Friday, March 17, 2017

LGBTQ News Compilation-March 17

Man comes out at 95 after 67 years of marriage

Los Angeles, CA – As reported by the BBC, a man married to his wife for 67 years decided to come out at age 95. Is it ever too late to come to terms with one's true nature? Perhaps not. Meet Roman, who decided at age 95 that it was time to set the records straight. In a three-and-a-half-minute video interview with popular YouTuber Davey Wavey - himself a gay man - Roman, who is now 96, says he has had a wife for 67 years, two children, five grandchildren and one great grandchild. But last year he decided it was time to "come out of the closet." Davey told the BBC that he was connected with Roman through his grandson Brandon Gross.

"I happened to be in Los Angeles at the time and was immediately captivated by the story," he said.

So why did Roman wait until he was 95? He told Davey that there were "certain things I want the world to know". He said he knew his true sexual orientation "when I was five years old." And how did his family react to the news when he broke it to them? "I just told them plain that I was born and was all my life gay. I told them the whole tragedy of my life and then they understood what happened to me," he replied. "Can you imagine...90 years to be in the closet?" Asked by Davey if he is now seeking a relationship with a boyfriend, Roman blushes, covers his face and looks away. "Yes," he responds, avoiding eye contact with Davey. "What type of guy do you go for? What does he look like?" "I don't care," he says. "I don't look at the face. I look at the heart. Somebody to lean against. Somebody who feels the heart ticking."

And finally, now that he has let the world know his tale, what is he looking to gain?

Speaking to the BBC, Davey said he wanted his audience to witness Roman's "complex" story.

"On the one hand, it's the triumphant story of a 95-year-old man coming out of the closet and shedding the weight of a nine-decade secret...on the other hand, Roman's story is also deeply emotional and, at times, quite difficult." "At some level, it's the story of lost opportunities.” "And you also feel for Roman's wife. While they undoubtedly loved each other in a deep way, both Roman and his wife deserve passion and sexual intimacy. Did they have that despite Roman being gay? I don't know." Roman's grandson Brandon is making a film about his grandfather's story and the complexity of love, marriage and deeply held family secrets called "On My Way Out"(BBC at

Moonlight first gay themed movie to win best picture

Los Angeles, CA - “Moonlight” won Best Picture at Sunday’s Academy Awards, making it the first LGBT film to win the category. Due to the biggest mistake in Oscar’s history, presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were given the wrong envelope and inadvertently announced “La La Land” as the winner, and the remarks by the makers of Moonlight were stunted.

The morning after the ceremony, director Barry Jenkins told EW that he made an “imperfect statement that didn’t come out the right way.” What he wanted to say, according to EW, would have been more like the statement below.

“[Moonlight playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney] and I are this kid. We are Chiron,” he says, referring to his background as a child from Liberty City, Miami, whose mother once struggled with drug addiction. “And you don’t think that kid grows up to be nominated for eight Academy Awards. It’s not a dream he’s allowed to have. I still feel that way. I didn’t think this was possible. But now I look at other people looking at me and if I didn’t think it was possible, how are they going to? But now it’s happened. So what I think of possibility, let’s take it off the table. The thing has happened.” (Bay Windows – Sue O’Connell at

Department of Justice to drop opposition to anti-LGBT HB 2

Washington, DC - Jeff Sessions' Department of Justice is preparing to drop federal opposition to  North Carolina's anti-LGBT law, known as HB 2. The law repeals all local ordinances protecting LGBT residents of the state and adds additional burdens to Trans people, barring them from restrooms that match their gender identity. In addition to provoking a nationwide boycott against North Carolina, the law is also the target of a lawsuit by the ACLU and Lambda Legal on behalf of four LGBT North Carolinians and other members of the ACLU of North Carolina.

