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UPDATED: GLAAD president resigns under pressure; Six Board members out

Board member criticized in flap once worked for anti-gay Heritage Foundation

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Troup Coronado

Troup Coronado, a former AT&T executive and current GLAAD board member, once directed minority outreach at the anti-gay Heritage Foundation. (Screen capture from CSPAN video archives)

UPDATE: According to Politico, six members of the GLAAD Board of Directors are out, including American Teachers Federation President, Randi Weingarten.

GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios resigned Saturday after a tumultuous two weeks in which he was caught up in an uproar over the organization’s involvement in the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile.

Barrios came under fire from the LGBT blogosphere after an appearance on the Michelangelo Signorile show by former GLAAD board of directors co-chair Laurie Perper, who questioned a series of official statements released by Barrios’ office supporting telecommunications giant AT&T.

“The GLAAD Board has received Jarrett Barrios’ resignation letter and discussed this among other topics on our call. We expect at our next Board meeting set for Wednesday to reach a conclusion on all issues so that Mr. Barrios can begin to help The Board manage transition and bring on his successor,” the organization said in a statement.

But the story didn’t end with Barrios’ resignation, as several other LGBT organizations were pulled into the fray, either by close association to AT&T, a paper trail of their own similar letters or a connection to a GLAAD board member at the center of the controversy, Troup Coronado.

Coronado occupied seats on the boards of no less than four LGBT organizations in 2009, at the time the letters to the FCC began to emerge from these organizations’ head offices.

In 2009, when the letters containing the pro-AT&T language — later found to be opposing net neutrality — were delivered to the FCC, Coronado sat on the board of directors for GLAAD and the Equality California Institute, and served as dinner co-chair of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, according to Politico and other media reports this week. Each of these organizations sent seemingly innocuous, nearly identical letters to the FCC containing language supporting the telecom industry’s position against net neutrality.

The organizations, except for Equality California and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, sent follow-up letters to the FCC retracting their original letters after the matter was brought to their attention.

In addition, the Human Rights Campaign refused to support the telecom position by joining the sign-on letter, though Coronado also sat on HRC’s Business Council at the time. Coronado was later removed from the body in March 2010.

Meghan Stabler, a transgender LGBT activist, educator and Business Council member, said though Coronado’s departure was unrelated to the controversy surrounding the letter, his participation on the body was a factor.

“Each year the HRC Business Council reviews member participation and HRC Workplace Project objectives, doing so allows members to retire from the council and new members to be on-boarded as needed,” she said.

Coronado —  who once worked for Orin Hatch — is turning out to be a controversial background player in the world of LGBT philanthropy. As reported last week in the Blade, both OpenSecrets.org and the Washington Post have questioned Coronado’s conduct in one way or another over the years.

After an investigation into Coronado’s past, the Blade has discovered that a Troup Coronado who graduated from the University of Texas at Austin the same year as AT&T’s Coronado, and whom an anonymous source confirmed is the same person, appeared in several CSPAN videos from 1991-1993 as a representative of the anti-gay conservative think-tank the Heritage Foundation. Jeremy Hooper of the GoodAsYou blog was able to identify several instances of media outlets covering the Heritage Foundation opposition to pro-LGBT legislation in the 1980s and 1990s, and Heritage has been vocal in opposing same-sex marriage over the past decade. The CSPAN video gives Coronado’s title at the organization as Director of the New Majority Project.

The Heritage Foundation declined to comment about the purpose of this now-defunct program, but according to a July 14, 1991 Newsweek article by Charles Lane, titled “Defying the stereotypes,” the project is defined as the body’s “minority outreach program.”

A search of the Heritage Foundation archives reveals transcripts of presentations given on behalf of the program including controversial conservative figures such as Errol Smith, who would go on in 1996 to serve as vice chair of the California Civil Rights Initiative, which successfully pushed for a ballot measure prohibiting the use of so-called “Affirmative Action” at California public institutions. Coronado was present for Smith’s February 1992 speech before Heritage Foundation members on racism in the African-American community, and was referenced several times in the text of the speech.

In addition, CSPAN’s website features videos of Coronado acting as president of the Washington chapter of the Ex-Students Association of his alma mater, as well as another video introducing disgraced radio host Armstrong Williams, who later apologized for taking $240,000 from the Bush administration to promote the Department of Education’s “No Child Left Behind” law on his television and radio appearances.

