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.

The Most Gay-Friendly Cities In The World

Traveling abroad can present a little extra headache if you’re out with a same-sex partner. Where do you go? What do you do? Will you be treated differently depending on where you explore? Not every country and culture is gay-friendly, but there are many cities where you can find healthy gay populations, a left-leaning political atmosphere, and more open-minded people than most. Here are the most gay-friendly cities in the world.

  1. London is a great place to start if you don’t want to experience too much culture shock. You won’t have trouble communicating with people no matter where you go, and the city is definitely different than you’re used to if you’ve been living in the U.S. all your life. The city is home to the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. You can check out Old Compton Street in SoHo, or wait until nightfall to bounce around.
  2. Amsterdam is a required item on this list. The city is one of the most tolerant places in the world when it comes to visitors, gay and straight alike. Tourism is the beating heart of Amsterdam, so you’ll find a place to have fun or relax wherever you go. The Canal Parade is the biggest gay pride even in the Netherlands, so try to time your trip right.
  3. Barcelona is a great place to visit if you travel to Spain. It’s a liberal bastion in which to spend your time among like-minded people from a different culture and with a different life experience from your own, and it wouldn’t hurt to learn more about the city’s history or its people. A unique 2014 law aims to prevent homophobia by forcing those who would do the community harm to prove their own innocence, instead of the other way around. Needless to say, it was a controversial law then, and still is today.
  4. Berlin has certainly had its share of historical peaks and troughs, but today there are few better places to be loud and proud anywhere in the world. The nightlife is as diverse as any you’ll find, and you won’t lack for things to do during the day either. If you’re traveling alone, you won’t have any trouble finding friends while you’re in the city.
  5. Tel Aviv is another good spot, and certainly the best you’ll find in the Middle East. To some, it represents the greatest mashup of gay culture in the world, and wherever you go you’ll find gay friends by your side. There’s no shortage of local events.

Hong Kong Recognizes Same Sex Marriages On Spousal Visa Applications

The government in Hong Kong changed their policy regarding visa applications after a long legal battle from a case in July. A married British lesbian was denied a spousal visa to live in Hong Kong with her wife.

This new policy will consider applications from six different relationships including:

  1.  Same Sex Marriage
  2. Same Sex Civil Unions
  3. Same Sex Partnerships
  4. Opposite Sex Marriage
  5. Opposite Sex Civil Unions
  6. Opposite Sex Partnerships

The person must also meet all other immigration requirements.

It’s important to note that the government, in general, is not on board with same-sex marriage and unions. Currently, in Hong Kong, you cannot apply for a same-sex marriage or union and be legally married. So while policy change is good, there are more policies that need to be changed. Holden Chow Ho-ding, a legislator said, “the government should assure the public that the change did not mean Hong Kong would recognize same-sex marriage.”

While many LGBTQ activists are happy about the policy change, they feel that the government should consider other social policy changes including things like applying for housing. Or you know, start to be on the same level as the rest of the world and allow same-sex marriage.

Currently, there are 56 applications and 20 were successful while 33 of them are still pending. According to Navarrete & Schwartz, P.C., the department will begin to process outstanding visas and new visas that will start to come in. 


President Donald Trump has been nothing if not a hurricane in his first 18 months in office.

He has attacked allies for not doing enough, sided with enemies because they claim to be working with the U.S. and they say nice things about him, and he criticizes members of his own Republic Party who don’t two the Trump party line. He even sides with Democrats on certain issues and butts heads with Republican leadership if they resist the policy.

In some ways, he has been a true maverick and independent, not going along with the traditional party platform in many ways, but some also praise him for being more conservative policy-wise than they originally thought.

Another maverick is Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner, perhaps the most famous transgender in the world these days. What makes Caitlyn a maverick is the affiliation with the Republican Party and being longtime friends with Trump – yet is on the opposite side of the administration because of transgender rights.

Jenner is a true unicorn – being a Republican and transgender. But Jenner is using that to advantage, lobbying for transgender rights as a GOP liaison in Washington. Caitlyn voted for Trump in the 2016 election but is now claiming to not be a fan of his – probably unless he relents on some of his transgender policies currently in place.

As a transgender, Jenner should be a Democrat, but there is room for growth and influence on the Republican side of the aisle, and the gravitas and celebrity status gives Jenner near carte blanche in Washington where both Democrats and Republicans will at least listen. Trump, so far, however, has not budged on any transgender policies that are deemed discriminatory.

Jenner showed some upset in February of last year when Trump announced that transgender guidelines for students in schools were being rescinded – the guidelines which allowed for transgender students to use the bathroom that matched their identity instead of their birth gender. For the last 18 months, Jenner has been on the opposite side of Trump after hearing Trump campaign on promises of protecting the LGBTQ community.

