Nashville on Monday became the first city in the South to recognize LGBT-owned businesses.
Nashville Mayor David Briley signed an executive order including LGBT Business Enterprises certified by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce in contracting and procurement opportunities throughout the city.
The new policy will give NGLCC-certified businesses in Nashville the same access to contracts and economic development opportunities as businesses owned by women and ethnic minorities.
“Thanks to the leadership of Mayor Briley and of our local affiliate chamber, the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce, LGBT entrepreneurs in the Nashville region will now have the opportunity to create jobs and develop innovations that benefit all who live there,” NGLCC Co-Founder and President Justin Nelson wrote in a press release.
“We hope this executive order in Nashville will encourage more mayors to proactively include the LGBT community for the optimum social and economic health of their cities,” NGLCC Co-Founder and CEO Chance Mitchell added.
Nashville is the first new city in 2019 to recognize LGBT-owned businesses. 2018 saw Baltimore and Jersey City and Hoboken, N.J., added to the list of cities that track and include NGLCC-certified businesses.
NGLCC says certified LGBT-owned businesses add $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy each year.
“We are excited to see LGBTBEs (NGLCC-certified businesses) in every field, from construction to catering and everything in between, help grow the economy of Nashville and beyond,” Nelson wrote.
Google is under fire for allowing users to download a LGBTI ‘conversion therapy’ app.
Religious group Living Hope Ministries offers vulnerable LGBTI teens and adults ‘gay cures’ through prayer and therapy.
Every mainstream health group considers ‘gay cure’ therapy dangerous to a person’s mental and physical health.
The Texas-based group refers to LGBTI people as ‘sexually broken’ individuals.
Living Hope Ministries also encourages people to ‘walk out of false identities’, claiming LGBTI lifestyles are harmful.
The app also falsely portrays homosexuality as an ‘addiction’, ‘sickness’, and a ‘sin’.
Truth Wins Out has already been victorious in seeing the app removed from the Apple store.
‘By any standard, the app is awful,’ they say.
‘It brazenly compares homosexuality to an addiction. It casually trashes LGBT people as living “destructive lifestyles.”
Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, says it is ‘unconscionable’ that Google is still offering the app.
He said: ‘We are hoping this is simply an oversight from a very large company, rather than an objectionable policy decision that would warrant further action.’
A Living Hope Ministries spokesman said: ‘The claims made by Truth Wins Out are inaccurate and are not descriptive of our ministry or the free app that we offer or the other free services we provide individuals.
‘We are a discipleship ministry that holds to a traditional, orthodox, understanding of Scripture.
‘They also added: ‘We journey with individuals who seek out our help and help as they pursue a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
‘We are saddened by the efforts of Truth Wins Out to eliminate our voice in the public arena.’
A Canadian tech company has come under fire for allegedly providing filtering software censoring LGBTI content to anti-LGBTI governments.
LGBTI advocacy group All Out has teamed up with Mexican organization R3D, which defends human rights in the digital world, to shed a light on the issue.
The two have joined forces to urge Canadian company Netsweeper to stop providing LGBTI censorship filters to homophobic governments. Moreover, the LGBTI group wants to ensure that tech companies don’t use such technologies to violate human rights.
Activists started an online petition to put an end to this LGBTI-related content censorship. They addressed Perry J. Roach, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Netsweeper Inc.
They also reached out to the Canadian government, which agreed to review their recommendations.
‘Helping countries like the UAE censor LGBTI content online, including life-saving information on HIV prevention, is a gross violation of international human rights guidelines,’ Senior Campaigns Manager at All Out Yuri Guaiana told Gay Star News.
‘We are glad the Canadian government agreed to review our recommendation that any additional financial support to Netsweeper will be made conditional on their commitment to human rights.’
Guaiana furthermore said that more than 27,000 people have signed the petition so far. They are asking Netsweeper to stop providing these filters censoring content identified as ‘Alternative Lifestyles’.
‘We’ll keep demanding that,’ Guaiana also added.
This is not the first time Netsweeper has faced criticism.