Coronado was once an executive at AT&T, as well as a lobbyist for AT&T’s former parent company, BellSouth. Coronado left his position at AT&T late last year to launch a consultant firm — where it is alleged one of his most prominent clients is AT&T. The company reportedly tasked Coronado with securing LGBT organizational support for the AT&T/T-Mobile merger.

Coronado could not be immediately reached for comment.

When reached by phone, Jim Carroll, interim executive director of Equality California — who came into the position far after the controversy broke — says the fallout from the Oct. 12, 2009 letter was a wake-up call for the organization.

“I’m not denying the genesis of the letter was a request from AT&T,” Carroll told the Blade. “There were and there are no policies and procedures that would require the executive director to vet such a request … I would assume that this is a wake-up call for all of us to carefully consider requests of support for any of our allies — it doesn’t have to be a corporate ally.”

The letter was never amended, as Carroll was unaware of the letter at the time, and the issue is only now coming to his attention.

Carroll confirms that Coronado remains on the board of the California Equality Institute, despite the controversy, though Carroll says that in his six years at the organization, he believes there has never been an incident where a board member with a corporate relationship has ever asked the organization to take a position on any issue that would be considered a conflict of interest, including Coronado.

However, Carroll has yet to hear from Coronado himself about the controversy, despite requesting a conversation with the board member days ago.

Another organization that recently revealed it too was duped by the AT&T sample text, was the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which has revamped its policies and procedures for vetting what are known as “sign-on letters,” from colleague organizations.

“I signed them and I take the responsibility for the mistake of issuing both the 2009 letter and the January 5, 2010 letter,” Rea Carey, the Task Force’s executive director, told the Blade.

The Task Force issued a correction on Jan.14, after colleagues familiar with the net neutrality issue called Carey’s attention to the true meaning of the AT&T suggested language.

Carey clarified, “we get offered sample text, and language for sign-on letters,” by organizations seeking the Task Force’s support on matters of government policies and legislation, but “rarely get requests from corporations to write letters.”

“Almost always the request comes from a colleague organization — someone in ‘Labor,’ maybe a pro-choice organization, one of the civil rights organizations — those requests almost always come to me, and I forward them on to our Policy staff, and they assess them, and determine whether or not its appropriate for us to sign on to any particular letter,” Carey said.

However, when she saw the letter came from corporate partner, AT&T, Carey forwarded the sign-on letter to staff in charge of corporate relationships to review the request.

“That was the mistake I made,” she admits. “Our procedure now, no matter who on staff gets a request for a sign-on,” Carey clarified, “if there is a policy matter involved, our policy staff are involved in the full analysis and the decision on how to proceed.”

That procedural change was a direct result of the oversight on the Jan. 5 anti-net neutrality letter.

Fausto Fernos hosts the LGBT podcast, “Feast of Fun” with his partner, Marc Felion, where Jarrett Barrios first began giving conflicting statements about the origin of the GLAAD FCC letter.

“Most of our advocacy groups have a profound lack of understanding of how the Internet works, and why it’s valuable in the fight, and what it means to every single LGBT individual,” Fernos said. “We don’t value all of the amazing content that’s being created.”

Fernos became passionate about promoting this story because he believes that the AT&T position on net neutrality will create barriers to LGBT advocacy in the future.

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Real Estate

Finding your footing in fall housing market

Act quickly before winter arrives when selling

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Fall can be a good time to sell, but act fast before winter sets in.

Though it may not feel quite like fall weather quite yet in some parts of the country, as students return to school, we know that it means fall is right around the corner. Without question, fall is usually a wonderful season – it is the perfect time to enjoy beautiful weather, and plenty of festivals and fun. The return to school also means, for many, a return to routine – to getting organized and beginning again to check things off the to-do list after the lazy days of summer are over. 

You may have heard that housing inventory and activity is often lower in the fall than in the popular spring and summer seasons – and this is true. On the other side of the coin, however, fall buyers are often more serious about buying. They may be eager to buy quickly to get children enrolled in school, because of a job relocation, or due to a change in their family situation. Often, fall buyers are eager to find a home they love quickly, and to take action once they find it.

The good news is that if you plan to list your home for sale in the fall, there are a few tips and things you can add to your to-do list that will help you market your home in the best way possible and maximize your chances of a quick and successful sale. These include:

Act quickly: Depending upon the area of the country that you live in, beautiful, crisp, colorful fall weather might quickly give way to less desirable winter weather. It’s often far easier to sell a home in the fall than it is to sell in December, January, or February when bad weather might make traveling difficult, and potential buyers less likely to want to leave their homes. Once you’ve decided you’re ready to sell, it’s best to make every effort to list your home quickly to take advantage of good weather and buyers on the market.

