On Saturday morning, members of the Pride Community Center in Gainesville received a call from a real estate office in the same complex about their building being vandalized.
“She told me that she was just informed by somebody that came to her office that the pride center had been vandalized and that the windows were all smashed,” said board member Debbie Lewis. “The reason it’s being investigated as a hate crime is because of the notes that were left.”
Members didn’t want to share the messages due to the ongoing investigation and the community joined in helping board up the windows.
The attack came just weeks before the highly anticipated return of the Gainesville Pride Festival on Oct. 22, which was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. Those who showed up at the center helped clean the mess left behind, sweeping up glass and rocks.
“Later I will be angry about this vicious hate crime but right now I’m incredibly sad for every vulnerable person in my community,” County Commission candidate Mary Alford said, adding that she faults some elected Republicans who have shared anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
The Big Family Gathering march in the conservative heart of Istanbul attracted parents with children, nationalists, hard-line Islamists and conspiracy theorists. Turkey’s media watchdog gave the event the government’s blessing by including a promotional video that called LGBTQ people a “virus” in its list of public service announcements for broadcasters.
“We need to make all our defense against this LGBT. We need to get rid of it,” said construction worker Mehmet Yalcin, 21, who attended the event wearing a black headband printed with Islam’s testimony of faith. “We are sick of and truly uncomfortable that our children are being encouraged and pulled to this.”
Seeing images from the gathering terrified Willie Ray, the drag performer who is nonbinary, and Willie Ray’s mother, who was in tears after talking to her child. The fear wasn’t misplaced. The Europe branch of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association ranked Turkey second to last, ahead of only Azerbaijan, in its most recent 49-country legal equality index, saying LGBTQ people endured “countless hate crimes.”
“I feel like I can be publicly lynched,” Willie Ray said, describing the daily sense of dread that comes with living in Istanbul. The performer recalls leaving a nightclub still in makeup on New Year’s Eve and hurrying to get to a taxi as strangers on the street called out slurs and “tried to hunt me, basically.”
Sunday’s march was the biggest anti-LGBTQ demonstration of its kind in Turkey, where civil rights for a community more commonly referred to here as LGBTI+ — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and other gender identities and sexual orientations — have been under assault in the years since an estimated 100,000 people celebrated Pride in Istanbul in 2014.
In a visible sign of the shift, the anti-LGBTQ march went ahead without any police interference. Conversely, LGBTQ groups have had their freedom to assemble severely curtailed since 2015, with officials citing both security and morality grounds.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s views also have grown more stridently anti-LGBTQ over time. Before the 2002 election that brought the Justice and Development Party (AKP) he co-founded to power, a younger Erdogan said at a televised campaign event that he found mistreatment of gay people inhumane and legal protections for them in Turkey a “must.”
“And now, 20 years into this, you have an entirely different president that seems to be mobilizing based on these dehumanizing, criminal approaches to the LGBTQ movement itself,” said Mine Eder, a political science professor at Bogazici University in Istanbul.
The country could become more unwelcoming for the LGBTQ community. The Unity in Ideas and Struggle Platform, the organizer of Sunday’s event, said it plans to push for a law that would ban the alleged LGBTQ “propaganda” that the group maintains is pervasive on Netflix and social media, as well as in arts and sports.
The platform’s website states it also favors a ban on LGBTQ organizations.
“We are a Muslim country and we say no to this. Our statesmen and the other parties should all support this,” said Betul Colak, who attended Sunday’s gathering wearing a scarf with the Turkish flag.
Haunted by “the feeling that you can be attacked anytime,” Willie Ray thinks it would be a “total catastrophe” if a ban on the LGBTQ organizations that provide visibility, psychological support and safe spaces were enacted.
Eder, the professor, said it would be “simply illegal” to close down LGBTQ civil society based on ideological, Islamic and conservative norms — even if Turkey’s norms have indeed shifted to “using violent language, violent strategies and legalizing them.”
