December 31, 2019

Kevin Hart Poked The Bear One Too Many Times



People are saying Kevin Hart is beginning to understand why his jokes were homophobic and more, they were just bad. I don't know about that but  I do know he is not funny but people laugh because it is always fun for some when you make fun of a particular kind of People by putting them down. And yes there are gay jokes that are not homophobic but Hart it seems didn't know them or maybe he knew, like cheating on his wife and making sex tapes on the new girl it was bad but  He thought he could get away with it.  Maybe he has always gotten over with many things and never been called to the carpet. Now he knows he is on call.

“All he did was poke the bear on that one,” his brand manager Wayne Brown says. Hart’s publicist, Haley Hileman adds, “He needs to just shut up and put his head down for the next few weeks.” 
Writer Harry Whitford’s take: “Tonally, you should be sorrier.”
Nine days after Hart stepped down from the Oscars hosting position, he had an emergency meeting with his production company. He defended his behavior to them, saying, “My last 10 years there’s been no homophobic tweets or slander or anything... Me apologizing again isn’t being sensitive to the gay community at all."
Hileman, the publicist, openly disagrees.
“You are one of the most famous people in the world. There are still people who don’t know who you are and aren’t familiar with your comedy now, what you make and what you stand for.”
Hart ultimately released a written apology and opened up on “Ellen” about his behavior. He also refused to address the controversy on “Good Morning America.” None of those moves were well received. 

Kevin Hart's wife, Eniko Parrish, opens up in the documentary about how his cheating scandal publicly humiliated her.

Hart’s wife learned he was cheating via DM

Hart’s documentary doesn’t get into detail about “what happened in Vegas,” but alludes to the fact that the celebrity did get caught on tape with another woman in August of 2017. And Hart does talk about how an unnamed one-time friend was charged with extortion for allegedly shooting a sex tape of Hart and threatening to release it. Those charges from Los Angeles County prosecutors against Jonathan Jackson have since been dropped.  
Shortly after the charges were announced, Hart tweeted: "Mind blown...Hurt...at a lost for words and simply in complete disbelief at the moment. WOW."
Learning the news of her husband's affair via Instagram's direct message, Hart’s wife Eniko Parish says she “immediately just lost it” in the series. “I kept questioning him. If this is what you want to do, I don’t want to be a part of that.”
Ultimately she forgave him. “We’ve gone through it. We’re past it. He’s a better man now,” she says. But, “three strikes, you're out.”
Source: USA

December 30, 2019

China Eliminates Force Labor Sentences For Prostitution




Sex workers and clients are rounded up in Dongguan
 BBC


China is to end a punishment system for prostitution that allowed police to hold sex workers and their clients in custody for up to two years at so-called education centers.
Detainees were forced to work, allegedly making toys and household goods.

The detention system will come to an end on 29 December. Those still in custody will be released, according to Xinhua, China's state media.
Prostitution remains illegal in China.

It carries punishments of up to 15 days in detention and fines of up to 5,000 yuan (£546).
China sex workers 'abused by police'

China issues tough online rules

China's state media claims the "custody and education" system has helped to maintain a "good social atmosphere and public order" since it was introduced more than 20 years ago.
It added that over time, the system has become less and less appropriate.

A study by NGO Asia Catalyst in 2013 questioned whether this scheme was effective.
The report included interviews with 30 female sex workers from two cities.
It claimed detainees were unable to learn new skills during detention that could help them after their release. The report added that the detainees typically undertake manual labor.  
It said: "All of the sex workers we interviewed returned to the sex trade immediately after release."

A 2013 report by Human Rights Watch interviewed 140 sex workers, clients, police, and specialists and found that many sex workers were beaten by police in an attempt to coerce confessions.
One worker claimed she had been deceived into signing a confession.
"The police told me it was fine, all I needed to do was sign my name and they would release me after four or five days," she said.

"Instead, I was locked up in [a] Custody and Education center for six months."
 
 The world's largest licensed brothels

Shen Tingting, director of Asia Catalyst, said the move to abolish forced labor detention centers is positive but only a small step towards safeguarding the rights of sex workers.
"Chinese law and policies focus on prohibition and cracking down on sex work, rather than providing a framework to ensure the health and safety of sex work as a profession," she said.

In 2013, China announced it had abolished its system of "re-education through labor camps" for petty criminals.

That decision came after several high-profile miscarriages of justice, including a case where a mother was sent to a labor camp after demanding justice for her daughter who had been raped.
However, abolition did not extend to the "custody and education" system affecting sex workers and their clients.

China isn't totally abandoning the idea of re-education. Authorities in the country claim a number of camps in the north-west region of Xinjiang are voluntary education camps that help to combat extremism.

However, rights groups claim many Chinese Uighur people have been rounded up into the camps and made to criticize or denounce their faith.


LGBT Rights World Wide Are in Danger But The U.S. is Now Part of That Problem




                            Image result for Daniil Grachev, an LGBTQ rights activist, is arrested by riot police during a pride event in St. Petersburg, 2013.


  
Over the years that followed, I met LGBTQ refugees who’d fled ISIS in Syria, queer teens who escaped gang violence in El Salvador, and doctors in Japan trying to help win acceptance for transgender people. In retrospect, it seems obvious that these were stories that deserved to be told. But back in 2013, few big media companies had specialist reporters devoted to LGBTQ news in the US, let alone reporters trying to write about the issue around the world. 

The US and the world were changing fast. Former President Barack Obama made promoting LGBTQ rights a key priority of US foreign policy during his first term in office, even before he came out in support of marriage equality. In June 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had to recognize marriage for same-sex couples. Four days later, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation that became known as the “gay propaganda ban,” and sparked a global outcry.

