Playing bi and gay is OK: stop attacking straight stars cast in LGB roles

Playing bi and gay is OK: stop attacking straight stars cast in LGB roles

Ancient temple city is getting its first Pride parade and it will be fabulous Comedian Jack Whitehall. | Photo: Amanda Benson/Flickr The casting of straight actor Jack Whitehall as Disney’s first openly gay character has stirred up a controversy. But why?

Is it because his character sounds like the worst possible combo of all gay clichés – ‘hugely effete, very camp and very funny’ – or because Whitehall is a cisgender man who likes women?

While to me the former sounds way more worrying than the latter, many were outraged at the decision to give the Fresh Meat actor a shot.

Undoubtedly, on-screen representation matters. Nonetheless, as a bisexual and a cinema geek, I truly believe it is more important to have plenty of LGB roles than have them played exclusively by gay and bi actors.

Recent research showed that less than 1% of last year’s Hollywood characters were LGBT. That is definitely worse than arguing over who actors are sleeping with in real life and in which way that can affect a performance. Hint: in no way – not if they’re good at their job. Typecasting is something no actor desires

Acting is all about being someone else.

Being cast repeatedly as the same character is something no actor desires. Both LGBTI and straight performers will agree on this.

Despite being a commercially successful choice from a studio’s perspective, typecasting feels restrictive and frustrating in so many ways for actors.

They like a good challenge. It is incredibly enriching to be able to play someone completely different from one’s usual self.

As long as there’s some balance in opportunities given to LGB and straight actors, complaining about a casting decision is just vacuous.

Many LGB actors have, in fact, played straight roles throughout their careers and did so brilliantly. In the same way, many straight actors gave amazing performances in LGB roles.

Furthermore, playing gay and bi might help straight people become better allies. Stepping into someone else’s shoes could be a great way to understand their journey. Some might even have an epiphany about their own sexuality!

I might be quite far from landing a Hollywood role, but I trained as an actress during my late teen years.

Acting bends societal norms like nothing else. While I still identified as straight, acting made me realize I was into women, too. I don’t think that it would have been possible if I chose to stick to straight roles. Trans roles should be played by trans actors

I wish we were in a place where this whole conversation applied to trans actors as well, but we’re not there yet.

Trans actors are solely cast to play trans, if at all. Having a trans actor playing a cis character is a thing many can’t even envision at the moment.

And some casting directors are to blame for that.

Many have a clear physical image in mind of the actors they want for a role. Somehow, that image never includes trans actors.

While rejection is a huge part of an actor’s life, this can be particularly soul-destroying for trans actors who so often experience rejection in their everyday lives.

We need to normalize the idea of having trans actors play not only trans, but any character. That is why trans roles should be played exclusively by trans people until then. The importance of LGBTI filmmakers

Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos in a scene of Blue Is The Warmest Colour. | Photo: Wild Bunch

Yes, straight people can make terrible LGBTI movies.

Blue Is The Warmest Colour by Abdellatif Kechiche features one of the most inauthentic lesbian sex scenes of all times. It’s the stuff of actual cringey nightmares.

Would have it been different if the two protagonists – portrayed by straight Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos – had been played by lesbian or bi artists? Probably not.

We should stop romanticising the actor’s profession. In many cases, and this is especially true in cinema as opposed to theater, an actor is a mere tool in the director’s (and cinematographer and editor’s) hands.

Resilience and adaptability are a movie actor’s best qualities as they need to adjust to the director’s requests in a really short time. So, if a director is making a movie about an LGBTI character shot through their straight gaze, there is often little any actor can do to change that narrative or viewpoint.

Therefore, it’s crucial to have LGBTI filmmakers and screenwriters work on LGBTI movies. And when that is not possible, having a consultant is key. All we should care about is the quality of the performance

In 2015 I watched Carol, starring reportedly straight actresses Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett falling in love in 1950s Manhattan.

Sure, director Todd Haynes is openly gay, but I’d say he has very little knowledge of how two women might fall for one another.

The performances felt incredibly true and, while in the theater, I couldn’t care less about the actors’ sexualities.

Did I stop halfway through a love scene to think ‘hey, this feels wrong because you’re both straight’? No. If you did, you might want to reconsider your priorities.

To my mind, there is just one instance in which we’re allowed to complain about a straight actor playing gay or bi.

That is when the actor gives a poor performance. If a straight actor doesn’t do justice to a gay, lesbian or bisexual character, that’s when we have to protest. And righteously so.

