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TV showrunners, actors threaten to boycott Georgia over anti-gay adoption bill

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 08:25 AM PST

gay-friendly television shows, gay news, Washington Blade

Members of the TV industry are speaking out against Georgia’s proposed anti-gay adoption bill (Photo courtesy of Bigstock)

TV showrunners and actors are threatening to boycott production in Georgia over the state’s proposed anti-gay adoption bill.

The bill, which has been sent to Georgia’s House of Representatives, would allow adoption agencies to refuse to place children with gay and lesbian couples if it goes against their religious beliefs.

Georgia is a hotbed state for the television and film industry with popular shows like “The Walking Dead,” “Stranger Things” and “Dynasty” using it as a filming location. Marvel films such as “Black Panther,” “Ant-Man” and “Avengers: Infinity War” have also filmed in Atlanta.

Now, actors, showrunners and writers are speaking out against the bill. Showrunner Ben Wexler, known for “The Grinder” and “The Comedians,” was the first to suggest a Georgia boycott.

“To my fellow showrunners: if this dumb bill becomes law, let's be done filming television shows in Georgia,” Wexler tweeted.

Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and actor/comedian Billy Eichner showed their support with retweets. Actor Dan Bucatinsky, who has appeared on shows like “Scandal” and is married to screenwriter and director Don Roos, also tweeted he will boycott the state.

“Threatens my family & so many other American families. Let's please boycott so much production in Georgia — fattening their economy to help fertilize poison like this. Sickens me to think of the time I shot there. And they hate us. #BoycottGeorgia,” Bucatinsky tweeted.

In first, U.S. military has accepted openly transgender recruit

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 08:17 AM PST

Pentagon, military, gay news, Washington Blade

The Pentagon has accepted a openly transgender recruit.
(Public domain photo by Master Sgt. Ken Hammond).

In a first, an openly transgender person has signed a contract to join the U.S. military — a development that could occur thanks to federal court rulings against President Trump’s transgender military ban.

Maj. David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesperson, confirmed to the Washington Blade on Tuesday an openly transgender person has signed a contract to join the armed forces, which is part of the process for enlistment.

“DOD confirms that as of Feb. 23, 2018, there is one transgender individual under contract for service in the U.S. military,” Eastburn said.

Eastburn said the person hasn’t yet started basic training, but wouldn’t provide any additional details “as a matter of privacy and the individual's wishes.”

The date identified by the Pentagon is the same date Defense Secretary James Mattis delivered his recommendation to President Trump on transgender service in accordance with Trump’s directive seeking to ban transgender people from the armed forces. Administration officials are staying mum on the nature of Mattis’ recommendation, but major media outlets have reported the advice was to allow transgender people to serve in the U.S. military.

In his August directive, Trump sought to reinstate a prohibition on transgender military service lifted in the Obama years, keep in place the ban on transgender recruitment and ban U.S. military payments for gender reassignment surgery. But federal courts blocked this policy from going into effect as a result of litigation filed by LGBT legal groups.

The court rulings required the U.S. military to begin admitting transgender people in the armed forces on Jan. 1 in accordance with an earlier Mattis memo, which was issued before Trump’s directive and set that as the target date. Transgender people have been able to enlist in the armed forces since that time.

According to the Washington Times, Pentagon spokesperson Army Col. Rob Manning on Monday told reporters Mattis' recommendation on whether to allow transgender troops to serve remains under review at the White House.

Col. Manning reportedly declined to comment on any details about the recommendation or conversations between Mattis and other officials on the issue. It remains to be seen what action Trump will take in the aftermath of the recommendation.

Apple celebrates Australian marriage equality in new iPhone X ad

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 07:51 AM PST

(Screenshot courtesy of YouTube)

Apple Australia has released a new ad for iPhone X that celebrates marriage equality.

In “First Dance,” various same-sex couples are shown taking their first dances together as a married couple at their weddings. “Never Tear Us Apart" by Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barrett is played in the background.

The ad is part of Apple’s “shot on iPhone X” campaign which showcases the photography and videography capabilities of the iPhone X.

Australia passed legislation to legalize same-sex marriages in December.

Watch below.

DJ Felix Jaehn comes out as bisexual

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 07:37 AM PST

Felix Jaehn (Photo courtesy of Instagram)

DJ Felix Jaehn, known for his remix of “Cheerleader” by Omi, has come out as bisexual.

Jaehn, 23, opened up about his sexuality in an interview with Germany's ZEIT magazine.

He explained that growing up in a small village made understanding his attraction to the same sex confusing.

“As a teenager, that influences you. And when you realize that you also find guys attractive, that can make you unsure,” Jaehn says.

"Now I dream of finding the person I want to share my life with, man or woman,” he added.

He also revealed that his recent album, titled “I,” gave him the courage to come out.

“If you choose such a title, it’s time to show your whole self too," Jaehn says.

Jaehn acknowledged he is part of the LGBT community with a tweet of himself and a rainbow emoji.

Manassas Park schools ban anti-LGBT discrimination

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 07:56 PM PST

Frederick County School Board, transgender students, gay news, Washington Blade

The Manassas Park City School Board on Feb. 26, 2018, voted to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the district’s nondiscrimination policy.

Members of the Manassas Park City School Board on Monday voted unanimously to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy.

State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who represents House District 13 in the Virginia House of Delegates that includes Manassas Park, is among those who urged board members to support the additional protections.

“I'm so proud of the (Manassas Park City) School Board for unanimously voting to include gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy so every student and faculty member knows they're welcomed and now protected because of who they are, not despite it,” tweeted Roem.

The Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William County School Districts are among the Virginia school districts that have added sexual orientation and gender identity to their nondiscrimination policies. The city of Alexandria has also implemented these measures in their schools.

Virginia’s statewide nondiscrimination law does not include sexual orientation or gender identity.

Attorney General Mark Herring in 2015 wrote an opinion that says Virginia law allows school boards to add sexual orientation and gender identity to their nondiscrimination policies. Former state Del. Bob Marshall, who Roem defeated last November, and others contend the Dillon Rule prohibits school boards from adding LGBT-specific protections to their nondiscrimination policies unless the General Assembly were to pass a law that allows them to do so.

Barbados police criticized for response to attack on trans activist

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 04:46 PM PST

Alexa Hoffmann, a transgender rights advocate in Barbados, says her ex-roommate attacked her outside of her home on Feb. 18, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Alexa Hoffman)

A transgender rights activist in Barbados who says her ex-roommate attacked her claims the police mistreated her because of her gender identity.

Alexa Hoffmann told the Washington Blade last week during a WhatsApp interview that her ex-roommate attacked her with a meat cleaver near her home in the parish of Christ Church on Feb. 18 at around 12:15 a.m.

Hoffmann told the Blade she allowed him to move in with her on Dec. 12, even though he did not have a way to support himself. Hoffmann said her ex-roommate had stolen cell phone chargers, a tablet, jewelry and other items by the time she asked him to move out on Jan. 22.

Hoffmann said she allowed him to live with her for another two weeks because his girlfriend was about to visit. Hoffmann told the Blade she kicked him out on Valentine’s Day, two days after his girlfriend arrived in Barbados.

Hoffmann told the Blade she asked her ex-roommate’s girlfriend and a female friend, who lives nearby, to ask him to return the stolen items. Hoffmann added she even told the two women what time she would be home.

Hoffmann said she tried to give her ex-roommate some of his belongings that he had left at her home when he, his girlfriend his friend were walking down the street. Hoffmann, who told the Blade that she was carrying a switchblade to defend herself, said her ex-roommate “started to make a swing at me.”

She said he attacked her with a meat cleaver that he stole from her kitchen.

“Then he just continued charging at me and slashing,” said Hoffmann. “It felt more as though I was banging my head into a wall.”

The attack left Hoffmann with cuts on her forehead, nose and upper lip. She also had cuts on the left side of her neck, on her throat and on her left shoulder.

Hoffmann said her glasses were also broken.

Hoffmann told the Blade she called the police from her home after the attack. She said officers told her go to the hospital and fill out a form that would allow them to determine which charges to file against her ex-roommate.

Hoffmann said she received stitches after spending 13 hours at the hospital. She also told the Blade the police “made no attempt to pick him (her ex-roommate) up that night,” even though she told them where his girlfriend and he were.

“I started running into difficulty with the police,” said Hoffmann, adding the police told her the responding officer was off-duty for two days. “I said that’s nonsense . . . this man is still running around armed and dangerous.”

Hoffmann said a desk sergeant at the police station took a statement from her before she returned home.

She said her ex-roommate’s girlfriend “practically threatened me” on Facebook after she posted a message about the attack. Hoffmann said she called the police after her ex-roommate’s friend who she said witnessed the attack came to her home on Feb. 19.

Hoffmann told the Blade she went to the police station the following day and met with a “very abrasive sergeant” who told her that officers were looking for her ex-roommate. Hoffmann said the officers “did not want to deal with me” and the sergeant with whom she had spoken was “storming up and down the police station saying I was he, she, I don’t know.”

“She was referring to me,” she told the Blade. “She knows very well that I am transgender.”

Hoffmann said she called the Barbados Civil Aviation Department that oversees security at the island’s international airport on Feb. 21 and told the constable her ex-roommate and his girlfriend may try to board a flight to Canada. Hoffmann told the Blade authorities arrested her former roommate a few hours later at the airport.

Hoffmann said her ex-roommate on Feb. 23 pleaded not guilty when he made his initial court appearance.

She said his girlfriend could not post his bail because she is not a Barbadian citizen.

Hoffmann told the Blade her ex-roommate said two other people could post his bail. She said prosecutors did not object, as long as he agrees not to harass her and stay away from her home.

“I don’t trust him,” said Hoffmann. “I believe he’s a very calculating and conniving fucker and that he might actually try to do something to cause me harm.”

She further stressed she remains afraid of her ex-roommate, even though someone else is now living with her.

Hoffmann ‘was attacked within inches of her life’

The Blade was unable to reach the Royal Barbados Police Force for comment. Ro-Ann Mohammad of Barbados-Gays, Lesbians and All-Sexuals Against Discrimination (B-GLAD), on Feb. 22 told a Barbados newspaper the police only responded to Hoffmann’s case when her organization contacted them.

“Alexa was attacked within inches of her life,” Mohammad told the newspaper.

“We call strongly on the authorities who are put in place to protect and serve, above all, to recognize the humanity of vulnerable communities like gender and sexual minorities,” added Mohammad.

Marcela Romero, regional coordinator of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Trans People, also criticized the police’s response to Hoffmann’s case.

“Alexa is a trans human rights defender in Barbados and we believe it is crucial that the state guarantees her security and of all trans people in the country,” said Romero in a statement her organization released on Feb. 22. “Unfortunately, trans women from Latin America and the Caribbean cannot access the right to justice due to the stigma and discrimination that exists in police stations, ombudsmen offices and judicial."

Hoffmann told the Blade she has participated in LGBT-sensitivity workshops with the police. She nevertheless said officers continue to harass and mistreat lesbian, gay, bisexual and especially trans Barbadians while they are in their custody.

“I would like to see them held to account for their actions,” said Hoffmann.

Laverne Cox debuts first music video ‘Beat for the Gods’

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 11:33 AM PST

Laverne Cox (Screenshot courtesy of YouTube)

Laverne Cox has dropped the music video for her first ever single “Beat for the Gods.”

Cox, 45, debuted the single on Out and explained the song was for "the kids who vogue, the kids who drag, the nightclub scene."

She says the song started out as a joke but she decided to make it into a full-on music video for “a cute song for the kids to vogue to.”

However, she doesn’t have any serious ambition to transition to a music career.

"I don't want to do an album, I don't want to be a pop star," Cox says. "People have been asking me to do music for years, and I don't want to do music. I grew up studying dance, and I did musicals through college. So I studied singing for years, but I basically decided years ago that I'm not a singer. I'm an actor. Which is cool, I'm happy being an actress.

Watch below.

Beat For The Gods by Laverne Cox on VEVO.

Bob The Drag Queen fills in for Katya on ‘The Trixie & Katya Show’

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 11:14 AM PST

Trixie Mattel and Bob The Drag Queen on ‘The Trixie & Katya Show’ (Screenshot courtesy of YouTube)

Bob The Drag Queen is stepping in as co-host of “The Trixie & Katya Show” while Katya takes a mental health break.

"I am so excited to be guesting," Bob The Drag Queen said in a press release. "I'm neither Trixie or Katya, but it is Black History Month so…"

Nomi Ernst Leidner, Viceland executive producer and SVP of development, added: "Everyone continues to support Brian on his path to getting healthy. While we will miss Katya dearly, we're are very excited to offer fans more episodes of The Trixie & Katya Show with another powerhouse from the Drag Race roster."

Katya, real name Brian McCook, announced in January that he was taking a one year break from drag to focus on his mental health and drug addiction recovery.

"I'm ok. I'm not dying because I want to live," McCook, who been candid about his drug addiction, explained in an Instagram Live. "But I need to take vacations, like a normal person. The people who are listening will understand, can understand. And that's all I wanted to say, that's all. I don't have a drug crisis right now, because I'm sober. I'm taking care of myself today. And that is the reason why I'm happy."

“The Trixie & Katya Show” featuring Bob The Drag Queen premieres on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 10:30 p.m. on Viceland.

Transgender wrestler Mack Beggs booed for winning Texas girls’ title

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 10:48 AM PST

Mack Beggs (Screenshot courtesy of YouTube)

Transgender wrestler Mack Beggs won his second Texas state girls’ title to a mix of boos and cheers on Saturday.

The 18-year-old from Euless Trinity High School beat Chelsea Sanchez 15-3 in the Class 6A 110-pound division. Beggs also defeated Sanchez for the 2017 title.

Beggs’ win was met with a combination of boos and cheers from the crowd in a similar reaction to his 2017 win.

The wrestler is on a low-dose of testosterone which is allowed by the University Interscholastic League (UIL) since it comes from a physician. Beggs has stated that he wants to compete in the boys division but according to the UIL’s birth certificate rule players must compete in tournaments that match the gender they were assigned at birth.

Speaking with WFAA, Beggs says he doesn’t let people’s negative opinions influence him.

"I don't care, I gave my all in that match,” Beggs says. "You put me in front of anybody and I'll wrestle them. Each time I read comments, they all say the same thing about steroids. It all comes down to technique and who has the most heart."

Beggs’ future plans include wrestling in the NCAA, securing a scholarship for an out-of-state school and gender reassignment surgery.

Watch Beggs’ winning move below.

 

 

Lambro leads in low-price business-class computers

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 10:33 AM PST

Lambro, gay news, Washington Blade

Lambro Inc. owner Lisa Ambrusko (center), with operations manager Marcia Riemenschneider (left) and assistant manager Anthony Clark (right). (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

If you or your small business, local company, service enterprise or community organization are seeking top-notch business-class desktop or laptop computers, peripherals or other electronic equipment, Lambro Inc. owner Lisa Ambrusko has got the deal for you.

A diverse multiplicity of local ventures, small and large companies, and individual end-users benefit from Ambrusko's longstanding "PC Retro Computer Warehouse" store located in Alexandria, Va., providing affordable access to business-grade tools. The lesbian entrepreneur's firm offers refurbished recent iterations of top-of-the-line computing hardware and other equipment at very economical prices.

"Cheap PCs and laptops off-the-shelf are not really a good bargain by comparison," says Ambrusko, adding that her team is "able to link local and budget-conscious community and business entities to tech products of a quality often beyond their financial reach and at lower cost than less-powerful new equipment."

Operations manager and technology coordinator Marcia Riemenschneider amplifies this opportunity by noting, "if you allow us to direct you to a brand and a product, especially if you need multiple matched units, you're really going to score."

Ambrusko is no stranger to the retail evolution in computers, peripherals and electronics equipment. A native of the metropolitan area who attended Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in suburban Maryland and earned a local business school degree, Ambrusko first began working for local computer sales and software re-sellers in 1997.

She has helped trail-blaze the local market for refurbished computers and technology equipment. For small businesses, government contractors, non-profits, and community entities such as schools and health clinics, as well as a wide range of other local enterprises and also including individual retail customers, Lambro connects users with high-end legacy "technology you can trust."

Lambro acquires desktop and laptop computers, servers, printers, monitors, networking gear, audio apparatus, projection equipment, television displays and other hardware from a wide range of sources. Large corporate firms, government agencies and contractors, local businesses, and others provide the inventory for refurbishment and resale. Equipment offloading results from business closings, equipment uniformity implementation, technology upgrades and hardware standardization requirements associated with government contracting or corporate expansion integration.

As part of a larger in-house affiliated network of equipment acquisition, Ambrusko's company has access to an astounding volume and extensive range of high-quality computer equipment and related office gadgetry. Procurement occurs as entities close up shop or migrate to new systems and need to comply with data destruction protocols and computer hardware recycling.

Word-of-mouth referral among both business customers and home-based users has been a critical component of the firm's longtime success. "Operating my own local community small business gives me the opportunity to better get to know my clients and their needs," explains Ambrusko.

"As a woman, it is important that my retail location also be a place where women of all ages can come and not be intimidated by technology," emphasizes Ambrusko. "When I first started reselling computers, I rarely saw women but today that is very different. We are seeing great diversity among our customers as well as the businesses we provide services. We now serve women with all levels of interest, from those simply using computers to those with technical skill levels capable of designing them."

"In today's market, it's hard providing a great product and skilled services while remaining a brick and mortar store," Ambrusko laments. "Online shopping wants to take over the world, but I hope it won't be at the expense of our amazing local communities and small businesses. We strive every day to be a unique and valuable resource to come visit and shop!"

Lambro Inc. and the firm's PC Retro Computer Warehouse retail store are located in Alexandria, Va., at 4926-D Eisenhower Ave., four blocks east of the Van Dorn St. Metro. The store is open Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information is available by calling the store at 703-370-5440, or visiting the company website at LambroInc.com.

 

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.