College Democrats Apologize To Gay Mayor For ‘Homophobic Attacks’

Mayor Alex Morse of Holyoke, Massachusetts (image via Facebook)

College Democrats in Massachusetts have issued an apology to openly gay Mayor Alex Morse of Holyoke for their role in what turned into unfounded attacks on Morse and “played into homophobic stereotypes that have been used to oppress gay men in politics.”

Morse, currently in his 4th term as mayor, is running to unseat Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) who has represented Massachusetts in the House of Representatives since 1989. The Democratic primary will be held on Tuesday, September 1.

Earlier this month, Instinct reported on a letter sent to Morse from three groups of College Democrats, including the UMass Amherst Democrats, informing him he was no longer welcome at College Democratic events and accusing him of using his “position of power for romantic or sexual gain, specifically toward young students.”

Morse had been a guest lecturer at UMass Amherst in 2019 and attended one event hosted by the school’s College Democrats.

Morse, 31, quickly responded to the allegations saying as an openly gay man he has dated younger people but all interactions were consensual and none were with any students who might have attended his lectures.

No students have come forward to say otherwise.

The story quickly spiraled and went national with ugly tones of homophobia.

The story became much bigger when The Intercept followed up the story with reporting that revealed leaders of the UMass Amherst Democrats had been discussing ways to discover Morse’s dating app profiles and perhaps “lead him into saying something incriminating that would then damage his campaign.”

The chief strategist of the chapter at the time, Timothy Ennis, wrote in chat messages that while he was unsure about digging up dirt on Morse, he was a “Neal Stan” and hoped to land a position in the congressman’s office.

“But I need a job,” wrote Ennis according to The Intercept. “Neal will give me an internship.”

A second report from The Intercept suggested state Democratic Party leaders might have played a role in the drafting of the letter to Morse as well as making the allegations public.

On Friday, the UMass Amherst Democrats executive board sent Morse a letter apologizing for the “public distress that the public reaction to the letter must have cost you.”

Admitting the letter was never intended to become public, they added, “We should have realized that the language of the letter was careless and played into homophobic stereotypes that have been used to oppress gay men in politics.”

“We understand that no apology of ours can make up for the homophobic attacks you have suffered as a result of our actions; nonetheless, we wish to apologize. We wish you the best of luck in your campaign.”

The College Democrats also included a copy of a letter sent to the general membership of the group explaining the board had only been shown the initial letter “briefly” and were asked to sign on by the chapter’s president, Andrew Abramson, “in solidarity.”

“We are deeply sorry that Alex Morse has faced homophobic attacks as a result of our actions and that our decision has negatively impacted the LGBT+ community, including our own membership,” read the letter to the general membership. “We wish Alex Morse the best of luck in his campaign and political career.”

Morse’s campaign shared the apology with the Daily Hampshire Gazette calling the initial letter “an unfortunate situation that happened.”

In an interview with Jacobin Magazine, Morse characterized the attack as “incredibly dangerous to our democracy,” and added the accusations could have “a chilling effect for young people, queer people, single people, basically telling us we can’t or shouldn’t run for office.”

Even though the apology was sent to Morse, other groups are still using the story to undermine his candidacy before the primary.

American Working Families, a Democratic group, pulled an attack ad it ran after catching flak for homophobic undertones in the spot.

The ad went after Morse’s record as mayor, made vague accusations that his campaign is being funded by “outside special interests” and brought up “sexual relationships with college students.”

The group told Twitter on Saturday the spot was “never intended to air” adding that “it was accidentally sent to stations instead of a corrected version.”

There have also been robocalls reported that were “disguised as surveys” asking if respondents would still support Morse if he had “sent sexually explicit emails to college-aged students.”

Congressman Neal, Morse’s opponent in tomorrow’s primary, has denied any involvement in the attacks.

