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Saturday, February 5, 2011

It Gets Better --- Sony Pictures Entertainment Employees

Sony Pictures Entertainment employees share their stories for the "It Gets Better" project. Learn more at http://itgetsbetterproject.com.



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Rea Carey's State of the Movement address at Creating Change

Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey delivers her state of the movement address at the 23rd Conference on LGBT Equality" Creating Change. Learn more at http://www.theTaskForceblog.org.



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In The Life - Bullycides

"I want people to know my son is not alive because of what happened to him in his environment at school. I could not protect him between the hours of 8 to 3."
-- Sirdeaner Walker

Studies show that youth who are bullied are five times more likely to be depressed and to report suicidal thoughts. LGBT children and those who are perceived to be gay, lesbian or challenge traditional gender roles are among those most likely to be targeted by bullies. In this look at the most tragic outcome for kids tormented by kids, we meet the heartbroken families of Carl Joseph Hoover and Erik Mohat who are fighting for federal legislation to protect all children.





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Who supports workplace equality? Before you shop, read this.




Human Rights Campaign
Some businesses support LGBT workplace equality – and some don't.
Which ones do you want to support when you're out shopping around town?
With our new 2011 Buying for Workplace Equality guide and iPhone app, it's easier than ever to find out where companies stand on workplace equality.
From clothing to computers to kids' stuff, from the latest hairstyles to the grocery aisles, we've collected data on hundreds of businesses. And some of the differences between companies selling similar products and services might surprise you:
Macy’s (100%) vs. Saks (30%*)
Staples (100%) vs. Office Depot (45%)
Nike (100%) vs. Adidas/Reebok (15%*)
UPS (100%) vs. FedEx (80%) vs. DHL (30%*)
Whole Foods (85%) vs. Trader Joes (15%*)
Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams (100%) vs. Pottery Barn/West Elm (30%*)
Take a sneak peak inside: Get the iPhone app: Text SHOP and the company or product name to 30644:
Take a sneak peak inside! Get the iPhone app Text SHOP and the company or product name to 30644
In today's economy, it's vital that we support the companies, products, and brands that have equal workplace practices for the LGBT community. As you look for that perfect pair of shoes or a great gift for a loved one this Valentine's Day, you can use the information in this guide to help make your shopping decisions.
Thanks, and happy shopping!
Warmly,
Eric Alva
Joe Solmonese
President
* This year, HRC has provided an estimated score to businesses that have not, after repeated attempts, responded to the survey. An estimated score is reflective of the information that HRC has been able to collect without help or input from a business. Learn more here.

Who we are...by the numbers

--by Robyn


Scarlet Letter
Every day, transgender and gender non-conforming people bear the brunt of social and economic marginalization due to discrimination based on their gender identity or expression. Advocates confront this reality regularly working with transgender people who have lost housing, been fired from jobs, experienced mistreatment and violence, or been unable to access the health care they need. Too often, policymakers, service providers, the media and society at large have dismissed or discounted the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and a lack of hard data on the scope of anti-transgender discrimination has hampered the work to make substantive policy changes to address these needs.


So begins the introduction to the report Injustice at Every Turn: A report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, which was jointly released Friday by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality. At 222 pages and 43 megs, it is unlikely that too many people will investigate more than the Executive Summary, which indeed is where early reporters opted to stop. But it is Saturday and there is wintry mix expected, so here I am.

This part just is about the numbers...covering about 30 pages of the report. More will come, especially the conclusions that can be drawn, in the future.

Update: Saturday Night Live's Trans-Bashing Still Not Funny

By Tom Basgil Jr. -

As of this post, over 3,500 of you have signed the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s petition demanding that NBC issue an apology for Saturday Night Live’s transphobic skit and remove the piece from web and television sources. However, a representative from SNL told FOX411, “We’re not going to comment on that.
For those who don’t know, Saturday Night Live recently aired a mock commercial for Estro-Maxx, a fake estrogen therapy medication. In the sketch, scruffy men wearing wigs and fake breasts talked about how the once-daily pill has made their transition from male to female easier and more convenient. Although the audience found the commercial hilarious, the object of their amusement wasn’t a joke: male-to-female transgender people. The transgender community already has enough hatred to deal with. Did SNL really need to poke more fun at their struggle on national television?
Not all laughter is good laughter. The GLAAD blog gives a very convincing argument for why the skit is harmful to transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. Aaron McQuade’s blog post contains a full transcript of the video, complete with stage directions. It’s an interesting read for those of us who have seen the video.
McQuade explains how SNL’s skit is nearly devoid of jokes. The laughter is directed at transgender people, not at witty one-liners. People found the sketch funny because they don’t understand, and may even fear, transgender and gender non-conforming people. SNL is allowing the audience to feel justified in its fear of the unknown. Transgender people are all merely bearded men in skirts. They are successful. Yeah, transitioning is hard, but there is always wine, friendship, and a great paying job to make up for it.
The sketch turns a blind eye to the struggles of male-to-female transgender people. Why do we need laws to protect MtF transgender folks when the only problem they have is swallowing five pills each day?
Anyone who has not been able to have a doll as a child, or couldn’t ride bikes in the mud, or wasn’t allowed to sing or dance understands that we are all bound tightly to what “real” men and “real” women are expected to be. Magnify that by a billion, and every one of us should be able to catch a glimpse of what it must be like to be transgender or gender non-conforming.
Now, I know that some of you are going to disagree with me -- vehemently even. I ask only that you think about the implications of a world where we find transgender and gender non-conforming people funny just because they are who they are. Try to envision what this could mean for the future of transgender rights, even of the entire LGBT equality movement. Think about what it would feel like to have people laugh in your face. Not because of a joke, but because of who you are.
I know what it’s like to be ridiculed for being myself. I understand what being bullied and laughed at because I’m me is really all about. If you came to the same conclusion that I did, that transphobia has no place on our televisions, please sign GLAAD’s petition asking for an apology from NBC and for the removal of the offending sketch. Because words can be just as damaging as blows.

Petitions by Change.org|Start a Petition »




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Award Watch 2011 :: James Franco - Naked with Jake

By Robert Nesti -

James Franco
James Franco 

Our favorite Oscar nominee and soon to be (we hope) favorite Oscar host (okay, co-host) James Franco has been all over the New York Times Carpetbagger web page the past few days, so much so that our our gaydar went into go into high alert - do we have a sister over at old gray lady?

