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NATIONAL PrEP access, candidates, Kim Petras, abandoned son
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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Uninsured U.S. residents can now apply for free PrEP drugs through the federal government, Plus reported. The Department of Health and Human Services launched "Ready, Set, PrEP"—a national program to distribute medications used for pre-exposure prophylaxis, a strategy to prevent HIV-negative people from becoming infected with the virus. Gilead announced earlier this year that it would donate 2.4 million bottles of Truvada to 200,000 uninsured people each year for 11 years through a partnership with HHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visit or call 855-447-8410.

GLAAD issued a statement shortly after U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris ended her presidential run. In part, it stated, "@KamalaHarris is ending her bid for president. At the #LGBTQforum in September she spoke about her refusal to defend Prop 8 as Attorney General of California: 'I took that position because I am committed to fighting always for equality and fairness.'" In a separate statement, Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur said, "Kamala Harris has dedicated her life to fighting for the people. From the battle for marriage equality to the struggle for safety and justice for our transgender friends and family, Kamala has always been on the front lines our movement, standing shoulder to shoulder with the LGBTQ community."

On the same day news broke that Kamala Harris would be dropping out of the presidential race, 2017 photos resurfaced of fellow candidate Pete Buttigieg volunteering for The Salvation Army, which has a long history of anti-LGBTQ actions, reported. Buttigieg was there for the Red Kettle Ring Off, during which local public officials collect donations for the Salvation Army—something he's apparently been doing for years. He also held a mayoral event at a Salvation Army center in South Bend last year.

Presidential contender and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders received criticism from political observers over the appointment of his newest aide, Darius Gordon, Queerty noted. Gordon recently deleted his account—likely over old tweets uncovered by The Washington Beacon that reveal racist, sexist, antisemitic and homophobic remarks. In 2010, Gordon referred to the students of Jefferson Jr. High as "f*gs," and also referred to the Pittsburgh Steelers with that term.

Georgia voters made electoral history Dec. 3, electing Doraville's first-ever openly LGBTQ mayor and Savannah's first openly LGBTQ city councilmember, Project Q reported. Joseph Geierman beat incumbent Mayor Donna Pittman by 30 points in Doraville, according to the DeKalb County Elections Office. Also, Kurtis Purtee ousted a 20-year veteran of the Savannah City Council ( Ald. Tony Thomas ) and will become the council's first-ever openly LGBTQ member.

The anti-LGBTQ Westboro Baptist Church took to Twitter Nov. 28 to announce that it would be picketing trans pop star Kim Petras' Dec. 1 show at The Truman in Kansas City—and she responded, reported. The singer's initial response was a tweet sent out to all of her fans accompanied by an 11-second video clip of the singer in the video for her latest single, "Icy." On Dec. 1, the picketers appeared—and Petras responded by having an impromptu photoshoot right in front of the protestors, wearing nothing but a black turtleneck bodysuit, fishnet stockings and knee-high boots.

A Haines City, Florida, father told his juvenile son that the police would find him a new home—then left him by the side of Highway 27 with no food, water or money because he thought the boy might be gay, reported. Evenaud Julmeus, 30, left the boy outside the Haines City Police Department on Dec. 1—when it was closed. Police say the boy told them that he and his father got into an argument over his sexual orientation. Julmeus, who turned himself in on felony child neglect charges, faces three counts of negligent child abuse—all third-degree felonies.

New York City police have appealed to the public for help in searching for a pair of men who kidnapped a transgender woman and held her at gunpoint, Queerty noted. The victim—who remains unnamed to protect her identity—makes a living as a sex worker, Gay City News reported; as she entered a vehicle, she was confronted by a man she knew, who held her at gunpoint. The two men interrogated the woman, accusing her of sending text messages to the armed man's wife; she eventually managed to escape. Attacks on transgender women—particularly trans women of color—have skyrocketed in the past few years.

Lambda Legal asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to affirm a lower court ruling holding that a suburban Jacksonville, Florida, school district must treat transgender student Drew Adams equally by allowing him to use the restroom that matches his gender identity, a press release noted. In July, 2018, the U.S District Court for the Middle District of Florida ordered the St. John's County School Board to allow Adams to use the boys' restrooms at Nease High School, like all other boys. After the district court's order, the school district appealed the decision.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) filed a friend-of-the-court ( amicus ) brief in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of 24 national LGBTQ organizations in the case June Medical Services v. Gee, a press release stated. The case involves a challenge to a Louisiana law that would force all but one abortion clinic in that state to close—a law that is virtually identical to one in Texas that the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional just three years ago in the landmark case Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt.

