Welcome to back to YUNGMIGA’s Friday Queer Catch-Up, a weekly post where folks can catch up recent LGBTQ+ news and pop culture.
NEWS ROUND UP
Photo credit: The Grosby Group
Walter Mercado, a flamboyant astrologer and TV star popular across Latin America, dies at 88
Television astrologer and gay icon Walter Mercado has died at 88. Mercado was best known throughout Latin American countries for his dramatic daily horoscopes on broadcast networks such as Univision. He wore extravagant capes, over-the-top gemstone rings and other elaborate and ornate clothing and jewelry. While Mercado never disclosed his sexual orientation publicly, his TV presence was beloved by people, especially LGBTQ+ people.
Spelman College, a historical black women's college in Atlanta, Georgia, receives $2 million for the first ever Audre Lorde Queer Studies program. The grio reported: “Spelman College has received a $2 million dollar gift from philanthropist Jon Stryker, to establish its first chair position for a Queer Studies program. The program was named in honor of legendary queer Black poet, activist, and feminist, Audre Lorde. ‘Spelman College has long been at the forefront of LGBTQ inclusion and education among HBCUs,” Stryker said in a statement. “By supporting this chair, the goal is to engage and empower the next generation of LGBTQ advocates to create a better world.’”
Three trans women shared their stories at the Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association’s Transgender Education Panel at the Oak Park Library. The Chicago Tribune’s Judith Ruiz-Branch reported: “Panelists Ann Lewis, Odette Bishop and Jill Rose Quinn each shared how they struggled with their identities for decades before coming out as transgender women. Each of them voiced their regret over the years they lived not being “themselves." They said they hoped their stories would help to encourage transgender people and their families with the transitioning process.”
The Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) under the Trump Administration has reversed nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people within federally funded health programs. Pink News reported: “In a rule change announced on Friday (November 1), health programmes receiving grants from HSS will no longer have to abide by nondiscrimination guidelines protecting LGBT+ people. The Trump administration changed the rule in the name of “religious freedom.”
The announcement from HHS said: “The proposed rule represents the Trump Administration’s strong commitment to the rule of law―the Constitution, federal statutes, and Supreme Court decisions. These require that the federal government not infringe on religious freedom in its operation of HHS grant programs.”
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, the rule change will impact “all discretionary and non-discretionary grants across the Department.”
A Kentucky Supreme court unanimously rules in favor of a print shop owner from Lexington, Kentucky, who refused to print messages on products that “violated his deeply hard religious beliefs.” This case isn’t by any means new or recent. It dates back to 2012 after the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO) filed a complaint against Blaine Adamson, the print short owner, with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission. The complaint alleged that Adamson denied a request from GLSO to print shirts for the Lexington Gay Pride Festival.
Virginia’s Human Rights Commission canceled their Halloween meeting that was supposed to discuss one of their commissioner’s homophobic and transphobic posts on Facebook. According to news reports, the public was upset that the meeting was being held during prime trick-or-treat hours, which led the commission’s decision to postpone their meeting until a later time. Brother LaKendrick Coburn El, the commissioner in question, wrote that trans people “suffer from mental illness” and said homosexuality is an “abomination.” He was supposed to resign at the meeting on Halloween; however, Coburn El told the Virginian-Pilot that he will not resign from his position until he receives a chance to address the Virginia Rights Commission in person at their next meeting. The commission’s next regular scheduled meeting is Nov. 14 at 4 p.m.
The Virginian-Pilot reported: “El said his posts accurately describe his religious beliefs, and he does not regret sharing his personal views online. El is a grand sheik divine minister with the Moorish Science Temple of America.”
Photo credit: Google Earth Roncalli High School in Indianapolis
Another Catholic school employee in Indiana is fired; making her the third employee terminated from the Indianapolis high school in the “LGBTQ+ scandal.” Kelley Fisher, a heterosexual woman, alleges she was fired from her job as a social worker at Roncalli High School in Indianopolis, Indiana, because she made public comments on Facebook in support of her two lesbian guidance counselors who were fired from Roncalli High School.
"If you publicly support, you know, (being) against discrimination ... you too, can be a victim of losing your job," Kelley Fisher told IndyStar. The archdiocese previously released a statement which states that the Supreme Court "has repeatedly recognized that religious schools have a constitutional right to hire leaders who support the schools' religious mission."
St. Louis jury determines that police denied an officer a promotion because he’s gay. The St. Louis Day reported that jurors said the police sergeant should get almost $20 million in discrimination suit against St. Louis County police.
