Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has earned his state a rare reprimand from the leading civil rights organization, NAACP. It took the unusual step of issuing a warning to Black people thinking of visiting the sunshine state.
The move comes after DeSantis signed a law last week that prohibits colleges from using public funding for anything relating to diversity, equity and inclusion. This follows the Florida Department of Education earlier this year rejecting an Advanced Placement (AP) African-American studies course. It’s understood the board objected to a ‘queer studies’ component to the course.
DeSantis also signed off the Stop WOKE Act. It limits how race can be discussed in workplaces and schools during required training or instruction.
Of course, this follows DeSantis promoting and signing off the notorious ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation for schools last year.
The NAACP advisory is a “direct response to Governor Ron DeSantis’ aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools.”
“Under the leadership of Governor Desantis, the state of Florida has become hostile to Black Americans and in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon,” NAACP states.
It continues, “Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals. Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”
The Florida chapter of the NAACP had previously issued its own advisory and requested the national group to do the same.
Equality Florida also issues warning to travelers to Florida
The NAACP’s travel warning follows a similar one issued last month by Equality Florida.
“As an organization that has spent decades working to improve Florida’s reputation as a welcoming and inclusive place to live work and visit, it is with great sadness that we must respond to those asking if it is safe to travel to Florida or remain in the state as the laws strip away basic rights and freedoms,” said Nadine Smith, Equality Florida Executive Director.
Last week, Disney pulled a rumored $1billion investment from Florida. It was set to build a new office complex in Orlando that would have brought 2,000 jobs to the district. In an email to employees, Josh D’Amaro, Disney’s theme park and consumer products chairman, blamed, “changing business conditions”.
Many interpreted this as a reference to Disney’s ongoing feud with DeSantis. He has criticized the organization for coming out against his ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law.
Pundits say DeSantis will announce his long-expected bid to become the GOP Presidential nominee this week.
It looked at data on over 10,000 preteens culled between 2018-2020. All the youngsters signed up to take part in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study. It’s largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States.
The study’s lead author is Jason Nagata, MD, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco.
“Lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents are more likely to experience school-based bullying and exclusion from peer groups due to their sexual orientation, leading them to spend less time in traditional school activities and more time on screens,” says Nagata in a press statement.
“Texting, and using social media and the internet for virtual communication could be helpful for LGB preteens to find and receive support from other LGB people who may not be available in their local communities.”
On the downside, the kids were also asked if they thought their screen time was problematic. They were asked if they agreed with statements such as, “I play video games so much that it has a bad effect on my schoolwork,” and “I’ve tried to use my social media apps less but I can’t.”
The study concluded that LGB adolescents experienced higher problematic mobile phone and social media use than their straight peers.
Escaping into an online world of gaming and YouTube videos
Nagata told Queerty that turning to the digital world and the internet had benefits but also downsides for gay youngsters.
“Queer youth who don’t have support in their local communities may turn to the internet to find and receive the help they need. Screens can also be helpful to stay in touch with friends and family who live far away.
“Risks of screen use include poorer sleep, less physical activity, and mental health consequences associated with overuse. In another recent study, we found a higher risk of sleep problems among gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth compared to straight youth.”
According to its authors, one of the study’s limitations is that most people don’t identify their sexual orientation until they’re about 17 or 18. Therefore, some of the young participants who said they were straight may turn out to identify as gay when older.
“Some of the adolescents in our study might not have come out yet or fully understand their sexuality. When children in this study were 9-10 years old, 1.5% identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. By age 11-12, 4.4% identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual and 3.8% were questioning. The percentage of study participants who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual will likely increase through their teenage years.”
The study did not seek to ask kids exactly what they were watching online. However, it noted many said they watch a lot of YouTube videos.
Do parents know how much time their kids spend online?
The researchers recommend parents are aware of how much time their children spend online. It suggests they are active in discussing these issues with their offspring.
“Parents should regularly talk to their teens about screen usage and develop a family media use plan. Parents can develop a family media use plan which could include setting limits and encouraging screen-free time, such as before bedtime or during family meals,” he told Queerty.
