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LGBT Clevelanders have mixed reaction to Republican National Convention

City is Ohio’s ‘Democratic stronghold’



Republican National Convention, gay news, Washington Blade, Cleveland

LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, gay news, Washington Blade

Zak Khan, left, and Eliot Brosch of Cleveland speak at an LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland mixer at Cha Spirits and Pizza Kitchen in Cleveland on July 19, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

CLEVELAND — Zak Kahn and Eliot Brosch were among the roughly dozen people who were at an LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland happy hour at Cha Spirits and Pizza Kitchen, a restaurant in Cleveland’s Gordon Square neighborhood, shortly before 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

A local television station’s rush hour traffic report was on the television above the bar as bartenders were serving drinks. Kahn and Brosch were talking about the Republican National Convention and the fact that their city was hosting it.

“The irony is palpable,” said Kahn. “This is the bluest county and the bluest city in all of Ohio.”

“A lot of people I know are just angry and sad,” added Brosch, who identifies as a transgender man.

The LGBT Clevelanders with whom the Washington Blade has spoken this week have mixed reactions about the Republican National Convention.

Austin Boxler, who lives in Gordon Square, said at the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland happy hour that the Republican National Committee “picked the Democratic stronghold of Ohio to have their convention.”

He told the Blade that he had heard that many Clevelanders decided to leave the city this week because of the road closures around the Quicken Loans Arena in which the convention is taking place and heightened security concerns. Boxler said the streets in downtown Cleveland were “like a Scooby-Doo ghost town” when he drove to work on Monday.

“It’s really not that bad,” he told the Blade.

Gwen Stembridge of Equality Ohio, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, discussed the convention’s potential economic impact on Cleveland.

“I just hope that that is still happening, even though there is tension and even though people are a little worried about going downtown,” she said as Boxler and Brian Schultz, another Cleveland resident, listened. “I hope it is an opportunity to bring Clevelanders together.”

Kahn, who lives in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood, had a far different view.

The self-described “queer trans person” who was raised by Muslim parents told the Blade that it was “an adventure” getting through downtown. Kahn had also not left their home until Tuesday, noting police are staying at nearby Case Western Reserve University during the convention.

“All of those 1,700 riot officers are right outside my door basically at Case Western,” Kahn told the Blade. “That’s a bit terrifying to be honest.”

Republican National Convention, gay news, Washington Blade, Cleveland

Security concerns dominated the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Brosch agreed, noting people who live in that area “were mostly afraid.”

“A lot of them are gay or trans or disabled or brown or black, any of these groups that are routinely victimized by the police,” Brosch told the Blade. “They were angry about that and all of the media around it saying, ‘Oh these kids are just so spoiled and weenies for being scared.’”

“A lot of people are sad and angry about that,” he added.

Convention ‘an exciting time to have policy discussions’

Equality Ohio on Monday organized a panel on LGBT rights that took place at the New West Theatre in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood.

Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples across the country, noted that he and John Arthur, who was suffering from Lou Gehrig’s Disease, could not go “six blocks to our county courthouse” in Cincinnati to get married because the Ohio constitution defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

The two men exchanged vows on the tarmac of Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on July 11, 2015. Arthur died less than four months later.

“All we wanted to do was to get married and live out John’s final days as husband and husband,” said Obergefell. “We decided to fight for each other, for our marriage and for people across our state and our nation.”

Equality Ohio Executive Director Alana Jochum noted at the beginning of the panel that Ohio is one of 28 states that does not include sexual orientation and gender identity in its nondiscrimination law.

The Cleveland City Council earlier this month approved Ordinance 1446, which would amend the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to require businesses to allow customers to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity. Jochum noted that 15 cities in Ohio have adopted “fully-inclusive” nondiscrimination ordinances, but they only cover 18.5 percent of the state’s population.

“The first question that I ask of a person who experiences discrimination shouldn’t have to be, ‘Well where do you live?’” she said. “We’re working for statewide protections so that everyone everywhere can find redress.”

State Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), who is the first openly LGBT person elected to the Ohio Legislature, and state Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Copley) have both introduced measures in their respective chambers that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s nondiscrimination law.

“Unfortunately Ohio is part of that list of 28 states that don’t offer the protections that our LGBTQ brothers and sisters deserve,” said LaRose during the panel. “Nikki and I and others have been working to try and change that circumstance in Ohio.”

Antonio cited an example of a baker who refused to bake a birthday cake for a same-sex couple’s child because of their religious beliefs.

“When we have a situation where it’s against someone’s belief for us to exist, that is their problem, not my problem,” she said.

