Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Survey for HIV Positive Community Members

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Message from Aaron Samuel Breslow, an HIV activist and researcher at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is recruiting participants for a new community health survey studying the impacts of marginalization and empowerment on the lives of HIV-positive adults in the United States.

It would be great if folks in rural California could be involved in the project and share their stories.

The project is a simple 10-minute online survey capturing experiences of HIV-related marginalization, empowerment, and criminalization. People just have to click the link below and answer questions about their experiences. The aim is to understand how structural issues impact stigma and health, and to improve the lives of people living with HIV.

VISIT the Gay Central Valley Booth

Visit our booth at this Saturday's Fresno Rainbow Pride Festival...Check out our merchandise, take a Drag or Pride photo, and enter to win any one of these prizes...valued from $100-$500...!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Confirmed: Torture of Dozens of Gay Men in Chechnya

Content Note: abuse, torture, murder,

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Dozens of gay men have now been confirmed to have been subjected to horrific torture at the hands of the authoritarian regime of Chechnya’s autocratic leader, Ramzan Kadyrov , according to a new report issued Friday by the New York-based Human Rights Watch, a nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights organization.

"Law enforcement and security agencies under Kadyrov's de facto control have abducted people from homes, work places, and the streets, held them in secret locations, and carried out enforced disappearances, torture, extrajudicial executions, and collective punishment practices," Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

First disclosed in a series of articles by the Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta early last month, gay men from this autonomous Russian Republic in the North Caucasus region have been disclosing to human rights campaigners as well as journalists from international media outlets the extent of their persecution.

All of the victims suffered repeated beatings," the HRW report says. "Security officials kicked them with booted feet, beat them with polypropylene pipes and sticks, and made other inmates beat them," mostly on the men’s buttocks and legs.

"They put you face down on the floor and beat you with pipes," one victim said. "They force other prisoners to carry on with the beating. Each man gets some 70 to 80 blows," the report continues. "And you literally turn black and blue from waist to toes."

The report also details use of electrocution devices to torture the victims. One man described a machine with a single knob and metal clips at the ends, which were attached to the victims' fingers, toes, and earlobes.

"They turn the knob, electric current hits you, and you start shaking," he said. "And they keep turning the hellish machine, and the pain is just insane. You scream and scream and you no longer know who you are. […] Finally, you faint, it all goes dark. But when you come to your senses, they start all over again. And once they’re done with you and you get your bearings, you hear other inmates screaming. The sounds of torture are just there all day, and at some point you start losing your mind."

According to the 29-page Human Rights Watch report along with the reporting from Novaya Gazeta, the initial "anti-gay purge" lasted from late February through to at least early April. The arrests and purge began during the last week of February after the arrest of a young gay man and LGBTQ human rights campaigner in the city of Argun, about 11 miles east of the Chechen capital city of Grozny, during the last week of February.

The Chechen authorities searched his mobile phone and after discovering "intimate photographs and messages" which disclosed his sexual orientation, they tortured him forcing him to reveal numerous of his gay friends and contacts.

"The police officials reported their findings to their superior, who apparently raised it with Magomed Daudov," the speaker of Chechnya’s parliament, HRW's report also disclosed.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

PRIDE Around the State.

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June is a BUSY month for us LGBT Californias!

First off... you probably know about our very own FRESNO: Rainbow Pride Parade & Festival June 4, 2016, 
10 a.m.- 3 p.m.
Parade: 10 a.m., Festival: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free to attend parade. Festival $5 Fresno, Tower District (Olive & Wishon Avenues)
(559) 486-3464

Here are a few other dates and locations worth note!

SACRAMENTO June 3, 2017, 11 a.m. at Capitol Mall

Sacramento Pride consists of a parade and festival. The parade is free and starts at 11:00am traveling towards the Capital along N Street between 3rd and 10th. The festival costs $10 per person (children five and under are free) and is located on Capitol Mall between 3rd and 7th streets and goes from 11am-5pm.

SANTA CRUZ Pride Parade, Festival June 4, 2017, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Parade at 11 a.m.
diversitycenter.org | santacruzpride.org
Annual Santa Cruz Pride PARADE and FESTIVAL
Parade: kicks off at 11 a.m., starts at Pacific Avenue and Church Street in downtown Santa Cruz. Ends at Cathart & Center
Festival: 11a.m.-4 p.m., Cathart & Cedar - Lincoln

SAN MATEO: Pride San Mateo County Without Borders June 10, 2017, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Celebrate the annual San Mateo County Pride Festival at San Mateo Central Park with a fun-filled day of live music, family friendly activities, local art and merchandise, entertainment, and local resources. This is a family friendly, free event and everyone is welcome! Last year's theme was Pride without Borders: Embracing Culture and Diversity, which emphasizes the importance of recognizing how culture, race, marginalized sexual orientation, and gender identity overlap and affect our community. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, and Two-Spirited (LGBTQQI2S) Pride Celebration provides an opportunity for all communities to come together, learn from each other, and share a common experience.