In August 2016, a US District Court blocked the University of North Carolina from enforcing HB 2 against three Transgender plaintiffs in the case. The US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has scheduled oral arguments in the lawsuit for May 10. The Obama Justice Department had weighed in against the state law, saying it violated federal civil rights legislation. Obama administration attorneys had also filed for a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the law. Sessions' DOJ, however, submitted a motion saying it was rethinking the department's position on the issue and asked for a stay on any injunction. A federal judge on the case responded by freezing the Obama-era filings until the Sessions Justice Department can submit its views.

ACLU and Lambda Legal said they would press ahead with their legal challenge to HB 2. “We look forward to being back in court to fight to ensure that all transgender people in North Carolina are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve and that is required by law,” the groups said in a joint statement. “House Bill 2 represents an egregious attack on transgender people and their ability to participate in public life. While we continue to urge North Carolina legislators to repeal the law entirely, without still sanctioning discrimination, particularly against transgender people, we cannot wait for lawmakers to do the right thing. We will continue to fight for the rights of LGBT North Carolinians in court and beyond.” (Seattle Gay News – Mike Andrew at

Education Secretary DeVos meets with LGBT rights groups

Washington, D.C. - Education Secretary Betsy DeVos met with three LGBT groups on March 8 to discuss protections for Transgender students. According to the Washington Blade, the meeting was set up by Equality Michigan, the state LGBT group in DeVos' home state, and included the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and GLSEN. DeVos' office informed the groups on March 3 that she would see them. Discussion consisted of two consecutive sessions. DeVos met first with Transgender families, and later with representatives from the three LGBT groups. The sessions reportedly lasted about an hour each. DeVos was accompanied by four other Education Department officials.

Stephanie White, executive director of Equality Michigan, said her organization sought the meeting to convey the “profound negative consequences” of the withdrawal of the guidance protecting Transgender students.” We also ensured that the secretary heard from transgender students and their parents directly about the impact of discrimination and harassment at school,” White said. ”We wanted her to understand that these are life-and-death issues for transgender young people across the country and that we will not waver or compromise in our commitment to ensuring that every student, regardless of their gender identity, is provided with equal protection and opportunity to thrive.” NCTE President Mara Keisling said they got no firm policy commitments from DeVos, but that the encounter was “a good first meeting” because “it's always good when people are willing to sit down and talk, when people are willing to be told that what they did was really bad.” “Right now, we're limited in what we can do with the federal government, but this was one thing we could do,” Keisling added.

In a statement, DeVos said she was “grateful for the opportunity” to speak with families and LGBT rights supporters “about their concerns, thoughts, fears, and suggestions.” “Every school and every school leader has a moral responsibility to protect all students and ensure every child is respected and can learn in an accepting environment,” DeVos said. “I remain committed to advocating for and fighting on behalf of all students. Today's meeting was compelling, moving, and welcomed, and part of an ongoing dialogue with families and students throughout the country.” DeVos reportedly objected to the decision rescinding Obama's protections but was ordered by Trump to go along. (Seattle Gay News – Mike Andrew at

Controversy abounds over HB2 repeal ‘compromise’

Raleigh, NC - The controversy surrounding House Bill 2 (HB2) sees developments every day. The anti-LGBTQ legislation, which mandates public restroom use by birth sex and nullifies local non-discrimination protections, has received massive pushback from advocates and allies. In response to Gov. Roy Cooper’s proposed HB2 repeal, which also doubles down on punishments for sexual assault in public facilities, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest released a statement saying, “If Governor Cooper’s proposed bill for repealing HB2 becomes law, it will create a state-sanctioned ‘Look But Don’t Touch’ policy in our bathrooms…As long as the man doesn’t touch them, assault them or film them, no legal protection would be afforded the offended woman or child.” Politifact rated this comment as a “pants on fire” lie.

An HB2 repeal bill, House Bill 186, was introduced by Republican Rep. Chuck McGrady in the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA). The repeal would not be clean; while it would repeal HB2, it would also limit local non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people by requiring that such ordinances undergo a referendum process. McGrady said “This is not a take-it-or-leave-it bill …This is the best starting point we’ve had up until now.” Equality North Carolina and the Human Rights Campaign called the proposal “HB 2.0.” The ACLU and Lambda Legal, serving as counsel for several lawsuits against HB2, came out strongly opposed to HB186.

