Gloria’s Legacy; A Healed Community

The passing of a person from life to death affects many people; family, friends, and lovers are each touched in some powerful way. The death of a great person affects a community and changes our lives forever. That was such with the passing of Gloria Casarez last month, small in stature but large in action and love for the people she was called to serve as an activist and a leader.

The wound that was left by Gloria’s passing is still deep and wide. But the healing is beginning.

But what form does that healing take for individuals and the community?

Let’s first look at the Kübler-Ross model, or the five stages of grief, a series of emotional stages experienced when faced with impending death or death of someone. The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

It should be pointed out that “Elisabeth Kübler-Ross noted that the stages are not meant to be a complete list of all possible emotions that could be felt, and they can occur in any order. Her hypothesis holds that not everyone who experiences a life-threatening or life-altering event feels all five of the responses, due to reactions of personal losses differing between people.”

Just like there is not a particular order for the five stages of grief there is no time frame for these five stages to manifest. Likewise, as members of a community we will all be at different stages at different times and our healing process will be gradual.

But how does that healing take place?

First we must be willing to be open about our feelings at the loss of Gloria.

Second, we must be committed to healing as a community and to be open to change.

Third would be in remembrance of Gloria . . . what will her legacy bring to the community? We are not at a loss, we live on to make a difference.

To borrow a cliché, it takes a village. It will take a village/community for Gloria’s legacy to grow.

What form does this healing needs to take place? What would Gloria do? What would she have wanted us to do?

The end of divisions in our community should be a priority. It was Gloria’s wish and vision to see the separate fractions that harm our community unite, be healed, and work collaboratively together for the greater good of our community.

It’s no secret that there are deep divisions and very old wounds among some of our community organizations and leaders but these must end for Gloria’s vision to be materialized.

Gloria Casarez was a great leader of our community and she had a dream and vision for us to be more one with each other. It is time to lay down our differences and heal the past hurts so that we can become the community we are called to be; open, collaborative and welcoming of all.

50ThLogo.01

A Celebration is Planned

It happened on July 4, 1965. The first organized annual “homosexual” civil rights demonstration was held in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia by 40 individuals lead by Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny, known as the mother and father of the LGBTQ civil rights movement. These demonstrations would come to be called “Annual Reminders.”

From Gay Pioneers, the film documenting these events, we learn that . . .

 When few would publicly identify themselves as gay, these brave pioneers challenged pervasive homophobia.

On July 4, 1965, forty (40) people carried signs in front of Independence Hall supporting gay emancipation. Each year in NY, DC and Philadelphia their numbers grew. By July 4, 1969, one month after Stonewall, one hundred and fifty (150) people demonstrated at Independence Hall. The annual demonstrations were consolidated in 1970 to mark the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. That led to the then largest gathering for gays and lesbians when between two to five thousand people congregated in New York’s Central Park. The 1970 demonstration encouraged activists to stage the first gay pride parade in NYC. The New York Pride Parade was emulated in large and small cities in North America and worldwide and helped catapult an international civil rights movement.

Thursday, at a press conference, with Independence Hall as its back drop, Malcolm Lazin, Equality Forum Executive Director, unveiled plans for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the LGBTQ civil right movement on July 4, 2015.

Participating in the press conference were Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Independence National Historic Park Superintendent Cynthia MacLeod, Visit Philly President Meryl Levitz, and subsets of the Los Angeles and Philadelphia Gay Men’s Choruses. Equality Forum is the organizing committee of the 50th Anniversary Celebration.

The festivities will run from Thursday, July 2 to Sunday, July 5 and will include panels, LGBTQ history exhibits, parties, a festival in the Gayborhood by Philly Pride Presents and other special events, with the main event on a large stage in front of Independence Hall on Independence Day.

“The 50th Anniversary will commemorate the Gay Pioneers and celebrate 50 years of civil rights progress, stated Lazin, the anniversary chair, “when 40 activists protested on the Fourth of July, 1965, it was the largest-ever gathering of gays and lesbians petitioning for equality. The 50th Anniversary is an inclusive celebration. It will reflect the leadership and diversity of the LGBT civil rights movement. The organizing committee has solicited advice from grassroots to national organizations and will highlight movement leadership throughout the celebration.