Antonio and LaRose sat on the panel alongside Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley and Rev. Esther Baruja of the Archwood United Church of Christ in Cleveland. Darius Stubbs and Ginger Marshall, two local trans advocates, also took part.

“I could be Ginger and simply fade into the woodwork,” said Marshall. “Having people know that hey we exist is being here for things like this.”

Jochum told the Blade after the panel that the Republican National Convention is “an exciting time to have policy discussions.”

Rachel Hoff, the first openly gay member of the Republican Party’s platform committee, spoke at the beginning of the event. Jochum expressed disappointment over the GOP’s continued opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples and other LGBT-specific issues.

“We’re disappointed it looks like the platform is not going to be as inclusive as we would like,” she told the Blade. “This is a journey and we are committed to working across all sides of the aisle to get the policies we need put into place.”

Trump campaign ‘not elaborate performance art’

The LGBT Clevelanders and their allies with whom the Blade spoke also criticized Donald Trump.

Nancy Ballou held a sign that read, “no hate in our state” as she walked along West Superior Avenue near Cleveland’s Public Square on Monday afternoon. She told the Blade that she had just left a protest against Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

“I want the world to know that Donald Trump and his running mate do not represent us, don’t represent my town, my state, don’t represent my country,” said Ballou, who described herself as an LGBT ally.

Kahn noted to the Blade that the “full name on my ID is definitely like one of the groups Trump wants to ban from this country.” The Cleveland resident added that Trump’s rise is indicative of a “poorly hidden undercurrent” of racism, homophobia and transphobia.

“Trump is the natural response to even the slightest inconvenience that people feel once it’s pointed out,” said Kahn. “I really wish it wasn’t this way, but in so many ways I’m like when you let this much hatred ferment in your country for so long, who else but Donald Trump is going to show up.”

Brosch echoed Kahn.

“I veer back and forth between being like this is clearly some kind of publicity stunt or some sort of elaborate performance art,” said Brosch, referring to Trump’s campaign. “That’s not elaborate performance art because things are actually happening and that’s mostly just terrifying.”

Black Lives Matter, gay news, Washington Blade

Cleveland resident Warren Thornton, 13, stands in his city’s Public Square on July 19, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)



What it means to be an active ally to your LGBTQ+ co-workers TEST

Five easy tips to help you avoid common risks



Be sure to install baby gates if you have stairs in your home with young children. (Photo by Kasia Bialasiewicz/Bigstock)

Your home is more than just a place to eat and sleep; it’s your safe haven. As much as you might cherish your home, you should probably also recognize the potential hazards within its familiar walls. Accidents can happen in an instant, yet with a little foresight and some simple adjustments, you can transform your house into a safer haven. 

Accidents can happen anywhere, and with a few simple tweaks, you can lower risks in your space. Below you’ll find five tips for each room in your home to help prevent injuries, falls, and other mishaps. In short, home safety. 

This article was inspired by a shower in a rental we managed that began leaking through the kitchen ceiling below. If only the landlord had installed grab bars, right!? Below, we’ll guide you through the steps to fortify your bathroom, making it a place of relaxation without the fear of slips and falls. Then, we’ll venture into the room where the magic happens, where proper planning can ensure great nights and peaceful mornings. We’ll show you how to prevent accidents while you experiment becoming the next Gordon Ramsey. And we’ll include a few surprising solutions for those other rooms that hold their own unique hazards, offering solutions to safeguard against unexpected mishaps.

Bathroom Safety

Install Grab Bars: Adding grab bars near the shower and toilet can provide essential support for family members of all ages. Not only can they help with getting in and out, but they can help provide stability when washing. Make sure they are securely anchored to the wall.

Non-Slip Mats: Place non-slip mats inside the shower and bathtub to prevent slips. They’re a small investment that can save you from falls and head injuries.

Adjust Water Temperature:  Ensure your hot water is set to a safe temperature to avoid scalding. The hot water heater should be set to around 120°F (49°C)l, the middle setting on many water heater settings. 

Medicine Cabinet Locks: If you have young children, use childproof locks on your medicine cabinet to keep harmful substances out of reach.

Proper Lighting: Ensure there’s adequate lighting in the bathroom to avoid trips and falls during nighttime visits. Nightlights can be a simple and effective solution. 

Bedroom Safety

Clear Pathways: Keep pathways in the bedroom clutter free to prevent tripping. Ensure there’s enough space to move around comfortably, particularly getting around the bed.  Be aware where all furniture is when walking around to avoid stubbed toes, particularly at night.

Secure Rugs: If you have throw rugs, use rug grippers or double-sided tape to keep them from slipping. Loose rugs are a common trip hazard. 

