Southwest Airlines brings in Jason Collins for Pride Month event

Collins at Southwest

Jason Collins

Former NBA player Jason Collins is headlining Southwest Airlines’ LGBT Pride Month Celebration today (Wednesday, June 24), at the airline’s Dallas Love Field headquarters.

Collins will will “share his personal journey as an openly gay player in the NBA,” according to a statement released this week by Southwest. The statement noted that the airline’s 2015 Pride event focuses on “Pride in Your Authentic Self,” and will include discussion on being an effective ally for the LGBT community. The event is open to employees of Southwest Airlines and Accenture.

Ellen Torbert, Southwest Airlines’ vice president of diversity and inclusion, said the airline is “proud of our commitment to the communities we serve. We have been a longtime supporter of the LGBT community and are pleased to champion their work to promote inclusive environments, and we are proud of the relationships we have with our local, regional and national community partners. These nonprofit organizations work hard to make a positive difference in the LGBT community.”

Southwest Airlines, now in its 44th year, has more than 47,000 employees and

—  Tammye Nash

Proud Parenting, Fisher-Price Launch LGBT Family Photo Gallery

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I have long believed that one of the best ways to empower LGBT people is to provide the community with “role models,” images of people “like us” that we can look to for strength, for inspiration — just for the reassurance that we are not alone.

When you are a young LGBT person struggling to come to terms with your identity, or struggling with others who can’t come to terms with your identity, seeing the image of a happy, successful LGBT person gives you hope. These same images can also help combat the hate and the lies that anti-LGBT forces try to use against us.

Even when you are a grown-up gay, already reasonably successful and happy, it helps to see images of others like you. And when you are an LGBT parent, it helps so much to know there are others out there like you.

That’s why I think the Proud Parenting LGBT Family Photo Gallery, launched today as a joint effort by Fisher-Price and Proud Parenting is such a great idea. Well, that and the fact that it’s pretty fantastic to see a toy company being so supportive of the LGBT community, especially considering how the haters are ALWAYS trying to say every LGBT person is a child molester, and using the “protect our children” mantra to deny us our rights.

Anyway. Back to the Proud Parenting LGBT Family Photo Gallery.

According to a press release from Fisher-Price, “ The goal of the program is to increase the visibility of LGBT parents and to encourage interaction and support between LGBT parents, their friends and their allies.”

The gallery is a curated collection of photos of LGBT parents with their families intended to “provide an authentic look into the proud lives of these modern families.” New families will be featured over the course of the summer through the Proud Parenting digital media outlets, promoted by Gay Ad Network on LGBT websites, social media and mobile aps.

Proud Parenting, by the way, is an online community for LGBT parents, prospective parents and their allies, which is owned and operated by Gay Ad Network. Fisher-Price is a brand belonging to Mattel.

Jeff Bennett, founder and editor-in-chief of Proud Parenting, said his organization is “excited to partner with Fisher-Price” on this project, adding, “With a longstanding history of diversity and inclusiveness, they are now leading the way for a new generation of families.”

And Hailey Sullivan, Fisher-Price’s director of marketing, said her company is “thrilled to partner with Proud Parenting for its first-ever program to increase the visibility of LGBT families. Fisher-Price is proud to help all parents give their children the best possible start in life.”

According to the press release, an estimated 3 million LGBT Americans have had a child, and as many as 6 million Americans have an LGBT parents. Even though same-sex marriage is not legally recognized nationwide yet, married LGBT couples comprise 50 percent of the Proud Parenting audience, and 61 percent have two or more children in their household.

Check out the Proud Parenting Gallery here on Facebook, here on the Proud Parenting website, and here on Instagram.

LGBT parents interested in participating in the gallery can submit their photos via the Facebook page.

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—  Tammye Nash

A musical proposal

Braeden and RyanWhen Braeden Ayres and Ryan Aguirre met, back in October 2013, they say, they fell in love almost immediately. Since both men are music teachers in public schools, a musical proposal is an obvious choice.

So Braeden, a Texas native, wrote a song about why he wanted to marry Ryan and gave it to the Colorado Springs Men’s Chorus, for which Braeden is assistant conductor and with which both men perform, under an assumed name. So the chorus rehearsed the song, intending to include it in a concert that was part gay Pride celebration and part tribute to Harvey Milk, never knowing that it was Braeden’s love letter to Ryan, and that Braeden had concocted a plan for special proposal.

During rehearsal one night, Braeden asked Ryan to come sit down and listen as the chorus performed the song, “Request,” contributed to the chorus by “Serena Redbay.” Braeden explained that he was actually the one who had written the song and that he had written it for Ryan. Then, as the chorus sang, Braeden went down on one knee and asked Ryan to marry him.

