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LGBT Groups Demand Full Inclusion in NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade

Parade

(image via twitter nowthisnews)

Mixed reactions are coming in from LGBT organizations in response to yesterday's news that New York City's St. Patrick's Day parade would be allowing an openly gay organization to participate "under its own banner" for the first time next year - with many groups saying that while the decision is a step in the right direction, it does not go far enough. 

Said Empire State Pride Agenda's Executive Director Nathan M. Schaefer:

“The news that the organizers of the St. Patrick's Day Parade will allow one LGBT group – OUT at NBC Universal – to march under its own banner for the first time strikes us as disappointing and self-serving. While this development is long overdue, inviting one group to march at the exclusion of all others and continuing to refer to our vibrant community as “gay” when it is in fact lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, is a far stretch from the full inclusion we deserve.

Irish queersStatement from LGBT group Irish Queers:

This is a deal that was made behind closed doors between parade organizers and one of their last remaining sponsors, NBC. It allows NBC's gay employees to march, but embarrassingly has not ended the exclusion of Irish LGBT groups. The parade organizers have said, astoundingly, that we "can apply" in years to come.
 
To the extent that parade organizers have changed their tune, it's the result of Irish Queers' many years of organizing, which led to last year's refusal to march by Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and others, and Mayor de Blasio, the withdrawal of major corporate sponsors and escalating criticism of uniformed city workers marching in the Parade.
 
We welcome this small victory, but our call remains the same -- the parade must be open to Irish LGBT groups, not "in subsequent years" but now. (We remember too well how parade organizers used fake waiting lists to bury our applications before.)
 
via GLAAD:
 
“It’s about time,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Discrimination has no place on America’s streets, least of all on Fifth Avenue. As an Irish-Catholic American, I look forward to a fully inclusive St. Patrick’s Day Parade that I can share with my wife and children, just as my own parents shared with me. Until then, parade organizers must be held accountable to ending this ban once and for all.”​ 
 
According to The Associated Press, the parade's committee is claiming that the NBC group's application to participate in next year's parade was the only one from a gay group received.
 
The AP adds:

De Blasio said Wednesday that the inclusion of OUT@NBCUniversal was "a step forward," but he would not commit to next year's parade until he knows more.

Guinness' parent company said, "We are pleased to see that the various parties are making progress on this issue." It said it was open to talking with the organizers about supporting the 2015 parade.


As College Enrollment Dwindles, Schools Aim To Attract Growing LGBT Student Population

CampusPride

University enrollment is slowly dwindling--perhaps because of exorbitant costs and student loans--but a 2013 study from the Pew Research Center shows that twenty, smack dab in the middle of college, is the average age at which LGBT persons are coming out in America. Many schools are perking up their ears, then, and realizing that as attitudes change about sexual orientation in the United States, LGBT students who feel comfortable expressing themselves will need more support and resources available to them than ever before.

Time reports:

“It’s a competitive advantage,” says Genny Beemyn, director of the Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, one of the nation’s first on-campus support centers for LGBT students. “If you want to attract the best and brightest students, you don’t want competitors to get a leg up.”

A growing number of campuses are launching programs to attract and hold onto LGBT students, including college fairs aimed at LGBT applicants, LGBT student-support offices, special graduation ceremonies, and housing and healthcare for transgender students. Colleges and universities are also putting more resources into LGBT student centers, including by hiring full-time employees to direct them.


With Campus Pride and The Princeton Review tracking the level of LGBT-accessibility and friendliness at campuses around the country, it is easier than ever for students to pick and choose the schools they apply to based on criteria specific to sexual orientation. Over 400 schools have taken Campus Pride's index survey, says executive director Shane Windmeyer.

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c6d8d5ca970b-200wi“Campuses today want to be called gay friendly,” Windmeyer says. “They see they’re going to lose students if they’re not, [and] realize the pool of non-LGBT students is dwindling.”

Josh Bergeleen (right), a gay recent graduate of Emory University who found more support from his school's LGBT resources than from his family in Texas, agrees that schools will realize the tide is changing soon enough.

“As there is more awareness of LGBT [people] in the larger community,” he says, “more and more kids are going to want to know what resources and information are available. Schools will catch up.” 

(Photo of Bergeleen via Time.)


Bahamas Gay Pride Event Canceled Following Death Threats

Bahamas pride 2014

The first gay pride event in the Bahamas has been cut short after one of the event’s organizers received death threats on his Facebook page, reports the Nassau Guardian

The Bahamas Pride Weekend, which started last Thursday and was set to run until Monday, was “designed to inspire, educate and celebrate the diverse Bahamian LGBT community.”

However, organizer Victor Rollins said he received the threats after he posted pictures of attendees holding pride flags along with Bahamian flags.

