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Trans Activist Michael Hughes Discusses Viral #WeJustNeedToPee Campaign With MSNBC's Thomas Roberts: VIDEO


Michael Hughes had been suicidal for years — and even attempted to take his life once — when he accidentally stumbled upon a book that would change his life forever. 

The book was "Body Alchemy," by photographer Loren Cameron, a compilation of images of trans men before and after their transitions. 

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c762a0ff970b-250wi"It was the first time I realized that I could do something about it, and there was a path to take to become the person I knew myself to be," Hughes said. "So within a couple of weeks of that I packed up and moved from Texas to Boston, Massachusetts, and changed my name a week later, and started this crazy journey. 

Hughes, of course, is the 45-year-old Minnesota activist who brought the #WeJustNeedToPee campaign to the US, following the lead of Canada's Brae Carnes. The campaign continues to garner significant attention, and this week Hughes appeared on MSNBC to discuss it with Thomas Roberts. 

Hughes also spoke to The Advocate, explaining that for him personally, the campaign marked a major turning point:  

"It was a bit of a tough decision, I knew I was forever outing myself," but "I knew I could get at some of these conservatives by showing them a tall bearded man in a women's bathroom," Hughes says, taking a break from preparing himself for a Wednesday interview on MSNBC about the selfie campaign. Hughes notes that before the unexpected publicity his photos have garnered, he primarily lived stealth — a term used in the trans community when a trans person is not open about their trans status. 

Hughes said despite the campaign's popularity, he's gotten some negative feedback from within the LGBT community. But Hughes, a father of four, said he wishes more trans people would follow his lead and become more visible: 

"Our youngest had to come out to her friends [about having a trans parent] when this broke," he says. "She's so brave and she was so proud to do it. She brought me cupcakes yesterday because she wanted to celebrate with me!

"It's sad that [legislators] imagine us to be these people that are so removed from normal," Hughes laments. "Yet we're as normal as the family next door."

Watch Hughes' interview with Roberts and check out some of the latest photos from the #WeJustNeedToPee campaign, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Trans Activist Michael Hughes Discusses Viral #WeJustNeedToPee Campaign With MSNBC's Thomas Roberts: VIDEO" »

Bills Targeting Gay Adoption Advance In Florida, Michigan, Become Flavor Of Week In Anti-LGBT Legislation


We've seen the "license to discriminate" bills that would allow businesses to turn away LGBT people based on religious beliefs. We've seen the bills that would prohibit cities from adding LGBT protections. We've seen the bills directly targeting same-sex marriage, such as revoking the salaries of clerks who issue licenses to gay couples — or even doing away with them altogether. And we've seen the bills that would make it a crime for transgender people to use restrooms according to their gender identity. 

Now, proposals targeting gay adoption have advanced in Florida and Michigan, with similar measures introduced in other states, signaling the latest flavor of anti-LGBT legislation in response to the spread of same-sex marriage to 38 states. (The Human Rights Campaign reports that 85 anti-LGBT bills have now been filed in 26 state legislatures, as shown on the map above.)

The Michigan House voted 65-44 on Wednesday to approve measures that would allow adoption agencies that contract with the state to discriminate against gays if it's part of their "sincerely held religious beliefs." The Hufffington Post reports: 

The legislation would protect agencies refusing service over religious beliefs from “adverse action” by the state, including limiting public funding and “discriminating against the child placing agency.”

A series of Democrats spoke in opposition to the bills on the House floor Wednesday, arguing that it is backwards to make it potentially more difficult for LGBT families to adopt while there are several thousand children in Michigan waiting to find parents.

"No matter how well intentioned, these [bills] will produce bad results," said Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo). "They put the best interest of the agency over the child, they are discriminatory ... They violate our state constitution by elevating some religious beliefs above others. ... They allow agencies to pick and choose what children they want to service [without having to be transparent].”

Meanwhile, a Florida House committee approved a similar measure — coincidentally, one week after the full House voted to repeal the state's unconstitutional ban on gay adoption. From The Florida Times-Union

Now, conservative groups are warning that some private agencies would close their doors rather than comply with a state law allowing gays and lesbians to adopt.

“My fear … is that some wonderful organizations who promote some forever families might likely have to shut down because they can’t reconcile their beliefs with the state,” said House Health & Human Services Chairman Jason Brodeur ... 

The “conscience protection” bill would prevent the state from denying funds or licenses to private adoption agencies that refuse to make placements conflicting with the agencies’ written religious beliefs.

