All Purple Everything: #SpiritDay and Purple Prose Reflections

It seemed like the world turned purple on October 17th. So…did you wear or share purple on Spirit Day?

An unprecedented amount of celebrities (http://www.glaad.org/blog/celebs-showing-support-lgbt-youth-spiritday) and participants took part in celebrating Spirit Day’s anti-bullying mindset and campaign for peace.

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Most notably, the #SpiritDay thought stream on Twitter, experienced a flurry of activity with somewhat minimal and hardly noticeable newsjacking and hashtag jumping occurring between the many supportive updates and social shares. Unfortunately anti-gay and anti-trans* push back was still somewhat present, but the signal-to-noise ratio tipped in favor of the celebrations at hand.

 

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No More Bullies: Wear, Share and Go Purple on #SpiritDay October 17

 

No More Bullies: Go Purple for #SpiritDay on October 17

 “Spirit Day was started by a high school student in 2010 as a way to prevent bullying and show support for LGBT youth. Roughly eight out of 10 LGBT students experience harassment while at schools and as many as 63 percent of them report they also feel unsafe, according to GLAAD. The event takes place annually on every third Thursday in October.” CBS LA

Have you got the spirit?

Then put your Purple where your heart is. Read more

#SOFFAs in Transition: Resources for Partners and Family of Trans* Persons

Finding a kind and loving support network for all but the world’s luckiest folks is a lifelong project. Multiply that times…what…infinity?…and it’s that much more challenging for trans* persons of experience to cultivate and to find.

Times are changing…we have trans* prom kings and queens, and public shaming or dismissal of trans* folks is becoming the real taboo, as it should be. Unfortunately for every advancement, inexcusable ignorance becomes much more identifiable and still continues to proliferate.

So of course, we still have a long way to go—and the more resources, gatherings and health-related modalities and methodologies that come to light in order to support, help, uplift and empower trans* persons of experience and their loved ones, the better.

If you’re reading this, you aim to support or share supportive resources with trans* persons, friends, families members, peers or others in solidarity. Here’s hoping you find useful resources, places and spaces to share below.

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#NCOD and Coming Out Still Matters: National #ComingOut Day Is October 11

National Coming Out Day Is October 11

#NCOD and Coming Out Still Matters: National #ComingOut Day Is October 11

If Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he would want me to say to all the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told they are less than by the churches, by the government, by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value, and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights, federally, across this great nation of ours.”― Dustin Lance Black

Every year in October during LGBT History Month National Coming Out Day is celebrated in tandem. Though The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is currently the largest or most well-known promoter of the event, it was founded in 1988 by activists Dr. Robert Eichberg, his partner William Gamble, and Jean O’Leary.

Though not an expected action, coming out is essentially necessitated by the human spirit for optimal health in all aspects of life—not just those related to the LGBTQ community.

Visibility, mental health, educational opportunities and encouragement for collective self-esteem are just a few reasons for the existence of the holiday, meant to raise consciousness and create dialogue regarding bisexual, gay, trans*, and lesbian issues, needs and achievements. Transparency in safe spaces regarding sexual and gender identity is a key component—however, there’s a special youth outreach contingent that has evolved in order to raise awareness about bullying and suicide prevention.

The co-founders of National Coming Out Day created the commemorative day in order to celebrate the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which took place in Washington, DC (with over 500,000 participants in attendance). As the campaign for civil rights and equality awareness continued to build momentum, more and more municipalities and institutions began to celebrate the event locally.

Organizations have embodied the spirit of National Coming Out Day in myriad ways—for example: via teach-ins, parades, rallies, parties and celebrations, multimedia presentations, movies, art projects and various offline events.

The Human Rights Campaign in particular has been instrumental in making sure National Coming Out Day is honored in every state in the United States. In spite of its name, this holiday has also been embraced by other countries including New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Each year, the HRC creates a new theme for this occasion. In 2013, which is the 25th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, the theme is “Coming Out Still Matters.”

Why does coming out still matter to our community? The HRC explains:

“25 years ago, on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, we first observed National Coming Out Day as a reminder that one of our most basic tools is the power of coming out. One out of every two Americans has someone close to them who is gay or lesbian. For transgender people, that number is only one in 10. Coming out STILL MATTERS. When people know someone who is LGBT, they are far more likely to support equality under the law. Beyond that, our stories can be powerful to each other. Every person who speaks up changes more hearts and minds, and creates new advocates for equality.”

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Coming out is a rite of passage–acknowledging Queer and Trans* identity in a meaningful way is essential to mental health, at the very least. Why does coming out still matter to you–or does it still matter to you?

