Greetings and Happy LGBT Month!
The 2nd Annual OUT on the Hill Black LGBT Leadership Summit was a phenomenal week of discussion, strategizing and organizing to build a safer, more inclusive Black LGBT America. Some of the country’s most notable leaders converged upon DC to lend their expertise to the movement, and we are thankful for their time and passion. We will be sending a wrap-up report for all our members and supporters later this month.
Check out: NBJC Key Federal Priorities and Initiatives
On a cultural note, we want to give a personal endorsement of the upcoming critically-acclaimed, coming-out story PARIAH. We hosted an exclusive screening on Sunday, September 25, as a closing event for “OUT on the Hill.” The packed theater praised the movie and participated in a stimulating Q&A, which featured the director Dee Rees and producer Nekisa Cooper and was moderated by actor/director Maurice Jamal. Our community needs to get ready to show our support for the official release of PARIAH, coming to a theater near you in Washington, DC and other major cities beginning in January 2012 – Facebook: PARIAH.
Today we bring you important news that you may have missed. In this issue of the E-Digest, BET.com covers NBJC’s statement about the repeal of DADT; the Democratic National Committee Elects its first transgender member, TheAdvocate.com covers "Injustice at Every Turn: Black Respondents in National Transgender Discrimination Survey," and President Obama speaks at HRC’s and the CBCF's ALC annual gala.
Black Lesbians United Retreat
Oct. 7-9, 2011
The BLU retreat is an opportunity for women of African Descent to celebrate, build community, and share good times with women who love women. In the last two years, over 300 women descended upon our 120 acre private wooded retreat in the hills of Malibu to make magic. With registration you will receive your BLU ALL-ACCESS PASS, which provides access to ALL retreat activities, events and workshops, including:
The Opening Ceremony, live performances, workshops and games, Afrikan dance and drumming lessons, BLU Flag Football Game and BBQ, wealth building, Black Lesbian Film Fest, Club BLU Give-Aways, and More!
Get Your Copy Today: Ebony Magazine Publishes Same-Sex Marriage Debate
The October 2011 issue of Ebony magazine features a dialogue on same-sex marriage, including an editorial placed by NBJC. Authored by Rev. Dr. Dennis Wiley, Pastor of Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ, and one of the key players in securing marriage equality for Washington DC, the opening from the landmark editorial reads:
“Black churches have been so poisoned by homophobia and heterosexism that some may think it blasphemous that an African American, heterosexual, male, Christian pastor would support same-sex marriage. I do so not because I believe it is safe, politically correct, or popular, but because I believe it is right. It is theologically right because we are all created equal in the image of God. It is historically right because those of us who have been the victims of oppression ought to be the last ones to oppress anyone else. It is morally right because all of God’s children should be able to live the truth rather than be forced to perpetrate a lie. And it is legally right because same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights, responsibilities, and protections under the law as heterosexual couples.”
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy Officially Ends
Gay service members may now openly state their sexual orientation after the repeal of a 1993 law allowing gays to serve only so long as they kept their sexual orientation private took effect Tuesday. The repeal, signed by President Obama, puts an end to an 18-year policy that came into effect during the Clinton administration. Military officials announced that all necessary preparations were made in advance of the repeal and that the military is ready to step into a new era.
Black LGBT leaders meet for six-day confab
– Washington Blade
About 100 black LGBT leaders and activists from across the country were participating this week in a series of meetings and events in D.C. associated with the National Black Justice Coalition’s Second Annual Out on the Hill Black LGBT Leadership Summit.
Study: Black Trans People Suffer Extreme Prejudice
– The Advocate
African-American transgender people may suffer the most discrimination of all LGBT groups, at least according to a recently released supplement to a February report documenting shocking levels of prejudice.
Obama tells gay activists he is committed to equality
President Barack Obama, speaking to a gathering of gay and lesbian activists, said Saturday that he is committed to equality, citing the repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy as an example. Obama said his accomplishments on gay rights issues have been substantial since he last headlined the annual National Dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, in 2009.