“We know screen use interferes with sleep, and good sleep is important for mental health.”
He also recommends parents keep an eye on their kids’ eating habits. This is because “Social media use is linked to body image dissatisfaction in LGB youth.”
Is there a set number of hours that kids should spend looking at their screens?
“The American Academy of Pediatrics used to recommend less than two hours of daily screen time for children and adolescents ages 5 to 18,” he replies. “Now they are moving away from giving specific hours because the reality is that most kids spend far more than two hours a day on screens, and not all screen time is equal. Now they recommend creating a plan based on what makes sense for your family given your kids’ screen habits and your family’s situation.”
The UK’s respected Office for National Statistics says that the number of young people (aged 16-24) who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual has almost doubled in just four years. It’s risen from 4.1% in 2016 to 8% in 2020.
The figures come from an analysis of the country’s large-scale Annual Population Survey, which surveys around 320,000 households annually.
Breaking down that 8% figure, 2.7% of 16-24 year-olds identified as gay or lesbian, and 5.3% as bisexual.
Looking more broadly at all age groups, the proportion of all adults identifying as LGB stood at 3.1% in 2020. This is an increase from 2.7% in 2019 and nearly double the 1.6% in 2014 when the UK’s official estimates began.
Clearly, more and more people feel able to be their true selves – especially younger generations.
The number of adults identifying as heterosexual was 93.7% (a fall from 95.3% in 2014).
As a region, London had a higher number of people identifying as LGB than anywhere else in the country.
The survey did not ask about trans and non-binary identities.
The figures echo a trend seen elsewhere. An IPSOS survey of 27 countries released for Pride last summer, polled 19,000 people online. It found that 18% of Generation Z (born after 1997), identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual or asexual (compared to 9% overall).
Four percent of Generation Z in that survey also identified as trans, non-binary or genderfluid, compared to just 1% of those over 40.
In the US, in a Gallup poll conducted in 2020, the proportion of LGBT people in the US was estimated at 5.6%, an increase from 3.5% in 2012. The data drew from 15,000 interviews with Americans aged 18 and older.
The UK figures, produced by a government agency, are significant because they draw from such a large sample size.
Robbie de Santos, Director of Communications and External Affairs at British LGBTQ advocacy charity Stonewall, told Queerty: “It’s wonderful to see that an increasing number of LGBTQ+ people can be their authentic selves. It’s important to remember that the number of LGBTQ+ people has not risen but these statics are a heartening sign that people are freer to be their true selves.
“Over the past decade, we’ve also seen an incredible increase in LGBTQ+ representation on our screens and in our culture – from Drag Race to It’s a Sin. Representation that normalizes being LGBTQ+ matters, and often helps people better understand who they are.”
Will Ukraine face the same fate? We sat down with France to discuss the situation for LGBTQ people living in Russia and Ukraine, the state of the underground resistance, and how Vladimir Putin has declared all-out war on queer people. France also reveals how the same forces of oppression have infected the United States, and how preserving democracy may hold the only hope for LGBTQ people in the future.
Are you in contact with the Rainbow Railroad (an underground resistance that smuggles queer people out of Eastern Europe) in Ukraine?
I did just speak with David Isteev [from Welcome to Chechnya] who is doing rescues in the Caucasus. He wanted to talk about what was happening to queers in Russia because of the invasion.
So what’s the situation there?
They are despairing. I’ve never heard the kind of grimness from the folks I know that we’re hearing now. The entire leadership of the LGBTQ movement in Russia is now outside Russia.
They’ve all had to flee?
Correct. Not just because of the invasion, but there was also a crackdown in the months leading up. [The Putin government] has made it impossible for queer leaders to do their work, and they’ve strangled their source of funding. Now the borders are closed, so it’s not possible to move money into the country. It’s not possible to access the money they have in the country. And the people outside the country trying to help are delivering money to the border in cash.
I’m sure that carries a whole other set of risks.
