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Dear South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade organizers...meet Arizona

Posted by David Zimmerman February 28, 2014 08:17 AM

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Dear South Boston St Patrick’s Day organizers,

You might have seen a news story this week taking place in Arizona. It involved a piece of legislation called SB 1062, also known as the ‘Restoration of Religious Freedom Act’. The senate bill allowed for business owners in Arizona to deny services to certain citizens if those citizens lived a life that conflicted with the business owners religious beliefs. If signed into law an Arizona business owner who is a devout Catholic could have, for example, denied services to a gay or lesbian person. There are other examples as well.

When the Republican-led legislature in that state passed SB 1062 it created an immediate and widespread uproar. Corporations doing business in Arizona, including Apple, Marriott and others, urged Governor Jan Brewer to veto the bill. So did several prominent politicians (included Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jeff Flake – both also Republicans), as well as the National Football League and Major League Baseball.

Television pundits from across the globe began a full scale assault on the bill. Even Fox News weighed in saying this was a bad piece of legislation…that is saying something!

This bill was, in essence, legalized discrimination. They must be crazy in Arizona right? Too much sun maybe? Imagine being mocked by the entire country? Told that your views were archaic and out of touch. Called “morally repugnant” by none other than John Stewart. The U.S. does not allow for discrimination of this kind, we’re better than that was the prevailing opinion.

Unless of course it’s the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the last bastion of Massachusetts-led, religious-based discrimination. Our own very special version of archaic and out of touch thinking. How dare gays and lesbians be allowed to march in your parade, you say.

“Saint Patrick was a Catholic archbishop and is a Catholic saint,” said C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic League, in a statement Thursday. “How do you honor a Catholic saint by providing a platform to those who express pride in rejecting Catholic morality? And who castigate that morality as bigotry, hatred and homophobia?”

Well Mr. Doyle, how about we ask the organizers of the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin? You know, the place where it all began. Apparently they have no problem at all reconciling your dilemma. They openly welcome gays and lesbians to take part in their parade and celebration.

By the way, have you taken a quick peek around Southie lately? In case you haven’t noticed it has become one of the hottest up-and-coming ‘gayborhoods’ in the region. There are Southie-based LGBT neighborhood groups such as One Southie and others. And along with this new influx of young straight and gay residents Southie has seen an incredible growth of beautiful new residential buildings, new restaurants and more.

Kudos to Mayor Menino and now Mayor Walsh for doing the right thing.

No gays and lesbians allowed huh? Can you imagine if someone in Boston ever put up a sign that read “No Irish Need Apply”? Oh wait…


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.


Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoes controversial 'discrimination' bill

Posted by David Zimmerman February 27, 2014 08:34 AM

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(AP)

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed Senate Bill 1062, also known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The bill, passed recently by a Republican led state legislature, created a firestorm across the country from concerned citizens, businesses, politicians, and even the National Football League and Major League Baseball.

If passed the bill would have allowed for Arizona businesses to practice ’legalized discrimination’ under the guise of religious freedom.

Brewer issued her veto last night at 5:45 p.m. A transcript of her remarks are below.

Good evening and thank you all for joining me here this evening.

I’m here to announce a decision on Senate Bill 1062. As with every proposal that reached my desk I give great concern and careful evaluation and deliberate consideration, especially to Senate Bill 1062.

I call them like I seem them despite the cheers or the boos from the crowd. I took the necessary time to make the right decision.

I met and spoke with my attorneys, lawmakers and citizens supporting and opposing this legislation.

As governor I have asked questions, and I have listened. I have protected religious freedoms where there is a specific and present concern that exists in our state, and I have the record to prove it.

My agenda is to sign into law legislation that advances Arizona. When I addressed the Legislature earlier this year, I made my priorities for this session abundantly clear. Among them are passing a responsible budget that continues Arizona’s economic comeback. From CEOs, to entrepreneurs, to business surveys, Arizona ranks as one of the best states to grow or start a business.

Additionally, our immediate challenge is fixing a broken child protection system. Instead, this is the first policy bill to cross my desk.

Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific or present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona.

I have not heard one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated. The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences. After weighing all of the arguments, I have vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago.

To the supporters of this legislation, I want you to know that I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before. Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes, however, I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve. It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and nobody could ever want.

Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value. So is non-discrimination. Going forward, let’s turn the ugliness of the debate over Senate Bill 1062 into a renewed search for greater respect and understanding among all Arizona and Americans.


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

The National Football League's statement regarding Arizona's 'discrimination' bill

Posted by David Zimmerman February 25, 2014 11:58 AM


SB1062, the controversial bill recently passed by the Arizona legislature that would allow for legalized discrimination, under the guise of religious freedom, has, apparently, caught the eye of the National Football League…among others. The bill, which will either get approved or vetoed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer this week has been a hot topic across the country with many civil rights activists and politicians (including several who initially voted to pass the bill) urging Brewer to use her power of veto.

The NFL is currently scheduled to hold the 2015 Super Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Yesterday, the host NFL team, the Arizona Cardinals, joined the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and the NFL in releasing statements regarding SB 1062.


From the Arizona Cardinals:

What so many love about football is its ability to bring people together. We do not support anything that has the potential to divide, exclude and discriminate. As a prominent and highly-visible member of this community, we strive to bring positive attention to the state. We are concerned with anything that creates a negative perception of Arizona and those of us who are fortunate to call it home.