WEST HOLLYWOOD L.A. Pride June 5-11, 2017 Parade Sunday 11 a.m.
Route: Santa Monica Boulevard – West Hollywood, Crescent Heights Blvd. to Robertson Blvd.
Parade: with over 400,000 participants, spectators and marchers, this emotionally charged experience, gathers together a colorful and diverse look at our creative community showcasing all that is great about the TLGB community. Attendees should plan to arrive early. Traffic will be closed on Santa Monica Blvd. between Fairfax Ave. and Doheny Dr. starting at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday. Santa Monica Blvd. will re-open immediately at the end of the end of the Parade, which may be as late as 4:00 p.m.
2017 TBA | 2016 info: $45-125, 3 day pass
$25-up single day 

PRIDE VISALIA  June 24th 10-6pm 
300 E Oak Ave
PRIDE Visalia is a celebration of diversity, inclusion, and acceptance, not only for LGBT+ people, but for an entire community. The Source LGBT+ Center is proud to be a hub of resources, education, and support for our LGBT+ population. Our hope is that you can feel the LOVE we have for the city of Visalia and Tulare and Kings County. Food trucks and vendors, exhibits, entertainment, a Kid's Zone, education, outreach, but most of all YOU.
$5 admission 

SAN FRANCISCO Pride June 24-25, 2017
Parade is June 25, 2017, 10: 30 a.m.
The Parade kicks off at 10:30 a.m. at Market & Beale and ends at Market & 8th Street in downtown San Francisco

Go to SF Pride with GCV! Our Pride Bus will take you there and back in saftey and comfort! Tickets on sale now!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

EVENT: Screening of "Raising Zoey"

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Fresno Building Healthy Communities is proud to present a special screening of "Raising Zoey" on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 at Roosevelt High School, 4250 E. Tulare Avenue. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m.

"Raising Zoey", directed by Dante Alencastre, is the heartwarming story of a family faced with the insurmountable challenges of a youth’s gender transition.

Affecting the lives of countless kids, teenagers and even adults, 13 year-old trans activist Zoey Luna wants nothing more than to simply go to school, learn, have fun with her friends in Downey, CA. Unfortunately, ignorance and intolerance have not always made this easy. With the help of her mother Ofelia, her older sister Leticia and the ACLU, Zoey fought school officials for her right to self-identify in school. Even in the face of bullying and endless teasing from both school officials and students, Zoey determinedly continues to live her life as she is and tells her story in the hopes of helping others persevere in living their authentic lives.

Tickets for the special screening are free for the community. Reserve your tickets today! FB Event page HERE 

For more information about the screening, contact Fresno Building Healthy Communities at (559) 256-8722 or info@fresnobhc.org.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Harvey Milk Day

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Harvey Milk was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in a major city, serving on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1977-1978. He worked to pass a gay rights ordinance and defeated Proposition 6, commonly known as the Briggs Initiative, which would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools. Milk encouraged Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people to be visible in society and believed coming out was the only way they could achieve true social equality.

Harvey Milk’s legacy as a civil rights leader is still felt today. He was named one of TIME Magazine’s most influential people of the 20th century. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 and was the subject of a movie for which Sean Penn won the Academy Award for best actor. Many Institutions and organizations are named for Harvey Milk to commemorate his life and social contributions.

In October of 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill to create a state day of recognition for Harvey Milk, to be observed on Harvey Milk’s birthday, May 22. May 22, 2010 marked the first Harvey Milk Day to commemorate the life and legacy of Milk. The civil rights leader would have been 85 this year.

“Harvey Milk gave his life for what he believed in, and with that courage and sacrifice he gave hope to an entire generation of gay and lesbian people whose basic humanity and freedom had been denied and dishonored. – Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) 

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Open Letter to Fresno Unified School District

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On behalf of Gay Central Valley and the cpmmunity we serve, we want to thank you for inviting our feedback into Fresno Unified School District’s current superintendent search.

According to the most recent California Healthy Kids Survey, 23% of our youth do not identify as “straight.” LGBT youth have higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, higher rates of being victims of bullying, of depression, of dropping out of school, and of suicide.

