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Trump’s nat’l security pick outed gay brother dying of AIDS

McFarland said the disease caused by father’s alleged abuse

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KT McFarland, gay news, Washington Blade

KT McFarland outed her gay brother before he died of AIDS. (Photo courtesy U.S. Naval Academy)

One of Donald Trump’s latest picks for his administration outed her gay brother to her parents before he died of AIDS in 1995, refusing to see him in his dying days and blaming his condition on paternal abuse her family said never happened.

On Friday, President-elect Trump announced he has selected as his deputy national security adviser Kathleen Troia “KT” McFarland, who works as a Fox News commentator and unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination in New York to challenge Hillary Clinton for her U.S. Senate seat in 2006.

“I am proud that KT has once again decided to serve our country and join my national security team,” Trump said in a statement. “She has tremendous experience and innate talent that will complement the fantastic team we are assembling, which is crucial because nothing is more important than keeping our people safe.”

A Pentagon official in the Reagan administration, McFarland in 2006 sought to run against Clinton for her Senate seat and was considered a moderate in her bid for the Republican nomination.

A profile piece for New York Times Magazine in 2006, however, reported she “couldn’t abide” her brother being gay. The article unearthed a 1992 letter to her parents in which she reportedly outed her brother, Michael Troia, shortly after she discovered he had AIDS, and blamed her family’s troubles as a result of childhood abuse.

“Have you ever wondered why I have never had anything to do with Mike and have never let my daughters see him although we live only fifteen minutes away from each other?” McFarland reportedly wrote. “He has been a lifelong homosexual, most of his relationships brief, fleeting one-night stands.”

Pressed about her brother by New York Magazine for the 2006 profile piece, all McFarland would reportedly say about him was “Ummmm. He was sick and then he died.” According to the article, McFarland said her memory of her father’s behavior toward her family surfaced as a recovered memory and a therapist put her up to writing the letter.

An obituary in The New York Times listed three “companions” for Michael Troia, who died of AIDS on June 8, 1995, and said after graduating from George Washington University he became a longtime credit analyst at Merrill Lynch, according to a report in The New York Post,

Seeking to tamp down the impact of the New York Magazine article, McFarland in other media reports — which cited advisers publicly fearing she would appear homophobic — emphasized she allegedly grew up in a physically abusive home.

”In seeking to put a painful past behind me, I wrote two candid letters to my parents in 1992 at the advice of a counselor,” McFarland said in a statement at the time. “Now, in the midst of a political campaign, those letters have found their way into the hands of a magazine reporter.”

In a subsequent interview with the New York Times, McFarland reportedly said she grew up in a home where from the age of 2 onward she was beaten and whipped with belts along with her brother. At times, McFarland reportedly said, her father would wave a gun in her face, threatening to kill the family.

After they grew up and left home, McFarland and her brother lived only a few miles apart in New York City from 1985 to 1995, but McFarland admitted she largely cut him out of her life after she learned he had HIV and refused to let her young children see him.

“I was really living a life of going to Central Park with my kids, and he was increasingly living — there was no secret about it — he was openly gay,” McFarland was quoted as saying. “I had no problem with that, I loved him. But I was increasingly concerned because he talked about a very promiscuous lifestyle. And it saddened me a great deal.”

During the interview, McFarland reportedly denied the abuse made him gay, but said it contributed to his reported “promiscuity.”

“I think the abuse absolutely affected his riskier behavior, his more promiscuous — I don’t want to use the word self-destructive — is there another word like that?” McFarland reportedly said. “I don’t think it’s something that made him gay; he was always gay. That stuff leaves emotional scars on everybody, and everybody copes with it in different ways.”

According to the New York Times, McFarland said her brother was often sick during the 1990s and she would visit him at his home or the hospital, but she didn’t have any contact with him during the last two years of his life.

“Do I wish I spent more time with him? Of course I do,” McFarland is quoted as saying. “It’s the great regret that I have of my adult life, that I didn’t spend more time with him, that I was not with him in his final months.”

McFarland’s parents reportedly denied the household was abusive. The New York Magazine profile piece quotes McFarland’s mother, Edith Troia, denying the account and accusing the publication of “casting dark shadows on this whole race.”

A New York Post reporter seeking comment went to the Madison, Wis., home of McFarland’s father, Augie Troia, who denied at the time he had abused his family. After telling the reporter “you know darn well I never did any of that” and offering to take a lie detector test to verify his story, Troia threatened him, saying “you’d better get out of here or they’re going to carry you out of here,” the Post reported.