From the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee:

We share the NFL’s core values which embrace tolerance, diversity, inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination. In addition, a key part of the mission for the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee is to promote the economic vitality of Arizona. On that matter we have heard loud and clear from our various stakeholders that adoption of this legislation would not only run contrary to that goal but deal a significant blow to the state’s economic growth potential. We do not support this legislation. Instead, we look forward to continuing to promote the NFL’s values while focusing on the economic momentum apparent in Arizona and capturing the positive worldwide attention associated with hosting Super Bowl XLIX.

From the NFL via spokesman Greg Aiello

"Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time."

Senator John McCain calls on Arizona Governor to veto 'discrimination bill'

Posted by David Zimmerman February 24, 2014 02:00 PM

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Today, GOP Senator John McCain joined a group of Arizona politicians who are urging their Governor, Jan Brewer, to veto Senate Bill 1062.

The bill, passed by a Republican-led state legislature, allows for legally sanctioned discrimination. It has been named the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”. Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Ron Barber have all previously asked Brewer to veto the bill.

The fallout from SB 1062 has been swift with one legislator who voted for the bill admitting to the Arizona Capital Times “I screwed up.” Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, told Capitol Media Services Sunday he now thinks the legislation, billed as providing protections for those of faith, is a bad idea. “I’m trying to make it right” he told Capitol Media Services.

And, according to Kristin Jarnagin, vice president of the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association, just the fact that the Legislature approved the measure has resulted in cancelled trips. “We have already lost untold amounts of tax dollars due to the negative perception that this legislation attaches to our state’s image, and the bill hasn’t even been signed into law yet,” she told the Arizona Capital Times.

“We literally begged lawmakers to consider the unintended consequences not only on our tourism industry but on our ability to attract new businesses and jobs to our state,” she said. “Unfortunately, those pleas fell on deaf ears.”


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Q&A with the gay man who could be the next governor of Maine

Posted by Jim Lopata February 24, 2014 01:33 AM


The Maine Gay Guy

If Mike Michaud hangs on to his lead in the polls, he could become the nation’s first openly gay person to be elected to a governorship, making him arguably the most powerful out politician in the U.S.

by Tony Giampetruzzi

Will Maine be the first state in the nation to elect an openly gay governor? It certainly could be if Congressman Mike Michaud (D-Maine) holds his (slim) lead in very early polls against other declared candidates, sitting Republican Governor Paul LePage and Independent businessman Eliot Cutler.

Michaud, 58, who announced his bid for the Blaine House last summer, put rumors to rest in November when he announced that he is gay in an op-ed that ran in Maine’s largest newspapers. Few people were shocked, something Michaud as much as predicted in his announcement.

“ … I wasn’t surprised to learn about the whisper campaigns, insinuations and push-polls some of the people opposed to my candidacy have been using to raise questions about my personal life. They want people to question whether I am gay,” he wrote. “Allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer: ‘Yes I am. But why should it matter?’”

The outcome was anything but dramatic. Just as states that legalize gay marriage no longer grab above-the-fold headlines, Michaud’s statement did little more than make him the eighth openly gay member of Congress and confirm what many people already seemed to know. There was little awe, even from the voters in his district, which rates as the largest east of the Mississippi, and one of the more conservative in New England.

“For me, it’s just a part of who I am, as much as being a third-generation mill worker or a lifelong Mainer,” Michaud wrote. “One thing I do know is that it has nothing to do with my ability to lead the state of Maine.”

Mainers agreed en masse. Polls immediately following Michaud’s op-ed showed no statistical shift in his support, and the media was hard pressed to find anyone who would turn against Michaud, even among those who have a bone to pick with homosexuals. In the Bangor Daily News article—“Spectrum of reactions to Michaud coming out: shock, surprise, ‘we all knew it’”—published a couple days after the oped, a comment from a 70-year-old retiree from a Millinocket paper mill may have been the most telling.

Dick Waceken said that “Michaud’s homosexuality, while known—‘if somebody’s gay, it gets around fast’—never mattered much.”

“We all knew Mike was gay,” Waceken told the Bangor Daily. “They still voted for him because he is from the area. And he’s an honest man. I think I am anti-gay. I think women should be with men and men should be with women, but I am still going to vote for Mike.”
For voters in his district, Michaud commands respect: like his father, and his grandfather before him, Michaud was a mill worker in northern Maine for 30 years before his election to Congress in 2002. During that time, he was elected seven times to the Maine Legislature, adjusting his shifts at the mill to accommodate an erratic schedule in Augusta.

In Congress, Michaud was staunchly pro-LGBT out of the gate, even going on record as opposed to previous versions of ENDA because it didn’t go far enough on trans inclusion.
With plenty of time for the political winds to shift in a state where a majority of voters identify as Independent, the gubernatorial race is just now starting to take form. All indicators suggest that it will be close and contentious: LePage maintains support from his own party despite a series of high profile gaffes, while Cutler appeals to Independent and Democratic voters who point to his fiscal experience in the private sector as enticing.

