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#LGBTQProgress

#LGBTQProgress March 2017

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#TransResistance

There’s been a worrying trend throughout March of transphobia seeping into the weekend papers. It started with broadcaster Jenni Murray’s piece in The Sunday Times saying trans women are not ‘real women’, with authors Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Fay Weldon and Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman also sharing views that sound less than inclusive. Perpetuating the idea that anyone knows what makes a ‘real woman’ (or a real man, or a real anything) is dangerous rhetoric that keeps trans discrimination going. This year’s TDoV, Trans Day of Visibility (31st March) was spot on with its theme of #TransResistance, especially a day after North Carolina’s ‘bathroom bill’ was repealed in a still-transphobic compromise.

 

Exclusively Gay Missed-Moments?

The press went into hype overload around Beauty and the Beast after its director Bill Condon told Attitude that the live remake features Disney’s first big-screen ‘exclusively gay moment’ as Le Fou happens to dance with a man for three seconds. Soon after, Power Rangers came out with an equally brief moment, suggesting one of the gang might or might not be in a same-sex relationship. It’s hard in the UK to see these ambiguous screen seconds as genuine progress following Moonlight’s pioneering Best Picture win at the Oscars and a first lesbian companion for Doctor Who. The progress instead seems to have come from the hype. Malaysia’s film censors initially banned the film because of the hype surrounding it. They backed down. In one country that bans homosexuality, two men are dancing in the cinema.

 

Research round-up

  • An American survey shows 1 in 5 millennials are LGBTQ, which is three times higher than a similar poll released just in January. Unfortunately, the next National Census in 2020 won’t (or rather, will) set the statistics straight. Considerations to ask about sexual orientation have been dropped.
  • Does your sexuality stop you getting the job, or just your voice? A small research experiment showed that those with ‘gay or lesbian sounding voices’ were wrongly considered to be poorer candidates. Glee and Feud creator Ryan Murphy already spoke earlier in the month about his experience of being mocked for a ‘gay voice’ in Hollywood. Another piece of research suggested female employers prefer gay candidates. Remember, not getting a job in the UK because of your actual or perceived sexual orientation is illegal discrimination (with some very limited, infuriating exceptions). And ‘gay-sounding voices’ aren’t real.

Your new favourite magazine might be a tie. HISKIND launched in print, Diva celebrated 250 issues by launching DIVA Awards and Grindr announced their a travel-focused magazine Into.

Your new favourite football team is also a tie. Manchester United became the first football club to partner with Stonewall, with neighbouring team Bolton Wanderers tweeting their support. Reports of chanting at a recent Chelsea v Man U match are a reminder of the homophobic reality that teams are working to change. Wonderkid, a short film about a gay pro footballer has been aired by Sky Sports and is free to watch online.

Happy Birthday to GMFA. Founded in 1992 as Gay Men’s Fighting Aids, the charity reaches over 1.5 million on its websites discussing safer sex, relationships, mental health, HIV stigma and racism. There’s only one thing on their birthday list and we can all chip in to it: a £25,000 fundraising appeal

Raise a glass and raise your flag for Gilbert Baker. The creator of the ubiquitous rainbow flag died on Thursday 30th March, leaving a legacy of symbolism that is impossible to fully comprehend and fascinating to read about.

Follow me on Twitter @JoeyKnock for more #LGBTQProgress news throughout the week.

#LGBTQProgress (February 2017)

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It’s still about bathrooms in American government

Who was surprised? #45 has started rolling back transgender protection. President Obama had introduced guidelines only in May stating transgender students can use toilets and changing rooms that match their chosen, not birth, gender identity in their school. By revoking these guidelines, it’s now up to individual stats and schools to decide, creating a postcode lottery of protection.

This is the first act made by the White House against the LGBTQ communities and strengthens states like Texas and their proposed transphobic laws despite clear evidence of the economic ruin it will cause. Caitlyn Jenner, the vocal transgender Republican supporter was surprised that #45 broke his flimsy promise to the LGBTQ community. Inclusion isn’t just important, it is life saving, as shown by a decrease in young suicide attempts since same-sex marriage was legalised.

