• Jen Stevens

News Briefs

Updated: Feb 3

Passages: Donald Boss

A creative and energetic activist in the LGBT community died on December 22, the victim of a hit-and-run in Warwick, at the age of 51. Donald Boss (Aurora Borealis) was one of the earliest hosts of Gay Bingo (now called Drag Bingo), a hugely successful fundraiser for AIDS causes, and led the Rhode Island Gay Pageant Association for several years. Contributions in Donald’s memory will help his grieving family. You may visit: www. gofundme.com/f/help-donaldbosss-family. - by Myra Shays

Councilman Resigns Leadership Position After Disparaging Trans Activist

In December, Michael Correia resigned as president pro tem of the Providence City Council after secret recordings disclosed that he had made dehumanizing and transphobic remarks about Justice Gaines, an activist transwoman who has herself run for a seat on the Council. Before Correia acknowledged his offense on Facebook, he asked Gaines for forgiveness, which she granted. He remains on the Council. This was first reported on WPRI. - by Myra Shays

Pride Update

Since Options reported on the turmoil within RI Pride in our October/November issue, more Pride Board members resigned following further controversy. The few remaining members, having been left with enormous responsibility, reportedly considered dissolving the nonprofit. Now some longstanding members are having discussions to find a path forward. It’s almost certain there will be no Pride celebration this June, in light of Covid and a weakened organization. Traditionally, PrideFest planning would already be well underway. – by Jen Stevens

Community Archives Coming to Providence Public Library

Providence Public Library (PPL) has announced the creation of RI LGBTQ+ Community Archives. This project aims to provide a dynamic space to learn about, reflect on, and engage in the histories of RI's LGBTQ+ communities. While individual archival materials exist at a variety of RI institutions, there has been no central place where this important history is easily accessible to the community. RI LGBTQ+ Community Archives will collect and provide access to materials that exhibit the social, cultural, and political history of RI LGBTQ+ people and organizations, as well as materials created by people within the community itself.

Over the past year, PPL has been working with an amazing advisory board to begin this important collecting work. As our first major donation, Options Magazine has provided a complete set of its issues beginning in 1982, telling stories of the people, work, activism, and joy of this community for almost 40 years. Those interested in learning more about the RI LGBTQ+ Community Archives, or accessing the Options Magazine back issues, are encouraged to contact the PPL Curator of Rhode Island Collections at kwells@provlib.org. – by Kate Wells

Providence Only City in RI to Receive Perfect Score on LGBTQIA+ Equality Survey

Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza and Providence’s LGBTQIA+ Liaison and Deputy Director of Policy Bret Jacob recently announced that the City received a perfect 100-point score on the 2020 Municipal Equality Index. Providence has earned this grade every year since 2014 and remains the only eligible city in Rhode Island to receive such high marks. Only 94 out of 506 cities nationwide achieved 100-point scores. To stay up to date with the latest City initiatives, follow @CityofProv on Twitter, CityofProvidence on Facebook , and Providence Human Relations Commission on Facebook. – by Myra Shays

Biden Administration Bolsters LGBTQ Community

President Joe Biden has offered an LGBTQ agenda to broadly protect the community. Biden plans to enact the Equality Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation. This would overturn many of the laws that allow discriminatory practices based on religion. The Administration also plans to reinstate Obama-era guidelines that prevent anti-LGBTQ discrimination in federal contracts.

Biden intends to end the transgender military ban, and has spoken out against transphobia, stating that transgender equality is “the civil rights issue of our time.” Biden also supports the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, with added provisions that would require the Bureau of Prisons to protect transgender prisoners when decisions are made about housing. Additionally, Biden has nominated Rachel Levine, an openly transgender doctor, as his Assistant Secretary of Health, and Pete Buttigieg, an openly gay former mayor, as Secretary of Transportation. – by Victoria McGurn

“Gays for Trump” Riot As Trump’s Policies Harm LGBTQ Community

On January 6, rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, many falsely believing Donald Trump to be the winner of the 2020 election. Among the various MAGA signs, anti-semitic slogans, and alt-right emblems and memorabilia, were rainbow flags and signs that read “Gays for Trump.”

While Trump made promises to protect the LGBTQ community in 2016, the actions and statements of his administration have demonstrated the opposite. GLAAD created the “Trump Accountability Project,” a catalogue of anti-LGBTQ statements and actions that have promoted hate and discrimination towards the community. Examples of this can be seen from the beginning of Trump’s term, with the deletion of the LGBTQ community from government websites, his “License to Discriminate'' executive order, and proposed budget cuts to programs and departments that impact the community; such as a cut to research for HIV/AIDS. An article by Out Magazine notes that “40 percent of the Trump Administration’s confirmed judges have deep anti-LGBTQ+ records, including opposing same-sex marriage, LGBTQ+ protections in the workplace, and for trans people to serve openly in the military.”

According to NBC News, the Department of Health and Human Services finalized a rule, in the last week of Trump’s presidency, permitting faith-based social service providers that receive government funds to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. With this rule in place, LGBTQ people can be denied the right to adopt children This is one of many pushes for religious freedom that Trump has administered that has taken rights away from the LGBTQ+ community. – by Victoria McGurn

Powwow Celebrates 10th Anniversary, Feb. 2-6

"Two-Spirit” is the Native American term for people with both female and male energies. They may or may not identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or queer. They often hold honored positions in their communities. A powwow gathers all tribes and guests to learn about Native cultures. Last year, the powwow of the Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS) gathered 5,000 people in San Francisco. This year BAAITS will celebrate its 10th Anniversary Powwow virtually from Feb. 2-6 due to COVID restrictions. There will be celebrations of dance, music, art, and healing. The public is welcome to participate at www. baaits.org/powwow. There is no charge. – by Myra Shays

Media Watch

For the first time in five years, LGBTQ representation on TV decreased last year, according to GLAAD (once known as Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). The percentage of characters in scripted TV shows who identified as nonheterosexual fell to 9.1 percent from a record high of 10.2 percent the previous year. This was expected because many shows paused production due to the pandemic. The percentages of women, Black, and Latino characters remained about the same. The complete report can be found at Glaad.org. – by Myra Shays

Options Magazine

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Providence, RI 02940

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