National and World Briefs

Store owner, Greek police charged in death of gay activist

Four Athens police officers and a shop owner have been charged with inflicting “fatal bodily harm” on Zak Kostopoulos, a 33-year-old Greek gay rights activist. He was beaten by a mob after he broke into a jewelry store in downtown Athens. Friends say he was trying to evade a fight that started at a nearby cafe. He was attacked by a group of people, including the store’s owner, who said, after the break-in and finding Kostopoulos in the store, he thought the shop was being robbed.

Russia loses in court

Looking for an example of the phrase “water off a duck’s back”? Look no further than the European Court of Human Rights ruling that Russia can no longer ban LGBTQ events, like Pride celebrations, ruling Russia violated articles protecting LGBTQ people’s “freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association with others.”

Pence on World AIDS Day

Those joke-sters at the White House had Vice President Pence mark World AIDS Day by announcing the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, an HIV/AIDS program that’s helped millions of Africans since 2003, will be reauthorized.

He also announced that $100 million will be given to religious organizations that help prevent the spread of HIV. The irony of Pence being the face of Worlds AIDS Day announcements stems from his 2000 suggestion to defunding the Ryan White Care Act, which provides federal funding for HIV/AIDS patients, suggesting the money instead go to conversion therapy programs. He was also the first sitting vice president to speak at the anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council’s Value Voters meeting this year.

Tripped up by Tweets

Kyler Murray, awarded collegiate football’s prestigious Heisman Trophy, was immediately criticized for Tweets he issued when he was 15 years old using the term “queer” pejoratively. Murray quickly tweeted an apology. “I apologize for the tweets that have come to light tonight from when I was 14 and 15. I used a poor choice of words that doesn’t reflect who I am or what I believe. I did not intend to single out any individual or group.”

In the Oscar world, comedian Kevin Hart decided the aggravation from Twitter critics wasn’t worth it. He decided not to be the host of the upcoming Oscars when eight- to ten-year-old tweets and comedy routines making derogatory jokes about gay people surfaced. He said the quotes didn’t reflect who he was now and he and evolved and was discouraged the Twitter-verse wouldn’t accept that.

School versus GSAs, it’s so ’80s

In what seems like “news from the ’80s,” the ACLU of Indiana is suing for discrimination when students at Leo Jr. Sr. High School formed a Gay-Straight Alliance but were forced to follow rules that other student clubs don’t have to follow, including not using “gay” as part of the name. Instead, it had to call themselves the “Leo Pride Alliance.” Pride was allowed if it was defined as an acronym for “Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Diligence, and Excellence.” They also can’t use words like “gay” and “lesbian” when they’re promoting the group. The GSA couldn’t use school bulletin boards, participate in school activities, and couldn’t meet anywhere but one classroom in the school. The ACLU says that the school is in violation of the Equal Access Act of 1984, signed by Ronald Reagan, originally supported by Christian conservatives who were worried that schools would ban Bible clubs.

Transgender Cultural District for SF

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has designated a portion of the somewhat seedy but gentrifying Tenderloin District as the nation’s first transgender cultural district. The district is mostly around Gene Compton’s Cafeteria, famous for the 1966 two-day riot lead by drag performers and transgender women, and gay places like the dance and performance space Counterpulse and bars, OMG, and Aunt Charlie’s Lounge. The movement to designate the area is lead by RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant, Mahogany, in response to plans to build high-end residential and commercial buildings in the area spanning six blocks of the lower Tenderloin and Market Street areas.

Gotta watch that mouth

MSNBC Morning Joe anchor Mika Brzezinski is being criticized for using what some think is a “homophobic slur” while discussing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments about the murder of political activist and journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. The murder has been imputed to the government of Saudi Arabia and Pompeo has not condemned the Royal Family for the crime, committed in the Kingdom’s consulate in Turkey.

Mrs. Morning Joe questioned the motivations of the Secretary of State, asking if he was “a wannabe dictator’s butt-boy.” While that is a compliment in some circles, she was criticized by an outraged mob. She apologized saying she should have said “Water Boy,” although that term has sexual connotations of its own.

You couldn’t tell by her choice of customers, but the stripper has standards

The current President’s bête noir and alleged paramour for pay, Stormy Daniels, canceled a performance at a Sunrise, Fla., strip club because the manager referred to her manager as a faggot. Responding pretty well, she posted a pic of her standing in front of the club flying the bird and stating, “That kind of abuse will not be tolerated … I do not respond well to bullies.”

Dismal science, dismal sense of humor

An economist set to discuss the minimum wage was put on hold by a U.S. House committee when an online post he wrote in 2002 was revealed, calling for a tax on gay sex. San Diego University economist Joseph Sabia wrote in a post entitled “Tax Gay Sex,” that “homosexual activity has been responsible for devastating health outcomes — deadly HIV, hepatitis B, and various other sexually transmitted diseases.”

Apparently, that passed for humor in his circle of friends, as he claims he was writing satire. Facing censure from his employer, he apologized, saying he was an out gay man in a committed relationship. “I regret the hurtful and disrespectful language I used as a satirical college opinion writer,” he wrote.

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