A new study from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found that only a minority ( 13 percent ) of LGB people have utilized LGBT-specific clinics and providers, but a majority ( 52 percent ) expressed an interest in utilizing them in the future, a press release noted. Researchers examined a representative sample of LGB people in the United States from three age groups—young ( 18-25 ), middle ( 34-41 ) and older ( 52-59 )—to understand the factors that influenced past utilization of LGBT-specific clinics and providers and interest in using them in the future. The full report is at

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) honored and celebrated the life of Dan Cochran, a longtime advocate and former member of the HRC board of directors and HRC Business Council, an organizational press release noted. "Dan Cochran was a champion for LGBTQ inclusion—working tirelessly with HRC to rally our corporate partners to support equality from the boardroom to the warehouse floor, from the halls of Congress to the U.S. Supreme Court," said HRC President Alphonso David. Cochran was a member of the HRC Board of Directors from 2007 until 2011. He also served on the board at Lambda Legal and the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, and supported many organizations, including GLSEN and the Mead Art Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Two civil-rights groups blasted St. Louis County for taking a "hypocritical" and "shameful" legal stance in a discrimination case despite comments from the county executive that denounced the strategy, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted. The county's legal team is asking a judge to amend a nearly $20 million jury verdict in favor of Sgt. Keith Wildhaber—who alleged he was discriminated against because he is gay—or order a new trial. In a joint statement, the civil rights groups wrote "Pretending that Missouri law excuses this discrimination, suggesting that the jury was too confused to render a legitimate verdict, and continuing to claim that there were other, good reasons to discriminate against Wildhaber is part and parcel of the same package: a failure to insist that St. Louis County respect the dignity and equality of members of the LGBTQ community."

A California inmate was sentenced to death for the 2013 killing of his transgender cellmate, NBC News noted. Miguel Crespo, 48, was housed with Carmen Guerrero, a trans woman, at Kern Valley State Prison for just eight hours in October 2013. During that time, Crespo bound, gagged, tortured and murdered Guerrero in their shared cell. Last month, a California jury found Crespo guilty of first degree murder and assault.

Several dozen members of Gays Against Guns traveled from New York to the nation's capital Dec. 2 to draw dramatic attention to the U.S. Senate's refusal to act on two gun control measures that the Democrat-controlled House passed, Gay City News reported. H.R. 8 and H.R. 112 are background check measures that the group said are supported by 90 percent of Americans; however, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has blocked Senate votes on the House bills. The group visited McConnell's office, where members were told the majority leader was "unavailable."

Queer performance/drag icon Joey Arias donated a collection of his personal papers to the Harvard Theatre Collection at Houghton, according to a Washington Blade item that cites the Harvard Gazette. Arias—whose 40-year career began as a "window dancer" at New York's Fiorucci designer clothing store—started his rise to fame when he connected with fellow queer performance pioneer Klaus Nomi. Arias ( who has entertained with everyone from David Bowie to Cirque du Soleil ) still performs regularly at cabaret venues around the country.

Thousands of LGBTQ advocates, activists, leaders and allies will gather in Dallas for the 32nd Creating Change Conference Jan. 15-19 at the Sheraton Dallas, The Dallas Voice reported. This will be the third Creating Change conference to be held in Dallas, and the third at the hotel. In addition to the political focus of the work, the conference will be focusing on the 2020 Census and building capacity to ensure everyone is counted.

In an interview with Howard Stern, Hillary Clinton addressed the rumor that she's lesbian, NBC News noted. "Contrary to what you may hear, I actually like men," Clinton jokingly said while talking to Stern about her pre-Bill Clinton boyfriend who was "really handsome" and resembled a "Greek god." When Stern asked Clinton, "Raise your right hand. You've never had a lesbian affair?," she responded, "Never, never, never! Never even been tempted, thank you very much." Trish Bendix, an entertainment and LGBTQ reporter, said she was "disappointed" by Clinton's comments, adding, "It's so frustrating when public figures like Hillary feel the need to dispel lesbian rumors in a way that equates lesbianism or queerness with salaciousness."

An LGBTQ Nation feature spotlighted the Minneapolis City Council's Andrea Jenkins—who, along with Phillipe Cunningham, are the first openly trans Black elected officials in the country. The article stated that they have brought their perspectives to city government, while also working towards the priorities of their constituencies; recently, the city banned conversion therapy on minors, after a statewide effort failed to pass the state legislature. Jenkins said she sees herself building bridges between races and gender identities.