QUEERtimes is excited to see such a collaborative community event to celebrate the beginning of the our civil rights movement and to take a look at the great achievements we have secured over the last 50 years and will continue to being you updates and developments and the 50th Anniversary Celebration nears.

From what started as an annual reminder with 40 individuals has grown into a worldwide movement for equality and for that we have a great deal to celebrate and commemorate the first march for LGBTQ equality.

While these events were taking place I was just 5 years old without knowledge of such things. Two years later I would begin to recognize my attraction to males over females. It would be much later that I learned who these great pioneers were, how they paved the way for my freedoms so far and those to come, and what they did for my growth as a proud gay man.

Come July 4, 2015, I hope you will join me along with so many others who seek to continue the legacy of that first demonstration for our equality.

Tim Cook

Coming Out In Power

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, has publicly proclaimed himself to be gay. “While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me,” Cook wrote in Businessweek.

He preceded his remarks with: “For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.”

Cook moved deeply by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Cook wrote that he “often challenge myself with that question, and I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important.”

And with those words Cook put himself in the forefront of LGBTQ equality.

When the Chief Executive Officer of the world’s second-largest information technology company makes such a public statement the world stops and listens.

“The company I am so fortunate to lead has long advocated for human rights and equality for all. We’ve taken a strong stand in support of a workplace equality bill before Congress, just as we stood for marriage equality in our home state of California. And we spoke up in Arizona when that state’s legislature passed a discriminatory bill targeting the gay community. We’ll continue to fight for our values, and I believe that any CEO of this incredible company, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, would do the same. And I will personally continue to advocate for equality for all people until my toes point up,” Cook added.

But does coming out really matter anymore? Was it necessary for Tim Cook to make a public proclamation of his sexual orientation? Will it even make a difference in our fight for equality?

The answer to all these questions is an unequivocal yes!

I know from my own coming out that it empowered me to be more of who I am and what I am called to be. Whenever someone comes out it strengthens us as a whole. Whenever someone in a high profile position or office comes out it shines a powerful light on us as a minority and our worldwide struggle for equality.

Cook has set the bar high by quoting Dr. King and he knows it. He is now in the perfect position to be a powerful global advocate for our equality. Now what is more important than that?

Gloria Casarez.01

Gloria Casarez: 1971-2014

My heart is heavy due to the loss of Gloria Casarez, 42, this past week from breast cancer. Gloria was Philadelphia’s first Mayor’s LGBTQ Liaison and she was a benchmark for others to follow. Activist, leader, friend, wife, fighter of injustice and confidant to many, she was short in stature but big on compassion, insight, strength, fortitude and wisdom. She will be missed by not just her close friends but by the LGBTQ community and Philadelphia at large.

Today, I will be attending the funeral of a friend and shining example of a true fighter for equality.

So many wonderful words have been said about Gloria that I feel mine would not do her justice so I will leave you with the six articles below that sum up the love and passion Gloria was, and the legacy she has left behind.

Passionate and Full of Life: Remembering Gloria Casarez

Celebrating the Life of Gloria Casarez

Gloria Casarez, Organizer, Activist and Total Badass, Dies at 42

Remembering Gloria Casarez: LGBT leader, friend, Philadelphian

Admiration for LGBT civic leader Gloria Casarez on her passing

Community Gathers at City Hall Rainbow Flag-Lowering in Honor of Gloria Casarez

 

Pope Francis

The Pope is Trying

I was raised a Catholic by a mother who converted to Catholicism from being a Southern Baptist and a father who had always been a Catholic. I remember leaving elementary school every Wednesday to go to our parish school, St. Bernards, for religious education. The Catholic school kids were always walking home while we walk to their classrooms.

I remember my First Holy Communion, the whole thing, like it was yesterday, especially the photo in front of the crucifix outside the church.   I also remember Confirmation, dressed in my red robe. I remember the Bishop slapping my face, which was to symbolize strength to face adversity, and was abolished after the Second Vatican Council because it didn’t help convey the true nature of the Sacrament, and is the assistance of the Holy Spirit to live affirmatively the Christian vocation in every circumstance of life.

