News Briefs for 07.26.19

Beyond the Carolinas

Health org conducts HIV survey

HealthHIV’s Pozitively Aging initiative is conducting its inaugural HealthHIV State of Aging and HIV Survey which will assess the needs of people living with HIV over 50 to provide data on the development of medical and consumer education. This education will help address care coordination and enhance communication with HIV care and service providers. The deadline to participate is Aug. 13 and is available online. In other news, the organization’s capacity building team has announced that it offers Telehealth: Building HIV Retention in Care Among Minority Communities designed to provide a wide array of tools to increase client uptake, streamline workflows and measure impact. Through ongoing technical assistance, HealthHIV builds capacity for HIV prevention, care and treatment service providers to deliver telehealth services to racial and ethnic minority communities living with HIV in urban areas.
info: healthhiv.org.

Mag gives out anti-LGBTQ stickers

Gazeta Polska is now giving away “LGBT-free zone” stickers to its readers, sparking outrage from many of its own citizens as well as the U.S. ambassador to Poland. The publication is a right-wing weekly.
info: bit.ly/2JS2UE1.

GOPers urge Amazon to sell therapy books

Shareblue Media has reported that congressional Republicans are pushing Amazon into carrying books on conversion therapy again despite the ban in 18 states.
info: bit.ly/2JTNC1v.

Rabbi conducts gay weddings

Rabbi Avran Mlotek is officiating at LGBTQ weddings, saying that in doing so that humans were not meant to live alone. This came after learning that a gay rabbinical student would not receive ordination after years of study at a seminary.
info: bit.ly/2JVskR4.

Crowdsourcing supports library

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up for St. Mary’s Library Foundation, Inc in Leonardtown, Md. in the wake of the controversy caused when the library hosted a Drag Queen Story Hour. “This event was created with the intention of capturing the imagination of children, giving them positive queer role models, but has ignited discourse in the community when the launch of the event led to the arrest of one local man who disrupted the story hour,” organizers shared. The goal was set at $2,500.
info: bit.ly/2JSIhHK.

Band drops freshman album

Southern band You Can Call Me Sir is releasing their self-titled debut album after premiering their first video, “This Love is On Fire” at OutFest on July 20. It can be seen online.
info: youcancallmesir.com.

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Gay guru releases new book

Author Johnson Chong’s most recent title, “Sage Sapien: From Karma to Dharma,” will be published by Köehler Books on Aug. 15. In the book the author shares his journey of spiritual exploration, revelation and liberation in his quest to help others harness the power and benefits of meditation. His painful story of coming out to his strict, traditional, deeply disapproving, and often verbally and physically abusive Chinese parents is specific to Chong, but will also ring familiar to many LGBTQ people who are compelled, yet struggling to “live their truth,” fearful of how their family, friends and community will react. Chong is an international yogi, meditation teacher and self-mastery guide.
info: koehlerbooks.com.

FCSJ seeks emerging theologians

The Freedom Center for Social Justice is inviting emerging theologians from across the Southeast to be a part of the Oct. 5 Liberating Theologies Speaker Series in Charlotte, N.C. Two people will be selected to speak on stage with the event’s featured speakers, Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas and Dr. Kwok Pui Lan, and dialogue with them in a panel discussion following. Each Emerging Theologian will have 15 minutes to speak with a five-minute Q&A. Proposals are now being accepted online. Deadline for submission is Sept. 13. Those who wish to be a sponsor for the event are asked to email Ash Love at ash@fcsj.org. In other news, Liberating Theologies Alumni Network is live for those who have previously attended any of the Liberating Theologies events. Members of the closed network will receive exclusive information about the speaker series, advance access to registration, discounted admission and additional resources and future Continuing Education Unit (CEU) opportunities. Register online now. Presented in partnership with Union Theological Seminary, this event is an extension of The Freedom Center for Social Justice’s Do No Harm campaign, which works with people of faith and the broader community in North Carolina to shift narratives that cause harm through interpretation of Bibical text.
info: fcsj.org.

Lit society names awardees

The Golden Crown Literary Society has announced the winners of its 15th Annual GCLS Awards. Recipients received their honors at its recent conference. “Our Goldies Awards Program,” said executive director Mary Phillips, “is the only program in the nation that focuses exclusively on the best in lesbian-themed literature.” Top honors went to: Ann Allen Schockley, Lee Lynch Classic Award, “Loving Her,” in recognition for books that convey meaningful lesbian experiences with influential historical value to the lesbian community. Sandra Scoppettone, Trailblazer Award, lifetime achievement award in recognition of contributions made to lesbian literature; and Dr. Virginia Fielder, GCLS Director’s Award, contributions to the organization. Other awards were bestowed on 18 other writers. The Conference featured the world premiere of the documentary, “In Her Words: 20th Century Lesbian Fiction,” produced by Cheryl Pletcher and co-directed by Lisa Marie Evans and Marianne K. Martin, which preserves and documents the words and works of authors of lesbian literature.
info: goldencrown.org.