Nearly 80 countries considered homosexuality a crime when the decade began — anti-LGBTQ violence and discrimination were common in many more — and the issue was almost completely ignored in international diplomacy. Now at the decade’s end, more than 30 countries have established marriage equality, transgender people have gained legal protections in several places for the first time, and a social revolution has brought LGBTQ people out of the closet across the globe.

This was the decade when it became clear that “gay rights are human rights,” as then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton said in a 2011 UN speech. But it was also the decade when the very notion that humans have universal rights came under attack. A new generation of anti-democratic leaders — including Clinton’s 2016 opponent, Donald Trump — declared war on the basic human rights framework put in place after World War II. In many cases, these leaders used rapid LGBTQ advances as ammunition to turn citizens against the principles of democracy itself. 

On my first trip as a reporter for BuzzFeed News, it became crystal clear to me that the fight over LGBTQ rights was about something much bigger.

This was a swing through Eastern Europe in October 2013 to see what impact Russia’s new anti-LGBTQ law was having on its neighbors. The “gay propaganda ban” was technically a law prohibiting teaching children about “nontraditional relationships,” but it became a tool to intimidate activist groups and suppress any demonstration of LGBTQ rights. It also helped make anti-gay sentiment a tool of Russian foreign policy the world is still struggling with today.

My trip ended in Ukraine, which was on the verge of signing a deal to formalize ties with the European Union. The deal would have required Ukraine to accept a broad suite of human rights protections, one of which was prohibiting employment discrimination against gays and lesbians. Putin and his allies wanted to derail a Ukraine–EU alliance at all costs.

The streets of the capital, Kyiv, were plastered with billboards that said things like “Association with the EU means same-sex marriage.”

These billboards were funded by a Ukrainian businessperson with such close ties to Putin that he made the Russian president godfather to his daughter. The claim that the EU treaty would force Ukraine to recognize marriage for same-sex couples was a lie, but it was a useful distortion. The anti-gay sentiment was the perfect way to trigger broad fear among Ukrainians that the human rights norms of Western democracies would strip the country of its identity. 

“The EU will require Ukraine to expand its gay culture, and, instead of Victory Parades, gay parades will be held in Kyiv,” one top Russian lawmaker tweeted as the EU treaty signing approached.

By year’s end, the tug of war over Ukraine had ripped the country in two. When the country’s president bowed to Russian pressure and tried to walk away from the EU deal, a pro-European revolution drove him from office. In response, Russian-backed soldiers invaded and annexed one part of the country and fomented a war that still grinds on today. Across the internet in those days, propaganda sites pumped out all manner of stories claiming Russia had stepped in to protect Ukrainians from a “totalitarian” West. 

Stuart Gaffney (left) and John Lewis (center), plaintiffs in the 2008 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) case, celebrate while traveling along Market Street during San Francisco Pride Pride, two days after the US Supreme Court's landmark ruling legalizing marriage for same-sex couples nationwide, June 28, 2015.

At the same time, Russia was scrambling to pry Ukraine away from the EU, it was making preparations to host the Winter Olympics in Sochi. This provided the perfect platform for Putin to use anti-gay sentiment to attack the credibility of countries that claimed to champion human rights. The lead-up to the games was dominated in the West by boycotts from activist groups in protest of Russia’s “gay propaganda” law; Obama lent his support to the campaign by skipping the opening ceremony in February 2014. 

Putin treated this conflict as an opportunity. If countries like the US wanted to define human rights policies by supporting LGBTQ rights, he was all too happy to lead the counterattack on behalf of “traditional values.”

In one chilling incident, Russian state television broadcast a secretly recorded meeting between Russian activists and international NGOs like Human Rights Watch as part of a “documentary” warning of a “homosexual invasion.” The Russian government also used this as an excuse to step up attacks on civil society, forcing LGBTQ rights organizations to identify themselves as “foreign agents” under a law also used against environmentalists and other human rights NGOs.

Over the years that followed, I covered one authoritarian regime after another that used the anti-gay sentiment to discredit human rights advocates and Western democracies.

In Uganda, I sat through a five-hour “thanksgiving ceremony” in March 2014 after the country passed a sweeping anti-LGBTQ law, during which President Yoweri Museveni said anal sex caused the intestines to fall out and vowed to reject US money to fight HIV if it meant accepting “foreign things.” As in Russia, the Ugandan government stirred up panic about homosexuality to make it harder for NGOs to operate. Police restricted the operations of Uganda’s largest NGO, a refugee rights organization that also was part of a coalition fighting the anti-LGBTQ law, for allegedly “promoting homosexuality and lesbianism.” Authorities even raided an HIV center run by the US military. 

Assaults on LGBTQ rights — as well as moves against women’s rights and refugees — were increasingly at the center of geopolitical conflicts. Later in 2014, ISIS started promoting gruesome execution images of men it said were gay in an effort to portray itself as defending Islam against Western debauchery. In 2016, Turkey banned Istanbul Pride ceremonies — the largest Pride regularly celebrated in the Muslim world. The banishment coincided with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s broader crackdown on public protest and free speech. Inside the EU, pride parades were attacked in Poland, which is led by a far-right government.

Anti-LGBTQ crackdowns predate this decade, of course — few in the last 10 years even made headlines outside their home countries. But never before did showdowns over anti-LGBTQ rights regularly rise to the highest levels of the world’s most powerful governments and institutions.