 

Church of England votes to be more inclusive

In the middle of the month, the Church of England’s governing body met. It’s made up of Bishops (senior church leaders), Vicars (local church leaders) and laity (church members). They narrowly decided not to take note of a report by the Bishops on sexuality which maintained ‘the church must stand against homophobia’, but cannot bless same sex relationships, let alone marriage. The vote sent a clear message that the report does not go far enough and church leaders have already said what they’ll do next to bring a ‘radical inclusion’ into the church.

Unity of the Church of England and global anglican communion is exceptionally important to its leaders. To those outside the church, it must look like letting homophobes block progress and prove the church is irrelevant. Whether the Church of England introduces same sex marriage in the next few decades (it won’t be quick) matters because

  1. Some young people still go to church. They need to hear about inclusion.
  2. Churches are pretty buildings that same sex couples may want to get married in
  3. Many local churches run foodbanks, homeless shelters, coffee mornings. They are physical spaces at the centre of the community. What they say, and if they stay open can again be life or death.

You can watch the whole two hour debate on BBC iPlayer, which included this speech from young activist Lucy Gorman.

Choose or ditch the label?

Three big studies were reported this month. Here’s the headlines to take away from each of them:

 

Don’t read Camilla Long’s review of Moonlight for The Sunday Times (it’s behind a paywall so you probably can’t anyway). I lost respect for her valid criticisms of the film for her sheer ignorance claiming the story of a young gay black man in Miami ‘has been told countless times, against countless backdrops.’ Instead, read Josh Lee’s article on the Oscar-worthy (soon to be Oscar-winning) film reflecting his own identity.

#QueerSOS

Last night I went to my first LGBTQ-anything in Southend-on-Sea, the hometown I’ve lived in for 27 year. Local performance and community artist Scottee brought queer voices together round a takeaway to discuss ‘Is Southend Homophobic?’ I was reminded that change and visibility happens when people come together and make it happen. That’s why Manchester is planning the UK’s first LGBT retirement home, why Greg Owen has saved lives with a dramatic drop in new HIV infections and why UK Black Pride started (with it turns out a trip to Southend). We didn’t achieve any of that last night, but as our town’s voices and organisations join together, let’s see what happens.

Follow me on Twitter @JoeyKnock for more #LGBTQProgress news throughout the week.

#LGBTQProgress (Sunday 12th February)

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30 years ago yesterday (February 11th) Mark Ashton died.  Founding member of Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners, and real-life hero of 2014 film Pride had been diagnosed with HIV/Aids just twelve days earlier.

It’s poignant to mark the anniversary in 2017 when there’s a genuine and growing sense of the kind of protest and solidarity that Mark led in the 1980s. And especially so in February, LGBT History Month, which started with news items that definitely show progress (progress, not perfection). The Turing Pardon came into effect and new HIV infections across England have decreased by a third in one year.

Stigma not sexuality affects your mental health

Three new reports highlight the unsurprisingly links between LGBTQ identities and mental health:

  • An Australian study makes it clear poor mental health doesn’t come from your sexuality, but probably the stigma and sexual trauma of growing up gay in a heteronormative world.
  • It’s even worse for LGBTQ people brought up religious, who are 12 times more likely to experience poor mental health.
  • In London, 40% of LGBTI people have poor mental health. That’s 32,000 people in total.

What’s the solutions? Good support networks, GPs trained on inclusion and the end of institutionalised homophobia in the church. Expect this week’s Church of England General Synod to be all talk and no action on that one.

This book is… not allowed?

Transgender author Juno Dawson has been on a schools tour promoting her new young adult novel Margot and Me. At the start of the week, one parent was angry her 12 year old daughter came home with This Book is Gay. And unrelated on Friday, Buzzfeed News revealed Juno’s visit to a Catholic school had been cancelled in a transphobic shun. So that’s another two reasons to support #SREnow.

Hashtag Love

If you need a burst of internet-style hugs, look at two hashtags that didn’t mess around. #احب_المثليين_ولست_منهم (‘I’m straight and I love gays’) showed a remarkable display of rainbow solidarity from Saudi Arabia, while #BlackGaysSlay started by Mikey in Detroit is equally as empowering to scroll through.

