Latest news

Philadelphia was inching closer to becoming the first city in the United States to open a safe-injection site to address the city’s opioid crisis. But the project has hit a roadblock — the U.S. Department of Justice.   

Pennsylvania’s top federal prosecutor last week announced he was suing the nonprofit facility called Safehouse — with timing that coincided with an executive director being named and the start of fundraising.  

Trans teacher sues DC-area district, citing discrimination

A transgender English teacher is suing a Maryland school district claiming that she was repeatedly harassed by students, parents and colleagues at three schools in the district, and when she complained to Prince George’s County school officials, they retaliated, according to The Washington Post.

Attorneys for the teacher, Jennifer Eller, said the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined her claims had merit.

The 41-year-old’s complaint said she was called a pedophile, told to present as male, referred to by male pronouns and threatened with rape by a student, among other offenses. She said that after filing formal complaints, she lost her Advanced Placement classes and was brought to a disciplinary hearing. She was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder following the ordeal.

School officials declined to comment on the specific case, but spokeswoman Raven Hill said they follow state guidance on youth gender identity nondiscrimination.

North Carolina updates gender-change process for licenses

The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles is issuing a new application form making it easier for some transgender people to list their gender on their driver’s licenses and identification cards, according to a report on WRAL.com.

The left-leaning news outlet NC Policy Watch first reported the change, saying the new form replaces a requirement for a surgeon’s letter when changing the gender marker on the cards. The release said while it still requires authorization from medical providers, it allows for a broader range of providers.

The new form still calls for “male” or “female,” which doesn’t acknowledge people who identify as neither, but LGBTQ advocates call the new form a step in the right direction.

N.C. Department of Transportation spokesman Jamie Kritzer said the policy is similar to policies in 13 other states.

Transgender Illinois inmate feels safer after transfer

A transgender inmate who received rare approval from Illinois prison authorities to move from a men’s to a women’s prison said she feels safe in the new accommodations, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Strawberry Hampton, 27, said she no longer worries about being attacked for being a woman.

Hampton, whose legal first name is Deon, was recently transferred to Logan Correctional Center, a women’s prison in Central Illinois. She’s serving a 10-year sentence for burglary.

The move comes after a yearlong legal battle. Hampton requested the transfer arguing that she’d be less vulnerable to sexual assault, taunting and beatings. Hampton alleged she experienced abuse and sexual assault by inmates and staff at multiple men’s facilities in the state.

Hampton has pending lawsuits against corrections officers at various prisons she said abused or failed to protect her.

Los Angeles group buys gay resort in Oklahoma City

An Oklahoma City hotel that bills itself as the largest gay resort in the Southwest has new out-of-state owners, The Journal Record reported.

Los Angeles-based Alternatives Resorts has bought the 170-room Habana Inn. Oklahoma County property records show the property sold for $2.4 million.

Alternatives Resorts spokesman Arnold Greenspan said the property will be renamed Hotel Habana and that a first phase of renovations will start in the fall.

The resort has two nightclubs, a novelty store and a closed restaurant space.

The hotel recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and is a centerpiece of a string of businesses catering to LGBTQ clientele along a stretch of road that was part of historic Route 66 that connected travelers from Chicago to Los Angeles. 

Compiled by Larry Nichols

Hong Kong court denies male status to three transgender men

Hong Kong’s High Court has refused to allow three transgender men to be recognized as males on their official identity cards because they have not undergone full sex-change operations.

The Feb. 1 ruling was seen as a blow to the fledgling LGBT movement in the semiautonomous Chinese city of 7.4 million people, which is preparing to host the 2022 Gay Games.

The three, identified as Henry Tse, Q and R, are shown on their ID cards as having been born female, but are undergoing hormone therapy. A full sex change would require the removal of female sexual organs.
The decision follows a recent ruling by Japan’s Supreme Court upholding a law that effectively requires transgender people to be sterilized before they can have their gender changed on official documents.

Greek bishop convicted over comments attacking gays

A Greek court has convicted a prominent Orthodox Church official of violating laws against racism and abusing his office over an anti-gay blog posting.

