Some notable people who came out in 2017
Charlotte, NC – This past year, more personalities stepped out into the light and professed their sexual orientation. From pop stars to athletes, the rainbow got a little bit larger with them included. Here are some of those faces in the news. Aaron Carter, onetime child pop sensation, who ruled the airwaves at age 12 with his hit single “I Want Candy” (2000), came out as bisexual in an emotional Twitter post in August. After living with his sexuality “weighing on my chest for nearly half of my life,” he wrote. Alia Shawkat, the 28-year-old actress, best known as droll rebel Maeby Funke in cult favorite “Arrested Development,” has come a long way since her portrayal of an adolescent in love with her own cousin. Shawkat discussed gender, sexuality and gravitating toward queer roles with Out magazine, saying: “Now I consider myself bisexual, and I think balancing my male and female energies has been a big part of me growing as an actor.”
Few surprises here, Barry Manilow, confirmed in a People magazine interview that he was gay — and had been in a relationship with manager and now-husband Garry Kief since the late 1970s. And Cody Alan, a popular host on Country Music Television and CMT Radio, 44-year-old Alan shared on Facebook that he could no longer “live with this layer of misery underneath that happy face on TV.” Daniel Newman the emerging star of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” discussed his sexuality in a post on YouTube before further addressing the topic in a People interview. Newman, 36, says he wants to take advantage of the “huge platform” he has been given through his role on the cable TV phenomenon.
In a lengthy essay published on Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls website, Natalie Morales, the “Parks and Recreation” star related her emotional journey from a Catholic schoolgirl who “thought something was really wrong with [her]” to a popular actress “I don’t like labeling myself, or anyone else,” she says, “but if it’s easier to understand me, what I’m saying is that I’m queer.” Ryan O’Callaghan, a former New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle got candid with Outsports, describing a youth and young adulthood using football as “a great place to hide” his orientation. O’Callaghan said counseling gave him the courage to share his secret, first with a close friend and eventually with the world. Shannon Purser, of “Stranger Things” and “Riverdale” shared in a series of Twitter posts that she has recently come out as bisexual to those close to her. “Heroes” star Thomas Dekker, who also costarred in 2016 gay romantic drama “Do You Take This Man,” took to Instagram to confirm his sexuality after being obliquely outed by writer-producer Bryan Fuller. (Q Notes Online – Torie Dominguez at goqnotes.com)
Two charged in murder of lesbian couple and their children
Troy, NY – Two men have been arrested in connection with the quadruple murder in Troy, New York earlier this week. James White, 38, and Justin Mann, 24, both from Schenectady, New York, were arrested on December.30. Both men plead not guilty to the homicide
A mother, her female partner, and their two children were brutally murdered in their own home. The family was found on December 26 in their basement, bound and with their throats slashed. Police believe this attack was targeted. The victims were identified as Brandi Mells, 22, Shanta Myers, 36, and Myers’ children Shanise, 5, and Jeremiah, 11. Mells and Myers were reportedly in a relationship. “The entire city is really traumatized by what has happened. It’s inconceivable,’ said Pastor Jackie Robinson Sr. of the Oak Grove Baptist Church. Robinson knew Myers as a bus monitor for many years for the Troy school system’s bus service. The sole survivor of the homicide is Isaiah Smith, the 15-year-old son of Myers. He was not at home during the violent attack. “I’m scared to go to the corner store,” he told reporters.
. White and Mann were brought in for police questioning on Friday, December 29 and arraigned the following morning. The men were sent to Rensselaer County jail. Both White and Mann were charged with one count of first-degree murder and four counts of second-degree murder, according to Troy Police Capt. Daniel DeWolf. (Gay Star News at https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/two-suspects-arrested-connection-murder-lesbian-couple-children/)
Trans woman sues Walmart alleging discrimination at work
Kannapolis, NC – A former Walmart employee is suing the retail giant for discrimination and harassment she alleges she faced at work because she is Transgender. The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of Charlene Bost on December 28. Bost was employed at a Sam’s Club store in Kannapolis, North Carolina, from 2011 until she was fired in 2015. Sam’s Club is a membership-only retail warehouse chain owned by a subsidiary of Walmart.
