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Op-ed: Are Gays Better With Money?


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Op-ed: Are Gays Better With Money?

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

You may have seen some of the studies that say gays are better with money, and polls that show LGBT people have lower income and lower levels of education. Who is right? And are they even drawing the proper conclusion from the data? In either case, making more income and having less debt than the general population doesn’t necessarily make you better at handling money.

First off, making tons of money makes you successful, but its does not necessarily mean you are good at handling money. I’d be willing to bet Lindsay Lohan has been more successful making money than many of us will make in our working lives, yet she’s supposedly broke. Likewise, “having less debt” than someone else is about the same as being the skinniest person on The Biggest Loser. What is important? That you are doing what’s right for your specific situation to reach your personal financial goals.

Years of being discriminated against and not being afforded the protections and benefits of marriage may have forced a lot of LGBT people to take control of their finances. This may increase your odds of actually implementing a comprehensive financial plan with proper estate planning. Whether or not you take advantage of these opportunities is up to you.

A variety of other issues may affect our ability to reach our financial goals. While some of us may save money by not having children (estimates say it costs about $245,000 to raise a child), those who do choose to have them, either through adoption, surrogacy, or other arrangements, will spend plenty. Also, the stereotypical “gay lifestyle” can be a budget buster. It doesn’t have to be first-class vacations or ultra-luxury cars and fancy clothes to get you off track financially. LGBT people tend to live in higher-cost metropolitan areas, thereby increasing many living expenses. Housing dollars go a bit further in Kansas than Los Angeles, San Francisco, or New York City.

What does all this mean for you and your personal financial plan? Not a whole lot. On the other hand, it may highlight some things you need to be aware of. I would never tell a client “It’s OK — someone else is worse with money than you.” It’s not about keeping up with the Gay Joneses, it’s about doing what is right for your situation.  

Are you saving enough for retirement? Are you getting all of the company match available to you? Can you afford your car, vacation, and housing without forgoing other financial goals? Take the advantages and smarts you have been given and run with them. You can easily have most of it — fancy cars, fabulous travel, and shopping — but it you have to smart to have it all.  

DAVID RAE, CFP®, is a retirement planning specialist with Trilogy Financial Services, specializing in the needs of the LGBT community. Follow him on Twitter @davidraecfp or via his website, www.davidraefp.com.
 

Securities and advisory services offered through National Planning Corporation (NPC), Member FINRA,SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor. Trilogy and NPC are separate and unrelated entities. Estate planning can involve a complex web of tax rules and regulations. Tax laws surrounding estate planning concepts are subject to change. Please consult an estate planning attorney prior to making any financial decisions.

Article source: http://vowser.advocate.com/commentary/2014/09/20/op-ed-are-gays-better-money

LGBT-friendly housing will transform activist’s childhood home in District

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Imani Woody wants to turn her childhood home into the kind of dream home that eluded many older Washingtonians for years.

With some construction permits in hand and the blessing of District officials, Woody has begun to transform the bungalow where she grew up in Southeast into communal housing for elderly gay people. The project is driven by a concern that has haunted her for years: that some people grow old and die alone, isolated by their sexual orientation.

“There are people who go back into the closet because being old and being gay is too hard,” said Woody, who is a lesbian and an advocate for gay rights. “What really drives me and this place is the isolation that comes with being old — the unacceptance of bringing your whole self.”

On Saturday, Woody is hosting an open house with city officials, including Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), to kick off an $800,000 funding campaign for Mary’s House for Older Adults, named in honor of Woody’s late mother. So far, the organization, which received official nonprofit status this month, has raised about $8,000. A developer is working on the project pro bono.

Designed to have eight suites and communal dining and work areas, the home is intended to be an openly welcoming sanctuary for a generation accustomed to living in the shadows.


Cedric Burgess, 62, of the District is pictured on the front porch of the Sourtheast Washington home that will be a LGBT-friendly residence for seniors. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

These were people who came of age before the Stonewall riots inaugurated the modern gay rights movement, when sex between consenting adults of the same gender might land them in jail, and even a partial victory at the U.S. Supreme Court seemed unimaginable.

But within the next two years, Woody hopes, a few of these people could be taking their ease on the front porch where her father once reigned, communing with each other and their neighbors without fear of rejection.

“That’s our kind of tag line: It’s where you can bring your whole self, your short self, your fat self, your gay self, your black self,” she said.

Woody and others say the attempt to create an intentionally LGBT-friendly apartment house for aging homosexuals in the District is relatively novel, even for a city that has the highest percentage of gay adults relative to other states, according to UCLA Law School’s Williams Institute.

“I know several people who would like to be anywhere but where they are — and in a safe community, no longer in the closet, no longer feeling fear, no longer feeling rejected,” said volunteer Cedric A. Burgess, 62. “I’m black. I’m gay. I’m HIV positive. I haven’t survived one day of my life without hate and prejudice.”

Burgess said he still remembers the first time as a young man that he went to Victoria Station, a gay bar on 14th Street, feeling nervous that he could be outed.

“It was like, ‘Who saw me come in here?’?” Burgess recalled.

But then he saw someone he knew, and he realized that they were neither strange nor alone because they loved people of the same sex. People his age still hunt for such places of refuge.

“It’s something I didn’t see coming in my lifetime. And it’s a necessity, gay housing,” Burgess said.

It’s a trend that seems to be gaining momentum as the United States turns gray and gay people more openly exercise their rights. SAGE (Services Advocacy for GLBT Elders), a national organization that has advocated for older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people since 1978, says that LGBT-friendly housing options have sprouted in Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The federal department of Housing and Urban Development also has put the country on notice that the agency will use regulatory leverage to combat same-sex bias.

Sterling Washington, director of the District’s Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs, said his agency has worked with Stoddard Baptist Nursing Home, the Washington Center for the Aging and similar retirement communities to cultivate best practices for serving older gay people.

“One of the concerns we found was that there was fear among a lot of LGBT seniors about going into certain facilities, including nursing homes or retirement homes, because of their [belief] that they’d have to go back into the closet in order to receive services without discrimination,” Washington said.

Woody’s project evolved from more than a decade of work with people who are aging, African American and gay. In a 2011 doctoral dissertation, she examined the difficulties that this minority of minorities can face. Black homosexuals who came of age in the 1950s and 1960s got an exhilarating taste of freedom during the civil rights movement, she wrote — and yet sometimes felt scorned or excluded even by fellow blacks because of their sexual orientation.

Acceptance was always hard-won, and for some it became more difficult as they aged, she said. They discovered that retirement homes can sometimes feel unwelcoming to gay people. They found that newer LGBT-friendly community centers may be awkward at dealing with older people.

Even today, gay elders sometimes feel as if they have to “de-gay” their homes or themselves — removing certain furnishings or concealing behaviors that might signal their sexual orientation — before accepting such routine services as Meals on Wheels, Woody said.

Becoming her ailing father’s caregiver made her wonder: What would have happened to him had she not been there? What if he had also been gay?

Woody came out as a lesbian when she was in her 40s, after a heterosexual marriage and the birth of a daughter. Now a grandmother, Woody lives in Brookland with her wife, Andrea. They’ve been together 14 years.

During a tour of her childhood home, Woody — who, when asked her age, allows only that she has an AARP membership card — said her family was the first African American family on the block. Her father, Brady, operated a vegetable truck and ministered at Mount Carmel Baptist Church. She was the eldest of five children. They played in a nearby stream and picked grapes from the house’s backyard arbor, not far from a barbecue pit.

Her childhood home is a shell now. The developer started renovations in 2012. Where passersby might see little more than boarded-up windows, broken fences and a saggy porch, Woody sees much more. An addition will expand the house up and out, and the bedroom suites will include private baths and kitchenettes. And there will be a beautiful new porch.

“We’re still going to have our front porch, and people are still going to be able to wave and say, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’?” she said.

Article source: http://feeds.washingtonpost.com/c/34656/f/636621/s/3ea52283/sc/38/l/0L0Swashingtonpost0N0Clocal0Clgbt0Efriendly0Ehousing0Ewill0Etransform0Eactivists0Echildhood0Ehome0Ein0Edistrict0C20A140C0A90C190C7259f5b40E3c260E11e40E95870E5dafd96295f0A0Istory0Bhtml0Dwprss0Frss0Ilocal/story01.htm

Iowa City Police Department creates LGBT liaisons

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Goal to foster relationships with the LGBT community



  • Photos

IOWA CITY — The Iowa City Police Department has appointed three officers to serve as liaisons to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The police department said the liaisons will foster a better connection with the LGBT community in the city. And the LGBT community is pleased with the move, according to Jewell Amos, chairperson for Iowa City Pride.

“Whenever I tell somebody that there’s a liaison thing going on, everybody is really excited about it and looking forward to it and happy about it,” Amos said this week. “Whether you need it or not, having it there is a nice security thing or insurance. Knowing you have the backing of the police and knowing they are going to be on your side … I think that’s a major thing.”

According to the police department, the goals of the liaisons are:

l Fostering positive relationships between the department and the LGBT community

l Assisting the investigative division with LGBT-related crimes

l Working with other city and law enforcement agencies and other community-based organizations on LGBT-related issues

l Maintaining an active role in recruiting and police training as it relates to the LGBT community

“It can be as much or as little as those groups want it to be,” said Capt. Doug Hart. “It could be they have certain names as a point of contact. We’re willing to go to community meetings, community events.”

Hart said the liaisons weren’t born out of any complaints or concerns about the police department’s handling of LGBT-related crimes or issues, but rather a desire to strengthen relationships with that segment of the population. Amos said she’s never personally dealt with police, but has heard from people who thought their case might not have been taken as seriously or their sexual orientation might not have been taken into consideration when an officer was investigating a crime or complaint.

Amos said her orientation is only “10 percent” of who she is, but that 10 percent is very important to her. She and others just want the police to consider that when following up on crimes.

“Hopefully, this helps them identify some training things that need to be updated in the police department,” she said. “That’s my hope, that every police officer is sensitive to these issues and knows how to handle them. It gives people a direct line to someone they know is going to listen to them.”

Hart said the request for LGBT liaisons had a strong responses in the department. In the end, neighborhood response officer Rob Cash, and investigators Bob Hartman and Andy Rich were appointed liaisons.

Rich said the liaisons were a continuing part of the department’s efforts to be more involved in the community. In this case, the department is reaching out to a specific part of the community.

“I think, more than anything else, it’s just reaching out to them and saying ‘We’re here for you the same as we are any other victim of crime,’” Rich said.

Rich said the liaisons likely will receive additional specific training for responding to LGBT-related issues, similar to other cultural competency training officers receive. The liaisons then will pass that training on to other officers.

“We’re going to push for some consistency,” he said.

He added, “There’s a lot of perceptions about law enforcement and most of them are not correct. People sometimes see us as not approachable and that’s not the case, at all. We want to make sure we’re reaching out to all parts of the community … We’re the police department, we work for them.”

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Article source: http://thegazette.com/subject/news/public-safety/iowa-city-police-department-creates-lgbt-liaisons-20140919

Several large LGBT events coming soon to Broward County

Friday, September 19th, 2014

LGBT tourism is on the upswing in Broward County and officials want to keep it that way.

To help continue expansion in that market, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Visitors Bureau is exploring potential growth avenues to attract more lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travelers.

New local events are expected to boost LGBT visitation in coming months and years. In 2013, Broward welcomed 1.3 million LGBT travelers who spent $1.5 billion in the area.

Gay Days Fort Lauderdale, which runs Nov. 25 through Dec. 1 at the W Fort Lauderdale, is expected to attract 15,000 attendees and generate $18 million in economic impact, according to bureau officials.

It’s the newest addition to the popular weeklong series of pool parties, city excursions and business expos organized by Orlando-based Gay Days Inc. Similar Gay Days events take place in Orlando and Las Vegas annually.

“We’re gotten a great response,” said Chris Manley, the Gay Days president who has promoted the Fort Lauderdale event at 15 to 20 gay events around the country. “Hotel bookings are going well and vendor space is selling well.”

Since launching in Orlando in 1991 as an informal one-day celebration, Gay Days has grown into one of the top three economic events for central Florida, attracting more than 170,000 attendees, Manley said.

And he’s looking to duplicate that success in Fort Lauderdale, which was a draw because of its LGBT-friendly reputation, great beaches and warm weather.

“What could be better than enjoying social gatherings on the sun-drenched beaches of Greater Fort Lauderdale while most of the country is battling the cold weather in a parka?” Manley said.

Earlier this week, the tourism board announced Greater Fort Lauderdale had been named Destination of the Year by the 2014 ManAboutWorld Editor’s Choice Awards, which recognizes the best in gay travel.

“Gay-popular since the ’70s, Fort Lauderdale is still on the rise while other gay destinations are mainstreaming,” ManAboutWorld editor Ed Salvato wrote.

Helping to fuel interest in the destination is its 16 exclusively gay guesthouses (the most of any destination), and a night life scene that’s busy seven nights a week, Salvato said.

Next year, Greater Fort Lauderdale will for the first time host the National Gay Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s annual conference Aug. 11-14 at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort Spa.

The Washington, D.C. nonprofit bills itself as the business voice of the LGBT community and works to expand economic opportunities and advancements for members.

This “prestigious conference” is expected to attract 800 attendees and generate about 1,550 room nights, said Richard Gray, the tourism bureau’s managing director LGBT market.

Another first-time event next year is the Southern Comfort Conference, scheduled for Sept. 27-Oct. 3 at the Bonaventure Resort Spa in Weston. SCC organizers recently signed a three-year commitment to hold it here through 2017.

The conference typically offers more than 100 seminars, and speakers include surgeons, therapists, voice coaches and hair and make-up stylists, said Alexis Dee, president SCC board of directors.

Attendees come from all across the U.S. and worldwide, including Brazil and Peru, Dee said.

“We’re the longest running [transgender] conference in the country.”

Brazil is not only a key tourism market overall for Greater Fort Lauderdale, it’s also “the new hot LGBT market for us,” said Gray, noting that Broward is home to a large Brazilian population, which helps to spur travel between the destinations.

Other future LGBT tourism growth areas include gay family vacations, gay Jewish events and even same-sex weddings, with marriage equality in Florida seemingly imminent, Gray added.

asatchell@tribpub.com, 954-356-4209 or Twitter@TheSatchreport.

Article source: http://sunsentinel.feedsportal.com/c/34258/f/623244/s/3e9ba769/sc/8/l/0L0Ssun0Esentinel0N0Cbusiness0Cfl0Elauderdale0Elgbt0Efuture0Eevents0E20A140A9160E80H0A0H63145320Bstory0Dtrack0Frss/story01.htm

Tech Giant Agrees to Stop Blocking LGBT Sites as If They’re Porn

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Maureen Shaw’s women’s rights website covers everything from motherhood and politics to crime and health, but when one of her readers tried to access sherights.com from a Boston-area Au Bon Pain in January, Shaw said the reader was blocked by an online filter deeming the website “pornography.”

“I was alarmed—and admittedly confused—and reached out to friends in other locations asking them to access the site at their local Au Bon Pains,” Shaw wrote in an email. “Every single person—from D.C. to NYC to Calif.—responded that they, too, were blocked from sherights.com.”

But Au Bon Pain was not the only culprit, and it wasn’t just Shaw’s website that was being blocked. The chain café, along with millions of other households and businesses around the world, was using Web-filtering software by Symantec, a tech giant based in Silicon Valley that produces Norton AntiVirus. Using the software prevents free Wi-Fi providers from having to police users who try to watch porn or offensive material in public places.

But Symantec’s software was blocking a gamut of websites, from GLAAD to suicide prevention site The Trevor Project, under the system’s “sexual orientation” filter. 

“Blocking these types of sites sends an unacceptable—and inaccurate—message that information on women’s reproductive healthcare and rights, sexual orientation and LGBT rights is offensive,” Shaw wrote.

So just this week, Symantec announced that it would be removing this filter option from its software, and officials say it’s not just the right thing to do but a good business decision.

“Having a category in place that could be used to filter out all LGBT-oriented sites was inconsistent with Symantec’s values and the mission of our software,” Fran Rosch, executive vice president of the Norton Business Unit, said on Tuesday. “We’re taking a broader look at all of the categories in this database and will be eliminating any others that are similarly outdated.”

Symantec is not alone in its over-censoring. Finding a way to block the Internet’s never-ending supply of pornography without denying access to valuable resources has been an issue for years. In 2011, the ACLU launched the “Don’t Filter Me” campaign, aimed at public schools that are required by federal law to use Web-filtering software. 

Many of the most common software programs blocked LGBT-related websites but allowed in antigay websites and information about changing one’s sexual orientation, according to the ACLU. Over the past few years, however (and a few lawsuits later), school officials have learned how to better employ available filters, and many security firms—such as Lightspeed Systems and M86 Security—have changed their content filters to be less discriminatory.

Recently, the ACLU has heard fewer complaints.

“Symantec is a little bit behind the curve on this,” ACLU attorney Joshua Block told the San Jose Mercury News. “Most of the leading Internet-filtering companies have already eliminated these sorts of filters from their own systems.”

But Internet filters continue to be a problem around the globe. In the U.K., mobile and broadband companies have come under fire for overreaching filters that prevent users from accessing an array of educational information. One study found that nearly a fifth of the country’s most popular websites were blocked by at least one Internet provider, The Guardian reports, and one woman said she was even denied access to Jezebel as she attempted to read an article about recovering from childbirth.