Bed Rails: For anyone at risk of falling out of bed, consider installing bed rails to provide extra support and prevent falls.

Nightstands with Drawers: Opt for nightstands with drawers to keep essential items.  This reduces the need to get out of bed at night, minimizing the risk of falls, as you race to grab what you need and not lose a moment’s rest.

Fire Safety: Install battery-operated smoke detectors in the bedrooms if there are none. Make sure to install them 36 inches away from an air vent or the edge of a ceiling fan.  Also six inches away from the joint between the wall and ceiling.  And test smoke detectors regularly.

Kitchen Safety

Non-Slip Flooring: Choose slip-resistant rugs in the kitchen, especially in areas where spills are common. Mats near the sink and stove can also help and you can often buy them fairly cheaply at Costco.

Childproof Cabinets: If you have little ones, use childproof latches on cabinets and drawers to prevent them from accessing potentially hazardous items.

Anti-tip brackets: Install an anti-tip bracket behind the range. These are often used when children are in the home. Although they are less likely to open the oven door and use it as a step stool to get to the stove-top, adults can also benefit from installing these. 

Adequate Lighting: Proper lighting is crucial in the kitchen to avoid accidents. Under-cabinet lighting can illuminate work areas effectively.

Secure Heavy Items: Ensure heavy pots and pans are stored at waist level to prevent straining or dropping them from high shelves.

Sharp Object Storage: Keep knives and other sharp objects in a secure drawer or block. And handle all sharp items with extreme care, even when washing and drying. These steps reduce the risk of accidental cuts.  

Other Safety Tips

Furniture Anchors: Secure heavy furniture, like bookshelves and dressers, to the wall to prevent tip-overs, especially if you have young children.

Adequate Outlets: Check for damaged outlets and replace them promptly. Avoid overloading circuits with too many devices. Install placeholder plugs in outlets to prevent young curious fingers (or tongues?) from going inside an electrical outlet.

Stair Gates: If your home has stairs, install safety gates at the top and bottom to prevent falls, especially if you have toddlers or pets to keep them off of the stairs when you cannot monitor them.

Emergency Escape Plan: Develop and practice an emergency escape plan with your family, including a designated meeting place outside.

Carbon Monoxide Detector:  If your home burns any fossil fuels for heating or appliances, install carbon monoxide detectors in common areas of your home to detect this odorless gas. The D.C. building codes require this if you use a fireplace or if you have an attached garage. In essence, if there is any potential source of carbon monoxide in the home, be sure to install these detectors.

Remember, a safer home not only prevents accidents but also provides peace of mind for you and your family. Implement these simple tips to create a secure environment in every room of your house.

With these practical tips and a few adjustments, you can significantly reduce the risk of injuries and falls in your home. Enjoy peace of mind in your now much safer haven.

Scott Bloom is owner and senior property manager of Columbia Property Management.

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Celebrity News

Lizzo makes $50K donation to Marsha P. Johnson Institute

Singer is vocal LGBTQ ally



Lizzo at the 65th Grammy Awards (Screenshot from the Grammy Awards)

When Lizzo sings “If I’m shinin,’ everybody gonna shine,” in her hit song, “Juice,” she means it. Proof of that came this week on Instagram when the LGBTQ ally announced the first winner of her annual Juneteenth Giveback Campaign is the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, a national nonprofit based in Richmond, Calif., dedicated to the protection and defense of Black transgender people. 

And she did so in song: “On the first day of Juneteenth, Lizzo gave to me,” she sang in her video, posted Tuesday, as she revealed her $50,000 gift to MPJI.

“That’s right, we know who Marsha P. Johnson is. We know what Marsha P. Johnson has done for the LGBTQ, emphasis on that ‘T,’ Q community,” said Lizzo to her 13.5 million followers. “Thank you so much to the people at the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. You deserve this, and I hope this helps you so much as you help protect our Black trans family.” 

“What the Marsha P. Johnson Institute does is protects and defends the rights of Black transgender people. They do this by organizing community, advocating for the people, and creating an intentional healing community, developing transformative leadership and promoting collective power,” she said. 

“We are overjoyed for the shoutout from Lizzo today, the generosity of her sharing her platform and the recognition of MPJI and its work,” said Elle Moxley, MPJI’s executive director. “The resources from this campaign will ensure the protection and defense of Black transgender people continue at a time where it is so vitally needed. We are so grateful for the support of Lizzo and her fans.”

