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Obama opposes Boy Scouts ban on gays

Romney also supports membership for open gays

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(Blade photo by Michael Key)

President Obama opposes the recently affirmed Boy Scouts policy of banning gay members, according to a statement from the White House sent in response to a Blade inquiry.

“The President believes the Boy Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century,” White House spokesperson Shin Inouye said in the statement. “He also opposes discrimination in all forms, and as such opposes this policy that discriminates on basis of sexual orientation.”

In a follow-up email, Inouye said Obama won’t resign or relinquish his position as honorary president of the Boy Scouts as result of this position.

The Boy Scouts of America affirmed its gay ban last month after a two-year review of the policy.

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Deron Smith, a Boy Scouts spokesperson, said his organization respects the opinion of the president and believes good people can personally disagree on the issue.

“The Boy Scouts of America respects the opinions of President Obama and appreciates his recognition that Scouting is a valuable organization,” Smith said. “We believe that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to accomplish the common good.”

Among the organizations working to lift the ban is the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which has been championing the issue after lesbian den leader Jennifer Tyrrell was expelled from the organization ostensibly because of her sexual orientation.

Herndon Graddick, GLAAD’s president, responded to the White House statement by saying numerous political leaders have come out against the ban prohibiting openly gay people from being in the Boy Scouts.

“Our nation’s leaders from across religions and political persuasions have joined hundreds of thousands of Americans in speaking out against the blatant discrimination that the Boy Scouts of America teaches young adults today,” Graddick said. “It’s clear that this outdated policy will be changing in the future. How long will the Boy Scouts continue to bully young gay Americans into hiding who they are and hurt children of gay parents by denying their parents an opportunity to participate in their children’s lives?”

Zach Wahls, the co-founder of Scouts for Equality who gained notoriety for speaking out against the repeal of marriage equality in Iowa, praised Obama.

“I couldn’t agree more with President Obama about how important the BSA is to this country’s young men and am proud to have his support,” Wahls said. “The fact that the Presidential candidates of both major American parties have come together to oppose the BSA’s anti-gay policy in the most polarized political climate since Reconstruction speaks volumes about both the moral validity and critical importance of ending the ban. It’s no surprise that the leader of the free world is willing to advocate for a little more freedom within the BSA.”

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign told the Associated Press on Saturday that Romney holds the same position on admitting gays to the Boy Scouts that he did in 1994, when he said, “I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Opponents of the ban have since used Romney’s statement to denounce the Boy Scouts policy.

“[Mitt Romney’s] leadership is to be commended, and we hope he can set an example of how people with differing religious beliefs can come together to support the Boy Scouts of America’s mission to serve our communities and develop tomorrow’s leaders, regardless of sexual orientation,” said Zach Wahls, co-founder of Scouts for Equality, in a statement.

NOTE: This post has been updated to include more reactions.

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49 Comments

49 Comments

  1. JohnDavis

    August 8, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Well, I’m happy he made a statement about this! At last. Thank you, Mr President. Now, if any gay folks out there are still considering voting for Romney, why don’t you ask him to re-affirm what he said back when he was running for the US Senate against Ted Kennedy, something about being more gay friendly than Kennedy? I don’t remember. But I bet if you get to ask him in a debate, maybe one of you gay Eagle scouts could stand up and ask Romney. Just a suggestion.

    • Howard Menzer

      August 8, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      I am happy that the president came out against the BSA discriminatory policy against gay and non-theist children and adults. Scouting For All has been opposing this policy for more than 15 years. It is now time for the president to back up his statement by telling the BSA that he can no longer act as honorary president of BSA. This is a post that all presidents ore offered and it would cement his view if he were to step down from that position.

    • Cb

      August 8, 2012 at 10:33 pm

      I support the boy scout ban.

      For nearly a century, the Boy Scouts of America has relied on a confidential blacklist known as the “perversion files” as a crucial line of defense against sexual predators.

