Thursday, December 9, 2010

http://www.citylimits.org/news/articles/4235/for-transgender-homeless-choice-of-shelter-can-prevent-violence

For Transgender Homeless, Choice Of Shelter Can Prevent Violence
A pilot policy to allow transgender people to choose between men's and women's shelters has reduced violence. But women's shelters are safer for either identity.

Tiffany Jones is legally a man but identifies as a woman. Thanks to a pioneering New York City policy, she was able to go to a women's shelter when she became homeless. Were she to go to a men's shelter, she claims, "I’d be beaten up or raped."

Tiffany Jones became homeless when she aged out of foster care last year. Although Jones identifies as a woman and takes female hormones, her legal paperwork identifies her as a man. But Jones was pleasantly surprised when she went to apply for help at a men's shelter last September and was asked if she was transgender and wanted to live in a women’s shelter.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Passport Gender Marker

June 10, 2010
State Department Issues New Policy Guidelines on Passport Sex Marker Changes
Happy LGBT Pride Month! We are very pleased to tell you that the U.S. Department of State today introduced new policy guidelines on changing the sex marker on passports.

Beginning today, when a passport applicant presents a doctor's certification that he or she has undergone treatment for gender transition, their passport will be updated to accurately reflect their sex. Sex reassignment surgery is no longer required to change the gender on an American passport.

Transgender Americans face extreme danger when traveling abroad in the many countries that are hostile to them. Many also experience harassment when entering and leaving this country. Adoption of this safety-focused policy is a giant step forward in protecting transgender Americans and in fulfilling the State Department's commitment to protect all Americans when they travel, work or live overseas.

Under the new policy, it is also possible to obtain a temporary passport in the appropriate sex if a physician's statement shows that an applicant is in the process of gender transition.

The new policy and procedures are based on standards and recommendations of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). We are happy to bring you this news and we will continue to update our web site with more detailed information.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tiwonge and Steven

A gay couple who were jailed in Malawi have been pardoned by President Bingu wa Mutharika.

Mr Mutharika, speaking as UN chief Ban Ki-moon visited Lilongwe, said he had ordered their immediate release.

Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, were given 14-year jail terms after being convicted of gross indecency and unnatural acts.

The case has sparked international condemnation and a debate about homosexuality in the country.

Mr Ban said he welcomed the president's decision.

Correspondents say Malawi is a deeply conservative society where religious leaders equate same-sex liaisons with Satanism.

Mr Mutharika, who has in the past dismissed homosexuality as alien, said he had set them free on humanitarian grounds.

"These boys committed a crime against our culture, our religion and our laws," he said after meeting Mr Ban.

"However, as the head of state I hereby pardon them and therefore ask for their immediate release with no conditions."

Aid donors and human rights groups have been putting pressure on his government to respect the rights of minority groups.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Invisible: By Samantha Box

http://www.therawfile.org/stories/invisible.html

DADT

We've just gotten word. Congress is scheduled to vote this week on repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" – and we urgently need your help.

The right wing has been gearing up for this fight and their barrage of e-mails and calls has already started. It is critical that your legislators hear from you today!

In the House, Rep. Jerrold Nadler has already joined the 190 members of Congress who have said they'll vote to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

If we're going to win this, we need as many New York residents as possible to speak out against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" within the next 24 hours.

There's not a moment to lose. Click here to help flood Rep. Jerrold Nadler's office with emails calling for an end to this discriminatory law.

Every moment this failed law stands, it not only hurts our military readiness and national security – it insults the dignity and equality of every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender American.

Your email today will help us show Rep. Nadler that the residents of New York recognize that – on the battlefield – it doesn't matter whether a soldier is lesbian, gay or straight. What matters is that a soldier gets the job done.

After years of fighting to ensure that men and women in uniform can serve openly, we've never seen this much momentum for repeal. But our progress has been the right's battle cry – and at this pivotal moment, we can't leave a single vote to chance.

Click here to tell Rep. Nadler to repeal this law now and include a timeline for implementation that allows the Pentagon to complete its study.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Year # 2 of the 40 under Forty

Has a whole year gone by already?

Congratulations to the new list of 40 Advocates under 40

Chad Griffin
Rostam Batmanglu
Robert Rave
Kenyon Farrow
Mia Mingus
Gloria Bigelow
Brigham Yen
Coya Artichoker
Alex Nicholson
Jamie Roberts
Nathan Manske
Lamalani
Jimmy Nguyen
Vincent Jones
Larkin Mackey
Joshua McBride
Ireen Wust
James Duke Mason
Carl Sandler
Robert Garcia
Jake Shears
Jullian Michaels
Asher Kolieboi
Dean Spade
Robert Aguirre-Sacasa
Michael Fluck
Molly Schiot
Luke Montegomery
Nate Guidas
Kim Storm
Selly Thiam
Doug Burkman
Ben Burkman
Jolie Justus
Frank Mugisha
Tina Marry
Shannon Wentworth
Adam Bouska
Jeffery Self
Jarred Zeringue

TRAILER.mov

lost in the crowd teaser

Monday, May 10, 2010

College Team Teaches a Lesson in Acceptance

College Team Teaches a Lesson in Acceptance
Jonathan Cohen for The New York Times

Andrew McIntosh (27) at Oneonta College's final home game of the season. He said being an athlete was an obstacle to his coming to terms with being gay.
By KATIE THOMAS
Published: May 7, 2010


ONEONTA, N.Y. — The Oneonta men’s lacrosse team marched two by two onto the field, sticks held with purpose for the final home game of the season. Beneath their helmets, the players flashed hard looks and cheeks smeared with eye black.
Enlarge This Image
Jonathan Cohen for The New York Times

Andrew McIntosh played lacrosse for Oneonta College. He said teammates accepted him when he announced he was gay.

Tough and menacing is the team’s reputation around this State University of New York campus in the foothills of the Catskills. Even Dan Mahar, the head coach, acknowledges his players are viewed as a bit “rough around the edges.”

But this season, the team is developing a new reputation — as models of tolerance — after one of its captains announced in an online essay in February that he was gay. The senior, Andrew McIntosh, said he had not heard a single disparaging comment from his teammates.

“I was embraced with open arms,” he said. “I had teammates come up and give me handshakes, and people saying it takes a lot of guts to do that.”

Sports have long been viewed as inhospitable to gay men. The number of American male professional team athletes who have come out can be counted on two hands. In locker rooms, antigay slurs are tossed around as casually as borrowed towels. Yet for those who follow the increasingly common stories of athletes who decide to come out while in college, McIntosh’s story is not an anomaly, but the norm.

“For some reason, people continue to think that gay people in sports will have a rough time, but we haven’t seen in 10 years anyone kicked off their team,” said Cyd Zeigler, the co-founder of Outsports.com, referring to male athletes. The site published the essay by McIntosh and has served as a public home for gay athletes to tell their coming-out stories. Since the Web site began in 2000, Zeigler estimates that more than two dozen college and high school athletes have used the site to reveal that they are gay.

Still, for players who rely on an athletic scholarship or are beholden to a coach, “you’re afraid of the unknown,” Zeigler said.

That was the case for McIntosh, who started playing T-ball in kindergarten and by sixth grade had graduated to football and lacrosse. As he entered high school, sports became a refuge from what McIntosh described as confusing feelings about his sexuality.

“I took sports so seriously because I didn’t have a personal life,” he said. “That was my partner. I didn’t have anything to fall back on.”

Sometimes, that single-mindedness came at a cost. McIntosh said he tried to commit suicide after his team lost a football game and with it, a chance at the playoffs — one of several times he said he considered taking his life. He blamed his failure on the field on his attraction to men.

“I would think to myself, because you’re thinking that way, you lost the game,” he said.

In college, McIntosh’s discomfort with his identity led him on a path across New York State, first as a scholarship athlete at C.W. Post University on Long Island, then as a transfer student at SUNY Plattsburgh. He eventually arrived at Division III Oneonta College in the fall of 2008.

Being an athlete, he thinks, kept him from coming to terms with his sexual orientation.

“I just thought, you cannot be a gay athlete,” he said. “Gay and athlete don’t go together.”

At Oneonta, McIntosh made an impression as a confident, serious player. At 6 feet 2 inches and 215 pounds, he is an imposing defender and quickly became a starter. In the classroom, he earned good grades as an adolescent-education major.

Mahar said that bus drivers and high school recruits sometimes confused McIntosh for a coach.

“He has just very mature, very likeable qualities to him,” Mahar said.

McIntosh was just the kind of player that Mahar was trying to cultivate. Mahar was then in his second year as the coach and was working to improve the reputation of the team.

“We have some good players, but none of them are going to be drafted,” he said. “My job is to prepare them to go and get real jobs and to be successful after they leave Oneonta.”

One afternoon in the spring of 2009, Mahar pulled the team out of practice after some players described one of his drills as “gay.” Mahar said he had been hearing such language on the bus and during practice.

“Regardless of how you feel about whether being gay is right or wrong,” Mahar said he told the team, “the language is not appropriate.”

For McIntosh, it was a welcome signal.

“I had never heard a coach say that before,” McIntosh said.

That summer, McIntosh decided to confront his sexual identity. It had been a good year — he had adjusted well, and Mahar had recently named him one of four team captains for his senior year.