Obama Asks Black Caucus to March With Him
President Obama told the Congressional Black Caucus Saturday evening that he understands their frustration with high black unemployment, but that he needs them not to lose hope. “Stop complaining. Stop grumbling. Stop crying. We are going to press on. We’ve got work to do,” he said. The president urged black Americans — a key Democratic constituency — to keep their faith in him even though the economy remains sluggish.
Rep. Marcus Brandon Interview on the NC Gay Marriage Amendment Bill
– NC Now | UNC-TV
Rep. Marcus Brandon interviews w/ NC Now Sr. Correspondent Kelly McCullen regarding Marriage Amendment legislation to authorize a constitutional referendum in May 2012.
4 Questions With Aisha Moodie-Mills
For Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, adviser for LGBT policy and racial justice at the Center for American Progress think tank, her example of successful social change was close to home.
As the president and key strategist for the marriage equality campaign in Washington, D.C. — which last year became the fifth jurisdiction/state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage — Moodie-Mills, 33, was integral to the movement's victory. The Root spoke with her about why African Americans were key to its success, the end of "Don't ask, don't tell" and what it's like when your wedding photos are featured in Essence magazine — and set off a political firestorm.
Reversing the Alarming HIV Increase Among Black Gay Men, Part 1
The first of a two-part series examining what can be done to reverse the high rates of new HIV infection among Black gay and bisexual men by Rod McCullom. Government researchers described the soaring seroconversions among young Black MSM as "alarming." "The data is not surprising because we've been talking about young Black gay and bisexual men for some time," says A. Cornelius Baker, a member of the Presidential Advisory Council HIV/AIDS (PACHA), the senior communications consultant at AED Center on AIDS & Community Health and board chair of the Black AIDS Institute. "Now we have an opportunity to make some progress with bold and comprehensive strategies."
On base, 'don't ask, don't tell' demise is cause for celebration
As the highest-ranking member of the U.S. military to come out as gay, retired Rear Adm. Alan S. Steinman had much to celebrate when the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” became official. To mark the occasion, Steinman invited friends to join him for a party at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Seattle one of just a handful of such observances held on military bases on September 20th to mark the expiration of the military’s policy banning gays from serving openly.
DADT dead but ban on transgender service remains
– Windy City Media
The repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ( DADT ) may be a win for gay and lesbian service members, but for some in the LGBT community, the celebration is bittersweet. Despite the repeal, transgender people will not be allowed to serve openly. That is because military medical rules deem transgender people unfit to serve. "This is a non-event for the trans community," said June LaTrobe, a U.S. Air Force veteran who lives in Chicago. " [ The repeal ] is great. It's wonderful… but there is no direct benefit to individuals who are comfortable identifying as transgender."
Ex-Sergeant, Outed as Lesbian, Wants to Re-Enlist
A female sergeant who was discharged from the Air Force last year after South Dakota police reported her marriage to a woman wants to re-enlist now that the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in uniform has been lifted. Jene Newsome said Wednesday that she's happy the ban has been lifted and that she's eager to restart her military career. But she also feels as though the sense of jubilation she would have felt by serving in the military when the ban was lifted was stolen from her.
Meeting with Senator Hagan on ENDA
– HRC Backstory
Last week, a group of six North Carolinians sat down with Senator Kay Hagan at her Greensboro office to discuss the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). This meeting came on the heels of the legislature’s decision to put an anti-marriage equality amendment on the 2012 ballot. Participants thanked the Senator for co-sponsoring bills like the Student Non-Discrimination Act, and for her votes to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Illinois transgender woman awarded in employment suit
– Windy City Media
In what could be the first employment discrimination judgment made in favor of a transgender person under the Illinois Human Rights Act, a transgender woman has been awarded $104,711 in a complaint against her former employer.
Medical Schools Teaching Little About Gay Health
A survey of medical school deans suggests future doctors aren't learning much about the unique health needs of gays and lesbians. According to the deans, their schools devoted on average five hours in the entire curriculum to teaching content related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients. More than a quarter of the medical school deans said their school's coverage of 16 related topics was "poor" or "very poor." The topics included sex change surgery, mental health issues and HIV/AIDS.