Franco name first turned up in an interview with film director Adam Shankman (Hairspray), who is producing this year’s Oscars as he did last year. When asked if he had anything to do with the hiring of Franco and Anne Hathaway as the hosts, he said he didn’t, but was fascinated by it.

"They are both really, really smart people. I know after last year’s show there was some talk about, is it the right thing to do to try to play to the younger audience, at the possible risk of alienating your core, which is an older demographic? But clearly they’re trying to court it" - the younger crowd - "now."

Then asked if he had any ideas as what he would have them do, he said: "I think she should come out with one arm, and he could be naked, holding Jake Gyllenhaal’s hand. That’s the way to open that show."

James Franco
Taking a chance with ChanceIf that gay vision wasn’t enough, it was reported in today’s Times (and everywhere on the web) that Franco is headed to Broadway to co-star with Nicole Kidman in a revival of Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth. Franco met twice last month with the production’s director David Cromer (who staged the acclaimed off-Broadway production of Our Town) to discuss the possibility. While no contracts have been signed, Cromer believes that it will happen.

"We’re still in talks with James, but he seems like a really decisive guy, so given that he’s saying he wants to do the play, I think he’ll do it," Mr. Cromer told the Times.

The pair spoke at length about the play and the character - Chance Wayne - Franco plans to play.

"Very rarely do you find an actor who can really take on the varied complications of this character, which is one of those virtually uncastable Williams parts," Mr. Cromer said. "Chance has to be a moron and a poet, and he also has to be fantastically great looking. It’s one of my favorite plays, but it’s such a mountain, and James and I were in total agreement that the production had to be about the play rather than making it about us. If all of this is about movie stars doing a play, then we should be doing an easier play."

In the play Chance is a gigolo to a has-been movie star Alexandra Del Lago. He brings her to the Southern town where he grew up to settle a score with the father of his former girlfriend who drove him out of town years before.

Taking the role in the play, first produced win 1959 with Paul Newman as Chance, seems a logical extension of Franco recent work (excepting his Oscar-nominated turn in 127 Hours). Last summer he played Williams’ contemporary Allen Ginsberg in How1 and will soon be seen playing poet Hart Crane - Williams idol - in The Broken Tower.
James Franco

Teach me tonight

Then in a third item, Franco is said to be set to teach a course about himself, using footage of himself.

"Coming this quarter to Columbia College Hollywood is "Master Class: Editing James Franco ... With James Franco," in which Mr. Franco will supply footage of himself for a dozen students to edit into minidocumentaries - about him, of course," the Carpetbagger reported. "The class will be taught weekly by his longtime associate and editor, Tyler Danna, but Mr. Franco will check in via Skype and in person when his schedule allows. Mr. Danna and Mr. Franco will also tape the class for a final project and another level of self-reflexive commentary."



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Book Review - Kicked Out

By Kyle Thomas Smith -


Last month, the American Library Association’s Over the Rainbow Committee published its list of the best LGBTQ books of 2010. Among the top nonfiction books, beating out even Edmund White and Augusten Burroughs, was Kicked Out, a book of essays by homeless and formerly homeless and/or runaway LGBTQ teens.

Edited by 26-year-old Sassafras Lowrey, Kicked Out includes a foreword by Matthew Shepard’s mother Judy Shepard, who calls for more direct services and compassionate support for LGBTQ youth, and an afterword by Karen Staller, PhD (Associate Professor, University of Michigan, School of Social Work), who says of Kicked Out:

I have been working with, and writing about, runaway and homeless youth for over twenty years, and never have I seen gathered in one place such a compelling chorus of voices from those who have experienced being "kicked out" of their homes.

Kicked Out is the fulfillment of the vision that Sassafras Lowrey sustained throughout her salad days as a gay street kid, when she dreamed of compiling a first-of-its-kind book of stories that would help ensure "that never again would a queer kid feel alone after losing family."

Kicked Out is a must-read for anyone concerned with making the world a better place for homeless and homed, LGBTQ and straight alike. But, first, take a deep breath. And know that you’ll have to take many more such breaths before, during and after each one of these unflinching portraits of outcast living. Better to let the stories pierce us to the heart than to shelf the book and turn away from a crisis that is all too pervasive and painful.

Among the hardest hitting essays are those by Tenzin, a transgendered (FTM) Buddhist monastic and one-time kicked-out street kid, who vividly recounts how every minute of his time on the streets of San Francisco and other cities was marked by either assault or the anticipation of assault. Often it was hard to tell which was worse for him and his gutter-compatriots: actual rape and murder from pimps, Nazi skinheads and other lowlifes or the pestilence brought on by survival prostitution and scavenging for food and places to sleep. "The psychic legacy of my time on the streets persists to this day," says Tenzin, "A sense of contamination and alien defectiveness...has made it difficult to relate to others lacking similar life experiences." Yet he counsels those enduring similar experiences to "remember that you have value and that anyone who judges you for being queer and homeless wouldn’t last a day in your situation."

"The streets steal stories," writes Sassafras in the introduction, "Crush the bodies of boys and girls with molars of jagged concrete." And yet, in the survival stories that comprise Kicked Out, the streets do not have the last word. Some of these formerly homeless LGBTQ teens have gone on to not only finish college but against all odds, earn doctorates in their chosen fields, which are invariably in the helping professions.

Let’s keep in mind, however, that these success stories are more the exception than the norm. Which is why Kicked Out also comes equipped with policy papers by Richard Hooks Wayman (Senior Youth Policy Analyst, National Alliance to End Homelessness) and Nick Ray (Executive Director, 1n10) that not only call for more and better resources for at-risk LGBTQ youth, but also a transformation of the structures that maintain the epidemics of homelessness, suicidality, mental illness and addiction in this marginalized population.

Finally, especially now that the American Library Association has taken notice, kicked-out queer kids can find the guidebook that Sassafras herself wished she’d had. With Kicked Out, Sassafras Lowrey has put together a gritty manifesto of hope that has been all too absent in the public discourse on youth and LGBTQ issues.
Kicked-Out
edited by Sassafras Lowrey
(Homofactus Press, 2010)
224 pages, ISBN: 9780978597368, $19.95


Kyle Thomas Smith is the author of the novel 85A (Bascom Hill, 2010). He lives in Brooklyn, NY. 
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Rachel Maddow - The Murder Of David Kato

Rachel links the murder of Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato to American religious right hatemongers Scott Lively & a Richard Cohen staffer who went to Uganda under the guise as experts to spread the message that homosexuals were out to recruit children and spread disease.