What might have once been local conflicts turned into diplomatic incidents? The World Bank responded to Uganda’s anti-LGBTQ law by suspending a $90 million loan; the UN Security Council responded to ISIS’s executions by holding its first-ever discussion on an LGBTQ rights issue; and an alliance led by five South American nations succeeded in pushing through a UN resolution to create an LGBTQ rights officer position, defeating an opposition that included Russia and blocs of African and Islamic countries.

Conservative nations, with help from the Vatican’s diplomatic corps, were simultaneously working to strike the word “gender” from other UN resolutions, believing the term opened the door to greater LGBTQ and women’s rights protections under international law. Anti-LGBTQ countries have also attempted to water down resolutions for other human rights issues by inserting language affirming “sovereignty,” a term that suggests local values or interests trump universal rights claims.


But as with women’s rights in the 1990s, despite opposition, LGBTQ rights in the 2010s were well on their way to becoming a core part of the international human rights system by the end of the Obama administration. Obama even created the world’s first special envoy for LGBTQ rights in the State Department and issued rules to prevent recipients of US foreign aid from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

As he prepared to leave the White House, it seemed as if the world’s most powerful democratic governments would continue to look for ways to respond to threats to LGBTQ rights around the world.

And then Clinton, with help from Russia’s disinformation machine, lost the 2016 election to Trump.
 
When the Trump administration talks about LGBTQ rights today, it comes across as gaslighting. He makes occasional noises about protecting LGBTQ people, but he also rolled back several protections for transgender people and had his Justice Department argue it should be legal to fire people for being gay. During his 2016 campaign, Trump copied a tactic of anti-immigrant politicians in countries like France and the Netherlands, using the issue exclusively as a justification to attack the rights of another minority. The best way to protect “the gays,” Trump said at the time, was to ban Muslims from entering the US.

As for other human rights, Trump has put immigrant children in cages along the southern border, denied asylum-seekers their rights under the Geneva Conventions, and turned a blind eye to the murder of a Saudi journalist in order to preserve lucrative weapons contracts. In a recent speech at the UN, he called for the repeal of sodomy laws but also called NGOs that work with immigrants “cruel and evil.”

While the US has not overtly renounced support for LGBTQ rights in international diplomacy, some human rights activists worry that day could still becoming. The White House was silent when news broke in 2017 that police in the Russian republic of Chechnya had kidnapped and tortured more than 100 LGBTQ people. Trump’s current secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has called homosexuality a “perversion” and said during his confirmation that he still opposes marriage equality. Pompeo recently convened a new commission tasked with reining in a human rights regime he said had been “hijacked.” 

“Rights claims are often aimed more at rewarding interest groups and dividing humanity into subgroups,” he wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed announcing the commission.

The language used to describe the commission’s mission is “clearly code to not include gay rights and reproductive rights,” Mark Bromley, who leads the LGBTQ rights group the Council for Global Equality, told me earlier this month.

The US is not the only powerful government that has abandoned clear support for LGBTQ rights. Brazil, long a world leader the issue, has retreated under its far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who once said he’d rather his son were dead than gay and blasted a recent Supreme Court decision criminalizing LGBTQ discrimination. In nearly every country that has slid toward greater authoritarianism — including Hungary, Poland, China, and the US — LGBTQ rights have been a casualty.

This turn away by many governments has not erased the gains made, thanks to growing support at the grassroots. Australians defied their right-leaning government in 2017 to overwhelmingly approve a referendum to institute marriage equality. India’s Supreme Court issued a sweeping ruling in 2018 to decriminalize homosexuality at a time when the country’s president is a religious fundamentalist. And two more African countries, Angola and Botswana, decriminalized homosexuality this year.

“Once you have a taste that a better world is possible, you do not want to go back,” said Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, which works with activists around the world and advocates for LGBTQ rights at the UN. 

But it is growing even more dangerous in some places to demand rights, and activists can’t count on solidarity from the US the way they could just a few years ago.

“In this environment, there are fewer powerful states that we can count on, and there are more powerful states that are hostile to LGBTIQ rights,” Stern recently told me. “Russia, with its influence across the Middle East, China, and its influence everywhere.” It’s not just that the US is a “shadow of its former self” when it comes to defending human rights, she added — it’s now part of the problem.

“I am very worried about the next decade,” Stern said. “Every time I open my email or turn on my phone, someone I know personally is under attack.”●   


December 29, 2019

A Lawless President Tweets The Name of "The Whistleblower"





US President Donald Trump is facing staunch criticism for retweeting a post that included the alleged name of the whistleblower whose complaint led to the president's impeachment.
Mr. Trump shared a post from a user named @surfermom77, who described themselves as a "100% Trump supporter".

The retweet seemed to disappear from the president's timeline for a period but was visible again later.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly called for the whistleblower to be identified.

The US has federal laws that guarantee the protection of whistleblowers, designed to shield those who come forward with evidence of wrongdoing by the government.

In November, lawyers for the whistleblower - who is said to work in the US intelligence community - issued a cease-and-desist warning to the president, saying their client was "in physical danger". But the president ignored the warning and continued to call for them to be named.
 
According to a report by the Associated Press, the account bears the hallmarks of an automated "bot" account, "including an unusually high amount of activity and profile pictures featuring stock images from the internet".

The account's profile picture - a stock photo of a woman in business attire that was pulled from the internet - was changed on Saturday to an image of Mr. Trump.

Facebook has a policy of banning posts that name the alleged whistleblower, the New York Times reported, but Twitter does not. In a statement issued to the Associated Press, Twitter said the @surfermom77 tweet was "not a violation of the Twitter Rules".
Did the president delete the retweet?