Rollins also said that only 11 people other than the event organizers showed, all of whom were foreigners.

He also indicated that local talk shows were particularly vocal in their opposition to the event. Many claimed that God would judge the Bahamas for allowing a gay pride event to take place.

According to The Bahama Journal, Dr. Myles Munroe, President of The Bahamas Faith Ministries International, said the fact that the LGBT community were officially given permission to host the event was “nothing more than a ‘celebration of insanity.’”

In a press statement, Munroe said gay people are blind to the fact that they are contributing to extinction of the human race:

“I am not sure what their mission or goals are in this effort but obvious they have received enough incentive and motivation to attempt something that 90 per cent of The Bahamas and Bahamians consider unacceptable and violates their collective convictions, moral standing and values.

“Perhaps it may be helpful to first ask a simple yet profound question; “Is it civil, right, reasonable, logical, sane to promote a cause, lifestyle or practice of a behavior that could in its ultimate conclusion cause the extinction of the human race. It is insanity to demand the ‘celebration’ of your own extinction.”

Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal in the Bahamas.


Lansing, Michigan Celebrates 25th Pride Anniversary: VIDEO

Lansing Pride

The first Lansing, Michigan Pride Rally was held in 1989, picking up the momentum of gay pride that was spreading around the nation. Now, a quarter of a century later, gays in Lansing are celebrating the anniversary of that first rally, swelling to a crowd of thousands from the few hundred that first started it. And in a first for the rally, Democrat Mark Schauer became the first gubernatorial candidate to speak at Michigan Pride. Vendors and performers kept the event lively, while speeches and commitment ceremonies marked the importance of the event and how far gay rights have come.

Here's to another 25 years, Lansing.

You can watch Schauer's speech, and take a trip down memory lane with a short local news segment on that first rally in '89, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Lansing, Michigan Celebrates 25th Pride Anniversary: VIDEO" »


Lithuanian Broadcasters Cite 'Family Values' Law in Refusal to Air Pro-LGBT Television Ad: VIDEO

Lithuania

An advertisement produced by LGBT rights organization LGL and featuring gay, lesbian, and allied couples will not be aired on Lithuanian television according to broadcasters. The ad depicts several couples living their day-to-day existence, seemingly happy; at the end, though, statistics paint a different picture of the LGBT experience in Lithuania. "61% LGBT persons in Lithuania feel discriminated against," it states, and still citizens are barred from viewing the video. The broadcasters, for their part, claim there is good reason behind the refusal to air LGL's ad.

Human Rights Campaign reports:

LithuaniaWhile the video itself does not contain anything provocative, commercial broadcasters fear that it may be in violation of the Law on the Protection of Minors Against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information. This law forbids information “which expresses contempt for family values, encourages the concept of entry into a marriage and creation of a family other than stipulated in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania.”

In an interview with Delfi, television representatives said the video raised some red flags because it spoke about various family models that differ from what is traditionally accepted. The video will now be reviewed by the Inspector of Journalist Ethics, though that could be a lengthy process.

The legislation in question sounds eerily similar to Russia's own anti-gay propaganda laws; we can only hope that the advertisement passes its review and that Lithuanians of all ages can see the positive message is represents. The likeliehood of approval is slim, however. Just last year an ad for Baltic Pride depicting a man whose shirt said, "For Family Diversity," was slapped with a mature rating and aired only after 11pm. 

Check out the sweet ad, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Lithuanian Broadcasters Cite 'Family Values' Law in Refusal to Air Pro-LGBT Television Ad: VIDEO" »


Charlotte Pride Festival Draws Thousands

Pride

Thousands of people marched and celebrated in uptown Charlotte over the weekend for the city's gay pride festival, Charlotte Observer reports:

The parade drew corporate sponsors, City Council members, allies and members of the gay community. Parade goers supported the parade participants with rainbow-colored dogs, pink boas and signs like “God Adores You.”

The festival, which ran Saturday and Sunday, was expected to draw more than 80,000 people, event organizers said, though Charlotte Mecklenburg police Capt. Mike Campagna declined to provide a crowd estimate. [...]

Several churches made appearances in the parade, with signs like “God Loves Everyone” from St. John Baptist Church, “God Invites. We Welcome. All.” from Caldwell Presbyterian Church and “Discrimination is a Sin” from Wedgewood Church.

There were few protesters out on Sunday. A half-dozen people stood along Tryon Street, holding signs like “God Hates Pride” and “Pornography/Pathway to Hell’s Fire.”

The AP adds that one of the honored guests at the parade was Crystal Moore, the Latta, SC police chief who was fired earlier this year by the town's homophobic mayor. Moore was subsequently reinstated by a public vote. 

[photo via Facebook/Wayne White Music Photography]


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