The Social Policy, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association, a nongovernmental LGBTQ advocacy and outreach organization in Istanbul commonly known as SPoD, is among the LGBTQ groups that stopped posting their addresses online after receiving threatening calls.
“It’s easy for a maniac to try and hurt us after all the hate speech from state officials,” said SPoD lobbyist Ogulcan Yediveren, 27. “But these security concerns, this atmosphere of fear, doesn’t stop us from work and instead reminds us every time how much we need to work.”
Gay activist Umut Rojda Yildirim, who works as SPoD’s lawyer, thinks the anti-LGBTQ sentiments on view Sunday aren’t dominant across Turkish society, but that the minority expressing them seem “louder when they have government funds, when they’re supported by the government watchdog.”
“You can just shut down an office, but I’m not going to disappear. My other colleagues aren’t going to disappear. We’ll be here no matter what,” Yildirim said.
Republican state lawmakers are rallying behind newly introduced anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that would ‘go further’ than Florida’s reviled ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law.
GOP politicians held a rally at the Pennsylvania state capitol Tuesday (20 September) to introduce House Bill 2813. The bill shares similarities with Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, which bans discussions of LGBTQ+ topics in classrooms between kindergarten and third grade.
Pennsylvania state representative Stephanie Borowicz, the bill’s primary sponsor, said HB 2813 is “patterned” on the Florida legislation but actually “goes further” than the other measure, according to PennLive.
The bill states that any public or charter school “may not offer instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity to a student in kindergarten through fifth grade”.
It would also require schools to notify parents of “health care services offered by the school entity” to students. The legislation would also allow parents to bring civil action against schools that they believe are violating the measure.
Borowicz added she believed the bill could be extended further in the future and wanted to ban classroom discussions on LGBTQ+ topics through high school.
“It really needs to be protected up through 12th grade, we need to go all the way,” she said.
However, the bill is unlikely to pass into law as Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf has already promised to veto HB 2813 and other ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bills if they land on his desk.
Wolf wanted lawmakers in the state to focus on the real issues facing Pennsylvanians rather than “engaging in discrimination and bullying”, WHTMreported.
“HB 2813 is an effort to scorch individuality and normalise unacceptance,” Wolf said. “This legislation denies humanity by reinforcing homophobic ideologies.”
Sharon Ward, senior policy advisor for the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania, warned this bill – like other ‘Don’t Say Gay’ measures – could “really add to the existing targeting and bullying of LGBTQ kids in schools”.
“The intent of these bills seems to be to wipe out any discussion and pretend that [LGBTQ people] don’t exist,” Ward said.
Pennsylvania lawmakers in the state Senate passed a similar bill, Senate Bill 1278, in June and currently awaits consideration in the House.
SB 1278 would also ban classroom discussions of LGBTQ+ topics for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students. Instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity would also be prohibited between sixth and twelfth grade unless it is done in an “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate” manner.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday spoke at an LGBTQ and intersex rights event that took place on the eve of the U.N. General Assembly.
Blinken in his remarks at the LGBTI Core Group, a group of U.N. countries that have pledged to support LGBTQ and intersex rights, noted the meeting took place at “a time when the movement for equality is showing some encouraging momentum.”
He pointed to the decriminalization of consensual same-sex sexual acts over the summer in St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda. Blinken also noted the Vietnamese Health Ministry’s announcement last month that it no longer considers LGBTQ people to be sick.
“At the same time, for that progress, which is real and which is worth underscoring, we know that people worldwide continue to experience alarming levels of violence, discrimination, isolation,” said Blinken. “Risks are the highest for people with disabilities, people of color, refugees and LGBTQI+ women. Transgender people are often denied access to legal identity documents that reflect their names and gender markers. Intersex people, including minors, continue to be subjected to unnecessary surgeries without their consent.”
Blinken further stressed that members of the U.N. LGBTI Core Group and countries around the world “have work to do to ensure that LGBTQI+ people have the same rights, the same protections as all other people.”