"Gateway_Arch" by liimus is licensed under CC BY 2.0
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) announced that the state will train voter poll workers how to interact with transgender and non-binary voters. “Elections officials have a duty to facilitate the participation of all eligible voters. By partnering with Equality California we can benefit from their expertise and experience to better train poll workers and ensure a welcoming voting environment for LGBTQ citizens. California is proud to be proactive in protecting the voting rights of LGBTQ voters and fostering an inclusive democracy,” Padilla said in a press release.
Photo credit: Diversidad Sin Fronteras
Democratic Senators, Kamala Harris and Richard Blumenthal, are demanding a special counsel investigation from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for Roxsana Hernández's death. The two senators are asking the DOJ to look into whether immigration authorities committed a crime by not keeping the surveillance footage of Hernández.
Two organizations composed of people who claim they were formerly LGBTQ+ identified are lobbying in Washington, D.C., this week against proposed LGBTQ rights bills. The groups are claiming that despite academic research and hate crimes data from the federal government that discrimination against LGBTQ+ people does not exist.
The Cut’s Madeleine Aggeler wrote a guide to the “Incredibly Complicated Katie Hill Scandal,” referring to Californian Representative Katie Hill’s resignation amidst the House Ethics Committee investigation into an alleged relationship with a staffer and legislative director from her campaign committee. Hill suggested that the criticism she’s received was due to a double standard. Now, she’s being subjected to porn revenge and blackmail. “I know that as long as I am in Congress, we’ll live fearful of what might come next and how much it will hurt,” Hill wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.
El Salvadoran trans woman’s future is uncertain as an asylum seeker in Phoenix, Arizona. “From experience, Britany knew what to expect if her asylum claim was rejected. She imagined a Boeing 737 was waiting just a few miles from the New Mexico immigration court, just like the one she’d boarded two years ago,” the Phoenix New Times reported.
Bishop of Iceland, Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir, apologized to gay and lesbian people on behalf of the National Church of Iceland on a RÚV’s Kastljós programm. Sigurðardóttir said that in years, the church caused LGBTQ+ people pain, disruption and other difficulties in their lives.
A Canadian gay couple is receiving fierce backlash after they dressed up in a racist "Halloween costume."
The two dressed as a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer and a negative stereotype of a Mexican.
People are dragging the couple on social media and some say it's shining light on the racism within the LGBTQ+ community.
Twitter user, @theycallm3slay, said: "They decided to post this with their whole ass chest. I have to ask... White gays what is your fucking problem!?"
Other users are equally outraged.
Tennessee Republican County Commissioner, Warren Hurst, said that a 'queer' running for president is as 'ugly' as it gets. Hurst’s homophobic comments about Pete Buttigieg and comments that white men in American “have very few rights” has people outraged.
An instagram post from 31-year-old Kelvin Hunter is going viral. His post talks about him being a loud and proud bisexual black man. “I’m really just a guy, who just happens to be bi,” Hunter wrote. “For years I struggled with finding myself apart from labels, whether good or bad, from straight and queer people.”
“Many bisexuals present one way to society due to their current partner, appearing straight or queer. However attraction is not limited to the gender of their partner. Honestly, people don’t know what you do behind closed doors,” Hunter’s post said.
Photo credit: Georgia House of Representatives
Georgia State Rep. Ginny Ehrhart (R), proposed legislation that would charge medical professionals in Georgia with a felony for performing procedures designed to help minors with gender affirming surgeries such as mastectomies, vasectomies, “castration and other forms of genital mutilization.”
Danica Roem, first trans lawmaker, was re-elected in Virginia. "Danica Roem has once again made history, becoming the longest-serving and first openly transgender elected official to be re-elected in our nation's history," Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David said in a statement (via The Daily Beast). "Throughout her tenure in the House of Delegates, Roem has remained focused on the needs of her constituents, despite hateful and divisive attacks from anti-LGBTQ groups and her opponents."
Photo credit: Palana Belken for Rochester Council
Palana Belken is the first openly transgender person to be elected to a city council in the New Hampshire. The 30-year-old defeated Sandra Keans, the incumbent city council person and democratic state representative, by 42 votes, according to the Rochester, New Hampshire’s official vote return.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: LGBTQ+ ARTS, LIFE AND CULTURE
Washington Nationals pitcher, Sean Doolittle, has declined Donald Trump’s White House invitation standing in solidarity with his wife's lesbian moms, according to the Washington Post.
“There’s a lot of things, policies that I disagree with, but at the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country. My wife and I stand for inclusion and acceptance, and we’ve done work with refugees, people that come from, you know, the ‘shithole countries,' ” Doolittle said to the Post. He was referring to Trump’s 2018 comments about Haiti, El Salvador and African nations.
