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Colbert savages Facebook over addition of 50+ new genders

The definition of right and wrong on this topic seems awfully imprecise if Colbert's segment was "pro-trans."

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19
Feb
2014

Pro-LGBT Chilean president takes office

Michelle Bachelet, Chile, Socialist Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet (Photo by Ricardo Stuckert of Agência Brasil; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet officially took office on Tuesday amid hopes she will bolster efforts in support of relationship recognition for same-sex couples and transgender rights in the South American country.

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Vice President Biden, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos are among those who attended Bachelet’s inauguration that took place in the coastal city of Valparaíso.

Bachelet, a left-leaning Socialist who was the country’s president from 2006-2010, defeated Evelyn Matthei by a 62-38 percent margin in a December run-off election.

Bachelet last year endorsed marriage rights for same-sex couples during the campaign to succeed then-President Sebastián Piñera. She also supports a bill that would allow trans Chileans to legally change their name and sex without sex-reassignment surgery, hormonal treatments and psychiatric or psychological evaluations.

Bachelet backs efforts to strengthen Chile’s LGBT-inclusive hate crimes and anti-discrimination law named in honor of Daniel Zamurio, a 23-year-old man who a group of self-described neo-Nazis beat to death in Santiago, the country’s capital, in 2012 because he was gay.

She also met with Chilean LGBT rights advocates during the campaign.

Juan Pablo Fuentealba of the Chilean It Gets Better Foundation (Fundación Todo Mejora in Spanish) told the Washington Blade on Monday that Bachelet “expressed her concern” over high rates of suicide among young people and bullying in the South American country.

“The declarations of the president help to pave the way for organizations like Todo Mejora that are fighting to ensure that the legal changes are not simply just on paper, but that they are also implemented in a good way,” said Fuentealba.

Andrés Ignacio Duarte Rivera, founder of the Organization of Transsexuals for the Dignity of Diversity, told the Blade last December while in New York for the 65th anniversary of the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the U.N. that he feels the inclusion of the trans rights bill in Bachelet’s platform is “a position of absolute support.”

Jaime Parada Hoyl, who in 2012 became the first openly gay political candidate elected in Chile when he won a seat on the municipal council in the wealthy Santiago enclave of Providencia, questioned Bachelet’s commitment to advancing the issue of relationship recognition for same-sex couples in the Chilean Congress.

She included civil unions in her platform during her first presidential campaign in 2005. The Chilean Senate in January voted to consider a civil unions bill that Piñera first proposed in 2011.

“We made a more inclusive, more respectful and less discriminatory society towards minorities and those who think differently,” said Piñera on Sunday during a televised speech from the presidential palace in Santiago.

The president of Bachelet’s party is among those who has publicly opposed marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“She has said that ‘she will open a debate about marriage equality,’” Parada told the Blade. “She does not show any conviction on this topic. Chileans have already been debating this issue for years, but what is missing now is a bill.”

11
Mar
2014

LGBT RIP

I'm hard pressed to find a "community" as ever-changing and ultimately unnameable as the gay community.

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27
Mar
2014

LGBT Ugandans dying in ‘crimes against humanity’

Nikki Mawanda, gay news, Washington Blade

Nikki Mawanda (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

Nikki Mawanda was 13 when his stepfather kicked him out of his family’s home because he thought he was a lesbian.

The executive director of Trans Support Initiative-Uganda, a group that advocates for transgender and intersex people in the East African country, had returned home late after visiting his girlfriend.

Mawanda, 32, told the Washington Blade during an emotional interview on April 28 that he heard noises coming from his mother’s bedroom. He said he opened the door and found his stepfather strangling her because “she gave birth to me.”

“I was sent out,” said Mawanda. “Then there was a big fight. Neighbors, so many people came.”

Mawanda, who now identifies as trans and uses male pronouns, spoke with the Blade slightly more than two months after President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law that imposes a life sentence upon anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts. Reports this week emerged that Ugandan lawmakers are slated to introduce a measure that would ban non-profit organizations from promoting homosexuality.

Mawanda is among those included in a list of “200 top homos” that a Ugandan tabloid published after Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

“I think I was number 10, something like that,” said Mawanda. “My name appeared and where I hang [out], things like that.”