“I started thinking: ‘What is the matter with me?’ ” McIntosh said. “ ‘Why can’t I beat this?’ That’s how I thought, too: ‘I’m going to beat this.’ And I finally just gave in and just said, ‘This is who I am,’ and I decided I don’t want to live this way.”
Enlarge This Image
Jonathan Cohen for The New York Times

Andrew McIntosh with his father, Robert, and his mother, Cathy. “I figured he'd tell me when he was ready,” she said.

McIntosh told those closest to him first: two friends, his sister, his brother, his parents. His sister, who is also gay, directed him to Outsports.com, which McIntosh described as a revelation. Through the site, he became reacquainted with the story of Andrew Goldstein, a Dartmouth lacrosse player who in 2003 revealed to his team that he was gay. McIntosh tracked down Goldstein and sought advice.

“I didn’t feel alone anymore,” McIntosh said.

McIntosh’s family had known that something was amiss, but “I didn’t know what he was struggling with,” said his mother, Cathy McIntosh. She realized he was gay about a year before he broke the news, she said. “I figured he’d tell me when he was ready.”

Later that summer, McIntosh told his coach, broaching the topic first in an e-mail message. For McIntosh, telling Mahar and other athletes presented the greatest risk of rejection.

“I didn’t want to seem vulnerable,” he said. “I didn’t want people to think, ‘Oh, he’s not doing too well mentally.’ ”

Mahar said he tried to make McIntosh feel as comfortable as possible.

“I know that that was a very difficult and anxious conversation for him,” Mahar said. “I wanted Andrew to leave the office knowing he was supported, and this did not change anything as far as I was concerned.”

In his online essay, McIntosh wrote that his coach assured him that “if we had a roster of 30 players and 15 of them did not want to play on the team because I was gay, he would tell them to leave the team.”

Buoyed by the positive response, McIntosh told the other captains and some of his closest friends on the team. In January, he wrote a thank-you note to Outsports.com. Zeigler suggested that he write his own story.

“Everybody has a story that some kid is going to connect with,” Zeigler said.

McIntosh agreed. But before it went online, he had to tell his team first. McIntosh asked the coaches to give him some time after practice one day in February.

“I just spoke right from the heart,” he said.

Several of the players said they were surprised, but ultimately unfazed by McIntosh’s news.

“It’s not every day that your lacrosse captain comes out to you,” said Joe Schofield, 20, a sophomore. “I was a little surprised, but it was kind of like, ‘Oh, that makes sense.’ ”

So how did a team that had once been reprimanded for using insensitive language come to embrace a gay teammate? Goldstein, the former Dartmouth lacrosse player, said the macho atmosphere ultimately did not mean very much.

“I think when they find out that the guy next to them — this is his life — it becomes real,” said Goldstein, who briefly played professional lacrosse and is now pursuing a doctorate in molecular biology at U.C.L.A. He was greeted with similar support when he told his Dartmouth team he was gay. “It’s not just some slur that they passed on from hearing from someone else.”

Zeigler says the experience of female athletes who are gay is very different. Although they are openly gay in larger numbers than men, he said female athletes had to fight the opposite stereotype — the assumption that all women who play sports are gay. As a result, female athletes who are gay have sometimes encountered harassment from coaches and fellow teammates. For male athletes, however, “the response is either indifference, or it’s positive,” Zeigler said.

Mahar said he had heard that a handful of opposing players had yelled epithets at McIntosh during games, and he said one opposing coach falsely accused McIntosh of using inappropriate language before a game — something Mahar said he believed was related to McIntosh’s sexual orientation.

Mahar said he planned to address the issue at a conference meeting later this year.

But McIntosh said he had never heard anything negative.

“It’s really at the point now where we’re just out there to play lacrosse,” McIntosh said.

In the locker room, McIntosh said, “it’s business as usual. We talk about life and how is your day going.”

If anything, McIntosh and his teammates said, the situation makes for some good jokes.

On a team trip to North Carolina earlier this year, “some of us said, ‘I hope a girls’ soccer team shows up at the hotel,’ ” recalled Andy Morris, 20, and a sophomore. “Mac goes, ‘I hope a guys’ soccer team shows up.’ ”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Speaker: Gender issues hurt kids in foster care

Posted: Monday, April 19, 2010 1:30 pm | Updated: 12:14 pm, Mon Apr 19, 2010.

By SARA GIBONEY Hub Staff Writer | 0 comments

KEARNEY — “It wasn’t just the other kids in my group home who were calling me ‘faggot.’ It was the staff, too. I had nowhere to turn for help,” said one child in foster care.

A caseworker deems a child unadoptable because of his sexual orientation. Foster parents allow a child to be bullied because he is gay. A lesbian teen in foster care is sent to therapy to “fix” her sexual orientation. A male teen in foster care is forced to participate in masculine activities such as football because he acts femininely.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender — or GLBT, for short — teens are often bullied, taunted, isolated and degraded when living in foster care, according to Adam McCormick, an associate professor of social work at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.

“There really does seem to be, in the foster care system, this denial of existence of GLBT youth in our care or those of us who do acknowledge their existence, a desire for them to remain silent and invisible,” he said.

McCormick spoke at the University of Nebraska at Kearney Child Welfare Conference Friday. The theme was “Culturally Sensitive Child Welfare Practice: Putting Children and Families First.”

McCormick presented “Maltreatment Experiences of GLBT Youth.”

McCormick said 5 percent to 12 percent of youths in foster care identify themselves as GLBT and 20 percent to 40 percent of homeless and runaway youth who us services identify themselves as GLBT.

He added that resources on GLBT youths in foster care are limited.

“It really does seem to be overlooked and under-investigated,” he said.

The number of youths who identify themselves has GLBT is probably greater because many youth don’t feel safe coming out to their foster parents.

Many GLBT youths who are not supported run away or are kicked out of their foster home, McCormick said. One in three gay and lesbian youths reported being physically abused shortly after coming out to their caretakers.

“GLBT youth, in general, are at an increased likelihood of experiencing some form of abuse whether it be physical abuse, sexual abuse or psychological abuse,” McCormick said.

McCormick said there is an increase in risk behaviors among GLBT youths in foster care. Risk behaviors include truancy, substance abuse, behavioral issues and engaging in criminal activity.

Those issues aren’t initially thought to be related to sexual orientation. “But when we dig a little deeper we realize that in many cases it has everything to do with their sexual orientation,” McCormick said.

GLBT youths often bounce from foster home to foster home.

Seventy-eight percent of gay and lesbian youths in care report that they were removed from or ran away from their most recent placement because of issues related to sexual orientation.

“In many cases, their experiences don’t get much better. In many cases, they get much worse,” McCormick said.

When youths are punished for coming out, he said, they often experience significant psychological damage.

“Essentially, what we’re doing is punishing them when they’re really the only ones who have done nothing wrong,” McCormick said.

McCormick said agencies should adopt written, nondiscrimination policies; provide training to youths, staff and caregivers about GLBT issues; address negative attitudes about people who are GLBT; reach out to the GLBT community to recruit agency staff, volunteers and mentors; include GLBT books and magazines in agency resource libraries; use respectful terminology that does not make assumptions about individual’s sexual identity; and work closely with GLBT youths to address their needs.

First public gay wedding in China

Early this month, China celebrated its first gay wedding – unofficial, but the male couple say they will ‘never desert’ each other. 47-year-old Zeng Ge and 27-year-old Xiao Pan tied the knot in a small bar in Chengdu on January 3rd.

"We are no longer hiding any more. The wedding is our happiest and most precious moment. Thousands of gays and lesbians get married in France, Finland, the UK. Why couldn't we?" Zeng, a divorced architect, told China Daily.

Zeng met Pan, 27, a demobilized soldier last November at a bar. They fell in love with each other at first sight, he said.

"His bright and enchanting smile almost blinded me. And I am so addicted to his gentle and soft voice."

At the ceremony, while most were from Xiao Pan and Zeng Ge's inner circle, there were a couple of onlookers. As they put their rings on each other, some "acted as if they were watching animals, some even kept pointing here and there," said Zeng Ge.

Ever since the gay couple made their relationship public in November they have been the subject of revilement from family and friends.

"All the capital in my company has been frozen by my younger brother.

"My sister warned me she would never call me her brother unless I break up with Pan; and I have answered hundreds of phone calls from friends and relatives, who say they feel ashamed of me.

"But we are deeply in love and will never desert each other," Zeng told China Daily.

Zeng said the couple feared discrimination and had thus moved to a small town near Chengdu where they were unknown to avoid unwanted attention.

Gay sex was legalised in China in 1997, and homosexuality ceased being classed as a mental illness in 2001.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

www.kickedoutanthology.com


link here

Kicked Out: New York Release from Samantha Stark on Vimeo.

Pass this on to your networks,

Help reverse the damage that will done by this misrepresentation. Please forward widely as this will undoubtedly effect stigma and suicide rates among the next generation of LGBTQ Youth at the most crucial time in their development,

--
Lucky S.Michaels
--

The American College of Pediatricians (ACP) is a small, mostly southern anti-gay advocacy group consisting of notorious activists and angry doctors who have an axe to grind with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). They are upset because the group has a pro-gay stance (and scientific) that claims:

Therapy directed specifically at changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.

To counter the AAP’s research-based conclusion, the ACP produced an error-riddled website, Facts About Youth, that grossly distorts research for political gain. To read more on this bastardization of real science check out Box Turtle Bulletin and Dr. Warren Throckmorton’s sites. Worse, the ACP sent a letter to more than 10,000 school superintendents to promote the site. One can only imagine the harm this might do to LGBT youth who come out in school.

