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Police chief joins rally, walk against anti-LGBT violence

Residents of Bloomingdale, Eckington denounce attack on gay couple

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Silent March, hate crimes, Columbia Heights, gay news, Washington Blade
Eckington, gay news, Washington Blade

Attendees of the Eckington ‘safety walk’ march listen as speakers call for an end to anti-gay violence. (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.)

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, a contingent of police officials, two members of the City Council, and civic activists from the city’s Bloomingdale and Eckington neighborhoods participated in a rally and walk Thursday night against anti-LGBT violence.

Chanting “From Ward 1 to Ward 8, stop the violence, stop the hate,” about 100 people gathered outside the Big Bear restaurant in Bloomingdale at First and R Street, N.W., where organizers staged a rally.

A smaller contingent of about 60 people then walked several blocks to Third Street and Lincoln Road, N.E., in Eckington near where a gay male couple was attacked and beaten on July 22.

“We are here in response and defense against what happened on the 22nd and the prevailing rise of violence in the District of Columbia in general,” said gay activist Nick McCoy, the lead organizer of the event.

“We’re here today to showcase the broad support of our community that represents black, white, LGBT, artistic, business, and heterosexual,” McCoy said. “Tonight, instead of silence, we’re raising our voices together.”

Police said yoga instructor Michael Hall, 29, and his partner Michael Roike, 28, were attacked by three unidentified youths who shouted anti-gay names before punching and kicking the two men. Hall suffered a fractured jaw and broken face bone and underwent surgery at Howard University Hospital as a result of his injuries.

No arrests have been made in the incident. Lanier said an active investigation continues and police are appealing to the community for witnesses to help identify the attackers.

Hall and Roike didn’t attend the rally and walk. McCoy said the two were invited but declined, saying they were not ready to participate in such an event.

A.J. Singletary, chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) told the rally that D.C. has the highest rate of anti-LGBT violence in the nation and that between 2005 and 2011 anti-gay crime increased 86 percent.

He said police statics show 21 hate crimes based on the victim’s sexual orientation have been reported so far this year, compared to 15 reported as of August 2011.

“This is absolutely unacceptable,” Singletary said. “The only way we can change this is to work together as one community.”

Lanier joined the walk at the site near where the attack against the gay couple took place. She praised organizers and participants for rallying the community against crime.

“I wish we could do this more often because it sends a message that communities were formed for the protection of the community,” she said. “Sometimes we forget that. So I think that when anybody in the neighborhood is victimized we should stand up and come together and say, no, this is not tolerable. This is not going to happen in our community.”

Others who spoke at the rally or during the walk were Commander Andy Soleberg of the Fifth Police District, which has jurisdiction over Bloomingdale and Eckington; and D.C. Council members Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) and Vincent Orange (D-At-Large).

Other speakers included Jeffrey Richardson, director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs; and Lateefah Williams, president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group.

Captain Edward Delgado, director of the police Special Liaison Division, which oversees the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit; Sgt. Carlos Mejia, supervisor of the GLLU; and several GLLU members participated in the walk and rally.

McCoy said he was especially pleased that Bloomingdale and Eckington residents, LGBT and straight, turned out for the event and expressed strong support for the neighborhoods’ LGBT residents.

E. Gail Anderson Holness, a Bloomingdale civic activist and minister, led the crowd in the chant, “Fired up, we won’t take no more.”

“When injustice happens to one of us, injustice happens to all of us,” she said. “Let’s walk together and stand together and tell this community and all communities in Washington D.C. that we’re all standing together – lesbian and gay, bisexual, tri-sexual, any sexual, no sexual. We’re all standing together and we’re not going to tolerate crime of any sort in our community.”

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District of Columbia

Activists, policy makers mark Celebrate Bisexual Day in D.C.

BiPlus Organizing US hosted event at HRC

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Adrian Shanker, senior advisor for LGBTQI+ health equity in the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, speaks at a Bisexual Awareness Day event at the Human Rights Campaign on Sept. 23, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Cal Benn)

BiPlus Organizing US on Saturday hosted a Celebrate Bisexual Day event at the Human Rights Campaign.

Fiona Dawson, co-founder of BiPlus Organizing US, and Mélanie Snail, committee member of the organization, emceed the event. HRC Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Rebecca Hershey welcomed attendees. 

Heyshey discussed her journey as a bisexual, mixed race, Jewish woman. Hershey paraphrased Adrienne Maree Brown, stating “change is coming, we are creating change.” 

PFLAG Learning and Inclusion Manager Mackenzie Harte gave a presentation on the history of bisexual identities, defined terms surrounding gender and sexuality and went over statistics of discrimination and health disparities that bisexual individuals face.

Harte’s presentation noted 48 percent of bisexual individuals reported an annual income of less than $30,000, compared to 30 percent of gay men, 39 percent of lesbians and 28 percent of all adults in the U.S. 

Harte went on to say 28 percent of bisexual students report having attempted suicide; and bisexual people have a higher risk of mood disorders, substance abuse and mental illness than their lesbian, gay, or straight cohorts. Bisexual people of all genders face higher rates of sexual assault than those same peers. One reason for these statistics is isolation: 39 percent of bisexual men and 33 percent of bisexual women report not being out to any health care provider, and only 44 percent of bisexual youth report having an adult they could turn to if they were sad. 

Harte also spoke about the Bisexual Manifesto, which the Bay Area Bisexual Network wrote in 1990. 

“The bisexual manifesto very intentionally was not binary,” Harte said.

They said the text works against the stigma and stereotypes that claim bisexuality is confined to “male, female.” 

Tania Israel, a bisexual advocate and psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, shared some of her bisexual haikus, which she calls, “bikus.”

Dawson moderated the next panel.

