GLAAD Reports 11% Increase in LGBTQ Discrimination in 2017

Rainbow Flag (Sauk Valley)

Rainbow Flag (Sauk Valley)

It’s no secret that the LGBTQ community has faced discrimination throughout history. And it looked like that things were getting better (to rip from Dan Savage). But the data tells a different story.

LGBT organization GLAAD recently released the results from its Accelerating Acceptance study at the World Economic Forum. GLAAD has put out this study every year since 2014 to measure attitudes towards people who identify as LGBTQ. This year’s study polled 2.1K+ people, and found that, we’re not making progress as one might reasonably expect. We’re actually backsliding.

The study found that non-LGBTQ people have become more uncomfortable in everyday situations where they might interact with members of the LGBTQ community. Situations included “having LGBT members at my place of worship” and “seeing a same-sex couple holding hands.” The percentage of respondents reporting discomfort ticked upwards at least two percentage points year-over-year (2016 vs. 2017) in each category.

Non-LGBT people are also shying away from calling themselves allies: The term dropped 2% in preference year-over-year. “Detached supporters” (defined as non-LGBT people whose comfort level depended on the situation) gained 4% in popularity.

LGBT people also reported more discrimination in 2017, leading to an 11% increase in reported harassment from 2016. It doesn’t take a genius to draw parallels between this stat and the kind of person who currently occupies the Oval Office.

Here’s where it gets interesting: Despite the decreases in the numbers of non-LGBT people reporting being comfortable around the LGBT community, the reported support for equal rights for LGBT people held steady year-over-year at 79%.

One thing that’s unclear is the methodology used: Are these results self-reported, or were respondents selected by another method? And did people lie about supporting equal rights, but tell the truth everywhere else? I’d love to know this.

This study is very disheartening. We still have a long way to go until it truly gets better.

 

 

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California Public Schools Will Now Require Teaching LGBT History

Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, 1987 (The Washington Post)

Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, 1987 (The Washington Post)

California has long been one of the most progressive states in the union, fearlessly blazing a trail where other states dare not tread.

OK, maybe I’m biased because I live here.

But California is about to do something (else) no other state has done: require teaching LGBT history in public schools.

Granted, this isn’t a complete shock. Last year, the state voted to pass a new curriculum for history and social studies where children will learn about LGBT history at various points during K-12 schooling. Topics will range from learning about diverse families in elementary school to historical nuts-and-bolts in high school.

(Side note: A public forum was held in 2015 regarding the new curriculum. While there were disagreements over how some religious groups were portrayed, “no one protested the inclusion of the history of LGBT rights.” Progress!)

This measure comes after the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful Act (FAIR) Education Act was passed in 2012. This act bolstered the inclusion of minority groups (including the LGBT community) in public education on history. The deadline to include this new information in textbooks was this year.

With California leading the way, I hope other states will follow suit in teaching inclusive history to their students.

 

New York City Issues the First U.S. Intersex Birth Certificate

Sara Kelly Keenan (LGBTQ Nation)

Sara Kelly Keenan (LGBTQ Nation)

In December 2016, New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene re-issued a birth certificate to Sara Kelly Keenan. The action made history: Keenan’s corrected birth certificate denoted her intersex identity. (Keenan uses female pronouns.) The new birth certificate is the first one ever in the U.S. to note the gender identity.

The term “intersex” refers to a physical condition where one’s anatomy does not fully line up as either male or female. Keenan is “genetically male with female genitalia and mixed internal reproductive anatomy.” When Keenan was born, her birth certificate originally read “male,” but was changed to “female” three weeks later.

This change has been a long time coming, seeing as Keenan is 55 years old. She’s seen a lot of changes, especially within the fields of reproductive health and anatomy: When Keenan was born, “hermaphrodite” was the commonly accepted term for her condition.

Previous to the birth certificate change, Keenan had self-identified as non-binary (that is, neither male nor female).

Trends: Female Superheroes’ LGBT Sexuality

Wonder Woman in 'Justice League' (Pink News UK)

Wonder Woman in ‘Justice League’ (Pink News UK)

Last week, DC comics writer Greg Rucka gave voice to what a lot of people suspected for many years: Wonder Woman is queer.

Shocking. (That was sarcastic.)

So far, Rucka is the only person affiliated with DC to speak definitively on Wonder Woman’s sexuality. But he said it’s canon, so…it’s canon. Take it as gospel.

Previous to this “revelation” (if you can call it that), Wonder Woman’s sexuality had been on the table virtually since she debuted in 1941. Think about it: she lived on an island populated solely by women. Audiences can read between the lines.

Wonder Woman isn’t the only strong female protagonist in comics confirmed to be queer. In 2006, Batwoman’s alter ego Kate (also known as Kathy) Kane came out as a lesbian. Batwoman debuted in 1956. (Does this mean it took Kate/Batwoman 50 years to figure out her sexuality?) In 2007, it was announced that Batwoman would be part of DC’s graphic novel series 52, which aimed to depict modern times (relationships included) more accurately.

