News Briefs

TV appearances, who’s counting?

GLAAD’s annual “Where We Are on TV” reports queer characters constitute nearly nine percent of regular TV and streaming characters this season. That’s up a few ticks from last year. Among those characters, 22 percent are black, eight percent Latinx, and eight percent Asian Pacific Islander. Characters identifying as men or women are at 50 percent each. GLAAD says this somehow represents an improvement over last season when “men” made up 55 percent of characters and women 44 percent. Overall, the report says there are 31 percent more regular and recurring queer characters on broadcast TV and 72 percent on streaming programs since 2017.

A friend of the court, but not queer people

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief in a case working its way to the Supreme Court about a transgender woman who was fired after she informed her employer of her gender transition. A lower court and EEOC have ruled the employer violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Alliance Defending Freedom is urging the Supreme Court to consider the case as a Religious Freedom issue.

The ACLU and other rights organizations are petitioning SCOTUS not to take up the appeal. The DOJ is not asking the Supreme Court to hear the case, but posits the definition of “sex” in the context the passing of the law in 1964, suggests the act referred to “man or woman” and nothing else and that Congress can revisit the act and change it to expand the definition to LGBT people. In an action awaiting a blue wave, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently said she would introduce the Equality Act, legislation to do just as the DOJ suggested, as one of her first orders of business if Democrats retake the House in November.

The Chicago Way gets weird

The Chicago Police Department is accused of protecting a police officer under criminal investigation for the beating of a gay couple. While off duty, the officer and his boyfriend put two men in the hospital in the beating. They were fingered by two other men also implicated as aiding in the beat down. The officer is on desk duty, and no criminal charges have been filed. Police records show the officer has a rap sheet for sexual assault charges going back to 2003. A male teen was assaulted while the officer served as a resource officer at the teen’s high school. Another was a complaint by two male teen relatives at a family reunion.

Gay does not always equal bright

Gateway Pundit, the first website news blog to get White House media credentials, has backtracked a story about special counsel Robert Mueller headlined: Accused of Rape By ‘Very Credible Witness’ — MUCH MORE TO COME #BelieveAllWomen. The story alleges sexual harassment by the former FBI Director in an incident in 1974. The story was quickly replaced by the factual story that the FBI was investigating a DC lobbyist for bribing a woman to make these accusations. The founder of Gateway Pundit is Jim Hoft who “came out” while reporting on the Orlando Nightclub Massacre. He has been dubbed “the dumbest man on the internet” for running so many off the wall, some would say fake, stories.

Baltimore is Divine, vice versa

A new mural in Baltimore pays tribute to the late drag actor and cult figure Divine. Painted by the internationally prominent street artist Gaia (Andrew Pisacane), the three-story-high mural in the Mount Vernon Historic District is one of the first murals anywhere to pay tribute to a drag performer. The owners of the building, a married male couple, wanted to reproduce the image from the “I’m So Beautiful” cover. Divine (Harris Glenn Milstead) was born in Maryland in 1945 and died in 1988, shortly after Hairspray was released. Divine rose to fame in John Water’s movies. “It is great,” Waters said. “Divine looking out, blessing the city.”

The closet still kills

The late New England Patriots’ tight end, Aaron Hernandez, was gay, according to his brother in a family memoir, The Truth About Aaron. Hernandez was convicted of murder in 2013 and committed suicide in prison in 2017. Jonathan Hernandez says their father abused both boys, beating them for the smallest of infractions and that an older boy sexually assaulted Aaron at age six. Jonathan writes, “You could kind of see what his conflicts were and what he was struggling with, his sexuality … and accepting himself.” He says the struggle, coupled with brain injuries sustained on the football field, led to dramatic changes in behavior.

High times with gay mags

The kerfuffle arising from a report by the website for the news and media business, The Inquisitr, and reprinted in Women’s Wear Daily, that owners of Out and The Advocate, Adam Levin and Maxx Abramowitz, donated money to Republican politicians has subsided as the blog has apologized for errors in the story. Only one of the two owners gave any money to Republican politicians and did so because of the representatives’ stands on marijuana legalization — important to the owners as they also own High Times, an iconic MJ publication. The blog also apologized for suggesting the magazines were in financial troubles and the owners “are at best disinterested in the magazines’ base and issues and are at worst actively hostile to it.”

Bad time to be gay in Africa

Officials in Tanzania’s main city of Dar es Salaam announced the formation of a team to identify and arrest gay and lesbian people. Tanzania law subjects them up to 30 years in jail. Laws against same-sex sexual activity, introduced to most African nations by European colonial powers over a century ago, are rarely enforced in Tanzania. Agitation and action against gays and lesbians have risen since President John Magufuli’s election in 2015, who says “Even Cows hate homosexuality.” Since his election, gay and lesbian support groups and HIV/AIDS prevention programs targeting gay men have been shut down.

PayPal founder is PresPal

He’s either brave or nuts, but PayPal founder and Facebook board member Peter Thiel told The New York Times he would support the President in the 2020 election. Thiel discussed being a gay man in Silicon Valley at the 2016 GOP convention. He recently moved his operation to Los Angeles calling the Valley a “one-party state.” He’s not troubled by the President’s tweets or the nicknames he assigns his opponents, calling them, “accurate.” Thiel dismisses the President’s inaccurate pronouncements by saying previous presidents have lied by omission and by not discussing the issues the current one does. He thinks the current political environment is “not healthy” but claimed the USA has been “polarized since the late ’60s” and that the president was “not the main cause.”

Heartless corporations show heart

Fifty-six corporations with more than $2.4 trillion in annual revenue signed a letter expressing support for the transgender community and opposing the federal government’s proposal to define gender based on physical status at birth. The letter, signed by such name brands as Google, Coca-Cola, Apple, Amazon, Pepsi, JPMorgan Chase, Dow Chemical and Uber, asks the government to, “to display respect and transparency when drawing up policies” and called for “full equality under the law.” The effort, called Businesses for Trans Rights, was organized by OUT leadership and the Human Rights Campaign and included, GLAAD, GLSEN, Lambda Legal, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, National LGBTQ Task Force, PFLAG National, The Trevor Project, Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, and others.

Rhapsodic box office for gay pics

Two movies about gay men, Bohemian Rhapsody and Boy Erased, won the money chase in the first weekend of release. The Freddy Mercury biopic, in general release, earned $50 million in the U.S. and $72 million overseas. Boy Erased, about conversion therapy, is in limited release and earned the highest screen average in that market on the opening weekend. Rami Malek from TVs Mr. Robot portrayed Queen’s Freddy Mercury, and the film was mired in controversy when the initial director got embroiled in #meetoo accusations and a lawsuit.

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