I respectfully walked away from the Church for a number of years but when I returned I did so with a gusto. Full tilt! I attended prayer groups weekly, attend mass as often during the week as I could and never missed a Sunday. This was soon to be the beginning of a journey that lead me to me to Philadelphia and to be a LGBTQ rights advocate.

I spent many, many years in formation for the Priesthood, but God in his wisdom intervened, three months before ordination. I didn’t understand at the time that it was God’s intervention but I do now.

Today I am a Catholic in exile, waiting for the day I am welcomed back to the church I not just grew up in but grew to love.

So this week when the Vatican released a draft report from the synod of Bishops offering what seemed to be a more welcoming tone, writing that homosexuals have “gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community,” and that some gay couples provide each other “mutual aid to the point of sacrifice” and “precious support in the life of the partners,” I did a happy dance. The draft report was earth shaking. But the celebration didn’t last that long.

Yesterday, after an outcry from conservative bishops, the Vatican is now pulling back the welcome mat by changing some of the language in the original draft but only in the English translation form the original Italian.

According to the AP:

The first English version asked if the church was capable of “welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities.” The new version asks if the church is “capable of providing for these people, guaranteeing … them … a place of fellowship in our communities.”

The first version said homosexual unions can often constitute a “precious support in the life of the partners.” The new one says gay unions often constitute “valuable support in the life of these persons.”

Other changes were made in other sections of the text, but without significantly altering the meaning or tone.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said English-speaking bishops had requested the changes on the grounds that the first translation was hasty and error-ridden.

The Bishops are playing semantics with our lives and are terrified with the direction this Pope is leading the Church, who if you are Catholic, means he is being divinely guided by the Holy Spirit to lead.

The Roman Catholic Church is still not welcoming of LGBTQ peoples, but the majority of Catholics are.

The Church is being called to change and with that I believe it will. Perhaps not in my lifetime but it will surely change and Pope Francis knows this and with the grace of God he is leading this dysfunctional, damaged Church into a new era. One where LGBTQ individuals are welcomed and guaranteed fraternal space in the Church and see that our relationships constitute a precious support in the life of the partners.

I believe that the Pope is trying to swing the bow around and right the ship. Trust me regardless of your faith or religion this man needs our prayers for his strength, perseverance, and protection, for there are far too many of us in exile waiting to go home.

upset boy against a wall

LGBTQ School for Equality

[After a meeting with Pennsylvania Senator Anthony H. Williams and community leaders, where we discussed several issues relating to LGBTQ citizens, the subject of Anti-LGBTQ bullying in our schools was discussed. I asked Senator Williams if he would support the development of an LGBTQ charter school in Philadelphia and he fully agreed with me that it is not just a good idea but perhaps a necessary one.

So in light of our conversation with Senator Williams, I’m dusting of this article on advancing the idea of an LGBTQ Charter School for Equality. It was originally published 08.06.10]

The great French writer and poet Victor Hugo once wrote “on résiste à l’invasion des armées; on ne résiste pas à l’invasion des idées” which literally translates to “one withstands the invasion of armies; one does not withstand the invasion of ideas,” or loosely translated as “nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

Today’s common usage of this now famous phrase is often found used by those who are seeking to promote a particular brand or message. Even I have often used this phrase in presentations but now I use it for something more important–the education of queer kids and the preparation of future queer leaders.

The Barbara Gittings School for Equality is definitely an idea whose time has come–a regional charter high school for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning and allies.

In 1985, the Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York City established the Harvey Milk High School to serve “at-risk youth, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning.” In 2002, the school became the first fully accredited queer public high school in the nation. Harvey Milk High School is now administered by the New York City Department of Education.

Proponents for queer-centric high schools will point to the shocking statistics on anti-queer bullying that clearly reflect that the environment queer students are forced to learn in are unjust; and that queer students, many who are forced to drop out due to fear, are denied their right for a safe and welcoming learning environment.

