Movies, television shows and ads can help change attitudes about and erase prejudices towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community.
That’s the big takeaway from a new study conducted by advocacy group GLAAD and Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest advertiser. It found that 48 percent of non-LGBTQ people became more accepting of gay and lesbian people over the past few years because of their representation in media, significantly higher than reported for those who did not see LGBTQ people in the media. Seventy six percent said they were comfortable seeing LGBTQ characters in films like “Love, Simon” and shows like “Pose.”
Moreover, 80 percent of those surveyed said they had become more supportive of equal rights for LGBTQ people after being exposed to them on television or at the movies, while only 70 percent of those not exposed to LGBTQ people in the media felt this way. The survey was conducted online between Nov. 20 to Dec. 3, 2019, and polled more than 2,000 non-LGBTQ American adults.
“The findings of this study send a strong message to brands and media outlets that including LGBTQ people in ads, films, and TV is good for business and good for the world,” said GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, when media consumption is up and when media outlets serve as lifelines for LGBTQ people in isolation, companies should recognize that now is the right time to grow the quality and quantity of LGBTQ people in advertising.”
The poll also found that 45 percent of respondents who had been exposed to LGBTQ people in the media say they are more accepting of bisexual people over the past few years, while 41 percent are more accepting of nonbinary people. Some 72 percent of respondents were more likely to be comfortable learning that a family member is LGBTQ compared to the 66 percent of respondents who had not been exposed. That shift in attitudes comes as more people report having LGBTQ people in their social circles. Eighty six percent of non-LGBTQ people say that they know someone who is LGBTQ.
That move towards broader acceptance is manifested in other ways. Seventy nine percent of respondents who had been exposed to LGBTQ people in the media are comfortable having a new LGBTQ family with children move into their neighborhood, while roughly 70 percent of respondents are comfortable starting a conversation with a person whose gender is unclear, and 81 percent are comfortable chatting with a person whose sexual orientation is different than their own.
Non-LGBTQ people have been far more exposed to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people on film and television than in advertising. Within the past three months, 70 percent were exposed to members of the LGBTQ community in movies and on the small screen, whereas 52 percent saw LGBTQ people in advertisements.
The Hallmark Channel may have made waves last year for pulling TV ads featuring same sex couples (it later re-instated them under public pressure). Despite the controversy, people looked favorably upon companies who included LGBTQ people in their advertisements. Some 86% of respondents believe it reflects the company’s support of LGBTQ rights, while 85 percent of respondents believe it illustrates the company’s commitment to offering products to all types of customers. Some 75 percent of people were comfortable with ads that showed LGBTQ people and 70 percent were comfortable with seeing commercials with LGBTQ families with children.
On a conference call with media on Wednesday, Ellis said that the results should embolden marketers and companies to highlight LGBTQ consumers.
“This is a permission slip for brands to go out and embrace the LGBTQ community,” said Ellis.
With the economy frozen amid the coronavirus crisis, small businesses across the country are feeling the pinch and LGBTQ-owned companies — some of which have dramatically altered their business models to stay afloat in trying times — are no exception.
Faced with their traditional sources of revenue being cut off amid government-imposed shutdowns aimed at containing COVID-19, LGBTQ business owners who spoke to the Blade said they’ve had to improvise by facilitating different services than they did in their roles prior to the epidemic.
Amy Tiller, a lesbian and co-owner of the Portland, Ore.-based Inspired Results, said her company immediately pivoted from brand management in print and apparel for client businesses to sending supplies of PPE to hospitals in regions hardest hit by the coronavirus.
“We did a couple of large volume orders for hand sanitizer and gloves and things like that, and then people just started you know started referring us to other health care companies,” Tiller said. “It just became this thing in a matter of weeks that we were securing for traditional hospitals and clinics as well as senior living communities, as well as also we do a lot with our local retail grocery stores.”
The clientele base for Inspired Results, Tiller said, was around 70 percent in health care related industries, so pivoting to PPE was a natural shift, and the business that followed “just kind of blossomed.”
“We will quite literally send out millions of pieces of PPE between gloves, sanitizer, face masks and gowns — primarily those four are huge — and kind of with no end in sight,” Tiller said.
Typically, Tiller said a day for Inspired Results consists of sending emails at 3 a.m. to China, where the supply chain starts, to ensure the PPE is available for clients, which she said has built off the company’s mission to supply those in need without price gouging.