However, that usually happens after having watched a movie, not before the movie is even released or, worse, shot. Read more from Gay Star News:

Fears of LGBT+ rights ‘reversal’ under new Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Fears of LGBT+ rights ‘reversal’ under new Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Martin Ollman/Getty Images) There is a risk of Australia reversing course on LGBT+ rights under the country’s new Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the country’s opposition has warned.

Louise Pratt, Labor’s Shadow Minister for Equality, made the claim after moderate conservative Malcolm Turnbull was deposed as Prime Minister by his own party and hardliner Morrison was installed in the post.

In a statement to the Star Observer , Pratt raised fears that Morrison would pursue a different agenda on LGBT issues than Turnbull, who was a lukewarm supporter of equality. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (MARK GRAHAM/AFP/Getty) Pratt said: “Many LGBTI Australians have reached out to tell me their concerns about Scott Morrison’s appointment as Prime Minister. I share their concerns.

“He defended and praised Israel Folau when he said that gay people were going to hell, saying he had ‘shown a lot of strength of character’.

“Scott Morrison was a vocal opponent of Marriage Equality. He supported the divisive postal survey as a way of obstructing our path to marriage equality.

“He then campaigned actively for the No case and voted ‘No’ during the postal survey.

“To add insult to injury he supported amendments to the Bill to allow for discrimination against LGBTI people within the Marriage Act.” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Getty) Pratt continued: “He then went on to abstain from the vote – ignoring the will of the Australian people and indeed, the will of the people within his own electorate. “He was joined by eight other MPs including Andrew Hastie, Tony Abbott, and Kevin Andrews.

“This is the same group of conservative MPs behind the push to replace Malcolm Turnbull in the top job.

“The LGBTI community should hold concerns about the influence these and other hard right Liberal and National MPs hold inside the Morrison Government.

”The community can never be complacent. While we have achieved Marriage Equality, the growing conservative control in the Liberal Party means we could see the reversal of the rights we have fought so long and hard for quickly taken away.” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty) Although marriage equality is now a settled issue in Australia, there is still no consensus on other LGBT+ issues, including LGBT-inclusive sex education and transgender reforms.

The right-wing Coalition government previously moved to strip LGBT+ elements from a ‘Safe Schools’ anti-bullying programme after a campaign led by anti-gay evangelical groups.

The government also recently held an inquiry on religious freedom as a concession to conservatives including Morrison who were seeking ‘license to discriminate’ provisions within marriage laws.

The inquiry was concluded in May but its report, submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office, was not released publicly.

It is unclear what the report’s recommendations are or what ramifications they could have for LGBT anti-discrimination protections.

Nearly half of queer 14-year-olds in the UK ‘have self-harmed’

Nearly half of queer 14-year-olds in the UK ‘have self-harmed’

(Pexels) A new report on mental health of teenagers aged around 14 years in the UK has found that a higher number of queer young people has practiced self-harm compared to straight peers.

The Good Childhood Report 2018 by the Children’s Society, in partnership with the University of York, used data from the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) collected in 2015 from around 11,000 respondents to explore the mental wellbeing of 14 year olds.

It found that one in five 14-year-old girls have self-harmed in the year prior to the survey compared to 9 percent of boys, which the Children’s Society estimated to be equivalent to 76,000 girls and 33,000 boys across the UK, the BBC reported.

The percentage of teenagers who have practiced self-harm however reached 46 percent when considering respondents who are attracted to the same or both genders—a finding that researchers described as “deeply worrying.”

“Analysis of the Millennium Cohort Study revealed that children aged 14 who said they were attracted to the same or both genders had markedly lower subjective well-being—and a much higher likelihood of depressive symptoms—than children who are attracted to the opposite or neither gender,” the report read.

“The finding […] is deeply worrying. Children should not be expected just to ‘brush off’ criticism that is related to being different. This does not need to be part of growing up,” it added. (Pexels) The study showed that gender stereotypes negatively affect teenager’s mental health. “Children with friendship groups that value girls having nice clothes and boys being tough had lower well-being. Children from low income households were also found to be more are risk of self-harming.

“Solving this problem through policy change will not be straightforward, but our long term well-being trends demonstrate that the status quo is not inevitable,” the researchers wrote.

The Children’s Society called on all secondary schools to offer counselling services—a provision that, they estimated, would cost £90 millionand undergo an Ofsted inspection of their mental health provision.