As one of Time Magazine’s Persons of the Year for 2019 and a 2023 Grammy winner, Lizzo is more than a pop star but an inspiration to millions of fans for her body-positive attitude, her self-confidence on stage and in her videos, her empowering music and her activism. She’s also the founder of her own clothing line, Yitty. In 2021, she made headlines when she publicly corrected a paparazzo for using “she/her” pronouns and misgendering Demi Levato.

As part of her campaign, now in its 4th year, Lizzo recognizes Black-led grassroots organizations and businesses and encourages her fans to join her in supporting each of the five organizations she highlights this week. Fans who take action by donating are  entered into a drawing for an all-expenses paid trip to see her perform at Fuji Rock in Japan later this year. 

This week’s other nonprofits receiving gifts are: Black Girls Smile, Sphinx Music, the University of Houston and Save Our Sisters United.

Find out more about Lizzo’s 4th annual Juneteenth Giveback Campaign by clicking here.

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Celebrity News

Anne Heche dies after removal from life support

Actress dated Ellen DeGeneres in late 1990s



(Screenshot/YouTube Inside Edition)

Actress Anne Heche died after she was removed from life support on Sunday, nearly two weeks after her Mini-Cooper crashed through a two-story house in Los Angeles’ Mar Vista neighborhood. Investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department believe she was intoxicated at the time.

She sustained a severe anoxic brain injury along with severe burns and was being treated at the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital, near Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley.

The 53-year-old actress who was a star of films like “Donnie Brasco,” the political satire “Wag the Dog” and the 1998 remake of “Psycho,” had been declared legally dead under California law on Friday, however, her family kept her alive long enough to be an organ donor.

In a statement Friday, the LAPD announced that: “As of today, there will be no further investigative efforts made in this case. Any information or records that have been requested prior to this turn of events will still be collected as they arrive as a matter of formalities and included in the overall case. When a person suspected of a crime expires, we do not present for filing consideration.” LAPD detectives had previously made public that investigators into the crash found narcotics in a blood sample taken from Heche.

The actress’s family released a statement on Friday:

“Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend. Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy. Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact,” the statement added.

Heche was married to camera operator Coleman Laffoon from 2001 to 2009. The two had a son, Homer, together. She had another son, named Atlas, during a relationship with actor James Tupper, her co-star on the TV series “Men In Trees.”

Laffoon left a moving tribute on an Instagram reel in which he also gave an update on how their 20-year-old son Homer Laffoon is coping with the loss of his mother.

“I loved her and I miss her, and I’m always going to,” he said adding: “Homer is okay. He’s grieving, of course, and it’s rough. It’s really rough, as probably anybody can imagine. But he’s surrounded by family and he’s strong, and he’s gonna be okay.”

“Rest In Peace, Mom, I love you, Homer,” the actor’s 20-year-old son, Homer, said in a statement after Heche was declared legally dead on Friday.“ My brother Atlas and I lost our Mom,” read the statement. “After six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings, I am left with a deep, wordless sadness. Hopefully, my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom. Over those six days, thousands of friends, family, and fans made their hearts known to me. I am grateful for their love, as I am for the support of my Dad, Coley, and my stepmom Alexi who continue to be my rock during this time. Rest In Peace Mom, I love you, Homer.”

Tupper, a Canadian actor who starred alongside Heche in “Men in Trees,” had a 13-year-old son, Atlas, with her. “Love you forever,” Tupper, 57, wrote on his Instagram post’s caption with a broken heart emoji, which shared an image of the actress from Men in Trees.

Between 1997 and 2000, Heche was also in a relationship with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

“This is a sad day,” DeGeneres posted on Twitter. “I’m sending Anne’s children, family and friends all of my love.” The year after her break-up with the comedian, in September 2001, Heche recounted in her memoir “Call Me Crazy,” about her lifelong struggles with mental health and a childhood of abuse.

KTLA’s entertainment reporter Sam Rubin noted that over the past two decades, Heche’s career pivoted several times. In 2017, she hosted a weekly radio show on SiriusXM with Jason Ellis called “Love and Heche.”

In 2020, Heche made her way into the podcast world. She launched “Better Together” which she cohosted alongside Heather Duffy Boylston. The show was described as a way to celebrate friendship. 

She also worked in smaller films, on Broadway, and on TV shows. She recently had recurring roles on the network series “Chicago P.D.,” and “All Rise” and was a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars.”

People magazine reported that several of Heche’s acting projects are expected to be released posthumously.

These include “Girl in Room 13,” expected to be released on Lifetime in September, “What Remains,” scheduled to be released in 2023, and HBO Max TV series “The Idol,” created by Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd) and Euphoria creator Sam Levinson.

In her Instagram post from earlier this year Heche stands between her sons Atlas, 13 and Homer, 20.

From KTLA:

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