“At the end of the day, as much as I wanted to be there with my teammates and share that experience with my teammates, I can’t do it,” Doolittle continued. “I just can’t do it.”
UK Stage Actors' Union, Equity, is calling for casting directors to cast trans performers to play non-trans characters.
The union released a press release last week, which stated:
"There is currently a lack of representation of the LGBT+ community in the arts in general, and of the trans community in particular. This guide seeks to empower the industry to begin to redress the balance so we can build on enjoying greater diversity and representation on our screens, stages and audio platforms. The launch event took place at the National Theatre on 28 October, with an invited audience of casting professionals.Equity LGBT+ Committee member Tigger Blaize said, “We are really excited about launching our guide. It's designed to be a toolkit of ideas, encouraging industry professionals to feel confident in approaching performers who identify as LGBT+, if they were previously unsure.”"
Drag legend Muffy is subject of new documentary “Reel Affirmations screened “Queen of the Capital” at Gala Hispanic Theatre.
This 80-minute documentary filmed by Josh Davisburg, a University of Maryland professor and his then-students, Alex Glass, Alanna Delfino and Brandi Vincent, follows Muffy Blake Stephyns, a D.C.-based drag performer, through her year-long competition for an Imperial Court Crown. In the process both professor and students learned about the city’s colorful drag history.
“There used to be house parties, and the members would come and dress up,” Davisburg, who identifies as an LGBT ally, says. “It would be very glamorous.”
Davisburg says early feedback he received on the film was that he didn’t capture the “raunchiness” of drag. But he learned from interviews how the AIDS epidemic changed the art. “
Graham Kolbeins, a Canadian manga fan, debuted his documentary “Queer Japan,” and the Advocate is calling it a “must-see documentary.” Advocate reported: “Graham Kolbeins, now 32, was a Canadian high schooler when he first encountered the work of Gengoroh Tagame and other artists of gay manga — a genre of erotic graphic novels devoted to same-sex love stories. "I found this sense of recognition in the images of desire that they were putting out into the world," recounted Kolbeins. He felt particularly moved by the work of Tagame, who is often compared to Tom of Finland for his drawings of burly and hairy men.”
The film premiered at New York City’s LGBTQ Film Festival, “NewFest,” on Oct. 25.
Carolina De Robertis searched Uruguay for signs of queer life and found a novel. Datebook’s Brandon Yu writes: “Carolina De Robertis was in Uruguay, searching for answers. It was 2001, and she had traveled alone to her parents’ home country, looking for signs of queer life.
‘I was in my mid-20s, and I was in the process of basically being disowned by my parents, who had decided not to support who I was, a queer person,” the Oakland author and San Francisco State University professor recalls. Her parents had told her “that I could no longer be Uruguyan because I was gay, because it didn’t exist in their culture, and could therefore no longer be my culture.’ She was there to find out the truth and in the process came upon the seeds of her latest novel, “Cantoras.”
While there, De Robertis met an older gay woman, who took her to a beach. “I met her friends who had been a circle of friends since the era of the dictatorship,” De Robertis says, referencing the military dictatorship that ruled the South American nation from 1973 to 1985. “Together they had, very working-class people, pooled money to buy a little one-room shack where they had gone to just be themselves and breathe and talk to each other.’”
Los Angeles-based art historian Andrew Campbell wrote: “Queer x Design” which is a collection of graphic design that documents the last 50 years of LGBTQ+ life and activism, basically since the birth of the gay rights liberation movement in 1969. "Simply, queer design is anything created and designed by LGBTQ+ people that addresses LGBT+ life," Campbell told Dezeen, “It may seem a flat-footed and obvious definition, but I think it allows for openness around one of the tenants common to LGBTQ+ communities at their best, which is that they are inclusive and heterogeneous."
King Princess, a Brooklyn-born artist, released their debut album, “Cheap Queen.” Vice reported: “King Princess will be 21 in December. But in the last year and a half, her life has changed drastically—and making her own money is the least of it. It all began with her debut single, "1950." Based on Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel The Price of Salt, which also inspired the film Carol, the song is an ode to queer love in a world that still tries to suppress it. Harry Styles tweeted a lyric; Kourtney Kardashian showed it love on Instagram. Taylor Swift is also a fan. To date, it's been streamed on Spotify more than 280 million times.”
Watch BBC’s film on “Buttmitzvah;” a Jewish, Queer club night in London.
Rare Andy Warhol portraits of black and Latinx drag queens and trans women are set to exhibit for the first time in London.
The portraits show an intimate and “underground” view of New York City’s gay and queer scene in the 1970s. The portraits were originally commissioned by Luciano Anselmino, an Italian art dealer, in 1974 after Candy Darling, a trans actress died.
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