Round Hole Square Peg 4—a juried photography exhibition and competition conceived to discover a new LGBTQ visual culture for the 21st century—will take place at Photo LA, 2020 on Jan. 30-Feb. 2, a press release noted. It will then move to City of West Hollywood's Plummer Park Gallery for a four-week run ( Feb. 8-March 4 ); opening night in West Hollywood will feature a celebrity-driven, live art auction to benefit The Trevor Project. To enter the competition, visit .

Donna Francis-Smith and wife Jasmine Francis-Smith became the first same-sex female couple to give birth to a "shared motherhood" baby carried in both of their wombs, LGBTQ Nation noted. Donna incubated the egg, which was implanted via in vitro fertilization ( IVF ), for 18 hours in her body' afterward, the egg was then placed into 28-year-old Jasmine's womb until she delivered it. The baby boy, Otis, is about two months old now.

Atlanta-based WSB-TV has hired Orlando-based anchor Jorge Estevez to join the station as an evening anchor starting in January—making him the station's first openly gay anchor, Project Q reported. Estevez replaces Craig Lucie, who left WSB-TV in August to start his own public relations firm. Estevez, in a Nov. 26 Facebook post, said the opportunity to work at WSB-TV was "beyond incredible."

A Utah school, Deerfield Elementary, has fired a substitute teacher after an incident in which she told a fifth-grade student he shouldn't be thankful for his two dads, Queerty noted, citing The Salt Lake Tribune. According to students, the teacher said that "homosexuality is a sin" and "two men living together is wrong." Three female students later complained to the principal, and school officials immediately escorted the teacher off campus. "She also tried to blame our son," said Louis van Amstel, one of the boy's dads ( and a former Dancing with the Stars pro ), "and told him that it was his fault that she went off." Louis, along with partner Josh van Amstel, added their son was shamed into not standing up for his family.

An openly gay reverend in Iowa City is taking a leave of absence indefinitely—and said her heart is broken, noted. This is part of a resolution reached with the United Methodist Church's Iowa Conference, avoiding a church trial over several complaints about Rev. Anna Blaedel and her sexuality. The Methodist Book of Discipline says a member of the congregation can be gay, but reverends cannot.

Reichen Kuhl ( formerly known as Reichen Lehmkuhl ) has joined the board of of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce ( LAGLCC ), noted. The LAGLCC is an affiliate chamber of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce and the Western Business Alliance ( WBA ). It was established to allow advocates of the LGBTQ economic equality movement to serve as the voice of the community, share best practices and strengthen professional opportunities. Kuhl is a reality show winner ( The Amazing Race ), former model, occasional actor and former U.S. Air Force servicemember; he is currently an attorney and CEO of LeaseLock.

With a couple weeks before the government funding deadline and as Congress is deep in appropriations negotiations, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Federation of America announced a seven-figure investment in a Title X campaign with television ads, radio ads, digital ads and targeted mailers in Arizona, Colorado and North Carolina, a press release noted. For example, the 30-second Action Fund television ad "Protect Title X" encourages viewers to call Sens. Martha McSally ( R-Arizona ), Cory Gardner ( R-Colorado ) and Thom Tillis ( R-North Carolina ) to demand they protect Title X in the devastating aftermath of the Trump administration's gag rule—which forced Planned Parenthood and other health providers out of the program, threatening reproductive healthcare for millions of people.

Couple Brad and Nick Schlaikowski have opened Courage House, Wisconsin's first group home for homeless LGBTQ youth, reported. In 2015, Brad had the idea to host a fundraiser to support displaced LGBTQ youth. Courage MKE was born shortly thereafter, and in June 2019, the organization opened its doors to Courage House. It is now currently home to five, the maximum amount it can accommodate.

Sean Cody performer Jarec Wentworth ( AKA Teofil Brank ) was released from prison early after serving four years of a nearly six-year sentence, Queerty noted. He has been transferred to an RRM ( residential reentry management ) in Long Beach, CA, where he'll serve out the remaining five months of his time, according to gay adult film blog SUGP. In 2015, Brank was found guilty of extorting gay Republican millionaire Donald Burns.

The San Francisco 49ers suspended radio analyst Tim Ryan after he said on a Bay Area radio station that Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson's dark skin helps him disguise a dark football when running fake handoffs in Baltimore's zone-read heavy offense, noted. Ryan did not broadcast the Dec. 8 game against the New Orleans Saints while serving the suspension. "I regret my choice of words in trying to describe the conditions of the game," Ryan said in a statement.

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