We would encourage FUSD to choose a superintendent candidate who will be willing to do a CCT with us, who is on record of supporting the LGBT+ community, and who is willing to represent the needs of all FUSD students. 

We all know that representation matters, especially to youth. We strongly believe that our youth will be best served by knowing that they have an ally at the top of the food chain and seeing the practical effects of a leader who is accepting and supportive,

We also believe that Fresno Unified School District is uniquely poised to be able to combat the high rates of LGBT youth feeling disconnected and unhappy in their school environments through ongoing Cultural Competency Trainings (Diversity Trainings) offered to teachers, staff, and administrators. 

Fresno's ciriculum should reflect the specific health and safety needs of the LGBT+ community. Promotional materials should showcase a variety of family types. Schools should encorage the creation of GSA clubs and organizations.

Thank you again for meeting with us. We look forward to continuing our community involvement with FUSD and to meeting the next Fresno Unified School district Superintendent.

Gay Central Valley board of Directors. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

GSA Activist Camp!

Every year GSA Network hosts Activist Camp and registration is now open for 2017!

"GSA Activist Camp is a three-day (includes overnight stay), youth-led training camp for trans, queer, and straight ally youth. At Activist Camp, you will learn about power, oppression, and how to build the LGBTQ+ youth movement!

Be a young person between the ages 14-18 attending middle school, high school, or alternative school (i.e. continuation school) during the 2016-2017 school year, or people under 18 who are not in school due to personal circumstances.
Commit to creating local change for LGBTQIA+ youth with a racial justice and gender justice lens."

This year it will be held at UC Merced from July 14th to 16th. The event is free with housing, transportation, and food provided. Participants gain leadership skills, build community, and learn about oppressive systems in our society like capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy.

The deadline to apply is June 1st. If you know anyone that's interested, please share this link with them to register: Nor Cal/Central Valley Registration--

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

INTERVIEW: Marsha Conant

Written by Chris Jarvis

I’ve known Marsha for 25 years and she’s always been a force to reckoned with. While she’s been political her whole life, she recently found the opportunity to throw herself into her passion, and her voice has never been stronger. Last year she was a delegate at the Democratic National Convention during possibly the most chaotic campaign in American history. I asked Marsha what motivates her, where she sees American politics headed, and what drives the divide in this nation.  

What sparked your recent interest in stepping into the political arena?

In 2016 with Hillary Clinton running to be the Democratic nominee for President, I decided I could not let this election go without becoming re-involved. As I looked at the Republican candidates I felt they were ALL a threat to the rights and issues that were vital to me. LGBTQ rights, equality for women, health care, gun control, etc. All the issues that are currently being challenged, defunded and threatened.
Our daughters are both away at college and I felt I had the freedom to follow my passion which is political activism. I have long been a fan of Hillary Clinton and felt she was the candidate who best represented my values. In 1992, as a member of the Majority Council of Emily’s List, a PAC that raises money for pro-choice Democratic Women I was invited to the White House and met Secretary Clinton.

How did you get chosen to be a representative at the Democratic National Convention? What’s the process?

To become a delegate to a National Convention you choose the candidate you want to represent and run at a Congressional District meeting. I ran as a Clinton delegate and was elected with four other Clinton Delegates. There was a Sanders Delegate election happening at the same time and 5 Sanders delegates were elected. The district only sends a total of 5 delegates and it reflects the actual vote in the primary. There were three Clinton Delegates and two Sanders delegates from CD22. 

What was the most heartening thing you experienced at the Democratic convention and the most disheartening? 
It was very heartening that there were so many LGBTQ delegates, around 500, over 10% of the total number of delegates at the convention. Also, around 36 tans-gendered delegates, the first trans keynote speaker, Sarah McBride, who work for HRC.
The belief that we really were going to elect the first woman president of the United States was very emotional and exciting. For some of us, who have been fighting for women’s rights most of our lives it was almost overwhelming. The convention was amazing, inspiring and motivating speakers, encouraging, validating, story after story unfolding demonstrating how we really were #strongertogether, how we could live in a country that was inclusive where everyone was valued and appreciated for who they were.  
Who was the most exciting person you met?

There was an amazing woman, Jerry Emmet, 102 years old from Arizona at the convention. She was so excited and enthusiastic. She believed there would finally be a woman President in her lifetime! She was an inspiration! I also met Gloria Allred, Jessie Jackson, Kathleen Spillmire, Head of the Feminist Majority, Delores Huerta, Amanda Renteria, Ellie Smeal, Gavin Newsome, Barbara Boxer, Jessie Jackson. I decided to collect political signatures on a rainbow flag.