Today, Dr. Gary Remafedi, M.D., M.P.H., a University of Minnesota researcher wrote a blistering letter to the American College of Pediatricians to hold them accountable for misusing his research. Here is the letter in its entirety. Take the time to read it – it is worth it.

TO: American College of Pediatricians

Dear colleagues,

I am deeply concerned about misstatements attributed to our research on the “Facts about Youth” website of the American College of Pediatricians (http://factsaboutyouth.com/ [accessed on April 12, 2010]), as they appear in the “Letter to School Officials” and “What You Should Know as a School Official.”

The first reference to our research in these documents deceptively states: “Rigorous studies demonstrate that most adolescents who initially experience same-sex attraction, or are sexually confused, no longer experience such attractions by age 25. In one study, as many as 26% of 12-year-olds reported being uncertain of their sexual orientation1…”

Although the finding (“26% of 12-year-olds…”) is accurately reported, the sentence preceding it invites misinterpretation. Our original interpretation, as presented in the discussion section of the paper, is: “Taken together, these data suggest that uncertainty about sexual orientation and perceptions of bisexuality gradually give way to heterosexual or homosexual identification with passage of time and/or with increasing sexual experience.”

The second reference to our research in your handout erroneously states:

Among adolescents who claim a “gay” identity, the health risks include higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, alcoholism, substance abuse, anxiety, depression and suicide. Delaying such labeling significantly reduces these medical and psychiatric health risks. For example, researchers find that adolescents who defer “coming out as gay” decrease the risk of suicide at a rate of 20 percent for each year that they delay self-labeling as homosexual or bisexual.15

This paragraph is wrong on two counts:

1) It incorrectly reports the results of the research and, once again, misrepresents the conclusions. As a matter of fact, we wrote:

For each year’s delay in homosexual or bisexual self-labeling, the odds of a suicide attempt diminished by 80%. These findings support a previously observed, inverse relationship between psychosocial problems and the age of acquiring a homosexual identity. Compared with older adolescents, early and middle adolescents may be generally less able to cope with the isolation and stigma of a homosexual identity;

2) Citing our work (reference #15) at the end of the paragraph would attribute the content of the entire paragraph to our publication when, in fact, the first sentence (“Among adolescents who claim…”) is not what we have written.

As the first author of the two publications in question and the authorized contact for related communications, I am responding to the inaccuracies in your website documents on behalf of the investigative group. However, the following reactions and suggested remedies are from my own personal perspective, and my co-authors may contribute additional thoughts and suggestions at their discretion.

I have previously encountered and confronted the problem of misrepresentation of research from other advocacy groups such as yours. However, this episode is especially troubling and egregious because it is led by colleagues within my own profession— who certainly have the ability, education, and experience to access, review, and accurately summarize the Pediatric scientific literature.

Our professional code demands of Pediatricians nothing short of the highest standards of ethical conduct in medical education, research, and patient care. Knowingly misrepresenting research findings for material or personal gain is a flagrant violation of this code of conduct. Implicating me in this chicanery is doubly damaging to my professional reputation and career by holding me accountable for misstatements and by associating me with a cause that most ethical Pediatricians will recognize as misguided and hurtful to an entire class of children and families.

Please immediately remove any reference to our work from the website. As a suitable remedy, I also would urge you take the following actions:

1) Publicly retract your references to our research with a written statement posted on the home page of your website;

2) Until then, any donations made to your organization since the “Facts about Youth” website was launched should be either returned to the donors or contributed to the LGBT youth research fund of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.

I look forward to your prompt attention and response to these issues.

Sincerely,

Gary Remafedi, M.D., M.P.H.
Professor, Department of Pediatrics
University of Minnesota
CC: Robert Blum, M.D., PhD; Michael Resnick PhD; James Farrow M.D.

1. Researcher Reprimands Sham Pediatric Group for Distorting Research

On April 12, Dr. Gary Remafedi, MD, MPH, a University of Minnesota researcher, wrote a letter to the American College of Pediatricians holding them accountable for misusing his research. The American College of Pediatricians (ACP) – not to be confused with the 60,000 member American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) – has distributed over 10,000 letters to school superintendents containing factually inaccurate information about sexual orientation and gender identity and promoting unsupported and potentially dangerous “reparative therapies” for LGBT students. The ACP is a small advocacy group masquerading as a legitimate medical organization. Founders of the ACP left the AAP after the organization adopted policy rejecting the use of “reparative therapy.”

Last week, the AAP sent letters to state chapter leaders warning them about the letters and the activities of the ACP. This week, AAP state chapters will be distributing letters to state education officials, advising education officials that the ACP’s campaign, “does not acknowledge the scientific evidence regarding sexual identity, sexual health, sexual orientation, or effective health education." The letter also directs education officials to a report, Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators, and School Personnel, a resource developed by the AAP in collaboration with the American Psychological Association (APA) and other prominent national professional associations. The AAP urges education officials to reference this document in communications to school superintendents and other educators in their states.

Information: To read the letter by Gary Remafedi, go to http://www.truthwinsout.org/pressreleases/2010/04/8136/.

To read the report Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth, developed by the AAP, APA, and other prominent national professional associations, go to http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/just-the-facts.pdf.

To read a recent blog post from HRC Family Project Director Ellen Kahn on HRC Back Story, go to http://www.hrcbackstory.org/2010/04/ideology-trumps-childrens-well-being/.


--
Lucky S.Michaels

Friday, April 9, 2010

Jamaica Stages First Public ‘Gay Pride



MONTEGO BAY, April 8, 2010 – Imagine. Gay Pride in Jamaica. The words of William Urich, the chair of InterPride Committee on International GLBTI Human Rights, on the first public Pride even on the Caribbean island which was staged yesterday.

Officially, it was the Walk for Tolerance from Howard Cooke Park, along Howard Cooke Boulevard and ending on the beach.

“Yesterday was an amazing day, here in Montego Bay,” he told UK Gay News. “My eyes well up at the very thought of the day's outstanding and astounding success.”

Encouragingly, the walk had police support, Mr. Urich added.

Around 100 took part in the walk, which was headed by Reverend Elder Nancy L. Wilson, the openly lesbian presiding bishop of the International Movement of Metropolitan Community Churches.

One participant commented: “I never thought I would live to see the day that this could happen in Jamaica.”

And other ‘buzz phrases’ heard at the event included “I'm exercising my rights”, “I feel so liberated”, “I have validation”, and “exuberant”

The Walk for Tolerance was organised by Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) is Jamaica’s oldest and largest Non-Governmental Organization working in the area of HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and care.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Maranatha: Riversiders for LGBT Concerns presents a discussion on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer ministry.

Sunday, April 11, 2010
1:00 p.m.

The Riverside Church

Room 411 MLK

Wendy Sealey, Rev. Melvin Miller and Rev. Pat Bumgardner will be speaking from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Room 411 MLK on April 11th. They will address youth, homeless outreach, and ecumenical issues regarding LGBT ministry.

Kicked Out of Prom - Kicked Out of Home.

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/4/2/852587/-WLGB-Presents:-Kicked-out-of-prom,-Kicked-out-of-home

Supes told of LGBT harassment in city shelters NEWS

Published 04/01/2010
by Seth Hemmelgarn
s.hemmelgarn@ebar.com




Orlon Ryel, with his dog, Armani, speaks at the Board of Supervisors' Government Audit and Oversight Committee about his treatment in San Francisco's homeless shelters. Photo: Rick Gerharter




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San Francisco Supervisor David Campos was among those expressing support last week for an LGBT-friendly shelter after dozens of people testified at a Board of Supervisors committee hearing about harassment in San Francisco's shelters.

The abuse is often met with indifference by the facilities' staff, many said, and nearly everyone testifying called for a shelter for LGBTs.

After the Thursday, March 25 meeting of the supervisors' government audit and oversight committee, Campos, who is openly gay, told the Bay Area Reporter that there's "clearly a need" for an LGBT-friendly shelter and supervisors "need to think about it as we're looking at next year's budget."

"The current shelter system is not addressing the needs" of homeless LGBTs, said Campos. Having an LGBT-friendly shelter would be "an important step."

Campos is not on the committee but had asked for the hearing.

Problems in the shelters have been well-known among queer homeless advocates, but the supervisors appeared shocked at the testimony and grilled a staffer from the Human Services Agency, which oversees the shelters.

People testified about being called "faggot," being afraid to use bathrooms or showers, and dealing with staff who at times participated in the harassment, among other problems. Many people said they would rather sleep on the streets then stay in one of the city's shelters.

Jason Skerik testified that on his first night in a shelter he was called a "faggot" and he was pressured to give up his bed. He left the shelter and stayed on the streets.

"Staff had no control over the situation," he said, but "they were doing the best they could."

Orlon Ryel, a transsexual man, discussed the separate quarters for men and women in one shelter and said when he had asked staff where he could stay, his request was met with "giggles and grins."

"They really had no idea what to do with me," Ryel said.

He also said during his shelter experience he couldn't find a safe place to shower, go to the bathroom, or sleep, and he felt under "constant threat."

Beck, who goes by one name and identifies as transgender/queer, is the youth program coordinator for the San Francisco LGBT Community Center. He said he deals with up to 300 queer homeless youth a year, and it's "high time this issue be addressed."

He said every day, someone gets off a Greyhound bus in San Francisco, seeing the city as "a beacon of light," but it often takes months for them to find housing.