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Friday, February 4, 2011

A Message From Blair Underwood



Dear Friend,

A Message From Blair Underwood
Dear Fellow AHF Supporters,
AIDS Healthcare Foundation shares my passion for helping people living with HIV and AIDS. Despite these tough economic times, AHF has not wavered in its commitment to provide cutting-edge medicine and advocacy regardless of a person's ability to pay.
That is why I have been a spokesperson for them for the last 3 years.
I want to offer my heartfelt thanks to all of you who have been casting votes for AHF to win $200,000 in the American Express/TakePart.org Members Project these last few months. You can help in these final few weeks of the competition by telling your friends and family members about AHF and encouraging them to vote as well.
If you have not yet participated, I hope you will join me by registering and voting today—and continuing to vote weekly until the competition ends on February 20th.
Voting for AHF to secure these needed funds is a small, but essential way that you can join in the fights against HIV and AIDS.
Together, we can continue to save and improve lives, offering hope to people in need.
AHF and I deeply appreciate your commitment and support.
Thank you,
Blair Underwood
Actor and Activist

The Butch Factor.

Is there a gay man out there who hasn't pondered the meaning of masculinity?
Insightful interviews mixed with entertaining eye-candy make this fast-paced testosterone tour a must-watch movie for all gay men. From the Castro clone culture of the 1970s to today's Bears and gym rats this fascinating investigation of gay men and masculinity blows the lid off old stereotypes and showcases a strapping battalion of interviewees including muscle men, rodeo riders, rugby players and cops. The men speak candidly on a range of topics from homophobia to metrosexuality to embracing effiminacy as they reveal what it means to be a gay man in America today.
Watch the full film on LOGO online here.



Review -
Masculinity and homosexuality have always been hopelessly — and helplessly — intertwined. From clones to queens, Bears to gym rats, the gay community has responded to these intersections with its own unique responses. Christopher Hines’ wide-ranging documentary explores them all.

Jason Hefley speaks about his San Diego gay flag football league while Kevin Reed discusses his affinity for baseball and problems of homophobia in the African American community. San Francisco Lt. Sheriff Vince Calvarese touches on being a big and burly out and proud member of the force. On the less testosterone-heavy side is Mark Snyder, an SF resident who embraces his effeminacy with a “sissy” tattoo, but also mentions the violence he faces on Bay Area streets.

Frequently, Hines gets his subjects to reflect revealingly on what made them the type of man they are today. The director also presents recent changes in cultural norms of masculinity, such as the “bromance” and the metrosexual, while excavating the past for images of the mustachioed “clone” and stereotypical queen. On the expert level, a knowledgeable cross-section of teachers, writers, and psychologists discuss their own views of gay culture and masculinity. Amongst all these different men and their corresponding “butch factors,” the salient point of Hines’ clever and fast-paced film is that, for gay men, acknowledging your homosexuality is just one of the steps along the path of discovering exactly what kind of man you are.
ROD ARMSTRONG

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Study suggests immune system treatment for HIV

A study on mice with an HIV-like infection found that boosting their immune systems cured them of the disease.
Scientists at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Australia said their findings could help develop drugs to help people rid their bodies of infections such as HIV, hepatitis B and C and tuberculosis.
In mice infected with the HIV-like illness, they looked at the role of IL-7, a naturally-occurring immune hormone.
In the face of an infection such as HIV, a gene called SOCS-3 halts the immune system.
However, it was found that boosting the levels of IL-7 switched off the gene and allowed the mice to gradually fight the illness.
According to the Daily Mail, Dr Marc Pellegrini, of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, said: “Viruses such as HIV and hepatitis B and C overwhelm the immune system, leading to establishment of chronic infections that are lifelong and incurable.
“Despite tremendous efforts, long-lived immune responses for some of these viruses are ineffective, because the body is so overrun by virus that the immune system just give up trying to battle the infection.
“Some people have coined the phrase ‘immune exhaustion’ to explain the phenomenon.
“Our approach is to discover some of the mechanisms that cause this immune exhaustion, and manipulate host genes to see if we can boost the natural immune response in order to beat infection.”
The study was published in the journal Cell today.

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New imam quits embattled Islamic community center

By Allan Chernoff -

A Park51 imam announced his resignation Friday, just three weeks after being appointed to his post at the embattled Islamic community center in New York, according to a written statement Friday.
"I wish the project leaders well," said Imam Adhami, saying he needed more time to complete a book meant to assist English readers in understanding the Quran.
His resignation comes on the heels of a controversial post on his website, sakeenah.org, in which he claimed that "an enormously overwhelming percentage of people struggle with homosexual feeling because of some form of violent emotional or sexual abuse at some point in their life."
Park51 officials later attempted to distance the community center from Adhami's comments, tweeting that "Adhami's personal statements do not reflect the position of p51."
The community center - located two blocks from the ground zero location in Manhattan - describes itself as an inclusive community center open to anyone, with the goal of integrating Muslim-Americans into U.S. society.
"We have been humbled by Imam Adhami's contributions to this project over the past few months," said Park51 President Sharif El-Gamal. "We look forward to him, God willing, leading prayers informally for Park51 in the near future."
His departure is the latest in a string of setbacks after former Imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, was given a reduced role in the center.
Rauf remains on the board of the community center.

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Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Honduras: Stop the Killings of Transwomen

--By Robyn

I have spent most of this past week waiting for release of the results of a survey to be entitled Injustice at Every Turn, which was jointly undertaken by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Transgender Civil Rights Project and the National Center for Transgender Equality. As of Thursday evening, as I am writing this, it has not yet been released.

But some other news has.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights released a statement addressing its concern about the continuing murders of transwomen in Honduras. Entitled IACHR DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT MURDERS OF MEMBERS OF THE TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY IN HONDURAS, the IACHR, an autonomous arm of the Organization of American States (OAS), stated that it

is deeply concerned about serious threats, acts of violence and murders against members of the transgender community in Honduras.


