The LGBT Pink Season festival, a five-week celebration of acceptance, inclusion and awareness, launches on Friday in Hong Kong. Photo: Alamy Senior immigration officer Angus Leung also granted leave to challenge government for not letting him and partner jointly declare tax as heterosexual married couples do Asia’s premier LGBT festival, Pink Season, a five-week celebration of acceptance, inclusion and awareness, launches on Friday in Hong Kong.
Based around the theme of supporting and giving back to the LGBT community, this year’s slightly trimmed-back festival has got a swathe of great new events and a lot more punch. And it’s already looking more chic with a new website and logo.
“What we do is unique globally. I’m not aware of anything anywhere in the world like Pink Season. Recently the organiser of Pride in San Francisco said he was going to look at what we are doing in Hong Kong and perhaps introduce some of the elements to San Francisco, particularly the educational elements,” says the festival’s co-director, Philip Howell-Williams.
Howell-Williams and the organising team reviewed last year’s festival and decided to cut out some events they did not think added value, keep the favourites and add some new events. They also brought in a professional designer to refresh the festival’s image. The new bilingual logo shows a rainbow pattern rippling through the lettering. The bonus of this revised logo is that it can be easily adapted to work in other countries. And for the first time this year, the festival is going international with partner events running concurrently in Singapore and Thailand. The organising team reviewed last year’s festival and decided to cut out some events, keep the favourites and add some new ones. Photo: AFP “We teamed up with local groups on the ground and said ‘This is what we do – and we’d love it if you could take on the Pink Season concept and logo’,” says Howell-Williams.
What we do is unique globally. I’m not aware of anything anywhere in the world like Pink Season
Pink Season has evolved to include plenty of educational and community activities alongside some very colourful, playful events. It’s a mix that has proven to work for Hong Kong and is a big draw for large companies that are looking to support LGBT initiatives. This year’s big sponsors include big players in finance such as HSBC, Standard Chartered and Fidelity International.
“So many companies are setting up internal pride movements and now realise the importance of diversity and inclusion. Many companies are now looking to support that both internally and externally,” says Howell-Williams.
While last year’s events were based around themed days – such as “Art Tuesdays” – this year the programme is more focused around weekends.
All the Pink Season favourites remain: the Variety Show (October 4) showcasing live performances of local talent; and the classic LGBT+ junk trip Floatilla (October 14); the Health Day (October 18) is back with discussion about important issues such as domestic violence, depression and the stigma of HIV testing; and the Sports Day (October 28, Wu Kai Sha) will offer a chance to try archery, underwater hockey, aerial yoga, tennis and volleyball.
“We support all the great work that the Gay Games is doing. The Sports Day is a little practice run for what will be happening in Hong Kong in four years when Hong Kong becomes the first Asian city to host the Gay Games,” says Howell-Williams.
Rather than the traditional beach party to close the season, the finale – Out In The Open (November 5) – will be held on the roof of Butcher’s Club in Wong Chuk Hang.
Expect a dance group from Cambodia, singers from the UK, yoga, a drag queen competition and plenty of free food and drink.
Most of the 22 events are free, but you do need to book your ticket ahead of time by registering at pinkseason.hk .
Meanwhile, here are some of the best new events. Hong Kong based-drag queen La Chiquitta, from the Philippines, otherwise known as Rye Bautista, poses for a photo in Varga Lounge in Soho. Photo: Antony Dickson Drag Queen Workshops
This brilliant series of workshops aims to teach you all you need to know about becoming a drag queen. The first Saturday workshop will be a discussion of what drag is and drag artists will share their experiences – there’s no limit to the number of people who can join.
There are just 20 spots available for the next two workshops – on dance and movement and make-up and clothing – for the most keen wannabe drag artists. While it is about having fun, it’s also serious – as in, if you seriously want to be a drag queen – and participants can enter a drag queen competition on the festival’s final night with a pair of British Airways return flights to London for the winner.
September 29, 6-8pm, Naked Hub New Street Coworking Space; Oct 6, Wong Chuk Hang; Oct 26, Causeway Bay Philip Howell-Williams is the co-director of Pink Season 2018. Photo: Pink Season Career Day
This event promises to offer all the support an LGBTI individual needs starting out in their career.
There will be workshops on how to present yourself at work, how to create a great LinkedIn profile, how to deal with coming out at work and how to set up your own business. The recruitment firm Michael Paige will also be on hand to offer one-on-one career advice.
