Illinois House votes to teach LGBT history in schools

Illinois House votes to teach LGBT history in schools

A school classroom. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images) Illinois’ House of Representatives has reportedly voted for LGBT+ history to be taught in the state’s schools.

The state House approved the bill on Wednesday (March 13), which would require history books in Illinois to include “the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State,” reports National Public Radio (NPR).

RT reports that the bill was passed by 60 votes to 42.

Supporters say the bill will reduce anti-LGBT bullying in Illinois schools. Illinois bill for LGBT+ history in school requires governor sign-off

If measure becomes law, Illinois will be the third state in the US to require schools to teach LGBT+ history, after similar legislation was implemented in New Jersey earlier this year and California in 2016.

The bill is now waiting to be signed off by Democrat governor J. B. Pritzker.

It was passed by the Illinois senate in May 2018 with a vote of 34-18, reports The Hill. “My brother was teaching history and a student asked whether the historical figure there was the subject of the lesson was gay. He answered with the truth.”

—Democrat representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowit Democrat representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowit, a supporter of the plan, said her brother, who is a teacher, had been disciplined by his school for speaking about his sexuality. Kluge originally called pupils by their surnames (David McNew/Getty Images) “He was subjected to hate mail and called into the principal’s office to explain why he answered a student’s question honestly,” she told NPR.

“My brother was teaching history and a student asked whether the historical figure there was the subject of the lesson was gay. He answered with the truth.” If approved, Illinois would be third US state to require schools to teach LGBT+ history

Opponents of the Illinois bill, however, argue that it is not necessary for schools to teach about the gender or sexuality of historical figures.

Tom Morrison, a Republican state representative, told NPR: “Here’s what parents in my district said, ‘How or why is a historical figures’ sexuality or gender self -identification even relevant?

“‘Especially when we’re talking about kindergarten and elementary school history.’” IcePop Grandpa Worked Over A Decade On Her Sweet 16 Gift. Her Reaction Was Heartbreaking

Clubbing in London can be incredibly isolating when you’re not a man

Clubbing in London can be incredibly isolating when you're not a man

Charlie at a drag convention | Photo: Darren Mew The phrase ‘Let’s go to [insert name of a gay sex club]’ might signal the start of a good night out for some.

For me though, it’s quite the opposite.

There’s nothing more gutting than when I’m having a good night in a bar with a group of friends but then said group decide that next they’re going to head to a gay sex club.

I’m neither man, or completely masculine meaning that there are multiple venues in London where I’ll simply never be welcome.

Subsequently, my only option is to hang my head and retire to an early night.

When this happens, it goes something like this.

We’ll be in a bar in Soho. Everyone’s having a great time. The alcohol is flowing. The room is filled with laughter. Everyone’s face has a grin on it. It’s a good night.

Then a couple of the guys in the group will huddle and I catch wind that they’ve agreed on something.

Then, one person will approach me and explain that they’re heading to a gay sex club. ‘I tried to convince them otherwise but it’s just not worked, I’m sorry,’ a friend will explain.

I also try my hand at reminding that people if we go to one of the many places available that isn’t a gay sex club, we can still have a good time and I can join them!

Nothing works.

So then a couple of minutes later, everyone will start moving outside of the bar. Everyone apologizes for the fact that I can’t join them. I say ‘it’s okay’ through gritted teeth. They head in one direction, and I walk to the tube station to get a train home.

I can’t help but wonder though…

If you were really that sorry, why would you still go? Queer venues in London

It’s hard to say really whether there’s been any progress in terms of diversity in LGBTI nightlife.

The number of venues that are safe spaces for those who aren’t LGBT men have experienced a noticeable drop.

Beloved queer venue HER upstairs closed abruptly in August 2018. This loss broke the hearts of many across the LGBTI London scene.

Ku Bar near Leicester square is a popular venue who host a weekly night for queer women – Ruby Tuesday’s. This is quite popular but, it’s just a weekly night.

