LGBT Author E. Lynn Harris Passes in CA (July 25, 2009)
E. Lynn Harris wasn’t always a novelist. He had lived the earlier part of his life as a heterosexual – but on the “down low” as a Black Gay man. While at the University of Arkansas he was the first Black yearbook editor – as well as the university’s first Black male cheerleader. His “down low” life continued. Mr. Harris became a successful computer salesman for three of the leading major corporations after graduation – and lived in several locations in the eastern half of the country. While at a corporate conference in 1983 he met a person whose encouragement helped him to change his life; Maya Angelou. She strongly encouraged him to write. In 1990 he made some serious changes in his life – and then he moved to Atlanta to devote himself to his writing. His first book was self-published using the last of his savings – that was in 1992 when he published “Invisible Life”. From then on he continued to be a writer – and also appeared on Broadway as a narrator in “Dream Girls.” Everette Lynn Harris passed away on “July 23, 2009 after collapsing at a Beverly Hills hotel during a book tour,” just one month after his 54th birthday. Rest in peace Mr E. Lynn Harris – and thank-you for sharing your life with us.
The Transgender Center in Houston, TX proudly celebrated its first anniversary. Jolanda Jones, a Houston City Council member attended the celebration. At the celebration Ms. Jones read a proclamation from Mayor Bill White proclaiming July 25, 2009 as “Transgender Day”. The Transgender Center provides Transgender individuals with a safe place to gather – or to just be and relax – and also provides helpful and supportive services and information. Please also follow this link to find out more about the Center.
Ramsey Rickart and her wife Marnie Webb were married in California in 2008. They live in a community named Vallejo north of San Francisco and west of Sacramento. The couple has a daughter named Lucy – she is “4-and-a -half” (that half is very important to Lucy). Her moms – Ramsey and Marnie – were wanting to share their lives with other LGBT families in the area – so that their daughter could experience the diversity of other families. Right now the group is meeting once a month – but it hopes to meet more often and have a variety of activities to choose from. There is already a group “Vallejo Gay Network” which meets once a month – but LGBT Solano Families intends to focus “… specifically on parts of the community with children,” Ramsey Rickart said. In addition to furthering the establishment of the group – they are working on establishing a Yahoo! listserv to help the group communicate. At the first meeting, 6 families were in attendance – hopefully many more families will be able to join the group and just have a good time sharing their lives!!
After two separate incidents of Transgender women being attacked, a rally was held in Jackson Heights (Queens), NY. The latest attacks which sparked the rally occurred during the short span of just two weeks. Joann Prinzivalli spoke at the rally, “We have a real desperate need for a passage of a bill called ‘GNDA,’ the Gender Non-Discrimination Act which is stalled in the State Senate in Albany. We know we have enough votes to get it passed but the leadership doesn’t seem to get it to a vote for us.” Queens Pride House – along with other LGBT groups – organized the rally.
Personnel in the military in Britain who are Gay once had to deal with the same discrimination that we have here in the US. Well, that was until January 2000 when it became legal for members of the LGBT community to serve openly in the military in Britain. This came as a result of a “two year legal battle involving three Gay men and a Lesbian, who had been discharged from the Royal Navy and RAF after being found to be Gay.” A lot of personnel, who were discovered to be gay (or even suspected to be gay), were dismissed from service prior to 2000. Here in the US we have been fighting hard to have D.A.D.T. repealed so that our LGBT service members can do their job openly. In this article it was also revealed that, “Perhaps most tellingly, senior officers from the US have been quietly holding talks with their British counterparts on how America can change its ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy which has seen more than 12,500 members discharged since its inception 16 years ago.” British LGBT service members also now have an online forum for support.
Three gay men were attacked for their sexual orientation at the OutGames in Copenhagen. The attackers, who were yelling “homo pig” at the men during the assault, were taken into custody and will remain in custody for the remainder of the games. The attack took place as the three men were returning from the opening ceremony of the World OutGames. According to Henrik Vedel of the Copenhagen Police, “…the two attackers, who both have criminal records, are believed to have been under the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time. The suspects said they could remember nothing about the incident.” The police in Copenhagen have been working closely with the organizers of the OutGames – and also issued specific guidelines for handling hate crimes to stations in the city.
Many in our community – and our allies – have known that Gay men (and women who have had sex with gay men) are banned from donating blood to the Red Cross in this country. Well in 1998 it seems that a law was enacted in China – banning the Gay community from donating blood as well. Even in China – no matter who donates the blood – the blood is then tested for several diseases (including sexually transmitted diseases) before it is made available to those in need. A group of Lesbians in China have decided to organize an online petition – to allow Gay people to donate blood to the Red Cross. A spokeswoman for the Beijing Red Cross Blood Center said, “China bars potential blood donors from giving blood once they have ticked the Gay and Lesbian box on the application form.” The petition seems to be doing well – so far they have 540 signatures from persons identifying as Lesbian – and they are hoping for 1,000 signatures.