Also at the time, McFarland’s brother, Tom Troia, of Janesville, Wis., accused McFarland of lying about family abuse in an interview with the New York Post, saying, “If I had one word to describe my sister, it would be ‘evil.’”

Asked by the New York Post why McFarland would make up charges her father abused her family, Tom Troia reportedly said, “Evil needs no reason.” Although Tom Troia acknowledged his siblings growing up were sometimes spanked — sometimes with a belt — for misbehavior, he said the punishment “was on an acceptable level of the time. McFarland never threatened the family with a gun, Tom Troia said, because there was never one in the house.

McFarland in 2006 would end up the losing the race for the Republican nomination to run for U.S. Senate in New York to John Spencer, a former mayor of Yonkers whom the state Republican Party organization endorsed. Before the primary, McFarland dropped out of the race following news that her 16-year-old daughter was charged with petty theft and possession of stolen goods after being caught shoplifting.

The Trump transition team didn’t respond to a request for comment on whether McFarland’s views of gay people have changed or whether the president-elect is OK with the way she treated her brother. McFarland also didn’t respond to a request for comment for this article.

McFarland’s relationship with her family is but one controversial aspect of Trump’s addition to his team. At the time of her Senate bid, the New York Post reported McFarland maintained two voting addresses in the period between 1996 to 2006, which could be a felony. Additionally, McFarland claimed helicopters were flying over her home taking pictures and were sent by Clinton because she was so worried about the challenge to her seat, although McFarland later said she was joking.

As a Defense Department official, McFarland also was accused of exaggerating her contribution to President Reagan’s “Star Wars” speech and her claims of being the highest-ranking woman in Reagan’s Pentagon. The latter was demonstrably not true because there were two other women with ranks higher than hers.

According to Media Matters, McFarland as a Fox News commentator made dubious claims, such as saying the Benghazi CIA compound under attack in 2012 didn’t receive additional security because Chris Stevens couldn’t contact Clinton via a State Department email address. Requests for security do “not rise to the level of the secretary of state” and it’s not unusual for ambassadors to not have the email address of a secretary of state, according to the Council for Foreign Relations.

In a discussion about the Iran nuclear deal, McFarland made a racially tinged comment, suggesting Saudi Arabia is dishonest about supporting the agreement because “they’re Arabs” and “not going to say to your face something that they know is going to upset you.”

Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin Republicans, said his organization opposes the outing of gay people, but vouched for McFarland based on the experience he’s had with her over the years.

“Log Cabin Republicans opposes outing, and always has,” Angelo said. “Beyond that, family matters should be left to families to work out. All I can say is that my interactions with KT over the years — and there have been many, from my time as chairman of Log Cabin Republicans of New York State to CPAC to today — have always shown me KT supports a big-tent approach to politics.”

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D.C. mayor to lift all restrictions on bars, nightclubs on June 11

‘We will definitely be celebrating Pride’ next month

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Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Monday that she will fully lift capacity and other restrictions on most businesses, including restaurants and places of worship, on May 21. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced at a news conference on Monday that a continuing trend of significantly lower numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths in the city has enabled her to fully lift capacity and other restrictions on most businesses, including restaurants and places of worship, on May 21.

The mayor said bars and nightclubs will be allowed to increase indoor capacity from the current 25 percent to 50 percent on May 21, with all capacity restrictions for bars and nightclubs to be removed on June 11.

The mayor’s announcement came after representatives of the city’s nightlife businesses, including the city’s gay bars and restaurants, expressed concern that D.C. had yet to lift its capacity restrictions beyond 25 percent while surrounding jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia had already lifted most restrictions.

“On May 21, restrictions on public and commercial activity, including capacity limits, types of activities, and time restrictions, will be lifted,” the mayor’s directive says.

It says restrictions for bars and nightclubs would continue at a 50 percent capacity from May 21 through June 11. The directive says restrictions for large sports and entertainment venues would also continue from May 21 to June 11, which includes a requirement such events apply for a waiver of the restrictions on a case-by-case basis.

“On June 11, capacity limits and restrictions will be lifted on those venues that cannot fully reopen on May 21,” the directive says.

In response to a question at the news conference, Bowser said the June 11 date would essentially end all restrictions on nightclubs and bars, including the current requirement that they close at midnight rather than the pre-epidemic closing times of 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends.

In a development that could have a major impact on plans for D.C.’s LGBTQ Pride events, the mayor’s revised health directive announced on Monday includes the lifting of all capacity restrictions on large outdoor and indoor sports and entertainment events beginning on June 11.