“Defending these rights is central to the health of our democracies,” he said. “Any system where some groups are treated as ‘less than’ simply because of who they are is fundamentally flawed.”
President Joe Biden in February 2021 signed a memo that committed the U.S. to promoting LGBTQ and intersex rights abroad as part of his administration’s overall foreign policy. The White House four months later appointed Jessica Stern as its special envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ and intersex rights overseas.
The State Department in April began to issue passports with “X” gender markers. The White House’s efforts in support of LGBTQ and intersex rights abroad now includes marriage equality in countries where activists say such a thing is possible through legislation or the judicial process.
Blinken in his speech noted Biden in June issued a sweeping executive order that, among other things, prohibits the use of federal funds to support so-called conversion therapy. The ceremony, which occurred during the White House’s annual Pride reception, took place against the backdrop of the passage of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law and efforts in several other states across the country to curtail the rights of transgender students.
“Standing up for LGBTQI+ people is a top priority for our administration,” said Blinken.
Blinken also referenced the 1969 Stonewall riots.
“Everything we’re doing builds on the work of literally generations of advocates who have — and still are — risking so much to put LGBTQI+ people and their rights on the map,” he said. “And I have to say, as I read the history, learn the history, hear of experiences, I’m quite in awe of generations of advocates who have done so much to put us where we are today. The work we’re doing is only possible because of the work they did — but not only the work they did, the courage that they showed.”
“The 1969 protest at the Stonewall Inn marked a turning point in our nation’s struggle for LGBTQI+ rights and helped galvanize the global movement,” added Blinken. “This is something that is seared into the memories, seared into the consciousness of so many of us. And particularly for me as a native New Yorker, it’s something that I have seen and been inspired by for many, many years.”
Blinken further noted “Stonewall is also a stark reminder of all the places worldwide where people are still subject to abuse simply for being themselves.”
State Department spokesperson Ned Price, Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir; Permanent Brazilian Representative to the U.N. João Genésio de Almeida Filho, Peruvian Foreign Minister Cesar Landa Arroyo, Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt and OutRight Action International Executive Director Maria Sjödin are among those who attended the event alongside Stern and Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the independent U.N. expert on LGBTQ and intersex issues.
The Human Rights Campaign announced Tuesday that Kelley Robinson will serve as its ninth president — the first Black queer woman to lead the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization.
Robinson, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said she was honored to lead HRC and its 3 million member-advocates during “a pivotal moment in our movement for equality for LGBTQ+ people.”
“We, particularly our trans and BIPOC communities, are quite literally in the fight for our lives and facing unprecedented threats that seek to destroy us,” Robinson said in a statement Tuesday, using an acronym for Black and Indigenous people of color. “The overturning of Roe v. Wade reminds us we are just one Supreme Court decision away from losing fundamental freedoms including the freedom to marry, voting rights, and privacy.”
She continued, “We are facing a generational opportunity to rise to these challenges and create real, sustainable change. I believe that working together this change is possible right now. This next chapter of the Human Rights Campaign is about getting to freedom and liberation without any exceptions — and today I am making a promise and commitment to carry this work forward.”
Robinson began her career in 2008 as an organizer for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in Missouri, and she has worked in advocacy ever since, according to the HRC. Prior to becoming the executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the advocacy and political arm of the reproductive health care nonprofit group, she served as its national organizing director and as director for youth engagement.
Morgan Cox and Jodie Patterson, board chairs for the Human Rights Campaign and its foundation, said in a joint statement that Robinson was at the center of fights to stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood.
“These past months have reminded us why equality and liberation work is so important and we believe Kelley Robinson is the exact person to help us lead the fight for all LGBTQ+ people around the world,” Cox and Patterson said.
A report released in August 2021 by the New York Attorney General’s Office alleged that David was involved in efforts to discredit a woman who accused then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment. David allegedly consulted with the governor’s office in December 2020, while president of HRC, the report said.
