Nicaragua’s rainbow revolutionaries
LGBTI community pays heavy price for leading anti-government uprising
Published 2 years ago on December 18, 2018 at 12:00 pm EST
Young gay Nicaraguan refugees in Costa Rica sleep on the floor on thin mattresses, huddled together to share body heat. (Photo by Armando Trull)
SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica and BARCELONA, Spain — A humble cinderblock home with a tin roof in a poor neighborhood in the Costa Rican capital of San José has become a refuge for nearly 40 gay Nicaraguan youth who played a leading role in the popular uprising against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s regime this past April. The destitute youth fled Nicaragua as refugees to nearby Costa Rica after Ortega launched a brutal and bloody crackdown on those who led months of mostly peaceful protests against changes in the country’s social security system and government corruption. The 8-month long government repression, condemned by the U.N. and the Organization of American States, has left at least 500 dead including two dozen minors as well as many more injuries. Among the victims are scores of LGBTI Nicaraguans. The violence has touched off a worldwide diaspora surpassing one million Nicaraguans, including hundreds if not thousands of gays. They are fleeing a country where neighbors inform on each other, the police and paramilitary supporters harass, illegally detain, beat, torture or kill anyone they suspect and do so with immunity.
‘They were shooting to kill’
“I never imagined that they would be so ruthless,” says Randal, a university senior studying psychology. “They were shooting to kill.” The bespectacled goateed youth’s voice quakes as he recounts the emotion filled months before he, along with many other gays were forced to flee Nicaragua. “As the number of innocent dead increased so did our rage,” he says. “The people were so enraged that we filled the streets of many cities in protests, we took over university campuses and flooded social media.” The country’s few LGBTI organizations were among the first to publicly denounce the violence. They were among the first to man the barricades, especially young gay influencers on social media. Randal says he was proud to see so many members of the LGBTI community participate in the protests.
“We were right there, upfront, in the struggle to defend our country,” he recalls. “Manning the barricades, delivering water and food. Helping the wounded. Providing encouragement,” he adds with a beaming, yet sad smile. “It was natural you see, we as a community are used to fighting for our rights. From an early age, I had to struggle for my right to be included and accepted in a homophobic culture.”
‘Payment for these protests has been death, prison and exile’
Once it became clear the Ortega regime was determined to kill or jail the dissenters even as it pretended to negotiate a settlement, many members of the LGBTI community involved in the protests realized they had little option but to flee to nearby Costa Rica. “The payment for these protests has been death, jail and exile,” says Ulises Rivas. The slight young man with copper brown skin and deep black hair and eyes was a long-time environmental and gay rights activist before the April crisis. He says when he fled for his life to Costa Rica he encountered scores of gay Nicaraguan youth who had been involved in the protests wandering the streets and parks of San José, homeless and hungry.
“About 10 of us got together and created Asociación Hijos del Arco Iris LGBTI (Children of the LGBTI Rainbow Association),” says Ulises.
Ulises approached several influential Nicaraguans who had been forced into exile in Costa Rica, including Alvaro Leiva, Nicaragua’s former human rights ombudsman. They contributed the seed money for the youth to rent the group home and launch Hijos del Arco Iris LGBTI. “We are so very grateful to them for their support. They have been among the few people willing to help us,” says Ulises.
“It broke my heart to see so many young educated Nicaraguan members of our community lost and confused in San José,” says Randal. “Hijos del Arco Iris LGBTI was our response. We not only gave them a roof and a plate of food but also a sense of purpose and a family.”
‘We share what little we have, even our body heat’
You have to drive through muddy rut filled roads on the outer fringes of San José to get to the Hijos del Arco Iris LGBTI home. It’s in a poor neighborhood where cinderblock tin-roofed houses are perched precariously on lush verdant hills. Skinny mongrels roam the neighborhood. Loud bachata music permeates the cool moist mountain air. As you enter the house, painted in faded mango, green and turquoise the first thing that you notice is the energy. Nearly 40 youth from late teens to late 20s share the space. Some are busy sweeping the cracked tile floor, others are huddled around a small battered laptop while others strategize beneath a Nicaraguan flag next to a wall calendar of upcoming events in which they will participate. I watch as a slight young man named Alberto carries an old aluminum pot to an outdoor wood fired stove and begins to make rice and beans.