NOM's latest Bullshit in Rhode Island



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Dealing with a doctor who's biased

whitebook.jpg

By Deborah Kotz -

Thinking of having elective knee surgery, an organ transplant, treatment for heart disease? You might want to consider transforming yourself into a white, middle-class, thin, straight male -- if you aren't one already -- to get the best care from your doctor.
That's the message conveyed in the new book Seeing Patients written by Dr. Augustus White. He's a Harvard Medical School professor of medical education and a former orthopedic surgeon who served as the first African-American department chief at a Harvard teaching hospital.
Who better to write a book about bias in the medical world than White, who grew up in Tennessee during the Jim Crow-era and went on to become in 1966 the first African American faculty member at Yale Medical School?
(Nearly a decade earlier, Yale rejected him for its medical school because, he was told, the school only took one black student every two years, and he applied during the off-year.)
While White acknowledges that the health care field has become far more diversified in recent decades, he says bias still exists in medicine in terms of unequal treatment of patients based on their race, gender, religion, body weight, and sexual preferences.
He spoke to me about the problem detailed in his new book and what can be done to solve it. Here are edited excerpts from our interview.
Considering how far we've come to quash racism and sexism in our society, how can it be that bias still exists, especially in the well-educated elite world of medicine?
For doctors, I think a lot of it is below our level of consciousness, but it comes from prevailing societal norms. For some reason, white men are favored as patients even when they're being treated by black or female doctors. These biases mean that elderly women don't get joint replacements at the same rate as elderly men and that blacks often have to wait longer than whites for a kidney transplant. Obesity discrimination is still acceptable in our society, and doctors may blame overweight patients for their health problems. Patients, themselves, may have unconscious biases as well that interfere with how much they trust their doctors and how well they communicate with them.
What about your own biases? How do you overcome them?
I try to individualize a patient, try to be careful to compensate for whatever negative feelings I may have towards that person. I took a course that Harvard Medical School used to offer that taught me about my biases. I became aware that I had gay friends whom I was treating a little differently than my heterosexual friends; I was a little less comfortable with them. I learned through the course to change my attitudes and behaviors, so it wouldn't affect how I dealt with my gay patients. I eventually went on to teach the course.
But Harvard no longer offers it?
No, it was dropped for funding reasons, though the medical school still offers a course to teach students about various cultures they may encounter in the patient population they're likely to treat -- how, say, they shouldn't lump all Muslims into one category but should be sensitive to cultural differences within the religion. The American Association of Medical Colleges strongly recommends that medical schools mandate courses in cultural competence to teach future doctors not only about other ethnicities but to help them become self-aware with regard to their own biases. Unfortunately, most schools aren't requiring such courses.
What advice do you have for patients to minimize bias in their doctors?
They should try to relate to their doctor on a human level in some way. Talk about the weather, your grandkids, your job. You don't have to talk a lot, just enough to help your doctor see you as a human being. Try to bridge whatever cultural differences there may be. We're all fundamentally human and those qualities supercede racial, ethnic, and any other kinds of differences.

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Researchers criticize AIDS spending, stigma

By Donna Bryson -


Nearly 3 million lives have been saved by HIV/AIDS treatment but scarce resources are being misspent and stigma is still keeping the most vulnerable from seeking help, according to a new book by researchers commissioned by the U.N.

The failings are particularly worrying at a time when worldwide recession and donor fatigue are hurting spending on AIDS, the researchers say.

Among the two dozen people involved in the research was Nelson Mandela Foundation chief executive Achmat Dangor, who hosted a discussion of the research Thursday.

The book was aimed at ensuring that "the response to AIDS is systematic and effective in the long term," Dangor said. "We believe it is crucial also to our founder’s legacy."

Since finishing his term as South Africa’s first black president, Mandela has campaigned to raise awareness about AIDS in the country with the world’s largest AIDS burden. Now 92 and ailing, the anti-apartheid icon galvanized the AIDS community in 2005 when he publicly acknowledged the disease killed his son.

The researchers were asked by the U.N. AIDS agency three years ago to review how the world has tackled the disease. The experts also were asked to determine what changes need to be made to radically reduce the number of infections and deaths by 2031, which will mark 50 years since the AIDS virus was first reported.

The researchers, collectively known as the aids2031 Consortium, said it was "fair to ask whether the AIDS effort has always achieved good value for its money."

"Despite a more than 53-fold increase in AIDS funding in barely over a decade, the epidemic continues to outpace the rate at which programs are delivering," they said in the book entitled "AIDS: Taking a Long-Term View."

The researchers said developing treatments and getting the drugs to the infected saved nearly 3 million lives between 1996 and 2008. Efforts to prevent infected mothers from transmitting HIV to their babies averted at least 200,000 new infections around the world between 1996 and 2008.

But every day, more than 7,000 people become infected, more than twice as many as are able to start AIDS treatment.

The researchers called for a new focus on prevention, and criticized governments for ignoring research that could help guide efforts. For example, programs in Uganda focused on young people while research has shown high rates of HIV among older adults in steady relationships in the East African country.

Laws making homosexual sex a crime and harassment of intravenous drug users also keep those who need it most from seeking help, the researchers said.

Changing society’s attitudes is a long-term project, without the quick, measurable results of increasing the spread of AIDS treatment drugs, the researchers acknowledged. They said the costs of a lifetime of treatment for millions of HIV-infected people in poor countries is unsustainable.

After Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi took over as South Africa’s health minister in 2009, he said he was baffled by how much the government was spending to buy AIDS drugs from private companies. South Africa, the country with the most people living with HIV in the world, provides free AIDS treatment to its citizens.

Late last year, Motsoaledi announced that by taking such steps as asking more companies to bid and demanding they provide costs breakdowns, he had cut costs by more than half.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which endorsed aids2031’s work, also has found that up to two-thirds of some grants it provides are lost to corruption. The independent agency, backed by celebrity campaigners, is a major international funder of AIDS programs.

