Violent discrimination putting LGBTI South Asians at risk, report finds

Violent discrimination putting LGBTI South Asians at risk, report finds

A petition to ban ‘obscene’ Pride in Scotland gains hundreds of signatures Trans women have had enough in Pakistan. | Photo: Facebook/Trans Action Pakistan LGBTI individuals and others in South Asia are at an increased risk of HIV and health problems due to violence because of their sexuality or gender.

A new UN report details the impact of violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (Sogie) on men who have sex with men (MSM) and transwomen.

The report details widespread discrimination and violence in families, schools, workplaces, and healthcare. It explores how this puts individuals at a heightened risk of HIV, health problems, and mental health problems.

‘While there are well-documented trends in some regions of the world, less is known about Sogie-based violence, HIV risk and mental health among sexual and gender minority groups in South Asia,’ explained Valerie Cliff from the United Nations Development Program.

The report covered people living in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Titled Know Violence , it was released by the UNDP, the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and APCOM Foundation.

‘There is an urgent need to understand the impact and complexity of violence faced by men who have sex with men and transgender persons’, said Ravi Verma, Regional Director, Asia for the International Center for Research on Women in Delhi.

The report recommends more research into how social stigma, trauma, lack of legal recognition impact HIV risk and mental health.

The report also encourages understanding of how gender-based violence against MSM and transwomen differs from violence only on women.

Homosexual sex is illegal in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. India decriminalized gay sex last week and Nepal did so in 2007.

Furthermore, Nepal and India are also the only countries to forbid Sogie-based discrimination. Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh all recognize transgender rights to varying degrees. Key findings

MSM and transwomen faced sexual harassment in college, blackmail and extortion, violence in public places, sexual assault, and sexual harassment in the workplace

LGBTI South Asians and others faced discrimination in everyday life. This included in schools, religious spaces, healthcare, at work, at law-related institutions, and within communities. Significantly, they reported police as a common source of violence.

Consequently, the report found a lifetime of violence and marginalization led to devastating mental health problems. MSM and transwomen showed poor self-esteem and self-doubt. Many had depression or had attempted suicide.

Discrimination and violence also led increased HIV among, the report said. In 2010, the regional prevalence of HIV among men who have sex with men was 14.7 percent. In contrast, it was close to one percent in the general population.

Dua Lipa cries onstage as security drags fans out for waving Pride flags

Dua Lipa cries onstage as security drags fans out for waving Pride flags

A petition to ban ‘obscene’ Pride in Scotland gains hundreds of signatures Dua Lipa (R) was visibly upset after fans were dragged out of her show in China. | Photo: Twitter A violent incident at her concert left pop star Dua Lipa in tears after security guards dragged fans out of her Shanghai show for waving Pride flags.

Videos emerged on social media showing security trying to drag people over a row of seats after they waved the LGBTI Pride flags at her show at Wednesday’s show (12 September). People around them started screaming as the show stopped and the arena went completely dark.

The crowd around them started shouting at the guards saying ‘how can you grab a girl like that’. At @DUALIPA ‘s shanghai tour, few people been kicked out by the safeguard because they’re waving Rainbow Flag #Dualipa #LGBT pic.twitter.com/3zhWXnaadK — SubwaySucker (@dr_jolin) September 12, 2018 Dua Lipa known for her hits New Rules and IDGAF has been a vocal LGBTI ally. Visibly upset after the incident, addressed the crowd after security successfully ejected some of the fans.

‘I want to create a really safe environment for us all to have fun,’ Dua Lipa told the crowd.

‘I want us all to dance. I want us all to sing, I want us all to just have a really good time.’

Taking a second to compose herself she told the crowd her show in Shanghai was almost over and that they should try enjoy their last few minutes together.

‘I would love in these last few songs for us to really, really, really enjoy ourselves. How about that?’ she said. Dua Lipa Cried In Shanghai China Tonight pic.twitter.com/Tz17SRGpiH — Liability (@958353005) September 12, 2018 Violent security

Dua Lipa has not commented since the incident happened but her tour continues in China.