Photograph the property as soon as possible: In many parts of the country, fall is a truly beautiful season of the year. Fall typically also offers plenty of beautiful, natural light. Take advantage of those ideal conditions by taking pictures of your property early. Don’t wait until the leaves begin to fall and the skies turn gray. Get your pictures early and use them to attract potential buyers to the unique beauty, both indoors and out, that can be enjoyed in your home.

Feature some fall curb appeal: You may not have spring flowers in the fall, but there’s abundant natural beauty to enjoy nevertheless. If you have falling leaves, make sure to regularly rake and bag them. Mow the lawn, perhaps add some new mulch, or consider adding some fall flowers. These steps don’t take long or cost much money, but they can go a long way toward catching the eye of potential buyers. 

Leave the lights on: In fall, the sun begins to set early. As a result, it’s important to keep your home as bright and inviting as possible. Clean your windows, open the curtains or blinds, and encourage as much natural light to come in as possible. If you have very dark paint colors, consider having a few rooms repainted to lighter shades. This will maximize light, and make your home appear more open and airy. Finally, if the showing is later in the day, be sure to leave plenty of lights on within the home. This will not only increase your curb appeal as potential buyers approach the home by making it look warm and inviting – it will also help buyers feel more comfortable inside your home as they envision themselves in that space. 

While these tips are intended to be helpful, it’s important to remember that one of the best steps you can take to truly increase your chances of a successful home sale is to hire a real estate agent who knows and loves the community and can help you truly tailor the marketing and pricing of your home to potential buyers in your area. Finding and connecting with an agent that can help you do exactly that is essential. At GayRealEstate.com, we’re here to help. 

At GayRealEstate.com, we aren’t just passionate about real estate. We’re passionate about real estate with a purpose. Our mission is to connect LGBTQ home buyers and sellers all over the country with knowledgeable, talented, and experienced LGBTQ-friendly realtors who know their communities well and are dedicated to helping clients every step of the way. Wherever you are in the real estate process, and whatever your goals, we’re here for you, and we’re ready to help. If you’re ready to get started, connect with us today. 

Jeff Hammerberg is founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. Reach him at 303-378-5526 or [email protected].

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Living

Late summer must-haves for gay beach lovers

Sunglasses, beach chairs, and more to keep you stylish in the sand

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Finish the dog days of summer in style with these beach-ready requisites to enhance your fun in the sun.


Helinox Beach Chair

Standard camp chairs don’t hold a candle to Helinox’s high-back, splayed-leg beach seats that offer more than just stability in the sand: Sturdy aluminum construction allows for up to 320 pounds of weight while mesh ventilation panels, side pockets for small essentials, and an adjustable headrest for pillow placement provide comfort while you cruise the coastline. $170


Welly Bottle

Triple-walled vacuum insulation, a comfortable loop cap and slip-proof base contribute to the practical aspects of Welly Bottle, but it’s the sexy minimalist design that’ll turn more heads than your teeny-weeny polka-dot bikini. $40


Nomadix Original Towel

Super-absorbent, quick-drying MicroTerry fabric keep Nomadix’s lightweight Original Towels resistant to sand and lingering odor, slip-resistant when activated by moisture, and uber-stylish since the post-consumer recycled material lends itself to more than 30 dye-less prints that won’t fade like your farmer’s tan. $40


Feisedy Sunglasses

Even though “Zack Morris Is Trash” – according to Dashiell Driscoll and Jason Flower’s 50-ep strong “Funny or Die” series – he’s still the quintessential ’90s himbo, and you can channel his too-cool-for-school energy in Feisedy’s oversized mirror-shield sport sunglasses with lightning bolt temples that keep pointed gazes concealed on the beach and beyond. $26


PureBreeze Personal Fan

Martha and the Vandellas waxed melodic about a heat wave in the early 1960s, but it probably didn’t compare to today’s record-smashing scorchers that require reinforcements, like PureBreeze’s rechargeable personal fan featuring three speeds and an optional aromatherapy diffuser for enhanced R&R. $25


