LGBT Community Centers Vandalized Across the Nation

Jewish and other marginalized communities have been experiencing an upswing in vandalism in recent months and LGBT communities all over the nation have been no exception.

On March 6, 2017, The Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma was vandalized.  Surveillance video shows a white SUV approach the building around 12:30 a.m. A pellet gun was unloaded into the front to the building severely damaging the entrance, with other businesses nearby suffering minimal damage.

The Dennis R. Neill Equality Center has a 38 year history in Oklahoma and has not reported act of violence or vandalism at its current location in the last twelve years. Toby Jenkins, executive director of the center believes that this is not random act of violence.

Jenkins had this to say, “We’ve been here 38 years and we are very used to dealing with a culture that is not tolerant accepting, or supporting. You also have to ask yourself why did this happen after 12 years? What’s going on in our culture? What’s being said out of the White House? What is happening all over the country where we are targeting individuals and marginalized populations were people feel like it’s all right to drive by and shoot up the Equality Center?”

In Orlando, Florida the window of Orlando Equality was smashed were the agency logo and the ‘Equal Sign’ that symbolizes equal rights for the LGBT community was depicted. The deputy development director Michael Farmer expressed hope that the vandalism was not motivated by anti-LGBT bias. On June 12, 2016, The City of Orlando experienced the worst terrorist attack in U. S. history when Omar Mateen killed 49 people at Pulse, an LGBT nightclub.

Reports of vandalism to LGBT community centers in the last month have also came out of Los Angles and New Jersey. New Jersey senator Cory Booker (D) spoke out against the attack, “I condemn acts of hate against all communities, whether Jewish, Muslim or LGBT, in the strongest possible terms.”

How long the increase in vandalism will go on remains to be seen, but as it stands now there seems to be no end in sight.

 

 

Does HIV Make Me Undateable? Part I

THE ONLY HIV/AIDS STIGMA IS THAT WHICH WE ALLOW.

What you allow is what will continue.

How you would want to be treated if you were HIV positive?

Normally guys don’t intend to hurt those living with HIV. Yet in referring to oneself as “clean” it is logical for me to assume that this means HIV equates to being “dirty”. Now I’m not saying that every HIV negative person has to choose to be sexually intimate with an HIV positive partner and I understand if an HIV negative person chooses not to be with an HIV positive sexual partner based solely on status, just as I understand if an HIV positive person chooses to be only with a partner that is also living with HIV. Still, choosing to use words or phrases that damage one another to highlight our individual preferences can only divide us further. Don’t allow your status control you. There are lots of people out there who are not afraid to date someone who is HIV positive.

I’m always open and upfront disclosing my status. There is a real stigma in being HIV positive, so it’s important to attach a face to the issue. People won’t even talk to you if they know you’re poz. Then you get the guys who have hyper-fetishized HIV. The gay men is small fringe of the gay community refer to getting HIV at a ‘gift’ and these men seek out exposure willingly. So as a practical reality, having HIV does present problems, but there are however, many men and women who are informed of the risks and who love us as we are. For those people that love us our HIV status does not matter.

“Does HIV make me Undateable?” I find too often the answer to this question is yes. I can’t tell you how often I have gotten to know someone and we had made what I thought was a deep ‘connection.’  Yet when things start to get serious and the subject of HIV came up the ‘connection’ I thought we had disappeared. Then the next thing you know I don’t hear from them any more. I often feel if a guy can’t handle this one aspect of me, then he can’t handle the rest of me and that is not okay. Someone who is not mature enough to handle a relationship with me because of my HIV status shows me that they are probably not mature enough to handle a relationship with anyone. I find that it’s not even worth the effort for me to waste my time, energy, and heart!

More often than not guys will tell me if only I was clean. I didn’t know I was dirty. I refuse to let rejection because of my HIV status make me feel that I am not worth being in a relationship.

