The LGBT South is a weekly email newsletter, compiling national, regional, and local news important to LGBT Southerners. Subscribe to get the latest edition to your inbox every Friday morning and keep up with what the Campaign for Southern Equality is up to!
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“The early gay liberationists were really radical, they came out of black power, they came out of black civil rights. But by the early 1980s you begin to see is that commitment…dissipating. People who saw themselves as gay were already politicized and were already radical and were already on the fringes, and as gay becomes more acceptable…you begin losing that radical fringe.”
– Jim Downs, author of Stand By Me: The Forgotten History of Gay Liberation, on the radical politics of Pride
Here’s your breakdown of what’s happening this week in the #LGBTsouth:
PRIDE AND PROTEST
This Pride Month, many people in the LGBTQ community are feeling a different kind of energy surrounding their celebrations. In the shadow of the Trump administration, the focus of Pride seems to be shifting from celebrating and acknowledging the history of resistance in the LGBTQ community to resuming that fight in the present. Pride was initially held in June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, which took place in June 1969, and which many people see as being the start of the LGBT rights movement. But in recent years, many people have become frustrated with the increasing corporate involvement in Prides as well as police presence. Catalina Ruby, an undocumented trans woman from D.C. says, “Pride should not be a PR platform or an opportunity for the police to march with us. That is concerning because trans and queer people continue to be profiled and targeted by law enforcement agencies.” While some have been feeling excluded by Prides in recent years, in many places this year, it seems to be returning to and recognizing its roots or resistance, driven by queer and trans people of color.
While major cities have had Pride parades since the ’70s and many areas can take for granted the access to Pride celebrations, many smaller cities still lack these events. In Biloxi, Mississippi, three local community members are holding the first Gulf Coast LGBT+ Pride Day this year. Largely influenced by Trump’s election and a fear that things may be regressing post-marriage equality, the organizers, Stephanie Powers, Lynn Koval, and Jana Riley, hope the event will show young people in the area how much support they have in their community.
Pride is also a time to celebrate the incredible individuals that make up our community, and this feature from USA Today highlights members of the LGBTQ community from each state, showcasing their activism, art, and achievements. And one LGBTQ icon, Edie Windsor, who will serve as Grand Marshall for Capital Pride in Washington, D.C., sat down to discuss her status as a living legend and what’s next for LGBTQ rights and the Supreme Court.
CARING FOR OUR COMMUNITIES
There are some specific healthcare challenges that face the LGBTQ community, from higher rates of HIV/AIDS and other STIs to transition-related care and trans-affirming primary care, and reports consistently show that our current system often fails our communities. Trans patients may have to travel long distances to find competent care, be placed on long waitlists, be subjected to discrimination, and be forced to educate their doctors on how to care for them. Doctors may ask inappropriate or irrelevant questions about patients’ gender identity or blame unrelated issues on the patient being trans, while also overlooking issues that are more prevalent in the trans community, such as disordered eating. All of this can lead some trans people to seek out information online and neglect preventative care.
While rates of HIV infections are generally declining, Black gay and bisexual men, particularly in the South, continue to have the highest rates of infection in the U.S. and the world. And many people living with HIV in the South are unaware of their status, underlining the need for preventive services and testing. This fantastic long-read from The New York Times highlights community efforts in Jackson, Miss. to ensure men have access to and are reliably taking their medications as well as providing support groups and housing. While our long-term focus should remain on making sure people have access to the professional care they need, these stories prove that our communities have always and continue to care for one another.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott called a special session of the legislature to address bathroom rights for trans folks, abortion access, and voter fraud among other topics.
Activist Chokwe Lumumba won his mayoral race in Jackson, Miss., running on a progressive platform that includes criminal justice and education reform.
With summer approaching, this list provides some gender-neutral swimwear options for all kinds of genders and bodies.
The United Methodist Church, which has not allowed LGBTQ people to serve as clergy, has appointed a non-binary person as a deacon for the first time.
WHAT THE CAMPAIGN FOR SOUTHERN EQUALITY IS UP TO
We are excited to launch Safe Schools, Safe Communities, a new round of rapid response grants to promote safety in schools and communities across the South.
We’re open to all kinds of ideas. If it will make your community safer, we want to hear about it – whether you’re organizing a rally to speak out against violence against trans women of color; hosting trainings to provide sanctuary for undocumented immigrants; educating legislators about the importance of access to affordable healthcare; or building a coalition of staff, faculty and parents to reduce bullying against LGBTQ, immigrant and Muslim students.
We need all of these efforts and more to protect and defend those who are most vulnerable in our communities across the South. Click here to apply for funding today.
We will accept and review applications for grants of up to $500 on an ongoing basis. Applicants will receive a response within one month of submission.
We are excited to host a series of FREE “Protect Yourself” Clinic that centers the trans experience.
Led by and for trans folks, these clinics will cover a range of safety issues including: trainings in self defense and pepper spray, writing a safety plan, and using safety apps on your phone. Free and confidential HIV testing and counseling will also be available.
Clinics are coming up in both Winston-Salem, NC and Huntsville, AL on June 10 and in Atlanta, GA on June 23 (this clinic will be accessible to Spanish speakers). Thanks to The Knights and Orchids Society, Pride Winston-Salem, North Star Community Center, and Estrella Sanchez for co-hosting!