Its sister Ku Bar, off Old Compton Street, runs SHE Soho in its basement. This venue is, as far as I’m aware, the only bar in London that is tailored and targeted at queer women.

They also have strict door policy that men aren’t allowed in unless they’re with a woman. DJ Tina Ledger once recalled seeing ‘a guy lurking around for hours offering women fifty quid to go in with him.’

Like Ruby Tuesdays, there are other examples of weekly events. Wotever World are a collective who regularly take over a variety of gay bars with their nights aimed at queer women, femme people and non-binary people.

There are other similar examples of this. Wotever World are a collective who regularly take over a variety of gay bars with their nights aimed at queer women, femme people and non-binary people.

The Friendly Society, Queen Adelaide of Cambridge Heath and CIRCA Club are venues for the community as a whole.

Bearing all that in mind, I’d say it’s pretty understandable that queer women and non-binary people would feel isolated in terms of LGBTI nightlife. Sadie Masie and FIST

The biggest and most popular LGBTI venues in London are still predominantly gay venues – Some of which have no issue with discriminating against those who don’t fit the bill of an ideal customer.

This hasn’t always been the way however.

There was a fetish club in the early 1990s at the London Lesbian and Gay Centre called Sadie Maisie. The club welcomed people of all genders.

When Fetish Queen Suzie Krueger first opened her club FIST in the mid-90’s, I’m told this night was also for everyone. However, that event was later replaced by Hard On – a more hard-dance, sex night aimed much more at the boys.

I can’t help but feel like we’ve moved a bit backwards in this sense. Once upon a time, both my friends and I would have been welcomed into sex clubs together! Not anymore however.

All I want is to be able to join my friends on a night out, regardless of where they end up.

Central Asia’s first LGBTI pride march sparks protests

Central Asia's first LGBTI pride march sparks protests

Kyrgyzstan Women’s March (Photo: Twitter) There’s been threats, protests, and fiery debates in Kyrgyzstan’s parliament after a pro-LGBTI rally earlier this month.

In what was believed to be one of the first public LGBTI pride events in Central Asia, 400 people took part in a Women’s March in the capital, Bishkek on 8 March. It included demands for LGBT rights.

But, according to Radio Free Europe , visibility has sparked an ugly backlash.

Kyrgyz parliament deputy Jyldyz Musabekova wrote on Facebook: ‘The men who do not want to have children and the girls who do not want to pour tea…must not only be cursed, they must be beaten’.

‘We have to beat the craziness out of them’ she also said. ‘Are there any decent guys out there [to do that]?’ She asked.

What’s more, during a fierce parliamentary debate last week she warned Kyrgyzstan could become ‘Gayistan’.

Some members spoke out against Musabekova’s comments.

But, others echoed anti-LGBTI comments.

Ziyadin Zhamaldinov said the march had ‘disgraced’ Kyrgyzstan in front of its neighbors.

Kyrgyzstan is the only democracy and most-progressive country in Central Asia.

But, Russia’s 2013 crackdown on its LGBTI population and ongoing purge in Chechnya has increased homophobia in the region.

In November 2018, a bisexual man in Kyrgyzstan was brutally attacked and tortured . Attackers carved the word ‘gay’ onto his belly. The march

Activists who organized the Women’s March have faced threats and intimidation.

City officials tried to dissuade organizers from holding the march for ’security issues’.

And, some 30-40 nationalist ‘warriors’ came to heckle and intimidate marchers.

One marcher, Bektour Iskender told Radio Free Europe organizers included LGBTI rights in the march previously. But, this year, opponents noticed.

‘I urge people in Kyrgyzstan to stop being afraid of LGBT people – they’re also part of our society,’ he said.

In Malaysia, the push for LGBTI rights at this year’s Women’s March in capital Kuala Lumpur sparked a similar ugly backlash.

Police are pursuing charges against organizers under draconian ’sedition’ laws.

Government leaders also reminded the LGBTI communicate they will never be accepted.

What’s more, the public blamed LGBTI visibility for bad weather.