Buy me a Valentine’s Day card. You’ve still got time. Last post isn’t til 5pm. And you only need to pop to Sainsbury’s. Or send one to your MP. Really.

Down Under and Out

Same-sex marriage is back on Australia’s political agenda. This week, its Parliament heard any bill legalising same sex marriage would ‘destroy the whole human race’. Enter reality TV show Bride and Prejudice. Chris invited his devout Jehovah’s Witness parents to his wedding (in Florida, where it’s legal), telling them ‘you can choose all of me, or you can choose none of me.’

Buzzfeed summed up the whole story of the show and outpouring of social media support.

Follow me on Twitter @JoeyKnock for more #LGBTQProgress news throughout the week.

#LGBTQProgress (Monday 30th January)

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Writing an LGBTQ round-up this weekend feels like a distraction away from what is rightly dominating the news and needs our full attention: the sudden and messy implementation of the Muslim Ban in America, signed on Holocaust Memorial Day.

The White House website for 45 (for that is how I will reference him) instantly wiped away any commitments or even interest in LGBT rights. The official line so far from his administration is they ‘don’t know’ what LGBTQ rights passed under President Obama may be revoked. Following from last week’s global Women’s Marches, an LGBTQ march in Washington DC is already being planned around Pride weekend in June. But as this weekend has shown, we won’t wait to gather and protest.

#No2LGBTHate

Digital activism makes an impact too. Linda Riley has been relentlessly campaigning and signing supporters up to her #No2LGBTHate Thunderclap this Wednesday afternoon at 4pm GMT. The campaign is asking Twitter to take more responsibility and action for homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse from its users. With over 2000 supporters so far, including Yoko Ono, the campaign will reach 24 million people and make clear that freedom of speech isn’t a permit for hate speech.

Love still doesn’t win in the Church of England

The Church of England has spent two years having Shared Conversations about sexuality. Last Friday, the House of Bishops ended that process with a report that changed nothing. They insist the church should ‘stand against homophobia’ while simultaneously refusing same-sex marriages. This is the very definition of homophobia that not only hurts and turns away LGBTQ Christians, but reinforces to non-Christians who care about their queer friends, equality and justice that the church is irrelevant and discriminatory.

Go shopping at Lush whose Valentine’s Day ads in America feature same-sex couples. This is a good time to remind everyone Lush is my favourite shop, and it’s my birthday next week. And keep reading The Independent and The Guardian/Observer. No other UK papers come close to their longstanding commitment to LGBTQ identities and reporting.

Love does win in DC church

Here’s one more story from Washington DC to tie all the others together. Sally and Maria are married and are about to jointly become Senior Pastors at Calvary Baptist Church in the city. On the same Sunday morning protestors told them they were ‘going to hell’, the church members voted to become a sanctuary church to help migrants facing deportation. That’s my Christianity.

Finally, some of my own news to share. I’m changing jobs and exceptionally fortunate to be moving from one charity I love, Christian Aid to another, Stonewall. I’ve also just started tweeting for @SohoGathering, a casual group I’m part of that meets every Thursday night in Soho. Follow me on Twitter @JoeyKnock for more #LGBTQProgress news throughout the week.

#LGBTQProgress (Sunday 15th January)

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We’ve made it through mid-January and my resolve to ignore anything by The Sun or Mail is just about holding strong. I’ll find my news to get angry and gleeful about elsewhere, and keep blogging about it here every fortnight instead of weekly while I’m job-hunting (reader, please offer me a job). So here’s the first #LGBTQProgress round up for 2017.

Bills and blocks in Westminster

This week the UK’s Conservative government blocked the introduction of compulsory, inclusive sex and relationship education in all schools. Simon Hoare MP’s comments had dangerous echos of Section 28 which vaguely blocked schools from ‘promoting homosexuality’ throughout the 1990s. The rhetoric again insisted SRE reform was a personal priority for Justine Greening, the Education and Equalities Minister who is in a same-sex relationship. But I’d expect a partisan watering down of any reform, with a continued opt-out for faith schools. Click on Ryan John Butcher’s Twitter thread below for a succinct summary of why we need #SREnow.

