Apparently Rainbow Cake Is Anti-Religion

One Kentucky girl was recently expelled from her Christian school. Why, you ask? Well, according to the school officials, it was because she posed for a photo dressed in a rainbow shirt. It must’ve added salt to the imaginary wound when they saw the rainbow cake. School officials said the photo presented “a posture of cultural acceptance contrary to that” of the school’s.”

In other words, rainbows equal gay and gay equals wrong.

High schooler Kayla Kenney wasn’t out before the school decided she should be expelled for rainbows, though, and so her family is fighting the school’s decision in court by arguing it was essentially an invasion of privacy. 

The lawsuit provided details on the family’s stance: “This decision (of stating one’s sexual identity) is one which can ripple, leading to repercussions in untold aspects of someone’s personal, social and family life. This decision — when, where and how to ‘come out’ — is a profound endeavor that is the sole right of an LGBTQ person. And yet (Kayla), an LGBTQ child, has been denied that right.”

Regardless of the fact that society at large has debunked the idea that homosexuality is a disease, the Whitefield school maintains that it is.

The school dismissed the idea that the expulsion was based on rainbow clothes and cakes. “In the fall,” a statement said, “we met with the student to give her a final chance to begin to adhere to our code of conduct. Unfortunately, she did not live up to the agreement, and therefore, has been expelled.”

It’s an expulsion, so it must’ve been pretty serious! You know, drugs, guns, physical violence, that sort of thing. But we couldn’t find any evidence of it. There were Juul pods — for which she was put on probation — but rainbows seem to be the primary concern.

The problem is that Kayla’s parents had never discusser their child’s sexual orientation. She was not “out.” And because of that, the expulsion and the reasons behind it do indeed present an obvious invasion of a young girl’s privacy. 

According to the lawsuit, there were no new disciplinary measures after the Juul pod incident. Kayla was counseled to read a book called Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been by Jackie Hill Perry. The author of that story describes her own struggles with (and against) homosexuality. You know, the sort of thing that can damage someone who is already struggling with unsupportive school staff. 

Her parents described the birthday experience as pleasant. “It was a happy moment,” her mother said. “We were celebrating her 15th birthday. The day God gave me her. Not supporting any sexuality or anything like that.”

The LGBTQ+ Community Supports The Impeachment Of President Donald J. Trump

LGBTQ+ voters — or at least those who ticked the box indicating they plan to vote in the 2020 Democratic primaries — say they support the impeachment of our current president, Donald Trump. This should not surprise those who have paid attention to the Trump administration’s treatment of the community while in office. In addition to rescinding or altering long-established protections for LGBTQ+ members, the number of hate crimes has continued to rise over his years in office.

90 percent of these LGBTQ+ voters believe that Trump should be both impeached and removed (it should be noted that many surveys ask these questions separately, i.e. “Do you believe Trump should be impeached?” versus “Do you believe Trump should be impeached and removed from office?”).

Only 5 percent said they did not believe Trump should be impeached and removed.

94 percent of survey respondents said they disapprove or strongly disapprove of Trump’s job performance.

Only 5 percent said they approve of Trump’s job performance.

Those who responded to the survey characterized their feelings for politicians like House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and freshman New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as somewhat favorable or very favorable. 89 percent of respondents held the opposite views on Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump is poised to become only the third president in the history of the United States to become impeached. After a lengthy debate session, a Democratic House of Representatives majority is expected to impeach a sitting president, whose case will then be turned over to the Senate for a most likely quick and superficial trial led by a Republican majority that will almost certainly keep him in office regardless of the blatant abuses of power of which he has been accused.

This will transpire only a day after Trump apparently sent Pelosi a scathing letter, once again decrying the process as unfair. He says that the facts uncovered do not exist.

Trump wrote: “The Articles of Impeachment introduced by the House Judiciary Committee are not recognizable under any standard of Constitutional theory, interpretation, or jurisprudence. They include no crimes, no misdemeanors, and no offenses whatsoever. You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!”

What started as a somewhat coherent — yet inaccurate — letter written in opposition to the process quickly devolves into a six-page rambling stream of thought, often accusing other government officials of criminal activity (which is something he often does: deflect the accusations made against him back to those who made them in the first place.