Mawanda, who grew up in a Muslim family in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, told the Blade that his mother’s neighbors held a prayer vigil outside her home to “pray for me to leave the village.” He said they returned after Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

“They told my mom that they wondered why she tolerates me coming there, even with my so-called girlfriends when they know that she’s a Muslim person who should be very against it, who shouldn’t even be a part of it,” Mawanda told the Blade through tears. “They told her that she had two options: One is to see me being punished as their religion says or for me to not be around because for them they think I’m sowing the seed of homosexuality in their children.”

Mawanda said his grandfather, who is a “very staunch Muslim,” wrote a letter to his mother after Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and asked her what they are “going to do with the homosexuals that we know at home.” Mawanda went to his mother’s house and waited for her response.

“She didn’t know what to do, but I said to her it’s your call, say what you feel,” he told the Blade. “I don’t know what she wrote him, but she just told me she said to him ‘let the government do whatever they have to do because she’s not going to the police.’”

Officials ‘don’t understand’ trans issues

Mawanda, who is a board member of Sexual Minorities Uganda, another Ugandan LGBT advocacy group, told the Blade that police on Feb. 1 arrested him at Entebbe International Airport outside Kampala as he returned to the country from South Africa. He said the authorities confiscated his passport and accused him of “impersonating to be someone else.”

“In Uganda, they don’t understand the issues of trans,” said Mawanda. “When I say I’m a trans person, that is a typical gay. That’s why it was an issue for me to prove whether I’m gay or not actually.”

He said a mob attacked him in March during a friend’s father’s funeral.

Mawanda told the Blade another incident took place in 2008 while he was shopping in a convenience store at a gas station in the Wandegeya neighborhood of Kampala while his girlfriend sat outside in their car.

Mawanda told the Blade a man approached him while inside the store and said “get your things and go.” He said he ignored him, but the man approached him again. Mawanda said he pulled out a gun and struck him in the face with it.

“He was like, ‘does this shop look gay to you?’” said Mawanda, pointing to the left side of his jaw where he said the man hit him. “I couldn’t swallow for two weeks. My face was swollen.”

Mawanda said he sought treatment for his injuries at a private hospital because of the discrimination he says LGBT Ugandans experience at public institutions.

“That is the price I pay for who I am,” he said. “I pay a lot of money to get worked on. It’s a challenge because of the discrimination that comes with it. And so as a result you do self-medication. If you can afford it than you have a private doctor working on you.”

Mawanda and other Ugandan advocates with whom the Blade has spoken in recent weeks say anti-LGBT discrimination and violence has only increased since Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

Ugandan police on April 3 raided a U.S.-funded HIV/AIDS service organization in Kampala it said recruited teenage boys and young men “into homosexual practices.”

Mawanda told the Blade a group of people who identified themselves as police officers kidnapped a trans man and his partner less than a week ago. He said other forms of discrimination and violence that include physical assault, rape, a lack of housing and parents disowning their LGBT children often go unreported.

“It looks like the community-at-large has taken on the role of doing vigilante [justice,]” said Mawanda. “Since the law was signed on the 24th of February, people felt that they should implement the law even before it was gazetted.”

Scott Lively ‘inciting a genocide’

The White House announced after Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that it would review its relationship with the Ugandan government.

The U.S. has suspended a study to identify groups at risk for HIV/AIDS the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had planned to conduct with a Ugandan university. A CDC agreement that funded the salaries of 87 employees of the Ugandan Ministry of Health who support the country’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic expired at the end of February.

The World Bank delayed a $90 million loan to the Ugandan government that had been earmarked to bolster the East African country’s health care system — although published reports earlier this month indicate that Kampala will receive the funds.

Uganda receives nearly $300 million each year through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to fight the epidemic in the East African country. Kampala in 2013 received more than $485 million in aid from the U.S.

Museveni has repeatedly criticized the U.S. and other donor countries that have cut foreign aid as a result of his decision to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The Ugandan president has also said homosexuality is a Western import.

“People say homosexuality is from the West, it’s from you whites — but that’s a lie,” said Mawanda, noting the Muganda tribe of which he is a member has a gay king. “Why even did it take the white man to put together a penal code to criminalize something he did find? Of course he found it there and because for them they had criminalized it where they were coming from.”

Mawanda also accused the U.S. of using Uganda to “play their own politics.” He specifically cited the White House’s decision to increase aid to help Kampala track down Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army who faces international war crimes charges that stem from his group’s decades long insurgency against the Uganda government, while cutting support for other programs.