More videos appeared on social media site Twitter and Weibo showing security guards assaulting the fans outside the stadium. #DuaLipa #DuaLipaMNL #DuaLipaMNL2018 #Shanghai And this on is UNBELIEVABLE!!! The audience who were pulled out of the concert by security guards, and also beaten up outside by security guards!!!!!!! These security guards are totally hooligans!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/kON19ak6xH — Belief WILD (@Belief_wild) September 12, 2018 Some people said security guards also violently stopped some spectators from dancing, telling them to sit down. One more video…the girl was up on her feet so happy n thought they coming to interact with her, only to be smashed onto the ground and taken away. Not every show in China is like this, it’s said @LiveNation instructed them to do so. We’re so sorry @DUALIPA had to witness. pic.twitter.com/Eo5XwOpsQY — Liberatedex (@dexlav) September 12, 2018 Homosexuality is not illegal in China, but the government has banned any homosexual content online or on film and television . It tried to blockany homosexual content on the massively popular Weibo, but a popular movement helped to overturn the decision.

The Eurovision Broadcasting Corporation revoked China’s rights to this year’s Eurovision after it censored a gay kiss and blurred a rainbow flag during the semi-finals.

The DJ and his lawyers taking on Singapore’s anti-gay law

The DJ and his lawyers taking on Singapore's anti-gay law

A petition to ban ‘obscene’ Pride in Scotland gains hundreds of signatures Singapore’s Johnson Ong, AKA DJ Big Kid, is taking on Section 377A (Photo: Facebook) Debate over Singapore’s anti-gay law, Section 377A of the Penal Code, has intensified in the city state.

Ministers have commented and a government-led committee has reviewed the legislation. Thousands of people have signed petitions both for and against Section 377A .

Meanwhile, Singapore resident Johnson Ong, is taking the case to the High Court . He and his lawyers will argue that the rights-abusing law is unconstitutional.

Singapore’s Attorney-General has been listed as the defendant and a pre-trial conference will take place on 25 September. Singapore’s highest court in 2014 dismissed a similar appeal.

Gay Star News spoke to DJ Big Kid about why he wanted to bring this case to court. We also chatted to his lawyer, Suang Wijaya, about how they plan to fight the legislation.

Singapore’s Johnson Ong, AKA DJ Big Kid, is taking on Section 377A (Photo: Supplied) Why?

Ong, a 43-year-old who is also known as DJ Big Kid, filed the legal challenge on Monday (10 September).

‘It is imperative that the next generation of Singaporeans at the very least have the protection of the law that does not label them criminals,’ he told Gay Star News.

Ong grew up in a traditional family. A Christian mission school taught him that homosexual sex was the ultimate sin against God.

‘Growing up as a gay kid, this was devastating to me,’ he told Gay Star News. ‘I was often confused, in despair and hated myself for having attractions for others of my same gender’.

As he tried to ‘pray the gay away’ he became a moody, irritable teenager. He explained that, as an adult, Section 377A reinforced earlier teachings. It made him feel: ‘I am lesser than, that I am a criminal’.

India’s landmark ruling last week to finally decriminalize gay sex bolstered Ong to act. Veteran Singaporean diplomat Tommy Koh’s call to arms also energized him .

But, he said, ‘any time is a good time for equality’. With Section 377A on the books he said ‘growing up is a lonely and arduous process for LGBTQ Singaporeans’.

Last year, Ong made a thought-provoking video about why gay men in Asia were drawn to chemsex. How?

Wijaya is partner at the law firm Eugene Thuraisingam LLP. The firm regularly acts in matters involving questions of public interest law in Singapore, he said. They will be taking on the case pro bono.

Wijaya will have to convince the courts to overturn their earlier 2014 decision that ruled Section 377A was constitutional.

Ong’s lawyers will argue that Section 377A violates Article 9(1) of the Constitution. It states: ‘no one shall be deprived of life and personal liberty save in accordance with law’.

‘We will argue that dignity is a foundational concept which forms the bedrock of the Fundamental Liberties provisions of the Singapore Constitution’, Wijaya told Gay Star News.

To support the argument, lawyers will demonstrate that sexual orientation is ‘unchangeable or suppressible at unacceptable personal cost’.