Back in the States, Symantec officials say LGBT-related content is now treated and categorized like all other political, entertainment, and news content. Although users will now be able to access sites such as GLAAD and sherights, Shaw is still unsure why her blog was misclassified in the first place.

“We talk openly and frankly about corporeal issues—such as sexual assault, sex education and breastfeeding—but nothing remotely resembling pornography,” Shaw wrote. “We never received any explanation.”

Related stories on TakePart:

LGBT Women Are Poorer and Less Healthy Than Other Americans

Fake Job Applications Prove There’s Real LGBT Discrimination in Hiring

Conservative and Same-Sex Colleges to Transgender Students: Welcome

Best Magic Spell Ever: ‘Harry Potter’ Makes Us Less Racist

Original article from TakePart

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/tech-security-giant-finally-stop-blocking-lgbt-sites-233202608.html

'LGBT and Aging' will be focus of presentation at SU

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

SHIPPENSBURG GT;GT; The LGBT — lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — culture today is no secret, but the older adults in it often don’t have the recognition that their younger counterparts do.

The presentation, “LGBT and Aging: Exploring History, Culture and Needs,” happening Sept. 23 at Shippensburg University, will address the issues that older LGBT people face regarding acceptance and understanding from caretakers and their communities, according to event organizers in the department of social work and gerontology.

Dr. Tim Johnston, manager of education training for Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), will give the presentation at 5 p.m. in Memorial Auditorium. The event is free, and organizers encourage the public to attend.

Now is a unique time for the older generation of LGBT people. The world has become more open to and accepting of the LGBT community, and it is a stark difference to the world that many older adults grew up and spent much of their adult lives in, according to Jayleen Galarza, assistant professor of social work and gerontology.

They may have spent most of their lives “in the closet” and have surprised loved ones by coming out as LGBT later in life, said Dara Bourassa, associate professor in the department. “We’re ignoring that people have been LGBT since way back in time. When older adults were growing up, it was a real stigma to be LGBT, there were laws against it,” she said.

The struggle faced by older LGBT couples is compounded by the general view younger people tend to have about sexuality even among heterosexual older couples, Bourassa said.

Recent media attention on LGBT rights makes now a good time for a presentation like this, Galarza said. Pennsylvania is even one of a slew of states in recent months to legalize gay marriage, she added.

Bourassa and Galarza reached out to Johnston after a student told them about seeing him at a conference.

At SAGE, Johnston coordinates nationwide training events for organizations and facilities for aging to address the needs LGBT people. According to a news release he has also “published scholarly articles on gender and LGBT identity, and has worked on issues in bioethics, such as end-of-life care, informed consent, and the specific medical needs of the transgender and intersex communities. He also frequently lectures on a variety of topics ranging from transgender rights to anti-LGBT violence.”

Amber South can be reached at 262-4771.

Article source: http://www.publicopiniononline.com/local/ci_26551748/lgbt-and-aging-will-be-focus-presentation-at.html

Building a Gaming Con for an Ostracized LGBT Community

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

IMG_7061

Courtesy MidBoss

Growing up in rural Vermont, Matt Conn felt like an outcast.

“It was really tough growing up as both geek and gay,” he says. “I remember growing up, being super geeky, and I had to leave schools because I was so bullied and it was just really bad. And that was when I was like 9 or 10. So when I came to terms with my sexuality, I was so afraid: My life was already kinda not great, if I have to deal with being gay on top of that, I feel like I’m condemning myself to a life of shittiness.”

Conn had difficulty finding a community he identified and felt comfortable with. The geeks and gamers he fell in with seemed to be uncomfortable with his sexuality. The LGBT groups didn’t “get the geekiness.” In his college years came a ray of hope, online communities like gaygamer.net and Reddit’s r/gaymers. All of a sudden, Conn had access to thousands of other LGBT geeks like himself—but only online.

He looked, but did not find a gaming convention that hit the intersection of his and thousands of others’ queer geekiness, where LGBT geeks could feel open and comfortable without the fear of harassment, judgement, or any of the social pressures they face on a daily basis. So he made his own: GaymerX.

Now officially known as GX: Everyone Games—Conn wants to be clear that it’s about inclusiveness, not LGBT issues specifically—the convention is finishing up a successful Kickstarter drive today for its third annual convention. The outpouring of support illustrates that Conn’s show is filling a need felt keenly by many gamers.

“There’s a need for certain communities to feel safer,” said Mattie Brice, a game developer, media critic and former GaymerX panelist. “To feel explicitly welcome. And I think a lot of people don’t realize what is needed for people to feel welcome.”

“There’s a lot of things baked into gamer culture that make it unwelcome for certain kinds of people, and because that’s what ‘gamer’ is, our mainstream conferences don’t address those types of qualities, traditions, and attitudes,” Brice said. “GaymerX does.”

So I Said, What if We Had a Convention?

In 2011, while working for a startup he co-founded, Conn created a Facebook group called SF Gaymers, a local complement to the communities he had found online.

The group quickly grew from around 20 members to more than a thousand in only a few months, organizing events and meetups at bars and members’ homes. Many of the members who joined didn’t live in the San Francisco area, and wanted to try to organize similar offline meetups. But this was proving difficult since they didn’t have San Francisco’s uniquely dense population of gay geeks.

“So I said, ‘What if we had a convention?’” Conn told WIRED, over coffee in San Francisco’s Mission district. “A one-day event where everyone could come and just hang out with one another. That would be fun!”

People flocked to the idea, and soon the first GaymerX convention had raised almost four times its $25,000 Kickstarter goal. Huge game publishers like Electronic Arts and Microsoft offered their support.

The convention was a success; around 2,300 people filled San Francisco’s Hotel Kabuki and Hotel Tomo in August 2013. Events included a cosplay contest, a musical concert, and a special appearance by Portal voice actor Ellen McLain among others.

“What’s really funny is how typical it is,” Brice said. “There’s an expo, a show floor with booths for people to go around and pick up merch. There’s arcade rooms and showrooms for people to play games. There’s panels. It’s all very typical. The stuff that’s atypical is the wide range of people who are there. And the way they choose to express themselves. And the varying kinds of topics.”

One game on display at GaymerX earlier this year was Fragments of Him, a short interactive narrative about about a man grieving the unexpected death of his husband.

“But then there’s also League of Legends,” Brice said. “How much more mainstream can you get?”

Conn never intended GaymerX to become a sustained annual event. But attendees decided otherwise.

“People were talking about how much it meant to them,” Conn said. “To have a place where they can just be themselves.” Swept up in the moment, he agreed to do another year. GaymerX2 earlier this year was again a success. The only problem was, it wasn’t quite the success that Conn and his fellow organizers needed it to be.

Attendance floated around 2,100, with similar events and activities to the previous year, such as panels featuring Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian, Dragon Age writer David Gaider, and sci-fi author John Scalzi. But Conn had this time booked the centrally located but more expensive InterContinental San Francisco, and when the convention failed to sell all the rooms it had signed up for, Conn was docked several thousand dollars.

“We tried going a little bigger than we probably should have,” Conn said.

Tens of thousands of dollars in the hole, the organizers announced they were throwing in the towel: They knew there was an audience, and a need, for a convention like GaymerX, but they couldn’t go another year sinking money they didn’t have into a project that wouldn’t make it back.

Then, insult was added to injury: NIS America, one of the sponsors of GaymerX2, told Conn they wouldn’t be able to pay him the $3,000 they had pledged because they had run over budget. After Conn went public with the news, NIS apologized and paid up—but not before sparking a social-media surge that prompted game companies such as Devolver Digital, Dim Bulb Games, Blizzard Entertainment and more to donate more than $66,000 to the convention.

The donated funds gave GX a new lease on life. They knew how much Kickstarter money to ask for, they knew how much sponsorship funding would be coming in, and they knew about the hidden fees that snuck up on them the first time around. As long as the Kickstarter hit its goal, GX3 would happen. As of September 15, three days before the end of the campaign, they had secured enough funding to keep the show going.

Why Does This Need To Exist?

That’s the question Conn and his fellow organizers say they get most often: “How is this not like segregation?”

“There were tons of hugs, offbeat fashion, gender-bent cosplay, and general joy [at GaymerX] that I never witnessed at PAX East, the only other convention I’ve attended,” said Gil Almogi, a 32-year-old account manager and part-time games writer from Somerville, New Jersey.

Penny Arcade Expo has explicit anti-harassment policies, but even so is not without its share of controversy. “PAX East was tons of fun and has a larger exhibition hall, but the experience is couched in the status quo,” says Almogi. “You don’t know who you can approach about meaningful issues, and although most people I came across were friendly, you’d occasionally overhear unsavory stuff.”

Conn likens GaymerX to the role that gay nightclubs have played in LGBT history, serving as a safe space to interact with people you share commonalities with. But while he says San Francisco’s gay district is becoming less and less necessary as queer people feel safe and comfortable out and about elsewhere without the fear of being harassed, he doesn’t think that safety always extends to queer geeks.

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Courtesy MidBoss

“The reason why GX exists is that a lot of people don’t feel safe,” Conn said. “Whether it be at other conventions, or online, or within the gaming community in general.” Conn points to the recent campaign of harassment against women who make or write about games, in which game developers like Zoe Quinn or critics like Anita Sarkeesian have been the targets of harassment that has occasionally extended to death threats.

“Even if you completely disagree with everything someone says, they’re still human,” Conn said, “and these people treat them as if they’re not human. They set up these organized campaigns to discredit them or harass them—it’s just cruel, and I don’t get it. This isn’t slavery. We’re not talking about embezzling millions of dollars. We’re not killing people. This is videogames. We all have that commonality. I don’t understand why people can’t just treat people with respect.”

A Space For Everyone

GX’s main focus is creating a safe space where everyone is welcome. In part, that simply means being publicized as “the LGBT gaming convention,” resulting in a safety-in-numbers atmosphere filled with like-minded, similarly-stationed individuals. But it goes much further than that. It means practices such as having a space on attendees’ name tags to denote their preferred gender pronouns, having gender-neutral bathrooms, and mandating gender and diversity training for staff and volunteers prior to the convention.

Conn says that the name change from GaymerX to simply GX is to encourage those outside of the gay-geek community to attend, too. “There are a lot of people I talked to who said, ‘That’s your safe space, I don’t want to invade it,’” he said. “That’s not the goal. The goal is to be inclusive.”

“Gaming has become kind of xenophobic, and almost rightly so, because people want to protect their own and ‘keep it within the family,’” Conn said. “But I don’t think that should mean that we can’t grow either. It seems like there are a lot of people who resist even the idea that a lot of culture isn’t exactly the most friendly to women or gays or queer people in general. But there are small changes that I think won’t affect most people—that won’t harm the culture of gaming—but will make a lot of other people feel a lot better and more welcome and accepted.”

Ultimately, Conn says he would like to see GX simply become redundant.

“If there comes a point in time where queer people really are on the same level,” he said, “I would be happy to say ‘our work is done.’ All I ever wanted was for queer people to be online and feel welcome.”

“If that happens and I lose my convention, I’d rather have that.”

Article source: http://feeds.wired.com/c/35185/f/661370/s/3e966a43/sc/36/l/0L0Swired0N0C20A140C0A90Cgaymerx0Egx30C/story01.htm

Campus Pride Sports Index looking for feedback on college athletic programs

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

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Campus Pride is teaming up with the LGBT Sports Coalition and others to create an index of college athletics programs based on their inclusion of LGBT issues.

For years the Campus Pride Index has been a go-to resource for prospective LGBT college students to learn more about the atmosphere on the college campuses they are considering. Now Campus Pride is teaming up with the LGBT Sports Coalition to create a specific sports index that will help student-athletes gauge how LGBT-friendly their college is.

Other specific partners on the project include: NCAA Office of Inclusion, NIRSA – Leaders in Collegiate Recreation, NASPA – National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, ACPA-College Student Educators International, The StandUp Foundation, NCLR Sports Project, GO! Athletes, Dr. Sue Rankin, Dr. Pat Griffin and Chris Mosier.

Take the Campus Pride Sports Index survey here and help other athletes find the perfect home while at the same time improving the atmosphere for LGBT athletes on your campus!


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Article source: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/campus-pride-sports-index-looking-172755501.html

Takei to be honored at gala

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

George TakeiBy Travis Reilly
TheWrap

Marvel Entertainment, “Star Trek” actor George Takei and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky will be honored Nov. 8 at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s 45th Anniversary Gala Vanguard Awards.

Also from TheWrap:  Streamy Awards Big Winners Include ‘Video Game High School,’ LGBT Vlogger Tyler Oakley

“As we celebrate the 45th anniversary of the world’s largest provider of programs and services for LGBT people, we’re excited to honor some very deserving Super Heroes in our movement,” said the center’s CEO Lorri L. Jean.

Takei played Hikaru Sulu in the original “Star Trek” series as well as in six of the franchise’s feature films. In 2005, after California’s then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a same-sex marriage bill, the actor came out as gay in an issue of “Frontiers” magazine.

He and his husband Brad are to both be honored. “George and Brad Takei are two of the nation’s most visible, dedicated and influential LGBT activists,” said Jean.

Marvel Entertainment is being hailed for how it portrays LGBT characters in its stories. The superhero-centered entertainment company offers plotlines which “parallel the struggle to end discrimination against our community” and “has helped brighten the lives of LGBT kids and adults alike — around the world,” according to Jean.

Yaroslavsky is being honored as “a fierce champion for LGBT people and strong ally to the Center” for decades.

Over 1200 people are expected to attend the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s 45th Anniversary Awards, presented by Wells Fargo.

Streamy Awards Big Winners Include ‘Video Game High School,’ LGBT Vlogger Tyler Oakley

Chloe Sevigny Web Series Star Joins Frontiers Magazine as Contributing Editor

GLAAD Finds Painfully Low LGBT Representation in 2013 Films, Gives Two Studios Failing Grades

Article source: http://movies.msn.com/movies/article.aspx?news=889447&gt1=28101

OutBeat, America's first LGBT jazz festival, starts in Philly

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Being a gay or a lesbian jazz musician isn’t new.

Take pianist Cecil Taylor, vibraphonist Gary Burton, drummer Allison Miller, and, famously, Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington’s cocomposer/arranger.

Improvisational pianist Fred Hersch, currently on the jazz charts with his new album, Floating, came out publicly two decades ago with the information that he had HIV, and never looked back. “I was advised against coming out” says Hersch. “People thought it was a death sentence – this was 1993, before all the cocktails – that it would screw up my career. ‘No one will book you. They’ll all think you’ll be dead in a year.’ ” Twenty-one years later, the pianist is still here, still gay, and still talking about it. “I figured if I was going to be dead, I’d like to make a difference,” he says.

That spirit informs OutBeat, an LGBT-based jazz fest, running Thursday through Sunday at venues throughout Philadelphia. Performers include Hersch, vocalists Andy Bey and Patricia Barber, drummers Terri Lyne Carrington and Bill Stewart, and Philly’s violin-vibraphone duo Diane Monroe and Tony Micelli. Organizers have billed the fest “America’s First Queer Jazz Festival.”

Chris Bartlett, a classical pianist with jazz training who is executive director of the William Way LGBT Community Center, is producing OutBeat with Ars Nova Workshop artistic director Mark Christman. As they worked on the event, they found that there had never been a jazz festival focusing on LGBT artists and composers.

Why not?

“I think almost everyone in the jazz world nowadays realizes the huge impact LGBT performers, composers, arrangers, and theorists have had on the form,” Bartlett explains. “I also think there is in operation a general principle – I think it is a good one – that jazz is universal, surpasses the individual identities of its practitioners. Add to that the history of homophobia in America and it is understandable that LGBT artists and their friends were hesitant to talk too much about it for fear of ruining careers or reputations.”

Hersch says that like blues and country music, jazz has long been considered a macho art form. “My theory is when you’re creating improvised music, there is a certain intimacy that needs to happen,” he says. “If I’m playing with emotional intensity – if that gets misconstrued – perhaps they’ll think I want to take it beyond the bandstand. Ultimately people are scared of intimacy.”

The always outspoken Hersch was quick to sign on to OutBeat, but unhappy with its queer subtitle. He understands that younger people use the term “as a way of turning a pejorative or derogatory term into something positive. But I was pretty shocked. Gay would have worked for me.”

Bartlett respects the disagreement and is grateful that Hersch is participating despite the hassle, but he believes that queer is the right term for this festival. “One of the challenges we face is that the standard language for sexual and gender minority participation is not inclusive enough,” says Bartlett. “We wanted a term that would include all of the descriptors and more. Queer gets at how this festival is outside of the box.” 

Particularly important to OutBeat is the participation of locals, such as pianists Andy Kahn and V. Shayne Frederick within the framework of “Lush Life,” an all-Philly tribute to Strayhorn, coproduced by the festival organizers and the Philadelphia Jazz Project. The longtime duo of Monroe and Micelli will have a release party for their new album Alone at the festival. Together for 20-plus years, renowned within the community of jazz session folk, people occasionally confuse them as a couple. Monroe is gay, Micelli is not.

Monroe jokes that “I’m the boy, and he’s the girl,” but then turns serious. “The term queer has been around for forever and has a huge history. So, borrowing it for OutBeat links the event to all gay issues which have existed for so many years, and have needed to be addressed. I’m just grateful and proud that this festival finally exists.”

 


The OutBeat jazz festival runs from Thursday through Sunday. For information on venues, dates, times, and prices, go to www.outbeatjazzfestival.com.