He continues, “Congressman Adam Schiff cheated and lied all the way up to the present day, even going so far as to fraudulently make up, out of thin air, my conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine and read this fantasy language to Congress as though it were said by me. His shameless lies and deceptions, dating all the way back to the Russia Hoax, is one of the main reasons we are here today.”

What Is The “Gay Panic” Defense For Violent Hate Crimes?

Although LGBTQ rights have taken a hit under the Trump administration, overall they continue to improve year by year, at both the state and federal level. Recently, LGBTQ activists have called on governments to slam the door to the “gay panic” defense shut. This common courtroom strategy asks juries to blame a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity in order to justify violent crimes — and indeed, often murder. 

The panic defense isn’t an explanation for what happened or why during the commission of a violent crime. It’s an excuse. This is another way that judicial authority — and a jury of our peers — sometimes successfully reduce LGBTQ individuals to second class citizens. 

The panic defense was used during the nationally recognized Matthew Shepard case, which followed the criminal defense of two men who brutally beat and murdered a 21-year-old student in 1998.

LGBTQ advocates are sick and tired of this legal strategy. 

New Jersey Garden State Equality Executive Director Christian Fuscarino said, “Make no mistake, the gay and trans ‘panic’ defense is flat-out legal malpractice and it’s time for New Jersey to outlaw this horrific and discriminatory legal strategy.”

A new bill to ban the “gay panic” defense is scheduled for a vote early next week in the New Jersey state Assembly. Should the bill be signed into law, perpetrators of violent crimes against members of the LGBTQ community would be banned from being granted lesser charges by arguing they became upset in the heat of the moment when learning of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Dean Dafis is a gay Maplewood committee member and supporter of the new bill. “It’s affirmation that we matter,” Dafis said. “That we will not be erased because when the violence against you is legitimized and excused, then you are erased as a victim and what’s happened to you — it’s like it doesn’t matter to anyone.”

Eight other states have already banned the panic defense.

The defense is usually used to complement one of several other legal strategies: insanity, diminished capacity, provocation, or self-defense. All of these defenses are outrageously illogical and only serve to do additional harm to the LGBTQ community, which is already struggling with increased violent crimes during the dogmatic years of the Trump presidency.

If the New Jersey state assembly approves the bill, it will be forwarded to the Senate for another vote. Should it pass through the Senate successfully, Governor Phil Murphy will hopefully then sign it into law.

Chelsea Manning Has Been Imprisoned Since March 8, 2019

With all this talk of whistleblowers, one might think we’d be hearing a little bit more about Chelsea Manning — perhaps the “first” big whistleblower. She was called a traitor and a spy too, so it’s no surprise that Trump is using those exact same terms to describe whoever blew the lid off his conversation with Ukraine’s president. Manning’s 35-year prison sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama back in 2017 after she had already served seven of those years.

She was called before a grand jury earlier this year in order to answer questions about what she knew about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange — questions that perhaps should have already been asked and answered (and were) the first time she was sent to prison. And that’s why it’s somewhat discomforting to know that the exact same crimes for which she was imprisoned the first time have landed her in jail again.

She refused to answer the grand jury’s questions. The judge held her in contempt of court, sending her to stew in a prison cell until she changed her mind and decided to answer those questions. In addition, she was hit with outrageously high fines for her lack of cooperation. Fines that no reasonably well-off American could possibly afford to pay.

Activists are still championing Manning and her story, but perhaps enough of us aren’t even aware that she’s in trouble again.

She was temporarily released in May. When a new grand jury arrived, she was once again ordered to testify about WikiLeaks. Once again, she refused and was sent back to prison with the same $1,000 a day fine attached to her sentence.

Before being reincarcerated (the second time), Manning said, “The government cannot build a prison bad enough, cannot create a system worse than the idea that I would ever change my principles.”

Opponents of her incarceration believe that she is simply being used as a piece on a chess board to charge Julian Assange with a number of new crimes (as if they didn’t have all the evidence they needed to charge him with whatever they like already). Even so, Assange faces a charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. The charge was directly related to providing Manning with help in electronically disseminating documents classified by the United States government.

The truth is this: the prosecutors, and the government, have yet to clarify exactly why they require Manning’s help. All we have are educated guesses.