“Sometimes it’s all we can eat,” he says. “Provided there are donations.”
What happens if there aren’t donations. I ask. “We go hungry,” he says almost apologetically.
Helping him cook is Arlen. The frizzy haired 20-something young lesbian was among the first people to move into the home “I was wandering through the parks, homeless,” she says. “I don’t know what would have become of me, if it weren’t for the boys,” she notes.
Two Nicaraguan refugees prepare rice and beans at the home outside San José, Costa Rica, where they are living. Hunger is among the many challenges for LGBTI Nicaraguans in Costa Rica who have fled violence associated with President Daniel Ortega’s regime’s efforts to quash anti-government protesters. (Photo by Armando Trull)
Arlen fled Nicaragua after she was flagged by security forces as one of the main providers of food, supplies and medicine to youth holed up in multiple barricades throughout Managua.
“Paramilitary crashed the door of the house where I was living,” she says. “Fortunately, I wasn’t there. That same day I headed to Costa Rica with just the clothes on my back and the little money I had.” It’s pretty much the same story for most of the youth here, fleeing one step ahead of paramilitary thugs under government orders. This humble home has indeed been a refuge. The youth share wafer thin mattresses on the floor. They huddle together like lost children, under multiple worn blankets that barely protect them from the cold sweeping up from the floor and hovering overhead. They hug battered teddy bears. On the walls, rainbow flags and even a unicorn.
“We have become like a family,” says Magdiel, one of the group’s leader, as he shivers beneath a blanket. “The older take care of the younger. We share what little we have even our body heat at night.”
A gay man from Nicaragua sits in a house in San José, Costa Rica, after he fled violence in his homeland. (Photo by Armando Trull)
In one corner of the house towards the rear a slight young man and a blonde girl sit on a battered donated sofa talking about how much they miss their families. “I had always lived within the warm and loving embrace of my papa,” she says and then bursts into tears, the sobs coming like a tidal wave. Soon the young man is also crying and so are the other youth nearby. “We are so young, so inexperienced and innocent,” says Ulises in a cracked voice as he watches the youth embrace one another. “We long for our families so very much. It’s very painful. We did what we believed was right. We stood up against oppression.” But returning home is not an option, it could place not only them but their families in danger. So Hijos del Arco Iris LGBTI is giving these youth purpose. They participate in weekly activities such as cleaning up public parks, dance lessons and free haircuts.
“We want to show people in costa Rica that we can be a positive force in the country that has welcomed us,” says Ulises. The youth also participate in workshops to learn survival skills in a new society including how to apply for asylum.
‘A humanitarian crisis’
As undocumented refugees seeking asylum in Costa Rica, these gay youth face an uncertain existence. Unable to work legally, unused to paying for healthcare and with little support they are surviving in crisis mode. More than a million Nicaraguans have fled the political violence and the economic collapse of the country since April says Marcela Farrach, a caseworker for RET International, an international relief NGO. It’s likely that thousands of LGBTI Nicaraguans are part of that diaspora says the young woman. Farrach has been working on a pilot program sponsored by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to help Nicaraguan refugees and asylum seekers in Costa Rica. “They are extremely vulnerable and the funds to help them are insufficient especially as the number of refugees continues to multiply. It is a humanitarian crisis,” Farrach says.
‘I was terrified I would be tortured and raped’
Some Nicaraguan gays have managed to escape to other parts of the world where they have a better second chance at life, including Spain. That is the case for David.