Arizona police investigating after gay man ‘attacked by mob of 10 people’

Arizona police investigating after gay man 'attacked by mob of 10 people'

Cesar Marin in Arizona uploaded this photo on Facebook (Photo: Facebook) A gay man has said he was brutally attacked because of his sexuality in downtown Phoenix , Arizona early on Saturday morning (16 March).

It all began when a woman flicked a cigarette in into Cesar Marin’s car and called him a homophobic slur.

‘Before I knew it, I was surrounded in a hail of punches,’ Marin wrote in a Facebook post.

The post, which includes a photo of Marin with bruises and cuts to his face, has now been shared nearly 2,000 times.

‘I was just gay bashed in downtown Phoenix’ Cesar wrote.

‘I was attacked by a mob of 10 people. It all started with 1 girl flicking her cigarette in my car and calling me a faggot.’ ‘I felt like I was gonna die’

Phoenix police told ABC 15 they were investigating. They had collected the cigarette and an earring as evidence.

But, they did not confirm if they were classifying the attack as a hate crime.

Cesar told the local news station he believes he was singled out for being gay.

‘I just wanted it to stop, I felt like I was gonna die, I didn’t know how to defend myself, how to protect myself’ he said.

ABC 15 had obtained video of the aftermath of the alleged attack from a nearby restaurant worker.

LGBTI hate crimes rose 17% during 2017 in the US , according to the FBI. More than 1,000 incidents of anti-LGBTI violence were reported to the police.

India’s oldest political party mulls LGBTI rights in election manifesto

India's oldest political party mulls LGBTI rights in election manifesto

Transgender community protesting in Bengaluru (Photo: Facebook) India’s major opposition party the Indian National Congress (INC) is reported to be including LGBTI rights in their election manifesto.

INC will consult on the controversial Transgender Rights Bill. It may also make gender-sensitivity training mandatory for government bodies, according to The Print.

Its manifesto may also include better implementation of India’s landmark decriminalization of gay sex.

The party might also establish a women empowerment and justice department, according to News 18. Section 377

India made history in September last year when it struck down Section 377 of its Colonial-era Penal Code.

The archaic law punished gay sex with up to 10 years in jail. But, the Supreme Court ruled the law was unconstitutional.

But, the LGBTI community has warned, society will take time to change. Homophobia is still rife in the country.

A transgender bill currently in the Upper House of parliament, meanwhile, has riled the trans community.

While India’s Supreme Court recognized a third gender in 2014, transgender Indians remain marginalized.

Trans Indians say the bill enshrines discrimination rather than fights against it.

More than 900 million Indians are eligible to vote in the Lower House of Parliament elections in April and May. Congress

The INC was founded in 1885 prior to India’s independence.

Under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, it became a force in India’s independence from Britain.

INC has already made the headlines this year for LGBTI inclusion.

In January, transgender activist Apsara Reddy became Indian National Congress party’s first transgender office-bearer at the national level.

INC appointed Reddy national general secretary of the party’s women’s wing, known as the Mahila Congress.

‘To be welcomed into one of India’s largest and oldest national parties is hugely emotional for me’, Reddy said.

Last month, India’s first Miss Trans Queen, Veena Sendra , joined the Indian National Congress (INC) party.

‘Today, Miss India ‘Trans Queen’ Veena Sendre joined the party expressing faith in the ideology of Congress’ INC tweeted.

‘When we say we are inclusive. We mean it’ the party also tweeted.

As Parkfield suspends its ‘LGBT lessons indefinitely’ we must all advocate for inclusive education to combat hate

As Parkfield suspends its ‘LGBT lessons indefinitely’ we must all advocate for inclusive education to combat hate

On 14 March, the Guardian reported Parkfield Community School has suspended its “LGBT lessons indefinitely”. It has done so after weekly protests against its No Outsiders lessons which teach pupils “tolerance for diverse groups”. The No Outsiders programme covers “LGBT rights” to challenge homophobia alongside “tolerance” of issues around race and gender.

