The fight for marriage equality in the US may be almost over, but the fight for transgender rights is just starting.
Vocative has five maps and the story:
…as important as visibility is for creating awareness, it’s just one step toward equality. For all the positive changes taking place, transgender Americans are still treated as lesser-thans when it comes to policy and legislation that affords them legal rights and protections. “The recent media attention that the trans community has received is a helpful starting point for working toward greater rights and equal rights,” says Arli Christian, policy counsel at the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). “Now we have all of these legal and policy changes that really need to be made. And looking at the number of states that have more accessible trans policies versus the states that need to improve their policies, we have a ways to go.”
Here are a couple of the maps to back up that point.
Caleb Laieski may be young, tall and lanky, but he’s a fighter.
At his Arizona high school, anti-gay bullying was so bad that he had to drop out and complete his education in a GED program. But the intense persecution he suffered had a sort of purifying effect – he channeled the bigotry against him into action. As he put it, he refused to “be another statistic.” In 2011 he advocated and lobbied for the Student Non-Discrimination Act in The Grand Canyon State and served as a diversity liaison in the Phoenix, Arizona mayor’s office. He also caught the attention of members of Congress and the White House and tried to take non-discrimination act to Capitol Hill.
Now he’s taking on the FDA. The 19-year-old LGBT activist, and good friend of mine, sued the FDA earlier this month for its “unnecessary” and “discriminatory” policy of banning MSM (men who have sex with men) blood donors from donating.
Since then, our understanding medical science has exponentially increased. For one, the FDA scrutinizes and tests all blood donations it receives for viruses and cancers. Samples that don’t pass the tests are destroyed. People receiving blood transfusions are in very good and capable hands. But what has been one of the biggest breakthroughs in medicine has been the demotion of HIV/AIDS from a life-ravaging Grim Reaper to a treatable, chronic condition. The miraculous Truvada, for example, essentially prevents transmission.
And yet the blood ban is still on the books. Even though experts and the American Medical Association have denounced the lifetime ban as an unnecessary, bigoted policy, the FDA still turns away possibly millions of donors because of their sexual orientation. The American Red Cross has estimated that nearly two million more people could be saved if the ban were to be eliminated and that as many as three people can be helped from a single donation.
Laieski’s lawsuit uses the precedents set in famous historical cases, including Lawrence v. Texas (2003), Loving v. Virginia (1967), and United States v. Windsor (2013) to argue that turning away and singling out a group of people because of their sexual orientation is unconstitutional. Medical privacy is also cited; only homosexuals are asked to disclose if they’ve had multiple partners.
Laieski has a compelling case, to say the least. The FDA’s ban is discriminatory and not even needed to begin with. Asking gay and bisexual men how many people they’ve slept with may have been an uncomfortable precaution in the ’80s, but it’s 2014. HIV/AIDS doesn’t just effect millions of straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people – it’s a treatable condition that can be managed and prevented.
Is the FDA just nostalgic for the Reagan years or does it see all LGBT people as diseased and unworthy of blood donation? We will soon find out. With marriage equality sweeping the nation and renewed efforts to pass the Employment N0n-Discrmination Act (ENDA), I can’t think of a better time for the FDA to join the rest of the country in the 21st century than now.
Read more from Micah at Micah's Two CentsAdd a comment Add a comment
“Oh what a night” it will be on Oct. 28 when the national tour of “Jersey Boys” swaggers into the Saroyan Theatre. Now’s your chance to see the show for free! Three lucky winners will each receive a pair of opening-night tickets. Enter to win HERE.
JERSEY BOYS is coming to Fresno, October 28th - November 2nd. Official Ticket Source JERSEY BOYS, is the Tony®, Grammy® and Olivier Award winning Best Musical about Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Four Seasons: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. This is the story of how four blue collar kids became one of the greatest successes in pop music history. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide – all before they were 30!
To enter: All you have to do is fill out our super-easy entry form here.