N.C. not good for dating

The [Raleigh] News & Observer has reported that two North Carolina cites are “among the worst of the country’s largest urban areas when it comes to their gay dating scenes, but other Southern cities are among the best,” according to a study conducted by Bespoke Surgical. Those besting the Tar Heel State’s two are New Orleans, La; Austin, Texas; Tampa, Fla.; and Orlando, Fla. Charlotte, N.C. came in at 42 in the analysis of 49 of the largest cities in the U.S. Data was collected from a number of sources to arrive at the results. Joining Charlotte in the bottom were Nashville and Memphis, Tenn. and Virginia Beach, Va. On a possible total score of 50, Raleigh, N.C. came in at 13.7 and Charlotte at 20.2.
info: bit.ly/2JQX6KY.

Guard welcomes trans soldiers

Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration says transgender soldiers remain welcome in the Massachusetts National Guard, despite Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military, The Associated Press reported.
info: bit.ly/2JUGodD.

Bar replaces decades-old smashed windows

Blackstones, a gay bar in Portland, Maine, has recently put up new front windows after 28 years of covering its smashed glass with plywood in the wake of homophobic vandalism, The Associated Press reported. Carl Currie shared that they felt that the bar was safe now.
info: bit.ly/2K0VeiG.

Straight Pride gets ‘smack down’

Queerty reported that Netflix’s legal department has sent the organizers of the Boston, Mass. Straight Pride Parade (Super Happy Fun America) a cease-and-desist order due to the event’s use of the Netflix logo on their website as a prospective sponsor. The letter said: “You are using the Netflix logo to promote your event, which despite its name is about hate –- not pride. That’s gross and deeply hurtful, but it’s also deceptive misinformation and infringes our legal rights. Netflix has nothing to do with your organization or event. Indeed, it’s telling that you feel the need to lie to gain legitimacy. … You should know that we’re unafraid of bullies. Our legal department is here, it’s queer, and it’s telling you to steer clear.” As of press time, 15 of the 25 listed potential sponsors have joined Netflix in refusing involvement and some are even threatening legal action, Business Insider reported. Companies listed on the Straight Pride website are: State Street, Lyft, Facebook, Nike, Amazon, Bank of America, Microsoft, Starbucks, Grubhub, Camping World, Ben & Jerry’s, TripAdvisor, NFL, Pepsi, JPMorganChase, Best Buy, Marriott, Yelp, Heineken, Tumblr, Gillette, Google, Twitter and YouTube. The site now shows “x’s” over State Street, Bank of America, Netflix, JPMorganChase, Gillette and Tumblr.
info: bit.ly/2K8e73B. bit.ly/2K2w6rQ.

WAF raises funds

Participants at the Charleston Adult Queer Prom were able to help We Are Family raise $1,700 that will be used toward the organization’s 2020 Youth Prom.
info: waf.org.

CDC seeks research participants

The Henne Group has issued an invitation to the residents of the Chesterfield, Jasper, Hampton and Allendale Counties in South Carolina to participate in 60-minute interviews as part of a research study about HIV and AIDS. Henne said, “Consumer opinions are important to us and will contribute to the CDC’s efforts to end the HIV epidemic.” Those who participate in the interview will receive $40 and a reimbursement to help offset travel expenses. Interviews will be conducted in Hampton and Chesterfield during the week of Aug. 5. Those interested in participating can call 877-214-0927 or complete the survey online.
info: thehennegroup.com.

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Org names logo contest winner

MPact has announced that Jon Gabriel Ortiz was chosen as the winner for his HIV2020 logo contest. As the winner, he was awarded a full scholarship to attend the HIV2020: Community Reclaiming the Global Response Conference next July. Earlier this year, the HIV2020 Alliance launched a global call for submissions for community members to help them design a logo for the first-ever conference which will be held in Mexico City, Mexico. Ortiz is the digital marketing director at THRIVE SS, an organization based in Atlanta, Ga. whose mission is to improve health equity for black gay men living with HIV in the U.S.
info: mpactglobal.org.

Pride flag impacts beach town resident

Danielle Guido hung an American Pride flag outside her home prior to July 4th as a statement to her neighbors. She wanted to “make America great again” by showing her support for the LGBTQ community. Guido was overwhelmed by a letter she received from an anonymous mother who offered her appreciation for the flag hanging and offered up that her transgender son smiled every time he drove by. The son also penned a note, thanking Guido for her bravery and saying that it was going to” inspire someone else, too.” ABC 15 News asked its viewers to come forward if they were the one who wrote the letter. A couple of days later, the station received an anonymous letter, and thanked them for “taking the time to report on something so positive. … Your reporting has truly touched our family.”
info: bit.ly/2JTtU6c. bit.ly/2JZdvwL.

