I had a really great childhood.
I grew up in a wonderful home with both of my parents, and they gave me every single thing I could ever imagine. There were elaborate holidays, and just about anything else they could do to expose me to the world. They had me out there riding horses when I was ten-years-old (I was the only brother at the stable out there riding a horse.)
Basically, they wanted to make sure that I knew the world was my oyster and that I could be or do anything I wanted. It was a really, really nice – a perfect upbringing. And they had a plan in mind when they gave me this upbringing. That plan was for me to attend college, then law school, and then go off and get a really good job.
A really good job in my parents’ minds was for me to be President of the United States. That’s right. The guy who was Barack Obama before he was Barack Obama. I was supposed to be the first black president of the United States. That was the plan, and I bought into this plan. It was a good plan, right? Who doesn’t want to be president?
I went to college where I majored in international affairs, and then I attended law school. After I graduated, I was offered the opportunity to run an inner city school in Chicago. While being an educator or taking that role wasn’t exactly part of the plan, I realised that it could really help me when I started pursuing my political career. Who isn’t going to vote for the guy who stands there in the ad with his hands on his hips, looking like Superman in front of the classroom of kids? ‘Vote Tim King. He changes the world. He educates kids.’
So I figured, okay, I’ll take this job and maybe it’ll lead me to some other things that follow along with the plan. One day, I was walking into the school, it was pretty early, around 7:30 in the morning. I unlocked the door and there was a kid sitting outside waiting to get in. His name was Keith.
I said, “What are you doing?”
He said, “Oh, I’m working here painting during the summer.”
“Okay, so come on in.”
He would stay really late, then the next day, show up very early, and then stay really late again. The summer eventually melted into the school year, and Keith was still coming to school really, really early and staying at school until really, really late.
And I just figured, okay, this guy just likes school – although I didn’t understand how anyone could like school that much. But I started kind of keeping an eye on him because there was something up with this young man. Eventually, he started talking to me throughout the course of the day, stopping by my office to say ‘what’s up’. Then he started doing things like asking me if he could borrow a couple bucks and I’d give him the money. I really didn’t pay much attention to the reasons he needed the money. In fact, I really wasn’t all that interested in knowing because I didn’t really want to know that much ― you stay in your world, it’s cool. I’m in mine. You go right ahead with your business.
Step by step though, he started asking for more money, more frequently. He started hanging out in my office a bit more. He started talking to me more, coming out of his shell and I was coming out of my shell a bit with him.
One day, I asked him what he needed this money for, and he said, “Oh, I’ve got to go do my laundry.” And I thought, “This kid’s lying.” I mean, what 15-year-old has to go and do his laundry? But I gave him the money anyway and just said, “Okay, you know, go do what you have to do.”
One night, I got a call from Keith and he was hysterical. He asked me if I would help him ― if I’d come get him from his house. I said, “Sure, what’s going on, what’s wrong?” And he said, “My mom just died.” So, I go over to his house and it’s not a house, it’s an apartment over a liquor store. I walk in, and it’s pitch black in the apartment. Just the light from the street lamps coming in through the window. From that light, I see garbage bags ― some bags with garbage in them and other bags with his stuff in them. No lights. Not because he had turned off the lights, but because the electricity was off. There was no power and it was cold. And he was in hysterics because his mother had just died. She had been battling, unbeknownst to me, drug addiction and she lost that battle. The drugs won and she died.
So, we grabbed Keith’s stuff in the garbage bags, put them in my car. And then I was faced with, well, where do we go? So I said to him, “You got a friend you can stay with?” And he says, “Sure.” And we drop him off at a friend’s house. And I went back home to my house. The next day, Keith was at school. And we talked and tried to work through where he was going to live. We found another place for him to stay temporarily.
I started getting closer to Keith. We started talking more, obviously this kind of experience brings people together.
We would go out. I’d take him to eat after school; we would go to the movies, a basketball game, or something like that. Every time after we’d go to dinner or go to the game, I would drop him off at someone else’s house and I would go home to mine.
One day, Keith and I were sitting in the car after we had gone out, and we were trying to work through where he was going to stay. And he just looked at me and he said, “Why can’t I just live with you? Why can’t you be my dad?” And in that moment I thought, “Are you crazy? Of course you can’t live with me. Of course I can’t be your dad. You don’t fit into this plan. I’m going to be the first black President of the United States. You can’t move in with me.”
I had put Keith in this box, this box that said ‘poor black boy inside, handle with care’. And, I put that box far away from me. I didn’t allow myself to get close to that box, to get close to Keith. All of that went through my head and a matter of seconds, quite literally.
When I came out of this kind of fog, he was still sitting there in the car looking at me, asking if he could live with me, asking if I could be his dad. And I looked at him and I said, “Yes. Yes, you can live with me. Yes I will be your dad.” And at that moment, I changed. I felt right. I just felt right.
What I should’ve felt was terrified, because when Keith moved into my house, it wasn’t like one elephant coming through. It was a herd of elephants. He took over! When I met Keith and he moved in, I had a full head of hair ― We’re talking giant Afro from the 60s, 70s Afro. You know what I’m saying? The stress from living with him changed that! It was really, really, really hard living with him. He had been used to living by himself, living on his own. I had been used to living by myself, living on my own. He had been living the life of an adult, but he was just a child. Now, all of a sudden, he had an opportunity to be a kid again. I lived this life like a kid with a bank account, and now, all of a sudden, I had to be an adult.