The report findings are consistent with other research on self-harming and mental wellbeing among teens and LGBT+ youth.

NHS data from the past few years show an increase in the number of young people admitted to the hospital for self-harm. Figures released in August showed that the number of girls under the age of 18 who needed hospital treatment for self-harm nearly doubled in the past 20 years, from 7,327 in 1997 to 13,463 in 2017.

A study carried out in the North Yorkshire in 2015 found that more than half of the girls identifying as LGBT+ had self-harmed and 41% of the LGBT+ respondents—who represented 15% of the 20,000 schoolchildren surveyed—had experienced bullying.

As for transgender schoolchildren, the statistics on self-harm increase to four in five people, according to Stonewall’s School Report 2017 , with nearly half reporting trying to take their own lives.

Mother of gay 9-year-old who died by suicide after being bullied feels ‘responsible’ for his death

Mother of gay 9-year-old who died by suicide after being bullied feels ‘responsible’ for his death

Jamel Myles The mother of a 9-year-old who died by suicide after experiencing homophobic bullying has spoken out in an emotional interview.

9-year-old Jamel Myles of Denver, Colorado, is believed to have taken his own life just days after beginning fourth grade at Joe Shoemaker Elementary School last week.

His family says he was subjected to homophobic bullying from classmates prior to his death. Jame Myles with mother Leia Rochelle Pierce Jamel’s mother Leia Rochelle Pierce spoke out today in an interview with the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show, frequently sobbing as she discussed what happened to her son.

She said: “Do you want to know what it’s like to be dead while you’re still alive? Lose your child.

“It’s painful. Your heart breaks every second. You don’t know what to do anymore because the one you’re used to having around isn’t around anymore. Life isn’t fair anymore. That’s what it’s like.

“I’m a mess. If it wasn’t for my daughters and my mum, I honestly don’t know what I would do.”

She explained that she believes her son came out to a classmate at school, only to be subjected to homophobic taunts and bullying. Jame Myles The mother said: “He told me he was proud of who he was and he didn’t mind telling people, but I’m pretty sure he told someone who got that whole persona of ‘that’s not OK’ and decided to pick on him. I’m pretty sure he just told one person and it spread, and became a worse situation.”

There was little external sign that anything was wrong in the days prior to his death.

She said: “He would come home and give me a hug, tell me he loves me, take my laptop and play on his games.”

He did open up to his 14-year-old sister, however.

Pierce said: “My son came home and told her kids at school were telling him to kill himself. He didn’t come to me, and it hurts because I would have understood and I would have defended him. But he and his older sister were so close, he would tell her everything.”

The mother says the school “were very aware he was being bullied.” Leia Rochelle Pierce She said: “The school just called me today and said they’re going to work on suicide prevention. I told them, before we work on suicide prevention, we need to stop bullying, because the bullying is what’s leading to the suicides.

“Instead of skipping over bullying to suicides, we need to stop at the bullying and correct it.”

She added: “I feel responsible because as a mother I should have felt his pain, I should have known he was hurt and I didn’t. I feel responsible because I didn’t see the pain in my baby’s eyes.

“I’m his mum, and I should have just known, and I didn’t. It’s my fault I didn’t know.” On air next… Exclusive: “A gentle kind soul just left this world because of something so cruel.” Leia Rochelle Pierce whose 9-year-old son, Jamel, killed himself last Thursday after ‘homophobic bullying’ at school. #VictoriaLIVE pic.twitter.com/gUG6DdBVnY — Victoria Derbyshire (@VictoriaLIVE) August 29, 2018 Asked what she would tell gay children, Pierce said: “I would tell them they’re beautiful, and they’re special, and there’s nothing different about them that should be pointed out to make them feel any type of way other than loved.

“We are all different, and our difference is what makes us equal because it’s the one thing we have in common. We’re all supposed to embrace eachother.

“Regardless of if they’re gay or not, they should all feel loved, beautiful, special, welcomed and warm. They should feel that wherever they go, people will treat them equal and no different than another.”

Addressing parents, she said: “Teach your kids love. Teach them it’s OK to have differences, because we’re all different. Nobody’s the same, and if we were all the same this world would be so boring.

Teach your kids compassion, respect, teach them to be more accepting of eachother. Teach them that if you don’t like something or someone, it’s OK to be quiet and walk away and just keep it to yourself – you don’t always have to say mean or rude things to people.”