Article source: http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/20140918_OutBeat__America_s_first_LGBT_jazz_festival__starts_in_Philly.html

Op-ed: The Trouble With 'Teen Wolf'

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

When Teen Wolf debuted June 5, 2011 on MTV, many gay fans immediately zeroed in on the show’s queer appeal. Of course any story dealing with werewolves would’ve found a home in the hearts of several LGBT fans — after all this is a story about people forced to hide who they really are.

But Teen Wolf also flipped the objectification script by flaunting the buff bods of the boys in its cast at every opportunity, including numerous homoerotic locker room scenes, and then took it even further. Boys would flirt with boys as well as girls — most frequently by Stiles Stilinski (played by Dylan O’Brien). Before long, it became obvious that the creative minds behind Teen Wolf weren’t simply using queer elements to infuse the show with gay appeal, they were ramping up the gay appeal to court a young audience. And this audience had grown up with LGBT visibility in various forms.

The show existed in a world where homophobia was nonexistent — a groundbreaking concept, even in basic cable. The presence of out gay teen Danny Mahealani (played by Keahu Kahuanui) among the show’s cast of supporting characters was a monumental shift for a gay character on a TV series aimed at a young teen audience. Not because Danny was a part of the world, but because of the way every other character reacted to him. The straight characters on the series weren’t simply OK with the fact that Danny was gay. His sexuality was treated no differently than differences in eye color. Instead of being taunted by the star jock of Beacon Hills High — Jackson (played by Colton Haynes) — Danny was his best friend.

Though Danny’s screen time was limited compared to the heterosexual leads in the cast, he quickly became a fan-favorite. However, the biggest LGBT draw for many fans was Stiles, thanks to the numerous hints dropped throughout the series that the character might not be straight. Furthermore, the sexual tension perceived by many fans between Stiles and the werewolf beefcake Derek Hale (played by Tyler Hoechlin) fueled fan fantasies even further, prompting a number of fans to ship the two as a couple (affectionately referred to as Sterek).

By the time Teen Wolf entered its third season, the show was primed to be one of the gayest ever aimed at a young audience. A new gay teen was introduced in the form of alpha wolf twin Ethan (played by Charlie Carver), who became romantically involved with Danny, and “Sterek” speculation, which had been encouraged by the show’s cast and production team, was at an all-time high.

But while the third season included standout moments for visibility such as a hotel room make-out session between Danny and Ethan in the episode “Motel California” (which was depicted in the same light as an opposite-sex smooch fest that took place later in the same episode), the show’s potential to be an LGBT entertainment beacon began to fade. Danny and Ethan’s romance received little screen time and went largely undeveloped, with Ethan’s character moving away from Beacon Hills following the heroic death of his straight twin brother at the season’s end.

Additionally, the is-he-or-isn’t-he draw of Stiles’ sexuality became less of a reason to watch and more of a point of contention for several fans who began to accuse the show of “queer baiting” by continuing to tease viewers that the character might swing both ways while avoiding any actual payoff.  

When news originally broke that Teen Wolf’s fourth season, which wrapped last week, would include a new gay teen of color named Mason (played by Khylin Rambo), many fans were hopeful that the show’s potential to greatly further LGBT visibility would be realized.

Instead, the opposite happened.

Stiles became romantically involved with the female werecoyote Malia (played by Shelley Henning), Danny completely disappeared from the show with no explanation, and Mason — who received very little character development – essentially became a token character.

Fans hungry for LGBT visibility from a show that had begun with such potential were outraged at the new direction, and when The Advocate published a recent interview with the show’s principal cast discussing the history of the show’s positive LGBT elements, a wave of angry comments ensued.

While some might dismiss fan outrage over the show’s dwindling LGBT representation, their passionate outcry highlights a growing divide between younger viewers and those who are creating the shows they watch. For a generation that has never known a time when LGBT people were not represented on the small screen in some form, limited visibility and queer subtext are no longer enough to hold their interest.

The continued teases that a character might be bisexual with no payoff, the same-sex romances that end as quickly as they begin with little development, the disappearance of gay characters without explanation, and the absence of any well developed LGBT character four seasons into a show that appeared to bank heavily on its queer appeal early on, has left vocal fans howling.

Network executives and the creative minds helming film and TV projects should take note of Teen Wolf’s current turmoil and adjust their approach for entertainment aimed at a younger audience. For this demographic, LGBT integration isn’t simply a future aspiration — it’s reality. More than ever before, young people are out, allies are vocal, and a person who doesn’t interact with a member of the LGBT population on some level is becoming an anomaly. An attitude of equality is eclipsing the previous generation’s perception of diversity as Millennials grow more frustrated with token flashes of positive imagery on TV at a time when more accurate and inclusive forms of entertainment can be found via YouTube.

Nevertheless, it may not be time to put down the wolf pack just yet. The show has already been green-lit for a fifth season and the LGBT inclusive elements that have been woven into the series are still a part of its expanding world. Yes, the gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters who have already made (brief) appearances have been (small) positive steps forward for LGBT visibility on the small screen (especially for a show aimed at an audience of 13 and up). A show that is supposed to exist in a land where homophobia is an unknown concept still has great potential to be a catalyst for lasting change in entertainment. However, we need to see something more than subtext and lip-lock service, because the fans have spoken — and they’re hungry like the wolf. 

JASE PEEPLES is the entertainment editor for The Advocate. Follow him on Twitter @JasePeeples.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/09/17/op-ed-trouble-teen-wolf

Marvel, George Takei among honorees for LGBT Center Vanguard Awards

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Marvel Entertainment and George Takei will receive Vanguard Awards from the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Pictured are Marvel chief creative officer Joe Quesada, left, and Takei. (: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images / Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

Marvel Entertainment and George Takei will receive Vanguard Awards from the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Pictured are Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, left, and Takei. (Joe Scarnici / Getty Images; Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Marvel Entertainment and activists George and Brad Takei are set to receive Vanguard Awards at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s 45th anniversary gala Nov. 8.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky will also be honored with a Vanguard Award at the ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, which celebrates efforts to promote tolerance and understanding of LGBT people.

Marvel is being honored for its LGBT characters and story lines “that parallel the struggle to end discrimination against our community, has helped brighten the lives of LGBT kids — and adults alike — around the world,” Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean said in a statement released early Wednesday.

A look at the upcoming Thor. (Russell Dauterman / Marvel)

A look at the upcoming “Thor.” (Russell Dauterman / Marvel)

Marvel Comics has received a great deal of attention of late for its efforts to bring more diversity to its publishing roster. In July the company revealed major story line changes to two of its marquee titles — first, it was announced a woman would become Thor in a new run of the comic penned by Jason Aaron, writer of the current, acclaimed “Thor, God of Thunder.”

The same week, Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, in an appearance on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” announced that Sam Wilson, a.k.a. the Falcon, will take the shield — and the moniker — of his patriotic pal Steve Rogers in the upcoming “All-New Captain America” series, launching in November.

The headline-grabbing moves continue a push by Marvel to make comics with the diversity to reflect (and expand) its audience: In recent years, the company hosted mainstream superhero comics’ first same-sex wedding, introduced black and Latino teen Miles Morales as the Spider-Man of its Ultimate line, and bolstered the profile of female superheroes with the high-flying “Captain Marvel,” the new Pakistani American and Muslim “Ms. Marvel” and more. The recent “Young Avengers” series by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie notably explored the romantic relationship between male characters Wiccan and Hulkling, earned a fervent Tumblr following, and won the GLAAD Media Award for outstanding comic book.

“Star Trek” actor Takei has become a prominent spokesman for LGBT rights since publicly coming out in 2005. He married his longtime partner Brad Altman three years later.

Takei was the subject of the recent documentary, “To Be Takei,” which premiered at Sundance in January and was released in August. In his review for The Times, critic Gary Goldstein praised director Jennifer Kroot’s film as a “buoyant, engaging look” at the life of the actor and activist, best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu in the original “Star Trek” TV series and six “Trek” films.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center was founded in 1969 to help care for and champion LGBT individuals and families. The organization offers programs, services and global advocacy focused on health, social services and housing, culture and education, leadership and advocacy. Tickets for the Nov. 8 ceremony are $400.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit lgbtvanguardawards.org or call TAI Events at (310) 996-1188.

– Gina McIntyre and Blake Hennon | @LATherocomplex

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Sam Wilson will be the new Captain America. (Marvel)

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Marvel in the Civil Rights era: A noble Panther, a gritty Cage

 

Article source: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-et-hc-marvel-george-takei-honorees-lgbt-center-vanguard-awards-storylink.html?track=rss

LGBT Thais 'still face stigma and hostility'

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

The 62-page report released yesterday said many of Thailand’s LGBT people remain in the closet, fearful of stigma and discrimination.

“Hostile attitudes may lurk below the surface of individuals |and parts of society that do not express their views openly,” the report said. It went on to cite a taxi driver who, when asked about Seri Wongmontha, an outspoken gay media figure and co-leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), asked how he could possibly know about politics when he “doesn’t know what sex |he is”.

Among issues highlighted in the report is the fact that Thai transgender individuals cannot change their gender on identity papers and male-to-female transgender people are often forced into military service.

Limited options for transgenders

“LGBT people face workplace discrimination, including being denied promotions or are fired from their jobs after disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity. Transgender people are often limited in their employment options. Bullying in schools against LGBT people is very common. While the country’s constitution prohibits discrimination against citizens on any grounds, there are no laws that recognise LGBT relationships or parenthood and laws on marriage apply only to heterosexual couples.”

The report also noted that while there exist no laws that directly prohibit the coverage of LGBT issues in the media, much LGBT content is either censored or sensationalised.

“Thailand is one of the few countries in the Asia-Pacific region where the LGBT community has high visibility. But visibility does not always translate to equality. The United Nations in Thailand is working with the Government, civil society and development partners to ensure that LGBT people have equal rights and are free from facing any form of discrimination,” UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative for Thailand Luc Stevens was quoted as saying yesterday.

Article source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/LGBT-Thais-still-face-stigma-and-hostility-30243455.html

Op-ed: Has the LGBT Glass Ceiling Been Shattered in the Communications Field?

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

There’s a lot to celebrate when it comes to the progress that has been made in human rights over the past few years. The momentum of marriage equality, sports personalities coming out, and heads of state expressing their support has led to a sea change in public attitudes, but how are LGBT people faring in the business world, and more particularly, in my chosen field of communications? Depending on whom you ask and where you live, the answer appears to be better … or maybe not.

Full disclosure here: I’ve been an out gay man in the communications field since my early days at both KPIX TV (the CBS affiliate in San Francisco) and the San Francisco Symphony. I’ve been running my own PR agency, Landis Communications Inc., in our fair city since 1990. Here, it’s a badge of honor to be part of the LGBT community.

Yet early on in my career at KPIX in the ’80s, I took my then-boyfriend (now husband) to our company’s holiday party and danced with him. For about two seconds I worried, Would this impact my career? Then I decided, it’s television and folks just need to get used to it. Turns out, it actually helped connect me with my coworkers because it was a great icebreaker — although my disco moves are still a fright to see! Still, I know full well that San Francisco doesn’t reflect the rest of the world.

In April 2013, when I was elected president of our agency’s international PR network, the Public Relations Global Network, I got to thinking, How many out LGBT communications professionals are there? Why aren’t people talking about this more? And more importantly, is there a glass ceiling?

According to Pew Research, “An overwhelming share of America’s LGBT adults (92 percent) say society has become more accepting of them in the past decade and an equal number expect it to grow even more accepting in the decade ahead.”

Looking around, there are numerous examples of success stories: Kevin Brockman, executive vice president of global communications at Disney/ABC Television; Ben Finzel, senior vice president of public affairs and general manager of Waggener Edstrom in Washington, D.C.; communications consultant Mary Cheney; my husband, Sean Dowdall, former chief marketing officer at Rabobank, North America; Stephan Roth, president of OutThink Partners; and Ryan Peal, GM at FleishmanHillard Los Angeles. If we broaden the field to include journalists, of course we can add the likes of Rachel Maddow and Anderson Cooper, Jonathan Capehart, Robin Roberts, and many more.

But is this a positive trend — or are these errant examples?

(RELATED: The 50 Most Influential LGBT People in Media)

Bob Witeck, the gay president and founder of Washington, D.C.-based Witeck Communications (a prominent agency working with Fortune 100 corporations and the LGBT community) says, “It still can be an issue in the top, multinational agencies. You don’t always see LGBT professionals at the senior level of running these agencies. Perhaps this is through self-selection: often LGBTs may go to other, smaller agencies where they can be themselves. If the group of decision makers at the big agencies deciding who to promote are straight white men, they tend to select straight white men.”

Jesse Melgar, former communications director for Equality California, the state’s LGBT advocacy organization, says, “Acceptance and advancement depends on where you are located. A lot of LGBT communications pros move to San Francisco or L.A. for professional work because it’s more progressive and there’s more professional development. But it’s different in rural areas such as Fresno — or smaller communities such as Riverside.”

There’s also the question of whether lesbians have a more or less difficult path than gay men. Some in the industry say that as it is for other women in business, it’s still an uphill struggle. But others think lesbians have fared as well as gay men. 

“To be honest, I have not encountered or witnessed a ‘glass ceiling’ for members of our community who are excellent in the field of communications,” says Barbara French, vice chancellor for university relations at the University of California, San Francisco. “I believe that is due to the fact that my professional career has been primarily based in San Francisco. Here, members of the LGBT community are visible at the highest levels of private, public, and not-for-profit organizations. My experience is that being out and proud is a benefit from the standpoint of professional growth and development. It means we bring our whole selves to the workplace. That means we are fully present and ready to do our best work.”

San Francisco-based communications consultant Linda Gebroe, who has written for the San Francisco Giants Magazine, quips, “With respect to the glass ceiling, I don’t know what I would say, on account of I’m not sure I’ve ever bumped my head on it. I have felt it as a woman, but not as a lesbian.”

Out communications professionals appear to be more prominent in entertainment, less so in industries such as financial services. But that is changing. “Glass ceilings for out communications professionals remain in conservative business arenas,” says Eric Latzky, former vice president of communications for the New York Philharmonic. “However, ceilings are getting higher constantly. Discrimination of any kind is bad for business, and that is becoming more a part of the American vernacular. I’ve watched those ceilings yield to the need to retain talent.”

Echoing the legacy of visionary activist Harvey Milk, Melgar concludes, “The more out that people are in the profession, the more people know it’s OK and it should be celebrated.”

In reference to his now acclaimed antibullying video series, journalist and author Dan Savage would say, “It gets better.” I do believe nowadays that there are fewer obstacles for gays and lesbians to be promoted in the communications field — and hundreds of success stories — but we still have a significant way to go.

DAVID LANDIS is the founder and CEO of Landis Communications and president of Public Relations Global Network. Follow him on Twitter @david_landis.

Article source: http://editorial.advocate.com/commentary/2014/09/16/op-ed-has-lgbt-glass-ceiling-been-shattered-communications-field

Buccaneers host first LGBT tailgate in NFL

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are trailblazing: they organized the first LGBT tailgate around.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosted an LGBT tailgate at the St. Louis Rams game as a part of the You Can Play project. The Bucs wrote about it on their website yesterday, and OutSports talked about it, too. From their site:

“It is the first-ever LGBT tailgating event that the NFL has ever done,” said Wade Davis, former NFL player and now Executive Director for the You Can Play Project, an organization dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation. “I would say, honestly, this is a revolutionary day, because most people don’t think that sports and LGBT mix and I think that the Bucs are reframing that and debunking a lot of myths around sports and LGBT individuals.”

Back in July I wrote about Tony Dungy’s comments about Michael Sam, what happened in Minnesota with Chris Kluwe, and how that reflected on the Bucs. But this is much more important, and it’s great to see the Bucs engage in outreach to the LGBT community and support every Bucs fan out there, regardless of sexual orientation.

More from sbnation.com:

Article source: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/buccaneers-host-first-lgbt-tailgate-163432571.html

Tampa Bay Buccaneers host LGBT tailgate at Rams game

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers invited the LGBT community and the You Can Play project to celebrate their game against the St. Louis Rams.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosted an LGBT tailgate event on Sunday in conjunction with Barefoot Wines and the You Can Play project. It’s thought to be the first LGBT tailgate event organized in part by an NFL team.

From the Bucs’ Web site:

One tailgate in particular brought a strong turnout, overwhelming support and an NFL-first milestone to the Tampa Bay area. In the hours leading up to the game, the Buccaneers hosted the inaugural LGBT Community Tailgate Party, celebrating the day’s game and the LGBT community in Tampa Bay.

Attendees at the LGBT Community Tailgate Party, sponsored by Barefoot Refresh, enjoyed live music, games, conversation and plenty of delicious barbecue fare before the game

“It is the first-ever LGBT tailgating event that the NFL has ever done,” said Wade Davis, former NFL player and now Executive Director for the You Can Play Project, an organization dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation. “I would say, honestly, this is a revolutionary day, because most people don’t think that sports and LGBT mix and I think that the Bucs are reframing that and debunking a lot of myths around sports and LGBT individuals.”

There have been plenty of LGBT nights with MLB, NBA and NHL games as those leagues struggle more to fill arenas and stadiums. These kinds of group-sales events haven’t been a big part of NFL teams’ ticket-sales strategies because they generally don’t have many (if any) tickets for sale due to sell-outs.

It’s probably no coincidence that the event took place in conjunction with Michael Sam’s old team, the St. Louis Rams. Even without Sam there it looks like it was a festive event, and it’s great to see an NFL team put it’s stamp of approval on LGBT fans.