Personally, I feel this is exactly the type of education we need.

In a world where hate fuels acts of harm, such as the horrific attacks in Christchurch New Zealand on 15 March, and where minority groups such as the LGBTQI+ community might feel like outsiders – impacting on mental well-being – we must all advocate for inclusive education. The UK’s education systems are available to everyone. And these education curriculum programmes should reflect the needs of all. LGBTQI+ language

Before I go any further, I’d like to critique how this story has been covered by the Guardian and the likes. Like some journalists, I share concerns on how this story has been reported in the mainstream media. Using words like “tolerance” or singling out “LGBT lessons” isn’t conducive to inclusive education. It shouldn’t take a specific lesson plan or curriculum to educate on and perpetuate inclusivity and equality. And most noteworthy, the mainstream media should not fall into this trap. Robbing children of an open mind

The government across the UK offers education to everyone. For pupils, education should reflect the needs of everyone. It should include the needs of all minorities. But Parkfield bowing to the concerns of some parents is robbing children of having a more open and accepting mind. I understand why the school must address the concerns of parents. But LGBTQI+ inclusive education won’t influence their sexuality and this ridiculous notion must be put to bed. The UK government should back and champion a UK wide policy to ensure every child has LGBTQI+ inclusive education.

Continue reading below…

As Labour MP Ged Killen said in parliament, LGBTQI+ education, or lack thereof, didn’t make him “any less gay”: “Having no LGBT sex and relationship education didn’t make me any less gay”. Yesterday I asked the Education Secretary to confirm that every child in every school will have an LGBT inclusive education — Ged Killen (@Gedk) February 26, 2019 Time for Inclusive Education Campaign

But in Scotland, the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) Campaign has spearheaded a real aligned and inclusive LGBTQI+ education programme. The campaign aims to ensure “LGBT history, role models & equalities be taught & recognised within all schools” in Scotland. The Scottish parliament “ mandated ” the TIE Campaign’s aims in 2017. It then supported the rollout of this inclusive education programme across all state schools in 2018.

The first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, pledged her support for LGBTQI+ education in October 2017: First Minister @NicolaSturgeon supports our campaign for LGBTI-inclusive education & we’re working with @scotgov to deliver it #BeThatVoice — TIE (@tiecampaign) October 22, 2017 Moreover, Sturgeon led Scotland’s largest Pride event in Glasgow as the honorary grand marshal in July 2018. The first minister’s actions show what leading from the front on LGBTQI+ issues looks like.

Although the UK government’s education secretary Damian Hinds “ backed ” Parkfield’s No Outsiders programme, the Scottish approach is how we should be combating homophobia, biphobia and transphobia across the UK. Because a policy like this should be led from the top of government. Let’s be frank, the Conservative Party has bridges to build with the LGBTQI+ community in education after Section 28 . But I also struggle to see Theresa May donning a rainbow flag and marching with LGBTQI+ marchers through any major city in the UK. If indeed she lasts as prime minister until the end of March. We need solidarity

I appreciate what Parkfield was doing. The school only wanted to promote equality and challenge bullying. And even after an investigation prompted by the protests, Ofsted agreed the No Outsiders programme is age appropriate. I am proud of Andrew Moffat, the school’s deputy headteacher who identifies as LGBTQI+, for sticking his neck out for the greater good. But I am so saddened to see he has received abuse – including a targeted leaflet campaign. I am saddened that members of different religious and non-religious communities cannot see the benefit of using education to overcome prejudice – some who may have been victims of hate themselves. What a really sorry state of affairs. The individuals peddling the abuse towards Moffat may have children that are LGBTQI+ and that makes me even sadder.

However, if all minorities had historically stood in solidarity against hate, we just might be living in a society that nurtures positive mental wellbeing. We would not be living in a society where hate crime against LGBTQI+ people is rising and where mental health issues are rampant . But I believe we can get there.