According to the lawsuit, Bost endured a shockingly hostile work environment during her time at the company. After she transitioned, Bost says, co-workers and supervisors began discriminating against her because of her sex. She was subjected to a barrage of hostilities, which included wrongful discipline and being repeatedly misgendered. The lawsuit says Walmart employees took to “misgendering Ms. Bost directly by addressing her as ‘sir’ or ‘man’ or by her former male name, or mocking her by calling her ‘ma’am’ or ‘madam’ in a sarcastic tone of voice, or pretending confusion by calling her both ‘ma’am’ and ‘sir’ in succession.” She was also branded a ‘faggot’ by colleagues, who “humiliate[ed] Ms. Bost by treating her as a freak,” the filing continues. On one occasion, a customer filed a complaint with Sam’s Club management after hearing co-workers call Bost a “faggot.” Bost says her bosses failed to step in to stop the harassment even after she reported it.
“Despite excelling at my job, Sam’s Club treated me with cruelty and disrespect, simply for being a woman,” she said in a statement. “I am bringing this lawsuit because transgender people must have the same opportunities to work hard, earn a living, and contribute to our communities, free from bias. No one should ever be confronted with the prejudice I experienced on the job.” In August the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled that Bost was subjected to discrimination and a hostile work environment because of her sex, and determined that this violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The determination was one of two successful EEOC decisions secured by the TLDEF against Walmart this year. (Seattle Gay News- Mike Andrew at sgn.org)
Gay choir director’s ouster sparks controversy in the church
Jacksonville, NC – Ryan Mould, a former children’s choir director at Trinity United Methodist Church, was fired from that position in October. Since the firing incident, which has garnered national attention directed at Trinity, it has led to internal division as well.
Mould was fired by the church as a result of his discussion about his sexual orientation with Rev. Steve Smith. Smith met with church leaders and said it was against church policy to keep Mould in a leadership position. However, others said that the prohibition applied only to clergy, not lay leaders and Mould, who has been a member of the Jacksonville church for about four and a half year, says he feels “disgraced, confused, and misled by church leaders.” The congregation was a “place where my values and morals were shaped and crafted. I now struggle with how to serve my church and ‘…do all in your power to strengthen its ministries…’” Mould, who was born in West Virginia, grew up in the Methodist church and has continued to be a member of Methodist congregations ever since.
The Christian Post reported that Methodist news service dispatches shared that some of the church members had left the congregation due to the situation and that the North Carolina church conference had stepped in to mediate between affected parties. The United Methodist News Service also reported that church members had resigned from committees, ceased teaching Sunday school or stopped taking on leadership roles at the church. One member and certified deacon candidate said that the church was “shaken to its core,” adding that she would “challenge Reverend Smith to present how Ryan has been nurtured after his abrupt firing and the public degradation he has been made to endure.” Another member, whose family left Trinity after the firing, sent an email to Bishop Hope Morgan Ward and The Rev. Linda Taylor, district superintendent for Sound District, stating that she found Smith’s “behavior as a Christian leader disturbing.” Reconciling United Methodists, as well as others, have thrown their support to Mould. It delivered over 2,000 signatures to Bishop Ward and the North Carolina Conference Cabinet in an open letter in support of Mould. Signatures are still being collected at bit.ly/2BDoEyg. (Q Notes Online – Lainey Millen at goqnotes.com)
Anti-gay crackdown taking hold in Indonesia
Jakarta, Indonesia – The New York Times reports and unprecedented crack down on gay men in Indonesia where homosexuality has generally been tolerated or ignored. But that began to change in 2016, when the authorities, under pressure from right-wing Islamic groups, started arresting gay men in what experts say are unprecedented numbers, by raiding not just bars and saunas but hotel rooms and private Apartments.
According to the Times, the crackdown began in November 2016, when the police broke up at party in South Jakarta and detained 13 men. The most recent incident was in October, when 51 men were arrested at what is thought to be Jakarta’s last gay sauna. Most of the hundreds of men swept up in the raids were released with no charges filed, and few cases have made it to trial. But Steven Handoko, an aspiring journalist, who was dancing nude on the stage at the Atlantis gym when the police raided it, and 9 other men were sentenced to more than 2 years in prison, convicted of violating Indonesia’s anti-pornography law which includes a ban on striptease performances. But the Times says that even men who weren’t charged have been subjected to humiliating scrutiny and Lord news coverage, with their photos often posted on social media.