More from sbnation.com:

Article source: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/tampa-bay-buccaneers-host-lgbt-161558101.html

LGBT community center to open in Allentown

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014


ALLENTOWN, Pa. –

A new community center is set to open for the lesbian-gay-bisexual and transgender community in Allentown.

Mayor Ed Pawlowski and center organizers announced Monday the Bradbury-Sullivan lgbt Community Center, located in the 1000 block of West Turner Street.

The group has purchased the vacant building for only $1.

Organizers said the center will offer daily services and programming that focus on social outreach, health and wellness, and the arts.

“We’ll be able to provide support for our youth and aging population, and offer vital and exciting events for lgbt population, our friends, neighbors and the entire community,” said Liz Bradbury, senior director of programs, LGBT Community Center.

This is the first LGBT community center in the Lehigh Valley. The announcement coincides with National LGBT Community Awareness Day.

Article source: http://www.wfmz.com/news/news-regional-lehighvalley/lgbt-community-center-to-open-in-allentown/28072654

The 50 Most Influential LGBT People in Media

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

It was hard enough picking a single most influential LGBT person for this list (and, in the end, it was a tie), so you can imagine the trouble we had narrowing down our picks to 50 and then ranking each.

To do it, first we asked a number of people on this list, and some who were considered along the way, to vote. We left it open to interpretation as to exactly what “influential” meant to them. Rachel Maddow has redefined MSNBC, for example. Meanwhile, Harvey Levin’s TMZ is breaking stories that define the whole news cycle.

Respondents from the media lined up more frequently behind Maddow as the most influential. But it’s hard to ignore Levin’s influence, with the Ray Rice story only the latest example of his site’s talent for exposing celebrity misdeeds that have broader lessons and consequences.

A few caveats about who is eligible for the list: Only those media figures who are publicly out are included. And as much as we appreciate our colleagues in the LGBT news world, this list consists of reporters and editors who produce for mainstream outlets on largely non-LGBT beats.

See the final rankings below and feel free to continue the debate in the Comments.

 

1. Rachel Maddow 
Host, MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show
@maddow

As host of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, not only has Maddow distinguished herself as a leading political voice, she also helms the anchor desk during the biggest news moments and has redefined the entire network in her wonky image.

1. Harvey Levin 
Creator and managing editor, TMZ
@HarveyLevinTMZ

Don’t write off TMZ. Between the site and the TV show alone, Levin’s gossip powerhouse mercilessly reaches millions of people daily and has broken the news everyone talks about — would we even know about Ray Rice’s elevator violence without TMZ?

3. Robin Roberts 
Anchor, ABC’s Good Morning America
@RobinRoberts

The author, cancer survivor, and Good Morning America anchor is beloved by the millions of people who watch the leading morning news show. But don’t take our word for it — the Q Score numbers back it up.

4. Anderson Cooper
Host, CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360
@AndersonCooper

Although his syndicated talk show didn’t catch fire, Cooper is the rare versatile personality who can host an unpredictable New Year’s Eve telecast and still report from the most dangerous places in the world for his nightly hourlong program and then take viewers deep into a story for 60 Minutes.


5. Glenn Greenwald
Editor, The Intercept
@ggreenwald

This investigative journalist won the Pulitzer Prize after his reporting changed the world’s discourse about privacy and national security with sourced classified documents obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Now he’s making headlines as a founding editor of the new site The Intercept.


6. Suze Orman
Host, CNBC’s The Suze Orman Show
@SuzeOrmanShow

A former financial adviser at Merrill Lynch, Orman shares her economic expertise on her CNBC show as well as in numerous best-selling books like The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom.


7. Nick Denton
Founder, Gawker Media
@nicknotned

Sometimes a polarizing figure, Denton is no doubt a trailblazer with his series of Gawker Media–owned websites and their ever-expanding audience. He’s experimented with new ways to pay writers, new commenting systems, and new designs for all sites.


8. Nate Silver 
Statistician, editor in chief, ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight
@NateSilver538

This statistician keeps riling the Washington establishment with his accurate forecasts of elections, first for FiveThirtyEight as a blog, then for The New York Times, and now with his biggest iteration yet via ESPN.


9. Jonathan Capehart
The Washington Post, Contributor to MSNBC
@capehartj

This well-liked Washington Post editorial writer is first a print opinion-shaper who also succeeds as an entertaining and insightful analyst during regular appearances on MSNBC.

10. Kara Swisher 
Founder, Re/code
@karaswisher

Swisher and other Wall Street Journal tech reporters started their own site, Re/code, and have already made it a must-read. Swisher has even crossed over as an expert called upon for more traditional outlets with vastly different audiences, such as Meet the Press.


11. Dan Savage
Editorial director, The Stranger
@fakedansavage

This newspaper editor and often-activist is actually known best as a sex columnist despite having become an influential and frequently controversial voice on numerous LGBT topics. He cofounded the It Gets Better Project in 2010.


12. Frank Bruni 
Columnist, The New York Times
@FrankBruni

Formerly the chief restaurant critic for The New York Times, Bruni made history in 2011 by becoming the Grey Lady’s first out gay columnist.

 


13. Andrew Sullivan
Founder, The Daily Dish
@sullydish

Whether at Time magazine or The Atlantic, Sullivan always commanded attention with his blog, The Daily Dish, and became a well-regarded commentator. Taking his site independent with a paywall, though, further solidified Sullivan as a leader to watch in media.


14. Adam Moss 
Editor in chief, New York magazine

For a decade, Moss has served as editor in chief of New York magazine, where he helped shepherd the print tastemaker into the digital age with the launch of NYMag.com. (But we can’t find him on Twitter.)


15. Jess Cagle 
Editorial director, People, Entertainment Weekly
@MrJessCagle

As the editorial director of People and Entertainment Weekly, Cagle has contibuted to and helped build both brands throughout his 27-year-long career at Time Inc.


16. Don Lemon 
Anchor, CNN Newsroom
@DonLemon

The CNN anchor and author is one of the most visible LGBT journalists of color on television, and he brings many of these intersections to the table when reporting (most recently, from protests in Ferguson, Mo.).

17. Janet Mock
Contributing Editor, Marie Claire
@JanetMock

Mainstream media is generally clueless about how to cover trans people, and Mock is using her platform as a New York Times best-selling author and as a contributing editor to Marie Claire to change that.


18. Adam Nagourney 
L.A. bureau chief, The New York Times
@AdamNagourney

The influence that Nagourney wielded as a top-notch political correspondent persists even now as Los Angeles bureau chief.

19. Ari Shapiro 
Reporter, NPR
@AriShapiro

Shapiro became a familiar voice in the mornings by often filling in as an anchor on Morning Edition and All Things Considered when he wasn’t reporting on the White House. Now the award-winning journalist is based in London as international correspondent.

20. Jim Nelson 
Editor in chief, GQ
(Nope, not on Twitter)

Since 2003 Nelson has served as editor in chief of GQ, where he reports on and maintains the gold standard of men’s fashion. 

21. Thomas Roberts
Anchor, MSNBC’s Way Too Early
@ThomasARoberts

Roberts was a success with his own MSNBC midday program and then became part of what is perhaps Washington’s most influential morning show, Morning Joe, while also taking over at Way Too Early.

22. Perez Hilton 
Founder, PerezHilton.com
@PerezHilton

The self-proclaimed “Queen of All Media,” Hilton helms one of the Internet’s most talked-about Hollywood gossip sites, which like its subjects often makes the news with controversies of its own.

23. Sam Champion 
Anchor and managing editor, the Weather Channel
@SamChampion

One of America’s favorite forecasters was such a success at Good Morning America that he launched his own entry in the morning market at the Weather Channel, where he is also managing editor.

24. LZ Granderson 
Columnist, ESPN
@Locs_n_laughs

Columnist LZ Granderson does not pull any punches when it comes to race, gender, or sexuality in his writing for ESPN or CNN, but he does it in a way that makes you smile as much as it makes you think.

25. Pete Williams 
Justice correspondent, NBC News
@PeteWilliamsNBC

When legal news breaks, Williams can be counted on to interpret what’s just happened. And when the Boston Marathon bombings happened, there was a moment when Pete Williams was trending on Twitter for his well-informed reporting.

26. Jann Wener 
Cofounder, Rolling Stone

As the cofounder of Rolling Stone and owner of Us Weekly and Men’s Journal, Wenner has an enduring influence in media and has fostered the careers of many luminaries, including photographer Annie Leibowitz as well as Cameron Crowe.

27. Steve Kornacki 
Host, MSNBC’s Up
@SteveKornacki

The Salon political writer started as a frequent guest of Rachel Maddow and eventually took over a weekend slot on MSNBC, making a name for himself with reporting on governor Chris Christie’s “bridgegate.”

28. Choire Sicha 
Cofounder, The Awl
@Choire

A former Gawker writer, Sicha is the cofounder of The Awl, a leading resource for thoughts and analyses on news and culture. He’s also the author of Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c. AD 2009) in a Large City.

29. Jared Eng
Founder and EIC, JustJared
@JaredEng

The 32-year-old Eng founded one of the world’s most influential online entertainment sources, JustJared.com, where visitors get a comprehensive roundup of fashion photo galleries, celebrity news, and gossip.

30. Maer Roshan 
Founder and editor, RadarOnline.com and TheFix.com
@MaerRoshan

The former deputy editor of New York magazine first got on our “radar” (ha!) by launching his game-changing entertainment glossy, which endures as RadarOnline.com, and he continues making a mark via ventures like the drug, addiction, and recovery news source TheFix.com and his iPad publication Punch!

31. Tom McGeveran 
Cofounder and editor, Capital New York
@tmcgev

With an expansion from Washington into the New York market, Politico combined forces with Tom McGeveran’s Capital New York to re-create its ambitious reporting style.

32. Brian Balthazar 
Co-executive producer, ABC’s The View
@BrianBalthazar

The former head of programming at AOL, Balthazar is a longtime pop culture expert and TV personality, whose abilities and entertainment insights recently garnered him a role as co-executive producer of The View.

33. Josh Barro 
Domestic correspondent, The New York Times
@JBarro

A former politics editor at Business Insider who happens to be the son of famed economist Robert Barro, this New York Times correspondent is an insightful regular presence on MSNBC.


34. Chris Geidner
Legal Editor, Buzzfeed
@ChrisGeidner

This Buzzfeed reporter made a name for himself breaking all the latest developments on marriage equality and was then promoted to the site’s legal editor.


35. Sally Kohn 
Commentator, CNN
@SallyKohn

A former contributor to Fox News, Kohn has gone on to found the grassroots think tank Movement Vision Lab and is now at CNN while also writing for The Daily Beast.


36. Stephanie Miller
Radio host, The Stephanie Miller Show
@SMShow

Even without her TV entry on Current, this liberal commentator’s nationally syndicated talk radio show is as entertaining and politically biting as ever.

 


37. Charles Blow 
Columnist, The New York Times
@CharlesMBlow

Blow is The New York Times‘ only columnist of color and is an an outspoken voice on issues of race in America, most recently confronting Fox’s Bill O’Reilly on Ferguson. He wrote recently in his memoir about his attraction to men.


38. Jane Velez-Mitchell 
Host, HLN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell
@jvm

Whether it’s racial profiling or the Jodi Arias case, when HLN host and author Jane Velez-Mitchell is passionate about something in the world of law and order, she will make sure you know about it.


39. Ariel Foxman 
Editor in chief, InStyle
@ArielFoxman

As the editor in chief of one of the most-read fashion magazines in the U.S., Foxman is one of field’s most potent influencers, serving up style and sass to the tune of 1.8 million subscribers.


40. Chris Hughes 
Owner and editor in chief, The New Republic
@ChrisHughes

The New Republic‘s audience is growing quickly under Hughes’s ownership and Washington is taking note of its reinvigoration.

 


41. Jose Antonio Vargas
Freelance journalist
@joseiswriting

Founder of the nonprofit Define American and director of CNN Films’ Documented, Vargas was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for a series in The Washington Post about undocumented Americans.

42. Benoit Denizet-Lewis
Writer, The New York Times Magazine
@BenoitDLewis

He’s written some of the publication’s most-talked about LGBT pieces over the last decade (including his controversial stories about bisexuals). The Emerson College assistant professor is also a producer of the upcoming film Michael, based on his Times Magazine piece about his “ex-gay” friend. 

43. Ina Fried 
Senior Editor, Re/code
@InaFried

As the senior editor of Re/code, Fried, a trans woman, is a trailblazer in technology journalism respected for her reporting on mobile trends. 


44. Richard Berke 
Former executive editor, Politico
@RickBerke

A longtime player at The New York Times, Berke moved on to another big name in political news — Politico — but departed this month in a disagreement over its future.

45. Rose Arce
Producer, CNN
@RosemArce

It isn’t only the people in front of the camera who make an impact, and CNN’s Arce is a Pulitzer Prize winner who proves it.

46. Michael Ausiello 
Senior editor, TV Line
@MichaelAusiello

The founding editor of TV Line might as well have the nickname “Spoiler Alert.” He and his team of reporters have the scoop on all things television for fans and industry alike.

47. Marc Malkin
Senior editor and red carpet reporter, E! Online
@MarcMalkin

A staple of the red carpet, the newly married Malkin is one of the most visible LGBT entertainment reporters in Hollywood, which he covers with wit and pizzazz as the senior editor of E! Online.

 

48. Amy Walter
National editor, Cook Political Report
@AmyEWalter

When Meet the Press relaunched this month with Chuck Todd as host, his former colleague at The Hotline was a guest and demonstrated once again why the former political director for ABC News is worth listening to for insight on what’s next in politics.

49. Kate Fagan 
Writer, ESPN
@KateFagan3

ESPN contributor and columnist Kate Fagan writes about basketball (and gender and sexism and homophobia) from a place of knowledge and deep, personal appreciation.

50. Neda Ulaby 
Reporter, NPR
@ulabeast

An arts and entertainment reporter at National Public Radio, the Jordan-born journalist is renowned for her film reviews and interviews with luminaries like Ellen Page and Tyler Perry.

 

MICHELLE GARCIA, LUCAS GRINDLEY, and DANIEL REYNOLDS contributed to this report.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/politics/media/2014/09/16/50-most-influential-lgbt-people-media

Turner Street location announced for LGBT center

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

A location has been announced for Allentown’s proposed LGBT community center in the heart of the city’s gay community.

Officials have selected 1021 W. Turner St., a long-vacant former dairy and auto parts store in the Old Allentown neighborhood, to be the future site of a community building that will offer cultural and support services specifically for the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.

The 7,000-square-foot building, which has been named the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in honor of Pennsylvania Diversity Network founders Liz Bradbury and Patricia Sullivan, will be purchased from the Allentown Redevelopment Authority for $1, Mayor Ed Pawlowski announced Monday. Officials said the building has been vacant for decades but remains structurally sound.

Plans call for the facility to be a safe space for the gay community that promotes cultural programming, such as LGBT author readings and lectures, and offers direct services for the Lehigh Valley’s gay population.

Adrian Shanker, founder and executive director of the center, said local organizers set a $75,000 fundraising goal for the project when plans for the space were announced in June. That figure has already been exceeded, and officials are now aiming higher, he said.

In addition to financial donations, several local firms have donated design services for the project, including Kohn Engineering, Barry Isett and Associates, Lock Ridge Engineering and Howard Kulp Architects. Electrical and legal services have also been donated. The cost of those services would have exceeded $75,000, Shanker said.

“It takes a community to build a community center, and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.

Design work on the center is expected to be complete by the end of the year, but organizers will then have to complete the acquisition process with the Redevelopment Authority, Shanker said. Shanker said he hopes to have the center complete in a couple of years. Construction costs are expected to total $1.5 million.

When opened, the center will be only the sixth of its kind in the state and will serve a population that has been growing in Lehigh Valley cities.

In 2010, Allentown had 405 same-sex households, a 55 percent increase since 2000, making it the state’s third-largest home to gay couples behind Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Bethlehem saw a jump of 79 percent to 261 same-sex households. Easton had a smaller but still significant increase of 26 percent, to 86 same-sex households.

eopilo@mcall.com

Twitter @emilyopilo

610-820-6522

Copyright © 2014, The Morning Call

Article source: http://morningcall.feedsportal.com/c/34254/f/622968/s/3e7f9da0/sc/10/l/0L0Smcall0N0Cnews0Clocal0Cmc0Eallentown0Enew0Elgbt0Ecenter0E20A140A9150Estory0Bhtml0Dtrack0Frss/story01.htm

Scottish independence: LGBT voters backing Yes

Monday, September 15th, 2014

More than half of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Scots are backing independence, according to a poll.

The online poll of 2,163 Scottish readers of Europe’s largest LGBT news service PinkNews found that 54 per cent plan to vote Yes in Thursday’s referendum – with 56 per cent of Labour voters for independence.

The poll also found 44 per cent plan to vote No while two per cent remain undecided.

In contrast, the vast majority (87 per cent) of the 1,204 non-Scottish readers polled on the website on Friday and Saturday said they opposed independence, with only five per cent supportive.

More than a third (35 per cent) of Scottish LGBT people would vote for the SNP if there was an election tomorrow while 26 per cent back Labour, 10 per cent are Green supporters, nine per cent would vote for the Liberal Democrats and seven per cent are for the Conservatives.

PinkNews editor Joseph Patrick McCormick said: “It has been interesting how keenly and passionately fought the battle around independence has been.

“It has been one which has considerably spilled over into the LGBT arena.