Last year, Citizen Lab, a security and human rights research group run out of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, published a report on the use of Netsweeper in 10 countries cited for systematic human rights problems. They analyzed activities in countries such as Afghanistan, Bahrain, India, Kuwait, Pakistan, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, UAE, and Yemen.
‘Netsweeper’s services can easily be abused to help facilitate draconian controls on the public sphere by stifling access to information and freedom of expression,’ said Ronald Deibert, who runs Citizen Lab.
The report also explains how the technology provided by Netsweeper works.
The software blocks Google searches for LGBTI-related keywords and non-pornographic websites by mischaracterizing them as sexually explicit.
Apple has removed a religious app from its online store which portrayed being gay as an ‘addiction’, ‘sickness’ and ‘sin’.
Religious group, Living Hope Ministries created and owns the LHM Men’s Network app . It was pulled after a gay-rights organization petitioned against it.
Truth Wins Out, which says it fights ‘anti-gay religious extremism,’ launched the petition last Thursday, US news site NBC reported.
The Living Hope Ministries is a nonprofit that says it serves ‘those who are seeking sexual and relational wholeness through a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.’
Living Hope Ministries’ executive director Ricky Chelette. Photo YouTube
Executive director Ricky Chelette told NBC that the group developed its app three years ago. He said the group is a ‘discipleship ministry’ and ‘very much like a church.’
We help people understand who they are in Christ,’ Chelette told NBC News on Sunday. ‘We only help those individuals who are seeking us.’
Truth Wins Out alleged that the app sought for LGBTI youth ‘to change from gay-to-straight through prayer and therapy
In 2014, Tim Cook became the first ceo of a Fortune 500 company to come out publicly
The petition had 356 supporters and Truth Wins Out thanked Apple and its ceo Tim Cook for removing the offending app.
‘We thank Apple for exemplifying corporate responsibility and taking swift action to remove a dangerous app that stigmatizes and demeans LGBT people,’ said Truth Wins Out executive director Wayne Besen.
‘Ex-gay programs are consumer fraud and cause significant harm to the people they purport to help.’
Truth Wins Out said it will seek to have the Living Hope Ministries app removed from other platforms, such as amazon.com, that still host it.
An LGBT charity calendar has reportedly been banned on Facebook for containing “sexual activity” despite it not containing any.
The calendar by The Naked Rugby Players, which aims to raise money for the testicular cancer charity Balls To Cancer and LGBT+ inclusive rugby, was banned from the social media platform for containing explicit content.
The calendar reportedly went against Facebook’s community standards on nudity and sexuality activity, which bans content containing nudity (showing genitals), sexual activity, sexually explicit language and female nipples (except in the context of breastfeeding, birth, health and protests).
However, the calendar contained none of the above.
According to The Gay UK, Facebook told the page’s owners that the post went against their community standards and banned the page from commenting or posting for 24 hours.
Facebook’s ban “disappointing”
The description on The Naked Rugby Players website reads: “We’ve photographed six inclusive rugby teams from across the UK, wearing nothing more than some sport socks and boots, to bring a little excitement to 2019 whilst at the same time raising money for each inclusive club involved and for the Balls To Cancer charity who promotes awareness of Testicular Cancer in men.”
It features the teams the Bristol Bisons, Liverpool Tritons, Glasgow Alphas, Brighton & Hove Sea Serpents, Northampton Outlaws and the Sheffield Vulcans.
The creative director behind the calendar, Jake Hook, told The Gay UK: “We take a huge amount of time on photo shoot days to ensure that everybody is comfortable and making absolutely 100 percent sure that nobody’s genitals are on show.
“In fact, it is in our agreement with the clubs that take part that we make sure that no one’s genitals will be invisible.
“Facebook’s ban is obviously disappointing,” he added.
“We are so proud of this calendar and the message that it gives. Be proud of your body, be proud of your sexuality and be comfortable in your own skin.”