See also the Turing Bill, successfully voted through Parliament on Wednesday. The bill will automatically pardon deceased men convicted under historic laws prohibiting homosexuality. It’s a watered down version of the same bill suggested by the SNP’s John Nicholson back in October. His version, which was filibustered by the Justice Secretary Sam Gyimah, would have automatically extended the pardon to those still living with the convictions.

 

There’s No Way I Can Ever, Ever Go

There were two big stories about American singers in the last fortnight, both of which ended well. Kim Burrell, an American gospel singer gained a new global recognition when her homophobic sermon went viral. She lost both her scheduled performance on Ellen and weekly radio show when refusing to make ‘excuses or apologies’ for her comments.

And this weekend Jennifer Holliday was prematurely confirmed as performing at an inauguration concert for the President-Elect. On Friday night she accepted the gig then 24 hours later apologised for her ‘lapse of judgement’, making it clear she’d heard her LGBT fans’ vocal opposition. Despite recent challenges by Jennifer Hudson and Amber Riley, the original Effie White and Broadway Dreamgirl still owns the definitive version of And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going. I’d glad we can listen to it guilt free.

 

Fast forward Friday and march on to Saturday

This Friday, the President-Elect of the United States will be inaugurated. He’s already received a letter from 156 LGBT politicians and had the White House LGBT liaison wonder if their crucial role will be made redundant. The fight to protect rights isn’t just in Washington though as state governors and governments, including in Texas are already introducing anti-LGBTQ legislation. On Saturday (the first day of the new Presidency) I’m joining the Women’s March in London, one of nine in the UK and 370 taking place globally.

 

Catch up on Hayden Cross’ interview with Lorraine Kelly, talking about the transphobia that’s targeted him as Britain’s first pregnant man. Don’t catch on Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best? Instead, read this review from Trans Media Watch and play Channel 4’s recent documentary.

 

New reading for the New Year

I’m consciously trying to broaden the voices that I listen. Eliel Cruz-Lopez’s new column, perfectly titled The Bi Line, looks set to be essential reading. Eliel, John Paul Brammer and Broderick Greer (who I once explained Lorraine Kelly to in G-A-Y) are my favourite queer American tweeters, always intersecting LGBTQ issues with race and religion. Their collective quips and analysis on American domestic politics is bound to guide me throughout 2017.

 

Pride pens at the ready

My top tip for surviving January: dream of rainbows. This week the UK Pride Organiser’s Network and Gay Times compiled a video listing almost all of the 90-something Pride events for 2017. My friend and UKPON joint-chair Steve Taylor wrote about why everyone needs to go. Watch the video, book your train tickets and I’ll see you in Hull.

Follow me on Twitter @JoeyKnock for more #LGBTQProgress stories throughout the week.

#LGBTQProgress in 2016

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12th June 2016 is one of those ‘I know where I was’ days: in the kitchen, making my morning coffee and watching the headlines. As soon as Ben the newsreader said ‘shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando’, I felt a new awful that grew for the rest of that long day.

Pulse, Orlando

49 young people were murdered and 53 injured at Pulse Nightclub, turning an otherwise ordinary Saturday Latino night into America’s largest mass shooting. While the questions of gun control could only be answered in America (where of course they weren’t), the collective grief, trauma and vulnerability was shared by the global LGBTQ community and their allies. The idea of a fully safe space, of gay bars being sanctuaries, was shot apart.

Yet we stood. The following evening, in an incredible feat of organisation as well as solidarity and love, around 7,000 people gathered in Soho, first in silence, then evolving into an unofficial opening party for Pride season. I saw old school friends, met new crushes who swiftly friend-zoned me and was hungover on a Tuesday.

Our silence and prayers didn’t reduce the tragedy, or end homophobic deaths in 2016. There’s also been sickening reports from Syria and Iraq and a 13 year old child who died from suicide in Australia. But undoubtedly the response to Pulse Orlando (including millions in international fundraising) brought LGBTQ people together. There’s always power in community.