“We’ve been continually receiving statements and columns from both sides which have passionately sought to convey that LGBT people will be better off with the outcome they are seeking.

“The battle for the gay vote indicates possibly just how close the vote for independence will be.”

Article source: http://www.newsletter.co.uk/scottish-independence-lgbt-voters-backing-yes-1-6300622

LGBT People Are Driving an Upheaval in Video Games

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Left and below: characters from Mass Effect

An unprecedented transformation in the video game world is under way, and it’s touching everyone, from players to developers to scholars and critics. Nowhere has that change been more apparent than at Seattle’s recent Penny Arcade Expo, the largest consumer-facing video game convention in the country.

Over the last year, Penny Arcade has experienced some tension in its relationship with LGBT fans. In June of 2013, cofounder Mike Krahulik stunned some readers when he tweeted, “Heads up if you use the word ‘cis’ save yourself some time and don’t bother tweeting at me.” He was trying to shut down a detractor who objected to the omission of trans people from games, but his tweets only stirred up more controversy: “If thinking that all women have a vagina makes me a monster than yes I am a monster,” he also wrote.

To be fair, Krahulik had never previously directed hostility toward queerness, and he responded with interest and concern when a trans woman working within his organization expressed her dismay.

Facing ongoing criticism, he gradually grew more contrite. “My reaction when I feel backed into corner is to be an asshole,” he wrote a few days later. “It’s been that way since I was in elementary school. I’m 36 now. Maybe it’s finally time to try and let some of that shit go.” He went on to donate $20,000 to the Trevor Project, adding, “I realize I was wrong and I’m genuinely sorry.”

The experience seems to have been an eye-opener for Penny Arcade management that they could do more for their queer fans. In December rumor got out that the next PAX convention would add a “Diversity Lounge,” welcoming LGBT attendees. Some observers responded with skepticism, labeling it a “Diversity Ghetto” where queer gamers would be segregated.

But when PAX East, a smaller version of the main PAX Prime event, rolled around in April, the Diversity Lounge was generally considered a success. Attendees who sought out the lounge found a comfortable space with a handful of booths, some beanbags for lounging, free swag. and a gender-neutral bathroom.

After the critical success of PAX East, organizers got to work on an updated and expanded Diversity Lounge.

When Diversity Lounge 2.0 launched at PAX Prime earlier this month, attendees found it situated in a high-traffic area frequented by thousands of convention-goers. Amid upbeat music, attendees chatted, played tabletop games, and engaged with others who passed by. It remained jam-packed throughout the convention, giving the event a +1 to diversity.

At one point, Mike Krahulik was warmly welcomed when he stopped by to play a board game.

“We could have a room by the escalators,” explained organizer Ben Williams amid the hubbub, “but that felt too tucked-away.”

PAX donated everything the Diversity Lounge needed, Williams said, from signs and tables to A/V equipment. None of the exhibitors were charged for their space.

That emphasis on inclusion mirrors a trend within the game industry. In past years, games have lagged behind other media when it comes to diversity. Queer characters are rare — so rare, in fact, that when The Advocate conducted an informal survey of random convention attendees, about half couldn’t name even one. But to their credit, attendees also expressed interest in seeing more.

“I’d like to see gay protagonists in games,” said PAX attendee Mark Taylor. “I can’t even think of any.”

“There are a lot of inclusion problems,” said Hunter Hughes, who was attending PAX with friends Morgan Want and Nathan Smith.

“Gaming is generally male-oriented, but it’s changing,” said Want. When asked if she would play a game as a queer character, she replied, “I would love that,” and Hughes agreed: “That wouldn’t turn me off.”

Like the game community, developers have in recent years begun to include more women, people of color, and LGBT storylines. 

Previously, players who weren’t straight white men could have easily felt invisible and unwelcome in gaming culture. But with more diverse depictions, more people than ever now feel invited to join in.

Assassin’s Creed Liberation features a female person of color as the protagonist. Mass Effect allows players to choose a same-sex storyline. Dragon Age (left) recently added a gay mage.

Of course, there are still only a handful of inclusive games from the high-budget industry leaders, generally referred to as “triple-A” developers.

“Triple-A is a slow ship to turn,” says James Portnow, creator of the game criticism site Extra Credits. “But we’ve seen so much more inclusion, especially in the indie space, so many more games that feature female protagonists or LGBT characters. This is a topic that the industry wouldn’t even approach four or five years ago.”

That includes independent games like Sometimes Always Monsters, a love story in which the player’s gender and race are randomly created, often resulting in mixed-race and same-sex relationships.

Then there’s Social Dysphoria, a game in which players “dodge cisbots Innacurate [sic] Pronoun lasers while fighting through the Medical Referral levels and Psych visits teeming with dastardly Uneducated Doctors to reach the treasured Estrogen ampule/Testosterone vial at the top of the castle and save the world!”

This changing atmosphere has led some game journalists to wonder if the industry is witnessing “the end of gamers” — that is, a redefinition of “gamer” away from the assumption of being a straight white male.

Right: Sometimes Always Monsters

Female critics and developers like Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn have spoken out publicly about the need for more inclusion and expanding the definition of what a game can be. They’ve been met with varying levels of enthusiasm by the industry and fellow gamers. (Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter for a YouTube series about women in games sought $6,000, and fans wound up chipping in nearly $160,000.)

But like the Westboro Baptist Church, a few noisy critics are violently resisting any change. Both Sarkeesian and Quinn have recently had to leave their homes due to threats.

Tifa Robles, an organizer of Magic: The Gathering games for women, spoke on a panel at PAX about the problem of the vocal few who have resisted change within the game community. “They spent their whole lives being ostracized,” she says. From their perspective, “now here come these women telling us we’re doing everything wrong.” But ultimately, Robles says, there’s room for common ground amongst all players.

“Hey,” she points out, “we’ve been ostracized too.”

Efforts like the Diversity Lounge reflect a mega-evolution in the industry’s attitude toward its fans and a realization that queer gamers have historically been excluded. That change is reflected in the fandom as well: As more queer gamers find their voice, there’s been a growing acceptance among straight gamers. In essence, as players add more members to their parties, gaming in general is leveling up.

Most PAX attendees were glad to see the lounge — even when they didn’t realize it was there. When asked if they’d heard of the Diversity Lounge, Mandy Yasak and Jared Carmody said they hadn’t. But then they started describing an area where queer developers were showing games, and it turned out that they’d visited and enjoyed the lounge without realizing it.

“We’re reaching a tipping point in culture in general,” actress Jennifer Hale told The Advocate at Pink Party Prime, an independent queer game-themed party organized Robert Roth and Charlie Logan.

Hale voiced the female version of Commander Shepard in the game Mass Effect, generally cited as an icon of inclusive game design. Players can select a male or female version of the character and opt for a same-sex romance in the game.

“So many people come up to me and they’re so grateful to have a place to be who they are,” she said. “And I’m like, it’s about damn time.”

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/geek/2014/09/15/lgbt-people-are-driving-upheaval-video-games

More than half of LGBT Scots back independence, says poll

Monday, September 15th, 2014

More than half of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Scots are backing independence, according to a poll.

The online poll of 2,163 Scottish readers of Europe’s largest LGBT news service PinkNews found that 54% plan to vote Yes in Thursday’s referendum – with 56% of Labour voters for independence.

The poll also found 44% plan to vote No while 2% remain undecided.

In contrast, the vast majority (87%) of the 1,204 non-Scottish readers polled on the website on Friday and Saturday said they opposed independence, with only 5% supportive.


[Everything you need to know about the Scottish Independence Referendum]

More than a third (35%) of Scottish LGBT people would vote for the SNP if there was an election tomorrow while 26% back Labour, 10% are Green supporters, 9% would vote for the Liberal Democrats and 7% are for the Conservatives.

PinkNews editor Joseph Patrick McCormick said: ‘It has been interesting how keenly and passionately-fought the battle around independence has been.

‘It has been one which has considerably spilled over into the LGBT arena.

‘We’ve been continually receiving statements and columns from both sides which have passionately sought to convey that LGBT people will be better off with the outcome they are seeking.

‘The battle for the gay vote indicates possibly just how close the vote for independence will be.’
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Article source: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/more-than-half-of-lgbt-scots-back-independence--says-poll-155337100.html

Conference brings LGBT, LDS communities together

Monday, September 15th, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY – A conference was held in Salt Lake City this weekend, and the goal was for members of the LGBT community who are also members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to connect with others and affirm their faith.

The theme for this year’s Annual International Affirmation — LGBT Mormons, Families, and Friends Conference was “This is the Place.”

Randall Thacker spoke about their aims.

“Affirmation provides a safety net where we catch those who are looking for the opportunity to find community and support,” Thacker said.

Anna Empey attended the event and spoke about the sort of support offered there.

“I feel like in many places I go, and as I have sought for help and understanding of who I am and how I want my life to become, I just feel pressure, or this is the one and only way,” she said. “And here they don’t tell me what way that is. They tell me to pray, and they remind me, and they teach me of the principles that are part of who I am.”

Empey said such events make her feel hopeful for the future.

“It’s hard to be LDS, and it’s hard to be LGBT, or SSA, or just trying to understand your sexuality–but, you’re not alone, and there is hope for you,” she said. “And people don’t need to take their life over this. There are other options, and we have a heavenly father who loves us.”

The conference is an annual event, and organizers said they often receive messages from people who said the event changed their lives. The conference is not organized or endorsed by the LDS Church. For more information, visit the organization’s website.

Article source: http://fox13now.com/2014/09/14/conference-brings-lgbt-lds-communities-together/

LGBT rights conference held in Belgrade

Monday, September 15th, 2014

LGBT rights conference held in Belgrade

September 15, 2014 | 09:18 | Source: Tanjug | Comments: (0) | Send comment

BELGRADE — Democratic societies, especially those who aspire to join the EU, must treat the respect for LGBT rights as an issue of respect for universal human rights.

Article source: http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2014&mm=09&dd=15&nav_id=91599

Duke University Makes Applications More Welcoming for LGBT Hopefuls

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

“Real people are reading your application, and we want to do our best to understand and appreciate the real people applying to Duke,” reads a new voluntary question added to the prestigious university’s admissions application, reports GLAAD.

The question asks aspiring attendees to share, if they wish, “a perspective you bring or experiences you’ve had to help us understand you better — perhaps related to a community you belong to, your sexual orientation or gender identity, or your family or cultural background.”

Duke’s small change to the regular application could have big consequences for the LGBT student population. Advocates for such questions have argued that tracking queer and transgender students is critical to their success, notes Inside Higher Ed.

This is the reasoning behind including other minority identifications, such as race and ethnicity, on application forms. Such questions may also make LGBT students feel more welcome to apply or be open about their identity while on campus.

When encountering the new Duke question, an applicatnt is able to fill in several sentences in a blank box provided. This format is more open-ended than that used by the handful of other schools who have included application questions about sexual orientation and gender identity. Elmhurst College, the University of Iowa, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology each offer students optional boxes to check instead.

While Christoph Guttentag, Duke’s dean of undergraduate admissions, says he chose the question’s open-ended format because “in general, I prefer to think of diversity within the context of values, interests, backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, rather than discrete attributes,” not everyone is pleased with its potential vagueness.

Daniel Kort, president of Blue Devils United, Duke’s LGBT student group, told the Huffington Post that he would have preferred a checkbox, similar to other universities, to more concretely pinpoint LGBT students’ identities.

Still, Kort says, the inclusion of the question is “a significant step in the right direction.

“Given that Duke’s approach to the issue is novel,” he concludes, “I look forward to hearing back from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions if the question effectively serves the needs of LGBTQ applicants.”

Article source: http://editorial.advocate.com/education/2014/09/13/duke-university-makes-applications-more-welcoming-lgbt-hopefuls

German LGBT activist severely beaten in Belgrade

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

Belgrade (AFP) – A German man who participated at a conference on LGBT rights was in intensive care Saturday after he was severely beaten by unknown attackers in Belgrade, a doctor said.

Dusan Jovanovic from Belgrade’s Emergency centre said the man, identified only by the initials D.H. by police, was admitted with “life-threatening” injuries.

“He was received with severe head injuries and bleeding, so he has undergone surgery and put in intensive care as his condition is very serious,” Jovanovic told AFP.

The 26-year-old woke up later Saturday and communicated, but his condition “remains critical for next 24 hours,” Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar told reporters after visiting the man.

Police said they had arrested all three perpetrators of the attack, which happened in downtown Belgrade, but gave no further details.

Earlier, Serbia’s Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said he had ordered an urgent probe into the incident and vowed to find those responsible.

“We will not allow this kind of thing to remain unpunished… and we will arrest the German citizen’s attackers,” Stefanovic said in a statement.

The NGO Labris, which organised the conference on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) rights, held a protest march along central Belgrade streets.

The incident occurred two weeks ahead of a scheduled gay pride parade, the first since more than 150 people were wounded in clashes between security forces and ultra-nationalists in 2010.

Authorities in deeply patriarchal Serbia have banned gay pride marches ever since, citing security reasons.

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/german-lgbt-activist-severely-beaten-belgrade-182948627.html

Hollywood Isn't So Gay-Friendly After All?? It's True, According To THIS!

Friday, September 12th, 2014

First, Iggy Azalea claimed that it wasn’t her in the alleged sex tape.

Then she changed her story, as her legal team scrambled to say she was underage, and that the video was taken without her consent – two things that would completely keep Vivid or anyone else from making it public.

Well, now the other person involved is speaking up.

Her ex, rapper Hefe Wine, is not only verifying that the tape is legit; he’s also refuting Iggy’s defense!

He says that he and Iggy

[Image via Twitter.]

Article source: http://perezhilton.com/2014-09-11-gay-discrimination-in-hollywood-new-study

Hollywood discriminates against gay actors, claims LGBT thinktank report

Friday, September 12th, 2014

More than half of gay actors in Hollywood believe film-makers are biased against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) performers, according to a new study (pdf).

The report from the Williams Institute, a thinktank on gay issues at UCLA, also found that more than 50% of respondents had heard directors and producers make anti-gay comments about actors. A third of gay respondents said they had witnessed disrespectful treatment of LGBT performers on set, while one in eight non-LGBT performers had seen gay actors treated poorly.

While 53% of lesbian and gay actors were “out” to all or most of their fellow actors, the report found that only 36% had revealed to agents they were gay, and only 13% had told industry executives. One-fifth of gay male respondents and 13% of lesbians said they had experienced discrimination in the work environment.

“We found that LGBT performers may have substantial barriers to overcome in their search for jobs,” said the authors of the study, the UCLA academics MV Lee Badgett, and Jody L Herman. However, 72% of gay or lesbian performers who had openly disclosed their sexuality said it had not affected their careers and would encourage others to do the same.

The report, conducted in autumn 2012 and funded by the Screen Actors Guild producers industry advancement and cooperative fund, is based on interviews with 5,700 members of the Screen Actors Guild?American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. It was due to be presented formally on Thursday night at union meetings in New York and Los Angeles. Deadline first reported details of the study.

Other reports have found that women and Latinos are likewise underrepresented in Hollywood. A 2013 report commissioned by the Sundance film festival suggested that female directors are struggling in mainstream Hollywood despite appearing in greater numbers in the field of independent film. In July this year, another study revealed that 75% of employees on blockbuster film sets are male. A month later, a report found that Hollywood is failing to depict the increasing ethnic diversity of the US – specifically Latinos and African Americans – on the big screen.

Article source: http://feeds.theguardian.com/c/34708/f/663828/s/3e663bc7/sc/38/l/0L0Stheguardian0N0Cfilm0C20A140Csep0C120Chollywood0Ediscriminates0Eagainst0Egay0Eactors0Eclaims0Ethinktank/story01.htm

The Forsaken: A Rising Number of Homeless Gay Teens Are Being Cast Out by Religious Families

Friday, September 12th, 2014

While life gets better for millions of gays, the number of homeless LGBT teens — many cast out by their religious families — quietly keeps growing

Article source: http://time.com/3329396/gay-teens-rolling-stone/

Longtime gay rights activist Cleve Jones on LGBT movement in Las Vegas, progress at Culinary

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Christopher DeVargas

Cleve Jones, LGBT activist and founder of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, is shown Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014.

Friday, Sept. 12, 2014 | 2 a.m.

The past week was doubly significant for the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Las Vegas Pride celebrated its 31st year in Southern Nevada over the weekend. Then, on Monday, a federal appeals court in San Francisco heard oral arguments in a case challenging Nevada’s same-sex marriage ban .

On the eve of the weekend’s Pride festivities, four days before lawyers spoke before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a small crowd gathered for a panel about the case at the off-Strip offices of the Culinary Union Local 226. The union represents thousands of casino workers in Las Vegas and Reno.

One of the audience members there was Cleve Jones, a San Francisco-based LGBT activist who rose to prominence as the founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, which honors the lives of people lost to the autoimmune disease.

Jones conceived of the quilt as the result of a 1985 march commemorating the late mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person elected to public office in California. They were both assassinated in 1978.

Today, Jones works for UNITE HERE, the international union of hospitality workers in the United States and Canada, of which the Culinary is a local affiliate.

During his visit, Jones sat down with the Sun to discuss his work with the union as well as LGBT activism in Las Vegas and beyond. His answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Tell us a little bit about your work with the Culinary and how the organized labor and LGBT rights movements intersect.