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US transgender survey finds ‘discrimination and ridicule at every turn’

By Jessica Geen -

Trans people face 'abuse, ridicule and discrimination'.
A large-scale study of trans people in America says that almost every part of social and legal convention ridicules, abuses and discriminates against transgender people.
The research, by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, is released today.
It asked more than 6,540 trans people about their experiences and found that 41 per cent had attempted suicide.
Almost a fifth said they had been homeless at one point, while 26 per cent said they had lost their jobs because of their trans status.
The survey found that trans people suffer discrimination in every part of their lives – at home, at school, in the workplace, in healthcare, in public and in the law.
They are also nearly four times more likely to live in extreme poverty, while more than a fifth reported being harassed by police and other law enforcement agencies.
Today’s report said: “It is part of social and legal convention in the United States to discriminate against, ridicule, and abuse transgender and gender non-conforming people.
“Nearly every system and institution in the United States, both large and small, from local to national, is implicated.”
Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, told Associated Press: “Their lives are just a crapshoot.
“They don’t know from one interaction to the next whether they will be treated with respect and dignity. It’s not the way people should be living their day-to-day life.”
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said: “Reading these results is heartbreaking on a personal level – each of these facts and figures represents pain and hardship endured by real people, every single day.
“This survey is a call to the conscience of every American who believes that everyone has the right to a fair chance to work hard, to have a roof overhead, and to support a family.
“Equality, not discrimination, is the ideal that Americans believe in, have fought for, and need to apply here.”
The report, titled “Injustice at Every Turn”, will be released in full today.

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Bishop Paul Coakley Wants to See Discrimination in Manhattan, Kansas

by Mindy Townsend -

After a couple of delays and an epic Midwestern blizzard, the Manhattan, Kansas City Commission is set to vote next week on a non-discrimination ordinance, of which I have written here and here. We are on the eve of something that, frankly, is far too long in coming, and it’s very exciting.
But lo! Opposition appears on the horizon in the form of Bishop Paul Coakley and the Catholic Diocese of Salina. Big fracking surprise.
In a letter to the City Commission, attorneys for Coakley and the diocese claim that passing the ordinance will undermine the religious freedom of people trying to live within the guidelines of the faith.
I have, admittedly, been out of the loop in this regard for several years, but I’m not sure Catholicism requires active discrimination against anyone. There’s some story about a Samaritan and how we need to set aside prejudice to help others, but it’s a little fuzzy. Probably not important.
Evidently, the Catholic Diocese believes that institutional religious organizations should not be the only ones that are allowed to discriminate based on bigoted sincerely held beliefs. Terry Criss, the diocese’s attorney, argues that private citizens, acting on such beliefs, should get to discriminate, too.
Just to recap, this ordinance would prohibit discrimination in public accommodations, housing, and employment against lesbians, gay men and transgendered people. And if the diocese and Criss have their way, you wouldn’t be able to discriminate, unless you really, really want to. In that case, have at it.
Oh, well when you put it like that…
Somebody answer me this: why is it that people who cling to delusions of belief in some amorphous “Higher Power” feel it is their right – even obligation – to make everyone around them believe the same thing, or at least act in a conforming manner? Or feel the need to treat people – who, in most circumstances, have done nothing wrong – with utter contempt?
A long time ago, homo sapiens got together and formed a society. And that system has worked out pretty well. I’m having a good time, anyway. But to live in the free world, we have to make some compromises. Would I rather that the person living across the hall not crank up some crappy rap music? Of course. But it doesn’t really impair the enjoyment of my apartment. My point is that, maybe I don’t like the occasional thump thump thump of a sub woofer, and maybe I don’t want to keep my lawn under so many inches high, but I live in a society. I make compromises, because my life in it is most assuredly better than it would be out of it. Other people, their lives and desires run up against mine everyday, but that doesn’t mean that I get to tell them how to live, where to work and who to love. To do so would be tantamount to abandoning a mugged person, with nowhere else to turn, on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.
I think we all know what Jesus would do.
Send Bishop Paul Coakley and the Catholic Diocese of Salina a message that nobody should face discrimination in Manhattan, Kansas just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

petition text -

Greetings,
I have recently read about your letter to the Manhattan City Council, expressing concern that the proposed non-discrimination ordinance would impair religious freedom of individuals, even though the ordinance protects religious institutions. This is an indefensible position and will only serve to dehumanize a historically persecuted minority.


I am writing to you today to request that you reconsider your position. This ordinance is a necessary step to ensure that gay men, lesbians and transgendered people can simply live their lives. Your opposition to an ordinance that simply tries to redress decades of wrongful discrimination hurts good people who have done nothing wrong.


All serious scientific evidence says that LGBT people are normal variants of human sexuality and are not a danger to society. It is decidedly anti-Christian to ignore the well-being of our fellow human beings who are only trying to live quiet, fulfilling lives. Please recognize that, wherever there is a group of people in need, the Church should be first in line to help.
[Your name]

Petitions by Change.org|Start a Petition »


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In NY, Assembly Says It’s Set, Can the Senate Count to 32?

By Paul Schindler -


Many variables, few details emerge from advocates' push for marriage equality in New York

Andrew Cuomo, New York’s new Democratic governor, has repeatedly emphasized that he “want[s] to be the governor who signs the law that makes marriage equality a reality,” saying in his January 5 inaugural speech, “We believe in justice for all, then let’s pass marriage equality this year once and for all.”

To be sure, State Senate Republicans voted 30-0 against out gay Manhattan Democrat Tom Duane’s equal civil marriage bill in December 2009, but Long Island’s Dean Skelos, the new GOP Senate majority leader, told the Log Cabin Republicans last October he would bring the issue before his party colleagues during the 2011-2012 Legislature, predicting, “I think our conference would say put it up, let it up” for a floor vote.

And polls over the past two weeks — one from Quinnipiac University, the other from Siena College — found that at least 56 percent of the state’s voters support equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, with 38 percent or less in opposition. Significantly, the results show the issue polling slightly better (61 vs. 60 percent) in the New York City suburbs, represented by a number of key Senate Republican targets, than it does in the city itself. Even upstate, equality has majority support, by a 51-43 margin, according to Siena.

In the wake, then, of a January 22 off-the-record Albany gathering of about 75 representatives from 50 organizations that support marriage equality — a meeting closed to the press — what are the near-term prospects for making New York the sixth state to allow same-sex couples to marry?

Nearly a dozen legislators, professional advocates, and grassroots leaders Gay City News has spoken to since last November’s election described the ways in which the ball is simultaneously in two courts — the governor’s and the new Republican Senate majority’s.

“Does the governor have the capital to fulfill his carefully articulated support for the issue?” is the way Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, the out gay Manhattan Democrat who has led his chamber in approving marriage equality three times since 2007 — and is confident of passage again this year — framed the potential for success. The Senate Republicans, he said, “have historically only done things transactionally. I’m not empowered to make that happen, but the governor can do it.”

In trying to bring a wildly out of balance state budget under control, Cuomo has already signaled his intention to leverage the GOP Senate to counter the traditional support for social services spending in the heavily Democratic Assembly; he also moved quickly this past week to offer a property tax cap sought by Republicans.

