation sponsored by Republican State Rep. Lance Kinzer (R-Olathe) that would allow a religious defense to discriminate against gays.

Critics of the measure contend that the bill is primarily aimed at the small college town of Lawrence, the one remaining municipality in the entire state with such protections.

Two Lawrence representatives attacked the bill, calling the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act, an attempt to make ineffective a city of Lawrence anti-discrimination ordinance that includes sexual orientation.

The bill would prohibit state and local governments from substantially burdening a person’s religious beliefs unless the government can prove that the burden is advancing a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive way of advancing that interest.

The measure is supported by GOP Governor Sam Brownback’s administration, the Kansas Catholic Conference and Concerned Women for America of Kansas. It was opposed by Lawrence officials, the Kansas Equality Coalition and the state chapter of the National Organization for Women.

When questioned during the vote, Kinzler acknowledged that the bill will allow landlords to refuse to rent to LGBTQ people. “I think that’s generally correct,” he said.

One lawmaker angrily denounced Kinzer’s legislation, calling it “homophobic” and said that it will hurt Kansas’ image. (Actually, it supports the image many of us have of Kansas, and many of us who used to live in Kansas. I think their image is pretty solid - backward, intolerant, religious zealots. Pretty racis as well.)

“It sends the message that Kansas is not welcoming. Kansas will become known as the land of the pure as defined by the few,” State Rep. Charlie Roth said.
Source: www.lgbtqnation.com/2012/03/kansas-house-republicans-pass-bill-that-oks-anti-gay-discrimination/

Morocco To Change Law That Allowed Rapists To Avoid Punishment By Marrying Their Victims


Nearly a year after Morocco was shocked by the suicide of a 16-year-old girl who was forced to marry her alleged rapist, the government has announced plans to change the penal code to outlaw the traditional practice.

Women's rights activists on Tuesday welcomed Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid's announcement, but said it was only a first step in reforming a penal code that doesn't do enough to stop violence against women in this North African kingdom.

A paragraph in Article 475 of the penal code allows those convicted of "corruption" or "kidnapping" of a minor to go free if they marry their victim and the practice was encouraged by judges to spare family shame.

Last March, 16-year-old Amina al-Filali poisoned herself to get out of a seven-month-old abusive marriage to a 23-year-old she said had raped her. Her parents and a judge had pushed the marriage to protect the family honor. The incident sparked calls for the law to be changed.

The traditional practice can be found across the Middle East and in places like India and Afghanistan where the loss of a woman's virginity out of wedlock is a huge stain on the honor of the family or tribe.

While the marriage age is officially 18, judges routinely approve much younger unions in this deeply traditional country of 32 million with high illiteracy and poverty.

"Changing this article is a good thing but it doesn't meet all of our demands," said Khadija Ryadi, president of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights. "The penal code has to be totally reformed because it contains many provisions that discriminate against women and doesn't protect women against violence."

She singled out in particular outmoded parts of the law that distinguish between "rape resulting in deflowering and just plain rape." The new article proposed Monday, for instance, gives a 10-year penalty for consensual sex following the corruption of a minor but doubles the sentence if the sex results in "deflowering."

Fouzia Assouli, president of the Democratic League for Women's Rights, echoed Ryadi's concerns, explaining that the code only penalizes violence against women from a moral standpoint "and not because it is just violence."

"The law doesn't recognize certain forms of violence against women, such as conjugal rape, while it still penalizes other normal behavior like sex outside of marriage between adults," she added. Recent government statistics reported that 50 percent of attacks against women occur within conjugal relations.

The change to the penal code has been a long time in coming and follows nearly a year of the Islamist-dominated government balking at reforming the law.

The Justice Ministry at the time argued that al-Filali hadn't been raped and the sex, which took place when she was 15, had been consensual. The prime minister later argued in front of parliament that the marriage provision in the article was, in any case, rarely used.

"In 550 cases of the corruption of minors between 2009 and 2010, only seven were married under Article 475 of the penal code, the rest were pursued by justice," Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane said on Dec. 24.

While Morocco updated its family code in 2004, a comprehensive law combating violence against women has been languishing in Parliament for the past eight years.

Social Development Minister Bassima Hakkaoui, the sole female minister in Cabinet, said in September she would try to get the law out of Parliament and passed.

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/23/morocco-rape-marriage-law_n_2532259.html?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl1%7Csec3_lnk1%26pLid%3D26

Jacob Rudolph, Gay New Jersey Teen, Comes Out During School Award Ceremony


A New Jersey teen took to his school's highest platform earlier this month, announcing he was gay to his entire graduating class as well as parents and teachers while accepting an award.

Towleroad reports that Jacob Rudolph, a high school senior in Parsippany, N.J., delivered the brave speech after being named Class Actor.

"Sure, I've been in a few plays and musicals, but more importantly, I've been acting every single day of my life," Rudolph tells the crowd. "You see, I've been acting as someone I'm not...you see me acting the part of straight Jacob, when I am in fact LGBT."

He concludes, "So take me, leave me or move me out of the way, because I am what I am, and that's how I'm going to act from now on."

Judging from the rousing cheers Rudolph receives after his declaration, we're assuming his classmates took it well. His father Jonathan, who uploaded the original video, describes his son's decision to come out as "taking more guts than anything I've ever attempted in my life."

Jodie Foster, 2013
The "Silence of the Lambs" star ended years of rampant media speculation when she casually came out of the closet while accepting her Cecil B. Demille award at the 2013 Golden Globes. "I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago, back in the Stone Age," she said in the speech. "In those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends, and family, coworkers and then gradually, proudly, to everyone who knew her."

Gillian Anderson, 2012
The "X-Files" actress with women in a 2012 interview with magazine. The 43-year-old mother of three, who's long enjoyed a sizable lesbian fanbase, told that she first had a relationship with a woman while still in high school, after moving from her native England to suburban Michigan. "If I had thought I was 100 percent gay, would it have been a different experience for me?" Anderson, who was voted "Most Bizarre" and "Most Likely to Be Arrested" in high school, ponders. "Would it have been a bigger deal if shame had been attached to it and all those things that become huge life-altering issues for youngsters in that situation? It's possible that my attitude around it came, on some level, from knowing that I still liked boys."

Anderson Cooper, 2012
Anderson Cooper's sexuality had been but it wasn't until July 2012 that he finally addressed the issue when he came out in an email to his friend and fellow journalist, Andrew Sullivan, this summer. In Cooper's message, which was posted on Sullivan's blog, "The Dish," on <em>The Daily Beast</em>, the CNN anchor states, "The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud."

Lana Wachowski, 2012
Award-winning filmmaker, who's best known for co-writing and -directing the "Matrix" trilogy with her brother, Andy Wachowski, is the first major Hollywood director to come out as transgender in July 2012. The Chicago native recently released "Cloud Atlas" and received the Human Rights Campaign's Visibility Award in October 2012, where she delivered a revealing and heartfelt speech.

Zachary Quinto, 2011
Long rumored to be gay, the actor, most famous for his roles on "Heroes" and in the recent "Star Trek" film, came out in a October 2011 New York magazine profile, saying: "In light of Jamey's [Rodemeyer] death -- it became clear to me in an instant that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it -- is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality. Our society needs to recognize the unstoppable momentum toward unequivocal civil equality for every gay lesbian bisexual and transgendered citizen of this country."

Meredith Baxter, 2009
In December 2009 Baxter, most famous for playing Elyse Keaton on '80s sitcom "Family Ties," went on the "Today Show" and told Matt Lauer that she was a lesbian. Baxter said, "Some people would say, well, you're living a lie and, you know, the truth is -- not at all. This has only been for the past seven years."

Frank Ocean, 2012
No mainstream black male hip-hop artist had ever come out until Frank Ocean did in July 2012, just before he debuted his first solo album, "Channel Orange." The singer-songwriter posted a Tumblr post which read, in part, "4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide.” After that, Ocean received support from fellow hip-hop artists Jay-Z (and wife, Beyoncé), 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes and more. Daryl Hannah, director of media and community partnerships for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said, "[The support for Frank is] an extension of the overall kind of support we’re seeing across the country for LGBT people, and not just in a broad sense, but specifically from iconic members of the black community.”

Wanda Sykes, 2008
The comedian and actress came out in November 2008 while speaking at an anti-Prop 8 rally in Las Vegas. Sykes said in part: "I got married Oct. 25, I don't really talk about my sexual orientation, I felt like I was living my life, I wasn't in the closet, but I was just living my life. Everybody who knows me personally, they know I'm gay. And that's the way people should be able to live our lives, really. We shouldn't have to be standing out here demanding something we automatically should have as citizens of this country."

Matt Bomer, 2012
The 34-year-old "White Collar" hunk thanked his partner Simon Halls and his three children during Saturday's Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards, where he received the New Generation Arts and Activism Award for his work in the fight against HIV/AIDS. "I'd really especially like to thank my beautiful family: Simon, Kit, Walker, Henry," he told the crowd. "Thank you for teaching me what unconditional love is. You will always be my proudest accomplishment."

Anne Burrell, 2012
"Secrets of a Restaurant Chef" host Anne Burrell confirmed she's a lesbian and in a committed relationship with a woman, just days after "Chopped" host Ted Allen made a reference to her sexuality in a radio interview. "Anne doesn't feel she was outed," Burrell's rep told Page Six. "She has made no secret of her relationship." The rep went on to note, "Her significant other is a very private woman. They have been together for a couple of years and spend a lot of time together."

Adam Lambert, 2009
The singer's sexuality was always a topic of discussion for viewers when he was performing on "American Idol," but Lambert didn't come out until after the competition had wrapped. In a June 2009 Rolling Stone cover story, Lambert said, "Right after the finale [of "AI"], I almost started talking about it to the reporters, but I thought, 'I'm going to wait for <em>Rolling Stone</em>, that will be cooler,'.. I didn't want the Clay Aiken thing and the celebrity-magazine bullshit. I need to be able to explain myself in context."

Jim Parsons, 2012
New York Times </em>scribe Patrick Healy confirmed "The Big Bang Theory" star's sexuality as part of a profile</a>. The revelation came late in the article, when Healy describes the 39-year-old actor's role in the 2011 revival of Larry Kramer's HIV/AIDS crisis drama, "The Normal Heart." Wrote Healy: '"The Normal Heart" resonated with him on a few levels: Mr. Parsons is gay and in a 10-year relationship, and working with an ensemble again onstage was like nourishment, he said." Though the <em>Times </em>didn't identify Parsons' partner, he has been romantically liked with art director Todd Spiewak (pictured).

Laura Jane Grace, 2012
Punk band Against Me!'s lead singer made headlines in May with the announcement that she is transgender and will be now known as Laura Jane Grace. The musician, who shared her story in Rolling Stone, said "For me, the most terrifying thing about this was how she [my wife, Heather] would accept the news. But she's been super-amazing and understanding." The couple has a 2-year-old daughter.

Cynthia Nixon, 2004
The "Sex And The City" star was out-ed in 2004 when the NY Daily News and the New York Post reported she was living with another woman in September 2004. Nixon half-heartedly confirmed the rumors when she told the Daily News, "My private life is private... But at the same time, I have nothing to hide. So what I will say is that I am very happy."

Sam Champion, 2012
ABC's "Good Morning America" weatherman, Sam Champion,, not only came out of the closet in October 2012, he also announced his engagement to longtime boyfriend, Rubem Robierb, at the same time. The New York Times subtly mentioned the news in an article about MSNBC personality Thomas Roberts' recent wedding, where Champion and Robierb were guests. After his revelation, Champion, 51, discussed about his plans on "GMA" and thanked everyone for their support

Kelly McGillis, 2009
Kelly McGillis, known as who starred opposite Tom Cruise in "Top Gun," revealed she's gay on lesbian website SheWired.com. McGillis, who was married twice to men and has two daughters, said, "It's a part of being true to yourself. That's been a challenge for me personally."

Chris Colfer, 2009
The "Glee" actor came out on the "Chelsea Lately Show" in December 2009: Chelsea Handler: "Your character on the show's gay. We know that you're gay. That's good for you. Congratulations. Don't be shy about that. Seriously. You shouldn't be shy about that because every time...an actor like you is helping a zillion other people that are scared to talk about their sexuality so good for you." Chris Colfer: "Thank you. You know what my answer to that question was prior to coming out -- was that I was straight as every other actor in Hollywood."

Ezra Miller, 2012
Breakout, up-and-coming actor Ezra Miller, who stars in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," came out as queer in an interview with Out magazine in August. The 20-year-old actor, who's also known for his big screen roles on "City Island" and "We Need To Talk About Kevin," told Out: "I have a lot of really wonderful friends who are of very different sexes and genders. I am very much in love with no one in particular."

Sara Gilbert
Sara Gilbert, who's best known for her role on "Roseanne," officially came out in 2010. At that time, she was getting ready to launch "The Talk," a daytime talk show which focuses on parenthood and families, so Gilbert felt compelled to acknowledge her sexuality. “I don’t ever really think of things as out or in,” Gilbert said. “I just think I am who I am, and when topics come up that are appropriate, I’ll talk about them and share when it seems right.”

Chaz Bono, 2009
Chaz Bono revealed his plan to transition in May 2009. TMZ.com broke the story via a prepared statement from Bono's publicist that read, in part: "Yes, it's true -- Chaz, after many years of consideration, has made the courageous decision to honor his true identity... He is proud of his decision and grateful for the support and respect that has already been shown by his loved ones. It is Chaz's hope that his choice to transition will open the hearts and minds of the public regarding this issue, just as his 'coming out' did nearly 20 years ago."

