National and World News Briefs

Trump fires remaining HIV/AIDS council members

The White House has fired the remaining 16 members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AID. Six members of the council had earlier resigned because as one member said, “A president who simply does not care. We’re outta here.” The Office of National AIDS Policy slot in the White House now needs a new director. PACHA was created in 1995 to provide information, advice, and recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of HHS. This kind of turnover is not rare. During the Obama administration, nearly all of the previous appointees were dismissed, apparently with no gnashing of teeth, at the beginning of the administration.

Ryan Murphy: “Biggest LGBT cast in history”

FX has greenlighted a new Ryan Murphy show, Pose, a musical dance drama centered around ball culture in 1980’s New York. “[It’s] a dance musical and an affirming look at American life in the 1980s,” Murphy said in a statement. The first season will feature 50-plus LGBTQ characters, a record in American television history. Pose is scheduled to begin production in New York for a summer 2018 premiere on FX.

South Bend proposal accepted

South Bend Mayor, Pete Buttigieg, a possible 2929 presidential candidate, Pete announced that he would marry Chasten Glezman, a school teacher in South Bend. Buttigieg wrote a revealing essay in 2015, in which he admitted it was difficult for him to accept his sexual orientation for a long time. He also expressed an interest in starting a family. Elected in 2012, Buttigieg is also a lieutenant in the Naval Reserves, a Harvard graduate, and a Rhodes Scholar. He ran for DNC chair this year.

Let them eat cake

The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled against Sweet Cakes owners Aaron and Melissa Klein, who refused to make a cake for a lesbian couple’s wedding. The lesbian couple filed a complaint with the Bureau of Labor and won. The Kleins were ordered to pay $135,000 in damages — not for discriminating, but for encouraging their supporters to harass the couple. The court rejected the argument that wedding cakes are a form of creative expression and being forced to create a “celebratory message” violates First Amendment rights. The opinion ruled, “Their cakes, even when custom-designed for a ceremonial occasion, are still cakes made to consume.”

Gay prince to open LGBT center

With the Indian Supreme Court pledging to reopen 100-year-old “anti-gay” laws to ensure civil rights protections, Prince Manvendra of India, who came out as gay in 2006 and faced significant backlash, as a result, is now seeking to open an LGBT center on his family’s royal grounds. The center will feature support groups, a music therapy room, a health care clinic, and more, as well as seek to bring visibility to a community that still faces stigma.

Mississippi Recusal Law stays in place

SCOTUS won’t hear two cases concerning a Mississippi law that allows some businesses and government workers to refuse to recognize same-sex marriage or deny services based on their religious beliefs. The law allows any person employed by the state government who has the authority to issue licenses to recuse themselves from licensing a same-sex marriage, but requires them to “take all necessary steps to ensure any legally valid marriage is not impeded or delayed as a result of any recusal.” A lower court dismissed the challenge ruling that plaintiffs did not have “standing” to bring the case to court. However, it also left open the possibility of another challenge.

Really? The first gay figure skater

Though it may seem counterintuitive, Adam Rippon, a 28-year-old figure skater, will be the first openly gay man to compete for the United States in the Winter Olympics. He joins Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou at the February games in S. Korea. What’s historic is he’s the oldest U.S. male skater since 1938 to compete in the Olympics. Rippon may end up sharing this historic moment with U.S. freestyle skier, Gus Kenworthy who came out publicly in 2015 if Kenworthy is selected to compete in Pyeongchang. When asked what it was like being a gay athlete, Rippon responded, “It’s exactly like being a straight athlete, only with better eyebrows.”

Pink Pussy Hats a hot-button topic

The Detroit Free Press reports a controversy about the Pink Pussy Hat that became famous in 2017. Some Women’s March Michigan participants say the hat is exclusionary to transgender women, gender non-binary people, and non-white women “because their genitals are more likely to be brown than pink.”

“I won’t wear one because if it hurts even a few people’s feelings, then I don’t feel like it’s unifying,” said Phoebe Hopps, founder and president of Women’s March Michigan. LaShawn Erby, of Black Lives Matter-Lansing, declined to talk about her views on pussy hats other than to say, “It is a problem. You know, nobody can speak from your experience but you, so it is important that people that look like you, that have experiences like you should represent you.”

Chinese government mining Grindr?

The Chinese company, The Kunlun Group, has acquired the “dating app,” Grindr. The move is raising alarms among officials and experts that track Chinese intelligence and foreign influence operations in the United States. The Chinese government is sweeping up massive amounts of data on not only its citizens but also Americans and others, as part of an effort to build files on foreigners for intelligence purposes. Grindr officials said that “privacy and security of users’ personal data is a top priority” and insists that “Grindr remains a U.S. company governed and protected by the laws of the United States.”

NBC straight washes gay story

A new NBC series, Rise, follows Lou Mazzucchelli (played by Josh Radnor) as he helps revitalize the high school theater department in a working-class town. The series is based on Lou Volpe, who was a high school drama director who came out as gay late in his career. For story reasons, the teacher on “Rise” is portrayed as a straight family man. Executive producer Jason Katims explained the decision, “I hope and believe that we carry a lot of [Volpe’s] spirit into the show. I felt like I needed to make it my own story.” Katims stressed Tuesday that Rise will explore LGBT themes with some of its other characters. Twitter followers and TV critics have criticized the story change as “straight-washing.”

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