What tactics do you use when met with flagrant prejudice or ignorance? How hard is it for you to walk away from certain situations?

I try to listen to their comments and opinions and respond calmly, respectfully, and non-emotionally. I shared my opinion or make a statement that expresses my very different truth or reality. Sometimes, people will listen or consider my opinion, often not. Some people just like to argue, I don’t. I also have learned, my opinion is not always right! There have been many times I have changed my position on an issue after hearing other opinions and getting more information. I once had a difference of opinion at a CDC Convention with Harvey Milk. He could be very persuasive, I changed my vote! LOL

Why do you think there is such a disconnect in this country between sides in the political climate?

When President Obama was elected I believe many Americans felt they were losing control of their country. People came out and voted for him, who had never voted before. As more liberal and progressive ideas were adopted legislatively and backed by the courts I believe the sense of lack of control and anger continued to grow. I think they felt as though they were no longer being heard! Once there was a candidate who expressed their outrage and promised to return the country to something they were comfortable with, they latched on! As a candidate his outlandish comments and brutish behavior gave people permission to act the same way. It is shocking the amount of racism, misogyny, xenophobia and prejudice that has been revealed! The divide is deep! People have permission to be bullies! A very sad and tragic situation!
Although. I will always find this kind of hate intolerable I believe we must continue to reach out to these people. We must educate and we must listen. I still believe fundamentally people are good and want to do the right thing. Hate is never the right thing! 


What do you think motivates those who want to reverse progress and civil rights?

I think misogyny runs very deep, 53% of women voters did not vote for a qualified woman candidate. Churches have a huge influence in elections and are very effective at getting voters out! I guess that leaves LGBT!

What are your thoughts on what will happen first…the first female President, the first LGBT President or the first atheist President?

Before that can happen, we must elect LGBT candidates up and down the ticket and in local elections! In order to do that we must become actively involved in local politics. We must work in political campaigns, register voters, give money and our resources to candidates that represent us, find qualified LGBT candidates to run for school boards, appointments to commissions, City Council, Board of Supervisors, and make sure candidates seek our endorsement, because they know we are organized and can impact a local election! 

This is not currently the case in Fresno.
  The LGBT community does not have a large political presence. I am going to continue to work toward changing that. I want to encourage people to join Democratic Clubs and to become involved. 

I am a member of the Kennedy Club, Democratic Women in Action, Stonewall Democratic Club, Fresno County Democratic Women’s Club and the Fresno Chapter of the National Women’s Political Caucus! All of those Clubs support LGBT rights and all of them have been very supportive of me. We must get involved to have an impact in our community.  
What’s your take on the media these days?

The news media was unduly harsh on Clinton in the last election and gave Trump entirely too much free publicity! Some newscasters and networks biases tilt the information and story. Sometimes we will watch the BBC news just to get a different perspective on the world. If you only watch FOX or CNN you only are hearing one side. I of course love Rachel Maddow!
How do you feel about the rallies and protests happening now? Do you think it’s something people will maintain or will it burn out? And how do we get more people to vote?

I have been participating in the demonstrations and rallies! I think the demonstrations will continue to grow. We participated in the Women’s March in Sacramento and a group of us have been meeting monthly to write postcards to our elected officials expressing our opinions and outrage about the threats to LGBT Rights, the ACA, Immigration, planned parenthood, the environment, Medicare, etc. We have sent over 1,300 postcards!
How do you feel about the future, politically?

I think things will move back to a more moderate position. I believe there will be a significant change in 2018. I do not believe the current policies of the administration reflect true American values. I believe we are an inclusive and kind nation. 

You have two daughters with your wife Marilyn. What is the most important value you hope you have instilled in them? 

I hope we have taught our daughters to be respectful of all people. To not be afraid to speak up when they see something is wrong and to be kind, loving and brave!

UPDATED: Alleged Transgender Woman Victim of Fresno Shooting

Photo published for Transgender victim shot and killed in Central Fresno, Dyer says

From ABC30 and KMJ


Gay Central Valley has learned from several sources that the victim in today's murder on Belmont may not have been transgender. While we were simply reposting local news stories, we regret if we misgendered the victim in any way. That was not our intention. We will continue to follow the story and keep the community updated.

The Coroner’s Office has released the name of the person killed at Belmont and Fourth Street in Fresno as 34-year-old Imer Eliu Alvarado of Fresno.

The victim was found wounded on Fourth Street, just south of Belmont, then died at the hospital.

Several shots were fired around 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

No arrests have been made but officers are reviewing surveillance video from a nearby home.