Yes. And if they bring money in US dollars, is it possible to change it into rubles? And if it is rubles, it’s worth almost nothing.
So is the solution to escape?
Well, here’s another problem. It’s not possible to enter most countries without proving vaccination status, and with an approved vaccine. Almost nobody has approved Sputnik 5, the Russian vaccine, because they’ve never produced reputable data. So if you have Sputnik 5, you’re not getting into Europe.
Putin’s persecution of LGBTQ people is nothing new. Is this personal for him?
It is a strategy that works. 10 or 15 years ago, he discovered the more he spoke against queer folks, the more he generated a divide that turned people against people, instead of against the government.
Putin said he wants to install a new government in Ukraine. How safe is it to believe he would install a leader similar to the one he appointed in Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov?
Well, Putin has been using an anti-queer plank in Ukraine for the past decade alleging that if Ukraine joins NATO, they will have to recognize marriage equality. And in some corners, it has worked. It worked with the Russian Orthodox Church—in the past week, they’ve come out in favor of the invasion and against “the gay agenda.”
So what you’re actually saying—Putin’s fighting an international war on LGBTQ people?
Absolutely true. He’s saying modernity and liberalism equal queerness. He’s pulling the Iron Curtain closed again to resist the queer movement. It’s that central.
The Western media implies that the invasion of Ukraine is unpopular in Russia…
Well, from what I understand from my Russian friends is just the opposite. The people they talk to, family, for example, don’t believe [the invasion] is happening.
They don’t believe the war is real?
Correct. They have no access to Western or social media. The Kremlin made it a crime to report on Ukraine. People don’t have any reason to believe there is a war unless they have children coming back in body bags.
That’s a total page out of the Stalinist playbook.
That’s why it’s an Iron Curtain—you can’t communicate. And so many young Russians have great experiences traveling across Europe. They’re very integrated into world culture. And those are the people protesting in little pockets here and there. But between 10-15,000 have been arrested. People are just disappearing for saying there’s a war.
So let me ask you then: there seems to be this link between autocracy and autocratic-type leaders and homophobia or anti-queer sentiment. Why?
People want to know what’s causing their problems. It just turns out that it works if you say queers are to blame. Since Putin started his return to power on the backs of the queer community, other leaders take note. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is doing that in Hungary. It’s happening in Poland. It’s a successful campaign in Belarus. And Trump discovered you could do it here.
It’s a huge shock. For those of us that saw 50 years of LGBTQ civic engagement and thought it was a permanent victory are having to reckon with it getting rolled back. Look what just happened in the Virginia Governor’s race.
Or Florida. Or Texas. Or Georgia.
Mmhmm. And what’s happening to queers in Ukraine—many queer Russians had fled there. The LGBTQ community had a stronghold there, and now that’s at risk. Putin’s state department issued a “kill list” for invading forces to round up and kill political leadership in the country as well as LGBTQ leaders. They gave the hit list to an elite force out of Chechnya. And men can’t get out of Ukraine. They’re terrified.
What’s happening now has people scared. Will Putin go for broke? Will he level Kiev? Will flatten Odessa? Will he drop a nuclear bomb?
Well, if he drops a nuclear bomb, we all have a lot more to worry about.
Yes. And that’s why everyone is praising the Ukrainian resistance, but talking about [Putin’s] “off ramp.” He may feel like he has no choice but to throw everything at it. And if the West gives him Ukraine, what does that mean [for the rest of Eastern Europe]?
Is there anything we can do in the West?
We need to start talking about how queer panic is being weaponized as the chief articulation of Putin’s dissent for his own military actions. Continue to support the Rainbow Railroad. They’re not solving problems, but they are creating a pipeline for flight. That saves lives. And look to LGA Europe and LGA Asia. They’re doing important work too.
So then, how much of the future of LGBTQ equality is tied to democracy?
It is plain that where democracy is strong, our movement has been successful. There’s a 100% correlation. But crushing democracy in Ukraine will only harm queers there along with everybody else. Putin and his oligarchs have sucked trillions out of the economy and done nothing for the Russian people.
