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Thursday, August 03, 2017

LGBTQ News Compilation-August 4

Undetectable HIV+ men did not infect any HIV- partners

Paris, France – As reported in GarStarNews.com, the world’s largest study on HIV transmission has shown HIV+ men with undetectable viral loads did not transmit HIV to their sexual partners. The results from the Opposites Attract study were presented today at the IAS Conference on HIV Science in Paris. Couples who participated in the study had different HIV statues – one of the men was living with HIV, while the other was HIV negative. The study involved 358 gay couples from Thailand, Brazil and Australia over four years from 2012–2016.

During the study, the men participated in 17,000 acts of anal sex without a condom. None of those acts resulted in HIV transmission. The University of New South Wales’ The Kirby Institute carried out the Opposites Attract study. “Undetectable virus level effectively prevents HIV transmission among gay couples,” said the Kirby Institute’s Professor Andrew Grulich. “Opposites Attract is the first study to show that these results apply in both high and middle income countries. Our research adds to the evidence from a small number of other international studies of heterosexual and homosexual couples and means that we can say, with confidence, that effectively treated HIV blocks transmission in couples of differing HIV status.”

HIV treatment works by suppressing the level of virus in a person living with HIV’s body. The treatment works so the immune system damage is halted and even reversed. When treatment is consistently taken daily, the virus levels become so low that they become undetectable in the blood. The results show when an undetectable viral load is maintained, the risk of HIV transmission is negligible. “This is life-changing news for couples of differing HIV status,’\” said Grulich. “But it is important that the HIV positive partner is under regular medical care and does not miss any of their anti-retroviral medication in order to ensure they maintain an undetectable viral load.” (Gaystar.com – Shannon Power at https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/undetectable-viral-load-stops-transmission-hiv/#gs.earoHIU)


Nearly half of HIV+ people have virus under control

Atlanta, GA - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data on the nation’s progress in HIV testing and treatment, showing that nearly half of Americans with HIV have their virus under control. Of the estimated 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States in 2014, the latest year with data available, 85 percent were diagnosed and knew they had HIV, and 49 percent had the virus under control through treatment.

The CDC previously estimated that in 2010, 83 percent of people living with HIV were diagnosed, but only 28 percent had their virus under control. Expanded availability of testing and treatment, coupled with updated treatment guidelines in 2012 that recommended treatment for all people with HIV infection, probably contributed to the success in driving down new HIV infections by 18 percent between 2010 and 2014 in the U.S.

According to a Baltimore City Health Department White Paper released in March, HIV rates in the City have declined over the past decade, but Baltimore’s HIV diagnosis rate is more than twice that of the state—57.93 versus 24.64 (per 100,000 population). An estimated 12,400 residents are living with HIV. While African Americans constitute 63 percent of the City’s population, they account for more than 83 percent of those living with HIV in the City. The Baltimore City Health Department is the oldest in the country. It has hosted the "Know Your Status" Ball annually for the last six years. This event is aimed at the House and Ball community, which is made up of Gay and Transgender individuals many of whom are at a high risk of contracting HIV. (Dallas Voice – David Taffet at dallasvoice.com & Baltimore City Health Dept. at http://health.baltimorecity.gov/state-health-baltimore-winter-2016/state-health-baltimore -white-paper-2017)


Trump to ban transgender people in the military

Washington, DC – In another early-morning Twitter rant from the White House, Trump announced on social media that transgender people would no longer be permitted to serve in the U.S. military in any capacity. Trump’s tweets cite the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” of transgender military personnel. His view is shared by the Family Research Council. The Trump Twitter reads in part, “The last thing we should be doing is diverting billions of dollars from mission-critical training to something as controversial as gender reassignment surgery. However, the cost to readiness, recruitment, retention, morale and cohesion would have been even greater under the Obama policy.”

In fact, the Department of Defense (DOD) sponsored a year-long study to assess the financial costs and other consequences of allowing transgender enlistment prior to former President Barack Obama’s policy allowing open, proud service to all in the LGBTQ community. The DOD study found minimal costs, financial or otherwise. “This has been studied extensively, and the consensus is clear: There are no cost or military readiness drawbacks associated with allowing trans people to fight for their country,” asserted Joshua Block, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. “This is the biggest injustice our country has faced since I marched on that bridge in Selma,” Sen. John Lewis said in a statement. “It doesn’t matter if we are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. We are one people. We are one family.”

