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Meet 'The Check It', America's Only Documented All-Gay Gang: VIDEO

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Filmmakers Toby Oppenheimer and Dana Flor spent the last three years documenting America's only all-gay or trans gang, a group of approximately 200 African-American teens in Washington D.C. called 'The Check It', according to a crowdfunding appeal for their new film.

WarrenThe film follows three bullied teens and tells the story about how they started the gang, VICE reports:

The group formed to provide members safety in numbers and let people know that if you jumped a gay kid in DC, you'd likely get jumped back in retaliation. ... Unlike other gangs, the Check It aren't tied to a specific geographic location. They hang out at each others' houses, mostly, as well as a local Denny's and the Chinatown and Gallery Place Metro stations. And they didn't have to do much to spread their name. A local go-go band called ReAction wrote a song about the gang and name-checked individual members. That meant people like [Trayvon] Warren (pictured) had a certain amount of notoriety, which allowed him to go to pretty much any neighborhood in DC without people giving him much trouble for being, as he and his friends put it, "faggie."

Write the filmmakers:

At first glance, The Check It, our documentary subjects, seem to be unlikely gang–bangers.  Some of the boys wear lipstick and mascara, some stilettos. They carry Louis Vuitton bags, but they also carry knives, brass knuckles and mace.  As vulnerable gay and transgender youth, they’ve been shot, stabbed and raped.

Once victims, they’ve now turned the tables, beating people into comas and stabbing enemies with ice picks. Started in 2005 by a group of bullied 9th graders, today these 14–22 year old gang members all have rap sheets riddled with assault, armed robbery and drug dealing charges.

Led by an ex-convict named “Mo," The Check It members are NOW creating their own clothing label, putting on fashion shows and working stints as runway models. But breaking the cycle of poverty and violence they’ve grown up in is a daunting task. So when The Check It are not taking small steps forward on the catwalk, they too often take massive steps backwards. CHECK IT captures the struggles and setbacks, but also the progress and triumphs of these kids.

The doc is produced by RadicalMedia and actor Steve Buscemi.

Watch their trailer, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Hundreds Rally in D.C. to Demand Action in the Wake of Trans Teen Leelah Alcorn's Suicide: VIDEO

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Some 200-300 people rallied on the streets of Washington D.C. Saturday to honor Leelah Alcorn, the transgender Ohio teenager who committed suicide late December following months of abuse from her Christian parents. 

News2Share reports:

Alcorn2Protesters gathered at the “Justice for Leelah Alcorn Rally and March” to hear speakers and show support for the late Alcorn who took her own life, because she felt she received little support from her community.

One of the rally’s organizers, Jes Grobman, is also an organizer for DC Trans Power which focuses on empowering and supporting change within trans communities.

The protest marched from Mt. Vernon Square to the Department of Justice to read a list of demands.

Lourdes Ashley Hunter, the National Director for Trans Women of Color Collective, spoke of acceptance, justice and change.

“Oppression manifests in every aspect of our lives, but the way structural oppression  is set up will have you to believe that we need to be fixed. And I’m here to tell you, we don’t need to be fixed there is nothing wrong with us. What is wrong is society’s depraved existence, willful ignorance, complicity, and inactive engagement which refuse trans people humanity and right to life.“

The list of demands:

*We demand a national ban on conversion therapy. This is not a form of “therapy,” it is abuse and needs to be stopped.

*We demand that transgender denial be treated as child abuse. In order to protect children from abusive homes that may lead them to take their own lives, transgender denial in parents must be addressed with restorative justice.

*We demand easier access to medical treatments for transitioning. It should be cheap, covered by insurance, and be accessible to minors. Transgender people have the right to control their bodies and we demand that the state recognize that.

*We demand statements from Leelah’s church and religious leadership in general condemning conversion therapy. 

Watch a news report on the rally and Hunter's full speech, AFTER THE JUMP...

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NCLR Hosting #BornPerfect Twitter Town Hall On Conversion Therapy

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Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 4.44.43 PMThe National Center for Lesbian Rights said it's hosting a Twitter town hall today at 6:30 p.m. ET to discuss the dangers of conversion therapy, the efforts to stop these practices once and for all and what the community can do in a release issued to the public. The town hall comes days after the tragic death of Leelah Alcorn, who took her life after facing years of rejection and enduring the harmful effects of conversion therapy. Twitters users can submit their questions using the hashtag #BornPerfect.