She added: “Teach them it’s OK to [give people] words of encouragement – it doesn’t matter if you’re the bully or if you’re not the bully, there’s pain in everybody. Unit we correct the pain and the hurt that’s in everyone, nothing will change. We have to change ourselves for our children.” Pierce added: “I don’t want anyone else to feel this pain. Tomorrow’s the last day I get to see my son and it’s not fair, and I feel so bad for any other parent who experiences this. I never want anyone to experience this.

“I never want a child to feel alone, I never want a parent to feel broken. I want everyone to feel love. My son wanted to make a change in this world and show people love, and he can’t speak right now but I’m speaking words he spoke for everyone to hear, because everyone needs to hear it.

“A gentle, kind, soul just left this world because of something so cruel, and I want my son to know he made a change for the better because of his genuine person.

“I’m sorry that this world doesn’t get to see what a true treasure he is, and what he could have been.”

In a statement, the school said: “Our deepest sympathies go out to Jamel Myles’ family and the entire [school] community. We are very saddened by Jamel’s tragic loss.

“At DPS, we are deeply committed to ensuring that all members of the school community are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or transgender status. It is critical that our students receive all the supports they need to learn and thrive in a safe and welcoming environment.

“Our formal policies and practices reflect this commitment to ensuring that our LGBTQ+ students can pursue their education with dignity – from policies and training to prevent and stop bullying to formal policies and guidance materials that fully respect gender identity (including use of preferred pronouns and restrooms).

“Our priority right now is to help all students and adults with the grief they are experiencing, to better understand all the facts surrounding this tragic loss, and to do all we can to prevent another tragedy of this nature in the future.”

Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 ( www.samaritans.org ). ​Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255 .

Snapping the Stiletto: Reimagining the ‘Essex girl’ cliché

Snapping the Stiletto: Reimagining the 'Essex girl' cliché

Snapping the Stiletto wants to reshape the idea of what it means to be an "Essex girl" A pioneering welfare campaigner, a divorced tobacconist and an officer on the beat are just some of the remarkable women from history whose stories are challenging the "Essex girl" stereotype.

The Snapping the Stiletto project is putting the tired cliché to rest by uncovering the tales of females across the county who blazed a trail decades ago.

More than 130 volunteers have scoured microfiche, public records and council minutes to showcase the achievements of their predecessors. The campaigner

A mother and baby clinic was set up by Adelaide Hawken in Southend in 1915 Almost hidden in the queue, a nameless young woman is immaculate in a neat polka dot dress and straw hat – seemingly oblivious to the baby on her lap.

Her stare evokes the shock and exhaustion of new motherhood, surrounded as she is by the clamour of a typical mother and baby clinic.

Except this is Essex, circa 1915, in a clinic established more than 30 years before the NHS by local councillor Adelaide Hawken .

The welfare campaigner used her political muscle to lobby for a space in the Westcliff Institute, adjoining the Methodist church on Trinity Road, where it remains today supporting families with pre-school children.

She even persuaded Southend Town Council to fund it with £150 a year (about £15,000 today) "towards the promotion of maternity and infant welfare". Mrs Hawken pushed for the Southend clinic 30 years before the birth of the NHS Mrs Hawken’s story would have been consigned to a few sepia-tinted newspaper cuttings were it not for Essex museums development officer Amy Cotterill, whose idea it was to ask galleries and museums across the county to get involved in Snapping the Stiletto.

At first, researchers struggled to even find out Mrs Hawken’s first name – largely because museum curators were historically male and women’s stories mostly related to domestic work and servitude. Demand for welfare and support among young families in Southend was high But records eventually revealed Mrs Hawken was a force in the community.

She was an active supporter of women’s suffrage and became one of the first women in the country to be appointed as a magistrate in 1920.

Her granddaughter Dorothy – who became one of Britain’s first female bank managers – remembers a "remarkable, headstrong woman", with a "warm and gentle character". Dorothy Hawken describes her grandmother as "very loving and kind" Iona Farrell, assistant curator at Southend Museums Service, said women like Mrs Hawken could inspire women in Essex today to "change their perceptions".

"Adelaide had a real passion for helping other people, quite a selfless person – active, very well-educated and respected by her peers.

"There are so many diverse stories of women who pioneered the way for women today, fighting for equal rights or access to healthcare, welfare and support.

"Their stories really captured everyone’s interest and imaginations – their fight is still so relevant. Their legacy is still felt." You might also be interested in:

What is the true meaning of ‘Essex girl’?

