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New D.C. anti-violence group debuts

Coalition called D.C. Anti-Violence Collaborative includes many local LGBT organizations

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Ruby Corado, Casa Ruby, Jason Terry, Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence, GLOV, DCTC, D.C. Trans Coalition, Hassan Naveed, gay news, Washington Blade
Ruby Corado, Casa Ruby, Jason Terry, Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence, GLOV, DCTC, D.C. Trans Coalition, Hassan Naveed, gay news, Washington Blade

A coalition of local LGBT organizations this week announced the formation of a new group called the D.C. Anti-Violence Collaborative. From left, Ruby Corado of Casa Ruby, Jason Terry of the D.C. Trans Coalition and Hassan Naveed of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV). (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)`

A coalition of local LGBT organizations this week announced the formation of a new group called the D.C. Anti-Violence Collaborative.

In a statement released on Tuesday, organizers said the new organization is “dedicated to ending cycles of violence and oppression impacting the LGBT community in the District of Columbia.”

Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV), Casa Ruby, and D.C. Trans Coalition are among the organizations joining forces to operate the new group, the statement says.

“The D.C. Anti-Violence Collaborative will allow us to start coordinating vital services for survivors of violence in our communities,” said Ruby Corado, founder and executive director of Casa Ruby, an LGBT community center with an outreach to the Latino and transgender communities.

“There is a tremendous need, and by working together across organizations, we will be better able to address that need,” Corado said.

Jason Terry, the anti-violence coordinator for the D.C. Trans Coalition, said the new group would enable its member organizations to better address issues of “police violence, hate violence sexual violence, and partner violence through advocacy, education, grassroots organizing, and providing services.”

GLOV co-chair Hassan Naveed said the Collaborative would help create “an inclusive advocacy agenda in a safe space for all intersections” of the community. “It’s time for us to tighten coordination in our advocacy efforts and make sure we are providing representation for everyone,” he said.

The Aug. 20 statement says the new group will meet monthly and plans to organize two town hall meetings in the fall. It says the group would soon launch a new online tool to report incidents of anti-LGBT violence.

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1 Comment

  1. brian

    August 21, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    Jason Terry, the anti-violence coordinator for the D.C. Trans Coalition, said the new group would enable its member organizations to better address issues of “police violence..”
    **** **** **** **** ****

    Ward 5 area LGBTs have a case regarding MPD’s ongoing biased policing that hopefully this new group can investigate…

    The long history of racist, homophobic and transphobic policing in MPD’s Fifth District (NE) is nothing new. But this past month, it has raised its ugly head again with MPD’s *COVER-UP* of felony-level threats to “bash in the heads” of an Asian grocery store manager at a Yes! Organic Market, as well as the gay African American man who came to his defense.

    The threats to kill the two minority individuals were reportedly made by two of the 10 or more individuals who conducted a *Flash Mob* style attack on that Yes! grocery store just before 1 pm on Sunday afternoon, July 14th.

    Worse still– apparently in an attempt to further MPD-5D’s cover-up– now have a credible public report that MPD-5D Commander Andy Solberg is openly dismissing, in a unofficial conversation, the credibility of the eyewitness account of the gay man (reprinted below) who was one of the victims.

    If true, that is outrageous, unprofessional and biased conduct by any high-ranking MPD commander.

    Blade readers should be reminded that 5D’s Andy Solberg had no credible response to the MPD-5D cover-up of the trans woman’s assault in Trinidad last year. MPD did not even report it as a REGULAR assault in their Daily Crime Report. Then, a few months later in summer, MPD-5D’s excuse-making and foot-dragging regarding the case of the two gay men brutally beaten in Eckington was equally disappointing.

    Now MPD-5D’s command is conducting a whispering campaign against the gay African American– a VICTIM of the crime– who dared to come forward? Shame on MPD’s Fifth District! 5D’s record of biased policing is safer than ever, apparently.

    I remember when Chief Lanier appointed Solberg. She wrote me that she was sure I would like him. So it is very clear who is behind this cover-up, as well.

    BTW, MPD’s PSA-504 took over 25 minutes to respond to the gay man’s 911 call. Then, when MPD team did respond, it did not call in MPD’s ALU for the openly racist remarks made to the Asian immigrant.

    MPD’s cover-up began to unravel when a neighbor heard about the Flash Mob attack and asked a MPD Sergeant about it over two days later at a civic meeting. The Sergeant for that area professed to know nothing about it. I think many were astonished to hear that.