      Scouting officials say they’ve used the files to prevent hundreds of men who had been expelled for alleged sexual abuse from returning to the ranks. They’ve fought hard in court to keep the records from public view, saying confidentiality was needed to protect victims, witnesses and anyone falsely accused.,,,

      http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-boyscouts-20120805-m,0,5822319.story

    • ceanf

      August 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      thank you mr president? really? really?!?

      our brave president denounces the boy scout’s ban on gays, yet he retains his honorary title as head of the organization. so he denounces the position of an organization he is the honorary head of, remains in the position, and you thank him for it?

      guess what John? 10 year old boys who disagreed with the boy scouts ban were ‘braver’ than dear leader. they QUIT.

      oh, and one last tid bit for you…. Romney opposed the boy scouts ban on gays long before dear leader.

  2. Diana caselton

    August 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    I am due on oct 22nd with my first child a son and I would love for him to be able to join an organization like boy scouts, but not if that organization discriminates. I hate any kind of discrimination.

    • cesar

      August 9, 2012 at 11:27 am

      You got it all wrong. It is not discrimination. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are two dif. organizations. Private organizations. One for boys and one for girls. Why would we have distraction in the camps with boys having to deal with other boys liking them? they are not there to deal with love issues or sexual issues, they are there to learn life skills. Allowing gay boys to be open about their sexual preference in camps is teh same as allowing girls to join.

  3. Stacey Aldana

    August 8, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    well im glad obama is making a move like this. this shows that our president supports ALL people no matter color religion and sexual orientation. this proves that he is willing to make a change so everyone can be happy!

    • ceanf

      August 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      if the president truly supports gays, then why does he remain as the honorary head of the boy scouts? why did he not resign? actions speak louder than words stacy.

      yet you give dear leader accolades for it…. interesting.

  4. George thrill

    August 8, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Thank god the President has time to be worrying about these statements and things of this nature instead of our countries current economic standpoint

    • Normal Human

      August 9, 2012 at 6:46 am

      You said gay peop;e are as evil as straight people. I say more evil because they are a perversion of nature and they rebel against the norm. It is clearly apparent men are physically made to mate with a woman based on our anatomy and reproduction. Just think if everyone was suddenly gay it would be the last generation of people and humans would die without reproducing. EXTINCTION!!!!!!!!!

      • brian

        August 9, 2012 at 10:53 am

        Ooooh. That’s a real scare ’em scenario, Normal — complete with scary all-caps.

        But you’re discounting the procreative power of bisexual couples. Also, many lesbians would welcome making babies with the assistance of their lesbian wives. Their gay male friends and/or partners’ siblings would happily provide nature’s abundantly ‘normal’ juices.

        See. Not-so-scary scenario. So relax.
        :-D

    • Volvodrivingliberal

      August 9, 2012 at 11:05 am

      George, fortunately our President has the capability of walking and chewing gum at the same time, unlike many political leaders on the Republican side of the fence.

  5. michael

    August 8, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    i was a boy scout, hard worker, enjoyed learning and doing tasks….there were several gay boys in the troop i was in..as children do, kid around and charge this and that..i quit the boy scouts because i was sick of the group attitude to do gay things when no adults were around…i was harrassed and lured by gay kids, that everyone does it and no one cares…to those who think its not polically correct to accept gay people, you should realize some gay people are as evil and disrespectful as straight people and to think they are not is completely ignorant..to this day i respect all people, but not predators gay or straight.

  6. Dan Spengler

    August 8, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    As a straight Eagle Scout, I totally agree with the president on this. Scouting was one of the most positive influences I’ve ever had in my life. The Scout Law is:

    A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

    Scouting taught me about civic participation, volunteering, self sufficience, accountability, leadership, team work, travel, nature, conservation, and so much more. These are great values to learn for young men of any sexual identity.

  7. a n n e Goldbauer

    August 8, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    President Obama does the RIGHT THING; as a Constitutional Lawyer he has changed the way we no longer tolerate in giving organizations the freedom to discriminate. The Boy Scouts of America promises that all youth are to be protected and in fact claims protection from pedophiles. One of its policies states: The Boy Scouts of America places the greatest importance on creating the most secure environment possible for our youth members. Then it turns around and discriminates against gay youth; recently there was a reporting of BSA whose leaders were accused of sexually abusing their youth, and BSA protected in hidden secret files. President Obama is a leader with a backbone, a clear message and knows the Constitution.