That change would remove restrictions that have, up until now, prevented D.C.’s Capital Pride Alliance from holding its annual Pride Parade and Festival in June during Pride Month.

Capital Pride Executive Director Ryan Bos told the Washington Blade shortly after the mayor’s announcement that Capital Pride is assessing its options for expanding its current plans for in-person events in June.

“We will definitely be celebrating Pride in June,” Bos said. “We just received this information as well. So, we will be getting further information,” he said. “We have not been informed that they will be issuing any permits yet, so at this time we are moving forward with our original plans for doing things.”

Bos was referring to a city requirement for obtaining permits for street closings and use of other public spaces for events such as a parade or street festival. He said existing plans, among other things, call for an informal parade of cars and other vehicles on June 12 that will drive throughout the city to view homes and businesses that will be decorated with Pride displays such as signs, photos, and other symbols of Pride.

Those familiar with the city’s past Pride events don’t think there will be enough time for Capital Pride to organize the traditional large parade and street festival in time for June. But Capital Pride officials have talked about holding a possible parade and festival in October, and the lifting of the capacity restrictions announced by Bowser on Monday would likely make that possible.

In addition to lifting all capacity restrictions on May 21 for restaurants, the mayor’s May 21 timeframe for lifting restrictions includes these additional venues and events:

  • Weddings and special events
  • Business meetings and seated conventions
  • Places of worship
  • Non-essential retail
  • Personal services
  • Private at-home gatherings
  • Libraries, museums, galleries
  • Recreation Centers
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Pools
  • Office space
  • Schools
  • Childcare

“We’re very pleased that over the last several days, we have seen our case spread, our community spread numbers, venture out of the red into the yellow and fast approaching the green,” Bowser said in referring to a health department chart that shows the changes in coronavirus cases in the city.

“You might remember that our daily case rate peaked in January at 45.9. And today you can see it’s down to 6.6,” she said at her news conference on Monday.

“Throughout this process I have said how proud I am of D.C. residents and businesses who have responded, who have followed health guidance and have worked together to help protect our community throughout the pandemic. And we see it in these numbers today,” she said.

“Containing the virus will continue to require all of us to be focused on maintaining a robust health system,” the mayor said, adding that while over 200,000 D.C. residents have been fully vaccinated since December 2020, “many more thousands” still need to be vaccinated. “Vaccines are free and available on demand at walk-up sites across the District,” she said.

The mayor also noted that the city will continue to require residents and visitors to use a mask in accordance with existing and updated guidance set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mark Lee, coordinator of the D.C. Nightlife Council, an association that represents restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues, said the mayor’s directive on May 10 leaves some details to be addressed but will open the way to bring nightlife businesses back to life.

“What we do know is that on Friday, May 21, businesses begin returning to normal operations and, three weeks later, on June 11, all restrictions for all businesses in the District will end,” Lee said. “It’s a day we’ve long awaited and one that will save much of our community enterprise from financial ruin.”

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Family code bill to be introduced in Cuban Parliament in July

CENESEX made announcement during May 4 press conference

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Mariela Castro at a CENESEX press conference

 

Tremenda Nota is the Washington Blade’s media partner in Cuba. A Spanish version of this story was published on May 6.

HAVANA — The National Center for Sexual Education on May 4 during a press conference in which it unveiled the program for the 14th annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia events in Cuba announced a bill to amend the family code will be introduced in Parliament in July.

CENESEX Director Mariela Castro Espín said during a meeting with official and foreign media outlets at the International Press Center that this year’s events are part of the process of amending the family code.

She added that this legal change will reflect several rights guaranteed in the constitution, which is why it is necessary to sensitize and educate the Cuban population to avoid prejudice and discrimination.

“I was able to appreciate that the majority of the population … is in favor of recognizing the rights of LGBTI+ people and especially the rights in the family sphere that include the possibility, the option, of marriage,” said Mariela Castro during the press conference.

The official referred to the results of the National Survey on Gender Equality in Cuba, conducted in 2016 and published in 2019. According to this official study, 77 percent of the Cuban population between 15 and 74-years-old said that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people should have the same rights as any other citizen.

CENESEX’s director, however, did not use this information in the 2018 parliamentary debates sparked by Article 68 of the bill to amend the constitution. The idea that it was not the appropriate time to implement same-gender marriage in Cuba eventually won out.

