News Round-Up: April 12, 2021

Nigel Shelby
Nigel Shelby
Nigel Shelby

Some news items you might have missed:

The Advocate: The parents of a Huntsville, Ala., teen Nigel Shelby – who killed himself in 2019 after being bullied at school for being gay – are now suing that school district. They allege that school officials knew their son was considering taking his life.

Kenneth-in-the-212: The NYC-based blog has a new weekly feature – ‘Manspread Monday.’ You know you want to hit that link… 🙂

Buzzfeed: This hilarious SNL skit about period lesbian dramas is so accurate it hurts. “My parents died before I was born.” “Mine too.”

Variety: Nomadland dominated at the BAFTA Film Awards, where the Frances McDormand-led road movie picked up four prizes including lead actress, cinematography, director, and best film.

Bloomberg News: Video chat on you TV? Apple is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions.

Detroit Free Press: Ted Nugent, the aging rocker, mocked health guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in a recent Facebook video asking, “Why weren’t we shut down for COVID one through 18?” Of course, the coronavirus that has killed close to 560,000 people in the U.S. was named for the year in which the first infection was reported — 2019.

Buckingham Palace Breaks Silence After Prince Harry & Meghan Interview

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (photo: Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions)

After a compelling interview by Meghan Markle and Prince Harry with Oprah Winfrey, Buckingham Palace has finally broken its silence after two days.

From the New York Times:

Buckingham Palace broke nearly 48 hours of silence Tuesday about a bombshell interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, saying “the whole royal family is saddened” and expressing concern about the issue of racism the couple had raised.

Assertions that a member of the royal family had raised concerns about the skin color of the couple’s son, Archie, and that a desperate Meghan had contemplated suicide dominated national discussion in Britain, where the interview with Oprah Winfrey was broadcast Monday evening.

On Tuesday, Piers Morgan, the co-host of “Good Morning Britain” on ITV news, who came under attack for saying he “didn’t believe a word” of the interview, resigned, the network said. Britain’s communications regulator received more than 41,000 complaints about his comment, it said.

Read the full article.

Former Trump Campaign Manager Hospitalized After Suicide Threat

Brad Parscale (cropped photo: Gage Skidmore/FlickrCC License)

Brad Parscale, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, was removed from his home on Sunday afternoon after his wife called the police saying Parscale was armed and threatening to harm himself.

From the Sun-Sentinel:

They made contact, “developed a rapport” and negotiated his exit from the house, the police said in a statement. He was taken to Broward Health Medical Center under the Baker Act, which provides for temporary involuntary commitment.

Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Karen Dietrich said the encounter at the house was brief. “We went out and it was very short. We went and got him help.”

Dietrich said he didn’t threaten police and he went willingly under Florida’s Baker Act, which allows police to detain a person who is potentially a threat to himself or others.

The Trump campaign issued a statement to Axios which read, “Brad Parscale is a member of our family and we all love him. We are ready to support him and his family in any way possible.”

Parscale was demoted from his position on the Trump campaign after the disastrous Tulsa rally on June 20 this summer which was poorly attended. He also recieved criticism for overspending on behalf of the campaign including millions in payments to his own companies.


The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free and confidential support for anyone in distress, in addition to prevention and crisis resources. Also available for online chat.

Congress Approves 988 Suicide Hotline

(image via Unsplash/Ian)

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which when implemented will allow Americans to simply dial ‘988’ to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, instead of the current ten-digit number.

Passage of the bill authorizes the funding mechanisms needed for 988 to be successful and it contains several key LGBTQ-inclusive provisions, including requirements for LGBTQ cultural competency training for all Lifeline counselors and the establishment of an Integrated Voice Response option for LGBTQ youth and other high-risk populations to reach specialized care.

Sam Brinton (they/them pronouns), Vice President of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project, commended Congress in a statement saying, in part, “This passage is a historic victory, as this is the first explicitly LGBTQ-inclusive bill to pass unanimously in history — and 988 will undoubtedly save countless lives.

The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people.