Now, with the gay question behind him and no loss of momentum, he tells Boston Spirit that he’s looking forward to the race, that he enjoys being a role model for those seeking to “come out,” and that, when he needs to blow off a little steam, pulling out the chainsaw and doing some backwoods work is the best stress-reliever.

[SPIRIT] For many people, uttering those words “I’m gay” publicly can be emancipating: how did you feel when, suddenly, it was no longer a secret?

[MICHAUD] Actually, people have been very supportive, After I came out and it made the news, support from family, friends and colleagues—from around the country and even some people from overseas who were originally from Maine—has been overwhelming. As I told one reporter, I’m the same Mike that I was last month or last year. I haven’t changed, but what has changed is that several people have come to me since I came out and they have told me that I provided them with the impetus to come out.

FULL ENTRY

Jason Collins to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, become the first openly gay active player in a major North American sport

Posted by David Zimmerman February 23, 2014 01:14 PM

Jason Collins will become the first openly gay active player in a major North American sports league later today according to several NBA league sources.

Collins, who played with the Boston Celtics for part of 2013, has not played since last year when he finished the season with the Washington Wizards. Following the season Collins came out as gay.

Once Collins signs what is expected to be a 10 day contract with the Brooklyn Nets (joining other former Celtics Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett) history will be made as it will mark the first time that a major pro sports team in the U.S. (counting the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball League, and the National Hockey League) will have an openly gay player on its roster.

Michael Sam, the Missouri football player who recently announced that he is gay, is expected to get drafted in the upcoming NFL draft and could be that leagues first openly gay player if he is able to make a final roster.

According to ESPN Collins worked out for the Nets last week.

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Arizona pizzeria refuses to serve legislators

Posted by David Zimmerman February 22, 2014 08:22 AM

In the wake of Arizona’s legislature recently passing a law that allows for discrimination (under the guise of religious freedom), a pizzeria in Tucson has decided that it will no longer serve Arizona legislators.

Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizza is taking a stand against the politicians who have voted in favor of Senate Bill 1062 which gives Arizona business owners the right to deny service to gays and others on the basis of religious freedom.

On Thursday the pizzeria posted a photo to its Facebook page (seen above) along with the message “"Funny how just being decent is starting to seem radical these days."

"A customer posted the sign to my Facebook feed, so I printed it up and laminated it," owner Anthony Rocco DiGrazia told The Huffington Post Friday (via Facebook). "The response has been overwhelming and almost all positive from across the globe. I just want to serve dinner and own and work in a place I'm proud of. Opening the door to government-sanctioned discrimination, regardless of why, is a huge step in the wrong direction. Thanks for all the support."

SB1062, which was approved along party lines (in the Republican controlled legislature) reads, in part:

Exercise of religion" means the PRACTICE OR OBSERVANCE OF RELIGION, INCLUDING THE ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.

From the Democratic side Senator Anna Tovar had this to say, "SB 1062 permits discrimination under the guise of religious freedom. With the express consent of Republicans in this Legislature, many Arizonans will find themselves members of a separate and unequal class under this law because of their sexual orientation. This bill may also open the door to discriminate based on race, familial status, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability."

While Republican Steve Yarborough had this take, "This bill is not about allowing discrimination. This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith."

The bill is now in front of Governor Jan Brewer who can either pass it or decide to veto it.


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Dear Abby responds to anti-gay couple seeking advice

Posted by David Zimmerman February 20, 2014 10:30 AM

A Florida couple might have gotten more than they asked for when they wrote in to Dear Abby seeking advice. The couple, who referred to themselves as “Unhappy in Tampa” wrote to the columnist looking for input regarding a situation with their “new neighbors”. The couple recently moved to Tampa and found out that several of their neighbors are gay. When it came time for the “Unhappy”couple to host the neighborhood get together they did not invite the gay couples because they “do not approve of their lifestyle choices.”

Since that time the “Unhappy” couple have been excluded from other neighborhood events and “someone even suggested that we are bigots!” the letter states.

“Abby, we moved here from a conservative community where people were pretty much the same. If people were "different," they apparently kept it to themselves. While I understand the phrase "when in Rome," I don't feel we should have to compromise our values just to win the approval of our neighbors. But really, who is the true bigot here? Would you like to weigh in?” the letter concludes.

At this point Abby took the opportunity to respond.

DEAR UNHAPPY: I sure would. The first thing I'd like to say is that regardless of what you were told in your previous community, a person's sexual orientation isn't a "lifestyle choice." Gay people don't choose to be gay; they are born that way. They can't change being gay any more than you can change being heterosexual.

I find it interesting that you are unwilling to reciprocate the hospitality of people who welcomed you and opened their homes to you, and yet you complain because you are receiving similar treatment.

From where I sit, you may have chosen the wrong place to live because it appears you would be happier in a less integrated neighborhood surrounded by people who think the way you do. But if you interact only with people like yourselves, you will have missed a chance for growth, which is what you have been offered here. Please don't blow it.

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Missouri students unite against Westboro Baptist Church

Posted by David Zimmerman February 17, 2014 08:39 AM

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(LGBTQ Nation)

More than 2,000 students and supporters at the University of Missouri formed a “Wall of Love” around the campus on Saturday in a show of support for Michael Sam. Sam is the Missouri football player who announced recently that he is gay.