Mariela Castro told Tremenda Nota a few days before the referendum in which Cuban voters approved the current constitution that she was aware of the survey, but she did not explain why she did not use the data it revealed as an argument (in favor of marriage equality.)

“It was a wasted tool that now we can only use in the next referendum,” then-MP Luis Ángel Adán Roble told Tremenda Nota during a February 2019 interview, as did Mariela Castro.

The moment that Adán Roble mentioned has arrived.

It became known during the May 4 press conference that the family code will be introduced in the scheduled parliamentary session in July. The Council of State on March 22 appointed a commission that will be in charge of preparing the bill, but the list of its members was not made public until April 30. None of them are openly LGBTI+.

Activists over the last few weeks have demanded that Parliament reveal the identities of those who make up the commission and the deadline they have to prevent the Family Code. The May 4 press conference resolved the last outstanding point.

The Cuban IDAHOBiT program

Mariela Castro and CENESEX Deputy Director Manuel Vázquez Seijido explained that numerous activities with the goal of making visible and fighting against all types of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity will virtually take place from May 4 through May 30.

The IDAHOBiT events in Cuba have a program that includes academic dialogue, social activism and artistic presentations from virtual spaces.

Forum debates are among the activities. The Juventud Rebelde newspaper will host the first one with the theme “Deconstructing myths around same-sex families and partners” and Cubadebate will hold the second called “Constitution and Sexual Rights in Cuba: Progress and Main challenges.”

They also announced at the press conference the books “Paquito el de Cuba: A Decade of Online Activism” and “Non-Heteronormative Sexualities and Gender Identities. Tensions and Challenges for Human Rights” will be presented.

There will be virtual panels titled “Diverse Families: Histories of Non-Hegemonic Lives,” “National Program for the Advancement of Women: Opportunities to Confront Homophobia and Transphobia,” “Keys for Inclusive Communication” and “Sexual Rights and Religious Fundamentalisms.”

Castro Espín explained that CENESEX will use its social media accounts to promote the program, contribute to the sexual education of Cubans and the recognition of rights for all people, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

A show against homophobia and transphobia that will officially end the events will be broadcast on social media and on television.

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Bill to ban conversion therapy dies in Puerto Rico Senate committee

Advocacy group describes lawmakers as cowards

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Puerto Rico Pulse nightclub victims, gay news, Washington Blade

 

A Puerto Rico Senate committee on Thursday killed a bill that would have banned so-called conversion therapy on the island.

Members of the Senate Community Initiatives, Mental Health and Addiction Committee voted against Senate Bill 184 by an 8-7 vote margin. Three senators abstained.

Amárilis Pagán Jiménez, a spokesperson for Comité Amplio para la Búsqueda de la Equidad, a coalition of Puerto Rican human rights groups, in a statement sharply criticized the senators who opposed the measure.

“If they publicly recognize that conversion therapies are abuse, if they even voted for a similar bill in the past, if the hearings clearly established that the bill was well-written and was supported by more than 78 professional and civil entities and that it did not interfere with freedom of religion or with the right of fathers and mothers to raise their children, voting against it is therefore one of two things: You are either a hopeless coward or you have the same homophobic and abusive mentality of the hate groups that oppose the bill,” said Pagán in a statement.

Thursday’s vote comes against the backdrop of continued anti-LGBTQ discrimination and violence in Puerto Rico.

Six of the 44 transgender and gender non-conforming people who were reported murdered in the U.S. in 2020 were from Puerto Rico.

A state of emergency over gender-based violence that Gov. Pedro Pierluisi declared earlier this year is LGBTQ-inclusive. Then-Gov. Ricardo Rosselló in 2019 signed an executive order that banned conversion therapy for minors in Puerto Rico.

“These therapies lack scientific basis,” he said. “They cause pain and unnecessary suffering.”

Rosselló issued the order less than two weeks after members of the New Progressive Party, a pro-statehood party  he chaired at the time, blocked a vote in the Puerto Rico House of Representatives on a bill that would have banned conversion therapy for minors in the U.S. commonwealth. Seven out of the 11 New Progressive Party members who are on the Senate Community Initiatives, Mental Health and Addiction Committee voted against SB 184.

“It’s appalling. It’s shameful that the senators didn’t have the strength and the courage that our LGBTQ youth have, and it’s to be brave and to defend our dignity and our humanity as people who live on this island,” said Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para [email protected], a Puerto Rican LGBTQ rights group, in a video. “It’s disgraceful that the senators decided to vote down this measure that would prevent child abuse.”

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