Beck said nothing is being done about the harassment people face. Staff can be transphobic, he said, and there's a lack of training. He said youth need a chance to evaluate their own services, and there should be a queer and homeless youth board.

Marcus Arana, a transgender man who's also known as Holy Old Man Bull, is a contract compliance officer for the city's Human Rights Commission. He said the commission has had dozens of trainings for the shelters, but they're hearing some of the same complaints about the same staff members.

He said from 2003 to 2010 there were 40 recorded complaints related to LGBTs. Those included complaints related to transgender women being segregated unnecessarily into separate shower times from non-transgender women; staff and clients using incorrect pronouns or using pronouns in a mocking way; and clients making threats of violence out of the hearing of shelter staff, so that the transgender person felt intimidated and could not sustain a complaint because shelter staff didn't witness the offense, he wrote in an e-mail after the hearing.

Arana also said dozens of other cases were often resolved with a phone call or an e-mail to the shelter.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca, a longtime queer activist who works with the Housing Rights Committee, said the hearing was "amazing" but also said "we need more LGBT-specific housing and we need it now." He added the people present barely scratched the surface of LGBTs who have had problems at the shelters.

There are currently only a handful of housing slots specifically designated for homeless queer youth. Avicolli Mecca and others pointed out there are housing needs for all age groups.

Karen Gruneisen, associate director of Episcopal Community Services of San Francisco, was one of the few shelter representatives to speak at the hearing. Gruneisen said her agency should be held accountable, but noted employees have due process rights, and said "we can't get rid of homophobia in our community."

After testimony from three other people, Supervisor Sophie Maxwell expressed concern about Gruneisen's testimony.

"If you're getting our money, there's really, really no excuse" for inaction, said Maxwell, who sits on the committee along with Supervisors Eric Mar and Carmen Chu. "As a city, and as a county ... if I'm looking at budget issues, I want to know something's being done" about harassment of LGBTs in the shelters, she said.

In a phone interview the morning after the hearing, Gruneisen told the B.A.R. , "discrimination on any basis is not tolerable in our shelter or anybody else's shelter." She said staff "work to create a culture of respect and understanding" through policies, trainings, and other means.

She and Maxwell had met after the hearing, and Gruneisen said, "I think we came to a better understanding of what I was saying and what she was reacting to." Maxwell didn't respond to a request for a follow-up interview about the hearing.

Gruneisen said that since July 2009, there have been 10 to 15 complaints related to transgender women. Those included complaints from clients who wanted transgender women assigned to a different area.

A 'disconnect'

Scott Walton, manager of adult programs in the housing and homeless division of the city's Human Services Agency, testified that policies and procedures are in place addressing verbal threats, physical assaults, and derogatory language.

But Campos said there was "a very clear disconnect" between the policies and procedures Walton described and the reality that people accessing the system seemed to be experiencing.

Maxwell eventually told Walton, "When people come and the room is full, we have a responsibility to find out what's going on."

In his response, Walton said, "We're hearing things today we're not hearing through our complaints and grievance procedures."

According to Walton, most shelters in the city have reported that no LGBT-related concerns or complaints have been raised in the last nine months.

After the hearing, Campos mentioned the possibility of putting a working group together to address the issues brought up at the hearing that would include people from the LGBT community and city departments.

He said he hoped for another hearing in the next few weeks, once the Human Services Agency and others have had time to collect more information

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Argentine Congress to talk with Trans Individuals

The Argentine Congress debate the laws of identity for people transShare .. Yesterday at 10:48 a.m.
LGBT Federation ATTTA Argentina (Association of Shemales Transsexuals and Transgender) invites an encounter between the trans concerning the country and deputies as the nation.

The aim of the conference is to present the identity projects for trans people (transvestites, transsexuals, transgender) presented in the National Congress of the Federation and Argentina LGBT Rep. Silvia Augsburger. Also will discuss the projects submitted by the National Institute against Discrimination at the Ministry of Justice, Security and Human Rights.

The meeting will be held on Wednesday March 31 at 10:30 pm. Heads in the Hall of the House of Deputies.

Trans people have hindered, if not forbidden, our right to identity in Argentina. From very small we are assaulted at school, and for our own family, usually ending, at an average age of 12 years on the street for the sole use of sex work, for our livelihood. At this point we restrict access to health, education and work, among other rights, result of which our life expectancy is 35 years (data reported by the Office of the Ombudsman of the City of Buenos Aires .)

This is one case in which discrimination clearly a situation of extreme exclusion and marginalization that restricts access of people to their human rights and basic civil. To end this situation, we must first remove all legal obstacles that make trans people see we are prevented from freely exercising our right to identity. This requires:

- The repeal of the Code of Misdemeanors and Misdemeanor
- Adoption of a law authorizing the Trans Identity modification of the registry changes without sex reassignment surgery or judicial authorization
- Adoption of a law of health care for trans people to authorize treatment and sex reassignment surgery without judicial authorization

To converse with the trans concerning about this situation and the proposals in Congress to advance the recognition of their rights, we invite you to talk with us.


For more information:

Maria Rachid, president of the Federation LGBT Argentina: 15 6548-9608
Marcela Romero, ATTTA Coordinator and Vice President of the Federación Argentina LGBT 16 64764182
Claudia Pia Baudracco, ATTTA Coordinator 15 62642973
Esteban Paulón, Secretary General of the Federation LGBT Argentina: 0341 15 6068171

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Advocate To Partner With NBC News

The parent company of The Advocate announced today that they have inked a partnership deal with NBC News. Via press release:

Here Media and The Advocate, the world’s leading gay news source, announced today their new affiliate deal with NBC News Channel, an NBC News unit that provides content services to NBC television affiliates and other selected news outlets around the world. It’s the first partnership of its kind between NBC News Channel and an LGBT news outlet. The award-winning Advocate.com will now utilize NBC News Channel’s worldwide resources to create daily news segments that will air online and on air. The new collaboration continues The Advocate’s strategic overall expansion. The brand now produces its iconic print publication, breaking news and video content on Advocate.com, and The Advocate On-Air, a television and online newsmagazine.

“Media continues to evolve, and The Advocate continues to grow and deliver news and entertainment across all platforms,” said Paul Colichman, CEO of Here Media. “The Advocate’s partnership with NBC News Channel allows our brand a unique opportunity to focus an LGBT lens on issues important to gay and lesbian Americans and their families. Our editors and expert journalists look forward to breaking new ground in a diverse media landscape.” Advocate.com will host daily video news reports using footage from NBC News and its local television affiliates. Additionally, NBC News can access America’s most trusted gay news source by using Advocate talent and content when reporting on important gay issues to its predominantly mainstream audiences.
MOHAWK —
A federal judge today approved a settlement that includes a series of reforms for the Mohawk Central School District in a gay student’s harassment lawsuit.
As part of the settlement, the school district agreed to the following:
Working with the Anti-Defamation League and to hold staff training on appropriate ways to address issues of harassment;
Reviewing its policies and procedures governing harassment based on sex, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation;
Reporting to the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Department of Justice on these efforts as well as its ongoing response to complaints of discrimination and harassment.
The New York Civil Liberties Union sued the school district in August on behalf of a student who alleged that he was repeatedly harassed, threatened and physically assaulted at school for being gay and not conforming to gender stereotypes. The civil rights lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, maintained that district officials were aware of the bullying and did nothing to stop it. The school district denied the allegations in the complaint.
The student, identified by his attorney’s only as Jacob. was entering the ninth grade at Gregory B. Jarvis Junior/Senior High School when the lawsuit was filed earlier this school year. He has since transferred to a high school in another district.
The lawsuit drew the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice, which filed a motion to intervene in the case on Jacob’s behalf. That motion was pending when settlement negotiations commenced.
Under the settlement, Jacob has agreed to dismiss the lawsuit against the school district and its employees, and the Justice Department agreed to withdraw its motion to intervene.

Copyright 2010 The Observer-Dispatch. Some rights reserved

Friday, March 19, 2010

Kicked Out

Hi Everyone!
Just wanted to remind you that the NYC release of Kicked Out is TONIGHT 7pm at The Center! (208 West 13th St.) in room 310

I would really love to see you there. This book has been in the making for over two years. Its release has been a long time coming and I really value the support that you have given to me during that time and want you to be there to celebrate with me and the rest of the local contributors

There will be incredible readings from local authors as well as beautiful art on display.

Hope to see you there!

Sassafras
Blogswarm: Demand LGBT Employment Rights Today
Filed by: Dr. Jillian T. Weiss
March 18, 2010 9:30 AM
Print

Note from Bil: The Bilerico Project is participating in a blogswarm today with Daily Kos, Open Left, Americablog, Towleroad, Pam's House Blend, Joe My God, Michelangelo Signorile, David Mixner, Daily Gotham, Culture Kitchen, Taylor Marsh, PageOneQ, Dan Savage, GoodAsYou, and many others. We're asking our readers to contact Speaker Nancy Pelosi and ask that she move the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (HR 3017) to a floor vote. Contact info at the end of the article.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, first introduced in 1994, would prohibit job discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. But LGBT people have never been able to achieve the enactment of the bill, known by the acronym of "ENDA".

Last year, the Administration's highest ranking gay official, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, indicated that ENDA was highest priority on the LGBT civil rights agenda.

"If we can get ENDA enacted and signed into law, it is only a matter of time before all the rest happens," he said. "It is the keystone that holds up the whole bunch, and so we need to focus our energies and attention there."