Wijaya said 2014’s petition did not consider ‘human dignity’ mentioned in the Constitution. Lawyers will also highlight a lack of expert evidence in the 2014 case.

Significantly, Wijaya and his team will provide as evidence global rulings on LGBTI rights since 2014. These will include the USA’s landmark legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015. And a Hong Kong court’s ruling that immigration must treat same-sex married couples equally to opposite-sex couples.

It will also include landmark decriminalization by India’s Supreme Court last week. Singapore’s 377A is based on the same colonial-era legislation.

Wijaya said the firm took on the case because ‘our personal belief that the legislation is unconstitutional and on that basis we take the view that the law should not remain’.

A number of the 71 countries could soon follow India’s decriminalization. In a April a court in Trinidad and Tobago ruled that an anti-gay law was unconstitutional .

LGBTI campaigners in Kenya are fighting a legal challenge to colonial era laws prohibiting any sex that doesn’t involve penis-vagina penetration.

LGBT-friendly Berlin mosque deradicalises Muslim youth

LGBT-friendly Berlin mosque deradicalises Muslim youth

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Tugay Sarac was just 15 when he first talked about traveling from Germany to Syria to fight for Islamic State.

But unlike his friends at the time, Sarac had turned to radical Islam as a way of avoiding coming to terms with his sexuality.

“I had friends who, like me, were really radical extremists and even considered going to Syria or to Palestine to fight,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a quiet corner of the prayer room of Berlin’s Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque.

Now 20, Sarac, who was born in Berlin to a Turkish family, learned from an early age that homosexuality was wrong – and un-Islamic.

“I thought being gay is bad and that through Islam, by praying to God, I could cure myself and become normal. I started praying five times a day: I just felt bad, like I was dirty or inferior somehow … I was really ashamed of my gay thoughts.”

More than 5,000 Europeans – most from Britain, France, Germany and Belgium – have joined fighters in Syria and Iraq, according to Europe’s police organization, Europol, with more than 200 continental attacks and foiled plots last year.

Studies suggest a range of motivations, from supporting fellow Muslims to feelings of alienation at home. Yet Sarac was not looking for a greater sense of Muslim solidarity – he was running away from the fact he was gay.

“I knew I liked boys from maybe the first class of primary school,” he said. “(But) in Islam for me it was very clear that homosexuality was bad.”

It was only when Sarac came across the Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque – one of only a handful of gay-friendly mosques around the world – that he found a middle ground that allowed him to accept both his sexuality and his faith.

As Sarac found himself drawn into the life of the mosque, its liberal, inclusive form of Islam drew him away from his more fundamentalist views and helped him come to terms with who he was.

“This mosque helped me to deradicalise completely,” he said.

“Coming here, I started being comfortable with myself and that’s when I told my mother and my aunt (that I was gay).” SLAPPED

LGBT Muslims are frequently required to make a stark choice between their sexuality and their religion, even in liberal countries such as Germany where same-sex marriage is legal.

Xenophobia and tensions are on the rise in Germany, which is home to about 4 million Muslims – about 5 percent of the population – since it opened its doors to more than a million migrants in 2015, many from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Following a spate of attacks on mosques, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in March that Islam does not belong in Germany, clashing with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s multi-ethnic vision for Europe’s biggest economy.

Sarac’s father, who moved to Germany at the age of six, boasted of beating up gay people when he himself was younger and made his views of homosexuality very clear to the young Sarac.

“My father was rather traditional, not in an Islamic way, but in a Turkish way,” Sarac said.

“When my little sister was born, I just wanted to hold her buggy and walk with her. But my father slapped my hand and said, ‘Stop doing that, it’s gay’.”

His father died when he was just 13 – leaving Sarac even more vulnerable to radical views, while also battling to suppress his sexuality at school “because as a teenager – as teenagers normally do – I just fell in love with other guys”.

Which is why when his friends started talking about becoming jihadis, Sarac readily joined the conversation – to deflect any questions on his own sexuality.

“I was struggling between being a normal 14 or 15-year-old guy in Germany and being really religious.

“My friends were very religious, very radical, and when they told me that they were considering going to Syria, I started thinking about it too.”