Ross Levi, the executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA), the community’s chief lobby group in Albany, is banking on Cuomo’s political muscle in the fight.

“There is a clear and credible path to marriage equality and [the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, or GENDA] as early as this session,” he said. “That doesn’t mean it’s not an incredibly challenging task that will require fortuitous circumstances.”

The governor’s role, he said, is critical.

“From the Pride Agenda’s perspective, Governor Cuomo is an extremely important ally and advocate,” he said, adding of his 2010 campaign, “It was rare to see Cuomo speaking publicly and not mentioning marriage, and not just when I was there. And it was one of his biggest applause lines.”

But from the perspective of Deborah Glick, O’Donnell’s out lesbian Manhattan Democratic colleague, questions of commitment and political capital remain very much open.

“It is always helpful to have the chief executive make it a priority,” she said of Cuomo. “But there’s no indication to me personally that it’s at the top of his list.”

The governor will push very hard to set a new tone in Albany by delivering a state budget on time by April 1. The period after the budget is completed, Glick said, may be the time for advocates to move.

“If the budget battle doesn’t go on too long,” she said, “then there’s an opportunity. Will he have the capital left?”

Timing is one of the toughest issues to pin advocates down on. While Glick pointed to the period between early April and the Legislature’s adjournment in late June, O’Donnell did not think action had to happen in 2011 to make success possible by November 2012. Levi, who has not sat down with Skelos since the November election, said flatly, “It’s not useful to talk about timing.”

In fact, Levi said the January 22 gathering, of which ESPA was one of the conveners, included expert presentations on messaging, polling data, and the economic benefits of marriage, but focused only “a little bit on the political landscape of Albany.”

Gay marriage supporters are also vague in their answers about when Republicans, a handful of whom — at least — must support the issue for it to be successful, might be expected to voice their intention to vote “yes.”

Duane’s bill was defeated 38-24 in 2009, but since that time, the number of public supporters of marriage equality in the Senate has grown to 26, all of them Democrats. Of the four remaining Senate Democrats, one — Ruben Diaz of the Bronx — is adamantly opposed, while the other three — Shirley Huntley and Joe Addabbo of Queens and Carl Kruger of Brooklyn — were all “no” votes last time.

Even if those three could be brought around, at least three GOP senators would also have to step up. Gregory T. Angelo, chair of the Log Cabin Republicans of New York, in late 2010 told Gay City News he thought the support of five or six Republicans was possible, while Jeffrey Friedman, a Long Islander who directs the political action committee of the grassroots group Marriage Equality New York (MENY), commenting at the same time, saw prospects for seven or eight GOP votes.

Angelo, who did not wish to comment in the immediate wake of the recent Albany meeting, earlier said, “It would not surprise me if there is a Republican that comes out publicly” for the issue in advance of his or her colleagues discussing it internally. Such a public show of support, however, is not an absolute prerequisite for the GOP conference moving a bill, according to Levi, O’Donnell, and Glick.

O’Donnell and Glick, however, did focus on what they said is a simple reality in the Legislature — bills brought to the floor are almost invariably carried by members of the majority, a tradition that would wrest control of the marriage fight from Duane. (It could also be a governor’s “program” bill, with no specific sponsor.) Politically, that’s a delicate, even uncomfortable matter, since the Chelsea Democrat is the Senate’s only openly gay member and so the one situated to explain the issue from his own personal vantage point, as O’Donnell has done very effectively on the Assembly side.

“The bill needs a Republican sponsor,” O’Donnell said, “somebody capable and confident of counting to 32.”

The Assemblyman offered a blunt follow-up.

“In 2009, the Senate Democratic leaders were not competent in running that vote,” he said. Asked if his criticism extended to Duane himself, O’Donnell responded, “Somebody has to be responsible for shepherding the issue, but it wasn’t him alone. My job has been made harder” by the lopsided loss in the Senate that year.

Through a spokesman, Duane indicated he was unavailable for an in-person interview in New York City or by telephone.

Others on hand at the Albany summit also declined to comment. Alphonso David, a former Lambda Legal attorney who now serves as Cuomo’s deputy secretary for civil rights, attended, but the governor’s office did not respond to the newspaper’s request to speak to an administration official about the meeting.

Across the board, supporters of moving the bill emphasized the improving climate for Albany action on gay marriage.

Levi has, on several recent occasions, noted the increase from 24 to 26 in public supporters of marriage equality in the Senate. Three incumbents — Democrat Hiram Monserrate of Queens (seeking to reclaim the seat he was expelled from in early 2010), Republican Frank Padavan, also of Queens, and Democrat William Stachowski — lost last year, at least in part due to their opposition to equality. Though four pro-gay Democrats also lost their seats, delivering the Senate back to the Republicans, in none of those races, Levi said, did marriage equality play a factor.

O’Donnell and Glick concurred that the defeat of more than half a dozen Democrats in the Assembly was similarly unrelated to passage there of the marriage bill. Glick lauded the efforts last year by Fight Back New York, an independent expenditure political action committee that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in helping defeat Monserrate, Stachowski, and Padavan.

“Fight Back New York was strategic and successful,” she said. “We need a strategic plan to target one or two senators. Even if you only win one, it sends shock waves.”

O’Donnell said Republicans, particularly those who represent suburban New York districts, may be seeing the handwriting on the wall.

“I would humbly suggest to Republican senators under 60, if they want a future, get on the right side on this issue,” he said. That is particularly applicable, O’Donnell said, to those, like Long Island’s John Flanagan, who might have aspirations for statewide office.

Levi and Cathy Marino-Thomas, MENY’s communications director, both emphasized the need for targeted senators to hear from their constituents.

“If this community wants marriage, we have to fight for marriage,” Marino-Thomas, who has been working on this issue for nearly a decade, said. “People have to work for their own equality. If they don’t want to work for their equality, they won’t get their equality.” Asked whether local activists are as engaged as they need to be in every target district, Marino-Thomas conceded, “We are working hard to achieve that. I think there are areas where we need to do better.”

MENY will be in Albany on February 8 for its annual Lobby Day, and ESPA will follow suit on May 10.

The Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, which, like ESPA, MENY, and Fight Back New York, was heavily engaged in last year’s Senate elections, has in recent months been rolling out video statements of support for marriage equality from prominent New Yorkers. On February 1, one of former President George W. Bush’s twin daughters released a video stating, “I am Barbara Bush, and I am a New Yorker for marriage equality.”

