Okay, LGBT Pride month is way gone, I get it. But being reminiscent of summer and all the courageous and inspiring LGBT people I have in my life, I found some interesting facts about LGBT Pride and the community at large that may be new news to some of you. The formation of LGBT Pride has more roots than one might expect. Here are five facts you may have never heard about LGBT Pride:
- In the early morning hours of June 28th in 1969, police raided New York’s Greenwich Village bar, the Stonewall Inn. Although the NYPD was raiding many places at this time, it was the first time queer people stood up to them. With the entire bar’s patronage and over a hundred spectators outside, they decided that was enough.
- Stonewall Inn, like a majority of the city’s gay bars, was owned and being run by the New York Mafia. Because any place that sold alcohol to gay customers was at risk of having its liquor licenses revoked, mobsters would pay off the police so they could monopolize this lucrative niche market.
- Another great thing came from a gay bar but in LA two years earlier. Police raided the Black Cat Tavern and the patrons fought back and eventually began to protest. But two of the patrons were so enraged they started up what became one of the largest LGBT magazines, The Advocate.
- The Greek Lambda symbol was also a commonly used Gay Rights symbol prior to the Rainbow Flag.
- The first ever rainbow flag made its debut at the San Francisco Pride Parade in 1978. San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker designed it. The colors represent: Hot Pink (sexuality), Red (life), Orange (healing), Yellow (sunlight), Green (nature), Turquoise (magic/art), Blue (serenity/harmony) and violet (spirit).
GLAAD, formerly the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, released its second annual Studio Responsibility Index (SRI) over the summer, and the results were less than stellar. The Index, which “maps the quantity, quality and diversity of LGBT people in films,” showed that out of 102 major Hollywood films released last year, only 17 were considered LGBT inclusive. That is only 17% of the movies studied, however an improvement on 2012’s meager 14%.
To be “inclusive” a movie only needs one LGBT character in it. Of the 17 films deemed inclusive, only seven had LGBT characters that weren’t solely defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity and were important characters in the overall plot. There were no gay leads in any of the films.
All the films that didn’t pass the test are deemed offensive. The report states, “Hollywood film reveals much about who we are as a society,” in regards to the homophobia and exclusion of LGBT people in daily life. It can be disappointing to see these results, however the test is just in it’s second year and there still has been improvement just from the first to the second.
Each of the seven studios studied – 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Sony Columbia, Universal Pictures, The Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Brothers – are rated on a scale from “Failing” to “Good” (the highest accolade given so far). Hopefully this study will encourage more films to feature LGBT actors and not just as the flamboyant token gay that happens to be the butt of every joke. Those sorts of representations just foster the prejudices against these people. Start a new normal.
The Studio Responsibility Index was started because according to GLAAD, “Despite consistent conservative labeling of Hollywood as a liberal propaganda machine, GLAAD found that LGBT representations in contemporary Hollywood films tend to be far more scarce and regressive than those on television.”
Coming out after years of silence, Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in an article that he is “proud” to be gay. Cook acknowledges that although his sexual orientation has not been a secret to many people at Apple, he had never before spoken publicly about this facet of his identity.
“While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now,” Cook wrote for Bloomberg BusinessWeek. “So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”
Cook becomes the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company, according to gay rights group the Human Rights Campaign, which applauded the Apple heavyweight’s essay. “Tim Cook’s announcement today will save countless lives,” says HRC President Chad Griffin. “He has always been a role model, but today millions across the globe will draw inspiration from a different aspect of his life.”
Three days before the announcement, the Apple CEO was in his home state of Alabama delivering a speech that talked about ambitions not previously associated with the tech company. He also used the occasion to challenge Alabama’s bedrock conservatism on a variety of controversial topics like race, poverty and discrimination against homosexuality.
“As a state, we took too long to step toward equality,” he said. “We were too slow on equality for African-Americans. We were too slow on interracial marriage and we are still too slow on equality for the LGBT community.” Cook went into detail about his coming out in an essay to Bloomberg Businessweek. His courage and ability to share his own experiences publicly will undoubtedly influence others to do the same.
According to the latest exit polls, 25-35% of gay voters routinely vote Republican, stunning democrats gay and straight alike. It’s been a slow yet steady rise in the Republican support for LGBT rights, specifically same-sex marriage. Another recent poll by Project Right Side shows that for every Republican that has said they have become more opposed to same-sex marriage, there are two that become more supportive of it. In just the last three years alone there has been an eleven point increase in support for marriage rights for same-sex couples among the GOP, allowing for a seven point drop in those opposed to legal recognition.
On the congressional side, eight Republicans support same-sex marriage, and in 2014, there are ten Republican candidates that support marriage equality. Just recently, we’d written about Carl DeMaio, who is currently running for San Diego’s 52nd Congressional District. DeMaio, a Republican, squares off against Scott Peters, and has had big names in the LGBT community support him, including CEO and founder of Elliott Management Corporation Paul Singer, and a former campaign manager for president George Bush, Ken Mehlman. Both have made contributions to the Equality Leadership Fund, which even included the political action committee The Log Cabin Republicans.
The Log Cabin Republicans have a tremendous amount pull within the GOP, where in August Mimi Planas, The President of the LCR Miami Chapter, was selected for the “2014 Most Active GOP Club President Award”, after she organized and sponsored a summit with Governor Rick Scott’s Office. Planas took her own same-sex wedding vows in 2014, and has garnered tremendous attention for her endorsement of Republican Governor Rick Scott’s reelection campaign.