“I think that that has really resonated: The combination of speed, agility and access to the supply, combined with the fact that we’re not going to charge you $10 for a gown,” Tiller said. “We just won’t deal with suppliers that are doing that.”
Among her clients across the country, Tiller said, is a large health system in the United States as well as other highly regulated industries in health care, logistics companies and telecom.
The shift, Tiller said, has made her clients take a second look at the company and realize it has more to offer beyond its initial focus on brand management.
“It’s felt really good to be able to be there for them in their time of need and I think that they see us differently as well,” Tiller said. “Like, one you could do so much more than maybe what I thought your capabilities were before because like big organizations are using us for one or two things, right? Now, it’s kind of opened up this world now.”
The change in business model for Inspired Results is just one many for LGBTQ-owned businesses throughout the country, many of which are coordinating with the National LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce for assistance.
Jonathan Lovitz, senior vice president for the National LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, said his organization has been coordinating with the U.S. Small Business Administration to ensure they get that help.
“As the business voice of the LGBT community, the NGLCC is uniquely positioned to connect public and private sector resources to our network of affiliate chambers and partner organizations who urgently need the economic relief and emotional connection our community can always be counted on to provide,” Lovitz said.
Prior to enactment of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce sent letters to members of Congress demanding the inclusion of LGBTQ entrepreneurs as well as support for non-profit, micro businesses and independent contractors.
Justin Nelson, president of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, said via email the CARES Act and initial call with SBA were “positive first steps to ensure our community is financially protected during this crisis,” but more is needed.
“Many were left out and more will certainly be needed, especially as many of our business owners faced difficulty in applying for these essential funds,” Nelson said. “This is why NGLCC, in collaboration with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC), U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce (USBC), and the Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce (ACE) and over 100 of our collective affiliate chambers will continue advocating for expanded funding for small business relief in upcoming rounds of relief, the inclusion of 501(c)(6) organizations in relief for nonprofit organizations, and the eligibility of— and increased assistance for — diverse small and micro businesses.”
Other businesses are finding other ways to cope during the COVID-19 epidemic, even at the expenses of profit margins if it means keeping workers on payroll.
Nathan Perry, who’s gay and co-owner of the Brooklyn-based Cutting Edge Elite, said his company — a staffing agency for New York residents seeking to moonlight as hospitality workers at events — has shifted to find them work without any profit.
“Recently, with everything that’s happened, obviously, events wiped out completely,” Perry said. “So sales, 100 percent gone, and nobody should be having a party right now, frankly, but it was our mission to our staff, so now it’s just our mission to get them work without any profit.”
Among the staff at Cutting Edge Elite are New York performers in the gig economy, some of which are doing theater work. As a result, Perry said many of these workers don’t qualify for unemployment benefits.
Perry said he created a relief division, priced it at cost to cover their staff wages and employer tax insurance and then moved to “getting them out there to good work.”
“I think from a mental health perspective this is hard on so many levels,” Perry said. “And one of them is just not having work during this tragedy, which leaves you stuck at home watching CNN way too many hours, and our staff are among the most financially vulnerable.”
Lucas Mendieta, who’s gay and also a co-owner of Cutting Edge Elite, said among the new clients for staffers includes the New York Department of Aging. And the tasks have changed as well.
“We’ve had some staff that are helping out in-house with getting meals ready and then other ones … just to get food out to a lot of older people who just aren’t able to leave their homes,” Mendieta said.
Although $350 billion was made available for small businesses under the third installment of the CARES ACT, many companies have yet to see that relief.
Perry said Cutting Edge Elite applied for relief under the Paycheck Protection Program, but as of last week had yet to hear any news.
“We know we can last about eight weeks with zero business and everyone at this level,” Perry said. “We put in for that PPP application, as well as the SBA disaster relief as well as the NYC continuity fund. Haven’t heard a peep from our bank.”
With the money depleted for the Paycheck Protection Program, the Senate after negotiations approved this week on a bipartisan basis an additional $480 billion for the initiative. The measure is now pending before the House, which is expected to approve the measure this week.
LGBTQ businesses are adjusting to new realities under the coronavirus as debate rages on — with passionate advocates on both sides — over when is the right time to reopen the economy.
Medical experts are saying testing in the United States must be ramped up two or threefold before that can happen safely, while many throughout the country agitate over getting back to normal and fume over travel restrictions.
Tiller said Inspired Results last week held an all-hands meeting on when things would go back and concluded “there is no going back.”