October 20, 12pm, location TBA
This event will start with a guided historical walk around Central followed by a workshop which aims to find solutions to problems faced by the LGBTI community by involving the whole of Hong Kong. Impact X, a social enterprise co-organising the event, will create a report based on the suggestions put forward by participants.
September 30, 7pm-10pm, Herbert Smith Freehills, 23/F Gloucester Tower, 15 Queen’s Rd Central, free This year’s programme is more focused around weekends. Photo: Edward Wong Miles of Love
Organised by travel advocacy forums, Planet Ally and All Out, this event will look at how the travel industry is failing to support the LGBT+ communities in many destinations that it represents and what can be done about it.
For example, consider how a Hong Kong gay couple can holiday comfortably in Bali while half a mile down the road a gay person is given 60 lashes for their sexuality. Guest speakers will be fly in from around the world to share their views.
November 2 (9am-6pm; 7pm-late), Nov 3, (9am-6pm), Eaton HK, 380 Nathan Rd, Kowloon, HK$847
Adrift in Macao
Performed by the Hong Kong Singers, this promises to be massive romp of a musical parody of classic film noir movies. Set in Macau in 1952, where everyone is hanging around waiting for something to happen, its populated with classic film noir characters – curvaceous blondes, casino owners and shady men on the run.
October 2-6, Academy of Performing Arts, 1 Gloucester Rd, Wan Chai, Wan Chai, HK$290 (tickets from ticketflap.com , use the code “pink2018” for a 10 per cent discount)
Culture Fest Art Weekend
Organised with the support of PLUG Magazine, this cultural weekend will feature a marketplace, exhibitions, workshops and performances. Ovolo Southside is offering Pink Season Art Weekend Staycationers a 23 per cent discount. Register for the CultureFest to get the discount code.
October 6-7, 12pm-9pm, The Hive Spring, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Rd, free
Marlborough Theatre, Brighton. Photo: Rosie Powell An LGBT theatre in Brighton has launched an urgent crowdfunding campaign to raise £10,000, warning its output faces “significant reductions” without the money.
The crowdfunding campaign aims to raise the £10,000 within eight weeks for “urgent repairs” to the Marlborough Theatre, with more than £1,500 already having been donated.
Funds will go towards repairing and replacing lighting and sound equipment, air-conditioning and “viciously uncomfortable” seats.
If the theatre does not reach its fundraising target, it has warned it will have to significantly reduce its public programme, support fewer artists due to decreased staff capacity and raise ticket prices.
Creative producer David Sheppeard said: “Our projects simply can’t provide the financial support required to keep our treasured space running and this is why we need your help.
“We urgently need to repair our theatre, our air conditioning has broken, our equipment is falling apart and some of our lights date back to the 1970s.”
He added: “Without extra financial support we are facing significant reductions to our public programmes meaning less diverse LGBTQ+ performance happens in Brighton, we will be unable to support artists and we would be forced to raise our prices making the space less accessible to the audiences our theatre aims to serve.”
Creative producer Abby Butcher added: “With your help we will be able to preserve and build on our public programmes that centre and elevate some of the most marginalised members of the LGBTQ+ community and continue to be a sanctuary for incredible, boundary-pushing live art.”
A producer at Cocombee Studio , an Islamic photo and video production studio based in Singapore and Malaysia, recently uploaded a video in attempt to tackle the issue of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgenders (LGBT)
The video shows the producer himself, who wishes to only be known as Kokom, approaching a transgender woman in a park to talk about her appearance.
The nearly five-minute long video moves on to negate the phrase "trapped in a woman’s body" by showing how it can be misused by people who engage in incestuous relationships, and a child who bought a cigarette stick.
At the time of writing, the video has garnered over 510,000 views in two days.
Member of local band UNIC, Bazli Hazwan appeared in the video.
Later in the video, a man comes to the defence of the transgender woman
The man, whom Kokom assumed was non-Muslim, was seen demanding Kokom to respect the rights of the transgender woman, citing her freedom of choice. He added that religious laws are not applicable in Malaysia.
Kokom then explained that he was trying to advise the transgender woman regarding the "sins" that will follow her "act". He also stressed that religious laws are only applicable to Muslims.
The man eventually admitted to being a Muslim himself, and was beaten up by Kokom and the transgender woman later on.
"(So he’s) actually Muslim, but (he was) speaking like a Jew," Kokom added.
"Intelligent preaching!" one netizen wrote.