The 23-year-old gay rights activist and vlogger came under government scrutiny for posting videos of his participation in the peaceful marches and subsequent postings calling out the Ortega regime’s violent crackdown. In one tearful clip, a clearly distressed David with mascara running from his eyes says, “They are sending their thugs and mobs armed with guns, knives, rifles and shotguns. I don’t want my country to become another Venezuela. I don’t know where this will end.” For David it ended in October after a gay friend Denis Madriz was found shot to death a few days after disappearing. Madriz had been active in the protests and an iconic photo of him holding a large Nicaraguan flag had made the rounds of social media. “I feared I was next,” he says. “Human rights organizations had fled the country after death threats. There was no one left to protect us.”
David crossed the border by bus to Costa Rica and after a few months of despair fled to Spain where he met two gay childhood friends, Victor and Justin. They also participated in the protests, providing food and drink to protesters. The slim young men are university students, one an industrial engineering major the other a psychology major. They both have white blond hair and that made them easy for government informants to finger them. A phone video recorded by Justin’s mother and aunt captured the night two armed paramilitary thugs came to arrest them.
“We are here for the two blondes, the terrorists participating in the protests,” says one of the thugs. The women denied the boys were there. “We don’t know what you are talking about,” they said defiantly. The thugs insisted and tried to break in the home and the women became shrill. Ultimately the thugs relented leaving with a final warning, “We were told they were here, we have their photos. We are coming back and we are going to fuck them up!” The youth had left the day before. Justin who is 5’5″ and weighs 120 lbs. and besides going to college was a professional makeup artist and manager at a family meat market. He says calling him a terrorist was an absurd but convenient label cooked up by the Ortega regime to arrest and disappear peaceful protesters.
“I was terrified that If I were to be arrested I would be tortured, raped, because that’s what they do to gay people and then disappeared,” says Justin, noting LGBTI protesters have been singled out for crueler treatment because of the homophobic nature of Nicaraguan society.
Victor and David say they feel safe in Barcelona because their rights as gay refugees are respected, but they admit that finding a place to sleep and even food is a daily struggle because they lack legal status. (Photo by Armando Trull)
Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity was commonplace in Nicaragua before the protests broke out, but the Ortega’s government and specifically Vice President Rosario Murillo, who is Ortega’s wife, made some overtures to the LGBTI community.
The government in 2009 created the Special Ombudsman for Sexual Diversity position within its Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman. The country’s Health Ministry in 2014 issued a resolution that bans discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in health care.
Murillo has appeared on Nicaraguan television with a trans woman who graduated from a prominent university with a communications degree, but the LGBTI community continues to face harassment and abuse from police officers and soldiers. Efforts to enact an LGBTI-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance in Managua and in other cities have stalled because of the unrest. Most LGBTI groups not supportive of the government have closed their doors as their leaders and members have fled the country.
LGBTI activists participate in a Pride march in Managua, Nicaragua, on June 28, 2018. (Photo courtesy of William Ramírez Cerda)
‘Here I feel safe and welcome’
In Barcelona; Justin, Victor and now David have found a welcoming gay community that has helped them through the process of integrating into Catalonian and Spanish society. Their first stop was the community organization STOP SIDA, which means STOP AIDS. “We have lawyers who provide legal advice on how gays who are victims of violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identity can apply for asylum,” says Luis Villegas, co-manager of STOP SIDA. Villegas says the organization provides information on how to integrate into Spanish society.
“We also have social workers who provide them with resources on how to survive and thrive and ways for them to participate in workshops and outreach efforts,” he says. The youth applied for empadronamiento, a status that allows undocumented refugees to access a wealth of social and health services in Spain. They were helped to process asylum applications that would ultimately result in a NIE, an alien identification number that allows them to work as their asylum case is decided. “We are proud that as a community we are able to help fellow members of our community who are vulnerable and at risk,” says Villegas.
Victor is very grateful for that help. He tells me so as we walk through Plaça d’Espanya on a beautiful crisp fall afternoon. A pair of police officers smile and nod prompting a comment from Victor. “I was very afraid of cops when I first arrived here,” he says. “I know that in most places police are here to protect you but in my country they kill us. In Barcelona, I feel protected, I feel my rights are valued, you know?”