My involvement with the labor movement and with this union actually goes back to the 1970s when I was mentored by Harvey Milk. When Harvey got elected, Local 2 — which is the counterpart of the Culinary in San Francisco — was a supporter of his. I was actually walking a Local 2 picket line the day Harvey got shot. I was an intern in his office. I’d been in the office that morning and he sent me home to get a file that I left at my apartment. I did a few rounds on the picket line and then somebody yelled at me that the mayor had been shot. So I’ve always believed in the coalition between the LGBT community and the labor movement. It really makes a difference in a very tangible way. Especially with gay rights — it gets to be so emotional, there’s all the slogans on both sides, but what we’re really talking about is economic security and fair treatment.

And in this town, this union has successfully negotiated contracts for many years now with almost all of the big employers. Those contracts protect LGBT people from arbitrary discrimination and also make sure that same-sex domestic partners are eligible for the health plan that covers over 120,000 people in Nevada.

How strong are the LGBT and labor movements are in Las Vegas compared to where they were when you first started coming here?

The LGBT community historically has not been strong in Las Vegas. But the Culinary understands that we have a lot of LGBT members, and we’ve made it one of our priorities. So for the last couple of years now, hundreds of our members have been participating in Pride and helping the community push this issue politically.

What do you think is the significance of Las Vegas Pride this year?

I just love seeing the community getting more and more organized. They have a new community center here that’s really state of the art, you see more and more people coming out to their family and friends and co-workers, you see more and more people politically involved. It’s just part of the bigger picture, which is that this issue that for so many decades was perceived as really limited to the most liberal jurisdictions is now truly spreading all across the country.

Are you hopeful about the outcome at the 9th Circuit?

I am extremely optimistic. My birthday is national coming out day, Oct. 11, and I’ll be 60 — I believe that I will see full equality under the law in my lifetime.

Do you include employment in that or are you just talking about marriage?

For me, frankly, the employment issue is more important. It’s another reason why I’m proud of this union, because it’s not just here that we negotiate contracts that protect people’s employment. We just won victory in Louisiana. The numbers may seem small to you, but in one of the casinos down there and one of the hotels, between the two I think it’s 1,800 workers now are protected from being fired because of sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s a contract that’s union negotiated. So even in a deep red state in the Deep South like Louisiana, we’re able to provide those protections.

What actions can people take to advance the employment issue?

First of all, we have to accept that for the foreseeable future Congress is going to do nothing on this or any other issue. So it’s more important than ever for local activists and state activists to push that in their Legislatures.

What are some other LGBT priorities, beyond marriage and beyond employment?

The level of violence directed at us is still high and it is unacceptable. I hear from these young people all the time who are afraid to go to school and I think it’s something that most straight people don’t even really begin to comprehend, how pervasive the violence is and the fear of violence. We’re born into all different kinds of families, but one of the things I think that unifies gay people is this experience of knowing that they are potentially going to experience violence.

But we know the strategy, and Harvey Milk told us what it was: He said you’ve got to come out of the closet and you’ve got to build coalitions. It’s cool to see how absolutely right on target he was.

There are a lot of conversations being had also about violence and discrimination against transgender people. What do you think the outlook is for that community?

The level of violence against transgender people is appalling. I think, regrettably, it’s going to be some time.

I’m sometimes frustrated with transgender activists, because I think they’ve had difficulty uniting themselves. I’ve been in conversations with a number of trans activists about the importance of really speaking clearly about what the political and legislative goals are rather than spending so much time talking about vocabulary.

If you talk to transgender people, there’s three things that come up over and over and over: violence, access to health care and employment. In our union, we didn’t even have to have a conversation about it. We negotiate contracts that protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and we provide health care. So we’re able to deal with two of those three.

But the level of violence, the frightening thing about it is — just as with gay people — it requires people to put themselves at some risk. Watching these plaintiffs in all these court cases all around the country has been really inspiring to me. These are ordinary folks. None of them set out to be heroes, most of them don’t even consider themselves activists, and to expose yourself and your family to that kind of scrutiny and condemnation is really very courageous. But we’re seeing it.

On transgender issues, I don’t if we’re at a “tipping point” yet. But there’s amazing progress. As an old man now who joined the Gay Liberation Front when I was 17, I never imagined I’d see all this.

Article source: http://lasvegassun.com/news/2014/sep/12/longtime-gay-rights-activist-cleve-jones-lgbt-move/

Washington County invites LGBT seniors to Beaverton for 'coffee and conversation'

Friday, September 12th, 2014

On Sept. 25, the Washington County Disability, Aging and Veteran Services Family Caregiver Support Program is holding a free “Coffee and Conversation” event for seniors in the LGBT community. Their friends, family members and caregivers are also invited.

The event will take place from 10-11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 25, at the Elsie Stuhr Center, located at 5550 SW Hall Blvd. in Beaverton.

Program coordinator Deborah Letourneau said in a press release that it’s important that seniors who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender know there are resources and support for them in Washington County. “This discussion is a safe place for them to share their concerns about maintaining their independence,” she said.

Registration is not required. Call 503-846-3083 with any questions.

–Anna Marum

Article source: http://www.oregonlive.com/beaverton/index.ssf/2014/09/washington_county_invites_lgbt.html

Victory Fund CEO Chuck Wolfe to Step Down

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

After 12 years and many significant electoral wins, Chuck Wolfe is resigning as CEO of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, the Washington Blade reports.

Wolfe notified the organization’s campaign board via email Wednesday. “After nearly 12 years leading Victory, and countless Election Days, I’m both ready and excited to do something different — though I can’t imagine doing something more rewarding, or working with people whom I respect and admire more,” Wolfe writes in the email, obtained by the Blade. He will leave at the end of the year, so he will be with the group through the November election.

Wolfe did not elaborate on the reason for his departure or his plans, and Victory Fund officials declined to comment further to the Blade. However, Wolfe has had some health problems, having suffered a heart attack recently, the paper notes.

Under Wolfe, Victory Fund, which seeks to increase the number of openly LGBT people in elective office, had some major wins, such as the election of out lesbian Annise Parker as mayor of Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, also a lesbian, as the first out LGBT member of the U.S. Senate.

Wolfe also headed the Victory Fund’s sibling organization, the Victory Institute, which provides training for LGBT public officials. The Victory Institute’s Presidential Appointments Project, initiated at the beginning of President Obama’s first term, led to the appointment of more than 250 LGBT people to federal government positions.

Victory Fund board chair Steve Elmendorf and Victory Institute board chair Debra Shore both praised Wolfe’s work. “The board and I are grateful for everything he’s done for Victory, but we also understand Chuck’s desire to do other things and take on new challenges,” Elmendorf told the Blade. Added Shore: “I join my board colleagues in thanking Chuck for his nearly 12 years of service to Victory, and for his vision and relentless focus on results.” A search for a new CEO will begin shortly, Elmendorf said.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/politics/2014/09/11/victory-fund-ceo-chuck-wolfe-step-down

StartOut & Launch Angels Announce Strategic Relationship to Support VentureOut LGBT Capital Fund

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

BOSTON, Sept. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Today StartOut and Launch Angels announce a strategic relationship with Launch Angels’ latest affinity venture fund, VentureOut. The Fund backs early stage ventures with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) founders and management team members, and it will help create the next generation of LGBT entrepreneurs. 

“The VentureOut Fund supports a central part of StartOut’s core mission: connecting LGBT entrepreneurs to sources of funding. StartOut seeks to build and empower the next generation of LGBT entrepreneurs and business leaders,” said Gene Falk, CEO of StartOut. “We’re delighted that Launch Angels has focused their newest affinity fund on the LGBT community, creating a new source of investment capital for gay-owned and managed business ventures nationwide.”

“It’s a privilege to be supported by a forward-looking organization like StartOut,” said Shereen Shermak, Launch Angels CEO. “Together we have the opportunity to build something meaningful and make a real impact on the LGBT entrepreneurial community.” 

“StartOut has built an incredible community of entrepreneurs, successful professionals, and investors in just five short years,” said Greg Wiles, Managing Director, VentureOut Fund. “The organization is a testament to the power of how the LGBT network can support one another within the small business community. We are excited to work with them in furthering our shared vision.”

About VentureOut
The VentureOut Fund leverages the power of the LGBT community to source opportunities and provide high-quality LGBT-led deal flow. Additionally, the fund will support LGBT entrepreneurs by connecting them to resources and mentors who can provide senior-level counsel and advice.

Targeting a close of $2 million, VentureOut will pool capital from 15-20 investors in order to have a large impact. It will invest in about 10 to 15 promising, scalable seed-stage companies and utilize the proven management capabilities of Launch Angels to provide investor relations, back office and investment support. A portion of the fund proceeds will be returned to the LGBT business community.

For more on VentureOut, please visit: http://launch-angels.com/funds/ventureout-fund/.

Investment Risks
Investors should consult with their financial and tax advisors before considering an investment. Early stage companies are risky investments, not suitable for all investors—even accredited ones.

About StartOut
Founded in 2009 with chapters in New York City and San Francisco, and now Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, Boston, and more in development, StartOut is a national non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to fostering and developing entrepreneurship in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (“LGBT”) community. It helps aspiring entrepreneurs to start new companies, empowers current entrepreneurs to grow and expand their businesses, and engages successful LGBT entrepreneurs as role models and mentors for up-and-coming business ventures. StartOuts’ goals are to educate, inspire, and support members of the LGBT community around entrepreneurship and business leadership through mentorship, education, and access to capital. For more information, visit http://www.startout.org.

About Launch Angels 
Launch Angels custom tailors Affinity Venture Funds to your group’s unique structure, investment goals, desired engagement level, and investment process. We work with you to define fund size, budget for each investment, and deal criteria, then handle all management, reporting, filing, and tracking. Follow us @Launch_angels  

Article source: http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/startout-launch-angels-announce-strategic-163000586.html

Move over, Argentina: Colombia vies to take over regional LGBT travel market

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

When Tatiana Piñeros took the helm of this city’s tourism agency in July, she became the face and an example of Colombia’s transformation.

Ms. Piñeros is the only transgender public official in a Catholic country where views on sexuality often skew conservative.

“I have a double responsibility,” Piñeros says on a recent weekday. “First, as a public servant who has to handle public resources, and second as a representative of a sector. I can help open doors for others simply by doing a good job.”

As Colombia sheds its image as a war-torn drug haven, it’s emerging as a regional economic power and a tourism destination. But the country is undergoing a more subtle shift as well, building a reputation as an LGBT-friendly hotspot. And Bogotá, a city of 6.7 million people high in the Andes, is at the vanguard of that change.

The Chapinero neighborhood – with its bars, nightclubs and shops – is the epicenter of the city’s gay culture. And perhaps there’s no bigger landmark than Theatron, a sprawling 21,300-square-foot dance club.

Edison Ramirez, one of the bar’s owners, says the city’s culture has changed dramatically in the 20 years since he first opened a gay-friendly bar.

“In 1994, we were getting pressured by the police and you couldn’t even put up a sign advertising your business,” Mr. Ramirez says. “It was something completely clandestine.”

Now, Theatron – thought to be one of Latin America’s largest LGBT nightclubs – attracts some 5,000 people on a weekend, including visitors from around the world. After Colombia, most of the clientele comes from the United States, Venezuela, Germany, Spain, Mexico, and Brazil, according to the club’s records.

But nightlife is just the most visible example of the shifting tide. About 19 months ago, Colombia became only the second country in Latin America to have a Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. (The other one is in Argentina.)

Felipe Cardenas is the president of the organization, which has almost 150 members in six cities. He said he’s been surprised by the chamber’s growth. Along with LGBT-owned businesses, companies like Delta, Barefoot Wine, and the country’s largest chain of bookstores, Panamericana, have signed on.

“This society was incredibly closed,” Mr. Cardenas says of Colombia, “but over the last five years I think people have come to understand that this isn’t a passing fad, it’s a reality.”

And corporations are waking up to the power of LGBT dollars, he says. In October, the chamber is holding the We Trade Business Summit where US corporations will be looking for LGBT suppliers in Colombia. The event is being co-sponsored by the US Agency for International Development and falls under the umbrella of the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

Justin Nelson is the president and co-founder of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC, that helped launch the Colombian organization. The US chamber has a $4 million USAID contract to set up similar business groups in Mexico, Peru, Costa Rica, Uruguay, and Chile.

While Colombia is just beginning to make a name for itself, it’s strategically positioned to tap into the estimated $75 billion market of LGBT travelers from the United States, and steal some of Argentina’s business, Mr. Nelson says.

“I love Buenos Aires, but it’s also 13 hours away,” he says. Colombia, on the other hand, is about 5 hours from New York and less than 4 hours from Miami.

“The gay traveler is on the move and they’re looking for places where they are going to be welcome,” he says, “where there’s nightlife, restaurants, beaches – and that is something that Colombia has to offer.”

Aviatur, one of Colombia’s oldest travel companies with more than 4,000 employees, started a division called GayTravel just a few years ago. Last year, that division had about 2,000 clients and is seeing growth of 20 to 30 percent.

Most of the business, however, involves sending Colombians to gay-friendly destinations like Argentina, Mexico and Spain, says Aviatur President Sammy Bessudo.

“Colombia is just getting started in the LGBT market as a product,” he says. “The countries that have managed to capture that niche have been able to do so largely because they’ve created accepting environments and that has included changing their laws.”

Mexico, Argentina, and Spain, for example, allow same-sex marriage and use it as part of their tourist draw. Colombia recognized same sex civil unions in 2007. Just last week the court ruled that gay couples can adopt a child as long as one of them is the biological parent. The country is also coming out in other ways: there are two openly gay women in the presidential cabinet and at least two lesbians in congress.


Discrimination ‘still an issue’

Even so, the picture is not entirely rosy here. In its recent report on violations against the LGBT community, Colombia Diversa, a civil society group, recorded more than 100 acts of aggression, including 87 homicides, in 2012. It also recorded 28 acts of police violence against the community, half of them against transgender women. Finally, the report also found that threats to LGBT members were on the rise, particularly in parts of the country where the 50-year civil conflict is most intense.

Toby de Lys and his partner Tigre Haller moved to Bogotá from the United States almost six years ago and they have since become some of the city’s biggest LGBT boosters.

As they were doing research for their guidebook, ¡Bogota! A bilingual guide to the enchanted city, they engaged in a social experiment: holding hands and being affectionate in different neighborhoods throughout the city.

“The entire city is gay friendly,” Lys concluded. “I am shocked that no one has thrown a bottle at us yet. They would throw a bottle at us in Greenwich Village.”

But discrimination is still an issue, Piñeros says. While society is changing, not everyone has kept pace with the city’s progressive laws. Transgender people often struggle to find work and many gays and lesbians remain closeted to keep their jobs, she said.

“The private sector has to separate the issues of diversity and religion,” she says.

Piñeros recognizes she’s something of a trailblazers for Colombia’s LGBT community, but she said the issues she’s tackling go beyond her identity as a transgender woman.

“What I’m interested in is diversity,” she says. “A city that’s friendly to the LGBT community is going to be friendly to anyone, regardless of their race or ethnicity.”

Article source: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2014/0911/Move-over-Argentina-Colombia-vies-to-take-over-regional-LGBT-travel-market

Teen's Suicide Highlights Struggle of LGBT Colombians

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Two photos — one haunting, the other simply poignant — published separately last weekend by two Spanish-language news organizations tell the story of Colombian society’s urgent need to reconcile its religiously conservative culture with acceptance and respect for its LGBT men, women, and children.

The first photo, published by ConfidencialColombia, is of a handsome young Colombian who committed suicide recently, after his teachers and school administrators allegedly harassed him because he was gay. Sergio Urrego was just 16 years old when he took his life. 

The second photo, published by El Spectador, shows Urrego’s mother, Alba Reyes, with solemn eyes narrowed to a point of focus that only mothers of lost children know. She is holding a photo of her son, flanked by her and an older woman. 

According to the Washington Blade, Urrego died last month after reportedly being discriminated against by administrators and a teacher at his high school who saw a cell phone photo of him kissing his boyfriend.

GLAAD reports that upon learning of the cell phone photo, the school’s principal called a meeting of students and teachers to announce that Urrego was an “anarchist,” an “atheist,” and a “homosexual.”

As his family mourns, LGBT activists in Colombia are demanding action against those responsible for the alleged harassment at Gimnasio Castillo Campestre, a Catholic school that Urrego attended for six years. 

It is unclear what actions, if any will, be taken against the school and those involved in the alleged abuse. El Espectador notes that Urrego and his parents had requested meetings with school and district officials to discuss the antigay harassment Urrego was enduring at the hands of those who were paid to educate and protect him, but school officials claimed Urrego’s problems were based at home, with parents who did not accept his sexual orientation.

The appalling incident stands in sharp contrast to more positive developments for LGBT Colombians that made headlines recently.

While some courts in Colombia have been pushing the envelope toward greater acceptance of LGBT people, Colombian society — with 90 percent of the population identifying as Catholic — has lagged behind the law. In 2011, marriage equality was granted by default when Congress failed to pass a law to give same-sex couples their own, separate-but-equal version of marriage before a deadline imposed by the country’s Constitutional Court passed.

But even Luis Ernesto Vargas, presiding judge on Colombia’s Constitutional Court, who has decided cases in favor of LGBT equality, warns against pushing society too hard or too fast.

“You can’t force society to take a giant leap,” a New York Times editorial quoted Vargas as saying. The editorial lauded the court’s landmark decision granting a lesbian couple joint guardianship of one partner’s biological child.

Advocates fighting for LGBT rights on the ground say the only way to prevent the kind of bullying Urrego suffered is to stand up to it.