JBL Clip 3

Jury’s still out on 2022’s song of the summer (and with heavy hitters like Beyonce, Harry Styles and Lizzo vying for the title, deliberation ain’t easy), but you can cast your vote by pumping up the volume through the waterproof, so-light JBL Clip 3, which makes transporting superior sound quality from the parking lot to your sunning spot a real breeze. $40


Body Glove Water Shoes

Body Glove’s 3T Cinch water shoes protect your pads from jagged rocks, slimy seaweed, and the occasional crab picking at your piggies so you can sing wee-wee-wee all the way home. $38


Quicksilver Straw Hat

Leave it to venerated beach brand Quiksilver to design an outdoor hat that’s not only functional but fashionable: the straw-constructed Outsider Waterman provides UV protection on your head and face while its McConaughey vibe will keep you feelin’ alright, alight, alright.  $28-$34


The Blade may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made via this post.

Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyroxtravels

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Business

Fla. ‘Pride Leadership’ firm survives pandemic to face anti-LGBTQ legislation

‘Are gay leaders better? Of course we are!’

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Dr. Steven Yacovelli has spent more than 25 years delivering diversity training and developing LGBTQ leaders.

(Editor’s note: This is the sixth in a multi-part summer series of stories taking a closer look at how a group of diverse LGBTQ entrepreneurs survived and thrived during the pandemic. The series is sponsored by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. All installments in the series are available on our website.)

Dr. Steven Yacovelli has spent more than 25 years delivering diversity training and developing LGBTQ leaders, but after surviving a nearly half-million-dollar loss during the pandemic, the “Pride Leadership” author and Top Dog Learning Group co-founder now fears legal repercussions from Florida’s “Stop W.O.K.E. Act.”

“I can go to a Florida-based client and potentially both the company and an employee could now sue me as the deliverer of the diversity training,” Yacovelli told the Blade. “That training is now potentially illegal because of the Act.”

Top Dog Learning Group is a diversity and inclusion consulting firm based in Orlando and has been delivering training, to include leadership development for the LGBTQ community since 2002, initially as Yacovelli’s “side hustle” while a corporate executive.

At the height of the pandemic’s economic crisis in 2020, Yacovelli said he lost nearly half of his business earnings in two weeks. They were able to survive and recover mostly due to his previous experience with Zoom and other virtual platforms.

But while they could increase their instructional capacity by going virtual, and grow through the crisis, the current impact of Florida’s anti-LGBTQ legislation now threatens his small business.

In April, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), whom conservative voters in a 2024 presidential election straw poll chose over former President Donald Trump for the second year in a row, signed the new law he dubbed the “Stop Wrongs Against our Kids and Employees Act.” It took effect July 1, despite First Amendment legal challenges.  

The Florida law, though targeting the alleged teaching of critical race theory in public schools, also prohibits instruction that “compels” employees or students to believe privilege or oppression “is necessarily determined by his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.”

This legislation, and the popularly known “Don’t Say Gay” bill passed earlier, have served to decrease Florida’s score on Out Leadership’s 2022 State Level Business Climate Index, published amid a cascade of anti-LGBTQ measures pursued across state legislatures.

New York’s LGBTQ business climate ranked No. 1 for the second year in a row, earning 93.67 out of 100 points, while South Carolina scored last with 33.63 points.

Florida, ranked 31, and Oklahoma, ranked 49, lost points for their “Don’t Say Gay” bills among other anti-LGBTQ legislation.

“LGBTQ-friendly environments are business-friendly environments,” Todd Sears, Out Leadership founder, told Axios in June.

Florida’s “Stop W.O.K.E. Act” also vaguely states that an individual shouldn’t feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress” as a result of the training experience due to their “race, color, sex, or national origin.”

This “discomfort” ban worries Yacovelli as he facilitates difficult conversations in a currently accepting community.

“I look at this as a taxpayer and as a human who lives here,” he said. “But the good news is I live in a very inclusive community because of the Pulse [shooting] and for other reasons. We’ve got each others’ back.”

Yacovelli said his local government and representatives have been very supportive, “but it’s hard.”

The problem of capital

When he was between jobs in 2008, after having been terminated from an executive position without explanation (Florida is an “at-will” state meaning an employer can fire an employee without cause), he followed his friend and co-founder, Ruth Bond, to Paris where he had an epiphany.

In a Paris cafe, he saw a simple yet elegant logo for a French telecommunications company and decided it was time to design a similar, simple logo for his side-hustle and move it into full-time reality.  