Out Mayor Under Fire After Matching With College Students On Grindr

Mayor Alex Morse of Holyoke, Massachusetts (image via Facebook)

Alex Morse, an openly gay mayor in Massachusetts, has issued a statement acknowledging he’s had “consensual adult relationships, including some with college students” and “apologized to anyone I have made feel uncomfortable.”

Morse became the youngest mayor in the history of Holyoke when he was elected to office in 2011 at the age of 22. Currently in his fourth term, the 31-year-old is running to unseat longtime Democratic Congressman Richard Neal (D-Springfield) in the state’s primary on September 1.

He reportedly has the support of progressive groups like the Working Families Party, Justice Democrats, and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

Morse’s statement comes in response to three Democratic college groups who emailed him on Thursday saying he was “no longer welcome” at their events.

“It is no longer appropriate to encourage interaction between College Democrats and Alex Morse,” read the email which was obtained by the Massachusetts Daily Collegian.

The groups allege Morse had inappropriate relationships with college students while not only being an elected official but also lecturing at UMass Amherst. The mayor taught a political science course at UMass between 2014 and fall 2019.

According to the email, he matched with students on dating apps like Grindr and Tinder. It’s not known if any of those ‘matches’ were students who Morse taught.

The groups also say he attended College Democratic events to build his social media following.

“We have heard ​countless​ stories of Morse adding students to his ‘Close Friends Story’ and Direct Messaging members of College Democrats on Instagram in a way that makes these students feel pressured to respond due to his status,” the letter read.

“Even if these scenarios are mutually consensual, the pattern of Morse using his platform and taking advantage of his position of power for romantic or sexual gain, specifically toward young students, is unacceptable.”

Morse responded saying he wanted “to sincerely apologize to anyone I have made feel uncomfortable” and offered to meet with “any person or group” to discuss their concerns.

“I want to be clear that every relationship I’ve had has been consensual,” he added. “However, I also recognize that I have to be cognizant of my position of power.”

“Growing up gay and closeted in a small city like Holyoke, I struggled with accepting my sexuality, and in high school, I had a hard time finding other openly gay students,” Morse said. “As I’ve become more comfortable with myself and my sexuality, like any young, single, openly gay man, I have had consensual adult relationships, including some with college students.”

He continued, “Navigating life as both a young gay man and an elected official can be difficult, but that doesn’t excuse poor judgment.”

CNN reports UMass Amherst issued a statement on Saturday calling the allegations against Morse “serious and deeply concerning.”

“The school also said it planned to launch ‘an immediate review of the matter to determine whether the alleged actions during his time as a university lecturer were in violation of university policy or federal Title IX law.'”

Holyoke City Councilor Linda Vacon has called for Morse to resign as mayor in light of the allegations, but other councilors on the 13-member board said they need to learn more before drawing.

Here’s my question, though: If none of the mayor’s ‘matches’ were with any of his own students, and if everything was of legal age and consensual – what is the issue? A late-20s gay guy meeting up with early 20s gay guys?

(source: Massachusetts Daily Collegian, CNN)

Gay Man Loses Front Teeth In Homophobic Attack Over Pride Flag

Tom Anderson (screen capture via Boston 25 News)

A gay man in the southeastern Massachusetts town of Taunton was attacked in his own front yard in late June for hanging a rainbow Pride flag.

Tom Anderson told local news affiliate Boston 25 News he and his husband Jacob had the flag up for only an hour when a random driver by stopped his car, got out and attacked him.

As the man approached, Anderson says he cursed at him, using homophobic slurs and punched him in the face.

“I was kind of in a state of disbelief like ‘Really? I’m in my own yard,’” Anderson told the news outlet.

“I saw the guy just come up and yell those nasty words at my husband and then hit him two or three times and then took off back into his car and screeched away,” said Jacob Anderson, Tom’s husband.

As a result of the attack, Tom lost his two front teeth and required several stitches to close his wounds.

(screen capture)

“It’s definitely a hate crime just based on the words he used,” Jacob added.

The couple says another person passing by witnessed the attack and stopped to help them.