Braeden posted a video of the proposal to YouTube on June 4 (see below), and on June 10, Huffington Post published this interview with the two.

Congratulations Braeden and Ryan. Here’s wishing you many happy years together.

—  Tammye Nash

Dallas LGBT Task Force celebrates Pride

Screen shot 2015-06-08 at 5.14.22 PMThe city of Dallas’ LGBT Task Force celebrates national Gay Pride Month beginning at noon Wednesday, June 10, when the Task Force chairman, Councilman Adam Medrano of District 2, presents a proclamation signed by Mayor Mike Rawlings in Room 6EN — the Flag Room — at City Hall.

Here’s a schedule of other Pride events taking place this month:

• June 10, 6 p.m.: LGBT Rainbow Book Club and discussion at the North Oak Cliff Branch Library, 302 W. 10th St. Refreshments will be served. Bring your favorite LGBT book. June is also LGBT Book Month, and the Dallas Library will be Tweeting a new book recommendation each day this month.

• June 13: Bahama Beach LGBT Day, 1895 Campfire Circle. Guests should indicate that they are attending for LGBT Day to receive reduced admission ($9, down from $15).

• June 20-21: Juneteenth Pool Party and Juneteenth Unity Barbecue, sponsored by United Black Ellument in collaboration with Dallas Southern Pride. Pool party, 5-10 p.m. June 20 at 3121 Ross Ave. Unity Barbecue, 2-7 p.m. June 21 at Stone Tables Pavilion, 650 E. Lawther Drive. For information visit UBEDallas.org/Juneteenth. The Unity picnic is also sponsored by Cosmopolitan Congregation of Dallas.

• June 26, 1-5 p.m.: Children’s Rainbow Crafts and Movie, at the Children’s Center at the J Erik Jonsson Central Library, with children and families invited to make fun rainbow crafts and relax with a family-friendly movie. Drop-in crafts start at 1 p.m., and the movie starts at 2 p.m.

• June 27, 4-7 p.m.: Rainbow Family Day at Dallas City Hall Plaza, 500 Marilla St., with activities for the whole family.

—  Tammye Nash

Jenner’s Vanity Fair author in epic fail on ‘CBS This Morning’

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Buzz Bissinger

Most people in the LGBT community agree that Caitlyn Jenner’s very public transition will touch a number of people who have never known (or knew that they knew) a transgender person, and those who never understood the concept of gender identity. No matter what you think of Jenner’s story, that’s a great thing.

However, Buzz Bissinger, the author of the Vanity Fair piece released yesterday (June 1), appeared on CBS This Morning and, in an epic fail, repeatedly used the expression “sexual preference” when he was talking about sexual orientation.

Maybe the point was to have a writer who knew nothing about the LGBT community write the story. Bissinger followed Jenner’s transition for more than a year before writing the story.

But how can someone who doesn’t understand sexual orientation explain the difference between someone’s orientation and their gender identity?

How can he explain credibly that gender identity is innate if he thinks someone’s attraction to others is just a preference? Does he believe “sexual preference” can be changed? If it’s just something you prefer, then maybe another orientation is fine, too.

I think Gail King winced during the interview, but maybe I’m just reading something into it.

—  David Taffet

Labor Secretary Tom Perez: Promoting opportunity for all Americans

Tom Perez

U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez

By Secretary Tom Perez

U.S. Labor Department

 

Pride Month gives us an opportunity to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans have had on our nation. Here at the U.S. Department of Labor, it’s also a chance for us to recommit to our efforts to ensure equal rights for LGBT workers, and to celebrate the great work we’ve done on this front.

We have a responsibility to make sure that every worker has the same opportunity to pursue and realize their dreams, and we take that responsibility very seriously — and not just because it’s the right thing to do, which it is.  It’s also the smart thing to do.

Diverse and inclusive workplaces are productive workplaces. Our economy works best when we field a full team, so we can’t afford to leave any talent on the bench.

At DOL, our agencies are doing great work to advance the rights of LGBT workers. We’ve worked to implement the president’s Executive Order on LGBT Workplace Discrimination, which prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

We’ve taken steps to make sure that all families receive the benefits and protections of our programs and services. We’ve made clear that job training and other workforce programs in the nation’s workforce development system may not discriminate against someone because of gender identity, gender expression or sex-stereotyping. We’ve worked to make workplaces more inclusive for transgender workers.

And we’ve done so much more. In fact, you can read about all of the work we’ve done to protect and empower LGBT workers in a new report here. http://1.usa.gov/1FPeKGy.

We’re proud of our accomplishments on behalf of LGBT workers and job seekers and their families. Of course, for all our progress, there remains more work to do.

As we celebrate Pride month, we also celebrate our continued commitment to building on our accomplishments going forward so that every person in our nation can realize their highest and best dreams, no matter who they are or whom they love.