Years later, he now sees the comforting spirit of his “fur-daughter” Ella, a mini-Labradoodle who died from cancer last summer, in the friendly dog visitors encounter on the company’s website.

“2008 wasn’t a good time to start a business,” Yacovelli said. “But there’s never going to be a good time. You’ll always find an excuse not to do this, but put that aside. Whether it’s the economy, or your own limited finances – just put that all aside and just do it.”

Access to startup capital has been a historic problem for minority business owners. The Federal Reserve Banks reported in 2018 that limited access to credit was a “compounding factor that hurts the underlying health of minority-owned small businesses.”

Many, like Yacovelli, turn to personal funds to get their dream off the ground.

“I was self-funded,” Yacovelli said. “But on the advice of a friend, I took out one small business loan. And thank goodness I did, because I had an established relationship with a bank when COVID hit.”

During the height of the pandemic, the Paycheck Protection Program was administered through banks, limiting access to the survival funding, according to a Brookings Institute report in 2020.

Brookings also pointed out that closing the financial and other disparities could add millions more new small businesses to the U.S. economy and with them more jobs.

The National LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce states LGBTQ-owned businesses contribute more than $1 trillion to the U.S. economy, and in 2015 more than 900 certified LGBTQ-owned businesses created more than 33,000 jobs across the country.

But pandemic challenges continue.

“In the years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, LGBTQ+ businesses have faced severe financial challenges and many are at risk of permanently closing,” Zack Hasychak, Director of Membership Outreach at the Human Rights Campaign, told the Blade.

To help LGBTQ businesses, HRC teamed up with Showtime to start their “Queer to Stay” initiative. For two years the partnership awarded funds to 30 LGBTQ-owned businesses across the country and has committed to supporting at least 25 businesses this round.

Applications are accepted via their website until Aug. 31.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is also shining a spotlight on LGBTQ-owned small businesses.

SBA Deputy Press Director Cecelia Taylor told the Blade about the Elevating Small Business webinar series in June that celebrated LGBTQ small businesses across the country while focusing on financial wellness and the importance of equity and opportunity.

“Equity is a top priority for me and for the Biden-Harris administration, and we believe all of America’s entrepreneurs deserve a level playing field, regardless of zip code, race, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation” said SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman in a Pride month statement.

“During COVID, we’ve learned how critical equitable access is to surviving and thriving, and at the SBA we are working to build better connections to and for the 1.4 million LGBTQ+ owned businesses in communities across this country,” Guzman said.

Still, Yacovelli emphasized the need for the federal government to step up and make the process of procuring contracts easier.

“The federal government is the largest opportunity for contracts,” he said. “Yet, the process to get them is insanely hard. That’s a missed opportunity.”

Yacovelli said it took a week away from his business to complete a “dissertation-type application” only to have it “go into a black hole” without any feedback.

“It was for diversity training for 911 operators,” he said, stunned by why he didn’t hear back about his application. “Coach me so I can make the application better. It took us a week to get this packet done, and that’s a week I didn’t work on any client proposals.”

But despite challenges, Top Dog grew to exceed its pre-pandemic levels, making 2021 its best year to date.

“Are gay leaders better?” asked Yacovelli who literally wrote the book on “Pride Leadership,” which has been widely praised as influential by multiple business and political leaders. “Of course we are! We’re fabulous. I looked at my queer siblings in leadership roles and moving our community forward in areas of equality and justice. They exercise competencies all leaders could use.”

“You play with a lot of leaders in my business,” Yacovelli, a.k.a “The Gay Leadership Dude,” told the Blade. “You start to see patterns of behaviors for leaders that are crushing it and those that are crashing and burning.”

In his book “Pride Leadership,” Yacovelli combines academic insights gained though his doctorate in education and his years as a corporate leader to identify six leadership traits: being authentic, leading with courage, having empathy, effective communication, building relationships, and influencing organizational culture.

Yacovelli pointed out that the LGBTQ coming out process also involves using these leadership skills to navigate that tough line between being authentic and respecting the feelings and experiences of others.

“You have those difficult conversations. You’re having empathy for yourself and for the person receiving the news for the first time,” he said. “That one experience can be translated into leadership courage, and those traits are the foundation for a really effective leader.”

He stated that for trans siblings to live their lives authentically is powerful, and to channel that energy into a leadership role is using their “rainbow superpowers.”

“And we freakin’ need it now more than ever,” he added.

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