For those who are Never Trump on the GOP side, Jenner is a champion by working behind the scenes for transgender and lobbying against the policies of the sitting Republican president. As part of the Resistance, Jenner is a champion for transgender and is fighting for the same equal rights as every other demographic that claims victimhood in the Democratic Party.

In many ways, Jenner and Trump truly are the best of frenemies as they straddle the gulf between the two sides of the political aisle together, but with different motives.

Which US City Has The Largest LGBT Population?

In recent decades, the demographics of gender identity and sexual orientation have started to be studied in social science fields. The NHIS carried out the first large-scale government sexual orientation data collection survey in 2014. The final report showed that 0.7% of people identify as bisexual and around 3% identify as gay or lesbian. In 2016, The Williams Institute conducted a survey to try to get an estimate as to how many citizens identify as transgender. Their report showed that around 0.6% of Americans over the age of 18 identify as transgender.

The top five US cities with the largest LGBT populations are San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Boston. This is based on data from the American Community Survey. Many people might question the validity of the data because it is over 18 years old. It is thought that the estimates may have changed for the current year with more people feeling comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation and gender identity in a national survey. Gathering accurate data is difficult because the census does not ask any sexual orientation or gender identity questions. In addition, many people in the LGBT community don’t wish to reveal personal details about their lives because they fear their own families might not accept them.

San Francisco is a very LGBT friendly city. The LGBT community in the city is one of the largest in the world and it is an important hub for activism efforts. The city has many nicknames, including “gay capital of the world”. The city’s gay population increased from 30,000 to 100,000 during the 1970s. In a 2006 survey, it was reported that 15.4% of the city’s population identified as LGBT.

There is lots of information about LGBT culture in many major US cities available on the internet. You can use Google, to quickly find LGBT friendly hotels, bars, businesses, clubs and more. You can also organize meetups and activities using online forums and social media platforms. If you have just moved to a new city, it should not take you long to connect with the city’s LGBT community as each community has activists and advocates dedicated to helping newcomers to settle in. You can learn tips and public awareness information about any places you might want to avoid for safety reasons. While the majority of the population has no issue with people who identify as LGBT, there are some places that vulnerable members might wish to avoid.

A Look At: Reverend Troy Perry

To say that there has been a great difference of opinion between the LGBTQ community and certain religious establishments within recent years would be a massive understatement. It’s no secret that Christianity, or at least various sects within Christianity, have campaigned against the supposed “sin” of homosexuality for a long time now, and despite more and more legislation taking hold that legalizes gay marriage in various parts of the country, there are still several instances which see the adverse treatment of those trying simply to tie the knot in holy matrimony, even expanding far beyond the threshold of the church itself. News headlines abound with discrimination against gay couples regarding housing, jobs and the obvious infringement of civil liberties. And for those of who feel that the LGBTQ community has no champion on the inside, I’d like to introduce to the Reverend Troy Perry.

Troy Perry was born July 27, 1940 in Florida and, unlike many people in life, had a pretty good hold on what he wanted to do at a relatively early age. By the time he was 13 years old, he had become enamored with the idea of becoming ordained and, two years later at the age of 15, found himself licensed as a Baptist minister. And while the story could have easily ended there, Rev. Perry found himself a rocky start to his adult life. Coming to terms with his own sexuality was nothing short of challenging. Following what he once likened to “youthful exploration” with other men, the estrangement of his family and the loss of his license as a Baptist minister quickly came after. By 1964, Perry had found himself without his family, without his vocation, and on the other side of the country before being drafted into the Army in 1965. He served two years in Germany before returning stateside.

A failed love affair and the incarceration of a close friend led to a failed attempt at suicide for Perry before he was inspired to found what would later become the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. A modest 12 people gathered in his living room for the first service in October of 1968. By 1971, the congregation had expanded to over 1,000 people that required them to move from a theater into their own building dedicated for sermons.

It was also around this time that Perry was inspired to activism. Seeing the arrest of his close friend and the reactions of others within the community (particularly mentioned in an interview was “the Blond Darling” Lee Glaze), Perry attributes this event to his loss of fear of the police. By March of 1969, he was dressing in full minister regalia to lay flowers for the deceased Howard Efland at the Dover Hotel where Efland had been brutalized to death by police. The very next year, Perry and two of his friends had organized the world’s first Gay Pride Parade in Los Angeles. By 1977, Perry had become such a highly influential figure within the gay community that he was invited to the White House to speak with President Jimmy Carter regarding issues surrounding the LGBTQ community.