“We’ve probably created a new business line within our company out of this,” Tiller said. “What does that mean? How do we keep engaged and keep that momentum, but then also we have to prepare for when we do go back will the marketing be there. Will those traditional spends that we normally see be there?”
Even though she’s a business owner and would stand to gain from restarting the economy, Tiller said she “has a fear” about the economy opening up quickly.
“I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but my fear first and foremost is more people will die right?” Tiller said. “If we do it too soon, it’ll just compromise more of our citizens, No. 1. And as we reopen the country and the economy, doing so in a layered approach — obviously there’s no light switch, it’s not going to go from one way to the other — I would be very much afraid to not follow the data and not follow the science.”
Perry said a number of factors are playing into his views on opening up the economy and the prospects for Cutting Edge Elite, including the possibility of a coronavirus resurgence in the fall — which he said could be devastating.
“If our business does survive this hit, which I’m 90 percent confident we will, a second one — we would have to lay people off immediately,” Perry said. “We’d already be in high debt — even nice cheap debt from the government — we’d already be in a high debt position. So, we can’t have any bumps in the restart or that could be kind of the killing blow.”
Gay bars have been shuttered by public-place closure orders during the coronavirus pandemic. In March, more than half of U.S. statesissued statewide closure orders for bars and restaurants, decimating the nightlife industry. This has left LGBT people without a place to gather in public and LGBT workers without employment.
But gay bars were already closing their doors before the virus hit. Their decline began sometime around 2002 and has since accelerated. My research shows that as many as 37% of the United States’ gay bars shut down from 2007 to 2019.
In this era of increasing LGBT acceptance, there’s growing competition from straight establishments. “I go wherever I want with my friends,” one former employee of a gay bar told Talking Points Memo in 2015. “Every bar is a gay bar.” In addition, the debut of geolocating smartphone dating and hookup apps like Grindr also heralded an era where cruising for sex – one of bars’ primary offerings – could be conducted anywhere, anytime.
These shows, however, represent a mere fraction of the bars’ regular weekly schedules, and virtual tip jars don’t bring in the same cash as the regular live shows did. Still, it’s something, and for LGBT people with disabilities, these online offerings are often more accessible than the physical places.
But shuttered gay bars outside of big cities don’t have the resources -— nor the national reach —- to move content online or raise money. Because these bars in smaller cities are often the only LGBTQ address for multi-county regions, their temporary closure leaves already-isolated LGBTQ people even more isolated than ever. As one gay bar owner told The Daily Beast, “The vast majority of bars don’t operate with margins to be able to sustain themselves for two weeks, four weeks or eight weeks without cash flow.”
If these temporary closure orders become permanent business failures, bars are unlikely to reopen quickly. Investors are required to open a bar in expensive, gentrified coastal cities. Savvy business owners may be able to declare bankruptcy and eventually reopen, but nearly all gay bars in America’s interior are mom-and-mom and pop-and-pop shops. These owners sometimes commingle personal finances with the professional, and lack the lines of credit to bounce back quickly.
The extent to which the stimulus package will help gay bars remains to be seen – all small businesses are in a state of limbo as they await relief funds. But the pathways for financial support for independent contractors and gig workers are even more cumbersome and convoluted in many states. These are the people not on the payroll who provide the sparkle to LGBT nightlife: the DJs, drag queens, dancers and security guards.
True, gay bars were never all things to all LGBT people. Caring about them means reckoning with their histories of exclusion of women, of transgender people, of people of color. Scholars once described them as the “primary social institution” of gay and lesbian life, but they haven’t been that for years. For many LGBT people they never were, even among the white gay men they primarily served. There are long histories of gay bars excluding those under 21, the undocumented, the disabled and those in addiction recovery.
But only a pessimist would condemn bars for these exclusionary sins, while only a willful optimist would celebrate the closure of what is often the only place for LGBT people to find like-minded others to celebrate in our queer ways.
Whether 37% fewer gay bars is a lot or a little depends on where you stand. True, there are fewer of them now than at any time in the last 40-plus years. There were more gay bars during the depths of the AIDS crisis, even. On the other hand, there are still over 800 across 46 states, with new ones appearing each year. Gay bars may be in trouble, but they’re not disappearing.
Nonetheless, the pandemic threatens the most vulnerable establishments – and their loss affects those of us in the LGBT community who have the least to lose.