According to figures from the Williams Institute, approximately 15,500 of those actively serving in the U.S. military are transgender people. Combined with veterans and retired service members, nearly 150,000 transgender people have served. “In no way would such a ban be a cost-saving measure,” agreed Williams Institute Scholar of Public Policy Jody L. Herman. “It is a consistent finding in research that has been conducted over many years that transgender people serve in the military at rates even higher than the U.S. general population.” Military leaders have announced that there will be no policy change until Trump issues a formal order to the Secretary of Defense. (Q Notes Online - Maria Dominguez at goqnotes.com)


White House newsletter links to anti-transgender article

Washington, DC - West Wing Reads, a daily email blast sent out by the White House, included a link to a transphobic piece in its 26 July edition. This came the same week as Trump’s tweets banning Trans people from serving in the military and the Justice Department deciding that the 1964 Civil Rights Act doesn’t apply to sexual orientation. The article linked in West Wing Reads was to a piece from conservative site The Daily Signal, written by Walt Heyer.

Heyer describes himself as a ‘former transgender’ and often writes about regretting his transition. In the article, titled “I Was Once Transgender. Why I Think Trump Made the Right Decision for the Military,” Heyer writes: “Gender dysphoria, the common diagnosis for one who feels at odds with his or her birth gender, develops from prolonged anxiety and depression. People are not born that way.” “The military is expected to prepare its members in warfare: to kill, destroy, and break our enemies. The most important factors in preparing a strong military are not hormone therapy, surgical sex changes, or politically correct education,” Heyer continues. “We need psychologically fit, emotionally sound, highly trained troops to protect our nation from its enemies.”

Needless to say Heyer’s opinion did not sit well with transgender people and their allies. “I find the fact that the religious right continues to parade around Walt Heyer as some sort expert regarding transgender people insulting,” Elise, a Trans woman from Canada, tells GSN. “How is it that the poster child of the detransition movement is somehow more credible than established medical organizations such as the AMA, APA and World Health Organization is beyond me,” she continues. “Furthermore, if transition regret is as big of an issue as he claims, why is he one of the only people out there talking about it? My only regret was staying in the closet for so long out of fear of the bigotry that’s rampant in rural areas.” Indeed, many organizations and publications, including Media Matters, have discredited Heyer. (GayStarNews.com – Rafaella Gunz at https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/white-house-includes-article-controversial-walt-heyer-newsletter/#gs.FYGn1=U)


Conversion “Therapy” bans are huge win for LGBTQ people

Alexandria, VA - As nearly 200 leaders from the state-based LGBTQ equality movement were preparing to meet in Alexandria, Virginia for Equality Federation's 20th Leadership Conference (July 26-29), Rhode Island became the 10th state (4th this year) to ban dangerous anti-LGBTQ conversion “therapy” practices on minors. The District of Columbia also bans the practice.

Sam Brinton, who underwent abusive conversion “therapy,” was among the featured plenary speakers at the Conference. Brinton, who is just 30 years old, was subjected to electroshock and other abusive tactics in attempts to convert him. “I was told I was the only gay left on earth, that the government had come through and killed off every gay child when they were born. When the mental torture didn't work, we moved into physical torture,” Sam Brinton said. “My parents were lied to and I was abused, all in the name of trying to change something I never chose.”

“In a sea of anti-LGBTQ legislation and attacks at the federal level, this is an area where our movement has momentum and broad bipartisan support because this practice is so harmful and outrageous, and something that no young person should be subjected to,” said Andy Garcia, Program Manager of Equality Federation. The Leadership Conference workshops and plenary sessions also reflected the work ahead, and the organization's commitment to working across movements including HIV criminalization, rapid response communications, racial justice, and building integrated voter engagement programs. Visit http://www.equalityfederation.org/leadershipconference/ to view the full schedule and program book. Portions of the conference will be shared, including livestreams, on social media using #EQFED17. (Seattle Gay News – at sgn.org)


LGBTQ divorce is the other side of same-sex marriage

Charlotte, NC - Although nationwide marriage equality only began with the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision, divorce among LGBTQ couples does happen. Divorce between any couple is one of the most painful transitions confronted in a lifetime; but with LGBTQ couples, this process can be particularly challenging.

