Menino: Gay Boston’s Tough Big Brother | WGBH News

This is a fascinating look at former Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s unique relationship with the city’s LGBTQ population. Here’s the story from SUE O’CONNELL writing for WGBH

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Hillary and her partner, Julie Goodridge, left, the lead plaintiffs in the Massachusetts gay marriage lawsuit, fill out their marriage license application, with Boston Mayor Tom Menino looking over their shoulder, at Boston City Hall in Boston, Monday May 17, 2004. They are getting married later Monday. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

To understand the relationship between Mayor Tom Menino and Boston’s gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender communities, you need look no further than the the 1980 movie “My Bodyguard”.

The plot goes something like this— quirky, eccentric, new kid Clifford Peache is bullied relentlessly by a band of high school criminals. These thugs rule the school with power they have gained by painting schoolmate Ricky as murderous monster just steps away from killing them all. Victim Clifford goes directly to Ricky, they form a friendship, the truth of Ricky’s goodness emerges and he becomes the school’s protector, vanquishing and banishing the bad boys, while forming a deep friendship with Clifford.

Swap Clifford with the LGBT community, and Ricky with Tom Menino, and the story of how Menino became our community’s hero and protector is clear.

Menino, as reported many times, may have been a bully. But he was our bully.

As a Boston City Councilor in the 1980s, Menino worked closely with gay people who worked in city government. He also interacted regularly with the gay neighborhood groups. It’s no surprise that this community, one that often lived in fear, rewarded Menino, the blue collar policy guy from Hyde Park, with unwavering loyalty. As Menino grew in power, his most trusted inner circle always had at least two gay people at the table. And he never took the community’s support for granted—he fought the battles brought to him, and looked for others.

The first high profile LGBT issue was an unlikely fight with the most powerful political neighborhood in Boston—Southie.

He was asked at one of the first neighborhood meetings he attended as mayor if he would march in the traditional St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The organizers, the Allied War Veterans Council, had won a US Supreme Court ruling for the right to exclude gay groups from the parade. Menino told me that he glanced at his chief of staff—openly gay Anne Maguire—and blurted that if gays can’t march he won’t march. “You should have seen the look on Ann’s face,” he said. He had just told South Boston off. For Menino it was a double win—doing the right thing and avoiding parades, which he said he hated. He said he never worried about the political backlash. He never marched.

The Boston Pride Parade, celebrating LGBT pride each Junes, was a different story. Menino often referred to the parade as “my parade”. In a country where many gay groups fight to fly a rainbow flag on city flagpole, Menino raised the rainbow flag at City Hall Plaza each year with pomp, led the Boston parade and allowed uniformed Boston Police officers to march. He opened Boston City Hall and hosted the Boston Alliance of Gay and Lesbian Youth’s (BAGLY) annual gay prom for teenagers at Boston City Hall. These public actions were supported by political action—Menino supported the distribution of condoms in Boston Public Schools, and supported anti-bullying legislation.

Regular-guy Menino’s support of marriage equality was an important cog in the machine that delivered gay marriage. He never wavered in his support, lobbying state lawmakers during the state house battles and later as co-chair of  “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry”, helping big city mayors get on board. On Monday, May 17, 2004, Menino proudly escorted the lead plaintiffs in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, Hillary and Julie Goodridge, with their daughter Anne, to the Marriage License window at Boston City Hall to receive the city’s first marriage license for a same-sex couple.

Eight years after Massachusetts became the first state in the union to recognize same-sex marriage, Menino was still on guard. In 2012, the restaurant chain Chick-fil-A was preparing to open its first restaurant in Boston proper. Menino learned that Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy was passionately against gay marriage and made contributions to anti-gay organizations and causes.

Mayor Menino sent the following letter to Cathy:

In recent days you said Chick-fil-A opposes same-sex marriage and said the generation that supports it has an ‘arrogant attitude. 

Now — incredibly — your company says you are backing out of the same-sex marriage debate. I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston.”

You called supporters of gay marriage ‘prideful.’ Here in Boston, to borrow your own words, we are ‘guilty as charged.’ We are indeed full of pride for our support of same-sex marriage and our work to expand freedom to all people. We are proud that our state and our city have led the way for the country on equal marriage rights…

There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.