Batwoman received her own love story with detective Renee Montoya in 2016’s animated movie Batman: Bad Blood. As you might assume, Batwoman is most closely associated with Batman. (Fun fact: Batwoman was originally created to counteract public perception that Batman might be gay.) But thus far, Batwoman (with or without her sexuality) has not been featured in a big-budget live-action movie.

Though she isn’t part of DC or its main rival Marvel Comics, Xena from the TV series Xena: Warrior Princess counts as a superhero in my book. New Zealand actress Lucy Lawless starred as the titular character, a reformed warrior who travels the world doing good deeds for various civilizations. Her friend Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor) usually traveled with her. The two (and the show) quickly developed a cult following, especially amongst lesbians. Xena and Gabrielle were depicted as having a close (emotionally and physically) and mutually supportive relationship that many assumed was more than platonic. (There’s even a Tumblr devoted to this.)

In 2003, Lawless talked to Lesbian News (actually the name of a real publication) about Xena and Gabrielle’s relationship. She felt that Xena was “definitely gay,” and that the character and Gabrielle were married. Lawless gave this interview two years after the show ended. In 2015, it was announced that Javier Grillo-Marxuach, executive producer behind the CW’s The 100, would reboot Xena and explore her sexuality in greater depth than the original show. So that basically confirms the yes, the character, and Gabrielle by extension, is indeed gay.

It’s exciting that we’re seeing more and more superheroes depicted as LGBT+, and that their sexuality isn’t the main aspect of their personality. But I wonder which character will be next: Ms. Marvel? Black Canary? Black Widow?

#ThrowbackThursday: Lucy Lawless in “Xena: Warrior Princess”

Lucy Lawless in "Xena: Warrior Princess" (Beyond The Marquee)

Lucy Lawless in “Xena: Warrior Princess” (Beyond The Marquee)

Who remembers this show? Originally a spinoff of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess quickly made a mark of its own. Lucy Lawless starred as the titular character, a warrior princess (obviously) who travels around the world throughout various civilizations to redeem her destructive past. Her friend Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor) often accompanies her in her adventures.

The TV series ran from 1995 to 2001, and ranked in the top five shows for ratings each year. It’s now seen as a major cult show. A rebooted series was announced in 2015; no word on who’ll take over the role of Xena.

It’s Canon: Wonder Woman Is Queer

Wonder Woman (The Mary Sue)

Wonder Woman (The Mary Sue)

Last week, the bisexual community gained heightened mainstream visibility through a Golden Age of Comics-era character: Wonder Woman.

DC comics writer Greg Rucka said that it’s “logical” that Wonder Woman is queer, given that she comes from an island inhabited solely by women warrior princesses. Wonder Woman’s homeland of Themyscira is supposed to be paradise, where inhabitants can have fulfilling relationships. But Rucka points out that despite the only options for romantic/sexual/emotional relationships, the concept of queerness doesn’t exist.

How would Rucka know this? He writes DC’s Wonder Woman: Year One series. So this revelation is obviously canon. But Rucka says that this revelation will continue to be subtle, and doesn’t feel the need to scream it at readers or make that Wonder Woman’s defining characteristic. (Real talk: I am such a fan of this line of reasoning.)

So far, Rucka is the only DC writer to speak definitively on Wonder Woman’s sexuality. As for whether the character has had same-sex relationships:

As [artist Nicola Scott] and I approach it, the answer is obviously yes. And it needs to be yes for a number of reasons.

Though this is big news, it’s not so shocking: Wonder Woman officiated a same-sex wedding in a story released last year.

The character, who’s also known as Diana Prince in her civilian life and Princess Diana of Themyscira in her homeland, debuted in Dec. 1941. The big-screen movie adaptation starring Gal Gadot will arrive in theaters on Jun. 2, 2017. It will be the first movie centered on a female superhero for the DC universe.

At this time, it’s unclear whether the upcoming movie will include this aspect of Wonder Woman.

Geraldine Roman is the Philippines’ First Transgender Congresswoman

Filipina Congresswoman Geraldine Roman (CNN)

Filipina Congresswoman Geraldine Roman (CNN)

The Philippines made history earlier this month when the country’s congress elected its first transgender member.

Geraldine Roman won her seat with 62% of the vote, judging by reporting from 99% of districts, and she’ll represent the northern Bataan province’s first district.

Roman’s platform included banning any anti-LGBT discrimination and making gender changes legal.

This is a giant progressive step for a country in which divorce, abortion, and same-sex marriage are illegal. It’s also illegal for a transperson to change their name and sex. There have also not been any gay or lesbian politicians serving at the national level.