“They’re using our situation, our misery to play with their own politics,” said Mawanda. “You can’t tell us that you’ve cut aid within our health sector and you increase aid in defense.”

Mawanda also angrily criticized Scott Lively, a U.S. evangelical who faces a federal lawsuit for allegedly inflaming homophobic attitudes in the country before Ugandan Parliamentarian David Bahati in 2009 introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The measure once contained a provision that would have imposed the death penalty against anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual relations.

“I look at this creature and wonder,” said Mawanda. “He says he’s a Christian. I don’t know whether the Bible he reads is the same Bible that I read.”

Mawanda also blasted Lively — who is running to succeed outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick — for comparing homosexuality to pedophilia and linking gay men to Nazis.

“He should be really punished for all these evil deeds he’s done,” Mawanda told the Blade. “Those are crimes against humanity in a sense. He’s inciting a genocide and right now many Ugandans are unsafe. Ugandans are dying. We are committing suicide. Everything that is happening to LGBT people is in the hands of Scott Lively.”

Mawanda also urged the U.S. to relax relations for those who want to obtain a visa to travel to the U.S. or receive asylum. He said he raised the issue directly with U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Scott DeLisi during a February meeting.

“We know they’ve supported the lawsuits that we have right now, but those are long-term goals that we have,” Mawanda told the Blade, asking whether the U.S. can do more to support LGBT Ugandans who remain in the country. “Those who are in hiding don’t have food.”

Mother has been ‘my dad and my mom’

Mawanda arrived in D.C. on April 1, but he said he remains worried that Ugandan authorities would seek to extradite him back to his homeland.

“I personally feel safe, but not completely knowing that I’m still a citizen of Uganda in the United States,” he said. “I worry that if I go back, I worry they can just get me at the airport because they told me that my passport is being monitored.”

Mawanda continues to speak with his mother.

“She’s been my dad and my mom,” he emotionally said, noting his father passed away when he was three months old. “When I came, she was so worried. She wasn’t sure I had actually reached [the U.S.]”

Damien Salas contributed to this article.

30
Apr
2014

Transgender woman murdered in Baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade, open walls

(Photo public domain)

A transgender woman was found dead in Northeast Baltimore early on Tuesday.

The Baltimore Police Department said she was discovered around 6:30 a.m. in the 1400 block of Fillmore Street. The Baltimore Sun reported the victim, whose name was Kandy, was found in a field near a post office in the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood.

Police officials have yet to return the Washington Blade’s request for comment.

The Baltimore Sun reported Acting Capt. Eric Kowalczyk of the Baltimore Police Department took part in a conference call with local LGBT rights advocates on Wednesday.

“We need the public’s help trying to find out who is responsible for this,” said Kowalczyk as the newspaper reported. “We don’t know how the homicide occurred yet. We’re waiting for the medical examiner to do the autopsy.”

Court records indicate police arrested Kandy twice in 2010 on prostitution-related charges, but other details about her life have yet to emerge.

“The BPD is pursuing all leads and are as committed to finding answers as we all are,” Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans told the Blade on Wednesday.

Evans said a meeting with local LGBT advocates is scheduled to take place on Friday. She urged anyone with information about Kandy’s death to call Metro Crime Stoppers at (866) 7-LOCKUP.

The Blade will provide further updates as they become available.

05
Jun
2014

Ukrainian LGBT advocates cancel march

Kiev, Ukraine, LGBT, gay news, Washington Blade

Ukrainian LGBT rights advocates take part in a flash mob in a Kiev park on July 5 after they cancelled a scheduled march. (Photo courtesy of Insight)

Ukrainian LGBT rights advocates say they cancelled a march that had been scheduled to take place in the country’s capital on July 5 because local police refused to protect them.

Olena Shevchenko, co-chair of the Kyiv 2014 Pride organizing committee, told the Washington Blade on Monday that Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko told march organizers that it was not an “appropriate time” to hold the event. Shevchenko said Klitschko told the advocates that his city did not “have enough forces to protect” them, even though she said officials deployed around 3,000 police officers to a protest outside the Ukrainian Parliament two days earlier.

Shevchenko told the Blade that threats from “ultra-right groups” and soccer hooligans ultimately prompted organizers to cancel the march.