There was some speculation about whether Mr. Trump deleted the retweet after the outcry.
Twitters users said they were unable to see the post on his timeline on Saturday morning after he shared it at around midnight on Friday.

On Saturday afternoon, Twitter said there had been a glitch in its system, which had made some tweets invisible to some users, although the company did not specify how many people were affected or make a direct connection to this specific controversy. 

The retweet was visible again in the president's feed by Sunday morning. His account is followed by 68 million people.

What was the reaction?
The president had already faced criticism from Democratic leaders over his ongoing efforts to publicize the whistleblower's identity.

In response to his retweet on Saturday, attorney Stephen Kohn, an expert in whistleblower protection laws, told the Washington Post that the president was violating his duty to safeguard whistleblowers.
"The paradox is that it was the president's duty to protect this person," Mr. Kohn said. "It's inconceivable that he not only doesn't do it but violates it."

A former whistleblower told the Associated Press that the ease with which the person's identity had been spread online demonstrated the need for greater legal protection.
Michael German, who left the FBI after reporting allegations of mismanagement, said it was "completely inappropriate for the president of the United States to be engaged in any type of behavior that could harm a whistleblower".
 
The controversy centers around a call between Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Trump
With a wealth of first-hand testimony, Democrats have moved the impeachment on from the whistleblower's evidence. But the president and other Republicans have worked to keep the whistleblower in the press.

In an audio recording that emerged in September, President Trump was heard comparing the whistleblower's sources to a "spy". Then in an apparent reference to the execution of spies by the US in the past, he said: "You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? With spies and treason, right? We used to handle them a little differently than we do now."

According to reports in the Washington Post and the Guardian, the person named by right-wing media as the whistleblower was receiving a spike in threats when the president tweeted about them and was being driven to and from work by armed security officers following the threats.

How did the whistleblower become involved?
In August, the whistleblower filed a report expressing concern over a phone call a month earlier in which Mr. Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, a Democratic front-runner for the 2020 US presidential election.

Democrats said the call transcript showed President Trump abusing the power of his office to pressure President Zelensky to damage a US Democratic political rival. President Trump defended the call, saying it was "perfect". He has dismissed the impeachment process as a "witch-hunt".


Media caption"Cheapened the process of impeachment" - Trump reacts at a rally
The whistleblower's report led ultimately to an inquiry in the House of Representatives which culminated in the president's impeachment on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, making Mr. Trump only the third president in US history to be impeached.

The president now faces a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, which is expected to acquit him along party lines.

Mother of Bullied Suicide Victim Nigel Wants To Be A Mother For Those In That Place



Image result for nigel, bullied

Huntsville mom Camika Shelby has a message for LGBTQ youth: If you live in an unaccepting household, she's your mother now.

   Image result for nigel, bullied
Dressed in a white T-shirt adorned with rainbow letters and a rainbow-themed fanny pack, Shelby gave different gifts of encouragement during a Christmas event for black LGBTQ teens at the Birmingham CrossPlex on Saturday (Dec. 21). She took her time as she gave the youth long hugs, smiled as she gave them gift bags full of self-care items they can use to soothe themselves during a tough day and she typed her contact information into the youth's phone.

Shelby wanted to make sure the youth had all the tools they need if they ever get in a depressed space. Her openly-gay son, Nigel, was 15-years-old when he died by suicide in April in Huntsville. Although his mother was accepting of his sexuality, the family said Nigel was bullied. Camika Shelby said she couldn't talk about the school system due to legal reasons. 

But Nigel's death birthed a campaign focused on suicide awareness and the importance of LGBTQ-acceptance in homes, schools, and churches. She makes sure she is accessible to any LGBTQ teen who needs a listening ear by maintaining Nigel's Instagram account and creating a Facebook group. Connecting with LGBTQ youth has become part of Camika Shelby's grieving process. Her son's spirit was made of sunshine and this is her way of keeping his encouraging legacy alive. 

“I don’t want it to be, ‘the 15-year-old that committed suicide,’” Camika Shelby said during a Facebook live interview with Al.com’s Black Magic Project. “I want it to be ‘the 15-year-old whose suicide changed the world.’”

Multiple reports have expressed the need for more LGBTQ-friendly spaces, especially for youth who are vulnerable to racism, homophobia, and transphobia. The Human Rights Campaign reported that 90% of the more than 1,600 black LGBTQ teens surveyed said they have experienced racial discrimination. Along with this, 47% of respondents said they have been taunted or mocked by family members due to their sexualities and gender identities. AIDS Alabama, headquartered in Birmingham, has helped 33 homeless, black LGBTQ youth since 2016. While LGBTQ youth of color are more likely to experience depression and anxiety due to these stressors, the HRC survey pointed out the lack of LGBTQ-friendly and culturally-trained counselors.

The family-oriented nature of the holidays can amplify feelings of rejection and hopelessness in LGBTQ youth. This is why Camika Shelby was the main speaker during the annual Angel Toy Drive event in Birmingham. During the hour and a half celebration, black LGBTQ teens received $100 gift cards, self-care kits and listened to multiple LGBTQ mentors who talked about how they overcame bullying, suicidal thoughts and the services that are available to them.

During her speech, Camika Shelby stressed the importance of LGBTQ youth creating their own families if theirs is not accepting of their sexuality or gender identity.
"Sometimes family can be your own worst enemy. If they don't love you for who you are, they don't deserve you," she told the youth. "Don't let people tear you down for who you are. God knows who you are, and he makes no mistakes."

This wasn't Camika Shelby's first time speaking following her son's death. She has participated in two suicide awareness panels. The first one was at Alabama A&M University during a national suicide prevention month in September. She brought her message to a national stage when she appeared on "CBS This Morning" earlier this month.