HIV listening session held

On July 19 the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Communicable Disease Branch held a NC Ending the Epidemic listening session in Hickory, N.C. to address the concerns surrounding HIV/AIDS. According to HIV.gov, the area around Charlotte has a higher HIV burden than many other places across the U.S. “Issues surrounding HIV prevention, testing and treatment are especially impactful in Hickory and Catawba County,” said Chris Kliesch, executive director of ALFA. Kliesch added, “There are many people in our community who are living with HIV. Some have been diagnosed; however, there are some who have not yet been tested. We want to put in place strategies for people exposed to HIV to be tested as quickly as possible and then connected with resources so they can receive treatment rapidly and effectively to achieve viral suppression and prevent further spread of the disease.” This event is one of a handful hosted around the state.
info: alfainfo.org.

Minister’s remarks condemned

Israel’s Education Minister Rafi Peretz made remarks recently in favor of conversion therapy and was criticized widely, The Associate Press reported. This led to hundreds protesting the statement. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Twitter that the remarks were unacceptable and did “not represent my government’s position.”
info: bit.ly/2JSbHFY.

Square dancing revived, refreshed

The International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs held its annual convention in Philadelphia, Pa. and brought a “slightly sped-up version” to the mix. Over time there has been a decline in square dance clubs and the association is trying to counter that. Its members come from all walks of life and across a broad range of age groups. There is no problem with men dancing as women and vise versa. And, the music selections can range from Hank Williams to Rihanna. Also, clubs put dancer comfort over traditional dress.
info: bit.ly/2JTPyXO.

House passes military non-discrimination amendment

On July 11, by a vote of 242-187, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a non-discrimination amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would make eligible for military service any qualified individual who can meet standards, regardless of race, color, national origin, religion or sex — including gender identity or sexual orientation. The Modern Military Association of America (MMAA) hailed the bipartisan vote as an important step toward ending the Trump-Pence administration’s transgender military ban. Final passage of the full NDAA by the House occurred the following day by a vote of 220-197. The legislation was sent to a conference committee to be reconciled with the Senate version. The amendment would simply put into statute the Department of Defense’s own inclusive language used in its military equal opportunity program. The 2016 DoD Directive 1020.02E, Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity in the DoD, states equal opportunity is “critical to mission accomplishment, unit cohesiveness, and military readiness.” The directive states that all service members should be “afforded equal opportunity in an environment free from harassment, including sexual harassment, and unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity), or sexual orientation.”
info: modernmilitary.org.

ENC introduces newsletter

Equality North Carolina has launched their new monthly “State of Equality” newsletter. It details “everything you need to know about the work of our organization and the ongoing fight for equal rights and protections across our state,” said Equality North Carolina Executive Director Kendra R. Johnson. Items covered in its first edition included: news on a Pride reception at the governor’s mansion; praise for Hendersonville, N.C.’s inaugural Pride celebration; a look at the organization’s website relaunch; and more. It also included a list of upcoming events, volunteer opportunities and new hire news.
info: equalitync.org.

Film wins award

American Film Institute student Asher Jelinsky won the BAFTA Student Film Award for Live Action for their film entitled “Miller & Son.” The film shares the story of a transgender woman mechanic living in rural America who tries to find a livable compromise between running her family’s auto shop during the day and expressing her femininity at night. When confronted with an unforeseen event, the balance of her daytime and nighttime worlds becomes jeopardized. Jelinsky earned an MFA in Directing at the AFI Conservatory in California and holds BA degrees with honors in Media Studies and Public Health from Pitzer College. The film won both the jury and audience awards for Best Narrative Short at the Ashland Independent Film Festival.
info: bafta.org.

Ministry to work with Catholics

SC Equality Executive Director Jeff Ayers has reported that Miracle Hill Ministries has “clarified” its “spiritual identity” and decided that they will no longer refuse to work with Catholic foster parents (or employees). SC Equality, Lambda Legal and the ACLU lawsuit will continue to move forward despite the change due to the ministry’s refusal to change their policy toward same-sex couples wishing to adopt or foster children. The federal lawsuit was filed earlier in the year on behalf of a Greenville same-sex couple who were turned down over their request to be foster parents because they did not meet Miracle Hill’s religious criteria.
info: scequality.org.

TEP’s testing proves valuable

Triangle Empowerment Project was on hand during June’s Bull City Black Pride. The organization hosted various events including gospel praise, fish fry, “Girl Talk,” training on HIV stigma, a film festival and panel discussion and a mini ball. In addition, the community had a chance to learn more about PrEP, health screening, resources available for PrEP and PrEP-related services, as well as the opportunity to get to know local vendors and fellow community members at various events during the week. Over 527 people attend these events. They tested over 78 people who now know their status (one new HIV positive, three new syphilis and two new Hep C) and 21 people signed up for PrEP. The agency also gave out over 215 bags of food to LGBTQ homeless families and individuals. There were three adults that were linked back to care (for HIV) and three adults placed in transitional housing/drug treatment centers. Triangle Empowerment Project raised $3,250 for LGBTQ housing and HIV/PrEP services. During the week of Bull City Black Pride we also distributed over 400 condoms and 15 clean needle kits (five needles in each kit).
info: triempowerment.org.

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Posted by Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen is QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director. She can be reached at specialassignments@goqnotes.com and 704-531-9988, x205.

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