But there were other tensions at work.

One turning point was hearing a presenter on The Young Turks, a U.S.-based liberal news show, ask LGBT Muslims: “Why would you believe in a religion or a God if this God hates you, if this God will throw you to hell and let you burn forever?” HAPPY

When Sarac started worshipping at the Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque late last year, his radical friends disowned him, but the mosque offered other opportunities to explore a more liberal form of Islam.

Founded in June 2017 by Seyran Ates, a feminist lawyer who was born in Turkey, the mosque allows men and women to pray together.

“We consider ourselves an inclusive mosque,” Imam Susie Dawi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Berlin.

“We have no homophobic attitudes in any form here.”

Yet even among liberal Muslims, there is much work still to be done, she said.

“I have taken lesbian friends, for example, to Muslim friends and they’ve got along wonderfully and I thought that this would change attitudes. But it didn’t somehow … Maybe it needs time.”

The mosque has recently begun a deradicalisation workshop for students to take into German schools.

“The point is to open up people’s minds toward a more liberal understanding of Islam, for example by showing them women in different roles,” Dawi explained, rather than the traditional Islamic image of the subservient woman.

“There is a female pilot, for example.”

For Sarac, the mosque offers a chance for other LGBT Muslims not to repeat his mistakes.

“I’m 100 percent sure there are many gay Muslims who hide themselves like I did,” he said, either becoming atheists or fighters with militant groups like the Taliban or al Qaeda.

“If you are conflicted, it doesn’t make any sense to listen to one group who tell you are going to hell,” he said.

“If we want gay Muslims to be happy, we should just open ourselves up and let them be gay (and become) a happy, working part of the Muslim community.”

Reporting by Hugo Greenhalgh @hugo_greenhalgh, Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org

The future of Russia’s one and only LGBT film festival

The future of Russia’s one and only LGBT film festival

New legislation will hit independent and controversial cinema in Russia. The organisers of this LGBT film festival are going to keep on fighting for their right to speak on “forbidden” topics. RU Spectators of the festival “Side by Side” at the discussion of the film Querama with its director Daisy Asquith. St. Petersburg, November 2017. Photos from the archive of the festival. In July 2018, Russia’s State Duma passed a new law on foreign films in Russia . Only festivals and retrospectives included in a registered “permitted” list will be able to screen films without a special permit, as was previously the case. Everybody will encounter considerable financial and bureaucratic hurdles.

It’s clear that the new law has been designed to restrict the activities of independent cinema and festivals on “sensitive” subjects – such as the Side by Side LGBT and human rights film festival , which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary.

Evgeny Shtorn talks to Gulya Sultanova, one of the festival’s founders, on homophobia and the future of independent cinema in Russia.

Gulya, before we discuss the recent so-called cinema festival law, I’d like you to tell me a little about the annual Side by Side LGBT film festival, which has been taking place for more than ten years in St Petersburg and other Russian cities.

Side by Side is a human rights-themed LGBT festival that has been running in St Petersburg since 2008. We celebrated its 10th birthday last year. Its main aim is to create and develop an open cultural space for dialogue on LGBT subjects. Side by Side uses art to initiate discussion on a whole spectrum of issues relating to the LGBT community’s situation in Russia and around the world, the (non)acceptance and (in)tolerance it encounters and its place in the general fight for human rights.

Over its stormy 11 years history, our festival has lived through and outlived bans and disruption, negative coverage and being ignored by the media, attempts to have it classified as illegal and attacks by xenophobic members of parliament and nationalists.

The two most recent festivals have attracted large audiences: 3,600 in St Petersburg (over ten days) and 1,800 in Moscow (over four). These two cities are our main platforms, but the festival supports showings and discussions of LGBT cinema in other places as well: more than 15 Russian cities have been involved in our project. And apart from showing films, Side by Side publishes awareness raising literature on a large range of subjects, from coming-out and LGBT cinema that has changed the world to queer comics.

Do you cater to different audiences in St Petersburg and Moscow, as well as different audiences in the regions?