The local police were called and given a description of the man and his car but no word yet on if the attacker has been found. Taunton Police say the investigation is ongoing.

Tom says his concern is that people may think “this is okay to do.”

Still, the Andersons share their community has been “amazing.” Since the incident, they’ve seen an outpouring of support from friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even strangers. The couple, who have been married nine years, say they’ve even received a home security system as a gift.

And instead of becoming fearful in the aftermath of the attack, Tom says he has no plans to stop flying his Pride flag.

In fact, he says, “I want to just keep it up all year long now.”

(source: Boston 25 News)

Massachusetts Is The 16th State To Ban ‘Conversion Therapy’ For Minors

With a stroke of his pen, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has signed a bill into law banning the harmful practice of so-called 'conversion therapy' for minors in his state.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker

With a stroke of his pen, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has signed a bill into law banning the harmful practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ for minors in his state.

That brings the total number of states to prohibit the medically discredited practice to 16.

Massachusetts joins New Jersey, California, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nevada, Washington, Hawaii, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, and New York, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Massachusetts Senate Approves ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapy Ban

By a vote of 34-0, the Massachusetts state Senate approved a bill banning the practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ on minors.

Previously, the Massachusetts House of Representatives approved a similar bill by a 147-8 vote.

Senator Patrick O’Connor, one of six Republicans in the Senate, voted for the bill. The remaining five GOP Senators voted ‘present.’

The bill now heads to Gov. Charlie Baker (R) who has indicated he intends to sign the bill into law.

‘Conversion therapy,’ or ‘ex-gay therapy’ purports to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of people.

Major medical organizations like the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychiatric Association have all denounced the practice which can lead to depression, anxiety, and in some cases, suicide.

Massachusetts would become the 16th state plus Washington, D.C. to ban the harmful practice.

The new law will allow adults to seek conversion therapy if they want.

Massachusetts: Anti-Trans Campaign Drops New Fear-Mongering Ad

A law passed in 2016 protects transgender citizens in the state from discrimination in regard to public accommodations, including the use of bathrooms that align with transgender folks’ gender identity.   But conservative, anti-trans groups have managed to put the law up for a vote by the general public after only two years.

While most of the country’s political attention currently revolves around who will control Congress after the November mid-term elections, LGBTs should be aware that an item on the Massachusetts ballot could have widespread effects on the community.

A law passed in 2016 protects transgender citizens in the state from discrimination in regard to public accommodations, including the use of bathrooms that align with transgender folks’ gender identity.

But conservative, anti-trans groups have managed to put the law up for a vote by the general public after only two years.

Question 3 will ask voters in the Bay state if the law should remain (a ‘yes’ vote) or be repealed (a ‘no’ vote).

The “No on 3” campaign has released a new ad spot that stokes fears about “men in women’s bathrooms” predicting male predators will hide out and lie in wait to attack women and children.

In the spot, a woman enters a locker room as a sinister-looking male predator hides inside a bathroom stall.

“What does the Question 3 mean to you?” asks female voice in the ad. “It means any man who says he is a woman can enter a woman’s locker room, dressing room or bathroom at any time, even convicted sex offenders, and if you see something suspicious and say something to authorities, you could be arrested and fined up $15,000.”

During the voiceover, the woman begins to undress but looks up to see the man emerge from the stall.
The voiceover ends: “Vote No on 3. This bathroom bill puts our privacy and safety at risk. It goes too far.”

Here’s the spot.

It’s worth repeating that there have been zero reports of straight men posing as ‘trans women’ in order to get their rocks off preying on women in bathrooms.

While this may seem like an issue in just one state, Massachusetts has a long history in leading the fight for LGBTQ rights.

Massachusetts was the first state to legalize marriage equality, and the second (after Wisconsin) to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

And while many may think Massachusetts is a ‘safe liberal haven’ for civil rights, don’t forget that in ‘liberal’ California, the dreadful Prop. 8 took away same-sex marriage after LGBT folks already had won the right to marry those they love.