Across the UK the value of Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education needs to be recognised in general. But the onus is on all of us, across the political spectrum, to work towards promoting love and unconditional acceptance to young people. And that should start with the Conservative UK government committing to inclusive LGBTQI+ education for all. I feel the rest will follow suit, with hard work and a bit of understanding.

‘I hope my actions can inspire LGBT youth’ – Varadkar

'I hope my actions can inspire LGBT youth' - Varadkar

1 Warm welcome: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his partner Matt Barrett (far right) with the US Vice President Mike Pence and his sister Anne Pence Poynter. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he hopes he has inspired young LGBT people by bringing his partner to high-profile functions during his St Patrick’s Day visit to the US.

Cardiologist Matt Barrett accompanied Mr Varadkar to the shamrock ceremony in the White House, with First Lady Melania Trump posting pictures on social media of herself and President Donald Trump welcoming them there.

But perhaps the highlight of the trip was the Irish couple’s attendance at a breakfast hosted by Christian conservative Vice-President Mike Pence.

The Taoiseach delivered a carefully crafted speech advocating for LGBT rights in the presence of Mr Pence, who has been criticised in the past for his views.

In his speech, he said as leader of his country he was "judged by my political actions and not by my sexual orientation or my skin tone or my gender or religious beliefs".

"And I don’t believe my country is the only one in the world where this story is possible," he said.

"It is found in every country where freedom and liberty are cherished. We are, after all, all God’s children."

The visit was hailed on social media by talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, one of the most high-profile LGBT figures in the US.

Mr Varadkar said he hoped his visit accompanied by his partner would inspire young people in the LGBT community and send a message to countries around the world that still restrict gay rights.

He spoke of the warm welcome offered by Mr Pence and his family, and said: "Part of leadership is really speaking to people in a respectful way and setting an example.

"I hope that any actions I do around equality for any LGBT members of society, and for women as well, gives encouragement to young gay people and young women to believe that anything in life is possible."

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He also said: "Certain individual rights and liberties are universal and they belong to each of us as human beings, regardless of where we live or what government we live under or what religion or culture we have, and I would like to see those values spread around the world."

‘Old, fat lesbians’ who love smoking pot become Instagram famous

'Old, fat lesbians' who love smoking pot become Instagram famous

Ellen (L) and Sue are having a lot of fun on Instagram | Photo: Instagram In just a couple of weeks the ‘420 old fat lesbians’ have gained such a strong online following it would turn many Instagram ‘influencers’ green with envy.

Sue and Ellen posted for the first time on Instagram only 14 days ago. But in that time they’ve amassed almost 44,000 followers.

The couple of 12 years – and married for four – created their viral Instagram account because they ‘were tired of the stigmas and stereotypes surrounding marijuana and sexuality’. Be ok with yourself no matter what

Retired to Maine a few years ago after living in Florida, the women take to Instagram to celebrate all things pot, ageing, being fat and lesbian. Maine has restrictions on marijuana use, but the women have prescriptions to use it legally and medically.

‘We also wanted people to know everyone needs to be okay with themselves, no matter age, weight, sexuality, or anything else,’ the couple told Gay Star News.

The women proudly embrace their marijuana use and celebrate in their Instagram posts which have gained thousands of views. ‘I’m about to tap this sweet lady,’ Sue says in one video before lighting a home made tool to smoke marijuana.

Most recently the couple choreographed a routine to the song, We Are Family, as they danced in sunglasses and bandannas tied around their heads on what looked like a fun Friday night at home. They summon ‘stoner spirits’ with their ‘weed-ja board’

In their most recent video the women claim they don’t miss the tropical life in Florida as Sue lights a bong on a mermaid Barbie doll.

‘This skinny little freak is about to get her bush lit up,’ she said. The creative process

‘The ideas [for the Instagram] come from our own minds, then we chat about it a minute and decide if we should use it or not,’ the couple said about their creative process.

The women said they could not believe the response they’d had to their Instagram account.

‘We are totally humbled by the response. We are just two regular women who are going through life doing the best we can,’ they said.

Their final message for their fans was simple.