The wall was formed in an effort to keep members of he Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) from entering the campus. The WBC, home of the anti-gay extremists behind the “God Hate Fags” and “God hates the World” fundamentalist movement, was there to protest Sam.

“I came out just to stand by a cause that I think is really worthy and to show that love really is greater than hate,” said Rachel Bauer, a graduate student at Mizzou.

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(AP)

“I think that it was brave and I was proud of him. I’m also proud of Mizzou because they didn’t make an issue of it. I think today was more about celebrating Michael Sam rather than anything to do with Westboro Baptist,” said Sarah Senff, also a student at Mizzou.

Sam was back on campus to be with his teammates as they were honored at the Missouri/Tennessee basketball game. When the team took to the court to be recognized for winning the Cotton Bowl Sam received a standing ovation from the crowd.


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Facebook adds 50 new options for gender identity

Posted by David Zimmerman February 16, 2014 09:52 AM

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(AP)

Facebook has added some new choices for its more than 159 million users in the U.S.. No, the choices do have to do with the advertisements that users will see, or their newsfeed, the social media giant has added approximately 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender as well as three preferred pronoun choices: him, her or them.

“There’s going to be a lot of people for whom this is going to mean nothing, but for the few it does impact, it means the world,” said Facebook software engineer Brielle Harrison, who worked on the project and is herself undergoing gender transformation, from male to female. On Thursday, Harrison changed her Facebook identity from Female to TransWoman.

“All too often transgender people like myself and other gender nonconforming people are given this binary option, do you want to be male or female? What is your gender? And it’s kind of disheartening because none of those let us tell others who we really are,” she said. “This really changes that, and for the first time I get to go to the site and specify to all the people I know what my gender is.”

Facebook, which has 1.15 billion active monthly users around the world, also allows them to keep their gender identity private and will continue to do so.

“We applaud Facebook for making it possible for people to be their authentic selves online,” said Masen Davis, executive director of the San Francisco-based Transgender Law Center .

According to representatives from Facebook the change did not happen overnight. The company consulted with a variety of LGBT activists and organizations before the recent roll-out. And, while only available in the U.S. right now, the plan is to take the initiative worldwide.

“Really, there was no debate within Facebook about the social implications at all,” said Alex Schultz, director of growth. “It was simple: Not allowing people to express something so fundamental is not really cool so we did something. Hopefully a more open and connected world will, by extension, make this a more understanding and tolerant world.”


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Michael Sam's father not supportive of his son's coming out

Posted by David Zimmerman February 12, 2014 08:48 AM

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(AP)

"I couldn't eat no more, so I went to Applebee's to have drinks," said Sam Sr. "I don't want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment." “I’m old school, I’m a man-and-a-woman type of guy.”

That comment is from Michael Sam Sr., father of openly gay Missouri football player Michael Sam. Sam Sr. made the comment upon receiving a text from his son stating “Dad, I’m gay”.

This past Sunday Michael Sam, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, came out to the world in the New York Times and on ESPN. Since that time his story has been dominating sports talk across the country. While Sam has received a largely supportive response, it would appear that his father is less than pleased.

"As a black man, we have so many hurdles to cross. This is just one he has to cross," said Sam Sr.. He went on to day that he is “old school” and that former NFL Hall of Famer Deacon Jones must be “turning over in his grave,” at the idea of an openly gay man playing in the NFL. Sam Sr. also added that he had taken an older son, Michael's brother, to Mexico to lose his virginity.

While coming out this past weekend Sam also described his upbringing.

"I endured so much in my past: seeing my older brother killed from a gunshot wound, not knowing that my oldest sister died when she was a baby and I never got the chance to meet her," he said. "My second-oldest brother went missing in 1998, and me and my little sister were the last ones to see him ... my other two brothers have been in and out of jail since eighth grade, currently both in jail.”

"Telling the world I'm gay is nothing compared to that."

In his interview Sam Sr. also said that he loves his son and hopes that he makes it to the NFL.


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5

How would a Boston sports team handle a gay teammate? Just fine.

Posted by David Zimmerman February 10, 2014 11:37 AM


In the wake of college football player Michael Sam announcing that he is gay, there has been a lot of talk about what would happen if a player came out as gay in the Boston market.

Over the past several years Boston Spirit has been fortunate enough to work with several of the professional teams in Boston on this very topic. In 2011 Robert Kraft served as the keynote speaker at Boston Spirit’s LGBT Executive Networking Night. A year later when Jason Collins came out Kraft was quick to congratulate Collins in a statement from the team.

“My hearty congratulations to him,” Kraft said.

And when asked about the possibility of a Patriots player coming out, Kraft responded, “We’re about winning, and [if] someone can come in here and help us win I don’t care what ethnic background, what racial background, what gender preference they have, if they can help us win and they’re about team then I’ll be happy to have them here.”

In December 2012 Boston Spirit had the chance to sit down for an exclusive one on one interview with Boston Bruins enforcer Shaun Thornton. Thornton was quick to point out that, in his opinion, the Bruins would be very supportive of a gay teammate.

Boston Spirit: What do you think would happen if one of your teammates announced he was gay?

Shawn Thornton: Honestly, my teammates are like family so there would be support. I would personally [support] him and I’m pretty sure everyone in our locker room would. We’ve got a pretty good bunch of guys. I don’t think there would be any issues.

