One Equal World

Image: Michael K. Williams has joined the cast of ABC’s limited series “When We Rise.” Williams, who starred in “Boardwalk Empire” and “The Wire” for HBO and “Hap and Leonard” for Sundance TV, will play African-American community organizer Ken Jones in the project from “Milk” screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.

Image: Michael K. Williams has joined the cast of ABC’s limited series “When We Rise.” Williams, who starred in “Boardwalk Empire” and “The Wire” for HBO and “Hap and Leonard” for Sundance TV, will play African-American community organizer Ken Jones in the project from “Milk” screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.

When We Rise,” a new miniseries being filmed for ABC, is meant to be a chronicle of the early days of the gay rights movement, beginning with the Stonewall Riots of 1969. Unlike the failed 2015 movie Stonewall, “When We Rise” may be actually endeavoring to make sure their cast resembles those early LGBT pioneers. (Well, LGB anyway. They still don’t seem to be able to cast trans people in trans roles.)

The movie doesn’t yet have an airdate, but their cast list is getting longer. Michael K. Williams, Whoopie Goldberg and Rosie O’Donnell recently signed on as guest stars, and the show will star Mary-Lousie Parker, Guy Pearce, Rachel Griffiths, and Ivory Aquino. The cast also began filming in January, using locations in San Francisco and Vancouver, B.C.

Now, they’re looking for extras in San Francisco to recreate the 1978 Gay Freedom Day Celebration, and the post-Prop 8 mass wedding at City Hall in 2015. Those interested, with a preference for people who experienced either, should email wwr.casting@gmail.com.

For those who just like to set-watch, they’ll be filming throughout May and June at Harvey Milk Plaza and Twin Peaks bar in the Castro.

What are your thoughts on the upcoming miniseries? Will you be tuning in?

after-louie

After Louie is another in the train of movies exploring the history and stories of the gay community as it stands today. Written by activist Vincent Gagliostro and actor Anthony Johnston, the movie aims to explore the disconnect between modern gay life and queer history through the character of Sam, a gay man struggling to understand where he and his community stand.

Alan Cummings has been cast to play Sam, a surprisingly big name for a project raising its funding via Kickstarter. Cummings has also donated personal artwork as incentives to help fuel the fundraising. The project is obviously personal for the bisexual actor, who currently lives in London with his husband, Grant Shaffer.

It is a passion work for writer Gagliostro, too. A lifelong gay rights activist, he was named a decade ago by New York Magazine as one of the six most influential members of the gay community during the AIDS crisis of the 80s and 90s. The character Sam is clearly a contemporary of his, a survivor of that same crisis, struggling to deal with the younger generation of the gay community.

“My film After Louie is a portrait of what happened to us — the generation who endured the AIDS epidemic, a generation whose shared history continues to haunt us,” said Gagliostro in his director’s statement on Kickstarter. “In confronting the end of a traumatic era and provoking a conversation between generations, I dare us to dream of a new and vibrant future, again.”

After Louie, if it raises the money it needs, will be a feature-length film. But as of the time of this writing, they are only ten percent of the way towards their goal. To support this project or just to learn more, click here.

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

So your teenager has built up the immense courage needed to tell you that they’re gay, they’re bisexual, they’re ace. Maybe you already knew. Maybe it was a shock. Maybe you found out in a way they’d rather you didn’t, or maybe they had it all planned out. But now you know.

What now?

Coming out is hard work inside a family. No matter how supportive you are, it’s emotional labor for everyone involved. But having a few concrete things to keep in mind can help.

  1. Your teen is not done coming out. Now you know, but they will have to go through those tensions again, over and over. Every new class they’re in, every new roommate they meet, every new job they get, they will have to decide if they want to come out again. One day, sexualities will all be socially neutral and there won’t be this process, but we’re not there yet. Every decision to come out is a decision of risk management. Be there for them, every time. (And a corollary: Never out them without asking first. Not to anyone.)
  2. The discussions about sexuality and sexual activity are not the same discussion. Your teen telling you that they are bisexual is not your teen telling you that they’ve been having sex with their classmates. It’s understandable that you want to make sure they’re being safe, but make certain you are not making assumptions.
  3. Let’s talk about safety. If you want your teenager to be safe, one of the most valuable things you can do is make certain they can and want to come to you with their concerns and fears. Remember that things like violating their privacy will make them feel less safe because they will know not to trust you with their secrets.
  4. Your teenager lives very much in today. They’re up on the jargon of sexuality in ways that may be very unfamiliar to you. Take the time to educate yourself. Google terms your child uses to describe themselves. PFLAG is a fantastic resource, with everything from online advice forums to local chapters in cities across the country for both education and support for parents, like you, who want to do their best for their LGBT kid.Do you have any other tips for parents? Please share below in the comments!
Image: President Barack Obama is preparing to designate the Stonewall Inn in New York the first national monument dedicated to gay rights. RICHARD DREW/AP

Image: President Barack Obama is preparing to designate the Stonewall Inn in New York the first national monument dedicated to gay rights. RICHARD DREW/AP

On the front of the Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village, New York, is a small black plaque, immortalizing the riot that took place there on June 28th, 1969 when police raided the Inn to arrest gay men. The plaque has been there more than a year, but the Inn is not, legally, a place of significance.