However, HRC conducted an internal investigation and found that David’s “conduct in assisting Governor Cuomo’s team, while president of HRC, was in violation of HRC’s conflict of interest policy and the mission of HRC,” the group said last year.
In February, David sued the organization in federal court, alleging that he was underpaid and then terminated “because he is Black.” He also claimed that there is a culture of racism in the organization.
Joni Madison, HRC’s interim president, said in a response that David’s complaint “is riddled with untruths” and described it as retaliation for his firing, which HRC said was the result of his own actions.
MONKEY POX VACCINATIONSAVAILABLE AT FACE TO FACE~~~TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27th. &WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28th.10:00am – 2:00pm
FIRST & SECOND DOSES AVAILABLE NO APPOINTMENT NECESSARY/WALK-IN’S WELCOMED
In partnership with Sonoma County Public Health Department we will be offering the Monkey Pox Vaccine in our office back parking lot area located at 873 Second Street in Santa Rosa nextTuesday & Wednesday, September 27th and 28th between the hours of 10am to 2pm. Monkey pox is caused by a virus that is closely related to the virus that causes smallpox. The vaccine will provide a good level of protection against monkey pox and is an important tool in preventing the spread of the disease.In the past few weeks numbers of Monkey pox have declined. To ensure that this continues it is important for people to get vaccinated. According to the deputy coordinator for the White House efforts to control the outbreak are entering a critical time, a “harder phase of the vaccination campaign,” referring to the need to reach underserved communities.For this reason we are pleased to offer this vaccine to our community here in Sonoma County. Please share this with your friends and people whom you think may be at the highest level of risk.
[Image Description: An image graphic with a purple background featuring a gradient purple, pink, orange, and yellow diamond shape, and white text listing the event details from the caption above. The logos of the four sponsoring organizations are included in a row along the bottom. Image 1 is in English, Image 2 is in Spanish.]
[Descripción de la imagen: un gráfico de imagen con un fondo morado que presenta una forma de diamante degradado de color morado, rosa, naranja y amarillo, y texto blanco que enumera los detalles del evento del pie de foto anterior. Los logotipos de las cuatro organizaciones patrocinadoras se incluyen en una fila en la parte inferior. La imagen 1 está en inglés, la imagen 2 está en español.]
The Russian River Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are proud to present a night of fun, fundraising and frivolity as only the Sisters know how. This is not like any other Bingo game you’ve ever played. Picture your Grandmother’s church hall bingo crossed with the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the Sisters in their best drag-nun attire.
You will be participating with all your fellow players to raise money for Russian River Sisters Grants Fund. The Russian River Sisters’ Grant Fund is managed by a committee of Sisters. Grant funding requests are accepted only via the application form on our website. Grant Fund applications are reviewed and evaluated by the Grants Committee. In evaluating an application, we consider the nature of the request and how relevant it is to the needs of our local community
An anti-LGBTQ group marched Sunday in Istanbul, demanding that LGBTQ associations be shuttered and their activities banned, in the largest demonstration of its kind in Turkey.
Several thousand people joined the demonstration dubbed “The Big Family Gathering.” Kursat Mican, a speaker for the organizers, said they had gathered more than 150,000 signatures to demand a new law from Turkey’s parliament that would ban what they called LGBTQ propaganda, which they say pervades Netflix, social media, arts and sports.
Hatice Muge, who works as a nanny, came to the gathering from Bursa province.
“People are here despite the rain for their children, for future generations,” she said, urging the Turkish government to take action. “They should save the family, they should save the children from this filth.”
The group held banners that read: “Protecting the family is a national security issue.”
LGBTQ parades have not been allowed in Turkey since 2015.
Ahead of Sunday’s demonstration, the organizers circulated a video using images from past LGBTQ Pride marches in Turkey. The video was included in the public service announcement list of Turkey’s media watchdog.
The video and the demonstration prompted an outcry from LGBTQ associations and other rights groups. The organizers of Istanbul Pride called on the governor’s office to ban the event and authorities to take down the video, arguing both were hateful.