Nearly three dozen people nevertheless took part in a flash mob at a Kiev park on July 5 where they held balloons and banners that read “human rights for all.”

“It was really important to show our society that we are here and we aren’t afraid to be open,” said Shevchenko.

Bogdan Globa, executive director of Tergo, a Ukrainian LGBT advocacy group, told the Blade the decision to cancel the march did not come as a surprise because radical groups and fascist organizations are “fairly active” in Kiev and local authorities are “engaged in other issues and are too weak.”

He said a group of mothers with his organization who had planned to participate in the event were nevertheless disappointed.

“We believe that the organizers of the march haven’t chosen time for the march very thoroughly,” Globa told the Blade. “Our society is very aggressive and radicalized at the moment.”

Ukraine’s LGBT rights record remains poor compared to other European countries.

Anti-LGBT discrimination and violence remain commonplace in the former Soviet republic.

Ukrainian parliamentarians since 2012 have considered two gay propaganda bills similar to the law that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed in June 2013. They approved an anti-discrimination bill in March that did not include sexual orientation with the apparent approval of European officials in Brussels.

More than 100 LGBT rights advocates in May 2013 took part in Kiev’s first Pride march that took place without violence, even though protesters attempted to disrupt the event.

Shevchenko, who was in the U.S. in April, and other LGBT advocates with whom the Blade has recently spoken say the ongoing violence between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian troops in the eastern part of the country has had an adverse affect on their advocacy efforts.

07
Jul
2014

Shades of ‘Blue’

Blue is the Warmest Colour, gay news, Washington Blade

Production still from Cannes Palm D’or winner ‘Blue is the Warmest Colour.’ (Still courtesy of Sundance Selects)

It was a good year for LGBT film in 2013 — which means plenty of DVD options for cold winter nights at home.

The most fabulous movie of the year was clearly Pedro Almodóvar’s “I’m So Excited.” This superb farce by a master filmmaker at the peak of his powers is staged largely within the confines of a malfunctioning airplane. While the pilots try to find a place to land, the three male flight attendants drug the coach passengers and perform elaborate musical routines to distract the first class passengers, who include a virgin with psychic powers, a notorious dominatrix (played by Almodóvar regular Cecilia Roth), a shady businessman, a pair of newlyweds and a famous actor. While maintaining a delightfully campy tone, Almodóvar manages to make some interesting observations about sexual identity, death, ethics and morality.

Camp was also an essential element of a more mainstream offering: “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” Wonderful over-the-top performances by Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman and Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket skillfully guide the audience through the darkening political landscape of the dystopian Panem.

Real-life stories served as the inspiration for several notable LGBT movies of 2013. Helmed by openly gay director Lee Daniels, “The Butler” chronicled the emergence of the civil rights movement through the eyes of White House butler Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker). “The Dallas Buyers Club” told the story of Ron Woodroof, a homophobic straight man who is diagnosed with AIDS. With the help of Rayon, a transsexual, he fights the medical establishment by smuggling drugs into the county. HBO’s “Behind the Candelabra” recounts the tempestuous relationship between famous pianist Liberace (Michael Douglas) and his younger lover Scott Thorson (Matt Damon), whom he literally tries to remake in his own image.

HBO also presented “Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin’ to Tell You,” a documentary about the groundbreaking African-American stand-up comedian. Director Whoopi Goldberg details not only Mabley’s onstage life as a trailblazing performer who challenged racial and gender barriers and who was the highest paid performer at the legendary Apollo Theatre, but also her offstage life as a lesbian who was teasingly called “Mr. Moms.”

Another outstanding documentary was “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks,” written and directed by filmmaker Alex Gibney, who combines archival footage with incisive interviews to tell the intertwined stories of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Private Bradley Manning (now known as Chelsea Manning).

Directed by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, the documentary “Bridegroom” tells the emotional story of Shane Bitney Crone and Tom Bridegroom. Their plans to marry are crushed by Bridegroom’s untimely death. Crone’s grief is exacerbated when his partner’s family bars him from the funeral. A year after Bridegroom’s accidental death, Crone made a video called “It Could Happen To You.” The video became a viral sensation on YouTube and Facebook and inspired Bloodworth-Thomason to make this moving documentary about the importance of marriage equality.

Although billed as a murder mystery, “Kill Your Darlings” is really a coming-of-age story about Beat poet Alan Ginsberg (played by Daniel Radcliffe). The movie recreates the meeting of Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs and the tortured relationship between their friend Lucien Carr and David Kammerer (an excellent Michael C. Hall).