While Nigel's death is being honored around the nation, Camika Shelby used the event in Birmingham to talk about his life. In between the pauses of pain and tears, she talked about her son's obsession with Beyonce and how he used to give her pop quizzes about Ariana Grande's life. Nigel is also her rainbow baby. Due to medical conditions, Camika Shelby said experienced multiple miscarriages.

"But it was something about Nigel. He was a fighter and he made his way into this world," Camika Shelby said. “From the moment I saw his smile, I knew this child was going to be special.”
Multiple celebrities also knew Nigel was going to be extraordinary. From Justin Bieber to Janelle Monáe, singers and actresses expressed their support for the Shelby family both emotionally and financially. Actress Gabrielle Union and her husband, former NBA star Dwayne Wade, helped pay for Nigel's funeral, Camika Shelby said. She appreciates how the couple has become cheerleaders for LGBTQ youth, especially when it comes to their own LGBTQ child, Zion. During an interview with Showtime's All the Smoke podcast on Thursday, Wade used Zion's preferred pronouns, she/her/hers, for the first time.

"For them to be in the public eye like that, that is amazing," Camika Shelby said of the couple.
Sunshine and smiles followed Nigel wherever he went, even into his final moments, his mother said. After he passed away, Camika Shelby found an uplifting text message on his phone that he was going to send to a friend who was going through a hard time. In the message, Nigel encouraged his friend to believe they are beautiful and not to let allow anyone to make them think otherwise.

"I cried and then smiled because it was a reminder of how much of an amazing child he was," Camika Shelby said. “When a person is having suicidal thoughts, they are thinking about ending it all. Before he made that choice, he stopped and took his time to uplift his friend.”

Creating a safe world for LGBTQ youth also means advising parents on how to support their teen's life. Camika Shelby demonstrates how to do this through her own story with Nigel. She said her son wasn't the first person to tell her he was gay, but her spirit did. So when Nigel admitted his sexuality to his mom at the age of 13, she treated as if it was a casual conversation and asked what he wanted for dinner. When Nigel was ready to tell his father and other relatives about his sexuality, momma sat closely beside him every time.

After Nigel's death, Camika Shelby said multiple family members asked her why she didn't tell them Nigel was gay. She said she didn't have that authority to tell his story.
"It wasn't my story to tell. Once he was ready to tell it, I sat right beside him," Camika Shelby said. “I needed him to know that I am right here. We are not sure how the person on the receiving end is going to take it. But as his mother, I am going to be right here.”

She also made sure Nigel felt very affirmed in himself. Proof of that can be seen in one of the most shared photos of her son - the one of him smiling and holding up the peace sign while wearing a rainbow-themed hoodie.

Camika Shelby and a friend spotted the hoodie while Christmas shopping last year. While Nigel lived in an accepting household, she got a feeling he was still uncomfortable with being himself outside of their home. So she bought him the hoodie as a gift, despite her initial hesitation.

"The rainbow flag will let the world know he is gay," Camika Shelby said. “Because I know how rejecting society can be, I was a little hesitant to buy it. But I went ahead and bought it anyway.”
She still cries over her son's reaction to the gift on Christmas Day. After opening the present, Nigel immediately dropped the hoodie and ran into his mother's arms. It was a moment of love, laughter and a lesson about the order of the stripes on the rainbow flag.

"He gave me the biggest hug ever because it symbolized to him that it was OK to be gay," Camika Shelby said, her voice quivering in pain at first, but then her voice booms into laughter. “He said, 'Momma, I really loved this gift. It is my favorite one. But by the way, the colors are not in order.'”
Tears pooled in her eyes again as she expressed her gratitude to those sharing the photo of her baby in the hoodie. She's still adjusting to her new normal where her emotions are constantly teeter-tottering between pain and peace. It's especially hard to find balance during the holidays.

The hoodie was her last Christmas gift to her only child. It was a tradition in their household to wear matching outfits to holiday parties. That won't be happening this year. One of Nigel's favorite holidays is New Year's Eve.

"I have my days when I don't want to get out of bed. I don't feel like I have a purpose anymore," Camika Shelby said. “For 15 years, I woke up every day with my mindset focused on what can I do to make Nigel's life better, and in a blink of an eye he was gone.”

Support from family, friends and her faith build the foundation of her strength. She must remain strong, she said. Not just for herself, but for the many other LGBTQ youths who have reached out to her across the country.

“I may have lost my own biological child, but I have gained so many more,” she said.
Nigel may be physically gone, but she knows she carries his spirit of encouragement with her. She allows him to speak through her as she tries to uplift the youth and give out her number and social media contacts.

"I'm to the point where I'm realizing that my baby had a purpose, regardless of whether it is here on this earth or not," she said. “So now, I'm his purpose. I am going to continue to speak out. I am going to continue to tell his story.”

And she is going to continue to reach out to other LGBTQ youth, she said.
She needs them to know that at least one mother is willing to sit beside them during their moments of need - just like she did with her son all those years ago.