  8. Rick Alaska

    August 8, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Scouting is a private organization with specific values that it upholds. It does not teach anything of a sexual nature. I think young people get enough of a dose of that in the public schools and in the media. Scouting is about accomplishments, leadership, survival and respect for nature. It is an asexual environment. So when you sexualize it in any way – you have violated the scout laws. I would suggest that people who are interested in introducing any sexual component into accomplishments, leadership, survival and respect for nature might start an organization that has those components – along with the sexual ones. The President was not a Scout, and I do not think he values Scouting.

    • Will

      August 9, 2012 at 12:48 am

      Private? Not really. They are funded almost exclusively by the Mormon FLDS… and therefore are required to remain gay-free. That is basically the Mormon mandate. Of course, if you disagree, please look it up and post commentary to the contrary.

  9. vangrungy

    August 8, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Isn’t it interesting that since the BSA banned gays from their private organization you don’t really hear about boyscouts being molested anymore. There was a damn good reason for the ban, it still applies. If gays want access to little boys they can try to infiltrate the Catholic Church again.

  10. Ben Thomas

    August 8, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Gays already have their own group – the Democratic Pary. Leave the Scouts alone.

  11. marcus

    August 8, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    should we also disdain the BSA for discriminating against beastiality? It is a choice, like choosing the perverse lifestyle of being gay. Liberals, your time is up.

  12. Chadwick Harvey

    August 8, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    In defense of the Boy Scouts of America, the homosexual lifestyle choice is not the only ‘sexual sin’ that would get one kicked out of the scout. The BSA is largely chartered in churches who have moral objections to the homosexual lifestyle choice. Therefore it is only right that the ban is continued. The only bullying, bigotry, and intolerance I have seen in regards to this issue is from the Gay and Lesbian Community towards the BSA. They seek to weed society of any thought that dares to disapprove of their sexual lifestyle choice, which further makes me strongly question whether or not gays or lesbians actually approve of themselves.

    • Ken

      August 9, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      A choice? You mean I went to the booth, read the brochures, met the nice people, and then I signed up? How could I have done that at the age of three? For many gay people, their sexual preference is heterosexuality, but it turns out that heterosexuality is not a choice. I went through that. My orientation overcame my preference. Now I wouldn’t be heterosexual even if I could. I don’t want to be like you. Anyway, have you noticed how horrible heterosexuality is? One hundred percent of all abortions result from a heterosexual act.

  13. Will

    August 9, 2012 at 12:36 am

    The Mormon Church heavily funds the boy scouts and they will pull that funding if gays are allowed in any way, shape or form into the boy scouts. This is well documented. Look it up.

  14. Steven

    August 9, 2012 at 2:17 am

    “gays”

  15. cesar

    August 9, 2012 at 2:30 am

    They are both the devil! tell me! why is sexual orientation an issue for kids!? It must not be! Kids should be left out of these sexual debates! These people are just making kids confused! Leave the Boy Scouts alone! Leave sex out of the Boy Scouts!

  16. cesar

    August 9, 2012 at 2:33 am

    The Boy Scouts KNOW that if they allow gay boy scouts, 80% of parents and supporters will withdraw their children and support.

    This is a case where people who believe it’s discrimination to ban Gay men from serving as scout leaders are just plain wrong. Gay men should NOT be Scout Leaders. For the same reason that you don’t allow your fourteen year old daughter to go camping with the nice heterosexual man next door. It’s the same reason that you don’t let your teen age son hang out at the gay guys house who lives down the block or have sleep overs. Because you’re looking out for their best interests you ignore what the politically correct, rah, rah crowd is spouting and you do what is best for you child. End of Story.

    Posted by: Janie S. | August 9, 2012, 12:09 am 12:09 am

  17. Asc

    August 9, 2012 at 5:47 am

    The objective is to present information and activities that produce and support strong ideals for youth, not to occupy time and identity with the obsession of specific sexualities. Perhaps one of the greatest points of an activity like the scouts is the distraction of participants from sexuality, even if just briefly, by the program content.

    Wrong for them to take a negative over how one wishes to deploy their engorged privates? Might actually represent civility which has been gone for a while in the public eye. Not much concern for the avoidance of members who are sexually active (at 14years?) in other ways.