BS: If a player did come out, would he get targeted more on the ice?

ST: It depends. There are some things said out there [during games] that probably shouldn’t be said, but the league is very good at clamping down on players that say anything derogatory. I’m not going to pretend that out of 740 guys [the total number of players in the NHL] that you aren’t going to find someone who says something inappropriate but I think, for the most part, it would be fine. I can’t speak for everyone, but for myself it wouldn’t be an issue.

BS: And what about you, have you always been supportive of the LGBT community?

ST: My hometown is a very blue collar, industrial place. There isn’t much of a [gay] community there, but 20 minutes down the road was Toronto. So while I didn’t really grow up with a huge gay community there was one close by and it’s never been an issue with me.

BS: Are you concerned at all about what some people might think seeing you speaking about this topic?

ST: Whatever, I think I can defend myself (laughing).

In September of 2012 Boston Spirit sat down with then Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers. Rivers, years earlier, was the coach of the Orlando Magic. At that time he had the chance to coach a player named John Amaechi. Amaechi came out as a gay man shortly after retiring from the NBA.

Rivers, like Thornton and Kraft, felt as though the Celtics locker room (the 2012-2013 Celtics) would not have any problem with having a gay teammate.

BS: ESPN asked some ‘experts’ recently which league would be the worst at handling a gay player and the NBA was the pick. Do you think that’s the case?

DR: I think the NBA might have been named as worst, and I don’t think it should be, because the NBA has always had an image problem, because people know who you are. They see you, the players are in shorts and tank tops, everyone sees your face and there’s only twelve of us. When you have people with baseball hats on, and helmets, you don’t really get to see them. People know us and I think that might be why the NBA got picked. I think the reaction by all the sports would be about the same. I don't think one would be better or worse than the other. Hockey has its ethics code; baseball has its own clubhouse rules, and football does too. I personally think people are more open-minded than they get credit for. I've always believed that. I remember when I was playing for the Knicks and I was doing something on Imus [the Don Imus radio program] — I think I was injured at the time — he asked me if there were any gays in basketball and I said "yeah, absolutely." The next day I got a call from the league and said "Did you say that?" and I said, "Listen guys, it’s a ratio, just look at the numbers." It was an obvious answer, it was easy.

BS: David Stern and Charles Barkley have both said that the NBA is ready for an openly gay player. In your opinion, is the league ready?

DR: I think it is. I think it would depend on the team but even with a bad team, I think it would be a story for about a week and then it would go away. It would really help if it were a good player [laughing]. If you're a bad player the team doesn't care what your sexual orientation is, and if you’re a good player the team doesn't really care what your sexual orientation is — that’s the bottom line.

BS: Shaun Thornton of the Bruins told me that if one of the Bruins came out, he would fully support that player and he felt the rest of the team would too. He compared the team to a family. Do you feel the same thing would happen with your team?

DR: Absolutely. They would support him first, and then harass him second [laughing] — in a locker room fun way, not in a bad way. He would get razzed just like his teammates would get razzed. There would be no difference or change. I think it would be a one week story at home. Eventually one of the players would get upset because every time you go to a road game, the road reporter who hadn’t had a chance to ask the question would want to ask it and the player would finally say, "I'm done with this'" and that’s what would happen.


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5

MassEquality honors Speaker DeLeo with Political Icon award

Posted by David Zimmerman February 10, 2014 09:48 AM

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MassEquality has announced that House Speaker Robert DeLeo will be honored as a Political Icon at their upcoming ICON Awards ceremony. Also receiving awards will be community leader and philanthropist Harry Collings, as MassEquality’s 2014 Philanthropic Icon, and Boston-based, national consumer healthcare advocate, Community Catalyst as the 2014 Community Icon.

The Icon Awards celebrate the exceptional leadership of individuals and organizations who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to bettering the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people and allies in the Commonwealth through elected office, legislative advocacy and public education and engagement.

Now in its third year, the 2014 Icon Awards gala also will celebrate the 10th anniversary of marriage equality in Massachusetts by honoring a special group of individuals, advocates and policy makers whose history-making leadership preserved equal marriage for generations to come by convincing 151 of 200 State House lawmakers to keep the issue off the ballot in Massachusetts.

The awards highlight game-changing allies in MassEquality’s recent efforts to ensure a majority of pro-LGBTQ champions in the State House and secure legislation and policy to end youth bullying, advance protections for transgender people in public spaces, improve HIV/AIDS prevention, support older LGBTQ adults, improve health care access and ensure a fairer workplace for LGBTQ individuals and couples who are disproportionately impacted by efforts to secure equal pay for equal work, raise the minimum wage, and expand access to workplace sick leave.

“I’m honored to receive this award and to be a part of the LGBTQ community. I’m especially honored to receive this award from MassEquality because without it my partner of 32 years and I would not have had a wonderful wedding to celebrate our relationship,” said Harry Collings.

“Community Catalyst is honored by this recognition and proud to work with MassEquality to advance the rights of the LGBT community. We look forward to continuing our work with MassEquality and other partners around the country to ensure all LGBT individuals and their families have access to high quality, affordable health care,” said Community Catalyst Executive Director Rob Restuccia.