Keith and I managed to make it through our time living together. He calls me Dad. I refer to him as my son. He graduated from high school and he went on to Georgetown University, my Alma Mater. He graduated from Georgetown, moved back home to Chicago, and right now, this very moment, he works with me in a network of charter public high schools that I started called Urban Prep. He’s a teacher.
I started Urban Prep because I wanted to make sure that all the Keiths in the world were taken care of; He works at Urban Prep because he wants to be a part of changing lives, just like his life was changed. When Keith and I lived together, to this very day, what I wanted to do was make sure that he had a life that was filled with love, like the life I had when I was growing up. People always say to me, “Tim, you changed Keith’s life.” And I say to them, “He changed mine.” As we walked down that road of him going from being a boy to becoming a man, he was also helping me grow. He was helping me become a better man.
A little while ago, I got a text message from Keith and the text message read, “Our family is at the basketball game. Where are you? You should be here.” And I smiled, because Keith was berating me. And then I got a little teary because as I looked down at that text message, I realised that Keith had written “our family.”
This story is cross-posted from The Moth. Their latest book, Occasional Magic, is available now.
Life Less Ordinary is a weekly blog series from HuffPost UK that showcases weird, wonderful and transformational life experiences. If you’ve got something extraordinary to share please email email@example.com with LLO in the subject line. To read more from the series, visit our dedicated page.
More than 30 Oxford academics have blasted Stonewall for pushing ‘tendentious and antiscientific claims’ in the trans awareness training it gives to universities.
The group have taken issue with compulsory training that includes statements such as ‘gender is how people interpret and view themselves’ and expressed this in a letter, reports the Sunday Times .
It calls for universities to sever links with the LGBT charity unless it says it ‘fully supports academic freedom of thought’.
Academics are also being told to not invite transphobic speakers who do not accept ‘that trans people are the gender they say they are’.
They fear the new rules could see staff lose their jobs, and that they overrule freedom of speech. More than 30 leading Oxford academics have blasted the LGBT charity Stonewall for pushing ‘tendentious and antiscientific claims’ in the trans awareness training it gives to universities. Pictured: Oxford University More than 30 leading Oxford academics have blasted the LGBT charity Stonewall for pushing ‘tendentious and antiscientific claims’ in the trans awareness training it gives to universities. Pictured: Oxford University
Modern history professor Selina Todd told the Sunday Times: ‘[This] is really pushing an agenda which is dogmatic and completely overruling freedom of speech… I am very scared that academics will start to lose their jobs.
‘I feel uncomfortable. I’ve told my employer that I feel vulnerable and I’ve had students say they feel intimidated by what’s going on at this campus.’
Oxford and Cambridge spent £55,000 between them on LGBT training so staff are better equipped to help students who may be struggling.
According to a NUS LGBTQ+ report from 2014, just 20 per cent of trans students feel completely safe on campus.
One in three trans students said they had experienced bullying or harassment – while 51 per cent have seriously considered dropping out of their course.
Transitioning can also disrupt trans students’ time at university, with one in seven having to take time out.
To make this period easier, some colleges at Oxford have a gender expression fund for students who need to buy items such as ‘chest binders, concealing underwear and breast forms’. The group have taken issue with compulsory training that includes statements such as ‘gender is how people interpret and view themselves’ and expressed this in a letter. Pictured: Oxford university The group have taken issue with compulsory training that includes statements such as ‘gender is how people interpret and view themselves’ and expressed this in a letter. Pictured: Oxford university
A spokesperson for Oxford University told the Sunday Times: ‘The university is committed to fostering an inclusive, diverse environment where students, staff and visitors, of all backgrounds feel protected, valued and respected.
‘The university also prioritises protecting academic freedom.’
A Stonewall spokesperson said: ‘Through our Diversity Champions programme we work with a network of organisations across the UK and around the world who are committed to equality, supporting them to create inclusive and accepting environments for their staff and service users.
‘Our work with universities is absolutely vital because we know LGBT staff and students still experience discrimination on a daily basis, almost one in five LGBT staff (18 per cent) have been the target of negative comments from colleagues because they’re LGBT, while two in five LGBT students (42 per cent) have hidden their identity at university for fear of discrimination.
‘Stonewall also works with schools to help them tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and deliver an LGBT-inclusive curriculum. It’s vital we work together to build a world where all LGBT people are accepted without exception.’
Yahoo Vida y Estilo Families are calling for a popular painkiller in Spain to be completely banned in the country following numerous deaths and severe reactions in British people who had taken the drug.
The painkiller metamizole, commonly known in Spain under the brand name Nolotil, has a known adverse reaction as a possible side effect called agranulocytosis, which affects a small percentage of people and causes a rapid drop in white blood cells and sepsis (blood poisoning).
Available data confirms there is an increased risk in elderly people – although it also shows an increase in the use of the painkiller among elderly patients.
