Budweiser has traditionally thrown parties for the Winter Olympics. This year is not the case as the King of Beers has decided not to do so at the 2014 Olympics, stating that they are "not comfortable" with the situation in Russia and are thus not sending any U.S.-based reps to the Games.
What is "the situation"? Sadly, it's not the LGBT rights abuses from the government.
Instead, "the situation" consists of the terrorist threats that are being aimed at the games due to their location near the Caucasus Mountains and that the Games are taking place on the 150th anniversary of the horrific ethnic cleansing by the Russians of the Circassians who lived there. Given that tourists and foreigners would have to take trains from airports hundreds of miles away to travel into Sochi, and that the train lines have already been the victims of multiple successful terrorist attacks, the concern of Budweiser is entirely sensible.
Blake Brockington, a 17-year-old transgender student at Charlotte, North Carolina's East Mecklenburg High School has been nominated for homecoming king. Brockington, who had a difficult childhood and coming out experience, hopes to win in order to set an example for other transgender youth. His nomination comes after a tumultuous fall in which Cassidy Campbell won homecoming queen at her California school (only to find herself intensely bullied) and Casey Karon was denied the option at his Pennsylvania school.
Be that as it may, Brockington has a chance to make a huge difference in the lives of others.
“I honestly feel like this is something I have to do,” says Brockington, noting few other transgender male students have had the opportunity...
Brockington says winning will mean the most for several younger transgender students he mentors, including a nine-year-old boy.
“He really looks up to me. That’s my heart,” Brockington says of his mentee. “He has support now and he will be able to avoid just about everything I’m going through and I don’t want him to ever have to be scared. I feel like if I do this, that’s one red flag for everybody to say, ‘Nobody should be scared to be themselves and everybody should have an equal opportunity to have an enjoyable high school experience.’”
Brockington faced a great deal of difficulty when he came out as transgender during his sophomore year at East Mecklenburg. His step-mother supported him, while his dad did not, and various peers, teachers, and guidance counselors were none-too-helpful either. After having good experiences coming out to several friends and attending a local Queer Youth Prom at the Time Out Youth Center, though, Brockington gained confidence.
“After that, I was like, ‘I don’t have to do this anymore — I don’t have to hide anymore or not be myself,’” he says. “I came to school my junior year and said, ‘Hey, I’m Blake.’”
He now lives in foster care, a more supportive environment, and will head off to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte to study math, music, and education in the fall. And though his positive intentions are reason enough to encourage Brockington's homecoming win, the crown will eventually go to the student who raises the most money for Mothering Across Continents, a non-profit building schools in South Sudan.
...even if he doesn’t win, he’ll still be among a dozen guys on the school’s homecoming court, though Brockington is aiming for top spot.
“We’re hoping for king,” he says.
Head over to QNotes for more information about the fundraising effort and donations. We'll be rooting for you at Towleroad, Blake!
Photo via Qnotes.
St. John's, the capital of the Newfoundland and Labrador province in Canada, is leading the way in an effort to show support for LGBT Russians and athletes during the Sochi Olympics beginning on Friday. At the behest of Josh Eddy, the publisher of LGBT publication The Outpost, St. John's mayor Dennis O'Keefe and the town council unanimously voted to fly a rainbow pride flag over the city hall. Now Eddy's efforts are catching fire in other towns around the province.
CBC News reports:
"Flying the rainbow flag during the Olympics is really a sign of support for people in other countries, in this case in particular in Russia, the people who have been denied their liberties as individuals, and people who are being persecuted because of their sexual orientation," O'Keefe said.
"This is something we're very proud to be a part of, because it reinforces our position that all people in society have a right to realize their potential."
The flag is being raised this Friday, February 7th, the day of the Olympics' opening ceremonies. Smaller flags are also being sold at local store the Travel Bug (above image) for fifty-percent off when customers assure owner Peg Norman that they will display them throughout the games.
"The Olympics hold themselves up as this model of perfection, but at the same time they're quite willing, obviously, to stomp on basic human rights of the gay and lesbian community around the world, and they seriously need to look at their role," [Norman] said.
"It's unfortunate for the athletes that have worked so hard to get to this level, but you also can't ignore the fact that there are basic human rights that we are talking about."
According to Eddy, town councils in Gander, Corner Brook, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Mount Pearl have also shown interest in flying rainbow flags. Eddy, overwhelmed by the support, also wanted to assure people that the protest has little to do with the Olympics themselves, but rather the spotlight placed on Russia and its anti-gay propaganda laws. His is not a message of opposition, but of solidarity.
"It's not against Olympics. It's not against Russians. It's something in support of people who are going through struggles that we went through for years."
Photo via CBC News.
Since we know you've been enjoying looking at everyone's 10-year 'Look Back' videos on Facebook, why don't we have a look at Vladimir Putin's.
No doubt there are some memorable moments in store.
Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...
Cyprus, the Mediterranean island south of Turkey and west of Lebanon, has a burgeoning gay community ready to show its stripes. Thankfully, the country will hold its first ever gay pride parade on May 31st in conjunction with a 15-day pride festival. The festival will include other events, such as a film festival, art shows, discussions series, and even an anti-bullying campaign aimed at Cyprus youth. It is an exciting development for a country fervently awaiting the passage of a Civil Partnership Act this April.
Cyprus Mail reports:
“A short step before the impending legalisation of civil unions and the criminalisation of homophobic rhetoric, we believe that the time is ripe for an elusive dream of ours materialise – the organising of the first Cyprus Gay Pride Festival, which will embody the will of LGBTI – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex – people to be heard and be accepted as equals, not to be discriminated against or have their human rights diminished by others because of their own personal beliefs and religious affiliations,” said the press release.
The head of the LGBTI community (Costas Gavrielides of ACCEPT LGBTI Cyprus) said he hoped that the government would make good on its promise and deliver the bill to the House by April, as it was promised by Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos.
The ministry put a temporary stop to the plan in November 2013, when Hasikos said that it should be rewritten because it violated internal ministry procedures. The minister explained then that this was merely a procedural issue and the bill would be delivered as promised to the LGBTI community.
“I am very glad we reached the point where we can organise a pride festival without fear. Acceptance is the key,” said Gavrielides.
U.S., Belgian, and Swedish ambassadors will reportedly be in attendance for the festival and parade, which will take place in Nicosia under supervision of mayor Constantinos Yiorkadjis. Festival officials have also invited members of the LGBTI community in Northern Cyprus, a republic of Turkey which decriminalized sodomy this January.
Google's Doodle has gone rainbow in an apparent response to the Sochi Games and Russia's law banning 'gay propaganda'.
A quote from the Olympic Charter sits below the doodle: "The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play."
Clicking on the doodle takes you to a search for the Olympic Charter.