Andrew Rannells, 2012
Andrew Rannells has had a stellar year. Since nabbing a Tony nomination for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for the Broadway blockbuster "The Book of Mormon," Rannells went on to star in HBO's "Girls" and ABC's "The New Normal." In November, the 34 year old was named to Out magazine's prestigious "OUT100" list. “I feel very proud to be a part of The New Normal,” Rannells told Out. “I hope that it’s considered to be a part of the evolution of gay relationships on television. Coming from Nebraska, it’s exciting to me that people I went to grade school with, people that I grew up going to church with, are watching the show.”

Joanna Johnson, 2012
"Bold and the Beautiful" star Joanna Johnson became daytime soap opera's only active "out" actor when she said <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/14/joanna-johnson-lesbian-bold-and-the-beautiful_n_1515489.html">she was a lesbian in May</a>. Johnson said she feared coming out would prohibit her from getting acting roles. Johnson told <em>TV Guide</em> in an exclusive interview that she's married to L.A. club promoter Michelle Agnew, with whom she has two children, five-year-old Julian and Harlow, who is two.

George Michael, 1998
After being caught performing a "lewd act" in a public restroom, Michael came out to CNN in April 1998. Michael said, "This is as good of a time as any... I want to say that I have no problem with people knowing that I'm in a relationship with a man right now. I have not been in a relationship with a woman for almost 10 years." Later that year Michael spoofed the incident in the music video for his single "Outside."

Don Lemon, 2011
The CNN news anchor came out to the New York Times in May 2011. Lemon told the paper, "It's quite different for an African-American male... It's about the worst thing you can be in black culture. You're taught you have to be a man; you have to be masculine. In the black community they think you can pray the gay away."

Todd Glass, 2012
Comedian Todd Glass came out in January in an episode of the "WTF with Marc Maron" podcast. Glass cited the slew of LGBT teen suicides as his impetus for coming out. He told Maron: "I cannot listen to stories about kids killing themselves any longer without thinking [to myself], 'When are you going to have a little blood on your shirt for not being honest about who you are?'"

Rosie Pierri, 2012
Everyone loves Rosie. In a June episode of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," Rosie Pierri candidly came out to her sister, Kathy Wakile, a main cast member, proclaiming, "God made me this way. That's it." Pierri spoke with The Huffington Post in May before the episode aired and shared that she was a "late bloomer," who didn't come to the realization until her 30s.

Jonathan Knight, 2011
The New Kids On The Block singer was out-ed by fellow '80s teen pop star Tiffany in January 2011 when she revealed she dated Knight before "he became gay later." In response, Knight posted a message on his website "I have never been outed by anyone but myself! I did so almost twenty years ago. I never know that I would have to do it all over again publicly just because I reunited with NKOTB! I have lived my life very openly and have never hidden the fact that I am gay!"

Sean Maher, 2011
Sean Maher, known for his roles on "Firefly" and "Playboy Club," confirmed his sexuality in an Entertainment Weekly, saying, "This is my coming out ball. I’ve been dying to do this.”

Ricky Martin, March 2010
In March 2009 pop star Ricky Martin posted a message on his website</a> telling the world, "I am a fortunate homosexual man."

Sean Hayes, 2010
Long dogged by rumors about his sexuality, the "Will and Grace" actor finally came out in The Advocate in April 2010: "I am who I am. I was never in, as they say. Never," he said.

Lady Sovereign, 2010
In May 2010 the British rapper came out in Diva magazine. Sovereign said: "Magazines would always ask about it but [questions about my sexuality] would get stopped by my publicists. It was my choice, too, because I was a bit worried about it but now I don't really give a shit. You can't hide away forever. It's just stupid and now I've come out I feel a lot more comfortable with myself. But it was a bit scary back then because some people do have horrible opinions."

T.R. Knight, 2007
<a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20008737,00.html">T.R. Knight's coming out</a> wasn't necessarily ideal. The actor, who played George O'Malley on ABC's <em>Grey's Anatomy</em>, was called a "faggot" by co-star Isaiah Washington, prompting Knight to stand up for himself and others. He told Ellen DeGeneres, "I've never been called that to my face. So I think when that happened, something shifted, and it became bigger than myself."

Kristy McNichol, 2012People magazine reported In January 2012 that Kristy McNichol, who was beloved for playing Buddy Lawrence in the '70s show "Family," for which she won an Emmy, and later Barbara Weston on the "Golden Girls" spin-off "Empty Nest," revealed she is a lesbian because she is "approaching 50" and wants to "be open about who I am." McNichol also cited the wave of antigay bullying stories for coming out, hoping to help bullied LGBT youth who need support.

Benji Schwimmer, 2012
After Benji Schwimmer won the second season of Fox's long-running hit series "So You Think You Can Dance," the 28-year-old dancer-choreographer became somewhat of a Mormon rockstar. But in a tell-all, five-hour interview for "Mormon Stories," Schwimmer came out and discussed at length his homosexuality and the church's views on the issue. He spoke with Out magazine in June and said: "I get at least 10 emails a day from kids that say, I was going to kill myself, and I heard something in the podcast that rang true to me, and I’m holding on. For that validation alone—it’s nice that Perez Hilton and Out are covering this, but just that personal touch is what it’s about. For the last year, I didn’t hide it. I held hands with a boyfriend in the streets. I kissed him in bars—in straight bars. I don’t give a fuck."

Clay Aiken, 2008
After becoming a father in August of 2008, the "American Idol" runner up came out on the cover of People magazine in September 2008 saying, "[Coming out] was the first decision I made as a father... I cannot raise a child to lie or to hide things. I wasn't raised that way, and I'm not going to raise a child to do that."

Orlando Cruz, 2012
History was made in October when active professional featherweight boxer Orlando Cruz of Puerto Rico came out. He said in a USA Today article, "I've been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself. I want to try to be the best role model I can be for kids who might look into boxing as a sport and a professional career." He continued, "I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man."

Chely Wright, 2010
Country singer Chely Wright came out in May 2010. She told People magazine, "There had never, ever been a country music artist who had acknowledged his or her homosexuality... I wasn't going to be the first." But she changed her mind and said of her decision, "Nothing in my life has been more magical than the moment I decided to come out."

Mika, 2012
The flamboyant singer-songwriter played coy about his sexuality for many years before finally coming out as gay in the September 2012 issue of Instinct magazine. Mika told the magazine: "If you ask me am I gay, I say yeah... Are these songs about my relationship with a man? I say yeah. And it’s only through my music that I’ve found the strength to come to terms with my sexuality beyond the context of just my lyrics. This is my real life."</blockquote>

Lance Bass, 2006
The 'N Sync pop star came out on the cover of People magazine in July 2006. When asked why he decided to come out then, Bass said, "The main reason I wanted to speak my mind was that (the rumors) really were starting to affect my daily life. Now it feels like it's on my terms. I'm at peace with my family, my friends, myself and God so there's really nothing else that I worry about."

Denise Ho, 2012
Hong Kong's fourth annual LGBT Pride Parade in November saw beloved Cantonese pop star Denise Ho come out as a lesbian. This announcement made her the first mainstream female singer in Hong Kong to say she's gay, according to several Hong Kong media outlets. "As a celebrity, I think I have an obligation, a duty to stand forward for the sake of love and equality," the 35-year-old singer told the crowd.

Amber Heard, 2010
"I personally think that if you deny something or if you hide something you're inadvertently admitting it's wrong. I don't feel like I'm wrong," said actress Amber Heard, 26, who came out while attending GLAAD's 25th anniversary party. Heard has starred in movies like as "Pineapple Express" and "Zombieland."

Elton John, 1976
In an interview with Rolling Stone in October 1976, the rock star came out by saying, "There's nothing wrong with going to bed with somebody of your own sex. I think everybody's bisexual to a certain degree. I don't think it's just me. It's not a bad thing to be. I think you're bisexual. I think everybody is."

Suze Orman, 2007
Financial guru Suze Orman came out in a 2007 New York Times Magazine article. The 61-year-old Chicago native was asked if she was married in the interview, which prompted her to officially come out and set the record straight (so to speak).

David Hyde Pierce, 2007
"Frasier" actor David Hyde Pierce kept a low profile and subtly came out</a> in an article on CNN where he mentioned his longtime partner, TV writer and producer Brian Hargrove. Later, while on "The View", Pierce spoke about Hargrove and his sexuality and said,"What you choose to talk about yourself is a personal decision."

Neil Patrick Harris, 2006
The "Doogie Howser, MD" and "How I Met Your Mother Star" came out on the cover of People magazine in November of 2006. Harris told the magazine "The public eye has always been kind to me, and until recently I have been able to live a pretty normal life. Now it seems there is speculation and interest in my private life and relationships. So, rather than ignore those who choose to publish their opinions without actually talking to me, I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love."

Darren Hayes, 2006
The former Savage Garden front man came out by marrying Richard Cullen in June 2006. He announced the civil union on his website saying in part: "As so many of you have given me your heart and soul over the past 10 years I thought it only fitting that I too return the respect and inform you of the most significant event in my life... On June 19th 2006 I married my boyfriend of two years, Richard, in a Civil Partnership ceremony in London."

George Takei, 2005
The beloved George Takei, known as Sulu on "Star Trek," came out in a 2005 article in Frontiers, a biweekly LGBT Los Angeles magazine. Takei, 75, cited the political landscape surrounding LGBT issues as one reason for coming out. Since then, Takei has been an outspoken (and humorous) advocate for LGBT rights.

Portia de Rossi, 2005
The actress had been out to friends for quite some time, but she told the entire world in the fall of 2005 in interviews with Detail magazine and The Advocate. "I've had my years of being not open, many years of it... It's an honor for me to do this; it's just nice to be asked," de Rossi said in her September 2005 Advocate cover story, her first with the gay press.

Heather Matarazzo, 2004
The actress, perhaps best known for her role as tormented teen Dawn Wiener in the film "Welcome To The Dollhouse," came out in August 2004 by telling the NY Daily News about falling in love with Caroline Murphy: "I met the person I'm so madly crazy in love with...She's not famous yet. She will be. She wants to do musical theater and stage, which is not as demoralizing as the movie business is."

Rosie O'Donnell, 2002
The comedian and talk show host came out by revealing "I'm a dyke!" during her stand up act at the Ovarian Cancer Research benefit at Carolines Comedy Club in February 2002.

Nathan Lane, 1999
The hilarious Nathan Lane, who's well known for starring in films like "The Birdcage," officially came out in an interview with The Advocate in 1999. In the issue, the 56-year-old Emmy- and Tony-winner said, "It's never been something I kept a secret." But Matthew Shepard's murder led the actor to publicly coming out. "It was like somebody slapped me awake," Lane said. "At this point it's selfish not to do whatever you can."

Celebrities Who Have Come Out As LGBT


Jodie Foster, 2013
The "Silence of the Lambs" star ended years of rampant media speculation when she casually came out of the closet while accepting her Cecil B. Demille award at the 2013 Golden Globes.

"I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago, back in the Stone Age," she said in the speech. "In those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends, and family, coworkers and then gradually, proudly, to everyone who knew her."

Gillian Anderson, 2012
The "X-Files" actress revealed she's had numerous relationships with women in a 2012 interview with Out magazine.

The 43-year-old mother of three, who's long enjoyed a sizable lesbian fanbase, told Out that she first had a relationship with a woman while still in high school, after moving from her native England to suburban Michigan.

"If I had thought I was 100 percent gay, would it have been a different experience for me?" Anderson, who was voted "Most Bizarre" and "Most Likely to Be Arrested" in high school, ponders. "Would it have been a bigger deal if shame had been attached to it and all those things that become huge life-altering issues for youngsters in that situation? It's possible that my attitude around it came, on some level, from knowing that I still liked boys."

Anderson Cooper, 2012
Anderson Cooper's sexuality had been scrutinized for years but it wasn't until July 2012 that he finally addressed the issue when he came out in an email to his friend and fellow journalist, Andrew Sullivan, this summer.

In Cooper's message, which was posted on Sullivan's blog, "The Dish," on The Daily Beast, the CNN anchor states, "The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud."Advertisement

Lana Wachowski, 2012
Award-winning filmmaker Lana Wachowski, who's best known for co-writing and -directing the "Matrix" trilogy with her brother, Andy Wachowski, is the first major Hollywood director to come out as transgender in July 2012.

The Chicago native recently released "Cloud Atlas" and received the Human Rights Campaign's Visibility Award in October 2012, where she delivered a revealing and heartfelt speech

Zachary Quinto, 2011
Long rumored to be gay, the actor, most famous for his roles on "Heroes" and in the recent "Star Trek" film, came out in a October 2011 New York magazine profile, saying:

"In light of Jamey's [Rodemeyer] death -- it became clear to me in an instant that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it -- is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality. Our society needs to recognize the unstoppable momentum toward unequivocal civil equality for every gay lesbian bisexual and transgendered citizen of this country."Advertisement

Meredith Baxter, 2009
In December 2009 Baxter, most famous for playing Elyse Keaton on '80s sitcom "Family Ties," went on the "Today Show" and told Matt Lauer that she was a lesbian. Baxter said, "Some people would say, well, you're living a lie and, you know, the truth is -- not at all. This has only been for the past seven years."

Frank Ocean, 2012
No mainstream black male hip-hop artist had ever come out until Frank Ocean did in July 2012, just before he debuted his first solo album, "Channel Orange."

The singer-songwriter posted a Tumblr post which read, in part, "4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide.”

After that, Ocean received support from fellow hip-hop artists Jay-Z (and wife, Beyoncé), 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes and more. Daryl Hannah, director of media and community partnerships for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said, "[The support for Frank is] an extension of the overall kind of support we’re seeing across the country for LGBT people, and not just in a broad sense, but specifically from iconic members of the black community.”