Shockingly, one supporter of the Florida bill acknowledged that in addition to licensing discrimination against gays, the bill would allow agencies affiliated with one faith to turn away parents from another: 

“So as a single Jewish woman who was raised Catholic, I need not apply if I want to adopt a child?” asked Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation.

“It probably would not be facilitated through a Catholic organization,” acknowledged Michael Sheedy of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Maybe the "unintended consequences" of these "religious freedom" bills aren't so unintended after all. 

Florida Teenagers Apprehended After Using Hookup App To Rob Gay Man

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According to Miami police authorities, three Allapattah men are suspected of having used a gay hookup app to target a gay man, gain access to his home, and then rob him at gunpoint. Earlier this week Roger Euceda, 18, entered the victim’s home under the pretense of meeting for a date when he pulled a gun on the man and ordered him to lay face down on his bed. Euceda then invited in an unnamed 17-year old accomplice and the two teenagers proceeded to raid the man’s home.

Authorities were alerted when neighbors of the victim overheard commotion next door. Police showed up at the scene just when Euceda and the other robber were rushing with bags to a car where a third accomplice was waiting. A brief chase ensued and both teenagers were apprehended. The driver of the car is still at large.

Mat Staver: Obeying SCOTUS Marriage Equality Ruling Would Be Like Turning A Jew Over To Nazis: VIDEO


The Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver says obeying a nationwide marriage equality ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court would be the equivalent of turning a Jew over to the Nazis. 

Staver made the comments while speaking to a tea party group in Orlando last week, according to Right Wing Watch

"I know from the natural created order that God made male and female, a mom and dad, husbands and wives as the first foundation of family," he said. "And I don't care if it is a 9-0 decision, they can't change that and they won't change that. And if they come out with a decision that is contrary to God's natural created order, I personally will advocate disobedience to it ... and collectively, we cannot accept that as the rule of law.

"You also have to be ready to pay the consequences," Staver continued, "because the civil government wrath is going to be poured out on you. But as a believer, you cannot obey something that is contrary to God's law. And we would easily say, well, what would happen if the government forced you turn over a Jew in Nazi Germany? All of us would say we wouldn't do that, we wouldn't listen to that. Well, we're about ready to walk into the moment."

Interestingly, during the very same speech, Staver touted a Liberty Counsel event featuring an "ex-terrorist" who allegedly threw Jews off buildings.

Also last week, Staver called for a boycott of professional sports teams that back same-sex marriage, which he said is "the most serious assault on our family, faith and freedom that we've faced in American history.”

And referring to Supreme Court justices, Staver told OneNewsNow

"I'm warning them," he says, "and I think the rest of the country is willing to come together and warn them, that they need to come back in line with their constitutional duty, and that is to interpret the law, not create brand new law and be our social engineers."

By "the rest of the country," Staver must mean the 33 percent of Americans who still oppose same-sex marriage.  

Watch the clip of Staver vowing to defy a SCOTUS marriage equality ruling, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Mat Staver: Obeying SCOTUS Marriage Equality Ruling Would Be Like Turning A Jew Over To Nazis: VIDEO" »

#WeJustNeedToPee Trans Activist Speaks Out, Says Going To Bathroom In High School Was 'Nightmare': VIDEO


Michael Hughes, the Minnesota transgender activist behind the #WeJustNeedToPee campaign, says he endured intense bullying in high school and just going to the bathroom was a nightmare.

As we reported earlier this week, Hughes is the bearded, tattooed transman from Rochester, Minnesota, who followed the lead of a Canadian activist and began taking selfies in women's restrooms. The campaign is designed to highlight the stupidity of legislation in Minnesota, Florida and Texas that would bar transgender adults and students from using restrooms in accordance with their gender identity. 

In an interview with Rochester's KTTC-TV, Hughes explained how he does it: 

Hughes"So I come in, go right to the mirror with a female friend behind me, and we quick get the selfie, and get back out before anybody comes in and gets startled by my presence in the women's restroom,” Hughes said, pointing his cell phone at the mirror of the women's restroom at the People's Food Co-op. ... 

"I'm hoping that even the most conservative lawmakers and voters will be able to look at them, take a step back," said Hughes.

Although the Minnesota bill, which deals with schools, wouldn't affect Hughes, he said the campaign is ultimately about trans youth: 

"Those youth, those 16, 17-year-old people just coming to terms with who they are. It's going to hurt them. It's going to be tremendous,” said Hughes.

Hughes worries the bill could make things more awkward with an already vulnerable group.