Amvrossios, Bishop of Kalavryta and Aigialeia in the southern Peloponnese region, received a seven-month sentence, suspended for three years.

Amvrossios urged readers in his 2015 posting to “spit upon” homosexuals, adding: “They are not human beings, they are rejects of nature.”

The three-judge court in the southern town of Aigio unanimously found against the bishop, who is one of the most conservative in the powerful Church of Greece. A lower court had acquitted him, but the case was appealed.

Lawyer Kleio Papandoleon, representing a group of citizens seeking legal action against the bishop, hailed the Jan. 28 ruling, saying it set limits to “inflammatory and racist speech.”

Cuban evangelicals push back against gay marriage

A Cuban government push to legalize gay marriage has set off an unprecedented reaction from the island’s rapidly growing evangelical churches, whose members are expected to widely reject a state-proposed constitutional reform in a nationwide referendum this month.

The reform is almost certain to pass by a broad margin of Cuba’s seven million voters — language opening the door to gay marriage is only one element of the reform — but the evangelical vote could shave hundreds of thousands of votes from its victory.

With many pastors promoting “no” votes from the pulpit, the swelling evangelical rejection of the constitution is a novel development for a state that prides itself on projecting an image of ideological unanimity. Cuban government-endorsed candidates and proposals typically receive “yes” votes well above 90 percent.

Noted Indian transgender activist shakes up Hindu festival

Indian transgender activist and Bollywood TV star Laxmi Narayan Tripathi has shaken up the male-dominated monastic orders that run the Hindu Kumbh Mela festival — held from January through March in northern India and is expected to draw as many as 150 million pilgrims.

The Kumbh takes place every three years at one of four sites Hindus consider sacred. It’s a series of ritual bathings led by 13 all-male Hindu monastic orders.

Though Hinduism’s ancient Vedas scriptures describe transgender people as integral, for centuries they have been marginalized, forced to leave their family homes as children and often sold into sex trafficking.

Tripathi is capitalizing on the ruling Hindu nationalist party’s emphasis on India’s Hindu roots to claim a place for transgender people among the nation’s religious elite.

Former landscaper pleads guilty to eight murders in Canada

A former landscaper charged with killing eight men with ties to Toronto’s gay village is said to be pleading guilty.

The former landscaper, Bruce McArthur, said Jan. 29 that no one is pressuring him to enter the guilty plea to eight counts of first-degree murder.

The police last year found the remains of seven of the men in large planters at a property where McArthur had worked. The remains of the eighth victim were found in a ravine behind the same property in midtown Toronto.

The 67-year-old McArthur was arrested after an investigation into several disappearances in a gay neighborhood of Toronto.

Compiled by Larry Nichols

 

President Donald Trump’s second State of the Union address was long, chaotic and lacking in policy initiatives.

An event meant to highlight the accomplishments of the president, the SOTU instead drew attention to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the women of the 116th Congress and Stacey Abrams, the first black woman to give a SOTU response.

Choreographer, professor, and mentor Tommie-Waheed Evans kicks off our new OUTPour series called a “A Day in the Life,” celebrating a staple in Philadelphia’s modern dance community.

 

Philadelphia nonprofit Welcome America, Inc., loses one openly gay CEO but gains another with the naming of Michael DelBene as its new president and chief operating officer.

He steps into the role after the departure of Jeff Guaracino, another out man, who became Visit Philadelphia’s new president and CEO last fall. Guaracino had been with the organization since January 2016 and will continue to sit on its board.

Dinner series celebrates the 30th anniversary of GALAEI

The Loving the Legacy series event will begin Feb. 9 in honor of the 30th anniversary of the local queer Latinx social justice organization.

Starting Saturday, 30 dinners will be held throughout the city to celebrate 30 years of the organization.

Members of the community can host a dinner at their home or other space.

Fore more information or to register a community dinner, visit www.galaei.org.

 

Workshop gives tips on preserving personal archives

William Way LGBT Community Center will hold a special workshop on Feb. 13 1-4 p.m. focused on addressing the preservation of personal archives, including photographs, sketchbooks and other personal items.