Wanda Sykes, 2008
The comedian and actress came out in November 2008 while speaking at an anti-Prop 8 rally in Las Vegas. Sykes said in part:

"I got married Oct. 25, I don't really talk about my sexual orientation, I felt like I was living my life, I wasn't in the closet, but I was just living my life. Everybody who knows me personally, they know I'm gay. And that's the way people should be able to live our lives, really. We shouldn't have to be standing out here demanding something we automatically should have as citizens of this country."

Matt Bomer, 2012
The 34-year-old "White Collar" hunk thanked his partner Simon Halls and his three children during Saturday's Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards, where he received the New Generation Arts and Activism Award for his work in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Anne Burrell, 2012"
Secrets of a Restaurant Chef" host Anne Burrell confirmed she's a lesbian and in a committed relationship with a woman, just days after "Chopped" host Ted Allen made a reference to her sexuality in a radio interview.

"Anne doesn't feel she was outed," Burrell's rep told Page Six. "She has made no secret of her relationship."

The rep went on to note, "Her significant other is a very private woman. They have been together for a couple of years and spend a lot of time together."

"I'd really especially like to thank my beautiful family: Simon, Kit, Walker, Henry," he told the crowd. "Thank you for teaching me what unconditional love is. You will always be my proudest accomplishment."

Adam Lambert, 2009
The singer's sexuality was always a topic of discussion for viewers when he was performing on "American Idol," but Lambert didn't come out until after the competition had wrapped. In a June 2009 Rolling Stone cover story, Lambert said, "Right after the finale [of "AI"], I almost started talking about it to the reporters, but I thought, 'I'm going to wait for Rolling Stone, that will be cooler,'.. I didn't want the Clay Aiken thing and the celebrity-magazine bullshit. I need to be able to explain myself in context."

Jim Parsons, 2012
New York Times scribe Patrick Healy confirmed "The Big Bang Theory" star's sexuality as part of a profile.

The revelation came late in the article, when Healy describes the 39-year-old actor's role in the 2011 revival of Larry Kramer's HIV/AIDS crisis drama, "The Normal Heart."

Wrote Healy: '"The Normal Heart" resonated with him on a few levels: Mr. Parsons is gay and in a 10-year relationship, and working with an ensemble again onstage was like nourishment, he said."

Though the Times didn't identify Parsons' partner, he has been romantically liked with art director Todd Spiewak (pictured).

Laura Jane Grace, 2012
Punk band Against Me!'s lead singer made headlines in May with the announcement that she is transgender and will be now known as Laura Jane Grace.

The musician, who shared her story in Rolling Stone, said "For me, the most terrifying thing about this was how she [my wife, Heather] would accept the news. But she's been super-amazing and understanding."

The couple has a 2-year-old daughter.

Cynthia Nixon, 2004
The "Sex And The City" star was out-ed in 2004 when the NY Daily News and the New York Post reported she was living with another woman in September 2004.

Nixon half-heartedly confirmed the rumors when she told the Daily News, "My private life is private... But at the same time, I have nothing to hide. So what I will say is that I am very happy."

Sam Champion, 2012
ABC's "Good Morning America" weatherman, Sam Champion,, not only came out of the closet in October 2012, he also announced his engagement to longtime boyfriend, Rubem Robierb, at the same time.

The New York Times subtly mentioned the news in an article about MSNBC personality Thomas Roberts' recent wedding, where Champion and Robierb were guests.

After his revelation, Champion, 51, discussed about his plans on "GMA" and thanked everyone for their support.

Kelly McGillis, 2009
Kelly McGillis, known as who starred opposite Tom Cruise in "Top Gun," revealed she's gay on lesbian website SheWired.com.

McGillis, who was married twice to men and has two daughters, said, "It's a part of being true to yourself. That's been a challenge for me personally."

Chris Colfer, 2009
The "Glee" actor came out on the "Chelsea Lately Show" in December 2009:

Chelsea Handler: "Your character on the show's gay. We know that you're gay. That's good for you. Congratulations. Don't be shy about that. Seriously. You shouldn't be shy about that because every time...an actor like you is helping a zillion other people that are scared to talk about their sexuality so good for you."

Chris Colfer: "Thank you. You know what my answer to that question was prior to coming out -- was that I was straight as every other actor in Hollywood."

Ezra Miller, 2012
Breakout, up-and-coming actor Ezra Miller, who stars in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," came out as queer in an interview with Out magazine in August. The 20-year-old actor, who's also known for his big screen roles on "City Island" and "We Need To Talk About Kevin," told Out: "I have a lot of really wonderful friends who are of very different sexes and genders. I am very much in love with no one in particular."

Sara Gilbert, 2010
Sara Gilbert, who's best known for her role on "Roseanne," officially came out in 2010. At that time, she was getting ready to launch "The Talk," a daytime talk show which focuses on parenthood and families, so Gilbert felt compelled to acknowledge her sexuality.

“I don’t ever really think of things as out or in,” Gilbert said. “I just think I am who I am, and when topics come up that are appropriate, I’ll talk about them and share when it seems right.”

Chaz Bono, 2009
Chaz Bono revealed his plan to transition in May 2009. TMZ.com broke the story via a prepared statement from Bono's publicist that read, in part:

"Yes, it's true -- Chaz, after many years of consideration, has made the courageous decision to honor his true identity...

He is proud of his decision and grateful for the support and respect that has already been shown by his loved ones. It is Chaz's hope that his choice to transition will open the hearts and minds of the public regarding this issue, just as his 'coming out' did nearly 20 years ago."

Andrew Rannells, 2012
Andrew Rannells has had a stellar year. Since nabbing a Tony nomination for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for the Broadway blockbuster "The Book of Mormon," Rannells went on to star in HBO's "Girls" and ABC's "The New Normal."

In November, the 34 year old was named to Out magazine's prestigious "OUT100" list. “I feel very proud to be a part of The New Normal,” Rannells told Out. “I hope that it’s considered to be a part of the evolution of gay relationships on television. Coming from Nebraska, it’s exciting to me that people I went to grade school with, people that I grew up going to church with, are watching the show.”

Joanna Johnson, 2012
"Bold and the Beautiful" star Joanna Johnson became daytime soap opera's only active "out" actor when she said she was a lesbian in May. Johnson said she feared coming out would prohibit her from getting acting roles.

Johnson told TV Guide in an exclusive interview that she's married to L.A. club promoter Michelle Agnew, with whom she has two children, five-year-old Julian and Harlow, who is two.

George Michael, 1998
After being caught performing a "lewd act" in a public restroom, Michael came out to CNN in April 1998. Michael said, "This is as good of a time as any... I want to say that I have no problem with people knowing that I'm in a relationship with a man right now. I have not been in a relationship with a woman for almost 10 years. "Later that year Michael spoofed the incident in the music video for his single "Outside."

Don Lemon, 2011
The CNN news anchor came out to the New York Times in May 2011. Lemon told the paper, "It's quite different for an African-American male... It's about the worst thing you can be in black culture. You're taught you have to be a man; you have to be masculine. In the black community they think you can pray the gay away."

Todd Glass, 2012
Comedian Todd Glass came out in January in an episode of the "WTF with Marc Maron" podcast. Glass cited the slew of LGBT teen suicides as his impetus for coming out.

He told Maron: "I cannot listen to stories about kids killing themselves any longer without thinking [to myself], 'When are you going to have a little blood on your shirt for not being honest about who you are?'"

Rosie Pierri, 2012
Everyone loves Rosie. In a June episode of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," Rosie Pierri candidly came out to her sister, Kathy Wakile, a main cast member, proclaiming, "God made me this way. That's it."

Pierri spoke with The Huffington Post in May before the episode aired and shared that she was a "late bloomer," who didn't come to the realization until her 30s.

Jonathan Knight, 2011
The New Kids On The Block singer was out-ed by fellow '80s teen pop star Tiffany in January 2011 when she revealed she dated Knight before "he became gay later."

In response, Knight posted a message on his website stating in part:

"I have never been outed by anyone but myself! I did so almost twenty years ago. I never know that I would have to do it all over again publicly just because I reunited with NKOTB! I have lived my life very openly and have never hidden the fact that I am gay!"

Sean Maher, 2011
Sean Maher, known for his roles on "Firefly" and "Playboy Club," confirmed his sexuality in an Entertainment Weekly interview, saying, "This is my coming out ball. I’ve been dying to do this.”

Ricky Martin, March 2010
In March 2009 pop star Ricky Martin posted a message on his website telling the world, "I am a fortunate homosexual man."

Sean Hayes, 2010
Long dogged by rumors about his sexuality, the "Will and Grace" actor finally came out in The Advocate in April 2010:

"I am who I am. I was never in, as they say. Never," he said.

Lady Sovereign, 2010
In May 2010 the British rapper came out in Diva magazine.

Sovereign said: "Magazines would always ask about it but [questions about my sexuality] would get stopped by my publicists. It was my choice, too, because I was a bit worried about it but now I don't really give a shit.

You can't hide away forever. It's just stupid and now I've come out I feel a lot more comfortable with myself. But it was a bit scary back then because some people do have horrible opinions."

T.R. Knight, 2007
T.R. Knight's coming out wasn't necessarily ideal.

The actor, who played George O'Malley on ABC's Grey's Anatomy, was called a "faggot" by co-star Isaiah Washington, prompting Knight to stand up for himself and others.

He told Ellen DeGeneres, "I've never been called that to my face. So I think when that happened, something shifted, and it became bigger than myself."

Kristy McNichol, 2012
People magazine reported In January 2012 that Kristy McNichol, who was beloved for playing Buddy Lawrence in the '70s show "Family," for which she won an Emmy, and later Barbara Weston on the "Golden Girls" spin-off "Empty Nest," revealed she is a lesbian because she is "approaching 50" and wants to "be open about who I am."

McNichol also cited the wave of antigay bullying stories for coming out, hoping to help bullied LGBT youth who need support.

Benji Schwimmer, 2012
After Benji Schwimmer won the second season of Fox's long-running hit series "So You Think You Can Dance," the 28-year-old dancer-choreographer became somewhat of a Mormon rockstar. But in a tell-all, five-hour interview for "Mormon Stories," Schwimmer came out and discussed at length his homosexuality and the church's views on the issue.

He spoke with Out magazine in June and said: "I get at least 10 emails a day from kids that say, I was going to kill myself, and I heard something in the podcast that rang true to me, and I’m holding on. For that validation alone—it’s nice that Perez Hilton and Out are covering this, but just that personal touch is what it’s about. For the last year, I didn’t hide it. I held hands with a boyfriend in the streets. I kissed him in bars—in straight bars. I don’t give a fuck."

Clay Aiken, 2008
After becoming a father in August of 2008, the "American Idol" runner up came out on the cover of People magazine in September 2008 saying, "[Coming out] was the first decision I made as a father... I cannot raise a child to lie or to hide things. I wasn't raised that way, and I'm not going to raise a child to do that."

Orlando Cruz, 2012
History was made in October when active professional featherweight boxer Orlando Cruz of Puerto Rico came out. He said in a USA Today article, "I've been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself. I want to try to be the best role model I can be for kids who might look into boxing as a sport and a professional career."

He continued, "I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man."

Chely Wright, 2010
Country singer Chely Wright came out in May 2010. She told People magazine, "There had never, ever been a country music artist who had acknowledged his or her homosexuality... I wasn't going to be the first."

But she changed her mind and said of her decision, "Nothing in my life has been more magical than the moment I decided to come out."

Mika, 2012
The flamboyant singer-songwriter played coy about his sexuality for many years before finally coming out as gay in the September 2012 issue of Instinct magazine.

Mika told the magazine:

"If you ask me am I gay, I say yeah... Are these songs about my relationship with a man? I say yeah. And it’s only through my music that I’ve found the strength to come to terms with my sexuality beyond the context of just my lyrics. This is my real life."

Lance Bass, 2006
The 'N Sync pop star came out on the cover of People magazine in July 2006. When asked why he decided to come out then, Bass said, "The main reason I wanted to speak my mind was that (the rumors) really were starting to affect my daily life. Now it feels like it's on my terms. I'm at peace with my family, my friends, myself and God so there's really nothing else that I worry about."

Denise Ho, 2012
Hong Kong's fourth annual LGBT Pride Parade in November saw beloved Cantonese pop star Denise Ho come out as a lesbian. This announcement made her the first mainstream female singer in Hong Kong to say she's gay, according to several Hong Kong media outlets.

"As a celebrity, I think I have an obligation, a duty to stand forward for the sake of love and equality," the 35-year-old singer told the crowd.

Amber Heard, 2010
"I personally think that if you deny something or if you hide something you're inadvertently admitting it's wrong. I don't feel like I'm wrong," said actress Amber Heard, 26, who came out while attending GLAAD's 25th anniversary party.

Heard has starred in movies like as "Pineapple Express" and "Zombieland."

Elton John, 1976
In an interview with Rolling Stone in October 1976, the rock star came out by saying, "There's nothing wrong with going to bed with somebody of your own sex. I think everybody's bisexual to a certain degree. I don't think it's just me. It's not a bad thing to be. I think you're bisexual. I think everybody is."

Suze Orman, 2007
Financial guru Suze Orman came out in a 2007 New York Times Magazine article.

The 61-year-old Chicago native was asked if she was married in the interview, which prompted her to officially come out and set the record straight (so to speak).

David Hyde Pierce, 2007
"Frasier" actor David Hyde Pierce kept a low profile and subtly came out in an article on CNN where he mentioned his longtime partner, TV writer and producer Brian Hargrove.

Later, while on "The View", Pierce spoke about Hargrove and his sexuality and said,"What you choose to talk about yourself is a personal decision."