Progress NC Action organized a gathering of Triad business owners outside the Greensboro Coliseum to protest HB2. The demonstrators pushed for full repeal before the NCAA fulfills its threat to pull six years of games from the state. Small business owners are especially concerned by the economic impact of companies and organizations removing events from North Carolina. The NAACP announced a boycott against North Carolina and urged other organizations to do the same. Committing to moving its convention from the state, NAACP leadership cited HB2, as well as voting laws and the GOP’s efforts to dilute Gov. Cooper’s powers. Equality North Carolina joined local business owners and Sen. Terry Van Duyn at the North Carolina General Assembly to push for a full repeal of HB2. Executives testified about lost profits and the need for a clean repeal. (Q-Notes Online – Maria Dominguez at

Online resource for LGBT asylum-seekers gets an update

Philadelphia, PA - An online resource catalogue for LGBT asylum-seekers last month launched an update, with improvements for users in the Philadelphia and Seattle areas. With AsylumConnect’s Catalog v3.0, people coming from 73 countries where it is illegal to be LGBT can utilize new online features to locate resources for assistance. The nonprofit startup collaborated with the University of Pennsylvania’s Hack4Impact, a student organization connecting student software developers with nonprofits, to develop the updated database.

These new features, launched on Feb. 21, include: the ability to select multiple cities; automated resource submission and editing; automated resource reporting for negative interactions; printer compatibility for users with limited Internet access; filters to search based on required documentation (photo ID, proof of age, proof of residence, proof of income, medical insurance, a referral); improved mobile-friendly design; and, open-sourced code and accompanying community-contribution guidelines. “One thing that we were trying to do with the new catalog is essentially to make it much less reliant on us as a volunteer team and to open it to community contribution by anyone who is interested in helping determine the future of the AsylumConnect catalog — be those service providers or LGBTQ asylum-seekers themselves,” said AsylumConnect Director of Technology Tiff Lu.

AsylumConnect Co-founder and President Katie Sgarro said she is moved by the testimonials of users who share their experience as asylum-seekers and comment on “how global climates are getting even worse.” Sgarro’s friend, Sayid Abdullaev, cofounder of AsylumConnect and a gay asylum-seeker, noticed a gap for LGBT asylum-seekers arriving in the United States. She noted how these individuals do not know where they can seek food, shelter, social support and other elements of need. “There was no online centralized location for them to access that information,” Sgarro said about AsylumConnect’s founding. “That’s really why we designed the AsylumConnect catalog, to fill that clear gap.  Visit for more information (Philadelphia Gay News – Jeremy Rodriguez at

Nevada judge fined for allowing a Canadian same-sex divorce

Las Vegas, NVThe Montreal Gazette reports that Judge Melanie Andress-Tobiasson of Las Vegas, was fined $1,000 recently for signing a court order helping a lawyer friend divorce her same-sex spouse in Canada - without her partner knowing. The judge just thought she was doing a favor for a lawyer-friend close to death. The Las Vegas judge looked over the relevant Canadian law, then issued a court order that would let her friend get a swift divorce in British Columbia — without the estranged lesbian wife having a say in the matter. Suffering from cancer, the lawyer had wanted to finalize the split before she passed away. As it turns out, the judge lacked jurisdiction to handle family-law cases even in Nevada, let alone in another country. The state’s commission on judicial discipline publicly censured her this week for “multiple” code-of-conduct violations. The commission noted the judge had no previous discipline history and said her work had been otherwise “exemplary.”