After the festival was attacked and subjected to regular acts of provocation in St Petersburg in 2013-2015, our audience there was more tense than in Moscow. But that’s behind us now, people are more relaxed. In Moscow, things have been more glamourous and laid back from the start, and there has been a more diverse crowd than in Petersburg: older, more male and more business people.

I remember the festivals you took to other cities – Kemerovo, Novosibirsk, Perm. Regional audiences are basically less spoilt when it comes to festivals, and certainly LGBT festivals. Have they been a hit?

From 2010 to 2012 we were able to run Side by Side not just in the two capitals, but also in Novosibirsk, Kemerovo, Tomsk, Arkhangelsk and Perm. At that time, there weren’t any explicit homophobic government policies at that time – after an initial reflex negative reaction, the local authorities would revert to disinterest. After a few attempts at disruption, the festival would run in comparative peace and always enjoyed good media coverage and large audiences; there was no problem there.

Our experience of running Side by Side in Kemerovo, for example, was quite typical: the first festival was plagued by disruptions and forced into underground screenings, but after two years of “normalisation” we had peaceful and successful showings with capacity crowds and a constantly neutral-to-friendly interest from the media. Organizers of the festival “Side by Side” with a guest moderator Ira Roldugina. Gulya Sultanova – second from the left in the second row. St. Petersburg, November 2017. Source: archive of the festival. In the summer of 2012, however, that changed. We were attacked by a nationalist group (funded, as we later discovered, by the city authorities). We had to drop our work in Kemerovo because of this and also because the local organising committee was intimidated and a smear campaign against us led to our volunteer group falling apart. And this pattern was repeated across the country.

What does the map of Russia look like in terms of homophobic reactions to your festival?

Before the government embarked on its homophobic policies, we could even cooperate with it. We had, for example, official support from Novosibirsk’s Department of Culture in 2010. At that time, we would initially either encounter a reflex negative reaction or be ignored, but this would be followed by a gradual acceptance of what we were doing. But 2012-2014 brought an increasingly ferocious official homophobia campaign: a witch-hunt against the entire LGBT community in the media, speeches by Duma members and a hate campaign that culminated in the infamous “gay propaganda” law.

Life became more difficult for us. Cooperation with state bodies, including state-controlled media, stopped entirely, independent platforms and spaces became more cautious and Russians in general more cautious-to-hostile.

But partially “thanks to” the witch-hunt, the LGBT issue became political – which had to happen sooner or later. Those people who have a generally critical attitude to life in Russia today have become more open to LGBT matters, but the majority, who imbibe a daily dose of hatred from the TV screen, have become even more narrow-minded on gender issues. Now we can only run large openly-LGBT events in Petersburg and Moscow, and only one-off small ones in the regions. We run single screenings there. For example, a film followed by a discussion. And that works.

You referred to the effects of the “gay propaganda” law as the politicisation of the subject. I remember how even 10 years ago, the attitude of many human rights campaigners to LGBT issues was, to put it mildly, sceptical. But after the smear campaigns and this ridiculous and harmful law, many of them changed their position, so I would say that the effects of the law were more positive than not. The situation where LGBT people had to stay in the closet has long since disappeared. Side by Side has spent almost half its existence under that law. To what extent has it helped you be heard, attracted new people to the cause, given you new opportunities?

The so-called “propaganda” law immediately made it much more difficult to run our film festival. We are an open cinema forum, and the question of a safe, however open, space is crucial to our work. Immediately after the law was passed, our opponents started using it to demonise the festival and scare the audience away. They threatened to disrupt or ban it, provoke mayhem with teenagers and so on. Regular appearances by homophobic parliamentarians and nationalists hired by them, illegal attempts to interfere with the film festival programme with fake phone calls about mines being laid (in 2013, for example, in five festival days there were five such calls requiring the general evacuation of a venue which was sometimes an enormous shopping centre) – all these ploys halved the size of the audience. It took us two to three years to build our audiences back to the size they had been before the “propaganda” law. Discussion “How to talk with LGBT teenagers?”, Moderator – psychologist Maria Naymushina. St. Petersburg, November 2017. Source: archive of the organizers of the festival. Over the last few years (when direct pressure on LGBT organisations weakened), however, the number of people visiting our screenings has dramatically increased – a result of stable and regular activity on our part, as well as the presence of security guards. Our audience feels calmer and safer. Our partner organisations have had the same experience: after the “gay propaganda” law was passed, we had to rebuild public confidence from the start and convince people to go on working with us, even though the state was not on our side. The only good thing the law did was to give us a high media profile and increase awareness of the significance and urgency of the issue of homophobia, bi-phobia and trans-phobia among Russians – a politicisation that was imperative for these issues to be resolved. And we have also gained a lot more volunteers than we had before.