Neil Patrick Harris, 2006
The "Doogie Howser, MD" and "How I Met Your Mother Star" came out on the cover of People magazine in November of 2006. Harris told the magazine:

"The public eye has always been kind to me, and until recently I have been able to live a pretty normal life. Now it seems there is speculation and interest in my private life and relationships.

So, rather than ignore those who choose to publish their opinions without actually talking to me, I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love."

Darren Hayes, 2006
The former Savage Garden front man came out by marrying Richard Cullen in June 2006.

He announced the civil union on his website saying in part:

"As so many of you have given me your heart and soul over the past 10 years I thought it only fitting that I too return the respect and inform you of the most significant event in my life... On June 19th 2006 I married my boyfriend of two years, Richard, in a Civil Partnership ceremony in London."

George Takei, 2005
The beloved George Takei, known as Sulu on "Star Trek," came out in a 2005 article in Frontiers, a biweekly LGBT Los Angeles magazine.

Takei, 75, cited the political landscape surrounding LGBT issues as one reason for coming out. Since then, Takei has been an outspoken (and humorous) advocate for LGBT rights.

Portia de Rossi, 2005
The actress had been out to friends for quite some time, but she told the entire world in the fall of 2005 in interviews with Details magazine and The Advocate.

"I've had my years of being not open, many years of it... It's an honor for me to do this; it's just nice to be asked," de Rossi said in her September 2005 Advocate cover story, her first with the gay press.

Heather Matarazzo, 2004
The actress, perhaps best known for her role as tormented teen Dawn Wiener in the film "Welcome To The Dollhouse," came out in August 2004 by telling the NY Daily News about falling in love with Caroline Murphy:

"I met the person I'm so madly crazy in love with...She's not famous yet. She will be. She wants to do musical theater and stage, which is not as demoralizing as the movie business is."

Rosie O'Donnell, 2002
The comedian and talk show host came out by revealing "I'm a dyke!" during her stand up act at the Ovarian Cancer Research benefit at Carolines Comedy Club in February 2002.

Nathan Lane, 1999
The hilarious Nathan Lane, who's well known for starring in films like "The Birdcage," officially came out in an interview with The Advocate in 1999. In the issue, the 56-year-old Emmy- and Tony-winner said, "It's never been something I kept a secret."

But Matthew Shepard's murder led the actor to publicly coming out.

"It was like somebody slapped me awake," Lane said. "At this point it's selfish not to do whatever you can."

Ellen DeGeneres, 1997
DeGeneres came out in 1997, both in real life and on TV, on her sitcom "Ellen."

"The Puppy Episode," which aired in April 1997, featured a who's who of Hollywood, including Oprah Winfrey, Demi Moore, Billy Bob Thornton, and Laura Dern as Ellen's love interest.

DeGeneres's character became the first openly gay prime time lead character on television.

Melissa Etheridge, 1993
The rock star came out in January 1993 during the Triangle ball, the first ever ball thrown for the LGBT community during a president's inauguration, in this case Clinton's.

Etheridge recalls: "I didn't even think, Oh, I'm going to come out here...It was, 'Gee, I'm really excited to be here, and I'm really proud to have been a lesbian all my life.' And a big cheer went up through the whole hall, and k.d. [lang] came out and hugged me. I remember walking back, and my friend said, 'I think you came out!'"

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/23/jacob-rudolph-gay-teen-class-actor-comes-out-ceremony_n_2535565.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices&icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl28%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D261018


San Diego Gay Pride Parade: Troops March In Uniform


Some of the loudest cheers Saturday at San Diego's gay pride parade were for active-duty troops marching in military dress, the first time that U.S. service members participated in such an event while in full uniform.

2:00

Dozens of soldiers, sailors, and Marines marched alongside an old Army truck decorated with a "Freedom to Serve" banner and a rainbow flag. They were joined by dozens more military personnel in civilian clothes, but the uniforms stood out among the flower-bedecked floats and scantily clad revelers.

Spectators waved signs reading, "Thank you for your service." A woman held a placard that said: "My gay son is a Naval officer."

"Today is so important," said Navy Lt. Brian McKinney, who marched with his civilian partner, Hunter Hammonds. "It's about putting on my uniform and taking pride in my service, my fellow service-members, my family and myself. It's something I'm incredibly thankful for."

In a memorandum sent to all its branches this year, the Defense Department said it was making the allowance for the San Diego event even though its policy generally bars troops from marching in uniform in parades.

The Defense Department said Thursday it did so because organizers had encouraged military personnel to march in their uniform and the parade was getting national attention.

Cmdr. Kent Blade, who will retire this fall after 26 years in the Navy, said being able to march in uniform was a perfect culmination of his career. The 47-year-old said that since last year's repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" law, he has received unconditional support from his fellow officers.

"We've all been able to talk more freely about our lives. Nobody's leading a second life," he said. "And now that I can march freely in uniform, I think it's a great display for the Navy."

About 200 active-duty troops participated in last year's San Diego gay pride parade, but they wore T-shirts with their branch's name, not military dress.

About 200,000 people were expected at this weekend's annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Parade and festival in Balboa Park. In addition to the parade, the celebration features parties, concerts and the raising of a rainbow flag on a new 65-foot flagpole in Hillcrest, the center of San Diego's LGBT community.

The theme of this year's event is "America's Pride: Equality is an American Value."
Source: www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/21/san-diego-gay-pride-troops-march-uniform_n_1692348.html

Isis King, Transgender 'America's Next Top Model' Contestant, Makes American Apparel Ad Debut


"America's Next Top Model" alum Isis King has a new Tyra-free gig: fronting a line of Pride Month t-shirts for California retailer American Apparel. 

Isis is the first trans person American Apparel has featured in their ads.

In 2008 King, the 25-year-old model from Maryland, became the first transgender model to participate on Tyra Banks' reality show "America's Next Top Model." This September, she returned for ANTM's "All-Stars" cycle, which featured 14 former competitors from the show's past casts.

As for the ads, well, compared to American Apparel's usual level of bawdiness, Isis' photo shoot is not too risque. Although, we suspect only models will have the confidence to wriggle into those turquoise spandex leggings.

King outshone many of her fellow "ANTM" alums by actually landing something of a modeling career following the show, walking in Baltimore Fashion Week. Tyra Banks personally helped finance King's sex reassignment surgery in 2009.

15% of proceeds from American Apparel's new tees will benefit GLAAD.
Source: www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/08/isis-king-americal-apparel-transgender_n_1581457.html?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl12%7Csec3_lnk2%26pLid%3D168405#s=more231473

Transgender Miss Universe Canada Finalist Jenna Talackova Disqualified From Competition


She may look every bit the part of a beauty queen, but Jenna Talackova has lost her chance for the crown because she was born a biological male.

The 23-year-old Miss Universe Canada finalist was disqualified from the competition after it was discovered she had undergone sexual reassignment surgery, reports CTV.

National director of Miss Universe Canada Denis Davila told the Toronto Star that while they consider Talackova to be a "real girl," Miss Universe rules stipulate that contestants must be a “naturally born female.”

Davila also told the Star that Talackova indicated on her registration form that she was born female. Talackova was disqualified the same day she revealed she was in fact born a male.

According to a statement from Miss Universe Canada, Talackova was disqualified because "she did not meet the requirements to compete despite having stated otherwise on her entry form. We do, however, respect her goals, determination and wish her the best."

In a 2010 interview, Talackova said she knew she was a female at age 4 and began hormone therapy at age 14. She underwent reassignment surgery at 19.

Talackova told CTV she's "not giving up" and is consulting a lawyer. In the mean time, Miss Universe Canada has removed all photos of the Vancouver resident from their website and another woman has taken her spot.
Source: www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/03/24/transgender-miss-universe_n_1377147.html?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl1%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D146762&just_reloaded=1

To Be or Not To Be


Dan Savage has challenged Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain to perform a sex act on him to prove that being gay is a choice.

The "It Gets Better" activist was incensed at comments Cain made to CNN's Piers Morgan earlier this week. "I think it's a sin because of my biblical beliefs," Cain said on Wednesday. "And although people don't agree with me, I happen to think that it is a choice."

On his blog Savage posted an open letter to Cain:

Dear Herman,

If being gay is a choice, show us the proof. Choose it. Choose to be gay yourself. Show America how that's done, Herman, show us how a man can choose to be gay. Suck my dick, Herman. Name the time and the place and I'll bring my dick and a camera crew and you can suck me off and win the argument.

Very sincerely yours,

Dan Savage

But Savage had more to say: "When someone argues that being gay is a choice, he's not just insulting gay people. (And ignoring the science of sexual orientation.) He's insulting straight people. If homosexuality is a choice, then so is heterosexuality. Last night on CNN Herman Cain said that being straight is something that a straight person can take or leave. Herman Cain believes that heterosexuality is something a heterosexual can decide to walk away from, like an underwater house or a lousy meal. Straight people should get angry when they hear a straight person making this argument."
Source:
www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/10/21/Dan_Savage_To_Herman_Cain_Prove_Being_Gay_Is_A_Choice/

Don't Ask, Don't Tell era ends


Tomorrow is a truly historic day in American history. For tomorrow, September 20, 2011, will mark the end of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy, which bans lesbian, gay, and bisexual men and women from serving openly in our armed services. Since 1993, gay Americans willing to risk their lives and serve their country in uniform have been forced to serve in silence, out of fear of being discharged.

Following President Obama, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs’ certification of repeal two months ago, and a built-in waiting period, this discriminatory law will now formally be a thing of the past. For far too long, the ban on openly gay service members endangered our security, violated our values, and ruined lives. Tomorrow’s formal, final end of DADT is a monumental step in this movement’s history – not just for those wishing to openly serve their country, but for all Americans who believe in fairness, equality, and the right to pursue our passions free of discrimination.

While we cheer the demise of this ugly law, let us also think about the thousands of men and women affected by DADT – brave soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines – some fired outright and others who just couldn’t bear the thought of living a lie, whose careers fell victim to this mistake of a law. Now, some want to return to their military careers, but face frightful uncertainty about whether or not they can reclaim their ranks or the assignments that were stolen from them.

And despite this milestone, much work remains to ensure we continue toward full equality in the military. The so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibits the military from extending a number of benefits to the spouses of gay and lesbian service members, such as health insurance benefits. Gay and lesbian service members and their loved ones also face limitations in areas like family housing, access to legal services, spousal relocation support and an adequate infrastructure to process incidents of discrimination and harassment against gay and lesbian service members. We must also do everything we can to ensure that transgender Americans are able to serve in the U.S. military. It’s incumbent on fair-minded lawmakers to push back against discriminatory legislative actions, push for the repeal of DOMA and pay attention to military personnel matters.

We all know our fight for equality is not over. Our challenges are many: from presidential candidates who’ve promised to reinstate DADT to a far-right Congress that continues to defend the equally horrific Defense of Marriage Act in court. We won’t let any of their attacks go unchallenged. HRC will keep fighting, most especially thanks to people like you.
Source: www.hrcbackstory.org/2011/09/dont-ask-dont-tell-soon-to-be-in-the-dustbin-of-history/?utm_source=Convio&utm_medium=email&utm_term=WHHRCDFML-link-1&utm_campaign=HRCnews-September-2017

Oregon removes barriers to transition-related care


Great news! The Insurance Division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) just announced that insurance companies doing business in Oregon must end discriminatory exclusions of medically-necessary healthcare for transgender Oregonians.

We all know someone who has been denied medically necessary care by an insurance company working to protect its bottom line. It's unfair, painful, and downright dangerous when it happens. And for transgender people, these denials are often a fact of life.

Many transgender Oregonians are denied the ability to purchase health insurance or are denied coverage for basic, medically necessary care solely because they are transgender (watch a video of their stories here). These exclusions are wrong, discriminatory– and the Insurance Division has made it clear that this kind of discrimination has no place in Oregon.

The Insurance Division bulletin specifically states that:

To learn more about this bulletin, or if you are denied care following this announcement, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions sheet and to the Insurance Division website.

After years of work on this issue, the Trans Justice team at Basic Rights Oregon is celebrating a tremendous victory for trans, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming Oregonians. Portland resident and Trans Justice Working Group member Ray Crider said,

"For me, this coverage is preventive health care. As a transgender man, part of my daily routine is binding my chest to create a masculine appearance. This created health problems for me by restricting my breathing and causing inflammation in the wall of my lungs. As a result, I ended up in the emergency room several times for shortness of breath and chest pain. Doctors told me the only solution was to stop binding, but the surgery I needed ended up being the same cost as my emergency room visits. Transgender exclusions in insurance policies are a lose-lose proposition, and I'm glad they're coming to an end."

Basic Rights Oregon and transgender community leaders will continue working together to increase access to medically necessary care for trans Oregonians. And we'll share more updates as this exciting bulletin is implemented.
Source: Internet eMail

A Dad Testifies for His Transgender Teen Daughter


It's not uncommon to see a mom speaking out for her transgender child, but April 12 saw a dad front and center. The scene was a Maine Judiciary Committee hearing about proposed bill LD 1046, would allow the operator of a restroom or shower facility in that state to decide who can use which gender's restroom based upon "biological sex."

But "biological sex" is not defined in the bill, nor is the method to be used to verify it. In my case, I am generally viewed as female wherever I go, and while I have had genital reconstruction surgery, I still have male chromosomes. Would this bill allow someone who knows my history to insist that I use the mens' room?

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Kenneth Fredette, implies that I am not the concern. "What situation do we put young children in when they go into a private place and then what they perceive to be the person of the opposite sex comes into that bathroom? That could be quite shocking."

Yet this conservative dad's daughter looks and acts "all-girl" to those who know her and hardly seems out of place in the girl's room. The problem arose when an adult, who knows the girl's history, forced her school to deny her access to the girls' room.

