November 13, 2016

Dear Mr. Pence,

Congratulations on your victory. First of all, I believe that you and Trump/Pence supporters think that we are upset because the Democrats lost. True, we are upset that we lost the election, but we are marching in the streets because we are scared of you. We are terrified of people like you and of a government that aligns itself with hate and ignorance.

People like you and Donald Trump have a history of making America think that we will lose our civil rights. This is not about losing our civil rights. It is about losing the lives we have.

I am writing this to tell you that we are not going backwards. We are not starting from scratch.

There was a time in our country when we were rounded up, locked up, falsely arrested for sex crimes, and had to live our lives in shame. Just so you know, we are not doing that again. Those days are long gone.

There was a time in our country when many of us were psychologically tortured by our “Christian” relatives and were told that we were going to burn in hell. We were told that we are sinners and that there was no spiritual place for us in this world. We are not going backwards. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when there were no depictions of LGBT life on television or film. There was a time when we had no cultural role model because simply loving someone of the same sex was considered too provocative. We will not go back to being invisible. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when we were sent to therapy and mental health professionals because the shame that society put on us drove us to self-destructive behaviors. Some of us turned to drugs and alcohol to damage ourselves because people like you told us that we were already damaged. Some of us tried to take our own lives. People like you made us feel like there was something wrong with us. We will no longer harm ourselves to further empower you. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when we saw our friends and loved ones die in our arms because the government was slow to acknowledge a disease that impacted the entire world. Brilliant and beautiful people died in the prime of their lives thanks to denial and prejudice during the AIDS crisis. Some of thought that we were going to automatically die because we were different. Those days are long gone. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when as young men and women, we found ourselves on the streets of this country because our families had thrown us out. Some of us found ourselves without a family at all because they had disowned us. We are not going back to that. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when we had to sit with our families and keep quiet about who we were. This was when people did not fully understand what it was like to be around those who were openly gay. They did not understand that we were equal and not sick. We are not going to educate our families on bigotry and acceptance all over again. We are not going to have an open mind and let them process their feelings about what it means to be bigoted all over again. We already did that. We are not doing it again.

There was a time when we spent our lives with our partner but could not be married. If our partners died, the family would come out of the woodwork and take the money and estate, as they were the next of kin. We were left broke and broken and alone. This will not happen again. We are not going back to a time when we could not be married. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when people felt empowered by their bigotry and hatred of us. They felt this so much that they tied us to fences and crucified us in the middle of the night in open fields and darkened streets and in broad daylight. They bloodied us with violent fists and killed us. We are not going back to a time when people felt protected enough to kill us. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when we had to live in secret because we could lose our jobs and be refused service at businesses for being different. The law did not protect us from being discriminated against. We had to live in secrecy to feed ourselves and our families. We are not doing that again.

There was a time when we married members of the opposite sex just so we could fit in and seem normal. We ended up ruining the lives of others by emotionally hurting our spouses and complicating the lives of our children. We are not going back to trying that normalization. We are not doing that again.

Lastly though, I will tell you what we will do. There was a time when those who had been abused, beaten, and weathered rose up. And we marched and protested and fought against the hate that was all around us. That, vice-president elect, we aredoing again. We will do it again and again. We are not starting over. We are moving forward. The world has changed, and we are not going backwards.

We stood up and risked our lives and jobs and safety to earn our seat at the table. And with the help of kind leaders and brave politicians, we got that seat. You are not taking that away. We are already at the table. We are here. We are not coming to dinner. We are already at dinner. Sincerely,

Martin Hyatt,

Author/Professor, NYC

As I pulled the curtain behind me this morning and began to look at my ballot, I took a moment, let my breath out and sat there with a smile on my face. You see, shortly before exiting my car I was listening to NPR on the way to the polls.  They had been putting random comments on the air from various voters.

One woman’s comments hit me quite to the core. She said something like this, “I am so overwhelmed to be voting for who I believe will be the next president of our country, Hillary Clinton, a woman. I thought of my grandmother, who passed in 1997 and in her lifetime women were granted the right to vote in 1920. She would be so happy to know her daughter and her granddaughter voted today. I am blown away on how far we have come.”

At this moment my thoughts drifted to Susan B. Anthony, the leader behind the 19th Century Suffrage movement. With Elizabeth Cady Stanton by her side. Susan became the essence of 19th Century Activist. As I took a moment to day dream of her accomplishments, they are almost beyond belief.