Prom is meant to be a fun time and a happy celebration for high school seniors. Jeremy greatly anticipated event. There was planning and shopping – as well as the final preparation and, of course, dressing for the evening itself. Jeremy arrived at the door to the prom, but the teachers / chaperons stopped him. They would not allow him to enter – not because of a lack of a prom ticket or because his outfit was in bad taste – but because Jeremy was wearing a dress. Other students at the prom were dressed in what they wanted to wear – some female students were even in tuxedos and were allowed entrance. The principal of the school indicated that Jeremy cannot just choose to be the way he wants when he wants. Jeremy said, “When I walked in, one of the teachers put me to the side and had the audacity to ask me, ‘Are you a male or a female?’, and I said, ‘What does that matter?’ and he said, ‘It matters!” The chairperson of the Guam Education Policy Board – Joe San Agustin agreed with Jeremy – and said so in an interview. Mr. San Agustin said, “If the male chose to wear a dress, so be it. That should not be the business of the school. The parents know their children. If it’s acceptable in their home, then it should be acceptable in the schools. Students go to school to be taught the basic subjects. Why are we even getting involved?” Jeremy was able to get a refund for the price of his prom ticket – but unfortunately not for what he wore to the prom he never got to attend.
This is a follow-up to a previously reported article about charges filed when an LGBT couple exchanged a kiss on Mormon owned property. The plaza became the property of the LDS Church when the city exchanged the public easement for a community center. The ownership of the property means it is not a public right of way (although used frequently as such). Salt Lake City Prosecutor Sam Gill said, “The two individuals believed — albeit mistakenly — that they had the right to be there. Fairness requires that either that property be not open to the public or you condition that [openness] in a way that the person who comes on understands that it is private property.” The LDS Church still maintains what they refer to as the so called “passionate kiss…” took place – but the article also includes a glorious mention of the “Nationwide ‘Kiss-In” to be held on August 15, 2009.
Something else very positive has happened for Same Sex couples during the OutGames in Copenhagen. One of the most prominent churches in the city opened its doors and had a special blessing ceremony – for couples whose own churches do not support their sexual orientation. Vor Frue Church happily blessed 18 LGBT couples – along with other activities during that same day for all who were interested. Vicar Mia Rahr Jacobsen said the blessings were offered in Danish, English German – and also through sign language. The Vicar also wanted to emphasize that, “It was intended to bestow blessings over the love that gives life meaning – and that love is sacred regardless of whether you love a woman or a man.”
On August 12, 2009, President Obama will “bestow the nation’s highest civilian honor,” the Medal of Freedom, on 16 named recipients. Among those designated to receive the award are Harvey Milk and Billy Jean King. The President has received some praise from the LGBT community for these two choices. When the announcement was made by the White House they said, “Milk encouraged Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender citizens to live their lives openly and believed coming out was the only way they could change social equality.” Gloria Nieto – an out Lesbian who has chaired the Democratic National Committee’s Gay and Lesbian caucus – acknowledged the announcement. Former San Francisco supervisor – now State Sen. Tom Ammiano – also a Gay man – was thrilled at the recognition of Harvey Milk. He also added, “If Harvey was alive today, he would say, ‘Thanks for the honor – now repeal those bills.'” (Referring to ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ and ‘Doma’.) President Obama will present the awards on August 12, 2009.
This is a follow-up to a previously reported story. On June 30, 2009, Seaman August Provost was murdered while serving on duty at his post, Camp Pendleton, in California. Jonathan Campos was later arrested on a variety of charges – including the murder of Provost. The accused was on a suicide watch – and was found dead of asphyxiation in his cell. Investigators announced that they believe that Campos may have taken his own life. It is horribly sad that August Provost lost his life – but it is also quite sad that Jonathan Campos has lost his life as well. The pending charges had yet to be proven – and it seems that Jonathan Campos needed more assistance with his own personal situation than was provided. May they both rest in peace.
Once again the LGBT community was denied Marriage Equality in Australia. This time they answered back – not with yelling and anger – but with happiness in the form of protest. “More than 250 couples even tied the knot, albeit illegally, to mark the occasion.” In Sydney – protesters assembled outside Town Hall while Aretha Franklin’s famous song “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” blared out over loud speakers. Then the crowd of 1,500 marched to the harbor where the Labor’s National Conference was taking place. There were similar Marriage Equality protests in various cities throughout Australia – including marriages officiated by Pastors and Clergy of local churches. Respect through Equality is definitely something that our community seeks – and deserves – along with all minorities!
pngwnz: MJ, a/k/a pngwnz, is summarizing LGBT current events each week for jaysays.com and the Why Would You Say That – Really? series. She is an out lesbian with an affinity for the music of Phil Collins and Carole King.