“For some of us in the legislature, the fight for marriage equality was incredibly personal, but for all of us, it was transformative,” said Jarrett Barrios, chief executive officer for the American Red Cross of Massachusetts and the first openly gay man to serve in the Massachusetts legislature. “We are so honored to be recognized for our work but, to a person, know how blessed we are to have had the opportunity to be part of this historic victory.
“From HIV/AIDS to transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination and health care to marriage equality, each of these awardees has envisioned, initiated and championed campaigns on the most cutting edge issues of our time,” said Kara Coredini, executive director of MassEquality. “The honor is all ours to thank them and to hold them up as the standard setters for advancing justice and equality for all LGBTQ people from cradle to grave.”

Political Icon: Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo
House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s leadership was central to the successful effort to pass the Transgender Equal Rights Bill and in ongoing efforts to address the epidemic of LGBTQ youth homelessness, end anti-LGBTQ schoolyard bullying, and ensure state support for life-saving social services for older LGBTQ adults, survivors of intimate partner violence and those living with HIV/AIDS. Speaker DeLeo first championed LGBTQ civil rights while working on the House Committee on Ways and Means. He was one of the first state legislators to allocate funds for LGBTQ youth and persisted in these efforts despite receiving hate mail from some of his constituents and from other people across the country. Speaker DeLeo has been outspoken about his commitment to addressing the epidemic of LGBTQ youth homelessness in the Commonwealth.

Philanthropic Icon: Harry Collings
Harry Collings has been the LGBTQ community’s “ambassador” for more than four decades. When the AIDS Action Committee was founded in 1983, Harry led the remarkable all volunteer fundraising effort, and helped build the organization that became one of the most important agencies in the U.S. fighting the AIDS epidemic. Harry went on to manage the first capital campaign for Fenway Health, negotiating the donation of land, commandeering the funds, and overseeing the construction of its first new building in 1991. On the political front, Harry has worked closely with Mayors Kevin White and Ray Flynn and, for 20 years, he has enjoyed a close relationship with his personal friend, Mayor Thomas M. Menino. Philanthropically, Harry has given away almost as much money as he has raised, supporting a wide variety of LGBTQ causes and MassEquality partners such as AIDS Action, Fenway Health, The Theater Offensive and Community Servings. He married his long-time partner, Dan Moon, in 2005.

Community Icon: Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is a Boston-based, national consumer health advocacy organization working to ensure that all individuals and communities can influence the local, state and national decisions that affect their health. In the last year, Community Catalyst has championed Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation that serves the needs of LGBTQ individuals and families. This includes ensuring non-discrimination in state-based, partnership and federally-facilitated marketplaces, ensuring consumer assistance programs (such as Navigators) are culturally competent, and influencing the inclusivity of the essential health benefits package. Community Catalyst has been persistent in its efforts to ensure better access to health coverage for LGBTQ individuals and their families, including organizing and leading the effort to ensure access to health insurance coverage for transgender-related medical care.

Special Recognition: Marriage Champions
MassEquality formed in 2002 as a coalition of local and national LGBTQ organizations working to promote marriage equality in the Commonwealth. After the historic Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health court decision in 2003 declared that same-sex couples could not be denied civil marriage rights in Massachusetts, MassEquality and its partners worked until 2007 to keep the decision off the ballot. By securing support from a supermajority of State House lawmakers – an incredible 151 of 200 – to keep an anti-marriage amendment to the state constitution off the ballot on June 14, 2007, MassEquality and its partners succeeded in preserving Massachusetts’ leadership as the first freedom-to-marry state, ensuring marriage equality for generations to come and catalyzing marriage equality victories in dozens of other states across the U.S. as well as the demise of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The 2014 Icon Awards will bring together and salute many of the people who were most influential in the campaign to preserve equal marriage in Massachusetts from 2002 - 2007. This coalition of campaign workers, legislators, advocates and opinion-leaders formed the foundation for MassEquality — and changed the world as we knew it.

CLICK HERE for more information on the MassEquality ICON event.


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

NFL prospect Michael Sam comes out as "proud gay man"

Posted by David Zimmerman February 9, 2014 10:04 PM

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(AP)


The NFL’s first openly gay football player might come as the result of the upcoming 2014 college draft. Michael Sam, an All-American defensive lineman from Missouri and the Associated Press' SEC Defensive Player of the Year, said that he is gay in an interview with ESPN's "Outside the Lines" on Sunday.

"I am an openly, proud gay man," Sam said. “I understand how big this is," he said. "It's a big deal. No one has done this before. And it's kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be ... I want to be a football player in the NFL."

Sam also revealed in the interview that his college coaches knew he was gay and that, apparently, so did many other players. "I didn't realize how many people actually knew, and I was afraid that someone would tell or leak something out about me," he said. "I want to own my truth. ... No one else should tell my story but me."

When it came time to tell hiws coaches Sam was understandably nervous. "I was kind of scared, even though they already knew. Just to see their reaction was awesome. They supported me from Day One. I couldn't have better teammates. ... I'm telling you what: I wouldn't have the strength to do this today if I didn't know how much support they'd given me this past semester."

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said in a statement that he's proud of Sam.