But it might be soon.

On May 9th, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, National Park Director Jonathan Jarvis, and Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) will hold a session to for public feedback on a proposal to designate the Stonewall Inn and a green strip in front of it as part of the National Parks Service as soon as next month. Obama is poised to sign the designation into law, which would make the site the first national monument dedicated to gay rights.

Right now, the only possible obstacle to the designation is a question of the land rights, but it is not expected to be an issue.

Backers of the designation hope that it will provide a concrete bolster to help the fight against sexual discrimination and gender identity, a fight that certainly did not end with the 2015 Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage.

“We must ensure that we never forget the legacy of Stonewall, the history of discrimination against the LGBT community, or the impassioned individuals who have fought to overcome it,” said Rep. Nadler. Using Stonewall as a continued cornerstone of the fight for rights ensures that those who were there will be remembered. Not just the white gay men who are the loudest of LGBT today, but the women, the trans people, and the people of color who have always been a part of the movement.

The-Pride-Comic

Despite the recent leaps and bounds (and a few bad stumbles) of progress for LGBT visibility and acceptance, mainstream editors, particularly in the locker room environment of superhero comics, are still saying that they don’t think it’s ‘time’ for a gay lead in major titles.

Joe Glass, writer, bisexual, and comic fan, disagrees. And in the vein of becoming the change he wants to see in the world, he’s been spearheading a team of artists from around the world in creating The Pride, a multi-title series about a super-team with real diversity, both of ethnicity and sexuality.

So far, the series has run for nine issues between two titles, and they have just completed a kickstarter to raise funds to publish a hardcover edition of all nine. Raising nearly double what he asked for, Glass sees himself ready to continue building on his idea, making it as representative as possible.

Story-wise, The Pride follows Fabman and his team, heroes chosen to fight for representation as much as justice in their community. It doesn’t shy away from using gay and queer stereotypes.

“Because we deserve a voice and representation too,” says Glass, who calls himself “pretty darn camp.”

Fabman, a muscled man in a pink super suit with a rainbow cape, definitely can be described as camp. But that’s part of his point. Glass didn’t want a character whose queerness was only if you knew their rarely mentioned backstory, or pushed to the background. There’s nothing secret about that side of the hero’s identity.

Contrary to those mainstream editors who killed titles like DC’s Midnighter, which also featured an openly gay hero, Glass is certain this is the time for characters like Fabman. When he was a teenager, he needed these stories, and readers today need them just as badly.

Close-up of gay pride flag

Close-up of gay pride flag

In late March, online payment giant PayPal announced plans to open a $3.6 million operations center in North Carolina. They called the plans a done deal, a solid investment. Now, two weeks later, they’ve entirely pulled back and canceled those plans. And they have not been reticent about sharing the reason why – it is entirely due to North Carolina’s new state law that prohibits cities from banning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans people.

Moving into a state “where members of our teams will not have equal rights under the law is simply untenable,” said PayPal’s CEO and president Dan Schulman as a part of the announcement on Tuesday, April 5th.

It’s a substantial loss to Charlotte, where the new center would have opened, and Mecklenburg County. PayPal itself would have invested $3.6 million there by the end of 2017, and the new business would have created at least $20.4 million in income per year to the county. And it is just one, if the largest, of over twenty companies to react to the new laws by leaving. Other companies include Lionsgate films, which has moved the production of an upcoming TV series to Vancouver, Canada, and Braeburn Pharmuticals, who are reconsidering the placement of a new research and manufacturing company.

Under the new ‘religious freedom’ laws, companies are still allowed to have policies against discrimination, but that does not protect their LGBT staff, customers, or partners, from being turned down for service at the business next door, and PayPal and those like them find that unacceptable.

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center has just made history as the first American Armed Forces hospital to earn a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” rating from the Human Rights Campaign.

HRC, the massive civil rights advocacy group, issues an annual report called the Healthcare Equality Index which lists the health care and employment policies of medical centers nationwide as they are related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender health and treatment. In 2016, they listed 496 hospitals as leaders. A few of the benchmarks are nondiscrimination employee clauses, equal visitation rights, and employee training in LGBT patient care.

Five years ago, not a single military or VA installation was on the Index due to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that barred queer people from serving openly. (Trans people, however, still find themselves mostly unprotected). This year, 99 VA medical centers were designated ‘LGBT-friendly’ along with WRB.

While the HRC’s Index is not a perfect rubric (being rather heavy on the G in LGBT and putting a low priority on all other configurations), it’s still heartening to see hospitals in unprecedented numbers committing to more inclusive policies for patients and employees alike. It’s one more step on the path to making health care accessible to all.

High points of the Index:
-An unofficial review of hospitals found that more than 50% of medical centers nationwide have nondiscrimination policies that include sexuality and gender identity.
-93% of the 2,000 hospitals officially surveyed have equal visitation policies.
-46 states (All but Alaska, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Wyoming) have medical centers that qualified as Leaders.

 

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