    This has spun enough, particularly if the WH has taken it on. That makes it an official distraction: “I’m the president, my record is awful, and I support gays in the Boy Scouts”. Wonder how he feels about smaller, more select groups where his “do what I say” rules apply, like with his daughters?

  18. Jenn Williams

    August 9, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Don’t kid yourselves, Obama is just looking for the gay vote….he does not give a crap about scout values or morailty….or the gay community.

    • Ken

      August 9, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      I don’t think so. Obama knows that voters who hate gays outnumber voters who are gays. Every time gay rights is put up to a vote, gays lose the popularity contest.

  19. eagle scouter

    August 9, 2012 at 10:32 am

    As an Eagle scout, I’m glad my kids won’t be abused by gay adults in scouts. Keep your pesos out of our organization!

  20. Left Coast

    August 9, 2012 at 11:28 am

    BSA has every right to set the standard for their organization. If gays want to join a group, then create one. There has been some pushback to the Girl Scouts and there are groups forming to counter their standards. Not easy but certainly better than trying to destroy an existing organization.

    • Ken

      August 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm

      Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, is no longer qualified to be a scout leader. He was gay. Ironic, that gays are not permitted in a gay organization.

  21. Ken

    August 9, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    The Boy Scouts have pubescent and prepubescent boys as members. Imagine a boy who has late onset of puberty. He’s heterosexual, but he can’t know that yet. Because he is developmentally a little behind the other boys and not quite interested in girls yet, the other boys taunt him. The taunting isn’t bad, but the internal distress is. Now comes the Boy Scout policy that effectively tells him, “You could have a secret that would make me stop loving you, and if you tell me about it, I will throw you out, ridicule you in front of all your friends, and tell your parents.” That’s enough to send a kid into the backyard with a rope.

    Even if the BSA believes that gay scouts are valueless, they have to rescind this policy, because it has a disastrous effect on their treasured heterosexual scouts.

    The BSA bans atheists, also. They only know if a kid is an atheist when he identifies himself as one. The honest kids who admit they are atheists are unclean, but the hypocrites who profess faith in God but practice atheism are kosher. How sick.

    These policies remind me of Elmer Fudd, whose gun is pointed at Bugs Bunny, but he only shoots himself.

  22. Craig

    August 9, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    It’s nice to see such a show of support for the BSA and American values int the Blade.

  23. Bob Hill

    August 10, 2012 at 12:00 am

    I used to always respect the US President. But with what “Mr. Oboma” has said and done, I cannot respect him. Like someone else said, Oboma already has his own gay organization (his party). He needs to stop trying to be God and do his job.

  24. john pepper

    August 10, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    i am 76 years old. i was it the boy scouts and was proud of it. it was part of the church and their belief. the boy scout tought me god. and his comanments. and to do good things.. to me man sleeping with man @ woman sleeping with woman is a sin, i do not want my kids or grand kids to be exposed to this kind of thinking, . where do you get your children from..to the scouts of america hold your ground. keep it a christian organiation. to those that want diferent. start your own scouts or what ever you want to call it. we will leave you and your belief alone.. so dont try to change our belief . and leave the boy scouts of america alone . mr president thanks a lot you lost my vote. to the christon people think of what this means. pepper god help us.

    • chris

      August 13, 2012 at 2:43 am

      Interesting John that you are on a gay news site. In response to your post, it isn’t about promoting being gay, rather allowing perfectly qualified people to bring values to children. I am not from the USA, I’m from the UK and we have a policy of allowing gay people to be leaders. I seriously doubt we are corrupting them in anyway. But having met some American Mormons at the WSJ, I found them to very bigoted. Also BSA isn’t an exclusively Christian Organisation, and Scouting has never been so, cast your mind back to end of WW1, and Baden Powell called for peace regardless of religion or race. I’m pretty sure he would spin in his grave to know how the BSA have isolated people from a fantastic movement.