    After nearly two weeks of no serious investigation by MPD, the gay man, “R”, posted a detailed account on our local LGBT listserv, reprinted in full here…

    =============

    — In [email protected], R wrote:

    I was the patron who was there when the teens hit the store. It was a very unsettling event. I decided to get out of the store prior to them getting violent. Unfortunately, as I was leaving the store, they began to make racial slurs and threats to the assistant manager. I started to walk out of the store, but their abuse of the assistant manager was such that I fear they would physically attack him. I stopped as I walked out the door.

    The two thieves ran north on 12th Street (they ran towards Quincy street) and then went east up Quincy Street. The other kids stood outside of the door taunting the assistant manager, making racial slurs and threats. I was threatened with having my head bashed in by one of the kids who told me that I better mind my own business. I started to say something but thought better of it. He, however, continued to threaten me telling me that I did not know who I was talking to and that I better mind my own business.

    The assistant manager had been trying to call the police but asked me to speak to them. After waiting for over 25 minutes, I made a second call to the police dispatcher complaining that no one had shown up. I asked what did it take to get a police person there—-did we need to report “police in trouble”. She went to check on the dispatch and 27 minutes after making the first call, a police officer showed up.

    I have not been contacted even thought I wasted 45 minutes “being a responsible citizen”. I could identify the kid who threatened me but as I said I have not been contacted. Yes has pictures of the thugs as they were in the store for over 5 minutes. They also gathered at the front door of the store, so the report should have a good count of the number of kids involved plus very good pictures of them.

    I do not often support Brian’s tirades against the police because they do try to do their best. In this case, it seems to me that the police had no interest in pursuing this matter. I do not know about you, but kids who threaten to bash my head in, and tell me I do not know who they are —-and what they are capable of doing—-should not be allowed to get away with making such threats. It seems to me that this one kid clearly has a history of physical attacks on DC citizens. By the way, all the kids went east towards 13th street. In the store, they had said that they were on their way to CVS after the got finished at Yes.

    Waiting 27 minutes for a police response to a flash mob and threats (including racial comments against the assistant managers) should be taken seriously. I think it was not only a case of threats but also a hate crime as they were really badly abusing the manager because of his ethnic background (they thought he was Chinese, he is Korean). I know that the police have not taken this event seriously because no one has asked me to identify the kid who threatened me. I still have not been contacted by the police despite giving them my contact information. I can identify the kid who made the threats—-I checked back at Yes two days later and they informed me that they had given them to the police. Of course, you cannot get information if you do not bother to contact those of us who were there and were subject to threats by a flash mob. What does it take to get a case to be taken seriously. I bet if the case involved a police officer, we would have had every single available police officer in the district there.

    The police can still contact me but I will not hold my breath.

    R
    =============

    MPD-5D’s cover-up continues– now with a whispering campaign. It’s August.– with lots of slow news days. So who really cares about another case of racist, anti-LGBT police bias in MPD’s 5D?

    b

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Virginia

Va. businessman apologizes for burning of rainbow flag poster

‘Shocked and horrified’: Ashburn incident caught on video

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Organizers of an event where a Pride symbol was burned say the incident was a misunderstanding.

The owner of a Virginia technology company that hosted a private Veterans Day party on the grounds of an Ashburn, Va., brewery in which a company employee used a flame-throwing device to ignite a rainbow flag poster said the selection of the poster was a mistake and he and his company have no ill will toward the LGBTQ community.

The Washington Blade learned about the poster burning from a customer of the Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn, where the incident took place on its outdoor grounds. The customer made a video of the incident with his cell phone and sent a copy of the video to the Blade.

The video, which includes an audio recording, shows a man using a hand-held flame-throwing device to ignite the rainbow poster, which was hanging from a cable and appeared to be mounted on cardboard or a thin sheet of wood. Bystanders can be heard laughing and cheering as the poster is set on fire.

The poster consisted of a variation of the LGBTQ Pride rainbow flag that included the word “love” configured from an upper white stripe on the rainbow symbol.

The customer who took the video, who has asked not to be identified, thought the decision to set the poster on fire was a sign of disrespect if not hatred toward a longstanding symbol of LGBTQ equality and pride.

Chris Burns, Old Ox Brewery’s president, shared that view, telling the Blade he and his staff were “shocked and horrified” when they learned later that a rainbow flag poster had been burned on the brewery’s grounds. Burns said Old Ox supports the LGBTQ community and participated in LGBTQ Pride month earlier this year.

He said the company that held the private party paid a fee to hold the event on the brewery’s grounds, but the brewery did not know a rainbow poster would be burned.

“I’m mortified that our event was interpreted in this way,” said Nate Reynolds, the founder and partner of Hypershift Technologies LLC, the Falls Church, Va.-based technology company that organized the Nov. 11 party at Old Ox Brewery. “I can assure you that ZERO ill-will or offense was meant,” Reynolds told the Blade in a Nov. 24 email.