 

Media representation and misrepresentation

At the end of that long Sunday, Owen Jones happened to be on Sky News for their nightly paper review. Emotional and frustrated by a total lack of coverage on some front pages, and then a presenter describing the shooting not as a homophobic attack but one on ‘all people having fun’, he walked off live TV. ‘I just heard this voice saying, you know you can’t stay here, don’t you,’ Owen told Winq magazine for their Men of the Year issue.

The celebration alongside silencing of LGBTQ identities continued throughout 2016. The Metro had a full front page photo of the Soho vigil, Loose Women welcomed its first transgender panellist and Saara Alto, an engaged Finnish lesbian came 2nd in The X Factor. Elsewhere, the Daily Mail dedicated its front page to attack PrEP as a ‘gay lifestyle drug’, Loose Women described gay men as ‘the new must have accessory’ and The Sunday Times tried to out the Bishop of Grantham.

And surreal stereotyping was on full display in October when menswear retailer Jacamo, who sells manbags but not footballs, tweeted a campaign ad claiming ‘real men have balls, not man bags’. They apologised for ‘any offence caused’ but still aren’t sorry enough to delete the tweet. As I started writing this review, Richard Hammond’s ice cream comments were added to the same toxic masculinity file. Why do these cheap slurs matter? Doesn’t BBC One adding a same-sex kiss to its landmark Christmas ad show there’s enough acceptance? Matthew Todd and Jack Urwin show the cumulative effect of hateful headlines and so-called jokes in their books both released this year. And one viral Twitter thread about a young Supergirl fan going to a comic book store reminded us that positive media representation is life-saving.

 

PrEP and HIV/Aids

December always starts with World AIDS Day, and UK campaigners had great news to celebrate throughout the month. NHS England finally announced it will trial PrEP, a drug for those at high risk of HIV which can cut infection by 99%. Soon after, 56 Dean Street and other sexual health clinics in London announced 40-50% reductions in HIV diagnoses compared to 2015. Matthew Hodson from NAM said that innovative services and a combination approach to tackle HIV is working.

The campaigns to get behind for 2017 are making PrEP widely available across the UK, #SRENow to add compulsory sex and relationship education to the school curriculum, and creating a National HIV/Aids Memorial in London.

 

Politics and LGBTQ rights

When Pink News named David Cameron ‘Ally of The Year’ at their annual awards in October, no one seemed to agree with them. Benjamin Cohen explained that his leadership in bringing same-sex marriage to Britain deserved recognition. Yet this year the mental health charity PACE closed due to lack of funding and government cuts in January, and the current Conservative justice minister stalled the SNP’s Turning Bill in an act of petty partisan politics.

I went to my first and second same-sex weddings this year, and I’m grateful for our political leaders who used their power to make it happen. But the passionate response to a mis-named award highlighted the same fractures of politics seen across 2016. What good is the right to marry in Britain (not Northern Ireland) or hopefully soon for all gay and bisexual men to donate blood, when Brexit seems to have legitimised hate crime for some and the police failed to protect gay lives from a serial killer?

When the UK does leave EU, there’s little risk of LGBTQ rights changing and perhaps a chance to shift our diplomatic energy back to the Commonwealth, where homosexuality remains illegal in 40 of the 52 nations. Earlier this month Chad became the 73rd nation globally to criminalise homosexuality, and a second vote at the UN tried to get rid of the new LGBTI rights advisor Vital Muntharborn before he started the job. The creation of the role and vocal defence from many nations is a political highlight of 2016, along with Randy Boissonault MP becoming Canada’s first LGBTQ2 special advisor, and Justine Greening MP becoming the UK’s first out Equalities Minister.

Incoming American Vice-President Pence was named Homophobe of the Year by All Out supporters amid very real fears of a rollback of LGBT rights including same-sex marriage under Trump’s administration. In North Carolina, the transphobic bathroom law HB2 contributed to Governor McCrocy’s defeat. Despite a new Democrat Governor and boycotts from Paypal, Bruce Springsteen and NBA causing very clear economic damage to the state, our foe petty partisan politics has blocked the law from being repealed. Expect more state-by-state battles over LGBTQ rights in 2017 without an ally in the White House.