      My Grandad is 83, and seriously shares my views on this, time for America to wake up…

  25. Matt Harrell

    November 25, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    While the Boy Scouts is a great organization outside of this issue, the fact that they are teaching discrimination to children is as anti-American as you can get. Either their blatant discrimination needs to end, or they need to be banned from all public facilities and funding. Refuse to allow them to receive public money and bar them from using schools nationwide for their meetings and see how fast they change their minds!

    • Joanna Doe

      February 3, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      I disagree with the president. I think BSA should continue to not allow gay people into it.But saying that this is discrimination is true. They’re discriminating against the BSA for their values. You should respect them for actually holding onto Biblical morals, not tear them down and force them to change. You can not parade around saying that you are intolerant if you don’t support gay rights, because you yourself are being intolerant to those who have values. This ticks me off so much. The BSA is right, get off their back. Tear me down all you want for this, these are my values, and I’m not changing them.

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National

Non-binary person reports assault by Proud Boys near Portland

‘They nearly killed me’

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Juniper Simonis (Photo by Mariah Harris)

It was a typical day for Juniper Simonis. The freelance ecologist decided to break from work for lunch at about 3 p.m. to take their service dog, Wallace, to the local dog park and grab a bite to eat.  

But a planned peaceful afternoon quickly turned ugly. Simonis says they survived a gang assault of about 30 perpetrators in Gresham, Ore., a suburb outside of Portland. The Oregon resident encountered the group for only minutes but suffered a concussion, sprained jaw, extensive car damage and verbal assaults, they said. 

“They nearly killed me,” they said.

Simonis said they turned into a parking lot to pick up lunch in Gresham, Ore., and stumbled upon a rally that included several members of the Proud Boys — a far-right, ultra-nationalist organization known for its anti-LGBTQ, anti-feminism and neo-fascist ideologies. 

There was a “Flag Ride” right-wing rally in a parking lot earlier that day. Simonis was under the impression the event had ended after checking reports on Twitter. After pulling into the lot, originally to look for lunch options, Simonis saw a large gathering still in the lot. 

Simonis decided to take pictures of what was happening to post online to warn others and was intentional in keeping their distance, they said. As Simonis was preparing to leave the area, they yelled from inside the car, “Fuck you, fascists, go home.” 

“I did not expect this to escalate into violence,” they said. 

The attack itself only lasted about three minutes, Simonis said. Simonis was quickly surrounded by several people and physically blocked from leaving the lot. People stepped in front of the parking lot exit, then a car was moved to barricade Simonis. People began to shout homophobic slurs at Simonis, they said. 

“I’m in serious trouble now and I know it,” they said. 

Simonis was then punched while inside their vehicle and was briefly knocked out. They regained consciousness a few seconds later, and a cinder block was thrown at the car and shattered the back window of their car inches away from their service dog, Wallace. 

Simonis got out of the car to assess the damage and make sure their service dog was safe. They quickly got back in their car and was able to leave the lot by maneuvering around the blocked exit, Simonis said. 

Wallace, Juniper Simonis’ service dog. (Photo by Mariah Harris)

Looking back at the photos and videos Simonis took before the assault, Simonis said they saw people looking into the camera and acknowledging them taking photos. 

“I honestly don’t know if I hadn’t said anything, that … things would have gone any different,” they said. 

Last year, Simonis was targeted and arrested by federal police in Portland during the tumultuous Black Lives Matter protests in the city. They were denied medical attention, misgendered, jumped and aggressively handcuffed while taken into custody. 

Simonis is still working through legal proceedings in a multi-plaintiff lawsuit. 

A witness to the event called the Gresham Police Department, which was only a few blocks away from the incident. But the call went to voicemail and the witness did not leave a message, Simonis said. 

Another witness called 911, Simonis said, which led to an officer calling Simonis about 45 minutes after the accident to take a report.   

In the police report obtained by the Blade, Simonis is consistently misgendered. Simonis’ sex is also listed as “unknown” in the report. The incident was labeled as vehicle vandalism. 

Simonis said the conversation with the officer was filled with victim-blaming and the officer wrote in the report that Simonis should avoid “approaching groups of this nature.”  

“At no point in this conversation does he treat me as an actual victim of a crime,” Simonis said.

The Gresham Police Department did not respond to a request for comment. 