Another netizen wrote that while the language used in the video may cause uneasiness to some people, it still contained moral values.
One netizen also praised the video production team for making it easy for people to understand the "tough" topic.
Meanwhile, others slammed the video for its misrepresentation of transgenders
One netizen wrote that the video promotes violence without presenting an understanding of gender identity disorder by likening it to incest.
Another netizen questioned the applicability of the video in society as incestuous relationships and children slapping adults for smoking are not normal.
"(The person) does not live with enough love," one netizen wrote after criticising the video for being unintelligent.
"Many people have asked me to talk about the LGBT issue," Kokom was quoted as saying by mStar .
Despite his fear of backlash, Kokom said he has observed many Muslims who are defending the rights of transgenders to the point where boundaries of the religion have been crossed.
"This issue has been going on for a while and it is worsening, so I felt that I had to do something about it within my capacity," Kokom added.
Kokom was heard speaking to the man in the video.
The producer also claimed that transgenders are not being discriminated against in Malaysia.
"Actually, there is no discrimination (against transgenders), they are only condemned," Kokom told mStar.
"If we do things that are weird to the eyes of society, we will be condemned," he added.
Last month, the Deputy Prime Minister said that LGBTs can continue to practice their lifestyle as long as it is not glamourised:
See both photos A PROMINENT member of the Furness LGBT community has spoken of his grief after the suicide of an influential member of the group.
Lee Wicks, the chairman of the Furness LGBT group, said he was “devastated” after friend and leading light of the lesbian gay bisexual and transgender community Stephen Poxton killed himself aged 26.
Known as “Pogo” after the dance move, he was seen as an influential member of the group, despite being based in America, and moderated the LGBT community’s Facebook group.
Mr Wicks said: “Even though the group was established after he joined, he had a huge influence on it.
“There would not have been a group all these years without him.”
Mr Poxton, who had struggled with addiction and mental health problems, shot himself in his home city of Louisville in Kentucky.
Mr Wicks said: “The violence of the way he went makes it hard for me to get over it.
“To say I was devastated is an understatement, and I have been really struggling with him being gone.
“It is such a waste of a life for him to go and I tried so hard to talk him out of doing what he did.”
Mr Wicks said his friend did a lot to protect the group from hateful comment directed to them online and said Barrow was a difficult place for LGBT people to live.
“I have seen a number of suicides within our group in Barrow,” said Mr Wicks.
“It is hard living in a small town, it much less accepting and progressive than big cities.
“I don’t imagine it is at the same level of where Pogo lived in the south of America but there are elements that are similar. I think it is getting better slowly but there is still some work to be done.”
An LGBT celebration event, Cumbria Pride, will take place on September 29 in Carlisle.
It will feature a march and live entertainment.
A rendering of the planned LGBT memorial at Congressional Cemetery. (Image courtesy Congressional Cemetery) Longtime LGBT rights advocate Nancy Russell, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel, was hopeful that the three 11-foot-tall black granite panels designated as the centerpiece of a National LGBT Veterans Memorial would be installed in D.C.’s Congressional Cemetery in time for a Memorial Day dedication in 2015 or 2016.
Russell, who’s 80 years old and serves as chair of the memorial’s board of directors, joined several other LGBT veterans in announcing plans for an LGBT veterans memorial in the nation’s capital in 2012. The proposed memorial was immediately embraced by LGBT veterans and their supporters throughout the country.
But now, six years later, the board has raised only about 25 percent of the estimated $500,000 cost for building and installing the monument and paying the balance owed for the purchase of the land in Congressional Cemetery where the monument and surrounding space will be located, according to Marty Gunter, the memorial project’s development director.
“We’re still working very hard on this,” said Gunter, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. “Nancy and I speak on a very regular basis about moving this project forward,” he said, adding that the board was in the process of retaining a professional fundraiser.
Russell and Gunter both live in San Antonio, Texas, where the memorial project’s official headquarters is located.
Gunter said the board was also planning to set up one or more online fundraising sites such as GoFundMe or Benevity, which encourage workplace giving and corporate philanthropy for specific charitable causes.
Also under consideration, according to Gunter, was an appeal for help from an LGBT supportive public relations firm that could help publicize the memorial and its fundraising effort.
“Just getting the word out, that’s been the hard part of it to be honest with you,” he said. “Some potential large donors said they wanted to donate. But they always wanted to wait until after the election or after this or after that,” Gunter said.
