SF Pride hits controversy


Undated file picture of San Francisco Pride | Uncredited | 16248

Several of the organisations involved in San Francisco Pride withdrew on Friday from the “racial and economic justice” themed parade and festival taking place this weekend in response to the increased policing measures put in place after the Orlando attack.

“For us, celebrating Pride this year meant choosing between the threat of homophobic vigilante violence and the threat of police violence,” said a statement from Black Lives Matter, an organizational grand marshal; Janetta Johnson, a community grand marshal; and sex worker advocacy group St James Infirmary, a “Heritage of Pride” award recipient.


Australia mobilises for marriage


Brisbane yesterday | Bradley Kanaris | 16247ga

Thousands of Australians marched at same-sex marriage rallies across the country on Saturday calling on whichever party wins a July 2 national election to quickly introduce same-sex marriage laws. Protesters in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth marched carrying rainbow flags and signs which read “Equality now”.

Conservative Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull supports same-sex marriage and has pledged a public vote on the issue before the end of 2016. The Labor opposition will skip a public vote and introduce a bill to parliament within 100 days if it wins the election.

Opinion polls say they are neck-and-neck ahead of the election.



Another Busy Pride Day… and for a change it was dry!


London | Global Citizen | 16244ga


London: One of a number of marching Policemen who proposed to their boyfriends during the March. This one said Yes. We think they will be the first serving policemen to get married in the UK | Metropolitan Police LGBT Network | 16245ga


Merrion Square, Dublin | RTÉ | 16246

Gay Activist sends congratulations to the newly engaged couples – and everyone else who marched and showed solidarity and support for the community.

The London Gay Men’s Chorus has released a cover version of Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water in aid of those recently attacked at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. You may remember two weeks ago they sang it at the London Vigil for the Orlando Victims. The track is available as a digital­-only release. It can be purchased or streamed on all major platforms including iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play, Spotify, Deezer and Tidal.

Proceeds from the sale of the charity single will be split equally between the Orlando Victims Fund, organised by Equality Florida, and Galop, UK LGBT anti­-violence and abuse charity. Please help these excellent charities care for members of our community.

Justine’s out for Pride. Or is it Nicola? The Telegraph thinks it knows!

Government minister Justine Greening has revealed she is in a same-sex relationship.

She tweeted the announcement as thousands of people marched through London for the annual Pride parade.

The Telegraph is well known for its misprints, and continues:

Ms Greening joins a long line-up of openly gay MPs including Scottish Conservative leader Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale.

Gay Activist readers will know that Nicola Sturgeon is the name of the SNP Leader, and she is an MSP not an MP, while the Scottish Conservatives have Ruth Davidson as their leader. It’s good to know the Telegraph still has its fingers on the pulse.


He wasn’t a sister, say the Feds


Pulse nightclub fundraising event, Thursday, June 23, 2016 in Thornton Park, Orlando | Paul Brinkmann | 16234ga

US Federal investigators have scoured Omar Mateen’s laptop computer, cell phone and the trail of communications he left behind and so far have found no evidence that he led a secret gay life.

They’ve also reviewed the electronic devices of men who said they’d communicated with him on gay dating apps and so far have found no link. They have not stopped following leads about Mateen’s reported interest in gay clubs and gay men, but federal officials reported Thursday that they’ve found no photographs, text messages, smart phone apps or gay pornography that suggest Mateen was gay or was trying to find a gay lover.

Federal investigators believe men who thought they knew Mateen may be confusing him with someone else.


Toronto cop apologises for old raids


Police officers stand on the steps of the Ontario Legislature in Toronto in the early hours of Feb. 7, 1981 after gay rights demonstrators marched there in protest of the arrests on Feb. 5, 1981 of 253 men in four city steam baths | The Canadian Press/UPC/Gary Hershorn | 16242ga

Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders made a historic apology today for raids on four gay bathhouses in the Canadian city that took place 35 years ago. The events caused activists to mobilise for gay rights in Canada. He called the raids “one of the largest mass arrests in Canadian history.” The February 1981 event was notable for its “destructiveness” and that the raids did not occur on only one night.

“The 35th anniversary of the 1981 raids is a time when the Toronto Police Service expresses its regrets for those very actions. It is also an occasion to acknowledge the lessons learned about the risks of treating any part of Toronto’s many communities as not fully a part of society.”

“Recognizing diversity requires consistently renewed practice strategies and reaching out to communities and vigilance in challenging stereotypes. Policing requires building mutual trust and that means forging links with the full range of communities that make up this extraordinary city. The Toronto Police Service recognizes the lessons from that period have continuing relevance for the creation of a more inclusive city.”

Lorrie Goldstein of the Toronto Sun and a colleague paid a visit to one of the bath houses at the time, in search of a story.

…Subsequent to the raids on the four bathhouses in which 300 men were arrested for being found-ins or operators of a bawdy house, I was assigned by the Sun to spend the night in one with fellow reporter John Paton. …On the night of our own Operation Soap, I was nervous lining up to get into the Romans II bathhouse on Bay St., mainly because I didn’t know what to expect.