I had the pleasure of meeting the girl and her family a couple of years ago and have stayed in touch since. After the dad spoke out for his first time publicly at the hearing, he sent me the full text of his testimony (excerpted in the Bangor Daily News article). It's worth a read:

My name is Wayne Maines, I live in Old Town. I have a 13-year-old transgender daughter. In the beginning, I was not onboard with this reality. Like many of you I doubted transgender children could exist, I doubted my wife and I doubted our counselors and doctors. However I never doubted my love for my child. It was only through observing her pain and her suffering and examining my lack of knowledge about these issues did I begin to question my behavior and my conservative values. I learned that the medical standard of care requires parents seek assistance from a panel of experts. We did this and our team of doctors recommended my daughter to live fully as a girl. We cannot turn back now.

When my daughter lost her privileges at school and both children and adults targeted her, I knew I had to change and I have never looked back.

When we moved to Maine, it was clear my daughter was transitioning from male to female with us or without us. She used the girl's bathroom with no fanfare; she was confident and very social. Her strong personality helped the entire school transition right along side of her. She was proud and secure with herself and when people asked at the young age of six she openly stated that she was a girl trapped in a boy's body.

The transformation was amazing, but her happiness would not last. Unfortunately the fears of others would destroy everything that our team of doctors, teachers, school counselors, friends and classmates had work so hard to establish.

I know that it is difficult for some of you to understand the needs of transgender children. You only need to spend some time with these kids to see that they are struggling and suffering beyond your imagination only because they are singled out and misunderstood. They are just like your children and grandchildren; they have the same hopes and the same dreams.

In the fifth grade because of significant negative exposure we had to take drastic measures to protect her from harm, including splitting our family up to go in hiding and we are not the only family that has had to do so. When she was told she could no longer use the appropriate bathroom her confidence and self-esteem took a major hit. Prior to this my daughter often said, "Dad being transgender is no big deal, my friends and I have it under control." I was very proud of her. It was only when adults became involved with their unfounded fears that her world would be turned upside down. "She came to me crying and asked, "Daddy what did I do wrong? Daddy please fix this?" That is what dads do -- we fix things. I had to break her heart and say, "You have not done anything wrong sweetie, but Mommy and I do not know how to fix this, but we will try."

Continuing to single these kids out is not necessary. Having the opportunity to use the bathrooms of their true gender is essential for these kids' well being. This bill places transgender children in a position of doom and hopelessness. This bill tells my daughter that she does not have the same rights as her classmates and reinforces her opinion that she has no future. Help me give her the future she deserves. Do not pass this bill.

Maines tells me, "I am just a dad who wants to protect his daughter and others like her." Sounds a lot like conservative family values at work, doesn't it?
Source: www.huffingtonpost.com/joanne-herman/dad-transgender-daughter_b_850865.html

Ask the Therapist: Am I a Middle-Aged Sex Addict?


I'm a 39-year-old man who thinks about sex all day and night...is this a problem?
Source: www4.gayhealth.com/templates/0/network/ask/index.html?record=896&type=3

Gay animals out of the closet?


From male killer whales that ride the dorsal fin of another male to female bonobos that rub their genitals together, the animal kingdom tolerates all kinds of lifestyles.

A first-ever museum display, "Against Nature?," which opened last month at the University of Oslo's Natural History Museum in Norway, presents 51 species of animals exhibiting homosexuality.

"Homosexuality has been observed in more than 1,500 species, and the phenomenon has been well described for 500 of them," said Petter Bockman, project coordinator of the exhibition.

The idea, however, is rarely discussed in the scientific community and is often dismissed as unnatural because it doesn't appear to benefit the larger cause of species continuation.

"I think to some extent people don't think it's important because we went through all this time period in sociobiology where everything had to be tied to reproduction and reproductive success," said Linda Wolfe, who heads the Department of Anthropology at East Carolina University. "If it doesn't have [something to do] with reproduction it's not important."

For pleasure

However, species continuation may not always be the ultimate goal, as many animals, including humans, engage in sexual activities more than is necessary for reproduction.

"You can make up all kinds of stories: Oh it's for dominance, it's for this, it's for that, but when it comes down to the bottom I think it's just for sexual pleasure," Wolfe said.

Conversely, some argue that homosexual sex could have a bigger natural cause than just pure pleasure: namely evolutionary benefits.

Copulation could be used for alliance and protection among animals of the same sex. In situations when a species is mostly bisexual, homosexual relationships allow an animal to join a pack.

"In bonobos for instance, strict heterosexual individuals would not be able to make friends in the flock and thus never be able to breed," Bockman said. "In some bird species that bond for life, homosexual pairs raise young. If they are females, a male may fertilize their eggs. If they are males, a solitary female may mate with them and deposit her eggs in their nest."

Mom and Dad and Dad

Almost a quarter of black swan families are parented by homosexual couples. Male couples sometimes mate with a female just to have a baby. Once she lays the egg, they chase her away, hatch the egg, and raise a family on their own.

"Homosexuality" and "heterosexuality" are terms defined by societal boundaries, invisible in the animal kingdom.

"Many species are hermaphrodites," Bockman said. Hermaphrodites have both male and female sex organs. A lot of marine species have no sex life at all, but just squirt their eggs or semen into the sea.

Some creatures even reproduce asexually, by dividing themselves into two organisms. In one species of gecko, females clone themselves.

Like most complex issues, animal homosexuality is challenging and poorly understood. Therefore, educators tend to shy away from covering it in their teaching. Many scientists don't even want to be associated with this type of research.

"I've had primatologists offer to give me their data on homosexual behavior because they didn't want to publish it," Wolfe said.

"Against Nature?" was set up partly to demystify the concept.

The argument that a homosexual way of living cannot be accepted because it is against the "laws of nature" can now be rejected scientifically, said Geir Soli, project leader for the exhibition. "A main target for this project was to get museums involved in current debate; to show that museums are more than just a gallery for the past."

To learn more, see LiveScience's Top 10 presentation, Gay Animals: Alternate Lifestyles in the Wild
Source: By Sara Goudarzi, www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15750604/?GT1=8717

Bisexuality on the Rise Among Young Women


More women-—particularly those in their late teens and 20s-—are experimenting with bisexuality or at least feel more comfortable reporting same-sex encounters.
Source: www4.gayhealth.com/templates/0/news/index.html?record=1058

School Crowns Male Homecoming Queen


George Mason University senior Ryan Allen dresses in drag and doesn't mind being called a queen — homecoming queen, to be exact.

Allen, who is gay and performs in drag at nightclubs in the region, said he entered the homecoming contest as a joke, competing as Reann Ballslee, his drag queen persona.

But he considers the victory one of his happiest moments and proof that the suburban Washington, D.C., school famous for its run to the Final Four a few years back celebrates its diverse student body.

"I was very touched by how Mason was so supportive through the whole process of allowing a boy in a dress to run for homecoming queen," Allen said in a phone interview. "It says a lot about the campus that not only do we have diversity but we celebrate it."

The senior from Virginia's Goochland County won the pageant Saturday at a sold-out Homecoming basketball game against Northeastern University.

Large portions of the crowd cheered as Allen, wearing a gold-sequined top, accepted the tiara and the Ms. Mason 2009 sash.

The school, known for racial diversity and a basketball team that pulled off a string of upsets to advance to the Final Four in 2006, was selected the nation's top "school to watch" in the most recent U.S. News and World Report rankings.

Allen's selection does not appear to have caused much consternation among the school's 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students. An online article in the student newspaper prompted only two comments, both positive.

Alyssa Cordova, an officer with the school's College Republicans, said she didn't pay much attention to Allen's election and is surprised by the media attention it has received.
Source: news.aol.com/article/homecoming-drag-queen/352755?icid=200100397x1218402730x1201286417

Vatican says men with ‘transitory’ gay tendencies can still be ordained


The Vatican published its long-awaited document on gays in the priesthood, saying that men with “deep-seated” gay tendencies shouldn’t be ordained but that those with “transitory” tendencies could be if they had overcome them for three years. Reaction has been mixed, with conservatives saying it may help reverse the “gay culture” that has grown in many U.S. seminaries. Liberal critics have complained that the restrictions will create morale problems among existing priests and lead to an even greater priest shortage in the United States. Some observers have also raised questions about just what the document means by a “deep-seated homosexual tendency,” since a definition isn’t provided.

The document has been years in the works, but its existence came to light in 2002 at the height of the clergy sex abuse scandal in the United States. A study commissioned by U.S. bishops found that most abuse victims since 1950 were adolescent boys. Experts on sex offenders say homosexuals are no more likely than heterosexuals to molest young people, but that did not stifle questions about gay seminarians.

These men can’t be priests because they are in a situation that “gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women,” it says. (Editor's Note: Would this then imply that a priest must have experienced marriage in order to relate correctly to married men and women? Hypocracy marchs on into the new millinium.)
Source: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10248368/

Viagra May Raise STD Risks in Gay Men


But there's debate over whether the drug is to blame.
Source: www.healthscout.com/news/1/525984/main.html

This is my private life


"Liberals, moderates, and libertarians are often accused by conservatives of demonizing the so-called 'religious right'....But the flap over Senator Rick Santorum's remarks about homosexuality, sodomy laws, and the right to privacy suggest that the alarm is not exaggerated."
Source: www.reason.com/cy/cy042903.shtml

Silicone Injection Used To Enhance Body Suspected In Third Death


A 31 year-old man has died from what police suspect are silicone injections, alarming investigators that many in the transgender community are not heeding warnings about the dangers of such body enhancement techniques.
Source: www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/EMIHC276/333/22002/368445.html?d=dmtICNNews

Study Identifies Triggers For Risky Sex Among Gay Men


Gay men who have poor communication skills and feel unable to protect themselves against HIV infection are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors, according to newly released data.
Source: Center for the Advancement of Health, www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/EMIHC276/333/22002/365119.html?d=dmtICNNews

Did You Miss the Queer as Folk series on Showtime?


For those who don't have Showtime and missed the groundbreaking and critically-acclaimed series Queer as Folk, both the first and second seasons are out on DVD. Focusing on the loves, careers, ambitions and relationships of a group of gay men and women, it is the controversial series that had everyone talking. Follow the lives of these men and women in this compelling and graphically-realistic drama filled with strong dialogue, witty comedy, and provacatively sexual detail. Emotions and passoins swirl around this group as they deal with the struggles and joys of life and love. Over 2,000 minutes between the two series, this remains a controversial yet provocative and ultimately intriguing drama. ISBN 1-931669-49-X.Buy Season One! ISBN: 1-932228-28-4 Buy Season Two!

Temple to gay love unearthed near Rome


A temple devoted to gay love has been discovered by archaeologists in Italy. They found remains which were once dedicated to a lover of the Emperor Hadrian about 20 miles east of Rome. The temple of Antinous dates from 134 AD shortly after his death.

Zaccaria Mari, the head archaeologist on the site says archaeologists have dug up parts of the walls of the monumental temple and made a couple of exploratory excavations. "We found a series of fountains and planters for interior gardens, niches for statues and very important marble fragments, some with Egyptian hieroglyphics," Mr Mari said.

"I'm sure this discovery will cause a lot of controversy, because it flies in the face of previously accepted theories, but only further excavations will give all of the answers."

Historians are divided over whether the emperor's favourite lover committed suicide in the river Nile or was pushed in. Antinous was despised by the emperor's jealous aides, but it could never be proven that he was murdered. Other scholars claim Antinous committed suicide before old age destroyed his looks. He was 21.
Source: www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_710095.html?menu=news.quirkies

Girls Come Out


Dealing with your sexuality is hard enough. But it can be even more difficult if you're a girl daydreaming about the girl in your math class, while your friends are drooling over the boys on the football team. Read Elina's and Danielle's stories about how they came out. www.teenwire.com/infocus/2002/if_20020215p149.asp

Violence Continues


A Tennessee man was shot to death in Nashville because his assailant assumed he was gay. According to an August 3, 01 article in Bay Windows, Willie Houston was holding a purse and assisting a blind friend to the men's room at Opry Mills, a country music showboat, where his assailant shouted anti-gay epithets and then followed him into the parking lot and shot him in the chest as Horton tried to reason with him. Nedra Jones, Houston's fiance, had asked him to hold her purse just before his friend asked for assistance in going to the restroom. The gunman was identified as 25-year-old Lewis Maynard Davidson, III, who had not been apprehended at the time the article was written. Amazingly, Nashville police have not classified the incident as a hate crime, claiming insufficient evidence.

Just days after Willie Houston's death, Lester Childress, 46, a female impersonator, was found dead in his Chattanooga apartment. Fatal stab wounds were inflicted by 26-year-old Brain Keith Jackson, who confessed to the murder after his capture in Catoosa County, just across the state line in Georgia. Childress, called a "living legend" in the Tennessee drag scene, had worked for more than 20 years at the gay club, The Tool Box. He was known as Mr. Della Reeves. More than 500 friends, fans, and family members attended his funeral. (Source: Southern Voice, August 9).

In July, Colorado was shaken by the murder of 16-year-old Native-American two-spirit Fred C. Martinez, Jr., of Cortez, who was bashed in the head and left to die. 18-year-old Shaun Murphy has been charged with the crime.

(Wonder what the psychological similarities are between these young killers and the young, religious radicals of the Taliban? - Ed.)

Source: Transgender Tapestry, Win/01.

Landmark Report on LGBT Health Released


To download a copy, see the link at the bottom of this article.

A tireless, two-year effort by gay health advocates, providers, educators and government agencies has yielded a comprehensive, first-of-its-kind report on the state of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) health in the United States. The report, Healthy People 2010 Companion Document for LGBT Health, supplements the government’s Healthy People 2010 report, which serves as a blueprint for disease prevention and healthcare funding over the next ten years.