“You can never learn to be the person you were before AIDS, or even before HIV, but maybe you can find the person who you want to become after it. Your status isn’t a part of your character…” BY: TYLER CURRY, MARCH 3RD, 2016 Op-Ed: Its Time to Let Go of AIDS

Hate Crimes Legislation Dead Again

(Indianapolis) The hate crimes bill proposed by State Senator Sue Glick (R) of La Grange, IN. has died at the Statehouse. State Senator Mike Delph(R) of Carmel, IN proposed so many amendments to the bill it would have rendered it virtually ineffective.  The lawmakers that are against hate crime legislation claim that it protects and creates a special class of citizen.

State Senator Sue Glick (R) La Grange

Hate crimes legislation allow tougher sentences for crimes commented against people based on their sexual orientation,  gender identity, gender, race or religion. This is not the first time legislation like that has not made it past the Statehouse.

With hate crimes on the rise and a Jewish Community Center in Indianapolis that recently received a bomb threat, Indiana still remains one of five states that does not have hate crime legislation on the books.

State Sen. Mike Delph (R) Carmel

Don’t Read a Book By Its Cover

I grew up in a small Midwestern town. I had a pretty standard childhood growing up in a family where my dad was an educator, my mom a homemaker and having to share a single bathroom with 2 brothers and sisters. On the outside it would appear that all was well. However, this was far from the truth.

How a person chooses to live their life is just that, living a life. It may, or may not, match how they feel about themselves inside. I’m not talking about whether they secretly dream of being a movie star but work in a corporate office. I’m talking about their internal sense of identity. This was my existence. What people saw on the outside wasn’t what was on the inside. What am I talking about?

A person’s internal sense of gender is known as their gender identity. Every human being has this. For a great majority their gender identity matches their physical body. The term for this is cisgender. Having your internal sense of gender match your physical characteristics causes no strife or emotional reaction. But for other their gender identity doesn’t match their physical body. This is the most common condition for transgender or gender nonbinary identifying people. There is a disconnect which causes varying levels of discomfort. This is the actual struggle that most trans/nonbinary face on a daily basis.

So what does this all mean? For me this meant living a life for 30+ years that fit more into the expectations of my surroundings such as family, friends, community and work. It meant suppressing feelings and aspects of my identity in order to not exist on the periphery of society. It meant carrying a heaping load of guilt and secrets with me everywhere I went. I always thought I could run away from this thing. No matter how fast or how far I went it never was enough to make the separation. So, one day, I stopped and finally faced it head on. It was the day when I first heard the term transgender and said “ok, whatcha got for me?” It was at this point that my life changed. It was the day I stood up and said “I am transgender hear me roar”.

The moral of the story is that people are always striving to create a place where they feel they fit in so give them a chance and a place to be themselves.

President Trump Rolls Back Protections for Transgender Students

Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, Attorney General Jeff Sessions

WASHINGTON-In a move that surprises almost no one the Trump adminastration rolled back former President Obama’s executive orders allowing transgender students to use the restroom or locker room that coincides with their gender identity. A statement from the White House released today reaffirms the administrations policy on the issue, “As President Trump has clearly stated, he believes policy regarding transgender bathrooms should be decided at the state level. The joint decision made today by the Department of Justice and the Department of Education returning power to the states paves the way for an open and inclusive process to take place at the local level with input from parents, students, teachers and administrators.” Last April when on the campaign trail President Trump made his feelings clear on the issue of transgender rights by supporting an individuals right to “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate.” 

To resend former President Obama’s executive orders both the Justice Department and the Department of Education had to agree and work together, which pitted Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions ideologies against each other. Secretary DeVos has been a quiet supporter of LGBT rights issues for years. Ms. DeVos went ‘against the grain’ of her conservative rich and influential family in support of LGBT rights. The families of Ms. DeVos and her husband have donated millions of dollars to anti-LGBT groups such as Focus on the Family. Attorney General Sessions has strong record of opposing not only LGBT rights but voters rights and immigration rights. When secretary DeVos would not endorse the rolling back of the executive orders President Trump was brought in as a ‘tie breaker’ of sorts ordering DeVos to comply. Ms. DeVos released a statement saying it’s a “moral obligation for every school in America to protect all students from discrimination, bullying and harassment.”

