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Patti Lupone And Sting Headline 'Uprising Of Love' Benefit Concert For Global Equality, In NYC On September 15th

UprisingOfLoveOn September 15th, producers Stephen Schwartz and Bruce Cohen will partner with the United Nations Foundation for "Uprising of Love: A Benefit Concert for Global Equality." The concert, headlined by Broadway diva Patti Lupone and international superstar Sting, falls strategically around the UN General Assembly and Clinton Gobal Initiative and aims to raise awareness about the unfortunate state of affairs for many LGBTI-identified communities around the world. Proceeds from the event will go to Fueling the Frontlines, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice's 3-year, $20 million global LGBTI rights campaign.

The concert's website has more information:

At this unique moment in history, when we are seeing such rapid progress in the fight for equality in the West, we cannot be blind to appalling crimes against humanity elsewhere. Today in Russia, Uganda, Nigeria, and elsewhere, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people are facing harassment, abuse, and violence. In some countries, recent laws have deemed homosexuality punishable by death and the situation appears to be getting worse, not better.

THE MISSION:

1. To raise awareness among the international community of violence, discrimination, and atrocities committed against LGBTI people.

2. To support LGBTI people and communities in areas where safety and dignity is compromised through funds and solidarity.

3. To support and collaborate with LGBTI and human rights organizations concerned with these issues.

The concert will be scripted by Academy Award-winner Dustin Lance Black (of Milk and Tom Daley fame) and directed by Schele Williams (Motown the Musical). Among the members of the benefit's host committee are Julianne Moore, Lance Bass, Calpernia Addams, Chris Colfer, and Melissa Etheridge.

To learn more and buy tickets, check out the website.

We hope to see you at the Gershwin Theater on September 15th!


Portland Apple Customer Finds Homophobic Slur On Receipt, Calls For Social Competency Training

AppleSlurAdam Catanzarite went into a Portland, Oregon Apple store for a pair of headphones, and left with what could be considered a homophobic slur. A few days after his purchase, Catanzarite took a closer look at his receipt only to find "f@g.com" written where his email (which he declined to give to the employee) should have been.

Catanzarite, an HIV prevention specialist at Cascade AIDS Project and a self-identified queer individual, took action, calling the store, speaking with the manager, and eventually being promised a refund; as of yesterday, he had not received it.

PQ Monthly reports:

In a post to Facebook, Catanzarite explained his immediate response and why he felt this was unacceptable:

“The store manager did not do what he said he would to rectify the situation… being queer and having worked with queer youth, I know first-hand that this is an example of the type of #homophobic beliefs and actions that lead young people to harm themselves. This type of action is NOT OKAY, especially from a company that prides itself on being LGBTQ inclusive and welcoming.”

Rather than fire the employee who entered the offending phrase, Catanzarite believes that there should be more cultural competency training for Apple employees on the whole. The Oregonian reports:

Catanzarite followed the initial Facebook post with another on Wednesday morning, describing the encounter in greater detail. In that post, he said:

“The employee who entered f@g.com should not be fired (take a minute to let that settle in if you need to), but should be given an opportunity to learn about the impact of the use of the word fag and how these words impact the individuals who have been oppressed by them.”

Catanzarite said he hasn’t heard from Apple regarding how or why the slur appeared on his receipt but in this case, he said, the employee’s intent doesn’t matter.

“All I can really focus on is how it impacted me and how we can move forward to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

Several updates from PQ Monthly indicate that the incident really could have been accidental on the part of the employee, particularly regarding the quick input of emails (when not given to the employee) and the proximity of "f" and "g" on the keyboard. The unnamed contact--an employee at the same Apple store location--also said that they believe the employee in question is homosexual and that they have heard him use the word "fag" "in a casual, callous, or even joking manner.”

Misunderstanding or not, it is undoubtedly important to recognize the sensitivity around use of inappropriate or offensive language. Apple has yet to respond to the situation, beyond recognition of its occurrence. 


Brian Brown Claims That NOM's Pathetic Boycott Has Impacted Starbucks' Business: LISTEN

Two years ago, the National Organization for Marriage began a protest of Starbucks after the massive coffee vendor supported a pro-marriage equality referendum on the Washington ballot.

BrianBrownNow, NOM president Brian Brown claims that that boycott has made an impact on the international community's tolerance for the chain. As Good as You pointed out, however, Starbucks currently operates 21,000 stores in 65 countries with little standing in its way for further expansion; not too shabby. 

The transcript from Brown's silly attempt at relevance reads:

"You know, the media will try and say that the boycotts have minimal to no effect, but the reality is that companies like Starbucks are trying to expand around the world, and as Americans stand up and say this is wrong and they highlight that companies like Starbucks are supporting same-sex marriage, the mask comes up...Because of the Starbucks boycott for example, many countries have looked at Starbucks and the individuals that would be allowing Starbucks into the country have said, 'No, no, no,' because Starbucks does support the redefinition of marriage."

Brown then went on to get to his real point, perhaps realizing that the previous one was inane:

"Most importantly though, how can we view it as moral to be giving our dollars to a company that directly is attacking our faith? I understand again that you cannot do this to every company, but the ones that are actually attacking the faith, you have to take a stand at some point, and Target is doing that, Starbucks is doing that, and Chase is doing that."

Ah, yes. The faith, as if there were only one, and supporting same-sex marriage is in direct opposition to it--an age old struggle for Brown and NOM. Sorry, folks, but Starbucks is not feeling any worse for wear.