Weeks after the assault, Simonis is struggling mentally and physically, they said. 

The concussion makes working on a computer virtually impossible because of light sensitivity and trouble focusing, Simonis said. The pain caused by the sprained jaw makes it difficult to focus, as well. 

Simonis is not able to begin physical therapy for their jaw until November because of long medical wait times, they said. The cost to repair the car damages will be about $8,000, as well, they said.  

The times where Simonis is able to focus are usually taken up by piecing together what happened that day, they said. 

“The part of my brain that I use for work has been hijacked functionally by the part of the brain that needed to know what happened to me,” they said. “There is such a painful need to understand what happened to me.”

Because of past traumatic events, like the experience of being in federal custody last year, Simonis said processing and living with the trauma is a bit easier to handle. But their ability to work will be forever changed yet again, they said. 

“I’m not able to work at the pace that I used to work at before I was assaulted by DHS. I’ll never be,” they said. “And this is just a further knockdown.” 

The trauma of the event has increased Simonis’ hyper-vigilance, as well. 

“Every time I hear a car go by, I’m double-checking,” they said. 

Even though Simonis has the tools to process and live with the immense trauma, they will never be the same person, they said. 

“They fucking changed my life forever. Point blank,” they said. “Not just mentally, but physically and physiologically. I can’t go back to where I was before. I’m lucky that I survived.”

Simonis has reported the attack to the FBI and is pursuing legal action with two specific goals in mind: to heal and to prevent similar crimes from happening.

“I am somebody who believes in abolishing the carceral system and the justice system as it exists and policing,” Simonis said. “But also a 37-year-old trans and disabled person who somehow managed to survive this long. And so naturally has become pragmatic about the world.”

Because of the reaction of the Gresham Police Department, Simonis did not want to work with local officers and instead went to the federal level. But because of the alleged assault by agents in Portland last year, this decision wasn’t easy for them.

Perpetrators in the assault threatened to call the police on Simonis,  even though Simonis did not commit a crime. Reporting the crime to the federal level is also a layer of protection, they said. 

“All of this is forcing my hand,” they said. There is no easy decision in the situation, they added. 

“We all know that crimes are underreported. We hear about it all the time,” they said. And there are reasons why people don’t report crimes and they’re totally understandable. A lot of victims are very concerned about what will happen if they break anonymity. In my situation, I’ve already broken anonymity.”

With recent arrests and crackdowns on the Proud Boys and other hate groups in the United States, Simonis is bracing for a long process. 

“This isn’t just going to go on a shelf,” they said. 

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$2 million grant program to help LGBTQ restaurants, bars

Grubhub, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce to support small businesses

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NGLCC, gay news, Washington Blade
Chance E. Mitchell and Justin G. Nelson of NGLCC announced the new grant program for restaurants and bars. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce and the global online food delivery company Grubhub announced on Sept. 22 that they have launched a $2 million grant program to provide financial support to struggling “LGBTQ+ owned and ally restaurants” adversely impacted by the COVID pandemic.

“America’s vulnerable LGBTQ+ owned restaurants and bars serving food will find a vital lifeline this fall stemming from the partnership formed by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and Grubhub,” according to a joint statement they released. 

“These small business owners have been among the hardest hit by COVID impact with loss of jobs and income over the past two years,” the statement says.

It says the newly launched Community Impact Grant Program is inviting restaurants and bars that qualify for the program to submit applications for grants up until Oct. 12, 2021, the closing date for the applications. The grants are expected to range from $5,000 to $100,000, the statement says, with NGLCC and its more than 50 affiliated LGBT chambers across the country playing the lead role in selecting which restaurants or bars are awarded the grants.

In a separate statement in response to a question from the Washington Blade, NGLCC said an LGBTQ-owned establishment such as a gay bar would be eligible to apply for a grant under the program if they offer a menu for serving food.

“They do not need to be licensed as a restaurant specifically to be eligible for consideration,” NGLCC said.

Among the D.C. gay bars that would fall into that eligibility category are Pitchers and its attached lesbian bar A League of Her Own, Uproar, and Nellie’s Sports Bar. Freddie’s Beach Bar in Arlington, Va. would also be eligible.