The move outraged and saddened LGBT rights advocates both on a national and local levels. Meghan Buell, from South Bend, IN and the founder of the Transgender Resource, Education & Enrichment Services, (TREES Inc.) said in a statement to The Beacon, “Schools can only be effective agents of learning when all students feel safe and included. Rescinding this order leaves schools without clear direction thus leaving open the opportunity for disparities. This could lead to an increase in alienation, bullying and harassment of the trans and gender non-binary students. I fear we may see an uptick in lives lost due to this reversal. This scares and saddens me.” Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council applauds the President’s decision, “President Trump is keeping the shredders busy with his predecessor’s radical policies and orders.”

President Trump is the only Republican President to give at the very least a minicam of support to the LGBT Community by waving the Gay Pride Flag on the campaign trail but has gone on record saying that he believes in traditional marriage, yet feels the issue is settled law. More and more counties, cities and towns not only in Indiana but over the nation are enacting local ordinances to protect their LGBT citizens. With the rollback of Mr. Obama’s executive orders protecting transgendered students gay rights activists are hoping that those local ordinances will be enough.

 

MILO Promises This Is Not The End

Britbart Tech Editor, and self described internet “supervillain” Milo Yiannopoulos has resigned from conservative publication Breitbart News amid a storm of conservatory surrounding his comments on the Joe Rogan podcast Drunken Peasants. In the recently unearthed video Yiannopoulos states that “In the homosexual world particularly, some of those relationships between younger boys and older men are sort of coming-of

Former Breitbart News Editor Milo Yiannopoulos

age relationships.” Critics of Yiannopoulos claim that the statement condones pedophilia. Yiannopoulos attempted to clarify his statement by saying that he used “imprecise language” and that he finds pedophilia a “Vile and disgusting crime.”

Fall out has came quickly to the openly gay Yiannopoulos. In the last 24 hours Simon and Schuster is now refusing to publish his book, Dangerous which was due to be released in June, and the invitation to be the key note speaker at the Conservative Action Conference the convention for ultra conservatives was rescinded.

During a press conference in New York today Yianopoulos disclosed that he is a victim of sexual abuse and was abused between the ages of 13 and 16 by two men one of whom was a priest. In a prepared statement Yiannopoulos indicated he felt that he had carte blanche to talk about sexual abuse in anyway he pleased. “My experiences as a victim led me to believe I could say anything I wanted to on this subject, no matter how outrageous. But I understand that my usual blend of British sarcasm, provocation and gallows humor might have come across as flippancy, a lack of care for other victims or, worse ‘advocacy.’ I am horrified by that impression.”

Yiannopoulos went on to take full responsibility for his statement, but at the same time accusing the mainstream press and political opportunists of trying to ruin his career, “But let’s be clear what is happening here. This is a cynical media witch hunt from people who don’t care about children. They care about destroying me and my career, and by extension my allies. These videos have been out there for more than a year. The media held this story back because they don’t care about victims, they only care about bringing me down. They will fail.”

At the end of it all Milo Yiannopoulos promised that another publisher would release his book later this year with 10 per cent of the royalties going to child sex abuse charities and he would be starting his own independently funded media company which he would use to champion free speech and focus on entertaining and educating.

Does Mike Pence Only Care About HIV When the World is Looking?

Vice President Mike Pence & Bono at the Munich Security Conference

On Saturday U2 front man, Bono met with Vice-President Mike Pence, at the Munich Security Conference, to thank him for his efforts in 2008, when Pence was an Indiana Congressman, for supporting then President George W. Bush’s attempt in supporting AIDS relief in Africa. “Twice on the House floor you defended that. That’s how we know you,” said the pop star.

What is not clear from the meeting is if Bono knows that Vice-President Mike Pence efforts to prevent HIV infection back home in Indiana have not been so praise worthy. In 2013, then Governor Pence defunded Planned Parenthood in Scott County which was the only place the 24,000 Hoosiers that live there could get an HIV test. This led to 190 new HIV cases, the worst is state history.

HIV was spreading at an alarming rate due to intravenous drug use and the only way to curtail an epidemic was a needle exchange program, something that Governor Pence was morally opposed to. The first cases of HIV started showing up in January of 2015. Governor Pence waited until April of that same year to finally approve a temporary needle exchange program. In that time Scott County was experiencing approximately 20 new cases of HIV a week.