“Antigay bullying and anti-LGBT hate are still far too common in Latin America and the rest of the world,” wrote Monica Tresandes, director of Spanish-language media at GLAAD, in an article about the recent suicide. Tresandes urges anyone who would like to express support for Urrego and his family to participate in GLAAD’s October 16 #spiritday campaign against bullying.

Someone in the world dies via suicide every 40 seconds. Get help or learn more about preventing suicide at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273 TALK (8255). If you or someone you love is an LGBT youth struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, contact the Trevor Project‘s Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386.  Finally, watch the World Health Organization’s video (below) about how suicide affects those left behind:

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/world/2014/09/10/teens-suicide-highlights-struggle-lgbt-colombians

Africa: LGBT Visibility in Africa Also Brings Backlash

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

United Nations — Eighteen-year-old Gift Makau enjoyed playing and refereeing football games in her neighbourhood in the North West Province of South Africa. She had come out to her parents as a lesbian and had never been heckled by her community, according to her cousin.

On Aug. 15 she was found by her mother in a back alley, where she had been raped, tortured and killed.

Shehnilla Mohamed, Africa director for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGHLRC), said that Gift’s murder was part of a disturbing trend in which gender-nonconforming individuals are targeted for so-called corrective rape.

“Corrective rape is really the attempt of the society to try to punish the person for acting outside the norm,” Mohamed said.

In the past 10 years in South Africa, 31 lesbians have been reported killed as the result of corrective rape, she said. A charity called Luleki Sizwe estimates that 10 lesbians are raped or gang raped a week in Cape Town alone.

Transgender, gay or effeminate men are also the subject of corrective rape, but they are less likely to be murdered and are less likely to report it.

If this is happening in South Africa, the only mainland African country to allow legal same-sex marriage, what is it like to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) elsewhere on the continent?

“The type of brutality that you see happening to lesbians and to homosexuals in parts of Africa is just beyond comprehension,” Mohamed told IPS. “It’s like your worst horror movie, and even worse than that.”

More than two-thirds of African countries have laws criminalising consensual same-sex acts, according to IGLHRC.

“Overall what we’ve seen is a fairly bleak picture that’s emerging,” said Graeme Reid, director of the LGBT Program at Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Africa is seeing “an intensification of the political use of homophobia,” he said.

Nigeria and Uganda made headlines in early 2014 when they signed anti-homosexuality bills that handed out long prison sentences for being homosexual or for refusing to turn in a known homosexual.

On Aug. 1, Uganda’s law was declared unconstitutional on procedural grounds by its supreme court, but Shehnilla Mohamed expects that it will be back on the table again once international attention shifts away.

Long-time African leaders who wish to extend their stay in office often try to whip up anti-homosexuality sentiment.

“Homophobia becomes both a ruse and a distraction from other real substantive issues, whether those are economic or political,” Graeme Reid said.

Chalwe Mwansa, a Zambian activist and IGHLRC fellow, told IPS that in his country, politicians equate cases of pedophilia and incest with homosexuality, fabricating sensational stories to inflame the public. This strategy diverts attention away from problems with unemployment, poverty, health and education.

Some leaders also claim that homosexuality is an un-African, Western imposition. Mohamed believes it is the exact opposite.

Article source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201409101336.html

Africa: LGBT Visibility in Africa Also Brings Backlash

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

United Nations — Eighteen-year-old Gift Makau enjoyed playing and refereeing football games in her neighbourhood in the North West Province of South Africa. She had come out to her parents as a lesbian and had never been heckled by her community, according to her cousin.

On Aug. 15 she was found by her mother in a back alley, where she had been raped, tortured and killed.

Shehnilla Mohamed, Africa director for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGHLRC), said that Gift’s murder was part of a disturbing trend in which gender-nonconforming individuals are targeted for so-called corrective rape.

“Corrective rape is really the attempt of the society to try to punish the person for acting outside the norm,” Mohamed said.

In the past 10 years in South Africa, 31 lesbians have been reported killed as the result of corrective rape, she said. A charity called Luleki Sizwe estimates that 10 lesbians are raped or gang raped a week in Cape Town alone.

Transgender, gay or effeminate men are also the subject of corrective rape, but they are less likely to be murdered and are less likely to report it.

If this is happening in South Africa, the only mainland African country to allow legal same-sex marriage, what is it like to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) elsewhere on the continent?

“The type of brutality that you see happening to lesbians and to homosexuals in parts of Africa is just beyond comprehension,” Mohamed told IPS. “It’s like your worst horror movie, and even worse than that.”

More than two-thirds of African countries have laws criminalising consensual same-sex acts, according to IGLHRC.

“Overall what we’ve seen is a fairly bleak picture that’s emerging,” said Graeme Reid, director of the LGBT Program at Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Africa is seeing “an intensification of the political use of homophobia,” he said.

Nigeria and Uganda made headlines in early 2014 when they signed anti-homosexuality bills that handed out long prison sentences for being homosexual or for refusing to turn in a known homosexual.

On Aug. 1, Uganda’s law was declared unconstitutional on procedural grounds by its supreme court, but Shehnilla Mohamed expects that it will be back on the table again once international attention shifts away.

Long-time African leaders who wish to extend their stay in office often try to whip up anti-homosexuality sentiment.

“Homophobia becomes both a ruse and a distraction from other real substantive issues, whether those are economic or political,” Graeme Reid said.

Chalwe Mwansa, a Zambian activist and IGHLRC fellow, told IPS that in his country, politicians equate cases of pedophilia and incest with homosexuality, fabricating sensational stories to inflame the public. This strategy diverts attention away from problems with unemployment, poverty, health and education.

Some leaders also claim that homosexuality is an un-African, Western imposition. Mohamed believes it is the exact opposite.

Article source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201409101336.html

Hooray for Vivian Boyack, Alice Dubes, and LGBT love beating the bigots

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

The story of most gay people throughout modern history has been one of fear, denial, shame and misery. Treated like lepers and perverts by most societies, pursued and sometimes brutalised by agents of the state, persecuted by the bitter bigotry of their own neighbours. The desperation to conform – or even the internalisation of society’s rejection – leaves many with lives stripped of happiness, having been forced into relationships based by a desire for an easy life, lovers left as collateral damage. And all this because of one of the most basic human urges: to love and be loved.

That’s why the story of Alice “Nonie” Dubes and Vivian Boyack is so moving. The two fell almost instantly in love with each other in Iowa in 1942. In all too many corners of the United States today – or Britain, for that matter – the idea of two women having a loving, sexual relationship remains something to be rejected or ridiculed. But their story began in the middle of world war two, more than 25 years before the Stonewall riots, 36 years before Iowa’s anti-gay laws began to be repealed, when Harvey Milk was only a 12-year-old boy, and decades before superstars like Ellen DeGeneres or Drew Barrymore could happily describe themselves as lesbian or bisexual. Could they possibly have imagined that – nearly 75 years later – they would be legally able to be married in a church, deemed equal before the law, no longer treated by the state as objects of persecution, pity or hatred?

Alice and Vivian are important, because they show what struggle achieves. In the here and now, injustice often looks inevitable, too overwhelming and hegemonic to ever be swept away. The idea that their once forbidden love could be blessed in a church would – in 1940s America – have seemed like an impossible dream. And indeed the prejudice and repression faced by LGBT people did not sweep itself away; it was not a case of the powerful waking up, deciding as an act of compassion that equality should suddenly be granted from on high. Instead, people had to fight for it, often at great personal cost. We know of the inspirational American LGBT icons like Harvey Milk, but often those who all LGBT people owe for their liberation remain nameless, absent from the history books, but no less heroic.

In China we see the same testament to struggle – and a reminder of the fight that still remains. The marriage of Brian Davidson – the 55-year-old British consul-general to Shanghai – to his US partner, in the British ambassador to China’s official residence, became a social media sensation. In China itself, it spurred an online debate about whether the country should legalise gay marriage: a huge step, given that Chinese LGBT people still face persecution, including electroshock therapy. But an online poll for China’s microblogging site Weibo found that 89,000 supported equal marriage, with only 8,000 opposed.

There is still a long way for LGBT people to go. In much of the world, they remain persecuted by the state, even facing the prospect of death in countries like Saudi Arabia or Iraq. Transgendered people still confront legal repression and widespread social stigma, with more than 200 transgendered people killed across the world last year. Even in nations like our own – where lesbians and gays have been granted formal equality before the law – homophobia persists as an invisible authoritarian regime, with the constant fear of abuse or attack for simply publicly demonstrating affection with a partner. Because of how they are treated, LGBT people are more susceptible to mental distress and – horribly – suicide.

But, occasionally, it is important to take stock. Demonstrating how far we have come – and paying tribute to those who struggled against what seemed like insurmountable odds – helps to spur us on to finish the fight. Alice and Vivian – now both in their early 90s – are finally able to publicly confirm their love. And, as they do so, they stand on the shoulders of all those who fought against bigotry and persecution.

Article source: http://feeds.theguardian.com/c/34708/f/663828/s/3e52a16a/sc/7/l/0L0Stheguardian0N0Ccommentisfree0C20A140Csep0C10A0Calice0Enonie0Edubes0Evivian0Eboyack0Elgbt0Elove0Egay0Emarriage0E720Eyears/story01.htm

Hooray for Vivian Boyack, Alice Dubes, and LGBT love beating the bigots

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

The story of most gay people throughout modern history has been one of fear, denial, shame and misery. Treated like lepers and perverts by most societies, pursued and sometimes brutalised by agents of the state, persecuted by the bitter bigotry of their own neighbours. The desperation to conform – or even the internalisation of society’s rejection – leaves many with lives stripped of happiness, having been forced into relationships based by a desire for an easy life, lovers left as collateral damage. And all this because of one of the most basic human urges: to love and be loved.

That’s why the story of Alice “Nonie” Dubes and Vivian Boyack is so moving. The two fell almost instantly in love with each other in Iowa in 1942. In all too many corners of the United States today – or Britain, for that matter – the idea of two women having a loving, sexual relationship remains something to be rejected or ridiculed. But their story began in the middle of world war two, more than 25 years before the Stonewall riots, 36 years before Iowa’s anti-gay laws began to be repealed, when Harvey Milk was only a 12-year-old boy, and decades before superstars like Ellen DeGeneres or Drew Barrymore could happily describe themselves as lesbian or bisexual. Could they possibly have imagined that – nearly 75 years later – they would be legally able to be married in a church, deemed equal before the law, no longer treated by the state as objects of persecution, pity or hatred?

Alice and Vivian are important, because they show what struggle achieves. In the here and now, injustice often looks inevitable, too overwhelming and hegemonic to ever be swept away. The idea that their once forbidden love could be blessed in a church would – in 1940s America – have seemed like an impossible dream. And indeed the prejudice and repression faced by LGBT people did not sweep itself away; it was not a case of the powerful waking up, deciding as an act of compassion that equality should suddenly be granted from on high. Instead, people had to fight for it, often at great personal cost. We know of the inspirational American LGBT icons like Harvey Milk, but often those who all LGBT people owe for their liberation remain nameless, absent from the history books, but no less heroic.

In China we see the same testament to struggle – and a reminder of the fight that still remains. The marriage of Brian Davidson – the 55-year-old British consul-general to Shanghai – to his US partner, in the British ambassador to China’s official residence, became a social media sensation. In China itself, it spurred an online debate about whether the country should legalise gay marriage: a huge step, given that Chinese LGBT people still face persecution, including electroshock therapy. But an online poll for China’s microblogging site Weibo found that 89,000 supported equal marriage, with only 8,000 opposed.

There is still a long way for LGBT people to go. In much of the world, they remain persecuted by the state, even facing the prospect of death in countries like Saudi Arabia or Iraq. Transgendered people still confront legal repression and widespread social stigma, with more than 200 transgendered people killed across the world last year. Even in nations like our own – where lesbians and gays have been granted formal equality before the law – homophobia persists as an invisible authoritarian regime, with the constant fear of abuse or attack for simply publicly demonstrating affection with a partner. Because of how they are treated, LGBT people are more susceptible to mental distress and – horribly – suicide.

But, occasionally, it is important to take stock. Demonstrating how far we have come – and paying tribute to those who struggled against what seemed like insurmountable odds – helps to spur us on to finish the fight. Alice and Vivian – now both in their early 90s – are finally able to publicly confirm their love. And, as they do so, they stand on the shoulders of all those who fought against bigotry and persecution.

Article source: http://feeds.theguardian.com/c/34708/f/663828/s/3e52a16a/sc/7/l/0L0Stheguardian0N0Ccommentisfree0C20A140Csep0C10A0Calice0Enonie0Edubes0Evivian0Eboyack0Elgbt0Elove0Egay0Emarriage0E720Eyears/story01.htm

Sports diversity leadership conference to focus on LGBT equality in sports in

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

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The EPIC Sports Conference is bringing some of the country’s leading experts on inclusion – and LGBT inclusion in particular – to high school athletes and coaches in Denver.

The first EPIC Sports Conference (Equality, Participation and Inclusion in Colorado) will take place next Monday at the University of Denver. EPIC is a leadership conference for high school athletes and coaches interested in engaging more in diversity inclusion, including LGBT issues.

The conference is being organized by Micah Porter, the D’Evelyn High School track coach who came out publicly last year. It’s modeled after a similar leadership conference created by Saunders High School basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo.

“Never in my life would I have thought that a conference encouraging an inclusive sporting world in the Mile High City would be occurring, much less me organizing it,” Porter said. “It all seems so surreal. The very people who lifted me up during some of the darkest times of my life are coming to Denver to support this effort to promote tolerance and equality in athletics.”

The event is funded by the LGBT Sports Coalition, which is powered by Nike. The You Can Play Project, which has helped organize the event, will be unveiling its high school sports playbook at the conference. The playbook was written by Porter and is an easy-to-use guide to educate coaches and administrators on how to approach LGBT issues in sports.

“Having these conferences in various parts of the country is so important,” Nicodemo said. “We are able to spread the message of the LGBT Sports Coalition that inclusion is an essential part of athletics.”

Some of the presenters and speakers at the conference include:

Mike Biselli: former Stanford football player
Wade Davis: former NFL player, Executive Director of You Can Play
Josh Dixon: USA Gymnast
Kate Fagan: ESPN Reporter/Writer
Pat Griffin: University of Massachusetts
Katie Hnida: first female Div. I football player
Marsanne Lavoie: recreational hockey player
Chris Mosier: nationally sponsored triathlete, founder of transathlete.com
Anthony Nicodemo: High School Basketball Coach, Yonkers, New York
Derek Schell: Former Div. II basketball player
Tom Southall: Coach, Paralympian advocate
Sean Smith: former Div. 1 swimmer, GO! Athletes
Cyd Zeigler: co-founder of Outsports

More from sbnation.com:

Article source: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/sports-diversity-leadership-conference-focus-175216047.html

Sports diversity leadership conference to focus on LGBT equality in sports in

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

View photo

.

The EPIC Sports Conference is bringing some of the country’s leading experts on inclusion – and LGBT inclusion in particular – to high school athletes and coaches in Denver.

The first EPIC Sports Conference (Equality, Participation and Inclusion in Colorado) will take place next Monday at the University of Denver. EPIC is a leadership conference for high school athletes and coaches interested in engaging more in diversity inclusion, including LGBT issues.

The conference is being organized by Micah Porter, the D’Evelyn High School track coach who came out publicly last year. It’s modeled after a similar leadership conference created by Saunders High School basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo.

“Never in my life would I have thought that a conference encouraging an inclusive sporting world in the Mile High City would be occurring, much less me organizing it,” Porter said. “It all seems so surreal. The very people who lifted me up during some of the darkest times of my life are coming to Denver to support this effort to promote tolerance and equality in athletics.”

The event is funded by the LGBT Sports Coalition, which is powered by Nike. The You Can Play Project, which has helped organize the event, will be unveiling its high school sports playbook at the conference. The playbook was written by Porter and is an easy-to-use guide to educate coaches and administrators on how to approach LGBT issues in sports.

“Having these conferences in various parts of the country is so important,” Nicodemo said. “We are able to spread the message of the LGBT Sports Coalition that inclusion is an essential part of athletics.”

Some of the presenters and speakers at the conference include:

Mike Biselli: former Stanford football player
Wade Davis: former NFL player, Executive Director of You Can Play
Josh Dixon: USA Gymnast
Kate Fagan: ESPN Reporter/Writer
Pat Griffin: University of Massachusetts
Katie Hnida: first female Div. I football player
Marsanne Lavoie: recreational hockey player
Chris Mosier: nationally sponsored triathlete, founder of transathlete.com
Anthony Nicodemo: High School Basketball Coach, Yonkers, New York
Derek Schell: Former Div. II basketball player
Tom Southall: Coach, Paralympian advocate
Sean Smith: former Div. 1 swimmer, GO! Athletes
Cyd Zeigler: co-founder of Outsports

More from sbnation.com:

Article source: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/sports-diversity-leadership-conference-focus-175216047.html

A Culture of Inclusion

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

I’ve been at MasterCard 20 years and it’s amazing to me how far we’ve come on LGBT rights in such a short time. Our company has shown a commitment to diversity and inclusion over the years — way before it was the “fashionable” thing to do. And, it’s not just on this issue.

Our employees live in all corners of the world and bring with them unique perspectives and backgrounds that strengthen our business. Our culture of inclusion empowers employees who use their diverse thought, experience and background to advance innovation and MasterCard’s contributions to society.

Globally, we have eight Business Resource Groups with more than 4,000 members who are all drawn together by common interests. BRGs provide employees the chance to spread cultural awareness, develop leadership skills and network with colleagues.

I think the design of the BRGs is genius — they’re open to anybody. You don’t have to be woman to be in the Women’s Leadership Network or of Latin descent to be in the Latin Network. That kind of openness and the ability to attract people with like interests has been a real win for MasterCard.

But on LGBT equality, our CEO, Ajay Banga, is a true champion of diversity. His efforts have really taken our programs to the next level. We now offer transgender benefits and we created a program that allows domestic partners to get benefits without being penalized with an additional tax. That’s what earned us the 100 percent score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index in 2014.

LGBT rights is a personal issue for me, and the reason why I became the executive sponsor of the PRIDE BRG when it formed in 2008. My oldest son came out to my wife and me in 1999. Since then, we’ve taken a heightened interest in LGBT issues.

Eighteen months ago, we got to see our son Matt and his partner, Jordan, get married in New York — an incredible experience — one I never expected to see. People talk to me when their children are coming out and I always tell them, join PRIDE, get involved, and most of all love your kids.

 

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/business/equality-allies/2014/09/10/culture-inclusion

Are Corporations The New LGBT Advocates?

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

We’re at 19 states and counting when it comes to same-sex marriage, which is great. But most people don’t realize there are still 32 states where you can be fired just for being LGBT.

President Obama’s executive order is only for federal contractors and the proposed national law (ENDA) is flawed and stalled in congress.

The next frontier for LGBT rights is in the workplace with corporations leading the way where state and federal law falls short.

Finding equality in the workplace is an issue many LGBT people struggle with every day.

Out Equal Workplace Advocates is a non-profit group dedicated to bringing about equality on the job and has been working with companies for almost 20 years to educate employers and staff on how to be more inclusive.

Many CEOs will say Out Equal was instrumental in their evolution on LGBT rights.

The trend of corporations taking the lead on LGBT equality has paved the way for more societal acceptance. Earlier this year, companies like Coca-Cola in Georgia and Marriott in Arizona led the opposition to proposed anti-gay legislation.

Many corporations now understand how good it is for business if the cities and states they operate in aren’t labeled as discriminatory. They want access to a LGBT talent pool.

Thousands of corporate employees attend the annual Out Equal Workplace Summit, the world’s largest convening of LGBT and allied professionals. The 2014 Workplace Summit is in San Francisco Nov. 3-6.

OutandEqual.org

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/business/equality-allies/2014/09/10/are-corporations-new-lgbt-advocates

Tailored Investment Planning Solutions For Same-Sex Couples

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Let’s face it. Talking about money isn’t easy. Every legislative action that affects domestic partnerships has the potential to impact your financial situation and investment goals.

The good news? You don’t have to be an expert to have a thoughtful approach to building wealth and achieving your long- term financial goals.

As the changing laws become increasingly complex, LGBT investors see the merits of working with financial professionals specifically trained to understand the unique needs of LGBT couples.

More than one year after a Supreme Court decision and subsequent court decisions on same-sex marriage, LGBT investors still struggle to understand changing laws and are concerned about the financial and legal implications involved, according to a recent Wells Fargo survey.

A majority of LGBT investors surveyed (83%) do not fully understand how federal and state laws apply to them, including two-thirds (67%) of those who are currently in legal same-sex marriages. Despite the confusion, fewer than half surveyed (47%) who are in same-sex marriages or partnerships have sought guidance to help them figure out how recent court rulings and laws impact them personally.

Wells Fargo Advisors is here to help. We’ve been at the forefront of the financial services industry’s efforts to meet the needs of the LGBT community. In 2009, in partnership with the College for Financial Planning®, we created the Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisors (ADPA®) designation. Financial Advisors who earn this designation are well equipped to work with domestic partners and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) clients to develop a thoughtful approach to help identify and work toward their financial goals. Today, Wells Fargo Advisors has more than 100 ADPA-certified Financial Advisors nationwide, more than any other firm in the country.

For more information on financial services offered to LGBT individuals and couples, please visit wellsfargo.com/lgbt.


Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC is a registered broker-dealer and a separate non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo Company 0714-03986

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/business/equality-allies/2014/09/10/tailored-investment-planning-solutions-same-sex-couples

Former health secretary to accept award at LGBT medical conference in Baltimore

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius will be on hand in Baltimore this week to receive an award for improving federal health policy for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, according to a national association of LGBT and allied medical professionals.

The organization GLMA — formerly known as the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association — expects more than 400 attendees at its annual conference, scheduled from Wednesday through Saturday at the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel.

Sebelius served as the nation’s health secretary from 2009 until earlier this year, when she resigned after accepting responsibility for the troubled rollout of the Affordable Care Act and its HealthCare.gov platform.

Technical problems with the website that stopped people from signing up for health coverage under President Barack Obama’s signature health law were mirrored across the country in states that launched their own websites, including Maryland.

During her tenure, GLMA said Sebelius “oversaw and led a rapid transformation in how the federal government addressed the health and well-being of LGBT people,” from making sure the Affordable Care Act was inclusive of LGBT communities to establishing new regulations for hospital visitations by same-sex couples.

Sebelius also increased funding for LGBT programs, including community center trainings and a national resource center on LGBT aging, and incorporated LGBT identity more explicitly into national health studies.

“As Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius’ leadership on LGBT health and equality was unparalleled,” said GLMA President Henry Ng in a statement. “The LGBT community is grateful to her and we are honored she will join us next week to accept the GLMA Achievement Award.”

The award will be presented on Thursday, the group said.

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Article source: http://baltimore.feedsportal.com/c/34255/f/623016/s/3e41c3e1/sc/8/l/0L0Sbaltimoresun0N0Cnews0Cmaryland0Cbs0Egm0Esebelius0Eaward0Eat0Elgbt0Emedical0Econference0Ein0Ebaltimore0E20A140A90A80H0A0H290A4480A0Bstory0Dtrack0Frss/story01.htm

Lives of Ontario LGBT cops revealed in new study

Monday, September 8th, 2014

“They want to be a tough law enforcer but they don’t want to give up who they are, and that’s fundamentally where they’re trying to figure it out. They’re trying to figure out how to be a gay cop and the cop that other cops will say, ‘Yeah, I want them on (my) platoon,’ ” Couto said.

Article source: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/09/08/lives_of_ontario_lgbt_cops_revealed_in_new_study.html

'Teen Wolf' Cast Weighs In on LGBT Inclusion

Monday, September 8th, 2014

In the world of Teen Wolf, homophobia is nonexistent. Among the characters on the show, differences in sexuality are accepted with the same ease as differences in eye color, and a romance between gay characters is depicted in the same manner as its straight counterpart. This gained the show a loyal pack of LGBT fans who have followed the adventures of Beacon Hills High School’s supernatural students over the past four seasons.

We recently sat down with several members of the show’s cast and asked them to weigh in on Teen Wolf’s inclusion of LGBT characters and the positive impact the show’s homophobia-free world is having on young viewers.

Tyler Posey (Scott McCall)
On the fan reaction to Teen Wolf’s inclusion of LGBT characters:

We do it in such a natural way. It’s not forced or over-the-top or anything like that. I think it’s perfect and natural, and I think the kids that watch the show really do respect the way we include gay characters. That’s why Charlie (Carver) and Keahu (Kahuanui) — the characters they play are so popular. We love it and we’re happy to be able to show kids that it’s OK to be who you are.

Tyler Hoechlin (Derek Hale)
On Teen Wolf’s inclusion of LGBT characters:
I love that it’s a freedom that we’ve had with MTV, and (executive producer) Jeff (Davis) has done a great job of keeping that a central part of the show. It’s an important thing that the demographic that’s watching the show is being introduced to that and is able to see it. I think it’s a fantastic thing that we’ve been able to integrate into the show.

J.R. Bourne (Chris Argent)
On Teen Wolf’s portrayal of a world where homophobia is nonexistent:
For so long there weren’t any movies, TV shows, books, or comics for gay people to be able to go to and see themselves [reflected]. So to have the inclusion of gay characters be so nonchalant on Teen Wolf, it’s a complete pleasure to be a part of it, and I hope that it becomes a blueprint for more shows in the future.

Holland Roden (Lydia Matin)
On the importance of LGBT visibility on Teen Wolf:

I live under a rock in some ways, because I live in West Hollywood and I work on Teen Wolf. So, it almost seems strange for me talk about … LGBT issues and a lack of visibility because I’m in a space now where LGBT people aren’t invisible. But we need to remember it’s not like that everywhere, and a big part of the issue is a lack of visibility in some parts of the world. So I’m grateful for the visibility Teen Wolf offers.

Dylan O’Brien (Stiles Stilinski)
On the fan reaction to Teen Wolf’s portrayal of a world where homophobia is nonexistent:
It should be represented this way, and it makes me happy to be a part of a show that represents so well. To even think that some shows don’t or just don’t promote it as being a part of their show or don’t have time for it blows my mind. I’ve come to be very grateful for the fact that our show does, and it sets a good example. It’s important for [LGBT kids] to know it’s all good.

Shelley Hennig (Maila Tate)
On Teen Wolf depicting heterosexual and same-sex romance in the same light:
I like that we don’t make a big deal about it. It’s just a part of the show, and I think that’s how [the entire cast] looks at same-sex couples in life, because it’s normal to us.

Dylan Sprayberry (Liam Dunbar)
On the addition of his character’s gay best friend, Mason Dye, played by Khylin Rambo:
I think it’s great that our show has a lot of diversity. It’s awesome that we have new characters like Khylin’s representing the LGBT community, and it’s great that our show is not scared to represent anyone from [any background].

Ian Bohen (Peter Hale)
On being a part of a show that furthers visibility for LGBT youth:
I am honored to be on a show like Teen Wolf that presents an inclusive world for young gay and lesbian people. LGBT equality is one of the biggest causes I support, and the thought of bullying someone because of who they are, who they love, or because they’re not sure is horrifying to me. So if we can bring some visibility to young gay people, I’m beyond thrilled and I’m happy to stand with [LGBT people]. I know them. I work with them. They are my best friends and they deserve the same equal treatment as every other human being. If we can highlight that on TV, then all the better. Equality is coming and it can’t be stopped. 

Article source: http://vowser.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/2014/09/08/teen-wolf-cast-weighs-lgbt-inclusion

Exporting Equality With the Pink Dollar

Monday, September 8th, 2014

This year has been a complicated one for corporate America’s equality efforts. In February the Winter Olympics in Sochi forced many companies into the awkward position of condemning Russia’s LGBT crackdown while still honoring multimillion-dollar sponsorships. It was a dilemma few corporations negotiated gracefully. Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, for example, suffered a global backlash that saw activists hijack and subvert their marketing campaigns.

In June, Burger King introduced the Proud Whopper at San Francisco Pride. With its beguiling name and distinctive rainbow wrapper, the hamburger invited customers to expect something unique. In fact, it was the same old sandwich dressed in a custom package printed with the slogan we are all the same inside. Burger King’s accompanying promotional video, filmed on location in San Francisco, immediately went viral, garnering more than 5 million hits on YouTube along with ubiquitous media coverage.

Responses to the video offer a kind of heat map of how America perceives such cause marketing. Andrew Isen, president of the Washington, D.C.–based WinMark Concepts, told The Washington Post, “They [Burger King] made a decision to connect to the gay community in a way that no other company in their category or industry has done.” Other observers were less impressed. Riese Bernard, editor in chief of Autostraddle, wrote, “Eating fast food is inherently not progressive regardless of the company’s positive or negative feelings about the LGBTQ community.”

The problem isn’t just private companies jumping on the equality bandwagon, which, in itself, can still pay dividends. It’s when those same companies endorse equality without ensuring their own HR policies are inclusive. Burger King, for example, scored 55 on the Corporate Equality Index, the national benchmark for LGBT workplace policy. In the words of the Human Rights Campaign, which administers the CEI, “It’s a score that reflects, among other things, a lack of employment protections on the basis of gender identity, as well as a lack of base-level health care coverage for transgender employees.”

Christopher Zara, a journalist with International Business Times, is sensitive to the dichotomy underlying so-called “pinkwashing” maneuvers. “It’s good that companies like Burger King are getting on the right side of these social issues. They should definitely be applauded for that,” he tells me, “but we can’t lose sight of the fact that this is a company that really exists to sell hamburgers. They picked up on a marketing scheme that worked in the past, recently with General Mills and Cheerios. They really wanted to have this viral social media moment, and they orchestrated it in that way. People just went with it.”

But how long can major corporations take refuge in trendy marketing? President Obama’s July 21 executive order will prohibit federal employers and contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees in their hiring, firing, and relational practices. Many activists are hopeful that a fully inclusive ENDA is on the horizon and, beyond that, protection for all LGBT employees across the public and private sectors. In addition, consumers are increasingly adept at corporate reconnoitering. A 2009 report from the Council for Global Equality found that 24% of LGBT adults switched products or service providers in a 12-month period in favor of companies that support the LGBT community. According to Business Insider, LGBT spending power is estimated at more than $800 billion annually — a still largely untapped demographic that companies are keen to start tapping.

As the Sochi Olympics demonstrated, however, even the most progressive companies are often hard-pressed to implement equality policies that are global and entrenched. (Several of the Olympics’ worldwide partners scored a perfect 100 on the CEI, a fact that didn’t deter them from sponsoring the games in Russia.) And as Burger King’s Proud Whopper proved, allying with LGBT consumers is no longer enough to foster unconditional goodwill, let alone brand equity. Companies now need strategies that are more sustainable, more systemic, and — not least of all — more far-reaching.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/world/2014/09/08/exporting-equality-pink-dollar

Celebrating gay pride around the world your photos

Monday, September 8th, 2014

GuardianWitness is the home of user-generated content on the Guardian. Contribute your video, pictures and stories, and browse news, reviews and creations submitted by others. Posts will be reviewed prior to publication on GuardianWitness, and the best pieces will feature on the Guardian site – they might even appear in the paper. GuardianWitness assignments invite you to contribute on a particular theme

Article source: http://feeds.theguardian.com/c/34708/f/663828/s/3e3d2371/sc/10/l/0L0Stheguardian0N0Cworld0Cgallery0C20A140Csep0C0A80Ccelebrating0Egay0Epride0Eyour0Ephotos/story01.htm

Houston expo caters to same-sex couples

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Among the details that differentiated Sunday’s wedding expo from more traditional ones: Chairs draped with signs reading “Mr. and Mr.” and “Mrs. and Mrs.” and enlarged wedding posters displaying same-sex couples.

The Houston LGBT Wedding Expo at the Galleria-area JW Marriott, which was hosted by the North Carolina-based Rainbow Wedding Network, showcased venues and companies marketing to the growing number of same-sex couples.

With the LGBT community gaining visibility and gay-marriage bans toppling in several states, wedding events and services for same-sex couples are becoming increasingly popular. Since launching the Rainbow Wedding Network in 2000, co-founder Cindy Sproul and her life partner have seen attendance at their events and demand for ethem grow quickly.

Sunday’s event proved to be the organization’s second-largest event of the year with more than 750 reserved tickets.

While gay marriage is not legal in Texas, many couples still exchange vows here or travel out of state for a ceremony and return home for the reception.

“Our shows in areas where there is no marriage recognition for LGBT couples tend to have a higher turnout. If you think about it, we kind of take that awkwardness out for couples,” said Sproul. “When they walk in here, they’re planning a wedding, all those businesses that are there are very excited for them. They don’t get that if they go to a traditional bridal fair.”

She shared stories of lesbian couples at traditional wedding expos who were assumed to be sisters, and male couples who feel left out at female-focused events.

Marta Graybill, 25, from Pasadena, said she appreciates the event’s inclusivity.

“We’re really interested in finding gay-friendly venues and mingling with people in our same LGBT community and hearing their ideas, their experiences,” she said. “A lot of the decorations say things like ‘Mrs. and Mr.’ We’ve found a lot of things on websites like Etsy and Pinterest … but we wanted to do a coloring book for the kids, and all the stuff we could find was male and female. It’s not frustrating to us. It’s something else we have to overcome, but luckily we’re pretty artsy, so we’ll figure it out.”

‘It’s the little things’

Her partner, 24-year-old Sarah Johnson, agreed.

“It’s starting to sink in that all of this has to get done before March … Really it’s just tackling the venue, making sure that they understand what we’re going to need. It’s a little bit different, but once you get past that I think it’s the little things.”

Each of the roughly 30 vendors – including musicians, photographers, caterers and decorators – was screened beforehand to ensure that they were LGBT friendly. Some, like the Marriott, have long histories with the community, while others are hoping to tap into the expanding market, organizers said.

‘A great market’

Several nonwedding vendors, such as insurance, energy and window companies, also were present to help couples jump-start their lives together.

“Clearly they see the market, clearly they know that if couples are planning a wedding they also need homeowner’s insurance and car insurance,” said Sproul. “So this is a great market.”

Katy residents 55-year-old Tom Miller and 67-year-old Gary Kuop have been engaged for five years. They plan to wed Sept. 17 in New York and hold a reception in Houston.

“It’s just wonderful … that they would have something like this,” said Miller. “I have gotten a line to a lot of the companies that do wedding plates, and things like that. None of them said that they were gay friendly, but none of them said that they were not. I didn’t want to put them on the spot. We had been planning on doing it all ourselves.”

The next Rainbow Wedding Network expo will be in Dallas on Sept. 28.

Article source: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Houston-expo-showcases-same-sex-unions-5740265.php

   
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