"We're really happy for Michael that he's made the decision to announce this, and we're proud of him and how he represents Mizzou," Pinkel said. "Michael is a great example of just how important it is to be respectful of others, he's taught a lot of people here first-hand that it doesn't matter what your background is, or your personal orientation, we're all on the same team and we all support each other."

Sam also took some time during the interview to discuss his upbringing and how past adversity has helped get him during this time.

"I endured so much in my past: seeing my older brother killed from a gunshot wound, not knowing that my oldest sister died when she was a baby and I never got the chance to meet her. My second oldest brother went missing in 1998, and me and my little sister were the last ones to see him ... my other two brothers have been in and out of jail since 8th grade, currently both in jail.

"Telling the world I'm gay is nothing compared to that."

On Sunday night, the NFL released a statement supporting Sam.

"We admire Michael Sam's honesty and courage," NFL senior vice president of communications Greg Aiello said in the statement. "Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014."


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford wants rainbow flag taken down

Posted by David Zimmerman February 7, 2014 03:27 PM

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(AP)


Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford wants the rainbow flag flying at the city’s City Hall taken down.

The flag, flying at many city halls across Canada is there as a show of support to gay athletes competing in the Olympics currently taking place in Sochi Russia. “It’s not about someone’s sexual preference,” Ford said. “I do not agree with putting up the rainbow flag. We should put our Canadian flag up.”

When told the gesture was meant to protest anti-gay laws in Russia, Ford replied: "Let Russia do what they want. We're Canadians here.''

Other elected officials in Toronto have come down on both sides of the issue. Councillor Sarah Doucette said she doesn't agree with Ford's position as there are already Canadian flags flying at city hall. "If he's not prepared to change then I don't think he should be mayor," she said.

While Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong said an Olympic or Canadian flag should be raised instead. "This should be about sport and about Canadians," he said. Ford is no stranger to controversy with the LGBT community. He has routinely skipped Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade and plans to skip it again this year too.

"I'm not going to go to the Pride parade," he said recently. "I've never gone to a Pride parade. So I'm not going to change the way I am."

To see all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5

Google shows support for gay Olympic athletes

Posted by David Zimmerman February 7, 2014 08:56 AM

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To coincide with the opening of the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi Google has designed a ‘Doodle’ on it’s search homepage showing a rainbow colored, Olympic themed image in a show of support for LGBT athletes at the games and the LGBT community at large

Along with the image, the page also shows a quote from the Olympic Charter which states, "The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play."

Google is following in the footsteps of AT & T which, earlier this week, became the first sponsor of the games to speak out against Russia’s anti-gay policies stating, "Russia's law is harmful to LGBT individuals and families, and it's harmful to a diverse society."

Google’s move was met with support from many human rights organizations including The Human Rights Campaign (HRC). "Alongside Olympic sponsors like AT&T, Google has made a clear and unequivocal statement that Russia’s anti-LGBT discrimination is indefensible. Now it’s time for each and every remaining Olympic sponsor to follow their lead. The clock is ticking, and the world is watching," said Chad Griffin, President of HRC.

This is not the first time Google has expressed its support for the LGBT community. The company has been outspoken in its support for marriage equality and in 2012 launched a company wide initiative called “Legalise Love,” that it described as a call to decriminalize homosexuality and eliminate homophobia around the world. The company also recognizes gay pride season each year by customizing search boxes to turn rainbow-colored when terms like “gay” and “gay pride” are entered.


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Coca Cola becomes first company to air a Super Bowl ad with a gay couple

Posted by David Zimmerman February 3, 2014 06:37 PM

Coca-Cola on Sunday became the first advertiser to feature a gay family in a Super Bowl television commercial.

The ad, titled ‘Beautiful’, shows a video montage highlighting a wide range of America’s diversity while the song ‘America the Beautiful’ is sung in seven different languages.
At approximately the :44 second mark the commercial fades to a clip that shows two male partners roller-skating with their daughter.

The timing of the ad is especially notable as Coca Cola has come under attack recently for their sponsorship of the Sochi Olympics and their relatively silent response to LGBT and human rights groups who have been asking the company to take a more vocal stand against Russia’s anti-gay policies.

“Coca-Cola has demonstrated to corporate America that being LGBT-inclusive is good business, but as the world turns its attention to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, it’s time for sponsors of the Olympics like Coca-Cola to show the whole world how beautiful LGBT families are,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement after the ad aired.

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Human rights groups urge Olympic corporate sponsors to speak out against Russia's policies

Posted by David Zimmerman February 3, 2014 11:43 AM

Corporate sponsors of the Sochi Winter Olympics should act now to urge Russia to halt the rising tide of discrimination, harassment and threats against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, 40 of the world’s leading human rights and LGBT groups said today, in a joint open letter.

The letter to all of the leading sponsors of the Sochi Olympics asks them to use their leverage as underwriters of the 2014 Winter Games in a variety of concrete ways. The groups urged sponsors to speak out against Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law, which violates the Olympic Charter’s principle of non-discrimination, and to ask the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to undertake systemic reforms to monitor and prevent human rights abuses in future host countries.

“Time is running out for the sponsors to take a clear stand in defense of Olympic values,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch. “These companies are sponsoring an Olympics marred by ugly discrimination and serious rights abuses. They should speak out forcefully for equality and human rights.”