 

Taking inspiration into 2017

And this year we’ve mourned and celebrated the lives of countless artists and performers. Especially poignant musical loses to the LGBTQ community were David Bowie, Prince and George Michael, each unapologetic in breaking and bending gender norms. Going into 2017 when everything feels uncertain and up for fight before the year has even begun, we must hold on to these role models: the artists, survivors, campaigners whose stories or stardom speak to us. There’s a rich LGBTQ history of liberation and creativity that is helping us write what comes next. Learn and celebrate it (reminder: LGBT History Month is in February). Act on the obituaries you read. Dance, be openly gay and eat ice cream.

Follow me on Twitter @JoeyKnock for more #LGBTQProgress stories throughout the week. I’ll keep blogging a round up every fortnight in 2017.

What were the important LGBTQ stories and moments for you in 2016? What have I missed from this review?Comment below

#LGBTQProgress (Sunday 11th December)

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I didn’t really enjoy Hairspray Live this week, but listening to Jennifer Hudson and Ariana Grande lead the cast in the end credit song Come So Far (Got so Far To Go). gives me as much hope and joy as the winter sunshine outside my window right now. Stick this on for some Sunday celebration and read my review of the bigger LGBTQ stories so far this month.

NHS England will fund a PrEP trial

Last Sunday, NHS England announced a trial of PrEP for 10,000 people in Spring 2017, the drug that can reduce the chance of contracting HIV by 96-99%. This is a huge victory for the National AIDS Trust and other organisations that supported its court case to make the drug available, which NHS England appealed against and lost. There’s a lot in the story to get your head around and questions to keep asking, so thanks to Buzzfeed and NAM for summarising and explaining it far better than I could. Let’s hope PrEP becomes freely available in England and all the home nations (there’s already action in Scotland) and across the world to those at high risk of HIV (read New Internationalist for that global perspective).

World AIDS Day

The PrEP news came just three days after World AIDS Day on 1st December, marked in New York City with the opening of the Aids Memorial. On Wednesday a petition was delivered to City Hall asking for London to follow NYC, Paris and Sydney by having a permanent memorial. You can sign the petition now on 38 Degrees.

No jobs or gay culture in the Church

There is one UK shrine to HIV/Aids, St Andrew’s Chapel in Southwark Cathedral. But as with every week, the discomfort and fatal homophobia of religion proves its not a safe or inclusive space for everyone. Canon Jeremy Pemberton was a Hospital Chaplain, providing some faith and comfort to people in their worst times. But since he married the person he loves in 2014, he’s no longer allowed to do that and this week lost his appeal on unfair dismissal. Meanwhile, over in the Vatican it was declared anyone supporting ‘the gay culture’ can’t be priests. Back in 2013, Pope Francis said ‘Who am I to judge?’ about gay priests. Well he answered this week: still the Pope, still controlling a church more intent on fuelling hatred and homophobia than anything else.

If you want some great gay vicars to follow there’s a lot I can recommend (note to self: create Twitter list). But today I’ll just give you two, Andrew Foreshaw-Cain and Broderick Greer.

 

Send a celebratory rainbow cake to Malta, the first country in Europe to ban gay conversion therapy. And give a huge hug to this comic book store seller and her teenage customer.

 

Changing hearts and nations on same-sex marriage

Here’s three fantastically uplifting stories to end the week with. Andrew Griffiths became the 2nd British MP this year to say he was wrong to vote against same-sex marriage in 2013, calling it his biggest regret. The Cherokee Nation, a self-governing indigenous tribe in America, overturned any assumed ban on same-sex marriage. And in Australia, where the equal marriage debate continues, South Australia changed their state law to recognise same-sex couples. It follows the death of David Bulmer-Rizzi in January, whose death certificate read ‘never married’. Now that is being rewritten. David’s husband Marco told Buzzfeed (and do read the whole story) ‘It’s as close to happiness as I can be – I am the happiest I’ve been in the last 11 months.’

