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Gay Soccer Player Comes Out to West Virginia High School by Dancing with Homecoming King

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Michael Martin, an all-state soccer goalie for Musselman High School in rural West Virginia, came out of the closet to his classmates at their homecoming dance by dancing with another guy — his boyfriend Jem — who also happened to be the Homecoming King from another school. Two weeks earlier they had done the same thing at Jem's school.

Martin writes about it at Outsports:

My homecoming dance at Musselman -- two weeks after the dance at Jem's school -- was the big moment I revealed being gay to my school. Jem was the date of girl at Musselman and her outside guest for the dance, while I went "alone." The girl knew Jem and I were together. I was on the homecoming court, which was a big honor and something I never thought would happen. Only some people knew about me before the homecoming, so it was a shocker for some seeing me dance with another guy.

Jem and I danced all night to the most popular pop songs. But it was the slow dance that I most remember that night at the school cafeteria -- "Remember When" by Alan Jackson. It was the best night ever. Jem and I got asked a lot if we were together and we said yes. "That is so cute!" some girls said. It made us felt accepted.

Word quickly spread and the following week I sensed that some guys were looking at me differently. My friends even told me people were talking about me in a negative way in different classes. "He is a faggot now," I was told some people said. My friends courageously stood up for me and I am so proud to call them my friends.

Martin also writes about coming out to his best friend, life in rural West Virginia, the general atmosphere at his school for LGBT students, and how his soccer team reacted when he told them.

Teammates were curious and I got a lot of questions. I also got teased by my teammates closest to me making jokes or saying sexual things, but I know they were just kidding. Actually, their joking told me they were OK with things. I also knew that even if someone did say something negative that a lot of my teammates would have my back. Recently I was named captain for the Musselman swim team. They all know about my sexuality and gratefully are accepting.

Martin says he was inspired by L.A. Galaxy star Robbie Rogers ("He gave me hope and confidence to be true to myself. Once he came out I started to contemplate doing the same myself and being proud of who I am."). He graduates this spring.


New Trailer For Inter-Connected Trilogy Series Cucumber, Banana And Tofu Debuts: VIDEO

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Russell T. Davies, the creator of the UK series Queer as Folk, is coming back to TV with his new series Cucumber, Banana and Tofu; an interconnected trilogy series about love, sex and relationships spread across three different television channels. The trilogy premieres in January on Channel 4 (Cucumber), E4 (Banana) and 4oD (Tofu). Cucumber is also airing in the states on LOGO next year. The trailer is slightly work-unfriendly with light nudity; watch the trailer, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "New Trailer For Inter-Connected Trilogy Series Cucumber, Banana And Tofu Debuts: VIDEO" »


Homeless Shelter For LGBT Youth To Open In San Antonio: VIDEO

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Growing up in a small town in the Texas Panhandle, Sandra Whitley says she knew she was gay from the age of 13 — in 1975.

“I thought I was the only person in the world that had these feelings,” Whitley writes. “As much as I tried to keep it a secret, it was not long until my classmates, the town, and my parents knew. The parents of my classmates would not let their children associate with a homosexual. I no longer had friends. I was the talk of the town and my parents were not pleased. The school board tried to expel me from school. I was very lost and had no one to talk to.”

Whitley (below right) said she considered running away but ended up in a mental hospital.

“As horrible as that place was and as angry as I was when I got out (and for years to come), I did not end up on the streets,” Whitley writes. “As my life continued, I was always in trouble for being gay.  My relationship with my parents suffered for 20 years. I often said my only crime has been being gay.”

Whitley moved away from Texas for two decades before returning to San Antonio, where she’s owned a business for the last 20 years.

Now, Whitley plans to open a homeless shelter in San Antonio exclusively for LGBT youth, one of the few of its kind in the nation. Whitley will serve as executive director of the Thrive Youth Center, and initially, is underwriting many of the shelter’s expenses.

“I want these kids to know there is hope and they are not alone,” Whitley writes. “They can lead happy and productive lives. We are here to help them discover their dreams and fulfill them!”

WhitleyThe Thrive Youth Center was initially scheduled to open at Travis Park United Methodist Church downtown in November, but the opening has been delayed until at least January due to a zoning problem, KENS-TV reports.  

