Melania Trump Wanted To Light Up White House In Rainbow Colors For Pride

First Lady Melania Trump (photo: Flickr/WhiteHouse – public domain)

The Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson reports that First Lady Melania Trump wanted to light up the White House in rainbow colors this past June in honor of LGBTQ Pride Month, but with Donald Trump’s homophobic Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the mix, the idea was never carried out.

Meadows had a significant role, one Republican source said on condition of anonymity, in ensuring the Trump White House ignored Pride Month, which is why President Trump didn’t send out a tweet to recognize the annual LGBTQ celebration as he did in 2019. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Meadows weighed in specifically on shutting down the rainbow lighting proposal at the White House.

Earlier this year, in an article on the Trump campaign’s plan to engage in unprecedented LGBTQ outreach for a Republican presidential nominee, the New York Times reported several aides suggested he send out a tweet this year recognizing June as Pride Month. That didn’t happen.

In contrast, Trump in 2019 tweeted out a message recognizing Pride Month, becoming the first Republican U.S. president to recognize the annual LGBTQ celebration. But 2019 was before Meadows came to the White House.

The First Lady later recorded a video message for the Log Cabin Republicans wherein she declared she was “shocked to discover” that folks perceived “my husband as anti-gay or against equality.”

Prior to joining the White House in March 2020, Meadows represented North Carolina’s 11th congressional district where he accrued a consistently anti-LGBTQ record.

In addition to voting against the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to existing federal civil rights laws, he voted in favor of prohibiting the U.S. military from paying for transition-related care for transgender service members.

Meadows was also a vocal opponent of legalizing same-sex marriage. In a 2013 interview, he hysterically declared marriage equality would be a ‘constitutional crisis‘ if the U.S. Supreme Court made it a reality (which it did in 2015).

“It’s a huge invasion into state’s rights and the state definition of marriage, whether you call it traditional or natural marriage,” Meadows said at the time. “I call it marriage, you know, it’s between one man and one woman, period.”

Meadows consistently received a rating of “zero” on the Human Rights Campaign’s congressional scorecard during his time in the House.

No Pride Flags Allowed? LGBT Teacher Still Brings The Rainbow

(screen captures)

A bisexual teacher in Nevada was told she couldn’t have a rainbow flag in the classroom because it constitutes ‘political speech,’ so she found other ways to bring the rainbow.

Jennifer Leja teaches 7th and 8th grade students in Reno for the Washoe County School District, and she’s the only openly LGBTQ teacher in the school.

https://www.tiktok.com/@msleja/video/6872790325333642502

Leja says over the past five years of teaching there she’s always had a rainbow Pride flag in her classroom because her students “are trying to learn who they are and how they identify, and they come towards me.”

But this year, the school district issued a new policy this year prohibiting “partisan political activities” during classroom hours. The new policy orders that “any signage that is displayed on District property that is, or becomes, political in nature must be removed or covered,” reports Buzzfeed News.

Upon receiving the new guidance, Leja asked Trustee Andrew Caudill if rainbow flags or LGBTQ issues were banned as part of the new policy. Caudill emailed the veteran teacher back to say ‘yes,’ LGBTQ issues are banned in the classroom.

In his email, Caudill wrote, “The courts have held LGBTQ+ issues to be political speech and thus, the rainbow flag [is considered] to be political speech, so it cannot be expressed through clothing and other means, such as displaying a flag in your class.”

However, he did add that Leja is allowed to mention her girlfriend because, “Who you are is not impacted by this policy, only what is expressed in class through visual aids.”

But Leja says , pointing to marriage equality being legal in every state across the country, “I don’t think my existence and my identity is a political issue.”

She also notes that she’s become the defacto ‘go-to’ person for students coming to realize who they are or their identity.

“It’s important for me because I feel like there are students who spend their lives in the closet and especially in middle school; that is when students are starting to figure out where they are,” Leja told Buzzfeed. “They go through that time period where they don’t know who they are or what they like.”

She shares that she has a transgender student in her class this year, and she’s intent on making sure the student feels supported in her classroom.

And so, even without putting a traditional Pride flag on display, Leja found a way to make her perspective known whether through lots of rainbow lettering on banners, rainbow feathers in her pencil jar, rainbow ducttape to spread desks or a rainbow face mask during the coronavirus.

It’s worth noting that the new policy doesn’t apply to students who are still allowed to dress or express themselves as they wish.

Speaking to Buzzfeed, Caudill said that the new guidance isn’t just about LGBTQ issues, but “other kinds of speech such as Pro-Life, Pro-Choice, NRA, etc.”

He shared that it would “inappropriate” for the District to pick and choose only the speech it agrees with. And so, the decision was made to ask staff “to refrain from all single-issue political speech,” he said.