The authorities justify the raids by citing the pornography laws loosely worded ban on material or actions that undermine public decency. Ade Armando, a communications professor at the University of Indonesia, who helped draft the pornography statute said the raids went well beyond the laws intent. “It’s not fair. It’s not right what the police are doing there,” the Times quoted Mr. Armando. He said, +Hotels are private places that pornography law does not apply.” (New York Times – Jeffrey Hutton at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/20/world/asia/indonesia-gay-raids.html)
British retailer criticized for edgy Christmas elf campaign
London, England – The Evening Standard reports that British discount retailer, Poundland, has sparked a backlash after posting bizarre sexual images featuring an elf in its Christmas campaign. The Advertising Standards Authority has received a number of complaints about the Christmas-themed posts which show the festive helper in a series of vulgar situations. “We will carefully assess the complaints to establish whether there are grounds to investigate.” The budget retailer has been sharing pictures of the naughty elf on Twitter and Facebook, with one showing it dangling a tea bag over a female doll asking: “How do you like your tea? One lump or two?” Others show the elf playing cards with naked dolls and drawing a suggestive-looking Christmas tree. In another, which has the caption “Don’t tell Rudolph I’ve found a new piece of ass”, the elf is riding a cuddly toy donkey.
The tweets have baffled many on social media. However, Poundland has defended the tweets. Shoppers have accused Poundland’s campaign of being in poor taste while others have been left baffled, speculating that the account must have been hacked. The company has hit back, saying it was “proud” of its work and adding that the positive response had been “overwhelming” and “only cost £25.” Writer Caroline Criado Perez accused Poundland of insulting this year’s #metoo movement, which came in the light of scores sexual misconduct revelations against dozens of men. She said: “The t shirt she’s wearing positions this as a middle finger up at the #metoo movement. “Baffled that @Poundland or in fact anyone with human empathy would do this.” Women’s Aid wrote: “How do you take your social media posts? One lump of outdated misogyny completely ignoring the current international agenda, or two?” Some have defended the campaign, including comedian Jason Manford, who said: “It’s pretty good marketing! I’m thinking of popping in on the way home!” Others have described the campaign as “hilarious” and said they “loved” the posts. Poundland’s marketing director Mark Pym said: “If you think this is edgy, you should see the ones we didn’t post. The love on Facebook is overwhelming – that’s because it connects with our shoppers. “In fact, we’re proud of a campaign that’s only cost £25.53 and is being touted as the winning marketing campaign this Christmas!” (Evening Standard – Patrick Grafton-Green at https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/poundland-sparks-fury-with-christmas-campaign-featuring-elf-in-bizarre-sexual-positions-a3725491.html)
HRC projects CDC’s ‘banned words’ onto Trump Hotel
Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday evening, December 19 the Human Rights Campaign and artist Robin Bell projected the CDC’s banned words onto the side of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC. Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported that the Trump-Pence Administration banned the use of seven words by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Tonight’s projection on the Trump Hotel, which lasted for roughly half an hour during rush hour, included the banned words – “transgender,” “fetus,” ‘vulnerable,’ ‘entitlement,’ ‘diversity,’ ‘evidence-based’ and ‘science-based’ – and concluded with a declaration from the LGBTQ community: “We will not be erased.” A video of the display is available at https://www.facebook.com/humanrightscampaign/videos/10156013018483281/
In conjunction with the enormous light display, HRC has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for any and all records, including communications with the CDC, relating to the banned words from November 2016 onward. “Our message for the Trump-Pence Administration is this: You cannot erase us. We will meet attacks on our community with a resolve to be louder and more visible than ever before,” said David Stacy, HRC’s Director of Government Affairs. “Furthermore, the American public deserves to know the degree to which the Trump-Pence Administration has interfered with the life-saving work of the CDC. It was not long ago that the government tried to ignore the reality of the HIV and AIDS crisis to the detriment of millions. This kind of erasure has potentially catastrophic consequences beyond the words used by the CDC – it could impact the very programs most vital to the health of transgender people, women, youth and others.”
The “word ban” appears to be just part of the ongoing effort by the Trump-Pence Administration to erase LGBTQ from reports and data collection. Earlier this week, Politico reported that the administration also kept hidden 10,000 comments on the Trump-Pence proposal granting exemptions for faith-based organizations in healthcare while only posting submissions that praise the administration’s policies. (Seattle Gay News & Human Rights Campaign Press Release at sgn.org)
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