Illinois: Black Gay Men's Caucus Responds to Rise in AIDS Cases in Young Men
On Aug. 11, 75 health professionals, city officials, and civic representatives gathered at the Gary Comer Youth Center on Chicago's south side to discuss ways to reduce HIV/AIDS among young black men who have sex with men (MSM). Entitled "Conversations: A Discussion on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the Impact for Black Gay/Bisexual Men in Chicago," the event was hosted by the Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus (CBGMC).
Harassment of Black Gay and Bisexual Men Tied to Anxiety
Discrimination, harassment and shame experienced by black gay and bisexual men can contribute to depression and anxiety, a new study says. Anxiety was reported by 33 percent of the men, and depression by 30 percent. Those rates are higher than in the general population, the study authors noted.
DNC Exec Committee Elects First Trans Member
The Democratic National Committee has upped its diversity quotient with the election of Babs Casbar Siperstein as the first openly transgender member of its executive committee.
Siperstein, of Edison, N.J., was named to the committee over the weekend at the DNC's fall meeting in Chicago, reports the blog Blue Jersey.
Can Perry Duplicate Bush and Win Over Black Evangelicals?
“Even more interesting are the signs that Perry will not be shy about reaching out to black evangelicals. He chose to launch his campaign informally at a giant Call to Prayer Rally last August in Houston. The event drew thousands, including a large number of black evangelicals. At the Texas confab, noted Washington D.C. mega-church pastor Harry R. Jackson Jr. was present.”
Backstage: ‘Sweet Tea’ is one man’s stories of being black and gay in the South
E. Patrick Johnson has someone he’d like you to meet. Several someones, actually: a dozen African American gay men born and raised below the Mason-Dixon line. In Johnson’s one-man show, “Sweet Tea,” based on his book of the same name, Johnson will portray each of these men, and himself.
Prop 8 Play On Broadway Makes Its Debut
– Huffington Post
A play based on last year's federal court fight over California's gay marriage ban made its Broadway debut on Monday night with an all-star cast, only hours after a federal judge decided to unseal the trial's video recordings. Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black's play "8" was born, in part, by frustration that Proposition 8 backers had succeeded in getting the U.S. Supreme Court to bar broadcast of the landmark case. The play was performed as a one-night-only reading at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre starring Morgan Freeman, Ellen Barkin, Anthony Edwards, Bradley Whitford, John Lithgow, Cheyenne Jackson, Campbell Brown, Christine Lahti, Rob Reiner and Larry Kramer, among others. The mood was festive and no mention was made of the latest judge's decision on stage.
Secretly Gay-Affirming Pastors: You Are Not Alone
– Huffington Post
I received a letter from an Irish pastor who felt conflicted about how to honor a teenage girl who had recently come out. In my reply to her I shared how later that very day I had an appointment with the pastor of a thriving, medium-sized church who had asked to see me because he has come to doubt the correctness of the traditional Christian view of homosexuality. He did not feel free to share those doubts with his congregation; he knew there would be an uproar if he did. So he was seeing me about this matter on (as it were) the down-low.
Six Women Who Make a Difference: Bishop Makalani-MaHee
– South Florida Gay News
Bishop Makalani-MaHee is a minister and an artist. Known as “Bish” her venue varies it can be a pulpit or a stage, but her message is always the same — empowerment. The concept of acceptance comes from her unusual background and pedigree. Bish was born in New York City and lived there until she was 18. She’s black. And she’s gay.
D.C. Police Struggle with More Transgender Bias Crimes
The Sept. 10th weekend proved to be another violent weekend for the transgender community as the Metropolitan Police Department struggles to assess its reaction to bias crimes. Police officials suspect a transgender women found unconscious at 11th and Fairmont Streets, NW early Saturday morning and later died at Howard University Hospital may have been a victim of homicide. An autopsy is pending before a final determination of death and the woman's identity. According to the Washington Blade, the department's Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit alerted transgender activists to the situation and to help in the investigation.
All Kids Deserve to Reach for the Stars — and Dance With Them, Too
– Huffington Post
Over the years, I have worked with so many children who, often from ages much earlier than 7, did not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. These children are not merely boys who play with Barbies or girls who play with trucks; they insist on dressing a certain way and being referred to with the pronouns of the gender they see themselves as, which is opposite the one others think they are. They are not "acting out" or mentally ill. They are simply children who are telling us who they really are.