Your involvement with Russian business is striking. You are getting funding from large hotel chains, cosmetics companies and restaurants. How have you managed that?

It’s all down to our perseverance and professionalism. Business people can see that our work is highly professional and are ready to take part in our projects because they understand that we have an interesting and progressive audience and the contribution made by business is ever more visible.

Do the companies that fund you see this as a political statement on their part, or is it just that they realise their target audience will visit your festival and so are read to support you for commercial reasons?

There are a lot of factors here: political motivation, general empathy and a wish to attract new customers to their business.

Do you see any prospect of attracting business to the work of human rights organisations?

Business will work with human rights organisations if they meet two conditions: they mustn’t threaten the actual business (as the saying goes, you can’t sell cookies on a battlefield); and they must be professional and successful in their work. Then everything will be fine.

The new “festival law” that is all over the papers will, as far as I can see, be yet another serious obstacle for you. Can you give me some more info about it, please.

This law could make independent film festivals a thing of the past. The chief snag is the need for the festival to be included in a special “register” that is approved by the government. Otherwise it will need to buy a distribution licence from the Russian Ministry of Culture for every single film in its programme. This will be incredibly expensive, might take years and it’s not clear how the system would work. The main thing is that it will create an absurd situation: why should a festival need a distribution licence when a festival screening involves no distribution? It’s like asking someone for their pilot’s licence when they’re just driving a car.

This law could make independent film festivals a thing of the past

Even festivals on the “register” (which has to be […]

Tadd Fujikawa becomes first men’s professional golfer to come out as gay

Tadd Fujikawa becomes first men’s professional golfer to come out as gay

Tadd Fujikawa during the first round of the Sony Open In Hawaii at Waialae Country Club in January 2017 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Tadd Fujikawa has become the first male professional golfer to come out as gay, saying he hopes his story will help others in the LGBT+ community.

The American sportsman from Hawaii posted a photo of himself in Instagram on Tuesday, which also marked World Suicide Prevention Day, alongside a caption explaining why had decided to go public about his sexuality.

“So…I’m gay. Many of you may have already known that,” he wrote. (taddy808/Instagram) “I don’t expect everyone to understand or accept me. But please be gracious enough to not push your beliefs on me or anyone in the LGBTQ community.

“My hope is this post will inspire each and every one of you to be more empathetic and loving towards one another.”

The 27-year old, who is currently ranked 2,042 in the world, headlines in 2006 when he became the youngest player to qualify for the US open at the age of 15. At the time, he was just an amateur.

Fujikawa turned pro in 2007 when he qualified for the Sony Open in Hawaii, becoming the second ever youngest player to make the cut. He finished at joint 20th place.

In 2017, Fujikawa won the Hawaii State Open.

He continued: “I’ve been back and forth for a while about opening up about my sexuality. I thought that I didn’t need to come out because it doesn’t matter if anyone knows. Fujikawa explained the he hopes he will inspire others in the LGBT+ community with his story. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) “But I remember how much other’s stories have helped me in my darkest times to have hope. I spent way too long pretending, hiding, and hating who I was.”

He added: “Now I’m standing up for myself and the rest of the LGBTQ community in hopes of being an inspiration and making a difference in someone’s life.”

Who is Tadd Fujikawa? Pro golf’s first gay male player

Who is Tadd Fujikawa? Pro golf’s first gay male player

Professional golfer Tadd Fujikawa publicly came out as gay earlier this week. (taddy808/Instagram) Tadd Fujikawa made headlines this week when he become the first male professional golfer to come out as gay. So, who is the US sportsman?