Victim is so far only identified as a "34 year old transgender woman"* This is how it was reported, Chief Dryer said "assumed to be a transgender"

Based on the location of her gunshot wounds, it appears she was running from the suspect at the time she was shot.

Chief Dyer says no one called 911 after hearing the gunshots, but police responded to the multiple gunshots fired by their shot spotter detection. He says they got to the scene within four minutes.

Suspect is believed to be a lone male who ran from the scene heading east through the alley.

Dyer said officers have had prior contact with the victim, but said that he did not want to elaborate on the contacts Wednesday. Most of the contacts preceded 2008, although an officer did have contact with the victim in 2015.

There is a vigil planned for this evening.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Fresno Police.

Gay Central Valley encorages all of our LGBT family to check in with each other today.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

INTERVIEW: Naomi Hendrix

Naomi operates Raw Fresno, a healthy alternative food truck that uses no processing or preservatives. After tragedy and necessity turned her life in a different direction, she decided to share what she’s learned with others. Her philosophy is to get rid of what she calls the standard American diet and eat more naturally. I asked her about her business and her journey…

How did you get involved in the vegan/raw movement?

I was diagnosed with dysbiosis which is candida in the intestines my doctor Sue Stone said go gluten-free sugar-free dairy-free vinegar free soy-free yeast free... This was just three years after my young son of 21 years passed away with celiac disease. Unbeknownst to me I passed it down through my genes

What can people expect from your food. Is there anything processed? Preservatives?

Everything is fresh locally grown organic the only processing we do is the use of a knife for chopping, a mandolin for shredding, food processor for the nut pate's a Vitamix for the dressings & smoothies, a dehydrator to dry crackers under 118 degrees so that the enzymes are available......heat kills nutrition.

What do you say to people who want to eat healthier but simply can’t find the time?

Find out where my truck is & pick up food for 3 days or go on my website rawfresno.com order ahead have it delivered,.

What are some things you can suggest to busy people that will make it easier to start to change the way they eat?

Cut out everything white in your current diet. Flour, milk, rice, potatoes, bread, replace with colorful foods.

If someone wants to make the first step in eating healthier, what would you suggest?

Add a green smoothie every morning for 30 days it will change /lower all your numbers. 


Food trucks are everywhere right now. Is the competition overwhelming compared to what it used to be?

There is no food truck in the Central Valley that is compared to Raw Fresno. They all carry the SAD Standard American diet....that is not healthy and not helpful for your body. After lunch you will go back to work and fall asleep. If you eat food from our truck you will have energy into the evening get all your work done and have fun too.

What’s one of the more touching experiences you’ve had once people have stepped out of their comfort zone to try natural food?

I have people contact me every day thanking me for providing this nutrient dense food that is healing, flavorful and delicious it's not just for digestive disorders I have omnivore Foodies that choose to eat Raw Fresno food over any other food trucks because it makes them feel so good and they get so much accomplished after just one meal. 


What’s the hottest item on your truck at the moment?

Chefs choice combo meals

Veggie pizza

Caribbean Taco

Farmers market Wrap

Do you see healthier alternatives popping up in these food truck gatherings?



Where can people find you to try your food?

Wed.@ Kaiser farmers market 9-2

Thursday Carthop Fulton mall 11-2

Friday Valley Children's farmers market 10-2

Kristina's Natural Ranch Market 1st & Barstow

Hope thru Empowerment Wellness Center 1st & Bullard

Order online RawFresno.com

Will you be at the Pride Festival this year on June 3rd?


You can find the Raw Fresno food truck at various locations and events throughout Fresno, and online at rawfresno.com. Visit her store here Raw Fresno Online Store

Find Raw Fresno on Facebook HERE

Friday, May 12, 2017

Fresno Unified: Superintendent Search Wants YOUR Feedback

Fresno Unified School District is in the process of finding a new superintendent

Beginning Monday, May 15 through Thursday, May 25, the district will hold a series of community meetings at each of our seven regional comprehensive high schools to allow students, staff, key stakeholders and the community an opportunity to give feedback and provide input into Fresno Unified’s next superintendent. Below is a list of all community meetings being held at the regional comprehensive high schools.

· May 15, 2017 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. @ Bullard High School Cafeteria

· May 16, 2017 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. @ Edison High School Cafeteria

· May 18, 2017 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. @ Roosevelt High School Auditorium

· May 22, 2017 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. @ Sunnyside High School Small Gymnasium

· May 23, 2017 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. @ Fresno High School Royce Hall

· May 24, 2017 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. @ McLane High School Gymnasium

· May 25, 2017 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. @ Hoover High School Cafeteria

Remember folks, national level things start on the local level. Let's make sure that the next superintendent reflcts the values that we share in Fresno.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

WV Supreme Court: Anti-Gay Assaults Not Hate Crimes

2017 West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

Earlier this week, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s hate crime law does not cover anti-gay assaults or any crime committed on the basis of sexual orientation. 

