News Round-Up: June 25, 2021

Out singer/songwriter KENTÖ

Out singer/songwriter KENTÖ
Out singer/songwriter KENTÖ

Some news items you might have missed:

Nevada Independent: After receiving a cancer diagnosis in March 2020, Shawn Dixon decided she would organize the first-ever Pride parade in her small town of less than 8,000 residents. Her dream of “years and years” will become a reality in Winnemucca, Nevada, on July 16 & 17.

Reuters: Respect LGBT rights or leave the European Union, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told his Hungarian counterpart as the bloc’s leaders confronted Viktor Orban over a law that bans schools from using materials seen as promoting homosexuality.

Instinct Magazine: The valedictorian of a New Jersey high school was almost censored and silenced during his graduation speech by his principal when he began to touch on mental health and his sexuality. But thankfully, the student’s memorization skills saved the day.

New York Times: The Manhattan district attorney’s office has informed Donald Trump’s lawyers that criminal charges against his family business, the Trump Organization, in connection with fringe benefits the company awarded its chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, could be announced as soon as next week.

Justice Dept: Michael Atkinson, 28, Pablo Ceniceros-Deleon, 21, and Daryl Henry, 24, were sentenced to prison terms for their involvement in targeting gay men for violent crimes. The sentences ranged from 11-22 years for luring five men (using the Grindr dating app) to a vacant apartment in Dallas where they held the men at gunpoint, kidnapped, carjacked, and assaulted them.

Out Music: I recently shared the latest from out singer/songwriter Kentö, and today the artist (top photo) drops the official music video for the single, “Silhouette.”

“Silhouette” is the first single off of Kentö’s upcoming album release, Strangers, slated for release later this year. Kentö shares, “I feel like I’m finally making music that is really expressing the sounds that have been in my head all along.”

Driver In Wilton Manors Pride Crash Apologizes For ‘Horrible Accident’

The alleged driver of the truck that drove into attendees at the Wilton Manors Pride parade.
The alleged driver of the truck that drove into attendees at the Wilton Manors Pride parade.
(screen capture)

The man who was behind the wheel of the truck that accidentally killed one Wilton Manors Pride parade participant over the weekend and injured two others has issued a statement and apology.

From The Daily Beast:

Fred Johnson Jr., who has been named by police as the driver of the vehicle that veered out of control killing one person and injuring two others at Saturday’s Stonewall Pride Parade in Wilton Manors, FL, has offered his “sincere regrets to all those who were impacted by this tragic event.”

In a statement sent to The Daily Beast, Johnson, 77, who is a member of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus—as were the deceased, James “Jim” Fahey, 75, and two injured men, Jerry Vroegh, 67, and Gary Keating, 69—wrote, “This was a horrible accident… I love my Chorus family and the community, and would never do anything to intentionally harm anyone. Please know that I hold my fellow Chorus member, Jim Fahy, in my heart forever and offer my condolences to his friends and family.”

Fort Lauderdale police are still gathering evidence, but have acknowledged the incident seems to have been an accident.

Apparently, due to health issues Johnson was unable to walk in the parade so he was chosen to drive the white pickup truck. As he moved the vehicle into position for the start of the parade, the truck accelerated unexpectedly, striking the victims.

Wilton Manors Pride Incident Unintentional Not A ‘Terrorist Attack’

(screen capture via 7News Miami)

The latest news regarding the incident at the Wilton Manors Pride event on Saturday which left one attendee dead and another hospitalized appears to have been unintentional.

From the AP:

A member of a men’s chorus group unintentionally slammed into fellow chorists at the start of a Pride parade in South Florida, killing one member of the group and seriously injuring another, the group’s director said Sunday, clarifying initial speculation that it was a hate crime directed at the gay community.

The 77-year-old driver was taken into custody, but police said no charges have been filed and the investigation is ongoing.

The elderly driver had ailments that prevented him from walking, according to a statement Sunday from Fort Lauderdale Police, who said he was cooperating with the investigation and there was no evidence drugs or alcohol was involved.

Wilton Manors Vice Mayor Paul Rolli told the AP in a phone interview, “The early investigation now indicates it looks like it was a tragic accident, but nobody’s saying finally what it is.”

Out Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis was present when the incident occurred and told WPLG it had been a deliberate attack.

“This is a terrorist attack against the LGBT community,” Trantalis said. “This is exactly what it is. Hardly an accident. It was deliberate, it was premeditated, and it was targeted against a specific person. Luckily they missed that person, but unfortunately, they hit two other people.”

Truck Drives Into Wilton Manors Pride Parade Killing One, Injuring More

The alleged driver of the truck that drove into attendees at the Wilton Manors Pride parade.