No doubt an overreach on the Mayor’s part—threatening all sorts of unconstitutional action against a business due to the owner’s political beliefs—but classic Menino. He later backed off the threats, a national dialogue was launched, and there is no Chick-fil-A on the Freedom Trail.

All of this made Menino a rock star in the LGBT community. Standing ovations, and often tears, greeted him as he led the Pride Parade, or spoke at the Fenway Health or Human Rights Campaign galas. He accepted it humbly, often just saying he was just “doing the right thing”—but the joy he felt from it was unmistakable.

Menino was our bully. Our guy. Our hero. He made things better.

Sue O’Connell is the co-publisher of Bay Windows and the South End News. 

Read more here at WGBH

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As colleges, cities add more gender-neutral bathrooms, SU lags behind | The Daily Orange – The Independent Student Newspaper of Syracuse, New York

The right wing media latches onto any thing to do with trans people and restroom access. The latest is an obsession with protests on a couple university campuses demanding more gender neutral restrooms. At San Diego State University they have devised a unique protest which is tailor made to get attention and the right wing bit and how. The stories deal manly with the protest not with the genuine concerns of the transgender students. As you can see the protest is nothing if not creative. The issue though is quite serious.

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San Diego State University Sh*t-in protest

Thankfully there is a student newspaper that has given transgender students grievances a fair and sensitive airing. Here is that article from Maggie Cregan writing for Syracuse University’s Daily Orange

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Tony Chao I Art Director

It seems like a simple enough system: there’s the men’s restroom, and the women’s restroom.

For some, it’s not clear why there’s a need for gender-neutral restrooms on campus. But a lack of these restrooms can force many members of the Syracuse University community to endure anxiety-inducing socia

l situations, go out of their way to find a proper restroom or avoid using the restroom altogether. Like SU, universities and cities across the country are actively installing gender-neutral bathrooms to be more inclusive.

In December 2012, SU alumna and then-student Erin Carhart conducted a study of SU’s gender-neutral restrooms. Of 137 restrooms in 17 of the campus’s most-trafficked buildings, she found that only eight restrooms were single-occupancy and available to all genders.

That’s less than six percent.

Rachel Fox von Swearingen, co-chair of the University Senate’s Committee on LGBT Concerns, said that she was shocked about the few available gender-neutral restrooms on campus, given SU’s five-out-of-five-star ranking from the LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index.

“I wasn’t aware that we did not have very many gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus,” she said. “It says something like, ‘Well, we have this great rating, but we’re not actually invested in watching out for those people.’”

The need

The list of people who would benefit from having more single-occupancy, gender-neutral bathrooms on campus is “surprisingly long,” said Bryan McKinney, the LGBT Resource Center’s graduate assistant. That list includes not only transgender people but also anyone who identifies as gender-nonconforming or is perceived as gender-nonconforming. Other people who would benefit are parents with young children and people with certain physical disabilities, since single-occupancy bathrooms are more spacious and allow caretakers of another gender to accompany them.

Many of SU’s dorms, including Lawrinson and DellPlain halls, have single-occupancy bathrooms available to either gender. But for students spending long days on campus, the lack of gender-neutral bathrooms continues to pose a problem.

For many people who need or prefer gender-neutral restrooms, McKinney said the lack thereof can be “anxiety-inducing,” in addition to the obvious physical discomfort and potential health consequences of “holding it,” like urinary tract infections.

The lack of gender-neutral restrooms makes trans members of the SU community, and others who don’t identify within the strict gender binary, “feel like they’re not actually welcome,” said Fox von Swearingen.

“They are daily confronted with this binary gender system,” she said, whether it’s having to mark male or female on a form or having to choose the men’s or women’s restroom.

She added that, though the Committee on LGBT Concerns has recently made recommendations to the administration about accommodations in locker rooms and shower rooms, it’s been several years since the issue of gender-neutral restrooms came up in meetings. But that’s likely to change.

“I can safely say that it will probably be on the schedule when the committee meets Wednesday,” she said.