‘Basically it doesn’t matter what others think as long as you’re okay with yourself,’ they said.

Find Sue and Ellen on Instagram, @420oldfatlesbians.

This bisexual teen is urging Mitch McConnell to ban conversion therapy nationally

This bisexual teen is urging Mitch McConnell to ban conversion therapy nationally

A protest sign reading ‘Self-hatred is NOT therapy.’ (Photo from Wikimedia Commons) Shane* is an 18-year-old bisexual from New Jersey. He is currently petitioning Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to ban conversion therapy across the United States. Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell, a Republican Senator from Kentucky, is known for his opposition to LGBTI rights and protections. Last May, McConnell appointed anti-LGBTI activist Tony Perkins to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. He also sought to confirm numerous anti-LGBTI judges to district courts around the country.

Still, Shane set up a petition urging Senator McConnell to reconsider his position. The petition

‘Fourteen states have banned conversion therapy for young people. [It is a] dangerous religion-based procedures which try to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. “Ex-gay therapy” has been linked to suicide, depression, isolation and anxiety. [It] has been condemned by nearly every medical and psychological body as dangerous, destructive and something no person should be forced to undergo,’ Shane writes on the petition page.

‘And yet in 36 states, “ex-gay therapy” remains a practice that’s largely legal. But there is national momentum as more and more states move to ban [it] and protect minors from attempts to “cure” them of their sexual orientation.’

‘Fourteen states banning this false therapy is far from enough. LGBTQ+ kids are still facing dangerous “ex-gay therapy” attempts in more than 30 states around the country.’ Why it matters to Shane

GSN spoke with Shane about the petition and his hopes for it moving forward.

‘A few months back, I met a couple of friends I’m close with through a gaming server,’ Shane explains. ‘Most of the folks in said server are LGBT+, so it’s a pretty supportive environment.’

‘At one point, one of my friends came to us and told us that she (MtF trans and bisexual, lives in a very right-leaning area) was being forced into conversion therapy by her Catholic private school counselor. She told us how terrified she had been of it, and her troubles were a wake-up slap to me.’

‘I’ve always lived in an accepting neighborhood. And I’m fairly open about my bisexuality, and don’t feel like I have to be worried for my welfare. Learning that there were people in the majority of the country like myself who weren’t allowed the same security disgusted me. After talking to a counselor, who told me a story about one of her other students who was forced into a traditional “pray the gay away” camp, I decided to start the petition. I’ve found a lot of support along the way from smaller groups and friends. I’m hoping that one day, I will have enough signatures to get a legislation passed to end conversion therapy in the States permanently.’

To keep up with Shane’s petition progress, follow him on Twitter: @rainbowprole

*A pseudonym was used at the request of the interview subject See Also:

How LGBT music producer Jayne Gray is changing the game

How LGBT music producer Jayne Gray is changing the game

You might not have heard of Jayne Gray just yet, but that’s about to change.

The LGBTQ music producer and DJ, based in Los Angeles, California, recently played a club set in San Francisco for an LGBTQ lesbian-owned events company Eden Entertainment and has just dropped the set on SoundCloud for the whole world to enjoy.

Titled NYE with Eden: San Francisco Club Mix, the 52-minute set mixes dance music with rap, hip hop, EDM and electronic, and it’s a hypnotizing set that not only shows off her raw talent but positions her as one of the most exciting LGBTQ music producers in the industry. To find out more about the rising star, we sat down for an exclusive interview with Jayne. When did you get into music producing?

I have been messing around with creating music since I was about 15. I always liked writing, particularly poetry, and would actually write love poems for girls in my class when I was in middle school.

I dated a girl who I started writing raps with in high school, and we’d go to my bedroom closet and record them.

We had a USB mic, Garage Band, and a beat we probably stole off of YouTube. It was nothing fancy, but I liked the way it made me feel. I kept it up for a few years and just throwing my raps on SoundCloud. Although I had no idea what mixing or mastering was, I began to build a small following of listeners who I think simply just liked what I rapped about, even if it didn’t sound good.

