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Out in the movies

Movie writer, producer, and gay icon James Ivory said the lack of full-frontal male nudity in Call Me By Your Name, distressed him, as it continues the stigma of closeted gay actors. It distressed many for other reasons. The same shame forced Ivory to keep his 44-year romantic relationship with producing partner Ismail Merchant a secret. Ivory thinks the stigma remains mostly among young male actors, saying there are plenty of out gay actors. He cites Zachary Quinto, Alan Cumming, and Neil Patrick Harris of making no secret of being gay, but they either waited until later in life or had achieved mainstream success before coming out.

Unsung gay hero gets sung

Bayard Rustin, the civil rights icon who advised Martin Luther King Jr. and was a lead organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, will have a school in Maryland named after him. Rustin was instrumental in King’s success, but his contributions were minimized by some leaders of the movement because he was openly gay since the 1950s.

The Montgomery County Board of Education voted 6–2 the name of the school after testimony from students. Jamie Griffith testified, “As a queer student, I was raised in a society that still attaches shame to my identity. So Bayard Rustin Elementary School is not only a well-deserved homage to a civil rights leader and hero but a way to break the stigma and give hope to future students who no longer have to feel trapped in the closet.”

Dancing on thin ice

After open-mouth kissing Gus Kenworthy at the 2018 GLAAD Awards, what’s left for gay sweetheart Adam Rippon? Apparently deigning to join the ranks of has-beens and C-listers on Dancing With the Stars. He didn’t fall during the Olympics, but this fall he will appear on an “all-athlete” season of the ABC TV series. He joins former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding, former NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, figure skater Mirai Nagasu, MLB Player Johnny Damon, Washington Redskin’s cornerback Josh Norman, Notre Dame women’s basketball star Arike Ogunbowale, luger Chris Mazdzer, snowboarder Jamie Anderson, and softball pitcher Jennie Finch.

Pompeo queried on “gay sex”

During CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s hearings on his appointment as U.S. Secretary of State, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., questioned Pompeo’s fitness to be the chief foreign service officer due to previous stands on marriage equality and his opinion about “gay sex.” Pompeo didn’t back away from his opinion on marriage equality but refused to discuss his opinion of “gay sex.” He testified, as CIA director he treated all employees with professional respect and courtesy. “I continue to hold that view,” Pompeo said.

Not satisfied, Booker said, “You’re going to be representing this country and their [sic] values abroad in nations where gay individuals are under untold persecution, untold violence. Your views do matter.”

Georgia prom kings are queens

Two of the three boys nominated for Prom King at Georgia’s Chattahoochee High School are a romantic couple, Joel Lerner and Carter Hebert. Students also chose three girls as Queen candidates. The couple thought they could win, but the election rules require a male be King and a female be Queen. The boys say the other students accept them. “We’ve been lucky because we’ve never really been facing discrimination,” Hebert said. They expressed disappointment at the apparent discrimination and launched a petition to change the title to more neutral Prom Royalty. The ballots are printed, and it’s too late for a change this year, say school officials.

Win some, lose some in Texas court

So, there’s mixed success for a woman claiming rejection as an engineer because of her transgender status. She won the legal argument but lost on the evidence. In a first for a federal judge in Texas, the judge appointed by George H. W. Bush banned workplace discrimination against LGBT people. The finding declared Title VII of the Civil Rights Act — which prohibits discrimination based on categories like race, color, and sex — also bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and transgender statuses because those are forms of sex discrimination. The final decision was the woman didn’t have enough evidence to prove discrimination occurred. However, future discrimination cases will cite the ruling.

Getting there in the Caribbean

The Caribbean island nations of Trinidad and Tobago ruled colonial-era laws criminalizing consensual sexual activity between same-sex adults were unconstitutional. Therefore, it makes them the first former British Caribbean colonies to move in that direction. Most former French and Dutch colonies have liberalized sex or marriage laws. However, nine other nations still have criminal punishment for “buggery” on statute books, including Jamaica, Dominica, Barbados, and Saint Lucia.

A tragic end to a gay rights lawyer

David Buckel, a civil rights attorney who lead Lambda Legal’s involvement in founding Salt Lake City’s East High Gay-Straight Alliance, died after self-immolation in a Brooklyn park. He was marriage project director, Lambda Lega senior counsel, and strategic in same-sex marriage cases in New Jersey and Iowa. He left Lambda Legal to fight for environmental causes. To New York Times, he claimed suicide by self-immolation with fossil fuels was a statement about carbon-based pollution. “Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result — my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.”

If you are having suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255.

PHOTO | Attorney David S. Buckel

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