Here are a few:

  • As a Suffragist, she and Elizabeth Cady Stanton began the work of woman’s suffrage in 1852. Bitterly disappointed that the Republicans left them by the wayside in passing the 15th amendment, in 1866 they founded the American Equal Rights Association. In 1872, Anthony and 3 other women were arrested in Rochester NY for voting in an election. Found guilty, they refused to pay the fines thereby losing any right to appeal. In years to come, Anthony appeared before ever congress from 1869 to 1906 advocating for a woman’s right to vote. In 1877 when she raised 10,000 signatures in 26 states petitioning this right, Congress laughed at her. This never slowed her though from her life’s work.
  • As an Abolitionist, Antony worked with the American Anti-Slavery Society. Despite public threats and violence, she helped push the movement through arranging meetings and distributing informational leaflets. In 1863, Anthony and Stanton organized the Women’s National Loyal League to help push the 13th amendment to outlaw Slavery. While Afro- Americans gained their freedom and the right to vote in the 15th amendment, women were left behind from that precious right of citizenship.
  • As an Educational Reformer, Anthony pushed for better pay for female teachers and equal educational opportunities regardless of race or gender. In the late 1890s, Anthony raised $50,000 (including putting up the cash value of her own life insurance policy) to hold the University of Rochester to a promise that if she did so, women would be admitted to the university as students. They were in 1900.
  • As a Labor Activist, Susan started her own newspaper in 1868, The Revolution. Its masthead, “Men their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.” Here, she constantly advocated for basic rights such as an 8 hour work day, equal pay for equal work, promoting buying American products and the right for women to be able to vote. In the late 1890s, when she was president of the National American Women Suffrage Association, her organization worked to gain the support or organized labor.

Susan B. Anthony died in 1906, 14 years before the 19th amendment was passed guarantying our right as a woman in the United States of America to vote.

On Election Day in Rochester N.Y. hundreds flock to her grave and paste it with, “I voted,” stickers. Today, November 8, 2016, the line is long and the cemetery has promised to stay open late to accommodate the crowds. I am choked with emotion as a woman at this amazing tribute to the driving force which allowed us, as women, to finally get the right to vote.

By tonight we will have elected the first woman president of our country. Personally, I believe we are as divided as a nation since the Civil War. Bigotry, hatred, and violence have been reignited in this campaign as something that is acceptable by society. It is with my sincerest pray and hopes that Hillary Clinton can begin healing the great divide such as Lincoln did some 140 years ago.

In closing, I say a humble, thank you, Susan B. Anthony, for your courage. It is because of women like you that we as a nation look to continue as the bastion of freedom for all who love in this country.

As Election Day approaches, the vote for the governor of North Carolina will be a referendum on the bathroom bill

Incumbent North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory  is in an extremely tight race against Democratic challenger Attorney General Roy Cooper, and it’s all coming down to the issue of the state’s “Bathroom bill.”

In March, McCrory signed House Bill 2, the state’s Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. HB-2 bans transgender citizen from using bathrooms that corresponds with their gender identity, and requires them to use government-run facilities that correspond with their “biological” sex. McCrory’s challenger, Attorney General Roy Cooper, opposes the bill.

A RealClearPolitics averaged poll from Nov. 1 showed Cooper leading by two points, 48 percent to 46 percent.

“There’s no question this is going to be a very close race at the top of the ticket, and the LGBTQ voting bloc really has the ability to impact the outcome of this election,” said Executive Director Chris Sgro of Equality North Carolina, according to Reuters.

Copper has promised to work to repeal the legislation if he is elected on Nov. 8.

Not only is HB-2 harmful to members of the LGBTQ community, but it has cost the state about $630 million in lost business since it was signed in March, and the bill also lead to the relocation of the NCAA tournament from Greensboro.

“Legislators have gone out of their way to stigmatize and marginalize transgender North Carolinians by pushing ugly and fundamentally untrue stereotypes that are based on fear and ignorance and not supported by the experiences of more than 200 cities with these protections,” Sarah Preston told CNN in March after HB2 was hastily pushed through the general assembly. Preston is acting executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.

McCroy’s side views the bill as banning perverts and sex offenders from claiming that they identify as women to enter women’s restrooms. One campaign ad paid for by the North Carolina Values Coalition bashed Cooper using this rhetoric.

WASHINGTON — In court papers, he's identified only as "G.G." But he's not anonymous anymore.

Gavin Grimm is the public face of the latest Supreme Court battle over a more familiar set of initials: LGBTQ rights. Like his lesbian and gay predecessors — people like Edie Windsor, whose lawsuit led to federal benefits for same-sex marriages, and Jim Obergefell, whose lawsuit struck down gay marriage bans nationwide — Grimm may be poised to make history.

He represents the "T" in LGBTQ, for transgender. At the tender age of 17, he is fighting for the right to use the boys' bathroom at Gloucester High School in southeast Virginia. If doing so leads to broader civil rights protections for transgender men and women, Grimm reckons, all the better.

Thus it was that on Saturday morning, as most of his peers prepared for a weekend of football games and parties, Grimm awoke in the nation's capital and prepared for what likely will be a publicity blitz unlike any he has experienced since suing the small-town school board 16 months ago.

His immediate family circle — mother, father, twin brother and pet pig — has grown to include the ever-present lawyers and staff of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing him in court.

“My life’s about to get a lot busier than I’m used to it being,” the soft-spoken senior said matter-of-factly. "Being a plaintiff in a Supreme Court case is a big deal."

The battle over so-called bathroom bills has played out in many states as conservative lawmakers seek to force students to use facilities that correspond to their gender at birth, and transgender students fight for the right to follow their gender identity. Twenty-three states, including North Carolina and Texas, have challenged the administration's right to interpret its own regulations on the issue without legislative action or judicial review.