According to The Trevor Project’s 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health:

  • 40% of respondents seriously considered attempting suicide in the past twelve months, with more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth having seriously considered it
  • 68% of LGBTQ youth reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder in the past two weeks, including more than 3 in 4 transgender and nonbinary youth
  • 48% of LGBTQ youth reported engaging in self-harm in the past twelve months, including over 60% of transgender and nonbinary youth
  • 1 in 3 LGBTQ youth reported that they had been physically threatened or harmed in their lifetime due to their LGBTQ identity
  • 46% of youth report they wanted psychological or emotional counseling from a mental health professional but were unable to receive it in the past twelve months

(via The Trevor Project)

Out Music: Project Moses “He’s Not Staying”

Project Moses (right) in his music video ‘He’s Not Staying’

The new single, “He’s Not Staying,” from out artist Project Moses, explores the quiet turmoil of living with mental illness.

The music video for the song, directed by Zach Adam (who also wrote and produced the track) was shot in on Fire Island during the quiet, cold weeks of November. Somber and reclusive, Project Moses says it was “the perfect setting for the dark subject matter of this single.”

The story-telling for the video is artful and delicate as the artist reflects on the pensive journey of the song. Project Moses’s evocative vocals are clear and sure, never veering to hyper-emotional, letting the listener take the ride for themselves.

Project Moses admits he was drawn to the song but had to do some self-exploration to understand his connection.

“It took me a while to recognize what was going on in my head and the reason why none of my relationships with friends, family, or lovers lasted,” explains the artist. Over the years, he came to grips with the rejection he felt from his family after revealing he was gay.

“For whatever reason, the feeling of abandonment cut deep into my heart,” he adds. “While my family and I are in a much better place today, the scars from our past remain.”

Project Moses (promotional photo)

Scars aside, playing the track for his mom proved to be a cathartic moment for both mother and son.

“My mom cried when I played the song for her,” shares the handsome artist from his home in New York City. “It was the first time she realized how close I came to ending it all.”

But just as the song evolves from a gloomy, melancholy sound to a more progressive, light at the end of the tunnel vibe, Project Moses says that he too has “transformed.”

“He’s Not Staying,” from the upcoming album Better Man, is available now on all digital download sites.

Check out the moody, wistful music video below. Follow Project Moses on Instagram here.

Podcast: Shooting In Miami, Gay Marriages Experience Less Stress, New Music From Bridesmen

In this episode of The Randy Report - France bans conversion therapy, Florida Republicans push "Don't Say Gay" bill, bad news for Ellen DeGeneres, Adam Rippon has good news, and the award-winning Western short film STEAM! premieres on Revry.

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 podcast:

• Two gay men were shot in Miami for kissing goodnight

• A new study shows men in same-sex marriages experience less stress than their straight peers

• Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh went after Pete Buttigieg’s marriage but Pete clapped back

• New report shows LGBTQ youth consider suicide even more than we thought

• And new music from Bridesmen

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report

Gay Student Found Dead Of Apparent Suicide After Video Protesting Drag Queens Went Viral

Wilson Gavin arguing with drag queen Diamond Good-Rim

A conservative gay student who led a protest against a Drag Queen Story Hour this weekend was found dead of apparent suicide early Monday morning.

The death of Wilson Gavin, 21, came one day after he faced intense backlash on social media when video clips that went viral showing he and 15-20 fellow students from the University of Queensland Liberal National Club storming into the Brisbane Square Library.

Note: The Liberal National Party in Australia is a center-right party.

The group began chanting “drag queens are not for kids” as Gavin was recorded arguing with drag queen Diamond Good-Rim.

The Daily Mail reports the students were protesting against children “being indoctrinated with radical gender theories.”

Organizers of the event, Rainbow Families Queensland (RFQ) said, “They entered the event chanting and scared the children. Some parents got them outside the room where they continued to chant loudly.”

Hours later, Gavin was found dead at Chelmer Railway Station, reports The Star Observer. Emergency medical technicians say he died from critical injuries but have provided no further details.

This wasn’t Gavin’s first time to protest LGBTQ issues.

In 2017, he helped lead the “Our Voice. Our Vote.” group that opposed legalizing same-sex marriage.

Wilson Gavin on Sky News in 2018 (screen capture)

During an interview with ABC Radio’s Patricia Karvelas, Gavin said, “Marriage has always been an institution between a man and a woman.”

Arguing that schools would “teach students about LGBTQ people” and churches would be forced to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies, he expressed concerns about what he called “the negative ramifications that can come directly from same-sex marriage.”