Born in 1991 in Honolulu, Hawaii, Fujikawa first turned heads as an amateur golfing sensation when be became the youngest ever player to qualify for the US Open in 2006 at the age of 16.

Fujikawa turned pro in 2007 when made the cut for the Sony Open in Hawaii, finishing in joint 20th place. At the time, he was the youngest golfer in 50 years to play at a PGA tour event.

In 2008, he won his professional victory at the 50th annual Mid-Pacific Open in Hawaii, where a mixture of amateurs and professionals compete. He went on to win the tournament again in 2009.

Over the years, Fujikawa has also played at a number of other professional golfing tournaments, including the eGolf Professional Tour in 2010, and the PGA Tour Canada in 2016.

The golfer, who is currently ranked 2,042 in the world, has also twice won the Hawaii State Open—in 2010 and 2017. Inspiring others

When Fujikawa publicly came out on Tuesday, which marked World Suicide Prevention Day, he explained that he hoped his story would help others in the LGBT+ community.

Posting a photo of himself in Instagram, he wrote: “So…I’m gay. Many of you may have already known that. Fujikawa publicly came out as gay in an Instagram post. (taddy808/Instagram) “I don’t expect everyone to understand or accept me. But please be gracious enough to not push your beliefs on me or anyone in the LGBTQ community.

“My hope is this post will inspire each and every one of you to be more empathetic and loving towards one another.” Tired of hiding

The golfer also said that he’d had enough of keeping his sexuality a secret.

He continued: “I’ve been back and forth for a while about opening up about my sexuality. I thought that I didn’t need to come out because it doesn’t matter if anyone knows. “But I remember how much other’s stories have helped me in my darkest times to have hope. I spent way too long pretending, hiding, and hating who I was.” Fujikawa at the Sony Open In Hawaii in January 2017. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Fujikawa added: “Now I’m standing up for myself and the rest of the LGBTQ community in hopes of being an inspiration and making a difference in someone’s life.”

And, since coming out, he’s added extra info to his Instagram bio, writing: “Make a difference. Change the world .”

The star has also included a link to a Golf Digest story reporting on him coming out as gay.

He’s also been proudly re-tweeting articles about him coming out on his Twitter. Being outspoken

Fujikawa has previosuly spoken out about important issues.

In October 2017—to mark World Mental Health Day—he discussed his mental health struggles on Instagram.

“Not many people know this but I’ve gone through ‘it,’” he wrote, posting just two months after winning the Hawaii State Open.

“Anxiety and depression are too real. What I have gone through may not seem as ‘bad’ or detrimental as some other people. But regardless we all have our issues and problems, just in different ways.”

Tadd Fujikawa becomes first US Open golfer to come out

Tadd Fujikawa becomes first US Open golfer to come out

A petition to ban ‘obscene’ Pride in Scotland gains hundreds of signatures Golfer Tadd Fujikawa | Photo: Instagram @taddy808 Japanese-American professional golfer Tadd Fujikawa has come out as gay.

In 2006, Fujikawa became the youngest player every to qualify for the US Open at the age of 15. He is one of the first pro golfers to come out, and the first US Open player to do so.

On Tuesday (11 September), Fujikawa made an Instagram post to announce his coming out.

‘So… I’m gay,’ he begins the post simply. ‘My hope is this post will inspire each and every one of you to be more empathetic and loving towards one another.’

https://www.instagram.com/p/BnkdY3TlalW/

He reveals later in the post he wasn’t sure about whether or not he wanted to come out publicly.

‘I thought that I didn’t need to come out because it doesn’t matter if anyone knows,’ he explains. ‘But I remember how much other’s stories have helped me in my darkest times to have hope.

Fujikawa writes he used to hide and hate who he was because of what people would think or say, and it led to mental health problems.

‘Now I’m standing up for myself and the rest of the LGBTQ community in hopes of being an inspiration and making a difference in someone’s life,’ he continues. ‘Although it’s a lot more accepted in our society today, we still see children, teens, and adults being ridiculed and discriminated against for being the way we are. Some have even taken their lives because of it.’

While this continues to happen, he wants to do his best ‘bring more awareness to this issue and to fight for equality’.