Perry would be invited to return to the White House four more times: three times on behalf of President Bill Clinton and once more by President Barack Obama. During this time, he had organized and assisted in various demonstrations of gay rights, including the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights with Robin Tyler in 1979. During this time, Perry’s congregation within the UFMCC grew immensely as well, and the fellowship now plays host to over 44,000 people in 300 different congregations that span across 16 countries around the world.

Most recently, in an interview conducted by Richard Bence in 2017, Perry made comment regarding the upcoming Gay Pride Parade and its shift to “Resist” for the sake of attracting new attention and renewing the cause of the community.

“…our community needs to hear again that we are going to resist, like the early demonstrations here in LA. Black lives do matter. Hispanic lives matter, union groups matter, women, trans lives matter.”

Perry also affirmed that he would speak at the start of the parade with the Mayor of Los Angeles present. The parade itself wound up drawing tens of thousands into attendance.

Our Olympic Hero: Adam Rippon

It’s actually quite odd that the first time there’s an openly gay member of the United States of America’s Olympic Team in the year 2018. It’s been ten years since Massachusettes legalized gay marriage causing several other states to file suit and upheld by our Federal Government. LOGO the first network for LGBTQ+ community has been accessible since 2005 making the LGBTQ+ community visible and celebrated. And let’s be honest, we’ve always suspected that other male figure skaters were gay like Brian Boitano and Johnny Weir. Yet, this is the first year where an Olympic level athlete felt comfortable being open with their sexuality, and that athlete is male figure skater Adam Rippon.

Adam Rippon is a member of the figure skating team representing the United States of America at this year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Not only is he one of the first openly gay members of the Olympic Team in general (Gus Kenworthy, the skier, is the other), he is the only openly gay member to have an Olympic medal. Adam played an integral part in America’s Bronze Medal win in the Team Figure Skating Event earlier this week.

But this great accomplishment of being an openly gay Olympic Athlete did not go without controversy. The skater has criticized Vice President Mike Pence for his belief that homosexuals should attend gay conversion therapy saying  “I don’t think he has a real concept of reality”. Adam Rippon also stated,

“I spoke out because there are people out there whose lives have been affected by change that he’s tried to make,” Rippon said. “I spoke out for them because right now I have a voice, and I think it’s really important for me to use it.

This bold statement has caused some people to boycott his Olympic debut, whereas some who were not originally interested in figure skating would tune in to support him. Although Mike Pence tweeted Adam Rippon to show support for #TeamUSA and had his office try to arrange a meeting with the Olympic athlete, Adam also stated that he would not go to the White House for a post-Olympic event and refused to meet with the Vice President.

This situation only caused more controversy with an unprovoked tweet from Donald Trump Jr. who claimed that he’s never heard Mike Pence mention Adam Rippon’s name and that he should stop talking about the Vice President. Adam Rippon has not yet responded. But plenty of Twitter users retweeted the Vice President’s tweet directly to Adam and shake their head in disbelief.

With a campaign slogan of wanting to Make America Great Again, the best option would be to try to unify the country to support our Olympic Athletes who are representing our country to the rest of the world. But the Trump Administration can’t even get that right.

Adam Rippon is scheduled to skate in the Men’s Individual Figure Skating Competition tonight February 15th. You can watch the event on NBC’s primetime Olympic Coverage starting at 7pm.


LGBTQ & The Media

By the day, our world seems to grow smaller and smaller. Global communications technology has connected nearly every single human being on the planet, and media entertainment sources continue to thrive with what many would call rich diversity of film, music and television programming.

But not everyone would call it that.

A recent column on has again brought to light the unfortunate and somewhat alarming truth about under-representation or even misrepresentation of certain groups in the world, specifically the politically-charged-particularly-as-of-recent-years LGBTQ community.

In fact, as of 2012, the representation of the LGBTQ community had been so poor on the silver screen that GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) brought about a standard for grading films to determine their representation and inclusion of the LGBTQ population: the Vito Russo Test, a measure included as part of the Studio Responsibility Index. In order for a film to pass the Vito Russo Test, the following must be true:

  • The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender.
  • The character cannot be defined or portrayed predominantly through their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • The character must matter to the story in that their removal would have a significant effect on plot progression. This means the character cannot be present for the sole purpose of color commentary or to set up a punchline.

According to a poll that included films as recent as 2016, the authentic and realistic representation of LGBTQ characters has been alarmingly low. Out of 125 major films released, only 23 of them contained any character that identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender – a staggering 18.4%. And of those 23 films that actually portrayed a character who identified within the LGBTQ community, only nine of those films actually passed the Vito Russo test – 39%. The real sad part was that this statistic was a “bounce back” year from the previous, which scored 36% of films passing the test, down from 55% the year before.