Hearings were held last Fall in the House and in the Senate to demonstrate the need for the bill, and testimony was heard on the severe unemployment, underemployment and harassment experienced by LGBT workers. Witnesses testified to the scientific studies demonstrating this.

But nothing has happened. Click here to find out why and join us in swarming Speaker Pelosi's office.
Why We Need ENDA And Why It's So Hard To Get

The reason that workers need this protection is that the LGBT community is a relatively small minority, probably around 5% of the U.S. population, and there are many people with prejudices against them. This is also one reason that the bill has had difficulties in Congress: the minority in need of protection from discrimination are drowned out by the many bigots.

Civil rights, by definition, are needed most by those against whom there is most prejudice.

Surveys over the last fifteen years show that 16% to 68% of LGBT people surveyed reported experiencing employment discrimination. Preliminary results from a major survey of transgender workers show 97% reported harassment on the job and 26% lost their jobs because of their gender identity.
What's the Holdup?

Various sponsors promised that the bill would move to a vote in August, September, October, and November of 2009. But in order to go to a vote, the bill had to pass through the House Committee on Education and Labor via a "markup" procedure. Markup was finally scheduled for November 18, 2009. But at the last minute, the markup was postponed, and has still not been rescheduled.

Initially, the Committee said that some technical language required tweaking, ostensibly to insure that plaintiffs could not recover too much money or attorney fees, and to prevent lawsuits based on inadvertent discrimination. But it has become increasingly clear that something else is at work.

A clue to the inaction: Speaker Nancy Pelosi publicly told Democrats that she would not move controversial bills. Meanwhile, the House Committee has stated its readiness to move, but is waiting for a signal from Speaker Pelosi.
Why We Need To Demand ENDA Now

We know that Speaker Pelosi is sympathetic to our cause. Clearly, she needs encouragement, because she won't commit to giving the signal to move forward. Meanwhile, LGBT Americans continue to suffer discrimination and harassment with no recourse. Why should we accept mere lip service?

President Obama famously said in a campaign speech that "Power concedes nothing without a fight."

The quote is from an oration Frederick Douglass gave on August 4, 1857 speaking about the emancipation of West India. The complete quote is very powerful in context, and is germane to the subject at hand (emphasis mine):

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what a people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must pay for all they get. If we ever get free from all the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and, if needs be, by our lives, and the lives of others.

By the end of the Civil War, and by the end of the 1960's civil rights movement, Douglass's evaluation proved true time and time again.

We demand that LGBT people receive the same job rights as other people: to be able to get and keep a job based only on relevant factors, like job performance, and not on irrelevant criteria, like sexual orientation or gender identity.

There is a majority in both Houses of Congress in favor of ENDA. Now is the time to move it.

In 30 states across America, there is no law against firing someone based on his or her sexual orientation, and the same is true in 38 states for gender identity.

Will you join with us in asking that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people be protected from job discrimination?
Please call Speaker Nancy Pelosi at 202-225-4965. Ask that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, HR 3017, move to a vote.

Please be polite, but firm.

After you call, please tell us how the call went by clicking here. If you get a busy signal or hang up, let us know that too.

If you want more information on Speaker Pelosi's position on ENDA as stated by her office, you can find it here

Let's work together to let Speaker Pelosi know that we want action now!

At the end of the day, we will post a round-up of how the day went. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

http://www.flickr.com/photos/yepokayeebo/sets/72157623290494507/

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Today is Statewide GENDA Call-In Day - It's Time to Act!

March 9, 2010

Last week, the New York State Assembly passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA). The only remaining obstacle to the bill becoming law is the New York State Senate. The time is NOW to take action and make our final push to get the Senate to vote to end discrimination against transgender New Yorkers.

GENDA would amend the state's human rights law to ban discrimination in housing, employment, credit and public accommodations. It also expands the state's hate crimes law to explicitly include crimes against transgender people.

We need you to call your Senator and the lead Senate sponsor Tom Duane at their Albany offices to tell them that you want them to bring GENDA to the Senate floor and pass it. We're at a crucial moment and it is vital that they hear from you.

Here's how to make your calls:

1. Find your State Senator's Albany phone number here. You can reach Senator Tom Duane at (518) 455-2451.

2. Tell them the number of the GENDA bill (S.2406) and ask them to support GENDA and bring it to the floor for a vote.

3. Use these talking points to convey the urgent need for GENDA and the broad support it has:
Transgender people experience tremendous job discrimination. One-fifth of transgender New Yorkers have incomes below $10,000 a year.
28% of transgender New Yorkers have experienced a serious physical or sexual assault motivated by hate.
78% of New York voters support GENDA.
Unions representing 2.1 million working New Yorkers support GENDA.
30 Fortune 500 companies based in cities like Rochester, Corning, New York City and White Plains already have non-discrimination policies that include gender identity and expression. It's time for the rest of the state to catch up.
547 clergy and lay leaders representing over 20 different religious denominations support GENDA.
4. After your call, please report your results to our partners at the Empire State Pride Agenda. Tell them which Senators you called, who you spoke to in the Senator's office, and what response you received. Your feedback will help us pass GENDA in 2010!

Working together, we can win! If you can't call today, call tomorrow. Start making those phone calls now!

Can you help phone bank for GENDA this Thursday?

Phone banking is a key element in the strategy to win protections for transgender New Yorkers. If you have some time to spare, you can make a huge difference. The GENDA phone bank will take place this Thursday, March 11th, from 5:30 - 8:30 pm at the offices of the Empire State Pride Agenda. You can arrive any time between 5:30 and 7:30 pm and stay for as long as your schedule allows.

Please respond by calling Joanna at 212.627.0305, x103 or sending an email letting her know that you are available.

Please forward this message to anyone you think might be interested in helping.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Senators ask FDA to lift gay blood donor ban

Friday, March 5, 2010

Cheryl Wetzstein

The push to eliminate the lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men received a boost yesterday, when 18 senators signaled their support for such a change.
"[H]ealthy blood donors are turned away every day due to an antiquated policy," Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, said in a letter to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.
"We live in a very different country than we did in 1983," when gay and bisexual men were permanently "deferred" from giving blood, due to the HIV/AIDS crisis, the letter said.
Now that more is known about HIV transmission and dramatic technological advances have been made to detect HIV in blood, "we agree with the American Red Cross, America's Blood Centers, AABB, and others that the time has come for the FDA to modify" its donor rules, said senators, including 17 Democrats and Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent.
They asked the FDA to consider using the same deferral policies with men who have sex with men (MSM) that apply to heterosexuals who engage in high-risk behavior - usually a 12-month deferral. This would mean that a gay or bisexual man could donate blood if he had not had sex with a man in the past 12 months.
The senators' letter to the FDA comes a week after the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) released a report on why the lifetime ban on MSM blood donations is punitive, unfair and unnecessary.
"We don't want to increase the risk to the nation's blood supply," said Joseph Wardenski, lead author of the GMHC report and a former associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell law firm.
"We would like to reduce discrimination, and we would like a blood-donor pool that's large enough to ensure that there's a safe and sufficient blood supply, particularly in times of emergency," he said.
U.S. blood bank organizations have been amenable to change since 2006. The AABB, America's Blood Centers and American Red Cross support a one-year deferral for MSM because that would be "consistent with the deferral period for other potentially high-risk sexual exposures," the organizations said in a joint statement.
But an association for people with blood-clotting disorders supports the FDA's very cautious approach.
When it comes to pathogens transmitted in the blood supply, "100 percent of the risk is borne by the recipient" and none is borne by the donor, said Mark Skinner, president of the World Federation of Hemophilia.
Blood-donor rules are discriminatory by design, Mr. Skinner said. But the rules are grounded in science and intended to protect the end users, not target a group, he said, noting that hemophiliacs like himself can never give blood. "It really isn't even a gay issue because lesbians are not excluded unless they fall into other risk categories," Mr. Skinner said.
"We can't look narrowly at HIV; we have to look at the whole system," he added. The hemophilia community "serves as the canaries in the mine for the nation ... we're on the front line, and we require constant vigilance."
The lifetime ban on MSM donations was established because in the early stages of the AIDS epidemic a major share of cases involved transmission via blood transfusion. Now such cases are extremely rare - less than 1 percent of all new HIV infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
However, transmissions with HIV-infected blood still occur, and the number of "bad units" would increase if the MSM deferral was changed, Dr. Andrew I. Dayton told an FDA workshop in March 2006.
His computer models found that if MSM were deferred for five years, about 1,430 HIV-infected units would enter the blood supply in the first year of the new policy; with a one-year deferral, the number of infected units would "about double," to 2,780, Dr. Dayton said.
This "small but definite increased risk" is part of the reason the FDA has upheld the MSM ban several times, most recently in 2006. MSM have an HIV prevalence "60 times higher than the general population, 800 times higher than first-time blood donors, and 8,000 times higher than repeat blood donors," the agency added.
Other countries that currently ban MSM from blood donations are Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland and the Netherlands. Hong Kong also bans them.
Still, gay rights groups have long been fighting to change blood-donor rules, and several countries have relaxed their policies. On March 1, Sweden began allowing MSM to give blood if they have not had sex with a man in the past 12 months.
Argentina, Australia, Hungary and Japan already have such "one-year deferrals," and South Africa has a six-month deferral policy. In 2008, New Zealand changed its 10-year deferral for MSM to five years.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual individuals risk psychiatric disorders from discriminatory policies | ScienceBlog.com

Lesbian, gay, bisexual individuals risk psychiatric disorders from discriminatory policies | ScienceBlog.com