Metamizole, which is widely used in Spain as a painkiller for different situations for moderate to severe acute pain, has been marketed in Spain for more than 50 years and is available under different trade names including Nolotil.
The painkiller is not available in the UK and is banned in many countries, including the US, due to its potential for adverse effects. In the US, approval was withdrawn in 1977. But the painkiller remains widely prescribed in Spain, with data showing its use has doubled in the last 10 years.
In October, the Spanish Health Ministry issued a warning against its use on those visiting the country for a short time, following reports to Spanish authorities of multiple people from the UK and Ireland dying after taking the painkiller. The guidance states: “Do not use metamizole in patients where controls are not possible – eg floating population.”
However, a campaigner whose investigations prompted the new guidelines claims they are not being taken seriously enough by doctors and pharmacists.
Cristina Garcia del Campo, a medical and legal translator who lives in Spain, told HuffPost UK she is now fighting for a complete ban of Nolotil in Spain as she fears more British people may suffer.
She first began investigating the potential adverse effects of Nolotil about 18 months ago, and has revealed to HuffPost UK she has now collated more than 200 cases of British people who she says have been severely affected by Nolotil, including more than 20 deaths linked to patients who had taken the painkiller. Yahoo Magazines PYC Her findings resulted in the new guidance being issued after she took the cases to Spain’s Agency of Medicines and Medical Devices (AEMPS).
Garcia del Campo, who is from Madrid, told HuffPost UK she first began investigating Nolotil in December 2017 after becoming suspicious about the number of cases of sepsis among Britons.
She said: “In my job as medical translator, I go into hospitals a lot with British patients. In December 2017, I had a particular client who had sepsis, and I remember thinking it wasn’t the first time I had heard of someone having sepsis.
“This set the alarm bells ringing so I started to investigate and got out all my reports of patients affected by sepsis. I realised what they all had in common was that they were British and they had all taken Nolotil.”
She added: “I was shocked and I knew of about five cases at this point. Little did I realise I would end up with hundreds of cases when I began this investigation.”
As well as being a medical translator for British patients and their families, Garcia de Campo acts as the patient liaison, organising appointments and admissions people on behalf of her clients. People began telling Garcia del Campo about their experiences after she posted on social media. Garcia del Campo has now travelled all over Spain talking to experts and gathering information.
She explained: “Metamizole – the generic name for Nolotil – has been banned in the US, Japan, Australia and other countries and it is not licensed in the UK.
“One of the side effects of Nolotil is agranulocytosis, where the bone marrow does not produce enough white cells and they often go down to zero.
“This makes the patient extremely susceptible to infections they cannot fight and they can end up dying or with amputations or suffering other life long consequences.
“I put a post on social media asking if anyone had had an adverse reaction to the drug and people began contacting me telling me about their terrible experiences.”
Although there are no conclusive studies, many health specialists suspect people from Northern Europe are more at risk to metamizole than people from Spain.
A study was carried out by health professionals at Costa del Sol Hospital in Marbella in 2009 looking into their cases of agranulocytosis analysing the connection with metamizole. This study discovered the rate was almost three times higher among foreigners than in Spanish people.
Although the vast majority of the cases Garcia del Campo has collated involve British patients, her findings have also unearthed Spanish cases. “I have collated more than 40 cases of Spanish people being affected by Nolotil, and between five and 10 deaths. There was a death of a Spanish person who had taken Nolotil only a few weeks ago.” Garcia del Campo believes hospitals and pharmacies are not abiding by the updated recommendations Garcia del Campo took her findings to Spain’s Agency of Medicines and Medical Devices on July 6 2018 and shared her information with them.
Following this, she was invited to a summit with experts, which resulted in the new guidance being issued on October 30 2018 – with the warning stating Nolotil should not be given to people who can’t be monitored, such as tourists.
However, Garcia del Campo believes hospitals and pharmacies are not abiding by the updated recommendations.
She says that since the updated guidance, she has been contacted by a number of people of British origin telling her that they were either given Nolotil in hospital or were about to be given it and refused it. She claims she is aware of at least six cases of serious adverse reactions to Nolotil since October 30 2018 when the updated guidance was issued.
Garcia del Campo said: “It is good that they took notice and issued this warning. But hospitals and pharmacies in Spain are not taking it seriously enough.”
British victims and families of those who have died after taking the painkiller told HuffPost UK they want to see Nolotil banned outright in Spain. ‘It’s Too Late For Our Dad But We Want To Prevent Further Deaths From This Painkiller’
This family photograph showing Stuart Holgate with his wife Sallie, and their daughters Jane Wheildon and Frances Holgate, was taken in Spain on the day he went to the chemist and made the decision to buy Nolotil for pain relief. After working hard all his life as an engineer and then a university teacher, Stuart Holgate and wife Sallie of Shipley, Bradford, decided to move to Spain. The couple were living in Almeria and enjoying their retirement – until Stuart, 73, died in July last year after suffering a severe reaction to Nolotil.
His daughter, Jane Wheildon, 43, who lives in Bradford, recalls how treatment for a chest infection uncovered an abscess on her father’s lung caused by undiagnosed kidney cancer.