Sally Rugg, an LGBTQ activist who campaigned for marriage equality in Australia, tweeted, “Wilson Gavin was gay. I don’t know why he campaigned against SSM. I don’t know why he was so angry at a drag queen. I don’t know why he took his life. But I wish he was still here so he could have found us all. We would love him and forgive him. We do love and forgive him.”

If you or someone you know are thinking about suicide and need someone to talk to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, you can call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue Australia on 1300 22 4636.

Silvio Horta, Creator Of LGBTQ-Inclusive ‘Ugly Betty,’ Dead At 45

Ugly Betty writer/showrunner Silvio Horta (screen capture)

Silvio Horta, who created the hit ABC dramedy Ugly Betty, was found dead in his Miami hotel room on Tuesday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

According to a statement from his family, the 45-year-old writer/producer “had an ongoing struggle with addiction and depression” but added, “he always found a way to turn his struggle into laughter.”

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear brother and son, Silvio Horta. Through his friendships, his love and his work in TV and films, Silvio touched the lives of millions. Silvio had an ongoing struggle with addiction and depression, but through it all, he always found a way to turn his struggle into laughter. He was a kind and beautiful man. He may be gone but his light will shine on.”

Ugly Betty, which ran for four seasons from 2006 to 2010, was a smash-hit for the openly gay writer from the get-go.

The series, an adaptation of the Colombian telenovela Yo soy Betty, la fea, chronicled the adventures (or misadventures) of fashion industry neophyte Betty Suarez, played by America Ferrera, as she made her way up the corporate ladder of the fictitious Mode Magazine.

In addition to being stylish and witty, the show was recognized for being LGBTQ-inclusive with storylines that included the coming out of Betty’s teenage nephew Justin (Mark Indelicato), the hysterical fawning of queer fashion assistant Marc St. James (launching the career of Michael Urie into a new orbit), and transgender character Alexis Meade (Rebecca Romijn).

The series also gave longtime LGBTQ ally Vanessa Williams the chance to shine as the over-the-top diva, creative director Wilhelmina Slater.   

The show landed with LGBTQ audiences not only for its fresh, undeniably queer slant but an empowering message of embracing our authentic selves.

Over the course of its run, Ugly Betty scored three Emmy Awards including one for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and was nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, winning two – one for Ferrera and one for Best Television Series (Comedy).

Numerous other honors came from organizations as diverse as the GLAAD Media Awards, the ALMA Awards, The Imagen Foundation Awards, and the NAACP Image Awards.

Horta’s career breakthrough came in 1998 when he wrote the surprise horror film Urban Legend starring future Oscar winner Jared Leto (Dallas Buyer’s Club) and Alicia Witt (Dune).

He also executive produced the 2001 series The Chronicle starring Octavia Spencer as well as UPN’s sci-fi series Jake 2.0 in 2003.

IMDB lists his most recent credit as the made-for-TV film The Curse of the Fuentes Women in 2015.

Horta’s Ugly Betty colleagues took to social media to express their condolences.

RIP Silvio Horta.

If you are thinking about suicide or are feeling alone and need someone to talk to, please contact the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386. It’s free, confidential, and available 24/7. Additionally, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Cyber-Bullying Leads To Teen Suicide In Tennessee

Channing Smith (images via family/FOX17)

Channing Smith, a high school junior in Manchester, Tennessee, committed suicide last week after another student posted private text messages between Smith and another boy resulting in outing  the teen as bisexual, reports Buzzfeed News.

Smith had apparently kept his attraction for other boys a secret, but an argument with another teenager who is close to the boy he’d been messaging became upset that she “didn’t know about the sexting and posted the screenshots to be vindictive, according to Keylee Duty, a fellow student at Smith’s school.

“She was just doing it to be mean,” Keylee told Buzzfeed.

Smith had been dating 17-year-old Hailey Meister for a month prior to his suicide.

“He didn’t deserve that,” she shared. “He was kind and loving and a very good person.”

Meister added that Smith told her when the screen captures were shared on social media “how bad it made him feel and it was a mistake.”

She also says Smith was “trying to find himself” and hadn’t explicitly identified as bisexual before his death.

His older brother, 38-year-old Joshua Smith, says the nature of the text messages were explicit to the point that “there was no room for Channing to be able to claim it was a misunderstanding.”

“When he saw the screenshots on social media he called some people around 10 p.m. Sunday night, freaking out,” he added. “His last posting on Instagram was about people he couldn’t trust.”