Monday, March 1, 2010

Out on the street
A quarter of Milwaukee’s homeless youth are LGBT

 1 2 3 4 5
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)
Written by Louis Weisberg, Staff Writer
Thursday, 11 February 2010 09:45
As a student at Nicolet High School, Kevin never fit in. An African-American who likes to wear a little make-up, he endured constant teasing and bullying. Eventually he transferred to The Alliance School, which helps students who are not succeeding in traditional schools due to harassment.
But when Kevin’s mother discovered he’s gay, she threw him out of the house. Determined to earn a diploma, he camped out on the streets near the Alliance campus and continued attending classes until he graduated. Last fall, an older gay man gave him a place to live in exchange for sex.
Andrea was banished from home because she’s a lesbian. She was placed in foster care with a fundamentalist Christian family and ran away. Most of her teenage years were spent on the streets, sleeping under porches and bridges, dodging the police and street violence.
“Kevin” and “Andrea” aren’t their real names, but their stories are true. They are also surprisingly common, as reported in a groundbreaking new study compiled by Cream City Foundation.
Titled “State of Youth Homelessness,” the study found that 23 percent of the estimated 400 youth (ages 24 and under) living on Milwaukee’s streets on any given night are LGBT. The report’s findings were based on a yearlong research project by the Center for Urban Initiatives and Research at UW-Milwaukee, which collected data from several area agencies serving homeless youth.
The report’s findings are consistent with those of a National Gay and Lesbian Task Force study released three years ago, which found that 20-40 percent of the nation’s homeless youth identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
This problem appears to be growing. As societal acceptance of LGBT people has increased, people are coming out at younger ages and encountering rejection from their families, according to experts from the local agencies involved in the report. The problem, they say, is particularly acute in evangelical-dominated cultures, such as the African-American community, and it has been exacerbated by the culture of violence that has overspread the nation’s streets.
Mean streets
Life on the streets is harsh for any homeless youth. “The shocking statistic is that within 72 hours of a young person being homeless, they are more likely to engage in survival sex as a means of getting their basic needs met,” says Lisa Gumm, youth shelter program manager at Pathfinders, which provides outreach and support services to homeless youth.
For LGBT youth, the outlook is particularly grim.
“They face even greater risks, due to the isolation they experience,” Gumm says. “They don’t feel that they’re accepted and they have fewer options.”
In fact, homeless gay and lesbian youth experience an average of 7.4 more acts of sexual violence than their heterosexual peers and twice the rates of sexual victimization, according to data compiled by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Lambda Legal, National Network for Youth and the National Lesbian Rights Center. These agencies also found that transgender youth are frequently harassed, assaulted and arrested by police because of their gender presentation.
Tess Gallun, who teaches documentary filmmaking for UW-Milwaukee’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, has witnessed the problem up close, through the lens of her camera. She and her students are creating a documentary – the working title is “Out of Respect” – about the lives of homeless LGBT youth in Milwaukee. They’ve followed the stories of Kevin, Andrea and others who’ve been abandoned by their families because of their sexual orientation.
While their sexual orientation is the cause of their homelessness, it’s the last thing on their minds when Gallun meets them. They’re focused simply on staying alive, she says – “trying to find a warm bed for the night and something to eat.”
Despite the rejection they’ve endured, “all the youth we’ve worked with just want to be reunited with their families,” Gallun says.
Tears swell in her eyes as Gallun shows a picture of the 16-month-old boy she and her partner Mary adopted at birth. He was born addicted to cocaine, but now he’s healthy and thriving.
“What’s going on in our society that people lose their ability to love and care for their own child?” she asks.
As societal acceptance of LGBT people has increased, people are coming out at younger ages and encountering family rejection. – Photo: Dan Zaitz
Repairing the system
Despite the magnitude of LGBT youth homelessness, the problem was hardly a blip on the radar screen of local social service agencies when Cream City Foundation began coordinating the study. There was no dedicated housing, no advocacy, no mentorship program and no funding. Nor was there LGBT sensitivity training for shelter staff workers.
“People who are licensed to work in group homes are not required to take a course that teaches them how to treat LGBT youth in a culturally sensitive manner,” says Cream City Foundation executive director Maria Cadenas. “A lot of time there’s verbal and physical abuse from the other youth and the staff. There’s no enforcement of fair and equal treatment for our youth. That’s a broken system.”
Last year, Cadenas began convening regular meetings of local agencies, including Lad Lake, Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, Pathfinders and St. Aemilian-Lakeside. Together these agencies created Q-Blok, the first program in the city to work specifically on LGBT youth homelessness. Cream City Foundation and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation stepped forward with three years of funding.
The first order of business was to provide shelter. This required a creative approach. Due to the abuse LGBT homeless youth experience in foster care and emergency shelters – as well as the sexual predation they encounter on the streets – they’re wary of being placed with adults or in group settings. Q-Blok adopted a plan used successfully in Minnesota that provides temporary independent housing along with attachment to a sponsor family that lends emotional support and celebrates milestones with them.
Since its inception in December 2009, 22 young people have enrolled in the program, nearly filling its capacity of 25, says Karie Lowe, program coordinator at Lad Lake. Five sponsor families are in training.
“The kids are coming in and they’re very excited about (the program) and they’re doing good,” Lowe says. “With funding for 25 youth per year for the next three years, we’re going to be able to help 75 youth. That’s huge.”
In addition to housing and a sponsor family, the youth receive case management services. Q-Blok also has street outreach, mentorship and advocacy components. And it provides LGBT training to shelter workers.
New hope
While Q-Blok is an important step forward, everyone agrees there’s much more work to be done. Inevitably, many youth will have to be turned away due to limited space, as well as legal complications that prevent the program from serving youth under 18. Some will survive, others will fall victim to the streets.
Still, Gallun is heartened by the progress she’s seen since beginning her documentary.
“Now there are (LGBT) questions being asked when a youth enters a shelter,” she says. “There’s more sensitivity. They’re being careful not to put (these youth) with a foster family or case worker who’s homophobic.”
Among the youth Gallun and her crew have followed are a young gay couple, Jim and John (not their real names). John left home after his mother, a religious zealot, painted his bedroom red one day, telling him the color was the blood of the devil. He and Jim survived the streets by sticking closely together, Gallun says.
Since getting an apartment through Q-Blok, their lives have turned around, she says. They check in regularly with their case workers. They cook meals together. They’re both enrolled at Milwaukee Area Technical College.
“It’s been hopeful to see them creating a family together,” Gallun says. “They empower each other.”

Friday, February 26, 2010

Just Treatment of Transgender People in NYPD Custody

The Petition

Dear Police Commissioner Ray Kelly c/o the New York Police Department,

We, members of New York City’s transgender communities, community organizations, advocates, and allies, ask that you implement changes in the New York City Police Department (NYPD) policies that would improve our safety in interactions with the police. Specifically, we insist that you adopt the “Proposed Policy for the Treatment of Transgender People in NYPD Custody” and the associated changes to the NYPD patrol guide, submitted to the NYPD in April 2009.

Transgender New Yorkers report experiencing verbal harassment, disproportionate arrests for ‘quality of life’ offenses, invasive and unlawful searches for the purpose of determining gender, and housing placement in NYPD custody that could expose them to harassment and violence while in NYPD custody.

To respond to these needs, a group of New York City based community organizations and individuals – including those who have personally come into contact with the NYPD – came together to propose comprehensive changes to the NYPD patrol guide. We drew on our own experiences as well as on the policies of cities that have led the way in addressing interactions between police and transgender communities, including Washington, D.C.; San Francisco, California; Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and Toronto, Ontario.

The result of this work is reflected in the Proposed Policy for the Treatment of Transgender People in NYPD Custody that includes:

*NYPD officers will refer to an arrestee with the name and pronouns the arrestee has used to identify him or herself and not require proof of an individual’s gender or challenge an individual’s gender identity.

*NYPD officers will refrain from using slurs or making lewd, derogatory, or harassing remarks based on gender (including gender identity and expression), sex, or sexual orientation.

*NYPD officers will not ask personal questions about gender (including gender identity and expression), sexual orientation or practices, or medical history unless necessary for an investigation.

*NYPD officers will not construe gender identity or expression as evidence that an individual has engaged in prostitution or any other crime.

*Under no circumstances shall NYPD officers frisk or search any person for the purpose of determining that person’s gender or to view or touch the person’s genitals.

*Placement decisions about a transgender arrestee will be based on a determination of where the individual will be safest
.

The NYPD is failing to meet constitutional standards of treatment for transgender people in police custody. Instead, transgender New Yorkers have experienced unjust and inhumane practices that violate their rights. By adopting these policy recommendations, the NYPD can take a necessary step closer to fulfilling its own promise of courtesy, professionalism, and respect for the transgender community and all New Yorkers. We demand your leadership on this issue and the immediate implementation of the Proposed Policy for the Treatment of Transgender People in NYPD Custody.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned.

Sign petition

#
Name: Glo Ross on May 5, 2009

# 2
Name: Jennifer Ramirez on May 5, 2009

# 3
Name: Gabriel Arkles on May 5, 2009

# 4
Name: Gael Guevara on May 5, 2009

# 5
Name: Nathan Metrick on May 5, 2009

# 6
Name: Valentina Simmons on May 5, 2009
All we are asking is for the same respect that would be shown any other person.