In May 2018, Holgate had an operation in Almeria, Spain, to remove his kidney. Wheildon said: “My dad had a huge scar but was recovering well. Me and my sister went out to Spain and as my dad had a bit of pain after the surgery, I took him to the pharmacy in the village to get some pain relief.
“He recognised the Nolotil as he had had it in hospital so they gave him some tablets.” Stuart and Sallie Holgate Holgate became unwell, had difficulty breathing and was in pain. He was admitted to hospital where doctors told the family he had suffered a reaction to something.
“When we said he had taken Nolotil, the doctors said: ‘That will be why.’ The painkiller had caused a reaction which had wiped out my dad’s white blood cells and he got sepsis as he could not fight any infection.”
He died a few weeks later.
Wheildon said: “We were totally devastated. My dad had got through the cancer and was recovering well and then a simple painkiller he bought over the counter caused this horrendous reaction.” ‘I’ve Had The Majority Of My Feet And Some Of My Fingers Amputated – But I Just Feel Lucky To Be Alive’
Warning: This story contains some images which readers may find distressing Joan Judge says she almost died after she took the painkiller for relief from a UTI Joan Judge, originally from Scotland, has lived in Spain for 42 years. The 63-year-old, who was working as a teacher in international schools in Spain, almost died after being prescribed Nolotil as pain relief for a severe urinary infection.
Judge told HuffPost UK: “I had this severe urinary infection and went to A&E and was given Nolotil for the pain.
“Unfortunately, I had the reaction which wipes out all your white blood cells, but at the time, we didn’t know what had happened.
“Within a few days of taking the Nolotil, I was barely conscious and my husband rang an ambulance and I was taken to a local hospital.
“Doctors seemed to think I had leukaemia because of my low white blood count.”
Judge was transferred to the University Hospital in Malaga. As soon as a doctor was told she had taken Nolotil, he realised what had happened. “At that point, the reaction some people have to it was not widely known.”
Judge regained consciousness but needed dialysis for a week as her kidneys had stopped working. She also had gangrene affecting her hands, feet, the tip of her nose and ears. This led to her having most of both her feet amputated, as well as some of her fingers. Most of Joan Judge’s feet have been amputated after she suffered a severe reaction to Nolotil, which led to gangrene Joan Judge had fingers amputated Joan Judge wants to see the drug banned in Spain Judge told HuffPost UK: “It is awful what happened to me, but I just feel lucky I survived and am still here.
“It took me a year to get to what is now my normality. I went back to work for a while, but only part-time.
“I can still walk and most people don’t realise anything is amiss. But because of the amount of feet I am missing, my balance is not great.”
Judge wants to see Nolotil banned completely in Spain and claims that even after the new directive, British people are still being given the painkiller.
She said: “The British husband of one of my friends was in hospital in Malaga a few weeks ago and he was prescribed Nolotil. It is frightening.
“I do not blame the doctor who gave me Nolotil as he had no idea of the effect it would have on me and was trying to help me.
“But it seems incredible that even after a directive from the medical world in Spain, people from British origin are still being prescribed Nolotil.“It is banned […]
Layleen Polanco | Photo: Facebook A trans inmate in the US was allegedly ignored by prison guards for hours before her death, it has been alleged.
Layleen Polanco was found unresponsive in her solitary confinement cell in Rikers Island Jail on 7 June.
A fellow inmate alleges that although Polanco did not respond to calls from prison officials, guards did not check on her for over two hours, the New York Post reports .
Polanco was declared dead at 3:45pm on 7 June, according to the Department of Correction (DOC).
Polanco was being held in solitary confinement after brawling with another inmate.
The 27-year-old had been jailed for an altercation with a taxi driver in April. She also faced an open warrant from prostitution and low-level drug charges, but could not make the $500 bail.
Polanco’s death has outraged LGBTI rights activists in the US. Many have said her case highlights the urgent need for criminal justice reform. Found unresponsive at around 2:50pm
Allegations that prison officials did not check on Polanco come from a fellow Rikers inmate.
The inmate claims to have witnessed the lead-up to Polanco’s death while confined in a cell near her’s.
Polanco received lunch at around noon, the inmate alleges, before a guard knocked on Polanco’s door at 1pm but did not get a response. The guard said ‘Must be asleep’ and moved on, according to the inmate.
The inmate claims that at about 1:30pm, a psychiatrist arrived to ask inmates if they wished to take part in an art therapy session.
The psychiatrist also did not receive a response from Polanco; he asked the guards to check in on her, though, according to the inmate, none did.
It was only at around 2:50pm when guards opened Polanco’s cell door where they found her unresponsive.
Medics were then called and tried to revive Polanco for about an hour before she was declared dead. ‘I don’t think the Medical Examiner should be making that kind of determination at this stage’
A DOC spokesperson declined to comment on the allegations from Polanco’s fellow inmate.
The spokesperson said: ‘We are conducting a full investigation as the safety and well-being of people in our custody is our top priority.’
The Medical Examiner is yet to confirm the cause of death, though has ruled out violence as a possibility.
However, David Shanies, a lawyer for Polanco’s family, says Polanco had bruising on her face when he saw her body on Wednesday (12 June).
Shanies said he did not know the cause of the wounds, though he said that Polanco had epilepsy.