This week, Tumblr announced that it would ban all adult content from its platform and said any user who was hurt by the decision could simply migrate to another site. But creators and readers alike don’t believe there’s another website that fosters the same kind of sex-positive spaces that Tumblr has. It’s as though Tumblr CEO Jeff D’Onofrio has failed to understand his own platform, how unique these communities are to Tumblr, and how unlikely it is for them to survive beyond the shutdown.
“Sex wasn’t this separate, shameful thing. Tumblr allowed it to exist right next to every other facet of our messy, millennial experience,” says Vex Ashley, who runs the blog Vextape that’s inspired by her work as a cam model and making DIY porn. “We shared it, discussed it, debated it, and curated it.” Porn, she says, was as appropriate on Tumblr as song lyrics.
Tumblr is home to a myriad of sex-positive and body-positive blogs, in additional to indie porn blogs and curated archives that provide something not found on Pornhub, YouPorn, or any of the other mainstream adult portals. It’s also been relatively unique among social media sites for allowing nudity and sexually explicit content to be posted. Most sites, like Facebook and Instagram, prohibit nudity and regularly remove posts that are flagged. With Tumblr gone from the equation, creators and readers fear their hubs of sex-positive and body-positive content will vanish.
“There is a lot of value in being able to share images of and information about sexuality. This change will erase years of content from countless Tumblr users,” says the anonymous author behind Bijouworld, which curates photos of vintage gay porn, old magazine covers, and newspaper clippings. They believe that other blogs focused on the history of erotica will also suffer. “This was a good spot for us all to exchange and combine our info and knowledge, so I hope we can find a new way to do that.”
Bijou Classics, the gay adult company behind the blog, also posts regularly to Pornhub and maintains an extensive web presence across multiple platforms that allow adult content. But Tumblr, the blogger says, filled a void when the company wanted to explore the archival and historical aspects of gay porn.
“I do think Tumblr is unique … [it] was one of the few platforms that is broadly open to the public where we could share explicit photos in any sort of organized fashion.” The anonymous person behind the blog says that since 2011, Bijou Classics has “used our Tumblr presence to post images from our archives, written blogs, trivia, and more.” The purpose is to “keep information circulating about the history and evolution of erotica and gay culture.”
Holden takes a media that’s often considered a nuisance to receive and approaches it satirically as an art form, going in depth about the shadows and positioning of each photo. She ends her reviews with: “thank you for submitting to critique my dick pic” and a grade ranging from A to F. The latest lyrical review of a dick in the shower, posted on November 30th, reads, “your photo is certainly not coy but it avoids being dick-centric, and apart from minor flares of distraction — a green towel in the bottom-left corner and a blue razor in the windowsill — the background is uncluttered and effective.”
Critique My Dick Pic has been described by its followers as “hilarious and useful,” says Holden. She says a trans woman recently told her that the trans-inclusive nature of the blog factored into helping her decide to come out and transition.
The blog has been around since 2013, but Holden says she’s not sure if she’ll move to another platform after Tumblr hides her content from public view on December 17th. Holden tells The Verge, “I mean, it will be the end of the blog as far as I can tell. I receive a portion of my income from CDMP, which will end, and the site has been pretty beloved for years now, so it’s a shame for its followers.”
The operator of another quirky, body-positive blog, called Things My Dick Does, says he plans to keep his Tumblr open after the ban, but only to share safe-for-work posts to keep in touch with his readers.
Started by an anonymous man in 2015, the blog’s creator draws mustaches and smiley faces on his dick, often placing props around it in amusing situations. He tells The Verge, “I know it’s a silly dick blog, but I’ve gotten to know some pretty amazing people through here. (My girlfriend included!)” He says that as he continued to post pics of his dick sipping coffee, dressed as Batman, or just smiling cheerily, he received positive feedback and even had a woman reach out to him because they lived in the same city. She later became his girlfriend. “People say they’ve overcome some serious rough spots in their lives because of the laughs I brought them.”
The man says he can migrate to other platforms, but his presence on YouTube and Instagram is distinctly different. It’s covered up and less NSFW, obscuring the very quality of his blog that disarmed audiences — a charming, dressed-up dick that more resembled a cartoon than graphic porn. “It’s definitely a loss to the adult content creators out there,” the man behind Things My Dick Does says. “Seems like it’s getting more and more difficult to express yourself.”
