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#Washington LGBT

#Washington LGBT

World AIDS Day used to highlight HIV/AIDS stigma, discrimination

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 04:21 PM PST

This year’s World AIDS Day is taking place against the backdrop of growing criticism over the Trump administration’s commitment to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S. and around the world. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Advocates around the world have used this year's World AIDS Day to urge their respective governments to do more to combat the epidemic among LGBTI communities.

GALZ, a Zimbabwean LGBTI advocacy group, on Friday in a press release noted the HIV prevalence rate in the country has fallen from 32.1 percent in 2000 to around 15 percent in 2017. GALZ nevertheless pointed out underrepresented groups "are being left out from adequate and relevant treatment services, thereby making the goal of closing the gap of new infections hard to reach."

"Sexual minorities such as lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender, intersex and other men who (have) sex with men and women who sex with (have) women are more vulnerable to HIV owing to limited access to relevant services targeted specifically at them," said GALZ. "There is need for targeted HIV prevention programs to be implemented with the engagement and participation of the LGBTI community so that they are more effective and ownership is promoted."

"Innovative programs should be put in place to reach the LGBTI community with proper information on preventive and protective methods and support services," it added.

The Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality, a St. Lucia-based LGBTI advocacy group that works throughout the Eastern Caribbean, in a press release notes countries throughout the region continue to make progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The organization — like GALZ — notes stigma and discrimination and other factors that include colonial-era laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual relations remain barriers to fighting the epidemic.

"As we mark World AIDS Day 2017, ECADE and our partners across the eastern Caribbean call on our governments to fulfil their responsibility to respect and protect all citizens, particularly the marginalized," said Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality Executive Director Kenita Placide. "Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, sex workers, the disabled, the elderly are all among the groups made vulnerable by criminalization, stigma and discrimination."

"We remind our governments that it is their responsibility to ensure essential services are readily available in a safe, secure and stigma-free environment," she added.

Hurricanes Maria and Irma devastated Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, St. Barts, St. Martin, Anguilla, Barbuda, Dominica, the Turks and Caicos, Guadeloupe and portions of Cuba in September. People with HIV/AIDS who live on the storm-ravaged islands were unable to access medications, food and other basic supplies after the hurricanes.

Carmen Yulín Cruz, who is the mayor of the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan, told the Washington Blade earlier this month that officials "stocked-up" on medications and other supplies for a city-run AIDS clinic before Maria made landfall on the island's southeastern coast on Sept. 20. AIDS Healthcare Foundation is also helping Yulín's administration identify people with HIV/AIDS who need generators in order to operate their oxygen machines and other vital equipment.

Growing concern over U.S. commitment to fight epidemic

UNAIDS estimates 36.7 million people around the world were living with HIV at the end of 2016. The agency's statistics also indicate 20.9 people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy as of June 2017, compared to 17.1 million in 2015.

Neither President Trump nor Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau specifically mentioned the LGBTI community in their respective World AIDS Day statements. This year's World AIDS Day is also taking place against the backdrop of growing concerns over the Trump administration's commitment to fight the epidemic in the U.S. and around the world.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in September noted at the U.S. Conference on AIDS in D.C. that Trump's proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year would cut $150 million from the Centers for Disease Control, $59 million to the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resource Emergency Act that provides assistance to low-income people with HIV and their families, $26 million from the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) Program and $72 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Minority Health. The California Democrat also pointed out the proposed budget would cut $850 million from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and $225 million from the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

PEPFAR's website notes there has been between a 25-40 percent decline in new HIV diagnoses among "adolescent girls and young women” through the PEPFAR-funded Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS) public-private partnership in the 10 African countries that have implemented it. The website also notes, among other things, that more than 13.3 million people have received antiretroviral treatment through PEPFAR.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in September released the PEPFAR Strategy for Accelerating HIV/AIDS Epidemic Control (2017-2020), which "includes investing" in more than 50 countries around the world with three specific goals. They are maintaining "life-saving treatment for those we currently support, while making essential services like testing linked to treatment more accessible," expanding services to children whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS and accelerating "progress toward controlling the pandemic" in 13 countries that "represent the most vulnerable communities to HIV/AIDS and have the potential to achieve control" by 2020.