However common or uncommon same-sex divorce is, it is essential to seek help when going through a transition of this nature. “Separation and divorce can be enormously stressful, even in the most amicable of situations,” she said. Hurdles include premarital civil unions or domestic partnerships, child custody and even complications to property division and spousal support. Connie Vetter, an attorney local to Charlotte, N.C. who specializes in family law and LGBTQ legal challenges, told qnotes, “that civil union is a legal bond. . .[If] you’ve got a civil union in one state and when marriage came along you went ahead and got married, if you’re going to get divorced, you also have to remember that civil union and go back and undo it.”

Other issues are common to all divorces, but have additional challenges to same-sex couples. Even things as everyday as division of property and spousal support can present disadvantages, when a same-sex couple had a long relationship but a short marriage. “The law on property division values a marital estate from the date of marriage until the date of separation,” Brady said. “If an LGBTQ couple accumulated significant property before their legal marriage, this property would fall outside of the marital estate… Similarly, in an alimony action, the court is instructed to consider the duration of the marriage in determining the amount and duration of support.” Yet the most challenging and emotional problem arises when a same-sex married couple has children. If one spouse doesn’t have a legally-recognized right to the child, the already-troubling event of custody arrangements can be still more painful. Vetter pointed out that artificially-conceived children, though equally bonded with both parents, can be separated from the one whose genes the child does not share. “Only one [parent] is biologically related to the child,” Vetter said, which automatically grants that spouse an advantage in custody negotiation. (Q Notes Online - Maria Dominguez at goqnotes.com)


MCC founder Perry visits Dallas and Cathedral of Hope

Dallas, TX - The Rev. Troy Perry, the founder of the Metropolitan Community Church 49 years ago, is one of the most colorful religious leaders of our day — a delightful storyteller who cares passionately about LGBT people. Perry grew up in Florida and began preaching at age 13 after running away from home. He left home after his stepdad abused him mentally and physically and was raped by someone his stepdad identified as his brother but was just someone he had met on a shrimp boat. He ran to his uncle’s farm in South Georgia. “I was called to preach,” Perry said. At 13, he said he was encouraged by his Pentecostal family in Georgia. By the age of 15, the Baptist church licensed him as a pastor.

By age 18, Perry began thinking he might be attracted to men, so he spoke to his pastor, who encouraged him to marry. Perry was married five years, had two kids and moved to Santa Ana, Calif., where he contacted the local bishop who sent him to a church to pastor. Despite Perry having tripled the size of the church, the bishop wanted Perry’s resignation when he learned he was gay and said, “We’ll excommunicate him.” Perry got divorced and was drafted into the army. He called the military his finishing school. “It was wonderful what the military did for me,” he said. While stationed in Germany, he visited bars in Holland. He remembered the first time he saw two police officers come in. Perry panicked and asked what was going to happen. He didn’t quite understand at first when he was told, “They just came in for a beer.”

After he returned to the U.S., he met Willy Smith and he went to a church. The first week, he was welcomed. The second Sunday, he preached. The third visit, they asked about him. When Perry was honest, they shut him out. He tried to commit suicide. “Willy busted the door down,” Perry said. After he was sewn up in the hospital, Willy took him home and he realized he was going to be OK. “God spoke to me in the still small voice,” he said. “God loves me. I was Christian and a gay man. If God loves me, God loves other homosexuals. I don’t owe apologies to anyone.” He took out an ad with his home address and his real name. That Sunday, 12 people showed up and that’s where Metropolitan Community Church began — in his living room in the apartment he shared with Smith in Los Angeles. To start a church, he said it was simple. “Tell them where you are, who you are and what you believe.” He explained, “God didn’t create me to have something to hate.” (Dallas Voice – David Taffet at dallasvoice.com

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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