‘If a person who has a seizure disorder gets punched in the face, can you say that that could not have contributed to a seizure that ultimately caused her death?’ Shanies said.
‘I’m not a neurologist, but I don’t think a spokesperson for the [Medical Examiner] should be making that kind of determination at this stage.’
The city Medical Examiner has not commented further on the matter. Calls for reform
Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Manhatten to pay tribute to Polanco, and to stand in solidarity with her family and the wider LGBTI community on Monday (10 June).
Polanco’s death has caused an uproar from a number of trans rights advocates, with many calling for answers as to how she died .
Her death has also led to renewed calls for reforms to the criminal justice system.
Campaigners say that the current system directly affects the members of society who are poorer or more marginalized . This includes trans women of color, who are disproportionately affected by poverty and drug use in the US.
Shanies said that Polanco should not have been in jail in the first place.
‘Her death was easily avoidable and completely unnecessary, and it reflects a lack of care about transgender lives in our society and in this city,’ he said.
Polanco’s death has also furthered criticism of the cash bail system. Campaigners say the system further punishes those on low incomes who face jail if they cannot afford bail money.
While the cash bail system is due to cease effect in New York, this will not be until January 2020. The system continues to be used in various other states in the US.
Additionally, some campaigners have called for the closure of Rikers Island due to the jail’s poor record. Polanco is the seventh inmate to die in the jail since 2012. ‘She was cool, and funny too’
Pose actor Indya Moore took to Instagram to write a heartfelt statement in remembrance of Polanco , who Moore says they knew while growing up.
‘I remember desiring to be beautiful like her. She was cool, and funny too,’ Moore posted on the social media account.
Moore also wrote about the levels of violence facing trans women in the post. They went on to call out the Trump administration for rolling back numerous trans rights in the US.
Fellow trans actress Laverne Cox has also used social media to express her remorse and anger over the levels of violence facing trans people.
Cox broke down in tears over the number of trans murders in a video she posted on Instagram in May .
‘It’s insanely painful to keep reading reports of trans folks being murdered,’ she wrote the caption.
LGBT education protests A Labour MP has been reprimanded by the party’s chief whip after backing campaigners protesting against LGBT equality teaching at a Birmingham primary school.
Roger Godsiff, MP for the city’s Hall Green constituency which is home to Anderton Park Primary School, was criticised last week after telling protesters they had a “just cause”.
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner reported the “discriminatory and irresponsible” comments to chief whip Nick Brown.
Anderton Park has been at the centre of a series of school gate protests in recent months, leading to a court injunction banning demonstrations inside an exclusion zone around the site.
The city council said it decided to make an urgent application for an injunction only after careful consideration and in the light of “increasing fears for the safety and wellbeing of the staff, children and parents” at the school.
Confirming Mr Godsiff had been instructed not to repeat his comments, a Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party has long supported and campaigned for LGBT+ inclusive education in schools, and the achievement of cross Party support for legislation this year was a significant step forward in the struggle for LGBT+ equality.
“There is not only a moral imperative to teach LGBT+ inclusive education, there is also a legal requirement under the Equality Act, which all schools must comply with.
“There is no justifiable reason to stop the teaching of these issues.
“To teach children about relationships and omit the fact that LGBT+ couples exist is fundamentally discriminatory. At a time when levels of homophobic and transphobic hate crime are rising in our society, it is more important than ever that we educate young people.
“Roger Godsiff’s comments do not reflect the Labour Party’s position in any way and his behaviour falls below the standards expected of a Labour MP. He has been formally reprimanded by the Chief Whip and has been warned that he must not repeat such conduct in the future.”
Rachel Dolezal speaking at a rally in downtown Spokane, Washington in 2015 (Creative Commons/Aaron Robert Kathman) Rachel Dolezal, best known for claiming to be black, has spoken about being celibate and bisexual.
The divisive former NAACP Washington activist, who ignited international fury in 2015 when it was revealed she was actually white, came out as bi on Saturday (June 15). Rachel Dolezal: Bi visibility is important
She wrote in an Instagram post : “Just wanted to take a moment to recognise Pride Month I am in absolutely no rush to explore a new relationship, but it still matters to stay visible.
“My first kiss was with a girl when I was 18. I am bisexual.”
Dolezal added: “Just because I have been married (briefly) to a man or have had children by male partners does not mean I am not bi.
“Just because I’m bi doesn’t mean I’m confused. Just because I’m bi doesn’t mean I’m ‘almost’ gay.
“Just because I’m bi doesn’t mean I’m any less monogamous or into threesomes.” Rachel Dolezal faced fury in 2015 when it was revealed she was white She continued: “I’ve always been attracted to a certain vibe and the body parts present matter less to me than the heart, soul, compatibility & chemistry. “So, don’t ignore or delegitimize the ‘B’ In LGBTQI… It’s a real identity. We are here, and no one’s opinion is going to make me gay or straight or not bi.”
Dolezal, who was convicted on a welfare fraud charge in 2018, added that due to her “stressful” life she has been “single and celibate” for four years “and don’t plan to change that any time soon.” Rachel Dolezal has compared herself to transgender people
Dolezal has previously faced anger from LGBT+ activists for comparing her “transracial” identity to transgender people.