The removal of the app comes as China cracks down on online activity. In recent months it has acted to remove access to pornography and instructed big tech to do more to create a “clean and healthy” cyberspace.
Tech entrepreneur Joel Simkhai launched Grindr in 2009. In 2016, China-based gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech bought a 61.5% stake in the app for $93million. In 2017, it bought the remaining 38.5% for $152million.
However, the sale did not go down well with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which moved to block the deal. It had concerns around China potentially having access to the personal data of so many US citizens.
Beijing Kunlun Tech was told it had to sell Grindr back to US-based owners, which it did in 2020 for $600 million to a group of unnamed investors.
Although Grindr appears to have now been removed from China’s app stores, Blued, the country’s biggest dating app for gay men, is still available. Blued was set up in 2012 by Beijing-based gay entrepreneur and former policeman, Geng Le.
Apple, headed by gay CEO Tim Cook, did not respond to AFP about its story. Queerty has contacted both Apple and Grindr for comment.
U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps’s transgender alleged ex-girlfriend is calling him a “hypocrite” for comments he made that implied that transgender women and girls participating in sports are not fair.
Taylor Lianne Chandler clapped back at comments the 23-time Olympic gold medalist made about University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas earlier this month.
In an interview with CNN, Phelps, 36, was asked about the 22-year-old swimmer, who has been getting attention in the media for winning some swimming competitions.
“I can talk from the standpoint of doping,” Phelps said. “This leads back to organizing committees again, because it has to be a level playing field.”
No one is accusing Thomas of doping.
“That’s something we all need. Because that’s what sports are,” he continued. “I believe we should all feel comfortable with who we are in our own skin, but I think sports should all be played on an even playing field.”
Then she dug in, saying that Phelps is “a hypocrite for saying it should be a level playing field” considering that there was never really a level playing field for his competitors due to the genetic advantages he had.
“He is genetically superior with his 6’7″ wingspan, double-jointed ankles and huge feet,” she explained. “His chemical composition allows him to breathe in and fill his lungs and hold his breath longer.”
“Even he says that he never competed on a level playing field, inferring doping, and they still could not beat him,” Chandler added, saying that Phelps’s comments about doping “hurt the most.”
“That is harsh,” she said. “In that moment of watching and hearing him say those things, it felt like a literal slap in the face.”
“I felt like I was good enough to love, lay with and be with, but not be respected or allowed in the women’s sport of swimming – like I was not a woman, but rather an alien or God-knows-what. It can’t be a woman’s sport if it doesn’t include all women, period.”
She also said that she realized Phelps might have been “caught off guard” by the question, but she still wishes he had said “that he would have said he supports trans youth in sports, especially trans girls.”
Chandler also called out the media for focusing on the limited number of trans women who are winning in sports while ignoring the struggles trans women face more generally.
“People against women in trans sports have like five examples to choose from,” she said. “It’s not like trans women are dominating any sport overall. It is a pocket here and there around the country that the press jumps on to make it seem like it is a world pandemic.”
According to a 2015 interview in The Mirror, Chandler said that she and Phelps met on Tinder. Phelps has never publicly discussed their relationship.
The Ivy League, in which Thomas competes, has stood up for her, saying that she and the University of Pennsylvania have been following NCAA guidelines for transgender student-athletes.
Last year, President Joe Biden signed an executive order saying that Title IX, which bans discrimination on the basis of sex in education, also bans anti-LGBTQ discrimination because it’s impossible to discriminate against LGBTQ people without taking sex into account. Schools that receive federal funds – like the University of Pennsylvania – would be running afoul of federal law if they denied the educational opportunity that is school sports to transgender students.
Brandon Straka, the 44-year-old New York-based hairstylist and Trump loyalist who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge for his role in the January 6 Capitol Insurrection, was finally sentenced on Monday.
Judge Dabny Friedrich, a Trump appointee, gave Straka no jail time but sentenced him to three months of house arrest, 36 months of probation, $5,500 in fines, and community service.