“I think it’s going to be those small donors and the veterans, the everyday veterans that are going to build this memorial,” he said. “I do believe there’s a need for it. I just feel very confident that we can do it.”
In August 2014, the board announced the selection of a design for the memorial prepared by an architect. It consists of three black granite panels or pillars standing 11 feet high, five feet wide and one foot thick.
Two of the official emblems of the nation’s six military branches are planned to be placed on each of the three pillars, with the Navy and Marines on one, the Army and Air Force on another, and the Coast Guard and Merchant Marines on the third.
“This monument is simple yet stately and will stand proudly on its site just as those it represents served this country with pride,” says a statement released at the time the design was announced.
“The pillars will be placed in a triangle to allow space for visitors to walk inside where there is a flag pole and inscriptions explaining the Memorial’s meaning and the history behind it,” the statement says.
The statement notes that a significant part of the funding for the project was expected to come from LGBT veterans who want to have their service memorialized by purchasing paver stones with their name and service information engraved on them. The pavers would be placed on the memorial’s grounds, the statement said.
Russell said at that time that additional funds were expected to be raised through the purchase of space for the interment of cremated ashes of veterans and their partners or spouses also within the memorial grounds if there was a demand for such interment.
Gunter said no funds have been raised so far from the purchase of interment sites or pavers and he doesn’t expect such purchases to take place until the memorial is built.
Paul Williams is president of Congressional Cemetery, which is privately owned by the LGBT-supportive Christ Church of Capitol Hill. He said the cemetery enthusiastically supports the LGBT Veterans Memorial.
He said the cemetery allowed the memorial’s organizers to make a down payment on the cemetery plots where the memorial will be located knowing they had yet to raise the money to pay it all at that time. But he said that under Congressional Cemetery’s financing policy the memorial cannot be installed until the plots are paid in full.
Williams said the place reserved for the memorial is located near the gravesite of U.S. Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, who came out as gay on the cover of Time magazine in 1975 as the first active duty service member to challenge the military’s ban on gays.
Matlovich, who died in 1988, was buried in a section of the cemetery that Williams says has become the burial site for other LGBT people, including LGBT military veterans and is referred to as the cemetery’s “gay corner.” He said Congressional Cemetery is believed to be the only known cemetery anywhere that has an LGBT section.
Matt Thorn, executive director of OutServe/SLDN, a national group that advocates for active duty LGBT service members, said his group would be willing to help the LGBT Veterans Memorial project in any way it can.
“We wholeheartedly support a memorial,” he said.
Also serving on the National LGBT Veterans Memorial board are longtime gay activist and Marine Corps veteran Tom Swann Hernandez of Palm Springs, Calif.; and 86-year-old Navy veteran, cryptographer and Russian linguist Jim Darby of Chicago.
The two said they also are hopeful that the LGBT community and its supporters will recognize the importance of the memorial to veterans like them and make a contribution so the memorial becomes a reality.
Contributions can be made through the memorial’s website at nlgbtvm.org or by mailing a donation to NLGBTVM, P.O. Box 780514, San Antonio, Texas 78278-0514.
WOODBURY — Come for the movie, stay for the discussion.
The Grove United Methodist Church will host a screening of the film "Love, Simon" Sunday, Sept. 30 at the YMCA in Woodbury.
Following the film, the public is invited to stay, share and learn with teen members of the LGBT community.
The event, which runs 4 to 7 p.m., was organized by the church’s LGBT + Pride Team.
"Our goal is to communicate to the teens of South Washington County that our church is LGBT-friendly and we won’t try to get them into conversion therapy or tell them that they’re sinning against God," said team member Christie Thompson, who said she is the mother of two LGBT children.
Some will no doubt identify with the protagonist of "Love, Simon." The film stars Nick Robinson as a closeted gay high schooler who opens up a Pandora’s box when he shares his secret online with a male crush.
"We thought it was kind of a port of entry to students to think and talk about this," lead pastor Dan Wetterstrom said. "We’re really hoping that we can start a conversation about how can we, as students and how can we as a community, just create a safer and more loving environment."
Popcorn will be provided. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org . Cautious optimism surrounds nuclear waste storage progress Minnesota minimum wage to rise on Jan. 1 Interest in Minnesota primary seems high William Loeffler
William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009.
Azusa Pacific University has dropped its ban on LGBT+ relationships. (Azusa Pacific University/Facebook) An Evangelical university in California, USA, has dropped its ban on LGBT+ relationships on campus—but it still rejects gay sex and same-sex marriage.