In 2017, she claimed: “Gender is understood… we’ve progressed and evolved to understanding that gender’s not binary or even biological, but what strikes me as so odd is that race isn’t biological either.
“Race to some extent has been less biological than gender if you think about history and our bodies. There isn’t white blood and black blood, there isn’t body parts that are certain races.”
Dolezal continues to insist she did not “lie” about her race.
She said: “It didn’t feel like a lie… the idea of race is a lie, so how can you lie about a lie?
“It felt like a true representation of who I am and what I stand for. Even though race is a social construct, you have to take a side and I stand on the black side of issues. For me to not check that box would have been some sort of betrayal.
“I definitely did not feel at home in the white world. It felt foreign to me and it felt uncomfortable and awkward to be there. It also felt oppressive because I had to constantly repress parts of myself in order to survive socially.”
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Civil servant Angus Leung speaks out after feeling alienated in workplace over court ruling
Court of Final Appeal ruled on June 6 that Leung and his husband Scott Adams were entitled to spousal benefits and joint tax assessment
Senior immigration officer Angus Leung (right) and his husband Scott Adams. The Court of Final Appeal unanimously ruled in favour of Leung, granting the couple spousal benefits and joint tax assessment enjoyed by heterosexual couples in the city. Photo: Xiaomei Chen Having recently won a landmark court case against the government, Angus Leung Chun-kwong and his husband Scott Adams recalled giving their first press interview four years ago, holding hands on a windswept waterfront promenade.
But Leung, a senior immigration officer, and Adams, a pilot, wanted to keep a low profile at the time, so they faced the sea with their backs to the camera.
Since then, the couple have emerged as two of the most recognisable faces in Hong Kong’s slowly expanding gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights movement.
They now vow to tell their story, bringing positive change to those who are too afraid to come out of the closet, especially Leung’s fellow civil servants.
“It makes them think that if we could do it they can too,” Leung said, a rainbow watch strap visible on his wrist as he gesticulated.
Adams, wearing a matching watch strap, chimed in: “What we are trying to do is to give a positive image. Be proud of who you are.”
Adams and Leung meet the press at The Court of Final Appeal after the ruling in their favour on June 6. Photo: Sam Tsang
On June 6, the Court of Final Appeal ruled in favour of the pair, decreeing that the Civil Service Bureau and Inland Revenue should grant them spousal benefits and joint tax assessment, even though the government insisted that Hong Kong does not recognise the pair’s 2014 marriage in New Zealand. The justices opined that the government was wrong in suggesting such a move would jeopardise its duty to protect the institution of traditional marriage. LGBT students face so much prejudice in Hong Kong they’re afraid to reveal their sexuality
It was a result of hours of case preparation and days of meticulous presentations in court. But the pair said it was their experience outside the courtroom that gave them the strongest urge to be more vocal.
Leung, who has spoken to the before, is now eager to reveal what had happened to him in his workplace after he filed his court action in 2015.
“The first time after I was in the newspaper, when I got back to the office, things went all quiet. I didn’t have anybody talking to me for a whole week,” he said, adding that probably 90 per cent of his colleagues at Immigration Tower in Wan Chai kept their distance from him.
Leung and Adams had been determined to fight to the end, despite suffering setbacks in the lower courts. Photo: Xiaomei Chen
He and Adams, a Briton who has been living in Hong Kong for years, took five weeks off to travel around the world to take their mind off the defining court decision.
But on the first day he returned to work, there was no warm reception. “No more than three people came over and congratulated me,” he said. That included a female colleague who has been supporting behind him for the past few years.
“Other people just ignored it as if nothing had happened,” he added. “It felt horrible. It’s a toxic environment.” Woman sues government over LGBT civil partnerships ban
He said he and Adams had been determined to fight to the ed, despite suffering setbacks in the lower courts. While they did not want to do it anonymously, they also decided at the outset that they “would not do the press”. They did not show up in court in 2017 on the day the Court of First Instance ruled partially in favour of them, granting Leung spousal benefits.
It was not until they began to encounter people – some of them friends of friends, others strangers encountered in the street – that they felt more compelled to speak out.
They found that not everyone had a good grasp of what was going on. Some thought they were fighting for same-sex marriage. “No, this is not our case,” Leung said.
In June last year, the Court of Appeal ruled against them entirely. But it was also the first time during the hearing that the couple stepped out of their comfort zone and addressed the press.
“I told Scott: let’s go out and then I held his hands and we left the court. And apparently that was the biggest moment of all time,” he recalled.
It was a turning moment for them, Adams said. “We realised the more press we did, the more we could talk about the story. And hopefully, the more we could inspire other people.”
Leung, who has been with the Immigration Department for more than a decade, also recalled having an impact on other civil servants when he attended the Human Library, an anti-violence event that featured contributions from vulnerable marginalised people. Almost half of those who attended were civil servants who were still in the closet, he said.
Leung and Adams appearing at a Stonewall 50th anniversary celebration event earlier this month. Photo: Xiaomei Chen
They were all curious what price Leung had to pay for being so outspoken while working for a disciplinary force. “I just told them to be yourself. There is nothing to be afraid of.” he said.