According to court documents, FBI officials identified Straka from a since-deleted video he posted to his own social media page in which he could be heard shouting “Go! Go!” to the other insurrectionists as they stormed inside the U.S. Capitol building.
Two days after he pleaded guilty, Straka emailed his mailing list asking them to send him money for his legal bills.
“Start posting positive things that you believe about me,” he wrote. “Push back against the one sided hate attacks that are happening right now. I still have nothing to say about my case, other than this- as it’s being widely (and likely INTENTIONALLY) misreported: I did NOT enter the Capitol building.”
“After being PERMANENTLY BANNED from PayPal, Venmo, and Stripe,” Straka added, “I have CUSTOM CREATED a support platform using a conservative friendly payment processor company.”
Officials were also able to tie Straka to the insurrection based on several since-deleted posts from his Twitter account, including:
“Patriots at the Capitol – HOLD. THE. LINE!!!!”
“I arrived at the Capitol a few hours ago as Patriots were storming from all sides. I was quite close to entering myself as police began tear-gassing us from the door. I inhaled tear gas & got it in my eyes. Patriots began exiting shortly after saying Congress had been cleared.”
“I’m completely confused. For 6-8 weeks everybody on the right has been saying ‘1776!’ & that if congress moves forward it will mean a revolution! So congress moves forward. Patriots storm the Capitol – now everybody is virtual signaling their embarrassment that this happened.”
“Also- be embarrassed & hide if you need to- but I was there. It was not Antifa at the Capitol. It was freedom loving Patriots who were DESPERATE to fight for the final hope of our Republic because literally nobody cares about them. Everyone else can denounce them. I will not.”
“Perhaps I missed the part where it was agreed this would be a revolution of ice cream cones & hair-braiding parties to take our government back from lying, cheating globally interested swamp parasites. My bad.”
Multiple other people sent the FBI videos that reportedly showed Straka at the Capitol building on January 6. In one of the clips, he allegedly tells the mob, “We’re going in!” In another, he allegedly orders them to attack a police officer, yelling, “Take the shield! Take it! Take it!”
Straka signed a plea deal with prosecutors, agreeing to provide agents with “copies of any social media accounts, postings, videos, or photos” and answer questions “regarding events in and around January 6, 2021.” In exchange, prosecutors sought a lighter sentence.
The French fashion designer Manfred Thierry Mugler has died at the age of 73. His death was due to “natural causes” according to his agent.
On his official Mugler Instagram page, a statement said, “We are devastated to announce the passing of Mr Manfred Thierry Mugler on Sunday January 23rd 2022. May his soul Rest In Peace.”
Mugler was born and raised in Strasbourg, where he trained in his teens as a ballet dancer for six years. He relocated to Paris at the age of 24 and launched his eponymous fashion line in 1973. He opened his first boutique in 1978 and his fame skyrocketed in the 80s, with his broad-shouldered, theatrical designs perfectly chiming with the power-dressing ethos of the times.
Diana Ross, David Bowie and Grace Jones were among those he dressed, and celebrities flocked to his spectacular runway shows.
In later years, besides his clothing, he became just as known for his perfumes, including Angel and Alien.
Mugler sold the rights to his name to Clarins in 1997. He retired from his label in 2002 but continued to design occasional outfits for big-name clients. This included Lady Gaga, Cardi B, Rihanna, and Kim Kardashian’s Met Ball outfit in 2019. He was creative director for Beyoncé’s I AM world tour in 2010.
Mugler was an out, gay man. After retiring from his label, stepped away from the limelight and went by his real first name, Manfred. A longtime fan of bodybuilding, he transformed his body with the help of a trainer and bulked up, becoming quite unrecognizable from his former self (although this was partly due to reconstructive facial surgery he also underwent after a bad motorbike accident).
In a 2019 interview with Fashion, Mugler said he’d never had a problem with being gay, only with the reaction of others to it.