The companion document, released March 30, gives a broad assessment of LGBT health, including topics such as cancer, HIV, mental health, family planning, heart disease, tobacco use and injury and violence prevention. The document also focuses on ways to improve the public health infrastructure and increase access to quality healthcare.

"This is a great step forward, because the knowledge about LGBT health is now more accessible," said Judy Bradford of Fenway Community Health in Boston, MA and a member of the National Coalition on LGBT Health, which produced the report. "We know ourselves now unlike we knew ourselves before."

"Knowledge about LGBT health is now more accessible. This is a great step forward."

The information compiled in the report is useful on three fronts. It can serve as an invaluable tool for healthcare providers who care for LGBT patients. The results of future health studies can be measured against the data in the report to track LGBT health trends. And the report can be used to access funding for LGBT health studies. "This document can be used to assist in writing grants -- the information is there," said Nancy Kennedy, Dr.P.H., who served as the intra-agency liaison for LGBT health issues at the Health Services and Resources Administration (HRSA), which funded the report. The HRSA is a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The compilation of the companion document began in 1998, after the government released its first draft of Healthy People 2010."There was no reference to LGBT health issues in the first draft of the document," said Patricia Dunn, J.D., director of public policy for the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, which co-produced the report. "That started a major process to get the federal government to address LGBT health needs." Last summer, the HRSA provided funding that allowed ten work groups, comprised of 162 people, to focus their efforts on completing the document.

The exclusion of LGBT health in the original report prompted the formation of the National Coalition on LGBT Health on October 14, 2000. The goal of the Coalition is to improve LGBT health and wellness through federal advocacy.

Source: www.gayhealth.com/templates/98710518037875366210800011/news?record=490

Being Gay in Pakistan


To be gay in Pakistani and community is considered a gross abuse as well as a mortal sin as terrible religion Islam holds extremely hostile policy towards gays as according to so called Islamic scholars "if gays are caught red handed they must be be headed, stoned to death or thrown from the highest peak of lofty mountain to eradicate this inclination. (according to panal code of Pakistan.)

In Pakistan, the Homosexual activity is illegal, punishable with life in prison, and corporal punishment of 100 lashes, while Islamic law, which also can be enforced legally, calls for up to 100 lashes or death by stoning. (a report by an international human rights commission about hmosexuality in Pakistan.)

Source: An e-mail from a young gay man in Pakistan 1/02.

We Need Transgendered People Out Proudly Among Us


There is something extremely important for gay men, lesbians, and bisexual people in the fight for the rights of the transgendered. Yet it has taken a long time for some of us to see this.

Transgendered people embody the real issue behind the oppression of sexual minorities. To miss this point is actually to buy into the excuses the system itself gives for discriminating against and abusing non-heterosexual people. The dominant excuse is that l/g/b/t people are erotically attracted to the same sex. So, the system teaches that all of this has to do with who is having sex with whom or who is in love with whom.

We might agree, but that's not really the case. One of the common dynamics of any oppression is that lies are convincingly repeated about the reasons for oppressing a victimized group.

White racism claims that the reason for the oppression of people of color is something inherent in "them" - their skin color, culture, or natural abilities. In reality racism functions to keep working-class people apart, blaming and scapegoating each other so they'll never unite to end what is collectively hurting them in the culture and its institutions. It is a way of protecting the system itself. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood this and that's why he turned to challenging the whole system, not just personal prejudices.

Yet it's easy for a victimized group to believe those lies consciously or unconsciously and to think that on that basis they can correct something they're doing in order to end the oppression. In l/g/b/t communities this means that we should try to look and act straight, particularly in public.

We should never do anything to show that we are attracted to the same sex unless it is part of excusing ourselves with, "We're just like you, except...." That means we should treat our sexuality in the same sick manner straight people do.

When we recognize what is really going on when l/g/b/t people are victimized and encouraged to think of themselves as second-class citizens, we'll see that we need a different strategy for our own liberation which includes and highlights the transgendered. But it's a strategy far from that of many of us who think that straight people are healthy, and that how they live their lives and what they possess will be our salvation.

The real reason l/g/b/t people are targeted for discrimination is that the oppression is the major means our society uses to keep men and women in their place, to keep them in strictly defined and "opposite" gender roles. It ensures that men will be "masculine" and women will be "feminine."

If any two self-identified heterosexual males walk down a street in the U.S. and hold hands or put their arms around each other, they will be treated the way gay men are with violence, threats, ridicule, and rejection. That's because by doing so they have defied the male role. They have stepped out of the straight jacket of masculinity. They have transcended the limits of their culturally-defined gender.

If a self-identified heterosexual woman refuses to follow male concepts of female beauty, refuses to find her worth in approval and acceptance by men, stands up with her sisters for equal pay for equal work, and decides to live her life in her own self-interest (as men are supposed to), she will be accused of being a lesbian. She too has transcended the stifling gender role society has for her.

As long as we have gender defined as we do, men will be stuck in their place, out of touch with their feelings of hurt, fear, and confusion, and living the "beat or be beaten" mentality with other men they learned in childhood. It's a role enforced with the "privilege" men are taught they have of defending this system by being willing to kill other men and be killed by them in the name of manliness. If they don't they will be treated as "non-masculine" males, as gay men.

As long as we have gender defined the way we do, the limitations on women will remain. They will be suspect for acting powerful, assertive, decisive, and feminist. They will be put down for showing anger, reason, and clarity of thought and goals, for finding fulfillment in their own wholeness, for deciding how they want to look and act, and for no longer believing that "getting a man" is the key measure of their worth.

As long as gender is strictly defined and enforced with little if any fluidity, gay men and lesbians will be attacked, demeaned, and thought of as second class citizens because the oppression has nothing to do with hem and everything to do with gender roles -- roles that are not human, freely chosen, or healthy. These roles result in inhuman relationships: one role relating to another rather than one human being relating to another.

Transgendered people embody our real issue. Their "coming out" threatens the entire system of gender identity and gender roles. Their presence announces boldly that none of us "has to be" either of these roles. And that's a major threat to everything that oppresses us. Suzanne Pharr was absolutely right when she wrote *Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism*, now in its second edition (Chardon, 1997). And I would put it, "Homophobia: A Weapon of Gender Rigidity."

Society's fear is that if we take away the two gender roles we will not know who we are. In reality, we'll get in touch with our unconditioned humanity by rejecting externally imposed, dysfunctional, and inhuman, definitions of what it its to be human, male and female. That fear - that I won't know who I am -- might be the scariest of all while it opens us up to one of the most exciting frontiers of exploration in the universe.

We will not be free until transgendered people of all types can define who they are and how they want to express their self-chosen identities. It's not really about sexual orientation. It's not really about us. It's a system that can't stand the idea that people can be free of the limitations of gender roles. Championing this will free gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. And transgendered people will also benefit.

Source: Robert N. Minor, Ph.D. is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas and author of the new book Scared Straight: Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It's So Hard to Be Human. He may reached at or www.fairnessproject.org

Genital Surgery Pandering to Social Prejudices


There are men, and there are women, but is that all? A challenging article about gender reassignment surgery. Is genital surgery on intersex babies pandering to social prejudices? Source: www.newscientist.com/newsletter/features.jsp?id=ns22901

Still About "Manhood"


In a recent television debate with the director of marketing and development of a large regional council of the Boys Scouts, I realized how unprepared this representative was for debates involving gender and sexuality. Yes, he attempted to steer the issues into reading the "Boys Scout's Motto" and all that. But he had not thought through what it is the Boys Scouts are really doing when expelling gay men.

You see, just like our military, the Boy Scouts don't mind gay people in their ranks as long as they act "straight." It's just another "don't ask, don't tell" policy. And it has nothing to do with sex or sexuality.

If a Scoutmaster mentions to his troop that he and his wife saw the movie "Pearl Harbor," there are no consequences. Should he say he and his male companion did, he will be out of scouting ASAP.

That's because this, as other attempts to oppress gay people, has nothing to do with sexual orientation, sex, or who is in love with whom. It has everything to do with maintaining the rigidly installed gender roles our society still needs to operate its institutions, particularly its military and its businesses.

The Boys Scouts, like the military, must look "manly." That means its image must conform to "straight" manhood. And conditioned manhood today still has as its goal the creation of warriors, of men who will be willing to be killed by and to kill other men for the system. Even in a "peacetime economy," we are still looking for ways to keep our defense industry and our arms sale industries going. "Jobs are on the line," we say. We have not figured out how to become a peace-time nation which no longer needs males trained into a warrior stance.

And the greatest way to enforce warrior manhood on men is to threaten them with what happens to gay men if they should step out of the role.

This means we need to install homophobia in every man. And I mean "homophobia" in its root sense -- the fear of getting close to one's own gender.

If men start getting too close to each other, it would be harder for them to beat, defeat or destroy another man, all of which is supposed to be done at that other man's expense.

I was standing outside the campus building where I teach when two male students celebrating "Gay Pride Week" walked by holding hands. One of my students asked, "Professor Minor, what do you think of that?"

I answered. "I think we should all hold hands. If we held hands, we couldn't shoot each other or hit each other. We could help each other get along and cross the street the way we did as small children."

Yet if two self-identified straight men walk down any street in the US and decide to hold hands, they will receive the same treatment gay men do daily - ridicule, humiliation, threats, and rejection.

The fact is then, the oppression of gay men must end so that all men will be free to relate as human beings again, and not as potential warriors.

© 2001 Robert N. Minor

Robert N. Minor is author of the new book *Scared Straight: Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It's So Hard to Be Human*. He is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas and many be reached at www.fairnessproject.org

A really stupid idea


Every so often a really stupid idea infiltrates the gay community and takes on a lethal life of its own. For example, I don't quite understand how crystal methamphetamine, a.k.a. "Tina," became the club drug of choice. When did staying up for a week without sleep and listening to droning music without lyrics become fun?

Another really dumb idea someone ginned up -- probably while tweaking on Tina -- is "barebacking," which is glamorizing sex without condoms. "Hey, let's make HIV infection sound like a night at the rodeo!"

The latest harebrained notion to toxically slither into the gay vernacular is "condom fatigue." This is the theory that the rules for safer sex have to be reinvented because people are fed up with using prophylactics. Proponents say that a "Just Say No" approach to unprotected sex is impractical.

"I think in reality, people don't like using condoms, and we don't talk about this a lot," Atlanta HIV educator Malik Williams told Southern Voice.

Well, I don't particularly like stopping for red lights, either, because it tends to slow me down. Nor do I like pausing at crosswalks for rumbling trucks. Let's not forget seat belts: They totally suck. And riding a motorcycle with a helmet keeps the wind from freely blowing through my hair. I'm also over the gym and would prefer that the government declare TV-watching an aerobic sport and cheese fries a food group.

Unfortunately, there are laws of nature and common sense that can't be defied, no matter how annoying or cumbersome. However, this hasn't stopped some well-intentioned prevention experts from trying.

Williams went on to tell the Voice that if someone has unprotected anal sex five times a week and chooses to replace one of those encounters each week with oral sex, "this is a success story."

Huh?

I'm sure Williams is trying to do the right thing and should be commended for working to find innovative solutions from a place of care and compassion. I'm not convinced, however, that playing Russian roulette with one bullet instead of two will lower the HIV infection rate. This idea that we can run every other red light will weaken the overall prevention message and allow people to justify potentially deadly transgressions.

There are those who would argue that my approach isn't realistic because the HIV rate is not significantly decreasing, even though we've known for more than two decades how the virus is transmitted. I respond by pointing out that the glass isn't half empty. The condom message has reached tens of millions of people who do practice safe sex.

Instead of promoting irresponsible strategies that will compound the epidemic, here are a few practical steps that will reduce HIV:

Repetition: People need to be constantly reminded that wearing condoms is the norm and the expectation. Advertising should be ubiquitous, with the message: "No Bag, No Shag." Positive reinforcement is crucial to limiting new infections.

Availability: It isn't the 1970s anymore, and most people go to the bar to meet up with friends, not hook up with strangers. So when connections are made they are often spontaneous and neither partner has emergency gear. This is why bars and clubs -- gay and straight -- should make condoms and lubrication widely available. Easy access helps people make the right decisions and protect themselves.

An end to lying: Sex does feel better without a condom. One-night stands can be really pleasurable and emotionally satisfying. Drugs can sometimes enhance sexual pleasure. Telling people that they didn't have as much fun as they know they did is remarkably counterproductive. When we lie about these simple truths, we undermine our credibility and become part of the problem. The message should be: Yes, these activities are fun, but they can also be fatal. Is it really worth your life or the aggravation of drug cocktails? If we talk to people like adults, they often act like adults.

Having a plan: Take a moment to create a safe-sex strategy. Think about sexual boundaries. For example, if you can't handle your alcohol, make a rule that you won't go home with someone if boozing. Having such boundaries is key because negotiating them during the heat of passion often leads to bad decisions.

Trust: Don't trust the guy you just met on the Internet. If he lied about his penis size, what makes you think he's telling the truth about his HIV status?

People are human and will make mistakes. None of us is immune to letting his guard down. Instead of complaining about condom fatigue, we should put on fatigues and declare war on unsafe sex. Where the rubber meets the road, there is still no safer alternative for sexually active people than condoms.

Syndicated columnist Wayne Besen is the author of "Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth." He also maintains a blog at waynebesen.com
Source: Wayne Besen, www.gay.com/news/roundups/package.html?sernum=1275

Finally a Lady


A small but growing number of people are identifying themselves as transgender. Richard/Renee Ramsey is likely the oldest to make the surgical switch.

On June 15, Richard Ramsey checked into Lower Bucks Hospital in Bristol Township for major surgery. When he left three days later, Ramsey was no longer Richard, but Renee. Her first words to her doctor when she awakened after the operation were, "Now I'm the lady I always knew I was."

