Today’s newsletter highlights a whole bunch of incidents of anti-LGBTQ violence and discrimination, and I want to point out that these are just stories I’ve found since I sent out yesterday’s newsletter. There are conservatives who regularly claim discrimination isn’t a thing, but it’s literally an everyday occurrence.
Convincing the Court it’s real
As the amicus briefs come pouring in this week to urge the Supreme Court to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination, I wanted to highlight another one from Transgender Law Center and a bunch of other social justice organizations. This brief highlights literally dozens of examples of transgender individuals who’ve faced discrimination in the workplace. You don’t even have to wade through the legal argument, just scroll through looking for bold and italics and you’ll see their stories.
Trans women attacked documenting anti-trans violence
Two trans activists were literally working on a documentary about anti-trans violence in New York City this weekend when a man and woman confronted them and started shouting transphobic slurs at them. Ultimately, the couple started pepper spraying them. The police came, but after they left, the man came back and pepper-sprayed them again — following which they had to seek medical care.
No gay ice cream for you
An ice cream parlor in Cape May, New Jersey was vandalized for its Pride Month display. Flags were stolen, stickers were vandalized, and the owner and his husband were subjected to anti-gay slurs. After he posted about it on Facebook, however, dozens of donations of flags and other rainbow items came pouring in.
If he’ll do that to a flag…
Just across town from where I live, some random guy walking down the streets of Washington, DC felt the need to take down someone’s rainbow flag and bash it on the ground. It was captured on camera, including the man shouting “fucking faggots” as he smashed the flag.
Intrafamily violence in Chile
A father in Quilpué, Chile was “embarrassed to have a faggot son,” and chose to stab him after he tried to break up a fight between him and his wife. The 18-year-old survived, but had to be treated for three stab wounds. According to the LGBTQ group Movilh, this is just the latest example of escalating homophobic intrafamily violence in the country.
“I’m going to beat you till you become heterosexual.”
The next story of anti-LGBTQ harassment comes from Spain, where a gay man was confronted in a Barcelona McDonald’s for the way he was dressed. The instigator threatened to beat the gayness out of him. “When you go out, I am going to hit you so hard your queerness will disappear,” he said. No violence actually transpired, and the victim chose not to press charges.
Another trans murder in Brazil
Like in the United States, transgender women face incredibly high rates of violence in Brazil as well. This week came reports of the death of Jéssica Ananias, a trans sex worker who was shot in the head, reportedly by a client who claimed she’d taken his phone. A recent report found that there had been 141 LGBTI murders in Brazil in the first half of 2019 alone.
Mobile, Alabama is thinking about LGBTQ protections
Alabama has no statewide LGBTQ protections, and only two cities — Birmingham (2017) and Montevallo (2018) — offer any such protections at the local level. The Mobile City Council announced Tuesday night that they would restore a commission that will look into passing such an ordinance there. So they’re at least thinking about thinking about creating protections, which is better than not thinking about thinking about it, I guess.
Heritage targeting LGBTQ youth and elders
Let’s check in with the Heritage Foundation, where they are very concerned that two bills that protect already vulnerable populations could also extend protections to the LGBTQ subsets within those groups. Specifically, they’re worried that the proposed Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and Older Americans Act will create protections for LGBTQ youth and respectively.
What unites the two groups is that both often have less agency over their lives than regular adults, relying on caregivers in various capacities. Heritage’s Emilie Kao dedicates a lot of paragraphs to regurgitating harmful myths about transgender kids, then also points out that religious elder care facilities could lose money if they can’t be total bigots.
Pay attention to these two bills; they aren’t “LGBTQ” on their face, but they could go far to protect vulnerable groups conservatives are clearly keen to prey upon.
Houston could elect another lesbian mayor
Houston is the fourth largest city in the country, and for six years it was capably served by Mayor Annise Parker, who is openly gay. (Parker now continues the work of helping elect other LGBTQ officials as head of the Victory Fund.) Now longtime activist and form city councilwoman Sylvester Turner has tossed her hat into the ring to run to be the next lesbian mayor. John Wright, who has relaunched his Texas-based LGBTQ blog Lone Star Q, has more details about the race.
The importance of respecting transgender prisoners
Over at them, the brilliant Kate Sosin has a feature story about Jai Diamond, a trans woman who spent six years in a men’s prison before finally being transferred to a women’s facility. Now released, Diamond reflects on how unsafe she was in the men’s prison and how the transfer relieved an undue punishment of her incarceration.
Amazon cracks down on (some) ex-gay books
Joseph Nicolosi was considered the “father of conversion therapy” up until his death two years ago, but Amazon has announced it will no longer sell his “gay cure” books. Read how one activist’s dogged efforts finally convinced the company to stop profiting off the harmful junk science. Even without Amazon, though, Nicolosi’s legacy won’t be forgotten, if only because Joseph Nicolosi, Jr. continues to provide and promote conversion therapy.
(Sidenote: My tweet announcing Nicolosi’s death in 2017 was one of the first to report it, and it subsequently went viral. I still receive fledgling responses like, “Has he tried not being dead?” and “Death is just a phase.”)
‘Eliminating’ HIV (in mice)
A new study appears to show the promising potential of completely eradicating HIV from someone’s body, or at least a mouse’s. The research claims that “permanent viral elimination is possible,” though they were only successful in nine of the 23 mice they tested. In humans, treatment can currently reduce viral loads to undetectable (and untransmittable) levels, but cannot completely cure someone of an HIV infection.
And here’s just a friendly reminder that even though Trump wants to eradicate HIV, he’s cut back on funding for this kind of research, so don’t be too optimistic about how quickly results might be replicated in humans.
The importance of small-town Pride
Long-time Advocate copy chief Trudy King reflects in a new essay on how meaningful it was to see a Pride celebration in her hometown of Galesburg, Illinois — population 30,000. “That Galesburg is demonstrating such progress makes my heart glad,” she writes. “Especially at a time when many forces are trying to roll back progress, it gives me hope — and it makes me proud.”
BEWARE! You may have to explain gay penguins to your kids!
Here’s some fun Schadenfreude to round out the day. Since 2014, the London Zoo’s penguin house has had a same-sex couple, Ronnie and Reggie, who even raised a chick together. In honor of Pride Month, the zoo put up a sign that read, “Some penguins are gay. Get over it.”
This infuriated Catholic journalist Caroline Farrow, who complained on Twitter that the sign could force parents to have to tell their children that gay people exist.
I hope none of her kids have any friends with same-sex parents. Whatever will she do??
Let’s be clear, acknowledging the existence of queer people — or even queer penguins — is not “pushing your values” on anybody. If it is, then you’re admitting that you value erasing, hiding, or denying queer people from existing. I’m not feeling too much sympathy for Ms. Farrow.
I wish in the wake of so much depressing news today that I had more of a pick-me-up here at the end, but I don’t. And I hadn’t even mentioned other news stories of the day like Trump’s big, fascist, GOP-only celebration or the fact that he’s going to erase millions of people from electoral consideration in the Census, or everything else that’s terrible!
Okay, I can’t just leave you like that. So here’s the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus singing Katy Perry’s “Firework” (in 2015):
Be safe celebrating some summer fun for Independence Day, and maybe tell your fellow picnickers about this cool new LGBTQ newsletter you’ve been reading?
Until next time, stay platinum!
(San Francisco Pride Photo Credit: Flickr/Martin Eckert.)