The women the war turned yellow

Poster Girls showcases forgotten artists The divorced tobacconist

Rosina Sky, far right, was a working-class suffragette in Southend At about the same time Mrs Hawken was pioneering for welfare reform, businesswoman and suffragette Rosina Sky was fending off the bailiffs.

The divorced mother of three ran a tobacconist in Southend but despite having all the responsibilities of running a shop, had none of the financial rights afforded to men in the same position. The divorced mother of three was a force to be reckoned with The treasurer of the town’s branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) was also a member of the Tax Resistance League, whose slogan was "No Vote, No Tax".

So when goods from her shop in Clifftown Road were seized and auctioned, she highlighted the injustice by promoting the sales on the streets, where according to records, her suffragette sisters bought the stock back for her. The list of passengers arriving in Liverpool from America in 1916 suggests Mrs Sky (no.52) knew Emmeline Pankhurst (no.44) Mrs Sky spoiled her 1911 census record with the words: "No votes for women, no information from women" Mrs Sky’s story came to light after the Southend Museums service asked the Prittlewell Victoria Townswomen’s Guild to help find notable local women from history.

"The volunteers loved researching Rosina’s story," said Ms Farrell.

"Probate records show she left £2,628 in 1928 to her daughter. She must have been a really savvy businesswoman to build that up – as a single mum – and put herself in the public spotlight as a divorcee."

Intriguingly, Mrs Sky’s name appears on a transatlantic passenger list alongside Emmeline Pankhurst , suggesting she might also have known her more famous compatriot. The woman on patrol

Alice Wilson patrolled the streets of Romford before women were allowed to become constables Women were not given full policing powers until the 1940s.

But in 1918, Alice Wilson was paid a small sum by Essex Constabulary to walk the beat in Romford.

Her main role was to "advise girls about their behaviour" and "deal with women and children".

The mother of four and National Union of Women Workers member kept a meticulous police notebook.

She wrote of investigating an assault that ended in underage pregnancy, a woman charged with killing her granddaughter, and a girl found to be "carrying on with German prisoners".

Volunteers are currently transcribing the 100-year-old notes for future exhibitions. Mrs Wilson’s notebook is on display at the Essex Police Museum Hannah Wilson, curator of the Essex Police Museum, said the notebook provided an extraordinary insight into the role of women in the male-dominated force.

"It was not until after 1946 that Essex Constabulary advertised vacancies for its new Women’s Department – and women could only take on the same role as men from 1975," she said.

"Alice’s work as part of the women’s patrols is one of the first examples of women in the police force and may have helped shape the roles of future women constables." The ‘ordinary girl’

Florence Attridge worked for Marconi in Chelmsford during World War Two It was the chance discovery of a British Empire Medal on an online auction site that illuminated the life of "an ordinary girl doing an ordinary job in extraordinary circumstances," says author and historian Tim Wander.

With the paperwork accompanying the medal, he found the customary letter from the King to its recipient, Florence Attridge, as well as a note of thanks from the Naval Intelligence Services.

The medal, which was awarded to her in 1946 for services during World War Two, prompted Mr Wander to find out more. The winding shop inside the Marconi works in New Street, Chelmsford He found she was a shift supervisor at the Marconi company in New Street in Chelmsford, where she managed a team winding coils for motors in radio sets.

"In 1943-44, the company became responsible for making the mechanical parts of the B2 spy sets used in the war," said Mr Wander.

"It was incredibly secretive work, with only the best ladies involved, usually in a closed-off area of the factory after hours.

"Imagine knitting with copper wire under a large magnifying glass." The B2 radio spy sets used by the Allies during the war Mr Wander said Mrs Attridge represented the "indomitable spirit of those who simply served".

"She would have seen friends killed in the bombings around her but continued this specialised and pressurised work for her country – in secret.

"She was extraordinary." The British Empire Medal awarded to Florence Attridge in 1946 Such stories help to turn the idea of the "Essex girl" stereotype on its head, according to Ms Cotterill.

"This is a county of strong, inspiring women who worked hard to support themselves, their families and their communities – we have only scratched the surface.

"Their stories are being told not by the museums but by the volunteers. It is led by the women of Essex themselves."

Snapping the Stiletto, a collaboration between 12 Essex museums and galleries, will culminate in a touring exhibition in 2019.