For more information about the play, click here.Add a comment Add a comment
Originally seen on TALKHILLCREST – contributing author Internationally known male model and HIV awareness activist C.L. Frederick
I used to think that gay men who acquired HIV got exactly what they deserved; that was until I myself tested positive. I knew very few openly positive gay men. Those that I was aware of were the social outcasts, the topic of gay gossip and innuendo, and the guys you were encouraged to stay away from in order to keep your social standing. To me, the few positive men I knew of didn’t seem like happy people. They seemed defeated, used up, and simply put – miserable. How could anyone possibly be happy and living with HIV? I was acutely aware that HIV positive men faced many stigmas socially, dating wise, in being sexually viable, and amongst their own families acceptance. Complete misery in my book of books. I did not want that life and I believed it would never be something I would ever have to deal with. In all honesty, I pitied positive men. My preconceived notions of the type of man living with HIV/Aids was rooted in social ignorance and was completely off base. After my diagnosis, I didn’t think I would ever be happy again or that I deserved happiness. I found myself at a great precipice and I did not know if I’d catch myself from falling.
Initially I felt a tremendous amount of shame. I had always told myself if I ever ended up positive that was it, I’d end this life. No way was I going to live with THAT stigma let alone a lifetime dealing with Human Immunodeficiency Virus. I assumed that the rest of my life would be marred with rejection, fear, and that I would never again have another man take an interest in me. Before I had never equated living well with being HIV positive, whether due to societal stereotypes or having a sparse group of positive men in my life. I had very few guys to relate to. I had found my rock bottom and it was the darkest reality I had ever faced.
Fresno Family Counseling Center in partnership with Fresno State is currently screening participants for the following groups:
-12 week gay men's group for ages 18 and over. Meets weekly, hour and a half sessions.
-12 week lesbian's group for ages 18 and over. Meets weekly for hour and a half sessions.
Groups will focus on identity and group membership within the LGBT community and the need for connection, alliances, and pride for a healthy self-concept. The groups will address the following themes: internalized hompphobia, coming out, gay myths, body image, relationships and friendships, dating, sex and healthy boundaries, self-esteem, grief and loss, communication and obstacles in connecting with others, and creating community and building resources.
$20 first session/$10 dollars each session afterwards.
Call (559) 229-3085 ask for Jessica or Patrick
Fresno Family Counseling Center
7320 N First Street
Fresno, CA 93726
Sarah Silverman is in hot water over a video she did to comically highlight the alarmingly high wage gap between men and women in this country. Some transgender activists found it insensitive and took it literally.
The video is almost four minutes long, but it can be summed up in the following few sentences:
“Every year the average woman loses around $11,000 to the wage gap. Over the course of the working years of her life, that’s almost $500,000. That’s a $500,000 vagina tax! That’s why I’m taking matters into my own hands…I’m becoming a dude.”
To nearly everyone (gay, straight, bisexual, transgender) who watched, the message was pretty self-explanatory: Hey, I’m a woman and I earn less than a man because of it…so I’ll just be a man instead! It was hilarious and to-the-point: Working women deserve the same pay as their male counterparts.
Trans issues have nothing to do with the video. They just don’t. She’s not literally saying that women who undergo gender reassignment surgery will then go on to get equal pay. But transgender activist Janet Mock – whom I love and find incredibly inspiring – too to her Twitter account to claim Silverman was making that exact point. “Sex reassignment doesn’t help one advance in workplace,” she tweeted. “Ask one of the most underemployed populations: trans people.”
October 11, 2014 • 10am – 9pm
The Voice Shop
Join us for our first ever LGBT+ Leadership Summit! This summit will be like no other. Workshops are being presented in a fun way for you to interact with the topics being discussed with leadership ice breakers throughout the day. Come meet new friends and learn from community leaders to bring back new knowledge to your school. After all workshops are completed, students will have fun at our end-of-summit social!
Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) club leadership are strongly encouraged to attend! Lunch, Dinner, snacks and refreshments will be included with registration.
Workshops being presented:
Moderated by My Lgbt Plus
LGBT+ Domestic Violence Awareness
Hosted by Melissa Knight, Fresno State
Hosted by The Trevor Project
Take the Power Back! Grassroots Organizing 101
Hosted by Californians for Justice
Hosted by Jena Adams, Fresno County Department of Public Health
Hosted by Gay Central Valley
Knowledge is power! With our new, interactive marriage equality maps, you can instantly find out what you need to know – an overall picture of the movement in addition to court cases, legislation, ballot initiatives and current polling!
Our maps are divided into 5 categories: State of the States (the current status regarding marriage equality for each state); Legislation; Litigation/Lawsuits; Ballot Initiatives; and, Polling. You can download each map, resulting in a clear, attractive PDF.
Did you know that via our State of the States Map, you can find the 10 states that ban marriage equality via the state constitution and also have a state law banning same-sex marriage?
Or, that on our Legislation Map you are able to see see which 7 states legalized marriage equality via state legislation, not the courts or the ballot box.