Youth can use the following links to contact Camika Shelby:
-Facebook group: IamNigelShelby
-Website: https://www.forevernigel.com/
-Instagram: remembering_nigel

Read more here: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/article238771468.html#storylink=cpy

The Norms Globally Affect The Attitudes Towards Gay/ Lesbian Individuals




                          Image result for norms that affect treatment of gays
 Gay men and lesbian women have often been the targets of prejudice and even violence in society. To better understand what shapes these attitudes and prejudices, Maria Laura Bettinsoli, Alexandra Suppes, and Jamie Napier (all New York University—Abu Dhabi) tested how beliefs about gender norms (expectations of society for how men and women act and look) and people's attitudes towards gay men and women relate across the globe. 
They found that globally, gay men are disliked more than  across 23 countries. Their results also suggest negative attitudes are guided by the perception that gays and lesbians violate traditional gender norms. But in three countries, China, India, and South Korea, the correlation between beliefs in gender norms and attitudes towards gays and lesbians were absent or even reversed.
The research appears online before print in Social Psychological and Personality Science.
The team assessed attitudes towards gay men and lesbian women separately, noting that most research focuses on homosexuality as a broad category and doesn't separate attitudes by gender.
Bettinsoli and colleagues were surprised at how consistently gay men were rated more negatively than lesbian women in the vast majority of their samples.
They were also surprised "at the consistency of the relationship between gender norm endorsement and sexual prejudice," says Bettinsoli. "Even though there were some non-Western countries that did not conform to the pattern, the majority of countries did."
These findings were true for  including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the USA. The same was true for Russia, South Africa, and Turkey too.
"We also found that, in line with previous research, the endorsement of gender norms was associated with anti-gay attitudes—toward both gay men and lesbian women—in every Western country in our sample," says Bettinsoli.
In South Korea, the researchers saw that endorsement of  was unrelated to attitudes toward gays and lesbians, and in Japan, there was a small association between gender norm endorsement and attitudes toward gay men, but not towards lesbian women.
"In China and India, the reverse pattern emerged. Those who were highest on the endorsement of traditional  roles were the most positive toward gay men and lesbian women," says Bettinsoli.
While some of the countries show friendlier attitudes towards gays and lesbians, Bettinsoli notes that even in the more tolerant places discriminatory attitudes still exist.
The study is one of several appearing in a future special issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science focused on underrepresented populations.

December 28, 2019

The Scenario We Don't Want But It Is There Like The Devil in The Darkness Waiting


         Image result for scenarios for 2020 presidential election

Cameron Joseph writing on Vice had three scenarios for use on the day of elections for President in 2020 in the United States, And to tell you the truth it makes me depressed. 
Thanks to the man the Evangelicals (voting against their religion and their holy book) together with the black population (not voting) put in the office of President the last time around.  This is not that same America that it was when I stepped in to vote, what seems was decades ago. We are not the same in our conduct with our allies, enemies or each other. I,  and many like me look forward to the next election to finally turn the pendulum the other way. But when one if open with our thinking one must agree that there are more than one or two-way scenarios that could play out.
I hope people take their meds, or visit their psychologist early or even have a talk with their god about sinning and what is living a decent life. Life as dictated by both sides of the bible and other holy books that other religions around the world hold dear, decency is not born out of one religion, as a matter of fact, decency has no religion at all. You are decent because the insides dictate you behave well with your fellow man and at the same time hope he/she behaves nicely and fair to you.        Adam Gonzalez
 Welcome to 2020, which could be President Trump’s final full year in office. But those counting down to election day should probably stop now, because there’s a real chance we won’t know who won until well after Nov. 3.
A close election, possible recounts, and unusual voting laws in key states could very easily delay the results of the election and send the fight to the courts. None of these events, taken alone, is super-likely to happen. But in what’s looking like a coin-flip election, any drama in the deciding states could force America to wait days, weeks, and potentially even months before we know who will occupy the White House for the next four years.
This, to put it mildly, would suck — both for campaign obsessives and for the nation as a whole.
Here are three plausible scenarios that could put the 2020 presidential election into overtime.

Raising Arizona

Arizona is looking like a serious swing state for the first time in decades and could prove to be the tipping-point state in the 2020 election. That’s not good news for those hoping for a quick call on election night.
The state relies heavily on mail-in voting, and as a result, is notoriously slow at counting its ballots. It often takes days, and sometimes weeks, to find out who’s won close elections in Arizona.
“Because of the way we count our ballots, no matter what I think it’s going to go past Election Day,” said Garrett Archer, an Arizona elections expert who currently works at ABC’s Phoenix affiliate. “We could go for a week or longer.”
That happened just last election. Republican Martha McSally led Democrat Kyrsten Sinema on election night in a key Senate race. But Sinema pulled ahead two days later as more mail ballots were counted. It took six full days for the Associated Press to declare Sinema the victor. 
 And that race wasn’t even a particularly close: Sinema ended up winning by more than 50,000 votes and by more than a two-point margin. To get a sense of how normal this is in Arizona, this was the third time McSally had to wait past election day to know her fate: Both her 2012 and 2014 House elections went well past election day. 
Arizona has been one of the fastest-changing states both demographically and politically over the last decade. Trump carried it by just 3.5 percentage points last time around, and his net job approval is weaker there than in other battlegrounds like Florida and North Carolina, according to state-level surveys from Morning Consult. Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, the current Democratic front-runner, have been statistically tied in every recent Arizona poll.
If the Democratic nominee wins back Michigan and Pennsylvania, two states Trump narrowly carried where polling has looked bad for the GOP in recent months, but Trump wins every other state he carried last time around, Arizona could very well decide the next president.