But life in Spain isn’t easy for these gay Nicaraguan exiles. They work in the underground economy, walking dogs, doing hair and makeup or as waiters. Sometimes they stand in soup lines to save the little they make in order to pay rent. The young men rent a small bedroom in a fifth-floor walk-up apartment in a rundown building. It’s in a working-class Barcelona neighborhood known as Venezuela because so many Latino immigrants live there. It’s a step up from when they first arrived says one of the young men. “We had to spend the night with our dates because we had nowhere to sleep, it was either that or the parks,” says Victor.
Shortly after that conversation, Justin and Victor were given NIE cards and David received empadronamiento The youth are very fortunate and on their way to a new life in Spain although the process is still many months from ending. For Hijos del Arco Iris LGBTI back in Costa Rica, it’s a much more difficult process in a poorer country straining under a refugee and humanitarian crisis of staggering proportions with fewer resources.
Yet all of these gay Nicaraguan youth face every day with optimism, dignity and hope. Living proof of the truth of their motto Juntos somos un volcán or “United we are a Volcano.” This volcano roared on April 19 and has continued to roar in Nicaragua and now roars in exile- Randal says his community fought for the rights of all Nicaragua and for a country where in the future the rights of all will be respected “for justice, for equality for what all of us as human beings deserve.”
Two LGBTI Nicaraguans who fled violence in their homelands embrace in the house in San José, Costa Rica, where they are currently living. (Photo by Armando Trull)
W.Va. judge refuses to perform same-sex marriages
Bermuda government appeals ruling against marriage repeal law
IDAHOBiT events to promote intersectionality, resilience, allyship
HRC president to participate in virtual panel in Canada
Published 1 day ago on May 13, 2021 at 6:00 am EDT
(Photo courtesy of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia committee)
Intersectionality, resilience and allyship are among the themes that this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia events will highlight.
Dignity Network Canada and the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention on May 17 will hold a virtual panel
that will feature Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David, Canadian Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity Executive Director Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah, Kaleidoscope Trust Executive Director Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, COC Nederland Executive Director Marie Ricardo and Rainbow Railroad Executive Director Kimahli Powell.
The British High Commission and the Dutch Embassy in Canada have co-sponsored the event.
“We hope that this will be a really interesting and important conversation on intersectionality and transnational solidarity — and what it means for these leaders and their organizations during these times,” reads a description of the event.
The U.N. LGBTI Core Group on May 17 will host a virtual IDAHOBiT event
that will focus on ways to develop an “inclusive and diverse post-pandemic world.” The World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American and Asian Development Banks host a similar IDAHOBiT commemoration.
“In order to heal from the economic, social, and public health dire impact the pandemic has had and still has, every plan of recovery must take into account a human-rights based, intersectional and gender responsive approach that addresses the specific needs of LGBTI persons in order not to leave them further behind,” reads a description of the U.N. LGBTI Core Group event.
Several Russian LGBTQ rights groups on May 17 will hold a “Vaccine for Acceptance” event that seeks to bolster allyship in the country.
Retired South Africa Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron on May 16 will moderate a virtual panel that will focus on religion and anti-LGBTQ violence.
Workplace Pride and the Dutch Embassy in Budapest on May 17 will host a symposium on LGBTQ-inclusive workplaces in Hungary. M.V. Lee Badgett, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, on the same day will participate in a webinar the U.S. Embassy in Singapore is hosting with Oogachaga
, a local LGBTQ advocacy group.
Haver Srbija, a Serbian NGO, on May 15-16 will hold Falafel, a film festival
that seeks to build “bridges and promotes Israeli, Jewish and LGBTQI culture and communities” and highlight “various social issues in the context of the fight against prejudice, discrimination, anti-Semitism, homophobia and xenophobia and encourages the audience to develop critical thinking on the issue of these topics.” Proud Lebanon is slated to hold a series of six webinars between May 17-22 that will focus on feminism, LGBTQ rights and other topics.
The National Center for Sexual Education in Cuba will hold a series of virtual forums and other events through the month to commemorate IDAHOBiT.