In the Shadow of HIV Relationships are not Always Black and White

I remember the first time I saw Ed at the bar. It was the weekly “Gay Night”. He was standing at the bar by the dance floor, drinking a mixed drink with his circle of friends. He was, in my mind, the sexiest black man I had ever seen and completely out of my league.

A few months went by and we happened to be at the same New Year’s Eve party and  ended up talking, he even sat on my lap. When college classes started back up he and I started texting and we even went out as friends for a drink at a Mexican restaurant. This happened several times. After a night of going out to eat he invited me back to his place where I sat down on the floor by his bed. I guess I was a little nervous. He went on to explain to me he never makes the first move. That gave me the courage to take that chance and we ended up making out. A relationship grew and I moved out of the college dorms and in with him, my boyfriend.

I was accepted, for the most part, by his friends and even his family. On Thanksgiving and Christmas we would go to his mother’s who cooked true “Southern Home Cook’n.” I was the only “white boy” in the house during our holiday celebration, but it never was a problem and likewise at his family reunions, I was made to feel like part of the family, I even took his sister to her prom. He taught me how to twist his hair and use grease, it’s silly but I liked how his hair was like curly lambs wool. When we would travel 800 miles to the North to see my family they left no doubt in my mind that they accepted him without question. When my little sister was learning to talk, she made it a point to learn to say his name before mine.

I wish everyone would have been as accepting as our families. We would get pulled over by the police, this happened more than once and it happened for little to no reason at least none we could see. The police would make it a point to search the car and pat us down. Love is love despite color, age, or race. Love does not discriminate, but we found out the hard way that people do.

Being in an interracial relationship was just like being in any relationship and just like all couples we had our ups and downs. Sometimes relationships change, people change and circumstances change. We had been together for a year when I found out that I was HIV-Positive. I was tested annually at the college health fair and every year my test came back negative. Then the unthinkable happened and my worst fears were realized. There were so many fears. There was the fear of telling him, there was the fear of the stigma of HIV/AIDS and there was the fear of the unknown. Later on he was tested, and he found out that he too was HIV positive, his CD4 counts were lower than mine and it was determined that he had it first and had transmitted it to me.

After we found out he didn’t want to tell anyone about our HIV status, it became our ‘little’ secret. Maybe his silence came from being a proud black man that just happened to be gay, but it was my burden to bare too. He seemed to have become emotionally shut down. We would go to the doctor together, yet we would not talk about the elephant in the room. We never talked about anything having to do with what it’s like being gay and HIV positive in East Texas. He never wanted to talk about the guilt he felt for infecting me, but I could see it in his eyes. It’s hard to keep a secret like HIV to oneself and not feel like you are perpetuating the stigma. It’s doubly hard to be each other’s support system when we all we do is carry our burdens instead of carrying and supporting each other.

I thought we still loved each other. He was my support system, boyfriend, and lover. I would advise against staying silent keeping your status to yourself even in the face of Stigma or harassment for whatever the reason we are all human we are all individuals which makes us all different we must embrace that.

Cocktails Lipstick and Love, Advice from Wilma Fingerdo

America’s Sweetheart Wilma Fingerdo

Welcome everyone to my first love and advice column. Our fans have been so good to us over the years that I just wanted to give a little something back to the community and this is as little as it gets. As I’m writing this I am poolside in sunny Florida sipping a mojito and dictating my new column to our pool boy Alejandro. I’m doing everything in my power to give this sweet boy an odd job or two to help him work his way through pet grooming school and you know what, it’s harder than you think to shape a poodle tail in to a little ball. Poor Alejandro’s always seems come out phallic shaped, I know he will keep working on it until he gets it right. If you need advice on love, life or how to mix that perfect drink don’t hesitate to write me, wilma_fingerdo@comcast.net.