Philippine lawmaker seeks probe after bar discriminates LGBTI comedian

Philippine lawmaker seeks probe after bar discriminates LGBTI comedian

This church unfurled a new inclusive Pride flag to kick off Calgary Pride week Philippine LGBTI comedian Jervi Li, more popularly known as Kaladkaren Davila, who was denied entry to a bar last week. The Philippines’ first transgender lawmaker on Tuesday requested a congressional inquiry into the discrimination of a poplar LGBTI comedian.

Last week, Jervi Li, more popularly known as Kaladkaren Davila, uploaded a video of a bouncer at H&J Sports Bar in Poblacion, Makati denying her entry.

‘I just filed a resolution directing the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality to conduct an inquiry into the possible discriminatory acts perpetrated by a Makati bar against Kaladkaren Davila and her friends,’ wrote lawmaker Geraldine Roman on her Facebook page .

Li’s video showed the bouncer answering ‘bakla’ when asked who could not enter. ‘Bakla’ is Philippine slang for homosexual or transgender.

‘This is one of the many reasons why we need protection,’ Li wrote in her post.

Li rose to fame for her impersonation of veteran Philippine broadcaster Karen Davila in September last year.

According to a photo on her Facebook, Roman’s resolution argued: ‘The malicious refusal of the establishment for Jervi Li and company to enter the premises on the ground of being ‘bakla’ is an affront to all the members of the LGBT community who are already suffering from discrimination by society.’

‘There is no place for hate, inequality and discrimination in a just and civil Philippine society,’ she wrote.

Roman became the first transgender politician to be elected in the predominantly-Catholic country in May 2016. ‘Unfortunate Mistake’

H&J on Tuesday said treatment of Li was ‘an unfortunate mistake,’ according to local media.

‘That was a misunderstanding actually,’ manager Henry Strzalkowski told Rappler.

‘That was just one night. Otherwise, we are an LGBT-friendly bar completely,’ he said. Philippines awaiting much-delayed anti-discrimination bill

Meanwhile, activists have been pushing for a much-delayed LGBTI rights bill to become law .

The SOGIE (sexual orientation and gender identity expression) Equality Bill would make it illegal to deny access to public services, hire or dismiss, impede access to education, or harass a person based on SOGIE.

Because of Li’s experience, campaign group Yes to Equality on Tuesday urged LGBTI and allies to demand that the Senate pass the Bill.

‘The SOGIE Equality Bill, delayed in the period of Senate Debates for 621 days, is now the longest-running interpellation in Senate history. Each delay keeps LGBTQIA+ Filipinos vulnerable to discrimination,’ it said Tuesday.

Pinellas and Pasco judicial candidate Roxanne Fixsen’s history with the LGBT community

Pinellas and Pasco judicial candidate Roxanne Fixsen's history with the LGBT community

Here’s how one decision she made impacted two gay men and two children. courtesy of roxanneforjudge.com, used with permission “A judge really is one person and the impact a judge has on one life is crucial,” says circuit judge candidate Roxanne Fixsen. Fixsen is running for Circuit Judge, Group 4. If she wins Tuesday’s election, she will be a judge for both Pasco and Pinellas counties.

Before her time as a lawyer, Fixsen worked in the foster care system for 15 years. She was an integral player in the privatization of Florida’s foster care system, writing the winning proposal that privatized the system.

Soon after, Fixsen became responsible for the safety and well-being of over 4,000 children, working through the state’s transition with the help of over hundreds of staff and foster parents, and dozens of contracted providers.

Sometimes these responsibilities meant Fixsen spent time in Florida state courtrooms, where her interest in law peaked. After her tenure in the foster care system, she enrolled at Stetson University College of Law and graduated second in her class.

However, a case Fixsen worked on before she was a lawyer left a big impression on her thinking about the impact of the law.

“We had two little girls who came into care who were severely abused my their mother,” said Fixsen, talking about the case. “We were having a really hard time stabilizing these girls in a foster home with a mother figure.” Luckily, a foster home with two dads was already licensed and ready to welcome children into their home.

The girls were placed in the two-dad household, where they thrived and grew.

“The dads, as we call them, were very patient and loving and very skilled with trauma-based behavior issues,” said Fixsen. It was at this point that Fixsen decided that a permanent living situation for the dads and the two girls would be best. The issue?

“This was 14, 15 years ago,” said Fixsen. At the time, same-sex couples did not have adoption rights within the state and children with same-sex parents was pretty taboo. Fixsen presented a proposal for permanent guardianship to a judge.