The world’s largest LGBT+ cruise line has come under fire for reportedly refusing refunds for an upcoming trip during the coronavirus pandemic.
The UK government’s latest travel advice states that people over 70 and those with pre-existing health conditions should avoid cruises after a number of ships around the world were locked down because of COVID-19 outbreaks onboard.
Several major cruise companies have cancelled trips with a full refund. Others have opted to continue running but will give a full refund to customers who choose not to travel.
But Atlantis, a cruise line that charters all-gay vacations with Celebrity, did not offer customers the same.
On March 9 Atlantis changed its cancellation policy “to provide our guests more flexibility in these uncertain times” – but it only agreed to offer customers company credit if they cancel a minimum of 60 days before their ship departs.
“We hope this temporary policy change provides you with the peace of mind that your payments are safe and that we understand your concerns,” the statement said.
It’s no consolation to those who are booked on Atlantis’ southern Caribbean cruise from San Juan, Puerto Rico, which is due to depart as planned on March 21, next Saturday.
Furious customers shared their concerns in a Facebook group set up for the cruise, with one accusing Celebrity and Atlantis of “corporate greed during the most unprecedented pandemic of our generation”.
LGBT+ people are more vulnerable to the coronavirus due to the prevalence of smoking in the LGBT+ community, higher rates of HIV and cancer, and barriers to healthcare. Add this to the fact that the average cruise-goer is aged 55 or older, and many customers were desperate to cancel.
One cruiser aged 73 booked the cruise with his husband, 67, before the pandemic began. “I’m requesting the ability as every other normal cruise customer has of being able to cancel, with a rain check for a future cruise,” he commented.
Others were worried about infecting loved ones on their return. “When everyone gets off the ship, we would likely be responsible for putting in danger thousands of people by carrying/spreading a virus that, while it will not kill us, could harm or kill some of our family members,” one man wrote.
Atlantis’ vice president of marketing, Jim Cone, clarified the cancellation policy to LGBTQ Nation.
In an apparent contradiction of the company’s previously stated travel advice, he claimed that the cruise line will refund all customers who can’t travel to the US because of the European travel ban, those on Celebrity’s restricted list, and medical professionals who regularly work with patients.
He said refunds will also be given to elderly customers and those with a respiratory problem or other “significant health issues”.
“We have contacted most of these guests already, but if they fall into one of these groups, they should contact Atlantis directly to make the appropriate accommodations for them,” Cone said.
“Most of these guests have travel insurance and we will work with others on a case-by-case basis.”
This information is not listed on Atlantis’ website, nor is there any advice on the risk of the ship being quarantined, or the potential need to self-quarantine after the trip.
With states still threatening to pass legislation aimed at restricting access to transition-related care for transgender youth, LGBTQ advocacy groups and major U.S. businesses are warning the enactment of such measures could have dire economic consequences.
The focus of the warning is an open letter, complied by the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom for All Americans, which was signed by 40 major business against anti-trans bills and made public Wednesday.
“Laws that would affect access to medical care for transgender people, parental rights, social and family services, student sports, or access to public facilities such as restrooms, unnecessarily and uncharitably single out already marginalized groups for additional disadvantage,” the letter says. “They seek to put the authority of state government behind discrimination and promote mistreatment of a targeted LBGTQ population.”
Among the 40 companies that signed the letter are Airbnb, Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, Google, Hilton, IBM Corp,. Lyft, Marriott International, Microsoft, Nike, PayPal and Uber.
In numerous state legislatures, lawmakers have introduced bills aimed at restricting access to transition-related care, such as hormone therapy, puberty blockers and transgender surgeries, for youth below age 18. Other measures seek to inhibit transgender youths’ ability to play in school sports consistent with their gender identity.
One measure against transition-related care for youth in South Dakota was killed in committee, but others are still pending before legislatures and, in some cases, advancing forward.
In Alabama, the Senate approved this week SB219, which would not only ban transition-related care for youth, but require school officials and medical practitioners to out transgender youth to their parents. The House version of this legislation, HB303, has been approved in committee.
In Arizona, the House last month approved legislation, known as HB2706 and the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” seeking to block transgender youth’s participation in sports.
In the letter signed by 40 businesses, the companies make a veiled threat those companies may not bring money to states that pass legislation along these lines.
“As we make complex decisions about where to invest and grow, these issues can influence our decisions,” the letter says. “America’s business community has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws have a negative effect on our employees, our customers, our competitiveness, and state and national economies.”