There just isn’t anywhere else to go. Other than Tumblr, there aren’t many mainstream, well-acknowledged platforms that allow unique adult communities to grow. Facebook and Instagram both prohibit sexual content and nudity; Twitter allows it, but it’s not exactly known for its positive, supportive communities.
Ashley, who runs the curated, often DIY porn blog, explains that Tumblr was a livelihood and a home for people who didn’t necessarily conform to mainstream porn sites’ ideas of what is sexy. “As our lives move increasingly online, spaces that are safe for sex are becoming smaller and smaller,” she says, in words that are now published on Medium. “If we continue to push our depictions of sexuality into the shadows, we allow them to continue to be defined and co-opted by the status quo — whatever is on the first page of a porn tube site.”
Grindr’s director of communications has resigned from his role, seemingly in response to the dating app’s president saying he believes that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Landen Rafe Zumwalt, who is gay, published a post on Medium on December 7, explaining that he was stepping down from his position at Grindr with “great sadness.”
Zumwalt does not name Grindr president Scott Chen in his statement, but his blog post appears to be in response to Chen posting on Facebook that he agrees marriage should be “between a man and a woman.”
Grindr’s head of communications: “I refuse to compromise my own values”
Zumwalt writes: “As an out and proud gay man madly in love with a man I don’t deserve, I refused to compromise my own values or professional integrity to defend a statement that goes against everything I am and everything I believe.
“While that resulted in my time at Grindr being cut short, I have absolutely no regrets. And neither should you.”
“As an out and proud gay man madly in love with a man I don’t deserve, I refused to compromise my own values or professional integrity to defend a statement that goes against everything I am.”
— Landen Rafe Zumwalt
Zumwalt also tweeted with a link to his blog post on December 7: “Today, I submitted my official resignation as @Grindr’s head of communications. My full statement is here.”
PinkNews has contacted Zumwalt .
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A Grindr spokesperson told PinkNews: “As Landen shared in his Medium post, he has resigned from his position at Grindr. We wish him the best in his future endeavors and appreciate his contributions to the company and the Grindr community.”
On November 30, it was reported that Chen posted on Facebook that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman.
The head of the gay dating app, who is married to a woman, wrote on Facebook: “There are people who believe that marriage is a holy matrimony between a man and a woman. I agree, but that’s none of our business.”
In the post—which was reported by Grindr-owned publication INTO—Chen continued: “There are also people who believe that the purpose of marriage is to create children that carry their DNA. That’s also none of our business.
“There are people who are simply different from you, who desperately want to get married. They have their own reasons. Getting married is a personal issue.”
He added that he wished people wouldn’t donate to anti-LGBTQ causes and instead “donate your money to places which are in dire hunger, poverty, or suffering from war,” asking: “Why spend all that money to stop people who love each other from getting married? Aren’t there more important things in life?”
He concluded: “I’ll never buy HTC products ever again, and I’ll never donate a cent to any Christian groups in Taiwan!”
Facebook released a new set of community guidelines this week centered around ‘sexual solicitation’. The guidelines specifically harm LGBTI users, by disallowing them from discussing their identities.
In justifying the new community guidelines, Facebook wrote in its policy rationale that the discussion of drawing ‘attention to sexual violence and exploitation’ is important, but it wants to ‘draw the line’ at content encouraging or coordinating ‘sexual encounters between adults’.
The rationale for the new rules | Photo: Facebook
The community guidelines then go on to detail what kind of content users are no longer allowed to post.
Some of this banned content includes mentioning ‘sexual preference/sexual partner preference’ and ‘commonly sexualised areas of the body such as the breasts, groin or buttocks’.
Further, these standards apply to all of the companies Facebook owns, including Instagram and Facebook Messenger.
‘For example, on Messenger, when you send a photo, our automated systems scan it using photo matching technology to detect known child exploitation imagery or when you send a link, we scan it for malware or viruses,’ a spokesperson told Bloomberg.