Grimm actually is not the plaintiff before the Supreme Court but the respondent, reflecting his victory over the Gloucester County School Board at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in April. That verdict — followed by the Obama administration's directive that schools receiving federal funds allow transgender students to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity — prompted the board to seek Supreme Court review.

In court papers, the school board noted that the federal law barring sex discrimination in education allows schools to provide separate restrooms and locker rooms on the basis of sex. "No one ever thought this was discriminatory or illegal," its petition seeking Supreme Court review says. "For decades, our nation's schools have structured their facilities and programs around the idea that in certain intimate settings, men and women may be separated 'to afford members of each sex privacy from the other sex.'"

The lower court's verdict, it contends, "turns that longstanding expectation upside-down."

When the court announced Friday that it would hear the case, Grimm's bathroom quest actually stalled. Had the justices turned down the case, his victory in the 4th Circuit would have been sealed. Now he has to wait until the high court rules — most likely after the school year ends.

“It would have been nice to spend less of my senior year worrying about where I’m going to be using the bathroom," he said. Instead, Grimm is eager to fight and win at the Supreme Court "to make sure that trans kids that come after me do not have to go through this experience.”

For Grimm, the experience of coming out transgender to his friends and family several years ago was traumatic enough. But when parents began to object to his use of the boys' bathroom during sophomore year and the school board ruled he must adhere to his "biological gender," the experience worsened.

“They sent a very clear message to my peers that I was something different" and "not fit for common spaces,” he said. Being forced to use a single-stall, unisex bathroom or the one in the nurse's office stigmatized him among other students.

“The damage is done, and it’s been done significantly, and there’s nothing that will ever change that," Grimm says of the school board's decision. For him, school has become an unsafe, unwelcoming environment.

"My favorite school activity," he said, "is leaving school."

While the focus of his case is on discrimination in education, the court's ruling could have a major impact on other forms of bias against transgender men and women, such as in employment, health care and housing. For Grimm, that makes it all the more worthwhile.

“No matter how difficult this has gotten for me, and it has gotten very difficult," he said, "there’s never been a single moment when I thought, 'Gee I wish I didn’t do this.'"

NEW YORK, NY – GLAAD has released the tenth edition of its Media Reference Guide, the industry standard style guide for reporting on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people and the issues that affect their lives.

The newly released tenth edition of the guide includes an updated terminology section and, for the first time, encourages journalists and other media content creators to adopt the use of ‘LGBTQ’ as the preferred acronym to most inclusively describe the community.

“On one level, it is just adding another letter,” says Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s president and CEO. “But really it is bringing a whole new definition to the way we describe ourselves. It’s the start of a bigger shift.”

“Queer” existed as a slur for a long time, an arrow slung at people to make them feel like freaks or deviants, writes Katy Steinmetz in Time. The oldest meaning, going back to the 1500s, is strange, peculiar or questionable, and the word will still ring pejorative in many older people’s ears. Yet around the time of the AIDS crisis groups really started to reclaim it (“We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!”), and today young people are increasingly gravitating toward this label, one with no precise definition related to sexuality or gender. Which is the point.

For more than two decades, the GLAAD Media Reference Guide has provided journalists with the essential information they need to report fairly and accurately on the LGBTQ community. The GLAAD Media Reference Guide has also informed the style guides of leading news organizations including The Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and others.

The word has been on the rise for the past several years, as has the acronym, Steinmetz continues.   Some media outlets are already using it, as are lots of advocacy organizations and even government programs. Teen magazines from outlets like Vogue are “going queer.” Liberal politicians are using the five-letter version, as are some Republicans. (Donald Trump used “LGBTQ” during his acceptance speech at the convention this summer. Twice.) When the National Park Service embarked on a mission to identify places of significance related to sexual and gender minorities two years ago, one of the first actions scholars recommended was changing the title of that mission from an “LGBT heritage initiative” to an “LGBTQ” one, so as “to have the initiative be explicitly inclusive of those who, for personal or political reasons, do not feel represented by lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender identifiers,” as the eventual report explained.

GLAAD today also renewed its commitment to working on behalf of queer-identified people, updating its mission to include “queer” in the organization’s work to accelerate acceptance for LGBTQ people. GLAAD’s powerful media programs will continue to share stories from the LGBTQ community that lead national dialogue, build understanding, and drive acceptance forward.

“The GLAAD Media Reference Guide is the industry standard for fair and accurate reporting on the LGBTQ community, and informs the style guides of the world’s leading news organizations,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “This latest edition reflects the increasingly diverse ways LGBTQ people, especially young people, talk about their identities.”

Additional updates to the GLAAD Media Reference Guide include an updated glossary of terms that includes “Asexual,” “Aromantic,” and “Intersex”; an updated transgender terminology section; and updated In Focus sections for reporting on the bisexual community, nondiscrimination laws, religion and faith, and HIV & AIDS.

The tenth edition of the GLAAD Media Reference Guide is available here:

Buy It Now!