Opponents for such high schools include the usual suspects, as well as queer advocacy groups. These queer opponents believe that queer-centric schools are a form of segregation and be could be harmful and will hinder the progress of understanding of queers. But at what cost?

Over the years, I have listened to personal stories from queer students who had been mercilessly bullied. All were subjected to endless verbal attacks, some where physically or sexually abused, and others dropped out because the burden, the pain, the intolerance, the cruelty became much too great.

How many of us have the same memories? We heard faggot, dyke, homo, sissy, lesbo, or the new favorite, “that’s so gay.”

What potential has been lost by such anti-queer bullying? What achievements missed?

The reality of the situation is that we have a very long way to go before our public schools become a welcoming, safe education environment for queer youth and their allies.

Knowing this, what should we do?

If we sit back and wait for our schools to become safer for queer youth, what happens to those who suffer from anti-queer bullying between now and then?

The Harvey Milk School in New York City showed us it is possible. They have taken action. So must others.

Queer youth deserve our talent, our knowledge and our resources. How can we not stand up and make a difference?

Philadelphia, the cradle of liberty, freedom and justice for all, needs to join New York City in this progressive movement in public school education with the founding of The Barbara Gittings School for Equality.

Are you ready to help?

John Featherman (Facebook Photo)

Featherman Just Doesn’t Get It

Recently John Featherman, contributor to Philly.com, and failed Republican candidate for Philadelphia mayor, who describes himself as “fiscally very conservative and socially inclusive,” and according the Wall Street Journal expressed support for gay marriage, abortion rights and marijuana decriminalization, made a claim, in light of the recent “gay-bashing” attack in Center City, that all hate crimes legislation is discriminatory.

To be honest this is a mantra for white, cisgender, Republicans . . . hate crime laws are discriminatory. But Featherman puts a twist to it . . . he states that “it is discriminatory as it limits protected categories to less than a dozen classes.”

“Hate crime laws in PA, for example, only protect race, religion, color and national origin. They don’t include gender or disability — two categories in addition to sexual orientation and gender identity,” posted Featherman in a Facebook conversation I had with him.

He is “perfectly fine with tacking on penalties if there are premeditated attacks on people because of who they are. The problem is there are tens of thousands of potential categories. Just to be clear, though, I believe when the facts comes out, it will show the (sic) this (the attack on two gay men) was a street fight and not an attack premeditated by anti-gay bias.”

“I’ve been attacked by people who thought I was gay. I’ve been attacked by someone who saw that I was disabled, but held me up at knifepoint to steal my tracheotomy tubes. I was beaten to a pulp in a bathroom at the Franklin Learning Center, most likely because I was an undersized, white, middle schooler put into a rough, mostly black/Hispanic high school . . . I was also sexually attacked on the street by a man. I was too embarrassed to admit it at the time, but I am not now.

“The law is discriminatory, and makes a dozen groups superior to tens of thousands of other ones,” wrote Featherman. A bit of a hyperbole but this is coming from a guy who thinks the LGBT community are hypocrites because of the way we have treated the alleged gay bashing suspects.

He recently wrote, “I’ve always supported the rights of the LGBT community so it’s disheartening to see members of that same community embrace the type of smear tactics once used against them . . . The ugliness emerged after three young adults allegedly attacked a gay couple on Sept. 11 on Chancellor Street near 16th. The full facts of the case aren’t yet known. But that hasn’t stopped a full out assault on social media in an attempt to “slut shame” and try the case online.”

Featherman feels he has some moral superiority in “asking the Philadelphia LGBT lobby where its sense of morality is when they engage in “slut-shaming” accused – mind you – accused suspects.”

While individuals, heterosexual and LGBT, have taken the alleged attackers to task there has not been a coordinated, concerted, effort to shame anyone. But the facts are the facts as brought forth in the charges against the three anti-gay bashing suspects. They hurled anti-gay epitaphs why they beat on them. That makes them the poster children for the need for hate crimes legislation that includes gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and the disabled.

When it comes to our full equality one thing for sure is that John Featherman is not an ally.

rainbow-fist

Why Only Three?