Listen in, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Brian Brown Claims That NOM's Pathetic Boycott Has Impacted Starbucks' Business: LISTEN" »


Fredia Hurdle, Plaintiff In Pennsylvania Marriage Equality Case, Dies At 50 Having Never Married Her Partner

Lynn&FrediaFredia Hurdle (on the left) fought a long, tough battle to achieve marriage equality in Pennsylvania, the state she and partner Lynn Hurdle called home. Nearly three months ago they won, and Pennsylvania was yet another domino of inequality struck down by the courts. However, in a tragic turn, Fredia passed away last week after suffering a stroke, never having married her partner of 24 years. She was only fifty years old. 

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports:

Maybe they could get officially married in July, Lynn Hurdle thought, to mark the fifth anniversary of their original wedding ceremony. But her daughter planned to marry in October, and Fredia Hurdle said they should wait until after her wedding. It was her year, her “moment in the sun,” she told the woman she had long considered her wife.

“It's legal. We have time,” she said.

Fredia Hurdle had long been a bus driver, first for Greyhound Lines (where she met Lynn, one of her many passengers, in 1990) and later for the Pittsburgh newspaper. She and Lynn raised children together, including Lynn’s daughter Ashley Wise and several of Fredia’s nieces and nephews. They were, in short, a caring, loving couple whose story resonated with Pennsylvanians and other Americans alike.

“I was looking for the next 25 or 50 years together,” Lynn Hurdle said. “It's been shell shock.”

Though their commitment to one another was never officially recognized by the state of Pennsylvania, Lynn and Fredia were married in a July 2009 ceremony, and one would be hard pressed to deny their deep-seeded affection. Still, it is a tragic occurrence and one which will surely not go unnoticed in the fight for marriage equality nationwide.

Our thoughts are with Lynn, the children the couple raised, and the rest of Fredia’s family. 

Photo via ACLU.


Former Ex-Gay Leader Tim Rymel Releases ‘Going Gay,’ Memoir About His Life-Long Struggles With Homosexuality, Religion

TimRymelAs the former Outreach Director for ex-gay group Love in Action, Tim Rymel was convinced that the years he had spent praying for a heterosexual life had come to a fruitful end. He married a woman, had two children, and appeared on national talk shows assuring gays and lesbians that they too could change. After a bad divorce, though, Rymel went on an arduous journey to come to terms with his homosexuality. Now he has released a book, Going Gay: My Journey from Evangelical Christian Minister to Self-acceptance, Love, Life, and Meaning, telling his story from start to finish. 

From the press release:

Going Gay not only recounts Rymel’s journey but provides a starting point for dialogue about LGBT inclusion in the church.

“I want the conservative church to see the painful reality that many of their own believers go through to come to terms with their inborn homosexuality,” Rymel said. “I wrote the book ‘as one of their own’ to create dialogue and cause them to rethink what they believe and what the Bible says about homosexuality.”

...

Going Gay is a heartbreaking, thought-provoking account of one man’s journey to accept and understand himself,” said Justin Lee, founder and Executive Director of Gay Christian Network. “In a culture where faith and sexuality seem often to be at war, the stories of those caught in the crossfire are critically important. Readers may not agree with all of Rymel’s views, but this is a story worth telling and a story worth understanding.”

A Q&A with Rymel reveals a self-loving, accepting human being. “Being LGBT does not send you to hell,” he says, and “God loves you exactly the way you are.” These are certainly words to live by for many struggling LGBT folks around the country.

Congrats to Rymel for not only persevering through numerous difficult years, but for sharing an important story. His book is available in paperback, hardcover, and as an e-book.


Members Of Ugandan Parliament Sign Petition To Swiftly Reinstate Anti-Homosexuality Act

Members of the Ugandan parliament held a press conference yesterday to announce their plan to bypass rules of procedure in order to vote on and reinstate the anti-homosexuality act (struck down by the Ugandan constitutional court last Friday). Led by Latif Sebagala, the group of MPs stated that they were collecting signatures (pictured below, in a tweet from Parliament Watch) in order to build support and petition for a reconsideration of the law.

Petition1Sebagala seems to believe that House speaker Rebecca Kadaga should be able to suspend the rules of procedure, which would otherwise necessitate starting the legislative process over from the beginning. The court's decision last week was predicated on parliament's breaking of Ugandan law, though, so it is unclear just how viable an option Sebagala's plan would be. Supporters of the bill are conflicted about his risky strategy but are still adamant about the anti-homosexuality stance.

Buzzfeed reports:

A group of MPs led by Latif Sebagala said the petition for a re-vote had already collected 100 signatures from MPs. He said that by Friday he believed he would have signatures from a majority of parliament...

In a phone interview, the bill’s original sponsor, MP David Bahati, would not directly answer several questions about how soon he wanted to see the bill brought to the floor and whether it should be passed under rules of procedure...

“Any bill will pass through the procedure, and by the rules of procedure we will follow them and we will pass it,” Bahati said, adding, “We can suspend any of the rules if we think it is important.”

“Whether it’s tomorrow or a week or a month, we will take whatever time is required to make sure that the future of our children is protected, the family is protected, and the sovereignty nation of the protected,” Bahati said. “The issues of technicalities is not a big deal to anybody. But the big deal … is that homosexuality is not a human right here in Uganda.”

Whether or not the bill can be passed quickly, Ugandan officials risk increased tensions and financial restrictions with the United States and other global organizations. Still, the vehemence of Sebagala and the other MP's is disturbing: not only did they share news of the petition at the press conference, they also reportedly broke into song:

Petition2


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