That’s a setback we, as a community, can’t allow to happen again.

If Question 3 in Massachusetts were to pass, it would embolden opponents of the community to attack LGBTQ protections anywhere.

Fortunately, there are people fighting for our side and getting the truth out to the public.

Here’s the recent ad from the ‘Yes on 3’ team below. And for more information about how you can help, head over to freedommassachusetts.org.

(h/t Washington Blade)

The Moment Ayanna Pressley Realized She’d Beaten A 10-Term Congressman

Ayanna Pressley

Big news coming out of Massachusetts today – a Boston City Councilor, Ayanna Pressley, defeated 10-term Rep. Mike Capuano in Tuesday’s closely watched Massachusetts Democratic primary.

With no Republican challenger looming in the deep-blue district, Pressley is all but assured to win election in November and become the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress, doing so in a district once represented by John F. Kennedy.

This is the moment Pressley found out she won.

#GoGirl

Podcast: Drag Queen Ada Vox Makes American Idol’s Top 10; Massachusetts To Get LGBT Curriculum; New Study Says Gay Couples Are Least Likely To Part Ways

In this week’s podcast:

• Ada Vox becomes American Idol‘s first drag queen contestant in the Top 10

• A new study shows surprising results – gay male couples are least likely to part ways

• High school students in Massachusetts will soon have courses that will include LGBTQ history and literature by gay authors

• The Trump administration launches a new attack on transgender people

• Prince Harry and Suits‘ Meghan Merkle reaffirmed their commitment to LGBTQ rights

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report podcast

Massachusetts High Schools To Offer LGBT-Inclusive Curriculum

High school students in Massachusetts will soon have access to LGBTQ-themed history, English and health this fall in an effort to help all students see themselves in the courses they study.

From The Boston Herald:

The curriculum, developed by a team of teachers with Massachusetts Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students and the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth, will be released this summer. It will feature lessons on the 1969 Stonewall Riots and writings by gay and lesbian authors such as Langston Hughes and Willa Cather. It will also feature lessons like how Nick Carraway’s love for Jay Gatsby may have influenced themes in “The Great Gatsby.”

“We talk about mirrors and windows,” said Jeff Perrotti, director of the Massachusetts Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students. “Students need to see themselves reflected and see others who are different from themselves. It is important that all students feel safe, valued and respected in school so they can be ready to learn.”

“If students don’t see themselves in the curriculum, they are not as likely to pay attention,” said commission director Corey Prachniak-Rincon. “It is a huge demand we hear from teachers. They recognize part of the reason why LGBTQ students feel excluded is they’re not reflected and that part of their identity is ignored.”

The Herald goes on to quote teachers who say students have come back after graduating to say how much it helped them to discuss literature and history that included facts such as poet Walt Whitman being gay.

I am, of course, waiting to hear from the haters who will label this “gay indoctrination.”

But the fact is the new gay-themed curriculum will not be required for all schools to teach. The choice to offer the courses will be left to local school districts.

According to a 2015 study, 11% of high school students in Massachusetts identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or questioning their sexual orientation. Almost 3% identify as transgender.

Massachusetts Becomes 19th State To Enact LGBT Non-Discrimination Protections

Via The Human Rights Campaign:

Today, Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed into law legislation extending commonsense, non-discrimination protections to transgender residents and visitors to the state. While Massachusetts state law already prohibits discrimination against transgender people in housing and employment, the new law extends these same crucial protections to public accommodations, such as access to restaurants, malls, restrooms, and locker rooms.

“By signing this bipartisan legislation into law, Governor Baker has joined the growing list of fair-minded Republicans who are standing up for equality,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Equality is not a Republican or Democratic value, it’s an American value. This crucially important measure will help ensure transgender Bay State residents and visitors are protected from discrimination in public spaces.”

Massachusetts becomes the 19th state with non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations, housing, and employment. In addition, similar protections exist in more than 100 cities across the country, including Atlanta, Dallas, and Louisville.