Lesbian director Kimberly Peirce took an unexpected turn after winning acclaim for “Boys Don’t Cry.” Working with openly gay screenwriter Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (who adapted Lawrence D. Cohen’s script for the famous 1976 Brian De Palma film of the Stephen King novel), Peirce tried to put a contemporary feminist spin on the classic horror tale “Carrie.” While Peirce never manages to fully put her personal stamp on the material, her version is still quite terrifying. She puts a stronger focus on the tangled relationship between fundamentalist Margaret White (an unnerving performance from Julianne Moore) and her teenage daughter Carrie (the tremendous Chloë Grace Moretz) and takes a fresh look at spoiled rich girl Chris (Portia Doubleday). Peirce also explores Carrie’s fear and delight at researching and refining her new-found telekinetic powers, (and the careful orchestration of her revenge at prom) and the dehumanizing impact of technology.

Blue is the Warmest Colour” was the surprise hit of the Cannes Film Festival. In an unprecedented move, the jury awarded the prestigious Palme d’Or not only to director Abdellatif Kechiche but to lead performers Léa Seydoux (Emma) and Adèle Exarchopoulos (Adèle). Inspired by both the contemporary graphic novel of the same name by Julie Maroh and a sprawling 18th century novel by Pierre de Marivaux, the movie tracks the rise and fall of the passionate relationship of teenage schoolgirl Adèle and blue-haired art student Emma. The movie was controversial for explicit sex scenes between the two women, a controversy that was mirrored in the movie’s discussions of how male artists have depicted female nudes throughout the ages.

Finally, one of the queerest movies of the year came from straight director Woody Allen. Inspired by the Bernie Madoff story, “Blue Jasmine” is Allen’s heartfelt homage to Tennessee William’s “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Jasmine French (the superb Cate Blanchett) is a New York socialite who loses everything when her investment banker husband Hal is jailed for fraud. She flees to San Francisco to live with her estranged sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins). Jasmine tangles with Sally’s ex-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), who lost his life savings in one of Hal’s schemes, and Sally’s current boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale), resists the advances of her lecherous boss (Michael Stuhlbarg) and is wooed by the suave but naïve diplomat Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard).

The movie moves back and forth between Jasmine’s memories of her Park Avenue life with Hal and her attempts to start over again in San Francisco, which are derailed by the potent combination of guilt, anger, denial, vodka and Xanax. Blanchett, who won raves for her recent stage performance as Blanche DuBois in “Streetcar,” offers a stunning performance as a forlorn figure who is both exasperating and seductive as she descends into madness.

01
Jan
2014

N.Y. lawmakers seek conversion therapy ban

New York, Albany, capitol, gay news, Washington Blade, conversion therapy

New York State Capitol Building. (Photo by Canucklynn; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

ALBANY, N.Y.— Three New York lawmakers on Jan. 13 introduced measures that would ban so-called conversion therapy against LGBT minors.

State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick (D, WFP-Manhattan) and state Sens. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) put forth identical bills in their respective legislative chambers.

“Stronger laws to protect LGBT youth from being subjected to these unsafe and disproven practices are long overdue,” said Glick.

Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Nathan M. Schaefer applauded Glick, Hoylman and Gianaris for introducing the bills.

“Trying to change someone’s true identity through so-called therapy is a dangerous practice that can seriously harm our LGBT youth,” said Schaefer. “Anyone who says they can change an LGBT person from being who they are is preying off of fear and confusion to sell a practice that doesn’t work and causes lasting harm.”

A federal judge in November upheld New Jersey’s law that bans sexual orientation conversion therapy for minors.

Lawmakers in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia have recently introduced similar measures that seek to ban the practice.

15
Jan
2014

Rash of alleged anti-LGBT attacks spark outrage in Chile

Chile, vigil, Santiago, gay news, Washington Blade, Daniel Zamudio

Chilean LGBT rights advocates maintain hate crimes remain a serious problem in the country nearly two years after Daniel Zamudio’s death. (Photos courtesy of Fundación Daniel Zamudio.)

Two fatal anti-gay attacks in less than a month in Chile have sparked outrage among LGBT rights advocates in the South American country.