The alleged driver of the truck that drove into attendees at the Wilton Manors Pride parade.
(screen capture)

Tragedy struck the twilight Stonewall Pride march in Wilton Manors, Florida on Saturday leaving one person dead and two others are injured after a truck drove into attendees just before the beginning of the event.

The pickup truck driver appeared to be part of the march but then suddenly accelerated when he was told he was next in the procession according to WSVN-TV.

Two adults were transported to a local hospital where one later died, according to a police spokesman. The other remains hospitalized with serious injuries but is expected to survive. A third victim is in a stable condition.

The car narrowly missed a vehicle carrying Democratic congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was clearly “deeply shaken” but unharmed.

The event was canceled and and an investigation is underway according to Wilton Mayor Scott Newton in a statement to the press.

Out Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis was in attendance and told WPLG he believed it was a deliberate attack.

“This is a terrorist attack against the LGBT community,” he said. “This is exactly what it is. Hardly an accident. It was deliberate, it was premeditated, and it was targeted against a specific person. Luckily they missed that person, but unfortunately, they hit two other people.”

But later reports indicate the incident may have been an accident. At this point in time there hasn’t been any definitive announcement.

Justin Knight, the President of the Fort Lauderdale’s Gay Men’s Chorus, confirmed in a statement that the driver was “part of the Chorus family.” Knight added, “To my knowledge, this was not an attack on the LGBTQ community.”

Local10 reporter Christian De La Rosa, who witnessed the incident, reports the driver was taken into custody.

“He appeared to be part of the parade,” he noted, “he was wearing a Pride shirt.”

Some theorize the jump to believe the incident was an ‘attack’ is due, in part, to a bill signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in April which assigns civil immunity to anyone who drives a vehicle into protesters that are blocking a road during a “riot.”

News Round-Up: June 17, 2021

(image via Groupon)

Some news items you might have missed:

Groupon: I just learned the folks at the ‘deal of the day’ website highlight LGBTQ-owned businesses (above). “Our out and proud merchant partners inspire us every day in all of the myriad ways they uplift and support their communities.” Click here for more of Groupon’s Pride-ful ways.

The Advocate: A larger number of teenagers are identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual in the U.S. Surveys by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that between 2015 and 2019 those who identified as “non-heterosexual” grew from 8.3 percent to 11.7 percent in 15-to-17-year-olds.

Edge Media: Results from Planet Fitness’ fifth annual survey reveals 69% of men with dad bods say they are confident and comfortable with their physique. That said, half of all men with dad bods (50%) feel judged by others for their bodies — a number that’s jumped 10% since just last year alone.

New York Times: The U.S. government spent more than $18 billion last year funding drugmakers to make a Covid vaccine. Now it’s pouring more than $3 billion on a neglected area of research: developing pills to fight the virus early in the course of infection, potentially saving many lives in the years to come.

Andrew Christian: The venerable men’s designer shares his Top 5 Most Extravagant Pride Parades in the World.

NBC Out: Online advice columnist John Paul Brammer shares his amazing journey as a gay Latino in rural Oklahoma. Brammer weaves his experiences with letters from readers in his book, Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons.

Harris Makes History As 1st Sitting VP To March In Pride Parade

Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff surprised Pride celebrants at DC Pride on Saturday

Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff surprised Pride celebrants at DC Pride on Saturday

Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff made a surprise appearance at the Capital Pride Walk in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.

Harris’s participation made her the first sitting vice president to march in an LGBTQ Pride parade.

From The Advocate:

Harris’s appearance came as a surprise, and the crowd around her cheered, according to a White House press pool report. She and Emhoff marched for about a block down 13th Street, waving and wishing onlookers “Happy Pride,” and stopped to speak to participants and spectators for about 10 minutes.

Harris called for passage of the Equality Act, a comprehensive LGBTQ+ civil rights bill that has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives but has yet to come to a vote in the Senate.

“We still have so much to do,” she added, according to the pool report. “We celebrate all the accomplishments. Finally marriage is the law of the land. We need to make sure that our transgender community are all protected. … There is so much more work to do and I know we are committed.”

Harris and Emhoff were dressed appropriately for the event, Washington’s NBC affiliate reports. She wore a pink blazer and a T-shirt printed with the words “Love Is Love,” while he wore a T-shirt with “Love First” in rainbow letters.

NYC Pride Reverses On Gay Cops Marching In Parade, Then Reverses Again

The logo for NYC Pride 2021

The logo for NYC Pride 2021

Heritage of Pride, the group that organizes New York City Pride events each year, reversed it’s decision to ban gay armed police officers in uniform from marching in this year’s Pride Parade last night.