“But I want to be abundantly clear, the policy does not require staff to hide their own sexuality,” added Caudill. “Teachers can let students know their sexuality, or mention their significant others, if they wish, regardless of sexuality. The policy does not impact who a teacher is, it only impacts the advocacy for a specific political position.”

Pride Ad Features Burger King Macking On Ronald McDonald

Burger King lays a whopper on Ronald McDonald in new Helsinki Pride ad (image via MediaPost)

In an effort to show support for Helsinki’s Pride week in Finland, fast-food chain Burger King is running a new ad campaign featuring the King himself laying a whopper on burger competitor Ronald McDonald.

The usual Pride celebration has been canceled due to the COVID-19 crisis, but there are smaller events being held live as well as online streams for folks to join.

The ads feature a painting of the king tenderly kissing McDonald (who we see from behind) with a tagline, “Love Conquers All.”

Kaisa Kasila, Burger King’s Brand Manager for Finland, said in a statement, “We thought, what a better way to convey our values than by portraying an all-encompassing kiss between Burger King and McDonald. We wanted to show that in the end, love always wins.”

“Burger King has always stood for equality, love and everyone’s right to be just the way they are,” added Kasila. “The only instance where it might not seem so, is when we’re bantering with our competitor.”

No word yet on how McDonald’s feels about the ad spots, but Kasila underscored the message that “we want to be clear – it all stems from the respect we have for them. And we know McDonald’s stands for the values we stand for, too.”

Burger King hasn’t been shy about jumping in with gusto when it comes to support for LGBTQ Pride.

Earlier this year, the fast-food king served up ads changing the name of the restaurant to ‘Burger Queer’ on the King’s crown.

News Round-Up: July 6, 2020

Walk The Moon lead singer Nicholas Petricca (photo: Anna Lee)

Some news items you might have missed:

Global Pride 2020: More than 57 million people from more than 163 countries joined the 27-hour virtual event, Global Pride 2020, that took place on June 27. Major artists including Laverne Cox, Elton John, Adam Lambert, Olivia Newton-John, Kesha, and Pabllo Vittar appeared alongside world leaders including former US Vice President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and openly gay Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

Andrew Christian Blog: I’m not saying they’re sugar daddies but check out this list of the ‘6 Richest Gay Men in the World.’

Instinct Magazine: On the last day of Pride Month, Nicholas Petricca (pictured above), lead singer of pop band Walk The Moon (‘Shut Up and Dance’), came out as bisexual on his Instagram page. Petricca posted a photo of a quote by Harvey Milk followed by a four-minute video where he started the video by saying, “Hi. My name is Nicholas. I’m the lead singer of a band called WALK THE MOON and I’m bisexual.”

CinemaBlend: Matt Bomer explains why it’s been so important to tell the story of a gay superhero on DC Universe’s Doom Patrol. In his role as ‘Larry Trainor/Negative Man,’ Bomer says he gets to not only address the issue of coming out, but overcoming the guilt and shame many LGBTQ people feel in their journey.

Heavy: Corey Hannon, who became infamous over the weekend for heading out to gay mecca Fire Island believing he was infected by the coronavirus, has been banned from all Fire Island bars and restaurants for his shenanigans.

Pink News: Marvel star Tessa Thompson says her bisexual character, Valkyrie, will ‘push the bounds of’ queer representation in future films. Thompson has already told fans to expect a queer storyline in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder, teasing that as Asgard’s new king, “she needs to find her queen.”

ABC News: About six-and-a-half years after criticizing then-President Barack Obama for doing the same, Donald Trump is weighing in on the controversial Redskins team name. The franchise put out a statement on Friday saying that it plans to “undergo a thorough review of the team’s name.” With a name change seeming all but certain for Washington’s NFL team, Trump tweeted his disapproval on Monday.

Podcast: Gay Nightclubs & COVID-19, Billy Porter, Small Town Ambushes LGBTQ Pride

In this episode of The Randy Report podcast: new HIV strategy, 2022 Golden Globe Awards, Elvira Mistress of the Dark

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

In this week’s headlines:

• A new lawsuit challenges Virginia’s new law banning LGBTQ discrimination

• Atlanta’s gay nightclub Heretic shut down over COVID-19 diagnoses after a sweaty dance party

• A pro football player’s homophobic Twitter rant backfires bigtime

• A small town council refused to recognize Pride Month, so activists staged a ‘Pride Ambush’

• Billy Porter breaks down another barrier as he becomes the first out Black man to cover ESSENCE Magazine

Plus, new music from out UK singer Paul Middleton “When Love Takes Over”

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report

Small Town Refused To Recognize Pride Month, So Folks Organized ‘Pride Ambush’

(all photos via Borderland Pride/Facebook)

This past May, the town council in Emo, Ontario – located near Canada’s border with Minnesota – voted down a resolution recognizing June as Pride Month in a 3-2 vote.

