National & World News — Dec. 2021

X marks the spot

The U.S. special diplomatic envoy for LGBT rights, Jessica Stern, announced the State Department had issued its first passport with an “X” gender designation for people who don’t identify as male or female. It is unknown to whom the passport was issued, but Dana Zzyym of Colorado is a good guess. Zzyym is an intersex person and has been in a legal tussle with the U.S government since 2015 over this issue. The department now allows applicants to self-select their gender as male or female, no longer requiring them to provide medical certification if their gender did not match that listed on their other identification documents.

Aussie gay baller

Josh Cavallo, a player in the Australian pro soccer league, recently announced his gayness. He is reputedly the first player to be open about his status while still playing in Australia’s top-flight men’s soccer competition. The international soccer world has been attempting to get mostly Latin fans to stop yelling the “gay’ slur, “Puto,” at opposing players. When Cavallo takes the field, there will be no end of confusion as to how to taunt him.

Hate crime data

Hate crime reports in the U.S rose to the highest level ever in 2020. Hate crime statistics have been gathered since 2001.  The FBI report showed a 76% increase in reported anti-Asian hate crimes. After racial bias hate crimes, which made up most of the reported cases, 20 percent involved sexual orientation bias, 13.3 percent involved religious bias, 2.7 percent involved gender identity bias, and 1.4 percent involved disability bias. Roughly half of all hate crime incidents reported were classified as intimidation, 27 percent were simple assault, and nearly 18 percent were aggravated assault. The other five percent amounted to dirty looks, frowning, headshaking, and sighs.

Life Is tough for Gen Z

The cohort of young people between the ages of 18 and 24, what demographers call “Generation Z,” were surveyed by the Center for American Progress at the University of Chicago in 2020. Those poor souls surveyed reported that “that LGBTQI+ youth face high levels of discrimination in school, work, and housing, which leads to large-scale financial struggles and poor mental health.” Overall, 57 percent of Generation Z respondents reported experiencing some form of discrimination in the year prior to the survey, compared with 42 percent of Millennials, 30 percent of Gen X respondents, and 19 percent of Baby Boomers, proving that people over 60 are mostly invisible or doing the discriminating.  

Dave’s Netflix blow back

Comedian Dave Chappelle stood by his Netflix special, “The Closer,” which was criticized for his comments about transgender people. At a Hollywood Bowl performance and in a social media video, he says, “I said what I said.” In the video Chappelle, performs new standup material, saying he would meet with transgender Netflix employees following their pushback on the controversial special. “If they had invited me, I would have accepted,” Chappelle says of the trans employees at Netflix. “Although I am confused about what we would be speaking about. You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. Well, it seems like I’m the only one who can’t go to the office anymore.”

FCC Commission get first

President Biden is moving to fill two openings at the Federal Communications Commission by nominating Jessica Rosenworcel as the commission’s chair and former FCC staffer Gigi Sohn to a second vacant seat. Rosenworcel has been serving as the acting chair of the commission and has been on the panel since 2012. Sohn was counsel to former FCC chair Tom Wheeler. If confirmed by the Senate, Sohn would become the first openly LGBT commissioner. Rosenworcel is the first woman to chair the panel.

Petition Wicked to James Corden

One of the lines that got Ricky Gervais fired from hosting the Golden Globes in 2019 was, “We got to see James Corden as a big, fat pussy, and he was in “Cats.” The movie musical, “The Prom,” was panned, as was Corden’s performance in the cringe-inducing Netflix production. So, fans of the cinematic production of “Wicked” have generated a petition, which has 35,000 names, asking Universal Pictures not to cast Corden as the Wizard. “Wicked” is a reimagining of “The Wizard of Oz” as told from the perspective of Oz’s witches Elphaba and Glinda. The musical premiered on Broadway in 2003 and starred Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, the latter winning a Tony Award for her portrayal of Elphaba. Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande will appear as Elphaba and Glinda, respectively. As far as we can tell, not one gay or lesbian person is named in this, sure to interest the LGBT community, news item. Progress.

Historic choice for judge

The U.S. Senate voted 51 to 45 to confirm Beth Robinson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. Robinson, who has been an associate judge on the Vermont Supreme Court since 2011, is now the first openly LGBTQ woman to serve on any U.S. appeals court. It’s a lifetime appointment. She is 56. There has been no indication in media reports, her resume, or White House crowing as to which letter of the acronym she is.

Italian politician proclaims gayness

Vincenzo Spadafora, a prominent member of the Movimento 5 Stelle, the populist, anti-establishment political party, told a radio interview that he is gay. “I think that people’s private lives should remain that way, but I also think those with a public role, a political role like mine, have some more responsibility.” Italy, though a culturally liberal country, is still illiberal about openly gay men. The Italian Senate recently rejected a bill that would have criminalized violence against LGBT people due to opposition from the Vatican and the country’s far-right party. “In politics, homosexuality is used to hurt, to attack an opponent, something I now want to avoid,” he said. He defended his Roman Catholic faith, saying his sexuality is “not in contradiction.”

Bi-Senator may doom Equality Act

U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the chamber’s first avowedly bisexual member, has come under fire for being a political moderate. First, they criticized her clothes and glasses. Now, new pressure is being brought on by those who think her defense of the parliamentary maneuver called “the filibuster” may doom the Equality Act. The sweeping legislation was by the U. S. House of Representatives but may not survive a filibuster in the U. S. Senate. She is being encouraged to vote to end the filibuster to pass the Equality Act. She says she’ll vote for the EA but, joining the adamantly cisgender Senator from West Virginia in opposition, not the end of the filibuster. Her stand has enraged her allies and delighted her opponents. The HRC blasted the Arizona Senator, and Brian Brown of the anti-homo Family Rights Council has praised her. She really is swinging both ways.

Two twists of the dragon’s tail

Two Asian political hot spots, Taiwan and Hong Kong, were chosen to host high-profile LGBT events. The Gay Games will be staged in Hong Kong in 2023. The organization announced it changed the name of the event to “Gay Games 11 Hong Kong 2023”. Rolls off the tongue. Kaohsiung City, Taiwan was chosen by Interpride to host “WorldPride 2025.” WorldPride events have previously taken place in Rome, Jerusalem, London, Toronto, Madrid, New York City, and Copenhagen. Sydney will host “WorldPride 2023.” This is the first time either event has been staged in Asia. The LGBT ambivalent Peoples Republic of China has just accomplished a political and cultural clampdown in Hong Kong. The ChiComs have long threatened to take over the independent island nation of Taiwan, which is politically, culturally, and socially much more liberal than the mainland.

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