By using our Litigation/Lawsuits Map, you can find the 4 states with marriage equality cases at the state court level, and each state with a case at the federal level.
On the Ballot Initiatives Map you can locate the state which banned same-sex marriage via a ballot initiative, and which now has an initiative pending to legalize same-sex marriage.
And, our Polling Map shows you the states that are just about to break 50% support for marriage equality! As well as the 1 U.S. Territory with marriage equality polling on record.
I hope you enjoy perusing our map data – definitely feel free to share this!Add a comment Add a comment
Gay Central Valley is pleased to announce that we are a recipient of a Covered California grant, aimed at underserved populations in the state. This grant is part of a larger grant through the Health Access Foundation. The grant money will, in part, pay two individuals from Gay Central Valley's board of directors to reach out to LGBT people and others over the next few months to sign members up through the Covered California program for medical insurance. Outreach will cover Fresno and Merced counties in the Central Valley. Grant money will also be used for office space, equipment, supplies, etc.
From Covered California: "Building on high enrollment in 2014, Covered California launched its community outreach campaign for 2015 on Monday, including new grants to community groups and a comprehensive advertising program aimed at attracting new consumers and encouraging them to enroll in the state's health benefit exchange.
The campaign includes $46 million in new statewide advertising and $14.6 million in new community outreach grant funding. Selected organizations will receive between $50,000 and $750,000 in grants, based on their experience with special populations defined by common characteristics – such as language, ethnicity, geography and employment sector – and their ability to effectively educate and enroll Californians and help individuals with Covered California renew their insurance."
The program runs from October 1, 2014 to June 30th, 2015. Open enrollment is from November 15th 2014 to February 15th, 2015.Add a comment Add a comment
Facebook changed directions on its “real names” policy yesterday in response to continued and blistering criticism from drag queens and the threat of mass defections to Ello and other services.
Think Progress reports:
Facebook officially apologized Wednesday for enforcing its “real name” policy for users against drag queens and other members of the LGBT community. Chris Cox, Facebook’s chief product officer, acknowledged that the policy has been a “painful” experience for the many individuals whose profiles were suspended and promised to do better. “I want to apologize to the affected community of drag queens, drag kings, transgender, and extensive community of our friends, neighbors, and members of the LGBT community for the hardship that we’ve put you through in dealing with your Facebook accounts over the past few weeks,” Cox wrote. He explained that an individual user had reported several hundred accounts as fake, and they didn’t notice the pattern of how drag queens and other LGBT people might have been targeted for their identities rather than because they were trying to impersonate, bully, or troll others — as is the case for most fake accounts Facebook suspends.
“an individual user had reported several hundred accounts as fake” — and that, in a nutshell, is the problem with Facebook. Someone can lodge a complaint against you, and you often end up suspended or worse without any recourse, unless you can mount a mass media campaign in your own defense. FB is notoriously terrible at dealing with user issues – ever tried to get help from a FB employee? Which is as much a function of FB’s sheer size and limited staff as anything else. Maybe they should put a few more of their billions of dollars they earn from our information into customer service.
And BTW, has this individual who targeted drag queens been suspended from using Facebook?
The U.S. Supreme Court has just officially turned down all of the same-sex marriage cases it was presented. Here's why this is good news.
The U.S. Supreme Court this morning began its fall session, and in a stunning development announced it will not take up any of the same-sex marriage cases from the five states it was presented, Utah, Oklahoma, Virgina, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
Many court watchers had expected the nation's top court would hear at least one same-sex marriage case.
But now, with today's announcement, all stays on same sex marriage will "disappear," to quote NBC News' Pete Williams, albeit not overnight.
The lower court rulings will now go into effect for all same-sex marriage cases, meaning same-sex marriage is now or will shortly be legal in Utah, Oklahoma, Virgina, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
In addition, same-sex marriage will become legal in eleven more states, by virtue of them being in federal circuit court regions.
"Other states under the jurisdiction of appeals courts that struck down the bans will also be affected, meaning the number of states with gay marriage is likely to quickly jump from 19 to 30," Reuters reports. "The other states would be North Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina, Wyoming, Kansas and Colorado."
The Supreme Court could take up a same-sex marriage case in the future if a Court of Appeals rules a marriage ban is constitutional, which no appeals court has ruled to date.
