Approximately a thousand and a half youth are homeless in Arizona at last count, and an estimated third of them are LGBT, according to Phoenix nonprofit one*n*ten. The group provides aid and services to LGBT youth who are homeless, hungry, or have mental health needs in the Phoenix area.
One*n*ten’s program, called “Promise of a New Day” or P.O.N.D., is focused on getting LGBT teens off the street and into supportive housing through financial aid and career training. Like all initiatives of their like, every dollar is a struggle, but they’ve just recently received a huge hand up. Phoenix IDA, an organization focused on supporting underserved communities (their own focus is autism), has awarded one*n*ten with a $50,000 grant this holiday season.
That money will make one*n*ten’s new housing program for P.O.N.D. possible. It will also provide more than 600 hours of behavioral health services, including therapy and doctor’s visits for those most in need.
“This award, generously funded by Phoenix IDA, will get our youth off the street and into behavioral health services at our youth center and our five satellite program locations, enabling us to directly impact the homeless challenges they face,” said Linda Elliott, the executive director of one*n*ten.
The amount of good that can be done by a grant like this one is inestimable. Hopefully, more donations will follow, but the problem has to be addressed by more than just small nonprofits like IDA and one*n*ten.
Nationwide, an estimated 40% of homeless people under the age of 18 identify as LGBT. Most of them cite family rejection as the reason they live on the streets. They are likely to become homeless younger than straight youths, and more likely to commit suicide as well. Systemic change, far more than just the right to marry, is still vital to work for.
The LGBTQ+ community has never had a very good relationship with the Mormon church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) was featured prominently in California’s Prop 8 which reversed the state’s original legalization of gay marriage. Last year, it also banned children in same-sex households from being baptized and declared people in same-sex marriages to be apostates. According to Trevor Johnson, a gay man who was raised in the church, acting upon his homosexuality would have been considered a sin akin to murder.
But the LDS leadership, like any such group, doesn’t speak for everyone. There are a number of Mormons who want to showcase the loving side of their religion and who don’t think the church’s stance on the LGBTQ+ community is okay. This is why the town of Provo, Utah is opening a resource center for LGBTQ+ people, right across the street from an LDS temple.
The positioning works on two fronts. It will hopefully remind people visiting the center about the positive side of the Mormon faith, but whether or not that pans out, it makes it impossible for people visiting that temple to ignore. Not ignoring the LGBTQ+ community is a big part of moving forward and improving the lives of people in that community. When faced with a society or religion that would rather kick them out than talk to them, LGBTQ+ youth stay in the closet, at best, which isn’t fair or healthy.
Youth in the community are more likely to commit suicide or otherwise harm themselves, but those statistics are reduced whenever children have someone to talk to. That’s why centers like the one are being built. It is aimed at helping youth (and their families) come to terms with and explore their LGBTQ+ identities in a safe space.
Kylie Summer Wu is the latest comic artist picked up by the San Francisco alternative newspaper SF Weekly. Her comic Trans Girl Next Door is of the non-sequitor life commentary style, ranging from stoic to hysterical to nonsensical. They are also usually specifically about her life as a transgender woman and a woman of color. Her art style is simple and emotional.
Wu, who lives in West Los Angeles, uses clever imagery to talk about the reality of her body in a work-safe manner, using images of bananas and elephants to good effect with no need of explanation. Her comics are cheerful and amusing, even as they muse on the ways hetero- and cisnormativity impinge upon her life. She’s done strips on the laws and controversy in North Carolina, the awkward conversations with coworkers when they joke about transgender people in other countries, and grandkid-hungry parents.
Her comic, which is also available on her website, will be in each issue alongside the magazine’s two other new comic offerings, Jay Duret’s The Week in Review and Dami Lee’s Hot Comics for Cool People.
Her new syndication is not Wu’s only accolade as an artist. She was listed in 2015’s Trans 100, a list of trans men and women and nonbinary people contributing to society in the United States. She also made an appearance in Elite Daily’s 2015 list of 10 most powerful trans millenials, alongside big names like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock. Both lists come out in November, and she can be expected to be on both again.
This November, which by the way, is Transgender Awareness month, pick up a copy of SF Weekly if you live in the area, or visit her page if you’re not, and get a glimpse into the daily life of the Trans Girl Next Door.
On Friday, Fox News hosted a segment in which Judge Jeanine Pirro gave her take on Trump protestors. When hosts asserted that college students needed “hot cocoa, safe spaces, and therapy dogs to hug because of the election” Pirro erupted in laughter.
“I just think they ought to get over it, you know?” Pirro stated. “The idea of safe spaces, and therapy dogs, and crayons, and delaying, you know, exams—I mean, you know. Just get a life, get a job, get over it.”
Across the board, conservatives are treating this like it’s a joke. But here’s a question I would love to ask Mrs. Pirro:
Would you have told Civil Rights activists to just “get over it”?
Before anyone argues that these two things are not the same, let me explain to you how they’re similar. It didn’t take long after Trump was elected president for the KKK to announce a victory parade. Yep, that’s right, the Loyal White Knights of Pelham, North Carolina posted on their website that they would be celebrating Trump’s victory.