In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, LGBTQ rights advocates said the potential economic costs of the anti-trans legislation is clear.
Carmarion Anderson, the Human Rights Campaign Alabama State Director, urged lawmakers to look at those potential costs when considering the legislation.
“These national corporations can see that anti-transgender grandstanding and demonization only hurts the state of Alabama, the entire LGBTQ community and their own bottom line,” Anderson said.
Anderson said organizers are engaged in conversations with lawmakers in Alabama, including Speaker Mac McCutcheon, to ensure the anti-legislation is defeated, and killed with inaction as the legislature session comes to an end. The last day of the regular session of the Alabama legislature is May 18.
The Washington Blade has placed a request in with McCutcheon seeking comment on his plans for the legislation.
Also on the call was Dan Eggers, an 18-year old transgender youth in Alabama who told his personal story about struggling with suicidal ideations and eating disorders before obtaining transition-related care.
“For the first time in my life, I’m healthy and genuinely happy,” Eggers said. “That is directly because of these treatments. In fact, after I received the treatments that I needed my middle school gym teacher, after spotting me from across the room, sought out my mother and told her he never seen me experience joy before that moment.”
The Alabama legislation, Eggers said, the measure would have “require[d] him to report my identity before I was ready, exposing me to higher risks of violence at home, and even homelessness.”
An estimated 30 percent of transgender people experience homelessness, Eggers said, and the average age of being kicked out is 13-and-a-half.
Bridget Sharpe, Arizona state director for the the Human Rights Campaign, echoed the sense businesses are fully behind efforts in Arizona to defeat anti-trans legislation.
“Major businesses understand that supporting equality isn’t only isn’t only the right thing to do, it’s good businesses sense,” Sharpe said. “Legislation promoting discrimination directly affects businesses: Full stop.”
The nationwide letter from the 40 businesses builds on a letter specific to the anti-trans legislation in Arizona signed by around 200 local and national businesses, including the Arizona State Tourism Association and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Also on the call was Jennifer Brown, the mother of a transgender athlete, whose daughter — whom she referred to as “K” to protect her anonymity — competed on the men’s crew team in Fairfax, Va, before transitioning and joining the women’s team.
“There are many reasons that rolling on that women’s team was so incredibly important for K,” Brown said. “At a point in time when she hated almost every piece of her body, rowing was a gift that her body gave back to her. It gave her a reason to keep herself safe and healthy. Being part of a team, a team that depended on her, gave her a reason to go on.”
Brown said her daughter is now in college in Arizona may be found at the campus gym on the rowing machine.
Further, the poll found 64 percent of Arizona residents believe the legislators are too focused on divisive issues and only 1 percent of Arizona Republicans say legislation on transgender issues should a top priority.
A Human Rights Campaign spokesperson said a similar poll wasn’t available in Alabama at this time.
Kasey Suffredini, CEO of Freedom for All Americans, said in a statement the letter from the 40 companies show the business community has “consistently taken a strong stand opposing legislation that discriminates against LGBTQ workers and customers.”
“Business leaders understand that discrimination is bad for business, and their economic competitiveness relies on fair and inclusive work and community environments for their employees and their families,” Suffredini said.
The sponsor of HB303 in the Alabama House, State Rep. Wes Allen, and the sponsor of SB219 in the Alabama Senate, State Sen. Shay Shelnutt, didn’t respond to the Blade’s request to comment on the economic threat to the state over the legislation.
Shelnutt, defending the legislation on the Alabama Senate floor, was quoted in AL.com as saying SB219 was necessary because kids should not be “given experimental drugs or surgeries that could have irreversible consequences for the rest of their life.”
“Kids are not fully developed until later in life,” Shelnutt reportedly said. “I think we can all agree that kids aren’t capable of making certain decisions until certain ages. And so, we want to just stop these procedures from happening in Alabama.”
The sponsor of HB2706 in Arizona, State Sen. Nancy Barto, couldn’t be reached for comment on the potential business impact of the bill.
“This bill is about fairness,” Barto told ABC News at the time it passed in the Arizona House. “That’s it. What is fair on the field, the court, the track and in the pool.”
The Alabama and Alabama chambers of commerce also didn’t respond to the Blade’s request to comment on the anti-trans legislation pending in their respective state legislatures.
LGBTQ rights advocates can point to precedent on anti-trans legislation having dire economic consequences.