Whitley told Towleroad the city notified her the day the shelter was scheduled to open — after a report appeared in the LGBT publication Out In SA — that the site needed to be rezoned. The application to rezone the site will be heard by the city's Zoning Commission next week. Whitley said even if the rezoning application is rejected, she'll find another site. 

"I might have to jump throughout five hoops instead of two, but it's going to happen," she said. 

Whitley said she thinks opposition to the shelter is based on the fact that the city is trying to keep homeless people out of dowtown, rather than anti-LGBT sentiment. 

About 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT, according to a 2012 study by UCLA’s Williams Institute. Of those, 46 percent said they ran away because of family rejection, while another 43 percent said they were forced out by their parents. According to Thrive Youth’s website, the rate in San Antonio is even higher, with as many as 50 percent of homeless youth in the Alamo City identifying as LGBT.

Whitley and the shelter’s assistant director, Joshua Lee Yurcheshen, said they visited The Ali Forney Center in New York City and the Los Angeles LGBT Community Center — two of the only other shelters exclusively for homeless LGBT youth. 

Initially, Thrive will provide emergency shelter for up to eight youth, two nights a week, and offer breakfast packs and bus passes. But Thrive’s founders say the shelter will eventually be open every night in addition to offering a daytime Drop in Center and a Transitional Housing Program.

“This is the first critical step for our organization,” they wrote on Thrive’s website. “As we gain strength and momentum, we will attain our goal of being able to provide a safe haven every night of the week for homeless and at-risk youth. It is the first step in breaking the cycle of homelessness.”

For more info on the Thrive Youth Center, or to donate or volunteer, visit the website.

Watch a report from WOAI-TV, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Homeless Shelter For LGBT Youth To Open In San Antonio: VIDEO" »


Anti-Gay and 'Ex-Gay' Activists Challenge New Jersey's Ban On Conversion Therapy For Minors - VIDEO

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Anti-gay and “ex-gay” activists have filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court requesting a review of New Jersey’s ban on “conversion therapy” for minors, reports Gay Star News.

In September, a panel for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the ban is not a violation of free speech rights, stating “there is no credible evidence that [“ex-gay”] counseling is effective."

NarthLawyers for the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) and the American Association of Christian Counselors filed the petition on December 3rd, which reads:

“The circuit courts of appeal are split as to whether a law restricting what counselors or health-care providers may say and what clients or patients may hear in the privacy of the counselor-client or doctor-patient relationship is speech protected by the First Amendment.”

StaverMat Staver with the Liberty Council, who in the past argued that the U.S. needs a third political party to stop gay marriage just like with slavery,  has also filed a petition with SCOTUS asking the high court to review the Third Circuit's ruling. 

Washington, D.C. recently outlawed the use of “ex-gay” therapy for minors. California became the first state to issue such a ban in 2012.

Seen as a blow to a practice condemned by the American Psychological Association, in November the former director of Love In Action and Exodus International board member John Smid, married his same-sex partner.

Watch NARTH survivor Allen Rosenthal discuss his experiences of "ex-gay" therapy, AFTER THE JUMP...

Read the Liberty Council petition below, via Equality Case Files

Continue reading "Anti-Gay and 'Ex-Gay' Activists Challenge New Jersey's Ban On Conversion Therapy For Minors - VIDEO" »


Lambda Legal Targets Anti-Gay 'No Promo Homo' Laws In 8 States, Calls Them Unconstitutional

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Amid the controversy over Russia's anti-gay law earlier this year, it was widely reported that at least eight US states have laws on the books that are similar, though perhaps less far-reaching. 

Donteraseus_v6Now, Lambda Legal has launched a campaign targeting those laws, which the LGBT civil rights group says violate the guarantee of equal protection in the US Constitution. 

The laws, often referred to as "no promo homo" laws, restrict or prohibit the discussion of LGBT issues in the classroom, according to Lambda Legal's #DontEraseUs campaign:  

These laws are harmful and stigmatizing to LGBT students. For example, Alabama and Texas specifically mandate that, in curriculum related to sexual health education, students must be taught that being gay “is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public.” Meanwhile, Arizona prohibits instruction that “portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style” in certain curriculum. Other states with anti-LGBT curriculum laws include Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Utah.