Maine Squeeze

A confluence of weird election rules could leave America waiting on northern Maine to know who wins the 2020 election.
First, Maine is one of just two states that assign electoral college votes by congressional district, along with Nebraska. Two of those districts are actually competitive and could matter a great deal in a close election: Maine’s GOP-trending second district in the state’s more rural north, and Nebraska’s Democratic-trending Omaha-based second district. Both went for Obama in 2008 and Trump in 2016.
If Trump loses Michigan and Pennsylvania, his two weakest states that he won in 2016, but holds onto every other state he won in 2016, he and his opponent will each have 268 electoral votes, two short of the 270 needed for election.
That’s when things could get extra complicated.
Nebraska counts its votes like most places do, and even in a close race shouldn’t take too long to know its results. Trump won the suburban Omaha district by just two points in 2016 after President Obama carried it in 2008, and it could very tip Democratic this year again. 
But Maine has an unusual new law that allows “ranked-choice” voting. Voters pick their favorite candidate but can vote for a second choice, and if their candidate isn’t at the top two their second choice then gets counted. This is arguably good for democracy as it prevents third-party spoiler candidates from tipping an election, but it’s bad for impatient election observers. 
The last election was the first time the law was in place, and it resulted in exactly this scenario. Then-Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine) led on election night, but Democrat Jared Golden pulled ahead after ranked-choice votes were tallied. It took a full week to find that out — and almost two months before Poliquin conceded after his lawsuits against the law fell short.
“If it comes down to Maine-two [the second district], assume ranked-choice voting will cause a delay in getting results. And there’s definitely a scenario where the two split states, Maine and Nebraska, could play a role in deciding 2020,” said Ian Russell, a Democratic strategist who consults for Golden and has worked in both districts. 
The Dreaded Recount
It’s happened before. It’ll happen again.
The 2020 election may simply be too close to call in a key state, leading to lawsuits, recounts and court fights that drag the election out for weeks.
That happened in 2000 when it took a Supreme Court decision to hand George W. Bush victory over Al Gore after Florida’s error-riddled election handed him the narrowest of victories.
Florida saw a bizarro replay of the 2000 recount in 2018. Both its gubernatorial and Senate races came down to the wire and triggered recounts, court fights, and ugly claims of voter fraud from Republicans — what the Miami Herald called 11 days of “organized chaos.” When all the smoke cleared, Republicans hung on to win both races.
It’s almost impossible to predict where a scenario like this might occur in 2020, but almost every election cycle has at least a handful of races go to recounts. State elections are notoriously underfunded, and the possibility of foreign meddling in the 2020 elections only increases the chances that a close election could see weeks or months of court fights. 

Many LGBTQ Millennials Plan To Have Kids Regardless of Their Income



By Julie Compton

Since they married in 2015, Jonathan Hobgood, 37, and his husband, Kerry Johnson, 36, have wanted to be dads. At first, the couple saw adoption as the best path to parenthood, but South Carolina, where they live, is one of 10 states with religious exemption laws that make it more difficult for same-sex couples to foster and adopt, and they worried that adopting would set them up for a legal nightmare down the road.
“Our concern was that if we did a private adoption and the birth mother decided a couple of years later that she wanted her child back, we would be in for a rather extensive legal battle to try to keep the child,” Hobgood told NBC News. “Most likely the courts would have sided with the biological mother, so that became a big worry for us. So we just decided, ‘Well, let’s take ourselves down the surrogacy path from there.’”
The couple did their research. The cost of hiring a female surrogate, they learned, would be steep — $120,000 to $150,000, a price that Hobgood, a project specialist for a medical insurance company, and Kerry, a management analyst with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, could hardly afford. But it did not deter them.
“I knew I wanted to be a child’s father,” Hobgood said. “I really just wanted to go through and enjoy bringing up this wonderful child who is a part of our family.” Hobgood and his husband are among the increasing number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in the U.S. planning to have children, according to data released this year by Family Equality, a national nonprofit that advocates for LGBTQ families. And despite the additional financial barriers for many prospective parents in this group, this increased desire to have children was found across income levels, according to a report the group released this month, “Building LGBTQ+ Families: The Price of Parenthood.”
Family Equality polled 500 LGBTQ and 1,004 non-LGBTQ adults and found that the desire to become parents is nearly identical among both lower- and higher-income lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. Forty-five to 53 percent of LGBTQ people between the ages of 18 and 35 are planning to become parents for the first time or add another child to their family (compared to 55 percent for their non-LGBTQ counterparts, a gap that has narrowed significantly compared to older generations).And those making less than $25,000 a year plan to have children at a similar rate to those making over $100,000, according to the report.
Amanda Winn, the organization's chief program officer, was surprised by the findings.
“I was expecting that folks who were living at the poverty line would report lower rates of wanting to bring children into the home knowing that finances were tight, but that’s not the case,” Winn told NBC News. “That innate, strong desire to have families exists regardless of income levels.”
LGBTQ prospective parents are more likely to face financial hurdles than their heterosexual peers, according to the report. Reasons include their relatively lower annual household incomes and the additional costs associated with having a child using an option other than sexual intercourse, which is considered by only 37 percent of LGBTQ people planning to start their families or have more children.

Assisted reproductive technology: 'an impossible barrier' for some

Thanks to advancements in assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and surrogacy, more LGBTQ people can have children through nontraditional methods, and interest is growing. Forty percent of LGBTQ people are considering such technology to conceive children, according to a Family Equality survey published in February — but many of these prospective parents will pay for it out of their own pockets, and the technology can be expensive.
“Most LGBTQ+ individuals will learn that their health insurance plan does not cover the cost of fertility treatments at all, and, if they do, the individual or family unit must prove that they have been ‘trying’ to conceive for 6-12 months before coverage begins,” the Family Equality report states. “This stipulation in the policy results in high monthly expenses for some and creates an impossible barrier for others.” 
The report outlines the diverse array of options now available to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people looking to have children, and the costs associated with them, which can range from less than $300 for those using a known sperm donor to over $150,000 for those pursuing gestational surrogacy.
Same-sex female couples typically rely on artificial insemination with donated sperm to conceive children, which usually costs several thousand dollars and is not always covered by insurance. If two women choose to have a child through reciprocal in vitro fertilization, where the fertilized egg of one partner is implanted in another, the cost is higher — typically from $12,000 to $15,000 for a basic cycle, according to Internet Health Resources.
Image: Chandra Chester
 Chandra Chester, with her wife, Lynn Doyle and their two children.Lisa Fleet