Is America Over The Fight For LGBTQ Rights?

A recent story published in The Atlantic characterized the state of LGBTQ rights about half a decade after the Supreme Court ruled to allow same-sex marriage as a matter of federal law. For a lot of people, the fight for LGBTQ rights — at least from straight alliance members — ended there. 

But for the rest of us, the fight rages on, at least in part because legislators still haven’t figured out what they’re doing, and the Trump administration continues to gut equal rights regulations put into place under Obama.

Federal law does not ban discrimination of the LGBTQ community, but about half of the country thinks it does. That explains a great deal of resentment derived from right-wing free speech advocates and conservative Christian business owners who would prefer to post signs banning gay people from their establishments or simply deny them service when they come inside. 

Questions like whether or not LGBTQ should be protected from discrimination in the same way that people are protected based on skin color, gender, age, etc., are still being asked by lawmakers. For many of us, it’s not a question at all. How can anyone justify allowing lessors to deny a lease to someone based on sexual orientation? And yet they do.

The House of Representatives passed a bill that would prevent such acts of discrimination early this year. The Equality Act would guarantee equal rights for LGBTQ people — and more importantly, no one would have the option of shouting “religious freedom!” as a loophole for not following the law. Of course the only way it will ever be passed into law is if Democrats win back control of Congress in 2020, retain control of the House of Representatives, and put a Democratic president in Trump’s still-warm seat. 

In other words, it’s a long road ahead for LGBTQ equality.

An upcoming Supreme Court case will determine whether or not an employee had the right to terminate the employment of a transgender employee after the employee came out. Judging from the conservative leaning of the current justices, no one’s all that optimistic.

Many conservative groups are still trying to relax LGBTQ protections — aided by the president, who is trying to do the same — while others are trying to find some sort of compromise to protect the community while also granting private businesses and organizations to continue functioning on par with their religious beliefs. 

Is compromise important in these struggles? Not really. Either discrimination is legal or it isn’t. How can there be any middle ground?

News Flash: Some Of The Asylum Seekers At Our Southern Border Are LGBTQ

And they’re being persecuted both here and at home. The problem isn’t exaggerated: it’s real. There are more than 800,000 migrants seeking asylum here in the United States. The Trump Administration is trying to do everything it can to turn them back or prevent them from entering. His supporters routinely reiterate the willfully ignorant belief that the migrants wouldn’t be locked up in concentration camps if they had entered the country the “legal” way. 

But they did exactly that.

By law, asylum seekers are supposed to come into the country through a point of entry and make their application. That’s what they did. There’s nothing illegal about it. That’s why Trump is trying to change the current laws to make it illegal.

Some of these folks left their home countries because they were persecuted for sexual orientation or gender identity; we’re supposed to be more civilized in this country, right? It’s getting harder and harder to make the case when those leaning right are so heavily influenced by Fox and Friends.

The UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute believes there are around 267,000 undocumented LGBTQ residents of the United States. They face the same obstacles as the LGBTQ community in general, except those obstacles can be greatly amplified and become much more difficult to tackle simply because these people have a different ethnic origin.

One migrant shares her story that began on January 1, 2017 when she crossed the border with Mexico at El Paso, Texas — a place the entire nation knows very well by now. It’s not only the location of a recent mass shooting, but it’s one of the places where asylum seekers are legally allowed to cross into the country in order to make their application.

“That was the start of another horrible ordeal,” she says, “which was going into ICE detention. It is difficult when you show up and your appearance is completely feminine but your document says you are a man. They brought me into the famous ‘ice boxes’ as they call them. And they were full of men, and they knew that because I was there, that I was trans.”

When she was verbally assaulted and screamed at, the officials there gave her little in the way of consolation. They handcuffed her to a pole outside for the next six hours. Weeks later, she was finally transferred to a special facility, but not before enduring additional trauma.
While the experience is worse for LGBTQ individuals, it highlights the way the migrants are being treated in general: like prisoners, like criminals, like animals, but not like human beings.

What To Do If You’re LGBTQ In Miami This Year

It can be difficult to make friends in the LGBTQ community without resorting to sketchy hookup apps like Grindr, but if you live in a big city there are always plenty of activities to keep you busy — so long as you know where to look. Here are a few of the biggest LGBTQ events hosted by Miami organizations over the summer and beyond.