“We presented all the facts to the judge, who I’m assuming had similar pressures as us, and was hoping that the judge would look at the facts of the case, which this judge did,” she said.

Looking over evidence from teachers, therapists, and the dads, the judge made the decision to grant permanent guardianship.

“I just knew in my heart that these girls really had a shot at life if they were able to grow up with the dads,” said Fixsen. The youngest girl just graduated from high school this year.

“It taught me the importance of one person. I mean, a judge is one person and the impact that one person has on someone’s entire future… that’s pretty significant,” said Fixsen.

This personal experience is something she says she will take with her in a judicial career. Fixsen has rode the ride, got the t-shirt. Now she’s ready to be the person on the other side of the bench.

“A judge has to be willing to make the right decision when there’s pressure,” she said.

Discrimination vs ‘KaladKaren’ a wake-up call to pass LGBT rights bill – Hontiveros

Discrimination vs 'KaladKaren' a wake-up call to pass LGBT rights bill - Hontiveros

MANILA – The alleged discrimination that comedian Jervi Li, better known as "KaladKaren Davila," recently experienced at a Makati bar is a wakeup call for the Senate to approve a bill protecting the LGBT community from hate crimes and prejudice, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Wednesday.

Li was allegedly denied entry to the Makati bar with her friends because of their gender identity. Li’s video of Saturday’s incident went viral on social media.

"This is a wake up call for the Senate to pass with urgency the SOGIE Equality Bill. We cannot afford to delay this measure any longer," Hontiveros, who authored the bill, said in a statement.

Hontiveros was referring to the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality bill, which prohibits encouraging stigma against the LGBT in media and denying a person access to an institution, service or establishment based on gender, among others.

The SOGIE bill , in a historic first, has reached the Senate plenary. The House of Representatives approved its counterpart measure last year.

The Senate has "exhausted all the discussion points" for the bill to ensure that "it will be fair to all," said Hontiveros.

"Unless we have a law that secures the basic rights and welfare of all LGBTs, the discrimination that happened in Makati will happen again. LGBT persons are easy targets of harassment and violence," the senator said.

"I hope KaladKaren’s awful experience serves as a signal to my colleagues in the Senate to finally end the debate on the measure and move for its immediate passage," she added.

Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, the country’s first transgender lawmaker, has sought a legislative inquiry into the alleged discrimination against Li.

Some Christian groups have opposed the SOGIE bill, saying it may be an antecedent for the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Labour activist Linda Bellos faces private prosecution over threat to ‘thump’ transgender women

Labour activist Linda Bellos faces private prosecution over threat to ‘thump’ transgender women

Linda Bellos A radical feminist Labour activist who has ties to Jeremy Corbyn is facing a private prosecution over a threat to ‘thump’ transgender women.

Bellos was reported to police over the alleged threat, which was made on camera at a ‘We Need To Talk About The GRA’ [Gender Recognition Act] event in York on November 8 last year.

The activist, who is the former leader of Lambeth Borough Council and a vocal opponent of transgender reforms, is alleged to have said at the event: “Having born two children I think I’m physiologically, and in many other senses, a female and a woman.

“But I play football and I box, and if any one of those bastards comes near me I will take off my glasses and thump them… I am quite prepared to threaten violence because it seems to me politically what they are seeking to do is piss on women.” Linda Bellos Bellos claims she was speaking hypothetically about “self-defence” and referenced a real-life scuffle in Hyde Park between transgender campaigners and anti-trans activists, though that context was not made clear in her comments.

The remarks were streamed live online by radical feminist campaigner ‘Dr Radfem,’ real name Venice Allan, and ignited anger from transgender activists who accused Bellos of threatening violence. Police confirmed to PinkNews that Bellos was interviewed under caution over the remarks, but no charges were ever filed. Bellos is now facing a private prosecution over the comments.

Trans rights campaigner Giuliana Kendal says she is bringing a private prosecution against Bellos.

Bellos accused of breaking Section 5 of the Public Order Act, which bans “threatening or abusive words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour” that is likely to cause “harassment, alarm or distress.”

The self-identified radical feminist told the Daily Mail : “This is an attempt to silence women and it is outrageous. Freedom of speech continues to be a hallmark of our most fundamental rights and I seek to uphold it.

“I’m a disabled pensioner with no funds to defend myself since my partner died of cancer, being intimidated by men purporting to be women.” Linda Bellos Bellos was recently among campaigners granted a meeting with Labour’s shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler to address concerns about the party’s pro-transgender stance.

