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142+ Out Athletes to Compete in Tokyo Olympics ~ HIV Increases COVID Death Risk ~ LGBTQ Rights Worldwide ~ Death Threats ~ etc.

“At least 142 out LGBTQ athletes” will compete in this year’s summer Olympics, which open Friday in Tokyo, according to Outsports. Julian Venonsky (USA, rowing) is one to watch, as are Tom Daley (UK, diving; seen above in 2012), Anton Down-Jenkins (New Zealand, diving; seen below), Jack Woolley (Ireland, taekwondo), and Markus Thormeyer (Canada, swimming). “Women on the list outnumber men by about an 8:1 margin,” Outsports writes. Come on, guys. Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib has come out, and the NFL has tweeted that “football is gay.” We can do it!


HIV Increases COVID Death Risk

A new study by the World Health Organization “found that the risk of developing severe or fatal COVID-19 was 30% greater in [people living with] HIV compared to people without HIV infection.” In The New York Times, Apoorva Mandavilli wrote that “about 95 percent of the people with HIV included in the analysis were from sub-Saharan Africa,” highlighting the importance of increasing access to vaccines in African countries.

But even vaccination does not prevent all infections, with the Washington Blade reporting a spate of recent “breakthrough infections” among recent tourists to the gay mecca of Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Supreme Court & the States in the U.S.

In its most recent term, the U.S. Supreme Court brought three important LGBTQ rights cases to a close. It was a mixed bag, James Esseks writes in the Advocate, with one decision upholding (on a technicality) a Catholic foster care agency’s refusal to serve gay couples, another denying review of a state court decision compelling a flower shop to serve a gay couple despite religious objections, and a third refusing an appeal of a federal court finding that a school district must let transgender students use the restroom of their choice.

A man waves a rainbow flag outside the U.S. Supreme Court (CC BY-SA 2.0 Ted Eytan)

Twenty-one GOP state attorneys general signed on to a letter to President Biden protesting the administration’s pro-LGBTQ actions. But until the Supreme Court agrees to hear another LGBTQ rights case, the war of attrition will continue to be fought one state at a time. In Texas and Ohio, Republican-controlled legislatures have recently advanced anti-transgender sports bills. In Iowa, a a court found that the University of Iowa can’t require religious groups to include gay students if it allows fraternities and sororities to exclude them. In Minnesota, Governor Tim Walz signed an executive order restricting conversion therapy for minors. And in Montana, two residents filed suit against the state challenging a new law that makes it practically impossible for transgender people to correct the sex listed on their birth certificates.

Repression in Africa

In The Guardian, Emmanuel Akinwotu writes about a wave of anti-LGBTQ repression that has swept through Ghana in the last six months. “Politicians, Christian and civil groups have led a wave of protest against the rights of sexual minorities in the country, after the opening of a community space in the capital Accra in January,” he writes. “In February the space was shut down, and ever since, arrests of LGBT+ advocates and incidents of abuse have been rising.” Repression of sexual minorities is increasingly common in Africa, including this case in Cameroon.

EU Sues Hungary & Poland Over Anti-LGBTQ Actions

The European Union has launched legal proceedings against Hungary and Poland for recent anti-LGBTQ actions in both countries, according to a statement released by the European Commission. In the case of Hungary, the charges stem primarily from a recently enacted law that limits “access to content that portrays homosexuality for individuals under 18.” In the case of Poland, they are related to homophobic declarations made by some local authorities over the past few years.

According to the statement, “the two Member States now have two months to respond to the arguments put forward by the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send them a reasoned opinion and in a further step refer them to the Court of Justice of the European Union.”

Death Threats & Hate

In Wyoming, a bar in Cheyenne is under fire for reportedly selling T-shirts showing the muzzle of a gun and saying, “In Wyoming, we have a cure for AIDS: We shoot fuck’n f****ts.” Wyoming Equality lamented on Facebook, “We are sad to say that we failed to convince a local bar to pull these shirts from circulation. We hoped that they would choose to stop selling them when they realized the harm it did to the LGBTQ community and those living with AIDS.” Over at Boingboing, Rob Beschizza took a less conciliatory line: “Supplicating to guys like this is a mistake. This is way past the point where outreach is reasonable. Begging for tolerance only casts yourself in a fantasy they’d act out without hesistation if they thought they’d get away with it.”

Meanwhile, members of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus have received death threats after the group posted a satirical song entitled “A Message From the Gay Community.” “The wingnut furor has focused entirely on two lyrics—“We’ll convert your children” and “We’re coming for your children”—which the QAnon set assumes is an open declaration of sexually exploitating minors,” writes SFist. “But a full listen to the track…makes it clear to any reasonable listener that the choir is talking about winning hearts and minds by being funnier, more likable, and better dressed.” The video is no longer available, but you can read the lyrics here.

Grenell Won’t Run in California Recall

Former Trump administration official Richard Grenell in 2019 (CC BY-SA 2.0 Gage Skidmore)

Richard Grenell, the gay former Trump Administration official, announced that he will not run against Democratic governor Gavin Newsom in the September 14th gubernatorial recall election. Some 41 names will appear on the ballot, according to Wikipedia, including Republican “reality show personality, transgender rights activist, and former Olympic athlete” Caitlyn Jenner. “Polls suggest voters in overwhelmingly Democratic California are likely to reject the recall,” Jeremy B. White writes in Politico.

Art Notes

Tom Daley in 2012 (CC BY 2.0 flikr). Man waves a rainbow flag in front of the Supreme Court during oral arguments over United States v. Windsor in 2015 (CC BY-SA 2.0 Ted Eytan). Richard Grenell in 2019 (CC BY-SA 2.0 Gage Skidmore).

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