# 7
Name: Kathryn Belcher on May 5, 2009

# 8
Name: Dr. Edgar Rivera Colon on May 6, 2009

# 9
Name: Al Davidian on May 6, 2009

# 10
Name: Catherine Gaffney on May 6, 2009

# 11
Name: Ronan Kelly on May 6, 2009

# 12
Name: Victoria Grace on May 7, 2009

# 13
Name: K Applegate on May 7, 2009

# 14
Name: Alyssa &Quot;Jacks&Quot; Overstreet on May 7, 2009

# 15
Name: Adam Edge on May 7, 2009

# 16
Name: John Collis on May 7, 2009

# 17
Name: Catherine Granum on May 7, 2009
This is important for and efficient and fair policing.

# 18
Name: Terell Richardson on May 7, 2009

# 19
Name: Anonymous on May 7, 2009

# 20
Name: Anonymous on May 7, 2009

# 21
Name: Phoebe Cox on May 7, 2009

# 22
Name: Maegan BetEnvia on May 7, 2009

# 23
Name: Aaron Miner on May 7, 2009

# 24
Name: Rae Henaghan on May 7, 2009

# 25
Name: Ben Stock Of Brainpower on May 7, 2009

# 26
Name: Sarah Sykes on May 8, 2009

# 27
Name: L T on May 8, 2009
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# 419
Name: Anonymous on Aug 11, 2009

# 420
Name: Adam Viera on Aug 11, 2009

# 421
Name: Kyle Lafferty on Aug 11, 2009

# 422
Name: Catlin Rideout on Aug 11, 2009

# 423
Name: Jennifer Thibodeau on Aug 12, 2009

# 424
Name: Elizabeth Solimine, MPH on Aug 12, 2009

# 425
Name: Jackie Breyer on Aug 12, 2009

# 426
Name: Geraldine Solimine on Aug 12, 2009

# 427
Name: Marianne Cooper on Aug 12, 2009

# 428
Name: Erika MacDonald on Aug 12, 2009

# 429
Name: Cara Herbitter on Aug 12, 2009

# 430
Name: Alison Alpert on Aug 12, 2009

# 431
Name: Sand Chang on Aug 13, 2009

# 432
Name: Jessica Yunker on Aug 13, 2009

# 433
Name: Narelle Ellendon on Aug 13, 2009

# 434
Name: Amanda Harris on Aug 13, 2009

# 435
Name: Tina Santiago on Aug 13, 2009

# 436
Name: Camille A. Abrahams on Aug 13, 2009

# 437
Name: Robert Cohen on Aug 14, 2009

# 438
Name: Elise Schuster on Aug 17, 2009

# 439
Name: Nell Hirschmann-Levy on Aug 23, 2009

# 440
Name: Jennifer Roman on Sep 10, 2009

# 441
Name: Kim Watson on Sep 11, 2009
Comments: I am hoping the NYPD can see this as history in the making to allow us to be as visible as possible . Help us to help them stop the dicrimination to the transgender community. Community Healthcare Network Transgender Program.

# 442
Name: M. Dru Levasseur on Sep 11, 2009

# 443
Name: Joseph M Colucci on Sep 24, 2009

# 444
Name: GaëL Krajzman Johns on Oct 16, 2009

# 445
Name: Sarah Patterson on Nov 8, 2009

# 446
Name: Phillipe Kleefield on Dec 4, 2009

# 447
Name: Darakshan Raja on Dec 20, 2009

# 448
Name: Stephanie Quainoo on Dec 27, 2009

# 449
Name: Jason Li on Jan 17, 2010

# 450
Name: Samantha on Feb 17, 2010

# 451
Name: Anonymous on Feb 26, 2010
Comments:
# 452
Name: Aida Miron on Feb 26, 2010
Comments: I share my view with the undersigned. It is time we are respected as

lawful citizens of New York regardless of our gender.

Name: Lucky S. Michaels on Feb 26, 2010
Comments: MCCNY Homeless Youth Services; Sylvia's Place

Thursday, February 25, 2010

more ask and tell

Despite more top military brass questioning "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" this week – including Gen. David Petraeus – key members of Congress are still on the fence.
And as the right wing attacks grow more desperate, we're responding with the one thing they can't argue against: military personnel – gay and straight – who know firsthand how destructive this law is.

We're signing up an army of service members and their friends and family to help us end this discrimination once and for all. Will you help?
Take this short survey on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" – and then pass it along to everyone you know with any personal connections to the military.
We're ratcheting up the pressure on Congress, the White House, and military leaders
to move quickly to repeal this law.

And as we do, no voices are more powerful than those of service members and their loved ones.

When right-wing groups claim that ending this law would amount to "radical social engineering," or when they say that anyone in favor of repeal must not know much about the military – it's these service members and their families who have the authority to speak the truth.

Right now, there are an estimated 1 million lesbian and gay veterans in the United States, largely unidentified and unconnected – and there are millions more straight veterans and military family members who have not had the chance to speak out.
These are voices Congress needs to hear from. We need your help to find them.


HRC supporters have already sent thousands of emails and calls to key leaders, and we'll ask you to do that again soon – but this survey will help us find the voices to end this unconscionable discrimination.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

CONSTRUCTION BEGINS ON “TRUE COLORS,”

NEW YORK CITY’S FIRST PERMANENT HOUSING FOR HOMELESS LGBT YOUTH

West End Intergenerational Residence HDFC, Inc. has closed financing and commenced construction on an exciting new housing development effort: True Colors Residence, located in Central Harlem.

True Colors Residence will be New York City’s first permanent housing facility with support services for 18-24 year old lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth with a history of homelessness. The undertaking was conceived by West End Executive Director Colleen Jackson, and by musical artist Cyndi Lauper and Ms. Lauper’s manager Lisa Barbaris. The project entails the construction of a new, energy-efficient multifamily building containing 30 studio apartments, indoor and outdoor community space for residents, and a computer room and resource library. The building is named in honor of Cyndi’s Lauper’s support for the project and for West End, and references Ms. Lauper’s hit song, “True Colors.”

“Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth living on the streets and in foster care need our support more than ever,” said Cyndi Lauper. “In New York City, the True Colors Residence is going to play a big role in providing these young people with the leg up and encouragement they need. I am thrilled that construction has already begun and I am honored to be a part of this important project.”

Borough President Scott M. Stringer said, “West End has provided transitional housing for hundreds of homeless families and individuals over the years. Finding safe, affordable housing is step one for New Yorkers working to build a better life for themselves, and the groundbreaking for True Colors will create a refuge for some of our city’s most at risk young people, specifically the many homeless LGBT youth in our City. I applaud all of the work done by West End and Cyndi Lauper to design and launch this welcome mat for Central Harlem.”

To read the full True Colors Residence press release visit our website.

Jesus Was Gay?

By Rev. Dr. Kenneth Brown, Advisory Board Member to Other Sheep for Asia

In this article, Dr. Kenneth Dobson says "I am ready to agree that Jesus was gay."


Sir Elton John has made headlines claiming that Jesus was gay

I read this week that Sir Elton John has made headlines claiming that Jesus was gay. The quote was:

JESUS was GAY - according to the gospel of SIR ELTON JOHN.
Source: An article by US Editor Pete Samson in the February 19th Internet issue of The Sun

The singer makes his controversial claim about the Lord in a new US interview that will enrage America's bible belt.

Elton, 62, declares as he pours out his heart to a magazine: "I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems."

He adds: "Jesus wanted us to be loving and forgiving. I don't know what makes people so cruel. Try being a gay woman in the Middle East - you're as good as dead."

I am ready to agree that Jesus was gay

I am ready to agree that Jesus was gay.

I am not only ready to accept, I am ready to insist, that Jesus was gay, black, feminine, Hispanic (in Texas, for example), Christian (in Burma, for example), a migrant, an immigrant, a liberal, and that Jesus was in Auschwitz, in Salem (you know when), at Gettysburg, in Stalingrad ... wherever people are suffering Jesus is there, and radically one of them ... not just for them, but with them, one of them.

If Elton John needs Jesus to be gay for him, Jesus will be glad to be gay. Jesus let the "loose woman" wash his feet and dry them with her hair, and you know what THAT meant. You aren't sure? Well, use your imagination.

The theological problem doesn't come when we are one of those who are tortured, marginalized, abused, terrorized, or suffering, but when we are one of the abusers, the corrupters, the despots or the bigots. When we then claim Jesus is on our side, we will likely hear, "I never knew you" (Matthew 7:23). Strom Thurman, James Dobson (no relation) and Jerry Falwell cannot expect to be in the same line-up as their victims unless they were radically transformed in a process that went unreported. The trouble comes to even more of us when we are decent and basically good, and not involved, just minding our own business and keeping our noses clean. We will be surprised to find the fence is too razor sharp to sit on, and the weight of our non-involvement will weigh too heavily to keep us from being sliced right up the ... well, it isn't a pretty picture.

But, in reference to Jesus' gender orientation . . .

But, I think Sir Elton was referring to Jesus' gender orientation for which there is inadequate evidence to draw a firm conclusion one way or another. However, to say there is a grey area here is already going to offend those clinging to the buckle in the Bible belt.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

review by Michel Fitos

Submitted by Michel on Thu, 02/18/2010 - 20:37

Kicked Out
by Sassafras Lowrey


There is no One True Way to raise children, particularly as a queer parent. A large percentage of the time, I feel like the parenting choices I make are a direct reaction to my childhood, an effort to keep my kids from having to live through the same heartbreaks and setbacks. As I creep ever-closer to middle age, the harsh reality of what it was like to live as a queer youth has more or less faded to the dull roar of "it sucked, but I lived through it." This past weekend, I sat down to read Kicked Out by Sassafras Lowrey and was reminded what a long road it was to get here, to this house, these kids, this family, these steadfast and loyal friends.