While it is expected the government will eventually grant spousal benefits to civil servants who have entered into a same-sex marriage overseas, whether those whom Leung met at the Human Library will come forward to take advantage of it is another matter. It is a precarious move for some which could lead to them outing themselves. Study shows support for same-sex marriage in Hong Kong grows
Adams has one more positive message for them. “If you have 10,000 people doing it, nobody is going to care because you have so many with you,” he said.
“We need to encourage people to claim the benefits, to make it normal, and to make it not an issue,’ he said.
Pro-trans rights demonstrators picketing anti-trans protests in Vancouver | Photo: Twitter/@sanixon Tempers flared between pro- and anti-trans rights protestors in Vancouver on Saturday (15 June).
Several hundred people from both sides converged outside the Vancouver Art Gallery in the early afternoon.
The two sides – both chanting and carrying banners – were largely separated by a large police presence in British Columbia’s biggest city.
While there were some minor scuffles between the rival groups, no major violence broke out.
The anti-trans protesters were demonstrating against British Columbia’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, or SOGI 123, teaching resource.
SOGI 123 is a set of education resources which aim to make schools more inclusive for LGBTI students, and combat bullying against students because of their gender identity. And a scuffle breaks out between a few people on both sides of the rally. Luckily security was able to stop it before it escalated. @NEWS1130 pic.twitter.com/p6YQdNePBb — Taran Parmar (@Tarankparmar) June 15, 2019 Protestors face off outside Vancouver Art Gallery
The anti-trans rally had been organized by Parents United Canada.
A number of anti-trans campaigners spoke at the rally, though many were drowned out by singing, chanting and drumming from the counter-protesters.
Lee Keple, one of the counter-protestors, said she was shocked by how many people took part in the anti-trans rally.
‘I am just so heartsick and saddened to see how blatant the haters are. They are coming and they are preaching a message of intolerance and hate,’ she said.
Keple said she was concerned that such protests could alienate young trans people in Canada, local radio station News 1130 reports . ‘There are several members of anti-immigrant, white supremacist hate group Soldiers of Odin’
Among the anti-trans protestors speaking at the event was anti-SOGI campaigner, Laura Lynn Tyler Thompson.
Thompson is running in Canada’s federal elections for the far-right People’s Party of Canada.
During the protests, Thompson was seen in a heated argument with well-known trans rights and human rights activist, Morgane Oger. The two were separated by police, and both walked away peacefully, according to The Vancouver Sun .
The anti-trans group also appeared to have been guarded by far-right anti-immigration group, the Soldiers of Odin.
The Soldiers of Odin – which originated in Finland, but have branches in numerous western countries – have been widely accused of harboring neo-Nazi ideologies. The group denies having any neo-Nazi affiliations. There are several members of anti-immigrant, white supremacist hate group Soldiers of Odin here at the anti-trans rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery. They served as bodyguards for Jenn Smith in Victoria. Do we really want this at @ubc ? @ubcprez #UBC #NoPrideInUBC #transrights pic.twitter.com/gHWYAIxviA — UBC Students Against Bigotry (@ubc_students) June 15, 2019 ajsjfhfjskdjfjjf the anti-trans protesters LITERALLY THANKED THE SOLDIERS OF ODIN AT THE END — ⎛⎝☆JayeCat☆⎠⎞⚧ (@JayeTweet) June 15, 2019 ‘There’s an active effort in schools by educators to include diversity in the education’
In the past, trans rights activists have praised the efforts to educate and advocate for trans rights in British Columbia .
‘There’s an active effort in schools by educators to include diversity in the education,’ Oger, who chairs the Trans Alliance Society, said in November 2018.
‘For example, rather than always talking about “Billie” and “Suzie” […] and they have a mom and a dad, now we talk about maybe sometimes they have two moms and one of the parents might be trans,’ Oger added.
The province also recognizes people who identify as non-binary and offers the option of ‘X’ in the gender classification on identification cards.
The United Kingdom has taken on the role of co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition (ERC), in partnership with Argentina (14 June 2019).
The Equal Rights Coalition is the first intergovernmental network formed to promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people around the world. The ERC’s membership works with civil society and allows both governments and civil society to share their national policies and practices on this agenda. The UK is a global leader on the promotion and protection of LGBT human rights and is committed to ensuring the success of the ERC, a grouping of 42 like-minded states working together to defend and advance the human rights of LGBT people around the world.
Priorities for the UK in their period as co-chair include a refreshed ERC Strategy to guide, shape and re-energise the work of the Coalition; delivery of an international LGBT rights conference in London in 2020 that seeks to address the key issues facing global LGBT equality; and the co-ordination of the ERC’s work plan with the Global Equality Caucus, a new international network of parliamentarians and elected representatives due to launch later this month, and which intends to host its first global convening at the international LGBT rights conference in London in 2020.
With films at Cannes, Sundance, Berlin, and SXSW, meet the next generation of queer filmmakers.
Shutterstock/Fotor With films premiering at Cannes, Sundance, Berlin, and SXSW, meet the next generation of queer filmmakers. Andrew Ahn Andrew Ahn’s debut feature “Spa Night” made waves at Sundance in 2016 for its subtle and emotionally wrought depiction of a Korean-American man balancing his queerness with filial duty.