39% out of 18.4%. I’m not necessarily saying that every single film needs to have clear-cut gender- or sexuality-identifying characters. But, when the final tally of well-represented characters from the LGBTQ community in all major films across the entire year equates to 7.2%, there is most certainly a problem with representation.

Unfortunately, as Monica Trasandes wrote for, the bottom line is money and “inclusion is good for the bottom line.” This is not to say that all platforms are failing in this regard. Trasandes points out examples such as “Orange is the New Black” and the ever-popular “Will and Grace,” which is recently seeing a revival on network television, and streaming platforms such as Netflix are putting in effort with more shows.

What is unfortunate is that, despite younger crowds being the target audience for most of these media entertainment outlets, their inclusion into this entertainment is often being put to the wayside. Trasandes notes that research from Harris Poll and GLAAD concluded that 20% of those surveyed between the ages of 18 and 34 did not identify as heterosexual.

One fifth of everyone surveyed did not identify as heterosexual. And yet Hollywood cannot get even half of their films that portray a character within the LGBTQ community to represent them well. GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis said in 2016, “Leaving LGBT people out of the picture – or including them only as a punchline – keeps old prejudices alive and creates an unsafe environment, not only here in America, but around the world where most audiences see these depictions.”

If inclusion is good for the bottom line, then the major motion picture industry might want to get its act together rather quickly.

Who was Bayard Rustin?

This blog is written by our good friend Timothy Abeel. You can check out his website here:

During the 1960’s, America was undergoing drastic change and opposition when it came to the civil rights movement. Demonstrations were being made frequently, some peacefully and some not so peacefully. And everyone knows the name of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the man credited as the champion of the civil rights movement for African Americans. A name many people probably aren’t as familiar with, however, is that of one of King’s assistants and possibly the greatest influence on King’s nonviolent approaches to civil rights reform – Bayard Rustin.

Born on March 17, 1912, Rustin was an advocate for civil rights and protested segregation in the military and in civilian settings. He was also a supporter of rights for the LGBT community, though there were complications in publicly disclosing his own sexuality until later on in life, entering into the 1980’s. Rustin was well-known for writing poetry as well his strong convictions regarding desegregation and nonviolent protest, as well as his unfortunate knack for being forced to leave causes which he had supported. He had been a supporter and member of the Youth Communist League, subsequently asked to leave due to protesting desegregation within the armed forces. He participated in the Journey of Reconciliation in 1947, only later to find himself on a chain gang after already serving 3 years in prison due to refusing service in World War II as a conscientious objector. He was also forced to resign from the Fellowship of Reconciliation in 1953 due to an alleged sexual act with two white men in an automobile – this after having joined the FOR 12 years prior. All of these acts had put Rustin on the FBI watch list, compromising his ability to perform for various groups at the time.

Rustin was an outspoken believer in nonviolent protest, having attended a world pacifist conference being held in India in 1948. He was a supporter of Gandhi’s ideals and was determined to bring them back to America to implement them. He reached out and assisted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in an effort to expand his resumé to peaceful protests before Dr. King was forced to part with Rustin due to threats of spreading rumors that Dr. King and Rustin were gay lovers. While Dr. King suffered a hit to his credibility, Rustin appeared unphased and continued his efforts through other avenues.

Rustin ended up being recruited by A. Philip Randolph, who was attempting to organize a march on Washington in 1963. Reaching out to Dr. King again, Rustin helped form a coalition of several different civil rights reform groups for one massive march on Washington. And while he had to take a backseat due to his weight as a “liability” according to Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, the march was closer than ever to being underway. But Rustin and his credibility would be tested again, this time by Strom Thurmond who personally read from Rustin’s FBI file, which caused internal turmoil among the coalition heads that needed to be addressed.

In the end, the march on Washington was a rousing success, even if it came at great personal cost for Bayard Rustin. And Rustin’s credibility would only continue to decline from there, as many claim he had begun to neglect the causes he had once tried so fervently to champion: hesitating to decry the war in Vietnam, alienating himself from “proponents of black power” by associating closely with the Democratic party, and cautioning Dr. King against speaking out at Riverside Church. Despite this, Rustin remained active in the pursuit of civil rights (and economic) justice, and even expanded his efforts internationally to the likes of Israel, Central America and Africa.

In the 1980’s, only a handful of years before his death, Rustin came out publicly regarding his sexuality and urged others like him to do the same for the sake of civil rights aimed toward the LGBT community, as they had become the new standard for “judging the character of people in regard to human rights…” Rustin died in 1987, leaving behind a legacy of nonviolent protest and support for civil rights involving various and diverse social groups – and nearly all of it from behind the scenes.