The workshop will provide information on recommended supplies for storing personal collections.

William Way LGBT Community Center is located at 1315 Spruce Street.

For more information on the free workshop, or on William Way, visit www.waygay.org.

 

New Roadmap to Homes board to help implement homeless plan

Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services announced a new board, Jan. 29, and its job will be helping implement a new five-year strategic plan.

The city says Roadmap to Homes “reflects a dramatic shift toward a strategic, system-wide approach that coordinates efforts, reduces duplication and increases efficiency, especially in the use of resources.”

It has five primary goals: expanding homeless housing resources, coordinating across and integrating systems, implementing a transparent and inclusive quality improvement process, communicating more effectively, and connecting people to employment and workforce development.

There are 21 voting board members: 11 appointed, and 10 elected by community members. They each serve for one year.

Among them is Syreeta Vereen, who is housing manager at Action Wellness’ North Branch (Casa Nueva Vida).

The board — including members with firsthand, lived experience with homelessness — will track and report on Philadelphia’s progress and take community input into making decisions.

Go to http://philadelphiaofficeofhomelessservices.org/news/publications/ for details on Roadmap to Homes.

 

Temple unveils inclusivity-focused Pride flag

The Howard Gittis Student Center at Temple University recently added a new flag to its collection of 63 international flags hanging in the building’s atrium. The “Progress Pride” flag, designed by Daniel Quasar, depicts the standard six-striped rainbow Pride flag accompanied by an additional five stripes, representing the black and brown stripes for POC, and the blue, white and pink of the trans pride flag.

Temple is the first university in Philadelphia to display the Progress flag. The university has often stated its commitment to diversity and inclusivity, with its most recent National Coming Out Week theme centered on intersectionality. Temple officials hope the installation of this flag will engage conversations about diversity on campus.

 

Filing deadline for grant money approaching

The Racial & Economic Justice Fund provides grant money each year for groups who take action to make social change, according to a recent news release.

The Fund appropriates $10,000 to groups working to address issues including oppression, violence and injustice. Groups falling into this category and wishing to apply for such money have until March 1.

In order to qualify for grant funding, groups must meet a list of eligibillity criteria, as well as provide a vision for long-term strategies working to improve racial and economic justice and build a local base addressing issues. Groups must also work to change community members involved with decision makers.

An information session regarding this grant funding will be held Feb. 12 in an effort to address and answer any concerns or questions.

For more information on grant funding and the program, or to apply, visit https://breadrosesfund.org/grants-scholarships/racial-economic-justice-fund/. n

Compiled by Brittany M. Wehner and Miranda Lankas

On the afternoon of her announcement of a run at Pennsylvania’s 190th District’s special election seat, West Philadelphia’s Pamela Williams — lesbian, community advocate, LGBTQ activist and ordained minister known to her flock as “Pastor Pamm” — was bouncing off the ceiling. That Williams could be the Commonwealth’s first openly lesbian state representative is one thing. To serve her constituency with the credo, “Progress Starts with the People,” as her campaign motto reads, is quite another. With a full and easy laugh, and boundless energy after a long day on the stump, Williams preached the gospel of great works and good political maneuvering.

On a sunny Super Bowl Sunday, a group of friendly associates were eating pepperoni pizza and drinking iced tea at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia. They weren’t there for the match-up between the Patriots and the Rams. “I could care less about this,” said Maria Watts Newman with a laugh. “Not without the Eagles.”

A special section focusing on older LGBTQ adults offers articles on care and services, housing, legal issues such as common-law marriage, momentum for Pennsylvania’s LGBTQ aging issues, recognizing who is a senior and more.

 

Pennsylvania poised to carry on momentum in LGBTQ aging

 

Common-law marriage opens doors to legal rights for LGBT elders

 

Advocacy and action for and by LGBT

 

Am I a senior?

 

Providing care and services to LGBT+ older adults: It’s a process and a journey

 

Vintage whine: Life as an LGBTQ senior

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