Dear Wilma, I’m a young gay man in Northwest Indiana area and I’m wondering where I can go to meet other single men that doesn’t involve apps or online dating? Signed, Lonely Homo

Dear Homo, Northwest Indiana has a very open and friendly group of gay men that host events, and there’s no need to go alone! Have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t go stag, drag the hag?” Get one of your lady friends and head out to Dark Star on Thursdays for Karaoke, Or you can follow the OUT in NWIN’s Facebook page for our local drag shows that are hosted in Michigan City, Portage and Winfield. Good Luck! XOXO

Hi Wilma! Have you ever had a doctor cup your balls and fondle them? Is this normal? What are they checking for? Thanks, Touched and Confused

Dear Touched, Heavens NO! I’m a lady for fucks sake. I’m no Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, but I believe that this will help to determine if you have a hernia. It’s either that or your doctor thinks you’re cute. XOXO

Dear Wilma, My boyfriends penis is really thick, do you have any tips for me? Sincerely, Ouchy

Dear Ouchy, Have you heard of booze and lube? That’s how I do it. XOXO

Dear Wilma, Valentine’s Day is coming and I was wanting some input, what would you do for a first date on Valentine’s Day? Where would you take your date and how much is appropriate to spend? Thank you, Anonymous Hopeless Romantic

Dear Anonymous, My legs rise according to the dollars spent, and “the sky’s the limit!” Seriously though, I think this is going to depend on the person you’re dating. I’ve spent many Valentine’s Days at home, but we’ve also indulged in $700 dinners in the City. Why don’t you cut to the chase and ask them what they want to do? You could spend as little as $50 for some pizza, a thoughtful card and Netflix, or thousands on a night on the town. I would let your date lead the way. Regardless, I think a nice card and some flowers always do the trick! Good Luck! XOXO

Wilma Fingerdo and Welcome to the Other Side can be seen performing at Shenanigan’s in Portage on February 25th 2017. 

Is Betsy DeVos the Right Choice for the Nations LGBT Students?

Newly confirmed Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

Betsy DeVos was sworn in today as Secretary of Education in a highly contentious confirmation process that split the United States Senate 50/50 down party lines with Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding vote. DeVos, who has zero experience in education or administration and whose family has given millions of dollars to the Republican Party, was called by the editor of the Detroit Free Press, Stephen Henderson, “…a lobbyist-someone who has used her extraordinary wealth to influence the conversation about education reform, and to bend that conversation to her ideological convictions despite the dearth of evidence supporting them.”Fury 2014 movie streaming

The controversy surrounding DeVos does not stop at her lack of experience, but how her leadership of the U. S. Department of Education will affect the thousands of LGBT students across the county. As a religious conservative DeVos’ family has given thousands of dollars in donations to anti-gay organizations such as Focus on the Family, a group that still supports the wildly denounced practice of conversion therapy for gays. A practice that former Indiana governor and now Vice-President of the United States, Mike Pence still supports. DeVos’ father, Edger Price even donated thousand of dollars to help found the anti-gay Family Research Council. Wanting to focus on education and charter schools it has not been reported that DeVos or her husband Richard have made donations to any anti-LGBT religious organizations, just the DeVos family in general. At one time DeVos called on Dave Agema, a Republican from Michigan, to step down from the Republican National Committee because of disparaging comments made about the LGBT community.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign expressed his concerns in a statement saying, “The DeVos family has a long, well-documented history of funding organizations dedicated to undermining and restricting the rights of LGBTQ people.” Stephanie White, the executive director of Equality Michigan, DeVos’ home state, believes that Ms. DeVos’ view on LGBT issues has “evolved,” noting, “she’s shown a capacity to grow in her understanding of LGBT issues.”

Voting to confirm DeVos was Indiana Senator Todd Young (R), who has received approximately $48,000 in campaign contributions from the DeVos family last year. In a statement to NUVO, Indianapolis’ alternative newspaper, Senator Young stated, “I voted for Betsy DeVos because she has devoted her life to the field of education. She has an unwavering belief that parents should be in charge of making choices about their child’s education. I look forward to working with Ms. DeVos following her swearing in as Secretary of Education.”

There is no telling which way the new Secretary of Education will handle sensitive subjects such as transgender bathroom or locker room rights, and with a stroke of her pen she could rescind all of President Obama’s executive orders for transgender students. One thing is for sure, the controversy surrounding Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the other picks President Trump choose for his Cabinet is sure to continue.