Ramsey, a tall, lean woman, neatly turned out in black tailored pants and a lavender turtleneck sweater that used to be her wife's, is likely the oldest person in the United States to have surgery to change genders, experts say. She is 77.

He couldn't have the surgery when he was in his 20s or 30s because he didn't know about it then. He was still groping for his identity in his 40s. And he couldn't have the procedure in his 50s or 60s because he was in love with his second wife. When she died in March, there was no longer a reason to delay.

"I would have liked to be a lady a long time ago," says Ramsey, a U.S. Navy veteran of 20 years who also says he served in special operations in the Army.

"Now, the hardest thing I have to do is learn to be a lady," said Ramsey, who grew up in northern New Jersey and still lives there. "Little girls learn it from the time they're 5 or 6 or even younger. I'm just starting out. I have to learn and unlearn. When I get angry at someone, I have to practice acting like a lady instead of sounding off like I used to do.

"But now I feel calm, happy, and relaxed. And do you know what makes me feel the best? When I get on a train and the conductor says, 'May I have your ticket, ma'am?' I feel like a million dollars."

Ramsey is one of a small but growing group of people in this country and around the world who are identifying themselves as transgender. No one knows exact numbers because many people are still secretive about it.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, estimates that at least 700,000 in the U.S. would describe themselves as transgender. The American Psychological Association puts the prevalence rate at 1 in 10,000 for male-to-female and 1 in 30,000 for female-to-male, although Washington-based psychologist Michael Hendricks, who specializes in gender issues, says those numbers are decades old. Males still switch more, but the differential is not nearly that great, he says.

These calculations do not include those who are merely cross-dressers, who get a thrill from wearing their wives' silk underwear, or like to go public in a dress and high heels. They refer only to those who identify as being of the opposite sex from their birth and who may or may not have had sex-reassignment surgery.

In any case, according to a recently completed four-year study in Britain, a rise in the incidence of transgender people may be around the corner. "Our data provide strong evidence that the trans population is growing," concluded Stephen Whittle, professor of equalities law at Manchester Metropolitan University in Britain, the study's lead author.

Sherman Leis, the Bala Cynwyd plastic surgeon who performed Ramsey's surgery, is not surprised. "Hormone advances and new state-of-the-art plastic surgery techniques make it possible for more people to fulfill a lifelong yearning," he says. "And the greater acceptance of gay men and lesbians makes it less of a stretch to be OK with those who feel compelled to change their gender."

Leis has performed more than 250 of what he calls "bottom surgeries" (changing the genitals) on men and women since he opened his Center for Transgender Surgery in 2004, an additional 1,000 or so "top surgeries" (breast augmentation or reduction), and 1,000 or more additional procedures, primarily on male-to-female patients to alter facial features that will make them more feminine - fuller lips, more delicate noses, narrower chins, lower frontal hairlines.

None of his patients has ever returned with regrets, he says. "I'm selective in whom I choose to operate on," Leis says, "to make sure they are certain about their decisions. They have all waited a long time to change gender and have given it a lot of thought. . . . They are eager to do it and happy after they've had it done."

Ramsey says he knew from the time he was 5 or 6 that he was "different." He shunned trucks and toy soldiers, preferring to dress up and play house with his two younger sisters. "I felt like I was their big sister, not their big brother," he says. "I liked doing lady things like cooking, sewing, and doing laundry. I didn't go for rough-and-tumble sports, never went out for baseball or football."

Although his father encouraged him to lift weights and exercise to develop his muscles, nothing worked. "Finally he gave up," Ramsey says. "He just shook his head when I told him, 'I'm not a boy. I'm a girl.' "

By 13, Ramsey was certain he had been given the wrong body, although he didn't know the name for what he was feeling. In school, he kept to himself and even got a medical note that excused him from gym because he was too embarrassed to get undressed in front of the boys. He felt he looked too feminine with his long, shapely legs and skinny body while the rest of the boys were more bulky and muscular.

When he was 15, his mother wandered into his bedroom and caught him slipping into her underwear. The next day, she made him an appointment with a psychiatrist. After months of therapy, the psychiatrist declared, "It is just a phase he's going through. . . . he'll get over it." Ramsey was devastated.

In 1952, he joined the U.S. Navy, thinking military service might make him more of a man. It didn't, and he endured being teased and called "little girl."

Two years later, while a boatswain third class in the Navy, and still struggling for conformity, he married his first wife; they remained together until he confessed to her that he believed he was a woman. Ramsey says that despite having four daughters, their sex life was "just OK - we could take it or leave it." They got a no-fault divorce in 1973 and Ramsey agreed to give his wife custody of the children. They moved to Arizona, and he has not seen them since.

Still dealing with denial, Ramsey married his second wife, Vesla, in 1982, a pretty 5-foot-1 woman he met at an American Legion convention in Wildwood. He didn't tell her he was transgender, but three years later she had figured it out. "She began wondering why there were so many panties and pantyhose in the laundry," Ramsey says, "and it finally dawned on her that I was wearing them too."

"We had a sex life," Ramsey says, "although I admit that when I was making love to her, I kept imagining what it would feel like to be her." Vesla had a daughter with a mental disability to whom Ramsey says he became a devoted stepfather. Recalling that now, she catches herself and smiles. "I should say stepmother." Ramsey says his birth daughters do not know that their father is now a woman.

It took Ramsey decades to make an appointment with a surgeon to discuss the possibility of transitioning from male to female. In keeping with the recommendations of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, Leis referred him to a mental health practitioner for evaluation and guidance and to an endocrinologist to discuss hormone therapy.

Since that time, Ramsey has been swallowing both estrogen and testosterone-suppressing drugs daily and removing leg and body hair with depilatories. He has seen two mental health practitioners; one is still helping him wrestle with the disparity between his brain and his body. Before undergoing gender-reassignment surgery, each had to produce a letter verifying that Ramsey would be an appropriate candidate.

"I've been encouraging Renee to consider being able to live in both worlds," says her therapist, psychologist Jeanne Seitler who practices in Ridgewood, N.J. "Being Richard, being in the military, marching in parades, carrying the flag, and wearing the beret has been a big part of her life, and a lot of her supports are with those in the military. So a lot of her activities are in military dress. At the same time we're working on how she can be a woman, too, and feminize herself through dress and makeup. She really wants to be accepted as a woman."

Since having the surgery, Ramsey has not lost friends, but admits that many of them don't want to talk about her transition. "At home I dress like a lady and I always wear ladies' underwear, but most of the time when I go out with my friends, I dress like a man," Ramsey says.

With trepidation, she confided recently in her longtime buddy whom she sees every day. "He can't put his head around it," Ramsey says. "He's on the fence. But we go out together. It's like 'don't ask, don't tell.' "

No one in the medical community is certain what causes someone to be transgender, but Norman P. Spack, a pediatric endocrinologist at Children's Hospital Boston, says the condition is not a mental illness and should not be classified as such in the psychiatrists' bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. "It has something to do with the wiring in the brain," Spack says. "It could be a gene that is expressed at a certain stage of fetal development or hormones that have gone awry during gestation."

In any case, people who are transgender almost always know it, as Ramsey did, from the time they are young children.

Being transgender has nothing to do with being lesbian or gay. Ramsey says she is heterosexual: When she was a he, he was attracted to women. Now she is drawn to men, although, at her age, she says she isn't interested in a romantic relationship.

As Spack says, "It isn't who you go to bed with, it's who you go to bed as."
Source: www.philly.com/inquirer/magazine/69543837.html

Brendon Ayanbadejo, Baltimore Ravens Linebacker, Talks Gay Rights With Russell Simmons


Fresh off the Baltimore Ravens' Super Bowl XLVII victory, Brendon Ayanbadejo spoke out in defense of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in a new interview with none other than Russell Simmons.

"Being the first pioneer publicly accepting same-sex marriage in the three major sports was difficult at first but the more people scrutinized me and ridiculed me, the stronger I became for the issue," Ayanbadejo told Simmons, who has also been praised by a number of advocacy groups for his own defense of LGBT rights. "It was like lifting weights; the resistance made me stronger, stand taller and speak louder for LGBT rights!"

Despite the recent furor regarding anti-gay comments made by San Francisco 49ers' players in the weeks leading up to the NFL championship game, Ayanbadejo added, "The NFL culture has come a long way from four years ago. The younger generation of players are a lot more open-minded, forward thinking and accepting of the LGBT community."

Having previously vowed to use the Super Bowl as a platform for same-sex marriage and anti-bullying measures, Ayanbadejo also noted, "This isn't a fight for gay rights, this is a fight for human rights."

A new Time4Marriage video featuring Ayanbadejo also appeared on YouTube today. In the clip, produced by the Respect For Marriage Coalition, the football star urges, "Join me and the majority of Americans who support marriage equality -- it's the right thing to do."
Source: www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/04/brendon-ayanbadejo-baltimore-ravens-gay-rights-russell-simmons_n_2617382.html

Straight Professional Athletes Who’ve Come Out In Support For Gay Marriage And/Or LGBT Rights


Brendon Ayanbadejo

Baltimore Raven linebacker, Brendon Ayanbadejo, has been a vocal long-time supporter of marriage equality. The football player blogged about same-sex marriages for The Huffington Post in 2009, made a video for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, and donated Ravens tickets to the cause, which drew criticism from Baltimore County Delegate Emmett Burns Jr. in late August.

Chris Kluwe

Chris Kluwe, Minnesota Vikings punter, lashed out at Baltimore County Delegate Emmett Burns Jr. in a letter of his own.

Kluwe asked in his letter, “How does gay marriage, in any way, shape or form, affect your life?”

Hudson Taylor

Hudson Taylor, a three-time all-American wrestler from the University of Maryland, (and HuffPost Gay Voices blogger) started his foundation, Athlete Ally, which encourages “all individuals involved in sports to respect every member of their communities, regardless of perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression,” in January 2011.

Athlete Ally teamed up with GLAAD and they recently announced that the NBA is the first major sports league that will receive sensitivity training from Taylor’s organization.

Sean Avery

Retired New York Ranger Sean Avery caused a splash last year when he became, what’s believed, the first pro athlete to voice support for gay marriage in New York. Since then, Avery teamed up with fellow ally, Hudson Taylor, joining in Athlete Ally’s message of combating homophobia in sports.

David Pocock

Australian rugby player David Pocock says he will not marry until gay marriage is made legal Down Under. “We’ve moved forward on so many issues and this is the next progression,” Pocock said while appearing on the Australian Broadcasting Company TV show “Q&A" in August.

Michael Irvin

Michael Irvin, former Dallas Cowboy and NFL Hall of Famer, appeared on Out magazine’s cover last July. Irvin spoke out for LGBT rights and marriage equality, citing his late gay brother’s passing. He also said he would support any athlete in the NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB who comes out.

Donte Stallworth

Donte Stallworth, former Baltimore Raven and teammate of Brendon Ayanbadejo, showed his support on Twitter, tweeting a string of messages for marriage equality and LGBT rights.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. tweeted his support for gay marriage, backing up the President after Obama made his own endorsement announcement in May.

On the other hand, Mayweather’s rival, Manny Pacquiao, said he believes marriage is between a man and a woman.

Sergio Martinez

Argentinian boxer Sergio Martinez made a video for the “It Gets Better Project” last March. The 37-year-old Martinez was bullied himself growing up and helps others who have been the victims of bullying.

Charles Barkley

In true Charles Barkley fashion, the NBA Hall of Famer has been a long-time supporter of gay marriage and gay rights, making tongue-in-cheek (yet admirable) comments as early as 2006.

Barkley said on-air last year, “God bless the gay people. They are great people.” And in response to Sean Avery’s advocacy, Barkley added he’d have no problem playing with an openly gay teammate.

Steve Nash

When Phoenix Suns president and CEO Rick Welts came out to NBA all-star Steve Nash, he said he’d support Welts. Soon after, Nash made a video for HRC’s New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign, saying he’s proud to be a part of a growing group of athletes speaking out for gay marriage.

Rick Fox

Although he hasn’t explicitly said anything about gay rights, retired three-time NBA champion Rick Fox, appeared as a guest judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season four. Plus, his former ex, Vanessa Williams (gay icon, at least to Raja, Drag Race season three winner) was also on the show the season before. If this isn’t a sign of LGBT support, what is?

John Salley

“Let [gay people] go through what [straight people] go through,” said John Salley, former Detroit Piston bad boy, who made light of his support for gay marriage on Good Day LA back in 2010. Recently, Salley appeared alongside fellow former NBA player Rick Fox on RuPaul’s Drag Race” season four, another reason to love the charismatic b-ball player.

Manu Ginobili

When Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage two years ago, homegrown NBA star Manu Ginobili threw in his support.

Michael Strahan

Michael Strahan, retired New York Giant and new co-host of “LIVE! with Kelly and Michael,” made a video for HRC’s New Yorkers for Marriage campaign. He said, “I feel it's unfair to keep committed couples from being married."

Scott Fujita

Cleveland Browns player Scott Fujita first voiced his support for gay marriage in 2009, reacting and agreeing with fellow NFL colleague Brendon Ayanbadejo. Two years later, Fujita continued his LGBT advocacy, taping a PSA for the HRC’s Americans for Marriage Equality initiative.

Ben Cohen

One very active straight ally is Ben Cohen, an English rugby world cup champion, who retired to start The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, which “supports organizations, programs and people that advance equality for the LGBT community and help for at-risk youth by standing up against bullying.” Cohen recently stripped down to his underwear to benefit his organization and spoke with Huffington. in August. He said, “No one should have to tolerate that [bullying], no matter what your sexual orientation, the color of your skin, your size or the color of your hair is.”