Panelists included Nicole Holmes, a bisexual advocate and public health professional, National Center for Transgender Equality Communications Director Leroy Thomas and NCTE Policy Counsel Kris Tassone. 

The panel talked about how shame and stigma drive the statistics that negatively impact the bisexual community. Another word that came up as a driving force was “intersectionality.” 

Holmes said that when it comes to intersectionality, it’s important to not just “list identities,” but to look deep into “the purpose behind why we are talking about intersectional identities” in the first place.

Adrian Shanker, senior advisor on LGBTQ+ Health Equity for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, spoke about health equity for the bisexual community. 

“Striving for health equity remains a core priority. It also remains an unmet dream,” said Shanker. “Queer people have always had to be our own health advocates.” While health equity may not be here yet, Shanker says there is much in the works for the LGBTQ community, bisexuals specifically. 

Shanker cited a National Cancer Institute funding opportunity that invites research proposals to cancer care for sexual and gender minorities, stating bisexual specific proposals are welcome. The impending potential government shutdown may postpone it. 

The Biden-Harris administration is also working to ban so-called conversion therapy at the federal level. Additionally, 988, the national suicide prevention hotline, began a program to offer specialized support for LGBTQ youth and young adults last year. 

Shanker said bisexual people should prioritize preventative screenings for skin cancer, oral cancer, lung cancer, regular cervical and anal pap tests, mammograms, prostate exams and colonoscopies. 

“If you have a body part, get it screened,” said Shanker. 

Megan Townsend, senior director of entertainment research and analysis for the GLAAD Media Institute, did a presentation on bisexual representation in the media and opportunities for advancement. 

 “I want to see bi+/pan colors displayed on the White House,” said Dawson. “I want every national LGBTQIA+ organization to be talking about us, to put our concerns front and center.”

The data presented can be found here.

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Delaware

Flight attendants union endorses Sarah McBride

Del. lawmaker would be first transgender member of Congress

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Delaware state Sen. Sarah McBride speaks at the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in D.C. on April 10, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Delaware congressional candidate Sarah McBride has earned the support of the Association of Flight Attendants, the nation’s most prominent flight attendant union.

It’s the second big labor endorsement for McBride after the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 27’s endorsement. The Association of Flight Attendants praised her for spearheading efforts to bring paid family and medical leave to Delaware, which will take effect in 2026. 

“Sarah’s record in the Delaware Senate shows that she understands how to work collaboratively, build power and make big things happen,” the union’s president, Sara Nelson, wrote in a press release shared exclusively with the Washington Blade. “That’s the kind of leader we need in Congress, and we’re proud to endorse her candidacy.”

McBride also announced her support for creating a list of abusive passengers and banning them from flying. Each airline has a list of passengers banned from flying, but airlines don’t share the lists with each other, though Delta Air Lines has asked them, because of “legal and operational challenges,” as a representative for the airline industry trade group Airlines of America told a House committee in September 2021.

“Right now, someone can be violent towards a flight attendant or another passenger and walk directly off of that flight and onto one with a different airline to endanger more people,” an Association of Flight Attendants spokesperson wrote in a statement. 

The Protection from Abusive Passengers Act would put the Transportation Security Administration in charge of building the database of passengers fined or convicted of abuse and has bipartisan support but has sat idly in committee since March. It failed to pass last year, and civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union have charged that the list would disproportionately target people of color and strip and a better step to reducing hostility would be making flights more comfortable. Reports of defiant and unruly passengers have more than doubled between 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2022.

“I thank the Association of Flight Attendants for endorsing our campaign,” McBride wrote in the press release. “It’s important that we recognize and celebrate the symbiotic relationship between strong, unionized workforces and the continued growth of employers here in our state.”

The union representing 50,000 flight attendants across 19 airlines is putting pressure on airlines to grant union demands in contract negotiations. At American Airlines, unionized flight attendants voted to authorize a strike — putting pressure on the airline to accede to its demands. Flight attendants at Alaska Airlines say they are ready to strike but have not voted to authorize one yet. United Airlines flight attendants picketed at 19 airports around the country in August, ratcheting up the pressure. 

The union’s endorsement adds to a growing list of McBride endorsements, including 21 Delaware legislators, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Human Rights Campaign, EMILY’s List, and Delaware Stonewall PAC. McBride, who would be the first openly transgender politician in Congress, has powerful connections in Washington — including with the White House — and is favored to win Delaware’s lone House seat. 

A poll commissioned by HRC shows her leading the pack of three candidates vying for the seat — 44 percent of “likely Democratic voters” told pollster company Change Research, which works with liberal organizations. The poll of 531 likely Delaware Democratic primary voters, though, was conducted only online — meaning those with less familiarity or access to the internet may not have been counted — and Change Research’s methodology for screening likely voters is unclear. The company also did not provide a breakdown of respondents by age, gender, and race, but says it uses an algorithm to make the results representative.  

Nelson said McBride’s time in Delaware’s state Senate shows her prowess in building power and working collaboratively.  

“That’s the kind of leader we need in Congress, and we’re proud to endorse her candidacy,” she wrote.

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Virginia

Lawsuit seeks to force Virginia Beach schools to implement state guidelines for trans, nonbinary students

Va. Department of Education released new regulations in July

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(Bigstock photo)

Two parents in Virginia Beach have filed a lawsuit that seeks to force the city’s school district to implement the state’s new guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students.

NBC Washington on Friday reported Cooper and Kirk, a D.C.-based law firm, filed the lawsuit in Virginia Beach Circuit Court.

The Virginia Department of Education in July announced the new guidelines for which Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin asked. Arlington County Public Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools and Prince William County Schools are among the school districts that have refused to implement them. 

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