Vivian Wright-Bolton, the ex-wife of late lawyer Jennifer Bolton, is suing the woman’s estate, her law firm and the Las Vegas judge for what she calls an “outrageous” act. Using the judge to get a Canadian divorce without Wright-Bolton’s knowledge caused “severe emotional distress,” required her to hire a Vancouver lawyer to fight the “fraudulent” annulment and deprived her of constitutional rights, the woman alleges in the $450,000 suit. But Chris Rasmussen, a lawyer for one of the defendants, said Andress-Tobiasson simply got carried away as cancer consumed a popular member of Vegas’s close-knit legal community. “We’re a small town here and everyone loved Jennifer. It was emotional for everybody to see someone so healthy collapse so quickly,” he said. “It probably caught Melanie’s emotions, too – ‘Whatever I can do to help’ – it didn’t seem like she was harming anybody.”

Bolton and Wright-Bolton — who owns a legal translation service in Las Vegas — married in 2004, travelling to B.C. after it became one of the first jurisdictions in North America to legalize same-sex marriage. They were among hundreds of Americans who flooded to Canada to take advantage of laws that would generally come much later to the U.S. By 2011, however, the couple’s relationship was finished, a custody battle ensuing over their two children. Canadian law required each party to consent, but when that was not possible, permitted filing of a court order from the place the couple lived. Armed with the controversial order from Andress-Tobiasson, Bolton obtained a divorce from a judge in B.C. Andress-Tobiasson later rescinded her order, and the Canadian divorce was also, eventually, overturned. Jennifer Bolton died in April 2014. The divorce finally went through in Nevada after the law changed. (The Montreal Gazette - Tom Blackwell at

Philly Gay man sues restaurant LGBT harassment

Philadelphia, PA - A South Philadelphia gay man has filed suit in federal court claiming pervasive anti-LGBT harassment forced him out of a restaurant job. Sebastian Cummings, 29, worked at a Fishtown eatery known as Loco Pez for about two months last year. He was a dishwasher and prepped food at the eatery, which caters to Latin-American patrons. According to Cummings’ lawsuit, which was filed March 1, he had no choice but to resign after the anti-LGBT harassment became intolerable. He’s seeking an unspecified amount in damages, and corrective measures at Loco Pez.

Slurs hurled by some Loco Pez workers on a regular basis include “cock smokers,” “cock suckers,” “homos,” “faggots” and “girlfriends,” according to the suit.“[Cummings’] male colleagues regularly said, ‘Oh, you’re gay as shit’ … ‘your gay ass’ and ‘you look gay’ to other employees on a daily basis,” Cummings stated in his suit. Male workers with long hair, non-traditional clothing or stereotypically feminine behavior were particularly susceptible to abuse, according to the suit. “[Cummings’] male colleagues and a male supervisory manager, Sergio, regularly engaged in physical conduct with each other in [Cummings’] presence consisting of pantomiming fellatio and ‘humping’ other men from behind in the kitchen,” according to the suit. When Cummings complained to management, he was told that coworkers meant him no harm, according to the suit. The head chef allegedly told Cummings, “I guarantee they won’t do anything [to you],” and “They don’t mean anything by it.”

In June, Cummings filed anti-bias complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. But the situation only worsened, according to the suit. In July, a coworker threatened another man with violence after the man allegedly made a sexual advance. Cummings resigned to ensure his personal safety, according to the suit.

Justin F. Robinette, an attorney for Cummings, said his client is optimistic that justice will be served. “Sebastian was really shaken by this experience,” Robinette told PGN. . . .Sebastian just wants people to understand that this wasn’t mere horseplay. It was truly a hostile work environment that felt threatening,” Robinette concluded. An attorney for Loco Pez couldn’t be reached for comment by press time. (Philadelphia Gay News – Tim Cwiek at

Beyond the Beltway

Beyond the Beltway

Compiled by Jim Becker

These news notes have been compiled, with permission, from the online version of various newspapers and other websites. We thank these publications for allowing us to bring you their news stories. Usually the reports have been significantly edited and you can read the full story by going to the website mentioned following the item. Comments are strictly the opinions of Jim Becker and not of Baltimore Outloud or Pride Media.

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