The post ends:

‘I can’t wait for the day we all can live without feeling like we’re different and excluded. A time where we don’t have to come out, we can love the way we want to love and not be ashamed. We are all human and equal after all. So I dare you…spread love. Let’s do our part to make this world a better place.’ More from Gay Star News

Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story get married in super fun wedding

Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story get married in super fun wedding

A petition to ban ‘obscene’ Pride in Scotland gains hundreds of signatures You’ve got a friend in me | Photo: Facebook/Tiffany Brandt Photography You’ve got a friend in me — and a husband. That’s what Toy Story heroes Woody and Buzz Lightyear said at a recent Chicago gay wedding.

Jason Bitner and Garrett Smith are huge Disney fans. Two years ago, they got engaged at Disneyland. Given their love for both each other and the Mouse House is never ending, they brought a Disney element to the big day, too.

Rather than wearing tuxedos, they decided to dress up as two of their favorite characters, the cowboy Woody and space ranger Buzz from Toy Story.

Bitner is Woody, while Smith is Buzz.

‘Toy Story is one of our favorite movies. Each character reminds us of each other’s personalities,’ Bitner told HuffPost .

He also said he always wanted his first wedding dance to be to You’ve Got a Friend in Me.

They also suggested their guests dress up and get in on the fun.

‘Family and friends must have thought we were crazy to have a costume wedding in the middle of August, but we were happily surprised that almost all of our guests were really into it and dressed for the occasion.’

The tables at the wedding had centerpieces with different DIY VHS tapes of Disney movies.

‘The centerpieces we started a year out. We had so many Google docs and Pinterest boards for ideas,’ Bitner explained. Smith also made his Buzz costume.

For their honeymoon, the couple flew to Hawaii. On their way home to Chicago, they had a layover in California — and natually stopped at Disneyland, too. Some of our favorite shots

Here are more amazing looks from the wedding and before. More from Gay Star News

‘Miracle’ recovery for boy after meat skewer pierces head

'Miracle' recovery for boy after meat skewer pierces head

Miraculously, the meat skewer missed major blood vessels and the boy’s brain and eyes. A 10-year-old boy in Missouri is recovering after he was attacked by wasps, fell from a tree house and impaled in the face by a meat skewer.

The metal skewer that went through Xavier Cunningham’s head "miraculously" missed his eyes, brain, spinal cord and major blood vessels.

He fell 4ft (1.2m) down from a tree house when the freak accident occurred on Saturday. He was taken to hospital.

Kansas University Hospital told local media he is expected to recover fully.

A team of Kansas University doctors successfully removed the square rod – which made for a trickier surgery than a rounded skewer due to the sharp edges – over several hours.

Xavier was playing in a tree house at his home in Harrisonville, Missouri, when yellow jacket wasps began stinging him. US boy wakes before doctors pull plug

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The tree house from which 10-year-old Xavier fell He fell four feet from the tree house and landed directly on a foot-long (30cm) metal meat skewer. The skewer penetrated around six inches into the boys skull.

Xavier’s mother Gabrielle Miller told Kansas City Star that she saw her son walk into the house, screaming, with the rod "just sticking out" of his head.

"I’m dying Mom, I can feel it," Mrs Miller recalled him telling her on the way to hospital.

Xavier was taken to local hospital, transferred to hospital in Kansas City and again transferred to the University of Kansas hospital where he would eventually undergo surgery.

His injury had no active bleeding and had avoided his eyes, brainstem, spinal cord and blood vessels, which enabled doctors to call in expert surgeons before attempting the removal surgery on Sunday morning. Xavier is recovering in hospital after being impaled by a meat skewer Koji Ebersole, director of endovascular neurosurgery at the University of Kansas Health System, told the Star: "You couldn’t draw it up any better. It was one in a million for it to pass 5 or 6 inches through the front of the face to the back and not have hit these things."

He said the biggest concern while removing the rod was the blood vessels in the boy’s neck.

Dr Ebersole called the boy’s recovery "miraculous".

"I have not seen anything passed to that depth in a situation that was survivable, let alone one where we think the recovery will be near complete if not complete," he told the Star.