And no, this isn’t just some isolated incident. Several Klan groups have endorsed Donald Trump, including infamous former Klan leader David Duke. And it took Donald Trump way longer than it ever should have to denounce Duke’s support.
But do you know what’s different this time around? It’s not just blacks that are being targeted; it’s Mexicans, it’s Muslims, it’s gay people, it’s trans people, it’s women. And it’s not all just talk.
A Muslim student at San Diego State University claimed that two men made derogatory comments about Muslims and Trump before robbing her. At York County School of Technology in York, PA, students strode down the hallway with a Trump sign as they proudly proclaimed, “white power.”
It’s not funny, it’s not a joke, and people aren’t being “big babies” for fearing for their lives. Have people seriously forgotten that at one point in our history, people were actually killed because of the color of their skin? What a privilege it must be to disregard that portion of history.
Queer Ghost Hunters is, more than anything else, an exploration of LGBT history. Walking a tidy line between tongue-in-cheek and serious, filmmaker Stu Maddux follows a team of ghost hunters who call themselves the “Stonewall Columbus Queer Ghost Hunters.”
For those who believe in ghosts and spirits, the concept isn’t a joke. If ghosts are out there, queer ghosts are out there. And since LGBT people, historically, were more likely than the average to be mistreated, locked away, or murdered, their spirits would certainly have something to say.
They choose locations to scout by looking through the records of hospitals, asylums, and prisons for likely hauntings. So far, they’ve featured lesbian nuns, lynched immigrants, and young gay soldiers imprisoned for sodomy.
The ghost hunters, all of whom fall somewhere in the LGBT umbrella and range from 20 to 50 years old, say that they get contacted because they share something with the spirits.
Maddux says that the team uses a technique that he’s never seen before in any other paranormal show—they tell stories to the ghosts. Usually its a story about their own life, and contact comes when they ask if they have something in common with the ghost. Contacts are very non-confrontational, more like a ghost support group than a game of hide and seek.
Even if you’re a skeptic, this is a show that bounces easily between touching and hilarious. The focus is heavy on the personal stories of LGBT individuals, both living and deceased, and on the community between them. Also, they have a very cute dog.
Queer Ghost Hunters is currently a web-series hosted on Youtube, with a Kickstarter seeking pledges to keep them going through season 2. The season 1 finale aired on November 1, 2016.
New York City is seeking submissions as we speak for an art installation to memorialize LGBT “victims of hate, intolerance, and violence,” with a nod towards New York’s part in the history of queer activism. The memorial will have its place in Hudson River Park.
“New York has a storied history of being at the forefront of the fight for equal rights and it is essential that we always honor the people who sought to achieve fairness for the LGBT community,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on October 20th in a prepared statement.
This memorial will be one of Cuomo’s own projects—he personally established the LGBT Memorial Commission after the June 12th Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando. The Commission will be the ones to review and select a shortlist of designs, and Cuomo will select which one will go forward.
Cuomo’s commission is heartening—it features representatives from LGBT activist groups and LGBT health groups, CEOs of nonprofits for women and minorities, and the commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.
Cuomo’s record on behalf of his LGBT constituents show that this memorial is more than an empty gesture. It was under his hand that New York passed its Marriage Equality Act in 2011, and in 2015, Cuomo signed into law regulations protecting transgender individuals in their jobs, their homes, and in business. He has also made a political commitment to making New York the first state to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, ban conversion therapy, and ensure equal rights to insurance and health care for trans individuals.
Whichever artist is chosen (and anyone from the state is welcome to submit) will have access to a budget of $800,000 to design, fabricate, install, and promote the memorial. Hopeful applicants have until November 21st to apply. A decision will be reached in December.
Bill Cornwell and Tom Doyle lived together in the West Village, NY for 55 years. That equates to more than half a century of committed life. They adopted a dog together and bought wedding rings after New York State ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in 2011. When Cornwell died, at 88, he left behind a will leaving the small apartment building he owned to his long-time partner. He thought he’d taken care of his love.
But a missing signature has ruined that. The will Cornwell left was only signed by one witness, and New York law requires two, so the building is going to Cornwall’s four nieces and nephews, who intend to sell the valued piece of property. It’s worth $7 million or more, due to its location. But to Doyle, it’s worth more. It’s the home he lived in and shared with his partner for all those years. Because of that, he has decided to contest the inheritance.
“I’m not so concerned about the money, I’m more concerned about a roof over my head for the rest of my life, and I wouldn’t have to be in a nursing home. As long as I am here, I have all the familiar surroundings. It’s almost as if Bill is still here,” said Mr. Doyle to the New York Times. His dispute with his partner’s family has gone to court.
One of the two nieces suggests that the two men were “just friends” and that the oversight of the signature was deliberate, that her uncle never wanted to leave the house to his partner. The two nephews have sought a compromise wherein they guarantee that Doyle can stay in the apartment for a token rent for the next five years while the building is sold around him. The other niece is on Doyle’s side, and sought to transfer her share of the inheritance to him.
The core of Doyle’s lawsuit is an attempt to prove that the law should regard him and Cornwell as having been married despite them never signing a marriage certificate, which would render him the natural heir. Arthur Schartz, Mr. Doyle’s lawyer, says there is legal precedent for the argument.