Mayor Harold McQuaker and two of the town councilors voted against the resolution. The mayor explained that, in his opinion, it would be unfair to pass the resolution because – wait for it – there’s no “Straight Pride.”

During the town council meeting discussing the resolution, McQuaker said: “We have one flagpole and there’s no flags being flown for the straight people.”

The Northern Ontario Pride Network filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, saying that “homophobia was the only reason behind the decision to deny” the resolution.

According to the complaint, the Pride resolution was approved in Emo in 2018. But in 2019, the town council removed “the resolution’s LGBTQ-supportive language and all references to LGBTQ people, and their inclusion and equality.”

A statement in the complaint from the Northern Ontario Pride Network read in part, “In this day and age, it is unheard of for an Ontario municipality to defy the law and to refuse to recognize Pride in such a plainly discriminatory manner.” 

BUT – here’s the good part: Even though the resolution recognizing Pride Month was voted down, LGBTQ activists – armed with rainbow flags, feather boas, and balloons – put together an “Emo ambush” Pride parade for the town this past Saturday.

Douglas Judson, the co-chair of Borderland Pride, an umbrella organization that represents several Pride celebrations in towns near the Minnesota-Ontario border, worked out a secret plan between residents and businesses in the area to plan an “ambush event.”

And so it was, over the weekend, that a 70-vehicle parade convoy carrying hundreds of supporters showed up in Emo.  Some of them lived nearby, others said they drove up to three hours to attend the event. Due to COVID-19, a traditional Pride march gave way to a COVID parade-style procession of decorated vehicles.

Even with social distancing guidelines, the attendees set up booths, handed out Pride flags, and gave prizes for categories like “Emo Fair Queen 2020.”

Judson told HuffPost Canada, “This was like something that brought joy to our community during a time when, frankly, we’re all kind of starving for a bit of human connection. That’s part of the exercise of Pride.”

Judson, who grew up in Emo, added, “It exceeded our wildest expectations. It was really something to have people care that much about sending this message about the need for Pride in small communities.”

Pride Music: June 27, 2020

It’s the last weekend of Pride 2020, and since we can’t get out on an actual dance floor here’s new music to bop to from Lizzo and the Fab 5, Ariana and the Rose, The Aces, GRiZ and Sara Bareilles.

• Self-care queen Lizzo teams up with the men of Queer Eye for the music video for her hip-hop/pop tune, “Soulmate.”

The colorful video is an animated Pride-themed romp with the Fab 5 as Lizzo picnics with Bobby, throws a corgi party with Antoni and throws down a pole dance with Karamo.

Ariana and the Rose serve up an inclusive, colorful celebration of all kinds of love with “True Love.” The synth-pop dance track is a bouncy bop, and the video features six diverse, real-life couples spanning the diverse spectrums of race, age and sexuality.

Ariana DiLorenzo, the band’s frontwoman, is a “proud and fierce ally for the LGBTQ community,” and told NewNowNext that performing at Pride events, lending her voice as a soundtrack to the celebrations, “is an honor.”

• “Daydream” is the latest single from Utah-based all-girl pop/rock band The Aces. While the infectious track is about long-distance lovers, the tune can easily relate to the distance many of us are feeling during the ongoing pandemic.

The band, launched by queer sisters Cristal and Alisa Ramirez, decided to make the video about the crew out on a summer adventure rather than a too “on-the-nose” tribute to romance.

• Multi-instrumentalist and producer GRiZ releases his new single, Medusa,” featuring DJ and producer Wreckno. What he coins his ‘queer anthem banger’ is a bass-fueled, hip-hop-laden slice of empowerment, created to uplift the underrepresented LGBTQIA+ voices in dance music.

In celebration of Pride Month, “Medusa” is a message to queer kids encouraging them to embrace exactly who they are. (Explicit lyrics).

• And finally, Sara Bareilles covers the title track from the Grammy/Emmy Award-winning TV special, “Free To Be…You And Me.” Bareilles’s pure, soulful voice is perfect for the folk/pop tune.

Created by actress and activist Marlo Thomas (That Girl) in 1972, the iconic album, book, and television special was the first anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-judgment entertainment for children. All proceeds for the project will benefit NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Fans of the song will notice the new version of the includes two lyric changes. The word “children” has been changed to “people” in one of the song’s main refrains.

And, in order to better embrace the non-binary community, a lyric that referred to ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ growing up to be ‘men’ and ‘women’ was rewritten: “Every child in this land, may you all understand, that you’re proud and you’re strong and you are right where you belong.”

New Data Shows Changing Attitudes On LGBTQ Acceptance

June 26 has become such a special day in LGBTQ history in the United States many now view the date as ‘National Gay Pride Day.’

It was on this day in 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down so-called ‘sodomy’ laws which made consensual adult sexual activity in private a crime (Lawrence v Texas).