In the same follow-up statement to the Blade, NGLCC said it will determine whether an applicant qualifies for a grant as an LGBTQ ally by evaluating “the restaurant’s clientele, reach, track record of support, and public benefit.”

The statement adds, “In our application online, we ask allies to share evidence of their LGBTQ+ community support such as nonprofit sponsorships or advertising in local LGBTQ+ media, among others. We know that our allies are an important foundation standing by their LGBTQ+ patrons, neighbors, and friends.”

The statement announcing the launching of the LGBTQ grant program says the funds for the grants will come from a charitable program Grubhub started in 2018 called Grubhub’s Donate the Change program. It says the program asks customers receiving food delivered by Grubhub to “round out their order total and donate the difference,” with Grubhub matching eligible donations from its Grubhub+ members.

It says NGLCC has set a goal to allocate 30 percent of the funds for the Community Impact Grant Program for LGBTQ-owned and ally-owned restaurants and bars to businesses owned by people of color and transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

“We’re proud to partner with Grubhub offering these grants to support these businesses,” said Justin Nelson, co-founder and president of the NGLCC, who noted that LGBTQ-owned and allied restaurants were among those who “kept our communities and first responders fed throughout the pandemic.”

Added Nelson, “America’s 1.4 million LGBTQ+-owned business owners have shown incredible resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, and now, in turn, we can help them recover stronger than ever.”

The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce describes itself as the business voice of the community and “the largest global advocacy organization specifically dedicated to expanding economic opportunities and advancements for LGBT people.”

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National

Roundup of cities hosting Pride events next month — and those that cancelled

Annapolis, Richmond among postponements in mid-Atlantic

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Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, the Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff at D.C.’s Pride Walk in June. (Screenshot via WJLA 7)

Although organizers are closely watching COVID-19 related developments in their states, at least 15 outdoor, in-person LGBTQ Pride events were scheduled to take place across the U.S. in the fall of 2021, according to the international LGBTQ group InterPride and online announcements by organizers of the Pride events.

Cities in which the fall Pride events are scheduled to take place include D.C.; Fort Lauderdale; Palm Springs, Calif.; Las Vegas; Dover, Del.; and three small cities in Maryland.

The decision to move ahead with those events came shortly after Pride organizers in at least five cities announced they were cancelling their events for this fall due to concern over the COVID pandemic. Among them are Richmond, Va.; Annapolis, Md.; Atlanta; Louisville, Ky.; and San Francisco.

Organizers of a fall Pride event in Philadelphia also cancelled that event, originally set for Sept. 4. But the Philadelphia Gay News reports that the cancellation was not due to COVID but instead was due to objections by members of the community to the policies of the event’s organizers and a controversial public statement by one of the organizers considered by some to be derogatory to transgender people.

A statement announcing the cancellation of a San Francisco LGBTQ Pride Freedom Day Fest scheduled for Oct. 20 by its organizers appears to capture the sentiment of organizers of the other fall Pride events that were also cancelled.

“[W]e’ve determined that to produce a street fair with the safety and health of our communities at top priority, at the quality expected of SF Pride, is just not feasible this fall,” the statement says. “We are not cancelling – we’re merely postponing. Over the coming months, in addition to some new and returning fundraising events, we’re going to focus our energy on Pride 2022,” the statement continues.

“We remain as excited as we ever were to capture that spirit of wonder and look forward to bringing Freedom Day Fest to all of you in October 2022,” it says.

San Francisco Pride organizers noted that the fall Freedom Day Fest event was to be an addition to the city’s regularly scheduled Pride parade and festival that has taken place in June prior to the COVID outbreak but that were cancelled this year and last year. 

The Richmond Pride event, known as Virginia Pridefest, was scheduled to take place Sept. 25. The event, which was also cancelled last year due to COVID, has attracted tens of thousands of participants in previous years. 

“After consulting with our many corporate sponsors, organizational partners and volunteers we have decided it is in the best interest of the health and safety off our community to postpone VA Pridefest 2021,” organizers said in an Aug. 27 statement. “Our preparation puts us on solid footing as we postpone the festival to 2022 when we hope to hold it in June as part of the national observation of LGBTQ Pride Month,” the statement says. “This has long been a goal of ours, and this just may give us that opportunity,” it says.