Why were there only 3 charged and “arrested” for the anti-gay bashing attack that took place in Center City Philadelphia when there were at least 10 to 12 suspects at the scene?

The two unidentified victims, 26 and 28 year old boyfriends, and several witnesses told NBC Philadelphia that at least two men and six women from the group called the victims “dirty fags” before launching a brutal physical attack on them.

Both victims, beat unconscious, received multiple facial fractures, one had severe bruising on his face and will be required to have his jaw wired shut for two months.

The only three charged, 26-year-old Kevin Harrigan, 24-year-old Kathryn Knot, and 24-year-old Philip Williams, turned themselves in to Central Detectives Wednesday. They were arraigned and released on bail around 3:30 AM.

Knott was released on $50,000 bail, while Williams and Harrigan were released on $75,000 bail.

Some have questioned the Philadelphia Police Departments’ handling of the case. Why did it take 6 days to make an arrest after the attackers were identified by the public? One police source told Philly mag this week that police “don’t have time” to investigate “simple” crimes like these.

If this is the mindset of the cop on the beat, then our community has a problem with the police department as a whole. Yes we may have an LGBT police liaison committee but what good are they when cops on the beat believe such brutal hate attacks are “simple” crimes and that they “don’t have time?”

The police commanders seem to know what to say but if it is not being transferred down to men and women in the ranks then that leadership needs to be questioned. Imagine a racially biased attack, would the Philadelphia Police ranks not have time to investigate such a crime?

It should be noted that Knott’s father is the Police Chief in Chalfont, PA. The question arises, what “professional” courtesy was extended to her and the others charged because of this fact?

Why did the police not go to their homes, arrest them, and place them handcuffed in the back of a police car? Why was the courtesy extended to allow these three suspects to turn themselves in, two through a back door?

But the question still begs, why only three out of at least 10 noted suspects?

When Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams was questioned about this his office replied with the following statement:

Based on the evidence, statements from both victims and eyewitness accounts at the scene, the three defendants are the only ones who assaulted the victims in this case.

The defendants have been charged with serious state crimes carrying significant, potentially lengthy sentences.

But according to reports from the victims and witnesses there were at least two men and six women involved in the attack.

When asked if Williams would ask the federal government to pursue federal hate crime charges against the defendants the response was . . .

The availability of additional federal charges, if any, would be a matter of concurrent jurisdiction that would not in itself preclude prosecution in state court.

Is Williams, who is rumored to be running for mayor, playing to his LBGTQ audience for votes? Did he calculate that three persons charged should be enough to secure an LGBTQ voting block?

Are you really telling me that there were no other charges that can be applied to the other attackers? Or do you want us to believe that only three people did this attack while the others watched. Spectators that never called the police to report the attack and who knew who the attackers were and did not immediately come forward and identify them when they were being sought on charges.

Yesterday a rally was held by politicians in Love Park, the usual people came out calling for a Pennsylvania hate crimes bill that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. “We want it and we want it now” was the message.

Where have they been in their righteous indignation for the last 10 years? Why did it take a vicious homophobic attack to bring the need for an inclusive hate crime to reach critical mass?

I commend those who came out to support the rally, but rather than rallies we need protest, rather than speeches we need marches. There needs to be a massive protest march to get our point across.

Our righteous indignation must be heard. Three is not enough, nor is non-hate crimes charges. If ever there was a case for federal hate crime charges to be brought this is it. Anything else is a slap in the face the LGBTQ citizens in Philadelphia.

Rather than politicians telling us what they would like to happen, they should be using their positions in elected office to get the feds to get involved immediately.

Three is just not enough?

Philadelphia Gay Bashing Victim

The Hate Crime That Wasn’t

It happened on September 11 at 10:45 PM near the intersection of 16th and Chancellor Streets in Philadelphia’s toniest neighborhood, Rittenhouse Square, the hate crime that wasn’t.