"Just going to the bathroom in high school was a nightmare for me," Hughes said, thinking back to his own experiences. "I would get nauseous just at the thought of having to go."

Hughes told The Rochester Post-Bulletin that like many transgender youth, he once tried to take his own life:  

"That's the most vulnerable part of our community. That's pretty scary for me," he said.

When Hughes was in high school, Hughes said he endured intense bullying because of his gender identity. He became suicidal at age 16 and attempted to end his life at 19. He said he wants to gather a group of transgender individuals and supporters and travel to St. Paul to urge lawmakers to reject these proposals.

Watch KTTC-TV's report and check out some of the latest tweets from the #WeJustNeedToPee campaign, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "#WeJustNeedToPee Trans Activist Speaks Out, Says Going To Bathroom In High School Was 'Nightmare': VIDEO" »

5 Things You Can't Miss In Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Gay beach flickr.com-Ed and Eddie https---www.flickr.com-photos-edandeddie-16221387101

This weekly travel column is brought to you by ManAboutWorld, an immersive digital premium gay travel magazine from Billy KolberEd SalvatoKenny Porpora, and nearly 75 Global Correspondents.

While many gay meccas are becoming more mainstream (j'accuse Castro, South Beach and Chelsea!), Fort Lauderdale is actually becoming gayer. This is thanks in part to a growing base of out gay men in their 40s and older — many of whom migrated from these former gay capitals — who keep local businesses vibrant, including Ft. Lauderdale's huge assortment of gay restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs and sexually focused venues. Now is a great time to visit the Venice of America with its beautiful canals crisscrossing the city. Or wait till May for Beach Bear Weekend (May 6-11). Or, plan on staying a night or two before or after an upcoming cruise. We probably all know the city has a great gay beach (St. Sebastian) and the fabulous, untouched Hugh Taylor Birch Park, a protected reserve that harkens back to ye olde Ft. Lauderdale. So, here we present our top five things you may not expect and must not miss.

1. Rosie’s: Ok, so you'd totally expect this boozy bar-food joint but it is so gay, no visit to FLL is complete without stopping here. The indoor-outdoor hot spot offers a menu full of quirkily named burgers you shouldn’t be eating and drinks you definitely should be drinking. The food is pretty ordinary despite the high-falutin' menu nomenclature, but this Wilton Manor institution is always packed with gays of all ages and denominations.

2. Day pass at the Grand: If you're not staying at a gay hotel, a day pass at one of Ft. Lauderdale’s gay resorts is a great way to sample the gay guesthouse experience and enjoy a relaxing time in the city (and maybe meet a fellow traveler for fun!) Our first choice is an Editors’ Choice award winner, whose convivial atmosphere is conducive to meeting fellow travelers. The Grand has a day-pass for their small but excellent spa. There’s also a pool area that’s not clothing optional but the large spa is, allowing guests to choose just how naughty they feel like being. There’s a pretty good fitness facility with actual free weights.  

World Aids Museum image3. Bill's Filling Station: Come Friday night, you should be swilling drinks at Bill’s where bears sing karaoke and the Happy Hour specials are kicking. And lets not forget the Friday night GROWL party! This is a down-to-Earth bar where  anyone can have a great time, though, admittedly, it’s mostly leather clad daddy bears letting loose to some great music.

4. Market 17: Fort Lauderdale doesn’t have a distinctive local cuisine or big foodie scene, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat well. Market 17 serves the most sophisticated food in town, a farm to table experience, fresh, healthy, and delicious; open dinner only.

5. World AIDS Museum: A quick drive to Wilton Manors and you’ll find this museum that opened this past December
inside a nondescript Wilton Manors strip mall. The first museum of its kind, the space chronicles the fascinating, eye-opening, and often heart-wrenching history of HIV/AIDS through a timeline exhibit starting in 1908 (not 1980 — 1908!), art, interactive multimedia and memorabilia. The docent-led or self-guided tours offer a window into the history, hope and devastation of this highly politicized disease and the 39 million lives it has taken. 

You can find loads more information on gay-ascendant Ft. Lauderdale in ManAboutWorld, whose current issue gathers the top recommendations for a short stay, combining attractions that are unique to Fort Lauderdale with top hotel, nightlife and dining recommendations. ManAboutWorld offers opinionated travel information and inspiration in over 100 destinations around the world: Get ManAboutWorld Magazine on iTunes (iOS) or Google Play (Android). You may also find information at the tourism authority's gay microsite Sunny.org/LGBT. 

Image credits: Top: Ed and Eddie; right: Billy Kolberbottom: Ryan Blanding

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