Esteban Parada Armijo, 22, died in a hospital in Santiago, the Chilean capital, on Jan. 30, nearly two weeks after two men stabbed him in the city’s Bellavista neighborhood where a number of gay bars and clubs are located. The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movilh), a Chilean LGBT advocacy group, said Parada suffered a punctured right lung and broken ribs that damaged arteries and blood vessels during the Jan. 17 attack that took place after he left the bar where he worked.

Authorities have detained one of Parada’s alleged assailants whom Movilh identified as Fernando Medina Medina.

Movilh said Parada told his relatives before his death that his alleged assailants attacked him because he was gay. The LGBT advocacy group noted he was able to identify those whom he said assaulted him.

“My brother did not rob anyone,” said Parada’s sister, Camila Armijo, in a Movilh press release. “They only attacked him.”

Chilean media reports indicate hundreds of people attended Parada’s funeral in Santiago on Sunday.

“Todo Mejora Foundation laments the death of yet another young Chilean, Esteban Parada, in the hands of hatred and violence,” Juan Pablo Fuentealba of the Chilean It Gets Better Foundation (Fundación Todo Mejora in Spanish) told the Washington Blade on Saturday while in New York with a group of seven Latin American LGBT rights advocates who are currently in the U.S. on a State Department-sponsored trip. “Our condolences go to his family and loved ones.”

Parada died less than a month after Guillermo Aguilera Guerrero, 18, allegedly stabbed Alejandro Alfredo Bustamante Godoy in the head, throat and leg during an attack inside his home in the coastal city of Valparaíso. Movilh and Bustamante’s relatives said Aguilera had previously taunted the fast food restaurant owner because of his sexual orientation.

Bustamante, 59, succumbed to his injuries on Jan. 15.

Willian Villanueva, a small-time drug dealer, reportedly said he was going to “kill a faggot” before he allegedly shot Arturo Lomboi to death in the Santiago suburb of Puente Alto in December.

Doctors last June amputated Esteban Navarro Quinchevil’s leg after a group of six men attacked him in the Santiago suburb of Peñalolén because he is gay. A transgender teenager from the coastal city of Cartagena the month before lost an eye during an alleged anti-trans attack.

President Sebastián Piñera in 2012 signed into law a hate crimes and anti-discrimination bill that includes both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The statute is named in honor of Daniel Zamudio Vera, a 24-year-old whom a group of self-described neo-Nazis beat to death in a Santiago park earlier that year because he was gay.

The convicted mastermind of the attack against Zamudio last October received a life sentence for his role in the crime.

“Attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexuals have not stopped,” said Movilh President Rolando Jiménez during the Jan. 20 dedication of a Santiago memorial to honor Zamudio, referring to Bustamante and Lomboi. “They continue with cruel violence.”

Jiménez reiterated his calls for the Chilean government to do more to prevent these attacks – including advancing “more and better conditions of equality in a country where everything indicates that abuses against sexual minorities are on the one hand less, but at the same time more bloody and violent.”

The Chilean Senate last month advanced two bills that would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions and permit trans people to legally change their name and sex without sex-reassignment surgery, hormonal treatments and psychiatric or psychological evaluations.

Fuentealba pointed out to the Blade that Chile has the highest rate of school bullying in Latin America.

“If this tide of violence is to change, decision makers must allocate funds for the prevention [of] bullying and violence based on gender identity and sexual orientation,” he said.

Santiago Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello also spoke out against Parada’s death, but Movilh pointed out the Roman Catholic Church remains a vocal opponent of LGBT rights in the South American country.

“Any person, regardless of their life choices, regardless of their deeds, is a person and therefore for us is an image and likeness of God,” said Ezzati. “Everything that opposes the dignity of people is for us a grave offense; not only for this person or these people, but is also a grave offense to God who has made us in his image and likeness.”

President-elect Michelle Bachelet supports efforts to strengthen the country’s anti-LGBT hate crimes law. She also backs the trans rights bill and nuptials for gays and lesbians.

03
Feb
2014

In reversal, Kameny heir says no ashes for public memorial

Timothy Clark, gay news, gay politics dc

Timothy Clark, who earlier said he would release half of Frank Kameny’s ashes to be interred at Congressional Cemetery, changed his mind and now plans to inter the ashes at an undisclosed location. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Timothy Clark, the man D.C. gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny named in his will as heir to his estate, has released a statement through his lawyers saying he has decided to inter Kameny’s ashes at an undisclosed location.

The statement released Feb. 20 by the D.C. law firm Ackerman Brown represents a dramatic change from Clark’s earlier statements, including comments in an interview with the Blade in 2012, that he would release half of the ashes for burial at a memorial site in the city’s historic Congressional Cemetery. He reiterated his intent to inter ashes in D.C. in another Blade interview in July 2013.

“We reached an agreement on that so I’m going to keep the burial plot,” Clark said at that time. “I just have to decide on when I want to have something,” he said in referring to a burial ceremony at Congressional Cemetery.

Clark, 37, Kameny’s housemate and longtime friend, had said in the months following Kameny’s death on Oct. 11, 2011, that he planned to keep some but not all of the ashes for his personal reflection and possible interment elsewhere. Kameny died in his Washington home of natural causes at the age of 86.

“The decision regarding interment of Frank Kameny’s ashes rests solely with Timothy Clark, the Personal Representative of the Estate of Franklin E. Kameny,” the Ackerman Brown statement says.

“Mr. Clark has decided to inter the ashes at an undisclosed location. Mr. Clark asks the community to respect his wishes and his privacy,” the statement says.

Clark’s announcement through his attorneys comes more than two years after the local LGBT charitable group Helping Our Brothers and Sisters (HOBS) purchased a burial plot for Kameny’s ashes at Congressional Cemetery.

HOBS and some of Kameny’s gay activist friends and supporters who worked with the group to choose the location of the cemetery site said it would become a monument to Kameny’s legacy and a place where people could go to pay their respects to a nationally known figure considered a hero to the LGBT rights cause.

The site they selected is located just behind the gravesite of the late gay rights leader and U.S. Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, who, with Kameny’s assistance in 1975, became the first active duty military service member to come out of the closet and challenge the military’s ban on gay service members. Matlovich died in 1987.

A planned ceremony and burial of Kameny’s ashes scheduled for March 2012 was abruptly cancelled at the request of the estate, according to Patrick Crowley, who worked as senior manager of Congressional Cemetery at that time. Lawyers for the Kameny estate wanted HOBS to transfer ownership of the cemetery plot to the estate, Crowley said.

Although HOBS agreed to the transfer, a dispute arose over the terms of an agreement proposed by lawyers for both parties, and negotiations dragged on for nearly two years.

Last July, both sides said a tentative agreement had been reached, raising hopes among Kameny’s friends and admirers that a burial ceremony and the official opening of a Kameny memorial site at Congressional Cemetery would soon take place.

“The estate has always been, and remains willing to work with gay community representatives who knew Frank Kameny in organizing a burial service and appropriate gravesite at which members of the community could pay tribute to Kameny,” said attorney Christopher Brown of Ackerman Brown at that time.

However, no announcement of an agreement emerged since that time. When Ackerman Brown released its statement last week saying Clark decided to inter the ashes at an undisclosed location, neither Ackerman Brown nor HOBS would disclose where things stood with the cemetery plot.

“The estate has no further comment,” said Glen Ackerman, principal partner of Ackerman Brown, in a Feb. 23 email to the Blade.

Matthew Cook, an attorney with the national law firm Fried Frank, which is representing HOBS, sent the Blade a separate statement from HOBS that made no mention of whether ownership of the cemetery plot had been transferred to the estate or whether HOBS would seek to set up another memorial site for Kameny at Congressional Cemetery.

“Dr. Kameny was a true gay rights pioneer and local legend,” the HOBS statement says. “HOBS was proud to work with and for Dr. Kameny during the last years of his life. Of course, as the executor of the Kameny Estate, it is Mr. Clark’s decision where to inter Dr. Kameny’s ashes.”

Veteran D.C. gay activist Paul Kuntzler, who worked with Kameny on gay rights activities beginning in 1962, and San Francisco gay activist Michael Bedwell, a friend of Kameny’s, each told the Blade that the LGBT community should now take immediate steps to arrange for another memorial site for Kameny at Congressional Cemetery, even though the ashes won’t be interred there.

The four local activists and Kameny friends who initiated plans to inter Kameny’s ashes at Congressional Cemetery in early 2012 – Marvin Carter, CEO of HOBS and LGBT rights advocates Charles Francis, Bob Witeck and Rick Rosendall – have declined to comment on Clark’s decision to inter the ashes at another location.