Chandra Ches 

Chandra Chester, 40, and her wife, Lynn Doyle, 37, both social workers who live in Maryland’s Baltimore County, conceived two children — a daughter, 4, and a son, 1 — through artificial insemination without IVF.
Chester said their insurance covered some of the cost, but she estimated they spent about $6,500 out of pocket for their pregnancies, including one that ended in miscarriage. Additionally, the sperm, which came from the same anonymous donor for both children, cost $500 yearly to store, she said.
On top of fertility care and doctor visits, the couple pays $30,000 annually on daycare for both kids. Along with food, clothing, diapers and other necessities, paying for their children consumes at least 50 percent of their gross annual income, said Chester, who works two jobs to make ends meet and will soon get a third. She said in hindsight, she wishes she had saved up more money for the fertility expenses and daycare before having kids.
“I knew it was going to be expensive,” Chester said, “but I had no clue it would be this expensive.”

Impact of ‘religious freedom’ adoption laws

State laws that limit gay couples’ ability to adopt can make the process even more difficult and costly, with some prospective parents opting to relocate to more LGBTQ-friendly states to adopt or pursue fertility treatments.
Kenneth Livingston and his husband, Ashley Redmond, both in their 30s, moved from Mississippi to Boston in 2013 so they could adopt a child. Livingston said it would have been too difficult to adopt in Mississippi, where adoption agencies could legally turn them away and where their marriage wasn’t yet legally recognized.
“We moved away from Mississippi not just to adopt, but to raise our child in a state that embraces diversity and inclusion, and we would never have that in Mississippi,” Livingston said. 
At least nine states permit state-licensed child welfare agencies to refuse to place children with LGBTQ families if doing so directly conflicts with their religious beliefs, according to the Movement Advancement Project, an LGBTQ think tank. In November, the Trump administration proposed a rule that would allow faith-based foster care and adoption agencies to continue receiving taxpayer funding even if they exclude LGBTQ families and others from their services based on religious beliefs.
Foster care is the least expensive route to parenthood for most LGBTQ people, and typically costs no more than $2,600, according to the Family Equality report, but many can be turned away in states with religious exemptions.


Image: Kelly McGlasson
Kelly McGlasson in Sparta, N.J. in December 2018.Courtesy of Kelly McGlasson

Kelly McGlasson, 43, a single lesbian in northern New Jersey, always wanted to be a mom, but she didn’t have an insurance policy that covered fertility and couldn’t afford private adoption. So McGlasson, an early childhood coach for a nonprofit that advocates for children, decided to adopt through the foster care system in New Jersey, one of seven states that explicitly prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ people in foster care and adoption.
“It was something I knew I needed, to be a mom, and time was running out,” she said. “So I made that choice.”


Helping to offset the ‘price of parenthood’

A number of programs have emerged in recent years that help LGBTQ people offset the relatively high cost of building their families.
When LGBTQ couples choose to privately adopt a child without going through the foster care system, the cost can be $20,000 to $70,000, depending on whether the adoption is domestic or international, according to the “Building LGBTQ+ Families: the Price of Parenthood” report.
Even in Massachusetts, Livingston and his husband have struggled to adopt a child. Ashley, a freelance event planner, has had difficulty finding steady full-time employment. Livingston, a contract specialist, is the couple’s main source of income. The couple, who have been waiting to adopt since January 2018, saved as much money as they could since their move, obtained a no-interest $10,000 loan through a charity that works with their Massachusetts-based adoption agency, and qualified for a $15,000 grant from Help Us Adopt, a nonprofit that helps people adopt children regardless of “race, religion, gender, ethnicity, marital status or sexual orientation.”


Image: Kenneth Livingston
Kenneth Livingston, left, and his husband, Ashley, on Ogunquit, Maine.Courtesy of Kenneth Livingston

Livingston said adopting would be “extremely difficult” for him and his husband without the financial assistance.
“It’s just helping us avoid further debt, and helps us fulfill our wish of becoming parents, and allowing us to focus more on preparing for a child and less time worrying about finances,” he said.
Interest among same-sex male couples who wish to have biological children through surrogacy is growing, but few can afford it, according to Lisa Schuster, a program manager for Men Having Babies, a nonprofit that provides financial assistance to men who want to become parents through surrogacy. Annual applications for financial assistance rose from 157 in 2014, when the grant program began, to over 450 applicants in 2019, Schuster said.
“The demand is huge, and there is also a growing trend of younger and younger men who are wanting to start families and are looking to surrogacy,” she said. 
When Hobgood and his husband, who live just outside Columbia, South Carolina, learned they qualified for financial assistance to pursue surrogacy through the Men Having Babies program, they were thrilled.
“At first, I was in that shock mode,” Hobgood recalled.
The program also helped connect the couple with a surrogate, and it is helping them navigate through the complex medical and legal process of surrogacy.
Even with the financial assistance, Hobgood and his husband will pay about $70,000 — roughly half of what they would pay without the assistance, according to Hobgood. But the couple’s journey to fatherhood is far more certain than ever before, and will likely end with a trip to Iowa, where their prospective surrogate lives, to witness the birth of their child.
That’s the “most exciting part,” Hobgood said — “just having our family grow.

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