  1. Brothers at Sea LGBT Cruise. This one is tailored to “brothers” i.e. African American members of our community. The cruise will last for seven days and have everything you’d expect, stopping in Cozumel, New Orleans, Jamaica, and the Cayman Island on either end of three sea days. It will even include a Halloween party! The cruise departs from New Orleans at 12 p.m. on October 27 and won’t get back until November 3.

  2. LGBT “Dinner and a Movie” in Downtown Hollywood. No, not that Hollywood. This event kicks off Saturday, August 3 from 8:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. at 121 N 20th Ave in Hollywood, Florida. Tickets will set you back $60, but thankfully you can bring your own booze!

  3. LGBTQ+/Transgender 101 Training. This free event will begin at 2:30 p.m. and end at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 1 at the West Regional Library located at 8601 West Broward Blvd. in plantation, Florida. Head to the multi-purpose room on the first floor to get a new perspective on gender spectrum, identity, and transgender individuals in particular.

  4. Setting The Table: Cultivating Pride All Year Long. This event will take place on Thursday, July 11 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Miami Ironside Campus. Tickets cost $35. The monthly event is meant to shed light on important facets of society, and this gathering will help continue to celebrate LGBTQ pride — because it extends way past June!

  5. Riptide’s Christmas in July Pool Party. Who doesn’t love a good pool party? Even if you’re hesitant to jump into anything with the word “party,” rest assured that this one is for a good cause. The “Christmas in July” pool party will help raise funds toward the 2019 Gay Softball World Series. Food and drink are included in the price of admission, which is set at a “suggested” $20 donation. This particular event is on Saturday, July 20 from 2-7 p.m. at 2129 Northeast 61st st Court in Fort Lauderdale.

Have you ever been arrested during an LGBTQ-themed rally or event? Are you in the midst of litigation you think was born out of hate? A lawyer at Valiente Law is available to look at your case so you can have the best possible defense.

Are LGBTQ Rights Weaker After Two Years Of A Trump Administration?

It’s impossible to watch another Pride Month slip by without asking ourselves where LGBTQ rights stand today. Although Trump ran his 2016 campaign as though he were a friend to LGBTQ individuals, it should be abundantly clear to all that it was nothing more than another of his countless lies. June 28 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots — and we will do our best to remember those who gave their lives to see the current LGBTQ movement grow so strong.

But not all is well, and there is still work to be done.

Significant strides began when Clinton drafted legislation to prohibit discrimination on the grounds or sexual orientation (in the government) and then went one step further to implement don’t ask don’t tell (although some believed it was just another way for people to discriminate). George W. Bush was largely silent on gay rights, but he openly opposed gay marriage. We saw the legalization of gay marriage under Obama. 

Once again a Republican in office has turned back the clock. Trump hasn’t made an proclamations to recognize June as Pride Month. Trump decided to draft legislation to kick trans folk out of the military. He’s even gone further than that by making it harder for LGBTQ individuals to afford health care or find safety in shelters. The administration has sought to both endorse those who harbor anti-LGBTQ sentiments and edit us out of government documents.

Even more damaging may have been the destruction of an Obama-era law by the Bureau of Prisons. In May last year the organization said that current inmates will be housed according to biological gender. Regard for personal identity no longer matters, which leaves these individuals less safe. Time and time again, Trump has altered old laws to reflect how they no longer extend to the LGBTQ community.

Some of these diminished freedoms were slashed because of the tired old “religious freedom” ideas that Trump seems to like so much. Basically all they do is allow the ultra-religious to discriminate legally.

Members of the LGBTQ community are among the most hated, even in 2019. We’re the most likely targets of hate crimes. This is true even considering the spike in violent crime against those of Muslim or Hispanic ethnic background beginning near the beginning of Trump’s campaign for the 2016 election. Violence against the LGBTQ community, especially transgender women, has risen substantially during the last two years of the Trump presidency. This isn’t a weird coincidence! We have a president who has quite literally been responsible for the deaths of ordinary, innocent American citizens — and half the country doesn’t seem to care at all. 

Yes, we still have far to go.