—  Tammye Nash

‘Call me Caitlyn’ — TMZ leaks Vanity Fair cover with Jenner photo

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The Vanity Fair cover featuring the photo of the former Bruce Jenner as a woman has been leaked on TMZ.com, with the headline “Call me Caitlyn.”

The photo is by Annie Liebovitz and the story is by Buzz Bisinger.

TMZ says: “In theDiane Sawyer interview Bruce made it clear he was saying farewell to his male persona. This pic is a full reveal of the transformation. Caitlyn just opened a Twitter account, saying, ‘I’m so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self. Welcome to the world Caitlyn. Can’t wait for you to get to know her/me.’

There is also a video — see below — “where Caitlyn models several outfits and seductively poses.”

—  Tammye Nash

25 Stories of LifeWalk: Raeline Nobles

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Raeline Nobles

LifeWalk, the  5K held each October to raise money for AIDS Arms and other North Texas AIDS service agencies, marks its 25th year this fall. And to celebrate, each Friday for the 25 weeks leading up to the event, AIDS Arms is posting another Story of LifeWalk.

This week’s story comes from Raeline Nobles, AIDS Arms’ longtime executive director, who retired a few years ago.

Check it out here.

—  Tammye Nash

State Department sends reps to Jamaica to discuss LGBT rights as JFLAG plans 1st Pride

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Randy Berry, special envoy for the human rights of LGBT persons, and USAID Senior LGBT Coordinator Todd Larson leave for Jamaica tomorrow (Thursday, May 21), to discuss the rights of LGBT people and other marginalized groups with Jamaican leaders, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of State.

Berry and Larson will spend three days in Jamaica meeting with representatives from the Jamaican government as well as religious, business, academic and civil society organization leaders.

Homosexuality remains criminalized in Jamaica, and the Caribbean Island is well-know for homophobia and violence against LGBT people. Human Rights Watch released a report last October documenting 56 cases of violence against LGBT people.

An organization called JFLAG has announced plans to stage the island’s first LGBT Pride celebrations in August this year. The theme for the celebration is “The Pride of a People: Breaking the Rules of Oppression,” and JFLAG has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise the $10,000 needed to pay for Pride.

—  Tammye Nash

Jindal’s end run around fairness and equality

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

Just hours after a so-called “religious freedom” bill died in the Louisiana Legislature on Tuesday, May 19, Gov. Bobby Jindal had issued an executive order allowing businesses to discriminate based on owners’/operators’ religious beliefs on marriage.

“We are disappointed by the committee’s action to return the Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act to the calendar,” Jindal said in a statement Tuesday afternoon, according to a New Orleans Times-Picayune report. “We will be issuing an Executive Order shortly that will … prevent the state from discriminating against persons or entities with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

The Times-Picayune notes Jindal told reporters the order was issued Tuesday afternoon and went into effect immediately. The order will remain in effect until 60 days after the end of the next legislative session. The next governor, however, can repeal it upon entering office in January, if he or she chooses.

The New Orleans newspaper also quoted state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, who criticized the timing of the order, as well as Jindal’s decision to buck the will of the Legislature.

“It’s a sinful attempt to deflect from the failures of what should be the top legislative priority, what we’re dealing with every day, which is a bogus state budget,” she said from the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon.

The Washington Post today (Wednesday, May 20), noted that Jindal’s executive order nearly mirrors the content and intent of the failed “Marriage and Conscience Act,” which itself closely resembles Religious Freedom Restoration Acts like the one that was vetoed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson after an outcry from businesses, led by Wal-Mart, and the one recently enacted in Indiana, throwing that whole state into an uproar and hitting the Hoosier pocketbook hard and fast.

A similar measure died last week in the Texas Legislature.

The Post notes that one of the main reasons the Marriage and Conscience Act died in the Louisiana Legislature is because lawmakers feared it would impact the state’s economy, and would be especially harmful to tourism in a state that thrives on its visitors:

New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau Chief Executive Stephen Perry called the bill “a radioactive, poisonous message,” saying it could cost the state $65 million per year.

But Jindal, in New York Times op-ed last month, said money doesn’t matter: “As the fight for religious liberty moves to Louisiana, I have a clear message for any corporation that contemplates bullying our state: Save your breath,” he wrote.

Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk predicted that the executive order will substantially harm the tourism industry in the state. “Gov. Jindal’s stunt today once again underlines his disregard for Louisiana families, his disdain for the state legislature and his apparent contempt for the state’s tourism industry — the only segment of our economy his failed policies haven’t crippled,” Handwerk said.

The Post also pointed out that Jindal’s decision to stage an end run around the Legislature seems especially hypocritical, considering his attacks on President Barack Obama’s use of executive orders in connection with immigration reform.

—  Tammye Nash