After a night at a private party at La Viola West restaurant, a group of twentysomethings, apparently graduates of Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster, came upon two men walking together. As the group of about 12 males and females approached the men they started to hurl anti-gay slurs to the pair. Someone in the group then asked the men is they were a couple and when they answered in the affirmative all hell broke loose.

The well dressed college age thugs, both male and female, allegedly attacked the couple, aged 26 and 28, punching and kicking them in the face, head and chest. Both men, 27 and 28, were later taken to Hahnemann Hospital, where one was treated for broken bones in his face and had to have his jaw wired shut, police said.

One of the victims also had his wallet and phone stolen by the preppy-looking crew.

On Tuesday the Philadelphia Police released a video of the suspects walking in the area of the attack. The video quickly went viral on social media. Then a Twitter user in San Francisco received from a friend of a friend a photo of a group of people in a restaurant who looked very similar to the suspects the police were looking for from the video.

After that a New Jersey man retweeted the picture and asked followers to help identify the restaurant.

Several users recognized it as La Viola West.

Caught like deer in the headlights, these suspects are already lawyering up and according to press reports are planning on turning themselves in shortly.

Many people in the community took to social media and blasted the suspects by threatening violence and vigilante justice. This knee jerk reaction, while wrong, was very understandable. But violence is not the answer. Nor is a foolish call for a boycott of La Viola. Such talk and energy is useless.

I am angry as anything that in the city that I love so very much this type of crime can happen to two innocent people just because they are gay.

Initially the Philadelphia Police stated that they were investigating this attack as a hate crime, but DA Seth Williams had to correct them on that. In Pennsylvania the hate crimes bill does not cover sexual orientation and gender identity.

This was a hate crime that really didn’t happen. That is where our anger and energy need to be directed. We must demand that the Pennsylvania legislature immediately pass a stand along bill that addresses this inequity; one that is all inclusive of our community.

If this does not happen we should be taking to the streets in solidarity for the gay couple bashed by the anti-gay thugs and protest the inaction of the legislature and the failure to offer us as a people basic hate crime protections. Enough is enough.

And the South Shall Rise

After so many victories on the marriage equality front and with same-sex marriage sailing towards the Supreme Court, LGBTQ civil rights groups are shifting their attention to the Deep South. With a focus on improving job protections, passing local non-discrimination ordinances, bolstering the rights of gay parents, reducing anti-gay bullying in schools and nudging change in places that have resisted it, these organizations are moving forward in creating change.

Take an unlikely local LGBTQ rights advocate for example, Rev. Rob Hill, a Methodist pastor in Natchez, Mississippi who is now promoting LGBTQ rights in his rural community.

In July Hill came out of the closet in a big way . . . during a news conference orchestrated by the Human Rights Campaign, which “is pouring $9.5 million into an effort to push the needle of public opinion in the Deep South,” according to the Washington Post.

Being open and demanding equal treatment is exactly what the HRC is hoping local LGBTQ people and others in the region eventually will do. HRC has set up permanent offices in Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama this summer in the hopes of swaying public opinion in a region that has been resisting the tide of LGBTQ rights.

The Washington Post reports that “there is reason for HRC to be optimistic. Over the past year, eight small towns across Mississippi have passed resolutions meant to create a welcoming atmosphere for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Most of them passed unanimously.”

It was around that time that the Human Rights Campaign began its work in Mississippi, and eventually the group asked him to head the project. His job would be to meet lots and lots of people. He would help shepherd local resolutions and cultivate relationships with religious leaders — friendly and not — and collaborate with a lobbyist in the capital to resist anti-gay legislation and push favorable bills.

Hill has quit the church and took a position with the HRC as head of their Mississippi initiative and is working with progressive members of the rural community in advancing local non-discrimination ordinances.

I am a child of the South. My mother and her family were from Georgia, have been for hundreds of years. My many southern relatives fought for the Confederacy. I love the south but it needs to change its views on LGBTQ equality, but I know that once again it will rise again with greater equality for all.

Yes the south is slowly changing, and after the Supreme Court affirms marriage equality for all it will be a big boost to overall equality. But there are many miles to go before we can rest. Stay informed about the news from the south by reading out weekly queerNEWS links from around the world.