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Donna Summer dies

Disco diva succumbs to cancer in Florida at 63

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Donna Summer, the "Queen of Disco," succumbed to cancer at the age of 63. (Photo by Harry Wad via Wikimedia)

Beloved disco diva Donna Summer has passed away in Florida at 63 of complications from cancer, according to celebrity gossip website, TMZ.

Summer rose to prominence in late 1975 when she stepped out of her career as a back-up singer for acts like Three Dog Night, and released her expansive erotic anthem “Love to Love You Baby,” helping generate enthusiasm for the “new sound” now called Disco, as well as popularize the 12″ single format.

Dubbed “The Queen of Disco” at the time, Summer helped popularize the dance genre popular at nightclubs and gay bars throughout the late 70s and early 80s known for its funk, soul and latin influence. Summer’s biggest disco hits include “Love On & On,” “I Feel Love,” “Heaven Knows,” “Dim All the Lights,” “On the Radio,” and “Last Dance.”

In 1979, Summer cooled to the disco sound and embraced a heavier rock sound, working with some of the recording industry’s biggest producers, most notably openly gay producer David Geffen and Quincy Jones, releasing hits “Bad Girls,” “Hot Stuff,” “This Time I Know its for Real,” and her last major hit in 1983, “She Works Hard for Her Money.”

Though known as a gay icon, Summer’s born-again-Christian status began alienating the diva from her gay fans, and in the mid-1980s, a false report that she’d called AIDS “the wrath of God” on gay people began circulating widely, an allegation she has flatly denied since. According to Jet Magazine, in 1989, she wrote to the New York chapter of ACT UP calling the entire thing a “terrible misunderstanding”

“I was unknowingly protected by those around me from the bad press and hate letters. …If I have caused you pain, forgive me.”

Summer is survived by her husband of 32 years, Bruce Sudano, and their two daughters, Brooklyn and Amanda Grace. She also has a third daughter, Mimi Sommer, from her first marriage.

Appropriately, here is “Last Dance.”

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Virginia

Va. Senate committee kills six anti-transgender bills

Democrats control chamber by 22-18 margin

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia Senate Education Committee on Thursday killed six anti-transgender bills.

The committee rejected state Sen. Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg)’s Senate Bill 960, state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Colonial Heights)’s Senate Bill 791 and state Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania County)’s Senate Bill 1203. All three measures would have banned transition-related health care for minors in Virginia.

The committee also killed state Sen. John Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake)’s Senate Bill 911, Reeves’ Senate Bill 1186 and Peake’s Senate Bill 962. The measures would have banned transgender athletes from school teams corresponding with their gender identity.

Equality Virginia in a tweet said committee members received more than 3,000 emails “in opposition” to the bills. The statewide advocacy group further noted 10 out of 12 anti-trans bills introduced during this year’s legislative session have been defeated.

“Thank you to everyone who has spoken up against these bills,” said Equality Virginia. “Virginia is remaining a better, more inclusive state because of your efforts.”

“The fight isn’t over,” added the advocacy group. “But we know Virginians will show up for trans youth, day after day.”

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Virginia

Va. Senate subcommittee essentially kills three anti-transgender bills

Measures would ban transition-related health care for minors

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia Senate subcommittee on Tuesday essentially killed three bills that would have banned transition-related health care for minors in the state.

Equality Virginia in a tweet noted the Senate Health Subcommittee “recommended killing” state Sen. Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg)’s Senate Bill 960, state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Colonial Heights)’s Senate Bill 791 and state Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania County)’s Senate Bill 1203. 

“We expect these bills to be officially dead after the full committee meets on Thursday,” said Equality Virginia.

Democrats have a 22-18 majority in the state Senate, and they have said they will block any anti-LGBTQ bill that reaches their chamber. State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who is the first openly transgender woman seated in a state legislature in the U.S., on Tuesday reiterated this point.

“With the defeat of these bills in the Senate, our (Virginia Senate Democrats) made it clear that *any* bills in the House targeting trans kids during the final week before crossover will not become law if they make it to the Senate,” she tweeted. “Let’s focus on feeding kids, not singling them out.”

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The White House

Doug Emhoff visits monument to gay victims of the Nazis in Berlin

Second gentleman marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Auschwitz

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The Memorial to Homosexuals persecuted under Nazism in Berlin on July 23, 2022. Second gentleman Doug Emhoff visited the memorial on Jan. 31, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff on Tuesday visited a monument to gay victims of the Nazis in Berlin.

A readout from Emhoff’s office notes he visited the Memorial to the Persecuted Homosexuals under National Socialism with Philipp Braun of the Lesbian and Gay Federation of Germany, a German LGBTQ and intersex rights group. Christopher Schreiber and Alexander Scheld of the Berlin-Brandenburg Lesbian and Gay Federation were also with Emhoff.

“The Memorial to the Persecuted Homosexuals under Nazi Socialism is intended to honor the homosexual victims of National Socialism and at the same time ‘set a constant sign against intolerance, hostility and exclusion towards gays and lesbians,'” notes the readout.

Emhoff on Tuesday visited other memorials that honor the Sinti and Roma and people with disabilities who the Nazis killed. The second gentleman also visited Berlin’s Holocaust memorial before he met with five people who survived it.

The second gentleman earlier in the day participated in a roundtable with Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders and met with Ukrainian refugees at Berlin’s New Synagogue. Emhoff on Monday participated in a meeting at the city’s Topography of Terror Museum that focused on antisemitism.

International Holocaust Memorial Day, which commemorates the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland in 1945, took place on Jan. 27. 

Emhoff, who is Jewish, traveled to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Memorial and Museum and participated in ceremonies that commemorated the camp’s liberation. He later attended a Shabbat dinner with members of the Jewish community in Krakow, visited Oscar Schindler’s factory and met with Ukrainian refugees at a U.N. Refugee Agency community center before he traveled to Germany.

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