“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court leaves in force five favorable marriage rulings reached in three federal appellate courts, ensuring the freedom to marry for millions more Americans around the country," Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, said in a statement. "The Court’s letting stand these victories means that gay couples will soon share in the freedom to marry in 30 states, representing 60% of the American people. But we are one country, with one Constitution, and the Court’s delay in affirming the freedom to marry nationwide prolongs the patchwork of state-to-state discrimination and the harms and indignity that the denial of marriage still inflicts on too many couples in too many places. As waves of freedom to marry litigation continue to surge, we will continue to press the urgency and make the case that America – all of America -- is ready for the freedom to marry, and the Supreme Court should finish the job.”Add a comment Add a comment
My favorite story of the week:
Nine days after transgender student Maria Muniz was fined by school officials for wearing a skirt, a group of her Colegio Pedro II classmates decided to stage a protest: both male and female students would all wear skirts on the same day. Soon after their demonstration an ecstatic Muniz learned that the school’s decision was overturned, reports the UK’s Orange News. Pedro II’s principal told Brazil’s Globo that the school will consider relaxing their dress code. After the protest, school officials posted a picture of their male and female students wearing wearing skirts to social media, where it became widely shared. Supporters have been writing their support to Muniz using the hashtag #VouDeSaia.
I mean, how cool is that?Add a comment Add a comment
Today is the first day the US Supreme Court could actually choose a case or cases in the marriage equality fight this year.
NBC News reports:
The justices, who will meet in a closed-door conference on Monday, will consider whether to hear any of three same-sex marriage lawsuits during the next term, which officially starts Oct. 6. If they decide to review one or more of the cases, a ruling could be reached by July on whether same-sex marriage must be allowed nationwide. If they choose not to hear the cases, the decision would allow gay nuptials in the ten states covered by the three lawsuits. The court could also wait for a circuit court to disagree with the others and support the state bans. The justice have until January 2015 to make their decision. Both opponents and supporters of gay marriage predict that the justices will hear at least one of the cases.
Which case do you think they will take, if any? Utah, Oklahoma, or Virginia?Add a comment Add a comment
Here are the official details: Saturday, Oct. 4th at The Big Red Church 2131 N. Van Ness in Fresno, CA. will be the date and venue of Reese Ramirez's celebration of life! The celebration will be from 5-10pm. There will be a small service with a speaker on behalf of the family. Appetizers will be provided by the family, and drinks will be sold as a contributions toward non-profit organizations such as: (Trans E Motion, Fresno Pride, Suicide Watch). If you would like to submit pictures for the slideshow, please send them to
We are putting on a drag show in Reese's honor, as this is something he loved to watch and do as well! You will be encouraged to tip the performers, as all will be donated to our wonderful organizations. Shirts will be here in about a week, I will post details asap. All are welcome to join us in wearing the shirts at the service. Entry is FREE. Thank you everyone.
Comments and memories may be posted by commenting below. We'll be sure to pass them along to the family.
The US Supreme Court has asked the petitions be ready for all seven marriage quality cases that have reached the court.
Scotus Blog reports:
Matching the speed of lawyers and lower courts in handling the same-sex marriage controversy, the Supreme Court on Wednesday set the stage for its first look at all of the pending cases, when the Justices assemble on September 29 for a private Conference. Seven petitions — three from Virginia, and one each from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wisconsin — will be submitted to the Justices at that session. There is, of course, no certainty that they will act on any or all of them at that point, but the option is there. With all sides agreeing that the time to rule is now, it would be a surprise if the Court opted to bypass the issue altogether in its new Term… Together, the petitions raise two constitutional questions: do states have power to refuse to allow same-sex couples to marry, and do states have power to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states? In all of the federal appeals courts’ decisions being challenged in these cases, state marriage bans of one or both of those kinds were struck down under the federal Constitution, either under equal protection or due process guarantees, or both.
Another set of cases before the Sixth Circuit could be decided soon.
…the Supreme Court could have more cases headed its way very soon. Many are focsued on 4 pending cases before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, a court some legal analysts suspect is more likely than others to uphold marriage bans: “If that happens, it’s a virtual certainty that the Supreme Court would step in and resolve the disagreement.”
The cases awaiting Supreme Court consideration on 9/29 are from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.Add a comment Add a comment
TO WIN A WAR, YOU HAVE TO START ONE.