In addition to earning the film’s star Joe Seo a Special Jury Award, the film’s success put Ahn on the map as a filmmaker to watch. His sophomore feature “Driveways” premiered at Berlin this year, starring Hong Chau and Brian Dennehy. Danielle Lessovitz
“Port Authority” made history when it played Un Certain Regard, becoming the first film starring a transgender woman of color to play Cannes. Two years after “Mobile Homes” (which they co-wrote) played the Croisette, Danielle Lessovitz returned with a debut feature executive-produced by none other than Martin Scorsese.
“Port Authority” is an equal parts tender and gritty coming-of-age romance centered around a houseless youth and the girl he falls for fresh off arriving in New York City.
Born in Sweden to Georgian parents, Levan Akin returns to his roots with his third feature, “And Then We Danced,” a queer coming of age romance set in the traditional world of Georgian folk dancing.
Filmed in Tblisi on a shoestring budget, the film played Director’s Fortnight at Cannes this year to rave reviews, and is set to introduce Akin to international audiences.
An artist, musician, writer, and filmmaker, Rachel Mason dug into her family history to make one of the most entertaining and personal documentaries of recent years. “Circus of Books” takes its name from the Mason family business, a fabled Los Angeles gay porn shop run by her straight conservative Jewish parents.
Mason examines her parents’ story with finesse and humor, unafraid to expose their sometimes uncomfortable contradictions. An obvious slam dunk, Ryan Murphy nabbed the rights for Netflix ahead of its Tribeca premiere.
Fans of Rhys Ernst’s work as a producer of “Transparent,” his trans docu-miniseries “We’ve Been Around” and his many short films have been waiting for a feature from this dynamic queer auteur. Thanks to producers James Schamus and Howard Gertler (“How to Survive a Plague”), Ernst was given a shot to make his feature debut adapting “Adam,” a somewhat controversial YA novel from beloved lesbian graphic novelist Ariel Schrag.
The movie centers on a cis teenage boy who pretends to be trans in order to fit in with his sister’s group of queer friends. Under Ernst’s sensitive direction, however, the film elegantly sidesteps any potential offense.
By the time “ The Strange Ones ” premiered at SXSW in 2017, Lauren Wolkstein (who co-directed with Christopher Radcliff) had already been named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 Faces to Watch, thanks to her long and impressive resume of award-winning shorts.
The lesbian filmmaker contributed to the experimental anthology film “Collective: Unconscious,” and recently has been making strides in TV directing on Ava DuVernay and OWN’s “Queen Sugar.”
For his provocative and deeply empathetic debut feature “Sauvage / Wild,” French filmmaker Camille Vidal-Naquet chose a houseless Parisian sex worker as his protagonist. In an arresting performance by Félix Maritaud (“BPM”), this gritty drama unfolds with vérité-like intimacy, presenting a complex and evocative portrait of a life of survival.
After playing MoMA’s New Directors/New Films, Strand Releasing gave the film a US theatrical run.
When it comes to authenticity in storytelling, there’s no denying that we need more filmmakers like Elegance Bratton. A former Marine who spent a decade homeless on the Christopher Street pier, Bratton turned his camera on his community to make his debut feature documentary, “Pier Kids: The Life.” Shot over the course of five years, the film follows the lives of three gay and transgender young people who frequent the Hudson River piers.
He explores similar themes in “My House,” a ten-part Vice docu-series about ballroom culture. “Pier Kids: The Life” will play LA’s Outfest this summer.
Shot on both digital and 16mm, “So Pretty” follows an intertwined group of trans and genderqueer friends and lovers on nights out, political actions, and walking discussions of translation and transition. It’s Brooklyn by way of Berlin in this time capsule of comtemporary queer life, the first narrative feature from Jessie Jeffrey Dunn-Rovinelli.
“So Pretty” played BAMcinemaFest this week, firmly launching Rovinelli into a new league of queer filmmakers.
There’s no one quite like Brian Jordan Alvarez. The prolific actor, director, and comedian has built a name for himself with his tongue-in-cheek, faux-avant-garde brand of zany humor and high melodrama. Having landed a plum gig as Jack’s boyfriend on “Will & Grace,” Alvarez has slightly slowed down his ceaseless churn of micro-budget films and web series, which he releases on YouTube with little fanfare.
If Hollywood is paying attention to his fevered fan following and how quickly his films rack up the views, he should be getting a TV deal any day now. Here’s hoping.
Along with co-writer Jen Tullock, writer/director Hannah Pearl Utt made waves at this year’s Sundance when her first feature, “Before You Know It,” premiered in competition. Alec Baldwin and Judith Light star opposite Utt and Tullock, who play sisters who find out their movie is alive and working ona soap opera.
The creative collaborators, who previously played lovers in their web series “Disengaged,” are sure to win hearts with their brand of offbeat dark humor.
Daniel Karslake’s first feature documentary, “For the Bible Tells Me So,” which premiered at Sundance in 2007, was about Christianity’s views on homosexuality, and Karslake has spent much of his filmmaking career examining the intersection between queerness and religion.
His latest, “For They Know Not What They Do,” applies a similar lens to gender identity. It premired at Tribeca and will play Outfest this summer.
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