CENESEX Director Mariela Castro, whose father is former Cuban President Raúl Castro, during a May 4 press conference in Havana said the IDAHOBiT events are part of the process of amending the country’s family code to make it more equitable for LGBTQ Cubans. Mariela Castro said a bill to amend it will be introduced
in the Cuban Parliament in July.
“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, according to Tremenda Nota, the Washington Blade’s media partner in Cuba.
IDAHOBiT commemorates the World Health Organization’s 1990 decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.
This year’s events will take place against the backdrop of a pandemic that continues to exacerbate existing inequalities for LGBTQ people and other vulnerable groups around the world.
Consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized in dozens of countries. Violence based on gender identity and sexual orientation remains rampant in the U.S. and throughout the world.
Mixed reviews from transgender Republicans on Caitlyn Jenner’s run
Remarks on kids in sport a sore point among LGBTQ advocacy groups
Published 2 days ago on May 12, 2021 at 1:31 pm EDT
Caitlyn Jenner was quickly repudiated by LGBTQ advocates after she entered California’s recall election as a gubernatorial candidate — and her fellow transgender Republicans are mixed over whether or not to back her up.
Transgender Republicans are few in number, but some are in high-profile positions and have been working with their party to change its approach and drop its attacks on transgender people, whether it be in the military, public bathrooms, or school sports.
Jordan Evans, a Charlton, Mass.-based transgender Republican who unsuccessfully last year ran to become a Massachusetts Republican State Committee Woman, told the Washington Blade she had high hopes for Jenner as a fellow transgender candidate, but they were quickly dashed after her campaign launched.
“My feelings changed quickly after Caitlyn made it clear that she was less interested in using this opportunity to present the Republican Party and conservative movements with an accessible and high-profile introduction to the trans community and simply wanted to be a trans woman who espoused the same destructive approaches that we just so happen to be seeing all over the country,” Evans said.
Evans said the high hopes she had were based on the transgender advocacy she said Jenner was doing behind the scenes and the potential for two prominent LGBTQ Republicans to run for governor in California. After all, Jenner may soon be joined in the race by Richard Grenell, who was U.S. ambassador to Germany and acting director of national intelligence before becoming the face of LGBTQ outreach for Trump’s failed re-election.
But Jenner’s approach to the gubernatorial recall in California, Evans said, is “putting trans youth at risk for a campaign that isn’t even transformative for Republicans during this volatile time.”
“Even her current messaging is superficial and does nothing to help dispel claims that she’s unqualified,” Evans said. “The only positive thing that I’ve seen come from this is conservative mainstream media using her correct pronouns, but that is not worth the damage that she’s inflicting.”
Much of the disappointment over Jenner’s campaign is the result of her essentially throwing transgender kids under the bus as part of her campaign at a time when state legislatures are advancing legislation against them, including the bills that would essentially bar transgender girls from participating in school sports.
Jenner, declining to push back on these measures and assert transgender kids have a place in sports, instead essentially endorsed the bills shortly after she announced her candidacy.
“If you’re born as a biological boy, you shouldn’t be allowed to compete in girls’ sports,” Jenner told TMZ, which asked her about the hot-button issue during a Sunday morning coffee run.
Jenner dug deeper into MAGA-world at the expense of solidarity with the transgender community. Last week, Jenner retweeted Jenna Ellis, who has a notoriously anti-LGBTQ background and was criticized just last year for refusing to use the personal pronouns of Rachel Levine, who’s now assistant secretary of health and the first openly transgender presidential appointee to win Senate confirmation.
Jennifer Williams, a New Jersey-based transgender Republican who unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the New Jersey General Assembly last year, said via email Jenner “did much good for several years by educating millions of people around the world about transgender folks,” but won’t countenance the candidate’s remarks on transgender kids in sports.