“I didn’t have a problem with my sexuality or identity. I had a problem with my family, and I had a problem with the world. I was feeling out of place, and I was feeling very miserable. I was in the ballet for six years, and no one in my family came to see me onstage; I was the ugly duckling who left the theatre alone. I guess I was too bizarre. I would watch the skies at night and look for the blue star and know that I had to hold on.”
“He was timeless and ahead of his time,” supermodel Jerry Hall told the New York Times in 2019. “He knew all about gender fluidity and his clothes reflected the heat and sexuality of the late 70s and early 80s.”
Among those to pay tribute to the designer was Diana Ross.
Casey Cadwallader, the current creative director at the house of Mugler, wrote on Instagram, “Manfred, I am so honored to have known you and to work within your beautiful world. You changed our perception of beauty, of confidence, of representation and self empowerment. Your legacy is something I carry with me in everything I do.”
Dr. Phil is in the hot seat following an episode of his talk show featuring conservative blogger and podcaster/anti-trans activist Matt Walsh.
The episode aired on January 19 and featured Walsh, a self-described “fascist,” debating a non-binary couple. Over the course of the conversation, the couple, identified as “Ethan” and “Addison”, argued with Walsh about what constitutes a woman as he accused them of “appropriating womanhood.”
“This is one of the problems with left-wing gender ideology,” Walsh ranted. “No one who espouses it can even tell you what these words mean. What is a woman?”
Later in the exchange, words got especially heated when Addison asked Walsh, “I’m trying to understand. You definition of a woman is someone who is female, is what you said, right?”
“Correct,” Walsh answered. “A biological female.”
“So what happens when you have maybe someone who is female, a cisgender woman, as you just explained, that doesn’t have the ability to reproduce? Maybe she doesn’t have those organs–”
“I have answered the question,” Walsh snapped. “You sit up here and said ‘trans women are women.’ You tell me. What is a woman?”
Addison replied, “Womanhood is something that, as Ethan explained, I cannot define because I, myself…”
“But you use the word!” Walsh interrupted. “What did you mean when you said ‘trans women are women’ when you don’t know what that means?”
“I do not define what a woman is because I do not identify as a woman,” Addison explained. “Womanhood is an umbrella term that describes people who identify as a woman. Each person has their own relationship with their gender identity.”
Of course, to anyone who knows him, it should come as no surprise that Walsh came ready to spew transphobic vitriol. He has a long history of transphobia, having authored the children’s book Johnny the Walrus, which compares being transgender to pretending to be a walrus.
He also has a history of homophobia, having called Pride month a “celebration of vanity” and denounced adoption by same-sex couples. He has also defended the vigilante actions of Kyle Rittenhouse, opposes abortion, and claims that doing yoga is anti-Christian, among other things.
A lawsuit filed last month revealed that at least 19 people are still required to register as sex offenders due to past convictions under South Carolina’s “buggery” law for having consensual gay sex.
The SC law, along with other states’ anti-sodomy laws, were made invalid in 2003, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas’ anti-sodomy law was unconstitutional. While pardons were granted for those targeted by the laws, the convictions still require them to remain on the sex offenders list in South Carolina and two other states — Mississippi and Idaho.
The lawsuit was filed by one of the men, who was convicted, along with his partner, in 2001 under the “buggery” law. His pardon came in 2006, but his life continues to be plagued by his status as a registered sex offender.
Twice a year, he’s required to report to the sheriff’s office and give detailed information about his life — his address, employment status, vehicle information, fingerprints, palm prints, and every online account he uses. At one point, he was denied a professional license because of his sex offender status.
Attorney Matthew Strugar of Los Angeles and attorney Allen Chaney from the ACLU of South Carolina filed the lawsuit on the man’s behalf Dec. 22 in the U.S. District Court of South Carolina, making it a federal complaint.
“The registration obligations, sort of, take over your life,” Strugar told the Post and Courier.
Even if the man was to move, reciprocity laws would require him to register as a sex offender in nearly every other state.
The lawsuit seeks to remove the man’s name from the sex offender registry, and also to stop the state from requiring anyone else convicted of sodomy offenses from having to register as sex offenders.