Town hall panelists include NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, conversion therapy survivor and marriage and family therapist James Guay, Rev. Dr. Justin Tanis of the the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and co-author of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, NCLR Staff Attorney and #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator Samantha Ames and Maris Ehlers-sister of Kirk Murphy who took his life at the age of 38 in 2003 after undergoing conversion therapy as a child.

NCLR launched the #BornPerfect campaign in June 2014, an initiative geared toward eliminating the practice of so-called “ex-gay” or “reparative” therapy through increased public awareness and the passage of laws across the country to protect LGBT kids from the serious harm caused by these practices. Recently NCLR helped pass legislation in California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia to ban the dangerous practice of conversion therapy. In November 2014, members of the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) questioned U.S. Department of State representatives asking why the use of conversion therapy is still considered a valid practice despite reputable medical organizations condemning the practice.


D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray Signs into Law Bill Protecting LGBT Youth from Conversion Therapy

GrayWashington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray today signed into law a bill protecting LGBT youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy.

D.C. is now the third jurisdiction to ban the harmful practice following California and New Jersey. 

NCLR reacts via statement:

“This law ensures that mental health practitioners can no longer abuse their power to harm young people and families by propagating the dangerous lie that there is something wrong with being LGBT or that therapy can change their core sexual orientation or gender identity,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Staff Attorney and #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator Samantha Ames. “By signing this bill into law, Mayor Gray has taken an important step to protect the health and safety of LGBT youth and to prevent unscrupulous therapists from preying on vulnerable families.” 

The National Center for Lesbian Rights has been a leader in the movement to protect youth and their families from these dangerous practices and helped pass legislation in California and New Jersey. Earlier this year, NCLR launched its #BornPerfect campaign to end conversion therapy across the country over the next five years by passing laws, fighting in courtrooms, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by attempts to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

FRC hate leader Tony Perkins attempted to derail passage of the bill earlier this month by claiming it would open "a frightening chapter in the liberal recruiting of LGBTs".

 


FRC Radio Host Craig James Isn't Sure About Executing Gays, But He's All For Dying To Deny Them Equal Rights

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Craig James, a former TV football analyst, is fond of saying he was fired by Fox Sports merely because of his views against same-sex marriage. 

But it's beginning to seem more likely that Fox Sports let James go because he's a total wingnut with a variety of extremist anti-gay views, which he only began to publicly articulate in 2012 during a failed campaign for US Senate in Texas.  

Those views have come much more into focus during James' current tenure as a radio host for the Family Research Council, an anti-gay hate group. 

The most recent example was Friday, when James spoke with a caller to FRC's "Washington Watch" program.  

Right Wing Watch reports: 

“I want to say something very horrific, a solution, and I think it’s the right solution,” said the caller, who said his name was Phillip. “We pray for the homosexuals, we’ve prayed for our enemies but at the same time when they try to force us to go against God, I think that’s where they cross the line and we should pass laws to execute them when they have judges to go against our businesses.”

And here's James' response: 

"Thank you Phillip. You know what, that part there, I don’t know about the executing, but I do know that we have to be bold and firm and much stronger. God doesn’t tell us and calls us that we have to be timid and to stand for our straight — our beliefs. I’m doing a course right now in seminary and it’s the history of the early church and it’s fascinating, there’s been lots and lots and lots of men and women who have died for their Christian beliefs since the beginning and now we are in a time in this country and in this world where we must be bold and stand for God and His truths." 

In other words, James isn't sure about executing gay people, but he's all for dying to stop them from getting equal rights.

Is there a difference? 

It sounds like James, a one-time NFL running back, would probably do whatever it takes to win — but I suspect the outcome of this struggle will be similar to that of his Senate campaign, when he ended up with 4 percent of the vote.  

Listen to the audio, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "FRC Radio Host Craig James Isn't Sure About Executing Gays, But He's All For Dying To Deny Them Equal Rights" »


'Orange Is The New Black' Stars Join Thousands Rallying in NYC Against Police Violence

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The ladies of Orange is the New Black were spotted alongside thousands of protesters on the streets of New York City yesterday for the #MillionMarchNYC demonstration protesting police violence and the grand jury decisions surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. 

Vicky Jeudy, who plays Janae Watson on the acclaimed Netflix series, posted the above photo on Twitter. She was joined by Jackie Cruz (Marisol Gonzales), Kimiko Glenn (Soso), Lea DeLaria (Big Boo), Danielle Brooks (Taystee), and Emma Myles (Leanne Taylor). 

In a separate rally in DC yesterday, the Rev. Al Sharpton led thousands of demonstrators down Pennsylvania Ave demanding better oversight of policing. 

More photos and video from the rallies, AFTER THE JUMP...

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