“In regard to her current run for California governor, her recent comments regarding transgender youth playing sports are confusing,” Williams said. “Just last year, she said that she supported transgender female athletes. Caitlyn should consult with tennis great Billie Jean King, soccer star Megan Rapinoe or WNBA legend Candace Parker on the subject of transgender athletes in women’s sports, as they are very well versed on the matter.”
At a time when state legislatures are pushing through legislation targeting transgender youth, restricting their access to sports and transition-related care, Jenner’s refusal to repudiate those measures has become a focal point for opposition to her candidacy from LGBTQ advocacy groups, who say she’s “out of touch
” (although none were supporting her even before she made those comments).
The LGBTQ Victory Fund, which supports LGBTQ political candidates and public officials, has signaled it wants nothing to do with Jenner.
Sean Meloy, vice president of political programs for LGBTQ Victory Fund, said Jenner hasn’t applied for an endorsement from the Victory Fund “and she shouldn’t bother to.”
“Her opposition to full trans inclusion – particularly for trans kids in sports – makes her ineligible for the endorsement,” Meloy said. “There are many great trans candidates running this cycle who are champions for equality.”
To be sure, Jenner used her celebrity status as a former reality TV star and Olympic champion on behalf of transgender lobbyists, urging donations to groups like the National Center for Transgender Equality and going to Capitol Hill to lobby Republicans on transgender issues. Jenner has also given money for transgender kids to attend college, giving transgender advocate Blossom Brown a check for $20,000 on “The Ellen Show” in 2015.
Blaire White, a transgender conservative and YouTube personality, drew on these examples of Jenner helping transgender youth in a video earlier this month and said the two once had dinner together, but wasn’t yet ready to make a endorsement.
“I will say that until she lays out all of her policy positions and until she’s more on record in long form really talking about what she wants to do for the state of California, I can’t say for sure I would vote for her and would not vote for her,” White concluded in the video. “What I can say is: I’m interested. And also, being under Gavin Newson’s governorship, I would literally vote for a triple-amputee frog over Gavin Newsom, so she already has that going for her.”
Jenner’s campaign couldn’t be reached for comment for this article on the repudiation of her campaign from LGBTQ advocacy groups.
Gina Roberts, who’s the first transgender Republican elected to public office in California and a member of the San Diego GOP Central Committee, said she’s neutral for the time being as an elected Republican Party leader, but nonetheless had good things to say about Jenner’s candidacy.
“I think it’s awesome,” Roberts said. “It’s kind of indicative of how cool the Republican Party in California is because nobody really cares or it makes any difference. I mean, I was the first elected GOP transgender person in California and I think we’re ready for No. 2.”
Asked whether Jenner’s comments about allowing transgender kids in sports was troubling, Roberts said that wasn’t the case because she has her own reservations.
“I have pretty much the same opinion because … there’s so many nuances in that,” Roberts said. “If somebody transitions after they’ve gone through puberty, there is a big difference, especially in high school. If they transition beforehand, it’s not a big deal.”
A gun enthusiast and supporter of gun owner’s rights, Roberts said she competes in women’s events in shooting sports, but there’s a difference because she doesn’t “really have any advantages all those young, small ladies can pull a lot faster than I do and shoot faster than I do.”
Roberts concluded she’ll personally make a decision about whom she’ll support in the California recall election after Grenell announces whether or not he’ll enter the race, but can’t say anything until the San Diego GOP Central Committee issues an endorsement.
“He’s a good friend of mine, too,” Roberts said. “I know both of them. I think they’d both be certainly better than Gavin Newsom, I have to stay neutral until the county party decides who they’re going to endorse. I will support somebody or another in the endorsement process, but I can’t publicly announce it.”
Although LGBTQ groups want nothing to do with her campaign, Jenner’s approach has garnered the attention of prominent conservatives, who are taking her seriously as a candidate. One of Jenner’s first interviews was on Fox News’ Sean Hannity, a Trump ally with considerable sway among his viewers. Hannity was able to find common ground with Jenner, including agreement on seeing California wildfires as a problem with forest management as opposed to climate change.