Azusa Pacific University (APU) changed the language used in a standard of conduct agreement, which had previously banned same-sex relationships, reports student newspaper Zu Media .
According to the paper, the change came about following discussions between the university’s underground LGBT+ support group Haven, which had to meet off-campus as it was not endorsed by the institute, and APU’s administrative board. APU still prohibits gay sex and equal marriage. (Justin Sullivan/Getty) The university’s code of conduct still adheres to the view that a “sexual union is intended by God to take place only within the marriage covenant between a man and a woman.”
Bill Fiala, associate dean of students at APU, told the student paper: “The change that happened with the code of conduct is still in alignment with our identity as a Christian institution. The language changed, but the spirit didn’t. Our spirit is still a conservative, evangelical perspective on human sexuality.”
As well as dropping its ban on romantic LGBT+ relationships, the university is also creating a pilot programme for a safe space for queer students on campus.
“We have been intentional about the program, and want it to be considered a program that comes out of student life and out of the university,” Fiala explained to Zu Media . The university does not believe in equal marriage. (Azusa Pacific University/Facebook) “We created this in support of the LGBTQ+ students at APU. One prong of that is the weekly meetings with Haven. Another aspect of that is educational outreach, and holding events. We are co-creating a program with students.”
APU has previously caused upset among those in the LGBT+ community.
In 2013, it was reported that APU asked a professor to leave his role after he came out as a trans man.
Other Christian universities have also been criticised for their ban on same-sex relationships, which in certain instances have led to the dismissal of LGBT+ students.
In September, a student was told he wouldn’t be able to re-enroll at Clarks Summit University, a private Christian college, to complete his degree because he is gay.
And, in February, it was alleged that a Harvard University Christian group kicked out a Bible study leader because she is bisexual.
Among the other Christian colleges allowing same-sex relationships among its students, Canada’s Christian institute Trinity Western University was recently forced to drop its ban on gay sex following a Supreme Court ruling.
Courtney Act was interviewed on the new "David’s Out For a Good Time" podcast on Spotify. (PinkNews) Drag queen Courtney Act has opened up about sexual racism, admitting that she, too, has guilty of colour-biased dating choices.
Act—real name Shane Jenek—says she grew up in a society that “taught me to be racist,” adding that she now dates people of all ethnicities and that her sex life “has never been more fulfilled.”
In a five-post thread on Twitter on Wednesday, the Celebrity Big Brother winner explained how she previously thought she was only attracted to white men , but later realised that this was an “unconscious bias.”
“Growing up in Australia I was never provided with examples of people of colour being sexual desirable (let alone queer POC),” she said.
“It makes sense that I have socialised racisms when it comes to my sexual preference which is why I have had to consciously unpack those over the years.” Act posted a thread on Twitter. (courtneyact/Twitter) The ex- RuPaul’s Drag Race star added: “Now as a white gay of a certain age I realise I grew up in a society that taught me to be racist.
“The truth is, once examined, I’m attracted to people irrespective of their skin colour, and my dating and sex life has never been…more fulfilled.”
Act said that, as an exercise to address her socialised racism on Grindr, she “tried to just pause, look, & see what my bodily sense felt about the image in front of me.”
She explained: “[I was] surprised by how many people I actually thought were attractive that I had previously swiped over. If nothing else you’re increasing your odds of getting laid!!!”
Act finished her post by writing: “If you think being deliberate is somehow racist, we are bombarded with images of white beauty our whole lives, I think making a deliberate effort to breakthrough that noise is just due diligence.”
She also included a link to a video by LGBT+ activist Alexander Leon about sexual racism. If you think being deliberate is somehow racist, we are bombarded with images of white beauty our whole lives, I think making a deliberate effort to breakthrough that noise is just due diligence @alxndrleon made this video about #sexualracism have a look https://t.co/VcBtqa1NSh — Courtney Act (@courtneyact) September 26, 2018 Act also recently criticised fellow Celebrity Big Brother contestant Ann Widdecombe, saying the British politician “doesn’t support women’s rights.”
Widdecombe was runner-up on the show, coming second to Act in January. Courtney Act is crowned winner during the 2018 Celebrity Big Brother in February 2018. (Stuart C. Wilson/Stuart C. Wilson/Getty) “I just found it really frustrating and annoying that Anne doesn’t support women’s rights and women’s equality in the workplace,” Act told David Olshanetsky for his new Spotify podcast David’s Out For A Good Time.