The joint letter is addressed to the 10 TOP Sponsors of the Sochi Games (members of “The Olympic Partner” (TOP) Program)--Atos, Coca Cola, Dow Chemical, General Electric, McDonald’s, Omega, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, and Visa. The Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch and several other groups have engaged with the sponsors for nearly a year to urge them to act on abuses.

“Corporate sponsors are failing to stand up for Olympic values, which they proudly claim to be the core of the Olympic brand,” said Andre Banks, executive director and co-founder of All Out. "The International Olympic Committee has confirmed that the Olympic Charter’s Principle 6 includes protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation. While the Russian government may be considering amendments to the anti-gay laws, sponsors still don’t have a good reason to remain silent way while gays and lesbians in Russia suffer.”

The letter was signed by a wide range of international human rights organizations, including All Out, Amnesty International, Athlete Ally, Freedom House, Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, PEN and the Russian LGBT Network.

The complete list can be found at the bottom of the letter.

The groups call on the Olympic sponsors to take four specific actions:

*Individually and/or collectively, condemn Russia’s anti-LGBT “propaganda” law, which clearly violates the Sixth Fundamental Principle of the Olympic Charter (“Any form of discrimination… is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement”);

*Use their Olympics-related marketing and advertising – both domestically and internationally – to promote equality;

* Ask the International Olympic Committee to create a body or other mechanism to prevent serious Olympics-related human rights abuses in host countries and to monitor those that do occur; and

* Urge the IOC to ensure that future Olympic host countries comply with their commitment to uphold the Olympic Charter, including the principles of non-discrimination and media freedom.

“Corporations with a track record of support for equality should not shy away from their espoused values by staying silent as Russia wages an attack on its LGBT community,” said Ty Cobb, director of global engagement for the Human Rights Campaign. “In just a few days Russia will be trying to present an international image of a strong, vibrant country. Corporate sponsors must condemn Russia’s anti-gay law and not advance President Putin’s pageantry.”

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

Fontbonne Academy alumnae issue statement, start Facebook group, to protest anti-gay firing

Posted by David Zimmerman February 2, 2014 08:31 AM

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(AP)

A group of alumnae from Fontbonne Academy in Milton have started a Facebook group “Ducks Against Discrimination (the ‘Ducks’ is the name the school uses for its athletic teams), in response to the news this week that the school had fired a food services worker (only 3 days after hiring him) upon finding out he is gay.

One alum, Christa D. Labouliere, Ph.D., has also penned an open letter to Boston Spirit to express her disappointment in Fontbonne. In the letter (which can be seen in its entirety below) Labouliers states that “hundreds of alumnae were appalled to learn of the alleged discriminative behavior of the current administration toward Mr. Matthew Barrett. Regardless of Catholic doctrine, everyone deserves the same basic human rights, and rescinding a job offer to a gay man who would not be in any sort of proselytizing role is not “religious freedom;” it is outright bigotry. We are saddened that FBA appears to have somehow regressed in their morality over the past 10-15 years, as some of our favorite and most influential faculty members were openly homosexual (even in the theology department!).”

After only 3 days the Facebook group has amassed more than 1,000 members.

Christa Labouliere’s letter:

When I attended FontbonneAcademy from 1996-2000, we were taught social justice, to be “women of integrity” and “courage” strong enough to stand up for what we believe. We “Fontbonne Ducks” took pride in the fact that Fontbonne followed the true meaning of Catholic and preached a message of inclusion to people from all walks of life. FBA was unique amongst similar Catholic institutions for their progressive stance that embraced openly LGBT faculty and students, and this accepting and respectful atmosphere helped formed students into the strong, capable, compassionate women we are today.

That is why hundreds of alumnae were appalled to learn of the alleged discriminative behavior of the current administration toward Mr. Matthew Barrett. Regardless of Catholic doctrine, everyone deserves the same basic human rights, and rescinding a job offer to a gay man who would not be in any sort of proselytizing role is not “religious freedom;” it is outright bigotry. We are saddened that FBA appears to have somehow regressed in their morality over the past 10-15 years, as some of our favorite and most influential faculty members were openly homosexual (even in the theology department!). We alumnae are disturbed to think of the message being sent to the impressionable minds currently attending FBA – that the future female leaders of tomorrow are being indoctrinated with hate rather than respect, being taught to close their eyes tighter rather than opening their hearts wider.

We were taught to do what was right even if it was unpopular. As such, there are many alumnae who want to stand and state proudly that we DO NOT support the actions of Fontbonne Academy’s administration. Blatant discrimination IS NOT indicative of the belief system of FBA’s alumnae, and does not represent us. We want the FBA administration and the world at large to know that these actions do not define us; they defy us. We have started “Ducks Against Discrimination,” a Facebook page that gained over 500 alumnae members in its first 12 hours and is currently over 1,000 members strong. Jesus preached a message of love, tolerance, and benevolence; we are disheartened that institutions that operate in His name cannot do the same.

Always,
Christa D. Labouliere, Ph.D


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.

About the author: Boston Spirit Magazine’s daily blog brings you all of the information you need on New England’s LGBT community. In addition to highlighting local and national LGBT news, we will also highlight local leaders from the worlds of business, politics, fashion and entertainment and keep you up-to-date on all the latest events and parties, hot spots for travel, shopping, dining, and more!
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