“The Trump administration remains deeply committed to the global HIV/AIDS response and to demonstrating clear outcomes and impact for every U.S. dollar spent," wrote Tillerson in the preface of the PEPFAR plan he announced. "We want to look back together and recognize that it was here, at this point in time, that our accelerated focus led to a world free of HIV/AIDS. We are proud to partner with many others in this endeavor. Our support — and our commitment — are unwavering as we work together to control and ultimately end this pandemic, once and for all."

Tillerson on Friday issued a World AIDS Day statement that did not contain any specific references to the LGBTI community. He was scheduled to deliver a speech on U.S. efforts to combat HIV/AIDS at the State Department on Thursday, but Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan gave it instead.

NBC’s Chuck Todd confirms he’s a real jerk

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 03:17 PM PST

Chuck Todd, gay news, washington blade

Chuck Todd (Photo by Gage Skidmore; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Last Sunday on "Meet the Press," Chuck Todd confirmed not only that he's a real jerk, but that he is a lousy journalist. He had on former Speaker and current Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and spent most of the time trying to get her to say something negative about Bill Clinton and what he did two decades ago. He followed that up by trying to get her say how she is handling Rep. Conyers and his role on the Judiciary Committee. She wouldn't tell him.

When she wouldn't go along and he got nothing that would make the headline he was looking for, Todd told her there was no time left for her to talk about the tax bill the Republicans are trying to ram through Congress. What the hell? Todd would rather talk about accusations and innuendo than deal with the screwing the majority of middle-class taxpayers are about to get from Republicans.  

Republicans are close to pulling off a $1.5 trillion giveaway to the rich and to corporations. That is what will be added to the nation's deficit according to their own projections. The nation's leading economists agree with that. The hypocrites in the Republican Party who got elected by promising their constituents they would lower the deficit are now about to increase it dramatically; the people who voted for them be damned.

As reported in the Washington Post, "Nine percent of middle-class tax filers (those earning between $48,600 and $86,100) would pay more in taxes next year, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center released Wednesday. By 2027, 31 percent of middle-class filers would see tax hikes, the center said." The Post went on to report "that TPC’s findings are very similar to what the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’ official nonpartisan estimators, reported earlier this week. According to JCT, 8 percent of filers would face a tax increase of $100 or more in 2019 and 16.5 percent would pay over $100 more in taxes in 2027. A sizable number of Americans earning $20,000 to $100,000 would be hit with higher tax bills."

The majority of the tax cuts are going to the top 1 percent of earners and to corporations. The bill cuts the tax rate on corporations from 35% to 20% but in reality according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy the 35% rate has always been a myth. Hundreds of companies actually pay zero and practically no big company has ever paid the top rate. So we are giving additional major tax breaks to companies that don't need them.

As to how people like Trump would benefit, in his case we haven't seen his taxes. But from what we have seen according to an analysis if the plan eliminates the AMT (alternative minimum tax), "In 2005, the only tax year in the past couple of decades for which we've seen any of Trump's filings—someone leaked two pages of his return to the financial journalist David Cay Johnston—he paid $38.4 million in federal taxes, and $31.3 million of that was to cover his A.M.T. liability."

So it's clear the American public needs to understand what is going on behind closed doors in Congress with regard to what they are calling 'tax reform.' Yes it is reform, but it won't benefit most of us. Yet Chuck Todd has on one of the people who can best speak to the issue and clear away some of the BS Republicans are trying to sell and won't let her talk about it.

I understand the salaciousness of the various accusations, past and present, are clearly of more interest to him. Yes they are important to all of us and as Pelosi said in a nicer way, men are pigs. But the discussion over sexual harassment is really only beginning and we as a society will have to deal with it as we move forward not only in Congress and the political world but in every other area of American life.

But within the next two weeks, unless the veil is lifted, Republicans will manage to screw the American people for decades to come with their so-called 'tax reform' bill. Chuck Todd must understand that and one can only assume by not letting Pelosi talk about it he supports what Republicans are trying to do.


Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes
regularly for the Blade.

Yes, Breitbart, Trump’s White House is homophobic

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 12:38 PM PST

Chris Johnson covers Obama administration, gay news, Washington Blade

Blade White House reporter Chris Johnson was excluded from this year's White House holiday party. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Breitbart, the go-to fake news source for white supremacists and assorted other deplorables, today published a story about Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson's exclusion from the annual White House holiday party.