They also declined to comment on what, if anything, they may do to set up a Kameny memorial site at the cemetery now that the ashes are out of the picture.

“Frank Kameny’s monumental legacy may be best remembered by laws he helped overturn, the hateful policies he defeated and the causes of equal rights he unselfishly advanced for the LGBT community,” said Witeck in an email statement on Sunday.

The relationship between the four men and the Kameny estate became strained in 2012 shortly after they announced plans for a Congressional Cemetery memorial site and burial when Clark stated through his attorneys that Clark was never given the courtesy of being consulted about those plans.

Carter, however, has said Clark was informed about the plans and invited to participate in the planned ceremony.

The relationship between the four men and the estate became further strained when the estate filed individual lawsuits against each of them, charging that they took without permission items from Kameny’s house that belonged to the estate shortly after Kameny’s death. The men disputed the allegations, saying Clark along with Clark’s lawyer at the time, Michele Zavos, gave them permission to enter the house and take an inventory of Kameny’s papers and other possessions to arrange for their safe keeping.

The lawsuits, which were filed by Ackerman Brown on Clark’s behalf, were later dropped after undisclosed settlements were reached in three of the cases. The court dismissed the case against Rosendall on grounds that no cause was shown to justify the complaint, according to Rosendall’s attorney, Mindy Daniels.

Upon learning of Clark’s decision to inter the ashes in an undisclosed location, Bedwell expressed concern that Clark, who among other things, inherited Kameny’s house that the estate sold in 2012 for $725,000, was not doing his part to promote Kameny’s legacy.

“Frank’s trust and affection made Mr. Clark a wealthy man,” Bedwell said. “His sacrifices helped make him, like all LGBTs, a freer man,” Bedwell said.

“Now that Mr. Clark has disappeared with Frank’s ashes along with any hopes of his repaying Frank’s extraordinary generous friendship by sharing them for a memorial, I trust that others will create one without them,” he said.

Clark didn’t respond to a phone message from the Blade this week.

In a 2012 interview with the Blade, Clark described himself as a private person who shunned the spotlight, saying he intentionally remained in the background during the 19 years he lived in Kameny’s house.

Frank Kameny, gay news, gay politics dc

(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Also remaining unclear this week is what will become of a headstone and separate grave marker that HOBS and the activists working with the group installed at the cemetery site before the dispute with the estate surfaced.

Francis, the founder of the Kameny Papers Project, which arranged several years before Kameny’s death to have Kameny’s voluminous collection of letters and gay rights documents donated to the Library of Congress, obtained the headstone from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Francis and others working on the memorial site said the military headstone would recognize Kameny’s role as a World War II combat veteran. The stone is identical to gravestones used for soldiers and veterans buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and is issued free of charge to all deceased military veterans.

HOBS purchased a separate footstone inscribed with the slogan Kameny coined in the 1960s, “Gay is Good.” Carter said HOBS paid for the footstone along with the cemetery plot through funds donated by members of the LGBT community.

HOBS had both stones installed at the gravesite in March 2012 in anticipation that plans for burial of the ashes would move forward as planned.

Cemetery officials later removed the headstone and the “Gay is Good” marker and placed them in storage, saying it was inappropriate for them to remain in place while the ownership of the gravesite was in dispute.

Bedwell, who has played a role in managing the Matlovich gravesite, said he owns a separate plot next to the Matlovich site that he offered to donate for the Kameny burial shortly after Kameny died. HOBS instead chose to buy a plot a short distance away. Now, Bedwell said he is open to donating the plot he owns for a new Kameny memorial site at the cemetery.

“Neither [Clark’s] permission or Frank’s ashes are required for anyone to create a memorial to Frank anywhere,” Bedwell said in a comment to the Blade in October. “Millions more visit Lincoln’s Memorial in Washington every year than his actual gravesite in Springfield, Ill.,” he said.

“I’m confident many would be eager to contribute to the purchase of another marker bearing Frank’s name,” Bedwell said, in the event that the Veterans Administration stone or the “Gay is Good” stone won’t be released by the estate.

Ackerman, while repeating his firm’s written statement that the Kameny estate would have no further comment on Clark’s decision to inter the ashes in a private location, said the estate would welcome inquiries “by anyone” interested in establishing a public memorial for Kameny.

“All they have to do is call us,” he said.

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2014