Smith’s body was found by his father at around 4 a.m. The father had noticed Smith’s light on in his room and went to check on him.

“He’s still in shock,” says Joshua.

The older brother explained that life in their “small, Southern town” could be “complicated.”

“You could be gay and still like the Confederate flag and shoot pistols,” says Joshua. But to be labeled “gay, queer, or a sissy” would be devastating for a high school junior he added.

The local Fox affiliate reports that Joshua says his brother called the female classmate who posted the private messages and said her he was going to kill himself. According to Joshua, she didn’t reach out to Channing’s family or any suicide prevention hotline.

A complication in the case comes as the family feels Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott isn’t being appropriately pro-active in investigating the cyber-bullying Channing experienced by fellow students.

Joshua told Buzzfeed that “investigators spent only a day” on the case, and “didn’t confiscate the kids’ phones’ saying they didn’t have the technology to ‘bypass the passcodes.’”

In June, statements by Northcott in a 2018 video surfaced where he said he disagreed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell ruling which made same-sex marriage legal in the U.S.

He also shared that he doesn’t prosecute domestic cases involving LGBTQ people because he doesn’t believe marriage exists.

In a statement regarding the Smith case, Northcott said that while he can’t comment on an open investigation, he said allegations that his office had failed to act are “inaccurate” as the investigation has not been completed.

Smith’s family and friends are also critical of Channing’s high school for not making a public statement about his death or to condemn bullying.

“They haven’t made any mention about him or his death on their website, on Facebook, anywhere,” Joshua said. “They haven’t offered counseling to the kids or gathered them to talk about anti-bullying.”

“The principal told my father that he felt like we would not want anything at our memorial service that says justice for Channing, which was total bullshit,” added the older brother.

(screen capture)

When Channing’s friend attempted to make a statement wearing t-shirts asking for “Justice for Channing,” the principal demanded they remove the shirts.

“We refused. Not only me, but his close friends and people who loved him stood during the assembly holding our posters,” said Keylee. “We believe the school refused to do anything because what happened to Channing involved gay rights.”

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found You can also text TALK to 741741 for free, anonymous, 24/7 crisis support in the US from the Crisis Text Line.

Guards Slept While Epstein Committed Suicide, Then Doctored Log Books

Accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was able to commit suicide this past weekend without interference because the two guards that should have been watching him (fresh off of suicide watch) apparently fell asleep on the job for "some or all of" a three hour period of time, reports the New York Times.
Jeffrey Epstein (mug shot)

Accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was able to commit suicide this past weekend without interference because the two guards that should have been watching him (fresh off of suicide watch) apparently fell asleep on the job for “some or all of” a three hour period of time, reports the New York Times.

The two staff members who were guarding the jail unit where Jeffrey Epstein apparently killed himself fell asleep, failed to check on him for about three hours and falsified records to cover up their mistake, according to several law enforcement and prison officials with knowledge of the matter.

Those disclosures came on Tuesday as the two employees were placed on administrative leave and the warden of the jail, the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, was temporarily reassigned, pending the outcome of the investigation into Mr. Epstein’s death, the Justice Department announced.

The two staff members in the special housing unit where Mr. Epstein was held — 9 South — falsely recorded in a log that they had checked on the financier, who was facing sex trafficking charges, every 30 minutes, as was required, two of the officials said. Such false entries in an official log could constitute a federal crime.

In fact, the two people guarding Mr. Epstein had been asleep for some or all of the three hours, three of the officials said.

Epstein, 66, was found dead hanging from a bedsheet at approximately 6:30am on Saturday in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.

He had been awaiting trial on charges he had sexually abused scores of teenage girls at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla.

In related news, one of Epstein’s accusers, Jennifer Araoz, has filed a lawsuit against his estate, his longtime associate Ghislaine Maxwell and three unnamed female household staff, according to NBC News.

Araoz alleges she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Epstein at his New York City townhouse when she was 14 and 15 years old, including a forcible rape in 2002.

She first disclosed her alleged abuse publicly in an exclusive TODAY Show interview with Savannah Guthrie of NBC News on July 10, the same day she filed papers in New York state court saying she intended to sue Epstein.

According to the complaint filed today, Araoz says Maxwell and the other staff members “conspired with each other to make possible and otherwise facilitate the sexual abuse and rape of Plaintiff.”