The bottom line, from O’Donnell’s standpoint, is a hopeful one. As was the case with the gay rights law in 2002, he argued, Republican leaders in New York may see taking marriage equality off the table as a way to preserve their control of the Senate, by neutralizing the hundreds of thousands — or more — of gay dollars that might otherwise come into play in 2012.

“If I were Dean Skelos and I wanted to keep my majority, I’d get this out the way first,” O’Donnell said.

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Life Returning to Normal for Gay Hero in Ariz. Shooting

By Amanda Lee Myers -
 
Daniel Hernandez
Daniel Hernandez

Nearly a month after he helped save the life of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot, her intern returned Thursday to work at her office for the first time since the rampage.

In the minutes following the Jan. 8 shooting, Daniel Hernandez raced to the Democrat’s side, applying pressure to her wounds until first responders arrived. Since then, he has sat next to President Barack Obama, who called him a hero; he spoke with poise and unscripted remarks on live national television; and he has strangers asking for his autograph.

Only now has Hernandez been able to get back to his life in Tucson as one of Giffords’ 13 interns and as a political science junior at the University of Arizona.

"But there’s not really a normal anymore," Hernandez told The Associated Press between calls to veterans who aren’t getting disability payments and Spanish-only speakers who went to the office for help with various problems. "It’s a new normal."

Part of that new normal is the attention from the media and strangers who recognize him from television. Another part is not having Giffords around as she recovers from the shooting.

Six people were killed and 13 people, including Giffords, were wounded in the Jan. 8 mass shooting outside a Tucson grocery store where Giffords was meeting constituents. Jared Loughner, 22, is charged in the shooting.

"It’s good to get back to doing the work of the congresswoman while she’s not here," Hernandez said. "It’s very cathartic to be back."

Hernandez was talking to people about 30 feet away from Giffords when the shooting began, and only heard the gunshots and someone yell "Gun!"

That’s when he ran to Giffords and others to see what he could do, and said she became the priority because of the severity of her injury.

He said he still disagrees with Obama calling him a hero, adding that he just acted on instinct.

He said he’s been very encouraged by Giffords’ recovery but is mindful that she has a long road ahead of her. "We can’t keep expecting daily miracles," he said.

Hernandez, who lives in a Tucson apartment with three friends, was born in the southern Arizona city to parents of Mexican heritage. He grew up the oldest of three children.

His father is retired, and his mother has a side business baking cakes.

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The Lonely Gay Warrior Runs For The White House

By David Mixner -


FredKarger1   Who would volunteer to eat rubber chicken at political dinners, navigate the snows of New Hampshire and milk that cow at the county fair in Iowa? Longtime political strategist and openly gay Fred Karger is doing just that At the risk, even in his own community, of being accused of tilting at windmills in the best tradition of Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote, Karger is not deterred. Already pushing the stone up the hill we find Karger making it heavier by deciding to run in the Republican primaries in his request for that party's nomination for President in Tampa in 2012.

   In The Washington Post this past Wednesday featured an article by Dan Zak, "Crashing the Party", chronicling Karger's courageous effort. The reporter followed Karger on the campaign trail and filed this report.

"He has visited New Hampshire more than any other presidential prospector in this young election cycle. This skiddy late-night ride from a gathering in Keene to his Concord hotel is part of his 11th trip to the state in the past year. He's slingshotting around, hosting tiny town halls, collecting volunteers one by one and arranging coffee dates with policy experts, academics and state politicians.
This is not a stunt, Fred insists." 

Zak describes one event in New Hamphire:
  
"Fred has Frisbees.
And stickers featuring his slightly airbrushed face. Fred has retirement money, which he's burning at a rate of between $20,000 and $30,000 a month on his almost-campaign. And T-shirts featuring a New Hampshire license plate that reads "FRED WHO?" And customized pins that cross the American flag with the rainbow one.
And Fred has pizza. Where there is pizza, there are college students.
He draws 25 of them to a basement meeting room at the University of New Hampshire in Durham last Tuesday, and about a dozen Dartmouth College Republicans to a conference room in Hanover the following night. His tortoiseshell glasses, gray wool suits and previous acting experience might win him a walk-on part as John Slattery's older brother on "Mad Men." He runs through his biography, outlines his rickety platform (a 28th amendment to lower the voting age, education reform to make school "more interesting") and compares himself to Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress, who ran for president in 1972.
Chisholm : Obama :: Fred : The first openly gay president of the United States.
"I know this sounds crazy," he acknowledges to the students, who regard him with arched eyebrows and the occasional nod. "Why am I here?"
Because the GOP needs a pro-choice, antiwar, freedom-for-all, spendthrift compromiser inspired by Nelson Rockefeller and Teddy Roosevelt, he says."Who would volunteer to eat rubber chicken at political dinners, navigate the snows of New Hampshire and milk that cow at the county fair in Iowa? Longtime political strategist and openly gay Fred Karger is doing just that At the risk, even in his own community, of being accused of tilting at windmills in the best tradition of Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote, Karger is not deterred. Already pushing the stone up the hill we find Karger making it heavier by deciding to run in the Republican primaries in his request for that party's nomination for President in Tampa in 2012.


for more from David visit Live from Hell's Kitchen.

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Lesbian couple sues neighbor over fire