The fact you had to check-in and be admitted through a secured door after paying your entry fee and receiving a towel didn’t help.

What would I say if I was propositioned? Would there be orgies? If I saw someone underage being compelled into sexual acts, wouldn’t I have a moral obligation to intervene?

Nothing like that happened.




Counting the cost with pride


Detective Brian Downey (centre) attending a Gay Officers Action League event at One Police Plaza, New York, last week | Peter Foley/Wall Street Journal | 16241ga

The ramifications and aftershocks of the Orlando shootings just over a week ago are still being felt in the US and elsewhere.

The shootings have led to a number of gay people coming out.

Just hours after the music at the Pulse nightclub was interrupted by the roar of gunfire, a teenager with a nose stud and tight jeans peered across his dinner table here. “Dad,” Carvin Casillas said, “I’m kind of gay.”

The worst mass shooting in United States history by a single perpetrator, which left 49 people dead and 53 injured, has sent the nation reeling and ignited heated conversations about firearm access, terrorism and homophobia. It has also had the incidental effect of pushing some gay people in this increasingly Latino community out of the closet.

Some had their sexuality revealed by accident: Gertrude Merced learned that her 25-year-old son, Enrique, was gay only after she heard the news of his death. Others, though, have chosen to expose their inner lives, stirred by the outpouring of support for Orlando’s gay community or wrought with sorrow and unable to keep their secrets in anymore.

The Police in New York have had to pay more attention to links with the gay community after the shootings.

…The detective was walking away from a vigil where his boss, New York Police Commissioner William Bratton, spoke to a crowd of mourners outside of the Stonewall Inn. As Mr. Bratton spoke at the historic gay bar, some in the crowd chanted, “You kill people.”

“That vigil was not an accurate portrayal of who the [gay] community is,” Detective Downey said. He added, “The police commissioner is not a killer and I’m not a killer.”

The massacre of 49 people in an Orlando nightclub earlier this month awakened what some say are longstanding tensions between the New York Police Department and members of the city’s gay community.

Detective Downey, an openly gay member of the NYPD and the force’s primary liaison to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, was thrust into the middle of the acrimony. In the span of 24 hours, the 36-year-old went from celebrating his ties to both worlds (at Brooklyn Pride) to scrambling to keep them together.

Looking after the relatives of the victims – and the survivors themselves – is also going to be hard work for the whole community.

On Tuesday, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch visited some of the people injured in the attack and the relatives of some who were slain. She spoke of those who might choose to hide their sexuality out of fear of such violence in the future.

“Let me say to our L.G.B.T. friends and family, particularly to anyone who might view this tragedy as an indication that their identities — their essential selves — might somehow be better left unexpressed or in the shadows: This Department of Justice — and your country — stands with you in the light,” she said.

The shooting will have effects for a long time to come.


Plus ca change

1969: The Raid on the Stonewall Inn | New York Daily News/Getty Images

Officers armed with assault rifles stand guard outside the Stonewall bar in New York, protecting patrons after a gunman in Florida staged a massacre at a gay nightclub and spread fear of more attacks. The irony isn’t lost on the gay community that used to see police as the oppressor and counts the 1969 Stonewall Inn raid as the start of the US gay rights movement.

“Once upon a time they hit us with nightsticks, and now they’re our protectors,” said Gil Horowitz, 80, a retired research psychologist in New York who took part in the riots at Stonewall.

In Denver the first gay parade was held in 1975 in response to police raids on gay bars and arrests of gay men. On Sunday, police will march in solidarity and will have a robust presence among the crowd of more than 300,000 people.


Gettin’ hip for Pride

Transport for London has installed filters on some central London traffic signals showing support for Pride week. The Green Man has a boyfriend now. They’re both holding hands forming the shape of a heart, to celebrate the city’s LGBT community. There is a range of different symbols representing the whole LGBTI community.

There is also a Pride Oyster Card wallet for use on London Transport.

Traffic lights to feature gay couples for London Pride

Orlando remembered at European Prides

Tens of thousands of people across Europe took to the streets Saturday in gay pride marches to pay tribute to the 49 people who were massacred in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last weekend.


Vienna | C Bruna/Picture Alliance/DPA | 16234viega

In Vienna around 130,000 people turned out for the Rainbow Parade. A minute’s silence was held before the festivities got underway. The march was led by a black-clad group called “Victims of Hate Crimes – Marching for those who can’t,” holding a rope around a space where normally a float full of dancers would be, representing “those lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender and inter-sex people who lost their lives in Orlando and who can’t be marching with us”.


Berlin | J Carstensen/Picture Alliance/DPA | 16235berga

Berlin also showed its solidarity with the victims the shooting, with the Brandenburg Gate lit in the colors of the rainbow in an appeal for tolerance and support for gays and lesbians worldwide. In Portugal, “This massacre has affected us all,” said gay rights campaigner Paulo Corte Real at Lisbon’s Parade. “We are here to show our strength and to refuse all this hatred that we are still confronted with.”

London’s Pride is on Saturday 26 June.