The 3–2 decision is a huge setback for civil rights advocates’ efforts to persuade courts that laws prohibiting violence and discrimination on the basis of sex also protect LGBTQ people. The loss, however, is a narrow one—and the poorly reasoned majority opinion is unlikely to affect the growing consensus in the federal judiciary that anti-LGBTQ discrimination is always “because of sex.”

The Case in question:  West Virginia v. Butler In 2015, Steward Butler, a college football player, allegedly attacked two men for kissing in public after shouting homophobic slurs. Prosecutors charged Butler not only with battery but also with a hate crime. But West Virginia’s hate crime statute does not explicitly include sexual orientation, instead it bars violence “because of sex.” Prosecutors argued that Butler’s alleged attack fell under this prohibition because it was motivated by sex stereotyping, and because sex lay at the root of the brutality: Butler allegedly beat each man for intimately associating with a person of the same sex, and if either were different sex, he would not have assailed them.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Allen H. Loughry II reached his conclusion by citing several dictionary definitions and ignoring Supreme Court precedent interpreting sex discrimination to encompass “the entire spectrum of disparate treatment of men and women resulting from sex stereotypes.” Loughry also noted that the legislature has repeatedly tried and failed to add “sexual orientation” to its hate crime statute. Its failure to add these words, Loughry asserted, indicates that the legislature did not intend to protect LGBTQ people from hate crimes.

Ray of hope? The ruling was a narrow one—and the poorly reasoned majority opinion is unlikely to affect the growing consensus in the federal judiciary that anti-LGBTQ discrimination is always “because of sex.” In fact Justive Margaret L Workman (along with Justice Robin Jean Davis) wrote  a forceful dissent which criticized Loughry for giving “the shortest shrift to real critical thinking.” The majority decision, Workman wrote, “is overly simplistic and constricted,” because “the absence of … those two magic words”—sexual orientation—“does not definitely resolve the question presented by this case.” In reality, Workman explained, “certain individuals are targeted for violence because they are perceived to violate socially-established protocols for gender and sex roles. The perpetrators in such instances have drawn conclusions that the victim has contravened certain unspoken rules” regarding men and women. When he acts on those conclusions, “the bias-motivated crime” is committed, quite literally, “because of sex.” Workman elaborated:

If a man stands on a corner kissing a man and is beaten because he is kissing a man, has he been assaulted because of his sex? Yes, but not simply because he possesses male anatomical parts; rather, the crime occurred because he was perceived to be acting outside the social expectations of how a man should behave with a man. But for his sex, he would not have been attacked.

What this means for West Virginia: Until the state legislature adds “sexual orientation” to the law, LGBTQ West Virginians will lack state-level protections against hate crimes.

More reporting here 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Texas Proposes "No Gays" Adoption Law

There is a lot of stuff happening on the large political stage right now... but let's not lose sight on some of the other battles being fought.

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TEXAS: A bill introduced on Saturday in the Republican controlled legislature,  but scheduled to be voted on next week, would allow for adoption agencies to reject Jewish, Muslim, Gay, single, or interfaith couples. 

You might think we are just talking about religious organizations (like Catholic Charities) who are already allowed to discriminate this way in several states.

But no.

This bill would allow the rejection to extend to state funded agencies.

Once again: state funded agencies would be allowed to discriminate against Jewish, Muslim, gay, sing, and interfaith people in terms of adoptions. (South Dakota has similar horrible allowances)

Republican sponsors of Texas' bill say it is designed to support the religious freedom of adoption agencies and foster care providers. Many of the agencies are private and faith-based but, again, they receive state funds. 

Opponents correctly point out that this bill robs children of stable homes while funding discrimination with taxpayer dollars. 

"This would allow adoption agencies to turn away qualified, loving parents who are perhaps perfect in every way because the agency has a difference in religious belief," said Catherine Oakley, senior legislative counsel for the Human Rights Campaign. "This goes against the best interest of the child." 

The bill also blatantly violates the Constitution, Oakley added. 

"As a governmental entity, Texas is bound to treat people equally under the law," said Oakley. "This is a violation of equal protection under the law." 

But wait! It gets worse!

Not only could agencies turn away hopeful parents under the religious freedom provision, but they could require children in the foster care system to comply with their faith-based requirements, said Bryant. 