By ChloƩ Morrison -

A Vonore lesbian couple is suing their former neighbor, who they believe is responsible for setting fire to their home and spray-painting a gay slur on their detached garage.
“We feel like we need some answers,” Carol Ann Stutte said Thursday night. “It is coming on six months and we still cannot get insurance to communicate with us. They still aren’t honoring parts of the policy.”
Carol Ann and Laura Stutte’s home was a complete loss. They are still paying insurance premiums and a mortgage on the destroyed home, in addition to paying for the home they are renting now and all the living expenses that come with it.
The senior investigator with the American National Property & Casualty Company, Stacy Jennings, said Thursday she could not comment on the situation.
The couple’s lawyer Margaret Held said that the insurance company should be reimbursing her clients for living expenses while the investigation is pending.
“It is not abnormal when you have a fire claim for the insurance company to take this long to investigate,” she said. “What is weird is that the insurance company isn’t paying reimbursement.”
The lawsuit, which Carol Ann and her domestic partner Laura Stutte filed Wednesday in Monroe County Chancery Court, identifies the couple’s former next door neighbor as the alleged arsonist.
The suit alleges that the neighbor, Janice Millsaps, is responsible for trespassing, malicious harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Millsaps could not be reached for comment.
The Stuttes were on a trip to Nashville when they got the call that their house had burned and was a total loss.
Soon after the fire, authorities with the Monroe County Sheriff’s department confirmed that they were investigating the incident as an arson and said they had people of interest in the case.
But since those initial comments, Monroe County authorities — including a detective and the sheriff — have not returned calls seeking updated information about the status of the investigation.
Stacie Bohanan, public affairs specialist with the FBI’s Knoxville office, said Thursday she could not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.
Lawsuit seeks $880,000
According to the lawsuit, the couple bought the Vonore home in June 2005 for $149,000 and invested money in improving the home. At the time of the fire the property was insured for $206,000 and the Stuttes also insured their personal property, most of which was located in the home, for $154,000.
While living on the property, the couple was allegedly harassed and threatened by Millsaps.
The lawsuit said the harassment ranged from threatening to kill the couple’s dogs to threatening to burn the couple’s house.
The suit also alleges that Millsaps sometimes sneaked up to the couple when they were gardening or fishing from their dock and then would remark that she could have killed them “right then” and they wouldn’t have a chance to defend themselves.
The suit states that Millsaps threatened their lives making statements such as “there’s bodies in these hills that no one will ever find.”
She also allegedly made statements that she had friends on the police force who would ensure she was never caught if she killed the couple and that the community “takes care of things the old-fashioned way, the Millsaps way.”
When the couple’s home was burned, someone also spray-painted the word “queers” on the Stuttes’ detached garage.
The lawsuit alleges that a month before the fire, Millsaps asked the couple, “Do you know what is better than one dead queer? Two dead queers.”
The loss of their home, the threats and the stress of the situation has caused severe emotional distress, according to the suit.
The couple tried to reach out to Millsaps’ family to resolve the situation, but were unsuccessful, according to the suit.
The lawsuit seeks at least $880,000 in damages and that Millsaps stay away from the Stuttes, their property and their daughter.

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Transgender activists face multiple challenges

NEW YORK (AP) — Many transgender Americans face intolerance in almost every aspect of their lives, contributing to high levels of homelessness, unemployment and despair, according to a comprehensive survey being released Friday.The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality say their survey of 6,450 transgender people is the largest of its kind. It details discrimination encountered "at every turn" — in childhood homes, in schools and workplaces, at stores and hotels, at the hands of doctors, judges, landlords and police.
"Their lives are just a crapshoot," said Rea Carey, executive director of the task force. "They don't know from one interaction to the next whether they will be treated with respect and dignity. It's not the way people should be living their day-to-day life."
The report comes at a sobering time for transgender community.
While their gay-rights allies celebrated the recent Senate vote that will enable gays to serve openly in the military, transgender people were left out of the debate and remain barred from service.
Efforts to pass a federal law barring workplace discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation failed in the previous Democratic-controlled Congress — gender identity was a key stumbling block — and the new Republican-led House is considered more hostile.
Uncertain of prospects for progress at the federal level, activists hope to make headway through lawsuits, corporate diversity programs, local anti-bias ordinances, and public education efforts. They hope the survey will buttress those efforts; some of the data had been released in preliminary reports, but the final version contains new details and is prefaced by an emotional plea for Americans to rethink their attitudes.
"It is part of social and legal convention in the United States to discriminate against, ridicule, and abuse transgender and gender non-conforming people," the survey says. "Nearly every system and institution in the United States, both large and small, from local to national, is implicated."
According to the survey, 41 percent of respondents reported attempting suicide, 26 percent said they had lost a job due to being transgender, and 19 percent reported being denied a home or apartment. Almost one-fifth said they'd been homelessness at some point.
The survey found that complaints of discrimination were particularly pronounced among blacks.
In an e-mail, Ja'briel Walthour of Hinesville, Ga., detailed the difficulties of growing up in the 1980s and '90s as an African-American boy in the South who began to identify as a female. Neither her church nor rural community offered acceptance, she said.
"I felt there was not an ounce of compassion or empathy for individuals who may be displaying atypical gender roles," and by 17 she was contemplating suicide, she wrote.
"I got into a place where I wanted to just not be here anymore," she said.
Walthour, now 34, eventually became a school bus driver while deciding to transition to female and pursue a degree in social work.
Transgender activists say future progress for their cause may depend on more people like Walthour choosing to speak out.
"We need more trans people telling their stories," said Diego Sanchez, a transgender aide to U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., at a forum last weekend. "We need to represent ourselves, and not let others represent us."
The forum was convened to address the frustrations of some transgender people who feel marginalized within the broader gay-rights movement. The movement has for years adopted the initials LGBT — lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — but transgender activists at the forum wondered if the "T'' instead meant "token."
"We've become second fiddle, maybe third fiddle to LGB rights," said Meghan Stabler, a transsexual businesswoman. "We're a minority inside of a minority ... Right now, we're a small 't'."
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said the LGBT movement — by sheer force of numbers and financial support — was inevitably going to focus on the agenda of gays and lesbians rather than transgender people.
"But the relationship has helped out," she said. "We have a shared history, shared friends and enemies."
Looking long term, Keisling expressed optimism.
"The people who just plain hate us — they're dying out," she said. "There is not a reasonable person left in United States who doesn't understand that transgender people exist, that it's a legitimate aspect of the diversity of nature."
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Simon Pegg says men should kiss more to beat homophobia

Straight men should kiss each other more to understand homosexuality, Simon Pegg says.
The married actor said that homophobia comes from a fear of the unknown.
He told Glamour: “I’ve never been homophobic and I like flirting with gay guys; they’re easier to flirt with than women. I flirt with my gay friends quite happily, even in front of my wife. They like it if you are a bit cheeky and touchy-feely; it’s fun and more slapstick.
“Once I had to kiss three guys; real full-on snogs. I think every man should snog another man. A kiss is so much more than physical touching; we laughed about it at the time, but there was no passion.
“It would help them understand. Homophobia’s all about fear of the unknown, like it’s something you could catch. But it’s not a choice, it’s biological.”
The 40-year-old added that although he is “boringly straight”, he can appreciate the “beauty” of men like Brad Pitt.



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