“We held a small private party for a few clients, which included a demonstration of Elon Musk’s Boring Company ‘Not a Flamethrower,’” he said in his message. He was referring to one of billionaire businessman Elon Musk’s companies that specializes in boring through the ground to create tunnels for cars, trains, and other purposes. 

“After so many being isolated during COVID, we wanted to have an event that was lighthearted and to some small effect, silly,” Reynolds said in his message to the Blade.

According to Reynolds, in thinking about what should be used for “fodder” for the flame-thrower, he went to a Five Below discount store and purchased items such as stuffed animals and posters, including a “Space Jam” movie poster as well as what he thought was a poster of the British rock group The Beatles.

“When I pulled the Beatles poster out of the tube it was instead the ‘Love’ poster,” he said, referring to the rainbow flag poster the Blade asked him about in an earlier email.

“All I focused on was the ‘Love’ wording and not the rainbow and did not draw the conclusion that the poster was an icon that represents the LGBTQ community,” Reynolds said. “It was my own ignorance of not connecting the symbolism of the poster. If I had realized it was a symbol of the LGBTQ community, I would not have used it,” he said.

“I feel terrible, and I want to emphasize that I am solely responsible for this mistake – not the Old Ox Brewery,” he wrote in his message. “Nobody at Old Ox had anything to do with this activity.”

Reynolds added, “Hate has no place in my heart, and I sincerely apologize for any offense that could have been drawn from what I now realize was poor judgement on my part. I simply didn’t correlate this poster with the LGBTQ pride symbol.”  

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Before Reynolds issued his statement of apology, Burns, the Old Ox Brewery co-owner, told the Blade in an email he was “saddened and upset” over the rainbow poster burning on the grounds of his brewery.

“We do not wish to benefit from this event,” he said in his email message. “Therefore, Old Ox is donating 100% of the revenue generated from the private event to GLSEN.”

GLSEN is a national LGBTQ advocacy group that focuses on education and support for LGBTQ youth. Burns said Old Ox Brewery also donated proceeds from a Pride month event it organized earlier this year to GLSEN.

LGBTQ activists and organizations contacted by the Blade said they were unfamiliar with the variation of the rainbow flag with the word “love” that was the subject of the poster burning incident. The poster is available for sale at Five Below stores in the D.C. metropolitan area for $5.

Small print writings on the poster show it is produced by Trends International LLC, which describes itself on its website as “the leading publisher and manufacturer of licensed posters, calendars, stickers and social stationery products.” The Blade couldn’t immediately determine who designed the poster.

 The video of the poster burning incident can be viewed here:

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Fairfax schools returns LGBTQ-themed books in high school libraries

Review found ‘no pedophilia’ in texts as critics claimed

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(Book cover insert courtesy of Amazon)

The Fairfax County Public Schools announced on Tuesday that following a detailed review by two committees appointed by school officials it has returned two LGBTQ themed books to its high school libraries that had been temporarily withdrawn after being challenged by critics who claimed they included sexually explicit content inappropriate for students.

The two books, “Lawn Boy,” a novel by author Jonathan Evison, and “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” which is described as an illustrated autobiography by non-binary author Maia Kobabe, each contain descriptions of sexual acts.

But supporters of the books have argued that they have won praise by literary critics and, while describing intimate relationships, they tell stories that do not fall into the category of pornography.  

Fairfax County Public Schools, the name used for the county’s public school system, on Tuesday said in a statement that a thorough review of the books by two committees consisting of educators, school officials, parents and some students found that neither book contained content that could be considered to depict pedophilia as claimed by some parents and others opposing the two books.

School officials announced they had temporarily withdrawn the two books from school libraries following a Sept. 23 meeting of the Fairfax County School Board where strong objections to the two books were raised by parents.

“Two books that were subject to formal challenge have been deemed appropriate for high school readers following a two-month review process and will be reinstated to Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) libraries,” Tuesday’s statement by the school system says.

“The decision reaffirms FCPS’s ongoing commitment to provide diverse reading materials that reflect our student population, allowing every child an opportunity to see themselves reflected in literary characters,” the statement continues. “Both reviews concluded that the books were valuable in their potential to reach marginalized youth who may struggle to find relatable literary characters that reflect their personal journey,” the statement says.

The statement says the final decision to reinstate the books was made by Noel Klimenko, the Fairfax County Public Schools’ assistant superintendent for its Instructional Services Department.

The two books have received favorable reviews in various literary publications. Both have received the American Library Association’s Alex Award, an annual award that recognizes the year’s 10 books written for adults that the association says have a special appeal to young adults ages 12 through 18.