Kayleigh McEnany, who served as White House press secretary in Trump’s final year in the White House and defended in the media his efforts to challenge his 2020 election loss in court, signaled her openness to Jenner’s candidacy after the Hannity interview.
“I really enjoyed watching @Caitlyn_Jenner’s interview with @seanhannity,” McEnany tweeted. “I found Caitlyn to be well-informed, sincere, and laser-focused on undoing the socialist, radical, a-scientific policies of Biden & the left. Very good.”
In theory, that support combined with Jenner’s visibility might be enough to propel Jenner to victory. In the recall election, California will answer two questions, whether California Gov. Gavin Newsom should be recalled, and if so, which candidate should replace him. The contender with the plurality of votes would win the election, even if that’s less than a majority vote, and become the next governor. There isn’t a run-off if no candidate fails to obtain a majority.
With Jenner’s name recognition as a celebrity, that achievement could be in her reach. After all, Arnold Schwarzenegger won the 2004 recall election in California as a Republican based on his celebrity status, and ended up becoming a popular governor.
But the modest inroads Jenner has made with the acceptance of conservatives and potential to win isn’t enough for other transgender Republicans.
Evans, for example, said Jenner’s candidacy is not only a disappointment, but threatening the potential candidacies of transgender hopefuls in the future.
“It’s difficult to be in electoral politics, and that’s even more true when you’re a member of a marginalized community,” Evans said. “Caitlyn’s behavior is making it even more challenging for the trans community to be visible in a field where we desperately need to be seen. She’s casting a tall shadow on our ability to have a voice and is giving credibility to lawmakers and local leaders simply unwilling to view us with decency and respect.”
Williams said Jenner should avoid talking about transgender issues over the course of her gubernatorial run “and instead focus on the hard, critical policy issues facing California.”
“It is a state in crisis and she has to run a very serious campaign and not rely on her celebrity or LGBTQ status to win over voters’ hearts and minds — just like all other LGBTQ candidates around the country need to do when they run for public office,” Williams said.
100th anniversary celebration of Dupont Circle fountain set for May 17
GWU student creates tribute video
Published 2 days ago on May 12, 2021 at 1:15 pm EDT
The iconic Dupont Circle fountain turns 100 this month. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)
LGBTQ residents and longtime visitors to D.C.’s Dupont Circle neighborhood are expected to be among the participants in the 100th anniversary celebration of the installation of the Dupont Circle fountain scheduled to be held at the circle on Monday, May 17.
Aaron DeNu, president of Dupont Festival, a nonprofit arts and cultural programming group that’s organizing the celebration, says it will take place from noon to at least sunset inside Dupont Circle.
The celebration will take place one week after the May 10 release of a YouTube video, “How Dupont Circle Evolved as a Hub for LGBTQ+ Life in the District,” produced by George Washington University student Dante Schulz. Schulz is the video editor for the G.W. student newspaper The Hatchet.
Among those appearing in the documentary video are veteran LGBTQ rights activists Deacon Maccubbin and his husband Jim Bennett, who owned and operated the Dupont Circle LGBTQ bookstore Lambda Rising beginning in the 1970s, which is credited with contributing to Dupont Circle’s reputation as the epicenter of D.C.’s LGBTQ community for many years.
Also appearing in the video is longtime D.C. gay activist and Dupont Circle area resident Craig Howell, a former president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance.
“At this point in time due to COVID restrictions we’re not going to be doing any particular formal gathering of folks,” DeNu told the Washington Blade in describing the May 17 celebration. “But we’ll have a soundtrack that’s playing throughout the day from that original ceremony – the same songs they used in the original dedication a hundred years ago,” he said.
DeNu said the event will also feature “historic imagery” related to Dupont Circle and the people who have gathered there over the years.
“So, we’re really just inviting people to come and have lunch, stop by the park after work, and just stop and reflect on 100 years of Dupont Circle fountain, take a look at the imagery and see some old friends and hopefully stop by and see the Dupont businesses that are around the area,” DeNu said.
The LGBTQ video produced by Dante Schultz can be accessed here
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