It's impossible for me to discuss queer youth without talking about the friends of my 20s. There were three in particular, all around the same age. From the moment we met, we knew that we had large things in common: our friends were few, our families didn't know what do with us, and our kids were all around the same age. Although our children lent us a thin veneer of heteronormativity, we were all as queer as the proverbial three dollar bill. We were an undeniably strange quartet. All of us were imprecisely Goth, rail-thin, and right up in your face. Other young mothers could smell our queerness a mile away; other young queers were allergic to our kids. They all circled the wagons at our approach. Whether by choice or by necessity, we kept to ourselves, we became family.

My friends nowadays, earnest people in their 30s, talk about waiting until they're ready to have children. Ready? When they're born, then you start to know what you need to be ready for. We were certainly not ready for children back then, not a single one of us. We just woke up one day, already parents.

I was lucky: I had a husband, a solidly middle class boy who was mostly done with college. We married two days before our daughter was born, just weeks after I turned 21. The relative certainty of financial solvency gave me unheard-of freedom: I was able to explore what kind of person I wanted to be. My friends had no such opportunity. Even with the meager cushion of welfare, their survival depended on their wits and cunning.

They all had their various ways of making ends meet: sex work of various sorts, telemarketing, and other variously soul-sucking occupations. It was exhausting, it was demoralizing, it was utterly unsustainable. It quickly became apparent to each of them in turn that there is always a man out there, somewhere, who will want what you have to offer. They learned that by giving up your identity, sometimes you can ensure your survival.

It's very easy to portray queer youth homelessness solely as a number, because the numbers are, quite frankly, shocking: 40% of the nation's homeless youth are LGBTQ. There are other horrifying numbers, too: this book will tell you sobering numbers like what percentage of gay teens experienced a negative reaction from their families when they came out, what percentage of queer youth attempt suicide, and many more, all carefully and thoroughly footnoted. There are bleak discussions of terminology: runaway vs. throwaway vs. thrownaway. It is full of facts and numbers, and those things are important, especially for people who might not be aware of the enormity and severity of the issue.

From the vantage point of our comfy couches, it's easy to read even such shocking numbers as the ones above and dismiss them as statistics. Often, it takes personal experience to make an issue seem real. If you haven't faced this sort of terrifying uncertainty yourself, it's nearly impossible to grasp. The real strength of Kicked Out is how, by telling survivors' stories in their own voices, the stories feel viscerally real. The contributions all feel very soul-baring and Truthful-with-a-capital-T, particularly the incredible photos by Samantha Box. One photo in particular captures two people embracing, one kissing the other's shoulder, that wordlessly speaks volumes.

In the introduction, editor Sassafras Lowrey writes about being kicked out at the age of seventeen:

I needed a book about how to live through this more than I needed to know I had somewhere to stay, to know I had a way to get to school or to know what I would have for dinner. I needed a book to prove to me that survival was possible.

And this is, very clearly, a book about survival. It isn't a particularly uplifting or cheery book, nor should it be. It's not grammatically flawless (as is unapologetically explained in the publisher's note). It is, quite simply, a very honest and starkly beautiful collection of stories from people who have Been There.

There are so many people that would benefit greatly from reading this book: parents of queer youth, providers and advocates, members of the LGBTQ community-at-large, and most importantly, youth who have been kicked out. I would recommend it, in fact, to anyone who knows, is, has been, or might ever be or know someone who has, in Sassafras' words, "lost their friends, families and homes because of whom they love or how they define their gender."

* Michel's blog

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sylvia Rae Rivera
8th Anniversary of her Death

1951 - February 19, 2002

Thanks to wikipedia, we learn that Rivera was born July 2, 1952 and raised in New Your City and lived most of her life in or near that city. She was of Puerto Rican and Venezuelan descent. Her birth name was Ray (or Rey) Rivera. She was abandoned by her birth father José Rivera early in life and became an orphan after her mother committed suicide when Rivera was three years old. Rivera was then raised by her Venezuelan grandmother, who disapproved of Rivera's effeminate behavior, particularly after Rivera began to wear women's makeup in fourth grade.[3] As a result, Rivera began living on the streets at the age of eleven, where she joined a community of drag queens.


She was one of those rabble rousing resisters to queer oppression who literally led the charge at the Stonewall Inn, New York City, on the night of 27th of June, 1969, the night that a riot at the bar, touched off the open radicalization of the Gay Liberation Movement fighting back against police harassment directed at the most visible members of the community. She became a founding member of both the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance and helped found STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), a group dedicated to helping homeless young street transwomen, with her friend Marsha P. Johnson.

Rivera spent most of her life at the forefront of both transgender and gay activism, tirelessly advocating and demonstrating for LGBT rights, inclusive social policies and struggling against transphobia.

In 1970 Rivera formed a group called S.T.A.R. - Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries - to fight for the civil rights of transgender people, and provide them with social services support. The S.T.A.R. House lasted for two years until her crack habit caused her to lose the house. It was the first institution of its kind in New York City, and inspired the creation of future shelters for homeless street queens.

In 2000, she reformed S.T.A.R. pressuring the Human Rights Campaign to be more inclusive of transgender people. Even when hospitalized with liver cancer, Rivera never stopped working for the civil rights of transgender people and several hours before she passed away on February 19, 2002 she was meeting with LGBT community leaders.

An active member of the Metropolitan Community Church of New York, Rivera ministered through the Church's food pantry, which provided food to the hungry. Recalling her life as a child on the streets, she remained a passionate advocate for queer youth, and MCC New York's queer youth shelter is called Sylvia's Place in her honor.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentines Call to action

As people around the world prepare to celebrate St. Valentine's Day, yesterday's arrests in Kenya highlight the continuing struggle among LGBTQI couples for the right to bless and build consensual, loving relationships.

Five guests preparing to celebrate a private same-sex wedding were arrested in Mtwapa after locals alerted the police of the intended nuptials. Reports also suggest that two of the men were victims of mob violence, as a crowd gathered around the villa, and later, the police station where the men were being held. Friday's raid followed a similar situation on Thursday, when officials intended to break up another ceremony but the couple and guests escaped before being arrested.

Kenyan police officials say the Friday wedding party will be subjected to an internal medical examination before charging them with homosexuality, a charge punishable with imprisonment. District Officials and local Christian and Muslim clerics have publicly praised the local community for their diligence in reporting the men. Their statements suggest that there is little distinction in public perceptions between committed same-sex couples and the culture of sex-tourism which is prevalent in local coastal resort towns.

These incidents continue to bring focus to the struggles of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in eastern Africa:
In Blantyr, Malawi, a judge recently denied bail for the second time to Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, citing fear of violence against them as the reason. They remain in jail after being arrested during their engagement celebration in December.
In Uganda, tensions are running high as Pastor Martin Ssempa continues to organise a "million-man" march on 17 February in support of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, a bill proposing harsh sentencing, including the death penalty in some cases. Local human rights organisations in Kampala are bracing themselves for the possibility of escalating violence against LGBTQI people in the wake of the march.
These events, in light of the history of Valentine's Day, carry a sense of tragic irony. The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions that one of the three St. Valentines associated with the 14th of February was an African whose history has largely been lost. He was martyred with several friends in unknown circumstances. Today, I am keenly aware that too many of our African siblings struggling for equal rights to self-expression and loving relationships have been lost in unknown circumstances. May we resolve that not one more lesbian will be raped without outcry; or a transgender sibling murdered without investigation; or a same-sex couple victimised by mob actions and religiously condoned violence without it being known, exposed and remembered.

This Valentine's Day, I call on people throughout the world to remember, pray and act in support of our LGBTQI and allied communities in Africa. MCC has African members who are involved in these continuing struggles locally, continentally and internationally. Whether testifying before US Congressional Committees in Washington, DC or working with passion on the ground in churches, hidden cell groups or NGOs in Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, and South Africa, they are standing courageously for the right to love. I call on our entire Fellowship and our friends to stand in Spirit and solidarity with each one of these freedom fighters and liberty lovers.

This Valentine's Day, I call on religious and civic leaders throughout the world to condemn religiously fuelled anti-homosexuality violence, whether carried out with stones or brutal legislation. Gay bashing is gay bashing, whatever the form. Our people bear the scars of homoprejudice in our bodies and lives. We proclaim that the time has come for homoprejudice to be named for what it is----a sinful prejudice that steals, kills and destroys precious lives created by a good and just Creator.

This Valentine's day, I call on lovers throughout the world, whether we are able to do so publicly or only privately, to give thanks for the partners God has given us. May we build lives of substance and mutual care----a good, blessed and joyful thing to do. Let us value our love with the fulness of sacred promises, resisting any lessening of our relationships and commitments through external or internal pressures. Together, we stand as Light, braving the winds of misinformation and unknowing. Together, we stand as Truth in a world that hungers for genuine love.

Our prayers and shouts of protest go out for those arrested in Kenya this weekend. We call for the immediate release of our brothers, in the name of all that is just and right.

May God bless and protect them,

//signed
+Nancy

The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson

This statement prepared in conjunction with The Moderator's Global Justice Team,
Rev. Pressley Sutherland, Global Justice Liaison for Africa, and Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair.