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NATIONAL Gus Kenworthy, Joy Reid, transgender troops
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2018-05-02

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Following his refusal to attend the Winter Olympian visit at the White House, Gus Kenworthy announced he will attend the Democratic National Committee's ( DNC's ) annual LGBTQ gala as a "special guest" June 25 in New York City, the DNC announced. Last year, the resources raised from the gala went to critical investments in races and state parties, which helped elect Ralph Northam in Virginia, Doug Jones in Alabama and helped flip control of the Washington state Senate, enabling the now-Democratic-controlled state government to ban conversion therapy earlier this year. The LGBTQ gala began in 1999 as a small dinner held by Andy Tobias, former DNC Treasurer, and has grown to one of the DNC's biggest and most successful events.

The Daily Beast will suspend future columns from Joy Reid due to the fallout over anti-gay comments she made on an old blog a decade ago, TheWrap reported. Although she apologized for content on her old blog The Reid Report back in December, the MSNBC host has denied the latest revelations reported by Mediaite, saying that her the long defunct website was hacked. Things continued to spiral for Reid—and MSNBC—over the story, which has now moved beyond the revelations reported by Mediaite to whether Reid was being honest about claims of hacking. On April 28, Reid opened her show on MSNBC with a mea culpa about past homophobic remarks and admitted cybersecurity experts haven't been able to prove her former blog was hacked.

Six former U.S. surgeons general have signed a statement disputing Defense Department assertions about the medical fitness of transgender troops, according to a Palm Center press release. Former U.S. Surgeons General M. Joycelyn Elders and David Satcher originally released the statement last month‹ in response to a Pentagon proposal to reinstate the transgender ban. In part, the letter ( with Elders, Satcher, Richard Carmona, Regina Benjamin, Vevek Murthy and Kenneth P. Moritsugu as signees ) says, "We underscore that transgender troops are as medically fit as their non-transgender peers and that there is no medically valid reason—including a diagnosis of gender dysphoria—to exclude them from military service or to limit their access to medically necessary care."

Washington, D.C., police homicide detectives learned from at least two witnesses that a 35-year-old District man arrested for the March 24 shooting death of gay D.C. resident Sean Anderson, 48, was invited by Anderson to Anderson's apartment on the night of the murder to have sex in exchange for crack cocaine, The Washington Blade reported. Jerome Wilson has been charged with second-degree murder while armed in connection with Anderson's death. A Superior Court judge ordered Wilson held without bond and scheduled a preliminary hearing for the case for May 18.

Funeral services were recently held for Crae Pridgen Jr., 53, who attracted nationwide attention as an outspoken witness in the 1993 Mickey Ratz assault case ( involving a downtown Wilmington, North Carolina, gay bar ), StarNewsOnline.com reported. Pridgen died March 2 at Florida Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He had been an outspoken witness against three Camp Lejeune Marines over a Jan. 30, 1993, incident at Mickey Ratz, a private club. In April 1993, District Judge Jacqueline Morris-Goodson acquitted the Marines on assault charges, after six days of testimony.

Joe Watts—a figure who was the king of Houston gay theater from the early 1980s to the 2000s—died March 12 after a battle with cancer at age 76, the Houston Chronicle reported. In 1985, during an extremely anti-gay period in Houston's history when many gays were deep in the closet, he founded one of the city's first gay theater companies, The Group Theater. Later, in the mid-1990s, he went on to found another queer theater ensemble, Theatre New West, in Montrose.

Hawaii lawmakers approved a ban on so-called "gay conversion therapy" treatments conducted on minors, Hawaii News Now reported. LGBT-rights advocates say the practice—largely discredited by healthcare professionals—does more harm than good to those who are subjected to it. Several states, including California, Oregon and New Jersey, have already passed similar laws; Maryland passed legislation banning the practice in April. Hawaii is now the 12th state to ban the practice.

Journalist Thomas Roberts has announced plans to make a $25,000 donation to the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC )—indirectly from President Donald Trump, The Washington Blade reported. While accepting HRC's Leadership & Visibility Award at its Maryland Summit recently, Roberts reminded the audience that he emceed the 2013 Miss Universe competition in Moscow. The former MSNBC anchor explains that he decided to host the event, "because I wanted people to know that members of the LGBTQ community are not a threat to you." His appearance earned him $25,000, but Roberts announced he wants to donate the money to HRC.

An Indiana pizzeria that came under scrutiny several years ago for refusing to cater gay weddings has shut down—possibly for good, Gay Star News reported. According to the South Bend Tribune, a sign posted on Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana, indicated it closed sometime in March. Owners Kevin and Crystal O'Connor stated their restaurant would never cater a same-sex wedding; their position came in support of the state's Freedom Restoration Act. After receiving backlash, the spot temporarily closed its doors; however, after a cash infusion, it reopened. Now, reportedly, the owners want to retire.

Houston doctor Joseph Varon said he has witnessed discrimination in every corner of the medical profession—from doctors and nurses, in clinics and hospitals, and in teaching environments, Outsmart Magazine noted. The ally said this discrimination has been particularly flagrant toward LGBTQ patients—a fact that gnawed at him. Varon proceeded to design a 30-question anonymous survey and send it to 12,000 professionals; he said, "Roughly one in five reported treating homosexuals differently from straight patients, based on their moral or religious beliefs. That's 20 percent." Varon presented the preliminary results of his survey at the fall annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians in Toronto.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ), Equality Kansas and the ACLU of Kansas took out a full-page ad—"Keep Kansas Open To All"—in the Topeka Capital-Journal and the Wichita Eagle, an HRC press release noted. The ad highlights the overwhelming opposition from the business community to HB 2481—legislation currently pending before the Kansas House of Representatives that would create a license to discriminate with taxpayer funds against LGBTQ foster or adoptive parents, single parents or other qualified families.

In Texas, Austin man James Miller has avoided going to prison by claiming the man he stabbed to death had come onto him, NewNowNext.com noted. Miller will serve 10 years probation after being convicted of criminally negligent homicide in the killing his neighbor Daniel Spencer in September 2015. The night of the stabbing, Miller testified, Spencer became angry when he spurned his sexual advances.

Transgender Law Center's Positively Trans project has launched #ACApositive—a campaign to shift the conversation about health are and the Affordable Care Act toward a focus on the life-or-death stakes for transgender people living with HIV, a press release noted. Launching just a week after news broke that the Trump administration plans to attack the Affordable Care Act's protections for transgender people, the campaign aims to amplify the experiences and voices of transgender people of color living with HIV in federal health care policy. See https://transgenderlawcenter.org/acapositive.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Kyle Duncan, an anti-LGBT candidate, for a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit by a vote of 50-47, a Lambda Legal press release noted. Lambda Legal CEO Rachel B. Tiven said, in part, "Kyle Duncan has made a career for himself targeting LGBT children and families. The idea that Mr. Duncan will cast aside his bigoted beliefs overnight, and miraculously transform into an impartial judge, is ludicrous and reckless. His career has been one long grudge match against women and LGBT Americans—now the Trump/Pence Administration is making him a referee."

Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, President Trump's pick to lead the Veterans Affairs Department, has been accused of creating a hostile work environment, drinking while on duty and improperly prescribing drugs to staff during his time as White House doctor to two administrations, NPR reported. Montana Sen. Jon Tester detailed the allegations in an interview with NPR's All Things Considered, saying more than 20 military employees disclosed the as-yet-unsubstantiated allegations to senators ahead of a hearing to debate his nomination to lead the VA.

The Hispanic National Bar Association ( HNBA ), the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association ( NAPABA ) and the National Bar Association ( NBA ) released a statement in response to the recent decision made by the Judge John D. Bates of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia regarding the Trump Administration's attempt to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ( DACA ) program, a press release noted. ( Bates stayed his decision for 90 days, granting the Department of Homeland Security ( DHS ) the opportunity to provide a well-founded justification for terminating the DACA program. ) In part, NAPABA President Pankit J. Doshi said, "We cannot continue to leave the lives of these vulnerable members of the immigrant community in limbo. NAPABA continues to stand in support of the DREAMers."

Kanye West turned his attention to prominent activist and Parkland school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez, who he called his "hero" on Twitter while publishing a photo of her, Vulture.com noted. However, Gonzalez chose to forgo acknowledging West in favor of copying the format of his tweet to celebrate her own hero: James Shaw Jr.—the man who made the news for stopping the Waffle House shooter. That very same minute, West posted a selfie of himself with his head shaved with the caption "inspired by Emma."

For years, Cassandra Bankson became a master at the cover-up—but it wasn't until the model and beauty vlogger finally cleared her skin that she realized she was using her chronic cystic acne to conceal another reality: she's lesbian, Yahoo! Lifestyle reported. "This has been my deepest secret," says Bankson, who candidly chronicled her skin-care journey with her 824K followers on YouTube. "Once I started coming out to friends and family—which I did individually, one by one—my acne started to get better."

On a recent episode of his show, Bill Maher asked out journalist Ronan Farrow if #MeToo has gone too far, bringing up men like former U.S. Sen. Al Franken and Master of None's Aziz Ansari, EW.com noted. "I think that our culture has actually been pretty good on the whole about self-regulating," Farrow said. "That blog about Aziz Ansari came out, it was clearly a single-source narrative about a date gone wrong and there was a debate about how far gone wrong it was, but I don't think anyone saw that and said, 'He's Harvey Weinstein. This is a multiple rapist.' I think people have separated these things clearly."

Former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw has been accused of sexual harassment by former NBC anchor Linda Vester, TheWrap reported, citing Variety. Vester said that Brokaw tried to force her to kiss him on two separate occasions, groped her in a NBC conference room and showed up at her hotel room uninvited. Two friends of Vester corroborated to Variety that she told them about the encounters at the time, and she shared her journal entries from the time period with the news outlet. Brokaw ( who has denied Vester's allegations as well as those of another woman ) has never before been publicly accused of sexual harassment in the past.

However, in a related development, more than 100 women have signed a letter defending Brokaw, CNNMoney reported. Among the names defending Brokaw are some high-profile personalities, including MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and Mika Brzezinski, White House correspondent Kelly O'Donnell, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell and NBC special anchor Maria Shriver.

Chicana photographer Laura Aguilar—whose retrospective at the Vincent Price Museum of Art in Monterrey Park, California, now on view at the Frost Art Museum at Florida International University in Miami, made her one of the breakout stars of the Getty Foundation's recent Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative—has died at age 58, ArtNews.com noted. In her series "Latina Lesbians" ( 1986—90 ), she photographed gay Latina women, with her subjects gazing directly into the camera's view; below the images, each of which is mounted on white paper, are captions ( some include spelling errors ) that detail these women's opinions of what it means to be a woman, a lesbian, and/or a Latina.

Phoenix city officials have approved changing a couple crosswalks to celebrate gay pride, the Seattle Times noted. The city council voted to allow two crosswalks in central Phoenix to get a makeover with rainbow designs to celebrate the LGBT community. One crosswalk will be in the city's Melrose District, which is anchored by several gay bars; another will be close to the downtown headquarters of several LGBT organizations. Several cities have rainbow crosswalks, including San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

On May 10, the University of Virginia is hosting a healthcare conference on caring for LGBT patients, WVTF.org reported. Ken White—an associate dean of nursing at the university who happens to be openly gay—said he knows many health care professionals who are even more uncomfortable with transgender men and women. "They don't know what to say," he explained. "They don't want to make a mistake, so they don't say anything, and that makes patients feel isolated." See https://www.nursing.virginia.edu/media/5-10-18-LGBTQSymposium.pdf.

Home-furnishings brand Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams is conducting a CEO search, a press release noted. CEO/Chairman Mitchell Gold, who co-founded the company with President of Design Bob Williams, said, "Bob and I built this company from the ground up with an incredible team, and now we want someone to take the reins, work with us to transition the company to the next generation of leadership, and allow me to focus on my strengths, including new strategic partnerships for both our products and our ethos."

Regional bartending champions from 14 U.S. and Canadian cities will vie for mixology mastery June 6-10 in the final rounds of the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic, a press release stated. The top two bartenders are to receive a combined total of $20,000 for charity, with a portion given to a Key West organization of their choice and the rest to a favorite hometown charity. See Out.com/keywestcocktailclassic.

Controversial alt-right media figurehead Milo Yiannopoulos was shouted out of NYC bar Churchill Tavern, Eater New York noted. Members of the Democratic Socialists of America chanted, "Nazi scum, get out" at Yiannopoulos until he did just that. He then took to Instagram to say the group "shoved and screamed at" him—although a video of the incident showed a relatively peaceful scene.


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