What people are saying
People are upset at social media companies’ decision to start censoring such content for numerous reasons. While drawing a hard line on exploitative content is good, blanket censoring harms marginalized groups like LGBTI people.
Users are taking to Twitter and elsewhere to express their discontent. Making rules like these both continue to take away spaces for LGBTI users, as well as equate LGBTI identities with harmful sexual content.
A university in New Jersey, USA, has decided that a Chick-fil-A restaurant will not be built on campus because of the chain’s anti-LGBT+ views.
Students at Rider University reportedly voted for the Chick-fil-A branch as their top choice for a new food outlet on campus in a poll in spring.
However, in an open letter to students, the university’s president and vice-president said that Chick-fil-A had been removed from the list of options for the new campus restaurant because of its poor record on LGBT+ issues.“Although it was included in previous surveys, Chick-fil-A was removed as one of the options based on the company’s record widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community,” said president Gregory Dell’Omo and vice-president for student affairs Leanna Fenneberg.
“That decision required a difficult assessment of competing interests.
“We sought to be thoughtful and fair in balancing the desire to provide satisfying options for a new on-campus restaurant while also being faithful to our values of inclusion.”
Chick-fil-A denied that the company is against LGBT+ people.
“Chick-fil-A was removed as one of the options based on the company’s record widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community.”
In a statement to WIVB, a Chick-fil-A spokesperson said: “Chick-fil-A is a restaurant company focused on food, service and hospitality, and our restaurants and licensed locations on college campuses welcome everyone.
“We have no policy of discrimination against any group, and we do not have a political or social agenda.”
Chick-fil-A has previously been criticised for donating large sums of money to anti-LGBT+ groups and opposing equal marriage,
In 2012, it emerged that Chick-fil-A had donated millions of dollars to anti-gay groups, including the Family Research Council, ‘gay cure’ group Exodus International and Focus on the Family.
CEO Dan Cathy later confirmed the company was opposed to marriage equality and “guilty as charged” for backing “the biblical definition of a family.”
Cathy told Baptist Press at the time: “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
In June, Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, came under fire for supporting fast food chain Chick-fil-A.
Dorsey had tweeted a payment that he made to the restaurant using Square, a mobile payment service he owns.
In April last year, students at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh protested the arrival of a Chick-fil-A branch on campus.
Student senator Niko Martini told The Duquesne Duke: “Chick-fil-A has a questionable history on civil rights and human rights.
“I think it’s imperative [that] the university chooses to do business with organisations that coincide with the [university’s] mission and expectations they give students regarding diversity and inclusion.”
Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equalirt Index takes the ethical guesswork out of Black Friday.
As quickly as Thanksgiving comes and leaves us stuffed and merry, the madness of Black Friday descends upon us. There’s nothing quite as American as the gluttony of Black Friday. With the objective being getting as many deals, deals, deals as possible, it can be easy to forget to consider where one’s dollar is going. Who’s corporate pockets are we fattening?
Every year, Human Rights Campaign releases a Buyers Guide index to hundreds of Fortune 500 companies. The guide assesses whether the companies are committed to LGBTQ-inclusive workplace practices and policies.
“Our annual Buying for Workplace Equality guide provides quick, user-friendly help in selecting everything from groceries to cars, allowing fair-minded consumers to use their wallets to resist attacks on the LGBTQ community by supporting brands committed to fully inclusive workplaces,” said Deena Fidas, Director of HRC Foundation’s Workplace Equality Program. “ Every year we hear from members of the LGBTQ community and many other consumers who want to choose brands that align with their priorities of workplace fairness. Using the Buying for Workplace Equality guide this holiday season helps ensure that their dollars go to businesses that support equality.”
The Buying for Workplace Equality guide sorts businesses by sectors, assigning them a score ranging from zero to 100 based on LGBTQ workplace equality, as measured by HRC’s annual Corporate Equality Index and HRC-researched data.
Here’s a look at the top and bottom ranking companies in each of the 19 categories, with 100 being the highest score and 0 being the lowest. For more information and the full catalogue, visit www.hrc.org/apps/buyersguide.