The activist previously claimed that the government’s proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act would “make women’s spaces vulnerable to Trans with beards and balls.”

Bellos was previously linked to radical feminist sects in the 1970-80s.

Earlier this year, when asked on Twitter about the sect’s alleged firebomb attacks on sex shops, Bellos responded: “Well, we did to [sic] impact assessments to ensure that no lives were lost or people hurt but no doubt that does not matter.”

In Northern Colombia, LGBT Rights Meet Indigenous Prejudice

In Northern Colombia, LGBT Rights Meet Indigenous Prejudice

Jhon Heaver Paz/Xinhua/ZUMA "Alternative" sexuality is despised in the traditionalist, native or Afro-Caribbean communities of northern Colombia. The choices for gays and lesbians tend to be harsh: face down your family and neighbors, or leave.

CARTAGENA — Prejudice "is an everyday thing," says Tania Duarte, a gay community leader in Cartagena, the historic port and resort on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

Her gait is firm and determined, as she steps on the hot pavement in Barranquilla, a nearby city where we spoke. She takes short steps as if preparing to march in protest, and live. It is Gay Pride day here, and she ditched her fears a long while back. This transgender woman studied philosophy at the University of Cartagena.

She’s no victim, and is clear on things. She understands that belonging to the LGBT (gay, lesbian and transsexual) community in Cartagena where she was born 25 years ago, is "all screwed up… though my family doesn’t understand much about all this, when they see news and find out they discriminated against or killed someone from the community, they worry because they know perfectly well it could have been me." In 2017, 109 members of the LGBT community were murdered.

The first Meeting of Afro-Caribbean and Indigenous LGBT leaders from the regions of La Guajira, Cartagena and Tumaco, organized by the NGO Caribe Afirmativo , identified 10 "invisible barriers" to this community’s advancement. The most prevalent were racism and low educational levels.

Tania adjusts her dress and fixes her turban to avoid hair curls dangling over her face. Paradoxically, she says, "the Palenqueros and Raizals are the most racist ethnic groups," referring to local Afro-Caribbean communities. "We treat each other really badly, but that too is because of a lack of effective education models and of rigor in recognizing ourselves ethnically."

For the way she speaks and her clarity of expression, Tania has gradually become a spokeswoman for the LGBT population in Cartagena, capital of the Bolívar department, and that has its risks. Colombia is seeing a significant rise in homicides, threats and forced displacements, among other rights violations, directed at defenders of LGBT rights . In 2017, 60 threats were registered against LGBT persons, while Caribe Afirmativo counted a unprecedented increase over 2016-2017 from six to 26, of threats against LGBT rights defenders and their organizations. "I am not breaking any paradigms with my leadership," Tania says. "There are many trans women who have taken their path and thanks to them, regardless of what they did, whether they were hairdressers or sex workers, it is now easier for me to go out the house."

Within the Afro-Caribbean context, the LGBT identity is made invisible as many in black communities think "this" came from the white man and thus, does not happen among black people or if it does, it is due to interaction with whites who have sought to export their "deviations" to other communities.

Things have gradually improved, though Tania has a practical guide today for anyone wanting to approach the gay community . "When you’re going to meet someone, don’t ask tired old questions like ‘do you like men or women, do you do upstairs or downstairs?’. We’re more than that, more than just the kinky stuff. We have a life and want to talk about it. About our favorite food, cinema, books. Make an effort, we’re more than a sexual orientation," she says. The belief that homosexuality is a kind of curse. David Rodríguez is a gay man born in Uribia, called the indigenous capital of Colombia. Many of the Wayuu, the native people of the Guajira peninsula and kinsmen of Rodríguez, live in this district, and it was not easy for him to live out his sexual orientation. He says "for indigenous people the homosexual or LGBT person generally does not exist. He is considered an aberration."

The belief locally is that homosexuality is a kind of punishment or curse. A demon is thought to live in a gay man and "must be driven out," says one Wayuu leader from Riohacha.

To "exorcize it," a potion is prepared from a local nettle (pringamoza) as prescribed by a spiritualist or medium. "They peal it, heat it in water and the person is bathed in it or given it to drink," says the Wayuu leader. "This helps the hormones rise up until the vocal chords are once again those of a man," he says.

David fled before trying the potion, taking refuge in Barranquilla. There, in spite of adversity, he set about studying law. "I began to work and to become independent," he recalled. "I showed my family that being is gay is normal." View article in original language