Let us know.

Namaste!

Gay Agenda

For more information about NCOD, visit the HRC here.

New #ComingOut Models: LGBT Sibling Study Seeks Participants, Aims to Educate.

New #ComingOut Models: LGBT Sibling Study Seeks Participants, Aims to Educate.

As “tolerance” for out, queer persons of experience shapeshifts its way through to LGBTQ-friendliness and inclusion, “coming out” isn’t necessarily the simultaneous beginning and ending of a life story anymore. It doesn’t always have to end in tears. While it’s not necessarily an expectation or assumption that queer or questioning folks come out formally (rather than just “being out”), academicians, researchers and activists continue to inform us that closeted existence is unhealthy, to say the least….

A new LGBT-focused study seeks to make a substantive difference in achieving and enjoying an optimal life experience: doctoral researcher Katie Barrow is co-leading a research study and actively recruiting participants who are LGBT siblings. How might two siblings who are LGBTQ thrive within families and in our culture?

If you can help them out, you can also earn a bit of cash in the process. Please read and forward the call for participants below:

When A Second Sibling Comes Out – Call for Participants

Are you interested in talking about your experiences as being the second sibling in your family to come out as a sexual minority/LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender)?

If so, please consider participating in a 30-45 minute interview via telephone or face-to-face.

To be eligible:

*You must identify as a sexual minority/LGBT and be 18-35 years of age

* Have a sibling who also identifies as a sexual minority/LGBT

*You and your sibling must be out to at least one parent/caregiver in your family

*If possible, you must identify as the second sibling to come out as a sexual minority/LGBT

If this sounds like you, please consider participating! Eligible parties will receive a $20 Visa gift card for completing the 30-45 minute interview!

For more information, please contact K. Barrow at [email protected]

To see more, please check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EheXko63azs

Feel free to tweet your questions, concerns or interest at  Twitter to : @gaysiblingstudy

This study has been approved by the Virginia Tech IRB #13473.

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How The Study’s Results Will Help

Katie Barrow generously shared with us how she plans to use the study results. In an email sent earlier this month, Katie wrote:

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I’ll be happy to clarify how the results will be used.

This study serves a multitude of purposes, and they go hand-in-hand. Two purposes are listed below:

1.) Advancement of knowledge. This is the most basic, yet vital reason we are conducting this study. Beyond biological studies looking at when a family has more than one son…there have been no developmental, contextual, or familial investigations asking the question of, “What happens in a family when two children both identify as a sexual minority?” It’s a broad stroke, yes, but we are casting a wide net to see what kind of information we can get!

2.) And because there is no research that looks at how a family responds to two same-sex siblings, our second goal is to apply our knowledge. We would like to begin creating coming out models so that community professionals (e.g., therapists, PFLAG groups) who come in contact with someone who is LGBT and also has an LGBT sibling, or a parent/caregiver who has two same-sex children, can be more informed of this phenomena and therefore offer more comprehensive treatment and/or guidance.

Thank you so much!

Best,

Katie

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Again, please spread the word about this study—we trust it will help many LGBTQ persons of experience, families, allies and organizations out there, which is turn, helps our community and those who seek to understand us. If you qualify for the study as indicated above, please click here to begin the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7WLM5ZZ.

 

Despite Human Rights Issues, Prestigious Manifesta Art Foundation Will Not Boycott Russia

In 2012 the Manifesta Foundation selected the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation as host of Manifesta 10. Since announcing the State Hermitage Museum as host institution, the Russian parliament has adopted a federal law banning the ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships’ accessible by minors. The legislation has received extensive exposure around the world and subsequently there have been calls to boycott, cancel or relocate international cultural and social events planned within Russia. In response to those who have expressed deep concerns regarding the situation of LGBT people in Russia and any violations of their human rights, we share your concerns….

On principle Manifesta cannot and should not only perform in the ‘safe haven’ of the West or former West. This inevitably involves dialogue with those with whom we may disagree.”

                                                                                 – A statement of the International Foundation Manifesta

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The renowned Netherlands-based, Pan European international arts foundation Manifesta will not boycott Russia, nor will it change its biannual roving arts tour.

Though the foundation is well-versed in international events management and travel, they will not change their location or plans, no matter how much they’re pressured to do so. Scheduled to arrive in St. Petersburg in 2014, (the arts exhibition and program will take place from 28 June to 31 October), Manifesta refuses to choose another gay-friendly host city for its upcoming events in spite of Russia’s controversial anti-gay LGBTQ legislation and practices.