After North Carolina enacted House Bill 2, which bars transgender people from using restrooms in state-owned buildings consistent with their gender identity, economic boycotts resulted in an a loss of more than 1,750 jobs and more than $77 million in investments and visitor spending, according to a 2016 analysis from Time Warner Cable News.
Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, said on the call she doesn’t have a specific dollar amount for potential economic costs to states that pass anti-trans legislation, but North Carolina is a good example.
“It’s not difficult to connect the dots between…exactly what happened in North Carolina and HB2 with businesses saying, ‘Look we’re not coming here,’ and these businesses speaking out at this point.” Oakley said.
LGBT+ people make up 21 per cent of the UK gaming industry, according to an eye-opening new diversity census.
This figure is disproportionately high considering that LGBT+ people make up between three and seven per cent of the UK population – which begs the question of why LGBT+ characters are so poorly represented when it comes to blockbuster video games.
At three per cent, trans representation is also higher in the gaming industry, versus one per cent nationwide. The biggest difference was seen in bisexual people, who represent 11 percent of those in the gaming industry compared to just 0.7 percent of the national population.
Unsurprisingly, men make up the vast majority of the workforce at 70 per cent; 28 per cent are women, while two percent identify as non-binary.
Reported levels of anxiety and depression are also significantly above the national average, with the report acknowledging that the LGBT+ community tends to experience higher rates of mental health issues than the general population.
It accrued more than 3,200 anonymised responses from people (LGBT+ or otherwise) working across the UK gaming industry, posing a range of questions about the kinds of work that games industry workers do, their personal characteristics, and their backgrounds.
The results were released alongside an industry-wide diversity pledge, #RaiseTheGame, to make gaming more inclusive for minorities.
“Diversity isn’t a nicety – it’s a necessity if the industry is going to grow, thrive and truly reflect the tens of millions of people that play games every day in this country,” said Dr Jo Twist, CEO of The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment.
“A diverse industry that draws on myriad cultures, lifestyles and experiences will lead to more creative and inclusive games that capture the imagination of players and drive our sector forward.”
The pledge, which is backed by founding partners EA, Facebook, Xbox, Jagex and King, aims to recruit 200 game businesses by 2021 and improve diversity and equality across the industry.
The anti-LGBT+ San Antonio Family Association and the state’s attorney general Ken Paxton – who has separately fought to deny discrimination protections for transgender children – have both launched legal action against the city, forcing it to expend thousands on the issue.
Chick-fil-A battle has cost San Antonio thousands.
According to local outlet KENS5, the cost of defending from the action has so far totalled $315,000 for the city.
Earlier this month, district judge David Canales rejected the city’s motion to dismiss the legal challenge.
First assistant city attorney Liz Provencio said: “We are disappointed with the outcome of the hearing and will evaluate our legal options going forward.
“We maintain that the city did nothing wrong and certainly did not violate any law, and we will continue to vigorously defend the city’s interests.”
Republicans won’t stop freaking out about airport chicken row.
Abbott staged a public signing ceremony for the so-called ‘Save Chick-fil-A’ bill, which bars the government entities from taking “any adverse action” that is based “wholly or partly on a person’s belief or action in accordance with the person’s sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction, including beliefs or convictions regarding marriage”.
The law means that LGBT+ people in Texas are now less protected from discrimination in Texas than people with homophobic views.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration launched an official probe into alleged discrimination “against a private company due to the expression of the owner’s religious beliefs”.
Chick-fil-A has faced a years-long boycott over donations to anti-LGBT+ charities and organisations.
Popular dating services like Grindr, OkCupid and Tinder are spreading user information like dating choices and precise location to advertising and marketing companies in ways that may violate privacy laws, according to a new report that examined some of the world’s most downloaded Android apps.
Grindr, the world’s most popular gay dating app, transmitted user-tracking codes and the app’s name to more than a dozen companies, essentially tagging individuals with their sexual orientation, according to the report, which was released Tuesday by the Norwegian Consumer Council, a government-funded nonprofit organization in Oslo.
Grindr also sent a user’s location to multiple companies, which may then share that data with many other businesses, the report said. When The New York Times tested Grindr’s Android app, it shared precise latitude and longitude information with five companies.
Hotel giant Marriott has issued an apology after a same-sex couple were told to take their wedding booking elsewhere.