Follow me on Twitter @JoeyKnock for more #LGBTQProgress news throughout the week.

#LGBTQProgress (Sunday 27th November)

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I found it hard to find any unequivocally good #LGBTQProgress stories this week. Yes, there was Ellen receiving her Presidential Medal of Freedom, but I already reported on that last week. So I’m going to start with these words from Vicky Beeching, talking about faith and sexuality in this month’s Gay Times: ‘You’re special, you’re loved and you are wanted as you are!’

UN-successful attempt to block LGBTI expert

On Monday, the delayed United Nations vote on the newly-established LGBTI expert role took place. African nations were unsuccessful in their attempt to suspend Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn’s job before he’d started. Of course this is a victory, but one that only 84 out of 195 nations voted for (77 voted against the role and 17 abstained). Looking at the voting list is a stark reminder that over a third of nations deny human rights and identity by criminalising homosexuality.

 

Stephen Port

The story of serial killer Stephen Port is horrendous. On Friday he was sentenced to life in prison for the brutal murder of four men he lured through gay hook-up app Grindr. BBC News tells the whole story. It is devastating reading, including the Metropolitan Police admitting to ‘potential missed opportunities’ to solve the case and save at least two of the four lives. Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor were all young gay man, found dead in or near the same Eats London churchyard. These similarities were ignored and the four deaths over 15 months were treated as unsuspicious.

Dating and hook-up app users (myself included) need to think about their personal safety, and already do. But Grindr didn’t cause these murders. Four families and the LGBTQ community were betrayed by police incompetence. 17 officers are being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPPC).

 

Cheap jokes and cheaper chat

Last Saturday, both Strictly Come Dancing and X Factor found space in the dancing and dull singing for cheap jokes at the expense of Judge Rinder and Louis Walsh.  Then on Thursday, only a week after welcoming its first transgender panellist, Loose Women described gay men to a ‘must-have accessory’ throughout the show for its female audience. These aren’t jokes. They breed the idea that being gay isn’t normal and isn’t equal.

On Tuesday, Australian schoolboy Tyronne Unsworth took his own life. He was 13.

 

#RainbowLaces

Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign reached its biggest audience this week with its message to make sport more inclusive being heard at every Premier League game and rugby games across England. A quick look at some so-called fans tweets highlights the explicit homophobia that still surrounds the game. ‘The Rainbow Laces campaign complements the work clubs are doing to promote inclusion and diversity in their stadiums, and across all levels of the sport,’ said FA Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore. (You might remember the name from the sexist emails he sent back in 2014).

I also laced up for the campaign. Earlier today in Greenwich Park I completed my first ever 10k race, raising money for men’s health charity Movember. You can sponsor me and see just how good I look with a moustache on my MoSpace.

Follow me on Twitter @JoeyKnock for more #LGBTQProgress news throughout the week.

#LGBTQProgress (Sunday 20th November)

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This week I’ve mainly been drinking with a different gay guy each night, only one of which I’m dating and one or two of which I want to be dating. But you’re not here to read about #findjoeyaboyfriend. Here’s some of the bigger LGBTQ news stories from the week.

Medals and musicals

Let’s start with the good that North America’s politicians have done. Canadian Prime Minister, and globally adored Justin Trudeau appointed gay MP Randy Boissonnault as his LGBTQ2 Special Advisor (LGBTQ2 is an acronym mainly used in Canada, with 2 standing for two-spirited). And south of the border President Obama announced Ellen DeGeneres will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s equivalent to a knighthood or damehood. They’re basically each other’s super proud best friend, as confirmed when Obama appeared on Ellen’s chat show back in February.

Meanwhile, President-Elect Trump’s nomination of homophobic Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General received a frosty reception, but of course not as frosty as the one received by the Vice President-Elect. Seeing the game-changing Broadway musical Hamilton on Friday night, Pence was booed as he took his seat. At the end of the show (one which celebrates America’s history and founding father Alexander Hamilton), its gay black star Brandon Victor Dixon directly addressed Pence to stand up for minorities and America’s great diversity. Watch or read the speech for yourself and see if, like President-Elect Trump, you can spot where the cast were being ‘very rude to a very good man’.