In it, Charlie Nash writes, "An LGBT journalist has claimed that the White House is homophobic after he was not invited to the annual Christmas party."

If you don't realize this White House is homophobic then you aren't paying attention. Among Trump's anti-LGBT attacks: an attempted ban on transgender military service; a rollback of LGBT civil rights protections at the Justice Department; sending an attorney to a federal court in New York to argue firing people for being gay is perfectly legal; and new "religious freedom" guidance that essentially green lights the denial of services to LGBT people.

But I'd go a step further and assert that White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders — who has called on Johnson just twice in six months in the briefing room — is herself homophobic.

As Johnson has previously reported, "Prior to joining the Trump administration, Sanders headed the American Principles Fund, a Super PAC with ties to the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage that essentially attacked Republican candidates for not being anti-gay enough."

The Breitbart story concludes with: "Despite insinuating that the two reporters were individually singled out, the Independent noted at the bottom of their article that no one else from the Washington Blade or Urban Radio Networks had been invited either."

This might come as a surprise to the big minds at Breitbart, but all of the Blade's full-time reporters and most of the staff identify as LGBT. So it makes sense that the homophobic/transphobic White House wouldn't invite any of us.

Johnson is the White House reporter. He's there every day and is part of the pool rotation covering the president. His exclusion was deliberate and petty and represents the latest effort by this treasonous administration to render LGBT Americans invisible again.

Rihanna won’t use trans models as ‘a marketing tool’ for Fenty Beauty

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 10:40 AM PST

(Screenshot via YouTube)

Rihanna won’t be using transgender models for her Fenty Beauty makeup collection for the sake of filling a diversity quota.

Brazilian fan Alberto Otero suggested to Rihanna in a Twitter DM she "should invite a trans girl to the group" for her next campaign. The singer replied that she doesn’t like the idea of using transgender models as a “marketing tool.”

"I've had the pleasure of working with many gifted trans women throughout the years, but I don't go around doing trans castings," Rihanna wrote back. "Just like I don't do straight non trans women castings! I respect all women, and whether they're trans or not is none of my business."

She added, “"I don't think it's fair that a trans woman or man be used as a convenient marketing tool. Too often do I see companies doing this to trans and black women alike! There's always just that one spot in the campaign for the token 'we look mad diverse' girl/guy. It's sad!"

Fenty Beauty has been praised for its inclusivity, featuring 40 foundation shades.


Jenni Rivera’s son Johnny Lopez comes out as bisexual

Posted: 01 Dec 2017 10:27 AM PST

A post shared by j.a. (@juanangeloficial) on

Johnny Lopez, son of the late Mexican singer Jenni Rivera, has revealed he is in a same-sex relationship.

Lopez, 16, addressed the rumors swirling about his relationship in a video with his older sister Chiquis Rivera.

“There has been a lot said about me in the past few weeks. Things didn’t come out the way I wanted this to,” Lopez says in the video.”I wanted to make this video first and for everyone to understand me but my boyfriend, as you all know, Joaquín, we both got a little too excited, and he posted a few pictures of us, and I retweeted them, and it went viral.”


A post shared by j.a. (@juanangeloficial) on

Lopez explained he began dating his boyfriend two years ago. After breaking up, the couple got back together five months ago.

“People began noticing that we were together. They didn’t come out exactly the way I wanted to but they’re out now. I am in a gay relationship right now and I am in love with this person. I’ve been dealing with this part of myself for a long time now,” Lopez continued.

Lopez admits he has experimented with girls but says he has found he doesn’t have a preference.

"For so long I wanted to be completely straight or completely gay because I honestly didn't know where I am," Lopez says "I'm bisexual, but honestly, I know that some people don't necessarily believe in that. But all I know is that I love this person and I don't necessarily have a preference, I love who I love."

He also says he regrets not being able to share his identity with his mother.

“I've dealt with this for so long and I never got to tell my mom about this side of myself. And I know that's the number one question in everyone's mind, 'What would your mom think?'” Lopez says.

Chiquis gave her support to her little brother saying, “I support you in this, and I don’t care, I don’t care about what anyone has to say.”

Lopez stars on the UNIVERSO reality series “The Riveras” with his family.