In 2013, SCOTUS invalidated the ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ which prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages (Windsor v United States).

June 26, 2015, was a historic day for LGBTQ people when the high court ruled marriage equality is a constitutional right bringing same-sex marriage to the entire United States (Obergefell v Hodges).

Two years later, on June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court the court gave us another win in Pavan v. Smith ruling that the state of Arkansas, by refusing to automatically list both members of a same-sex couple as parents on their children’s birth certificates (which was routinely done for opposite-sex parents), was violating the legal parameters enumerated in Obergefell which declared same-sex couples must be afforded “the constellation of benefits that the State has linked to marriage.”

A lot of progress has been made by the LGBTQ community in great part because of changing attitudes about homosexuality, not only in the U.S. but around the world.

Pew Research has been tracking public opinion on the acceptance of LGBTQ people since 2002. In its latest survey of 38,426 people in 34 countries, Pew found acceptance is still growing in most of the world, but not everywhere.

For instance, from 2013 (the last time Pew polled the question) to 2019, the number of Americans who say homosexuality should be accepted has risen from 60% to 72%. Only 21% said homosexuality should not be accepted by society.

Most of Western Europe supports acceptance. Sweden has the highest level of support at 94% followed by The Netherlands (92%), Spain (89%), France (86%), and the UK (86%).

 

 

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Other countries, while not quite as approving, have shown double-digit increases in support like South Africa (from 32% to 54% support), India (15% to 37%), and Turkey (9% to 25%).

But in regions like the Middle East and Africa, some nations offer little support like Kenya (14%) and Tunisia (9%). Israel stands out as an exception in the Middle East with 47% support, although many might have expected that figure to be higher considering the popularity of Pride events in cities like Tel Aviv.

 

However, the results aren’t all puppies and rainbows.

Attitudes in some countries have actually dropped since Pew first began asking the question in 2002.

The 2019 survey shows only 14% support in Russia, 9% in Indonesia, and a scant 7% in Nigeria. All of those figures are lower than the 2002 results.

Pew Research does note, though, that the Philippines, often seen as a conservative nation in terms of social issues, was found to have 73% acceptance.

A country’s wealth seems to have a correlating factor to acceptance as well.

Germany, Sweden, and The Netherlands each have a per-capita gross domestic product over $50,000 and all show huge support for LGBTQ people.

But poorer countries like Kenya, Ukraine, and Nigeria – all with per-capita GDP under $10K – indicate approval around 14% or lower.

For those interested, 32 countries around the world have legalized marriage equality with Costa Rica joining the list last month.

(source: Pew Research)

President Obama Addresses Pride Live’s Stonewall Day Event

President Barack Obama addressed viewers of today’s virtual Stonewall Day event presented by LogoTV.

After noting the progress made over the past 51 years since the night of the Stonewall uprising, Obama urged Americans to get involved, raise our voices, and yes, VOTE.

The event is streaming live as I write this and it’s quite the star-studded event.

From LogoTV:

Pride Live’s Stonewall Day features appearances by President Barack Obama, Taylor Swift, Ellen DeGeneres, Cynthia Erivo, Kesha, Hayley Kiyoko, Demi Lovato, Katy Perry, Christian Siriano, George Takei and many others, presented in partnership with WarnerMedia, Nasdaq, Logo and Pride Media.

The program is raising funds for four of the many LGBTQ+ organizations that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic: Brave Space Alliance, Trans Lifeline, TransLatin@ Coalition, and The Ally Coalition.

This year’s Stonewall Day focuses on the recent events highlighting the need for fair and equal treatment under the law for all, offers support to the Black Lives Matter movement, and addresses LGBTQ+ issues including the dangerous rise of violence facing transgender women, especially Black trans women.

I’m posting Obama’s greeting for Pride Live’s Stonewall Day, plus the full event below.

Cast Of POSE Serves Up Virtual Performance Of Billy Porter’s “Love Yourself”

Check out this sneak peek from the upcoming “Pose-A-Thon” scheduled for Friday, June 26 at 10 PM ET.

The cast and creators of FX’s Pose — including Tony Award winners Billy Porter and Patti LuPone – plus Mj Rodriguez, Janet Mock, Charlayne Woodard, and Indya Moore offer this virtual performance of Porter’s single “Love Yourself.”

The video also features Angel Bismark Curiel, Dyllón Burnside, Dominique Jackson, Jeremy McClain, Jason Rodriguez, Angelica Ross, and creator-executive producer Steven Canals.

In honor of Pride Month, Billy Porter and Mj Rodriguez, along with the cast and producers of Pose, come together for a one-hour virtual event in partnership with GLSEN, Hetrick-Martin Institute, and Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund.

POSE-A-THON airs simultaneously on FX, Freeform and Hulu on Friday, June 26th at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT