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‘The Voice Australia’ contestant proposes to his boyfriend on stage

Posted: 01 May 2018 09:46 AM PDT

‘The Voice Australia’ contestant Nathan Brake proposes to his boyfriend Mitchell Baines. (Screenshot via YouTube)

“The Voice Australia” contestant killed two birds with one stone with a big audition and a proposal on the same stage.

Brake performed “Jealous” by Nick Jonas for judges Boy George, Delta Goodrem, Joe Jonas and Kelly Rowland causing all of the judges except Boy George to turn their chair around.

Jonas and Goodrem tried to persuade Brake to join their team with both of them even trying to call Nick to vouch for them. Nick encouraged Brake to pick his brother and Brake announces he’s made a decision for “The Voice” and for his personal life.

"I've made a decision," Brake says. "I've also made another decision that's separate to choosing a coach today."

Brake brings out his boyfriend Mitchell Baines and explains they have been together for six years.

"You've been a constant support for me over these last six years," Brake says. "So I just wanted to ask you, will you marry me?"

Baines nods yes and the crowd applauds as Rowland rushes on stage to hug the couple.

Australia legalized same-sex marriage in December 2017. Brake’s proposal marks the first same-sex proposal on reality television in Australia.

Brake eventually announced he had chosen to join Goodrem’s team.

Watch below.


Gus Kenworthy to headline DNC’s annual LGBTQ gala

Posted: 01 May 2018 09:18 AM PDT

Gus Kenworthy (Screenshot courtesy of YouTube)

Olympic freeskier Gus Kenworthy will attend the Democratic National Committee’s 19th annual LGBTQ gala as a special guest on June 25 in New York City.

"I couldn't be more excited to join the DNC at their LGBTQ Gala this Pride season," Kenworthy said in a statement. "Over the last year, the Trump-Pence administration has pushed our community to the sidelines, attacking us for who we are and who we love. It's time we take a stand against this administration by electing representatives this upcoming November who actively support and believe in equality for everyone."

DNC Chair Tom Perez added, “Gus has been a tireless advocate for his community, standing up to hate and a Trump-Pence administration that has repeatedly attacked and demeaned LGBTQ people. The 2017 elections were a landmark moment for the LGBTQ community. Not only did we elect the first openly transgender state legislator, but LGBTQ candidates broke barriers from Palm Springs and Seattle to Minneapolis and New York. This year, we want to celebrate that success and refocus the LGBTQ community on just what is at stake in the coming 2018 midterms. With the help of people like Gus, Democrats will win up and down the ballot, from the school board to the Senate."

Kenworthy, along with fellow out Olympian Adam Rippon, declined to attend the April 27 athlete reception at the White House.

"All US Olympians and Paralympians are invited to visit the White House and meet the President after the Games. Today is this year's visit and USOC spokesperson says he's never seen so many athletes turn down their invites. The resistance is real,” Kenworthy tweeted.

Kenworthy was quick to defend his decision to not attend the reception and noted that he and Rippon didn’t receive government funding while on the U.S. Olympic team.

“To those saying @Adaripp and I shouldn’t get gov’t funding since we skipped the White House visit: WE DON’T! Absolutely $0. The US is one of the only countries that doesn’t pay a penny to it’s Olympic team to train/ compete. All money comes from sponsors and private donations…” Kenworthy tweeted.

Adam Rippon slays ‘Sissy That Walk’ performance on ‘DWTS’

Posted: 01 May 2018 08:57 AM PDT

Jenna Johnson and Adam Rippon dancing to ‘Sissy That Walk’ on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ (Screenshot via YouTube)

Adam Rippon and his dance pro partner Jenna Johnson skyrocketed to the top of the leaderboard with their cha cha performance of “Sissy That Walk” by RuPaul.

Johnson’s choreography included voguing and plenty of posing woven into a classic cha ha.

"You were born to do this show," judge Carrie Ann Inaba told the Olympic figure skater. "That was fantastic, so polished, so precise. Well done."

The pair earned an 8 out of 10 score from Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli . They tied with Redskins cornerback Josh Norman and his dance pro Sharna Burgess for the highest score of the night.

Rippon’s dance caught the attention of Twitter including fellow Olympian and friend Gus Kenworthy and RuPaul himself.

“Dancing with the Stars” airs on Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

DOJ appeals order extending injunction on trans military ban

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 05:25 PM PDT

Juan Venegas, shooting deaths, gay news, Washington Blade

The Justice Department has appealed an order extending the injunction against President Trump’s trans military ban.

The U.S. Justice Department has a filed an appeal on a court order extending an injunction against President Trump’s transgender military ban as the lawsuit against the policy goes to trial.

The three-page notice, filed on Monday, indicates the Trump administration has appealed to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals the order U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman issued on April 13.

Pechman’s order moved the case against the ban to trial, extended a preliminary injunction against the policy, found the transgender military ban should be subject to strict scrutiny and determined the U.S. military must demonstrate a compelling need to have the ban to survive judicial review.

The notice of appeal provide no explanation for the action from the Justice Department.

“Notice is hereby given that all Defendants appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from this Court's Order of April 13, 2018, granting in part and denying in part plaintiffs' and Washington's motions for summary judgment, granting in part and denying in part defendants' motion for partial summary judgment, and striking defendants' motion to dissolve the preliminary injunction,” the notice says.

Also on Monday, the Justice Department submitted a request to Pechman seeking a hold on her preliminary injunction as litigation moves forward.

“Defendants now move to stay the court's preliminary injunction pending appeal, so that the Defense Department can implement its new policy,” the filing says. “Unless stayed, the court's injunction will irreparably harm the government (and the public) by compelling the military to adhere to a policy it has concluded poses substantial risks.”

The filing indicates the Justice Department will take up its stay request with the Ninth Circuit if Pechman doesn’t make a ruling by Friday.

The Washington Blade has placed a request in the Justice Department seeking comment on why the Trump administration believes the appeal is warranted.

Pechman moved the case to trial as a result of the litigation, which was filed by OutServe-SLDN and Lambda Lambda in Washington State. The title of the case is Karnoski v. Trump.

The litigation is one of four pending lawsuits in the federal judiciary against Trump’s transgender military ban. In each case, a judge has issued a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the anti-trans policy as litigation against it continues.

Activist: I ‘misspoke,’ Pence wants gays in ‘conversion camps’

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 01:38 PM PDT

Brandon Wolf says he misspoke about Vice President Mike Pence wanting gays in “concentration camps.” (Washington Blade photo by Wyatt Reid Westlund)

Under fire from the right-wing media for comments he made about Vice President Mike Pence wanting gays in “concentration camps,” one of the survivors of the 2016 shooting at Pulse nightclub now says he “misspoke.”

Brandon Wolf — who’s now head of the Dru Project, an organization that supports GSAs in schools — told the Washington Blade via email on Monday he intended to say Pence wants gay people in “conversion camps” to subject them to the widely discredited practice of “ex-gay” conversion therapy.

“I misspoke on Joy's show,” Wolf said. “What I meant to say was that Vice President Pence would have us in conversion camps. Which, of course, is a reference to Pence's tacit support of the abhorrent practice of conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth. The psychiatric community has overwhelmingly condemned this form of torture on children while Pence and the modern GOP stubbornly stick by their support of it.”

Wolf added Pence, who had a long anti-LGBT history as a U.S. House member and governor of Indiana, should speak out against conversion therapy.

“I stand by my view that Vice President Pence is wildly out of touch with the realities faced by LGBTQ youth today and should publicly denounce the dangerous practice of conversion therapy,” Wolf said.

Wolf invoked the ire of right-wing media on Saturday during an appearance on Joy Reid’s MSNBC show when he said the focus should not be on the controversy over blog posts she wrote years ago now deemed homophobic, but the Trump administration.

Asserting the Trump administration is filled with “homophobic psychopaths,” Wolf took drew particular attention to Pence.

"If Mike Pence, God bless him, ended up in the White House, sitting behind that desk in the Oval Office, he would have us all in concentration camps hoping to pray away the gay,” Wolf said.

LGBT advocates maintain Pence supports conversion therapy and sought to transfer federal funds intended for HIV/AIDS program to the practice. That’s based on a statement from his 2000 campaign for the U.S. House that stated he supports HIV/AIDS funds on the condition that resources are directed to institutions that "provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior."

That has been interpreted as support for "ex-gay" conversion therapy, although a Pence spokesperson has denied the vice president ever supported the practice.

But Pence’s anti-LGBT record goes beyond that, as a recent initiative from the Human Rights Campaign called “The Real Mike Pence” has sought to reveal.

As a U.S. House member, Pence backed a U.S. constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage nationwide and was a vocal opponent of pro-LGBT initiatives, including hate crimes protection legislation, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal and a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Most prominently, Pence in 2015 as Indiana governor signed a "religious freedom" bill allowing businesses and individuals to refuse services and discriminate against LGBT people. After pressure from LGBT advocates and the business community, Pence was forced to sign a "fix" to the law significantly limiting its scope.

As for his time in the Trump administration, there are rumors that Pence was behind the transgender military ban, although his office has denied he was involved and said he defers to the Pentagon on the issue.

Jackie Chan’s daughter claims she is homeless due to homophobia

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 01:02 PM PDT

Andi Autumn and Etta Ng (Screenshot via YouTube)

Etta Ng, Jackie Chan’s estranged daughter, is claiming she and her girlfriend Andi Autumn are homeless due to homophobia.

Ng, 18, and Autumn, 30, recorded an almost two-minute video explaining their situation.

“We had to read off of a paper due to PTSD and being extremely flustered about the whole situation. please understand. Please repost and share so that people who do care about us know what is happening,” the video description reads.

"We've been homeless for a month due to homophobic parents," Ng says in the video. "We pretty much slept under a bridge, and other things."

Autumn says she and Ng can’t go to shelters because they fear they will be split up. Ng adds that she and Autumn have also asked for help from police, food banks and LGBT centers.

"We don't know what to do at this point," Ng continued. "We just want to let people know what's going on because at this point it seems ridiculous that no one can help. I don't understand."

Ng, who is the daughter of Chan and Chinese actress Elaine Ng, came out as a lesbian on Instagram last October. She has stated in the past that she does not have a relationship with Chan and doesn’t consider him her father.

Derek Dillard blasts Nate Berkus’ family, Berkus fires back

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 12:43 PM PDT

Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent with their daughter Poppy (Photo courtesy of Instagram)

Nate Berkus defended his family and upcoming reality series “Nate and Jeremiah By Design” after former TLC star Derick Dillard slammed the family of four.

Dillard responded to a tweet from TLC promoting Berkus’ new show which follows him and his husband Jeremiah Brent as they teach "how to turn a money pit into a masterpiece. In each episode we learn from the mistakes of their clients as these designer husbands rescue them from renovation nightmares,” according to the show’s description. 

The tweet reportedly showed a family photo of Berkus and Brent who have two children Oskar, one month, and Poppy, 3.

"What a travesty of family," Dillard tweeted. "It's sad how blatant the liberal agenda is, such that it both highlights and celebrates a lifestyle so degrading to children on public television as if it should be normal."

One Twitter user replied to Dillard "Do their lifestyles affect yours ? …. Errrrm No. Plus this child looks mightily happy to me not, Poor’ as you describe.”

"They affect this poor child, as well as what perversions are celebrated. If it were adultery, I doubt a network would be so quick to focus on the reality of it as if it were ok. And that's a good standard for well-being? …how they look?" Dillard responded.

"I'm not bashing the people, I'm just calling out the public agenda at play and how a network chooses what they highlight," the former “Counting On”star continued. "Christians should love all as Christ loved all. Take advantage of capitalism: boycott what you don't believe in, but don't boycott relationships."

However, when someone asked Dillard what he would do "when one of your children grows up to be a member of the LGBTQ community??" he replied, "We'd love them just the same."

Berkus responded to Dillard by saying he hopes the show “can start to break down barriers.”

“My hope with having a show like #NandJByDesign on @TLC, where we go into people's homes and welcome viewers into ours, is that we can start to break down barriers & normalize the way our family looks & the way our family loves,” Berkus tweeted.

TLC fired Dillard, who is married to Jill Duggar, from its reality series “Counting On” after he posted transphobic tweets about fellow TLC star Jazz Jennings.

Milo Yiannopoulos loses funding, forced to lay off staffers

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 12:16 PM PDT

Milo Yiannopoulos, gay news, Washington Blade

Milo Yiannopoulos (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Milo Yiannopoulos has laid off staffers of his media company Milo Entertainment Inc. after unexpectedly losing funding, according to a report from Politico. 

A source told Politico "He fired everybody” from Milo Entertainment Inc., a subset of Milo Worldwide LLC. Yiannopoulos started the media venture after resigning as editor from Breitbart in 2017.

GOP donors Robert and Rebekah Mercer were the original financial backers of the venture but severed ties last year. Cryptocurrency billionaire Matthew Mello planned to fund the company but after dying of a drug overdose on April 16 funding became uncertain.

Politico reports the staff was let go and a source claims,"People are very, very furious."

Journalist Chadwick Moore was reportedly let go but continued to spend time with Yiannopoulos unaware of the situation.

"I haven't a clue what you're talking about. I'm just an editor. I got paid today and the work continues," Moore wrote in an email to Politico.

CEO Alexander Macris, who was also laid off from the company, had to deliver the news to Moore. According to Politico, Yiannopoulos was meant to inform Moore.

Yiannopoulos told Politico that Moore and Macris were let go because the cost of their health care was too high but they remain compensated through other Yiannopulos ventures.

"The video component of my daily show was stopped recently as the cost wasn't justifiable," Yiannopoulos says. "Show is now audio only. There were two layoffs as a result. But nothing has changed elsewhere or at Dangerous.com."

Ada Vox eliminated from ‘American Idol’ after Disney performance

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 11:50 AM PDT

Ada Vox singing ‘Circle of Life’ on ‘American Idol’ (Screenshot via YouTube)

“American Idol” contestant Ada Vox departed the reality competition on Sunday night after not receiving enough votes to advance to the top 7.

Vox impressed the judges yet again with her rendition of “Circle of Life” from “The Lion King” as part of Disney night.

"How special it is to have you on this show," judge Lionel Richie said of Vox. "You are a movement unto yourself."

However, the performance wasn’t enough as Vox was one of three contestants eliminated from the show.

Vox, real name Adam Sanders, auditioned for “American Idol” 13 times before advancing into the top 10. He also competed in season 12 as himself but only advanced to the top 50.

“I feel great, quite honestly. I feel like I did everything I needed to do up until this point. I made my mark on the world, on the show and I think I’ve made my mark in the music industry as well,” Vox told E! News. “I am so ready to just get home and start working. The real work begins after this.”

Judge Katy Perry also made it clear she is still a supporter of Vox’s career.

“I’ll see you around…I’ll see you around the circuit as well,” Perry told Vox during an interview with E! News.”Trust and believe this is not the end of us. This is a duo that’s going on the road.”

Contestant Jurnee, who is a lesbian, advanced to the top 7 with her cover of “How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana.”


Out and Equal attends LGBT tourism, diversity conference in Brazil

Posted: 30 Apr 2018 11:26 AM PDT

loneliness, gay news, Washington Blade

Out and Equal Workplace Advocates CEO Erin Uritus took part in the International Conference of Diversity and LGBT Tourism in São Paulo from April 23-26, 2018. (Photo courtesy Out & Equal))

SÃO PAULO — The world’s first LGBT organization to specifically advocate on behalf of workplace equality and inclusion took part in the International Conference for Diversity and LGBT Tourism that took place in São Paulo from April 23-26.

Out and Equal Workplace Advocates CEO Erin Uritus and Steve Roth, the organization’s senior director of global initiatives, both took part in the conference. The Washington Blade had a chance to sit down with both of them.

Washington Blade: Does Out and Equal have any data on what the biggest challenges are to achieving equality in the workplace in Brazil? What could be done in the face of those challenges?

Erin Uritus: We don't have any specific data on LGBTIQ equality in the workplace in Brazil, because as far as we know this data does not exist yet. However, I think what the whole world knows is that Brazil has the highest number of homicides of transgender people and I think around 400 homicides of LGBTIQ people just in 2017. So, we know that the level of LGBTIQ violence in Brazil is high. But besides this data what we know is coming out of companies that are doing a good work in promoting diversity. Brazilian companies like Mattos Filho, a law firm, and Itaú, one of the biggest banks in the country, are companies that just started their diversity journey in the last few years but they are telling us that they have real data coming from their actual employees in their HR departments saying that it's easier for them to recruit better people and once they have people they don't lose them. They are seeing right in front of them real data on how inclusive their workplaces are becoming. We have more data from multinational companies that share with us, such as J.P. Morgan, SAP, IBM and Bloomberg. These are companies that collect a lot of data in the U.S., so they know more about inclusiveness in the workplace. I believe that countries have different laws about what data you can collect and the Brazilian companies have just begun this journey. So, it is only a matter of time before more data comes out about this in Brazil.

Blade: What's the importance for Out and Equal focusing on Brazil? And why is this happening right now?

Uritus: It's important for us for many reasons. A few years ago, in Out and Equal's strategic plan we were largely focused on the U.S. and Fortune 1000 companies and that is still our strongest base. But about five years ago we decided it was time, especially with multinational companies, to start expanding globally. And we weren't quite sure where should we go. We started doing the work in Brazil three years ago and J.P. Morgan invited us to do our first Out and Equal LGBT Brazil Forum. So now we have three years under our belt working here in Brazil and every time we come back there is not only more good working going on but there is more opportunity to create a bigger impact. For us Brazil is a very strategic investment. We are also doing work in China and India for the second year but it's much smaller and the political and cultural challenges are much different. In Brazil, we feel like we already have an investment in the local LGBTIQ community and their network is very strong and then you have the leaderships in diversity and inclusion work already taking root in Brazilian companies. For us it is strategically important that not only we maintain but also increase our emphasis in areas of the world like this where all the right pieces of the puzzle are coming together and for us this is Brazil.

Blade: What are the key challenges faced by Out and Equal in working towards equality and inclusion in the workplace and safeguarding it?

Uritus: There are so many challenges, but so many opportunities. Number one we know the community is growing and diversifying in the U.S. and around the world. We know based on multiple studies that 20 percent of millennials identify as LGBTIQ. And we know that in the U.S. 75 percent of the workforce will be millennials by 2025. We also know that 52 percent of Gen Z, the generation coming after the millennials, identify as LGBTIQ or "not straight." This is not only very interesting and scary for some companies, but it is an opportunity for them to dive in with us in understanding how the community is diversifying so they don't lose traction and move forward. So, this is a big challenge and it is also a really good opportunity. Another big challenge is gender identity and expression in the workplace. Because depending on the country you are in, city you are in, state you are in and company you are in; there are still people outside our community and even within it that don't understand identity. So, there is still a lot of awareness and education that needs to happen, especially around transgender identity. Twenty years ago, only 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies had policies that protected LGBTIQ people from workplace discrimination. Today that is closer to 95 percent. So, the challenge we had 21 years ago when (former CEO) Selisse Berry started this organization was much bigger than today. But in addition to that there is a challenge today that is more mechanical and organizational because there is so much happening today but how do we leverage technology to make best practices available and searchable so people can dialogue about that? One of the things we are thinking of doing today is creating a digital portal where best practices from multinational companies, from governments, from a company from Brazil can all be put in a centralized place because we want to have the most impact possible and we don't want people starting over in their searching on how to do this. Our challenge is how to bring people together and share.

Blade: You talked about 20 percent of millennials identifying as LGBTIQ. Do you think that as we go forward millennials can be the driving force in promoting equality in the workplace and in the community?

Uritus: What the data shows not only with millennials but even younger, with Gen Z, is that the community is expanding and diversifying specially with the bi-plus and the queer part of that. So, I think the community is growing and what we are getting to know is that not only they want to work in diverse and inclusive workplaces, they demand it. And if you are not a diverse inclusive workplace they will go work someplace else. In fact, there is othe research that has been done that shows how people, especially when economies are good, will choose not only inclusive companies to work for but also inclusive cities to live in. And this is why you see in some of the creative cities movement and work that cities like Toronto and many cities around the U.S. know the importance of being inclusive because millennials will not move there unless they have vibrant diverse communities. We have a lot of hope for the new generation, and also a lot of expectations, enthusiasm and positivity.

Blade: Erin, you have been CEO of Out and Equal for just three months. When you got the job, what was the first thing on your to do list?

Uritus: The first thing I actually did and it is still a priority that I am carrying with me these first few months is to listen. I need to better understand our community as well. This is also a journey for me. So, I want to hear people's stories about their identities and their experiences in the workplace. Especially I want to listen to their experiences this year. Because if I was the CEO during the Obama administration I would be listening for different things. Now, with the Trump administration in place and with what is happening in the workplace I am listening to both people who are struggling maybe in the government and maybe in companies that are not focused on LGBTIQ equality. But also, even despite the difficulty there is so much work happening that is positive: People who I think are part of the resistance, who are currently in the workplace, I am asking them and listening to what are the experimental and innovative practices that they are trying in face of difficulties because we don't want to lose the ground that we have gained. My number one priority has been to get to know everybody in the community and to really listen to them to bring all of that data into our strategic planning process. In addition to that I am getting to know all of the talents of my wonderful staff. The staff is incredibly smart and strong, and they have been doing really good work. I am also getting to come to a country like Brazil and understanding what it's like in one of the countries that we've been supporting.

Out and Equal Workplace Advocates took part in the International Conference of Diversity and LGBT Tourism in São Paulo from April 23-26, 2018. (Washington Blade photo by Felipe Alface)

Blade: We already talked about how the transgender community is marginalized, especially here in Brazil. Do you think trans rights and inclusion in the workplace is the next frontier?

Steve Roth: I think it's one of the biggest challenges for sure and that is what we are hearing in our meetings and seeing here in Brazil. But also, people of color, someone pointed out that there was one or two here in the conference. So, what that is about more broadly is diversity within the LGBTIQ community. Transgender people are a particularly important issue right now. Education is a big challenge with the transgender community because most kids get kicked out of their homes so they don't get a good education which means they can't get a good job and often much end up working on the streets as sex workers and it becomes this kind of building cycle. Just this week we talked with some companies that are starting transgender initiatives and programs, and part of it is focusing of course in education and training. But there is also the need for sensitivity training within the company, so people can understand transgender issues. In my understanding of Brazil, there is still confusion between sexual orientation and gender identity. People still think that someone gay wants to be a woman. It is a big need but there is some work starting to be done. In our Brazil Forum last year, we hosted a panel on transgender issues and we at Out and Equal have what we call our transgender guidelines, which is a document a company needs to facilitate the process to transgender workers who are transitioning at work.

Blade: Are there different issues in different places around the world in terms of equality in the workplace around the globe or are there general issues that everyone faces?

Uritus: At the very core of that issue there is the reality that different countries have different laws and workplace policies. There are places where you can still suffer for coming out. And in fact, even in the U.S. we don't have laws protecting our community in 29 states. You can come to work and put a picture of your partner at your desk, come out and be fired that day. Around the world it starts with what the local laws are and the workplace policies. What we know about belonging and authenticity based on recent social science research is that you can be in a room full of people and feel lonely, and you can be with only one person and be able to be authentically yourself. It is really about being able to be your true self and for us in our community that means being out and able to bring your whole self to work.

Roth: I agree. And I think that the core is that around the world the same kind of issues and challenges are faced. They may manifest themselves differently in each country or context depending on laws, culture and society. Just to talk about the examples we know, like Brazil, has a traditional religious culture with Catholicism and now the growth of evangelicalism, but you have a pretty friendly legal framework working for LGBTIQ people. In June, we are going to China and there is not illegal to be gay but the government is very involved and very controlling of everything so you have to be careful about what you say and don't say. When we go to India in July or August we will be faced with a much different scenario because there is the misunderstanding, even in HR departments, that it is illegal to be gay, which is not, what's illegal technically is gay intercourse. So, if an HR director thinks it's illegal to be gay, of course they are not going to have any kind of programs for LGBTIQ people in the workplace. So that is a special kind of educational challenge. We are going to do special events there for HR, but also for legal departments because they need to know the reality of their legal situation.

Blade: What can we expect from the Out and Equal 2018 Brazilian Forum on Nov. 28-29?

Roth: This is our third year here in Brazil and the event has been building and growing each year. At its core, the forum is about some of the things Out and Equal does best, which is bringing people together to exchange ideas and to share best practices, network and connect. This year we'll have a full day of programming, and for the first time we are going to have two tracks, divided between companies that are just beginning to implement their programs for LGBTIQ people and companies that are already doing a lot of initiatives. We are speaking with more NGOs and institutions here in Brazil, like the LGBT Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, so you'll see more collaborations with those groups and what they are doing. Last year for the first time we introduced our Brazil Excellence Awards and we are going to expand that so we have more categories and more recognition. We are having a reception the night before the forum to promote even more networking. And also, this year we are going to reach out more for places outside of São Paulo, where the Forum takes place, so it'll be even more of a national event.

Blade: When a company asks why does inclusion in the workplace matter, how do you answer?

Uritus: I think inclusion matters first of all because it is the right thing to do if you care about your employees. But I think that the data that keeps coming out from reports shows that it is good for business because being more LGBTIQ inclusive attracts better talent and people who feel welcome at the workforce will stay and be loyal to your company. We also know that it contributes to innovation and creativity. And finally, if you have a more diverse and inclusive workforce you naturally understand your customer base better. It is something called customer orientation where the diversity inside helps you understand how to better advertise and sell your products to a more diverse society.

Blade: The word advocate is a part of your organization's name. What is your definition of an advocate?

Uritus: I think advocating, in our case for workplace equality, is about standing up for what is right, standing up for LGBTIQ people and professionals in whatever work environment they are in. I think also in recent years advocating includes the work of allies. It's not just about gay people advocating for gay people anymore; it is including everybody who cares about us and just wants to do what is right. So, to me it also means helping allies help our community in the workplace.