Royally good allies

Back at home, both Prince William and Prince Harry’s support for Britain’s LGBTQ community were reaffirmed this week. Congratulations to Matthew Todd and Attitude Magazine who won Scoop of the Year at the British Society of Magazine Editors awards for June’s front cover feature with the future King William. Meanwhile, Prince Harry met people living with HIV at London’s Naz Project. The visit follows his HIV test being livestreamed on Facebook earlier this year and marks the start of National HIV Testing Week.

Celebrating #TransWeek

There were everyday breakthroughs to celebrate during Transgender Awareness Week. Dating app Tinder broke down the binary with it’s latest update, allowing users to self-define their gender away from ‘male’ or ‘female’. Loose Women welcomed its first transgender panellist, TV reporter India Willoughby. And TfL flew the Transgender flag above their St James’ Park HQ.

Transender Day of Remembrance

#TransWeek ends today, Sunday 20th November, with #TDOR, Transgender Day of Remembrance. 295 people have been killed this year because they are transgender. Public and private acts of remembrance are taking place all over the world. I’m really grateful to some of my Christian friends across the country who are holding dedicated inclusive services in their churches.

Follow me on Twitter @JoeyKnock for #LGBTQProgress stories throughout the week.

#LGBTQProgress (Sunday 13 November)

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#LGBTQProgress was made this week in America. In Oregon, Kate Brown was America’s first openly LGBTQ person to be elected as a state governor. In North Carolina, Roy Cropper looks set to replace Governor Pat McCrory, who signed the state’s anti-trans ‘bathroom bill’ into law. In California, Proposition 60 sought to ban bareback porn being produced; that voters got to directly decide on a sexual health issue (ultimately voting against the ban) is incredible.

These small victories need celebrating as proof that progress does happen across America. Because the terrifying reality is that a homophobic and transphobic administration will try and wipe much of it away. We (yes we, the global LGBTQ community) need to be encouraged by these victories and believe we’ll continue to win.

 

If you’re in any doubt about why Trump and Pence are bad news, listen to America’s queer community. 78% of LGBT voters chose Clinton. 14% (mainly white gay men) chose Trump. Vitriolic hate crimes against LGBT people and minorities have dominated social media. The rhetoric of President-Elect Trump during his election campaign, and the government record of Vice President-Elect Pence hint at the rollback of rights they will push for.

We’re already pushing back. The American Civil Liberties Union, one of the nation’s biggest equal rights organisations, couldn’t cope with a 7000% increase in donation clicks to their website this week. All of us can start donating now, to resource organisations supporting America’s LGBTQ community and rights. Then we’ll continue listening in 2017 to do what we can and what we must, wherever we live.

 

Is the NHS PrEP-pared to prevent HIV?

Here in the UK, there was unquestionably good news on Thursday. The Court of Appeal ruled that NHS England does have the power to commission PrEP, a highly cost-effective drug that prevents HIV infection in at-risk groups, including men who have sex with men (MSM). HIV diagnoses continue to rise in the UK. We cannot waste more time and money over people’s lives. NHS England have the power and the duty, now they have to make PrEP available.

 

Keep a queer eye on the Ashers. The Christian bakers may take their guilty verdict of unlawful discrimination to the European Court of Human rights.  Also look out for a UN vote later this month seeking to abolish the LGBT rights expert post only created in June. The vote spearheaded by African nations was due to take place last Tuesday but has now been delayed.

 

Orlando remembers with Pride

This weekend was Orlando’s first Pride festival since the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Earlier this week, the city announced it was buying the nightclub to turn it into a permanent memorial. I was fortunate enough to be at Diversity Role Model’s Gala Dinner on Friday night, where host Clare Balding reflected on the fatal homophobia, biphobia and transphobia the world has seen this year and her despair this week. One question helps her cope: What Would Ellen Do? The talk-show host and absolute hero answered in her opening monologue on Thursday.

Follow me on Twitter @JoeyKnock for #LGBTQProgress stories throughout the week.