That means child welfare organizations could send LGBT kids to conversion therapy, a treatment designed to turn people straight - which the Pan American Health Organization calls a "serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people." 

More than 100 children died in Texas child protective services last year alone, when a judge had already ruled that the system violated youngsters' constitutional rights by leaving them more troubled when they left the system than when they entered it.

This proposal is just one of 24 pending bills in the Texas Legislature that LGBT advocates say encourage discrimination.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

BREAKING: Trump signs "Religious Freedom" order

In response to the latest Executive Order by President Trump:

Gay Central Valley believes in religious freedom. It is one of the founding principles of this nation. We cannot, however, allow religious freedom to change the business model for this country, where everyone must participate equally and fairly, and abide by all the laws of the land. Religious freedom allows Americans to believe and practice their religion as they wish, but it does not allow discrimination to be legalized in terms of business and public circles.

Gay Central Valley stands against any executive order by President Trump which permits discrimination and inequality to be permissible in the public square. We cannot allow that shift to happen in this country.

More on the order:

The Orders Have Two Primary Effects
President Trump's executive orders are reported to do two primary things.

1) One asks the Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price to amend regulations to exempt certain companies and religious groups from Obamacare's mandate to provide healthcare with contraception coverage. Price issued a statement saying he would take action responding to the order shortly. The issue gained attention when the Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare couldn't mandate that Hobby Lobby (a for-profit company) and Little Sisters of the Poor (a non-profit) provide health care coverage that conflicted with their religious beliefs. It's not clear what further actions the order takes, but it promises "regulatory relief". The Washington Post explains:

In the Hobby Lobby case, the court said some employers can opt out of paying for their employees’ birth control coverage for religious reasons. Afterward, the Obama administration announced new rules to allow for the insurance company to pay for the contraception instead....The order calls for “regulatory relief” for those parties but does not spell out what that might entail.

2) The second order will reportedly aim to ease enforcement of The Johnson Amendment, which forbids religious organizations with tax-exempt status from endorsing political candidates. The New York Times writes:

Officials said Mr. Trump will direct the Internal Revenue Service to exercise “maximum enforcement discretion” so that religious organizations and other nonprofit groups are not subject to punishment for expressing political views during campaign seasons.

Under the law, religious groups that endorse political candidates are supposed to be investigated by the IRS, and may face a penalty of losing their tax-exempt status. According to The Washington Post, the law is rarely enforced: one audit and zero penalties have been imposed under the law since 2008.
The Original Order Was Expected To Include Anti-LGBT Provisions

Up until Wednesday, the bill was widely expected to include "religious liberty" provisions that would have allowed for discrimination against LGBT people based on religious beliefs. In February, a leaked draft of the order included broad language that would have supposedly allowed businesses and non-profits to deny services and other actions to LGBT people based on religious convictions. The order would have allowed groups to discriminate in the following situations:

...when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments.
The draft order specifically mentioned objections to same-sex marriage, sex before marriage, beliefs around contraception, and trans identity.

Is This Vague Statement A Replacement For The Earlier Anti-LGBT Proposal?
The order that Trump signed only has a single sentence that resembles the discriminatory language of the draft order that was published by The Nation in February.:

...it is the policy of the administration to protect and vigorously promote religious liberty.
In Trump's statements made before signing the order, he said that he was instructing the Justice Department to research rules and regulations that would protect individual religious speech and actions — seemingly a nod the anti-LGBT portion which was left out.

It's unclear whether the Trump administration intends to return to the policies proposed in the draft later, or if this is a replacement for the original order.

The ACLU Has Already Vowed To Challenge The Order

In a statement, the ACLU's Executive Director Anthony Romero called the order "a broadside" to the separation of church and state.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

INTERVIEW: Jacob Wilson

Jacob Wilson lives in music. From performing in school to his current gig as lead singer of a local band, music has played an integral part in his life from the very beginning. Being able to sing for a band as an out gay man is an added bonus to following his passion. I asked Jacob to talk about what drives him and what’s happening in his life and music.

How did you first get interested in performing?

I first got interested in performing as a child. In first or second grade, we did a class project where we had to learn a magic trick and perform it in front of the class. I'll never forget my mom coming home to my (roughly) 6-ish year old self performing a magic show on our front door step. I went around the neighborhood and sold tickets for fifty cents. I got really into magic and illusions and did that though high school. I took magic very seriously, studying with some of the best illusionists. I performed a few private parties and at some elementary schools as a high school student, and also performed weekly at a local pizza parlor in Visalia. I've always had a mindset for entrepreneurship and hustle.