Travel YouTuber Josh Rimer and husband-to-be Heath spoke out after booking a wedding at the Marriott-owned Sheraton Buganvilias Resort and Convention Center in the gay-friendly city of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.ADVERTISING
Hotel claimed it is ‘not specialised’ to carry out gay weddings
Rimer explained that while making arrangements for the wedding, he had mentioned to staff that the couple would not need a bridal bouquet – only to later be told via email that the hotel “is not specialised to carry out” a same-sex wedding.
The email from resort staff directed the couple to seek an alternative venue.
In a YouTube video, Rimer said it was “probably the most homophobic experience I’ve ever encountered in my entire life.”
He said: “What do you mean specialise? Why do you need to specialise in gay weddings?
“There’s not much to specialise, other than it’s going to be a groom and a groom instead of a bride and a groom.
“I don’t know if she thinks we’re going to show up in speedos with go-go dancers, and we expect the officiant to be wearing leather chaps? This is just a normal wedding, it just happens to be with two guys.”
While Rimer later received an apology from Marriott head office, he has had no further contact from the resort itself – and said he is still unhappy with how the company handled the situation.
He said: “Even if they were just like, ‘we’re going to sponsor an LGBT+ event or donate to an LGBT+ charity in Puerto Vallarta to make a public statement’, it would have nipped this in the bud.
“A phone call apologising and saying you’ll look into it is literally the least you could do.”
Hilton steps in to save couple’s Puerto Vallarta wedding
However, the story has a happy ending after the incident caught the attention of rival hotel brand Hilton – which offered to host Rimer’s wedding for free at its neighbouring Hilton Puerto Vallarta property.
The company is arranging to make the couple’s big day truly special, with wedding vendors stepping up to provide complimentary services.
Rimer said Hilton has offered to host “the wedding of my dreams,” adding: “They are putting out the red carpet for us.
“When they sent us the write-up of everything that’s going to be included, everything said ‘groom and groom’. Hallelujah!”
He quipped: “I wonder what kind of special training they had to do that.”
The Hallmark Channel said Sunday that it would “re-establish” its relationship with the wedding company behind a same-sex commercial, just days after Hallmark pulled the ad amid pressure from a conservative advocacy group.
In a statement Sunday, the president of Hallmark Cards, Mike Perry, said Hallmark’s parent company, Crown Media Family Networks, had been “agonizing” over its decision to remove the ad and the “hurt it has unintentionally caused.”
Hallmark added that it would work with an LGBTQ advocacy group, GLAAD, to “better represent … the community” while working to reinstate the commercials.
After Hallmark’s reversal, GLAAD’s president, Sarah Kate Ellis, said the company’s decision sent an important message to LGBTQ people and signaled a “major loss” for “fringe organizations” that aim to “hurt families like mine.”
The announcement Sunday came after Zola, a popular online wedding planning company, said it would no longer advertise with Hallmark after the channel refused to air commercials that included same-sex couples. Mike Chi, Zola’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement that “all kisses, couples and marriages are equal celebrations of love.”
Before Hallmark reversed course, Chi had said: “The only difference between the commercials that were flagged and the ones that were approved was that the commercials that did not meet Hallmark’s standards included a lesbian couple kissing. Hallmark approved a commercial where a heterosexual couple kissed.”
The Zola ad was mentioned in a blog post by One Million Moms, which bills itself as a group of parents who are working to stop the “exploitation of children” by entertainment media. The group claimed in the post that the channel had a history of “family friendly” content but that “parents can no longer trust Hallmark.”
“Shame on Hallmark for airing commercials with same-sex couples and even considering movies with LGBT content and lead characters,” One Million Moms said.
Hallmark was the target of petitions from One Million Moms and LifeSiteNews, a right-wing Catholic news organization. The LifeSiteNews petition said: “Hallmark would be offending Christian viewers and Christian parents BIG TIME, by experimenting with homosexual themes, and, or cooperating with the LGBT indoctrination agenda.”
The initial decision to pull the ads was criticized on social media. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres tweeted: “Isn’t it almost 2020?@hallmarkchannel, @billabbottHC… what are you thinking? Please explain. We’re all ears.”
“@billabbottHC” is Bill Abbott, chief executive of Crown Media Family Networks.
Netflix also weighed in by posting screenshots of content on its streaming service that includes two women kissing.
“Titles Featuring Lesbians Joyfully Existing And Also It’s Christmas Can We Just Let People Love Who They Love,” Netflix tweeted.