“Or a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body with regards to abortion. So many, really important things that women have fought for, like the #MeToo movement.”
Act continued: “I’m like, no! You can’t just dismiss the sexual harassment and sexual abuse of women.”
The drag queen, who will star in a new bisexual dating show called The Bi Life, on E! in October, added: “ Strictly and Big Brother make somebody like Ann seem cuddly and likeable and you don’t get to see the fact that she denies climate change and is against abortion and supports capital punishment.”
Zak Kostopoulos was buried in the Greek village of Kirra on September 24. (Zak Kostopoulos/Facebook) Greek gay activist Zak Kostopoulos, who died in the streets of Athens following an apparent mob attack , was buried on Tuesday in the village of Kirra where he grew up.
The funeral was attended by his parents, friends, locals and members of the LGBT+ community who made sure Kostopoulos’ burial celebrated the way he lived and his role in queer advocacy.
It is tradition in Greece to throw handfuls of dirt on the coffin, but mourners threw glitter instead. “In the end the grave wasn’t brown anymore, it was pink and blue and purple, shiny glitter everywhere, tiny gay flags everywhere,” Kostopoulos’ friend and journalist Christina Michalou told PinkNews. “Some drag queens threw their wigs in the grave too.”
Kostopoulos often performed as drag queen Zackie Oh and appeared in a Vice Greece video exhibiting his routine, as well as starring in short film about living as an HIV-positive man and another about LGBT+ life in Athens, titled Faster Than Light, which has yet to be released.
The 33-year-old died on Friday (September 21) in circumstances that are still under investigation. Footage shared on social media and broadcast on local television news appears to show Kostopoulos trapped inside a jewellery store, attempting to break free.
Two men, who have since been arrested, can be seen kicking him as he attempted to exit the shop by crawling through an opening in the shop window, in one instance striking a blow to his head. Zak Kostopoulos often performed as drag queen Zackie Oh (Aggelos Barai/Facebook) Police initially described Kostopoulos as entering the store “armed with a knife” with the intent to commit a robbery, but his friends and family disputed that account. His father Efthimios Lekkas noted in an interview with a local publication that his son entered the store in broad daylight without concealing his face—no robber would behave that way.
A friend of Kostopoulos claimed he had entered the store to seek shelter from a brawl that had taken place across the road. It is still not known whether the knife reportedly found in the story had Kostopoulos’ fingerprints or DNA on it.
Lawyer Anna Paparousou, who represents Kostopoulos’ family, told Omnia TV on Monday that while the coroner’s report failed to identify a clear cause of death, it reported brain swelling, the origin of which still needs to be determined. She added that no eyewitnesses have come forward to testify and that the police has failed to record the beating in its report of the incident.
Paparousou credited the existence of the video with bringing the mob attack to light. “If the video did not exist, the case might have been closed. No violence would have been recorded by anyone,” she said.
The actions of the police during the attack against Kostopoulos are also subject to scrutiny, with authorities accused of failing to protect the man from the mob.
The distrust in the police is due to a history of authorities failing to investigate crimes against minority groups, as a 2014 report from Amnesty International highlighted. In one instance, police failed to investigate a 2012 attack against a 26-year-old transgender student at an evening school in which a pupil and his friend poured gasoline on her and attempted to set her on fire just outside the school premises. Tributes were left in memory of Zak Kostopoulos in front of the store were the assault took place on September 21, 2018. (Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty) Friends remembered Kostopoulos as someone who “loved to help” others and a pioneering advocate for the acceptance of HIV-positive people in Greece. “His actual name is Zacharias, coming from the greek word ‘zachari,’ which means sugar. His name was literally sugar, and he was the sweetest person I’ve known,” Michalou said.
Kostopoulos began talking publicly about being HIV-positive around six years ago, after he was diagnosed in 2009, to challenge the stigma around the disease. In one of his projects, he made himself available to anyone who had questions on the topic as part of a “human library” project.
“Zak was the first one to come out as HIV-positive and attempt to educate people on the subject, risking to lose friends and relatives from his life because of that,” Michalou said.