“The robust committee process took place over several weeks and considered whether the books flouted regulations by being obscene or harmful to juveniles as defined by the Code of Virginia,” the school system statement says. “The members also considered the work in line with an excerpt from the FCPS Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook pertaining to possessing obscene visual imagery as defined in the Code of Virginia,” the statement says.

“After careful consideration, neither books were deemed to have fallen foul of these regulations,” it concludes.

The decision by Fairfax school officials to reinstate the two books came about six weeks after more than 425 LGBTQ students and allies from over 30 Fairfax County public high schools sent a letter to the school board and the school system’s superintendent urging them to reinstate the two books.

The Pride Liberation Project, a coalition of LGBTQ and allied students in Fairfax County, organized the joint letter.

“Student representatives from over 30 schools, including nearly every high school in Fairfax County Public Schools, have signed this letter, and many of us are students of color, low-income, gender expansive and not out to our families and communities,” the letter states.

“We are writing to ask you to reject calls to remove Maia Kobabe’s ‘Gender Queer’ and Jonathan Evison’s ‘Lawn Boy’ from Fairfax County Public Schools libraries,” the letter says.

It points out that “hundreds of books in our schools already depict heterosexual relationships and physical intimacy,” and says singling out LGBTQ themed books with similar stories of intimacy for rejection is unfair.

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Transgender Zimbabwean woman in Md. wins asylum case

Mattie Tux Horton lives in Rockville

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Mattie Tux Horton, right, with her lawyer Ankush Dhupar in Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of Mattie Tux Horton/Facebook)

A transgender woman from Zimbabwe who lives in Rockville won her asylum case in late October after living in the U.S. for the past five years. 

Mattie Tux Horton was represented by Ankush Dhupar from the Los Angeles law firm Paul Hastings LLP.

“I feel at ease,” said Horton. “Although a lot is going on in the [United States], it’s [significantly] different compared to where I’m coming from.”

Horton said that she now considers the U.S. to be her home. 

Although she has been living in Maryland for a while now, receiving asylum stripped away the anxiety associated with returning to Zimbabwe had the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency denied her request. 

With protection from the U.S. government, Horton gets to live in a safe environment and without the vile treatment she encountered in Zimbabwe because of her transness.

In her hometown of Bulawayo, Horton faced constant public humiliation and was once fired from her job as a graphic artist because of her dress presentation, according to an interview she did with Medium. 

She was attacked by a violent group of men in 2014, and was outed later that year following a holiday trip to South Africa, according to the interview. 

This incident garnered media attention and The Sunday News, a Zimbabwean newspaper, published an article in which it misgendered Horton throughout the entire piece. 

This prompted Horton to apply for a U.S. visa so she could attend an LGBTQ leadership conference in D.C. and remove herself from the cacophony in her town.

The Sunday News later ran a story about Horton’s departure in which they misgendered her again and referred to her as a “transgender man” and “alleged gay.”

Horton arrived in D.C. in December 2016 and began her asylum process there. 

While visiting a friend in Los Angeles, she connected with the city’s Human Rights First chapter that referred her to Dhupar, who represented her pro bono. 

Dhupar is a labor and employment law attorney at Paul Hastings LLC and he volunteered to work on Horton’s case as part of his firm’s partnership with Human Rights First to do pro bono LGBTQ advocacy work.

Horton’s asylum was his first ever immigration case.

While the legal underpinnings of immigration were new to him, Dhupar did not struggle to situate his modus operandi because of how compelling Horton’s case was.

“I always referred to the facts of the case because the law is geared towards helping situations like [Horton’s] where someone fears for their life in their home country,” said Dhupar. 

Dhupar also added that Horton’s case was a prime example of why the asylum process exists.

Horton submitted a psychological evaluation in February 2021 that would expedite her asylum case and grant her an interview notice sooner than usual. 

At that point she had lived in the U.S. for more than four years, but she still had to wait a couple more months before she was called for an interview. This caused Horton to feel trepid about whether her case was strong enough. 

“I went through depression and had psychological breakdowns,” said Horton. “I have friends who were called in for an interview months after moving here and didn’t have to wait five years [like I did].”

This hurdle, however, gave Horton and Dhupar adequate time to build an indisputable case. The two built a personal relationship that kept them vigilant despite the abounding uncertainty. 

“She was a perfect advocate for herself and took the initiative to make sure the case did not fall on the backburner,” said Dhupar. 

Now that she has won her case, Horton is taking time to relish on her recent success. 

“I’m going to take a breather,” she said.

She also plans to secure full-time employment in 2022 and build a makeup brand. Horton currently works part time as a steering committee member — a role she says is fulfilling — at the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project- Transgender Law Center.

There, she links Black trans and gender nonconforming individuals to education, employment, legal and healthcare resources.

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