I moved out to California when I was 18 and slowly got into the electronic music scene in Northern California. I used to sell tickets to shows, volunteer to clean after the event – really anything to be close to the scene and to get involved. I slowly picked up DJing and started getting gigs, then began producing in Ableton and Logic. What is the ultimate goal?

I think the ultimate goal for me is happiness and enjoying the journey. I struggle with getting too caught up in the end result and the destination, and forget to look around me and appreciate the process of the journey.

It’s a blessing and a curse to never be satisfied. That trait has gotten me where I am today because I continuously push, and that can cause unhappiness if I’m not careful. I guess every morning when I meditate and visualize my ideal life, I see myself as a touring DJ, playing music around the world at festivals. I see myself with a badass home studio in LA, surrounded by good, genuine people.

I want to produce for vocalists that inspire me, and although I’ve taken a step back from being a rapper myself, it gives me just as much satisfaction to produce for others and give them that canvas to paint their ideas and experiences on. You’re currently producing an all-female LGBTQ hip-hop album. When can we expect that?

All of the artists have been confirmed, and one has been announced. That’s Diiamond Royalty and she’s as talented as hell. It’s been an honour working with her. We haven’t announced a release date for the music just yet, but I’d say you can expect it in late summer. What’s next for Jayne Gray?

This year is a huge building year for me. Last year, I took a lot of shows, played I think five or six music festivals. That was fun, but I think I jumped the gun a bit. I’ve gotten some good advice lately on being patient and trusting the process. Work on the fundamentals first.

When your moment comes, you have to be ready to catch it. If you have cut corners and have all this hype but not the skill to back it up, you may slip. This year I am working on becoming the best producer I can be.

Still doing releases, but putting less priority on live performance. 2020 will be the year for touring. You grew up on a farm. How does your early life translate to your music today?

I’d say my upbringing definitely had a huge effect on who I am today. My parents always taught me to be humble and down to earth. They’re two of the most down to earth people I know and I think that’s kept me grounded and real, even while navigating the music industry of LA.

Also, growing up on a farm was sick! We had horses, goats, donkeys, all sorts of birds. I always joke that, instead of playing with dolls when growing up, I’d get a bucket and fill it with baby birds and play with them on the grass. I would also sit in the dirt and arrange a bunch of rocks around me and bang on them with a metal rod and pretend to play the drums. Maybe that was foreshadowing – who knows? What would you say to other LGBTQ producers looking to get into the industry?

My advice to LGBTQ producers trying to get into the industry is to take some time to think about your branding. I know LGBTQ artists, vocalists, and producers who make their sexuality and LGBTQ status very much a part of their brand.

And that’s not a bad thing, it’s just one way to do it. I’ve thought a lot about if I want to be a “Gay DJ” or simply a DJ that happens to be gay. What it comes down to is just being yourself and letting your truths shine through in your craft. For me, I felt quite suppressed with my sexuality growing up, so when I found music as a platform, I wanted to let all parts of me shine. I never really had any big LGBTQ influences or people to look up to growing up in rural Virginia.

I think that is why I live my life so loud on social media because I want that 15-year-old girl in the closet with strict parents in Nebraska to see that it DOES get better. When I get messages in my inbox with people saying I helped them, it means everything. Does being part of the LGBTQ community have an impact on your music?

I’d say it does. I’ve recently become more involved with Eden Entertainment Group which is a lesbian-owned LGBTQ talent and event agency based in Southern California.

The mix I recently released is actually a set I played for their New Year’s Eve party in San Francisco. They are a fun and talented group of people and I’ve gotten connected with quite a few LGBTQ vocalists through them.I’d say it certainly inspired my upcoming rap album.

However, there are times that I want to keep my sexuality separate from my music and I do plan on releasing albums that are themed off of other parts of the human experience aside from sexuality.

To find out more about Jayne Gray or follow her story, connect with her on Instagram and Facebook , and visit her website at .