Although organizers of Annapolis Pride cited COVID concerns as their reason for cancelling that event, which was scheduled for Oct. 30, activists in three smaller Maryland cities have chosen not to cancel their Pride events.

They include the Howard County Pride Festival scheduled for Oct. 9 in Columbia, Md.; the Upper Chesapeake Bay Pride Festival, also set for Oct. 9 in Havre De Grace, Md.; and Southern Maryland Pride scheduled for Oct. 16 in Solomons, Md.

Like D.C.’s Capital Pride Alliance, Pride organizers in Baltimore cancelled their traditional June Pride parade and festival for the second year in a row and instead held more than a dozen smaller events in June of this year, both in-person and virtual.

In Los Angeles, Christopher Street West, the group that organizes that city’s Pride events, including its annual Pride Parade which in pre-COVID years has attracted hundreds of thousands of participants, also cancelled this year’s parade for the second year in a row. Like other cities, the group held several virtual Pride events in June.

Los Angeles Blade Publisher Troy Masters organized a Pride Walk in June that attracted a few hundred participants in an effort, Masters said, to hold at least one in-person event to celebrate Pride during the traditional Pride Month in June.

A larger outdoor Pride event did take place in LA Aug. 27-29, called the DTLA Proud Festival, with “DT” referring to downtown LA.

Capital Pride Alliance, which organizes D.C.’s annual Pride parade and street festival that have attracted over 200,000 participants in pre-COVID times, held a scaled back Pride Walk and Pride celebration at D.C.’s Freedom Plaza in June. The group has scheduled an Oct. 17 Pride Street Fair and Block Party on 15th Street, N.W. between P and Q Streets that it’s calling Colorful Fest.

On its website, Capital Pride says those entering the block party, which will be in a fenced in area where alcohol will be served, will be required to show proof of COVID vaccination.

“The Capital Pride Alliance is committed to finding opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community to gather together safely, especially as the fall and winter seasons will soon make it more difficult to hold outdoor events and pandemic guidelines will make indoor events challenging,” Capital Pride Executive Director Ryan Bos told the Blade. “To that end, we are working closely with the DC Government and following all current COVID-19 guidelines to have a safe outdoor event,” Bos said.

The Louisville, Ky., Pride, which had been scheduled for Sept. 18, is among the Pride events cancelled this fall due to COVID concerns, according to its organizers. But a second Pride event held in Louisville each year called Kentuckiana Pride, will take place as planned on Oct. 8-9 with a parade and festival. 

Chad Eddings, the Kentuckiana Pride co-director, told the Blade the event would take place in an enclosed outdoor area and participants must show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test as a requirement for admission. He said the event usually draws about 15,000 people.

Cities in which fall Pride events are still scheduled to take place or have already taken place include Burlington, Vt. (Sept. 5); Miami Beach, Fla. (Sept. 18-19); Columbus, Ind. (Sept. 18); North Texas Pride Festival in Plano, Tex. (Sept. 25); Delaware Pride in Dover (Oct. 2); South Florida Afro Pride Parade & Music Festival in Ft. Lauderdale (Oct. 7-11); Las Vegas Pride Parade & Festival (Oct. 8-9); D.C Pride Street Fair & Block Party (Oct. 17) Pacific Northwest Black Pride in Seattle, Wash. (Oct. 29-31); Phoenix Pride Festival & Parade in Phoenix, Ariz. (Nov. 6-7); Palm Springs, Calif., Pride (Nov. 1-7); and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Pride Parade & Festival (Nov. 20).

InterPride, the LGBTQ organization that keeps track of Pride events “all over the world,” released the results of a survey it conducted of 201 worldwide Pride organizations to find out the type of Pride events they were planning for this year. The findings show that the largest number – 40.8 percent – reported they would be holding both in-person and virtual Pride events.

The findings show that 35.3 percent of the Pride organizations planned just in-person events this year; 19.9 percent planned only online or virtual events; and 4 percent either were not planning any events this year or had canceled their events.

The survey results released by InterPride did not breakdown the findings by specific countries.

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