I've also have always been very into music and acting. I sang and did performance workshops and theatrical shows since a young age. Choir, theatre, I've done it. I remember my first show where I really got bit by the acting bug was "A Christmas Carol" at the Enchanted Playhouse in Visalia, CA directed by Chris Mangels. Since then, it's been almost non stop.

Do you write music as well as perform?

I write a lot of lyrics and am proficient enough to plunk out vocal melodies on a keyboard. I listen to a lot of music so when an instrumentalist shows me a riff, I can kind of hear different versions rhythmically or melodically in my mind. I studied music theory for a while, as well. I've always been more into studying vocal performance technique than theory. Theory is very hard.

Tell us about your band.

Centerpath has been a band for several years. I joined back in November of 2016 after being involved with another project in the Fresno area. I had seen the Centerpath guys play before and had always been very impressed. Things fell through with my former project and I decided to hit up the guys from Centerpath to jam. Apparently, I was the first vocalist who came to audition actually knowing their material, which BLOWS my mind. The dudes and I really hit it off and its history from there. We just won 105.1 The Blaze's Battle of the Bands for Blazefest 2017. As a result of winning, we got the opening slot on Blazefest 2017 at the Paul Paul Amphitheatre with established rock bands Shinedown, Sick Puppies and As Lions as well as a $1,000 Peavey gift card. We've come a long way in a short amount of time and it's very humbling. We're very excited for the future.


What kind of music does the band perform? What is the musical heart of the group?

We are a heavy metal band but our heart is ultimately in it to help others through their own life struggles. The metal community often gets stereotyped as "hypermasculine" and angry but is really, in my opinion, a community that is so loving and accepting

Are you the only LGBT member of the band?

Yes, I am the only LGBT member of the band. The guys have always been very accepting and have shown nothing but love and respect towards me. It's really great to have that support from your band.

Did you come out while in the band or were you already out when you started with them?

I've been out since I was 19. The dudes knew I was gay from the day I came to audition. As I said, it's never been a problem and they're super accepting. Very grateful to have that. 


What are the challenges in the music scene if you’re LGBT?

We haven't really run into any challenges yet. It's 2017 and a lot of perspectives are changing. That being said, we live in our own bubble in a sort of way being in California. It could be an issue when we start touring. Honestly, we are all on the same page with the fact that we don't want money from people who don't support us solely based off my orientation. My sexual preference is my business and doesn't have anything to do with the band and our live show. I just don't see why it should be that big of an issue. If it is an issue to anyone, they can go support another band of their choice. They're not going to stop us from chasing our dreams and achieving them.

One of my big inspirations, vocally and from and LGBT standpoint, is Tyler Carter from ISSUES. He came out as bisexual about a year or two ago, and has had nothing but support from the music scene and fans. It's been very moving to see that happen and watch him be so open about who he is.

What advice would you give to someone who’s interested in becoming a musician?

Work hard every day if you want it to be your career. You won't get ANYWHERE in any field by half assing what you do. The entertainment industry is over saturated, but it's not oversaturated with hard work and perseverance. That's really what it comes down to. Hard work over talent any day. Go to shows. Talk to people. Network. Being a genuine and decent human being will take you further than being a prick. 

What kind of music do you listen to when you want to feel good?

I've always listened to many genres and types of music. I'd say two of my main "feel good" artists are Lady Gaga and Rebelution. On the harder side of music, I love Of Mice and Men. The band has always been a huge influence on me and lyrically writes about REAL stuff people go through. That's very important for me as a lyricist. It's cool to write about ambiguous things and leave songs lyrically open to interpretation, but I tend to lean more towards writing about REAL LIFE situations that people can connect to; regardless of ones race, orientation or gender identity. If music doesn't make me FEEL, there's no point to it to me.

What do you think the greatest power of music is?

The capability to make others feel emotion so intensely. Music literally can save lives. As an artist, that's always been a huge responsibility to me. There's so much negativity in the world. Sometimes it helps one to write about it and get it out, sometimes it's something that might sound pissed off and negative but NEEDS to be said. However, I feel a huge responsibly to uplift and inspire others as an artist. I've always aimed to do that through my art from the beginning.

Where can we connect with you and your band online and what’s up next for you?

Centerpath is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Bandcamp and SoundCloud. Our debut single "The Day After Tomorrow" is available on all major electronic music distributor platforms for streaming and purchase. We're in the process of recording our first EP, which will feature at lot of the older Centerpath songs vocally reimagined. We're in the process of booking shows over this summer and they'll be announced very soon. Give us a like or follow on any of our social media pages and we hope to see you at a show!

https://www.instagram.com/Centerpath_ https://www.centerpath.bandcamp.com