Cristiano Ronaldo

Popular soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo said, “We must respect the choices made by anyone, because, after all, all citizens should have the exact same rights and responsibilities,” when asked about the passage of gay marriage in his home country of Portugal in 2010.

Jesse Ventura

The sports-entertainment world of wrestling has had its fair share of homophobic culture in the news. Though there have been anti-gay remarks made by John Cena, CM Punk and Michael Cole, Jesse Ventura, former Minnesota governor and wrestler, has lent his support for gay marriage. Ventura, who appears alongside his wife, Terry, in a video for "Minnesotans United for All Families," an initiative asking voters to say no to a 2012 constitutional amendment that says marriage is between a man and a woman. Ventura said, "Government should not be telling people who to fall in love with."

Various Athletes Pose For NOH8

Former NBA star, Isiah Thomas, poses with his son for NOH8, a campaign that advocates gay marriage and LGBT rights.

Other pro athletes who've participated: football players Nic Harris, Antonio Cromartie and Isaac Keys, all-American wrestler Hudson Taylor, and soccer player Mike Chabala.

Grant Hill And Jared Dudley

Last May, NBA players Grant Hill and Jared Dudley made a PSA announcement for the “Think B4 You Speak” campaign, where the athletes denounce using the word gay to mean "dumb" or "stupid." The video was a three-way partnership among the NBA, GLSEN and the Ad Council.

Teams And Athletes Join The It Gets Better Project

The San Francisco 49ers became the first NFL team to make a video for the "It Gets Better Project," in August.

Other sports teams who have made videos include L.A. Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and the San Francisco Giants.
Source: www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/04/brendon-ayanbadejo-baltimore-ravens-gay-rights-russell-simmons_n_2617382.html#slide=1519693

25 LGBT-Friendly Products & Companies Targeted By Boycotters


The following product teams have "come out" supporting gay rights and part of the community has started a boycot of them. I say, support these products with your pocketbook and boycott their competitors who don't "come out" publically for gay rights.

Oreo

In June 2012, Oreo posted a photo of a rainbow sextuple-stacked cookie to its Facebook page in honor of Pride month. While the responses were mostly positive, some commenters were outraged, even calling for a boycott of the product. Still, Basil Maglaris, Kraft's associate director of corporate affairs, said that the positive comments on the post "far outweighed" the negative ones.

Betty Crocker

The staple of American domesticity is part of the General Mills family of products, which has been boycotted by the National Organization for Marriage for opposing the Minnesota Marriage Amendment. What better way to celebrate the stand against intolerance than Betty Crocker's Rainbow Chip cake?

Correction on July 24 at 1:35pm ET: The original version of this slideshow misidentified the name of the Minnesota Marriage Amendment. It has been corrected on this slide and several others throughout the slideshow.

Levi's

In 1992, Levi's found itself at odds with the Boy Scout's 'Three Gs' principle that had guided the Scouts' membership model for more than 80 years -- that everyone is welcome, provided they are not gay, godless, or a girl. San Francisco-based Levi's pulled its Boy Scout funding, due to the group's exclusion. In response, Republican Dana Rohrabacher encouraged a 'grassroots' counter-boycott of Levi Strauss and his Texan colleage, Tom DeLay, was even more extreme in his reaction: "When Texans find out that the Levi's they have on go toward attacks on the Boy Scouts of America... they'll take off those Levi's and burn them in the streets."

Cheerios

Not only will this breakfast cereal reduce your family's cholesterol but it will reduce your family's moral integrity as well, according to The National Organization for Marriage. As part of the General Mills family of products, Cheerios is one of the brands that has been boycotted by NOM for opposing the Minnesota Marriage Amendment.

American Apparel

In 2009, American Apparel put its "Legalize Gay" t-shirt in storefront windows in Washinton, D.C. When a group of anti-LGBT vandals broke the store's windows, the company didn't back down, but rather agreed to send shirts to any group in D.C. that was fighting for gay rights.

Disney World

Although Walt Disney World's Gay Days are not officially sanctioned by the theme park, they were the object of a Florida Family Association warning. The anti-LGBT group paid to have two planes fly over the park, with warning banners, to deter unsuspecting families from attending the park during Gay Days.

Starbucks

In January 2012, when Starbucks released a memorandum voicing support of gay marriage, NOM launched DumpStarbucks.com to urge people to boycott the coffee chain.

Wheaties

As part of the General Mills family of products, which has been boycotted by NOM for opposing the Minnesota Marriage Amendment, there are attempts to dethrone Wheaties as the "Breakfast of Champions."

Tide Detergent

In 2004, Procter and Gamble angered conservatives by opposing an anti-gay rights statute that would exempt gays and lesbians from special civil rights protection in its hometown of Cincinnati. In response, the American Family Association issued a boycott of some of P&G's most popular products, including Tide Detergent, and gathered petition signatures from almost 365,000 families urging Procter & Gamble to change its policy.

Microsoft

In 2005, Microsoft came under fire from anti-LGBT activists, including evangelical preacher Ken Hutcherson, for its support of a bill in that would outlaw discrimination against homosexuals at work in the state of Washington. In response, Microsoft withdrew its support of the bill, prompting outrage from gay and liberal activists and criticism from its staff and other big businesses. In response, Bill Gates backtracked again and admitted that he was surprised by the vehemence of the reaction. When the bill was defeated by a single vote, Microsoft's liberal critics blamed its withdrawal of support for the loss.

Home Depot

A May 2012 post on the American Family Association web site proclaims, "AFA is promoting a boycott of Home Depot until it agrees to remain neutral in the homosexual culture war. The total number of people who have signed the Home Depot boycott pledge is 719,037." The pledge condemns Home Depot for giving "financial and corporate support to open displays of homosexual activism," because this helps expose "small children to lascivious displays of sexual conduct by homosexuals and cross-dressers." In response to the pledge, which was delivered at Home Depot's annual shareholder meeting, Chairman Blake responded, "We are, and will remain, committed to a culture that fosters an inclusive environment for our associates, our customers and communities in which we exist."

Pampers Diapers

Diapers are essential to fulfilling the straight family-making dream, which make them an odd target of a 'pro-family' boycott. However, in 2004, Proctor and Gamble angered conservatives by opposing an anti-gay rights statute that would exempt gays and lesbians from special civil rights protection in its hometown of Cincinnati. In response, the American Family Association issued a boycott of some of P&G's most popular products, including Pampers Diapers, and gathered petition signatures from almost 365,000 families, urging Procter & Gamble to change its policy.

PepsiCo Products

After it was discovered that PepsiCo gave a combined $1,000,000 to the Human Rights Campaign and PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) to promote the so-called "homosexual lifestyle" in the workplace, the American Family Accociation posted a "Boycott Pepsi Pledge," urging conservatives to stay away from Pepsi drinks, Frito Lay chips, Quaker Oats, and Gatorade.

Safeway

In June of 2009, Safeway honored Pride by putting large gay/lesbian Pride posters in its stores across America. In response to this celebration of the "gay lifestyle," the American Family Association urged conservatives to contact their local Safeway, and ask it to "stop promoting homosexuality," and "let Safeway know if they continue, you will consider grocery shopping with their competitors."

Crest Toothpaste

In 2004, Procter and Gamble angered conservatives by opposing an anti-gay rights statute that would exempt gays and lesbians from special civil rights protection in its hometown of Cincinnati. In response, the American Family Association issued a boycott of some of P&G's most popular products, including Crest Toothpaste, and gathered petition signatures from almost 365,000 families, urging Procter & Gamble to change its policy.

Old Navy

In 2011, when Old Navy planned to sell shirts to benefit the anti-suicide, anti-bullying It Gets Better project, the American Family Association urged members to "drop by your Old Navy store in your community and tell them you're not going to shop at Old Navy until they get their minds right."

Girl Scouts

In 2011, when The Girl Scouts decided to allow a transgender youth to participate, The American Family Association urged members to contact Girl Scout leadership, "expressing your disappointment in their recent decision to allow boys as troop members," and to "let them know you will not support the Girl Scouts as long as it continues down a path of destructive policies."

Macy's

In December 2011, a Macy's dressing room attendant prevented a transgender woman from using a female dressing room, because it violated her religious beliefs. After the woman was fired for refusing to abide by Macy's pro-LGBT policies, the American Family Association lamented, "The LGBT agenda has become the theater of the absurd" and urged members to contact the Macy's headquarters to "express... outrage at this injustice to female employees and customers."

Target

In May 2012, Target announced that 100% of the purchase price of any of its Pride merchandise would be donated to the pro-LGBT Family Equality Council. The American Family Association lamented that "Target is joining President Obama in ramming same-sex marriage down the throats of the American people" and urged members to contact Target Chairman Gregg Steinhafel, to "let him know that a majority of Americans oppose same-sex marriage and are able to use their pocketbooks to voice their opposition to companies that support it."

It should be noted that Target has also come under fire from gay advocates. In 2011, Lady Gaga nixed a deal with Target for an exclusive special edition of her "Born This Way" album after it was revealed that the brand had donated $150,000 to MN Forward, a group that was backing Tom Emmer's gubernatorial bid in Minnesota. Emmer was known for being especially conservative and not supporting equal rights for LGBT citizens.

J.C. Penney

Aside from One Million Mom's infamous boycott of the department store for choosing Ellen DeGeneres as its spokesperson, J.C. Penney also came under fire in June 2012 when its catalog featured two men on the floor playing and hugging their two children at home indicating, according to the American Family Association, that the company made a "departure from its moorings to God's Word and Mr. Penney's leadership by taking sides in the cultural war in celebration of homosexuality." The AFA urged members to "call or visit your local J. C. Penney store manager to politely inform them that you will not be shopping at their store this Father's Day," and added, "If you have a store credit card or hold stock with the J. C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE: JCP), you might consider closing your account and divesting until they become neutral in the culture war."

Pillsbury

Pillsbury is part of the General Mills family of products, which has been boycotted by NOM for opposing the Minnesota Marriage Amendment.

Walgreen's

In 2006, Walgreen's was a Platinum-Level sponsor of the Chicago "Gay Games." According to Tom Kovach of RenewAmerica.com, "by its very definition, the 'Gay' Games will invite people from all over the world to come to Chicago this summer and have homo-sex," and Walgreen's support contradicted it "squeaky-clean, family-friendly corporate image." Kovach wasn't alone in his condemnation -- the Illinois Family Institute voiced opposition and considered urging members to boycott the Pharmacy chain.

Ford

In 2005, the American Family Association launched a boycott campaign against Ford for being "the company which has done the most to affirm and promote the homosexual lifestyle." The group criticized Ford for donating money to gay-rights organizations (Ford offered to give up to $1,000 to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for every Jaguar and Land Rover it sells to a member of GLAAD) and complained that Ford had sponsored Pride celebrations, advertised in gay-oriented publications and was "redefining the definition of the family to include homosexual marriage."

Gap

When Gap launched an ad campaign featuring two men pressed together under a shared t-shirt, anti-LGBT group One Million Moms, which is part of the American Family Association, launched a boycott, stating, "GAP Inc. Brands, including Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime, and Athleta, does not deserve, nor will it get, money from conservative families across the country. Supporting GAP is not an option until they decide to remain neutral in the culture war. GAP needs to seriously consider how their immoral advertising affect the youth of our nation."

Green Giant

The frozen vegetable brand is part of the General Mills family of products, which, in June 2012, was boycotted by NOM for opposing the Minnesota Marriage Amendment.
Source: www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/28/boy-scouts-of-america-gay-member-ban-drop_n_2567887.html?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl2%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D262775#slide=1152760

Boy Scouts Of America Consider Dropping Ban On Gay Members And Participants: Report


Just days after a Maryland-based Cub Scout pack was forced to back down on a non-discriminatory pledge because of a reference to sexual orientation, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) might be changing its national stance toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

NBC cites a number of "scouting officials and outsiders familiar with internal discussions" who say a revised BSA policy would not only lift the ban on gay participants from the national youth organization's rules, but also allow local sponsoring organizations to decide for themselves whether or not to admit gay scouts.

“The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs,” BSA Director of Public Relations Deron Smith tells the site, adding that individual sponsors and parents “would be able to choose a local unit which best meets the needs of their families."

Discussions are reportedly nearing their final stages and if approved, the policy change could be announced as early as next week, NBC notes. Read the full story here.

Among those to praise the possible change was Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) President Herndon Graddick, who noted the shift "will only strengthen its core principles of fairness and respect" in an email statement.

Scouts for Equality founder Zach Wahls echoed those sentiments. "This would be an incredible step forward in the right direction," Wahls, who's also a HuffPost blogger, is quoted as saying. "We look forward to working with BSA Councils and chartering organizations across the country to end the exclusion of our gay brothers in Scouting, as well as the gay and lesbian leaders who serve the organizations so well.”

Last year, the BSA "emphatically reaffirmed" its policy of excluding gays as both leaders and Scouts, according to the Associated Press.

"The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers and at the appropriate time and in the right setting," the Scouts' chief executive, Bob Mazzuci, told the AP, before noting that "no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society."

Prior to that declaration, the BSA's anti-gay policy had been the subject of frequent debate following the case of Jennifer Tyrrell, who was forced to resign as leader of her 7-year-old son's Tiger Scout den after revealing she is a lesbian.

The Merck Company Foundation, the Intel Foundation and UPS are just three of the corporations to drop or postpone funding to the BSA in the wake of the policy's reaffirmation.

UPDATE: Smith has released an official statement with regard to the potential policy change:

"The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue. The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.”

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/28/boy-scouts-of-america-gay-member-ban-drop_n_2567887.html?icid=maing-grid10%7Chtmlws-main-bb%7Cdl2%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D262775#slide=more235406

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A government that would deny a gay man bridal registry is a Fascist state. - Margaret Cho



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