Many gay and lesbian people feel compelled to vote Democrat, and despite the growing amount of support for same-sex marriage and gay rights among the GOP, it isn’t enough to sway many gay voters. While the Republicans are slowly making progressive statements and are having more supportive candidates, it’ll only when they are truly inclusive in their standings of LGBT rights that gay and LGBT supporters can finally vote Republican without feeling as if they are betraying the community.
The famous 21-year-old singer Ariana Grande has revealed that she recently renounced Catholicism for her openly gay brother after he was rejected by the church. She disagreed with the Christian faith’s teachings about her elder sibling Frankie’s sexuality, but they both found a “connection” with Kabbalah, the offshoot of Judaism that has attracted many celebrity followers.
“When my brother was told that God didn’t love him I was like, ‘OK, that’s not cool,’” she said in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph. Grande discovered the Kabbalah religion shorty after because there was a new Kabbalah center in Florida that the brother and sister duo decided to check out.
In a 2013 interview with the UK’s Metro newspaper, she said she lost faith in Catholicism when the Pope said everything she loved was evil. “[The church] said Spongebob Squarepants is gay and he’s a sinner and he should burn in hell,” she said. “And Harry Potter was a sin. And working women. I was like ‘Enough! First the gays, then Spongebob and now Harry Potter? Get out of my house!’”
Grande is very close with her brother Frankie and recently defended him on Instagram after a troll referred to her brother as “that homo.” Ariana responded with: “That ‘homo’ is the fiercest, most incredible, funniest, most intelligent, kind hearted and most LOVED person on the face of the planet! he is incredible and i am SO proud!!!! oh and also ‘that homo’ gets more ass than you’ll ever get in your life. k miss thing?’” It’s obvious that the young singer is very protective of her family; her ability to speak out in defense of her gay sibling will likely inspire many of her younger fans.
Since practicing Kabbalah, Grande says her life has changed for the better and unfolded in a beautiful way. It’s always challenging for young people in the public eye to make personal decisions that escape criticism, but it seems like Grande and her brother are doing just fine.
Many seniors who may have had to hide in their sexual orientation during their youth can now rejoice. There is a newly opened development in Chicago that caters to LGBT elders. It is one of the first LGBT-friendly housing communities for elderly people in the country.
“This feel likes home,” says Ed Lund, who came out as a gay man during the AIDS epidemic. Lund, like many others, lost his job of 15 years in the early 1980s after his boss learned his sexual orientation. “As you get older, it just feels more comfortable to be around people who understand and share your background. It’s also nice not to have worry about letting something slip out,” he says.
Not only are these apartments gaining popularity in Chicago, similar LGBT-friendly housing facilities are also starting to crop up in cities like Philadelphia. The John C. Anderson apartments, a housing community that caters to low-income LGBT seniors, recently opened in Center City, Philadelphia. The federal government also has a broader campaign to address the growing issue of housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. In just one year The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has received 150 allegations of housing discrimination based on sexual orientation.
These LGBT friendly apartments are very hot on the market since there are so few. The John C. Anderson apartments already have a 100-person waiting list. There are over 1.5 million Americans who are 65 or older who identify as LGBT. “Being out was so dangerous back then that when I attended a protest, the newspapers would only show my pants in pictures because I would get fired by the government if anyone knew I was gay,” said John James, 72, who worked for the National Institutes of Health in the 1960s.
Happily, the times have taken a more progressive shift, and if this trend continues, there will be even more safe communities for LGBT seniors in the future.
A new poll taken in the state of Utah reveals that Utahans are completely torn on the issue of marriage equality. Same-sex marriage cases have been making headlines (and headway) since the United States Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), back in June, 2013. Now, state by state, marriage equality progress is forging on.
According to The Washington Post, “Utahns are split on whether they support same-sex marriage, but a majority says its legalization in the state wouldn’t affect their family,” of the poll findings. Reportedly, a Benenson Strategy Group poll released earlier this week found that 49 percent of Utah residents think that same-sex couples should be allowed to legally wed; 48 percent possess the opposite opinion. Despite how torn Utahns are, when poll respondents were asked whether same-sex marriage would affect their families, 69 percent said it would not.
As Ken Mehlman, a conservative marriage equality activist, explained to OUT Magazine, “as people see what happens when people are treated equally under the law, when there is the opportunity for civil marriage, they see their family values being enhanced, they see their community values getting stronger,” of the positive outcomes marriage equality has in communities across the country. Mehlman, along with HRC’s Chad Griffin, Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry, and thousands of other marriage equality and LGBT rights activists, know that the road to universal marriage equality will be a long and challenging one, but are positive that America can get there.
“I think there’s a real sense in America that this is happening everywhere,” remarked Joel Benenson, founder of the Benenson Strategy Group, in reference to the poll results in Utah. Last December, a federal judge in Utah ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, the first of many steps towards achieving marriage equality in the state. With more and more Utahns coming around to same-sex marriage, hopefully gay and lesbian couples there will soon have the opportunity to legally marry.
Learn more about the recent poll, the current state of marriage equality in the U.S. and more by visiting Freedom to Marry.