The Manifesta Foundation has released official statements to address the matter with feedback from its official leadership and stakeholders.

Proactively releasing a statement well over a month ago (“To withdraw Manifesta 10 would mean to ignore contemporary voices and emerging generations of Russia“), the official word from the arts collective voices more concern for pushing the creative field forward, and less for Russia’s suppression of freedom of expression and choice.

Select excerpts from the official statement can be found below.

Viktor Misiano, Chair of the Manifesta Foundation:

“Within Russia Manifesta 10 has been welcomed by many individuals who recognise that cancelling or postponing it will be a loss, not only for communities seeking change, but also for developing a progressive contemporary culture as a whole. We are conscious of the political climate and the significant conservative shift taking place in Russia, of which this issue is but one example. It is also helpful to know that the leading LGBT organizations in Russia do not support a boycott of the Olympics or other events. They know engagement is important.”

St Petersburg-based LGBT organization Coming Out:

“….We understand the call for a boycott of the Olympics. But we truly believe it is important to keep all channels open and enable all possible communications to challenge human rights violations at every opportunity, whether they are cultural or sporting events, business opportunities or political campaigns.”

Sjeng Scheijen, Artistic Director of Manifesta’s Russian/Dutch bi-lateral year:

“….Manifesta 10 is supported in Russia by a spirited forefront of independent, critical, internationally oriented artists and intellectuals. They have a great need for a platform for meeting and exchange, and seek international models for their own cultural events. They eagerly look forward to the arrival of Manifesta.”

Manifesta Founder and Director, Hedwig Fijen:

“Manifesta is an advocate of having mutual respect for any person regardless of their sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, disability, age or sexual orientation. Manifesta Foundation endorses the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention for Human Rights, Council of Europe Recommendations and other decrees by international organizations, of which Russia is a member….We do not believe isolating Russia is the right direction to take, especially as it deprives younger people of access to a broader scope of voices and points of view.”

Please visit this link to read the entire statement:

http://manifesta.org/2013/08/to-withdraw-manifesta-10-would-mean-to-ignore-contemporary-voices-and-emerging-generations-of-russia

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The closer we get to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the more formal statements and opinions make their way to the fore, and the more public figures and organizations are being forced to take a stand on these human rights violations. Meanwhile, Russia continues to obfuscate issues, courting both commercial engagement and revenue opportunities while ignoring the civil rights of its LGBTQ/allied population.

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When will Russia make formal, unwavering statements of its own—or can the Russian government really entertain the best of both worlds (hiding behind rhetoric while somehow monetizing both international travel and anti-gay sentiments)…?

 

Crowdsourcing #Sochi2014: Out, Gay Kiwi Speed Skater Blake Skjellerup Remains Undeterred.

Despite Russia’s new anti-gay laws, the calls to move the Winter Olympics from Sochi have fallen on deaf ears. The IOC has said waving of rainbow flags — or any pro-LGBT commentary — by Olympians could violate its rules. Seemingly every avenue to make a statement of LGBT-rights support at the Olympic Games is being cut off. But there’s one message they cannot stop: Openly gay speed skater Blake Skjellerup! The LGBT community and its allies have an opportunity to support this openly gay athlete and send him to the Olympic Games as our out, proud representative.”

- From Blake Skjellerup’s Indiegogo Campaign Page

 

#Sochi2014 |  Anticipation Station

When it comes to the upcoming Olympic games, all thoughts, social shares, pundit’s articles and interviews continue to lead us on and move us all toward more question marks, dollar signs, boycott threats and theories, overall frustration and a heaping dose of anticipation.

We won’t really know how enforcement of Russia’s anti-gay laws will or will not apply until all travelers arrive in Russia, folks choose to make statements or symbolic gestures, and all Olympics-related events get underway.

Though we know where Johnny Weir stands politically, he won’t be attending the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia as an athletic contender, at least—and we love you still Johnny, regardless of your politics.

Many queer athletes continue to move forward in pursuit of that Olympic Gold: like out, gay New Zealander, competitive speed skater and GT coverboy Blake Skjellerup.

Skjellerup is resolute and undetered. He wants to head to Sochi to win a speed skating medal for the Kiwis, and he wants your help to do it.

As of this writing already, Skjellerup has raised his initial goal of US $24,000 and counting in order to work on qualifying to compete in both the Winter Olympics and the Speed Skating World Cup, and he needs to raise at least US $33,000 total in order to realize the dream with complete, headache-free financial backing.

If Blake is able to fully qualify, he will be the first publicly out male athlete to compete in a Winter Olympics.

Information from his Indiegogo page, a video greeting from Blake himself and more information can be found below.

