Op-Ed

Charles Rhines has already spent nearly half his life on death row. On April 15 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal. Now, barring clemency from the governor, Rhines will be executed — because he is gay.

No one disputes the facts of Rhines’ crime, including Rhines. In 1993, while burglarizing the doughnut shop from which he’d been recently fired, a worker came in. Rhines stabbed the man to death.

He was convicted of first-degree murder. 

The circumstances of Rhines’ sentencing has been what’s raised questions for years, causing the editorial boards of major newspapers to call for clemency and The Marshall Project to take up his case.

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Black Prides came into existence because black queer leaders all over the country were raising awareness of HIV/AIDS and the effect it had on communities of color. They didn’t want to throw a party.

The genesis of Philly Black Pride came about in the fall of 1998 at the COLOURS Organization under Michael Hinson’s leadership. Hinson and other community leaders of color wanted to recognize and celebrate the duality of being black and gay. These LGBTQ leaders of color did not feel like mainstream Pride celebrations were reflective of the intersections of race, gender identity and sexual orientation. Hinson recalls accusations of a lack of inclusion and racist practices from mainstream Pride organizations, so he did what black people have always done: Start their own.

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On March 4, 2019, Woodbury Community Pride held its first economic development/business-attraction program geared toward LGBTQ business owners and entrepreneurs.

It was the result of a two-year, intentional and purposeful effort driven by two core beliefs. First, LGBTQ people must be given the opportunity to participate in the economy to build wealth and influence in order to erase systemic marginalization. Second, LGBTQ people must be allowed to be who they are, where they are.

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Deja Lynn Alvarez told OUTPour: “Being a trans woman is illegal in most of America’s eye, then you add the criminal-justice system. There will be no justice!”

I believe if you want to understand our criminal-justice system, all you need to do is look at trans women of color.

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There is a quote by advocate Zeke Thomas: “Everyone heals in their own time and in their own way. The path isn’t always a straight line, and you don’t need to go it alone.”

In this downpour of #MeToo hastags after Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and Matt Lauer (where in the world is he, anyway?), Dr. Monique Howard is making sure all sexual-assault survivors in Philadelphia have all the support they need.

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It started with Billy Porter rocking a tux to the waist and voluminous black skirt below. The Tony-winning star of “Pose” was interviewing stars on the red carpet. When he and actress Glenn Close, attired in a beaded gold gown, looked each other up and down, it was a moment made for an internet gif — which it soon became.

Porter’s irrepressible gender-bending gayness opened the door to the best Oscar celebration in years.

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If you ever walked through SEPTA’s Jefferson station you may have noticed a tall, skinny African-American young man playing the violin. He’s best known as “Sean the Violinist.” I remember hearing him before I saw him; and I knew whoever was playing was putting his entire soul into the music. OUTPour’s “Day in The Life” series continues with student and street performer Sean Bennett.

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 Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) stood outside in a blizzard on Feb. 10 and declared her candidacy for president of the United States, becoming the fourth woman senator to announce in the past few weeks.

Klobuchar joined fellow senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). House Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and bestselling author and spiritual guru Marianne Williamson have also announced their candidacies.

The scorecard for Democratic hopefuls, crowded though it might be, suggests one of these women will be the the Democratic nominee by summer 2020.

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The news was shocking. On Jan. 15, Grindr laid off the entire editorial staff of INTO, their award-winning news site. According to Business Insider, the move was spurred by a “shift to video content,” but associate editor Mary Emily O’Hara tweeted, “I see a lot of comments about Grindr closing down INTO in a ‘pivot to video’ and want to clarify for the record: INTO’s video staff was also let go today.”

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The Second Lady, Karen Pence, has announced she will be taking a position teaching art at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Va. Mrs. Pence, an educator, painter and art therapist, previously taught art at the school for 12 years while her husband, Vice President Mike Pence, was a congressman.

In a statement issued by her office, Mrs. Pence said, “I am excited to be back in the classroom and doing what I love to do. I have missed teaching art.”

Lovely.

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