The original decision, announced last week, sparked days of controversy voiced by the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL).

So, last night the general membership voted to allow uniformed gay officers to march in the parade

“By a 55-40% margin (5% abstaining), they voted to let GOAL march in uniform with concealed weapons but NOT to have an ‘NYPD’ contingent in the parade,” wrote Andrew Humm on Facebook. “Andre Thomas, the co-chair, resigned as did some other people of color at the meeting who were left in tears.”

But at 1:30am, the HOP board announced they had reversed the reversal, saying they “voted to set a new policy regarding GOAL’s participation in an effort to be mindful and focus on our mission of creating safe space for marginalized communities.”

“It fell under our purview to do so, as elected representatives of this organization,” continued the board. “We firmly believe that this decision is in the best interest of our community.”

Having decided the officers “will not march armed and in police uniforms,” the board shared it may consider allowing gay officers to march out of uniform and without armed weapons.

The Executive Board of HOP cited past actions by police officers against LGBTQ people and POC as the reasons for excluding armed police officers in uniform.

The NYPD, and policing across America, is fundamentally flawed. These are institutions started as slave patrols, and continue to oppress Black, Brown, Indigenous, POC, LGBTQ+ individuals, and individuals who stand at the intersections of these identities.

Over their lifetime, Black men have a 1 in 1000 chance of being killed by the police. LGBQ people are six times more likely to be stopped by the police.

Nearly 3 out of 4 of lethal anti-LGBT hate crimes committed against transwomen and girls.

Transgender individuals who survive violence are 3.7 times more likely to experience police violence compared to non-transgender survivors and7times more likely to experience physical violence when interacting with the police.

Until 2021, transpeople in New York could be arrested for wearing clothes that did not correspond with their sex assigned at birth. And after over 267 complaints related to abuse of force by NYPD when dealing with protesters, only two officers have faced serious disciplinary action.

In the past year, as Black Lives Matter protests spread across the nation following the murder of George Floyd and other Black men, HOP notes that NYC police officers attacked queer people who took part in the protests.

HOP also points out that the gay rights movement was born out of a vicious 1969 police raid on the Stonewall Inn gay bar.

That said, due to pressure from LGBTQ advocacy groups, the NYPD issued an official apology in 2019 for the 1969 raid as well as for years of brutal treatment of LGBTQ people in the city. In their statement last week, GOAL made note of the work being done by gay  police officers to improve relations between police and the LGBTQ community.

As I reported last night, the New York Times editorial board penned an op-ed this week calling the banning of gay police officers by HOP a “misstep.” The Times added that the decision “disproportionately affects L.G.B.T.Q. police officers, many of whom have been fighting for reforms; they shouldn’t be judged, and even set back, by the worst behavior of their colleagues.”

News Round-Up: November 2, 2020

Mike Taveira (photo: David-Simon Dayan)

Some news items you might have missed:

CNBC: The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case concerning the rights of LGBTQ Americans on Wednesday morning in a dispute that advocates are warning could pierce holes in the nation’s anti-discrimination laws. Arguments, which will take place just a day after the presidential election, will mark the first major fight to come before Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was sworn in a week ago.

Instinct Magazine: Taiwan held one of the few Pride Parades this year as nearly 130,000 people gathered to march, dance, and visit a Rainbow Market of 100 LGBTQ-owned or supportive businesses/organizations. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, other countries have gone without Pride events this year, but Taiwan has not had a reported diagnosis of COVID-19 since April. In total, the country has had only 554 recorded cases and only seven deaths nationwide.

Out Music: Out recording artist Mike Taveira (top image) offers his new single, “Karma.” An uber-catchy pop-bop groove, Taveira calls the track “the breakup anthem for anyone who feels like their ex has yet received the karma they deserve.”

“I do believe in karma and I do believe she is coming,” says Taveira. “She just likes to wait for the perfect timing and I was impatient, which led to the song.”

The Advocate: Parliament House, the iconic Orlando nightclub that has been serving central Florida’s LGBTQ+ population for 45 years, is closing, though the owners say it’s not a permanent closure. In a Facebook post, they tried to get the money for much-needed renovations, but they sadly couldn’t reach their goal.

The Signorile Report: Michelangelo takes a look at what it will take for a President Joe Biden to get The Equality Act passed in his first 100 days as promised.

KIT212: I’m catching up on Kenneth’s weekly round-up of LGBTQ publications like DNA Magazine’s 250th issue featuring cover model Julian Gabriel (below).

(image via DNA Magazine)

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.”