LGBTQ Representation At The Oscars

29.6 million viewers tuned in to see who would win what is considered by many the most coveted trophy in all of acting. While in years past, The Academy Awards has been reprimanded for not being diverse, but the 2019 Oscars were just the opposite. From the red carpet to the presenters, to the winners, members of the LGBTQ community were well represented.

Well before the program even started, heads were turning by the daring ensemble worn by Billy Porter. Billy Porter is best known for his role as the lead in Kinky Boots on Broadway. His tuxedo gown was designed by another gay icon Project Runway winner Christian Siriano. Everyone loved it – including Glenn Close. Also on the red carpet was Drag Queen Shangela from RuPaul’s Drag Race. She was in the movie A Star Is Born which was nominated for Best Picture.

When the show opened, openly gay singer and American Idol alum Adam Lambert rocked the stage with Queen. Originally, comedian Kevin Hart was supposed to host the show but stepped down when homophobic tweets from the past resurfaced online. To replace Kevin Hart with an openly gay man to open the show is a huge step for LGBTQ advocacy and representation. Presenters that also identify as LGBTQ included Tessa Thompson, Amandla Stenberg, Jose Ceja, and Sarah Paulson.

Lady Gaga, who identifies as bisexual, won for Best Song for the song “Shallow” that was featured in A Star Is Born. Her steamy rendition of the song with co-star Bradley Cooper made headlines as people speculated the two of them were together. Lady Gaga just recently broke up her engagement and has never appeared in public in a relationship with a woman, however, if she identifies as bisexual, we will take it as a win for the LGBTQ community.

Another aspect that should be noted are the roles that were up for nominations. Oscars in three of the four major categories went to actors who portrayed characters who were part of the LGBTQ community.

The three LGBTQ performances that won were Rami Malek, Best Actor for portraying Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody; Olivia Colman, Best Actress for playing Queen Anne, caught in a lesbian love triangle, in The Favourite; and Mahershala Ali, Best Supporting Actor for portraying Dr. Don Shirley in Green Book.

The fourth winner Regina King won for her non-LGBTQ role for her work in If Beale Street Could Talk, however, it should be noted that this film is an adaptation of a novel written be an LGBTQ writer James Baldwin.

While it is a shame that the three actors who won their Oscars are not LGBTQ, it’s nice to see that that Academy is recognizing gay characters as heroes.

It Might Be Time To Go On A Gay Cruise

Vacations can be a source of stress for many gay men and women, who might not know where to go or what to do. The usual vacation research becomes even more exasperating when you know you have to find out exactly what to expect from the local residents. Are they okay with your sexuality? Will they treat you like a human being? Are there local laws punishing homosexuality? These questions are something you don’t have to worry about when you embark on a gay cruise, and that’s why it might be time to go on one.

What are the benefits of a cruise? Basically, the same as any cruise.

First and foremost, you don’t have to worry about any additional travel planning. Booking a cruise is simple and easy, and all you’ll need in order to embark is your cruise-specific travel pass and a passport. Almost everything else will be handled quickly and efficiently at your port of departure. All in all, the process is less stressful and simpler than any trip you’ll plan for yourself. Plus, there’s no arguing where to go or what to do once your there. You get to “cruise your own cruise” without worrying about what anyone else is doing.

On top of that, it’s the most bang for your buck. Cruises are really inexpensive when compared to even other bargain vacations. Normally a hotel alone will turn out to cost you more than a cruise for the same amount of time. The latter offers you food, friends, the serenity of the ocean, service, and any number of fun activities to do both on and off the ship.

What are the benefits of a gay cruise?

If you’ve ever been on a cruise before, you’ll get more of what you’ve come to expect–plus the pleasure of knowing that there are potentially thousands of like-minded people who would probably like nothing more than to get to know you. If you’ve been to a gay pride event, then you know exactly how you’ll feel the second you board the ship. The energy will be palpable, and the people-watching alone could fill your time.

Naturally, you’ll encounter some bad behavior. It’s expected. Thankfully, you can avoid anyone partaking in these oh-so-scandalous activities if you so choose. You probably won’t encounter the rare instance of homophobia on or off the ship. And that’s the real reason we want to go on a gay cruise, isn’t it?