“His life was far from easy. Many times people would not shake his hand or would even avoid being in the same room with him because they thought they could get AIDS by breathing the same air or touching him. We always admired him for his strength to go through this nonsense again and again.” Friends remembered him as someone who “loved to help” others. (Zak Kostopoulos/Facebook) Despite being born in the US, Kostopoulos grew up in the small village where he was buried and struggled finding his place growing up, feeling like he couldn’t express himself as he wanted. But the community embraced him on Tuesday to say their final goodbye.
Michalou said that Kostopoulos would have been touched to see such a gathering of different people, from all walks of life. “Once, Zak said his biggest dream was to create a time and place in which everyone would coexist in absolute peace and union, even for a little bit,” she said.
She added: “That was his funeral. Conservative parents, drag queens in huge heels, people who just met him, new in the community, barely 19 years old, old villagers who used to know him as a child, people expressing their grief in strict black and people expressing it in rainbow dresses, transgender girls holding hands with grandparents who never left their tiny village in their lives. “All these people, so different, with absolutely nothing in common, and they all kept hugging each other, overseeing what makes them different to unite in what makes them the same. Zak.
“I really wish he could see that. I really wish he could know his dream came true.” Christina Michalou paid tribute to her friend Zak Kostopoulos in a drawing (Courtesy of Chrsitina Michalou) Tributes to Kostopoulos from LGBT+ activists from Greece and further afield continue to pour in on his Facebook page.
Kevin Maloney, a US-based HIV-positive activist, shared a video Kostopoulos recorded—in full drag— for his non-profit RiseUpToHIV and wrote a message in solidarity.
“I run RiseUpToHIV. We are sad, angry, and heartbroken to learn of Zak’s murder. I remember the day, I opened my email with this video from him. It was a submission he sent in for a campaign I was running called ‘What’s Your Positive Message’. Listen to his words: We are HUMAN.
“We send our love to Zak’s family, friends, and all who we’re inspired by him around the world. Rest in power, Zak. You will not be forgotten.”
Italian activist Leonardo Dongiovanni shared the memory of when the two met and expressed his grief over the news. “I still remember with great joy the week spent in Thessaloniki in 2013. You looked right away like a tough guy—as well as being a beautiful person,” he wrote.
“I just learnt of the news and I am still shocked. What happened to you is terrible and I hope truth is established as soon as possible. I share the pain of your loved ones and the Athens LGBT+ community and I hope justice is done as soon as possible.”
Bisi Alimi, a LGBT activist in Nigeria who, too, had met Kostopoulos, also shared his condolences on the Facebook page: “This world is a sad and crazy place…. He was a fierce and passionate advocate. Rest in power!”
A billboard poster bearing the Google definition of the word "woman" has been removed after it was accused of being part of a transphobic campaign.
Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull told the BBC she paid £700 to have "woman, women, noun, adult human female" put up.
But it was removed after an LGBT activist complained Ms Keen-Minshull’s campaign represented a "hate group".
Ms Keen-Minshull denied the allegation, but said the idea that trans women were women was "preposterous".
When asked why the poster was erected in Liverpool, where the Labour Party’s annual conference is taking place, Ms Keen-Minshull said it was in response to the city’s mayor, Joe Anderson, who recently voiced his support for the trans community.
Dr Adrian Harrop, whose complaint led to the poster’s removal, said the billboard was a "symbol that makes transgender people feel unsafe".
Dr Harrop, who is not trans but describes himself as "an ally of the transgender community", added there was "no doubt" in his mind the installation of the poster was motivated by that desire.
However, Ms Keen-Minshull said her "main concern" was that the word "woman" was "being appropriated to mean anything".
She added the purpose of the poster had been to "start a conversation" about women’s rights. Girlguiding defends transgender policy
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Advertising company Primesight, which installed and then removed the poster, said it had been "unaware of the motive" behind Ms Keen-Minshull’s campaign.
Primesight added it had been "misled" by the campaign’s "messaging" and was "fully committed to equality for all".
The row comes after the government announced it wanted people’s views on changes to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act.
While trans people already have the right to legally change their gender, the government is looking at ways of simplifying the process, including making it easier for people to change the gender on their birth certificate. Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull said the idea trans women were women was "preposterous" In response to the poster, LGBT charity Stonewall said: "Our 2018 Trans Report revealed that one in eight trans employees (12%) have been physically attacked at work, while two in five trans people (41%) have experienced a hate crime or incident in the last year.
"These are not just statistics, they represent the lives of trans people, which are only being made worse by increasingly frequent attacks in the media, online and in public spaces.
"If we want to improve life for trans people we need more people and organisations to be visible, active allies."