Lambda Legal says many of the "no promo homo" laws were passed in the late 1980s and early 1990s as part of legislation related to sexual health education and HIV/AIDS. However, while they may apply only to health education, they are often misinterpreted by teachers and administrators — and could even be used to prohibit instruction about Harvey Milk in a history class or Walt Whitman in a poetry class. 

What's more, the laws actually are likely to increase the spread of sexually transmitted diseases by promoting stigma that leads to risk-taking. For example, Arizona's law prohibits instruction that “some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.”

And by creating a climate of discrimination, the laws contribute to the bullying of LGBT youth, who are already at a greater risk for suicide:  

LGBT students in states with these laws report hearing more homophobic remarks from school staff and are less likely to report incidents of harassment to school staff, according to GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey.

The obvious difference between a group like GLSEN taking on the "no promo homo" laws and Lambda Legal doing so is that the latter has a team of attorneys to back it up. The #DontEraseUs campaign doesn't explicitly threaten litigation, but Lambda Legal clearly states that it believes the laws constitute unlawful discrimination by the government:  

By comparison, imagine if there were laws that barred classroom discussion of people of a particular ethnic descent in a positive light, or required schools to teach students that having a particular religious background is “not acceptable to the general public.” These laws would treat students in those groups differently and violate their constitutional rights to equal protection.

Unfortunately, litigation may be the only way to halt implementation of the laws in many of the states, where there is little or no hope for legislative repeal in the near future.  

Lambda Legal is asking people, especially students, to join the #DontEraseMe campaign by speaking out against the laws and helping the group better understand how they're being applied. To join, go here. For frequently asked questions about the laws, go here. And for the full text of each of the eight laws, go here.   


Minnesota Newspapers Publish Misleading, Transphobic Ads From Anti-LGBT Hate Group

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Minnesota's largest daily newspaper is doubling down on its decision to publish misleading, fear-mongering, transphobic ads opposing a policy that would allow high school students to participate in athletics according to their gender identity.

But The Star-Tribune of Minneapolis isn't alone. Also publishing the latest ad from the anti-LGBT Minnesota Child Protection League on Sunday were The St. Cloud Times and The Duluth News Tribune, according to Media Matters

The ad states:

"THE END OF GIRLS' SPORTS? Her dreams of a scholarship shattered, your 14-year-old daughter just lost her position on an all-girl team to a male ... and now she may have to shower with him. Are you willing to let that happen?"

The ad calls on people to contact Minnesota State High School League board members, who are set to consider the policy Thursday. 

Back in September, LGBT advocates slammed The Star Tribune for publishing a similar ad from the Minnesota Child Protection League opposing the policy, which was originally set to be voted on in October: 

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According to the LGBT Sports Coalition, 15 states have adopted policies similar to the one proposed in Minnesota, with no reported problems related to trans athletic participation:  

"By running the ad again, the Star Tribune has once again contributed to a negative stereotype at the same time as it has potentially put trans youth in danger by fostering a demonstrably untrue accusation. Editorial decisions matter. Research has shown that LGBT teens and young adults are at greater risk for depression and bullying, and that bullying is a contributing factor in many suicides. By accepting and publishing this kind of advertisement, the Star Tribune has empowered the untrue expectation that one minority group -- transgender children, no less -- are a threat to their classmates.

"Worse yet, the Star Tribune already knew that the content of the ad was deliberately misinformative about trans youth while advocating discrimination, because editors at the Star Tribune have already discussed the first ad (run by the same local hate group in September) with local and national LGBT organizations after they ran the first ad in September. The Star Tribune already knew that the content of the new ad also misrepresented trans lives and endangered trans youth -- and elected to run it again anyway."

The Star Tribune is also taking heat on Twitter, including from NBC Sports writer Aaron Gleeman: 

Representatives from The Star Tribune, which editorialized in favor of the trans-inclusive policy in October, haven't commented on the latest ad. In September, the newspaper's vice president of marketing and public relations told Minneapolis City Pages: "The ad in question met all the requirements of our ad policy. Not much I can tell you about it beyond that."

But it appears that for many, that explanation isn't cutting it. While the advertising director of The Duluth News Tribune told Media Matters it's a question of free speech, some are calling on subscribers to make their own statement: 


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