A growing trend

Colleges across the country are increasingly installing new gender-neutral restrooms or relabeling single-occupancy restrooms once marked men’s, women’s or family. On Friday, Harvard Divinity School tweeted a picture of new signs in Divinity Hall designating an all-gender restroom. Beneath the all-caps label, the signs specified, “Anyone can use this restroom, regardless of gender identity or expression.” Other colleges and universities have done the same in recent months, including Northwestern University, Illinois State University and Illinois Wesleyan University.

On Sept. 29, University of California president Janet Napolitano said that all single-stall restrooms on all 10 of UC’s campuses will be made available to people of all genders and that newly built or renovated buildings should include such restrooms. She also announced that students can apply to use a preferred name on certain school documents, even if their name hasn’t been legally changed — a victory for transitioning transgender students who do not want to be misidentified as the wrong gender by their former first names on university forms.

Other institutions, from universities to cities, are creating similar policies to prevent the violence that transgender people can face in restrooms.

“There are issues of violence, certainly, that come with gender nonconformity or being visibly gender-nonconforming,” McKinney said, citing the case of Chrissy Lee Polis, a transgender woman who was attacked after she used a women’s restroom in a Baltimore-area McDonald’s in April 2011. A video taken by an apparently unconcerned employee shows Polis being beaten for several minutes, bleeding from the mouth and nearly going into a seizure.

A more sweeping policy exists in the District of Columbia, where it’s the law that every single-occupancy restroom in a public place be made available to people of all genders. In October 2013, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed off on similar legislation that requires all new or renovated city-owned buildings to make gender-neutral restrooms available.

Leading the way

Despite such progressive city policies, Sasha Buchert, a staff attorney for the Transgender Law Center in California, said that colleges and universities across the country have been some of the most groundbreaking institutions in making gender-neutral restrooms available.

“As far as folks leading the charge, I think we’ve gained the most advancement with the universities around the country,” she said.

She added that gender-neutral restrooms can be a necessity for many students to thrive at college, since the question of where to find a restroom, or how to avoid using one, are unnecessary distractions from academics and peer experiences.

“The important takeaway point, for me anyway, is, look, transgender and gender-nonconforming youth should be focusing on their schoolwork,” Buchert said. “When you’re focused on which bathroom you should use and which alternative you should take to be able to deal with that situation, that takes away from your ability to be doing what you should be doing. And that’s excelling in your schoolwork.”

Read more here at the Daily Orange

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Brendan Jordan Makes An Appearance On The Queen Latifah Show!

Well now, it seems that Brendan Jordan, the 15 year old gay viral sensation has really made a name for himself. Things got interesting when our hero appears on Queen Latifah’s show.

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Jackpot (2012): Award-Winning Gay Short Film by Adam Baran

It’s 1994 and there’s no internet, so when closeted 14-year-old Jack Hoffman hears about a stash of porno hidden across town, he decides to brave the bully infested streets of his small New Jersey town, in hopes of getting what he wants. What happens over the course of the day will change everything.

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Wasteland – Michael’s Story – First Light – YouTube

This is an emotionally powerful film made by student Filmmakers under 17 in cooperation with the British Film Institute

Michael’s story is that his family is in crisis. Their lives have been on hold since the death of his brother twelve months ago. They have never properly dealt with it as a family and now everyone is walking around with their feelings bottled up inside. The situation comes to a head when Michael’s father finds out that Michael is gay and suddenly a years’ worth of painful truth comes rushing out.

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The Boy Who Couldn’t Swim – Gay Short Film (Danish with English Subtitles)

Rasmus arrives in Copenhagen determined to find his mother whom he has never met. Having just arrived at Copenhagen Central Station Rasmus is approached by Nicklas who wants Rasmus to help him by keeping a stolen iPod. Rasmus does so and to return the favor Nicklas offers to give Rasmus a ride to his mother’s house. Reluctantly Rasmus accepts the offer and that kicks off a day that holds lots of fun and reveals hidden feelings.

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A Love Story: Meet Jonathan & Dwayne

Get ready to be deeply moved. This is the reason marriage equality matters not only to the couples involved but also their families – like the awesome father of one of the grooms who speaks during the ceremony. Watch with a box of tissue by your side – you’ll need it.

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