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From Indiegogo.com | Why Blake needs our support now

Despite what many may think, Olympic speed skaters do not live in posh apartments sipping champagne. When asked what it means financially to be an Olympic speed skater, Blake said, “bankruptcy.” He struggles just to cover living costs. What he needs help with now is the funds to access key coaching assistance for the World Cups and the Olympics.

For Blake to qualify for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, he will need to finish in the top 32 at the World Cups this autumn. These four key events are:

Sept. 26-29, Shanghai, China
Oct. 3-6, Seoul, South Korea
Nov. 7-10, Torino, Italy
Nov. 14-17, Kolomna, Russia

Blake needs at least $15k to compete at a high level in these four World Cup events and qualify for the Sochi Olympics. To get everything he needs to compete at his HIGHEST level possible, he will need at $33k. We’ve set the campaign goal at the MINIMUM he needs with the hope and expectation that we can get him EVERYTHING he needs. All donated funds go directly to Blake.

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Because of the beauty of his story and the precedent he’ll be setting—according to Blake’s Indiegogo page—many advocacy groups have already shown their support including: the You Can Play project, Outsports, GLAAD, the StandUp Foundation, Out magazine & The Advocate, Athlete Ally, and many members of the LGBT sports movement and larger community.

Click here to support Blake Skjellerup’s campaign, check out Blake’s #Sochi2014 YouTube video here, and send your Tweets of support and inquiry with Blake @BlakeSkjellerup.

 

 

 

 

#LGBTUK: Ride Out for Human Rights with Peter Tatchell

Bicycle races are coming your way
So forget all your duties oh yeah!
Fat bottomed girls they’ll be riding today
So look out for those beauties oh yeah
On your marks get set go!

- From Bicycle Race, by Queen

#LGBTUK: Calling All Queer Cyclists

Can you make it to London in October? Are you in London already? Good…good.

So: have you got some time to spare to kiki with fellow LGBTQ folks and to pedal for charity?

Lovely!

Then the Peter Tatchell Foundation would love to go on a sweet, scenic bicycle ride with you.

On Sunday, 6 October 2013, The PTF invites you to explore London in an 18-mile long cycling ride-about. You’ll be visiting landmarks and learning a bit of history along the way. More information about the meetup from the PTF’s event page can be found below:

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PTF | Discover London’s Famous Humanitarians and LGBTs

http://www.petertatchellfoundation.org/ride-out-human-rights-sunday-6-october

Do you enjoy cycling?

Want to know more about famous humanitarians and LGBTs?

Want to support the work of the Peter Tatchell Foundation?

If the answer is yes, then join us on 6 October for an easy, fun 18 mile mystery bike ride around London, in aid of the human rights work of the Peter Tatchell Foundation. Or you can also opt for a shorter 7 mile ride and still visit numerous landmarks on the way.

The bike ride
Come join us with your friends or your family. The ride will take you around London’s most iconic landmarks on the way to discovering famous humanitarians and LGBTs. Yes, it’s a mystery bike ride. When you arrive at the start point, you’ll be given a route map and 11 guides to each of the landmarks, with a brief biography of the famous person associated with them. The idea is a ride with surprises. You only open the guide when you get to the landmark address – and then discover the famous humanitarian / LGBT person associated with that address.

A big plus: the ride is not timed, you can take the route, at your own leisure. So take your time and we have mapped the route so you can have a nice ride through Hype Park. Enjoy.

Important Details

Start Time: The ride will be starting at 10.30am

Location: Gays the Word Bookshop, 66 Marchmont Street, London, WC1N 1AB

Registration: £20 per participant. Children under 16 ride free.

Join us: To ride with us simply click here to register and follow the instructions to complete your payment.

Payment: There are two ways you can pay your registration fee. [Please visit the page for specific payment information.]

Facebook: Check out here who is attending through the Facebook event.

Sponsorship
Sponsorship is optional. Of course, we will be very grateful if you could get some sponsors for your ride. This will be a huge help for the Peter Tatchell Foundation to help us maintain our vital work campaigning for human rights. You can download the sponsorship form and return it to us on the day, with the sponsorship money that you have raised.

Alternatively, you can invite your friends to sponsor you online.

To find out more and get registered, click here.

 

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Founded by Australian-born, UK-based politician and LGBT activist Peter Tatchell, The Peter Tatchell Foundation promotes and protects the human rights of individuals, communities and nations, in the UK and internationally, in accordance with established national and international human rights law.

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Can’t make it to the event? The PTF welcomes your donations. Visit this page for more specific information about how your donations will be utilized.