StageWorks Fresno Presents
A Special Performance of
THE NORMAL HEART
in conjunction with the Bulldog Pride FundThurs. Sept. 25th • 8:00pm
Bonner Auditorium • Fresno Art Museum • 2233 N 1st St
$30 per person • Limited Seating
Purchase your online tickets now
Includes post-performance champagne and dessert reception with director and cast
The story of a city in denial, THE NORMAL HEART unfolds like a real-life political thriller—as a tight-knit group of friends refuses to let doctors, politicians and the press bury the truth of an unspoken epidemic behind a wall of silence. A quarter-century after it was written, this outrageous, unflinching, and totally unforgettable look at the sexual politics of New York during the AIDS crisis remains one of the theatre’s most powerful evenings ever. Winner of the 2011 Tony Award® for Best Revival of a Play.
Fresno Premiere. Contains adult content.
Please note: This is the stage play, not a screening of the HBO film.
THE FRESNO BEE review: http://fresnobeehive.com/archives/36668#more-36668
• Additional performance dates of THE NORMAL HEART are September 26-28.
• Tickets: http://www.etix.com/ticket/online/eventSearch.jsp?event_id=1001001
Local trans activist and community member, Reese Ramirez passed away overnight. A facebook post by his mother states:
Friends of Reese Ramirez.......
This is his mom, Denise Michelle Ramirez. Reese has many, many friends throughout CA and beyond, and this is the only way I can reach most of you.
It is with deepest sorrow that I have to let you know of his passing. We believe it to be related to natural causes.
We will keep you updated on the date and location of the service, as I know Reese would want you there to celebrate the wonderful and rich life that you were a part of.
Our family and I truly look forward to meeting each one, of his very special and valued friends.
Comments and memories may be posted by commenting below. We'll be sure to pass them along to the family. Funeral service details will be available on his page in the coming days.
I picked up my 20-something son, David, at the Metro a few weeks ago. After he got into the car, he put out his hands towards me, and asked:
“Do you like this color? Kind of a deep purple. I get a lot of compliments on it.”
Yes, David wears nail polish — bright, glossy, frequently-changing-colors nail polish. And it doesn’t bother me. In fact, I like the deep purple shade.
When David first told us he was gay in his junior year in high school, my husband and I were somewhat surprised, but when we thought about it, it began to make sense. At first I worried about the increased chances that he would develop AIDS and I was concerned about problems he would likely face being accepted as a gay man in the less tolerant world we lived in a decade ago. But the gay part? We had an inkling. Okay, more than an inkling. (What parent doesn’t?)
As an avid reader and news-watcher, I did have some knowledge of the evolving gay community. I was aware of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, I remember when Barney Frank became the first U.S. congressman to come out as gay in 1987 and when a New York Court ruled in 1989 that it was legally possible for a same-sex couple to constitute a family.Add a comment Add a comment
Fresno Reel Pride is gearing up for its biggest year yet!
Grab the one page printable film schedule here.
Friday, September 19
5:30pm - EAT WITH ME - Tower Theatre
5:30pm - BROKEN GARDENIAS - The Voice Shop
7:30pm - TRU LOVE - Tower Theatre
7:30pm - TIGER ORANGE - The Voice Shop
9:30pm - 10-YEAR PLAN - Tower Theatre
Saturday, September 20
12:30pm - THE CIRCLE (Der Kreis) - The Voice Shop
12:30pm - FUN IN GIRLS SHORTS - Tower Theatre
2:30pm - LETTER TO ANITA - The Voice Shop
2:30pm - FUN IN BOYS SHORTS - Tower Theatre
4:30pm - DISCOVERIES: YOUTH SHORTS PROGRAM - The Voice Shop
4:30pm - LILTING - Tower Theatre
7:30pm - APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR - Tower Theatre
7:30pm - CLUB KING - The Voice Shop
9:30pm - HAPPY END?! - The Voice Shop
9:30pm - BOYS (Jongens) - Tower Theatre
Sunday, September 21
1:00pm - 20 LIES, 4 PARENTS AND A LITTLE EGG - The Voice Shop
1:00pm - LIMITED PARTNERSHIP - Tower Theatre
2:30pm - REGARDING SUSAN SONTAG - The Voice Shop
3:00pm - 52 TUESDAYS - Tower Theatre
4:30pm - BORN TO FLY: ELIZABETH STREB VS. GRAVITY - The Voice Shop
5:00pm - Centerpiece Screening: BLACKBIRD - Tower Theatre
6:00pm - TRANSCENDENT: TRANS SHORTS - The Voice Shop
7:30pm - LIFE PARTNERS - Tower Theatre